What Summer Is Like in Indiana

When school gets out don’t we all have all these grand plans. Well, when you are in the country of Indiana this is what ends up happening.

You get a puppy. Yes, he is a GoldenDoodle. His name is Moses. We call him Moe.

Our GoldenDoodle Puppy MosesBut then, you have to deal with a sad little Checkers. The puppy got a little bit more love than him.

Our Teddy Bear Dog, CheckersBut, soon he got over that little bought of jealousy. So, we went back to watching the corn grow…

Corn Irrigation

Like many of you, we spend a lot of time swimming. In lanes. While your parents melt in the stands with absolutely no beer sales at the said swimming meet.

Boo swimming the butterflyAnd all of this fun is then interrupted with the job. The thing that pays for tree houses that cost more than your first car.

New playset at the new houseHowever, who wouldn’t want to host foreign visitors on a two day tour prior to the World Pork Expo? I mean, seriously, it was awesome. Plus, I got to ride a barge on the mighty Mississippi River and see grain being loaded onto a barge.

Grain Barge on the Mississippi RiverAnd then it is back home to the quaintness of rural Indiana and lazy Saturdays.

Farm WindmillThe best thing about summer is the amazing nights you can spend outdoors with friends. On the 4th of July we had fun with friends and a sky that gave the fireworks competition.

Indiana July SunsetAnd just when you think your life can’t be any better, the corn starts pollinating. Did I mention I am surrounded by corn fields. Eyes have been watering for weeks thanks to all this corn sex…

Corn PollinationThen the letter comes. The letter with the class lists and school supplies. The list that means summer is over soon. The letter that makes you realize you have worked too much and played too little. The letter that makes you sad because you feel guilty for not spending enough time with your kids doing all these big fancy pants things that memories are made of. And then, your kids make you feel loved when you are up in your office having a little pitty party by yourself. My kids did it. They threw me a surprise tea/lemonade party.

surprise tea partyAnd I am going to just assume everyone’s kitchen table looks like mine. It will make me feel normal.

5 Gifts for the Foodie {or food, wine & coffee addict}

I am not a fancy cook. I just like food. A lot. I like good food with good wine. And let’s be honest, I am a coffee junky. I could live a long time without a lot of things, but coffee is not one of those things. While, I am not counting on getting any of these items, I have a short list of gifts I would recommend to any husband looking for ideas for their wife.

1. Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Oval Slow Cooker

Every busy mom must have a programmable crock pot. What I love about this one, it also can be transported without a big mess. If you don’t have one and are crock pot lover, get one now.

2. Cuisinart Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Black/Brushed Metal
Every coffee junky has to leave their college coffee pot in the past at some point. I wrestled this coffee pot when I visited my friend, Katie in North Dakota. It did make some great coffee. Now, I have coffee pot envy.

3.Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Cherry

I have wanted this, well, I don’t know how long I have wanted this, but I drool over these cast-iron puppies every time I see them on display. Their color names are even enticing: Flame, Caribbean, Marseille, Cherry, Dune, Fennel, Cassis, Dijon. I want one. Pretty, pretty please with a CHERRY on top!

4. Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler

This thing is just cool. From burgers like it shows to panini sandwiches to eggs and bacon, the griddle is the answer to a woman’s winter blues. When the outside grill is buried in snow, this would be a great pinch hitter.

5. Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator

I have a confession. I have this already. I have been known to carry it with me. I have no patience to wait on a decanter. This is a must for the red wine lover.

foodie christmas gift ideas

Do you have any other gift ideas for the busy foodie?

Be sure to check out the other tips and food tidbits as part of the 30 Days on the Prairie Farm Series.

30 days on the prairie farm

Affiliate links were used in this post.

I am Failing as a Mother

Am I alone or do you feel like you buy 742 pairs of socks and instead of having any in your the top dresser door, they are just strewn about begging to be matched up with their long lost soul mate?

pile of unmatched socks

But instead of matching socks I spend approximately 264 minutes each week running my kids to dance and cheer leading…

little girl cheeringAnd swimming and soccer.

swimming practice

boy in swim cap

My efforts to reduce obesity in America. Actually, my kids feel like they spend so much time in the car they pretend we are living in the van.

sleeping bag in vanIt is as if the book, Sh*tty Mom, was written for me. Some days I wonder if they brushed their teeth, wore clean socks or the same pair they wore the last three days, and if we actually turned in homework or left it sitting on the counter. I am sure my kids look like there mother didn’t look at them before they jumped out of the door so she could race to her meeting 60 miles away more than I think.

girl dancing in the rain

boys dressed up for 80's day

There are days I am on policy conference calls while in car line at school or talking to the school nurse about some mysterious object stuck in my son’s ear during a business lunch. And when I can’t find my lipstick I should just check with my daughter, she probably has it one of her my purses she carries with her everywhere.

little girl putting on lipstickI swear my colleagues have to think I am lunatic. They are just lucky I am not taking notes with colored pencils and mechanical crayons…

colleaguesBut then I am reminded…dirty socks and crazy hair and lost homework and conference calls and business lunches really will not matter in a month or a year or even a decade. But making sure that my kids know they are loved by not only me, but a very gracious and merciful God is so much more important. And this weekend, it took my seven year old son reminded me of this.

He nonchalantly told me as he was trying to stretch the time before lights out that while he was playing football at our neighbor’s annual fish fry, he asked one of the boys if he believed in Jesus. The boy responded yes, but he doesn’t get to go to church a lot. Boo was relieved. The very next day as he was playing with a boy from down the road, he noticed a bible sitting in his room. He asked this boy the same thing. And got the yes reply. Once again he was relieved. I was shocked. Both of these boys are considerably older than my son. Both boys don’t go to school with him or even live next door all the time as they split time between their broken up parents. But, Boo didn’t worry one bit of what they might think of him or even that they would think anything of his question. When I asked him why he decided to ask them this question, his answer was simple. “Mom, I just want to make sure they believe that Jesus died for them so they can be in heaven with me someday.”

Let the children come to me...Luke 18:16Well, it doesn’t get anymore important than that. And while I will be hard on myself about my parenting flaws and guilty about not being everything I see other moms be, I can sleep a bit more sound at night knowing I have shared the love of Jesus with my kids and one day, hopefully not soon, they will be in heaven with me.

Why farmers need crop insurance

By now you have been asleep for two months if you haven’t noticed most of us are suffering from lots of heat and very little rain. Great for the grass (I couldn’t find my sarcasm font). Well, the news media has finally started picking up lots of stories about drying out corn fields. And we have all been warned about the raising food prices. And this drought forces us to look at just what we do to make sure our farmers don’t lose everything they have when mother nature isn’t so kind to their crops so they can roll the dice and try again next year.

Have you ever heard about the farm bill? Or have you heard of these payments farmers get either directly from the government for their crops and in the past even for not growing anything. Have you wondered why farmers have insurance for their businesses when other businesses don’t get insurance from failure? I have the answer for you…

Effects of no rain on cornRain makes corn. And no rain makes no corn. And this here is corn that is living in drought conditions on our farm. No corn for us.

Farmers can’t control the rain. Yet, they buy seed in hopes they will harvest a crop to pay for the seed. They buy planters and tractors and large harvesters called combines in hopes they will have a crop to pay for the machines. They take the ultimate gamble each year. They plant their seed. Fertilize it. Control it for pests in the form of weeds and bugs. And then they pray for rain. Sometimes answered prayers come in the form of rain and sometimes the answer is, learn some patience farmer.

Well, let’s talk about what it costs to grow corn. Let’s start with the variable costs. Those things that you have to purchase every year in order to grow a crop. We have spent around $100 per acre on seed corn. Add on to that about $235 per acre in fertilizer and also pest control. We haven’t even started calculating the cost of the fuel and gas to run the tractors, run the dryers for the corn if it still has a lot of moisture in it when we harvest it in the fall, or fixing anything that might break. That will run most farmers around $75 per acre.  Oh, and then we have the cost of the crop insurance too. So tap on another $30 an acre.

But wait, we still haven’t paid for the land, the tractors, equipment, or paid our self or employees we might have. Let’s talk about the fixed costs of farming. Land…on average this will run you around $150 – $200 an acre whether you cash rent the land or buy it and make payments on it. Then you have to buy tractors, field equipment and combines to harvest the crops. Most farmers will keep their equipment for several years. The average cost per acre for equipment is going to run you another $85 per acre. Then you have to store the grain and dry it down. Those big silver grain bins will run you about another $15 per acre.

Oh then you want to make a little money too. Let’s say farmers pay themselves and others a cumulative amount that runs about $60 an acre. Remember this is on average. Some farmers who farm more acres have lower cost per acre because they can spread the costs over more acres while others who farm fewer acres may have a higher per acre cost. Are you doing the math? We are knocking on around $750 per acre in costs.

We will be ok though. We have crop insurance. We have bought coverage for our farm in case we would have crop failure. We bought it at a guarantee of 80% of the yield we would have on an average year. What does that mean? Well if you read this stack of papers explaining our policy you get the details.

stack of papers that is the crop insurance policy

Let’s say our average yield is 150 bushels of corn an acre. At 80% yield guarantee that means the insurance company will pay us for at least 120 bushels an acre. In the spring when we bought the insurance, we were guaranteed a price of around $5.70 a bushel. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? Well it is $684.

Think we can break even at best? Nope, we will exactly lose $66 an acre which is almost what we would pay ourselves. And if we didn’t have crop insurance we would still have $700 per acre in bills. Wish you were a rich farmer yet?

I am not writing this for your pity. Farmers know the risk they take each spring. It is something each farmer has in their soul. Something that motivates them to break the earth open, plant a seed, grow food for either livestock or people, and then feed the world. Farming is not something anyone does for the money. The stress is too agonizing to do it for the money. Farmers do it for the people. Families all across Indiana, all across America do it to grow your food and feed their passion.

So, in the midst of the worst drought farmers have seen since at least the 80’s if not longer, we are writing a Farm Bill right now in DC. The tone in drafting this bill that is only 20% for farmers and 80% for food and nutrition programs for those who can’t afford to buy food in our county, was that farmers have been sitting high on the hog. Record profits. Record yields.

Infographic about the food programs in the farm bill

Legislators have been debating how to cut the farm bill without leaving the farmers out to dry if their crops dry up and aren’t able to pay the bills

Farmers realize that as our Federal debt grows, they need to also do their part to reduce the debt through elimination of direct payments. Farmers realize on years they do make a profit, they don’t need money from the government. That money should be used to reduce debt or at least offset other entitlement programs.

But, yet people feel farmers are not giving up enough government support. Some people feel that the fact that the federal government pays part of the premiums for crop insurance for farmers, that they are still receiving subsidies. People look at farmers as big ag conglomerates who should take on all the risk themselves. Maybe they should, but after a year like this it wouldn’t take long for farmers to be like farmers in India or Kenya or Ethopia. The poorest and most hungry people in the country because of crop failure and absolutely no income to draw from to plant the next year’s crop. So, then no crop is planted leaving productive lands barren.

By now you are surely thinking, well the government will surely give these drought stricken farmers some sort of disaster payment. Disaster payments that used to go to farmers when they suffered situations like this where no rain had fallen in over 6 weeks ended last year. Without the drafting and passing of a new farm bill, farmers are left fending for themselves in hopes that a crop insurance payment comes through that will allow them to pay their bills and plant another crop come spring.

feeding cattle corn

But, we have left a few things unspoken. The livestock. The pigs. The chickens. The cows. They all are dependent on the corn and soybeans grown throughout the midwest, the hay and alfalfa grown in the west, cotton seed grown in the south and sugar beets grown in the upper plains to eat. All of these crops have some how been impacted with this summer weather. You might be thinking, I only buy grass fed meat. Well, the grass is not available for the pasture animals this year either.

And then there is our national security issue that revolves around oil and has leaned on biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel to offset imported oil. The biofuels also use the same crops the livestock eat. Somehow we all have to way all of these things and figure out how to make sure we have enough to go around.

Whether you know a farmer or not, the next meal you eat, remember to say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the abundant food supply we have all benefited from and to be blessed with just what we need into the future.

Leah’s Summer Must Haves

I have realized this week, I have a few things I no longer can go without this summer, beginning with my FitFlop sandals. I got my first pair of fitflops when I went to Hawaii and loved them so much I knew I had a new pair for Florida.

old pewter fitflopsSo, I got on my favorite shopping website for procrastinators, zappos.com, the week we left for Florida. And I ordered the whole family sandals for the beach including my new pair of flipflops, black lunetta!

Black Lunetta FlipflopWhy do I love these shoes? Well, because they have a lot of cushioning for a flip flop and can easily be dressed up or down. I have warn them to the zoo and to church. Either way, they feel awesome. Bonus, I always get complements on them.

I tend to also be living in one particular style of Under Armour T-Shirt. I have it in two colors, and I bet before summer is over I have it in more colors. Love this shirt and don’t know how I lived without it.

Love aviator sunglasses. It is becoming and obsession…

purple aviatorsI have purplish pink aviators.

avaiator sunglasses in goldI have them with gold rims and brown lenses. These even made it to sunny Florida!

wearing aviator sunglasses on the beachAll of my glasses are cheap. Less than $10 cheap. No tears when I lose or break them this way.

However, for about 3 days I had my friend’s Tory Burch aviator sunglasses. Then she came to reclaim what I had been trying to keep for myself.

Tory Burch Avaitor sunglassesBut, I now want expensive sunglasses. Specifically I want these sunglasses. It is my summer must have;)
Ray-Ban - RB3025 Aviator Large Metal Polarized (Gunmetal/Brown Gradient) - Eyewear


Click on the picture if you want to check them out for yourself:)

This is my newest love…

Keep Calm and Drink Wine NecklaceYep, got it this weekend at Vintage Indiana and now all I want to do is wear it. Thank to Elizabeth Alta Jewelry. She has awesome stuff. Check her out!

I might as well fess up, I am on a new diet plan. It is the don’t eat anything white diet I think. No flour, no white sugar, no milk, no white sauce, no white cheese, no staples of my life so now I know why I am fat. So to add flavor to vegetables this summer and meat too, this is my new favorite marinade.I marinaded eggplant, squash, mushroom and onions in it last night and the kids loved it too.

Lawry's Tuscan Sun-Dried Tomato MarinadeI think I am going to buy a case next time it is on sale.

Last month we got a new man van, please meet “The Silver Bullet.”

2012 Honda OdysseyIt is a 2012 Honda Odyssey and it is magical. It has enough cup holders for the entire Duggar family, it comes equipped with a cool box, DVD player, power sliding everything. I also bought this van by doing virtually everything online before coming in for a test drive. Pricing, questions, stalling, research, etc. Everyone should get one. Go to indyhonda.com and look for TK. She rocks!

So now the kids keep wanting to take Checkers, our Teddy Bear dog, with us whenever we go somewhere. This in turns into Checkers running all over the van..

doggie car booster seatYep, I got a doggie car seat. I know it is crazy. I have already began getting harassed from my friends. But no more crazy dog running around.

So, what are your summer must-haves? Do share!

Affiliate links were used in this post. Honda did not compensate me for my comments or give me a van:) Neither did Lawry’s. Both companies are getting free, unadulterated love from me.

All in a week’s time

From last Wednesday till Monday night, here is a glimpse into what sights I have seen for work and a little play.

From the U.S. Capitol to the …

Famous Churchill Downs in Louisville to the …

To the bat that Babe used to the …

To the random water spray out of the sidewalk in Downtown Louisville to the …

McAlpine Lock and Dam to the …

Lucas Oil plant in Corydon where we got to meet a world champion motorcycle racer

And climb boxes with some of our farm friends to the …

Corn, soybean, and cattle farm of a local farm family to the …

Heritage Farms in Columbia City that raise Waygu beef for Joseph Decuis Restaurant in Roanoke. Roanoke, Indiana that is of course!

And finally to the Indians game with a few farmer friends. What a way to celebrate so many facets of agriculture!

And now I am sick. Maybe next time I will remember to sleep. 

Working Mom Wednesday: Do you bring work home?

As a working mom, I am always struggling with the work/life balance. I feel like it is a constant battle. I wish I could shut work off in my brain when I walked in the door, but I can’t shut it off. If you walked into my house and looked at our desk in the kitchen, you would think, not a chance do I bring work home.

Well, unless I work for the wine industry. Which I don’t. Sigh.

But, I have a dirty secret.

I do bring work home. I have another office location.

I didn’t screw up. I put a picture of my master bathroom. If you look on top of my hamper you will see my evidence.

Computer power cord can be found most regularly in my bathroom.

I would say I have a problem, but I don’t think I do. I get a lot done in the bathroom. Work wise. I have written some of my best work on the floor of this special room.

However, I do try to hide it. Especially from my boss lady.

But sometimes I get busted. The conversations go something like this:

    Boss Lady: Hey Leah!

    Leah: Hi Boss Lady!

    Boss Lady: Just wanted to talk to you about XYZ.

    Leah: Great. I needed to touch base with you on that too. I had some thoughts…

    Boss Lady: Wait. Where are you? It sounds like there is an echo, almost like a cave. Are you in a bathroom?

    Leah: Uh. Well. Um. Maybe. It’s just so quiet. The kids don’t bother me in here because it is boring. I am getting so much done. It is sort of like hiding in a cave.

    Boss Lady: Hysterical laughing.

It is weird. I know. But I blame this.

It is just so warm and cozy and white noise like. I just crank on the space heater and go to town on the laptop to the wee hours of the night. And our office is just not as cozy. Plus my husband would have to learn how to share.

So, yes, I have a problem. I bring work home.

Thankful Thursday: For the women in my life

Shew, what a day! What a week!

It was my birthday week. Once you have a 3 in front of your age, birthdays really become less and less eventful. On my birthday, I spent the day traveling to Chicago with my IRL pals, Megan and Liz. While, I would like to say it was to shop or something fun, it was to hear the 2011 Trust Barometer results from a PR agency.

Regardless, I got some yummy cheese and amazing garlic and parsley butter from Fair Oaks on the way home. Love.

Did I mention butter? I ate most of it from dipping crackers in it. Thankful.

Then yesterday, I got the chance to spend an hour with Indiana’s Lieutenant Governor, Becky Skillman and about 30 other mommy bloggers.

It is alway great to meet fellow moms who are passionate about their families, their food, and their state. While this many women will never agree on any issue, there is so much that can be learned from the chance to discuss topics face to face.

It is just great to have fellow moms to talk to, IRL and virtually. Thankful.

And you know if you are a working mom, there are days that connecting the dots is sometimes nearly impossible. Well, today was one of them. Thursday happen to be the day that we are nannyless. And of course today the husband is out of town. So, I pulled out of the driveway at 7:10 am to head 25 miles south to drop the kids off at school so I can turn back north and drive 60 miles to work. Needless to say I got there at 9:15 am. Yeah, I need medication to just stay sane till 9 am.

Normally the route is redone in the afternoon so I can get the kids picked up by 4 pm. Not today. Meetings. Important meetings. That is when my dear friend, Mandi, saved me. She so willingly let my kids come play with her kids until I could get there at 5:30 pm. That is the best kind of love I can ever get. Texts that say “no worries, take your time.” Someone who just hugs me goodbye as my kids climb her tree in the front yard is better than any expensive gift. Love. Thankful.

I wish I could say that was the end of the day, but to no avail…more meetings. And boy were the kids troopers. Two hours worth of meetings and no screaming was had. By me or the kids:) Thankful.

And now, now I am so excited to meet the Pioneer Woman tomorrow night, I am not going to be able to sleep. At. All.

And by my side smiling from ear to ear as we meet our her, my fellow farmwives and friends. Thankful.

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