Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#iam4H...Now, but not When I Was Really IN It

Oh, sweet, sweet irony.

So, like 20some years ago, I was a member of the Oneida Mix N Fix 4H Club. Cute name, huh? Totally appealed to the dudes and the dudettes, right?

Kind of.

Ask my brother...not so much.

Anyway, I was the president, I think, at one time, went to State Fair in sewing, showed my "Graphic Arts" projects (even though I have NOT ONE SINGLE CRAFTY OR ARTSY BONE IN MY BODY), and even went to the State Fair in Public Speaking for demonstrating how to French Roll one's hair.

Hard hitting, huh?

However, I never really bought into it. I never got involved beyond our little club that met in the basement of the Presbyterian Church. I never held a position, never wanted to be a part of the bigger 4H picture.

Then, sweet, sweet irony stepped in.

Meaning, my daughter.

Anna joined 4H last year, her first year of eligibility. She was pumped. She signed up for her projects, worked hard, and had a really successful first year, scoring blue ribbons, and doing great at the livestock show.

I'd say she's all in, considering she's in year two and is currently the secretary.

Now, our club is not a big one, nor is it a mighty one, but it's a group of kids who meet once a month who are doing something a little different. While the meetings (well, let's be real...the ONE I went to), could be a little jazzier, and we need a 4H flag to "pledge our head to clearer thinking" to (I still know all the words, thankyouverymuch), the basic premise of 4H still stands the test of time.

The motto is: To make the best better.

Seems simple enough, and kind of goes along with Joe's and my parenting philosophy. If you're going to do something, do it and do it WELL. I'm not saying I'm a tiger mom by any stretch of the imagination, but if Anna's going to be in 4H, she's going to actively participate. She's a kid that doesn't have to be coerced into trying something new, or going someplace different, or being a part of a new group. She's also a kid who strives to do her best, always...I credit my perfectionism gene for that...so maybe with the other kids, it will be hard to "make the best better," but for now, Anna is the hashtag for this National 4H Week: #iam4H.

Which just blows my mind, because nowhere in my pre-kid parenting picture was there a 4Her, and NO WHERE was there a mom or a dad who were co-leaders (Joe), and as I sat at the meeting on Sunday, I thought, "You know, if I wasn't so grossly pregnant, I would help out more."

After this summer's showing experience, I see how 4H can benefit a kid and his/her confidence, work ethic, and personal motto. To make the best better shouldn't just apply to making a good heifer the reserve or grand champion, but to work hard to reap the benefits and the satisfaction of just working hard. Not to sound like a grandma, but kids these days are participating in things that are so parent driven, so coached, so structured, that if you had something like oh, a 1000 lb. animal you had to lead around and had to trust you, you'd take the initiative to work hard to not, well, get stepped on, for starters. 4H is different than sports, piano lessons, and the like. It's a choice, a commitment, and a time in your life when you can receive what you sow, so to speak.

So, I guess, because we'll have 6 4Hers for the next 19 years, I need to revisit my opinion and experience in 4H and help my kids see how by participating in this seemingly little part of their lives, they are making the best better for the next generation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stereotypes, Harvest, and a Scary House

It's a mixed bag today, friends.

It's Homecoming week at our school, which usually means a dress up day or five, a potential float to be built, and some later nights due to activities at the school. On a normal year, we'd be happily participating, digging through dress up clothes, painting our faces, whatever.

However, we are currently nomads.

Our family has had to move out of our house because of a huge remodel project. And by huge, I mean, our house is currently 3 feet lifted off the old foundation, and being driven under and dug out by skid steers and other digging equipment. My mom and I visited it today.

It's pretty amazing.

And scary.



Looks like a nice home to bring your newborn twins to, right?

Yikes.

However, we're making big progress. This all started last Friday, and we're already talking concrete, footings and dewatering methods. It's all good stuff.

And scary.

And, it's also homecoming, and with a three foot entryway step (with no steps) and a 34 week pregnant mama, getting the kids clothes gathered on a regular day to be packed and then taken to grandma and grandpa's while there's no water and no way to sleep at our own home makes for a challenge.

Good thing one of the days is "Dress Like a Farmer Day."

I write very, very sarcastically.

Yes, I realize our town is Farmington.

Yes, I realize our mascot is the Farmer.

However, seeing what people think farmers look like on a regular day makes me roll my eyes.

Don't get me wrong, I love the pictures of cute little girls in braids and jeans. I love that some of our farmer friends (the occupation, not the mascot) are taking it seriously, and dressing the part how they would be on a regular Wednesday. 

But, come on.

The note from the elementary school says, something to the affect of get out your straw hats and bib overalls.

Maybe it's karma getting me for being pro-Chief Illiniwek, but I get kind of snarly about the "aw shucks, I'm a hick farmer." I have mentioned it before, but our farmers have master's degrees. Our farmers run equipment that is technologically cutting edge, and have to go to classes to learn how to run equipment, to properly apply and use spraying equipment. 

OUR FARMERS ARE NOT HICKS FROM THE FREAKING STICKS!

So, forgive me for sending my kids today in their "farmer gear," which meant nice jeans, button downs, and cute cowboy boots. 

No bibs.

No freckles ala Hee Haw.

No straw anything.

Harvest has started for us, as of Monday, so it is fitting that today is "Dress Like a Farmer Day." Because of Joe's current employment, our operation has had to shift a little with duties. The farmers are dressed and rolling happily, as the yields of the crops are bumper (although the prices aren't great), and there have been little issues in the few days we have been rolling. It's an exciting time, for sure, and I would say our farmers are dressed for success right now. Corn is testing well for yields, and our moisture is at 17%, which for all of you who don't know what that means...it's good, considering how wet the past few weeks have been.

Of course, they're calling for rain tomorrow and Friday, so our farmers will be dressed in their pajamas, staring at the radar, hoping for no wind and just a small sprinkle to settle the dust and not set them back.

However, this is not going to rain on our parade! My farmer is wearing his tie and getting a float ready for the parade on Friday, rain or shine. Mr. Webel will be in full FFA mode, despite the scary house, harvest craziness, and an equally insanely uncomfortable wife. 

My farmers are dressed the part, just not the stupid stereotype that the world insists on keeping up in our little town with our hillbilly mascot.

Maybe someday I'll be less snarly about it, less of a cluster of random life changing events, and not have two newborns on the way, and I'll get them to change our mascot to a nice looking, successful businessman, not a hick from the sticks.

Probably not...but it's worth a try!




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do You Know the Food Babe?

Have you ever heard of The Food Babe? Maybe you follow her on Facebook. Maybe you have seen her on the Today Show, NBC Chicago, and the like? Maybe you've seen this graphic that was crafted to scare all of you pumpkin spice latte drinkers:


and this one:




I don't know much about the Food Babe, other than there is not a time in my life that I have ever been considered a "babe," and much less would want to be professionally known as a "babe."

I also know, just from briefly perusing her website and reading the words, "Monsanto Milk" on this graphic, that while we may share interest in keeping our families healthy, obviously use a nice flat iron, and maybe would have been in a class or sorority together in college or a something like that, we do not agree on food production and consumption. We maybe would be Facebook friends, but after reading some of her insights that are rather one-sided and ill researched, I would hide her. I'm not an unfriender, just a hider…I know, passive aggressive. I tend to err on the side of my grandma, who is 100 and still living in her own home, sharp as a tack. She would choose water over this latte, but if she had one, she'd probably not keel over, as the Food Babe is suggesting by her marketing.

Anyway, back to the graphic: Do you see the trendiness? Do you see that she mentions there may not be real pumpkin in this latte? Umm…no kidding. That's why it's called flavoring. It's a version. And
"possible pesticide residue" because the beans were not organic. Possible.

Again, I haven't done much research on this woman, and perhaps she has a zillion degrees in nutrition and food science, but I'm just guessing that she is trying to scare the pants off of you to get you to join her #FoodBabeArmy and reap the benefits of a good blog following.

That's just my assumption, and I would be happy to change my tune if necessary.

So this is the beginning of my research. Do you follow the Food Babe? Why? Are you a believer in her research? Do you think she's onto something? Do you follow her to disagree with her? What's her secret to getting her #FoodBabeArmy, and where's the agricultural antithesis of this?

I'm getting to the bottom of it, my friends, as I'm curious.

And I may have mentioned in a previous post, I had a mocha today…and it wasn't vegan, or decaffeinated, yet it was delicious.

Fall? Really?

It's true.

It's becoming more and more fall-ish every single day, and I couldn't be happier. A day like today makes me want to head to a college campus and soak up the atmosphere. Is it weird how I crave to be on a college campus during this time of year? Is anyone else like that? Does anyone else crave college football and walks amongst brick buildings on a quad during this time of year?

No?

How about boots with skinny jeans?

A little more?

How about harvesting a field of corn or soybeans?

That's better…that's what this blog is about.

Anyway, our fall is a little trickier than usual, as you can imagine, if you're a faithful reader. All of our ducks have been in a row to fall in such a way that we'd have our house construction at a reasonable place when our babies were coming, and then harvest could start, and we'd be all good.

Wrong.

But, again, this is not a whiny post ( I know, shocker…I treated myself to a leaded (read: not decaffeinated) mocha today, shhhhh…so I'm hopped up on goof balls), this is a fall post, and an I LOVE FALL post at that.

I really don't have much agricultural progress to report. We are all a little nervous around here, and I have heard the phrase "stalk integrity" uttered more than once. The corn prices are down, and with that, we're hoping that this corn crop will not literally fall down, thanks to the wet late summer. We're basically one bad windstorm away from downed corn, so the farmers on my side of the world are hoping that we can just hold our breath and utter prayers strong enough to keep the corn up while the breeze dries the muddy soil.

But back to fall…beautiful, crisp fall. Fall with your colors, your pumpkins, mums, boots with jeans and combines and college football. Fall…please do not disappoint. Please keep this weather like today, and keep our spirits alive that we can do all that needs to be done before the winter months take hold.

Please?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Overwhelmed

This has been a strange week.

We have settled into a school routine, but the kids are exhausted.

Joe has settled into being a teacher and farmer, but that's a lot, and I mean A LOT. There's so much to do, and only 24 hours a day. I'm not the help on the farm farm wife, either, especially now, considering I can't even bend over or stand for long periods of time, so I can only make him a nice dinner (when I don't feel like crying from exhaustion of the end of the twin pregnancy) and sympathize.

That doesn't help when there's chores to be done.

To top it all off, it's raining and raining and raining, so that's kind of brought everyone down (sorry friends who are out west and dry). Our house looks like someone took a bulldozer to it, intending to work on it, but since it's still raining, and will continue to do so the rest of today, no one is working…so we look like someone had good intentions of construction, but maybe forgot about it. In other words, ghetto superstar is the perfect name for our homestead right now.

Then, we've had too many lives taken from us this week. A church friend's husband lost his battle with cancer, but leaves behind children ranging in age from 20s to 5. A dear co-worker's son died Sunday, unexpectedly and tragically. A long time church member and fixture in the community died, after a full life, but still sad when one reflects upon losing someone who was always there and active.

Life seems overwhelming right now.

We're at the cusp of harvest, and that feels somewhat overwhelming, but we have so much else going on, I hardly can wrap my head around the fact that the beans are turning and the corn is turning "orange" as Jack says, otherwise known as getting ready to harvest.

Overwhelming joy, too, in the midst of this stress. We're (oh who am I kidding… I am) nearing the end of this pregnancy. In roughly 6 weeks, our twins will be here, and although overwhelmed doesn't even begin to describe the feelings I have in regards to giving birth and bringing home two infants, we have been overwhelmed with joyful friends, generous gifts and fun parties for our babies. It's been a fun couple of weekends with friends and family. I only have pictures from my "friend" shower…but Joe's family threw me one, too…luckily I was wearing the same outfit, so I could pass this off as both! Ha! The joys of only a few items still fitting!!
With two of my bests…the hostesses, Kathleen and Rachel

All the "mums" who either had twins or six kids in their families.

One of my college buddies, Sunny.

My teaching partner-in-crime, former roommate, fellow twin mom, and always entertaining friend, Andrea. 

Josie and Amelia modeling the scarf my co-worker CJ made! They were pumped to be at a "fancy party."

Overwhelmed in a good way.

While my house right now is not ready for the babies in the way that it should be, according to babycenter.com…who is telling me via shaming emails that I should be prepping the nursery. Uhhhh…prepping our nursery means moving the changing table to the hallway and the dresser to the nook where our dress up basket used to be…we're ready enough. I'm not getting overwhelmed with those logistics, because if I start to think about that, I'll remember the overwhelming feeling that I have no control over the weather, and thus no control over our construction, and thus will have no control over the never ending harvest that will probably ensue thanks to this crazy amount of moisture.

Deep breaths.

Anyway, we are overwhelmed, in good ways and not so good, but it's nothing that we can't handle. It's nothing that won't make us look back in 10 years and laugh…potentially.

This is a time in our lives when energy is low and emotions are high. Time is limited, and work is mounting. While Joe is trying to figure out how to balance work and farm and kids and me…I just want  some help cleaning out the garage so that I can nest some more, because that's important. Note the sarcasm.

Friends, we covet your prayers during these fall months. It's overwhelming to see the support our friends and family are giving us, but if you could just whisper a good thought to us once in awhile, we'd be grateful.

Overwhelmingly grateful.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Turn, Turn, Turn

Fall is coming, I can feel it.

Even though it's supposed to be hotter than the bowels of hell tomorrow, I can feel it. I saw it. 55 for an evening low. 75 for a daytime high.

Come on, please fall…I need you to come so I can quit sweating just walking to the garage (that could be my "current state," but nevertheless).

Labor Day marks the end of summer, right? We spent that day pretending it was summer, lazing around at the pool, but now it's closed, our suits and towels are tucked away for the season, and it's time to get fall going.

Then today…This:
This truly marked the beginning of a new season. Our boy started preschool. Although he has truly been clingy and hasn't been transitioning from one thing to another lately, he did great. He was excited to go, and even more excited to pick up lunch and surprise Daddy at school today, chatting the whole time about Circle Time, Play Time, and the ever-important Snack Time. Happy, happy times for this happy, happy boy.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Life on the farm here is transitioning, too. Just a few weeks ago, we were remarking at how green everything still looked. Now, however, the corn is starting to turn. Silks are browning up, the lush green is now more of a light green fading to brown. It won't be long. 

The beans are a different story. I'm no agronomist, but from the table talk here, the wet late summer has been hard on our little friends. Sudden death is popping up in fields around us. And for those of you who are wondering what sudden death means…it's just that. Suddenly dying beans. There's more science to it, but it's never good.

But, it's not much, and we're starting to dry out, so that's a good thing.

Fall will be here before we know it. Time for boots and sweaters and legitimate hot chocolate (my kids like to drink it at church when it's 95 outside after services…ick.). Things will change. Leaves will change, crops will change, our life will change.

To everything…turn, turn, turn.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Facebook Just Chastised Me

Thank you, Facebook.

Not only do you make me feel as if I'm not vacationing enough, spending enough "family time #makingmemories," and taking artful Instagram pictures of it, now you're chastising me for not posting on my blog's page.

Honestly.

It's Labor Day, for heaven's sake! That's just what you want to wake up to, as you're checking emails in the morning…a virtual wrist slap that you've been a slacking blogger.

Pardon me for gestating twins, starting school, trying to ready our house to be jacked up, and chasing after four children.

Sheesh.

Anyway, thank you, Facebook for the chastising, and here's some random updates and thoughts that I'm sure you've been wondering about…

1) Twins: Just 6-8 more weeks left. The end.

2) School: All children will be in school as of this week! Jack heads to preschool for a few precious hours three days a week, and while I have read a lot of blogs about the sad moms who are sending their sweet babes to the wolves…I mean teachers…at the beginning of school, I'm more like these people.

I love my children, but they need to be on a schedule that is not just imposed by me. They need to be off the farm, with their peers, learning all the wonderful things that come with school. Like this.

3) Farmer Joe, aka, Mr. Webel: Joe has enjoyed the exhausting first two weeks of school. Truly. This is a good thing for him to be back with the people. He's doing great, and is having to juggle a lot. Chores in the morning and evening, a clingy three year old who is used to him waltzing in and out during the day, and all the extras that come with being an ag teacher and FFA advisor: namely, a pedal pull during a family party that he had to miss. Bummer. However, it's all good. We look at each other often and comment on how in the world we're going to do all what we're planning on doing in the next few weeks, but we just keep plugging away. These are all good things. Everything we're encountering will only be a blessing in the end. That's what keeps us going and going and going.

4) The final hurrah of the summer: In honor of Labor Day, I'm hopeful to waddle my happy rear to the Country Club pool for one last float. However, we're at the mercy of the potential for rain showers (STOP RAINING…we have construction to commence), the lawn needing to be mowed, and a steer to be washed and clipped for the final show/sale of the year. Anna has one more steer show in town this weekend, and Anna is struggling a bit. It's hard to get excited about this show. It's small. It's late in the season. It's right next to a railroad track where trains go by during the show and freak out the cattle, and Anna's steer can err on the side of jumpy. There will not be a lot of love loss when she sells him this weekend. However, this is not always the case. Our dear friends came to visit yesterday, and when their sweet boy had to sell his steer, lots of tears were shed, lots of explaining had to be done, and there's been some really great blogs about this same situation. It's the circle of life of a show animal, but when you have invested time, money and energy in caring for an animal, thinking about selling it to market is a hard pill to swallow for a 9 year old. Read this for a great perspective by my friend Holly's friend Christy. Did you get that???

And then read this, and get just as ticked off and roll your eyes about one thousand times for how one sided and Hee Haw showing animals STILL is seen as. And then…read this response, because it's awesome.

So there you go, friends…my life in a list. I hope this quells Facebook's reminder app.

Happy Labor Day.