Friday, January 3, 2014

A Snapshot in Time

Another year has passed us by.  As we start 2014, I want to take a second to capture this moment and record this time in our lives, if only for me.

Tim is working at Land 'O Lakes/Purina Nutrition.  He is a Mechanical Manager.  He seems to enjoy his job but hasn't figured out how to get free feed out of the deal. ;-)  He also took on a side job at a local garage.  He has enjoyed getting back to some hands-on work.  Tim enjoyed helping out as an assistant coach for Drew's T-ball team.  He likes playing around with the kids and dogs and is our handy-man around the farm.

I'm still enjoying my role as a stay-at-home mom.  I have not been subbing this year, but have been home-schooling Drew and Macy.  Between the kids and animals, I stay very busy.  I am a dog trainer in the local 4H program and give private lessons at my house now and then.  While we didn't have a litter this year, I stayed plenty busy training and traveling to shows.  I achieved some great goals this year by qualifying in MVA at Nationals, as well as having 5 dogs in various Finals, not including juniors.  Glory and I finished her MACH and I finished several conformation Champions.

Madie is 11, with a birthday coming up very soon.  She got straight A's in 5th grade and is now in 6th grade.  She sings in the choir, is in Math Bowl, and enjoys participating in Youth Group at church.  She had a busy year with her two dogs, Ellie and Quinn.  She finished Ellie's Altered Championship and she and Quinn competed in Junior Handling, achieving the ASCA 500 club as well as going on to rank #1 Junior in her 8-12 age category.  They also won Reserve Grand in Showmanship at the County Fair and 2nd at the State Fair in Intermediate showmanship as a move up.  Madie showed her goat, Candy to a showmanship placement at the County Fair, and her rabbits to some Best of Breed wins at County and placements at State.  Madie was also bitten by the horse bug this year and showed 27 year old Rocky in the County fair, earning placements.  She ended 2013 by getting her own horse, Romeo.  Madie loves to read and play with her animals.   Madie wants to be a mom, horse trainer, and dog breeder when she grows up.

Emma is 9 years old.  She also got straight A's last year and is now in 4th grade.  She sings in the choir and has been doing gymnastics for a little over a year now.  She enjoyed her first year in ASCA and 4H, and aged into AKC.  She and Nicki won Novice Champion in Showmanship at the County Fair, and 1st in their huge class at the State Fair.  They also earned the 2nd Degree of Excellence in ASCA and made the cut to top 6 in the Nationals Finals.  Emma also showed her goat Cherry, placing in showmanship at the State Fair.  She shows rabbits too.   Emma wants to be a mom, teacher, and dog trainer when she grows up.

Drew is 5 years old. He's all boy.  He loves to play with trucks, trains, army men, and dirt.  He played T-ball in the spring and really loved that.  He graduated from pre-school but we decided to wait one more year for kindergarten due to his age.  He loves to help around the farm and shadows his daddy everywhere.  He went to two dog shows and loves 'teaching' dogs in the agility yard.  His favorite stuffed animal is his "Blue" that he's had since he was a baby.  He loves school and is learning to read and is really good at math.  I know it must be hard being the only boy with 3 sisters, but he's a very good brother to them all!  He says he wants to be a doctor and farmer when he grows up.

Macy is 3.  Her days consist of following around big brother Drew and playing with the animals.  She likes My Little Ponies and stuffed animals.  She loves to draw and color and read books. She is a big talker and is never shy about giving her opinion.  She's a picky eater and has enough attitude and spunk to hold her own as the baby of the family.  Macy says she wants to be a mom when she grows up, but without holes in her ears. (NO earrings!)

With the exception of some illnesses in 2013, we had a great year.  We took a family vacation to the Wisconsin Dells with my parents.  Madie, Emma, and I traveled to the Colorado ASCA Nationals with my dad.  We did our annual weekend in a Brown County cabin to celebrate Madie's birthday in January, as well as enjoyed several local camping trips to Raccoon Lake.  We raised our first litter of rabbits and hatched some ducklings.

We're looking forward to 2014 with family and friends and all the new adventures and memories this year will bring.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In Defense of the InnKeeper. A Christmas Post.

 Tis the season for Christmas songs.  If you listen carefully, there at least a dozen chastising the Innkeeper in Bethlehem that turned away Joseph and Mary.  The story is that the Inn was full.  Of course it was.  The town was full of travelers for the census.  The Innkeeper had no room and sent them away.  If God had wanted his son born in that Inn, it would have happened.  If God had wanted his son born in a palace on silk sheets, it would have happened. 

That's not where Jesus was meant to be.  First of all, it's very likely the Inn was dirty and crowded.  The walls would have been paper-thin and the rooms filled with people, noise, and chaos.  The beds were well-used and may have had bedbugs or lice.  Even with a good house-keeping, the place was soiled and used... as hotel beds will be used. 

Instead, God sent Joseph and Mary to a place that was pure and quiet.  In the stable they found peace and privacy.  Baby Jesus was laid in a bed that no person had ever used before.  It was His.  They were surrounded by animals, quiet and innocent.  Among the quiet shuffle and munching of the animals, the babe was laid in a manger.  This is a feeding trough for the animals, one of the most sanitary places in a stable.  There was really no worry of disease.  God didn't send his son to succumb to an infection in infancy.  In more than one sense of the word, the stable was cleaner than the inn.

While born to lead, Jesus' time on Earth was humble.  His birth, life, and death were all humble.  His story is also unique.  His birth was not to blend in and be lost in the hustle and bustle of an Inn.  Each year as we view the stable and Nativity, we are reminded of that uniqueness.  This may have been Jesus' first parable. The Story of the King born in a stable.

Perhaps the Innkeeper was an insensitive jerk, perhaps he was just doing his job.  Perhaps he even felt guilt and thought to give up his own bed for Mary, but if he had, God would have hardened his heart.  Jesus was never meant for that Inn.  He was meant for the perfect birthplace in the peace of the stable.  His story is its own.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chasing a Dream

I haven't been blogging much this year, mainly because of what I'm writing about in this post.  I've been busy.  I've been chasing a dream!  It has been a busy year of dog shows and traveling, training and grooming, packing and unloading.  In between all of that, I have four kids to raise, a house and small farm to run, and a husband that likes to have a conversation with me now and then.  This 'year' actually started back in the middle of 2012 and has involved a great about of effort, time, and money.  I have relied on the patience and support of my husband, and the assistance of my parents and in-laws to help with the care of our two youngest when I'm away and Tim is working.  I've been cheered on and helped by some of the greatest friends out there, you know who you are.  It was a team effort, but in the end it was all worth it.  In the end, I caught that dream!

I guess you could say I actually had two dreams...

  I have been showing dogs for most of my life, and showing Australian Shepherds for 13 years.  I have attended several ASCA Nationals and always love to watch Best of Breed and the conformation Finals.  I've wandered by as some of the best aussies in the country battle it out at the Agility Finals.  And just recently, they added Rally Finals. All of these are invitationals, meaning only the top ranked aussies in the country (ASCA) are invited to participate.  I wanted to be a part of it.  I wasn't sure which one was the best option, so I set out to take a run at several different Finals. I brought out my best Champion male and decided to special Ryder.  While he had had success in the spring and started out well in the new ASCA year, just over a month into it he completely dropped his coat and refused to grow it back! After a few months of battling head to head against the top special in the country (and a fluffy one at that!), I had to sit back and reevaluate my plan. Right at the halfway point of the year, I made a desperate switch.  I decided to bring out my 18 month old Indy.  She was finished and a nice girl, just not grown up yet.  I also had a 6 month late start with her.  We gave it a go and I'm happy to say that she did end up making the Finals, ranking #29. (Top 30 is invited)  In the meantime, Madie finished her altered girl Ellie.  She had had some BOB and BOS wins/points from the classes along the way, so we specialed her two weekends at the end of the year after she finished and she made the Altered Finals at #22!  My Boom ranked in the top 20 in Rally to be invited to the Rally Finals, plus Glory had qualified for the Agility Finals!  Both Madie and Emma had qualified for the Junior Finals, Madie ending the year as the #1 Junior Handler in the 8-12 age group.  And to top it all off, Echo, an altered girl that I had bred and co-own had made the Altered Finals, finishing the year ranked as the #1 Altered dog!  We had accomplished every goal to get into the Finals, sending 7 dogs or dog/junior teams to the Finals for the 2013 Nationals.   It was a thrill and an honor to step into the ring with the best of the best.  While it was amazing to just qualify, it was even better that Madie, Echo, and Boom also walked out with placements in the Finals. (Sadly Glory was unable to compete that week)  The success was a confidence boost as well as motivation to set even higher goals in the future.

My other goal was just as exciting, and certainly just as challenging!  I wanted to compete in MVA.  The Most Versatile Aussie competition is, in my opinion, the epitome of what our breed is about.  We have dogs that can do it all- agility, obedience, tracking, stock, rally, and conformation.  In this competition, we ask one dog and handler to do it all.  The dogs are evaluated in conformation, plus must qualify in a performance event and a stock event.  The more you do and the higher levels you compete in, the greater the points you earn.  It is a challenge and an honor to qualify in MVA.  To place in the top 10 or even win is a fantastic accomplishment.  I have been wanting to do this for years and finally bit the bullet and told some people I was going for it.  Once I actually said it out loud, I was committed to the challenge of getting Libby ready.  She is a nice girl, a finished CH, and is titled in agility, rally, and obedience.  I wasn't worried about the conformation evaluation or qualifying in performance.  I have never trained or competed in stock.  When the opportunity to purchase some ducks came up, I jumped on it and spent the next 6+ months stumbling my way through training a stock dog.  A couple of lessons from a pro, some research, and soaking up any information I could find, and I was on my way. I spent the spring and summer training hard, especially on stock.  I was overwhelmed and confused at times, and nearly gave up a time or two, even after sending in the entries.  I'm certainly glad that I didn't in to that frustration.  I just needed to get my foot in that door and go for it.  I had imagined what it would feel like to qualify in MVA, but was still a bit stunned when it happened.  My darling Libby stepped up and did everything I asked that week, and did it so well!  I left proudly holding my MVA rosette and spent the ride home from Colorado making plans to do more and do even better the following year.  My next goal is to get a top 10 placement!  I now have two dogs in training for MVA and Madie is hoping to compete in MVJ some year.

The new ASCA year has started. (June 1st 2013-May 31st 2014) I don't know what it holds for us, but we're off to a pretty good start.  Both Madie and Emma have qualified for the Finals again and have big goals.  (NOT going for #1 again, though!)  We're still focused on ASCA this year, rather than AKC, but I hope to not have to travel as much as last year.  No matter who makes it to a Finals competition, we're looking forward to the rest of this ASCA year, and the Nationals in Texas.  I'm sure I'll be biting my nails about my MVA entries again next summer. 

This past year's journey has been amazing.  I was chasing dreams, and before I noticed, my daughter Madie was chasing her own dream too.  Hers went right down to the wire against some top competition. (for #1 ranked 8-12 Junior Handler.)  Through it all, we were blessed with the support of friends and family.  I try never to hold back on my dreams.  I never know what is around the corner, I only know what today holds.  I set goals and refuse to wait around or delay.  I will give everything I have and go after them now.  If I catch that dream, I will cherish the moment, and then set my eyes on the next one.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Macy and I weighed ourselves this morning.   She's 26 lbs.  Ironically, that's exactly what I need to lose to reach my goal weight!  Looking at that little person really puts into perspective how much I want to take off. 

I don't think I'm fat, but I'm not happy with my weight.  I tend to eat whatever I want and exercise regularly only in the summer. I'm not a kid anymore and my metabolism isn't going to keep me at a regular weight if I don't work at it!  I'm tired of wondering if my pants or suits are going to fit month to month. I want to feel like an athlete when I run agility.  I don't want to cringe when I see myself in a picture or video.  I want my kids to think their mom is trim and healthy, and follow that example.

Ever since my 4th baby I've been carrying the 'Freshman 15', and well, I'm no Freshman.  That last baby left me with a belly and my body didn't recover on its own like after the first 3 babies. She's two years old now, so I can stop waiting for it to happen on its own!  This is obviously going to take some effort on my part.

26lbs would take me to my goal weight.  That weight may be a bit ambitious, but I've never shied from a challenge.  I am anxious to get smaller jeans, fit into shorts that have been in my drawers for years, and be happy with my health and fitness.  Where before I've always relied on exercise to lose weight, this time I am focused on diet.  I know that this will not only help me reduce my weight, but improve my overall health. 

I've asked my husband to join me on this journey.  I challenged him to a 30 day weight loss 'adventure'.  I don't know how excited he is, but he also could greatly benefit from a better diet and weight loss.  Since we're carefully selecting our meals, our children are also benefiting!  Not only are they reaping the benefit of healthy meals today, but they are learning how to eat and how important nutrition is for their futures.

Obviously the reason I shared all of this is for accountability.  I can secretly lose 5 or 10 lbs, and then gain it back without most people noticing.  This is a major goal and is going to take some time and a lot of effort.  Now I've put it out there.  If I fail, everyone who reads this will know.  I hope my pride will be my motivation on days when I want to quit. 

 I have a 26lb weight loss goal.  Let's see what I can do!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome 2013! New Year, New Resolutions

Instead of searching for a piece of paper with my resolutions from last year, this time I just read the blog.  As usual, I was disappointed that I hadn't fulfilled all of my resolutions, but there were some bonus surprises.  Overall I enjoyed 2012 and the experiences that I never could have imagined. 

Looking at my 5 resolutions from last year, I did enjoy the first one, the blog.  It was a resolution to give blogging a try for one year.  I definitely plan to continue.  I will take the Tuesday 'deadline' away.  That caused too much pressure and there for a while, I avoided the blog all together.  I will blog when I can, or when I'm inspired.

I was supposed to concentrate on my health.  I wanted to eat better, exercise, and lose weight.  Um, not so much.  I do okay until late fall when the weather gets colder and I don't want to go outside to run.  And then Thanksgiving and Christmas come around with all of those yummy treats.  This one will definitely make the list again for 2013.

I wanted to improve my Bible study.  Okay, so while I didn't improve much with my home Bible study, we did have a good year for church attendance.  We travel quite a bit for dog shows and miss Sundays when we are gone.  We did attend every Sunday that we were home.  No sleep-in excuses this year.  There were times when all 6 of us didn't get to go together due to work schedules or illness, but some of us went.

Number 4 was organization.  I made progress but still want to continue with this one.  I made new file boxes for the overwhelming amount of paperwork around here.  I want to clear out some clutter and make a place for everything.  This is a BIG project!

The final resolution was actually a collection of goals with my dogs.  I wanted Glory's MACH and ATCh, Quinn's ASCA CH, and Ryder's AKC CH.   I did achieve the ATCH and ASCA CH.  We didn't quite complete the other too, but made great progress.  Glory is only 3 QQs from the MACH, and Ryder is sitting at 13 pts, 1 major in AKC.  We only attended two AKC shows with majors this year.  A surprise accomplishment was Indy's ASCA CH!

So now I look at 2013.  I'm very excited for this new year.  Life is going well and I hope we will have many new adventures in this new year. 

My 5 New Year's Resolutions for 2013:
1. Improve my health and weight.  I am going to be more specific on my personal weight goal. I know that I will have to alter my diet and exercise plan to achieve this.
2. Continue to organize my home.  My family knows how stressed I get when I can't find something or the house is a mess. 
3. Goals with dogs: My list of goals for this year includes around 20 titles on 9 of our dogs. (6 of mine, 3 are the kids')  Now I know we aren't going to get all of those titles, but I have to have something to shoot for with each dog.  The big ones I'm going for are a MACH, two AKC CHs, two ASCA CHs, and an RMX.
4. Better time management.  In simpler terms, I want to learn to be on time.  I'm always about 10 minutes late.  I'd really like to be more organized and prompt.
5. More Bible study time.  This is a carry over from last year, but also goes with #4.  If I can better organize and manage my time, I will better be able to find 15 minutes a day to spend in God's Word.

So here we go!  It's a fresh start and I'm ready to go!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Letter

I've never done one of those letters that get mailed out around Christmas time.  You know, the ones that update you on what happened with a family during that year.  I know jokes get made about them, whether they are embellished or just full of lies.  I really enjoy reading them.  I never get to keep in touch with my friends as much as I'd like, so the letters are very interesting. 

Here's my chance to give this Christmas letter writing thing a try, and everyone can take it or leave it!

2012 has been a wonderful year.  As usual, it has flown by faster than I could imagine.  My kids are growing before my eyes and each year passes faster than the one before. 

Our family has been busy as usual.  With four kids and a mini-farm full of animals, there is never a lack of work to be done.  We added ducks this year and have started working the aussies on stock.  We also have a new family kitty, a calico named Sage who joins our 3 teenage calico cats.  Our 2012 aussie litter was born in February - 7 blue merle babies from Owen and Ellie. We are due to take our 2012 family picture with the dogs as soon as the weather cooperates and it will be a very full picture!  We transferred membership to Dover Christian Church and have been greatly blessed by this church family.  We enjoyed a great family vacation at Patoka Lake with my parents, as well as several family camping trips. 

Tim started a new job recently.  He left Pace Dairy and is now employed with Land O Lakes/Purina Nutrition.  He works in a plant that makes livestock feed, mainly for race horses.  The new job is a bit further away than his old one, but he is on a nice, normal day shift with most weekends off.  He's home for dinner and is able to spend his evenings with the family. 

I've been busy with the dogs.  I personally finished two conformation champions that I bred, and watched another dog I bred earn an Altered CH, and go on to a Finals invitation where she earned 5th place!  I also got to watch a co-bred dog earn her CH.  I was thrilled to complete Glory's ATCH, the Agility Trial Championship.  I showed Ryder to several Best of Breed wins.  I stay busy at home and running to several dog shows a month.  I also substitute teach occasionally, teach classes in the 4-H dog project, and do several 4-H judging assignments during the summer.

Madie is 10 years old and is growing into a young lady, no longer our little kid.  She's in the 5th grade, sings in the choir, and loves training and showing her dogs.  She put several titles on her dog Ellie, earned her first 500 club in the first 4 months of the ASCA year, and won 1st place in her showmanship class at the Indiana State fair.  She now co-owns Quinn and is doing great using him in junior handling, earning many Best Junior wins.  Madie has added horse-back riding to her hobby list, and also ran her first 5k this summer.  She showed in dogs, goats, and rabbits at the county fair.

Emma is 8 years old and is doing very well in the 3rd grade.  She got her first puppy this spring, a blue merle aussie named Nicki.  They are best buddies and she's doing very well training her.  They've already earned a Best Junior Handler win together!  She's looking forward to starting a gymnastics class next month.

Drew is 4 years old and in preschool.  He loves school and is a great student.  He has learned to read his letters, say the days of the week and months of the year, and loves counting to 100 with a little assistance.  He loves trains and trucks and is the best big brother to his little sister.  He did another dog show this fall and loved it. 

Macy is 2 years old and thinks she runs the world.  She is a talker, and so opinionated that she always has something to say.  She's Drew's shadow and tries to keep up with everything he does.  She too is learning to read her letters and loves to count.  She sings all of his preschool songs.  She plays with My Little Ponies and Matchbox cars.

We're already making big plans for 2013.  Both Madie and Emma with be in 4-H this year.  Drew is hoping to start T-ball.  Our dog show schedule is full and we plan to attend the ASCA Nationals in Greeley, CO.  Tim and I are making more home improvement plans.  I pray that we will continue to be as blessed in the new year as we have been in 2012. 

God Bless you all!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
-The Williams family.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tough Love

Sometimes being a good parent can make you feel like a rotten person. 

My 10 year old Madie and 8 year old Emma are in a Bible club at school.  (A public school!)  Each week they have an assignment to read 7 chapters and then write a summary.  My girls are notorious for putting this off or forgetting about it as the week goes by.  Each Wednesday night or Thursday morning we have drama as they rush to get the assignment done.

Last week as I scrambled to find them each a flashlight so they could complete the Bible assignment on the morning bus ride, I warned them, "There is a new rule.  If you don't have your assignment done by 8pm on Wednesday night, you don't get to go to Bible club on Thursday."  Heads were nodding and two little girls quickly agreed.

Fast forward 6 days and there we were again on a Wednesday night and there were moments of panic as they remembered their assignment.  Sadly, neither girl had completed the work by 8pm. 

I had to do it.  I hated to do it.  I told the girls that they would have to come straight home after school the next day, they couldn't stay for Bible club.  What followed was noisy, to say the least.  There was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Emma went upstairs to her bed where the wailing could still be heard all over the house.  Madie pleaded her case, told me how important Bible club was to them.  I responded that if it was so important, they would complete the assignment on time. 

I know the girls were upset with me.  I know Tim didn't agree with my decision to keep them from this activity.  He offered me several suggestions to get out of the declared punishment. I moped around all night, disheartened to see my girls so upset.  Madie came down at 8:15pm, the end of their reading time, to tell me she had finished the Bible assignment.  I told her she hadn't made the deadline and would not be able to go.  More tears.  Emma announced the next morning that she had finished hers.  When I reminded her of the rule, again, there was more crying. 

I sat both girls down and explained my situation to them.  I have to have their respect and trust.  I have to follow through on what I say, or they wouldn't be able to believe in me.  I need them to take me seriously and know that I mean what I say.  One day I will tell two teenage girls that if they are not home by curfew, there will be a consequence.  They will know I mean it and that I will back up my words.

I hate to see my kids sad.  I hate to see them miss out on fun events, especially in a situation where they weren't being bad, just made a mistake in their organization and time management.  But I'm teaching my kids about life.  I'm teaching them about consequences.  I'm teaching them that I love them enough to be tough on them and teach them about behavior and consequences. It started with the first time I swatted their toddler bottoms to keep them safe and obedient, and will last through these childhood days.  It will last through the tough teen years, and will follow them through the rest of their lives when I will be the constant voice of a mother, of experience and wisdom.

The good news is that they survived the consequence.  They never thanked me for being a tough mom with strict rules, but they have laughed and hugged me and declared me the 'best mom ever' just after the incident.  Sometimes loving them is easy, and sometimes it's hard.  But I love them enough.