Monday, May 21, 2012

Issue 13: Baby Strom #2!!!!

Welcome Layla Rose!
While looking back at past Farm Notes, I realized I devoted the entire Issue 10 to announce my precious Gavin’s arrival into this world and how he made his debut, farm-style. Gavin’s arrival, his birth story, and the events along the way are nothing short of exciting, also complete with some funny farm details. However, Layla is already 8 months old, and I have yet to announce her arrival to my Farm Notes readers. (Sorry Little Miss, that’s just what happens when you are #2 in line.)

Baby Strom #2 was due to arrive on Sunday, September 4th, 2011 of Labor Day weekend. I was excited to maybe have a Labor Day Baby, but my plans changed when my doctor highly advised me to have another c-section since my previous one was so recent. That meant that I got to choose when my baby’s birthday would be. The pressure was on, and boy, was it!

Our new family of 4!
Sitting in my doctor’s secretary’s office with my calendar open, I had the option of scheduling Baby #2’s birthday anywhere from Thursday, August 25th through Thursday, September 1st. If you are a teacher, or already have a child born around that time, you know that it’s a huge dilemma…do you want your child to be born before or after the September 1st cut-off date for school? If Baby was born before September 1st, we’d have the choice to send him or her (I was sure it was a her!) to school as a very young child in his/her class, or we’d have the option to hold him/her back so that he/she would be the very oldest in his/her class in school. And when you factor in whether or not our unborn baby would be an all-star athlete or not, that could make the world of difference—did we definitely want him/her to have an advantage over his/her team members when it came to being a year more developed skill and ability wise (Sept 1 birthday), or just leave that option open for whoever our baby becomes when he/she gets older (an August birthday)? Leave it to us to think of all that!

Layla's newborn photo shoot...
Thank you to Nina for taking awesome pics!
Plus, we were also working around the August birthdays of other family members. August 28th would be his/her grandma’s birthday and great-grandma’s birthday and August 29th would be his/her dad’s birthday. WOW! And, when you factored in that I’d only be back to school for two full weeks before those dates, then you’re looking at a whole new set of circumstances. Phew, that was a lot to consider sitting in that secretary’s office all by myself. So, I took my calendar home and a month later, we finally set the date for Tuesday, August 30th for his/her birthday in order to “let Baby bake a little bit longer” (Grant’s choice of words). This date would allow me to teach two full weeks before taking three months off on maternity leave, it would give us the weekend to celebrate Grant’s 30th birthday with family and friends, and it would allow us to choose whether or not our baby would be ready to go to school where he/she fell in the school calendar as one of the youngest kids or be “held back” a year and attend as the oldest kid in his/her class. Everyone was happy…as long as he/she decided not to arrive early (but knowing my side of the family, we are never early)! Oh, and a few months later, we learned that I’d also be able to celebrate Grant’s cousin’s wedding three nights before Baby’s birthday was scheduled. I had a lot of fun planned for being incredibly large!

Layla's 4 month photos
And that’s it, that’s the most exciting part of Baby #2’s arrival. I’m serious. I prepared all summer in case Baby would come early, so even before the first day of school I had my permanent substitute prepped and ready to take over my classes, I had all my copies made for the first few weeks, and I had Gavin’s new room all ready for him to move into before Baby arrived. Despite the awful July and August heat, teaching for 2 full weeks, partying it up for Grant’s 30th birthday out to dinner and at the river boat casino, and dancing at Grant’s cousin’s wedding, Baby was still nice and cozy by the morning of Tuesday, August 30th. My mom came down the day before to watch Gavin while I went to appointments at the hospital. At 4am the next morning, our alarms went off, we took showers, grabbed our bags, got in the car, and drove the 45 minutes to the hospital in complete comfort. (This was a huge change from breathing through contractions for 45 minutes in the car the previous summer!) After we checked in at the front desk, I leisurely sat in the examination room watching the news with doctors and nurses coming in to ask me questions and have me sign papers. We just waited until it was the official 8am mark to have Baby #2. Grant tried to keep from falling asleep because it was just so “boring” compared to Gavin’s birth…and it really was. There was a lot of waiting, but I enjoyed the anticipation as we counted down the minutes until we would get to see who he or she would be! At 7:45am, the nurses came to get me, I walked myself into the examination room and got myself up on the surgery table, and was fully aware (and not on drugs like last time) of everything that was going on. It was so wild to be complete conscious of what was taking place, who was around me, and where I was.

8 month photo shoot at the park
By 8:22am, Layla Rose Strom was born into this beautiful world and our lives have been forever changed! She is the most smiley, lovable, joyful baby you’ll ever meet. She never cries, unless she’s hungry at night (which is often), and loves to laugh at us and her big brother. Gavin likes to give his little sister hugs, dance for her, and, most recently, ride her like a horse (which follows by me pulling him off of her and him laughing in response). I look at both of them and feel so blessed for all God has given us. I am learning patience (lots of it, especially late at night), how to be forgiving (when one of us, usually me, makes a mistake or is forgetful), how to not be perfect (if I can’t make all of Layla’s baby food like I did with Gavin’s, or if the house is dusty or the laundry isn’t done), and how to enjoy every moment in this awesome life.

Wherever you are, in the city or on a farm (or somewhere in between), I hope you too have been blessed with happiness.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Issue 12: Nine months later...Baby #2 and a new house!

Having fun in the park for Layla's 8 month pictures!
A few months ago, I attended the Knox County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting with Grant. The guest speakers were two young farm moms that were taking part in the Illinois Farm Families Program. The program works with city moms from Chicago, who they call "field moms," to educate them on farm life, livestock practices, where food comes from, planting and harvesting practices, and everything else in between. With all the myths and false information out there, IL Farm Families is working to bring truth into the homes (and onto the tables) of those who are removed from the farm lifestyle. They had recently visited Chicago to go out to dinner with the city moms to discuss farming and the farming lifestyle. The stories they told about the city moms and questions that were asked made me realize that if I hadn't married Grant, I would have been a city mom, just like the women they were talking about. I remember my first visits on the farm, the questions I asked, and the myths that were dispelled right away (all farms don't smell, grain isn't just wheat, farmers don't wear cowboy hats, a farm is definitely different than a ranch, etc). Now a farm mom myself, I knew that I’d fit right in with the program. I have the experience of growing up in the Chicago suburbs and living in the city, I have almost five years experience of living on a farm with a farmer husband (has it really already been five years?!), and I’m a mom of two beautiful farm babies.

After sending and receiving a few emails, I heard good news: I was invited to write for the IL Farm Families Blog. Along with other farmers, farm moms, and “field moms,” I would write a blog post for their website on anything that has to do with farming, our lives on the farm, my experience as a city turned country girl…you name it. I was notified this week that I was up; it was my turn to write a post, so I got typing. Since we are in the midst of planting season—actually, we are in a lull waiting for the fields to dry after all this rain so Grant can get planting again—I decided to write about our recent trip to visit Daddy in the field. I intended to compare it to visiting my dad at his Labor Hall and how excited I would get to spend a day with my dad, run around his meeting hall, type on the computer, play with the toys he kept in a closet for me, bang on the piano on the stage in the hall, and hang out with his secretary. Unlike my experience visiting my dad, Gavin got to visit his Daddy in the tractor and sit on his lap, pretend to drive, look out the windows at the turning wheels, and try to touch the computer screens and buttons. He had a smile glued on his face the entire time (well, actually, only until we had to stop him from touching the screens and pushing buttons that would make loud noises in return). While my blog post started off with that idea, it quickly changed to “Firsts” on the farm…the things that we are experiencing as a family (like Gavin’s first tractor ride of the season) and what our babies are learning.

Christmas time at our new house
And if you haven’t heard, after this past harvest and Layla’s arrival, we moved off the farm and into a small neighborhood closer to Peoria. We are not in a town, but rather in between two small towns. Our subdivision is located behind a huge horse farm and tucked between corn fields and an IL State Park. So, we are still in the “country,” according to a city person’s definition, but it’s not as far away from Peoria. I have a shorter drive to work, the kid’s babysitter, grocery store, park, shopping, doctor’s office, play dates, etc. Grant now makes the 30 minute commute to the farm, and we try to visit at least once a week either after school or on the weekends. Although I miss the star-filled sky and the peacefulness of living on a farm, I’ve been enjoying our walks throughout our neighborhood, taking care of our new, beautiful house and yard, and meeting neighbors who also have small children. It’s also more convenient for date nights in terms of finding babysitters and the ease of going out to dinner or with friends—I think we’ve been on more dates in the last five months then we did in the almost-five-years of living out on the farm.

Hanging out on the farm...8.5 months old already!
When people heard we moved, they were worried that Farm Notes would come to an end. To that, I respond that Farm Notes will never end! Farming and the farm itself will always be a part of our blood and who we are as a family. One of the reasons that attracted me to Grant was his work ethic, the pride and care he takes in tending to his crops and land, and the dedication he has to feeding families around the world. This is something I am proud to teach my children! While we may not live on the farm anymore, our lives still revolve around farming, and our children will spend countless hours helping Daddy in the tractor, learning about and raising livestock, and I’m sure eventually beg us to spend nights on the farm at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. (More date nights for us!) And hopefully, you’ll be with us along the way, reading about our adventures in life and parenthood that take place out here in farm country.

To read my Illinois Farm Families blog post, click the link or continue to read below…

“Firsts” on the Farm

As we drove by a tractor this fall, my 1-year-old son cried out, “Tractor, Daddy, Papa!” and started crying. He desperately wanted out of his car seat and into the random tractor where he assumed Daddy or Papa would be. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I never imagined that some of my son’s first words would be associated with a farm. Like most children, many of his first words are things he sees on a daily basis, such as a “truck” or “tractor,” even though his new thing is to call every vehicle a “car”—my husband says that’s “his mom rubbing off on him.” (Before I moved to the country, I too called every vehicle a car; I’ve learned over the past five years that cars, SUVs, trucks, and pickups are all vehicles, not simply “cars,” and that I need to distinguish between them if I want to look like I know what I’m talking about…which I admit, sometimes I’m lost when it comes to farming lingo.) My son also knows all his farm animal sounds and recently has started to call every animal he sees in a field “a horse”; we think it’s pretty funny but are quick to correct him and tell him that it’s a cow or a pig instead, which is followed by the correct sound that animal makes.

Gavin's 1st tractor ride of the season
So, when it came time for our son’s first tractor ride this planting season, you can only imagine his excitement. I was also eager for a tractor ride since I hadn’t seen my husband for a few days. There are days and weeks that go by without seeing him due to his early mornings and very late nights. Unless it rains, it could be a week or two where Daddy only comes home to sleep and leaves before the sun is up to get back in the tractor. On those mornings when my son’s first waking word is, “Daddy?” I respond with, “Daddy took his truck to go work in the tractor.” And even when I ask him during the day, “Where’s Daddy?” he answers, “Truck, work, bye bye.” Yes, I know, he’s a smart one! Even though he may not see his Daddy every day during planting or harvest, I am sure to remind him that he is farming—a job that some day he will share with his Daddy, “Papa” (his grandpa), and hopefully, “Gramps” (his great-grandfather).

Lovin' it!
I was sure to capture the “1st Tractor Ride of the Season” on camera and text pictures to my family in the suburbs so they could also see the father-son farming taking place. Although my roots are planted in the suburbs, I’ve sown news ones here in the country, and I enjoy watching my now 1.5-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter grow up around farming. I am proud of my husband and the care he takes when planting and harvesting the land, and I know our years of raising children will be filled with more “firsts” around the farm…for them and for me.

Kristen Strom
Brimfield, IL