How to Eat at Home When You Hate to Cook

eat at home

Do you want your family to eat most of their meals at home?  How do you do that when you hate to cook?  Well, I hear ya.  We eat at home almost all the time.  Literally.  Like we go out once every few months.  Crazy, I know.  But I’m going to let you in on a couple of secrets for how I manage to feed my family at home all the time and do most of it from scratch.

My first secret is a practical one I learned from my mom:

Keep your pantry and freezer stocked!

I have a mental list of go-to meals that I know my family enjoys.  It’s nothing complicated and amounts to things like barbecue meatballs, various chicken dishes, hamburgers, sloppy joes, pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, various fresh veggies, etc.  They are very traditional meals.

Rather than watch the sale fliers from the grocery store and plan my meals around that, I watch the fliers for those things that fit with our list of meals and stock up.  This gives me the ability to cook almost anything I want at any time.  Sometimes I meal plan, but most of the time I don’t.  I’ll try to plan in my head about 24 hours in advance so I can get something out of the freezer to thaw on time, but I don’t have a fancy plan, that’s for sure!

By always restocking my pantry and freezer, I never have the excuse that we have nothing to eat!

Now, you don’t have to cook traditional meat-and-potato meals like my family prefers.  This idea of keeping the pantry and freezer stocked works for any type of meal preferences!

If this is totally new to you, then sit down and make a list of meals you know your family likes.  Write down the ingredients needed to cook those meals and stock your pantry and freezer so you can make any of those meals at anytime!  And don’t just buy one of something.

For instance, if you know you’ll need tomato sauce for a certain dish, buy several so you can make that dish more than once.

By shopping and cooking this way, it also eliminates multiple weekly grocery trips.

Until our small town got a grocery store again, I had to travel 12 miles to the nearest store, so I often would go two weeks between trips!

Now I’ll let you in on another secret about me….

i hate to cook!

Yup, that’s right.  I’ll give you a bit of the back story on that and then I’ll tell you how I overcame it 😉

I grew up in a very traditional farming family.  My mom cooked two meals every day, without fail, which we called “dinner” and “supper.”  (See we were/are very old fashioned!)  Dinner was promptly at noon and supper was always at six.  During busy seasons, she would take meals to the field for anyone that was out there, but the premise was still the same.

When I got married, I did NOT know how to cook!  My poor mother tried multiple times, but I was a confirmed tomboy and farmhand and I did NOT like being inside doing domestic work!

The first year of our marriage, Jeff and I lived on sandwiches, frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese.  He’s easy going about most things, so he really didn’t care.   But after we had kids, I realized that I wanted my kids to have the same meal time memories that I had, so….

I learned to cook.

And I hated it.

But, yet, I cook two meals a day 6 and half days a week (I take Sunday evenings off and it’s a fend-for-yourself/popcorn night!).

The fact that I hate to cook, yet do it all the time, surprises a lot of people!  I’ve had close friends who will confess to me how they just can’t get their meal times together and they wish they could cook as much as I do.  And then they’ll say, “I know you like to cook, though.”  I just laugh and tell them, “Nope! I actually hate it and if I could hire a chef, I totally would!”

My secret is that I’ve made it a habit to plan and cook two meals a day.  I just do.  It’s like brushing your teeth or making your bed.  Do you like to brush your teeth?  Honestly, it’s probably not what you would consider fun, right?  But it’s necessary for your health and well-being.

Cooking meals for your family is the same way.  I don’t enjoy it, but my desire for my family’s health and well-being wins out over my hatred of all things kitchen.

On another note, my autistic son LOVES to cook, so I’m hoping if he ends up living at home as an adult he can just cook for me, ha!

What are your struggles in the kitchen?  Any tips for those of us that don’t enjoy being in the kitchen?

How to Have a Weed Free Garden

weed free garden

Are weeds getting the best of you and your garden?  Ever wondered if there was a way to get rid of them?  Is it truly possible to have a weed free garden?

Yes, it is.

But it will take some prep work.

Let me start you off with a story of my gardening history and then I’ll let you in on the secret 😉

My mom always had a garden.  And we kids always had to help her.  Which we hated, I mean, loved.  Every year we had to clean out the chicken house, dump the manure on and then later put straw over that.  It was a lot of work and wasn’t pretty at all!

In my early married life, I decided to have my first garden.  Jeff tilled a spot and I happily planted in the dark brown luxurious dirt.  And I grew a giant crop of… weeds.  I blamed it on location.

So, the next year, we tried again, this time in our front yard.  I figured if it was closer then I could take better care of it.  The idea being convenience.

It was better, but I still had lots and lots of weeds!

I remembered my mom’s method of garden, so I tried that.

And I still had weeds!

And then a few years ago, I was introduced to lasagna gardening.  You can check out this book for more details.  The problem was adapting it to my situation for my fairly large garden.  So after a few years of experimenting, I think I have it figured out.

The secret?

CARDBOARD AND MULCH!

So, let me show you….

weed free gardening
This is my garden on April 25.

OK, notice all the highlighted areas.  The green area was mulched the winter of 2016 (over a year ago) with cardboard laid down first, cow/chicken manure over that and then covered with a thick layer of straw.  I grew potatoes in that area last summer.

The blue area was treated the same way in 2016 and then in January 2017 (this past winter) I threw on a super thick layer of leaves.

The pink area was mulched in 2016 with cardboard, cow manure and straw.  It received a fresh layer of cardboard, cow manure and straw in January of 2017.

Now, look again at that green area.  See all the weeds??  I have also found weeds popping up in the blue area with the leaves.  But the pink straw area?

Nothing.

Not a weed one.

Here’s another picture of the garden so you can see how thick the straw is.

weed free gardening
Lots and lots of straw!!

Here’s what you do to start a fresh garden or rejuvenate an old spot.

1   DO NOT TILL!  Yes, that’s right.  Do not work up your soil.  All you do is invite weed seeds to sprout.  And if you have bermuda grass (which I fight) you just make it mad and it will stage a hostile takeover of your garden!

If you do have a massive weed problem all ready, then either mow or spray the area first.

Lay down thick, heavy cardboard.  I’m talking the good stuff.  I saved tons of boxes from our remodel and used those, I used my brother-in-law’s from his house build, and my husband was able to get a whole bunch of cardboard from work.  Just ask around- you’ll be able to find some.

After that put on a super thick (we’re talking 8-12 inches) layer of manure of some sort.  Now, make sure this is old and fairly composted.  A year old or more is good.  I’m lucky because we have animals so Jeff pushes up big piles of manure/hay mixture every spring that accumulates around the hay feeders and then I use it the next year.  Again, ask around and you can usually find a farmer willing to give it away!

Layer on the straw (or leaves).  Do NOT use prairie hay!  It will have weed seeds in it.  Old alfalfa is good, too.  Again, I’m blessed because we put up our own straw every year, so I always have a ready supply.  Ask around for whatever is prominent in your area.  Just remember, you want it THICK!  No measly 2 or 3 in layers.  Nope, I’m talking a foot thick or so.

Ideally, you should do this in the fall so your garden has time to compost itself until spring.  Because our falls are so busy on the farm, I usually don’t get to it until January.

I still have to pull the occasional weed, but they can barely take root and I don’t have to spend time “weeding” like I use to.

The key, though, is to be diligent about this every year!  Nature will take back over (as you can see from my highlighted garden picture) if you just let it go.

But, if you do the right kind of work on front end when it’s cold, then when it’s hot and your garden is producing over abundantly, you can be dealing with the produce and not worrying about weeding it, too!

What gardening tips do you have?  What have been your failures and successes in the garden?

Running a Half Marathon- My Thoughts and Training Plan (Confessions of a Slow Runner)

 

So, just like that…. it’s over!  I ran my first half marathon on Sunday!  After months and months of training, I can hardly believe it came and went 🙂

We had BEAUTIFUL weather for it!  It was about 60 degrees when we started and sunny.  I ran the Prairie Fire Half in Wichita (an hour from where I live).  The course was pretty flat and fairly shady.  I was a bit nervous, but my mom and I settled into a nice rhythm early on and stuck with it for the first 6 miles.  I tell ya, the first 6 miles felt really easy.  A year ago if you would have told me those words would be coming out of my mouth, I would’ve said you were crazy!  I could barely run 4 miles last summer, so to ever think 6 as easy shows how far I’ve come in my running!

Anyway, after the first 6, we started slowing down, but still kept a good pace from 6-9 miles.  And since I’m going to be very honest about my slow running, by good pace, I mean about 13 minute miles.  We were running 12:30 for the first half.  It seems like every running blog I read, they’re all about “Yeah, I only ran a 9 minute mile” blah, blah, blah.  If that’s you, well, I admire that!  If I ever get that fast, I will be beyond thrilled!  But, this post is to encourage all of you out there who are not fast 😉

From 9-13, we had slowed down to about 13:30 or so.  The hardest parts were between 10.5 and 11 (I thought that water station at mile 11 would never appear!) and between 12.5 and the finish line.  My phone told me “You are at 12.6 miles” and I thought, “Dang!  Where is that finish line????”  The last mile was also asphalt, with zero shade and it felt downright HOT!  But, I’m happy to say, I crossed the finish line upright and running, lol.  I did take some walking breaks during the last 6 miles.  I have longer legs than my mom, so I would gradually pull ahead and then power walk to let her catch up.

running a half marathon
I’m crossing the finish line! In case you’re wondering, I’m holding a handkerchief. I use it to wipe my nose and my sweat. Gross, I know 😉

You know what was the sorest part of my body on Monday?  My JAW!  Yeah, seriously.  My quads were a bit sore, but nothing bad and all of my joints (knees, hips, ankles) felt perfectly fine, but my jaw!  I always chew gum when I run (keeps my mouth from getting dry) but it’s not use to chewing gum for 3 hours straight, apparently.

Our finish time:

3 hours, 1 minute and 24 seconds.

We were VERY pleased with that!  We were not out to beat any particular time and based off our 11 mile training run, we figured it would take us about 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the race.

So, would I do it again?

Well, two weeks ago after our last long training run, I would have said absolutely not.

Now?

Yeah, I think I would 🙂

I love the fact that I did something that not many people can do and that I pushed my body to do something that I didn’t think it was capable of!  It’s a high that I wouldn’t mind repeating.

OK, so here is what my training looked like from January to race day.  First off, I mostly trained using the Galloway method (running walking intervals) with an interval of running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute.  Well, the last couple weeks of training, I started running the first 3 miles, then doing looser longer untimed intervals.  When we actually ran the race, we ran to each water station (about every two miles), drank our water (my mom drank gatorade) walked for a little bit (maybe a couple minutes?), then ran to the next station.  Like I mentioned before, I took some walking breaks to let my mom catch up, but they weren’t timed.  My mom pretty much ran the whole thing.

Week 1 (first week in Jan):  ran 3 times of about 2 miles each time.  I was just trying to condition my body to running again after a 6 month break.

Week 2:  ran 2 miles twice, then ran 3 miles on the weekend.

Week 3:  took 2 30 minute runs (approx 2.5 miles) then ran 4 miles on the weekend.

From there on out, my training was one week, running 3 times for about 30 minutes each time and then the next week, run 30 minutes twice with a long run on the weekend, increasing each long run by one mile.

So, every two weeks I took a long run and every week I ran three times.  Does that make sense?  I kept that up until my 9 mile run.  Then because of scheduling, we decided to skip the 10 mile run, run 6 miles instead and take an 11 mile run 2 weeks before the race.  Also, the last month before the race, I took a 6 mile run once a week with 3 mile runs in between.  The week before the race, I took a 6 mile run on Tuesday (race was Sunday) then rested the rest of the week.

Training for a half is definitely a time commitment, but only taking long runs every two weeks helped.  I felt like I kept up my running fitness in between just fine with those 30 minute/3 mile runs (it actually takes me 35 minutes to run 3 miles).

Since I wasn’t particularly sore after running the race, I think that my training paid off.  This isn’t probably the training you’d want to do if you were serious about breaking records, but for a busy mom and farmwife, this was quite doable for me!

Any additional thoughts about finishing a half marathon?  Would you do another one?

 

Back Where I Come From

 

Anybody know the Kenny Chesney song “Back Where I Come From”?  It’s an older one but one of his best, in my humble country-music-loving opinion 🙂  So, a couple weeks ago I spent two weeks of my life redecorating our community hall and this song kept playing in my head.

Why, you may ask?

Because our community hall is one of the symbols of “back where I come from.”  See, I’ve been blessed to come from a long line of people who settled in southern Kansas during the Homestead Act of the 1870’s/1880s!  And my family has been part of keeping up this community hall going back multiple generations.  And as I was doing this-

I realized that not many people get to be so blessed!

I don’t actually know very many people who live in this area because, well, that’s where their family has always lived!  You see it among the farmers (which is a dwindling population), but among my regular friends?  A lot are transplants.

And it also occurred to me that this is one of the many jobs a farmwife takes on that is behind the scenes.  My girls asked me, “Mom, why are you doing this???” as I was scraping wallpaper, patching sheet rock and repainting.  My answer?

“Because I can and it needs to be done.”

This is me with country music blaring in the background!

That’s a farmwife’s theme in life!  One that I learned as a farmgirl watching my mom and dad, my grandma and grandpa, my aunt and uncle.  It’s a lesson that my girls are learning, whether they realize it or not.  There are things that are just in your blood and keeping up the community hall is just one of the many things I saw and took for granted growing up.

It all goes back to “Back Where I Come From.”  There are things that get passed down in an agriculture community that stick with you and define you.  As I was painting, I was remembering all the times I’ve been in that hall- graduation parties, anniversary parties, baby showers, bridal showers, family holidays, community reunions, 4H meetings.  This community hall doesn’t belong to just my family, but to our whole township out there.  Many other people rent it and use it for those same things.  It’s used kind of like a church basement, except that we don’t care what denomination you belong to.  The one thing we all have in common is where we came from.  And it brings many of us together for a variety of celebrations several times a year.  It’s an honor to be part of the next generation preserving that.

That’s where I come from 🙂

Where do you come from?  How has that defined you as an adult?

 

Training for a Half Marathon (Confessions of a Slow Runner)

Ever think about training for and running a half marathon?  Yeah, me neither 😉  My running career has been less than illustrious to say the least and I was positive I did NOT have it in me to run a half.  But, as they say, never say never….

So, my running has looked like this over the years :

Start training in March

Barely get up to 3 miles

Run a local 5K in June

Take a couple more runs in June

Quit until next March

I could barely eke out the energy to complete the 5K and I was SLOW!  Not the “Oh, I only run an 8 minute mile” slow (ha, ha), but the “I’m pushing it to get under 12 minutes a mile.”  See, I tell ya, I truly am a slow runner!

I also suffer from asthma (my childhood asthma came back with a vengeance a couple years ago), which I used as my excuse for not being able to run very well.  It definitely contributes to it, but I’ve come to realize it is a surmountable obstacle.

Enter January, 2017.  My mom, who has been a fellow slow runner for the last 10 years, decided that for her upcoming 60th birthday in May, she would like to complete a half marathon.  And it just so happens that there is one in Wichita at the beginning of May.  You can guess where this is going… I offered to run it with her.

We decided to run it using intervals.  This is where we run 3 minutes and walk 1 minute.  We also only do a long run every two weeks and then run 3 miles 3 times a week in between.  It’s based on a method designed by Jeff Galloway.  It’s suppose to be easier on your joints and allow anyone to run a half marathon- even if you’re like me and you can barely hack a 5K.

So, since the first of January, this slow runner has been training.  My last long run I did 9 miles!  It was a bit brutal, but I completed it.  Last Monday, I ran 6 miles and I noticed that my ankles and hip joints didn’t bother me at all!  Previously, my joints would be pretty sore after a long run.  I think I’m becoming conditioned to it.  I seriously never thought I’d get this far in my running career!

On the plus side, a 3 mile run seems like a walk in the park now 🙂

The moral of the story is, I encourage you to  try hard things- like a being a slow runner tackling a half marathon!  Don’t compare yourself to other runners (yeah, I know that can be hard!).  The race is in 3 weeks, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Are you a runner?  Do you enjoy it?  Any other tips for training for a half marathon?

Unexpected and Unplanned Blessings

 

unexpected post pic

 

My baby turns 11 today!  How is that possible??  I don’t feel old enough to have my youngest child be that old!  And to put a different perspective on it- my youngest brother was 11 when my twins were born!  Crazy how time flies.  I had so many people tell me that when I was a young mom deep in the trenches of babies and toddlers, but I don’t think I really believed them?

Anyway, I’ve been spending the morning reflecting on the day Lindy came into our lives and what my expectations were for that day and for my life in general.  Looking back, I can see a little glimpse now of what God had planned…

So, to give you a background-

I’m a planner and I always had a plan for my life.  I was going to get married in my early 20’s and have my first baby by 25, pop out a few more over the next few years and have this lovely large family of blond, blue-eyed children.  Basically, I wanted to recreate the family my siblings and I had!  I come from a fairly large family (there were 5 of us kids) and everybody in the family (aunts and uncles) also has lots of kids, minimum 3.  I had 20+ cousins on both sides of my family!

Enter real life-

I got married at the ripe old age of 21 (I thought I was so old and mature!) and had the twins at 22 after a horrible pregnancy full of many medical issues.  Reece (my autistic son) had some physical challenges (low muscle tone), but after a year of physical therapy, he seemed fine.  So, when the twins were on the verge of 3 years old, we decided it was time for another.  I got pregnant right away and spent the next 8 months in virtual pregnancy hell.  I had worse complications than I had with the twins (complications with hyperemesis gravidarum) and I was more than happy to see that pregnancy come to an end!  So, on March 23 after 18 hours of pitocin induced labor and an emergency c-section, Lindy Sue came into the world!  And I tell ya, I should never question God or try to give Him orders because He knows what He is doing!  He gave us the exactly perfect child.  She was my saving grace!

You see, during my last trimester, Reece was showing signs of autism and over the weekend that I was in the hospital having Lindy, he completely flipped.  I came home to a blank-eyed boy who wouldn’t sleep, ran around stimming all day and who quit playing with his twin.  It was crazy and heart-breaking and depressing and horrible.  But, I had a little beautiful baby who rarely cried, was always happy, was completely easy going and who was my bright spot in a suddenly dark and confusing world.

Lindy grew up to be have strawberry blond hair (a total surprise inherited from her great-great-aunt!) and bright blue eyes.  She is her sister’s best friend and my baby girl.  She’s shy around others, but a total ham at home, full of one-liners, just like her dad.  She’s not what I had pictured all those years ago when I was telling God how things were going to be!  Nope, God taught me another lesson (He’s all too good at that!) and blessed me with kids that I needed, not the kids that I wanted.

So, on this day, March 23, 2017, I’m giving thanks to Him for the past 11 years with my littlest baby!

What are blessings has God given you that were completely unexpected? Does your family look like you pictured it would? 

 

Why My Kids Don’t Have Chores

whymykidsdon'thavechores

 

Ok, so technically, we do have chores around our house and farm, but the farm jobs are the only ones we deem “chores.” I have never implemented the “chore chart” idea or assigned anything to anybody.  I’ve often pondered it and once bought an expensive magnet chore chart system at a homeschool convention, but after attempting it for a week, I gave up and a couple years later, I sold it.

Yet, my kids still help me around the house daily.

How do we do it?  Everything I’ve read maintains that assigned chores are the way to go and I’m one of the only moms I know who doesn’t “assign” their kids specific tasks for a specified amount of time.

There are two reasons:

  1.  I’m somewhat lazy and disorganized and I’m not a list fan.
  2.  My kids don’t want assigned chores.

Of course, you say.  What kids want assigned chores?

So, here’s the deal.  My kids are 14 and 11, so I’ve been doing the parenting gig for awhile and while I don’t pat myself on the back often for perceived parenting wins, I think I may have done something right way back in the day when they were toddlers and preschoolers of which I am now reaping the benefits.

Here’s what I did:

They constantly “helped” me around the house every day, all day.

And now, after a decade of it, it’s totally normal for my now big kids to help me when I need it, sometimes without asking (some things are just automatic) and sometimes with asking (but in a cheerful, non-nagging way).  We work together all day.  When we have our weekly deep cleans, they help- no complaining.  When we have meals (which is every day, 3 times a day), they help clean it up, do the dishes, and clean the kitchen- with me.  Sometimes we divide and conquer- “Elisa, you sweep the floor, while Lindy loads the dishwasher and I’m going to switch out laundry.”  It works beautifully.

I asked them a couple months ago if they would rather have assigned jobs or do they like our current non-system.  And you know what?  They liked the status quo.

I think our lack of chores fosters a better sense of actually working together as a family rather than each individual completing an individual job because that what the boss (me) assigned.  Yes, someday they will have jobs in the real world and that might be a scenario for them.  But they will also have families in real world and I think a family home should be a much different place than a work environment.

So, let your littles work with you everywhere in the house (I know it can often seem counterproductive at the time!).  That stage is so short in the grand scheme of things and before you know, you will be seeing the results of your hard work and patience.  Clearing the table isn’t such a chore when you all work together and you can talk and chat and laugh.

And that is why we don’t have “chores.”

 

What do you think?  Do you have a chore system? What is something you did when your kids were little that has benefited you and them now that they are older?

What Are You Scared Of?

What are you scared of?

There’s the usual list of things, I’m sure.  Snakes, spiders, tornadoes, fires, floods, speaking in public, etc.  I generally consider myself pretty tough and daring (I AM a farmgirl, after all!  We pride ourselves on being a tough breed, lol!).  I don’t flinch in the face of most of those.  But there is one thing that absolutely paralyzes me….

FAILURE!

Because of that very real and debilitating fear, I don’t let myself do anything that I think I *might* not be good at.

I have no problem experimenting in my garden, trying a new recipe or even encouraging my husband with new endeavors on the farm.  But, really, I don’t feel like anyone SEES those things.  So if I fail, nobody knows, right?  When I was a kid, I was very hesitant to try anything new in front of anybody.  What if I wasn’t good at it?  What if they laughed at me?  What if they critiqued me and I couldn’t handle it?

So, I became very good at not doing much of anything outside of my safe little box.  This fear followed me to high school.  While it seemed that everyone else was trying different classes or new clubs or new sports, I stuck with my tried and true (which was orchestra.  I played violin and was pretty good at it, so I felt confident in orchestra.)  My junior year, I went out on a limb and joined the debate team, which I discovered I loved!  But… my best friend was already part of the team, so I felt like she paved the way for me.  So, it really wasn’t me 100% by myself trying something out of my comfort zone.

Enter marriage and kids in my twenties.  I married a farmboy and lived on his family farm.  Not a real stretch for me because I, too, grew up on a very similar farm.  Sure I moved across the county line, but it was only 8 miles from my family’s farm and the town that I grew up going to school and shopping in.  So, yeah, no fears to face there.  My life is pretty much just like I wanted it to be, which is a fabulous blessing, I know!  Not everyone gets to live that dream.

But, there are two things that I have been wanting to do and both scare me to the bottom of my toes- one dream I’ve had since I was a teenager and one that started about 10 years ago.

Wanna hear what they are?

OK, here goes…. I want to write and publish a book (my dream since I was a teenager) and I want to have a successful blog (my more recent adult dream)!

What if I fail?????

What if nobody likes them????

Those thoughts pretty much stop me in my tracks.

You know what I realized this week?

So, what!!

So, what if I fail!  So, what if nobody likes my writing!  God knows my dreams and my heart.  If I’m suppose to do those things, He’ll help me.  He does not give me a spirit of fear, right?  I do that all on my own.  So, I’ve been praying and talking to Him about it and I’m going to try my hardest to put myself out there and see what happens…..

 

What are your biggest fears?  What can you do or are doing to confront them?

 

 

When You Don’t Get Your Miracle (Autism Journey)

Ten years ago, our family experienced a sudden shift in our life journey that no one saw coming.  Our son became autistic.  There were subtle warning signs starting when he was about 15 months old, but nothing jarring that really made us question his development.  That’s for another post. But, the fact of the matter is, at age 3 1/2 our only son swirled into autism and our life was changed.

I tend to gravitate towards challenges and I always like to be great at everything I do (or I won’t even attempt it- its a flaw of mine!) and once we had our official diagnosis, I was determined to beat it.  My son would be cured come hell or high water.  We would be one of those success stories.  Besides, having a less-than-perfect son was NOT in my life plan!

I jumped into exploring autism with everything I had.  I read and I researched.  I left no stone, no diet, no supplement, nothing unturned.  We found a bio-medical doctor four hours away.  After a battery of tests, it was determined that he was deficient in a bazillion different vitamins and minerals and he was intolerant to a bazillion different foods.  I ate, drank, breathed and slept autism (I seriously literally dreamed about all the diet and supplements he was on!).  At my ten year high school class reunion, I told everyone that I fully expected him to be cured by the next reunion.  I wasn’t gonna be one of those parents that just let it all go, come what may.  No, by golly, we were gonna beat this thing!!!

Over time, something happened. Or rather didn’t happen.  Our son wasn’t getting better.  We begged and pleaded with God.  I said the same prayer every day, “Lord, please heal him.”  I was doing everything I was supposed to do!  We were on the right diet and were giving him the right supplements.  But, he wasn’t healed.  Oh, we’d have our steps forward, but we had just as many backward.  I kept thinking that there was something else out there, that if we just found the last piece of the puzzle, that it would all be better and we’d have our “normal” son back.  I had our book written in my head.  You know, the one with our family’s picture on the cover where I tell all about our journey and how we healed our son.

But, about 3 years ago, I finally realized it- we weren’t going to be that miracle family.  It just wasn’t going to be us.  Our son would always have “special needs.”  God wasn’t going to grant me my miracle.  After seven years of desperately trying and hoping for that bolt of lightning, I stopped.

Our story doesn’t end there.  I didn’t spiral into depression and I didn’t quit loving our son.  I didn’t stop praising God or question His sovereignty over my life.  Instead, I looked back on our journey and thought about the what-ifs in a different way.  What if he was normal?  What would our life be like?  Would we be a happier family?  Would Jeff and I have a stronger marriage?

You know what?  When I changed my perspective (or perhaps God has changed it for me, slowly working on my over the years), I saw different answers to those questions.  My son and his quirks have made me a better person.  They have given us a stronger marriage.  They have made his sisters more compassionate kids.  They’ve shown me traits (both good and bad) in other people that I didn’t know were there.  Where once autism was the enemy to fight, the one bad thing in a really good life, I have found that autism hasn’t been the enemy.  A cure for it is not the miracle I needed.  God knew all along that for me to grow in my faith, for Jeff and I to become an extremely tight partnership, for my girls to be able to see people in a better light, for our family to be healthier and stronger, He would have to give us something to make that happen.  He chose autism for us.

While I still have hopes for our son to live a “normal” life, I also don’t worry as much about the future with him.  God has seen us through all the time.  He knows what we need and He knows what our son needs.  Who am I to question that?  That is the real miracle.

 

 

Fall Harvest- a view from the combine

About a month ago, this thing called “Fall Harvest” started around here.  On our farm, we grow wheat, milo, soybeans, cotton, hay and have cow/calf pairs.  I grew up on a farm in the neighboring county and we had a similar operation, but without the cows and hay.  Since we are in southern Kansas, we plant our wheat in the fall and harvest it in June.  But the milo, soybeans and cotton all get planted in the spring and get harvested in the fall.  Hence, “Fall Harvest!”

Unlike wheat harvest, which is a fast paced, adrenaline pumping week or two with late nights, fall harvest is somewhat slower paced and drags on for a LONG time!!  Generally though, we love it 🙂

Off and on I have had the privilege of doing this:

combine

I absolutely ADORE getting combine time!!  I grew up operating all the farm equipment (tractors, trucks, the combine).  In fact, when I was little I idolized my dad and wanted to be just like him when I grew up.  I was the biggest tomboy!  As a teenager, I worked all summer long on the farm and whenever I could during the school year.  After going to college in the city, I realized I missed the farm and for my own sanity, NEEDED to live on a working farm for the rest of my life.

20151014_165713

My 9 year old took this picture while riding with me one day.  Yes, those are my arms 🙂

20151014_165707

When your in the combine cab, here’s the view to my left.  This is called a header and it literally combs the crop into what’s called the sickle bar, which cuts the crop off, then a round auger (its the green thing in this picture) pushes the cut plants into the combine.  As a kid, the reel (the black thing with fingers on it) was mesmerizing.  It will literally hypnotize a child and put them to sleep!

We have since finished cutting our beans and have moved back to milo.  If it dries down enough today, my 13 year old daughter and I will get to run the combine some.  I’m suppose to give her lessons so she can run in it, too.  We start ’em young here on the farm 🙂

Oh, and for proper pronunciation everyone says you’re cuttin’ beans or cuttin’ milo.  We ag people are sticklers for proper English 😉