Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanks and Giving

As we begin this season of Thanks and Giving, it’s a perfect time to reflect on things in life we are thankful for.  As I started to write my thoughts to paper, it didn’t take long for my list to grow and here are a few (in no particular order):

My Health: Something we can easily take for granted and I’m grateful for each day I have it.

My Husband:  Simply put, my life is better because he is in it.

My Family:  My dad, siblings, nieces and nephews.  My mom, grandparents and other loved ones no longer with us. They all have helped shape me into the person I am today and bring joy to my life. 

My Home:  There is no place like home!  I’m grateful for the safety and comfort it provides and nothing beats a quiet evening at home.  It is where I get to put my passion for home improvement projects into action or perhaps more accurately stated, where I come up with the ideas and my husband makes them a reality.

Our Veterans, Active Military and Reserve:  I’m thankful for all they have given for our country and the freedoms we enjoy because of their bravery and sacrifices.  Thank you!

My Job:  I’m grateful to be an employee of LSB and for all the co-workers I work with – you are the best!

Living in Iowa:  Can’t imagine living anywhere else.  The people, the rural communities and the cities all coming together to make Iowa a special place to live.  Oh yes, I can’t leave out the change of seasons and getting to enjoy the beauty each bring.  Yes, even Winter! 

Farmers:  At this time of harvest, I’m thankful to and for our farmers.  As Paul Harvey said best in his 1978 “So God Made a Farmer” speech:  “It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners, somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed, rake and disc, plow and plant, tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing…So God Made a Farmer”.

Simple and Silly Things Like:  Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin bars (a staple in my diet this time of year). 

Fun: I’m thankful for all the fun things I get to do – summer weekends at the lake, group snowmobile trips to WY and CO where we take in all the breathtaking views the mountains offer, vacationing with family and time spent with friends just talking and laughing. When life gets serious, remember to take time to have some fun!

Miracles:  Our family has loved ones with us because miracles do happen!  For that and many other reasons I’m grateful to God and thankful beyond words. 

And my list could go on.

As you spend time with family over the holiday, take a moment to reflect on and share the things you are thankful for – big or small.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours~

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Go Cubs Go!

I was raised in a family that watched lots of sports.  It really didn’t matter who was playing. I think my Dad just liked watching the competition of a good baseball, basketball, or football game.  If the TV was on it was more than likely tuned in to a sporting event.  We’d watch lots of Iowa football and basketball games, but the Holy Grail in the Johnson household was if the Chicago Cubs were on TV.  For much of my childhood we did not have cable TV, so it was a real treat when we were able to get the Cubs on one of the 4 stations our rabbit ears pulled in (usually it was when they were playing the Cardinals and losing.) At some point my parents splurged and ordered a small cable TV package where we could get WGN and watch the Cubs on a regular basis.

The only family vacations I remember involved traveling to Chicago, St. Louis or Kansas City to watch baseball games.  It would have been a boring miserable life growing up for some, but not if you loved baseball like my Dad. I remember my Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Frank and Uncle Arnold arguing about the Cubs. Who they needed to trade, who they shouldn’t have traded and the fact my Uncle Arnold couldn’t pronounce half the player’s names correctly. The thing I remember most though… that the Cubs stunk….and they’d lose, and lose and lose some more. 

No matter how bad the Cubs were Dad, Frank, Arnold and so many other Cubs fans I’ve known refused to believe anything other than that next year would be the year the Cubs win it all.  I guess I’m just not as optimistic as most Cubs fans.  I hoped like heck I would see them win it all some day, but deep down I was pretty sure I’d meet Santa Claus before I would see this day come. It just doesn’t seem possible that the Cubs are World Series Champions!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Be ready for change and go with the flow, you might just like it!

This is so true in regard to our vacation this year.  The last several years we have gone on vacation with my sister and my brother-in-law.  Each year we pick a new destination and the vacation begins.  We headed out this year for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  My husband and I had visited Myrtle Beach a few years ago and couldn’t wait to go back.  When we visited last time we went to the ocean every day.  When we got there this year, after a few minutes of choppy water, my sister figured out she was not a big fan of the tide coming in and knocking her around and decided she much preferred the pool we had walked past on our way to the ocean.  So, we packed up our stuff and headed to the pool.  I had expected each day we’d be on the sand and instead we were in lounge chairs on the concrete by the pool, but I loved it.

The big highlight of our trip was that the four of us were going to go on a deep-sea fishing excursion.  The guys talked us into it because the boat was air-conditioned.  At 6 o’clock the night before we were to set sail, the Captain called to inform us that the air conditioner was broken. That didn’t bother the guys and they couldn’t wait to go fishing, but plans were changed for the girls.  My sister and I weren’t going to go 20 miles offshore for 7 hours at 95 degree heat and not have air-conditioning, so we stayed at the hotel and spent the day by the pool.  Another big change from what I had planned and again we had a fantastic time.

I had planned to revisit several area restaurants we tried in the past at Myrtle Beach.  Instead, we were so relaxed and enjoyed our hotel so much that we ate several times at the Tiki Bar and rarely left the hotel to explore the local eateries. Once again, it wasn’t what I had planned but the Tiki bar food was some of the best food we had while we were gone.

We plan to go back next year, but we think we might fly instead of driving and we plan to spend those extra travel days at the pool instead of in the car.  I’m going to try and not plan a thing and hope whatever happens is just as wonderful as the vacation we just got back from.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016 Pro Farmer Crop Tour

On the morning of Sunday August 20th I took off on a journey to Columbus, Ohio to spend the week participating in the Eastern leg of the Pro Farmer Crop Tour. For many years I have watched the crop tour as it travels across the Midwest and in 2016 I was accepted as a scout on the farm tour. We were all scheduled to report to Columbus, Ohio by 8:00 PM on the 20th for orientation. That evening I met approx. 50 other scouts that would be making the journey westward that week. Out of these 50 scouts, over 1/3 were from other countries, around 1/3 were farmers from the Midwest and the other 1/3 were other people from various states that were involved in some sort of occupation that revolved around row crop production.

Out of these 50 scouts we had around 13 teams of 3-4 people all traveling in one vehicle for the day. I had volunteered to be a driver and each day I would have a different set of scouts riding with me. In the front seat we would have the navigator (which was usually a farmer from the Midwest) and in the back seat there would be two other scouts. Approx. every 15 miles along our route for the day we would stop and take a corn and soybean sample. After that we would hop back in the vehicle and the two scouts in the back would be calculating the yield as we were driving to the next field.

On the morning of the 21st at 7:00 sharp we headed out the drive of the hotel to begin our day of scouting. We had a long day, over 350 miles of scouting. We keep the vehicle moving all day long, only briefly stopping for lunch that day around noon. By the time we got in that evening it was 6:15 and the meeting in Fischer’s, Indiana had already started! Luckily, Monday was our longest route throughout the week, most of the days we left at 7:00 in the morning and were back in to the hotel around 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon to get ready for the evening meeting to discuss what our findings were for the day.

The week went by quickly. I saw a lot of country that I had never had the chance to see and we found some great small town cafes to eat at along the way also. My favorite Café of the trip was in Logansport, Indiana. We stopped at Bullshippers Café. It was a café attached to the local sale barn. While we were there we had the best chicken fried steak you can find and got the chance to meet the retired owner of the café and stock yards. After the conversations we had, it was very evident how the name or variation of the name Bullshippers came into existence J

August 24th rolled around and we were making our way from Bloomington, Illinois to Iowa City, IA. All of the days on the trip were fun, but this was above the rest for me. That evening at the meeting in Iowa City it was really great to see many people I knew and could talk about the experiences and the crops along our journey so far.

The next and last day we headed to Rochester, MN. When we got in that evening we had the last meeting for the week. All of the results were compiled and released to the media that evening. Ag Day was filmed right in front of us that evening, but what made the night most special was my wife and kids meeting me in Rochester to make the way back home. Without their love and support going on this trip across the Midwest would not have been possible.

The Pro Farmer crop tour was a great learning experience and I would encourage anyone interested to give Pro Farmer a call! I was able to have a first hand scouting experience and meet a lot of people from all over the Midwest and the World!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Travel Ball /Mom

As June came to an end, so did the travel ball season for both of my girls. We start in February, practicing as a team, but for my youngest ball season started in December.  She is a pitcher and we  practice pitching once a week in the gym along with a couple of her other teammates. This is the third year that we have played travel ball. The team that my youngest daughter plays on is the Comet Attack. They are 10 girls from Cardinal that are under the age of 10.  I along with two others help coach.

This year we started with four girls returning and six “newbies” (never played travel ball before). We started the season playing in our first tournament in April and finished 2 and 2.  As the weeks went on we became better and the things we were working on at practice were starting to click. We played in a USSSA State Tournament that was held in Des Moines the second weekend in June.  My daughter, Nicoa, pitched us into the championship game.  We played a team that had only had once loss on the season and Nicoa handed them their second loss. As a mom and a coach I couldn’t have been more proud of her. We ended up in the championship game and finish second.  The girls received silver rings for their accomplishment.

The next weekend we played in the ASA state tournament that was held in Coralville. The tournament started Friday night. We won that game and then on to Saturday.   We would keep playing until we were beaten twice.  We remained undefeated on Saturday and then Sunday all we had to do was win one game and we were in the championship! We won Sunday morning so now it was a waiting game to see who came out of the loser’s bracket to play us.  It was the Davenport Wildcats whom we had beaten our first game on Saturday.   They had worked their way back through the loser’s bracket to meet us again. Nicoa was on the mound for the championship game.   This mom and coach was nervous!  It was a back and forth game.  This team was a different team than what we had played the day before (figuratively speaking).  We took the lead in the top of the fifth and all that was left was three outs and we were state champions. Nicoa struck the first girl out….. and then the second one she hit, so they now have a runner on base that could tie the game.  The next batter, struck her out, out number 2!  We now have two outs with a runner on third. The next batter up…. Struck her out! She ended the game with 11 strikeouts and our team was state champions!  It was so exciting! One weekend we are runner up and now state champs!   As a coach I was so proud of all the girls, how they have grown together through the months.   As a mom, words cannot describe how proud I was of my daughter.

We finished the season 24-10 which surpassed our record last year and we are so excited for what the future holds for these girls.