Friday, June 10, 2016

You Are My Sunshine

Oh this song.

I have sung this song to all of our babies. Such a simple song, but one that all of them will share as a memory of our bedtime routine.

Seven years ago we were coming off of a difficult planting season. It was wet, wet, wet that spring, and we couldn't seem to catch a break of sun to finish up the bean planting. Funny thing is, this season was actually a precursor to a wet, wet, wet harvest.

Oh, the weather.

Anyway, on June 9th of 2009, I was truly glad. It was sunshiny. It was warm. My parents had just moved really, really close to us. We were on the brink of finishing planting, and I was about to pop with our third child.

And early the next morning, I did. Amelia Jane made her entrance at 2:20 AM on June 10th, the same day as my Grandma Mary's 95th birthday.

The sun shone bright that whole rest of the week and into the weekend. I remember being dropped off by Joe with two toddlers and a newborn so he could sidedress anhydrous. Welcome home, Mama! But, the sun was shining, and it was time to roll.

I remember watching my Grandma, just turned 95, rolling carefully into our driveway in her maroon Buick to be one of the first visitors. She drove the 15 mile trip because the sun was shining.

It is indicative of our Millie Jane. She is truly sunshine disguised as a little girl. There are moments that she is a little more cloudy, but those are quickly resolved. She is understanding and caring and kind.

And funny.

Oh so funny.

Just yesterday morning, she told me she was getting nervous about her birthday because she was starting a new chapter of her life. "Seven is a big step, Mom!"

Awesome.

This year's birthday celebration has been a bit tricky. She and Jack had to share a party due to family calendars filling up and new jobs starting. Her little cake that Grandma Mary generally provides at the joint birthday party was shared in the hospital, as our more elder of the birthday girls is not doing well.

Amelia didn't care. She happily shared her party with her brother this year, "because I share my birthday every year with Grandma."

Of course. Rays of sunshine work together and share the sky, so why wouldn't our little ray of sunshine do the same?

I say this with every birthday blog, but it bears repeating: I am lucky to be entrusted as this little girl's mother. She has taught me to shine despite the darkness. Even now, as we are a little sad that Grandma is struggling, but at 102, a new chapter is just part of the game. Nothing to be nervous about.

Nothing like turning seven.

So, to our little ray of sunshine, Amelia Jane, we love you. We cherish you. You are our sunshine.





Thursday, June 9, 2016

Deja Vu

Well, well, well...I'm back.

I have been dealing with some growing and learning pains with my blog.

I thought my story had been told enough.

I figured you had heard enough about food and farming and my family.

I figured all of you and the greater population had formed educated opinions, even though they may differ from mine, and that I could almost close up this shop.

And then, improper labeling strikes again.

In a very honest way. In a very loving and caring manner. In a very incorrect label.

Beef that is hormone free.

Can I talk to you about hormones?
No, men, you don't have to bow out. I'm talking about hormones in food. They are naturally occurring. Just as the mood shifts in this house when a hormonal surge happens (remember there are FIVE girls and ONE mama here? That's six potential walking balls of estrogen. Pray for Joe in about 5-15 years, or 50...either way.), food and animals and humans have these magical chemicals, yes CHEMICALS (natural chemicals, but that's the word used, so again, all you natural friends, deep breaths and keep reading) in them.

Naturally occurring.

No additions.

There have been additional hormones in things, foods, plants, etc., I'm sure. But today, I'm just talking about God-given hormones.

These are things we need not fear. God made them. God gave them to us.

Here's a handy graphic for your viewing pleasure:
source: bestfoodfacts.org


Soy flour, beans, peanuts, cabbage: those foods cannot help that they have TONS of naturally occurring hormones.
Cattle, same deal.
Beef will have hormones in it because in order to reproduce, a living thing (aka, a mama cow) must have a balance of hormones.

Science, friends!

While I don't think you should shoot up a bunch of hormones, I do believe that you should not freak out about naturally occurring hormones in your food.

This is something I thought I had made a mark on as far as discussing. This is something that as an advocate, writer, what-have-you, I thought we had made some headway on many folks.

No?

Dang it.

Here's the deal:
I believe in science. You do too, even if you're crunching an organic apple or using homemade laundry detergent.
Newsflash: you're reading this on the Internet.

Science again, friends!

But I also believe in our food production, especially if you're checking your sources (meaning, labels and where it's grown, produced, etc.). Be educated, but recognize who your teacher is and what they are looking out for. There are very good people in this world, and then there are ones who are experts in just yelling louder and marketing better than little ol' me who likes to write cute stories about my kids and cows sometimes.

Please believe your growers. Please trust your people who know their animals. Lest I remind you the percentage of family owned farms in our state. It's 94%. As in an A-, nearly 100...LOTS OF THEM.

Please question labels, even if they claim to promote health. There are misnomers on both sides, and from the production ag side, I promise you, I will rarely keep quiet. You'll know when something is wrong. I'm the queen of correcting things...righting wrongs...takin' care of business!

So, welcome back to my blog, friends. Does it seem oddly familiar to you as well?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Our Boy

So Jack.

You're five.

Right now.

I was greeted this morning, as I came in from working out, birthday doughnuts in hand, by you with a, "Mom! I'm FIVE! Right now!"

Being five is going to be amazing. Being five means kindergarten and a big boy bike and a lunchbox. Being five means tying shoes and riding the bus and playing outside alone (with limits).

Being five is huge.

Right now.

But five years ago, I was just figuring out the sheer logistics of having a boy. It was different for sure: less fluff, more defense on the diaper change, less drama as toddlerhood set in. You were all boy in a sea of women.

We may consider you all boy, but you're our boy. That means all the stereotypical boy things are dealt with: unnecessary roughness, running-everywhere, and the everlasting flow of jokes regarding all bodily functions, parts and stinky cheese. But, what makes you YOU, is that after all the gross boy stuff, you're still the sweetest most imaginative dude around. You have gained independence this year, as we have allowed you to play outside alone when it was safe (read: limited equipment coming in and out of the driveway). While I may seem to just be inside, I'm really peeking out the window, listening to your running commentary on your adventures as you dig holes to China in the backyard, chase and catch frogs for pets (yippee!), and dig for worms ("Don't you know they're a frog's spaghetti, Mom?" Ummmm. no.).

You speak fluent Batman and Ninja Turtles, enjoy commenting on cows and crops, and are a little bit ornery here and there, but that keeps life interesting, I guess.

With being five, this ends the full timer status you have had with us. Maybe that's why I have loved this preschool year with you. I know it's my last. There are days that it feels exhausting to pitch a ball, chase a twin or two, and then answer the constant stream of questions regarding things from animal husbandry to why our hair is a color to why the grass grows. You have kept life interesting with a few "second chances" at school and some time outs and privileges revoked, but each oops is met accompanied with a "Mommy, you're so beautiful."

See?

Joe's boy.
This morning, with your clone

Daddy's clone, to be exact: friendly and social and welcoming. You're the kid that the classmates all tell their folks about. This makes me a little nervous now and again, but if you're going to be, be awesome, right?

And now you're five, my sweet boy.

Our boy.

Our only boy.

We will put you on the bus this fall. We will watch you as you embark on t-ball next summer. Lots of firsts with a five year old.

Today though, we will celebrate those first moments as a five year old with Oreos and a picnic lunch. A haircut this afternoon. Big time fun, I know, but that's what's awesome about being five. No big pageantry necessary, just time to explore and play and be together.

Right now.

So happy birthday, sweet boy, our boy. Right now, we couldn't love you any more.

Always loved by Big Sister Millie

And then, you were one!







Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Evidently, It's Summer

Yes.

I am surprised, too.

You see, it's the last day of school around here because, evidently, we want to start school about August 3rd.

Don't get me wrong. I did a very nice and completely embarassing to our nearly sixth grade daughter happy dance this morning when I packed up the LAST LUNCH. Whoohooo! However, it is still going to just be a high of 65 today, so lazy summers spent at the pool are still a few weeks away.

Which leads me to the ever present question: what the hee-haw heck am I going to do with these children all day, every day?

Thankfully, quite a bit is on our schedule, but not enough that it makes me dread the upcoming weeks. We have taken the approach to allow our kids to participate in various activities, but not to sign our lives (or checks) away to one particular sport or event. We have no ball players this summer, as the ages are still too young for the bottom half, and the big girls decided to take a summer off of organized sports. A part of me (the joiner) was a little taken aback, can I just say that their choice has made my shuttling and scheduling a lot easier? This may be the only summer that this decision worked out this way, but PRAISE GOD for it!

Maybe that's why I have had the time to soak in this summer's possibilities and reflect on how much change there will be as we start our adventure today.

So much change.

So much that I'm feeling a little wistful as I tick off what we've done just this morning. Jack was screened at the "big school" for his entry into the world of kindergarten, while Anna enjoyed her last moments as a grade schooler. Joe is finishing up his teaching career with finals and boxes packed and good byes said. It's a lot of end for a time that should feel like the beginning. I guess we Webels enjoy change, as our life has brought about a lot of it in the past years.

But that's life, right? That's what makes a story good, and friends, I guarantee I will have lots and lots of fresh stories over this summer.

Because evidently, it's summer.

The last day for our 5th, 3rd and 1st graders!








Friday, May 6, 2016

Our Farm Didn't Look Like Your Farm, Which Doesn't Look Like Their Farm, Which Doesn't Come Close to Her Farm...and That's OKAY!

Happy mid-planting season, everyone!

I would be remiss if I didn't wish all you farmers safety and good weather as you continue your quest to get #plant2016 buttoned up.

However, amongst my farmer friends, blogs, recipes shared, articles in our FarmWeek, I can't help but once again see that our farm's picture isn't in the frame. Our farm's depiction, when we were "full timers," is quite different than shared by the smiling faces, meals in Styrofoam, and sweeping sunset pictures.

And that is OKAY.

Because that's farming. That's agriculture.

I'll spare you the details of farmers who never want to stop to eat, and the feelings that accompany when you have loaded three kids under four in the car in order to find the field only to realize that no one wants to stop, no way my car was going to make it to the back, and no way was I going to drag all that stuff out there on foot and how that affects your willingness to bring food out.

Ahem.

And that is OKAY.

Our operation runs on quitting and being done when it's time to be done, and going when it's time to go, so don't mess around with a nice brownie.

A pang of guilt and those all-to-familiar outsider feelings used to come up when I was first a farm wife. I felt like I was doing it wrong. Again, the code of farm wifery a mystery to me.

But that's not the case today.

I know what my role is/was on the farm, and that I'm doing the best I can for my people. I sure do hope that no one is scarred for life because of a lack of participation in the most traditional sense.

I hope.

I learned from the best, in my opinion. My mom was a farm wife, but not until I was nearly out of the house, and to a moonlighting farmer until my dad "retired" to farm. She worked full time, lived 30 miles from the farm's home base, and probably received the same, "I'll get it when I'm finished here" response. While I know some of you do the same, I saw how her role as just as important: holding down the fort at home, working as a teacher, being a mom and a taxi and keeping it all rolling while Dad was working.

Around our kitchen peninsula in dimmed light after we were supposed to be in bed,  that's when the "farm meals" were held. Unlike my awesome friends who have mastered the "hand held meals," omelettes and oatmeal may not be cookbook material, blogworthy, or even worth mentioning, but those meals shared in our kitchen are the ones I remember.

Those are good memories, and quite possibly may be the reason my dad has remained the same size since high school.

Anyway, my point here today is that I should take note and mark this revelation. I still continually scrutinize the way other's farm, comparing how we work to how others work. I realize that's not healthy, but it's human, and I'm human, so there. You probably do the same in other ways, or maybe I'm just a weirdo. But take a look at this as a reflection on how you view agriculture and food production and how it's changing: it's all relative. It's all personal, and it's because a majority of the time, a farm is being farmed by a PERSON.

And people are, well, people.

And that's OKAY.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

And the winner is...

KAREN!!

Karen, you left me a lovely comment, and my daughter Amelia chose your name from our hat!!

Could you please send me an email at farmwife.emily@gmail.com??

I'll give you more information about your fabulous Stella and Dot prize!

Thank you for reading and listening to all, and I'll be back later in the week with some planting updates! And maybe a story about the time I took all the kids to the orthodontist and then to Wal Mart and lived to tell about it!

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Gifts for Your Mother

Please say this title in your best Vanilla Ice voice.

Thank you.

Then, moving onto another 90s icon, we are now TOO LEGIT TO QUIT!!

Friends, we are coming to you on iTunes!! If you are a podcast listener or podcast broadcaster, you know that once you've made the leap and been approved by iTunes, you're pretty much big time.

or something like that...

Either way, my good friend and fellow farm mom Holly Spangler and I are back podcasting (and blogging! Read Holly's here.), talking about gifts for the (farm) mom in your life. If you would, please take a minute to find us on your purple podcast icon on your apple device (search Confessions of a Farm Wife), subscribe to our channel so you will not miss an episode, and give us a comment, a share, or just some sort of acknowledgement that you listened!! We are coming to you with a fresh podcast every few weeks, so GET EXCITED.



We have compiled a list of 15 gift ideas for the woman (farm or non farm) in your life. Included in the list are links, coupon codes, web addresses, Facebook pages, and even giveaways for our lovely readers and listeners!!

Now, onto the show and its links! Happy reading, listening, and shopping!



1) Rosebud's Designs and Apparel Kari Jo Kelso is such a great representation of the creative people we have on our list. She's originally from west central Illinois, but now is a veterinarian in Austin, Texas. On the side, she started designing t-shirts, starting as just a creative outlet, and it has since morphed into the beautiful ag-themed t-shirt and tote shop. Plus, it's named after her grandma, Rosemary "Rosebud," which is super cute. I have already ordered myself one and one for Anna, and I CAN'T WAIT for them to come. She has graciously offered Confessions listeners a 15% off coupon code good until 4/30. Just type LOVEMOM in the code box to redeem.

2) The Farmerette: Hailing from Minnesota, Carolyn is an 25 year veteran agronomist by day (and one of the few women in her field...thus the nickname, Farmerette!) and an entrepreneur by night. Always loving chemistry and science and needing a break from her twin boys (amen, fellow twin mom!), she started experimenting with making homemade chap sticks. As she kept creating, her shop now includes soy based chap sticks, body butters, hand creams, and the like. She has also offered our listeners a chance to win a gift basket with some of her goodies, such as FarmHER hand cream, cranberry soy sugar scrub, cranberry whipped body butter, and vanilla soy lip balm. To enter, please leave a comment below, or on Holly's blog as well for two entries, and we'll pick a winner on Monday!

3) Madi's Makings: I love this. Spending time at a cattle show, especially with small children, has made me realized that comfy seating and resting spots are of utmost importance. Enter our entrepreneur, Madison Flack. She makes chute hammocks. Genius. They are $50 plus shipping that will be well spent.

4) Erin Enhle Brown Photography:  Erin's work is beautiful and has been featured everywhere. She has everything from beautiful photographs to sayings to customizable pieces. Visit her website for more details-the work speaks for itself. But do it by April 27th to get it in time for Mother's Day delivery!!

5) Country Girl Creations: Kristen Emmonds is a fellow farm mom, first grade mom and friend of mine locally. She creates lovely custom or not signs out of reclaimed wood, among other materials. Her chalk paint furniture and frames are adorable. You can message her via her Facebook page, and she'll ship anywhere in the country!

6) Plants and flowers: no link for this one...just send your dude and kiddos to the nursery or grab a gift card for some pretty flowers, potted plants or other living things that I will inevitably kill by July. It's the thought that counts on this one for me!

7) Stella and Dot:  Look closely in this picture...it's my favorite necklace, from my favorite jewelry line, purchased from my favorite stylist, Elisabeth. She's one of those friends who always is wearing what I realized once I see her that THAT'S what I'm supposed to be wearing. And she's lovely. And she's a farm kid. I'm sure you probably have a Stella and Dot consultant around you, but if you don't, Elisabeth is great and helpful and GENEROUS!! She has graciously offered a bracelet as a giveaway. A lovely Illini orange bangle that the proceeds benefit the Every Mother Counts charity. I have it. Wear it all the time. Love it.

8) Origami Owl: I love customizable jewelry. Holly's family did an Origami Owl locket for their grandmother, and she'll explain the personal touches that makes it special in our podcast. So lovely.

9) Your Words Cuffs: Holly has one of these, and it is gorgeous. These are customized leather cuffs. Trendy with an element of touching. Love it.

10) Cinnamon Sticks: Holly has this, too... Sheesh, Holly, you've hit the jackpot here! Ha! These are rings with your children's names on them. While Holly has the national norm of children and her rings fit her fingers lovely, I think I'll just admire her stack, as I don't have enough finger length to pull this off. Six kids makes personalized jewelry a challenge!

11) Lenny and Eva:  My turn! I have one of these...actually two. Joe and Anna picked one out for me for Christmas with the "love" sentiment, and I bought another bracelet for versatility's sake. Customized sentiments, interchangeable bands, bangles, charms. Lovely.

12) Camelback Eddy Water Bottle: For the fit mom in your life! I love mine. The good folks at Certified Angus sent me mine, but I love that I can use it while running on the treadmill and not lose a beat in my gait...and inevitably fall on my face!

13) FitBit and RoadID: Tell me why Holly and I need a FitBit? Because everyone who has it, loves it, right? I do have a RoadID, and once we started talking about it, Holly laughed. I call it safety; she calls it an ear tag!

14) Young Living Essential Oils: My sweet friend Amy is a wealth of knowledge in this. I admit...I only have used lavender for my curls and tea tree for...eww...lice repellent (more on that another time), but Amy is willing to connect you to various ways to ramp up your health. She has a bath scrub giveaway too, so remember to comment!!

15) Woodkeeps:  Holly and I love JoAnna Gaines...really, who doesn't? She wears such lovely pieces of jewelry, and this Etsy shop is full of great options!

Well...there you go, friends! I'm so excited for you to listen to our podcast, comment, and share.

Check back here on Monday for the winners of our fabulous prizes!!

Happy shopping!!