Monday, July 28, 2014

The BlogHer That Never Was

Remember this?

Oh so happy. Oh so free. Oh so alone. Yet, kind of having back pain…

Well, fast forward from that picture to a few hours later, and we were in communication with my doctor in regards to severe back pain, and I'll spare you all the gory details, but it wasn't pretty. 

He told me to cancel my trip.

I never made it to BlogHer14.

My bags were packed. Every electronic I was bringing was charged. Friends were contacted to meet for dinners, drinks (water for me), and sessions were being discussed.

I was ready.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

Instead, on Thursday, when I was supposed to be sipping decaf coffee with my friend Katie in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, I was being wheeled through the emergency room to be treated for a severe kidney infection.

Have you ever had one of those?

I've had four kids, and this pain was comparable to the worst labor pains I had with each one.

Fun times.

I spent my vacation time hooked up to IV fluids, receiving sonograms (babies are A-OK, by the way), barfing in front of good friends (Sorry, David and Katie), and being very thankful to be in the care of skilled health care professionals instead of in a hotel room across the country with a potentially dangerous health issue.

And still…

As I was enjoying the comfort of pain meds, I lived vicariously through the friends who were enjoying BlogHer14. It looked like a great time. I'm sure I would have had fun. Am I glad I didn't make it there, absolutely. Am I sorry to have missed out on the fun, of course, but you cannot choose your schedule some times, and I think this may have been a clue from the Big Guy to SLOW THE HECK DOWN.

So, that's what I'm doing…no poignant post about how BlogHer14 changed my writing life, or what new friends I made. Nope…I'm just happy to be able to pee today.

And that needs to be enough for now.

Until next year, BlogHer14. I'll bring the twins.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Today was Anna's 4H Livestock Show.

When I say I really have nothing to do with Anna's 4H experience, it is no understatement. While she and Joe had headed to the general projects show on Saturday, I stayed at home with the kids (and maybe took a nap). Yesterday, they loaded up to take the cattle to the weigh-in, while I loaded up my kids to the country club pool.

Today, however, I went to the show, loading up my crew and snacks and toys once again, putting on shoes I didn't care about, and herded my friends to the fairgrounds.

The fairgrounds I went to as a child.

The fairgrounds in my home county.

The fairgrounds where my uncle, my dad, and now my girl had/have their hands in the livestock show.

As I pulled into the fairgrounds lot, careful to park in an area that wouldn't have to back up around trailers (have I mentioned I'm terrible at backing up? Even with sensors and a camera? Sheesh.), it hit me.

These are my people.

The people in the stands, the names on the animals were all familiar, if not darned friendly. Name after name after name were of people I knew from towns I grew up around, played sports against, and thought I would never, ever see again.


However, I boomeranged.

I'm back in my home county, and now that we have kids involved in county events, it's more apparent that I am truly home. As she took the ring, she did so with a young man from a family who have known me since the toddler years, had my dad as a teacher, went to church with my aunt and uncle.

The man in the ring, guiding the cattle, assisting as needed? He's the dad of kids I used to always babysit for.

The guy cleaning out the chicken coops as the little kids and I walked through, killing time between classes? He's my old neighbor who teaches Ag at my high school.

On and on and on and on I walked around seeing people I hadn't seen in years, and who didn't expect me to be there. I must have made it abundantly clear I was never coming back.

The best part? Our name was pronounced right. Not just ours, my cousin's (Mottaz, my maiden name…I know, I went from bad to worse in the name department) was pronounced correctly. When my girl won Reserve Grand Champion, we had a cheering section, even though my parents are on opposite sides of the country this week. Neighbors, friends, relatives. People knew us. They recognized us. They were supporting us.

It was surreal.

While speaking to a couple I have known all my life, who have been 4H leaders long since their kids have left the hallowed halls of 4H, I spoke of moving home to the "home farm." Pete, the dad, choked up as he spoke of the honor it was to have his daughter and family in the same situation.

I never thought of moving back to the home county in a way that would choke up my dad.

But it means something.

My boomeranging isn't just nice because I have someone to talk to at cattle shows, someone to cheer on Anna as she won Junior Showmanship (YES… SHE DID THAT, TOO!! Proud, proud mama!!), it's nice because it means something. While I never was a huge 4Her, I was a Knox County girl, and am a Knox County girl, and when people know your history, your beginning, that's a big deal. A comfort. A happy place to be when you're sharing your home with your children.

The lure of what's bigger and better and broader is strong. I felt it. I needed to branch out. I'm happy I did, and there are days I wish I could head back, but the boomerang affect is strong. Roots are stronger. Friendly faces and correct pronunciation of names may seem small, but in a big, big world, it's nice to come home to a familiar place.

Today, I truly came home, and I couldn't be prouder.

Such a great day for such a hard worker! Great job, Anna!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Bit on the Edge

Joe and I are a little on edge this week.

We dropped off our oldest at camp this week (five miles from our house, mind you, yet still away from us and our eyes) for the first time. If you've ever sent a kid to camp, it's a little disconcerting. She's my helper with the little ones; Joe's helper on the farm. We're a little lost, and a little freaked out.

Hay is also happening, as late as it may seem. Mowing hay, baling hay before the random rains hit, and getting everything and everyone ready before the hay choppers come today have been on Joe's to-do list for weeks, and today's the day the choppers come. He's a LOT on edge. It's 7:20 in the morning, and he's already been up on the top of the silo.

However, our crops look good. That should make us a little less freaked out, however, on Monday night, as Joe was scrolling Facebook, posts from friends in his home county were flooding his news feed. A three year old had wandered into a corn field, just after 6:30, a storm was coming, and after a few hours (A FEW HOURS), search teams from neighboring towns, counties, even helicopters were called in.

A three year old.

Like our son.

By the grace of God, this child was found, safe, SIX HOURS LATER, near midnight, but can you imagine? Can you imagine the fear this sweet little girl felt as storms raged above her head, surrounded by green, green and more green. And what about the parents? I don't even want to go there. There are no words for the anguish and helplessness and fear I would feel.

As I sit here, my backyard is surrounded on two sides by corn, in tight rows for greater yield potential, taller than my tallest relative. While looking out there on this beautiful morning should give me a sense of hope for a bumper crop and great harvest, today, it makes me completely freaked out. Jack is adventurous and inquisitive. I, though I try, can't be everywhere at all times, and it could happen- to anyone.

This story has led us to quiz Jack about the safety of our backyard. We've successfully freaked out our older two kids (we'll work on Anna when she gets home) with this story. I won't shelter them from the danger of this story, as it's IN OUR BACKYARD.

So, we're a bit on edge.

The country life offers calm, peace, and tranquility. However, small things can turn into big ones in the blink of an eye. We are so thankful that this family in Pike County found their little girl safe, but scared, and that this will be a learning moment for folks out in the sticks who use cornfields as fences.

For now, however, I'll keep Jack especially away from the backyard border, enticing him with bubbles and sticks fashioned into swords and all the things he loves to play with…in the front yard.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Just the Right Tool

Have you ever decided to get a project crossed off your list, only to find that the exact tool you need is nowhere to be found?

This happens to me every single time I clean out the garage. 


You see, when you live in the country,  and especially our country (read: dirty, gross road), your garage becomes the most ridiculously disgusting display of Little Tykes toys, John Deere Power Wheels, and cattle necessities. Seriously. Now as adults, we spend time in friends' garages during parties in town. I always take a good look around and marvel at the lack of nastiness. This attention to detail (read: anxiety) has been in my persona since I was just a kid. When we'd go play with our "country friends," I remember being worried about the amount of dust and cobwebs they had in their playhouse. I was not only afraid of getting dirty, but was curious how everything was so dirty in the first place. Town playhouses and garages were not this gross.

However, that's how it is in the country, and our garage is the epitome of our dirt road life. All of our kids' bikes have a small film of dust on them, even after I hose them off. Our lawn chairs are brought to ball games with just a slight bit of grime on them. Each freezer needs a good dusting once in a while. It's gross. Don't even get me started on the amount of dead bugs in our garage's window sills. Blech.

For a person like me, it's enough to send my anxiety to the roof.

I try to turn a blind eye.

I try to embrace my country life, love my dirt road and my constant state of film as character.

But on a day like today, I couldn't take it any more.

Thus, I needed my shop broom.

Do you have one of these? If you're a town dweller, as I was (once upon a time), you probably use it to push your lawn clippings off the well maintained sidewalks. You probably sweep your garage twice a year, and don't make but a small pile of dust and rogue leaves. 

I have one of these, and it makes my pile of dust and grit and, even one time, a dead bird, so much easier. However, I usually have to beg one of the farmers to return it.

Today was no exception. 

My boy was happily riding his John Deere Gator (not caring that it is filthy…ahh, the innocence of a carefree non-anxious child), so I figured it was time. As I unloaded my garage, moved all the dusty toys, old appliances that have yet to be taken to be recycled (why have I not done that yet??), and moved my car, I realized it was gone. 

My shop broom is just the right tool for this job, thanks to the sheer quantity of nastiness and grime that our garage seems to house. However, it is also just the right tool for about 15 other jobs on the farm, such as keeping the stalls clean in our barn, sweeping out the shop, and sweeping out the bin when it is nearly empty of grain. Regardless, it's never on my hook in my garage.

It's a handy little devil, and handy little devils tend to walk away, just when you need them.

I did get my garage cleaned out today, don't worry, I just used an old kitchen broom, which worked well as I knocked off old bug bodies and cobwebs from corners. No dead birds today! Score!

Maybe some day we'll have a lovely garage with just a puff of dust, and my shop broom can be loaned out whenever, and I'll never miss it.

But for now, I'd ask nicely for my shop broom to make its return, because in a matter of days minutes, our garage will be dusty again.

Or maybe I'll just run to town and get a new one...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Oh Me, Oh My, It's Now July


Where did June go? Honestly. Did I miss something? Where's July, too? It was not even 70 degrees yesterday, and I'm sitting here in jeans, as it's another cool-ish day.


July typically is a time when we are so busy haying, however, this activity, this haying (or lack thereof), has been tricky. Joe has fought rains, so spotty that as he was mowing just the first cutting a few weeks ago, such a spotty storm popped up that Dad (who was raking) had to run from his open station (read: no cab) tractor to head for cover in the truck. However, a few miles west, nothing fell.

We haven't had a stretch of good, dry days to help Joe make his decision regarding hay. It has to be just right. His dad says, however, if it's not right for hay, it's probably okay for crops. So, it's a catch 22. Shocker. We're battling the weather even when it's good for crops.

I wish I could say that we have done a good job of documenting our crop's growth.

We haven't.

I promise you, though, we are lucky. Our corn looks awesome. "Knee high by the fourth of July," is a very, very old saying, and it's not necessarily true here. Perhaps a better set of phrases would be, "Head and shoulders over large boulders," or "Holy cow! It's taller than Farmer Joe now!"


You don't think it will be catching on?

Regardless, our crop looks good, and I'm totally jinxing it, as we have friends who have had to endure wind and hail damage that have destroyed crops. Prayers for good rains, not hard ones, refreshing winds, not destructive.

Finally, the #EatYourVeggies campaign goes on…even though our veggie consumption has been limited to the carrot sticks and cucumbers I have cut up to be enjoyed in our packed lunches at the pool, and anything that is potentially vegetable based at the ball park. I promise I'll cook something up wonderful and hashtag, picture and share to my heart's content!! See BayerConnect for some guest blogs my friends have been posting. So exciting!

So, my hope for this post is that you realize what day it is, how the summer is flying by, and how lucky we are to enjoy this time together, even if it means we're munching on carrots at the pool, dodging random rain storms, and cursing the hay process.

Happy July, everyone!