Dust In My Coffee

Dust In My Coffee

Friday, August 23, 2013

Empty Nest

Steve and I have officially entered that new phase of life referred to as the empty nest.  Our youngest daughter, Kim, started college in 2012 but at the same time our middle daughter, Emily, returned home for a year after living in Chimbote, Peru for two years.    Kim and Emily left yesterday with a car packed full of items and a bike strapped to the back. 

The girls were already to go when I noticed the bike carrier
still in the bag!  It took a little time to get the bike strapped
down but eventually, with duck tape to boot, they were ready!
 The journey will take the girls to Iowa City to see close friends of Emily’s then on to Chicago where Emily will unpack her items and the bike at Catholic Theological Union.  Emily will start grad school and she will be working as the Director of Religious Education at St. Dennis in Chicago!  After Emily is settled Kim will set the Garmin to head to Greenfield, Indiana to see family and then on to Steubenville, Ohio for her sophomore year of college.   It seems strange that I'm not going with them to help drive and unpack.  That might explain why it seems like they just went to Omaha for a few days and will return in a day or two.  Perhaps the river of tears is yet to come!

I do remember having tears one year ago when we left Kim in Ohio.  In fact I am pretty sure I had tears with every child we left at college.  It seems like I am usually the one crying while Steve reminds me that we can go see them or Skype with them depending on how far away they are!

I startled the mother from this nest of baby birds while looking
 for an empty nest.  These babies will soon be ready to fly!
  I was looking for an empty nest in our trees   and I was thinking about how Bill Cosby would talk about getting the kids out on their own.   He has a quote that is sure to make anyone smile that has had a child come back home after time away.  It goes like this  Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home."  I don't know about other creatures but I do know that baby birds fly when they are ready and the nest is empty when they do.

I do realize that children were meant to fly as well. While I might prefer having more of our kids closer to home I also realize that they are following a call unique to each of them.   It’s quite the circle of life of bringing children into the world, raising them the best we can and then sending them out into the world to share their gifts and talents.  God willing they will give us grandchildren to keep that circle going!  So while I adjust to the quiet I am sure I will find many blessings in this next phase of life.  If not, there are exchange students looking for homes!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

M&M's and Hormones

I recently participated in a series of conversations about the use of hormones in beef cattle.  Little did I realize that an idea conceived while walking pens one morning would become a hit among my peers.

My display consists of pint sized canning jars and M&M’s.  I used facts from a beef myths website  to calculate the amount of M&M’s it would take to equal levels of nanograms of estrogen in foods.  A nanogram is one billionth of a gram used to measure hormones in the blood.  I found that using one M&M per nanogram would require buying large amounts of M&M’s.  While I would enjoy eating those M&M’s I decided for travel purposes I would divide the levels by six to show levels of estrogen in food.

The jars compare levels of estrogen found in foods like cabbage, peas
potatoes and beef.  What seemed to really amaze people was the idea
that women of childbearing age would comparably have around 22
gallons worth of M&M's in their system naturally making the little
  chip from the beef sample look insignificant in regards to making
healthy food choices for yourselves and your family.
Recently I was in a HyVee in Omaha.  I had several kids interested in eating my M&M’s but what really amazed me was how quick they caught on to the fact that we have hormones present in many of the foods we eat as well as even larger amounts in our bodies.  The parents would confirm that they were concerned about hormone levels in beef.  After allowing me to explain how we use hormone implants in cattle as well as the M&M visual they agreed that this was not an issue to prevent them from buying beef. 

I am visiting with a couple of ladies about their concerns and sharing
with them my example of hormones in foods.  When I volunteer for
Commonground I also give out grocery bags, recipe cards and other
information about farmers and food production.

As a volunteer for Commonground and an advocate for agriculture I have found that listening is the most important skill I can use when reaching out to consumers. If it is a concern for the consumer then it is a concern for me to clarify what the consumer wants and needs to know.  Sometimes it means sharing facts in a manner that a consumer can relate to and then encouraging them seek further information from reliable sources.