Thursday, March 31, 2016

On Writing and Speaking and Other Highlights


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!


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.