and baby makes three

If you’ve been following along with the All Aboard Wheat Harvest harvest blog updates, you’ll know that we’re home. Something that is unheard of for this time of year. The last time I was home in July was in 1989…Jamie was 4 and Jenna just a little more than a year. The weirdest part of the whole deal was thinking about how much work it took to get ready to go and then only being away for like 42 days. But, God had a different plan for us.

In November, when Jamie announced to us she was expecting, I immediately counted the months and was so disappointed when I realized that baby #3 was going to be born while we were somewhere in the middle of a wheat field. We SHOULD be in Colorado at that time. Maybe I can get a few days away and come home to help. Little did I know, God’s plan had us coming home at just the right time! We cut as many acres as we could and with the last few days of being away the anxiety started to set in. I was concerned about making it home on time. Baby was due July 17…we didn’t leave Chadron until July 19th. But God had every single, little detail perfectly orchestrated to allow us to be home at the exact moment.

Back to the land of corn and soybeans.

“Play with us Gramma!”

Just look at the height of that corn! I’m certain it’s the heat and HIGH humidity that grows corn like that. It’s so humid here, you can hardly breath. It’s like breathing a cloud!

Just look at that belly!

An Eastern Nebraska sunset…minus the combine.

Jamie had a doctor’s appointment on July 18. He said she didn’t look at all like she was ready to go into labor so when she told me that, it made things a little easier knowing we would, in fact, be home for the arrival. She made it to her NEXT appointment on Monday, July 24th. The kids spent the night with me in the trailer house so Curt just took her to Omaha. She had started some contractions throughout the night so knew something was happening. She called after the appointment to let us know they were going to do a stress test to make sure all was okay. The call following that test was to let me know she was progressing perfectly and she was just going to stay in Omaha – walk the malls or something to get labor to happen a bit faster (if she could). She ended up staying in Omaha all day and late in the afternoon, headed to the hospital. We were packed and ready to go (me and the kids) but the text we got about 7:00 said she wasn’t moving along very fast. So, we opted to just stick around the house for the night. I was certain she’d have the baby that night but just not sure how long it was going to take.

At 10:30, Jamie Facetimed me and Jim to let us know Ben Joseph had been born at 9:58 and she could tell he was a bigger baby than the other two. The nurses don’t weigh the babies and take vitals as soon after birth as they used to. Jamie said they leave the baby alone with mom for at least an hour before they do all that. So we waited to hear…9 lbs 1 oz and 22″ long. Ben came charging out like a linebacker breaking his collarbone on the way out.

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

Meeting their brother for the very first time.

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)

(Photo credit – Taylor Josoff Photography)  Hey Ben…this is your Gaw. I think we’re gonna get along just fine!

This is where Nora instructed her mama to “put that baby in my hand”!

Sistas!

I literally clicked her in her car seat, walked to the driver’s side and turned around. She didn’t even make it out of the parking spot! It was a pretty big day for a little girl.

I’ve spent the last two days playing gramma with Eli and Nora. I know they’re anxious for mom’s return (later tonight) but in the meantime, I’m going to soak up all these special moments as long as I can. I won’t get to have much time with Ben until we return in October but being here for the time I have been has definitely been a blessing – one I would have never thought possible the day we left home last month.

The plan now is to leave tomorrow with the trailer house and head for Chester, Montana. We are going to work for a farmer there who has so graciously offered something for us to do during the month of August. We will be doing the wheat harvest but using his equipment. I’m hoping to get to drive a combine and Jim will drive truck. If I DO drive combine – it’s not one that I’m used to…it will be a Gleaner. I don’t know that I’ve even sat in the seat of a Gleaner combine before. 🙂 So the adventures of the 2017 wheat harvest continue…

“i wasn’t counting on that happening”

That’s what Jim said to me last night. I went outside to mainly let him know supper was ready – if he wanted to come in and eat AND to see what the heck he was up to.

I guess that’s how accidents can and do happen. He was working on replacing the tire when Frank fell off the jack. Oh my gosh…I don’t EVEN want to think about what COULD HAVE happened! I’m just thankful he was standing upright and telling me how disgusted he was that he lost four hours due to this little event.

The jack broke, so he had to fix that, as well. When I went outside, he was in the process of making a stable base and getting things in place again. It finally got dark enough, he just had to quit.

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whatever it takes

Taking some time NOW to enjoy these two whenever I can! Hanging out in the tower on their new “park”. 

One of many harvester’s mottos is, “Whatever It Takes”. The addition to our fleet could be the definition of this motto for the Z Crew for harvest 2017! I think after last summer with just the two of us loading and unloading the miscellaneous necessities from the back of Frank and my level of frustration with the whole process may have played into the reason we now have a longer car trailer. AND a new storage area for the miscellaneous stuff. THANK GOODNESS!

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few called him bubba

The last picture I took of Wes

(My final blog for 2016 – although it is 2017 – and it’s the very hardest to write. I’ve been mulling this one in my head for a long time. I’ve thought of all the things I’ve wanted to say for over a year and yet the words don’t come easy. I pray that God gives me the story and the words and the healing my heart is needing by writing this letter.)

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birthdays and holidays

The past two months have been busy but not crazy, busy. Wait a minute…who am I kidding? It’s always crazy, busy trying to keep up with the family and all that’s going on.

Not only did we celebrate the big holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) but also a couple of birthdays, too.

Less than two weeks after Colten and Taylor’s wedding, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Our family gathering was near 100% that day…we were missing Jenna. (She made a trip to Colorado that weekend.)

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taylor gets a new last name

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Colten Josoff

So, it’s the last day of 2016. And…I’ve procrastinated in getting my posts written until now. So, be prepared. Today will be a writing marathon for me just so my thoughts and pictures can be included in our 2016 book. Just remember…I forewarned you.

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since returning “home, home”

img_5701Fall harvest near the Henry Doorly Zoo Safari Park – Mahoney/Ashland exit. (Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda)

Sometimes, the hardest part about writing is just sitting down and making the fingers start moving!

The time since we got “home, home” has been a bit of a blur. Between emptying and cleaning the “Cottage on Wheels” and getting ready for Taylor’s wedding, not much time has been given to anything else. I’m not going to go into Taylor’s wedding with this post – it deserves its own spot in our book. So, what I will do is try to relive the last eight weeks, or so, without boring you (hopefully).

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We weren’t on the road nearly as long as other harvesters this year. We arrived home with the last load on the 119th day of our journey…the 29th of September. Jim was in the combine cutting soybeans the very next day. Fall harvest for me doesn’t exist. I didn’t even go out and ride in the combine once this fall. I like to make it out there at least one afternoon while the corn is being picked because I love to watch the corn dance in the header. Somehow, it just wasn’t something that was thought about. Both the beans and corn had amazing yields due to the 40+ inches of rain this part of the country received over the summer. Jim was worried about finding mud holes but the weather cooperated and his worries were needless. We just talked about rain and whether or not it occurred during harvest last night and he said there really was none to speak of. There was one afternoon that it showered on them while picking corn but they pushed through it (and made a mess of the Beast).

img_5702Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda

img_5703Picture credit goes to Wayne Skoda

While Jim was in the combine, I was here at home. My first concern was getting the trailer house emptied and cleaned out. It’s always a pain to me and made even more challenging because it signifies the end of the harvest. Even though I was really ready to get home this year to see the kids and grandkids, it’s still difficult to accept the finality of it all. This year…even a bit more of a challenge for me because I kept waiting for Callie to come home (just as she had been doing prior to our leaving in the spring) and it didn’t happen. The house was quiet. It hasn’t been this quiet since we moved here (October 1985). Jamie was born two months after we moved and it never had much of a break from the noise (except over the summer months) since.

img_5142The joys of getting to babysit Eli – everything else stops and you go play!

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img_5159A Nebraska sunset from the top bleacher at the EM football game.

img_5163Callie passing the tiara to the newest EM Homecoming Queen.  

There was some bus driving but the majority of my time was spent focusing on things to sew or make for the wedding. I was thankful for the amount of time I had because I didn’t feel the stress of being pushed to get it all done. There were fur shawls to create, dresses to hem, mints to make and shopping (and more shopping) to do. I didn’t even have a dress bought for myself. The wedding was already over a week ago. And it was beautiful! As I said, more on that later.

img_5189Family campfire in honor of Callie’s 19th birthday.

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img_5218Besides the wedding preps, we celebrated Callie’s 19th birthday (October 8), made a Halloween costume for Nora (Indian Princess), had a bridal shower, attended Laramie Farris’ funeral in Goodland, Kansas and celebrated Taylor’s 22nd birthday (same day as Laramie’s funeral).

img_5171Walking through Hobby Lobby to find wedding goods. Taylor so willingly modeled what she wanted her fur shawls to look like. Had to have something to use as my pattern. 

img_5322Callie and I carved 50 of these to be used as a “vase” for mums…decorations for Taylor’s bridal shower.

img_5314The bridal shower was a success! Held in the comforts of Mark and Candi’s new machine shed. The only negative? It was hot!

unnamedThe Indian Princess.

img_5524And…the cowboy!

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img_5265I ventured to Sidney, NE for a couple of days to help Matt and Tina pack. They headed for a new adventure in Olympia, WA and I hope it’s the best thing that’s happened to both of them! (although I will certainly miss them)

Laramie…she was supposed to be at the wedding. Being in Goodland and sitting in a packed school gymnasium was not on our calendar! Jim and I had just spent time with her in September. We weren’t supposed to be standing around a gravesite trying to figure out the why’s and how come’s and now what’s. We weren’t prepared to let her go. Not yet.  But something I’ve realized through all these school gym funerals is that we’re never prepared to say goodbye. Especially to the young people in our lives. Laramie touched so many lives for only being 19 years old – probably more than a lot of us touch in a lifetime. The news article said it was a single car rollover crash caused by a “distraction” in the car. The next time you think you need to text and drive…think of Laramie and a beautiful life that was cut short. Something that stuck with me from the funeral was the comment by the Pastor about how we tend to remember all the first times. It’s the last times that are so easily forgotten. The last time your child sat in your lap, the last time they needed your help, the last time you tucked them in bed, etc. The last times…

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img_5570I love this picture of Taylor & Laramie! They were certainly two of a kind!!

img_5569I remember the last time I spoke with Laramie. She never knew a stranger and she always made you feel like you were the most important person in her life.  Her zest for life was refreshing and her smile made everything feel okay. The other thing I took away from her funeral was, “until next time”. We’ll get on with our lives because that’s what we’re supposed to do. There will be reminders of Laramie in so many ways and occurrences. And that will have to do – until next time. Until the next time we see her again. And I will hold onto that truth!

img_5545Those of us who understand harvest and what it’s like to love people from all over will understand this. This was something Laramie posted this summer to help people better understand how she felt about the people in her life.

img_5614Taylor’s 22nd birthday – and also the day of Laramie’s funeral. The girls wore their boots in her honor.

img_5621The Kansas sunset as we were leaving Goodland and heading back home again.

Jim finished fall harvest Friday before the wedding – November 11. Perfect timing! For the past two days, I have been helping him get the equipment tucked back into the shed for the winter. The years seriously go faster and faster. To the point, I just can’t wrap my mind around how fast the days slip by. We’re looking at Thanksgiving and soon, Christmas…again. Maybe this year, I will actually get Christmas cards mailed again.

unnamed-2I got to tag along to the kids’ dentist appointments. 🙂

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unnamed-4Jim is so darn good at backing things up and especially into tight quarters. This is the first of many necessary steps taken to get everything in “our” shed. This is also a test of trust. I stand behind the item being backed in giving him directions via the telephone until it’s placed right where he wants it. Sometimes…he jumps out of the vehicle to make sure I’m giving him the right directions. Usually, I have. 🙂

img_5893The Pete is unhooked from the grain trailer and driven out to make room for the trailer house. Once the trailer is in place and the combine trailer has found its winter home, the Pete returns and sits on the other side of the Cottage.

img_5894The space to the right of the Cottage has been reserved for the Pete.

unnamed-5Rest up Frank, Pete & The Beast…see ya next spring!!

And now…it’s time to go drive bus!