Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Harvest is over...Yet so much left to do and hopefully enjoy

I write this a few weeks after the last of corn harvest. It's almost strange that we were done so early. Amazing actually. The two previous years I have been combining on my birthday, which is DECEMBER 10! Not the best way to celebrate. Both times my husband lost track of time, so by the time anybody came back to the field with a truck or anything...It was too late to take me out for dinner. I think I got the shaft, that's for sure. This year better be better. Then again, Dustin's birthday is in October, so he always gets screwed because we are combing beans.
Anyway, now that the crop is in the elevator or in a bin, Dustin's busy working on the cow lot fence and hoping we can wean and work calves next week. We're a bit late, but the fence had to be dealt with before we brought them in from the pasture.
It seems that while snow has held off here, it's starting to grace the northern part of the state, so it's a matter of time and we need to get moving on those cows.
I need to start getting the tax stuff together for the pre-tax meeting, so we can see where we are at and where we are headed. I'm terribly behind on the bookwork. so it could take awhile. I think I may have to ask my mom and dad to take the kids for a few days after Thanksgiving so I can get it done. Of course, Dustin will try to get me to get me doing his projects, but I really am going to have to say NO and get the books together. I have everything, it's mostly organizing that must be dealt with.
I really wish that we could spend some family time together. I feel like every day we are running in different directions. I also am hoping that by Christmas I will be feeling more like my old self.
Tomorrow I go to the Dr. and hopefully get my anti depressants readjusted. I should have done this about 3 months ago. I think I thought I could handle things, that it was just a phase. Um, wrong. My depression does not seem to be controlled under my current med. I'm feeling very much like after Ian was born, not quite that bad, but close. I need help. I think I'll be trying to make a therapy appointment too.  On the good side, there's so much I want to enjoy and I haven't been emotionally able to, so it's time to get things going in the right direction again.
And there is so much to enjoy. Ian and Ella are such amazing kids. Harvest went well. Our new house has been amazing and moving down to the main farm has been a true blessing, not just for Dustin, the kids and I, but for his parents as well. We are where we need to be and are happy to be here.  The house is feeling comfortable and hopefully we will get to finish the painting soon. I'm having fun decorating, but am missing the motivation to finish. We have wonderful people working for us with the farm. This year was the year we had to add some help with the farming operation. With Dustin's dad being able to do less and aging, and with me in the house with the kids, most of the time, we needed it and we are happy that we will be able to keep it.
I'm hoping that dealing with my depression will also help me in my goals to live healthier. It seems that the depression has been roadblock in that journey, so I will talk to my Dr. about that too. I've found a great doctor and I trust her and I want to hear what she has to say.  So, that's where I'm at in the journey of life. I pray that I am able to find new peace and new motivation to be healthier for myself and my family.  Later...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Soybean Harvest and a Rainy Day Break

Today is a second rain day from combining soybeans. I haven't blogged much because harvest started with wheat awhile ago and then we moved onto beans...I don't have lot of time to myself lately. My mom and dad have been here, but have left today.

My mom and dad came last week and my mom took care of the kids while I went out in the combine. If you are wondering, yes, I run a combine. For those of you who are farmers, the next answer is, we run two John Deere 9600's. Not the newest machines on the block, but great machines for us and our farm. We added the second one this year, we had been going through harvest with one combine or sometimes we'd bring out an even older 7720. The 7720 was in need or retirement and we needed more combine than the one. Harvest was just taking too long on one combine and it was even worse with a breakdown because having only one machine makes a breakdown even more stressful.

While I am, technically, still a pastor, I really have shifted my life focus to thinking myself more as a farmer. I am in a corn planter most of the spring and a combine most of the fall. I sign our FSA paperwork and I'm the one responsible for field maps and acreage reports. I have had opinions on our crop, our machinery, our capital purchases and improvements, and I am as well known to the local crop duster as my husband is and he doesn't doubt me when I sign up acres. This is how our family lives.

So, now we start finding out how the year will go. It's harvest time!  There's something very exciting, scary, and spiritual about harvest, I think this may be especially true if it is how you make your living. When I'm in the combine by myself, I get a lot of time to reflect. Let's face it, since I have two small children, this is often the most "alone" time I get.
Here's what I mean about exciting, scary and spiritual. Every year is a step out in faith, at least that's how I see it. We can only plan so much, we try to choose the best seed, get it in at the right time, right fertilizers, care for it by spraying for weeds or insects. Yet...we don't bring the rain, the sun, the heat, or the cool. We don't keep the hail away in the midst of rain that we need. There are no guarantees. We plant the seed, but God gives the growth.
I thought about this very clearly Saturday night. It was late, very dark and as the beans are streaming into the combine, it was more than happiness that the crop looked good. It was relief. Thankfulness that it was there and we would be okay for another year. The bills would be paid, we could give some extra away that we hadn't budgeted, we can make some farm improvements.
Some years we have better crops than others, which also determines how we live and how we spend or don't spend. We are blessed, we have had several good years, but I remember the first year of our marriage and it wasn't as good, fine, but it felt way tighter than we had hoped. We have had the opportunity to grow our farm and add some acres.

Sunday, during church, it started to rain and it rained through the night and some this morning. It has been pretty dreary today. Dustin's in the shop, working on the corn head, that will be what is harvested after beans, so it's a good opportunity to get it ready. I have enjoyed time with the kids and a chance at a break. I've been trying to get caught up on laundry and getting ready for company on Wednesday. A friend is coming to help in the field. I've got a lot of work to do, but seem a bit too tired to get it all done, but I've done what I can. It has seemed more important to spend "Mommy" time with the kids, so I have. I've cuddled Ella, who wasn't happy with me because I was gone. I played games and danced with Ian in the livingroom.  I'll also try to get my confirmation lesson for Wednesday done.

Harvest has been fun. We got two entire quarters done on Saturday, which is the most we've probably ever done and we did it with a late start too.

But today is a day for a bit of sabbath and a bit of work. Coffee or something with a friend this evening, Time to get caught up, but not rushed.  Sometimes...the rainy day is good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turning a corner. Literally and Figuratively.

My weight has been an issue for a great deal of my life. I also realize now that I have carried some baggage in in my life that has turned into actual baggage on my thighs, hips and stomach.  Sadly, I found a few pictures from college the other day and remembered what I have remembered many times before. I wasn't that big. I remember hearing all the time, "You'd be pretty if you lost a bit of weight." I still hear that statement in my head quite often when I look in a mirror. I remember when it was said to me the first time and several times after that.
Even at times in my life when I look in a mirror and see a smart, funny, beautiful and confident woman, that voice creeps in and I have to say, "Well, I could be." 
It saddens me that I have carried that voice and that label. Especially this week when I found these old pictures from 15-17 years ago, when I was in college. I looked at this girl and saw a pretty girl. I wasn't a size 0, but I was a lot smaller than I am today. Why did I believe that the voice was true? 

I also happened to look at our wedding picture on our wall. I looked gorgeous on my wedding day, even if I do say so myself. I know that part of it was the happiness that I felt and that it was bursting from my heart.  I see pictures of me after I gave birth to our children and I see such happiness and it's beautiful.

Now, I'm at a place where being someone's definition of beautiful isn't my goal. Looking better would be a bonus, but mostly, I want to be healthy. I want to chase these kids around without being winded. I want to do this before I turn 40...It gets harder as you get older and at 35, I better get moving. For real.

I want to feel good about myself. I feel good about myself in so many parts of my life, except for my physical ability and yes, appearance. I want to look healthy and be healthy. (So, honestly, there's some vanity involved.)

So, I've begun walking again. I've watched my food, but until I get the needed exercise, that I even crave right now, I'm not going to reach a healthier place.

So, I'm turning a corner. Mostly the one at the end of my driveway as I walk up a steep hill. Once or twice a day.

We'll see, we'll hope.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The move! July 7, 2011

I haven't had much time to post. The kids are currently on opposite nap schedules. That has left little time to do things like write. I mostly just clean up one little toddler tornado after another...
But, Ian has some respiratory congestion, so he didn't sleep very well last night. That left Dustin going to church and I stayed home with the kids. The are both a bit snotnosed...literally.
So, since they are both content and not very active. I thought I'd take time to show you part one.

Here is our house going through the intersection at the top of Mill Hill in Jamestown, ND. It was pretty crazy to watch. I went to town early, just to watch this.

Here is the house headed out of town.

This is going around a corner.

I get a kick out of this picture. It is the house driving into our driveway.  OUR DRIVEWAY! We almost have a house.

And here we are, backing the house into place on the site we sit right now.  We moved in the following weekend, even though we didn't have everything painted, still don't. But after living with my inlaw for close to a month and having most of our possessions in the shop (Some are still there.) It was time to make it ours.

Hopefully, I can get the progress pictures updated sooner rather than later.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm home!

Greetings Everyone! (If any of you actually still read this?)

I'm back and even better, I'm home. I'm in my new home! There's still lots to do. The walls from moving still aren't all fixed, we have to wait for the manufacturer, but we have painted everything that is currently possible to paint.
We've hung up a few pictures, but there are many more that we haven't gotten homes for yet.  There's stuff that is still missing and I'm waiting to open a box and get surprised and excited because "I finally found (Insert item here)!" I'm also realizing that if I haven't noticed something is gone, in six months, I should just get rid of it. In moving, we are still bringing more to Goodwill and giving to friends. It's been a learning experience and also a bit liberating. We have moved into a house that is about 2 times as big as the one we were in and we don't want to fill it to the gills like the old one was. We are trying to as the questions, "1)Do I/we need it? 2) Do I/We love it?
It is interesting asking yourself those questions. I think I have been learning that I define myself by stuff, but that stuff is not who I am. I also realize that there is an interesting connection with how I feel inside and how I live with my things. I have felt so overwhelmed and chaotic inside and I think my home was reflecting that. It was chaotic, not comfortable, cluttered, filled with unimportant things or at least the unimportant things were blocking my view of the things I cherished.
I'm still feeling the chaos inside, but watching the house unpack and making an effort to not have chaos, also seems to make me feel calmer inside. I wonder if I keep on this path, will my life somehow be transformed?  If I organize the outside, will my inside follow? I think Dustin made me realize something the other day. We had someone coming out, so we both got up and picked up and cleaned house. When it was done, it felt wonderful. After the company left, in a few minutes, we had the house picked up again and Dustin asked me, "Why don't we think we deserve this all the time?" I didn't have an answer. Why didn't we deserve to live in less chaos? Why don't we deserve to always be able to throw a quick meal together and sit at the dining room table? Why don't we deserve to enjoy our surroundings that we live in all the time? We realized, we do deserve it and it really didn't take that long when we both chipped in and I've been able to keep it up fairly well. I take 15 minutes a day to either vaccuum, dust, clean a counter, go through a box and put it away. Dustin comes home and he does a quick pass picking up odds and ends or throws in a load of laundry. It's been amazing to me and we are more calm. I can even more effectively teach the kids to pick up or every morning, Ian and I make his bed together after he's dressed for the day.
 Has God blessed with me with a resurrection of a smaller type in my life? I have been acutely aware of death and resurrection lately and looking for hope in the darkest of times. In the midst of what I have been struggling with, I've been able to say, "Wait, you believe in a God of new life, this is not hopeless, you are not hopeless."
I know that a messy house is really nothing when there are people really suffering with illness and death. I'm not trying to lessen the glory and wonder and awe of what God has done through his son.  But I also realize lately, whether it is dealing with a family illness or even little things like dusting, it can be used to drag us down back into the ways of the Old Adam and the Old Eve instead of the children of new life that we are.
When I let self criticism of "You'll never be good enough?" "You'll never have this place good enough?" "What will people think of you?"  When all those voices come in, that's not the voice of God, that's not the voice of a redeemed person. We need those little resurrections...Those daily reminders that we are children of God and blessed and the cross is all we need.
So, these little things that have been wearing down on me and my family, and a few of the bigger things that I am not comfortable sharing with the world wide web. These things do not have the final say.
So, there's what I learned about Jesus after I got the house cleaned. Go figure?
Until next time...When I post moving pictures of the house.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On a break....WE ARE MOVING!

We are in the process of moving. Only five miles! We are moving a modular home onto the main farm. Currently, we are homeless! Living with my inlaws because the house has been delayed by rain. 4 TIMES!
So, until we are home, I will be offline.
Pictures and more adventures to come.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Few Moments to Write, A Few Moments to Myself

I'll be completely honest, I have my children in front of a DVR'ed "Word World" (Which Ian thinks is one of the best shows ever and since it doesn't drive me nuts, I agree)
I just got home and needed to relax a bit and since I haven't told anyone that I'm alive via blog since May 5th, I figure I should.
There are posts that I have started and need to finish and edit, but those aren't in my mind right now. It has been a long couple weeks, and a long month in general. It has been raining, which during seeding makes a farmer downright scared. It was such a wet winter and spring never seemed to come. Now it is the middle of may and we only have a little over 70 acres of corn in and need to get 130 more in over the next couple days. It won't take long to get it in, but the ground must be dry enough to get it there. I run the planter we use for corn, so I haven't had a lot of time in the field, unfortunately. I don't mind the job, it's kinda relaxing and time to myself as long as everything works like it is supposed to.
The kids went to my mom and dad's for a week so we could keep seeding, the weather just didn't cooperate. So, when we got rained out again on Friday, we headed up north and stayed for the weekend. It was a good weekend, relaxing with MOm and Dad. Ended a little tense at my home church and a rather uncomfortable vote, which seems to be dragging some things on, but also causing so much pain. I see a church tearing itself apart and it made it hard. On the flip side, their interim is a fabulous preacher! A very uplifiting sermon for me to hear, so that was a blessing.
Today was wet from the inch of rain over the weekend, so I worked in town at a funeral for the funeral home. Ran errands after, dogfood (check), milk (check), ring into the jeweler (check). I came home and found good and not so good news. Our gravel roads are awful, so moving our new house in is not going to happen in the next week as we hoped. It's too wet to even get the septic tank delivered. 
The good news. Because of a standstill on fieldwork, I got to use the hired man to help me mow. (Thank you CG!) 
It's good to be home with the kids. I'm hoping to just cuddle up with them for the evening and when they go to bed, hopefully take a shower and work on packing.
But, it was nice to have a couple minutes to just decompress.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

So long since I posted, and so many blogs to write!

I apologize for the mack of blogging lately. I haven't had the time I've wanted. I've got quite a few posts started, but they aren't ready yet, but I will try to finish one in the next days and post it.
So much has happened, so I have things to write about, but I haven't had the usual amount of time to write. Ian's 2nd Birthday. Ella's first Easter dress.  Our dishwasher breaking...AGAIN! The wet and cold spring has made it impossible to get in the fields, so that creates a new level of anxiety. Synod assembly is coming, and while I have to go, I also realize that I will be thinking about the corn that I should be planting while I'm there. And I'm trying to figure out the Yuma, (which is a portable, durable farm computer, that is supposed to help with maps, production and keeping track of it all). If I can't get the think to work with the computer at home, I'll be mad. Hopefully can call Trimble customer service today or tomorrow and get that rolling.
And the new house is not coming fast enough for me. But the dirt work will be started next Wednesday, assuming the weather stays favorable.
So, there's why I haven't written, why I've started posts, but they aren't up yet. They will come. But it seems silly to write about life right now when it is more important that I engage full in living it.
Hope to be back sooner, rather than later.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bunching of the Babies!

For some reason, I have had a few random conversations with strangers and a few acquaintances about why I have my children soooo close together. I get told a lot, "It must be so exhausting." And if you have read my last blog posts and facebook posts, you would have a good idea that exhaustion sometimes comes into play.  Others will say, "it must be wonderful to have them so close together, they'll play together."  Yes, that is a possibility too.
Either way, I have children that are less than two years apart, about 16 months to be exact. And as my little boy is going to be 2 in less than a week now, I have been in amazement at watching them grow up.  Especially now that they are starting to interact more and want to make the other one laugh and they are even starting to watch out for one another. If Ella starts to cry, Ian will come get me in the other room if I don't get there right away and say, "Ella crying." and then run to her and make sure that I am right behind him. There are also the new moments of jealousy, when Ella is getting her bottle and Ian wants a story. Or if Ian is being cuddled and Ella in her jumper starts to fuss in a way that definitely says, "you should be holding me."
But, to answer the question. Why do I have two so close. I'm getting older! That's the short answer. I'm 35 and by 40 I plan to be done and we thought we'd want more than two. I don't regret it, but I also think I need a break before we do this again, if we do it again. I always thought I wanted four, but I love us as a foursome right now, so that's where we'll be for awhile.
I love my bunch. They will be the best of friends and the worst of enemies. They will compete and support. I love them. It doesn't get any better for us than this. I know we are biased, but we should be, we feel like we have the smartest, most wonderful, most beautiful kids in the world. Every parent should feel that way.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Warning...Don't let this happen to you! (Husbands! Take note, Your wife needs you!)

Before you read any further, this entry is not for the weak of stomach. This is about me getting sick and so, you should know that up front because there are more details than I would usually share.
I have recently talked about my struggles with motherhood lately, that and my cooking/baking adventures. I finally hit a few walls. I was so worked up a few nights ago that I threw up. Yes, you heard it here first. I puked after my children both screamed for about an hour in my attempt to get them to bed. We have been struggling with bedtime a lot lately. Ian got overly tired, so he got wired. He came home sleepy and then became a screaming madman and the screaming woke his sister. After that, they just set each other off repeatedly. Ian was almost asleep initially and Dustin got a phone call. He turned the fan on in the bathroom and went in there to talk, so as to not disturb, so I thought. The phone call lasted for 45 minutes, he had no idea what I was going through...When he did, he took over the little screamer and I continued working with the big screamer.
Now, lately, my stomach has been bothering me. So much so that I have been thinking about making a doc appointment. Dustin may have made the correct diagnosis last night. I'M A GIANT STRESSBALL! Now, the stomach/abdominal pain hasn't necessarily gone with particularily stressful moments. Now that I look at the last weeks, my body basically went on strike.  I have had various moments in my life when I know that this has happened before. I almost gave myself ulcers at 16, so I'm experienced, but it really hasn't physically manifested itself in this way since I was about 21 and that involved finals and way too much coffee and no sleep and a big project.
I look at what lead up to this. Dustin and I both got stomach flu, (thankfully the kids avoided that one), children not sleeping through the night, Ella teething, colds and fevers for both. Now, as I write this, I haven't gotten a full night sleep in over a week. Dustin is currently teaching an EMT class 2 nights a week, so I'm on my own for bath and bedtime. The last 5 nights I have been sleeping in a recliner with one child or the other for most of the night.  My neck is stiff, my back is sore, I haven't been sleeping and I live with two children under the age of two and therefore, they are dependent on me for EVERYTHING! It's just the stage we are at and someday I will miss it, I realize that this is also part of the insanity that is motherhood.
Now, I will get back to being sick. After we finally got them to bed, I told Dustin about the pain (hoping the paramedic could diagnose me since that is one of the few perks of being married to a medic). He thought it sounded like stress. We went to bed. I laid there, my stomach got tighter and tighter and tighter. Then I got the metallic taste in my mouth. (Thankfully, I actually had emptied my garbage that day). I sit up, grab the garbage, Dustin asks if I was sick...I answered accordingly.
This is way more information than anyone needs. But, I also see this as a warning to others as well as a learning experience for myself. With that action. All the stress left my body. It was like all the poison departed. Here's what I learned...I NEED A HEALTHIER OUTLET FOR STRESS! You think?  I also started my Prilosec again.
Now, it's not like anything changed between last night and this morning. I was in the chair a large portion of the night. I was actually up more, 3 times to take care of a screaming daughter. But, I now know what it is and that it has to change. The other thing I notice. I have only gotten out without children 1 time since December. Dustin and I got out two times alone, which is a pathetic date run too. What I really needed was a day by myself!  I got it last week, so it helped. I also noticed, without the sleep and because I've been feeling cruddy, I haven't exercised much in that time. I am realizing that my 30 minutes of random treadmill and cardio 3-4 times a day was probably keeping me sane and letting out what recently was building without it.  This morning, I felt like I had gotten rid of all the garbage last night. Today, I got a new start.
I also got something that I needed more than anything. I needed to know that Dustin appreciated what I had been dealing with and loved me for it and supported me. Last night, when we talked, I knew he heard me. He heard my pain, my stress, my sadness, my doubt and for once he said, "Why wouldn't you be stressed, you spend the entire day taking care of the kids, it's understandable, but I think you need to find a better way to get through it and I'll do whatever you ask to help."
This morning, I didn't ask, but he did help, in the most loving way possible.  I had another night in the recliner. Dustin had to be in town at 8:30, so it wasn't realistic for him to get up with them. (And truthfully, our marriage is very traditional this way, sometimes annoyingly so...I'm the Mom, I get up. And I will rant about this in a blog in the future because he's gotten an earful about it enough times!) Right now, I'm singing his praises.
He came down to find me in the recliner and said, "What can I get you?" I mumbled, "Coffee and Cheerios." And it was there in minutes, along with, "I'm so sorry it's like this right now."
The coffee and cereal might as well have been lobster and champagne.  I needed to know I wasn't alone and that even if he wasn't getting up, he appreciated the fact that I did. I needed empathy and he delivered it, with a cup of Carabou Blend and Multigrain Cheerios.
This incident has lead to some important discoveries. I am not always good at saying what I need and telling Dustin. I sometimes leave him guessing or assume that he knows. He jumped at the coffee and cereal because I was clear about what I wanted and he could give it to me.
He, like a lot of men, want to fix things. Sometimes he can't, but I can be better at expressing what I need from him, even if it isn't to fix it. And maybe, sometimes I should tell him something that I want, that he can get, so he can be part of the solution, even if it won't change the world. Coffee and cereal didn't change the situation, but it let him do his "fixing" thing, even though he knew it wouldn't change things, but it was going to make it better.
So, from now on, I need to check myself and be clearer about my needs. Dustin needs to point out when I'm not being clear and do it before we are in a fight about it.
So, five years into this marriage thing, we're still figuring it out. Good deal.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Hardest Days...And Then Things Get Wonderful Again

I had been struggling the last week or two. I love staying at home with my kids, it's a joy, there are so many things that I'm glad that I get to be there for, that I'm glad I don't have to miss. 
There's also the days that I just need to get away...And when I feel that way, the guilt of feeling it, it's a bit hard to take. It's a vicious cycle. I even called my friend D and asked, "Am I a terrible mommy?"  Thankfully, she assured me that I was normal. Getting away means you are a better you, a better mommy, a better wife
I need to recharge and it doesn't happen when you are home with two children all the time. 
I sometimes I think I worked less when I worked in my interim call. There were some long weeks, but I got lunch breaks!
So, last Friday, Dustin stayed home and I went to town for a foil and cut. I put some fun bright red in my hair and the cut is fabulous. I got to remind myself of who I am. I get in a rut where I wear yoga pants and t-shirts and feel like a slug. So, after my hair appointment, I did a little shopping. I got a fun dress for summer, some jeans, a great sweater to go with the dress, and I got a great cotton shirt.  I also bought a pair of platform, peeptow pumps, they are not practical, but they are so pin-up girl and so hot...I had to have them! I have a great skirt and shirt to wear with them, now for a little warmer weather and I get to take them for a test drive. This last storm took some of my thunder out of dressing.
I realize that I will feel like a slug if I always dress like a slug. So, while yoga pants and T-shirts are fine some days, they don't have to be my uniform. It's time to start dressing like me again. I guess I'm doing my own episode of "What Not to Wear" for myself. It's time to be true to the person that I know I am and I am that person, even when I am at home. Just because I'm not going anywhere, it doesn't mean I can't dress for myself.  It feels like a good decision.
Today I worked at my very part-time job. I work for a funeral home in town. I'm one of the people who hands out the folders, takes cards and pushes the casket. It's sad, but I look forward to my "working" days because I then get to run around town for a bit by myself, either before or after.  I'll end of working a couple times a month, sometimes less, sometimes more. But, my boss, M, he's great to work for, I knew him when I was full time in professional ministry. I went to college with his wife and he knows Dustin well too, so it's fun to go help with funerals.
I said when things get hard...then they get wonderful again. I sometimes have a hard time remembering that from day to day. I'm prone to meloncholy, I admit it. When things are rough, I have a very hard time remembering that this too shall pass, I think it will last forever. It's really the habit of thinking that when things are bad..."everything" is bad. When I get overlooked..."nobody" likes me. I know it's the habit of thought that I developed mostly when my depression was untreated and even when I am better, the thought patterns are something that I really have to be aware of.
But, today, I did remember that it will get wonderful again. I got home from town, my kids were happy to see me. Ian ran to me and gave me a big hug. Ella started to bounce up and down in her exersaucer and I know it was for me. That's wonderful, there's no other way to say it.
And there was another triumph. Ian came to me this evening and said, "Mommy change britches." Which means diaper in our world. He's never asked before...He asked me to get him out of his poopy diaper. I feel like we are entering a new chapter and I'm so excited. I've been telling him for weeks now, "If you need your diaper changed, if you feel wet or messy or uncomfortable, tell mommy or daddy." And he did what he has always done...nothing. The poopy diapers have never bothered him. Today...they did. He asked to be changed! Like I said, I'm sure in a few months I'll be complaining about potty training a two year old boy, but for now. "Change my britches, Mommy," might as well be a sonnet. It was music to my ears. Until the next hard day...and then we'll get wonderful again. The cycle continues.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meal Planning...Part 2...Try again and trying to figure everything else out!

We did have the barbecues, a day after I planned them, but we had them.
I got a little off track. Dustin is starting to teach an EMT class and it's not on my radar yet. Yesterday, I had decided to make stroganoff for supper, but forgot until later last night that he teaches tonight. I need to get Monday's and Thursday's in my head. Wednesday is Lenten soup supper at church, so that night is covered. We'll have the straganoff tomorrow night when he's home. So, now I need to figure out tonight for Ian and myself, Thursday night for Ian and myself and then I need to come up with Friday as well. I didn't realize it could get this complicated.
What really makes me nervous is how the Monday and Thursday class is going to go when we start seeding. We are more organized this year than ever before, but still, it's a bit nerve racking. There's equipment that Dustin is starting to get ready, then it will be the planning. Some reports say early spring, most say late and it's hard to know what that will do to the planting schedule.
The weather is saying there will be snow and rain tonight. Thank you spring in NoDak.
And to top it all off. We want my parents to visit and they haven't been here in about 3 months, which totally sucks. I want my MOMMY!
Dustin and I went down to the basement. He brought 2 bags and 3 boxes to Goodwill. I will have another two-three boxes packed by the end of the day if I can find the time between laundry loads and a teething baby. We are trying to go through things and weed out before we move in June. We want to bring what we love and use. We want to get away from keeping the things we feel we have to keep, or unimportant sentimentality.  It's going fairly well, but some things are hard to decide on.
My books, quite a few in storage. They aren't being used there, but some of them I want, some of them I haven't gotten to read yet. I was a professional student, how does one walk away from the books?
I have some regular fiction that I have read and probably won't read again, those I will give to the AAUW book sale. But the rest of it? I'm not sure how to weed it out yet.
But, 4 boxes to Goodwill is a good start. So, maybe instead of getting down on the things I have trouble parting with, I should celebrate what I have let go of.
It's a whole different menu to plan. What to keep? What to go? What do you love? What do you use?
We may have a rummage sale this summer too, but the time to organize it, well, that could get tricky. Ready, Steady, Go.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meal Planning...Hopefully and there's a Cow and a Pig in my Freezer!

I realize that as a SAHFW you end up winging it from time to time...Well, a lot of the time during spring, summer and fall. Winter, I guess is the predictable time. You stay in all day because it's too cold and if you are lucky, you find a way to still wear your kids out so they will go to bed.

I do notice that when I'm home, I have a tendency not to plan things out as much. I think this is a problem. I think it leaves me without goals to achieve and without goals to accomplish, I think my sense of self worth diminishes a bit. It's sadly, a self-esteem thing.

Those who know me really well know that I am a fan of the Fly Lady. She really sets up everything in organization on the premise you can do anything for 15 minutes, I think she is right. I haven't been "flying" lately, but I notice when I try, even just trying, I feel more pulled together and accomplished. I tended to use her steps more when I was working, I realize now that I am home full time, I might need them more than ever. It is so easy to let things slide and "do it later," when you know you are going to be home.

Some Fly Lady stuff I have always kept doing. When you wake up, get dressed to your shoes.  I need this, when I don't, I feel like a slug and lack all motivation. This was especially important when I am dealing with my depression. When things have been bad, I've always been able to say, "At least I got dressed!"

But, one thing I never have done well, but really wish I would is meal planning. 1) I know it would save us money because we wouldn't waste food. 2)It would help me with the ever looming question, "What am I going to make for supper tonight?" 3)I would try new things  because I would be prepared to cook them.

I think we have started a good Saturday family routine. Dustin tends to stick around for Saturday mornings (this all goes out the window when seeding starts!), but last Saturday, I baked bread and Ian helped me make cookies while the dough was rising. It was fabulous and Dustin thinks it should be our Saturday morning. We cleaned house, so that was all done by noon too, it was great! It made the day oddly special.  So, I think if I can plan my menus for the week too, that would be great.

The other exciting news on the farm is yesterday Dustin and I went to Valley Meats and picked up our beef and our pork. We ordered a whole cow and whole pig. And now, two freezers are graced with the wonderful stuff. Dustin and I are not going to finish this on our own, that's about a 1/2 a ton of meat. This is meat for us, his parents and my parents. The whole family will benefit from this prize.
We hope we can get back to fattening up one of our own steers and bringing it in for butchering, that would be fabulous! (I see future 4-H projects in the making.)

So, now that I have a good assortment of quality meat to choose from, I think I should find it easier to meal plan as well. I have every cut imaginable. But this first week will be for cleaning out the last of my grocery store meat in my freezer. Now that I only have to buy poultry, I am feeling on top of the world.

So, tomorrow, hopefully I get buns made in the morning and we will have barbeques in the evening out of the crock pot. We shall see...


I've been going to post the cake business, but the photos were not uploading correctly and when they did, they took forever. So, I finally have them up, so I'll give a little story.
The abolve photo is my first attempt at red velvet cupcakes. Here are the little darlings in the oven. You may think to yourself...They don't look very red. You would be right because I didn't realize that I was low on red food coloring. I have decided as pretty as red velvet is, it's ridiculous. It takes so much red food coloring that I should have had stock in red food coloring before I tried it. I believ I prefer my homemade devil's food...if you didn't know, Devil's food is brown.
But I was committed to attempting this current trend in the cake world. So here is instead my reddish tinted velvet. Who needs all the food coloring anyway?

Fresh out of the oven. I used mini muffin tins and I will definitely do it again. They are just two little scrumption bites and are perfect to give one to a child. They were fun to decorate for valentines day and looked like candies in the box when decorated. So much fun.

Here are the cute little decorated cakes. Sooo much fun! Cream cheese frosting, just in case you are curious. I piped it on with a piping bag and tip and then sprinked with various sugar things.

The Farm-All Cake
Happy Birthday to my Father-in-Law

Here is the cake and put together for my FIL's birthday. It was homemade devil's food and cream cheese frosting. I had to decorate it during Ian's nap time, so it is not as detailed and neat at Ian's birthday cake was. But I am happy with how it turned out. I did this based on a picture of a farm-all.

So, here are the cooking adventures as of late. I am currently planning for Ian's choo-choo train birthday cake in a few weeks. Pictures will be forthcoming, in April after his birthday.

I am still making bread. Have made it three times now and we have only had to buy bread once since I started. I gave a loaf away for a gift and so, we were short until I could make again.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recent Cooking Adventures

 I told someone (Flathead Mama) I would post my recent bread baking. I will be posting more of recent cooking adventures, hopefully in the next days.  I've got my first attempt at red velvet cupcakes and the decorating of the cupcakes.
I also want to show you my cake decorating tries.

But, here we have bread. I made white bread, my whole wheat flour seemed a bit old, I'll have to get more soon. I may just clean wheat out of the bin and then bring to my mom to mill. (my mom has her own stone grinding mill, I have lovingly called it my inheritance for year. The biggest reason being I covet it.  The first picture is the yeast, sugar and warm water. I love the smell of the yeast growing.

This picture is after the mixing and the first kneading. I love baking bread. I made my first loaf at age 10. I haven't done it for awhile. Mostly because, I just seemed to make excuses that I don't have time.
I realized something as I made this. I remember why I like making bread. It relaxes me. There's something about punching the dough down and kneading and feeling the texture change that is so very wonderful.  And the blissful smell that permeates the house as it bakes. HEAVENLY
Here we are with it sitting in the bowl for the first rising. It took awhile, more time than usual, but it did rise nicely.

In the loaf pans for their second rise.

Here they are. If you look behind and to the side, you can see read velvet cupcakes

So, it doesn't get any better than this. I'm hoping to keep it up. I may now try the mixer and my dough hook. But, I know it takes a bit to figure out the flour. It's easy to get too much because the dough hook works it in really well.
Here's my bread. The first I've made in awhile. Hoping that I can now do this every couple weeks. 1)it tastes better. 2) it's so much cheaper than buying it. 3) I have 25 lbs of flour because it was on sale for a great price. 4) I want my kids to have the same memory and experience I did. To see how much you can do for yourself. It's a beautiful memory and when you ask, "Where does bread come from." They will know that we grow it, escentially. It may come from out wheat, it may not, but we are part of that wonderful world of food production. They should be proud of it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating Well and Having Small Children

Yesterday and overnight, Dustin worked at the ambulance. I think he had fun, calls and seeing people...And then...there's me. AT HOME, ALONE, ALL NIGHT, with our two wonderful children.
This is not a complaint, this is motherhood, but let me just ask you, what I ask them. "Do you time these things?" Just when I take care of one, the other one decides it is their turn.
I know, you are thinking, "you decided to have two children close together, you brought it on yourself." I know I did.  99.25% of the time I would never change a thing. Then there's this measly. 0.75% that involves two children screaming, demanding, or needing my attention at the same time or right in a row. 
I always noticed that Ian had "impecable timing," now that Ella is here too, apparently they have decided to coordinate their efforts. This came amazingly clear when I tried to make supper.
Ian woke up late from his nap (4:30) so he was up for an hour and he got totally cranky. I made him supper. He wasn't going to be eating the same things as me. (I was having stir-fry, he wasn't going to go for it).  As he was eating, I cut my veggies, washed dishes, got things ready for later.
Ella wanted some attention, so while Ian was eating. I dealt with that. By 6:00, I am getting hungry, my veggies aren't completely cut yet. I got my rice on at 5:45, so by 6:30, I should have everything ready. My stirfry and my rice. I'm terrible at timing meals to come out at the same time, so I'm feeling proud. (Pride cometh before the fall)
The chicken is cooked, I take it out of the wok. I throw in my celery and carrots to start cooking and...Ella starts to wail. I had tried to feed her at the same time as Ian, but she was having none of that and now I know why. She was waiting until I was making my dinner in a hot wok with brown rice on the simmer.
So, I got her cereal and fed my daughter.
Then I figured out why mom's eat like crap. We are always taking care of someone, and that's not a bad thing, but taking ourselves comes so far from behind that we don't even cook a decent meal for ourselves. I realized this as I contemplated, "Maybe when the rice is done I could put it in the fridge along with the cooked chicken and then I'll try again tomorrow to eat decent and tonight I'll grab something else."
I've been working hard to eat healthier. I feel better when I do, it's amazing in a short time how much better I feel. And the children are what side track me. They don't mean to, it's not intentional, I know that. They have needs and I or their father are the only ones who can fill them. I'm a SAHM, that means...I fulfill most of those needs and when Dustin isn't home for supper, I fulfill all of them.
I don't know how single parents do this, "You are my heros."  I do the single parent thing for 28 hours and I'm a mess.
Now, some of you are thinking, "You should plan better." I try, did you hear about the 45 minute rice and the veggie cutting ahead of time? But my children don't plan. It's part of the joy of being a child, you don't have to plan.
I keep trying to eat at the same time as Ian and work on his eating habbits, but at 5:30...he was starving and I didn't have my supper ready. Ella had some needs to be taken care of too.
So, I am on this rollercoaster. I'm trying to take care of myself while taking care of them. I love taking care of them, but I realize if I don't do what I can to take care of myself, I am of no use to them. If I don't work on my health, I won't be around later when they still need me. I want to be the mom who loves how she feels, who can run around the yard with them and not get winded. I want to be a healthy example to them on living life. I do my best to keep them healthy (struggling to get Ian to eat vegetables besides cauliflower and celery), so don't I owe it to them and to myself to do the same. They will learn more about from  my example then than anything else I do.
So, I will keep trying
By the way...I did get Ella fed and get my stirfry done. I only ate about 30 minutes later and the brown rice needed a little longer to cook. So, I didn't do too bad this time. Thank goodness. Today. leftover stirfry! I only will have to use the microwave.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The cake...

Tomorrow is my FIL's birthday. I am making a cake...A tractor cake. This is my second one. I made a John Deere for Ian's first birthday. For my FIL, a Farmall.
The from scratch devil's food cake is in the oven. I used my tractor pan. (Yes, I have a pan that is in the shape and with the characteristics of a tractor) Most of the cake is done...The middle is not.
I have become interested in cake decorating in recent years. I have yet to take a class, I almost did, but had to back out, but hopefully I'll get a chance again. My SIL use to make wedding cakes, she actually made ours, so if I asked for any help, she'd be happy to offer advice. So far, I have enjoyed trying it on my own.
Now, here I sit. Almost midnight and the stupid cake, that should have been done 45 minutes ago is suffering from a jiggly middle. I send Dustin to bed about an hour ago. He taught class tonight and got home by about 10:00. He fell asleep in the chair, so I woke him up and sent him to bed. He must be tired because he didn't argue.
So, hopefully tomorrow, I will show you pictures of the cake. I may also include my recent escapades into bread and red velvet cupcakes as well. The turned out cute and the bread was fabulous.
So, until tomorrow...I bid you goodnight. Now I must go jiggle my cake.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Watching Dreams Realized

The last week and weekend have been rather busy, but it has been amazing, wonderful, and fun. Our friend T was here for most of the week and he and Dustin got lots done on the shop. I will have to share about the shop some day. It's a huge accomplishment for our family and our farm.
To top it off, we went out, not once, but TWICE. Yes, Dustin and I, who rarely go anywhere anymore, at least without children, got to go out on two dates. Friday and Saturday! How? You may ask.  Too many good opportunities came up in the same weekend. We both had to scramble to find childcare (which also got me hooked up with some future babysitting possibilities) and we were able to do it.
The best part. The weekend was full of watching some pretty uplifting things.
Friday night, we went to the Arts Center in Jamestown for a dinner theater. "The Purple Orchid List," is a play written by our friend Jennifer. It is the play version of her memoir about how she and her husband Jack met. Jennifer had quite a life, she was married three times and decided she wasn't good at relationships, so instead of saying she was NEVER getting married again, she said she would, when she found someone who had all the qualities on her list. (It is a crazy list) and she met Jack online and he annihilated the list in about two weeks, without even knowing it. It is absolutely the funniest and the sweetest story. I haven't belly laughed like that in a long time. It was wonderful.
It was fun to watch Jennifer's dream come to fruition. We knew she was writing and she had told us about trying to put together the play months ago when we ran into her. Friday, we saw the finished product. We saw the whole thing come together. Jennifer and Jack played themselves, which made the moment even more spectacular. It was being invited into someones dream and getting to live in it, not just hear about it. It has made me think about some of the dreams that I have had and some that I still do that sometimes seem out of reach. I guess I realize, they maybe aren't. Maybe they only are if I put them out of reach. If I say the ladder isn't tall enough, it won't be. If I say it won't happen, it won't. I really think I need to start looking at the barriers I put in my own way.
Saturday was a different day completely. In the evening we went to dinner with friends, but that really isn't the coolest part of the day, it was a blast, love it, but the morning and afternoon were better.
Dustin and I stood at medical standby  at the Special Olympics Basketball Tournament. I had never been to anything related to Special Olympics. I can't say enough about the athletes and the volunteers who make it happen. It was fun to watch the teams, it was inspiring to see so many different ages and abilities play and have fun and compete. The coordinator of the tournament was wonderful about answering questions about everything.  But the best was telling us about one of the games we were watching.
It was really lopsided, but the winning team wasn't playing defense or trying hard. She explained, both teams were from the same town. The one team, "The Wolves" knows they are going to win. They always do and they are very good. So, because they know they are going to win, they make sure that the other team gets to try and shoot. It was pretty amazing. But, among all the athletes, you realize, this is there NBA finals, they wait for this and love it. I hope we get asked to go again.
Dustin and I rarely celebrate Valentine's Day with more than a card, if that. It's just not something we always do or are able to do. It depends if we think about it soon enough or if there is something going on. This weekend, the time we spent together was the best gift.   We did a lot of talking, not that we don't do that, but there was something about just talking without Ian interjecting every 30 seconds. "Hi Mommy, Hi Daddy," which has become in the last 3 weeks his newest thing. He wants to talk and so if he can't think of things to say, we get "hi"  ALL THE TIME!
But Ian is getting his dreams realized too. He is learning to express himself more and more every day. He gets sooooo excited when he says something and I understand the first time he says it. I get excited when I give him an instruction and he says, "Okay, Mommy" and then he goes and does it. He loves to help and I love to praise him with kisses and cuddles and tosses around the room. He loves to tickle his sister and he makes her giggle more and more every day and he entertains her and while he doesn't know it, that is the best gift, to watch them grow up together and interact with one another. Ella is fascinated with her big brother and all he can do. She wants to crawl so badly, you can see it. You can see her excitement when a toy is on the blanket and she works and works to get to it and  then...success. She's so proud, she giggles and smiles and then she has to figure out what it does.
So many dreams are realized around me every day. I'm part of fulfilling some of them (at least with my kids).  And so, I think I need to appreciate my own dreams more and what they mean. I think it's time to not put them so high on the shelf on the "someday" pile or in the "it's to hard to do right now" bin. I still have dreams and I can still work toward them.
I see the dreams we have for our family and our farm so easily. It's amazing what we have accomplished in the last 5 years. We never realized we would come this far and be able to do some of the things we have done. But, to fulfill those dreams, some of my personal dreams have been packed away. I wouldn't change the life I have, but I think I need to honor myself a bit more in the life I have. Dustin has tried to push me to do some of them, over and over, but I haven't. I guess because a dream, to some extent, is a risk, at least a risk of exposing yourself and your heart. I don't always do that well. My heart doesn't come back from heartbreak so easily, so even with support, I have a hard time putting myself out there. Risks were easier when I didn't have a family, a business, things to lose. The more you have, the harder it is to risk it, even if the accomplishment would be worth it.
But, I don't have to risk it all. It's not like there's a time limit on some of the things I want to accomplish. I could work on them as I wanted, little pieces at a time and let the goal take care of itself.
I doubt my friend Jennifer just sat down and wrote a play in an afternoon. She has kids and a job and a husband and life. I'm pretty sure she did what she could when she had the time.
My friend D is a glass artist. I know she relishes the time she gets to go to her studio amid life of children and a busy husband, and when she can, she creates.
I have all these dreamers around me and it is time to take from their inspiration and tend to some of mine.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The weekend!

I realize I am writing two posts today. One, because I wanted to thank my cooking inspiration.  Two, I had two different trains of thought and there was no way to put them together.

So, while I am excited about my culinary adventure for the week. I realize that I unloaded about my nerves for the weekend and then would be leaving you hanging if I didn't say anything.

It was a wonderful weekend. I loved being home with my family. That really was the highlight. We played cards every night after the kids went to bed. My mom fed us wonderful food. (From the previous post, you can see what  I learned from that.)  It was relaxing. Especially for me because I get a vacation from SAHM life. Grandma and Grandpa want to and happily do everything. They told Dustin and I to go, so we took an afternoon drive to a nearby town and looked in a few stores, got groceries, took a drive and talked. It was wonderful.

I was most concerned about Sunday. I wanted to just go and preach and see people, lead worship. One person tried to corner me. With a topic, not related to homosexuality or the newest genetics buzz, but a complete weird thing that I never heard before. It was if they said to me. "I read the church is going to start sacrificing goats." 
Um. What? 
I know that people in my denomination are struggling with decisions made at a larger level. I appreciate that. I also don't think it is helpful if you start demonizing the denomination and assume the worst. I am especially bothered when you start demonizing your brothers and sisters in Christ because you disagree with them. I know that passions run high, but disagreements do not mean the other person is horrible or doesn't have a place in God's kingdom or a ministry to do.
So, people. Let me get this out there. "Do not believe everything you read on the internet or a blurp you heard on Fox News!"  You may want to do a little more research beyond that!  I will probably do a little research myself this week on the alleged goat sacrificing. (This was not the topic I was cornered with, but it might as well could have been.)

Other than that moment that I got out of rather quickly, saved by someone coming in the office. It was wonderful. I preached my sermon, lead worship. I felt energy coming back at me from the congregation and they all looked rather tired when we started.   Someone said so my mom, "There was a lot to take home for the week." To me, that is the biggest compliment there is. when someone says that it will give them something to think about during the week and for their life. I think that is one of the reasons we all get into this. We want people to see Jesus with them Monday-Saturday, not just Sunday.
So, it was a great trip home. Topped off with Youth Fellowship Subs that we got after worship. They made a very yummy lunch for the family.

So, maybe you can go home again. And maybe you can get in the pulpit again. You can't beat that for a weekend.

Inspired! To Cook!

I have to thank Flathead Mama for her recent inspiration on the cooking front. Thank you! I have dealved into a whole new world in the last weeks.
Cooking Light. Cooks.com, Epicurious.com  and Weight Watchers
I cooked something other than lasagna with Ricotta, I finally figured out to cook brown rice the right way. (I prefer it to white, but have always had trouble cooking it).  I was reminded how much I like to make my own chickenstock...So, this week. I am buying a whole chicken and roasting it! I will get three meals from one bird and it will be affordable and delicious.
I was at my mom and dad's for the weekend. I learned something about my relationship with food. I learned it from my conversation with Dustin on the way home. We were talking about how my mom always sends food home with us. I appreciate it. I sent the cake down to my inlaw's house. I threw the spaghetti sauce in the freezer. It was made with ground elk and buffalo. I'll use that in the next weeks as a quick go to meal.
I got off track, back to my mother. My mom says, "I love you," with food. So, while on the one hand, I grew up hearing, "You could stand to lose a few pounds."  On the other hand, I would hear, "Have some more cake."
I think this is why I have struggled with weight and food. I take it as comfort and to some extent...love. But, the food isn't love. Love came from the person who made it for me. And sometimes, that got a bit misguided, especially when coupled with mixed messages.
Since Ella's birth, I have been trying to make better decisions and define a new relationship with food. I've been reminding myself that love comes from the people around me. And when I am hurt, when I get frustrated by the actions of others, when I feel attacked and like I need to hide...I will not find love and confort from a carbohydrate. (Let's face it, I never met a carb I didn't like!)

I actually looked forward to coming home from our weekend, just so I could plan the week ahead. Today will be an easy night. Tomorrow, I'll do some grocery shopping in the midst of our busy day.  We are gone from morning until later afternoon. But, after that, the week should lighten up with the craziness. I want to love myself with the food choices I make. I can make choices that will be healthier for my family as well. It is a cycle that needs to be changed in my life. I know that with the loss of weight, my energy level would greatly improve, and my energy level is actually pretty high when I'm not dragged down by weeks of cold weather and no sunlight.
Right now, according to my physical, except for my weight, I am healthy. Good BP, not pre-diabetic, good cholesterol numbers. I bounced back incredibly well after Ella's birth.  Right now, my body has not yet started to turn against me. I know it is a matter of time if I don't change things for the better. I am being given an opportunity.  I don't know what the future will bring. I do know that no matter how I proceed in changing my weight and health, my relationship with food will be important.

I am excited about getting started this week...The reason is practical. We have company and so, it is soooo much easier to cook for more than two people. I will eventually figure out the things that I can freeze for "playback at a later time." Until then. I can develop a new arsenal.
So, to my visiting guinea pig for the week. I hope it goes well. You are going to be part of a new week of food.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Coming Back Around...Going Home and Preaching

Since I left my interim, I have preached 2 times. Both of these sermons were at the church that our family attends. I believe the last time was several months ago now, at least it seems awhile back.

This weekend, we are heading up to my hometown, and I will preach.
There are two reasons for the trip. 1) We haven't seen my parents in over a month and we usually see them a lot more than that. 2) I got a call on the phone and was asked, so I said yes.

I'm excited and nervous. I look back at the places I have preached or spoken in public and yet, this is one that usually gets me. There's some places that lacked any grace at all and ironically those are all in seminary. I still shutter when I think about preaching in chapel my senior year, thankfully, it went really well.
There have been the large crowds. I lead the opening prayer at a national mission event. There were thousands of people! It didn't really bother me, I did my thing.  I was nervous presiding at Synod Assembly my first year in the Synod, yet, I was prepared and did it just like I was taught.  (The Seminary would have been proud!)

But this week. I preach in my home congregation. I don't preach often, but sermon writing and preparation aren't really a problem, it's not that I'm out of practice, it's that...this is my home congregation. I was raised there, confirmed there, ordained there, preached my first sermon there, sang in choir and a whole host of other things.  It's when I am there, I straddle a thin line. On one side, I am seen as little Lucinda (even though I'm 35) and look she's going to do a little sermon. On the other side, I'm Pastor Lucinda, and we have certain expectations of how a pastor is supposed to be.

The irony, the church that raised me, that loved me...I'm nothing like how they expect a pastor to be. I love them, but I grew up in the world of Norwegian piety. It made me who I am, but mostly I don't really subscribe to it. I preach the gospel, I live my life as a forgiven sinner and thank God for the grace given every day. But a pietist...I am not.  Yet, I am who I am because these people loved me into the faith. The definitely flavored the marinade that soaked in for most of my life.

I get nervous preaching for them. Why? Because I know the expectations they have had on pastors, I don't live up to any of them.  My husband reminded me last night and to paraphrase him, (You preach the sermon you are called to preach, what's on your heart. It's not about thier expectations.)  And he's right. A sermon shouldn't be what is expected. The gospel isn't expected, it should challenge us, stretch us, convict us (okay, the last three are a better function of the law), but the gospel is the unexpected part because it frees us and makes us knew after all.

Part of me is a bit nervous because I know my context, but now it is as an outsider. I know what's going on in the congregation from what my parents tell me. I know there is a lot of struggle there right now. It hurts me because you don't like seeing the place that took care of you in pain. It's hard because I hear and feel my mom and dad's frustration. I'm frustrated because, I worry that all the good ministry, that I was a beneficiary of as a kid, is stalled because people aren't able to work together and because everyone is trying to "win."  And no matter what happens, there's not going to be a "winner." There is going to be hurt, there are going to be people leaving. And maybe that is where people are feeling called. That is there walk of faith, I can handle that. I can't handle the meaness and condecension that accompanies it.

I remember when the church split when I was a kid. I was 12. It had a huge effect on me and I don't wish that on any of the youth there right now. Most of my family started going to another church, we chose to stay. Other families dealt with the same thing. It took a long time before those wounds were healed. I think now on the other side, we are all fine, but the things that were said to each other in the midst of that...There was no gospel there, there wasn't law there either...It was filled with a lot of finger pointing, unconstructive ranting, and not alot of listening. Lots of talking, not lots of listening.   And a lot of, "We're the real church."

So, I really haven't talked about preaching a sermon, I've just talked about my anxiety. But I think that can be productive too. If I write it all down here, I can get it out and do what I have to do, what I am called to do. Read the text, pray, read the text again, study, pray. Write a sermon. Pray. And then see what comes out because no matter what we preach on a Sunday morning...Let's face it. The Spirit does something with it between the pulpit and people's ears.

So, they say you can't go home again. I am. And maybe I need to remember that my home isn't that town or that church. My home is in that pulpit, the place from which I was called to proclaim the gospel from. No matter where it is. I am called to it. If I was asked to preach this week. God will use me. And then all of us will proclaim the gospel for another week. Maybe with words, but hopefully with out them.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When your son HAS NO FEAR! You start to realize your own.

I love my son, but really. He has no fear. Every week, sometimes day, we are marked...And not with the cross of Christ.
This week, he has a healing bump on the head. I was across the room as I watched him run toward the entry, trip on his feet and then nail his head right into the side of the doorway. You know they are hurt when there is silence before the scream...You know the sound or the lack of it. The silence is heavy as your little one realizes that he has really hurt himself...and it hurts...badly
I was across the room in 5 seconds (we have a very small house) and it was already swollen and black and blue.  I looked in his eyes, good news, pupils the same size, appropriately responding to light. We watched that he didn't get prematurely sleepy or odd in his behavior.
I think once a week we get a "I'm running with reckless abandon and you aren't going to catch me" injury. He's right. I can't catch him, but the floor, door, table, chair, or other object in our home usually does.
He runs into the kitchen table. Now, he realizes that it's too short for him to run under. He ducks. Just not always enough.
He didn't get hurt one day, but got in a heap of trouble when we found him climbing up the organ. Using the keyboards as steps.
He really lives every moment with gusto. He learns from his previous injuries, but he just manages to hurt himself living his normal, toddler life. Crazy.
Maybe he'll grow up to be a risk taker. I admit, I'm a bit more cautious in how I live my life. Ian has no fear and I notice my fears more.
Who knows, maybe he'll be a farmer. I never realized the stress I would be under in being a farmer. Every year is new. I hate gambling, I just don't do it well. Maybe it's because I live a life of gamble.
It's measured. We plan, we do what we can make sure we have the best inputs, plan for spraying, scouting, etc. etc. But in the end. You throw your hands up to God and say, "Dear Lord, Take care of us this year." And God does. Some years, you have the chance to do some things that you never thought you'd get the chance to do. Some years, you say, "Thank you Lord for providing for us again this year." And with that, you do what you can to do everything in the most efficient way as possible.
I pray that every year we will make the right decisions and be blessed with the right weather and hopefully...I can continue to stay home.
I think I have been more nervous since the accident over a year ago now. I would have a different title to this blog. "I'm a Farm Wife (I'm Terrified!)
There's something about almost losing the love of your life, your partner in all things, the father of your children that puts life in perspective. I want to live every moment to the fullest, yet, I also get so nervous about "what if." 
Ian not have any fear, it scares me.  I don't want to keep him in a bubble, yet, the desire to make sure he can never be hurt is overwhelming.
I'll keep teaching him. I'll keep doing what I'm doing, to the best of my ability. Let's face it, Supermom, I am not. But I want to make sure that my fears, (real and imagined) are not responsible for paralyzing him. I want him to learn from the bumps and bruises because I know that I can't keep him from being hurt in life.
Hopefully, I can teach him to walk with humility, sometimes even a little grace. I want him to trust God and know that he will never be abandoned or forsaken. I want him to live with gusto and not as much fear as I sometimes have. I want him to be the best boy he can and grow into a young man who respects himself and others and cares for the people in world who need help.
I hope his fearlessness extends to his ability to love, grow, learn, and pray.
So, maybe having no fear could be a good thing.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter Blaahs or depression? Sometimes it's hard to tell.

As the winter continues on, my ability to keep a positive attitude and retain a healthy balance and good mood begins to falter. For many, I'm sure, this is just part of the winter. Especially this winter! So much time below zero with windchill that is downright deadly or at least really uncomfortable if you have an inch of skin exposed, it isn't surprising that the  mood of many is less than spectacular.
But, even if it just part of the seasons, I get terrified that I am falling into a depression. (The clinical kind).
I had a fairly bad case of postpartum depression. I've struggled with depression anyway, but after Ian was born, I have never felt like life was so dark...I struggled to get out of bed, I cried all the time, and if I wasn't crying I was yelling at everyone I loved.
On the outside, I probably looked like the perfect mother. And truthfully. I was doing a fine job. Ian was well cared for and bathed and always had cute new outfits on. I rocked him, cuddled him, cared for him...He was maybe my salvation, even though the chemical changes he produced in my body were part of what got me to where I was.  And yet, if I hadn't taken pictures, I would have missed a lot of Ian's development the first few months of his life.
I ended up on medication and working with a great therapist. She helped me more than anything. I was able to talk about everything I was feeling, the pain, the despair, the fear, and there was never any judgment. As I started to pull out of the downward spiral that was my mental health. I was offered the interim position in a nearby town. It was part time. It was a good fit. They were coming out of a difficult situation and I was someone good to help them move forward at that particular time.
Going back to work at that time was my life preserver. I had lost my sense of purpose in the midst of my depression.  Depression is a mix of sadness and in addition, a lot of belly button gazing. I was so closed in on myself, my failures (real and perceived), my actions and my inaction. I needed to get outside of myself. And the job came along at the right time. I was getting much better and my therapist agreed with my decision to try it out.
I learned a lot about myself. My depression didn't define me and I had gifts. I also learned that you can be wounded, but still help others heal.  My depression wasn't contagious and truthfully, I wasn't turned in on myself, so I found a lot of life around me. And as I healed, the job helped me find some peace again.
When the job ended, I was ready...It felt like God's plan. I was having another baby in a month. I wanted to have time with Ian. I wanted to stay home again. The congregation was in a good place again too. They were getting ready to welcome their new associate pastor.
But, as we awaited Ella's birth, I was scared about slipping into the same place. I was medicated this time. Ready to be healthier from the start. I also had a better support system lined up. This has been important.  I just didn't take into account what winter weather could do to me. I always have trouble in January and February. I have for most of my life. This time. I am just nervous. Am I having a bad day? Or is this something worse? Is it because I haven't been outside for a week because of the cold and the sun hasn't bothered to shine? Or is it something darker inside of me?
Good news. I'm not yelling at people.
I will be on medication my entire life. Why mess with what is working. And truthfully, it would probably be a good time to go see my therapist and check in. It's been quite a while.
There is a difference this time. I don't have hopelessness. I don't have trouble getting out of bed. (Well, it's a bit tough when the kids wake up at 4:00 a.m.)
So, while I know that most of this is weather related and just a temporary mood. I wonder if the monster will always be around the corner? Will I always be scared that I'm headed down the drain? I feel like I waste quite a bit of time worrying about it. Is my awareness a sign that I'm vigilant or is it something else?
I do know one thing. I never want to be where I was, never again. I want to be honest about this time of my life. I really want other women to know that postpartum depression is something you can get help for and you can feel happy to be a mom again. I want people to get rid of the stereotype that it is a bad thing to go on medication and go into therapy. And when you decide to have baby number two. Make sure that your Dr. knows your history so you can be ready, because it will most likely be back and you can safely stay on medications during pregnancy. It truly has been the best thing I have done for myself and for my family. The best gift we give our families is our health.  I want husbands to know that they can be brave, like mine was and say, "We need to get you help."  And for husbands to keep checking in with their wives as they go through the months after a baby is born. She may not just be sleep deprived and overwhelmed, there might be more going on in her life.
So, I think it's the winter blaahs...But man, some days, it really is hard to tell.  I have offered up more prayers for sunshine than I thought possible.  But, I can get through it...I'm not alone (I wasn't the last time either) and I have a flashlight to shine in the dark corners.  But if you don't think it's the winter blaahs. Please, talk to someone. You will wonder why it took you so long.  There's help.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Mommy Day!

Today was Mommy Day! I realize that once upon a time, I would have laughed at someone telling about a day like to day and being excited about it. But times, they've a'been  a changin'.
Today was the conference leadership meeting. All the pastors in the conference get together once a  month from October thru May. I am on leave from call, but I'm still invited. I rarely go because it's not always easy to get a babysitter set up and figure out if there's something else going one. Etc. Etc.  Today, it was held at the congregation that I served last. My interim call from last year. So, in order to see my colleague from that call and a few others I haven't talked to in awhile...I thought I'd go. I also used the opportunity to see my girlfriends for lunch.  Truthfully, the conference meeting was my excuse, the real goal was to go have lunch with the girls. I went to worship, took communion (something I haven't done in awhile because I missed church because it was -25 below and I stayed home with the babes), visited...Then ran away giggling because a day that I can have the Sacrament of the Altar and also commune with my dear friend D and K is about as perfect as  you can get.
I wasn't completely alone. It really should be called a Mother/Daughter day. I had Ella with me. Ian went with Daddy to Grandma's house.
Ella is 4.5 months old. When Ian was that age, I thought it was so much work. I was sooooo wrong. Ella's easy. Completely portable. I can provide for most of her needs from my purse. And I don't have to guess from a children's menu if there is anything on it besides french fries that my picky eater son with eat.  She'll have formula (from my purse!)
So, Ella and I ventured off on our own. We took Dustin's pickup. Um. I'm really not use to driving the 1 and 1/4 ton dually yet. I'm more comfortable in my car. (It still hasn't moved since the last storm). But I took the truck so I could take the recycling and pick up 4x8 sheets of subfloor from the lumberyard. 
See, the above paragraph is kinda why my excitment about the day is so amusing. I didn't get to go off by myself shopping or something. No. I went to a meeting. The recycling center, the lumberyard, lunch, grocery shopping, and the meat market. Oh, and after lunch I ran over to the fabulous shoestore and bought a cute pair of maryjane pumps!
It was fabulous because I got to see wonderful people. I got to shop in an unrushed manor. I got to go through a store without saying, "No, Ian. Don't touch that."  I got SHOES! I think I may have mentioned that already.  I also had 8 sirloin steaks cut fresh at the butcher. Yummy. Bad part. Dustin saw the price of the steaks! It's not like a pick up steaks every week. We have company tomorrow night. I also bought enough so I could freeze half of them. TWO MEALS!  (two expensive, I really better like the people, meals!)
Things that are a lot simpler, make me a lot happier.  And I'm glad.
Now, if I could simplify the rest of my life...I would be even more thrilled. But there is a plan for that too...more to come.
Later all, I need to go try on my shoes! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Slivers of time.

Ian and Ella will wake from naps soon, so I thought I'd write quick. It seems like that's how I get everything done in my day, with little slivers of time. 30 seconds to switch laundry into the dryer here. A few seconds to check facebook. (How many minutes do those seconds add up to in a day?)Quick, Ian's playing, wash a few dishes.
I realize this more and more every day. I don't have projects, I have stolen moments that add up to life. The larger projects that I have to accomplish, are broken down into the tiniest of pieces so I can do them during naps or with a few seconds without little hands grabbing at them.
I also have started to realize that I have been attaching my worth to what I get done with those slivers of time. I use to work. I loved my job as a pastor...until I had kids...then I liked my job as a pastor, but wished for home. I took an interim call when I had Ian. It was the smartest thing I could have done for myself, my family and for Ian. (But I'll talk about that another day)
The reason I bring up my job, is that, we often measure our worth in what we do. I don't think this is the most beneficial way to measure, but a great many of us do it. We measure our contribution in what we "do." And I have started to do this with my "slivers of time."
      A successful day. I'll use a lot of little bits of time to move household mountains. Laundry, vaccuuming, dishes, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, and making phonecalls for various farm things.  If I don't do as much as I can, I feel like it has been a failure of a day sometimes...The sad thing. It usually isn't a failure of day.
     The days that I don't get tons of these things done, these are the days that I most likely have little ones who want me more than usual. On the days when I don't get "everything" done, I most likely have read "Busy, Busy Bunnies" to Ian 1053 times. I have cuddled Ella and held her as she has fallen asleep and I sit and smell her baby skin. I color with Ian and draw pictures of animals that he knows and then  he tells me what they, "say."  I make Ella giggle as she lays on the floor and shows off her new proficiency at rolling over.
     So, the paragraph I have just written, that seems like what a successful day should look like. Giving myself to my kids. Making them laugh, running around the kitchen table. Teaching Ian that those crazyons are not for eating!  These moments aren't slivers of time. These are what life should really be about. Living fully with the ones you love. Yet, these days are the ones that I sometimes feel guilty about. Why? Becuase of measureable accomplishment.  Do other mothers feel like this?
     Better go...I've got time to waste with my kids.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Still Cold, But A Sunnier Day, In Metaphor and Reality

I don't know how, but you can have what feels like the exact same day, but it is soooo much better. I have mostly played with Ian and Ella today, which has been fun.
I am going to have to think about supper eventually, but I'm not digging it.
It's still freezing out, (-9) but the sun is shining and my heart is too. Ella has been eating cereal for about 3 weeks and she isn't getting the hang of it, she's getting there, but it feels like she's gone backwards. She'll get there.  She's the cutest and happiest baby. Ian was too, how did I get so lucky...It's pure blessing and pure bliss.
Today, I don't feel the isolation. I feel like I'm in my crazy element. A baby trying to learn how to eat, a toddler who goes on hunger strike every other day. When something is wrong, it amazes me that only I will do. They want Mommy, that's it. The may accept others for periods of time. Grandma gets her fair share. He may run to Daddy with reckless abandone when he gets home...But if something goes wrong. He wants Mommy.
I never knew I could love this little people as much as I do. And I realize something. I still need my mommy too, from time to time. My husband still needs his. I realize that no matter how old they get, they will be my little ones. And hopefully they will never get to big to not need this mommy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cold Days in the Country

One of the aspects that I have really struggled with in the SAHM life is very seasonal. Cold days on the farm. This winter has involved more -15 below or more days than I have remembered in a few winters and that isn't including the windchill.  It's freezing for an adult. It seems a bit irresponsible to take kids out in it. If my skin can freeze on contact, what would it do to them?
Consequently, I've been home alot. I miss getting out. Dustin got me out a few times, but I was sick, so enjoyment of those outings was a bit lacking. This winter has lead to a real lack of freedom. I don't always feel comfortable trying to manuever two kids by myself on outings, especially in this weather. Roads have been terrible this year. My car hasn't moved in weeks. (It actually hasn't even been dug out of the drift.) So, I've been feeling a bit like a prisoner.
I actually think if I had the option of leaving, even if I didn't go anywhere, I'd feel better if I had the option. I know that sounds silly, but it's true.
I've been getting out once a week for church. And I go with Dustin down to the farm. (His mom and dad's, which is the yard we farm out of). Don't get me wrong. I love my inlaws. They are wonderful. I get along with them very well. It's just, well. I really would rather go out for coffee with a girlfriend or even by myself. I have a list of people that I could call and meet for coffee or lunch on most days (assuming their work or family schedule permited). But it doesn't happen. I don't have anyone who can really just come over or a place to drop off the kids. My MIL, once in awhile, she's great, they love her. But I don't want to take advantage of that, I feel like I should only use her for real reasons, not cause I need a day with the girls.
I wish I had the husband that would say, "I'll get home early, you go out for the evening and I'll handle the kids." I have a wonderful husband, he's a wonderful dad, but while he was just starting to get comfortable with Ian, I think the idea of both of them, intimidates him. Truthfully, I would be more thrilled if he's arrange childcare and we'd go on a date. I don't think he thinks that way.
So, until they are both walking and talking.
I think I'm hope.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Return!

It's 2011 and with it...My (hopefully faithful) return to blogging.
This blog has obviously taken a bit of a new turn. I'm no longer working as a pastor. I have taken on the new role as SAHM.   Actually, I'm a SAHFW (Stay at home Farm Wife), which brings a whole new dynamic to my life.
So, while the blog address will stay the same, I think we may change the title.  I'm a Farm Wife! (You can't scare me)

It's different being at home. During the summer, I love it! During the winter...Not so much. I get a bit stircrazy. I know a lot of SAHMs do. Some would say, go to a playgroup or make a playdate. I think that is wonderful advice, for most. It's a little harder for me. I live approx. 20 miles out of town. Our winter roads have been terrible this year. And on days like today, when it's -15, I feel it's a bit irrisponsible to take the kiddo's out.  So, we are home a lot.
So, to my other mom friends out there who are happy to take my calls. God bless you! I'd never make it without you.

Being home this time is so different than the first attempt. It's soooo much better. And I've been thinking and reflecting on it quite a bit lately.

So, welcome back to me. And welcome back to everyone else.