November Musings

img_3701When I started my blog this summer, I had good intentions of posting regularly. In no big surprise to myself, I have not blogged as often as I hoped. A fellow writer, Molly Flinkman, does a monthly blog post with a round up of what she’s written and read in the past month. I am going to try this out and see what happens. So, here goes!

//What I Read//

I love reading; but find myself going through spurts where I read non-stop followed by a dry season where I don’t read at all. This fall was mostly a “dry” season in reading for me, but I picked back up the last month and read five books in November (two were audio).

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
“When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.”

I really liked this book and would call it a romantic mystery. I’m not a huge fan of thrillers (i.e. being scared), so this one fit the bill perfectly for me. It kept me guessing the whole time and I was not right in any of my predictions. I gave this book 4.5 stars on Goodreads (if you could give half stars).

Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart by Becky Thompson
This was a pretty quick read and it felt like Becky was talking right to you. She recently Skyped into our MOPS meeting and I enjoyed reading her book after “talking” to her in real life. I felt like I knew her a bit and enjoyed her story.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
“Set in a remote health-and-wellness retreat, presided over by a very intriguing and charismatic guru figure, Nine Perfect Strangers introduces us to nine different characters with very little in common. Each has a compelling reason for coming to the retreat. Some seek healing while others wish to be transformed.”

I have read all of Liane Moriarty’s books, I think this is her 6th or 7th one. This book was admittedly not my favorite; but it was still a good read.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
“Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.”

I don’t always enjoy audiobooks: my mind wanders and I suddenly realize I have not been listening and have no idea what’s going on. This audiobook was 15 hours, which makes it the longest book I’ve ever finished on audio! The narrator did a great job with the different accents and characters, which made it a really fun listen. This is a must-read/listen!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
This book is our December book club pick of the month. I don’t remember reading it as a kid, and Rich and I listened to it on audio while we were traveling for Thanksgiving. It was a short audio and a good read. Rich was driving, which meant I had more distractions and didn’t listen as well as I would have if I was driving. He kept me in the loop with what was going on when my mind started to wander.

My goal for 2018 was to read 40 books and I am currently at 47 (thank you to the Goodreads app for helping me keep track!). I hope to get to 50 by the end of December, but I’m currently in another reading slump, so we will see if that happens.

//What I Wrote//

Since April I have taken four writing workshops; two of them were this fall and I took them back-to-back. The second workshop was “Writing With Purpose” by Coffee + Crumbs writer, Sonya Spillmann. I highly recommend it for those who love to write. She is offering it again in February; click the link above to see if there are any spaces left! You won’t regret it. During this workshop I wrote a couple essays which I am still working on, and hope to submit for publication sometime in 2019. I also wrote an Instagram post that I shared yesterday about finding my purpose in a snack filled world.

At the beginning of November, “Finding Myself in the Laundry” was published on Sweatpants & Coffee.

My latest essay “A Farmer’s Son” comes out tomorrow on Her View From Home. I have been nervously waiting for this to be published. Some essays I am more proud of than others, and this is one of them. I wrote this essay during a workshop I took this summer from “Mothers Always Write” and the workshop happened to fall during the first week of harvest. This year the first week of harvest started out with taking Rhett to urgent care two days in a row, followed by a week of sickness for the family. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best time to try and take a workshop! But when I signed up I had no idea the week would turn out that way. I’m always nervous to see the comments on essays I have written, and I would say I am more anxious about this one than others. I’m not sure if it’s because of how I feel about the essay or more that I worry people will read it wrong and make assumptions about me. Probably both.

//Final Thoughts//

Last year I discovered that Coffee + Crumbs accepts guest submissions twice a year, and they don’t accept many. I put it on my list of goals for 2018 to submit an essay to them. I wasn’t brave enough to write down that I wanted to be published on C+C, just that I wanted to submit something I felt was good enough to submit. I wrote an essay in April and I saved it all summer to submit in their open submissions in September. Patience has never been a virtue of mine. Submissions opened in late September and I clicked submit for the first time to C+C. To say I felt anxious was an understatement; then I had to wait. For over a month I waited to hear back from them. At the end of October I finally received an email: it was accepted! I don’t know when it will be published yet, sometime in 2019. It felt like such an accomplishment and I can’t wait to see it on their website next year.

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Thanks for reading! Hopefully I can keep up with this each month (and maybe something in-between every now and then). This was fun – thanks for the inspiration, Molly!

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Myself in the Laundry

While the kids are happily playing together, I retreat to the laundry room. The laundry room also doubles as my study. I always feel rushed when taking time for myself, not knowing how long I actually have. In an effort to set a calming mood, I light my new candle. The scent of pink magnolias begins to enter the room.

I hear the towels going round and round in the dryer, along with the wool balls that hit the drum. I close my eyes and imagine the comfort of a fluffy, still-warm towel after a hot shower. Last year, this room was just a laundry room. I don’t know why I didn’t take notice of the space before; maybe it was the too cheery yellow walls that didn’t feel like me. Or maybe I wanted to spend the least amount of time with my washing machine as possible. One day I realized the space being used to hold my husband’s dresser would make the perfect desk for me. He happily agreed to move his clothes.

To find out what this photo has to do with my laundry room, click over to Sweatpants & Coffee to read my latest essay.

Fall Family Photos

Fall Family Photos

The last few years we have had family pictures almost every year due to our wedding, followed by maternity pictures, newborn pictures, etc. This year I am not pregnant, but still wanted a family photo. Rich thought he might get away with not having to take pictures this year, but he thought wrong. Because fall is one of my favorite times of year, I scheduled pictures in hopes of catching the beautiful fall colors. We have used Whitney Riehl Photography for many of our important family occasions over the last five years and once again, she did not disappoint. She captured the true moments of life with Rhett and Allie, aka herding cats.

Because I do love fall so much, I recently wrote an essay about this season. It was published on Sweatpants & Coffee in September.

“But fall is also when the days feel a bit slower and there is a certain feel to the air. The crisp mornings calling for a little more time in bed before starting the day. The evenings become shorter, the early darkness bringing your family in sooner. Fall is a season that feels like you can reach out and grab it, from the crunch of the leaves under your boots, to the bite in the air that can be soothed with a cozy scarf.”
To read the rest click over to Sweatpants & Coffee.

What are you favorite fall activities? Do you schedule family photos this time of year?

10 Reasons Farming is More Than You Might Think

In honor of National Farmer’s Day (October 12th), I thought I would share my essay that was published this past spring for National Ag Day (March 20th).
Five years ago I didn’t even know National Ag Week was a thing. Now that I’m a farmer’s wife, Ag Week is every week around here—it’s our livelihood. I think it’s telling to how important Ag is that it was given a whole week, not just one day. March 20th is National Ag Day, but the whole week is considered National Ag Week to recognize those who put food on the table, clothes on your back and much more.
Since it is National Ag Week, I thought this was a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned so far about Agriculture.
  1. Agriculture is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. The lines are blurred between work and family. When you work where you also live, it can be hard to separate yourselves from work. When you can look out your window and see all that needs to be done, it’s hard to take a day off.
  2. The weather dictates many parts of your lives. Before I married a farmer, my idea of checking the weather was looking out the window and seeing if it was raining, sunny, cloudy or snowing. Then I knew what the weather was. My husband is constantly checking the weather and knows what the forecast is for next week. Granted the forecast isn’t 100 percent accurate, but it gives you a good indication of what’s to come. It can also be devastating when the forecast shows a big rainstorm which then passes you by, not giving your crops the much-needed rain. Or the storm can stop right over your farm and pound you with hail, ruining all of your work in just a few minutes.
  3. Farmers and ranchers are intelligent people. There’s more to just planting a crop and hoping for the best. While a lot of farming is out of your control, (see #2) there are a lot of roles a farmer and rancher has: CEO, HR Director, agronomist, accountant, equipment operator and much more. Equipment and technology are always changing, which means a farmer must always be willing to learn and change, too.
  4. A farm and ranch might be the greatest place for kids to grow up. My son gets to ride in tractors on an almost daily basis and loves to go feed the cows with his papa. “Take your child to work” is a daily event and not just once a year. They learn about life and death from an early age and to not take life for granted.
  5. There’s an amazing community to be found in agriculture. Not only have I found an amazing community of women in my area, but also online. I had no idea how many blogs and Facebook pages there were that are dedicated to farming and ranching. I feel like I know a lot of these women, but we’ve never actually met. It makes the world feel a little smaller and more connected.
  6. We spend time together. Sometimes I complain about the long hours my husband is working, but there are days that I get to ride with him in a tractor or that he comes home for lunch. I know these are times I take for granted. If we were in the corporate world I would rarely, if ever, get to just hang out in his office while he was on the clock. And I definitely wouldn’t bring the kids along to climb all over his desk.
  7. Date night gets creative. When your farmer asks you to go with him, offer to drive unless you want to be the gate opener. Even if you feel like you have so much else you should be doing, go with him when you get the chance. Driving around is sometimes the only date you’ll get! Just make sure you wear the right footwear and don’t leave anything cooking on the stove. You’ll likely be gone longer than you plan.
  8. Things aren’t always what they seem. When you are out for a drive and you think your farmer is looking lovingly at you across the pickup, like he just can’t help but stare—he’s most likely looking past you and into the fields to check his crops. I actually learned this while we were dating, but it’s still true to this day.
  9. Your future labors and deliveries will be compared to calving and being a cow. Don’t be offended; your husband is amazed at how strong you are. And most likely he has a pretty strong stomach and you won’t have to worry about him passing out in the delivery room.
  10. Working from sunup to sundown isn’t just a phrase. In the summer months the work day is dictated by the sun. Your farmer will be up before dawn and likely won’t shut down the equipment until the last bit of sunlight leaves the sky. In the peak of summer this will be after 10 o’clock.
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My hope this week is that all consumers will take a few minutes to recognize where their food comes from. And when you’re picturing that farmer or rancher, know that there is likely a whole family working behind the scenes to bring the food to your table. Many of them are working on a second, third or fourth generation farm or ranch. They don’t take what they do for granted; it’s a passion and a calling. And less than two percent of the population are lucky enough to be here.

This essay was originally published on Her View From Home.

A Summer Story

Each time we take our kids on an overnight trip, I try to psyche myself up. “Let’s just go with the flow. We know they won’t go to bed on time. It’ll be fine.”
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This is our mantra: “It’ll be fine.” Sometimes if I say it enough I can convince myself it’s true. But at 10 p.m. when both kids are still awake, tensions rise. I wonder if I’ll ever sleep again. Can the people next door hear the kids sobbing? Can they hear my sighing as I wonder, “Why did we think this was a good idea?” Everything feels worse than it is.
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Later as I’m driving around with our youngest, in a final attempt at sleep, I see three teenage boys on bikes. It’s the peak of summer and although it’s nearly 10:30 at this point, sunlight hasn’t quite given up. I wonder if their moms know where they are. Are they worried? It’s hard to imagine that my kids will ever be old enough to be out on their own. Especially at night. But that day will come, and it’ll come faster than I expect. I imagine those nights will still be sleepless for me. Will I question every time they go out? Will my husband and I argue over why we thought it was a good idea? Or will we be relaxing and having a carefree summer night of our own?
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I hope I look back on these sleepless nights of vacation and remember the fun. I hope we laugh at the hard times; those moments that I can’t imagine laughing about now. While I’m still in the challenging years with little ones, I hope we keep taking the trips and making memories. Memories for us to talk about when our kids are out past dark.

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This post originally appeared on Coffee + Crumbs.

Married Date Night is Just My Style

“I’ve missed you,” my husband says as he reaches over to hold my hand across the cab of the pickup. I look at him and smile, “I missed you, too.” Even though we just walked out of the same house together, not really having a reason to miss one another. Tonight we are going on a date, just the two of us. It’s been awhile since we have gone out, too long to remember and too long to admit. Before we left the house my husband asked which vehicle I wanted to take, his or mine. I thought for a few seconds before replying, “Let’s take yours.”

Click here to read the rest of my story (https://herviewfromhome.com/married-date-night-is-just-my-style/).

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Rich and I in our dating days, with his pickup. 

Out of the Mouths of (Farm) Babes

“What’s that sound?” my son asks. I put my hand above my eyes to block the sun on this already too hot May day. Looking toward where the sound is coming from, I don’t see the farm equipment that is in question. I give a quick reply thinking it will suffice, “It’s just a tractor.” My three and a half year old promptly says, “No, it’s not. It’s the wheel loader.” Within a few seconds, the wheel loader drives around the shop into sight. And yes, there is a difference between a wheel loader and a tractor. Just ask my son. I then wondered why he asked me the question, when he already knew the answer.

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Rhett wearing his dad’s jean jacket from when he was a kid.

I truly have learned that “kids say the darndest things.” And Rhett just might top the list. Now that the weather has finally turned to summer, we have been spending more time outside. One day Rhett was trying to get his Gator into the shed and he said, “Mom, where’s my hooker?” I paused for a moment, wondering if he had been watching some TV show that I would not approve of. I started looking around the yard, trying to envision the world from his point of view. I soon saw what I assumed was his hooker. His blue tow strap was lying on the ground, just waiting to be hooked up to his Gator. I smiled and felt a sense of relief that he hadn’t learned a new word that I would hope he would never say at church. Although there is still the risk he will be looking for his hooker at church. We will have to have a conversation that hookers are only for the farm and not at church.

There are some moments in parenting when you immediately feel a rush of pride and feel that you are doing something right. Starting at a fairly young age, Rhett would fold his hands and pray with us before meal times. He started doing it without any prompting, he merely was copying us by folding his hands at his highchair. As he has gotten older, he occasionally recites the prayers along with us. Due to my Lutheran background, I have always felt more comfortable reciting common prayers rather than praying “off the cuff.” This night was no different and we were saying the common table prayer. Rhett interrupted us and said he wanted to do it. I looked over at him in anticipation of what he was going to say. He bowed his head and said, “Come Lord Jesus, thanks for fixing the truck. Amen.” It was clear that he had spent the day at the shop with his dad and indeed they had been working on a truck.  

Rhett is already learning a strong work ethic, which can be a challenge when trying to get him to go to bed. There are many evenings when he doesn’t want to park his farm equipment and just wants to keep “working.” When I tell him it’s time to stop playing and go to bed he firmly tells me, “It’s my job!” I think his dad would agree that when you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. For Rhett playing is his job, and it’s hard to convince him it’s time to call it day.

I started journals for each of my kids to write down funny things they say or do, and milestones along the way. I quickly realized that even though I think I’ll remember all the funny sayings, I don’t. Each year on their birthdays I write them a letter in their journal. I anticipate I will give them their journals on their 18th birthdays or when they graduate from high school.

What funny things do your kids do or say? Do you keep a journal for them?