Tag Archives: Christmas

All is Calm, All is Bright

22 Dec

Today I’m feeling equal parts crazed and contemplative.

On one hand, this is Christmas week. Between Wednesday and Sunday we have five different Christmas parties in three different cities. Two are on the same day. We’ll spend our time this week in the car, missing nap time, eating too much sugar, and making small talk with relatives. It will be busy, messy, exhausting, and beautiful.

On the other hand, 2014 is quickly drawing to a close. It’s been a whirlwind of a year. From Anders’ birth to building yet another new barn, we’ve rarely had moments to settle, to be still. We made it through the early days of parenthood and now I have a beautiful, happy son who is somehow crawling, waving, and cutting teeth. Quite a difference from where we were just eight shorts months ago.

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The swift passage of time is startling. I started 2014 with a growing belly, an unfinished nursery, and raging donut cravings.

I end it with a healthy baby, a house full of toys, and… raging donut cravings. (Um, hello? I though those were supposed to go away?)

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Life has changed irrevocably, but we are so blessed it hurts my heart.

So, in spite of the busyness, the driving, the sugar, I choose joy. I choose to wrap myself in the promise of Christ’s birth and savor the ordinary moments that form this beautiful life.

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I wish the same to you, dear friends. Find the calm, bright moments this week and don’t let them go.

Merry Christmas, from our barn to yours!

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xoxo, Dairy Man, MFW, Anders, and Jersey

10 Things I Learned in December

30 Dec

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

donuts

Power in the Pause: Merry Christmas

23 Dec

Whew.

Between Christmas preparations, home renovations, and growing a human, this season has been overwhelming and hectic for me. Rather than feeling joyous and grateful, I found myself withdrawing into a candy-cane-crusted ball of stress.

It all came to a crux last week. After four weeks of frantic shopping, cooking, cleaning, and strain, I desperately needed a breath.

So when I stepped out of the car at my office, I took a moment. I stopped in my tracks and was still, quiet, open. The bitter cold burned my nose and ears. The silence of the snow was deafening. Everything was foggy, frozen, muffled. Then, the softest hint of sunrise began to spill over the horizon and I felt peace wash over me.

Ice and snow

A soul needs these moments.

There’s power in the pause.

Change is inevitable. I know that the next year will bring the biggest changes of Dairy Man and my 3.5 years of marriage (as if moving to the country or starting a dairy aren’t big enough changes). But I’m in no rush. I’m trying to savor each step, each present moment, because I know they will never be here again.

Jersey soccer ball

So, if you’re like me and feel overworked, under-appreciated, and want to scream if you see one more unfrosted sugar cookie:

Take a deep breath.

Pause.

Allow yourself to be silent.

It’s going to be ok.

Remember that even if the green bean casserole is burned, you forgot to get a gift for your cousin’s brother’s girlfriend, or you ate yourself into a sugar coma, a tiny little baby was born in Bethlehem.

Because this season isn’t about perfect homes, perfect gifts, perfect meals, perfect milk production (sorry, DM), or perfect people. We are flawed. We are human. We need the redemption that Christmas brings.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  –Isaiah 9:6

I hope you take the opportunity to pause and soak in your own quiet moments this week.

Love and Merry Christmas, from our barn to yours.

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XO,
MFW

A Typical Family Christmas

2 Jan

So, here we are. 2013.

The transition from an old year to a new one is always bittersweet. As I look towards this upcoming year with hope and excitement, I also recognize the closing of a chapter, the culmination of another 365 days of life.

Some things in 2012 happened exactly as I wished them to. Other things did not. I’ve learned lessons about patience, trust, and timing. I’ve felt fulfillment, disappointment, joy, and sorrow. As look to 2013, my heart feels a mixture of excitement and apprehension, hope and longing.

In the midst of all of these semi-melodramatic musings, I am left with one thing that will never change. My family.

Have I ever mentioned how awesome my family is? Well, let me tell you. They are awesome. Wicked, dope, sick, ridic … or whatever the kids are saying nowadays.

My family is unavoidably loud. We interrupt you when you’re talking. We squeeze a Seinfeld reference into nearly every family story. We don’t understand quiet people. We take the best annual Christmas photos.

It all started back in 2008. Up until this point, my odd family had managed to rein ourselves in for one normal picture each year. But 2008 was different.

Maybe it was something in the water. Maybe we ate too many frosted Christmas cookies with sprinkles. Maybe we were delirious with holiday spirit.

Whatever the reason, somehow the annual Christmas Eve picture in front of my parents’ tree turned into this:

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We’re still shocked that my face didn’t stay that way.

This photograph kicked off an epic tradition that is only five years old, but is already wildly anticipated by our friends and family on Facebook. What began as an impromptu bit of silliness has transpired into five people scouring the house looking for costumes and props and one poor grandma who is obligated to play photographer.

Though I’ve only chosen one picture from each year to show you, believe me, all of the outtakes are equally awesome.

2009 (the Christmas DM and I got engaged)

09xmas2010 (our first Christmas as a married couple)

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2011

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2012 (the first Christmas at our farmhouse instead of my parent’s house)

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Each year brings new joys, new levels of ridiculousness, and new participants. Jersey was thrilled to be included this year.

Though 2013 is a great unknown at this point, I feel so blessed to have a band of weirdos like this in my corner.

Here’s to a fabulous new year.

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12 Cows A-Carolin’

22 Dec

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me
Twelve cows a-carolin’

We all know that cows can’t sing. Well. They can sing, but their melodious mooing is rarely in tune. Regardless, in the interest of sending you off into the holiday weekend with visions of sugarplum dairies (see what I did there?) dancing in your head, I thought I would let our bovine ladies wrap up the twelve days of Christmas.

Thus, a herd of cows, steers, and even a calf or two are here to sing the twelve verses of my little dairy ditty. May you all have a Christmas full of blessings, family, eggnog, and twinkly lights!

“On the first day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to meeee,

Twelve cows a-carolin’
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Eleven (thousand) sliced tires”
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Ten mooing neighbors”
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Nine essential nutrients”
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Eight loads of sand”
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Seven bales of hay”
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Six stripping shanks”

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Fiiiiiiive commodity baaaaaays”

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Four milking shells”
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Three shifts of milking”
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Two orange tractors”
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“Aaaaand a twinkly-liiiight-laden faux treeeeeeeee!”
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A Dairy Merry Christmas to you and yours!

****

Ps: Fun fact about December 22. Did you know that three years ago today a very nervous boy got down on one knee to ask me to be his wife? It’s been a wild adventure full of love, change, and cows ever since! Love ya, Dairy Man.

11 (Thousand) Sliced Tires

21 Dec

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me
Eleven (thousand) sliced tires

tires

Ten mooing neighbors
Nine essential nutrients
Eight loads of sand
Seven bales of hay
Six stripping shanks
Fiiiiive commodity baaaays
Four milking shells
Three shifts of milking
Two orange tractors
And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree

When we chop corn each year for cow food, DM has two options for storage: ag-bags or silage packs. Ag-bags are easier to seal and maintain; packs are more space efficient. We utilize both methods of storage, but I’m partial to the pack. Maybe it’s because Dairy Man won’t let me climb on the ag-bags. I’m all about storage methods that allow me to scurry around on them like a mountain goat.

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After we’re done building the pack, we cover it with huge sheets of plastic and thousands of sliced tires. Though I enjoy talking about “sliced tires” and imagining them on a pastrami sandwich on rye, DM would prefer I use their proper name: tire sidewalls.

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Tire sidewalls are sliced tires used to hold the plastic down on our silage pack, thus preventing oxygen from seeping into the valuable cow food. The slices come from the sides of old semi truck tires. Semi tires suit our purposes better than car tires (or rubber inner tubes, which, I admit, is what I first thought the black circles were when I first saw a silage pack) because they are heavier and cover more surface area per tire. We don’t use full tires because they hold water and are clumsier to handle.

The tires are ultimately tied together with bale twine to keep them from sliding down the pack. It also makes a perfect stairway for MFW mountain goats.

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In addition to creating a delightful farm jungle gym, sidewalls are an effective and cheap way to keep our cow food fresh and tasty throughout the year.

10 Mooing Neighbors

20 Dec

On the tenth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me
Ten mooing neighbors

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Nine essential nutrients
Eight loads of sand
Seven bales of hay
Six stripping shanks
Fiiiiiiive commodity baaaays
Four milking shells
Three shifts of milking
Two orange tractors
And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree

Above you’ll see Jersey, chatting it up with ten of our mooing neighbors. I’ve talked before about taking walks with my pup to fill the time spent without the Dairy Man. During the spring, summer, and fall, Jersey the dog and I take a LOT of walks. It’s a wonderful time to get my bearings, to breathe, to appreciate this boondockish place in which I live. There was a time when I didn’t think the country was beautiful. But I officially stand corrected.

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On these walks, Jersey and I love to stop and say hello to our mooing neighbor ladies. Our neighbor farmer raises beef cows on a few huge, green pastures. The cows (and cute little calves!) are friendly and very curious about the black and white canine furball racing along the fence line.

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Jersey loves to socialize with the neighbors and I love to stop walking for a second to watch the black and brown cows frolic through the field. It’s an idyllic view. I can barely stop myself from taking a picture every single time.

I used to long for a real neighborhood; for human neighbors, sidewalks, streetlights, neighborhood watch, city plows, playgrounds, and playdates. But these wide open spaces and mooing neighbors make life in the country just a little sweeter.

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