10 Things I Learned in April: The Parenting Edition

I can’t quite wrap my head around the reality that it’s been almost a month since our sweet Anders Knox joined the family.


The past four weeks have been a blur of visitors, spit up, diapers, yoga pants, late night feedings, and sleep deprivation. It’s been the most challenging four weeks of my life, but it’s also been the most beautiful.


Since April was entrenched in babyland, my monthly “10 things” isn’t going to be a very diverse list. I may not have showered today, but I’m seizing a quiet moment (Anders finally went down for a nap) to share 10 things I learned last month.

10 Things I Learned in April

1. Babies poop. A lot.
They warn you. The books tell you. But nothing can prepare you for the awe-inspiring amount of poop a tiny human being can produce. It’s baffling how much of my day is spent dealing with, assessing, smelling for, washing off, evaluating, logging, and transporting poop. Dairy Man and I are both black belt changers at this point.


2. I can eat any meal in under 60 seconds.
Anders’ crankiest time of the day is typically between 5 and 10 p.m. That means DM and I stagger our dinners: one person consoles the baby while the other scarfs down their food. During the day I also have to eat breakfast and lunch with a baby in my arms or frantically while he’s napping. At this point I think I could win some sort of speed-eating competition.

3. I can do a lot of things with one hand.
Anders isn’t the best napper and DM is busy at work every day, so I spend a lot of time alone in the house with a baby in my arms. Thankfully I’ve gotten quite proficient at doing things with one hand. The list includes eating a bowl of cereal (though I did spill milk all over the table), loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, typing emails, and mopping baby vomit from the floor. If only onehandedness was a marketable job skill.

4. The human body can survive on minuscule amounts of sleep.
Anders needs to eat every 2-3 hours. Since I’m breastfeeding, this means that I never get more than three hours of sleep at a time. The fact that I’m still standing, speaking, and functioning is nothing short of a miracle.

5. Seeing my husband as a father is the most beautiful thing in the world. 
My heart wasn’t prepared for the gut-bursting joy I would feel in seeing DM as a father. He’s patient, gentle, and enamored with our little blue-eyed bundle of joy. My soul melts into my shoes when I see them together. I can’t wait to watch them grow closer and learn from each other.


6. Sometimes just taking a shower is an inconceivable accomplishment.
I feel like I’m really kicking life’s butt if I manage to take a shower every day. I never thought something so small would puff me up with such a sense of pride. If I’m really feeling crazy, I might even wear makeup.

7. Flexibility is the new norm.
I’ve grown in flexibility ever since marrying a dairy farmer. My plans and schedules often fall victim to a broken tractor or escaped bovine. But I can already tell that parenthood is going to require an unprecedented amount of flexibility. My schedule, my sleep, my favorite shirts, my furniture, my chores, my sanity, and my relationships are already outside of my control. This leaves me with two choices: become completely unhinged or let it all go. Since I don’t want to take a trip to crazytown, I need to learn to let go. I need to be ok with being late. I need to ask for help. I need to accept failure. I need to put everything I do into the hands of my Creator.

8. I have the best family and friends in the world.
There’s nothing like having a baby to make you feel loved. I’m ridiculously grateful for the people who have held Anders while I napped, changed diapers, cleaned our house, given advice, brought dinners, walked Jersey, sent encouraging messages, delivered chocolate milkshakes, and tolerated a steady stream of adorable baby photos on Facebook. DM and I couldn’t have made it through April without this support. We are so blessed by our tribe. I’m also so grateful for the love I’ve received from YOU, our online community. Your sweet messages and comments are so appreciated!

9. Parenting is the most frustrating, fulfilling, exhausting, amazing thing I’ve ever done.
Dairy Man and I wake up each morning as different parents to a different child. We learn more about this strange creature every day and he learns about us. We have good days and bad days. We’ve had triumphant parenting moments and moments that make us want to curl into a ball and weep uncontrollably. Like most new parents, we’ve done a lot of things wrong. But we’re learning. We’re trying to be patient with ourselves and each other. We rejoice in our small victories and live to parent another day. This life is beautiful and we are so in love with this child.



10. Babies don’t really appreciate new machinery.
Despite DM’s best efforts, our youngest farmhand isn’t quite ready to report for duty. But we have complete confidence that he will one day appreciate the excitement of a brand new loader.


10 Things I Learned in March

Hello, March. I think you might have misunderstood your role in this 12-month saga known as a year. We’re supposed to be on the road to spring.


This was the scene from my office window last week. Ugh. I’m trying so hard to stay positive, but the truth is that I’m tired. So very tired of winter. Normal Michigan winters are nothing to sneeze at, but this winter has been extreme. Extremely cold temperatures, extremely constant snow accumulation (with no melting), extremely hyper border collie suffering from cabin fever.

Thank heavens that today is predicted to be an unfathomable 60 degrees. I was ready to break out my shorts and flip flops when temps tipped over 40 yesterday, so I might just sunbathe today. Maybe spring is more than a figment of my deepest memory.

As we go out like a lamb, here are the things I learned this month.

10 Things I Learned in March

1. Dairy Man and I have different ideas about Baby F’s wardrobe.


2. The World Wide Web is 25 years old.
Our little Webby is turned 25 in March. Though it’s hard to fathom a world without LOLCats, snarky tweets about Vogue covers, and the bottomless pit of information on Google, the Internet as we know it did not exist before 1989. Congratulations, WWW. Go rent a car.

3. It takes 4-5 adults to put together one IKEA dresser.
The nursery is finally coming along (and not a minute too soon for my mega-nesting impulses). A few weeks ago we invited my parents and sister over to help set up the nursery and organize baby crap. Yes, that is the technical term. Somehow we all got involved in the construction of one very complicated IKEA Hemnes dresser. Talk about family bonding.


4. Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel pulled off an epic duet of “Confrontation” from Les Misérables.
Never before has there been a more perfect union of one of my favorite sitcoms and one of my favorite musicals.

5. I’m the best wife ever.
Even though I couldn’t participate in one of my favorite national holidays—Oberon Day—I made sure that Dairy Man was able to ring in spring with our favorite summer brew. Major points for the nine-month pregnant lady.


6. Babies need pets.
These photos are proof. Baby F and Jersey simply must be best friends.

7. A lot can change in three short weeks.
Somehow I grew a torpedo between weeks 33 and 36. Now that I’m in week 38, I can’t even begin to fathom how this torpedo can get any bigger.


8. A medium shamrock shake from McDonalds has 660 calories.
SIX-HUNDRED AND SIXTY calories, people. Insanity. This did not stop me from partaking, mind you, but it did add a minty layer of guilt to my annual green treat. I wish I could unlearn this particular fact.


9. Snow frisbee > regular frisbee
Just ask the one puppy in our family who is not ready for the snow to melt. He’s all about anything that allows him to dramatically hurl his body through the air like a furry David Beckham into a cold, white foam pit.


10. This balancing dog is smarter and more awesome than I’ll ever be. 
Just take a look at these mad skills. Jersey, we have a new spring project.


10 Things I Learned in February

Not to sound like a broken record, but I can honestly say that I’m not sorry to see the backside of February. I’m sick of winter. DM is sick of winter. The cows are sick of winter. Jersey is … not, but he’s a furry anomaly who is blinded by his love of snow frisbee.

Practically speaking, I need things to warm up because my winter coat will no longer button over my pregnant girth. The whole “I can stuff myself into it until spring” plan isn’t really working and a milder season is nowhere in sight.

Stuffed-sausage-coats notwithstanding, February cannot not squeak by without teaching me a few things. Thus, I give you:

10 Things I Learned In February

1. You can supply an entire home with water through a garden hose.
How, pray tell, do I know this fun fact? Well, thanks to the delightful little winter we’re having, the pipe running from the farm’s main water source to our house froze SOLID. So did the ground all around it. Short of digging up 70 feet of pipe in frozen ground, we’re stuck. The solution? Run several garden hoses from the water supply to our house. The hose connects directly to our system in the house (even running through the water heater), so I can’t complain too much, but we live in constant fear of the hose freezing too. Seriously. Is it spring yet?


2. While Dairy Man is away, MFW will play.

Or binge watch the entire season 2 of House of Cards. DM spent a week in California this month to attend the World Ag Expo and tour around dairy country. He soaked up the sun, ogled at rotary parlors, and ate from taco trucks. I didn’t clean anything, ate cinnamon rolls for dinner, and watched an embarrassing number of HOC episodes. The show is so addicting. And to those who have seen the last episode, can I just say: WHAAAAAAT!?!?!? Season 3 is going to be a thrill ride.


3. I have a secret to avoid speeding tickets.

Well, sort of. True confession: I force out a big yawn whenever I pass a police car because I think it makes me look nonchalant. Obviously no laws can be broken while yawning. I like to believe it’s impossible to perceive a yawner as a speeder.

4. I have not overcome my donut cravings.
I’ve never wanted sugar more than I have during this pregnancy. Proof? This is what my body required to get through my weekly grocery shopping trip this Monday. I couldn’t even talk myself out of it with the “you’ll spoil your dinner” argument because farmers don’t eat until 8 p.m. anyway! Curses.


5. Just as DM suspected, whole milk may keep you lean.

I admit to you that I came into my marriage as a fervent lover of skim milk, margarine, and low-fat yogurt. Oh the horror. Dairy Man was so ashamed. But I gradually began to see that my perceptions about “healthy” dairy were far from the truth. Studies are starting to suggest that natural fats are actually better for us than the empty low-fat/no-fat options on the market. DM is quite smug.

6. Ice cover on the Great Lakes stood at 77% as of Tuesday.
This winter has been unlike any we’ve seen in the last 20-30 years. As a result, the Great Lakes were 77 percent frozen this week! And they were a mind-boggling 88 percent frozen on February 13. I’m not quite ready to ice skate to Wisconsin (especially since Lake Michigan is only about 50 percent frozen), but these stats boggle my mind.

7. It’s possible for Dairy Man to love Paul Rudd even more than he already does.
DM has two primary man-crushes in his life: James Franco (which I do not understand) and Paul Rudd (which I do). This unfettered man-love often dictates his movie choices and even trickles into his YouTube browsing. Paul’s recent lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon propelled DM’s warm fuzzy feelings to new heights.

8. Somewhere in the world, tropical pigs are swimming.
This is the stuff that gets me through the day.


9. There is one sure-fire way to ruin your husband’s day.
Just swap the melted Snickers bar he was saving for a “special occasion” with raisins. Oops.


10. I have less than 50 days until my due date.

Y-to the-IKES. I can’t believe how quickly the third trimester is flying by. And how big I feel. I like to surprise people with the size of my belly by turning sideways quickly, bouncing on my toes, and shouting, “WA-BUM!” It’s dramatic. This baby boy/dairy spawn will be here soon. Now if we could just finish the nursery or agree on a name…


10 Things I Learned in January

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I’m happy to put January 2014 in the rearview mirror. The past 30 days have been a mess of snow, ice, freezing temps, treacherous drives, and the tantalizing desire to hibernate. Dairy Man has been getting a lot of use out of his HappyLight. I’ve been fighting off the urge to eat baked goods. We’re ready to move forward.

That said, the polar vortex didn’t prevent me from learning a few things this month.

1. Jimmy Fallon reunited Danny, Uncle Jesse, and Uncle Joey for a skit about his Tonight Show fears. And the 90s child inside of me nearly exploded with delight.

2. My “be ready in five minutes” is identical to Dairy Man’s “be home in five minutes.”
In short, they’re both lies. DM and I are a match made in heaven. This is why we’re always late to church and often find ourselves eating dinner at 8:45 p.m. But I can say with certainty that my “five minutes” has never turned into “gone for the rest of the day.” Not even I could primp that long.

3. Naming a child is next to impossible.
DM and I are in big trouble. It doesn’t bode well that it took nearly a week for Jersey the dog to be christened. I’ve had a spreadsheet of possible names for years now (because I’m crazy …er… I mean organized like that) and I spend far too much time reading articles like this. We’ve crossed off a lot of names we DON’T like, but we can’t agree on names we DO like. DM is drawn to Nordic/Viking names like Leif and Thor. I’m drawn to names that won’t be tragically ironic if this kid is scrawny. Only 71 days left to get this nailed down. boy names

4. Jessica is a bona fide fad name.
Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad. There’s nothing unique about a Jessica. It was literally THE most popular girls’ name the year I was born. I always had about five of them in my class. On the upside, I was always able to find personalized pencils. #4 on this list explains “name fads” and this graph proves that Jessica will be an Old Lady Name (like Bessie or Gertrude) by the time I hit my 60s. I’m trying so desperately to avoid name fads for Baby F.

Jessica graph

5. I don’t play with Legos, but if I had this Downton Abbey set, I might have to.DowntonAbbeyLegos

6. When temps dip below freezing, everything on the dairy will break.
Michigan hasn’t escaped the polar vortex that’s plagued the country since around Thanksgiving. I can’t believe this winter. So much snow. So ridiculously cold. Things get tricky on the dairy when the temps drop like this. In addition to all of the normal winter tasks—lowering curtains, putting coats on the calves, plowing, plowing, and more plowing—DM seems to spend half his life fixing broken things. Water pumps, tractors, generators, drinking fountains, the list goes on. And we haven’t even started to talk about stuck milk trucks or frozen manure. Oof. We’re hoping for an early spring.Snowdrift

7. I still love Chicago.
Even after 3.5 of solid country living, I can still fully assimilate into the hustle and bustle of Chicago, my favorite urban metropolis. DM and I spent the weekend in the Windy City this month and it was just what my pre-baby soul needed. Despite the subarctic temperatures, it was a thrilling weekend of new restaurants, the Shedd, Phantom of the Opera, amazing views, and way too many cab rides (thanks to our desire not to die of frostbite). It’s not easy for DM to get off the dairy, but I love it when he does. Even farmers need some culture. And I always need some Chitown.Chitown

8. Painting isn’t easy with a big belly.
But nesting instinct trumps pregnancy awkwardness. We’ve spent the last few weekends painting the nursery and upstairs landing (with no-VOC paint, don’t worry) in preparation for the babe. Even though I’ve been forced to wear some super-stylish painting clothes (DM’s old stuff) and have gotten myself into some embarrassing predicaments as I try to bend, twist, and squat, it’s been worth it. We’re so close. Almost time for furniture and stuffed penguins.Painting day

9. Jelly Belly now makes a beer-flavored jelly bean.
In a word, ew. Not even this teetotaler prego is interested. But someone must be buying, because the beans are already sold out.


10. As soon as the third trimester begins, slight panic kicks in.
I’m not sure what changed from week 27 to 28, but I started to hyperventilate as soon as I entered the “home stretch” of my pregnancy. There’s so much to do. Decorate the nursery, figure out a name, make a baby registry, prepare Jersey (we’re using this book), write a birth plan, learn infant CPR, buy more leggings. I’m so excited. And so terrified. Thank goodness DM is calm, laid back, and levelheaded. Between the two of us, I think we’ll be ok. I just hope the new little guy enjoys tractor rides.3rdTri

10 Things I Learned in December

The gifts are unwrapped, the cookies are stale, and it’s time to take down the Christmas decorations. There’s a certain melancholy that comes with the holiday seasons’s end, especially after such a frenzied rush to the finish line.

But I feel peace. Dairy Man and I spent some time last night looking through photos from 2013 and it’s been a good year. We’ve accomplished a lot in 12 short months,  from building a barn to teaching Jersey to high-five to making a baby. I’ve learned more about patience, persistence, kindness, and creating space for my soul to breathe.

Now, we look forward to 2014 with rightful fear and ecstatic joy. That said, I can’t usher in the new year without telling you what I learned this month.

10 things I learned in December 

1. Dairy Man doesn’t enjoy ballet.
DM and I journeyed into the city this holiday season to see The Nutcracker. I love everything about this classic ballet, but he was skeptical. And now we know. While my dear farmer enjoys plays and musicals (thankfully, because I’m a total theater nerd) he does not enjoy ballet. I think the skintight white pants may have thrown him off. Or perhaps the movements he called “prancing around.” It’s really a shame.


2. Dogs have around 1,700 taste buds. Humans have 9,000.
This fact could explain why Jersey has such a propensity for manure consumption. Though maybe I would find it delicious too if I only had 1,700 taste buds.

3. I’m addicted to watching Jersey on the baby-cam.
DM got me a baby-cam this summer so that I could watch Jersey on my iPhone during the day. But we didn’t hook up the camera until this month to test it out for the impending Baby F. Even though all Jersey does in the kitchen is look out the window, eat, yawn, and nap, I can’t stop watching him. DM even makes a cameo appearance once and a while.


4. My family is still awesome.
Case in point? Our annual Christmas card photo shoot was a smashing success.


5. Though eerily similar in look and texture, mashed cauliflower is NOT a viable substitute for mashed potatoes.
Yuck. Just trust me on this one. No matter what the pretty pictures on Pinterest tell you, mashed cauliflower is re-pul-sive. Even though your brain says “Huh, it can’t be so bad. They look just like potatoes,” your mouth is screaming, “SWEETKNIGHTSOFCOLUMBUS what is this atrocity?!? SPITITOUT!!”

6. Everybody loves a pregnant reindeer.
Best entry ever into an ugly sweater contest? Maybe.


7. Baby Boy F is going to have a cousin in July.
We were thrilled to find out last week that DM’s sister is also expecting her first child! It will be so fun to have cousins only three months apart. I can almost see the motley crew comprised of of our current dog-children and future farm-kids creating mischief all over the dairy. Jersey and Maggie have assured us they are more than up to the task of educating their human protégés.


8. In my favorite Christmas movie, Home Alone, the McAllisters’ house was a real house outside Chicago.
Who knew? I wonder if they do tours?

9. Hiring out is the best.
When DM and I found out we were pregnant, we decided the only logical place for a nursery was in the wild, untouched frontier known as our upstairs. This decision required some serious renovations, like taking out walls, adding insulation, and stripping off ancient lath and plaster. A project of this scale called for professional help. So, for the first time since we started renovating three years ago, we hired a contractor. And people, let me tell you, it is glorious. We went from damaged wood paneling and chipped plaster to bright shiny drywall in a matter of two weeks. It’s amazing how quickly things get done when you’re not trying to squeeze it in on a weekend. My nesting instincts are on steroids.


10. I do in fact have a pregnancy craving. And it rhymes with “go nuts.”
At first I thought I was squeaking through pregnancy without any weird cravings. Pickles and ice cream sounded repugnant and DM wasn’t making any 2 a.m. gas station runs for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. But then I started thinking about donuts and I couldn’t stop. So I’ve started buying them for other people. Because if I’m going into a sugar coma, I’m taking everybody down with me.


10 Things I Learned in November

It could be the pregnancy hormones talking, but today my heart is practically bursting with gratitude. This rush of sap may be a result of the impending Thanksgiving holiday, marshmallows in my cocoa, (because sweets are emotional, obv.), and the fact that I’m almost positive I felt the baby kick this morning, but I can’t help feel like November was blessed.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m often terrified as I think about becoming a parent and potentially never fitting back into my skinny jeans. Half of my brain is devoted to worrying and the other half is devoted to donut holes. But today is a day when I’m overwhelmed by the simple beauty of life.

The snow (which I wholly despise by January 2) is beautiful. The dry cows lowing in our pasture are beautiful. The gentle movements of my half-baked child are beautiful. The love of friends and family is beautiful. And, if you ask Dairy Man, even the effective use of teat dip on the dairy is beautiful.

As you all prepare your minds and bellies for Thursday’s holiday, I hope you take advantage of quiet moments to appreciate the beauty in your lives. Or to take a nap. Turkey can knock the stuffing out of you.

Until then, let’s take a look at 10 things I learned in November.

1. Baby F is a … BOY!
DM and I had our 20-week ultrasound last week. At our request, the tech wrote the baby’s sex down on a sheet of paper, sealed it in an envelope, and sent us on our merry way. Two dear friends made cupcakes with blue frosting on the inside and the rest is history! DM is thrilled to have a little farmer on the way. Now we just have to wrap our minds around the fact that we’re halfway through this pregnancy. Eek! Time to nest.


2. Dairy Man plans to be a unique kind of dad.
Creative, hands-on, and a dinosaur-enthusiast? Perhaps he’ll do the same thing with a band of mischievous farm animal figurines.


3. Pregnancy has increased the likelihood I’ll have catastrophic home accidents.
I’m generally not a clumsy person. Sure, I’ve had those moments where I bump a glass of milk with my elbow and nearly send it crashing to the ground. But I always catch it. No more. Pregnancy seems to have thrown off my equilibrium and slowed my reaction time. In the past month, I’ve experienced two calamitous incidents of clumsiness. First, I knocked a full 40 oz. jar of honey off a shelf in our pantry. It shattered, getting shards of glass and honey, STICKY HORRIFYING HONEY, everywhere. The floor, the wall, the shelves, my hands and arms. It took me over an hour to clean up the disaster. I can’t escape the feeling that my shoes still stick to the floor. In the second incident, I tipped over a BURNING CANDLE FULL OF HOT LIQUID WAX. I spent the next hour scraping wax from the floor and wall with an old credit card and ironing the cowhide rug. I shudder to think what is going to happen next. Please do not give me anything breakable for Christmas.

4. Much to my chagrin, I cannot deny my Michigan accent.
Despite years of theater and show choir (yes, I’m showing a little bit of my high school nerdiness now), I’ve apparently not managed to adopt a place-neutral accent. So much for my future in TV news broadcasting. According to this online quiz, my American accent is “Inland North,” and yes, I grew up saying “pop.” How about you? What American accent do you have?

Michiganaccent5. We have cows at the end of our rainbow.
Our small town didn’t escape the crazy violent storms that crashed through the Midwest a couple of weeks ago, but we were blessed to escape with minimal damage and minor flooding. And something amazing happened. Between two of the storm systems, the sun thrust itself outside of the black storm clouds and created an awe-inspiring double rainbow. It’s confirmed, folks. We have cows at the end of our rainbow.


6. Dairy Man and Ron Swanson agree about skim milk.
This clip is one of DM’s favorite things on the Internet. Sometimes I think Ron Swanson is his spirit animal.

7. There comes a tragic day when you can’t wear your favorite pants and grow a baby at the same time.
And I hit that point about a week ago. Hellooooo leggings.


8. Real love can be “boring” … and beautiful.
This letter from a mother to her boys has been bouncing around the interwebs and I think it’s a wonderful depiction of real, everyday, life-changing love. A relationship still needs date nights and fireworks, but ultimately “the real romantics are the boring ones—they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs.”

9. Cows vurp. A lot.
Vurp: to burp and vomit at the same time. It doesn’t seem like the most ladylike thing in the world, but there’s a unique step in a cow’s digestive process. After she chows down on her delicious feed, she’ll regurgitate, or “vurp,” each bite and chew it some more. This is called cud. A happy cow is a cow chewing her cud. Fun fact. You’re welcome.

10. Jersey has discovered a loophole to our “no dogs on the bed” rule.
This is what comes of putting a bench at the end of the bed. Cheeky bugger.


I hope you all learned a lot this month and have a wonderful, turkey-coma-induced Thanksgiving!

10 Things I Learned in October

As you may have surmised from the radio silence over here in dairy land since the big announcement, October has been a busy month! In addition to the frenzy created by Baby F, Dairy Man and I have been traveling, harvesting, and home renovating. October went by like a flash. I feel like we only recently emerged from the annual corn-coma and now we’re already talking about turkey.

I’m in no rush. I’m really trying to savor this time, to fully experience each day. If being pregnant has changed anything, it’s changed the way DM and I look towards the future. We can’t wait to be parents, but we’re also trying to enjoy this season, because we know we’ll never be here again. We’ll never have these same moments. This is the time to be fully present in the journey. After the craziness of the past few months, winter is the perfect time to slow down, be more contemplative, to reconnect with each other and ourselves. I can’t wait.

But enough of my philosophizing. Let’s get down to the important stuff–what I learned this month.

10 Things I Learned in October

1. If you mix herbs, sweet potato, apple, onion, and turkey sausage, you get amazingness.
One of my favorite things about fall is the shift from light, fresh summer meals to warm, hearty fall dishes. This recipe for an “Oven-roasted autumn medley” helped me use up some of the apples around our house and was ridiculously delicious to boot.


2. Even if you are just barely pregnant enough to bump out, some people will STILL try to touch your belly.
I’m talking to you, strange lady at church. I know you meant well, but don’t make me go all Pennsylvania on you.


3. Cats can be jerks. Especially when they steal dogs’ beds.
Let’s just say that after seeing this video, Jersey is happy to be without a feline sibling.

4. I was reminded that community is one of the sweetest gifts we can build into our lives.
Despite the volume and estrogen that are bound to accompany a weekend in northern Michigan with 12 of your closest friends, nothing is more beautiful. Twelve of my girlfriends and I rented a house in Glen Arbor for an entire weekend this October. For 2.5 glorious days, we did nothing but relax, talk, eat unhealthy snacks, drink wine (or apple cider in some of our cases), play games, cook meals together, wear sweatpants, and enjoy a break from reality. It was loud, messy, and unspeakably cleansing. Our weekend away soothed my soul. I am so blessed by the friends I’ve found in our small town.


5. My mom will go freaking b-a-n-a-n-a-s if you tell her she’s going to be a grandma.

Yes, you should be singing the Gwen Stefani song in your head right about now. B-a-n-a-n-a-s. As most of you know, Dairy Man and I made a big announcement a few weeks ago. But before we could tell you guys, we had to tell our parents. We told my family by wrapping up a framed copy of the ultrasound photo for my grandma (the birthday girl) to open. As you can see from this video, chaos ensued. I’m just starting to get hearing back in my right ear. Thanks, Mom.

6. The end of corn harvest is basically a holiday.
Ding! Dong! The corn is up! This is the time of year for singing. And the return of date nights. Last weekend, Dairy Man and I had our first night on the town since corn harvest began. The evening was celebratory, a chance to reconnect and recharge. Despite challenging weather this fall (thanks to waaaay too much rain), we harvested all 1,100 acres of our corn in record time. I’m an old vet after three years of marriage and–dare I say it?–harvest seemed to fly by this year. Let’s break out the champagne.


7. Sunrises are pretty great.
As a Michigan native who grew up on the shores of a west-facing lake, I’ve always been partial to sunsets. A good sunset can instantly transport me back to my grandparents’ cottage on Lake Michigan, nestled into the crook of my grandpa’s arm, smelling fish and his soap, watching another day slip below the horizon. I’ve ushered many a day into darkness; I rarely greet the sun. But since the days have been getting shorter, I’ve had the chance to witness the sun’s entrance as I drive to work. And it is glorious.


8. It’s possible to fashion a small piano out of nothing but chocolate.
This month I went to a work conference in Grand Rapids and this was the dessert at our evening meal. Seriously. SHUT UP. Who even knew this was possible? Thanks to hundreds of people taking photos of their delectable delight, #chocolatepiano even briefly trended on Instagram.

photo (6)

9. Lunch dates can spiral out of control.
Only in farm life can a nice little lunch date with your husband turn into one traumatized farm wife trying not to overhear a long phone conversation about a cow’s uterus. I couldn’t even finish my sandwich. A little sensitivity, man!

10. Whether it’s a boy or a girl, I think our baby needs this pacifier.
It’s so distinguished.

How about you? Did you learn anything earth-shattering or hilarious this month? And it’s ok to be jealous of my chocolate piano.

Check out my other monthly recaps here, here, and here.

10 Things I Learned in September

Even though it’s 70 degrees in Michigan today, fall is really here and October really begins tomorrow. (For the record, Mother Nature, I could live with a 70-degree fall. Just saying.) Thus, it’s time for me to reflect on what I learned in the month of September. This is an exercise I started in July and it’s a nice way to reflect, find meaning, or share awesome things from Buzzfeed.

You can check out what I’ve learned in previous months here and here. For now, let’s take a peek at September.

10 Things I Learned in September

1. Two people can paint 400 linear feet of baseboard in two hours. Yay for teamwork.
Before Dairy Man and I could have 1,400 square feet of new flooring installed in our house, we had to tear up every inch of old baseboard. I managed to grab DM on his last Saturday before corn harvest and we made quick work of 35 new 12-foot sections. Phew.


2. The Downton Abbey theme song has lyrics.
What? It took some time to soak in this shocking news. For now, I am waiting with breathless anticipation for the assuredly tragic Season 4 to begin on January 5, 2014.

3. If I’m coming straight from work, I should always stay in my car when taking photos around the farm.
Unless I’ve had time to change into my snazzy farm boots, I should never leave the safety of my car to get a better photo of the manure pit. No matter how safe the ground looks. Or how quickly I think I can run. I submit this photo to the discussion. It took me 10 minutes to scrub all that muddy clay off my heels.

Muddy shoe

4. Simultaneously planning SEVEN events at work this fall has increased my peanut M&M consumption to alarming levels.
If only I had the urge to stress-eat kale. My job is crazy right now. I enjoy the rush, but something about stress makes peanut M&Ms absolutely irresistible. Dang it.

5. Some people actually think about the zombie apocalypse.
Like my husband, for example. This hasn’t come up in three years of marriage. But apparently there is a section of Dairy Man’s brain that seriously thinks about the world being overcome by the ravenous walking dead. I had no idea until we watched World War Z and DM filled me in on his “if zombies attack” plans. Something about climbing the 80-foot silo and picking off the undead with his shotgun. #redneckjustice?


6. Goats are awesome. And I want some.
However, until this point my desire to have cute little goats has been overridden by my desire to not be responsible for goats. Jersey is about all I can handle. And he doesn’t eat tin cans.

7. Apple-cider-scented candles are the best.
Now that fall is upon us, I have at least two apple-scented candles burning in our house at any given time. It smells like fall. Or the inside of a warm pie. And my soul is happy.

8. The bovine ladies might love fall more than I do.
They might not get to wear chunky-knit sweaters or warm their hooves over a steaming glass of hot cocoa, but our girls love this time of year. Since they are most comfortable around 50 degrees, fall is the perfect time to be a cow.


9. I need to teach Jersey to balance things on his head.
Just look at Zelda. Nuff said.

10. Even during corn harvest, I am not alone.
I was absolutely overwhelmed by the response to last week’s post on when I don’t accept farm life with grace. It’s comforting to know there are so many other people who feel the same way about this terrible, wonderful, beautiful thing called farm life. The response lets me know unequivocally that I am not alone. Thank you for sharing your own stories and for being awesome. You’re not alone either.


10 Things I Learned in July

I’m going to start putting a nice bow on each month by filling you in on the things I’ve learned. Sometimes it will be educational, sometimes I’ll just send you to awesome links on BuzzFeed (like the 21 most awkward moments in handshake history – you’re welcome). Either way, it will be proverbial goulash of random things each month. Yum.

So let’s get started. Here, in no particular order, are:

10 Things I Learned in July

1. I am addicted to caramelizing onions.
I’m of the firm believer that everything, from salads to burgers, can be improved greatly by caramelized onions. It’s a sickness. But how can I NOT caramelize a red onion in red wine and add it to my burger with basil aioli and herbed goat cheese? Seriously.


2. This is what happens when 318 Corgis throw a beach party. You might die from the cuteness.

3. Rain is a good thing.
Most of July was marked by endless blue skies, hot temps, and blazing sunlight. Awesome, right? Wrong. While my city girl side would be perfectly happy with nothing but sunbathing weather for 12 months out of the year, our corn begs to differ. That’s why when the skies opened up last week and things got wet and gray, I said a thankful prayer. The thirsty corn was so happy.


4. Photobooth props make a person (even more) good-looking.
Need I say more?


5. Cows love fresh sand.
This summer, we expanded one of our barns. In July, the barn was finally ready and Dairy Man opened up the new space to our cows. Several of the ladies immediately began jubilantly rolling in the new sand. I’ve never seen a 1,500 lb. animal behave like a dog at the beach (legs in the air and everything), but there’s a first time for everything in this farm life.


6. Since discovering Jergens Natural Glow Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer, I have lost all motivation to get a real tan.
Why roast outside for an hour (something I rarely have time for) when this magical little potion can turn me a color I could never achieve naturally? Plus I’m starting to get depressed about my crow’s feet.

7. Even dogs respond to peer pressure.
No amount of bribery, pleading, or general coercion could get Jersey in the lake last year. That dog hates water. But this summer, Dairy Man’s sister got a golden retriever who loves it. For a while, Jersey watched Maggie splash around, getting all of the attention, playing with a Frisbee he desperately wanted. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. Whether it was the Frisbee or doggy peer pressure, J-pups finally sloshed in. So proud.


8. I do not thrive in chaos.
We installed 1,400 square feet of new flooring in our house this month. That meant clearing out our ENTIRE main floor, moving big appliances to the garage (like my stove, washer, and dryer), and camping in the basement. For nearly two weeks I couldn’t cook dinner, wash clothes, or find anything. I felt like a woman without a country. There was a lot of aimless wandering and whining “Do you know where we put ___?” Things didn’t feel normal again until our mattress was off the floor.


9. Nearly 100 degree temps make me want to die.
I’m a complete wuss when it comes to the heat. DM tells me that working in an air-conditioned office makes me weak, but I think Michigan humans are just not meant to survive when the thermometer jumps above 90. The cows agree with me.

10. A cowhide rug is the perfect place to hide a border collie.


So, what did you learn in July?