Sunday, November 27, 2011

Get Over It, Already

I used to be that girl.
I used to never miss a workout. Never.
Used to always wear the latest and greatest trends.
I used to be up and with it, technologically speaking.
I used to spend Saturday mornings, after my long run- obviously- cleaning and organizing to oblivion. You could have eaten off of my floor, and all closets were straightened. Always.

All that has changed. 

And that's okay, I just have to once in a while get over it, and quit being a freak about who I was and start being great at who I am.

Becoming a mother definitely changed a lot of my priorities, and becoming a mother of more than one child certainly changed what I considered to be acceptable. When we just had Anna, we were living in town. That in itself created a completely different atmosphere and set of expectations. When we had Josie (who is five today, by the way), we had moved to the country, but Joe wasn't farming. Life was still pretty similar to our life in town, just with one more kid and less sidewalks. 

However, add two more kids and become a farmer's wife, and my life of a so-clean-you-could-eat-off-it floor and my never missed workouts completely changed. 

But who cares, really?

Who's keeping tabs on my weekly mileage for running? Who is going to not ask for a plate at Josie's birthday party tonight and instead eat his/her cake off the floor? Do my kids care if I'm trendy and technologically savvy and showered and exercised?


They want our life. They are pleased with the simplicity of it. They are excited about princess bikes, newly purchased gum, and watching Christmas movies on TV. They are excited to spend time with Joe and me. 

Isn't that what we should all be focusing more upon?

I guess since today is the start of the Advent season, I have started to truly reflect on how I am viewing the holidays, which really shows how I view myself and my life as Emily the Mom and Farmwife. I need to get my picture of myself, and who I am, in clear focus, because my children are truly mirrors of me, from the good parts to all of my insecurities. They can sense when I start to lose sight of it. They know when I'm anxious about company coming, as they start to react to my tension. 

However, they don't care how the stockings are hung and whether the bathroom is cleaned and the house is in order. They would rather just be with me even if I haven't done all that I need to do today because I'm their mom.

I need to remember that. 

I used to be a closet freak show, hiding behind layers of perfection. I created an image of being together, which was really just a facade.

However, as of only recently, I have started to embrace Emily the Mom and Farmwife. I have tried to say, "oh well," to a lot of things, and tried to shut up about stuff in my life that isn't how it should be, because, how do I know how it should be? Emily the Mom and Farmwife is happy to fit in when I can long runs, whether it's by myself on a gravel road or pushing a double stroller full of kids. Emily the Farmwife is happy to see muddy Northerners leaving puddles on the porch floor because that means quality time spent with Daddy. Emily the Mom is happy to look nice, even if it's in an outfit I wore when I was still teaching ( guess I shouldn't worry too much about exercising, if it still fits, right? ). 

Emily of today is still a  freak show, just more willing to shed my layers and be okay with my imperfections, as they are a sign of who I truly am.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Can You Hear It?

I can't either...and that's a GREAT thing!

The sound of silence: no grain carts rumbling, no semis revving, and no combines combining, means--dadadadaaaaaa!!! Harvest is over!!!


And you know what that means, right? It means that Farmer Joe and friends are booking their flights to Bermuda today as they sip cocktails in recliners.

No, on all accounts, and to Joe's dismay especially on the last one, as we do not own a recliner (although did own two at one orange velour and one pink corduroy...don't ask).

Anyway, it means that I am currently watching Joe install and test an electric fenceline in the field across the road, the one that was just picked last night, the final one, for cows to go out on stalks in the next few days. It means that there was a red pickup truck convention at my house this morning, as Joe, Dad and my uncle were together, putting the combine into the shed, unhooking the big tractor from a grain cart only to rehook it onto the Turbo Chopper to start the fall tillage work. It means that even though I have a helper to run kids here and there, I still have to find my helper somewhere on the farm, as he needs to catch up on the cattle and pasture and other work that he's had to forgo because of harvest.

However, most importantly, it means a trip to the newly opened Bass Pro Shops for my kids, which is what they were dancing and singing about last night as their dad came in and made the "Harvest is over!" announcement.

Harvest has been long. It has been mentally and physically draining for all of us. We have had to endure downed corn that we knew was there as well as surprise downed corn in the middle of fields. The guys had to deal with breakdowns at inopportune times and even a root canal in the midst, but we made it. We did it. We all survived.

While a trip to Bass Pro and a hot fenceline does punctuate the end of a harvest season well, I would like to take this moment, when my little folks are sleeping and playing quietly, my husband is buzzing around the farm happily busy with his self-initiated to-do list, and my dad and uncle are off somewhere relishing in the "doneness," to just sit in silence.

Because as thankful as I am that we're done with harvest, I am especially thankful in this moment for silence.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Find It Friday


I realize I live on a farm. I understand my house was built in 1871. I am aware that there is a field outside that is now just corn stalks. I am completely in the know that it is now cold.


I am NOT OKAY with my Find It Friday it was a MOUSE. Well, not really a mouse, more like the little droppings of a mouse, in my corner cabinet where I keep my small kitchen appliances.

Back to the shuddering.

I HATE mice. Not just hate: loathe, despise, detest, am completely and utterly freaked out by them and all they stand for. I hate the mice in Cinderella. Why would she welcome them in, even if they can sew? EW.

We (well, not really me, but my dad, Joe and the dudes who helped us tighten up our house when it was down to the studs) really did a great job making my house, which once rattled and whined and let in cold air, a really efficient old farmhouse. New windows, walls, insulation, the works make my old house seem new. I have taken the proper precautions by employing a quarterly exterminator, who happens to be a cousin, in order to keep all bugs and critters at bay. I love that. I will gladly pay for that service, and if Joe ever asks me to get rid of it...the Find It Friday that week would be his little buns on the couch!

Anyway, it's Veteran's Day, and by the way...thanks Dad, Rick, Grandpas, for your service...and all kiddos are home. We've had a lot of fun, cleaning out closets, breaking up fights, and explaining to Amelia why her big sister can go in the tractor first and not her, despite her boots which were on the wrong feet and her stocking cap. Find It Friday was going to be me, running down the road like a mad woman if Joe hadn't stepped in!

So, as I was packing lunches for two of my farmers, I FOUND THE EVIDENCE. Amelia and Anna were extremely interested, and Anna asked if we could keep it for a pet.


Josie was nowhere to be found, as she is like me and would rather DIE than see a mouse. Jack, thankfully, was sleeping...however woke up to my scream!

Anyway, life out here on the farm is as glamorous as always, thanks to our little friend, whom I'm hopeful has met his or her maker or has found another family a little more like Cinderella and a little less like Billy the Exterminator.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Never Ignore an Omen

Omens, people, omens. They are around us, all the time. I just haven't been that great at paying attention to them.

Nah, I'm not that crazy, nor am I taking up a new religion. However, because of watching the  movie Troy last night, and then spending the wee hours of the morning thinking about the Greeks and the Trojans and all their "beware of the gods" business, I'm laughing at myself and my naivete nine years ago.

You see, nine years ago, today, I was following my boyfriend- at the time- up and down some hills, deep in a pasture on his parents' farm. I was in a foul mood that day, tired from a week of parent/teacher conferences only to then spend my precious day off chasing my babysitting kids around the Indianapolis Children's Museum(ironic, isn't it...I went on to have four kids. Sheesh.), plus I was slogging around a pasture in my new jeans. Why were we so dressed up to wade around cow poop?

Anyway, Joe and I were checking cows, and I was following him, annoyed again as I saw sweat beads on his brow. I was thinking the whole trek, "I have to get Joe running with me. He's sweating bullets!"

We made it to the spot where the cattle needed to be checked, only to see just a few cattle. That's it? Just a few cows? I had to admit, it was a really pretty view, but when Joe started talking about the cattle, I kind of tuned out. Then, he started in on the future, and then...

Will you marry me?

Screeching record sound inserted here.

Wait, WHAT???

And, HOLY MOLY...IS THAT THE RING I PICKED OUT...THE ONE THAT HE SAID WAS TOO EXPENSIVE?? (another omen to my saving, loving husband)

I said yes, obviously, and spent the rest of the weekend flashing around my ring to all who would see, blissfully unaware of the alignment of the stars that day that would ultimately make that pasture walk not just symbolic, but a reality.

So, here we are, nine years later, only I don't go on many pasture walks, but I have three little girls who do, and one little guy who will. I still flash my ring for all to see, and am still laughing at the "love is in the pasture" cards my students made me when I told them the story of our engagement location.

I guess I should pay closer attention to the omens around me, and should be thankful for the alignment of the stars that day. What a great adventure we have had so far, Farmer Joe!

Monday, November 7, 2011

More Opinions? Sure Thing!

I was able to get away for a day this weekend with some girlfriends. The talk on the ride up to where we were going (to shop, of course) spanned a wide range of topics. All four of us are moms to young-ish children (early elementary to babies), and we all needed the time away.

While most of the topics centered around our kids, their schooling, their needs, their Christmas presents,  it was the topic of food that made me want to sit down and get my thoughts on (cyber) paper.

"I need more opinions, Emily!" my friend advised me. Now that's something you don't hear every day, especially to some one like me!! Anyway, my friend Katie wanted to know my take on her baby food she was spooning into her sweet baby boy's mouth on our trek to IKEA. Baby food? My take? Ummm...give it to a baby?

No, she wasn't needing that basic of information, but she wanted to know my opinion on baby food that was 1) not organic and 2) not something she made herself. Now, as opinionated as I am about those who want to cram the organic is the best and only food you should feed your family nonsense down your throat, I am not opposed to organic food, per se. If I were to make a statement that all organic food or farmers are bad and not necessary in our world, that would be like me saying that the Catholic church is less Christian than a Methodist church. We're all on the same team, we just have a different way of getting there. I don't think Katie is less of a mother because she 1) does not feed her kids 100% organic food all the time and 2) doesn't make her own baby food. She's doing what she deems the best for her kids, and who am I to tell her how to do it?

That being said, I do believe that your choices for your food should be based on something bigger than pretty packaging or what Dr. Oz says (have I mentioned I like to roll my eyes at him now???). I myself succumb to prices, but, take today for example. Amelia and Jack and I were grocery shopping. Amelia wanted strawberries, which are absolutely not in season, therefore are pricey and probably from Mexico. However, when she's choosing strawberries over doughnuts or chips or ice cream...wouldn't you pay $6.00 for a pint? I did. I would rather err on the side of fruit that comes from somewhere else, that I will wash, than a processed snack any day.

Organic vs. nonorganic, fortunately, is not a fight I have to be prepared for very often, other than in casual conversation, but it is certainly a buzz in more urban areas. We around here have to hunt for grocery stores with a big organic food section. Selection is limited, and restaurants are not necessarily deeming themselves better because of their use of cage free chicken, grass fed beef, and/or organic produce. However, my friend Rachel's brother-in-law (is that right, Rach?) is opening a bar and grill in Chicago, and will be marketing himself as a granola cruncher, I mean, organic, cage free type of place.


Rachel, being the Midwestern farm girl she is, asked him if that was necessary, all that crazy organic marketing stuff. He answered yes, that it would help his business.

Seriously? Just putting those words in your menu or on your restaurant website or whatever would help you get more customers.

City folks, listen is not IMPERATIVE that all of your chickens are cage free for you to survive or just enjoy a chicken sandwich. Folks, grass fed beef is stringy and not as flavorful as our corn and grass and some times feed-fed beef, but I know I'm biased. My point is, just because you have a cage free bar and grill, doesn't mean that it's food is better and more nutritious. It's just marketing, and if you eat it with fries and a beer, you're not going to be healthy anyway, so who cares if it's cage free?

I am going to form a more distinct opinion on this, thanks to Katie. I am going to do some researching on why my beef tastes better. Tonight, in fact, I'll get started by enjoying my chili soup, corn bread made with eggs that are not cage free, and my expensive strawberries.

Zen Farming

It's raining.
We've had a breakdown.
We're not finished.
The combine head isn't even at our house...

You'd think we'd have a lot of stomping, sighing, and freaking out around my house, since it is November, and it seems as if we're the only ones with crops still standing. However, everyone seems to be looking at the bright side.

What's wrong with this picture?

Well, thankfully, nothing. Although there seems to have been a lightswitch flipped when the calendar turned to November, and the words, wintry mix, have been uttered by the weatherman (gasp), all the farmers around here are taking yesterday's snafu in stride.

Again, what's wrong with this picture? Since when did I live around a bunch of guys who are so calm, cool, collected, zen, if you will?

I guess since yesterday, and with that, I'll try to quit freaking out. Everyone seems to be looking at the bright side. It is raining, so there's no need to panic about the wasted "good day." The combine head has a major malfunction, but fortunately, it happened on a Sunday evening, and first thing today, the mechanics will get to it. And, we're one of a few operations still going around here, so the line at the shop is not too deep.

I should be taking this zen attitude and applying it to my own fears, but I tend to lean to the side of competitive, not calm, and seeing other farmer's combines in the shed and fields finished, and have them not be ours is driving me batty. Don't get me wrong, the guys aren't out in the driveway right now, legs crossed, meditating. There's a lot of hustle still in Joe's steps, even though it seems to just be a regular chore/cattle day, not a crop day. My dad and uncle, I'm certain, are still nervous, but no one is pacing on my front porch. Last night, after the breakdown, everyone got in their red pick up trucks, said good night out the window, and went home for dinner.


Am I on the right farm? Is this the family I grew up a part of?

Why isn't anyone else FREAKING OUT???

Well, I think they're all mentally spent from this crazy, downed, slow, long, bountiful harvest. And, along those same lines, the guys need a break before this last push to finish. I should be happy for these blessings in disguise, right? I should try to be more zen and look on the bright side, right?


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guest Blog

Houston, we have a husband!! It's a lovely, crummy rain day here in Farmington, and the kids and I are happy to have Joe around for a day! He's nervous, as every day we're in the field means one day closer to done, but it's nice to have him in the house.

Anyway, there is a neat idea around the blogosphere, and that is "theming" blogs about family, thankfulness, etc. We're happy to have been a part of Prairie Farmer's 30 Days of Farms and Families series, as well as a guest blog post for Illinois Corn Growers blog, Corn Corps, in their Thankful for Farm Families series. It's fun to link up with these folks, as we have a lot to share, and some of the folks involved are good friends of ours!

So, on this dreary day, curl up and read up, and pray that it does STOP raining some time, so we can write the Thankful for Our Strong Finish post!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


If you ask any of my college roommates, they would attest to my list making issues. I would cover my desk, usually tucked underneath our lofted beds, with color coded Post-Its, which listed the hour-by-hour details of my day, allotting a time for even a shower.

I know, I'm dorky.

Fast forward about 15 years, and I'm still making lists. However, they are more of the grocery-getting, who to call, and remember to pick up the extra child from preschool kind. It seems silly that I would have to make a list for these things, but I err on the side of organized, I guess.

Thus, it's only appropriate that I should just get it out in the open and list the reasons harvest is making me a crazy-woman. We are nearly finished, about 8 to 10 days, Joe says. However, he's said that for the past 8 to 10 days, and I am starting to think he's becoming the contractor on the 80s movie, The Money Pit ("two weeks..."). These 8 to 10 days are going to be over and done with soon, and I know I can make it, but in the meantime, while I'm in the public, I have lately looked like I'm about ready to crack.

So, here it is: the great list of Why I Am Becoming a Crazy Woman, Thanks to Harvest
Reason #1: I'm constantly thinking about food. Like constantly, all the time, obsessively.
Does Joe need a lunch? Does he want something hot? cold? sweet? salty? Would he be upset if I ate the last of the brownies? Would my dad need something, too? Should we wait? Should we not wait? Should I stop obsessing about this???
Answer: YES!!!
Joe is happy to have something to eat with someone at some time, and I need to quit worrying about it, and just feed the poor dude a sandwich.

Reason #2: I'm with my kids, constantly.
At the hair salon, at the PTO meeting (which is named Parent/Teacher Organization and not Parent/Kid/Teacher Organization for a reason...and I have four of them), at the grocery store, at the gym, at the church, at home...we're all together, all the time. Now, this probably doesn't seem too strange, as I am a stay-at-home mom, but seriously, a gal needs to get her eyebrows waxed without having a four year old ask later, "Mom, remember when LeAnne put that hot stuff on your face...that was gross." Thank you, and I'll meet you at the waxing chair in 10 years. Anyway, I love my kids, and love to be with them, but when Joe is around, there are precious few hours that I can take, all by myself, and just breathe, complete a sentence, and not listen to Get Your Sparkle On on the Barbie CD for the 100th time.

Reason #3: I can't complete a thought, and thus, cannot finish emails, phone calls or blogs without wanting to hang up, delete or cry. I have been suffering from serious writer's block this fall, which is okay as I know that there's a time for all writers to do so, but I think the fact that the time that I do my most "alone" writing is from 4:30 to 5:00 in the morning before my workouts could be part of the problem, as well as the fact that I don't want to sound like a whiny, crazy farm wife all the time. There are a lot worse situations. I don't have much to cry about, but when you're by yourself, it's easy to invite yourself to a pity-party, for yourself.

And finally, Reason #4: Joe's my bud. I married the dude for a reason, and it wasn't just that he could reach things that are too high for me to get, I like him. I like to have him around. I like how we parent our kids together. I like that he balances out my craziness with his lack thereof. I need to be reminded to not spend too much money, to keep the ice cream situation at full capacity, and I need to be reminded that I cannot do this alone, and, thus, in February, when I want him to get out of the house, I should read this post and remember.

Please bear with me in these next eight to ten days, I am trying to look on the bright side of the end of harvest. Perhaps I should make a list....