Category Archives: family

Why I’m an Illinois Field Mom

Just over a year ago, Mayor Crazyville approached me at a MOPS meeting. (Back then, I knew her by her real name, Sharon.) She asked me if I would be interested in becoming an Illinois Field Mom, and was surprised when I said “YES!” without hesitation! The Illinois Field Mom program through IL Farm Families takes suburban moms like me out of the city and into the country to talk to real farmers.

This past year as a Field Mom has been such a great experience. Here are just a few reasons why.

1. I’ve been able to visit my farming roots.

My dad worked on the farm when he was young. He worked in the fields and cleaned chicken coops. He drove a John Deere tractor. While I didn’t grow up on a farm, I grew up in a small town of about 800 people. I ate fresh, local produce in the summer and canned or frozen produce in the winter, made by my mom.

2. Technology has changed farming for the better.

A lot has changed since my dad drove a John Deere back in the 50′s. Farmers now use GPS, mapping systems and soil testing to give their fields exactly what is needed. This technology helps give the farmer higher yields and also helps the farmer to be environmentally friendly. Read what I learned about applying fertilizer here: Fascinated with Fertilizer.

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Learning about how farmers use GPS in their combines.

3. I don’t have to be afraid of GMOs.

Before I became a Field Mom, I wasn’t even sure what GMOs were. GMO corn (field corn, not sweet corn) is pest resistant, which means the farmer doesn’t need to apply as many pesticides. It’s highly unlikely that you would find GMOs in your local grocery store produce section. For more about which genetically modified seeds our farmers are planting, read this article: GMO 101: The View from Our Farm.

4. I can feed my family healthy foods on a tight budget.

When I left my job to become a stay-at-home mom, my husband and I knew that we would have to live on a tight budget. This means I can’t always afford to buy organic foods. I have learned that freshness matters (which is why I believe in buying local produce when possible), and that conventionally raised produce is just as nutritious as organic produce.

I also used to worry about hormones and antibiotics being used in meat. Through the Field Mom program, I’ve learned that Federal law prohibits hormones from being used in pork and poultry, and the hormones used in beef are much less than the hormones you eat in a baked potato. Only animal who are sick are treated with antibiotics, and they are removed from the herd population until they are well. They are not allowed to be sold as meat until the antibiotics have been cleared from their systems. Read more here: Let’s Talk About Hormones in Meat.

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After my ride in a combine harvesting field corn

5. Farmers genuinely care for their livestock.

My visit to a cattle farm convinced me! Throughout the visit, it was obvious that the Martz family cared for their livestock. They are continuously improving their cattle barns to make life better for their cattle. They have started using moveable curtains as opposed to wooden slats on the sides of the barns, and rubber floors as opposed to concrete. Although the cattle are with them for a short time, they want their cattle to be content.

6. Most Illinois farms are still family owned.

Just like you, I’ve heard about “factory farms” and big farming corporations. In Illinois, over 94% of the farms are still family owned. I have been privileged to meet some of these farmers through the Field Mom program. Conventional farmers and organic farmers; farmers’ wives and farm journalists; cattle farmers and grain farmers; I’ve been able to talk with all these people and ask them my questions through this Illinois Farm Families program! You can “meet the farmers” as well on the Illinois Farm Family website, Watch Us Grow.

This Saturday, I’ll be visiting a hog farm. I’m looking forward to learning more about how pigs are born and raised in Illinois to become part of our food chain. Next week, I’ll show you what I’ve learned.

Is there anything you would like to know about farming in our country today? I’ll try to find an answer for you from the people who can answer the best! Thank you for tagging along on my journey as an Illinois Field Mom.

 

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Family {The Spin Cycle}

For the Spin Cycle this week, we are sharing our highlights from 2013. This year has been a great year, and it has been hard for me to decide what to write about. Especially since I have blogged about all the good things that have happened to me this year and anything I write will be a repeat of something you have already read!

As I was thinking about my Spin, I realized that there was one common element in all the events I was thinking about.

Spin Cycle 2013 highlights

I can’t help but think about warm summer days as I write this in cold and snowy January. Last June, we sat under our willow tree in the back yard with Ed’s family, celebrating Father’s Day with a barbeque. The cousins played T-ball while the adults relaxed in lawn chairs.

For my aunt’s 60th and my cousin’s 30th birthday, we traveled to Iowa for a barn party. It was hotter than heck, but we danced the night away anyhow.

Over the summer, my cousin and her kids came over to the States from the United Kingdom, and I was able to visit with her. I think it had been over ten years since we last saw each other. It was such a joy to see her in person again, and to see my kids playing with her kids!

In October, I hosted a family reunion for my dad’s family. As the guest list grew, Ed and I got a little nervous. The final count was 40 people. And then, despite our hopes for a nice October day, it rained. No one cared about the rain, thank goodness! The house was bursting at the seams with family; playing cards, eating, drinking, with plenty of kids for Emmy and Lily to play with. My aunts complemented me on how relaxed I looked!

My sister from California flew to Chicago for Thanksgiving, and my brother and sister from Illinois drove to my house. We spent the day hiking in the forest preserve and watching movies. It’s hard to get all four of us together at the same time.

Christmas dinner with Ed’s family was particularly nice this year. I felt much more relaxed in the company of my in-laws than I usually do when cooking a holiday meal. Perhaps having 40 people over all at once makes only 9 people over for dinner seem like a piece of cake.

Various posts on Facebook and on some blogs ask, “What’s your word for the year?” While I don’t know what my word for 2014 is yet, my highlight of 2013 is definitely Family.

What was your highlight of 2013?

Second Blooming

Link up your Spin below or over at Second Blooming! Your blog post will be linked on both our blogs!



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A Very Merry Waterpark-y Christmas

The weather outside was frightful. Yes, we had snow for our White Christmas, but there was also a thick layer of ice under the snow from the rain that came before, and then there were frigid single-digit temperatures that came after the snow. So for a little Christmas fun, Ed and I took the girls to a waterpark for Christmas. Despite those remarkably realistic fluffy clouds you see in the picture below, this waterpark was inside where was nice and warm.

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shooting a basket

water slide

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Lemon Drop Pie family to yours!

Christmas tree Ginny and Ed

Merry Christmas! Love, Ginny and Ed

Link up your Holiday Spin below or over at Second Blooming! Your blog post will be linked on both our blogs!

Second Blooming


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What a Wonderful Time {Spin Cycle}

It took less than five minutes for Emmy to tip-toe out of her room after I had put her to bed. “I can’t sleep!” she exclaimed.

“You’ve barely tried,” I told her as I put her back in bed.

“I want it to be Christmas tomorrow!”

I love seeing her excitement over the days to come. She is so cute, and she makes me remember how excited I was as a kid, counting the days down to Christmas.

There are so many things I love about this season.

I love seeing my daughters decorate the Christmas tree.

I love the lights shining in the snow.

I love hearing the Salvation Army volunteer ring the bell.

I love shopping for presents.

Yes, I even love the Christmas music at the mall. (As long as it’s December, I enjoy listening!)

In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be tired of the Christmas tree hogging the living room, and it will be time to put it away.

There will be no more Christmas music at the mall, and our neighbors will take down their lights that shine in the snow. The torn wrapping paper and ribbons will be thrown away.

All the wonderful things that “make the season bright” will be gone…except for the most important gift.

Jesus, the gift of Christmas, will still be with us.

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What do you think? Is it the most wonderful time of the year? Link up below or over at Second Blooming! Your blog post will be linked on both our blogs!

Second Blooming

Link your Most Wonderful Time blog posts here!



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Just ONE thing this holiday season

On November 17, we were at a Sunday brunch in a nice restaurant when the lights went out. A big storm was passing through. The electricity still flickered back on, but the computers started beeping and the once busy restaurant emptied quickly after that. As we drove home, listening to the radio, I was worried about what we would find. We were an hour away and have had bad experiences with flooding after crazy rainstorms. Fortunately, since we had our willow tree cut down this fall, I didn’t need to worry about a large tree falling down on our house!

What we did hear on the radio was even more worrisome, however. Tornadoes had been forming all over the state of Illinois, Soldier Field was evacuated during the Bears game,  and a tornado had touched down near Peoria, where my sister lives.

One of the first things I did was call my sister to make sure she and her husband were okay. They were fine, but a tornado had destroyed a large portion of Washington, Illinois, just ten miles away from where they live.

The next Monday, I received an email from Lily’s 3rd grade teacher. She is from Washington, and while her friends and family were safe, some were affected by the tornado. One family she knows had to relocate to a hotel because their home was unsafe. And they were lucky; many people’s homes simply didn’t exist anymore. I showed Lily and Emmy some photos in the newspaper, but I had a feeling they just couldn’t comprehend what had happened. It’s difficult for Ed and me as adults to imagine what it’s like to lose everything.

Our teacher’s friend’s little girl needed a backpack. Lily, Emmy and I went to the store right after school. They carefully considered which backpack and lunch box the little girl would like the most. (She is in first grade, Emmy’s age.) Then we chose school supplies that she would need to have at home to do homework or to use just for fun; crayons, scissors, markers, paper, etc. Lily and Emmy also made a special card for the little girl.

Parent/Teacher conferences were the following week, and Lily’s teacher showed us a picture of the little girl reading Lily and Emmy’s card. Seeing that little girl smiling and holding her new backpack and the card really made a connection for Lily and Emmy…and for me!

Lisa over at The Golden Spoons has challenged us to do just ONE thing this holiday season. This story  just happens to be one thing that we did to help our Illinois neighbors this year. I know that if we were ever in a difficult situation, our neighbors would lend us a helping hand. Whether it’s giving your time to someone, making a stranger smile, or donating to a good cause, together we can spread a little hope, peace, joy and love to others this year!
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