Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 88 - Hate Mail Homecoming

Hello again!  My family and I are home safely from our trip to San Jose, California!  It was a great fun.  The trip was actually work related for me but it is a great part of my job.  Taking the Iowa Science Fair Delegation to the International Science and Engineering Fair each year (at least on years I am not pregnant) is quite an honor.  We have such amazing student researchers from across the globe as well as right here in our own state!  Congrats to all of Iowa's students they all had very impressive projects!

Now, I thought tonight would just be a welcome back blog; however, in going through our mail from the week I discovered a letter that I decided I could do one of two things with.  A. ignore and toss or B. explain to the person how misinformed they are.  Having a Master's Degree in education I choose option B since I believe it is better to educate when the chance arises!

I really dislike drama and pain that others try to create.  I am not sure why others feel they have to bring others down.  Quite frankly I tend to follow my grandma's teaching of if you can't say anything nice keep your mouth shut!  But I guess some people would rather be mean which is too bad.  I will give you the letter in detail and than provide my arguments/counterpoints.  Just a note I doubt this person reads the blog since if they did I don't think they would have so many misunderstandings but in case you're out there some words of advise -- probably not good to send an anonymous nasty letter to a woman with her own blog.  Here goes:

You really do have a mental problem - you seek extreme attention and don't do anyone any good by it.  You are the laughing stock of family and community.  Five or even (umm - I think they meant to have another number after this but must have been so over wrought they forgot) fair entries would be fine, but 100!  Waste time and food by doing good for unfortunate people, not just satisfying your own ego.
Truthfully, there are many more talented people who could show you up big time, but they are more interested in not hogging the show.
People with obsessions such as you have need (of) pyschological (their spelling not mine) and medical help before you crash completely.  We feel sorry for those around you.  They suffer from your compulsive behavior.  Get hold of yourself and devote those hundreds of hours to some good.
A friend"

Let's just start at the beginning.  As far as I know I am of sound mind and body.  For those that know me well  within my circle of friends and family I do not seek attention and tend to prefer working in the background rather than being an "out in front" type of person.  I actually test on personality tests as an introvert and am a self diagnosed introvert who works hard to socialize and speak in front of groups.  The whole reason I started the blog was so friends and family could have some fun in my adventure and help me by following my progress.  It was never meant to be a large public forum but I happen to have friends who know friends who know other friends that led to me to being asked if I would mind being interviewed for a story because they thought it was a neat idea!  I never sought the attention I just started a fun little blog that I told a few friends about.

As to be a laughing stock -- I guarantee my friends are laughing with me as good friends do.  As to the community - well I suppose some find me a bit nuts and they can laugh if they want but no one has to read the blog or follow my progress.  Plus, I don't think you understand the point of a fair - it's to have FUN!  They do say you can burn a number of calories by laughing and add years to your life so laugh as hard as you want!

Now enough about me - self promoter that I am.  The next few lines is where some education is needed.  Even as a beginner in open class I know I never had five entries.  When I started with floriculture and food exhibits my bare minimum was probably 25 entries or so.  Hence, keeping track of my entries by blogging gives me a goal and I can track the number of entries I actually exhibit this year.  If you want to call me crazy for entries call me crazy for entering in so many divisions rather than focusing on my comfort areas like food and flowers.  I know I have entered probably up to 50 exhibits in a year before and maybe it's more than that I really just don't know.  However, if you read the Des Moines article and if you have ever been a part of the fair in general in the divisions I enter in; my 100 entries is a SMALL number!  I never set out to have the most entries at the fair.  I have friends who in floriculture alone exhibit well over 100 entries probably closer to 200+ entries (friends I am sorry if that number for you is small - you can correct me via e-mail)!  In the news article the reporter did an excellent job covering other women who exhibit food who have large entry numbers (like 300+ just in FOOD)!  How awesome!  I can't imagine!

As to wasting time my time is never wasted.  I am much too busy to waste time.  I am a stay at home and work at home mom.  I cook and bake for my family so the food(s) of choice go into the weekly meal plan for my 2 young sons and husband.  Food is NEVER wasted in this household.  What we don't eat I freeze for later to make meal planning easier during extremely busy weeks.  I actually do a lot of large batch baking and cooking to have meals my husband can easily take for lunch or that I can pull out quickly for my boys.  Whatever scraps or vegetable clippings are left over go to my chickens and hogs.  And anything left after that goes into the compost pile.  Even newspaper goes to mulch the garden and junk mail is shredded for nest bedding.  I am really not an environmentalist but I believe when God asks us to be stewards of the land we should take that to heart and follow His teachings.  Anyway that's the way my grandma raised me.

Now, as to waste at the Iowa State Fair (if that's what the letter was implying) this is where I would like to educate.  Any food that is not picked up by the exhibitor is taken to a Des Moines shelter to provide food to those less fortunate.  So even if I don't get in to pick up some of my food entries I know that they will be going to a good cause.  Usually though I do pick up my food entries and I take them to the FFA Headquarters to feed students that are at the fair for 3 weeks and miss good home cooking.  My jams and jellies if not eaten by the FFA members are brought back home in a cooler for my family to use.  If this is referencing my gardening let's make this clear my garden is for home use and preservation (canning/freezing) FIRST and foremost but if I have some nice vegetables those few can be taken for exhibit.  If referencing my sewing I actually utilize material I have selvaged from yard sales, auctions or grandma's (OK and my own) stash.  So this is really reusing/recycling materials that may otherwise have gone in a landfill.  Sure, I like shopping fabric stores too but I do what I can to use what I have or what others no longer want.  And my sewing projects are all being lovingly sewed for friends and family.  And just for the record my ego doesn't need satisfied I am actually a very happy and content 35 year old.

I have never once claimed to be talented and I know that there are tremendously talented people in Iowa.  In fact, for those that have been reading my blog since the beginning I am pretty sure I state that fairly frequently.  My goal is not ribbons or rewards; my goal is to learn new things and maybe help encourage others along the way.  I have actually learned how much fun it is to teach my 3 (as of tomorrow) year old how to do some of the basic things.  He loves to measure!  My one year old likes to measure too but we'll let him have empty cups and spoons for now - lol (sorry, laugh out loud).  I will be the first to admit that I am not the best at anything but I sure have a lot of fun figuring out what my favorite entries are and what I can do to improve for the next year and just in general improve my skills to benefit friends and family and actually some of my volunteer activities for church and other non-profit organizations.  Trust me I am not trying to "hog" the show. I am in awe of what others create and usually feel completely inept when watching the judging.  I don't even know that I'll enter cakes simply because there are some Iowans who could compete nationally with cakes and put many to shame.  I know I can't come close to what they create!  I also know that in Floriculture I don't have much of a chance but if out of the few entries in that division that I bring if I can squeeze out even one blue I consider that a successful year!

Hmm - obsession?  Maybe - but not really. Decided I should look up the actual definition.
1. Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.
2. A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.

Nope - not an obsession.  No anxiety and really not an unreasonable idea.  I can quit at any time, I always put my family first and really as far as time I don't put in as much as people think.  As I said above I work this into my regular weekly schedule and routine.  Having the blog has helped me put together a better schedule so that come fair time I will have more things pre-done/prepared so I won't be as busy as in previous years.  For me this is more about how do I organize this and prepare rather than the number of entries I'm taking.  I am an organizer at heart.  I have done much more strenuous things in my life and many more stressful things.  I used to monitor seed corn fields worth millions of dollars a piece where my performance on the job could make or break a field.  I run one of the nation's best state science fairs which I consider an honor and a privilege.  But I do this during my husband's busiest times of the year and many consider us nuts for that but we love working with students!  Trust me I am far, far away from crashing.  This is minor in comparison to caring for my children and the stress of my job!

As far as I know, no one around me suffers in the least.  In fact, my boys are happy and healthy and eat wonderful nutritious food.  Plus, they get to try all kinds of new foods and ingredients - yummy!  I share lovingly and willingly with friends and have never heard any of them complain about my gifts.  My life is very personal but I do devote a lot of time and energy to helping others and this is my way of having a little competitive fun with other people who like the same kind of fun!  So raspberries to that last statement in the letter!

Finally -- please don't sign as "a friend".  Obviously someone with so many misconceptions is no friend of mine.  I choose my friends carefully and wisely and all are very near and dear to my heart.  Plus, if you are going to send such a non Christian letter at least have the strength, courage, and courtesy to sign your name.  Quite frankly my philosophy is if you can't sign your name to something it must not be worth much!

So, now that you've heard my response (if this person even knows how to read a blog) I hope I have given you some "food" for thought and I would encourage you to try entering in the Iowa State Fair.  To my other readers - my apologies - I promise to get back to good old fashioned Iowa State Fair Entry FUN tomorrow!

Oh and P.S. -- Successful Farming called - they'll be coming out this week to do a story for the August issue - teehee, giggle, giggle - me and my silly ego!


Emily said...

Excellent response. I've never met you in person but from following the blog I can tell that the letter is way off from the truth. Keep up your hard work and thanks for letting the rest of us come along for the ride! You clearly have many talents and your industriousness is to be admired!

Mom said...

WOW, Andrea. This person does NOT know you and seems to have read much more into the article than was there. Good response, don't let it get you down. Several people have sent me the article and said how nice it was. Growing up with 4-H just means showing at the fair is in your blood. But more than that, you always looked to learn from it. Obviously, this person does not have a 4-H background. Hang in there, kiddo.

Sara Cogar said...

Great, well thought out response, Andrea!! I'm with Mom---this person obviously does not know you or have any idea what "friend" really means.
Saw the DM Reg article online. Would love to see a copy of the paper one day. I'm sure you and Mom saved one so I can eventually see it.
Wonder if this letter writer ever participated in 4-H, FFA or even Girl/Boy Scouts.
Keep up the good work, Andrea. We're all learning from you and it's such fun to follow your blog and progress. I'm proud of you, Sweetheart!!

Teresa B. said...

I think it's wonderful that you are doing all that you do. I learned about your 100 entry goal from the DM Register article, and I never once thought you were doing it for attention. It's great to dream big! And setting goals helps make life more fun and meaningful. So please just ignore the haters. Maybe the letter writer should follow your lead; then he or she wouldn't have so much time to judge other people or send nasty letters to strangers.

frugal mommy said...

OK, I just have to comment. I have been entering food into the fair the last five years. I took one year off due to the fact my son was born the day before the fair started. I have to admit that it gets into your blood. I try to plan my foods around what my family eats also. I understand the draw of the competition. Just be aware many of us love to read about your ambitions. I just wish that I could find the time to enter more than 10 entries into the fair.