An attitude of gratitude

Today is a day that I need to say a few words to some people that mean the world to me. I’m not going to mention any names, because those of you out there know who you are…and truly, most anyone reading this has played a role in all of this, and I owe you all a debt of gratitude.

Even on the cloudy know the sunshine is still there.

Even on the cloudy days…you know the sunshine is still there.

First of all, I thank the Lord above for all of the blessings I’ve been given. And those have been too numerous to count. Friends, family, opportunities…seriously, I lead a pretty amazing life. I have some amazing kids. I some times shake my head at the wonder of it all.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t been all wine and roses. My life has not always been a golden path of gifts and a fountain of well-wishes. No…that’s not quite it at all. But the fact is, that your past makes you who you are, not what you have to be. The same goes for your experiences now.

The same is true for friends and family. You can grow together and grow apart. You can meet someone tomorrow that can become as close to you as anyone you have ever met. And you can wonder how you ever lived without them. Or you can rediscover someone you have always known, and remember why it is that you enjoy their company.

The beauty of it all is that it takes all types, all kinds to make it all work. And I have all types, all kinds, involved in my life. I have old friends, and new friends, and old new friends, and new old friends. I have friends that I have never met in person, and yet would do just about anything for…and I have friends that have never read anything I have wrote on a computer, and I would still do anything for them.

But the same is true for them all: you mean the world to me. I cannot stress enough how important you are to my day. You help me make sense of it all. I have this place where I can get it all out of my head. Let the words flow out, release, and be accepted…just as I am. Here’s a little secret: You may find this hard to believe, but I struggle with acceptance – a lot. I always feel as if I never have a place. I’ve always felt as if I’m never quite enough. And yet here – well, here…I am. And it’s mostly because of you.

Thank you.

Even on the cloudy days, the sunshine is still there.

The life of George…an update

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated on George’s story. And for those that have been following along, you’ll be happy to know that kindergarten has been going great! We’ve only missed 9 days so far, which in George’s world is pretty remarkable. And only once was it a pretty serious illness…but no hospital stays.

We had a check up at Mayo in October. The pediatric neurologist is amazed with our progress. She cannot believe how far he has come. We had a repeat MRI and the gaps in his brain that they have been concerned about have not grown any. Some serious miracles here, folks. Science and God…together.

Every day at Mayo, George would stop and say the Pledge of Allegiance to this flag. He's one amazing little kid.

Every day at Mayo, George would stop and say the Pledge of Allegiance to this flag. He’s one amazing little kid.

The last two weeks have been a bit more difficult. George has had some tummy issues that we can’t quite figure out. We’ve had an ER trip, a few docs visits…and it seems to be getting worse, not better. But we were able to get in to see a doctor this afternoon and we have a plan – and for some reason I always feel a little better when we have a plan. And if things aren’t looking better by Friday, well, then we are looking at another plan.

On day 2 at Mayo, George wore his Ninja Turtle sweatshirt. One doctor came up to him and shook his hand, and told him it was a pleasure to meet a real super hero. George is definitely MY super hero!

On day 2 at Mayo, George wore his Ninja Turtle sweatshirt. One doctor came up to him and shook his hand, and told him it was a pleasure to meet a real super hero. George is definitely MY super hero!

But with everything that has been going on, I’ve become a bit difficult. A little sensitive. Sleeping less. Needing more. Just not myself. I’ve lost a bit of my focus.

And then tonight, it all came sharply back into focus.

George was sitting behind me in the suburban on the way home. Today I had woke up late, managed to get the kids ready, worked, had rearranged schedules so I could squeeze in a doctor’s appointment for George, drove 45 minutes to the appointment, then back for two parent-teacher’s conferences, listen to my 10-year-old explain how a schoolmate had told him that he’s growing too fast that he’s going to die, talk to him about bullying and coping techniques, went to a book fair, gave my son some meds…and we were finally on the way home.

In the two minutes of silence that we were blessed with, George asked, “Is heaven fun?”

I didn’t know how…or if…I should respond. Why was he asking? Was he having dreams? Had he been hearing me talking to his doctors at Mayo? Had someone else been talking near him?

So I carefully said, “Yes, I am sure it is. But why do you ask?”

He said, “I just want to be sure I can play there when I die.”


I couldn’t say a word.

My 5-year-old made me speechless.

I sometimes get so wrapped up in the minutia of life…and I forget the big picture. And then George will say something and it will be like God tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me that in the grand scheme of things, the destination is much more important than the scenery along the way.

I do not know how many more tomorrows George has ahead of him…nobody knows how many tomorrows they may have. Yet I know that George faces a few more obstacles than the average person. But he faces those obstacles with more bravery and courage than I could ever muster.


The health epidemic

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research regarding our health, diets and how our choices influence it all. It’s been fascinating to learn so much more about our society, but when I read claims that our agriculture methods are creating problems, I tend to raise my eyebrows a little bit.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I completely agree that cropping methods and systems have changed in the last few centuries. But shouldn’t we expect them to? I know of no other industry where people criticize innovation so blatantly. But again, that’s their right.

Here is my unofficial synopsis of all the reading I have done: Perhaps it’s not only the crops that have changed, but our expectations of health. Our quest in life is to “feel good.” If we don’t feel good, we try to figure out why we’re not feeling good…and in doing so, we keep hunting down causes until we find something to blame.

We are a culture of excess. We want to have our cake…and eat it to, even if it has to be gluten free.

medical food, cyclinex 2, formula

Will we reach a time in which all of our nutrition will come in compact form?

People clamor that these are new diseases, new allergies, new problems with digestion. But I wonder, are they really? And I’m not talking about true allergies, the kind that risk your life when in contact with triggers. Or true diseases, the kind that cause bleeding and excruciating pain and life-threatening consequences. I know all about those.

It's hard to believe how far he's come, but the long road was worth it!

It’s hard to believe how far he’s come, but the long road was worth it!

My grandmother would tell me stories about when she was growing up. She had her appendix removed when she was a little girl and it terrified her. She was afraid that what she ate would make her ill, so she was very selective for a little while. Food made her ill, so she cut back on what she ate. Simple as that. She didn’t go to a doctor, she didn’t expect a pill would make her better, she didn’t question her choices, she just limited them. And no one was the wiser.

Now we expect answers. We expect to “feel good” and when we don’t feel good, we expect that there’s a pill, a medicine, a cure, to make us feel better. In general, we do not suffer quietly and self-adjust our diets to make up for it, as our ancestors did. We enroll the help of medical professionals, we make it their job to find out what’s ailing us, and find some way to allow us to continue the same behaviors that made us ill to begin with…it’s mind-boggling truly.

No, I am not convinced that our food has changed so greatly that our bodies are now rejecting it. But I am convinced that our world has changed so greatly, that our expectations are creating problems that our ancestors would have just brushed off with “that didn’t agree with me.”

Looking back through our family history, I am pretty certain that George’s OTC is not new to our family. It just happens to be the first time that it could be diagnosed. And we were blessed when it was discovered…completely by chance. His diet changes are necessary, and life-saving, as is the case for many across the world.

I have no doubt that watching what you eat, being aware of how your body reacts and adjusting your habits as needed is a great tool for everyone to use. But are we taking it too far? Just last night I heard two young girls talking in a store. One was buying gluten-free items, the other replied, “I didn’t know you had celiac?” She quickly said, “Oh, I don’t, I just read that it’s better for you. You know, more natural.” I had my oldest child with me, so I didn’t interrupt, but…ugh.

What will be the next epidemic?

I vote for common sense. How about you?

Having never met…

The hubby and I have been on a whirlwind vacation/conference schedule for the last week or so. I have so much to catch up on, but something came across my screen that stopped me dead in my tracks.

I have previously asked you, my followers, to pray for my friend, Leontien, who was battling melanoma. It is with a very heavy heart that I share with you the news that Leontien gained her angel wings on January 10.

I had never met Leontien face-to-face, but it didn’t matter. We had a quick friendship, albeit online, as I’m sure many did. I remember one time I messaged her that someone had mistakenly assumed we were sisters. She simply replied, “haha oh my gosh that is soo funny!!! i loved your sweet blog and i hope you got lot’s and lot’s of comments and some new followers but it is really funny that they think you are my sister! I would love to have you as a sister!!!”

That comment meant the world to me…and we would “talk” to each other frequently through various social media outlets.

Our last personal interaction was at the end of November. Although Leontien knew that her battle was coming to an end, she asked if she could help with my Christmas Angel project. She wanted to make a lasting impression on someone…little did she know just how much she had already accomplished.

I dedicate this in her honor:

Having Never Met

Having never met…you taught me the value of sunshine, the value of rain and to know that when one is upon you, the other is around the corner.

Having never met…you taught me that the weight of a woman has nothing to do with what she accomplishes in life, and everything to do with how she accomplishes it.

Having never met…you taught me that even when the chips are down, there is someone there to help you pick them up. And no matter what, there’s always time for one more smile.

Having never met…you taught me that even when bad things happen to good people, good people receive the greatest reward. And true goodness is found in the eyes and the soul of those that possess it.

Having never met…you taught me that love is not just a feeling or emotion. It can even be an alpaca out your window.

Having never met…you taught me the value of a friend is not having to be there physically, but to know when just a simple word or phrase is all that is needed.

Having never met…you taught me about the person I will always strive to be.

My dearest Leontien…although we never met, I would like to thank you for all of this and, oh, so much more.

My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends that are grieving. In her spirit, I will continue to strive to make this world a better place…for she did that for me – and we never even met.

Thankful for Change

As I mentioned earlier this week, we leave next week for another round of appointments at Mayo. As I was thinking about what I needed to get done to be ready for the trip, I started to think back about how much our lives have changed in these few years. And I am so very, very thankful.

I used to preface every appointment, every meeting, every date with a friend with the statement, “Well, if George isn’t sick…” or “Barring any unexpected hospital trips…”

I haven’t done that…in a very long while. In fact, George hasn’t been to visit his friends on the Peds floor since the beginning of March. And I need to thank all of you for helping us get to where we are today. You have all helped with your kind thoughts, your prayers and your offers to help – and your understanding that sometimes I just need a place to vent.

It’s been a long road, and I know we’re no where near at the end of our journey, but at the lull in the storm, I thought I would just give you all a simple, “Thanks.”

George and his favorite “big sister,” Miss A.

And I owe the Big Guy upstairs the biggest thanks of all, but He already knows…we’re close like that! 😉

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are

I basically took the month of June off on my blog. It wasn’t intentional, but it ended up being that I simply didn’t have time. We had swimming lessons, baseball practices and games, I play softball, parades, celebrations, a birthday party or two, fair preparations to make and life to live. It was wonderful.

But now it’s the day after the Fourth of July, and life is a little more subdued and relaxed. We can start truly enjoying our summer…and I intend to make every minute count.

I promise to blog more often (more for myself than anything), and I promise to continue to reach out and do what I can to share this great way of life that we are living.

It what I can do, without leaving my farm, and using the skills that I have.

It wasn’t until the 457th person told me (during this break of mine) that they enjoy my writing, they love to share what I share and realize how important farming and rural life is to the backbone of America. What more can I ask for?

And it’s something so simple, that I know you can do it, too. All it takes is a minute of time, an ounce of creativity and courage…a fair amount of courage.

Thank you for sticking with me…and as a reward, here’s a few photos of what we’ve been up to:

We watched storm clouds roll through, but never received much for rain.

We watched 70+ tractors roll past our farm on a Tractor Trek to celebrate a local town’s 125th celebration.

Boss Man joined the tractors!

We played some baseball.

We watched some amazing sunsets.

And we danced like no one was watching.

I may have become a little discouraged last month, questioning if I am doing the right thing, or if I have the right intentions. But those doubts are gone, my spirit is renewed and I have new goals in sight. And I can do it all from the comforts of my home.

Yes, summer, I am finally ready for you.

Thankful Thursday – Technology

Technology. Some treat it as the downfall of our civilization, some treat it as the answer to everything. Me? I see it for what it is…a gift that can be used in many wonderful ways.

We recently planted a plot of sweet corn. What does that have to do with technology? Well, this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill Grandpa’s sweet corn. This is Bt sweet corn developed by Monsanto.

Our sweet corn seed bag from Monsanto…and I can’t wait to harvest this crop!

Now, I say “developed” because the seed itself is just a simple corn seed, it’s the traits of the corn that makes it special. This corn is more resistant to bugs, which makes it less likely that we’ll need to use pesticides on it. The corn is also hardy to herbicides, meaning that we can use the same chemical that millions of homes use everyday when needed to kill the weeds in the field, limiting the competition to the plant and improving the corn yields. That means more corn with less cost, less trips up and down the field, and less soil disturbance. The fewer times we have to disturb the soil, the better our soil health is, and the less we lose to erosion. A win-win.

This sweet corn is a great new product, but the technology is nothing new. Modifying traits in seeds has been going on for decades. Need examples? How about burpless cucumbers? (Burpless cucumbers are seedless…but without seeds, how are there more?) Oils made from seeds that are healthier? Seedless grapes, navel oranges…the list could go on. Biotechnology is a mainstay of food production throughout the world. With it, we can develop plants that can grow in less favorable conditions, produce better tasting crops and can be developed for certain health-care concerns. And that’s where my hope comes in…

It’s not just the sweet corn that has me thankful today. It’s the possibilities that this corn presents.

Our son, George, has a metabolic disorder that limits his ability to break down proteins. To sum it up in a very short statement, he can’t have meat, dairy, pastas, etc. His diet is limited to 12-13 grams of protein per day. The rest of his essential amino acids comes from here:

This is George’s formula…it stinks to high heaven and I have to hide it in different foods and stuff, but it’s what he needs. And that’s all that matters.

Yes, George is still on formula. And he’ll be on this special formula for the rest of his life. I’m thankful for this can, because without it, I’m not sure what we would have done, or what would have happened. But I don’t need to worry about that.

So what does this can of formula and a cob of corn have in common?

Imagine: if we can make a cob of corn that is resistant to bugs and herbicides, maybe we could eventually make a version of meat that has limited protein in it. Maybe we could make a dairy product that George could drink (and I’m not talking coconut beverage or soy substitute). Maybe we could make a pizza, complete with cheese and toppings, that would be easy and tasty for him to enjoy.

No, this cob of corn is not just a simple treat for my family to enjoy in a few months. It’s not just a soil-saving, resource-saving, farm-friendly crop…it’s a sign of what we can do when we take the time to investigate and do some research.

George, enjoying some yummy sweet corn!

I know what research did for us in the past. I see him every morning, waking up with an amazing smile and a great zest for life. It’s where the research leads us in the future that has me excited…and I hope, for George’s sake, that nothing stands in the way.

I am thankful that Monsanto provided us with the sweet corn seed, but please remember that the thoughts, ideas and opinions are my own…as well as those cute photos of my boys. Thank you!

Thankful Thursday – It could have been worse

This wasn’t the post I intended to write today. These weren’t the pictures I hoped to share. But Mother Nature has a funny way of deciding what does and does not happen.

Last night, shortly before I was planning to go to bed, the TV warned of a storm that was heading towards our area. They stated that it had heavy rain, some hail and strong winds. I joked on Facebook that it better go around, because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a storm.

She showed me.

The first storm hit about 10 p.m., and although at first seemed to not be that bad, it quickly changed its tune. We had a lot of hail, wind took down sections of fence and spun our calf shelter, killing one calf and injuring another.

Hail out our door last night, storm #1.

I thought that was it, and went to bed, knowing there wasn’t anything we could do during the night.

And then at 4 this morning, another storm came through…bringing more hail, more wind, but thankfully, no more destruction.

In total, we received 1.15″ of rain, and a solid coating of hail. The pictures speak more than I can:

Drift of hail left yet this morning.

More hail…

Our trailer was “hailed.” 😉

This calf shelter is supposed to protect calves, not hurt them. But the storm last night rotated this shelter to the north 90 degrees, killing one calf in the process.

TT – Honored by Sigma Alpha

Last Saturday, I received one of the greatest honors of my whole “career” in agriculture. The Sigma Alpha Sorority at North Dakota State University honored me as their 2012 Agricultural Woman of the Year. And I hope I can live up to it.

A month or so before, a young woman and friend of ours asked if she could nominate me. I told her that, of course, she could…and I filled out the necessary forms and did what was needed. And then I put it on the back burner.

I didn’t think that my influence in agriculture was that great, nor was it anything out of the ordinary…or at least, it shouldn’t be.

But apparently they thought differently. And I was honored to be asked to join them for their 19th annual Founder’s Day Banquet, and to speak to them about the opportunities they have as a voice in agriculture, and the roles they can play.

That was the best part of all!

No, the plaque is beautiful, and the supper was absolutely delicious, and the time spent with my husband during calving season, well, that’s not easy to come by. But the chance to speak to the energy and backbone of our industry? I couldn’t imagine a more important place to be at that moment.

So, thank you, Sigma Alpha. Thank you for giving me the opportunity, thank you for making my night such a memorable one, and thank you for letting me see a glimmer of where our industry is headed.

Those young women are no longer just the future of agriculture…they are agriculture.

Thankful Thursday – Shelter

Our blizzard turned out to be not so much a snow event, as it was a wind event…but it still made me so very grateful. And after the storms in Illinois and elsewhere, I thought it would be appropriate today to give my thanks for shelter.

I'm thankful for shelter for our calves...and a Boss Man that cares for them!


The calves love playing in the fresh straw.


Snug as a bug in a rug.


I'm thankful for the equipment and technology that allows us to care for our animals, like this bale processor.


The bale processor (above) grinds up the corn stubble (left over corn stalks) that our farm baled at the end of harvest last year. It provides great bedding for our cows, as well as a treat or two, as they find leftover corn cobs and other goodies in the bedding.

It's kind of like an Easter egg hunt, in your bed.


And I’m grateful for our home, and for all of those that make it possible for us to provide shelter for our animals, our children and ourselves.

And as I give thanks for the shelter that we have, I offer prayers and condolences to those that lost their homes and their lives during this week’s storms.