Thursday, September 18, 2014

How I Became A Farmer's Wife

My husband Neil and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary today, and that got me thinking about how we became the family that we are today.. So I thought I would share our journey together with you.

I was born and raised in a rural Wisconsin farm community, where I spent my childhood growing up on my uncle's dairy farm. My husband was raised in the same community on his family's dairy farm.
I can't say that I remember the first time that I met Neil; I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't know him. Our parents and grandparents knew each other long before we were even a thought. In fact, my grandmother made his parent's wedding cake, our  grandparents square-danced together before we were old enough to walk, and our dads both work for our local Co-op. Despite the fact that we have known each other for so long, we were not high school sweethearts. 
My horse 'Sis' that I spent my summers enjoying in Arkansas.

After high school, I had every intention of getting out of this town as fast as I could. I knew that there was a whole world outside of this little Wisconsin hicktown, and I certainly couldn't see myself marrying a farmer. They never leave home!
I had spent most of my summers growing up traveling to my mom's house in NW Arkansas, and traveling to rodeos from there. I loved horses, loved rodeo, and loved everything about the south. In high school I spent two summers working in various National parks in Texas, and it just showed me that I needed to get out of this town.
Hiking through the mountains in Big Bend National Park

So, soon after I came home from my last summer in Texas, just before starting my senior year of high school, I came up with the best way that I could to permanently get out of dodge. I enlisted in the Army National Guard. I grew up with a lot of friends and family in the military, so it wasn't a crazy idea to anyone. However, it was less than one year after the 9-11 attacks.

My parents met and married in the Air Force. At the time I enlisted, my sister was overseas fighting in Kuwait, and many of my aunts, uncles, cousins and all of my grandfathers served in the Military.
I had always dreamed of being a veterinarian and wanted to attend the University of Findlay-Ohio, a high-end equestrian college, but I knew that I needed financial help if I wanted to complete 8 years of school. The Army offered this to me in the form of a full Army ROTC scholarship. I was to become an officer in the U.S. Army, and was super excited. This was my opportunity to explore the world outside of Wisconsin, I would get to go to the college of my dreams, and it would be paid in full by the U.S. Army. I couldn't wait to finish my senior year and finally get the heck out of Dodge!

The crew that I worked with for my summers in Texas.
Now to bring Neil back into the picture: a few months before graduation, February 16 to be exact, I went roller skating with my church. I went because my aunt was taking my little cousin, and she wanted someone to talk to. It was really meant for the younger kids, so I wasn't at all looking forward to going. Then I got there, and Neil was there with his younger sister. We were the only teenagers. Neil was actually in college already and was home on break. We had hung out in high school a lot since we are both farm kids and were very active in our FFA chapter, in fact his best friend is my cousin. But, I had never really given him much thought when it came to boyfriend material, as I tended to hang out and date the party type of guys. But dating party goers had gotten me in a bit of trouble, and so I had sworn off dating. I was headed out of Dodge, remember?

We spent the day skating together, then we got back to church and he asked if I wanted to go snowmobiling with him at one of my friend's farms (my cousin's girlfriend). We knew that they would be game as it was my cousin's night to milk at his girlfriends farm, and I agreed.

So he picked me up a couple of hours later, and we went snowmobiling. We had so much fun. I had forgotten what it was like to be treated like a lady, as I was treated pretty poorly by some guys, and with Neil there was comfort, security and safety. He completely swept me off my feet. We continued to date, even though he was four hours away at college in Madison, and I was getting ready to leave for Ohio.

Neil taking me to my Senior prom.

Neil would come home most weekends to see me, attend my senior prom with me, and do all my high school events with me. Neil really loved me for me, and I never realized that I could love someone so much. He put up with my crazy, wild side, and supported any adventure I went on. But there was always the Army in the background. We knew that soon I would be leaving, and would be the Army's property any time I wasn't in school. I still very much wanted to go, and actually had gone to Ohio for a couple of weeks right after graduation to complete my ROTC and college orientations.

Three weeks before I was to leave for Ohio for good, Neil got down on one knee and proposed, just as we were saying our good-byes for the week before he headed back to college in Madison. I said Yes of course; I was head over heels in love with this man! I loved everything about him! I loved that he was a faithful Christian man, I loved handing him wrenches, making out with him in the tractor, and all the true love and support that he gave me on a daily basis! Neil loved me too, and desperately wanted a ring on my finger before I left for good. But, a ring on my finger didn't solve anything, it just made things harder to break off when I might be across the world somewhere.

Four days later came a fateful letter in the mail. The army had found something in my medical records that they didn't like. While I was in Texas working one summer, I had a couple of allergy-induced asthma attacks. We didn't know specifically what I was allergic to that caused them, so they wanted me to take some tests and get back to them. So I took the tests and expedited everything, since I was now leaving in less than two weeks. I got the typical 'hurry-up and wait' response from the Army that they are so famous for. The letter they responded with told me that it would take them 60 days to review my results and then they would get back to me with whether or not I could continue my career in the Army. I didn't have 60 days!! I was leaving in 10 days to a $30,000/year college that I didn't know for sure I could pay for anymore.

Neil and I at my high school graduation.
After a lot of conversation with my Commanding Officers, I decided that I would delay my entry another year. I was technically not under contract with the Army since they didn't hold up their end of the contract in a 'timely matter'. So, I quickly applied to the closest university to home, UW-River Falls, and got accepted into the pre-vet program one week before classes started, not knowing where all the money would come from to pay for all eight years, but I had enough saved to give me a good start. 

Neil's prayers (and a few of mine) had been answered. I was staying close to home, at least for another year! One week later I moved myself into the dorms at River Falls and started attending classes. After a semester of Chemistry kicking my butt, I changed my major to Finance (talk about making a complete 180), and started planning a wedding for the following September.

Once that one-year mark came for me to make the final decision about the Army, I had my life planned in an entirely different direction, and chose to give up the military completely. I started having other goals and dreams that I never thought I could have. I started dreaming of a family, and a life of farming in this little Wisconsin hicktown. Mostly, I dreamed of a life with Neil. Before I had Neil in my life, getting married and starting a family was the last thing on my mind. Coming from a broken home, being a mom was something I feared, not something I looked forward to. But once I had Neil by my side, I knew that I could do anything!

I don't think that our relationship would have survived the eight-plus years that I was contracted with the Army, but looking back, God put Neil right in front of my eyes since I was a little girl, showing me what a loving, trusting marriage can be.

Our wedding day.
On September 18, 2004, I married my best friend in a John Deere themed wedding complete with green dresses for the bridesmaids, yellow flowers, and Mary Moo for the cake topper. It took an act of God to show me that this is the man of my dreams, not a buff Army dude, but a hard-working, honest farmer, that would give me all the dreams that I hadn't even dreamt of yet!

Looking back at some of the childhood memories that Neil and I shared showed us that God had a plan for us all along, that we were truly destined to be together:
Neil has given me a life that I thought was only a dream,
including giving me these three beautiful little girls.
This is all my loves, my hopes and dreams right here.
This picture was taken the day my youngest, 

Caroline was born, when Olivia and Allyson got to 
meet their new baby sister for the first time. 
We were finally a complete family!

- I remember going square-dancing once a month with my grandparents, and dancing with Neil, as he would also go dancing with his grandparents.

- When Neil and my cousin were in 8th grade, they had to make a video for history class about the Oregon Trail. In this video, I played Neil's Oregon trail wife!

- When my date left me stranded at my junior prom, Neil took me under his wing, danced with me and took me home afterward.

- While at an FFA bonfire at my cousin's, Neil walked in with another girl, a co-worker. Even though I was standing next to my high school sweetheart, I remember feeling very jealous and even saying something to my best friend.

This is my horse, Savannah, that Neil got me soon after we were married.

God has an amazing way of showing us His plan and I have learned that I just need to trust in Him to guide me through the life here on earth.

Our Happily Ever-After
Jeremiah 29:11-12 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 
plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

Friday, August 8, 2014

What We've Been Up To Lately...

Well, its been over a month since I have posted once again. We have been pretty busy setting up our new house. I never thought it would take so long, but we still have so many bare walls. I am being quite particular about putting things on the walls. I am leaving walls bare until I find exactly what I want.

We spent a week in Texas visiting my Aunt again last month, and had a great time. We spent most of our time shopping or in the pool. I did manage to bring home some fun décor items from Texas. We ended up renting a car and driving back and what a beautiful drive it was. We drove up through the Flint Hills of Kansas on the Turnpike, all the open land was amazing to see. Because we rented a car, we made use of the space and packed it full. I brought home a few mason jars and lamps, and also a wagon wheel for my kitchen, and a windmill for next to my front door.

Neil and I also took a day to go on a trip by ourselves, and we toured to the famous South Fork Ranch. It was beautiful, I just wish it were all mine. To our surprise, it is not at all what it seems like on the TV show Dallas.

Wouldn't you just love to drive up this every time you come home?

In my quilting world, I have managed to machine quilt a quilt for a customer (that I forgot to take a picture of), finish my Mini Swoon that will go on the wall in my sewing room, and also piece and quilt another full sized quilt for a customer.

Some of the fabric that is in my Swirls and Whirls.

I am currently working on piecing a Swirls and Whirls from Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, that will also go on the wall of my sewing room. And I am always working on a new quilt design. I am hoping to soon have some actual patterns in print!

We have worked hard at cleaning up our yard and trimming up trees. We have a huge brush pile to burn in the back pasture, and the pile is only growing. Our next project is clearing the pasture for horses and putting up fence. That is just the next step in completing our little 'Happily Ever After'.

The giant pile and the end of the trail in the pasture that looks like a beaver dam is our brush pile, that is steadily growing.
Even though we have lived here for just over two months, it still feels like a dream when we come home to this house. We are so in love with it, and feels like we belong right here! God has blessed our family in more ways than we even knew possible and we don't want to waste a moment in which we can serve Him and give Him glory.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So this post was written a few weeks ago when these issues were still being debated, and as I hit the post button, my computer crashed, so it never made it on the blog. It seems that the topic has settled a bit, but I thought that I would still post it, now that I am up and running once again.

I try really hard not to get mixed up in political issues, especially when I comes to agriculture. I am interested and read about them, I form my own opinion, but I don’t always speak it. My husband has a job that can very easily be impacted by what I write about agriculture, so try not to put my opinions ’out there’. 

However, I have been doing a fair amount of research in agriculture lately, and have been reading a lot of the Factory vs. Family Farm blog posts, and catching up with the whole Chipotle debate and a few other hot topics in agriculture. And, what I don’t understand is why farms are being blamed, or accused for the problems in our food. Maybe it is just my background and understanding of farming, but I don’t feel that farms are to blame.

There is a blame game being played, and I understand that there will always be one, but I know from experience that what farmers grow in the fields or pastures is not what I am buying in the store. Haven’t you ever bought meat that is so plumb that it looks like it is dripping in juices, just to bring it home, grill it and it shrinks up to a fraction of the size that it was in the package and tastes like a rubber tire? Well, it was plumb full of artificial ‘juices’. Or do you remember when you would get ants in your oatmeal or bugs in your flour? Well, why doesn’t that happen anymore?

What I am buying in the store is filled with additives, preservatives, fillers, dyes and waxes to make the food look or taste better, not to mention all of the processing that the food has gone through. Anyone with a small amount of knowledge in chemistry knows that the more anything is processed or cooked, especially nutrients in food, the more it breaks down, therefore the less beneficial to the human body. The farmer is not the one processing or adding to their crops, or filling their meat with ‘artificial juices’, they just grow it.
On the other hand I am also not pushing for our country to go all organic. That is also not a healthy alternative for either animal or human. Without modern farm management and practices there wouldn’t be enough food to feed everyone and the financial burden couldn’t be afforded by neither consumers nor farmers. The health and well being of both animals and humans would also be extremely compromised.
Another point that I don’t understand is what exactly are farmers being blamed for? Cancer? Obesity? Diabetes? What?
As I stated earlier in the post that this is purely a blame game that is being played, but ultimately it comes down to personal responsibility and making decisions that are best for you, your family and your health. As we have always heard, actions do speak louder than words. Farmers just grow the food that is demanded of them by consumers, they aren’t the ones that are putting the food into our mouths.
I think that it is great that people are trying to find out where their food comes from, however when you start to make accusations or just even start making lifestyle changes, please do some research and make an informed decision. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our New House!!

As you all know we have finally moved!!
Actually we moved almost four weeks ago but I have been a bit busy, hence the reason I have been MIA from blogland. It took us almost two years to sell our little house in town, and move into the house of our dreams out in the country. Let me tell ya, moving is a TON of work!! But we are here, getting settled and unpacked. So here it is! (I apologize in advance for the picture overload)
Our new house is everything we were looking for when we started to consider moving. It is less then 2 miles from the farm, in our daughter's school district, not on a busy road, has enough bedrooms for all of our little crazies, more than one bathroom (we only had one in the little house and with three little girls, it didn't work so well for daddy), and land to for horses with plenty of room for all of our crazies to run and play.

It also came with lots of bonuses that were definitely a want and not a need: a playroom/family room for daycare and toys, three bathrooms (yay for daddy!), a quilting studio for myself, a workshop for my husband and all his tools, and a huge master suite including our own bathroom with double sinks and a jetted soaker tub (I am so in love)!

The view off my deck is beautiful and is so peaceful and quiet.

I can't wait to have fence up and have our horses in our backyard, right now we just have lots of deer.

The playground is still not set up due to a bird that made a nest and laid its eggs in the past two weeks!

This is the garden shed in the backyard. I would like to put a perennial garden to the right of it behind that fence.I think there was one at some point because there are some rose bushes already in there. To the left of the shed is a dog kennel, which would make a great chicken coop in the future.

The location couldn't be more perfect, we are located less than 2 miles from the farm in a dead end road, off of another dead end road. We have a swimming beach on a beautiful lake just down the hill, and a great biking trail almost in our front yard, just between us and the lake.

And now for the inside tour, or at least some of it. I also apologize for the mess. There are still boxes everywhere, very few pictures on the walls, and lots of mess! We are slowly but surely getting settled. It is very hard to be patient with this, I would love to just snap my fingers and have it exactly how I want, but I know it takes patience and time.

My kitchen is bright, white, huge, and everything I wanted!

I love the bay windows in my living room!

It is still a mess, and is always filled with crazy kiddos,
but that's what life is all about right?
My master again is huge. I actually have a foyer area in my master complete with an arched doorway except I didn't catch that part in the picture.
Any my master bath is beautiful.
I just love having double sinks. Heck, I just love having more than one bathroom! 
And to complete the master suite is a jetted soaker tub surrounded by beautiful slate tile work. 
Well, that's it for now. There will be more in the future. We are working on getting pictures up in the girls bedrooms. Caroline is having a bug bedroom, Allyson a penguin bedroom and Olivia a horse bedroom. The basement will be for another post, but we are painting most of it. Hopefully my sewing room will be painted before the weekend is done, and I can start moving in my stuff and getting to work!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Coffee Date

Welcome to Friday once again. This week has been crazy even though I only left my house once in the past 7 days, and that was to bring dinner to my husband in the field. It is time to link up with Diary of and Addict's Friday Coffee Date, and check in and see what is going on in my world.
Spring planting season has begun here in Wisconsin, even though preparation for it began a while ago. Crops are beginning to be planted, but are at a standstill for a few days, as we are getting a few days of rain. As much as I want my husband to get the crops in the ground, it is really nice to have his help getting ready for our move in two weeks.
Speaking of the move, we are almost there! In fact, we move in exactly two weeks. I am SO ready to just be in our new house and settled. I do not cope well with transition, or chaos. I tend to like my life scheduled and organized. The closer we get to the move, the more chaos there seems to be, and I am beginning to struggle with it. I just keep trying to keep my eye on the prize and know that God is not going to give me more than I can handle.
Because of all the moving and packing I haven't worked on any quilt projects in a while, and that tends to be my therapy.

This fabric is for the first project that I make once I get my sewing machine set up. I might just make myself work on this before ALL of the boxes are unpacked, just so I can have some time to relax! This will be for a quilt going on a little boy's bed. The colors are bright and the pattern is so fun. I tend to REALLY like polka-dots! I can't wait to get it all finished and get to have some time with my sewing machine once again.
I have spent a bit of time this week writing some new blog posts, I am just not quite ready to share them. I would like to get some pictures in them, and all of my pictures, like the rest of my life, is all packed up in boxes (mostly John Deere boxes!) I would really love to invest more time and energy into my blog and others, and I plan to do so once we get settled a bit. I have connected with some really amazing people through blogs, made some great friendships, and truly get a lot of great encouragement from other bloggers.
Well, that's about all for now. I will be spending my week packing, cleaning and having a garage sale to get rid of all of our unwanted or outgrown stuff. I anyone needs anything for a baby girl, I'm sure we have it!
I pray that you all have a great week.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spring Beauty Swap

I know that I have been severely slacking on this whole blog thing lately. It has been a couple of weeks since I have posted anything at all. I have been SUPER busy packing up our house. We move in three weeks, and I am having a moving sale in two weeks. So blog posts are few and far between for me right now unless you want to see more pictures of boxes and empty walls. I am lucky if I have time to get through my emails everyday. Once we get settled a bit in the new house I will be busy with new projects to write about.

I signed up once again to participate in another Beauty Swap hosted by Crystal of Crystal Cattle and also Taysha of Dirt Road Charm, since I had so much fun with the last one. This time I was paired with Heidi (@HDPRKR), a very busy mom from South Dakota. I received lots of awesome products from Heidi.

Here is what I received:
- two infinity scarves, one in a blue paisley pattern and once solid white
- Aqua Spa Body Crème
- Simple Radiance cleansing wipes
- Bare Foot foot scrub
 - NYC Big Bold Curl mascara
 - e.l.f. shimmering facial whip
- Jergens BB Body perfecting skin cream
- NYC nail polish in Spring Street and Madison Avenue colors
- NYC lip gloss in Blush Forever
 - NYC lip stain in Champagne
 - and lastly a cosmetic bag with two travel bottles and a lufa.

I can't say that I have a favorite product from this Beauty Swap, I have tried them all and love them all! It is so awesome to receive a fun package in the mail that is filled with fun 'girly' things just for me, and is even more fun trying out all the great beauty products.

Thank you Heidi for all of the great products, and thank you to Crystal and Taysha for hosting another fun Beauty Swap.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Coffe Date

Welcome to Friday once again. Happy Easter to you all!
 This week could not have gotten over soon enough. I think that lunar eclipse had something to do with a lot of the crazy behavior in our house this week. The kids were just something else! So I am very thankful that it's Friday and time to link up with Alissa at Diary of an Addict for the Friday Coffee Date.
This is about what my house looks like all over. Boxes, boxes and more boxes, and a bit of emptiness! It sounds like our moving date is going to move up, so we move in one month now. There are some days that I just don't know where to start. If anyone has any packing tips, or advice I would love to hear it. I want to get busy packing, but I don't know what all can be packed ahead of time. I really need to go through the girls' bedrooms and sort through for the garage sale that we are also having in the mean time, but that is very hard to do with a house full of little ones. They tend to take out twice as much as I pack up.
I thankfully have three of the four quilts finished that I have to make before we move, and will hopefully get a good start on the last one this weekend.
This is the one Caroline got for her birthday. She will be in a big girl bed once we are in the new house, so I wanted her to have her quilt all ready for her. I made a scrappy Dresden that my mom had cut out a lot of years ago. I added to it, made it bigger, and finished it for Caroline.
This last one is one that I actually pieced years ago, and quilted up to donate for a benefit for one of Neil's distant relatives that is quickly loosing her battle with cancer.
That is about it for this week. Have a blessed Easter and a wonderful week!