Friday, July 8, 2011

To My 4-H Family and Supporters

I'm the one in the long sleeve denim, jeans tucked into her boots
with an extremely flustered face - I took feeder calves the next year.
When I was nine my sheep got loose five times in the judging ring. FIVE TIMES in just 15 minutes. Not my most shining moment.....but I never guessed that 4-H would provide much more than a livestock check and memories of me chasing that dang sheep around the ring in front of a packed audience. 

A large part of my foundation began sitting around the Jasper Township Hall making crafts, going to other families home's to learn about livestock, spending time with friends at camps, working on our club's talent show plays and ultimately building life skills and developing relationships that I still hold very close today. 

Our club performed the Big Bad Wolf for the
county 4-H talent show. I'm in the black and pink dress and
super cute permed hair :)
Seven years ago, when the job opened up for my home county's 4-H agent position, I knew it was the exact job for me. I have had the honor of working with some amazing young men and women of Gratiot County. Amazing doesn't do justice to what these youth can do - they have inspired me, made me laugh, challenged me to take programs to the next level, taught me how to just sit back, relax and enjoy life - yeah they're that cool and I care so much about them.....

And my leaders, who have been through seven years of my wild, crazy ideas - thank you. Thank you for believing in them, not looking at me crazy when I shared them (at least not in front of me :)!),  helping me work through them and among it all....becoming some of my closest friends. 

Our family at Gauger's first Gratiot County Fair for Youth -
he's the one passed out in my carrier :)
Together we have built a strong foundation for our youth and I know you will all continue developing the incredible young men and women we have iGratiot County. On a personal note, you've been with me through some major life changing events including my wedding and the births of my two boys. My son Gunner will probably always walk around the fairgrounds like he owns it and both have enjoyed spending time playing with and learning from their 4-H family. Thank you for having such a positive impacted on my family and I. We will always be grateful.

So saying all this....many have heard, but I wanted to make the announcement....

Recently, I accepted a position with Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan as a multi-lines insurance agent. My last day as the GC 4-H Educator is Sunday, July 31 and I will begin my new position on Monday, August 1 in St. Louis at the Reichard Insurance Agency. To clarify, Monte Reichard didn't hire me, he's serving as my mentor. We are both employees of Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan. He was gracious enough to open up office space and offer his resources and experience to help me get started. 

MSU Extension is currently working on what our county's transition, so I do not have a timeline of what it will look like. For now, many of the pieces will be picked up by the local office - whom which, our program would never have been as successful as it has become and I will always owe them for the many times they've stepped up to the plate to help with whatever was going on in 4-H land. I'm confident you will continue to receive the quality response and resources you need as MSUE moves forward in hiring someone.

And though I'm extremely excited about taking this new career path, Gratiot County 4-H is my home and I will continue to be a resource, volunteer and supporter. Thank you for allowing me to consider you all family. I have  grown and been motivated by each of you. And so much more importantly, together we've built one AWESOME youth program for this county.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sweet Summer Time

Daddy got the jeep running - Who looks the happiest!? :)
This weekend I did something I haven't in a long time. I put my phone away, closed my computer lid and literally laid by the pool and lake all day for three days.

Baby Emma enjoying the pool in style.
I don't remember the last time I've went more than an hour not checking my email, responding to a FB message or seeing what's happening on Twitter. I felt like my in-home tether was lifted and I simply enjoyed face to face conversations without sharing my thoughts or feelings through acronyms and emoticons. 

Did I miss an opportunity to catch up on photo editing? Yes. Could I have become more comfortable using Twitter. Sure. I probably should have even answered emails in a much more timely fashion. 

Fishing with Uncle Teddy and Mason.

But I would have missed splashing around in the pool with my boys, niece and nephew. My eyes wouldn't have seen a beautiful fireworks show on Lake Isabella. Squishing my toes in the sand wouldn't have been as childlike if I was connected to my Blackberry rather than my four year's hand. And finding Gauger dirty
 from head to toe with sand in every crevice wouldn't have been so funny if I had spent my morning 
reading blogs instead of getting dirty right next to him.

Jesse and Gauge with our nephew Mason
and his Uncle Eric.

I needed a couple days to shut down the technology to remind myself that social media can only bring you so far. It will never make the level of impact riding with the jeep top off, tasting a juicy brat with all the fixings, laughing hard with friends and family or hear the loud boom of an actual fireworks show. 

Here's to many more weekends of cutting the cords and enjoying people, places and objects the way they should be - in person!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mushrooming 2011

Heading up th hill with daddy. 
Did you know that mushrooms grow by Ash trees? I did not until today. I did, however, know that an HHR should not be used as an off road vehicle to find said mushrooms.... unfortunately, my husband didn't know this tidbit of information and only five minutes into our hike on a two track in Roscommon County, we bottomed out on some deep sand.  Now for some reason, it was the vehicle's fault....not my husband's.

Yet, despite our the HHR's mishap, Jesse, the boys and I enjoyed an afternoon of mushrooming. We didn't find many, eight total - but with two little boys we found a whole lot of porcupine poop, tons of bugs, three toads, a slug, a couple great walking sticks and lots of other kinds of mushrooms...all in all it was quite a successful day with two little boys zonked in the backseat most of the way home.

I did feel a bit guilty picking the mushrooms. They seem to have this mystical quality about them, as if magic trolls set up home within the mushroom village....but then I rationalize my "giant" like ways and think if the trolls are so magical they'd figure something out....they probably would try some of the magic words my husband used on the SECOND time he the HHR bottomed out....

Can you see the toad?? - From a four year old perspective it's pretty up close and personal :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One Foot in Front of the Other

Today I started training for my first marathon....before you go... seriously Katie... one more thing, when are you going to fit this can stop yourself - my husband has already rolled his eyes at me once, if not several times....but it's a priority to me....actually it's my privilege.

Now I'm not the coolest, hippest looking runner with new flashy clothes, shoes or gps training devices. I have decent running shoes, I listen to Pandora on my phone while the stopwatch application keeps my time and my clothes are just anything that doesn't restrict my running. Nothing extraordinary.

I did start running my fair share of 5K's in college, took some major time off during my wedding and two pregnancies, then got back on "track" to complete my first half-marathon in under two hours last fall.......which was the coolest runner's high I've ever had.....

Runner's high - it's the adrenaline rush after you've accomplished a half mile run or 13.1 miles....a feeling of accomplishment, pushing through the cramps and mental weakness, getting over to the other side where you walk around afterwards like... yeah I'm amazing...You can only experience it.

It's also healthy to get out and do at least.... at LEAST...30 minutes of fairly intense exercise DAILY. This isn't your stroll around the block looking at the neighbor's lovely spring flowers. This is a pumping your arms, increasing your heart rate, leave those flowers in the dust kind of movement.

Also, setting a goal, working through obstacles and celebrating successes as well as achieving the goal are all huge life lessons I hope to teach my boys. Maybe someday they'll make the connection as they lace up their running shoes.

You can also eat more after you run than before....another reason I eat ice cream every night after a run - yes, I realize this might be counterproductive....but I also have a fairly tight relationship with Ben & Jerry, the Blue Bunny and Country Fresh and I'd rather just give in then fight temptation :).

The two I think about every time I lace up my shoes...
Aunt Casee & Grandpa Bum - beating the odds daily.
Seriously though, there are so many amazing reasons to encourage anyone to run....but my reason is so much more. I have family that will never run again. Cancer has taken away their lung capacity to breath deep. Cancer has taken away the movement in their legs. Cancer is a bitch. It's an awful way to say it, and I'm usually pretty smooth with word choice, but I have no desire to give cancer the time and energy to come up with a considerate, romantic way to capture its raw approach to essentially turning lives upside out and inside down. It's awful. It's unfair. It's nondiscriminatory. It shows no empathy or sympathy. It's a bitch.

So God has given me lungs to breath deep. To handle the cold winter runs and the hot humid ones as well. He also blessed me with two legs that move, maybe not as fast as the competitive side of me would like, but when my mind tells my feet to put one foot in front of the other, they follow directions.

So I  have no excuse to not lace up my shoes everyday to train for this marathon....because someday - looking at my family's health history - I may not have this privilege. And to waste what I have at this moment in my life would be so irresponsible...because so many would and have died trying to get just one more chance to put one foot in front of the other...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I don't buy cards. They're a waste of time. People read them for a moment and then throw them away - well most people. My mom still has Christmas cards from the 70's. Not sure if she thinks someone will one day wish they would have kept one of the cards they sent to family and friends in 1983 - but if you do, and you sent my mom a card, I bet she'll have it :)

All joking aside, I didn't buy my mom a card this year. I guess I'd rather use technology to share my thoughts since she now is finally on Facebook and understands the meaning of the words "liking", "messaging" and "posting". So I've come up with the top three things I appreciate about my mom.

1. She can justify anything... I think sometimes she calls me just so she can talk with someone to justify what she's simply telling someone else why she's doing what she's doing makes it okay.

My mom and her three grandkids -
Gunner, Gauge & Baby Emma
2. I believe she invented the pros and cons list. It doesn't matter what decision I've had to make - from choosing between dance class and basketball in the 8th grade to how I should prioritize my life as a mom - her response is always "Well have you made a pros and cons list?"

3. Her level of optimism can't be measured - it's off the charts people. She ALLLWWAAAYYS has something nice to say about something - even in the worse possible situations.

If you know my mom, you're shaking your head, smiling and laughing because you know this is her.....and I'm sure even my mom is shaking her head too....but she should know as my life continues to fill up with new adventures I find myself calling her and share why I'm giving up one event to go to another.

And if she didn't asked me for a pros and cons list, I'd be extremely disappointed, because almost thirty years of training has taught me to come prepared and ready to list each item, sharing the weight it has on the list.

No matter what decision I go with, I know she'll be sitting next to me with the oddest looking rose colored glasses  ....and I can't imagine my life any other way. Love you Mom today and every day of the year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

They Called Them Crazy....

I have journals from middle school. Some entries are long and drawn out, contemplating the meaning of life. Others go into great elaboration about a memory I didn't want to forget one detail, while others just talk about daily events or remind my journal (or those who may read it years down the road) that I was still alive just busy.

A photo of Jesse and I in 2005
On this day six years ago my entry starts - "There's always someone who wants to set me up. Jed and Jena suggested I meet Jed's brother Jesse. So we went out dancing at the VFW......we talked small get to know you chat. He bought me a lot of drinks...... The highlight of the night was fixing the ceiling fan - to me that's top quality if someone  knows what they're doing and can fix things..... He's not into frills or impressing people. He just is simple...... I could get very use to this.... He said he just wanted to "find the girl", ironically I'm just wanting to "finding the man".....If things just keep clicking who knows.... Katie Eisenberger - long name, but it would work....
Jesse & I - April 2011

And six days later.....Dear God, Okay I'm in love! :) Jesse is amazing!

And two weeks later.....I'm getting married! I'm engaged - I'm going to be Katie Lee Eisenberger!

Eight months later....I AM Katie Lee Eisenberger!

Spring 2005 was a whirl wind .....but just thinking about it gives me butterflies all over again. I remember telling my mom I was getting married - she was completely in shock. Everyone pretty much thought we were crazy. Looking back there are days, weeks and sometimes months that I would agree. We got married, built a house, had a baby, enjoyed that baby, had another baby, enjoyed both babies and then we started to really settle into life. And what we found is that life is not easy. There are some diary entries I wouldn't wish on anyone in a relationship. Yet, I can read them and think - I made it through...correction....WE made it through.

Our first family photo at our cabin in the UP - we're talking
double seater outhouse kinda cabin!
God gives us what we need when we need it, whether we understand or not. He knew I needed someone to keep me grounded, to remind me to just enjoy a cold drink while driving the back roads and holding hands....He also knew Jesse needed someone  to challenge him in ways no one had, to try things that were never on his radar and to make him put on a tie because he's amazingly handsome all dressed up.
Our five year anniversary this past December

So that's my story, the one I remember during every Maple Syrup Festival since then. The one that gets me through those trying times. The one I look forward to sharing with our grandchildren someday. The one that when I share with people they look at me that is crazy?!....yeah and I Thank God every day!

I'd love to hear your did you meet, what still gives you butterflies about your special someone, how do you compliment each other, what makes you crazy for each other? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Organization Continues

Well it snowed in Michigan....and it keeps snowing....Last week it was 68 and I had my windows open, enjoying the fresh we're packed in the house enjoying the smell of hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

So while we were stuck at home (literally because while my little HHR is great on gas efficiency, it's not the best on drift busting),  I took the opportunity to make another attempt at overcoming my organizational struggles. I had two goals today. One organize the boys' toys and Two fold and put away ALL the laundry....

After - Our living room has so much room!
This morning, I cleaned, sorted, threw away, picked up and picked up toys again thanks to Gauge trying to help me by emptying everything out of the tubs...I thought that if I just threw Toy Story 3 in, I'd have a good hour and a half to just focus my entire energy on the toy situation....

A place for everything (for now!) 
Well of course that's never how anything works and after getting snacks, changing diapers, keeping the laundry going, attempting the potty, making lunch, one Toy Story 3, Two Handy Manny shows, some weird elephant cartoon and bits and pieces of What Not to Wear because Mommy was over the whole cartoon thing....I now have a clean living room with an organized toy closet....that is until Gauge wakes up and Gunner comes in from the pole barn...but for the moment, I'm enjoying the fact that I did accomplish one organizational adventure!

As for the laundry...... maybe we'll have a snow day tomorrow....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's been a while...

It's been almost two weeks since I last social media...that's YEARS.....I'd like to say I've been so busy organizing my life I just had to put the blog on hiatus, but I was actually just trying to tonight my goal is to catch my blog up to speed while I stare at my coupon box and the pile of coupons I need to catch up on......

Jordie being honored after her Retiring Address as the
Michigan FFA Region III State Vice President.
Last Thursday and Friday, I spent time as a judge and supporter at the Michigan FFA Convention on the campus of Michigan State University. Public speaking ranks number one on most people's fear lists. Yet, seventh and eighth graders took to the stage discussing the swine industry, organic and conventional farming practices and invasive species.Confidently, I can say we have a strong wave of future agvocates.

 Then I switched hats and watched my friend Jordan Henry, along with her State FFA Officer Team, direct the convention. Serving as a State Officer, one of 12 in the state, for an entire year puts you in a position to be a role model for younger students, an advocate for agriculture education and an ambassador for the agriculture industry. I'm proud to say Jordan served the organization with a sincere heart, pure joy and dedicated passion.
My husband says if I keep this up,
I might just be able to paint the whole wall with samples!

Over the weekend, my plan was to paint my bedroom and bathroom. Well, it takes me an hour to decide what earrings to buy for an outfit, so currently there are three different blues on our bedroom wall, while two orange paint samples and several paint chips taped to the wall are now what I'm calling "original works of art". Maybe by August, I'll figure out what color I like....but I'm not holding my breath (I hate to paint!)

And this week has been filled with Ag in the Classroom activities - connecting Gratiot County Farm Bureau members with elementary classes, helping students learn about how farmers care about the food they grow by reading books, answering questions and leading them through hands on activities. It's National Ag Week, National Nutrition Month and March is Reading Month - so we were able to hit all three and reach almost 300 students. Next month we're working with four local schools on growing their own pizza gardens!!

One of our Gratiot County Farm Bureau farmers sharing
his farming experiences with elementary students.
Finally, our church - Mount Pleasant Community Church hosts a four night Women's Night Out. A hilarious variety theme show, with AMAZING volunteers who make the whole event happen. It seems fitting that I would help organize the food for volunteers and performers...though I think they might look at me a little odd if I put information about what a farmer does to grow the hamburger, veggies, cheese, etc. Maybe I should have lined up one of my farmer friends to come and stand by the food. It's all about finding those teachable moments :).

For more teachable moment ideas check out my guest blog at the Michigan Ag Council's Farm Fresh Food Blog. Then make sure to follow it daily - it's full of recipes and information about your food - straight from the people who grow it!

WHEW - now my blog is organized.....and I'm on to at least placing all the clothes on my bedroom floor into baskets for the appropriate person....maybe I could pass it off as "original works of art"!?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hi, I'm Katie....I'm unorganized....

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem....

...... Hi, I'm Katie....I am unorganized......

There I said it - I feel like I can breath a little easier just admitting my inability to sort, categories and put items into a cupboard with out shoving them in, slamming the door and running fast before they all spew to the floor.

Still I feel the need to clarify. I am not lazy, nor unproductive. I get things done....I just think I could get a LOT more done AND without stress...if I had a system. Yet, I'm stuck. I have no system to have a system. I don't know where to begin, because it's all such a huge undertaking. I get caught in the following thought process: If I could just take a week off of life (or just even work), then my basement would have beautifully labeled boxes filled with like holiday items. If the boys would sleep for just an hour longer I could fold the clothes and put them away. Maybe if I stayed up an hour later or woke up an hour earlier for the next week I could pick a room and organize it each day.....hahahahhahaha.... I'm laughing at myself just thinking about how long that would last! Can you relate?

Part of me thinks if I just throw everything away, the simpler the better - but I don't just want to throw it away - It could be donated or used at a camp or what if I need 15 glass baby jars for an art project.....

Plus when I start a project - say organizing my closet - I am easily side tracked. Some clothes will need to be cleaned before I put them in the donation box. Well as I put the laundry in the washer, I notice the shelf holding the detergent needs to be wiped down. So I take a couple minutes to wash the shelf (because I'm in stealth cleaning mode). As I come back to the sink to rinse out the dish cloth, I decided to quickly switch the dishwasher. While putting away the plates, I notice the streaky window over the sink. I wipe down the one window and decide to wipe down all the windows leading me back to the window in our closet, which low and behold I find a couple more dresses to put in the donating box.....see how my mind works...

I realize this seems crazy - it's okay, people call me crazy quite a bit so I'm use to it....but seriously.... I need I've decided for Lent instead of giving something up, I'm going to organize one thing (well with my mind it'll be like three random things) each day. Small baby steps, here and there so then by the time Gauge's second birthday is here (Good Friday) I'll have an organized home to host our guests!

Today I got a jump start - Organizing My Coupons! I cut them, I print them, I usually leave them in a folder and when I think about it I'll use them - but I know I can do much better. So thanks to my friend Jami Haase and several others, I'm motivated! I also found to be a very helpful site as well! Below I've photographed my attempt. In theory it'll work!

I'll keep you updated on this as well as my other adventures in organizing! Do you have an organizing tip please share!!! Or need to take that first step in admitting your obstacles.... Hi, I'm Katie and I'm it's your turn :)

In theory:
I'll clip and print all coupons and put in sorting box. Then I can look at items for sale and match them up with coupons. Those coupons I decide to take to the store, I'll put in my smaller coupon organizer and take that to the store.

Making A Coupon Sorting Box
Coupon Sorting Box: shoe box
Dividers: Cut up old file folders
Sub Dividers: Paint Sample Cards
Date Dividers: Paper folded and taped on both sides (you could use envelopes, but I didn't have it)
Magic Marker

Divider Labels (thanks to Jami Haase!)

Dry Goods (divider)

My Shoe Box turned Coupon Sorter

  • Baking & Spices
  • Breads
  • Candy
  • Canned Foods
  • Cereal & Breakfast Foods
  • Chips & Crackers
  • Coffee & Drinks
  • Condiments, Dressings & Sauces
  • Jello & Pudding
  • Rice, Pasta, Potato & Box Meals
  • Snacks
Frozen Foods (divider)

  • Breads
  • Desserts & Breakfast
  • Fruit
  • Meat
  • Ready to Eat Meals
  • Veggies
Fridge (divider)

Dividers & SubDividers
  • Bread, Cookies & Rolls
  • Dairy
  • Dips, Premade Food
  • Fruit
  • Meat
Cleaning (divider)

  • Air Supplies (candles, sprays, etc.)
  • Bathroom
  • Batteries, Trash Bags & Ziploc Bags
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry
  • SubDividers with Date Dividers
  • Paper Goods
Personal (divider)

  • Contacts & Eye care
  • Deodorant
  • Female Products
  • Hair Care
  • Lotion & Body Wash
  • Make Up
  • Medicine
  • Oral Care
  • Razors
Baby/Kids (divider)
My Smaller Coupon Organizer
Made By Tawnya Stock
  • Diapers & Wipes
  • Food
  • Clothing & Toys
  • Supplies
Pet (divider)

Store, Restaurant, Rebates (divider)

Office (divider)

Misc. (divider)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Dad the Agvocate

I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with my dad. He is sitting in his hospital room recovering from a very successful back surgery. I am an hour and 15 minutes away sitting at the dining room table in front of my lab top. I answered my phone and he says... "Yeah - Hey Katie, I want to get on the internet." 

Mom and Dad

Well, if this was a man who had actually been on the internet - not just looking at the internet over my mom's shoulder - but who had actually used a touch pad and right and left buttons, the request might have not come as quite the shock....but I'm proud to say that after our "session" I could work for Dell Customer Service and do a pretty darn good job. Though at one point, I seriously considered just driving down, spending the 30 seconds it would take me to get him to the site he wanted and drive home. I'm not sure Dell could support those travel expenses...

After explaining how to make a window pop up by slowly moving his finger across the pad so the arrow was on top of the picture (cause "What's an Icon?" and "How do you make a dot?" wasn't getting us anywhere), we slowly but surely progressed to the Michigan Dairy News Bureau website. 

The McCune Family Farm

See he is a farmer. And he's proud of what he does and what he has. He should be, he's been farming since he was 12 on the same farm his great grandfather farmed on - in the same milking stanchions. The stories and insight he has on the dairy industry and agriculture overall are fascinating. He has a high school education, but I confidently think he could teach at the university level. Ag is in his blood, he doesn't need books to tell him what to do, he's lived it and he could write the books. 

Yet, his reasoning to check out the site was not to read the latest dairy trends.... no.....he wanted to show the nurses his farm. In only the two days Dad has been at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, MI, he has interacted with just about every employee. This does not surprise me. Nor was I shocked when he told me there was a nurse he met who has a father farming in Ethiopia and the nurse asked if he could come visit our farm.....

This is my favorite photo of my dad ever. It's him.

So when I received the request to get online, I knew this was a big deal for him and it became important to me....and with a glass of wine and a long phone call we finally found exactly where he wanted to be - on our family's feature page. And now with some pictures online, he can proudly display our farm and write down directions so the nurse can come visit. 

And if the hits on the MI Dairy News Bureau site go up tremendously, it's probably because the entire 6th floor staff have been stopping in and checking out our farm thanks to my dad, the Agvocate.

The Michigan Dairy News Bureau is the center for science based information about Michigan Dairy farming including cow care, environmental/sustainability practices and dairy food safety. Our family farm was featured, among many other great Michigan dairy families, last summer. Check out all their stories, find science based information from the experts and read blogs written by dairy farmers and their families!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Give Me an "A"!

Last fall, after giving a presentation in a Young Farmer contest the judge said, "well, all I can say're kind like of a cheerleader for agriculture."  I wasn't sure if I should be offended or grab my mega phone and somersault into the "perfect cheer".

So I'm deciding that based on the intensity of cheerleading around the Central Michigan area, it was a compliment determined by my enthusiasm, focus and dedication to share my passion with others. (I refuse to believe it was my pig tails and spirit socks I sported for the event- just kidding, I wore my hair in a pony tail :)!) Seriously though, the squads around here spend hours perfecting their performances, making sure the end result is a system moving in pristine unison.

Yesterday, I participated in my own type of cheerleading training at the Michigan Farm Bureau Voice of Agriculture Conference, designed to offer tools to county Farm Bureau members on promoting, educating and communicating agriculture.

During one session, the presenter expressed the need for farmers and agvocates to share the same message no matter the category: small, large, organic, conventional, niche, livestock, or crops. Consistency, support and unity - these words should be on a sign somewhere on every farm, greenhouse, board room or pole barn located right on the inside of the door so you hit it each and every time you go by... pumping yourself up with motivation as you begin  your mornings and end your nights. Reminding you so many others are doing the exact same thing in the name of ag.

Every sector of our industry must support each other - not only for the benefit of ourselves, but for the perception of our consumers. There is a competition among industries and the winning team receives more money, more press - essentially more support. If Team Agriculture has internal issues (people not showing up for practice, bickering behind backs, failing to take the same steps) then the judges such as HSUS, governmental agencies and consumers will put us at the bottom of the podium.

I've stated before, I don't like to lose. Especially when I know I could win. And right now I'm not addressing a particular situation or issue - I'm just saying at the end of the day I hope we're all wearing the same team shirt, we're supporting one another and we're cheering in unison with faces painted, spirit finger waving and pom pons shaking....and if you feel compelled...with the strong foundation we have...we can start doing flips.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Is Three Really a Crowd?

Gunner at 8 months.
Gunner is officially four now. Gauge will be two in April. And now everyone asks when number three is coming. An hour with my two and you would probably hesitate on asking that question ....which is where my hesitation comes. But social norms indicate this is about the time we should be planning another or be done. So people are searching....well we're searching too I guess.

Three feels complete. I look at my parents and my husband's parents and they all have at least four siblings, if not way more. Though my Grandma always told me never have an odd number and right now we’re evenly matched with a one to one parent/child ratio....yet, for some reason three seems to be the magic number.

Gauge at 7 months.
But three also comes with some financial implications. One more pair of cleats for baseball, registration for wrestling, feed for 4-H calves, guns for hunting, cars to drive, college to pay for, rehearsal dinners to organize and drinks to buy at their today's economic issues is it smart to intentionally add another person in the mix? We have put a major halt on buying anything....why would it make sense to have a baby??

Then my heart just aches for the excitement of a new life. Wondering who the baby will look like, watching he or she hit major milestones, rocking late at night with a baby on your chest anticipating the amazing impact they will have on others, on themselves, on me.....

Three days after this picture
 I delivered Gauge.
Yet, I'm kinda selfish... I'll admit it. I always have something to do and right now two is manageable, but once they start getting involved in their own interests, mine will be pitched to the wind. Adding a third would be one more schedule to juggle. Plus one more to juggle my body back into "pregnancy glow". I look back on my pregnancy photos and people said I looked sooo cute and was all belly.... Well I'm here to tell you people… you lied...I was all cheeks, boobs and butt...ALL I had was a BELLY to prove I should look as wide as a house...maybe you were just being smart knowing all too well the hormones of a pregnant woman….

Loomis cousins

     And finally, I'm assuming I'll have a boy IF we decide to have another...We have two already, Jesse's brothers each have a boy....yet, knowing our luck we'd have a before you get offended let me explain why I've always wanted three boys (and if we have a third child I'll probably eat my words when a little baby Eisenberger girl is born but here are my current thoughts right now and I'm sure you'll all remind me of my ignorance when the time presents itself  :)!) .... Nothing against girls and I'm sure I would love on her, she'd have daddy wrapped around her pinkie and her two older brothers would protect her....but I was raised with eight boy cousins and a brother, I am just not that sure I would know what to do with a girl.

My two little men, growing SO fast!

I guess we'll keep searching and be happy we have two healthy little boys until it either feels right to sell everything or get going on number three....if we could just decide by April 16th when I'm registered to sell everything at a Mom to Mom sale....maybe by selling all my boy clothes, it'll make all the pink stuff that much easier to buy! :) 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's good to be four!

Gunner with his cupcake cake.

The blog was put on hold a couple days in preparation for a very special weekend celebration ...Today we celebrated my oldest son's birthday. Gunner officially turns four tomorrow, February 28th at 8:16 p.m. but at the age of four I could tell him his birthday is next Friday and he would believe me, so we went for a Sunday sledding birthday party!

Quite the crew! Look at those smiles!
Thankfully his birthday landed on a beautiful Michigan snow day! I know a majority of Michiganders want the snow gone....and now that my little man thoroughly enjoyed his sledding party the snow could all melt and I would be all for busting out the flip flops and tank tops!

After a whirlwind of eating, present opening and cake & ice cream we bundled up all the kids and headed to the sledding hill! And from the smiles, giggles and little voices cheering for more - they had a pretty darn good time. (and the parents were extremely exhausted from hauling the sleds and their passengers up the hill.)

Once we were back home we took naps and started really looking at the gifts -I love how having kids means you get to be a kid again! I believe Jesse and I will be buying our own Nerf guns to defend ourselves from two tiny sharp shooters. We also played with tractors, are planning a game night to open up all the fun games and this spring if you see us all in the front yard staring at the grass we're catching bugs.
Momma & Gunner with his special birthday shirt
thnx to Gramma Cathy

Oh and now thanks to a super cute tractor watch, someone will know exactly when bed time is :). Tonight we brushed our teeth by just the light of a new being four again!

Happy birthday little man -
I love you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Share Your 4-H Story

I don't know the major workings of budgets. I do know Michigan, like every other state, is facing some tough budget cuts. I know sacrifices need to be made. Our own family budget is being tightened and spending is much more intentional this year.

At the state level, MSU Extension is facing a 15% cut with Gov. Snyder's proposed budget. At the national level, the Smith-Lever funding for Cooperative Extension is in jeopardy. Now, more than ever, it's time to share your message. I know every proposed budget, whether it is national, state or local, MSUE asks participants to step up and contact elected officials. And every time MSUE says... Now, more than ever....but it seems every time the reality is now or never.

Please share the impact any MSU Extension program has had on you and your family. You don't need to be an expert on budgets, financial statements or politics. You just need to share your story. 

When thinking about what to write or talk about, it might help to answer the question "What do I do today that developed while participating in (insert here....4-H, Master Gardener, Next Level Business Training, Citizen Planner, the Annie's Project)?" Then use your social contacts now, more than ever, to encourage them to share their 4-H story as well. Encourage them to use the hashtag #CESValue in all tweets. Join the Revolution of Responsibility at  Contact your Michigan legislature by going to and clicking on Legislative Branch.

We use Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends and family on everything from our daily routine to asking advice. Share your story and then share this information. Let your network, your state and your nation realize why the Cooperative Extension Service is vital.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Agriculture Education on the Run

My Mom & Dad with the boys and
my niece at Christmas

So I'm blaming my mother on my next adventure....My mom has never been one to just show up, enjoy an event and come home. No... Cathy McCune attends something once or twice and then some how, for some reason she takes on a leadership role. I know, I know... this is a good trait, one I'm blessed to have inherited....but it causes my husband to roll his eyes and say, "One more thing huh?" :) ... to which I tell him it's in my blood, I can't help myself. So on to my next adventure... planning a 5K, sponsored by county Farm Bureaus and businesses, for the end of this summer!!!

Yeah I know.. you're rolling your eyes and saying "one more thing huh?" Well it's for a cause I'm extremely passionate about....Food....sponsored by amazing people who grow it....Farmers.... all while doing something I love... Running! How could I not be involved!?!

My running buddy Wendy and I at the
Capital City River Run, Lansing, MI Sept 2010
Half-Marathon Time: 1:58.54

I've ran a lot of 5K's and last summer my first half-marathon. My 2011 plan is to run a couple 5Ks, a 6 mile and an 8 mile race this spring and a full marathon in the fall. Not one of them on the list though represents the agriculture sector. The farmers who milk the cows for the after race chocolate milk need a race, representing them - helping runners see how much care goes into the food they fuel their bodies to be in prime race condition. We need to take agriculture education to the people, in their them how it relates to them.

Tonight was our first planning meeting - putting farmers and runners/walkers around a table was inspiring, at times hilarious and definitely motivational! We have a whole long list of how we're going to educate the general public while they participate: farm facts on volunteer t-shirts and mile markers, an after the race agriculture expo, holding it at a location where agriculture is happening! Gives me goose bumps just thinking about the opportunities and conversations that will happen!!

Have you planned a 5K? Been a part of a 5K that has done some pretty cool stuff?? Share with me! And when we get the location and date finalized I'll post it.... so you can come run/walk with us.

Or you can learn from my mom and just join the committee... :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Awards Don't Make the Person....

Have you ever been asked to speak impromptu and after you were done you came up with 736 million other things to say?!? Last night I was given a chance to address the Michigan Young Farmer's Conference on my experience as a recent Young Farmer Award Winner.....and if given the chance again here's what I'd say:
Excellence in Agriculture Award Winner - Katie EisenbergerLast December, I was presented with the Michigan Farm Bureau's Young Farmer's Excellence in Agriculture award.  The Award recognizes young farmers, between the ages of 18 and 35, who do not derive the majority of their income from a personally owned agricultural operation but who actively contribute to and grow through their involvement in Farm Bureau and agriculture.

In preparing to represent Michigan this past January at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting I connected with supportive, passionate agvocates. They spent their time, energy and insight on strengthening my application, presentation and answers to potential questions. I rehearsed my speech over and over the week leading up Atlanta. Channeling my throwback FFA days, I wanted nothing more than to hear my name as a top ten finalist and present. I knew if I could spend 30 minutes with the judges, they would like me. All the work I and so many others had put towards the event could be seen at the national level - HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?!?!?

As they began announcing the top ten names one by one....I quickly realized my chances were slowly decreasing. As the last finalist stood up and waved with a huge smile to the crowd, my husband hugged me and said "I love you" and I put all my energy into not breaking down in front of people I barely knew. It just kinda sucked....I hate losing.

Soooo.... I didn't come home with a new Dodge truck or $6000. There is not a big plaque with my name on it or a brand new chainsaw in our pole barn. A month later, I now realize the process opened my eyes and renewed my enthusiasm to so much more than any award as I quickly learned how lucky I am to One - be apart of an organization dedicated to my interests and Two -  be a member of the organization here in Michigan.

In Michigan, Young Farmers are fortunate. We are not token spots on boards. We run boards. We are not spoken to in conversations. We are leading conversations. We are just as much a part of this organization as those who have more experience than we have been alive. As a Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmer, my energy, ideas and skills are not only embraced, but given the tools to continually grow and develop.

Award or not....I am a proud agvocate. I am proud of my farming background. I'm proud to be apart of an organization allowing my voice to be one of many representing Michigan agriculture......and so much more...

Looking for a voice in agriculture? Between 18-35? Check out Michigan Farm Bureau Young Farmers

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From a Three Year Old's Perspective

I handed my oldest son Gunner a juice box from the front seat of our car as we were pulling out to make the daily trek to day care. All morning we had been going over Spanish words because Handy Manny (whom I would marry if he was real thanks to his ability to calm my children down and have them focus for 30 minutes a day) speaks Spanish various times throughout the cartoon.

As Gunner began to open up his juice box, he said "Grass Ass, Momma." A very perplexed look came over my face as I scrunched my eye brows and quickly turned my head to ask him..."What did you say Gunner?" Trying to figure out if I should scold him for swearing or laugh because who would have told him Grass and Ass go together?

"Grass Ass, Momma" and in a very proud, confident three year old (almost four) tone he adds, "It means thank you."

I must be getting slower with each child, but after another moment of processing I realized he was trying to say Gracious. I smiled partly relieved that I wouldn't have to explain we don't  swear and kill his confidence and partly because only a three year old could produce statements like that...

As I continued to think about the conversation I starting thinking about how often, consumers say with confidence words and phrases such as  "organic", "cage-free", "free-range". They spread these phrases from one uninformed person to the next.  In the end, consumers want to know their food is safe and if buying something with the label "organic" makes them feel safe - whether it truly is or not is irrelevant for this conversation - then they'll buy it.

Because you can feel confident in what you say or the actions you take and still be way off base. It's when we as agvocates smile, look for that teachable moment and instead of killing confidence, shift the consumer's knowledge to correct information.

Consumers sharing correct information can impact so much more.....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm Over It

I want to be that mom....that person...who has a clean house, sends her two young, gentle mannered boys to daycare with teeth brushed, shirts (coordinating, mind you) tucked in and a full tummy of yummy pancakes she whipped up that morning. I want to show up at work, greet everyone with a smile as I glide into my office, twirl around in my chair to a cleaned, organized desk, sip my sugar free hazel nut, skim milked steamer drink thing as I catch up on email, (typed by well manicured hands), actually complete a project, eat a balanced lunch, drink my 32 ounces of water and get a workout in before I swing in to pick up my children who smile, wave and say thank you as they buckle themselves in, arrive home to create an amazing pot roast, potato and carrots dish and kiss my husband as he arrives home.Then I always pictured our family holding hands and praising God for our amazing day, discussing worldly topics and then settling in after bath time to a adventurous game of Candy Land. I would follow my nightly face washing, teeth flossing routine and wake up from a sound sleep feeling refreshed to enjoy a shopping adventure with girlfriends and catch up on the amazing lives we have... I want to be that mom......Correction - I thought I wanted to be that mom....then I became a mom and quickly got over it.

At this point, with Gunner turning four next month and Gauge's second birthday at the end of April, I'm happy to have a job and colleagues who understand my chaotic life, thankful my boys are at least clothed in the morning and lucky to still have a man in my life who puts up with me. I am working on a graduate degree, I run a pretty successful photography side business, for the most part people like me and I like them and I do my best with everything I have.Yet, part of me still thinks - and probably always will- that there is so much more... to do, to be, to see, to love, to embrace, to surround myself just simply enjoy.

 I've wasted a lot of time worrying about writing my first personal blog...because I wanted to be profound. I wanted to be interesting and insightful, witting at the very least. And if I could do all of those things, people would follow me. They'd fall in love with me, they'd tell their friends and pretty soon I'd have 5000 followers. And if I failed and had only mediocre entries with a plain page design, then I would probably have blogspot management emailing me to say "if your blog continues this consistent level of inactivity, we will need to shut it down." Again....I wanted to be AMAZING....then I became real with myself and quickly got over it.

And now I'm just going to write, I have always loved to write. I journal...well did before I had two boys...but I have journals from middle school up until the point of the random dates I remember to write down funny things my boys did or said to me. So I'm transferring my handwriting skills to typing - which I'm way faster at anyways. Who knows where this blog will go, or where I will go because of it....but I'm doing it and hope you enjoy following to see so much more of who I am!