Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fruit and Anxiety

This weekend, I was able to sneak away for an entire day to attend the Hearts at Home Conference. Now, before my men readers roll their eyes and click “close,” bear with me…allow me to be a little self-reflective today.

Anyway, it was kind of a game changing experience for me. You see, I went into the conference already planning my escape from the last few sessions to scope out the racks at Von Maur. I went to it waiting to roll my eyes at the “mom-ness” of it. I had been there a few years before, and while it was good, it wasn’t something that made me stop in my tracks and reevaluate who I was, how I was responding to the world around me, and those in it.

And then the first session happened. It was about perfection…which is what I’m all about. Although I feel like I’m somewhat realistic, deep down, I’m a perfectionist. I detest clutter, dirt, dust, disorganized stacks of papers, somewhat full trash cans and laundry baskets, unmade beds. I hate dusty cars and their cluttered insides, full of half drunk juice boxes and books read en route to Grandma’s. I despise our back porch where Joe’s cattle world meets our laundry and the girls’ school bags and coats. It makes me anxious, angry, upset, and basically irritated with the world. How in the world can I have a Better Homes and Gardens house on a farmer’s budget with people who actually work in the dirt and play in it living in the house? Don’t these people understand what I’m working towards.

Answer: no.

So my attitude has not been a very contented one as of late.

Then, the lightbulb when on and basically smacked me in the face.


Well, I do, but really in the grand scheme of life, who really cares? While I don’t want to have my kids grow up in a house of squalor and clutter, I do want them to grow up with a mom who is less anxious, and, instead, will strive to exemplify the Fruits of the Spirit. You know, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control?

I had forgotten most of those.

I had let hay strewn through the house let my not-so-kind thoughts rear their ugly heads. I had let things like muddy boots, weird schedules and late night cattle checks instead of date nights test the real joy in my life that was staring me in the face.

But these are things that memories are made of. The hay is used to give life to our cattle and food to your table. The muddy boots are in sizes from big to small, evidence of time spent together on a cold morning, checking over calves and learning to care for someone other than him- or herself.

My kids are happy. My husband is happy (tired and overworked, but happy). So why am I grouchy?

So, I choose joy. I choose peace. I will still choose to be armed with a Swiffer, but I will sweep up the hay with a loving and patient heart.

Keep my accountable, will you? I know I’ll be tested…spring is near.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mommy! Daddy's Bringing in a Warthog!

This morning, I was enjoying the part-timeness of my part-time job, i.e., not having to go to work today, instead, answering emails and perusing the athleta.com sale site, all while still in my running clothes and drinking coffee.

All of a sudden my part-time dream was interrupted, by Amelia shouting, “Mommy! Daddy’s bringing in a warthog!!!”

My sweet girl, in her frilly Sleeping Beauty nightgown was at the family room window, the one that faces west, just above our exterior entry to our basement.

While I can thank Go, Diego, Go for her knowledge of the warthog, I was sure she was kidding. So, as I came to the window, I noticed Joe’s tractor and feed wagon just on the edge of our yard. He never parks his tractors in our yard.


Then I noticed the basement door was open.

Double, uh-oh.

I detest our basement for two main reasons: 1) seeing Silence of the Lambs in the seventh grade and 2) critters that could be living down there. I go down there twice a year (give or take), once to get my Christmas decorations and once to put them away.

Even though I despise our basement, I know there are no warthogs down there, or in Illinois for that matter (right, Diego?), so I was curious what was going on.

My curiosity soon equaled a new experience, and just a few minutes later, I was down in the scary basement, holding a bag of warm calf formula, squinting my eyes closed as Joe “tubed” a cold calf. Evidently this little guy, from the time Joe checked him last night until this morning, had gotten too cold and hadn’t eaten. Joe was so calm, although irritated, and spoke soothing words to the animal, not a warthog.

Rubbing it with an old comforter, the calf successfully took the warm milk via tube feeding (I’ll have Joe explain that when he’s in the house some day, but it’s basically feeding the calf directly to the stomach), and started to suck a little when it was finished, so that’s a good sign, but Joe’s realistic. This is something that isn’t necessarily always successful. Calves should nurse from their mamas, and shouldn’t get so cold as to be lethargic. This is the challenge we have with this crazy March weather.

It’s lovely right now, just looking out. I ran in snow and sleet this morning, and it was beautiful on the trees, but as a cattle farmer, this is weather that can wreak havoc on the calves.

Maybe we would have been better off if Joe had found a warthog, but I am hopeful that my small contribution today to the cattle business we have will end in a positive result.

Either way, this little guy will now be known as either Warty or Diego.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago, I became a mom. Joe and I became parents. We had our baby, our first, our Anna Grace.

We brought our chubby, over 8 pounder home, just ourselves, and were welcomed the rest of the weekend by a steady stream of eager grandparents, excited aunts and uncles, curious cousins, and our wonderful “family” from our church. It was baby bliss!

Our baby, our first, our girl rarely went anywhere not dressed in PINK. She was doused in head-to-toe candy box, cutey pie, sweet clothes I spent a lot of time, thought, and, much to Joe’s dismay, money upon. She had a room of Pottery Barn Pink, happy stars and patchwork gingham that made it so girly it nearly oozed Bubble Gum.
It was bliss.

But it was my bliss.

Fast-forward eight years, and to know Anna, you’d do a double take if you saw her in some of the get-ups I used to put her in. Rarely as a baby, and even a toddler, was she found without a hairbow, perfectly coordinated with her outfit. Now, I’m lucky to get her in a dress for a family wedding!

Surprisingly, this is not a big deal to me. What started out as a relationship forged in fashion and frills has evolved. Maybe it’s because I have Josie, who is just as crazy about cuteness as I am, or maybe it’s because I just don’t want to mess with the amazing person Anna has become, so why fight about jeans and t-shirts. Maybe it’s because I have become more confident as her mother, and want her to keep feeling confident in herself, because I know she’s awesome.

She’s one of those kids who you want to be around. Drama-free, relaxed, yet tender hearted, wants to just play, and not worry about who’s doing what. An avid sports girl, Anna can quote the Big Ten standings, Yadier Molina facts. She’s a smarty pants, too, even though she’d never brag about her perfect spelling test record (no missed words, and we’re into the month of March!!). She’s one of those girls who finds mud to get into, who almost always has a little lunch on her face, but is still beautiful. She’ll put together a mean Lego spaceship without even batting an eye, and knows more about cattle than I probably ever will. We are so different, and yet, I am bursting with joy at who she is, and who she will be.

In the early years, it was my name, my touch, my hug that made things better, but now she is a her daddy’s girl, calling out for him when she is sad or sick or needs help. I thought I wouldn’t be okay with this at first, but my role as a mother isn’t to be the only one she goes to. Her relationship with her dad is something to admire. Steadfast and easy going, those two can do just about anything together. And that, my friends, is way more important than being the first one to be called upon for a bad dream. This relationship makes me love them even more than I thought could be possible.

My baby girl has grown up. I know it’s not like she’s 18 or something, but that growth spurt to put her almost to my shoulders, and that first trip to the women’s shoe department really made me take a good look at my baby’s eyes and see a young woman inside her. Who she’s become in 8 years is far from the pink bundle I carried home that day, but she has surpassed all expectations, and her confidence, loving heart, and unique personality makes me teary-eyed just to think about her.
She may roll her eyes at the pink candles I place on her basketball cake today (just because I remembered candles AFTER I came home from the store), but she’ll blow them out, and make a wish for something like baseball cards or a day sledding with her dad. That’s what I love about her. That’s what makes Anna, Anna.

So proud of our baby, our pink bundle, and all who she is, and all who she will be.

Happy birthday, Anna Grace!