Sunday, November 27, 2016

Now That You're Ten

Dear Josie,

You're now old enough to read this blog and understand its purpose. I am writing this note to you as I write on every birthday, but today, it feels bigger. A whole decade has passed since you burst into our life in a quick, easy delivery. Ten years have passed since that terrible snowstorm, just a day after you came home from the hospital. The days afterward, I would wake up with you and worry how in the world I would handle two kids. Two girls.

Ha.

I write these notes because now, obviously, we have more than just you and your sister, and because of that, I have fallen short in the memory making department. I'm not very good at writing things in baby books, scrapbooking or even printing off pictures.

Sorry about that.

So I write.

I remember like it was yesterday holding you, marveling at how small you were. I remember listening to you have a full conversation with your Dad at lunch as a toddler, already arguing about napping or something. I remember the look of wonder you had on your face when Grammy brought you to the hospital when your baby sister Amelia was born, and remember the way you waved good bye to Jack as you headed onto the school bus for the first time as a kindergarten student. You have been such a wonderful helper with the twins, guiding them and entertaining them when necessary. You have taken to the stage, learned to play an instrument, lead a 1000+ pound animal in the show ring, all the while, keeping us on our toes.

A lot.

You are, and always have been, fiercely independent. This served you well as a baby, just 20 months shy of your big sister. However, it has proven to be a little difficult in a big family. You like to be alone, singing at the top of your lungs or tumbling in a space way too small to tumble. You have a strong network of friends, and, from where I see it, you are a good friend.

Like any parent does, we worry about you.
We caution you to "use your powers for good," as you have many. We worry that you will have to navigate a world that is unpredictable and different from what we have tried to create in our own little family.
We worry that with your independence, confidence and intense emotions, life may seem overwhelming at times. For ten years, we have tried to allow you to soar, but have had the ultimate say on your adventures, protecting you from the "hard stuff" we can keep from you.
However, in the next ten years, we'll have to let you go and let you fly. That makes me excited and a little apprehensive, maybe it's because I still see you as a little curly haired toddler...the one who, when asked what you wanted for Christmas, answered, "Long hair and a boyfriend." But what that toddler and this big girl today have in common is that you know what you want and you will figure out a way to get it.

(Not the boyfriend yet, though!)

You are just one of those kids that you know something big is going to unfold in front of you, and for that, I'm excited for the next ten years. Your dad and I will be watching you, keeping you in check and helping you figure out how to use those skills. Whatever you do, wherever you go, I expect our Little Jos will do something BIG.

Happy birthday, my spunky ball of fire. You are a light in our life, and I can't wait to see where that light will lead you.

Love,
Mom












Sunday, October 9, 2016

Two

Dearest Mary and Caroline,

As I sit here in our office at the end of a really full day spent celebrating you, I am tired. I am grasping for words because I feel like the obvious doesn't need to be stated.

We are truly in love with you.

This is surprising because being a parent to two two year olds is daunting. I'm nervous about potty training, keeping my eyes on you, keeping you busy in a productive and not destructive way, figuring out how to manage all the other kids' activities while keeping you from trying to head up onto the stage/court/field, because you feel a part of everything the other ones do.

That makes me smile just thinking about that image.

It was just two short years ago that I was truly concerned about how you'd fit into our tight knit foursome of kids. I was afraid you'd get lost in the shuffle. I obviously didn't account for your sparkling and individual personalities in this mix. You don't let yourself be forgotten or left out. Both of you, each in your own way, have found the way to fit into our now tight group of six kiddos.

Mary, you are definitely the one with the most "leadership" skills. Your spunk is only rivaled by your older sister, Josie, making your opinions know with the best expressions: verbal and non-verbal. We love your heart for your little sister, protecting her when she needs space ("Stop it." being your go-to phrase.). I'm in awe by your budding vocabulary, your love of dollies and the "chicken" (kitchen). Your pigtailed hair-do reflects the just a tad on the smarty side personality that I have loved since it started to unfold. You're going to be fun as the years fly by.

Caroline. You are still our little puzzle, however, your pieces are falling together in such a beautiful and intricate way, and one that I can neither predict or control. You have freaked us out to no end from the moment you entered this earth, but in your set backs (like breathing...), you have had such great victories in the past six months. You decided walking would be fine, so instead of slowly working at it, you just did it. Talking is next. I hear you. I hear you working on your sounds. I hear you trying to mimic me and your sister. I see you working on your expressions. You are a beautiful, curly haired mystery that keeps us guessing, and will continue to do so, as the years progress.

Girls, I admit it. I'm tired. There are days that I think back to your first years and wonder how we did it. There's no tried and true plan or book we read or whatever. We just did it out of love: out of love for you, for your sisters and brother and for each other. Love gives you energy when you don't have an ounce left to play in the sandbox, paint another picture, even give another bath. Love is what I can point as I sit in the office on a Sunday night after hosting two parties today, dropping off at another sleepover, and needing to do my Bible study homework that I'm two weeks behind on. Because I love you, I write this tribute, like I will every year, so we can remember the little things from the day and year.

Thank you for this love, girls. Because you came into our lives, we have felt a deeper love because of the hard stuff.  You have given me a new life, a new path, a new set of priorities and goals, and it's because of the wacky way you fit into our big, loud, busy family.

Happy, happy birthday my sweet twins. May you have sweet dreams of cupcakes and Cozy Coupes tonight.

Love,
Mom









Tuesday, August 30, 2016

An Exceptional Life in Moderation

*Disclaimer: I realize that I made a sweeping post about how this blog had to be on hiatus. Some eat their feelings. I write mine. Lucky you.

My Grandma Mary lived 102 years on this Earth.

102 years.

In her years, she saw so much advancement. The highway that now cars zip past over 60 (or more) miles per hour, was once a dirt road where she and her sisters played tennis.

Lying in twin beds with my brother, she used to tell us stories of her getting a ride in the sleigh to church or school on winter days, pulled by a HORSE. A HORSE! The eight year old Emily freaked out at a HORSE taking Grandma to school. I was also the kid who had to be told what the window cranks in a car were. #firstworldkid

When a cousin of mine was trying to convince Grandma of the importance of the Internet and its impact on the world, Grandma answered simply, "Can you imagine something else making such an impact? Electricity."

Mic drop.

She headed to college during the Depression, wanting to be a school teacher. She did it bit by bit, coming home to teach in the country school alternately, saving money for the next semester's tuition.

She was a third grade teacher, most famously, in the local school district. While her world was small (never having lived any place for too many years but the home her father built when she was born), her reach was broad. When I moved back to the area and would reference her, there were so many former students who expressed their gratitude and love for Mrs. Shortness.

She was kind, understanding, level headed, smart, and soft spoken. Where I came from, I have no idea. However, this woman is exceptionally organized, one of my better qualities that must have come from her genetics. There are empty closets in her home. She has labeled everything. My girls each have a quilt from either Grandpa or Grandma's families. They all have a tiny white bag (that she sewed) with a note on a small piece of yellow legal paper explaining who made the quilt and sometimes for whom. No fluffy story, no long explanation. Just the important facts.

That's Grandma Mary.

She is an exceptional woman who lived an exceptional life, but exercising exceptional moderation.

She believed in exercise, working in her garden, walking the farm, playing sports as a young (and somewhat cavalier) lady. However, when I took up marathoning, she asked me if that particular distance was necessary. When I explained my reasons, she remarked, "Everything in moderation, Emily."

Duly noted.

When dinners were served at Grandma's (and by dinners, I mean lunch), it was an affair. A main dish followed by colorful sides. Always. Potatoes, fruit, veggies...a cheese and pickle tray. Her homemade rolls. Pie for dessert. However, in typical Grandma Mary manner, she always ate slowly. Not because she was overly chatty, just because she enjoyed small servings of all the dishes slowly. Pie was usually the dessert of choice, and if you were Grandma, you'd truly enjoy it because you had room. You ate everything in moderation.

Except ice cream.

And pop.

Those were the things she despised, but never made a stink about it, just said no thank you and moved on.

Oh these stories make me miss her. I am so lucky. Grandma was something special. She was so influential in my decisions. When I would do something ridiculous in college or even now make some smarty comment, I feel remorse when I think about what Grandma would feel if she knew about my actions.

She set an example that was good and a bar that is high. I'm hoping to achieve that.

There are so many more stories and happy times I could share, but I know that you all have memories of loved ones that are similar.

I will leave you all with this perspective. In a world where excess of stuff, loud voices, extreme opinions and craziness are celebrated, a life like Grandma's, one in moderation, is one that should be highlighted. This was a life that was lead in a way that the world should look to. I am so lucky to have had such an influence in my life, one that was shared in my children's life, and one that I will always cherish.

Thank you, Grandma Mary for teaching me to live a life in moderation, but having loved me in abundance for 38 years.
Grandma and Amelia at the first of their many shared birthday parties.

Grandma holding Amelia just after she was born. She drove to our house that day at age 95!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's Not You; It's Me

Hey friends.
Remember me?
I'm Emily, your resident farm wife.

Hi there.

Well, it's been a summer of change. I know, shocker. We seem to love change around here!

Just to catch you up, at the end of the school year, Joe stepped out of his teaching role and walked back into farming. He is working for a farm as the head herdsman. While teaching will always be a passion for Joe, cattle raising as a profession trumps all others in his book. Well, almost all. I would like to think raising cows runs a close second next to helping raise our family. I'm sure that's true. ;)

But besides Joe starting back into farming, I have stepped into a full time working role. Yep. You read that right. I'm working. A real, paying job with deadlines and everything.
I know. I'm so excited!!! But, I have heard it all: you're so busy with your kids, why work? You'll have to balance so much, why work? Aren't you happy as a mom? Your kids will grow so fast, there's plenty of time to work.

Yes, I understand and appreciate and ROLL MY EYES at all the folks who think they understand our family dynamic.

I may be crazy.
I might be stressed at times.
I may be busy.

However, for the past five years, I have felt unrest. I have felt like I have more to offer. I felt like God gave me these talents, and I wasn't using them. I'm not saying that mothering isn't a super important and worthy job, there was just a little voice inside of me that kept nagging to be heard. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that I felt sometimes that my soul was dying a slow death thanks to an overdose of grilled cheese, laundry and Daniel Tiger.

That's why I started this blog. It's why I podcast with Holly. It's why I accept speaking engagements.

I'm a worker, friends. I like working. I like challenges. I love the chase of balancing it all, working on a schedule. I thrive on deadlines and lists. Even in my at-home mom days, I made a list of things to do, kept my running mileage on my calendar, crossed things off I already had done. I like accomplishing things.

It's not that I'm not happy being just mom to my kids. There's a huge trend to slow down, enjoy life, figure out how to do less.

That's not in my nature.

So. Here we are.

Luckily, this position I accepted is a work-at-home opportunity. It's flexible. It works with my people connecting skills and is based in my home county. So far, so good.

But here's the deal, people. I may have to press pause now and again with my blog. I love this space. I love you especially my dear readers. I get a little emotional thinking about the friends I have made through this blog. I love the voice I have created and the stories that I have written are way more detailed than the empty baby books my last three children have. Thank goodness for this space!

I love the brand I have created, even if I STINK at marketing myself. I am proud that Confessions of a Farm Wife is mine. I am happy to be known as Emily the Farm Wife, even if "farm wife" is sometimes thought of negatively.

In reflecting upon the seven years I have written, I have pretty much laid it all out to you: the good times, the gross times, the sad times, the crazy times, the funny times. You have read my life like a book, only I still haven't really written one yet. YET. You have been with me through the births of three of my kids. You watched our house lift up off its foundation. You cried with us during the sickness and end of life of dear family members. Your words of kindness made the ick of walking away from farming less sad.

Lots of life changes have unfolded in this space, and the way you readers have supported my family, I am so, so thankful.

You will never know how grateful I am for this space. Often times, social media can get a bad rap. It can be fake. It can be judgmental. People use it to promote weird agendas. People lay out their lives in perfectly placed Instagram filtered ways. People edit. My life, however, is not perfect. There are lots of filters used, but it's generally to hide the fact that the wood floor underneath the cute child is so dirty, you can see where footprints have "cleaned" some of it.

Life is not perfect or pretty all the time, and yet from my view, it's just as beautiful if you keep everything as real as possible. I have tried to maintain this belief through this space. I have tried to always be true to myself, our story, our life on this platform. It's ironic I talk about organics in a smarty tone around here...I couldn't be any more organic of a blogger! I'm still on a blogspot platform. This is about as pure and simple of a blog following as you can get!

Because of this organic, true following, you readers gave me the confidence to step out of the realm of just mothering and agriculture. Your kind words and response to my writing, speaking, everything fueled my unrest in a good way. I knew there was more for me, and I feel like this new opportunity is a chance I had to take.

But with new chances, new roles, new opportunities, comes a time of transition. It's the end of summer here (CAN I GET AN AMEN??). The kids have not had too many changes thanks to loving in-home care babysitters who have allowed me to work quietly in my bedroom as they play and take them to the pool. However, as school starts and my deadlines come closer, I am sure that there will be stories to tell, but hardly any time to tell them!

So. If it feels like we're breaking up, we're not. We're just becoming "friends," It's not you; it's me. I need space to grow. I need to find out who I am...what other bad break up line can I drum up from my really crappy dating history?

Regardless of my frequency of posts, friends, I love you. Truly. I just need time to figure this all out. Harvest will be upon us soon, and with that will come the end of a season. Maybe by then I'll have this figured out. But for now, stay with me on Facebook and keep up with us on Instagram. Life will continue to march around here, just following a different set of marching orders.

Thank you again for your support. It's been really, really fun, and I can't wait to see the read the rest of this story.

xo,
Emily




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!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Highest Highs, the Lowest Lows, and Who Stands With You

So this week hasn't exactly been one that I have felt like I have been rocking at life.

Let's just say that when life hands you a present in the form of a child with some sort of issue that may cause you to want to burn your house down, contents and all, and that day happens to be your birthday, one of the most beautiful spring days in the history of days, and a Friday, you may just want to throw in the towel.

Moving on...we are now clear, and the upside is our house has been spring cleaned.

Ahem.

Anyway, if you've been a devoted reader, you may remember that our life is like any other: unpredictable. But for a person who finds deep delight in planning, this element of human existence causes great angst. Specifically in the past seven days, I have been able to truly be alone in my thoughts, vacuum humming in the background, and I have taken stock of the people around me.

My tribe.

Do you ever do that? Take a moment to savor the life breath that is friends? Make a mental note of those who can understand your idiosyncrasies, who will drop things and show up, who will counsel you, challenge you, support you, listen to you, cry with you, and make you laugh. Hard.

Side note: you men who are reading this may think this is not for you, but DON'T STOP. This will help you and the woman in your life.

I'm talking tribes, friends. I'm talking about people who will celebrate with you in the highest of highs and hug you tight during the lowest of lows.

This week has not been a stellar one for the Webels. Nothing earth shattering, just issue compounding upon issue. The usual juggling of life, coupled with Joe easing into his new role while still keeping the Ag teacher duties going strong, and things like the child sent home with her "issue" (not to be said above a whisper), and then things like a flat tire.

Stuff that makes for funny stories.

One day, but not today.

This stuff, for a type A, crazy mother of six who has to have a plan that is fool proof to keep the wheels (or tires) on her bus rolling, causes strife. And, because I am who I am, causes me to feel alone.

Loneliness is something I have struggled with my whole life. As a kid, I never felt like I had a bestie. Prayed for a homecoming date. Hoped to HECK I was accepted into a sorority. I never felt like I fit in anywhere, and, unfortunately, still have those moments. Where we live, the sheer amount of children we have, the fact that I am at home alone all day with aforementioned children all feeds my innate sense of loneliness.

This is not true, though. This has NEVER been true.

I am NOT alone.

This week was a stellar example of this. In the moments that I started to feel truly sorry for myself my inner core of friends was working on me, softening my heart to the hardness that loneliness tends to create.

These friends get me.

Do you have friends like this?

They are the friends who make the phone call that was perfectly timed. They are friends who offer to come and help during the yuckiest of yuck during the busiest of times. They support you in your career endeavors, even when there's really no "career" yet. They're the friends who take you to dinner and present you with the ONE THING that you have coveted, and it's silly and frivolous, but they GET YOU and all your silly loves in life.

Namely: Tory Burch.

Ahem, again.

Anyway, I encourage you today dear reader to take stock in your tribe. Invest in them the way they invest in you. Quit feeling lonely and find a friend (I'm talking to myself, mainly.). You may think that you're alone in this game of life that is a crap shoot of mess and vacuuming, but there are people there who love you, pray for you, and support you for who YOU are.

So today as I sit and write this, I am inspired by my tribe. I cannot express how much loneliness has been abated thanks to friends this week. While my life situation is not grim in the slightest, friends who empathize, sympathize and pass you a beer when you need it the most are ones that make you able to endure whatever is sent your way.

Today, seek out your tribe and thank them. Stand firm in the belief that they love you no matter what, and that they'll stand with you. And if they're my people, they'll always make sure I'm standing in cute shoes! Ha!
Exhibit A of how my tribe gets me.



Friday, April 15, 2016

Preview to Mother's Day Podcast!!

Hi friends!

Happy spring! It's finally consecutively warm and spring like. My kids were dirty and tired today from fresh air and no grass (still a construction zone around here!). Anyway, with days like today, my mind starts to wander to all things spring!

What says spring more than Mother's Day???

If your Farmer Joe, you're probably rolling your eyes because today is actually my birthday. He is easily stressed by the giving of gifts, which is unfortunate, as my love language happens to be within the gift category.

His does NOT.

So each birthday, holiday, whatever is met with the phrase, "I want you to keep your expectations at a low level."

Nice, huh?

Gifts stress Joe out.

Do you have a dude like that? Are YOU like that? How about birthdays for the other women in your life?

Well, you're in luck! Holly (read her preview blog here) and I are compiling the go-to gift guide for all the gals in your life! Even better, we're going to be podcasting about it next week! GET EXCITED!

Now, while we have been busily gathering some of our favorite things, we are always up for new and creative things. Are you a person who has a small business with goods or services that cater to women? Are you someone who would like to be featured on our blogs?

If you are, go ahead and email me at farmwife.emily@gmail.com, and we can consider you for a spot on our coveted list.

Well, maybe the list isn't coveted, but still.

We are so excited about this, and hope that it will be helpful to you in your shopping season!

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Having Your Chickens and Eating Them, Too

So our town has a "What's Going On" Facebook page.

Do any other small towns, or big ones for that matter, have this?

Generally speaking, it's a platform for people to share community events, thus the name. However, on many occasions- many, many occasions- it's a space where people feel free to take their issues with the town, the school, dogs, cats, police, politics, etc., to the MASSES.

And friends, it is GOLD.

Facebook at it's finest, friends.

Last night, there was a thread about some rogue chickens who were running amuck in the residential areas of Farmington. A woman was genuinely concerned about these chickens, who are "street legal" to have in Farmington, but they were free range and eating her garden seeds.

Honestly.

Free range.

In town.

biiiiiiiiiggggggg siiiiiigggggghhhh

Friends.

I get it. Fresh eggs are amazing. A fryer chicken tastes better. But SERIOUSLY. Free range in town. Now, I don't know the terms of having town chickens, but I can imagine that there are some regulations on how "free range" you can have them.

Again, no disrespect to those who want chickens in town. But let's be realistic here people. You can't have your chickens and eat them too, or something like that.

Can we all just take a moment to assess how we live, and how it may affect those around us? I was a person who lived in town. If people's dogs, cats, trash, whatever were roaming or blowing around in our yard, it's a nuisance. If I were in town and playing outside with my little kids, and a chicken came to hang out, I would be alarmed. Not because of a danger, just because I LIVE IN TOWN.

Also, are we still in Fulton County, or is this a third world country? When Joe was in his traveling days, he saw cattle roaming in the streets of India...among other things. If we let the chickens be free and wild, what's next? Outside hogs in the park areas? Goats instead of trash pick up?

I'm really kidding, but I feel like we're getting a little bit greedy. Our society wants to be all Green Acres with the convenience of living in town, but this is just insane.

So, those of you with town chickens, can I please ask you to consider getting a coop for your fine feathered friends, because it's starting to affect my productivity. I have spent way too long reading 65+ comments on Facebook!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Food Deserts, First World Problems, and New Friends

Hi everyone!

Does anyone in the northern part of the world feel like it's never going to warm up? It's currently 50 degrees, and I'm considering opening the windows! In my driveway, the planter is unfurled and being calibrated. That's a sign that spring is coming, right?

With this dawn of a new season comes a fresh podcast for you to listen to as you're thinking about cleaning out the garage, picking up sticks or going for that run outside (can you tell what I'm thinking of doing???). In March, Holly Spangler and I recorded with our new friend, Natasha Nicholes (who blogs here. It's a beautiful blog, and she's an interesting, layered individual. Worth your time.). Natasha and Holly met each other as they were both on an Illinois Farm Families Farm Tour; Holly on the farmer side, and Natasha as the Chicago mom.

Being a person who ALWAYS wanted to live in the city, having Natasha on our panel that day was fascinating. It was a short discussion, but in the podcast, I learned that Chicago is a place of food deserts. The land I thought was full of choices, actually has a lot of pockets where people cannot find groceries other than from a convenience store.

So fascinating.

And sad.

We also discussed a few funny first world problems, and wound up leaving the conference as new friends.

And the crowd goes: Awwwwwwww.

Seriously, people, it's been a YEAR. One year since we last podcasted. I'm hoping to remedy that with some tweaking once Jack starts school next fall. Until then, enjoy this podcast of Confessions of a Farm Wife, On Location.

It may be another year, so listen carefully!

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/258529836&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false"

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Road Less Traveled

*Disclaimer: Please, Salem Township, if you're reading this, do NOT take this post as a reason to NOT consider us for tar and chip, dust deterrent, or even a little more gravel now and again. This is merely a reflection on finding the good in the EVIL that is the gravel road.

And now back to the post:

Our house sits about three quarters of a mile from the "hard road." That means, gravel for almost a mile. We know all too well the affects of gravel on our life. Dust hitting your face as we're playing and a car drives by; deciding which windows to open in the warmer months based on the wind direction; many, many, many flat tires repaired and sets of new tires purchased.

Friends, it is a complete nuisance to live on this road. Joe says if you want to know what roads were like in the 1920s, come down ours.

Ugh.

However, I'm turning a new leaf. I think it may be because after 10 years on this homestead, I have decided to embrace the gross.

Today as I was headed down my last leg of my run, I noticed prints. Not the typical deer tracks or bunny tracks I see on the soft side of the road, they were "man boot" prints.

Hmmm.

If it were the entrance to a pasture or our neighbor's hunting house, I wouldn't have been concerned. However, these were just past the timber draw that is about a quarter of a mile from the corner.

You might be from a road that is less traveled if you're noticing foot traffic from an unknown shoe.

However, as I searched both sides of the timber to see if a hunter, vagrant or other ax murderer was going to pluck me from existence, it dawned on me.

The good folks at Wright Tree Service trimmed trees this week! Those were the boot tracks from the nice young man who stopped my car to explain what they were doing as I drove to town on Thursday.

You might be on a road that is not heavily traveled if,  on Saturday, one can note visible footprints from Thursday.

I chuckled at my stealth like observation skills and small town-ness as I headed the last bit of my run home. But besides feeling like such a hick from the sticks, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and frankly, safety as I stepped into my house. While our road sometimes serves as a cut-through for the local drunks, headed from one small town bar to another, and a few dogs have lost their lives thanks to travelers on this path, we are generally pretty safe out here. We recognize who's coming down the road, who's slowing, and who's "not from here." We wave to neighbors, passing farmers and those we don't even know. We may be a dusty and lonely house on this road, but we're friendly bunch.

Again, I'm not saying that there aren't days I would give anything for a paved road so the kids could ride bikes, and I could have a clean car for more than the 30 minutes drive from the "good car wash." I just realized that with all the dust and grime and muck and all that, our road gives us a sense of safety.

And an appreciation for winds from the north.



Thursday, March 31, 2016

On Writing and Speaking and Other Highlights

Well.

It is now Thursday, and I just realized that tomorrow will be APRIL.

As in, the month in which I celebrate a birthday.
The month we generally start planting.
The month of FFA Banquet.
The month I run a half marathon.
The month of three, yes, three concerts at school.
The month that boasts Fridays off, thanks to no snow days and no Spring Break.

Otherwise known as, the month I may go crazy.

Or crazier.

Either way.

Anyway, March was a month that fueled my soul, professionally and personally. I am so, so lucky to call a group of really amazing professionals, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, whatever--friends. We all met in the Chicagoland area to not just celebrate our friend Holly's 40th birthday, but to gather to support each other and attend a women's conference. These ladies are a part of an online Bible Study I participate in, and you'll never know it, but I was SO FREAKED and GEEKED out when I read their bios. These are women who are leaders in the communications field, both in the agriculture and "general" sectors. So, when one is asked to post on a book one is reading, and one's audience is one that includes people WHO EDIT and WRITE for a living, one stay-at-home mom turned blogger maaaaaaaayyyy do a little bit more editing than usual! Ha!
My tribe at the Kelly Minter Conference

It was Holly's birthday!! And, we had HOURS in the car on the way up to talk! 
Credentials aside, this group has become my tribe, and while they have prayed for me and supported me through the birth of the twins, job changes, house remodels, etc., getting together and actually seeing their faces has solidified our roles as supporters and friends.

Plus, we got a house in Chicago from Air B&B (B'n'B?? I obviously didn't book it!), and MEGADEATH was across the street for a concert, Ethiopian food was consumed, and many, many, many funny stories were told.

My advice to you: get a group of people who are in it for you, even if they live far away, get together with them, and you'll be a better friend and care giver and mom and wife and whatever to your people closest to you.

The End.

Might I also add that I spent time with my sweet, college bestie? Lori has been with me through thick and thin, and when she was in a horrible car accident recently, I made it a point to make her house a stop during this time up north. She is lucky to be alive, and while has sustained lots of broken bones and continual pain, she's a fighter, friends. Would you please keep her in your prayers as she recovers, and if you feel like you're getting road rage, don't pull out in front of oncoming traffic.
Okay, so Lori and I didn't get a picture together, but this is from our walk down memory lane trip back to our college campus!

The End, again.

But not really, because the next week, I was able to take to the road and speak at the Stephenson County Cattlemen's Annual Meeting. I wrote my talk just 12 short hours after being completely fueled by my weekend getaway, so to say that I was on fire for Jesus and agriculture and writing would be an understatement! My talk was well thought out, written in complete solitude (thanks to my Monday morning babysitter!! !), and I delivered it well to a very friendly and engaging audience. Plus, the ride up to Freeport, Illinois was about 3 hours from my own home, so Serial was binge listened to, and my heart was soaring because I knew after I spoke, I would be staying the night in a hotel room all by myself (like a big girl) that night! Yay for Diet Coke in a king sized bed and March Madness basketball games!

Yes, I was stopped, and YES I was excited!


Yay.

Because the next day...I drove to the Women in Agriculture conference in the Quad Cities to be a part of our annual live podcast (is it now annual, since we've done it two years in a row??), after spending time with my good Farm Bureau friends, Holly Spangler (my partner in crime), and others.

Podcasting with Holly and Natasha, a Chicago Illinois Farm Families City Mom
It sounds like I spent a lot of time away from my family, and it also sounds like that makes me a happy person.

Well, the answer to that is yes, and YES. Friends, it's not that I don't adore my family. My husband and kids are my number one priorities, but for nearly 18 months, I haven't been able to step away from my life as Mom Emily into Working Emily.

These past weekends spent with friends old and new, in professional settings and in my jammies are ones that make me a better me. That make me see that while I am in the thick of diapers and shuttling and haircuts and concerts and planting and days off, there will be a time that I will look in the mirror without a friend asking why I'm filling in my eyebrows or plucking out the gray hairs. There will be a time that my shuttle bus will just have me in it and my appointments to get to.

Weekends away let me catch a glimpse of this life so that I can endure the crazy that will be my life for years to come.

So, I am refreshed. I am renewed, and I am ready to tackle April.

Or at least celebrate my birthday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

All About the Ladies

Happy International Women's Day!

Did you even remember this day?

Or are you like me because if it wasn't for Facebook to remind me about this day, you'd just think today was a Tuesday?

Either way, let's celebrate the ladies today, shall we? We are heavy on the female side in our house, so Farmer Joe is probably thinking it IS just a Tuesday, since every day needs to be somewhat of a Women's Day at the Webels!

What makes today interesting to me is that there's also a hashtag and selfie celebration: #ilooklikeafarmer, #FarmHer, and #farmlikeagirl. I have really enjoyed seeing all the pictures of how women are making their presence known in agriculture, pictured with their calves, doing hog chores, hauling hay, working ground.

It's pretty amazing how much a woman truly farms.

However, once again. There's no "me" in these pictures. I'm just over here, fixing lunches, playing with sidewalk chalk and, currently, blogging about my farm life, but I feel like my picture would inevitably just look more like a "Tuesday," and less like a celebration.

While I see myself as someone who is active in the agricultural realm, I am a part of our operation way, way in the background. My pictures would be me flying a kite with Jack with a very, very rural background, but my job is technically one that is not just "farming."

I'm not writing this to get a "you do so much, Emily," pat on the back or a "you're really not a farmer, so celebrate just being a woman," I'm just saying that I need to get over myself and take a dang picture, because my job on this farm, in this operation, is just as important as one that requires a CDL or chemical application license. 

And this is to be celebrated, too.

It's my own insecurities in the agriculture world that are holding me back. So many of my ag friends are ones that wear heels more than boots, but can talk manure spreading, nitrogen, and crop insurance. They are women who spend a majority of their time traveling and talking and teaching, and then come home to Carhartts and chores.

This group of "FarmHers" is pretty amazing. We're so multifaceted and so diverse, there's not one picture that depicts us as a "farmer."

So today, I am celebrating my life as a FarmHer. While I hardly know how to run the lawnmower, I have a role on this farm, and I am going to celebrate myself alongside those who are the true farmers.
Doing my #FarmHer specialty: blogging!


Thanks for celebrating all of us today. 

Side note: I'm also not writing this to get the men all riled up. You're important, too, and you wear many hats, but today, it's about the girls.

I promise to sing your praises on National Men's Day...whenever Facebook tells me to.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Navigating Into the Unknown

Oh Anna.

You are eleven today.

While my previous birthday posts have been awash with memories, this one is going to be a little different.

Today you woke up, and proclaimed to be one year older, more mature, a grown up kid. Even though your birthday signifies the passing of another year, I have been watching this transformation unfold for a while now.

Since you are the oldest in our long line of kids, I believe that you have had to grow up a lot faster, become more responsible, and learn how to wait more so than any of your other siblings.

This has helped you.

This will help you.

This experience will allow you to mature into an amazing young woman.

Obviously, I can't ignore the fact that you look older. Physically, you stare at me straight in the eye. You have to bend down so I can put your hair in a pony tail. I am so grateful for your growing up (and for things like giving me your cowboy boots and letting me "borrow" your North Face!).

However, what's been happening under our noses for the past year is something bigger than just your mark on our height chart. Emotionally, you're learning how to navigate this world we live in. You're starting the journey into the unknown abyss, commonly referred to as JUNIOR HIGH.

Oh friend, I know. Junior high was not my best time.

However, I feel like you're hitting my sweet spot as a parent. You see, before I was Mom, I was Miss Mottaz/Mrs. Webel. Kids just like you, just at this age would come to me, 25ish at a time, every day. I feel like those few years in the classroom have prepped me for being your mom right at this moment. When I taught, I had to have talks about broken hearts, hurt feelings, weird emotions, and hard growing up times.

Here's the good news:

You're going to be fine. You're going to be great, actually, because you're a great kid already. This unknown, this age eleven, might get tricky. It might feel weird. It might make you upset or angry or annoyed or extremely happy. Who knows?

But here's the great part:


What's amazing about this unknown is that you're going to get to start to make all sorts of neat and important decisions.

On your own.

You've been a girl who has been true to her self for as long as you could talk, so I think this will make for some fun times. I want you to know that even though you're gaining and earning more independence, your dad and I are always here to help. This is a time when you'll want to do things on your own. That's totally normal, absolutely welcome. It will be hard for Dad and me, because we have always been your go-tos when it comes to decision making. We are still here, and will always be on your side, even though some times it may feel like we're not. Your best interest is always our first priority; your character one that we are taking great pride in helping you develop. Dad and I are intent on keeping you safe, fed, healthy, close to God, well rounded and well educated, but you're getting to the point that we are letting your spread your wings a little.

A little (you're still our little girl, remember?).

I know eleven isn't exactly when you decide where you go to college or who you marry, but there are times that you're going to be faced with situations that need good judgement and a cool head. I know you can do it. You are made for bigger things than what age eleven will bring, but this is the time we're going to watch you blossom to be ready for those times. You can do it. You can navigate through this time of weirdness (aka, age eleven), and come out being more awesome than before.

Eleven years have flown, my dear. I can remember what I wore to the hospital, what you looked like the minute they placed me in my arms. You had fingernails, which just baffled me (and made me realize I should have paid better attention in my biology class). In eleven more years, you'll be twenty two, on your way to even bigger, greater unknowns, but the foundation for those decisions is being laid right now.

What I know, amidst this sea of unknown, is that you are a talented, happy, smart, beautiful young lady. I still catch glimpses of the little girl I remember from age 2, 4 and 6. You know, the one who had that bouncy walk, blond curls, and the one that would wear whatever I wanted you to. Ha! While that little girl is just under the surface, the young woman that is emerging is one that is going to make a mark on this world.

I'm so proud of you Anna. I'm so in awe of the God that placed you in our family, entrusting us with your precious heart. Thank you for being YOU. Keep being you. That will help you navigate these next years.

I can't wait to watch.

Love,
Mom






Tuesday, February 23, 2016

FFA Week from an FFA Family

It's National FFA Week, friends!

Have you been celebrating?

If you're friends with anyone agriculturally geared, you may have seen Facebook posts and pictures of kids (who are now adults) in their FFA jackets. You will read really great perspectives on how FFA has allowed opportunity, growth, challenges, and ways that have strengthened character.

And that is awesome.

That is FFA.

However, can I just give you another perspective? Can I allow you to peek into the window of the world of an FFA advisor's family? While this extra curricular is a part of many agriculture teacher's contract, there are many, many interpretations FFA programs can take. It's like anything, you can make it or you can fake it.

My husband, however, makes it.

And that is awesome.

The program is thriving. Joe inherited a historically good program, and with his continued guidance and ability to groom young individuals, they have carried on this tradition. The kids have "bought in" to Joe's philosophy of professionalism, and just yesterday, one of the bus monitors, who's son is in his class, stopped our oldest to tell her how Joe has been helping her son become a fine young gentleman.

That's awesome.

There are many, many, many positives to FFA. I have sung its praises since I have realized that it wasn't just big trucks and camo and cattle (Sorry Dad...and Mr. Main...and all you FFA-ers).

There are also the parts of being an FFA advisor that the kids don't realize, heck, some parents don't either.

There are the 16 Saturdays that Joe missed last year from December to April because of contests. 16. While parents carted their kids to basketball and birthday parties, we spent our Thursday nights and into Friday arranging for car pools and grandparents to care for kids and get them to where they needed to be.

There are the late, late nights spent driving an activity bus to public speaking, parli pro, horse judging. Joe will have nights that he doesn't get home until after the kids are in bed, and leaves before the littlest Webels rise.

Because on top of these extra things that are grooming great adults, there's the classes he actually has to teach, papers to grade, lessons to plan.

Friends, FFA is great. This is not a post knocking its ability to consume an advisor's life, but there are sacrifices your advisor took/takes to make it a great experience. We are proud of Joe, and all of our friends who are teachers and advisors. Those programs, however, are not just built during school time. Those kids don't magically get to the ski trip, the hockey game, the summer camp without the help of an advisor, time spent figuring out rides and costs, or a family back home that had to plan everything around the next event. Families of FFA folks need to be commended. We are a family that has learned to adapt and plan as well as appreciate FFA.

This FFA family is breeding another generation of members. We think we may have some officer candidates, livestock judgers, etc. It because of the way of life FFA promotes, our kids have it in their DNA.

So while you're enjoying all the great throwbacks and memory posts, take a second to consider your teacher and your teacher's family and how their love for FFA and sacrifice for family time, Saturday mornings, late nights have allowed you to be who you are today.

Maybe buy them a cup of coffee or a Mountain Dew while you're at it...they might be tired from the night before's activities.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

And Now, You're 41

Farmer Joe is 41 today.

Unfortunately, and probably because it’s my doing, our morning was just like a typical Saturday morning. Joe burns many candles at many ends. In the Facebook group, Farm Hats, he could share picture after picture of the different hats he wears in a day: farmer, cattleman, accountant, teacher, father, vet, Farm Bureau board member, kid chauffeur, etc., etc.

Today, it was a quick kiss and he was out the door to vaccinate calves.

While the morning was nothing special, Farmer Joe to this family is. Quite frankly, without him, this blog wouldn’t exist! Where would most of my material come from??

Ha, ha.

Joe, like most dads and husbands, goes through the day and just doing what they should, and often try to stay out of the way, stay out of the spot light. I appreciate this, as I am a spot light lover, and try to be in charge at all times.

So it works.

Ha, again.

I’m very thankful for another year on this earth with my farmer. We have navigated a lot in our time as a family. These past few years especially have been filled with loss, transition, sadness, confusion, happiness, relief, and some sleep now and again. We have rewritten our story, usually starting these new chapters with a hearty, “Well, here we go, and where is it we’re going?”

Maybe it’s because he’s older than me and wiser (wink, wink), his go with the flow attitude is the ying to my yang. Although I fight it, begging him at times to get upset about something with me, it is good for me to have this balance. I am grateful for this difference in our personality.

It works.

Whether it’s listening to him parent our big girl, telling her to care more and hold her head high because she’s a Webel, or watching him rough house with Jack, throwing him a little higher than makes me comfortable, he is truly a strong, loving dad to our kids. Hearing him encourage our middle two girls as they navigate being the middle two girls is comforting. Watching our twins light up when he walks through the door…these are all things that make the season of our life, sometimes the drudgery of being in the thick of it all, bearable and, frankly, enjoyable.

So now, you’re 41, Farmer Joe.

What’s this year going to bring? A little change, a little time off (maybe?), a little more life lived in a seemingly small way that is really making a big impact on our life.

Thanks for being my partner in this world. Thanks for enjoying my company at all times, right? Thanks for understanding that we’ll some day celebrate somewhere fancy or not, but for today, we’ll just celebrate you with chocolate cake and presents.

Because that works, right?

Happy Birthday, Farmer Joe!