Friday, September 30, 2011

Fighting for My Kids' Success

My kids give me so much! They give me joy, smiles, lessons on life, perspective, headaches, backaches, exhaustion, motivation and love to name a few things. They keep me going each and every day!

Having four kids, literally keeps me on my feet from the moment the alarm goes off to well past the news most nights. Now that school is in full swing the balancing act of keeping the younger kids busy and happy while helping with the older ones with homework is wearing me out. Some nights it is a 3-4 hours process. I know that it can be a challenge for most families, but I am finding that doing this with children who have special needs (one with multiple challenges) is even more of a challenge. Many days these study sessions leave me tearful because my kids work so hard for so long each day. They keep chugging along even though they may be worn out and not sure why they have to keep going. I get tearful because I wonder what they are missing out on while working so hard to finish and meet the expectations of those around them, but also because if we can make it through the next several years that they will have a work ethic that not everyone will graduate from school with. They will know what they need to be successful and how to go about doing it in a manner that works for them. Thus being said, I fight for my kids for my kids success each day!!

When they are at school (and youngest at daycare), I take school notes, worksheets and other assignments and transform them into materials and activities that will be usable for them to study from for tests and ultimately learn the material so that they can answer the questions on upcoming assignments, tests and state assessments. I spend time analyzing papers they bring home to look for strengths and weaknesses, I read about their disability areas and watch videos. I brain storm methods to assist them in getting along with their peers and ways to problem solve. I dig and dig and dig and hope that my efforts, desire to understand them better will help them in the long run.
This article is one that documents the the outcome of student struggles in schools, when supported and programmed for well by loving, caring, well educated and able professionals.
I also spend time thinking about how to give the kids opportunities to enjoy and build upon their strengths. I try to think about what they can give up in order to gain happinesss from things that come naturally to them. I also find that I need to make sure that I keep the strengths and enjoyments of all my kids in mind. This is not easy, I don't do it well and I knwo someone always gets the short end of the stick. Each of them is different and although some need a lot of my attention, they all need to feel special and do things they love! This would be an area that I am personally fighting to improve.
This sound clip from The People's Pharmacy touches on this important part of the balancing act.
I struggle to know if what I am doing is the right thing all the time. I have asked the specialists and family members to let me know when my ideas are totally CRAZY and when they are on track. I find references to explain why I do what I do because I struggle to explain the reasons behind the drive within me and and "gut" feeling that I have for some of the crazy things I do to others who are not in my shoes. But nevertheless, I have chosen to fight, find and figure out how I can make the process of learning and life the best it can be for kids. For without them, life would certainly not be as eventful or enjoyable!!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Small Town Fun

August was full of chaos! Harvest was in full swing, crazy storms appeared out of no where, school started and of course I had sick kids! But it was also filled with wonderful moments, fun, and enjoyment!

Each year about the second weekend in August our small town of Underwood, ND holds what we call "Harvest Fest". This event is filled with a full day of events ranging from scavenger hunts and challenges for small children through adults, bingo, music under the tent, a horseshoe tournament, inflatable jumpy "things", a rock wall, rummage sales, yummy food, and of course a tractor pull and a parade. Actually, two parades... one for kids and one featuring kids! The evening then concludes with a great band and a street dance!

Here are some parade pictures from the ever-so- fun Kiddie Parade and other events!
"Harvesting Up Some Loot"
My Girls with their entry "Home Grown Goodness"
"Hunting up a Harvest"

A bit of friendly sibling rivalry while waiting for the tractor pull to begin....

It was a fun day and one I am proud to partake in with my family! Small town fun may not be big and flashy, but it is jam packed with down-to-earth entertainment, sense of community and memories!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Minute Means Money... or maybe not!

There is never a minute that we should take for granted. I really do mean never taking a minute for granted in all aspects of our lives! Over the past few weeks I have had a crash course in grain contracts. Overall, I have learned that each commodity's contract is unique and pretty much just tells the seller that the elevator will take a specified amount of commodity.

On our farm we have been hauling wheat fromt he field to local elevators. Most of it has been contracted. These specific contracts bind both the elevator and producer to deliver and buy a certain number of bushels of wheat at a baseline price. Our elevators use 14 protein for their base contract price. This means that if you bring in a load of wheat you would get a bump or a premium above the price for proteins higher than 14 and a discount on the price if it is lower than 14 protein. Generally, once a producer brings in a load of wheat on a contract the price is set until the contract is filled. Some days a producer will fill several contracts. All of which will have the same premiums and discounts for protein because they are delivered on the same day.

Examples of how premiums are paid out are:
If 14 protein wheat is $4.00/ bushel for each .2 protein increase between 14 and 15 protein the producer would be paid an additional 20 cents. So, 14.6 protein wheat would be worth $4.60. When protein reaches 15 protein the producer would receive the 20 cent premium for each .2 and then an additional 75 cent bump. So 14.8 protein wheat would be $4.80 and 15 protein wheat would be $5.75. But, if you had wheat that was less than 14 protein you could be discounted 30- 40 cents. So if you had 13.2 protein wheat at a discount of 30 cents .2 protein then you would receive a discount of $1.20 for a price of $2.80 per bushel. ( Note: premiums are different at different elevators and on different days. They are generally set by supply and demand.)

Well, about 2 weeks ago, things as we knew them changed. We hauled a few loads of wheat into the elevator filling one of our contracts. Like I said generally the base price and premiums are set from open to close each day and do not change during the day. About 45 minutes after filling one contract, we hauled in another load. During that short period of time (thank you cell phones and technology :-)) the elevator had been given notice that South Dakota (a typical low protein state at about 12 protein) had shipped a load of wheat to Minneapolis that ended up being 16 protein. Thus causing an immediate decline in the need for higher protein wheat and the elimination of premiums for it.

So, when we went to dump on a new contract, we no longer had a premium for our high protein wheat. WAIT A MINUTE.... IT HAD ONLY BEEN A FEW MINUTES.... WHAT DO YOU MEAN? Needless to say there were a few unpublishable comments and several phone calls made to get to the bottom of the price difference. Yes, we know that premiums are a bonus, but they are important when we work hard to raise and plan for a certain percentage of our wheat to be higher protein. It is also important because producers often blend higher proteins with lower proteins to improve their price at market.

You may ask, "What really is the big deal?". Well, let's pencil it out.
If a field produces 45 bushels per acre and a producer raises 1000 acres of wheat that means there are 45,000 bushels of wheat.
Here is the price difference for the above protein premium scenario for the 45,000 bushels of wheat if 14 protein wheat were to be $4.00:
14 protein -$4: $180,000
13 protein-$2.50: $112,500
15 protein- $5.75: $258,750
WOW! That's a lot of money!

Ok, Ok, Ok. I know that not all of a producers crop would get the exact same price, but for princple, the difference is powerful. Many producers raise more than 1000 acres of wheat and do get quality premiums for raising higher protein wheat.
For our farm, literally the matter of just a few minutes, brought a deduction in income of over $30,000. More than I made working all year off the farm. I know I should know that nothing is for sure in farming; but, we get so comfortable with the way things are and have been that we often forget that they can change unexpectedly (and it is not always Mother Nature's fault)!

So, no matter what you think you know, what has historically been done, where things are trending in the markets, a simple change in supply and demand and circumstances out of your control can change the way you operate at any time.

Be thankful for what you have and never take anything for granted!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Impact of Ag Scholarships

So, today I have been procrastinating A LOT and came across commentary and discussion on (, that features a response to a question regarding, "whether or not a scholarship to a farm kid means they don’t return to the very rural community they grew up in".

My initial reaction was," No!” But, then I got to thinking. I guess it all depends on what the scholarship is for. I am a true believer that scholarships and grants are increasingly becoming a necessity for students to attending college. In fact, my husband and I even have a small scholarship set up at Dickinson State University in efforts to help students attend college. We set our scholarship up to require that the recipients be enrolled in an agricultural related course of study. We did not restrict it to a major, a minor, or a certificate program in a specified career because we believe that part of supporting agriculture is supporting the entire industry, not just production agriculture. We wanted to perhaps provide support to those who were active in agriculture in a non-traditional way. Anyway, I strongly feel that scholarships are a must in given the dynamics of our current economic situation and the increasing cost of tuition.

With that being said, I also believe that scholarships can guide people towards or away from various careers, living locations, and life choices. Ok, so what in the world do I mean? What I mean is that scholarships can be created with guidelines that support specific fields of study, living locations from which one was raised or is willing to reside in once graduated etc. This can draw people into specific fields and also support those already interested. The down side is that people may not be able to enter into a specific field if they do not receive financial support.

Do I think that scholarships deter individuals from returning to their rural communities....? I still say, "No", but, perhaps for different reasons. I feel that the PERSON decides whether they return, scholarships may open a door that wasn't before, but ultimately personal interest, job availability, and individual characteristics and circumstances decide whether a person returns "home".

So keep the scholarships out there, make personal connections with those we want to come "home", and help support the decisions that individuals make while leaving the "door" to the rural community open.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Entertaining the Conversation

Over the past 8 months I have been doing a lot of thinking about keeping an open mind and acknowledging that my knowledge and opinions may hurt me more than help me when it comes to promoting things that I am passionate about...Education and Agriculture.

I have heard and studied with my husband about "Foodies" and "Locavores". Listened to my husband partake in deep discussions about Urban Ag and worked with people that promote the Farm to School program. I have also been fortunate enough to partake in conversations about organic farming and GMO crops. Ultimately the best conversation regarding agriculture was with a dear friend at the dinner table about why we need GMO seed, what our responsibility is to the world, the long term effects of our current technological advances, the disruption of the natural cycles in nature and most importantly what the Bible says about agriculture. Now I must say that our conversation was not near long enough (several kids running around). But, it was one that really made me stop and ask, " What would happen if..." and how do all the different farming and ranching practices fit together to supply the demands of our towns, cities, states, country and world.

It was amongst and after all these opportunities to learn and the excitement that I saw on my husband's eyes as he listens and speaks with many people from a variety of backgrounds that I decided to become better educated and interested in the big picture of agriculture. I had spent the last 12 years of my life learning about our operation’s ins and outs that I had spent little time reading, listening and speaking with others in the field and people (actively involved in ag and those who aren't) with things to say. I realized that no matter what they have to say we both have things to learn from each other.

Among the things I have learned to date I have learned that organic is not the enemy of conventional practices. Infact, organic commodities are a fabulous way to connect with the consumer and enter into conversation about choice. Nutrient value is generally equal with both options; it is simply a matter of cost, availability, and lifestyle. Organic is not an option for all, but it is a wonderful way to make the connection between producer and consumer.

Urban agriculture is also growing. Now I must say that it is VERY different from what I have come to know, but none the less it is still is an important sub-culture within the agriculture industry. I have found that some of my biggest challenges when trying to talk about agriculture come from the urban population. Many times it is because the hustle and bustle of the city lifestyle has not provided time for consumers to think about how the food gets to their store, where it comes from, availability, price, quality etc. The urban ag movement gets people, groups and even companies involved in knowing about the food they consume, the effort that goes into producing and perhaps helps them stop and think about the entire (or part of) the complex and advanced agricultural system in the United States.

My biggest challenge has definitely been the concept of spirituality and agriculture. Part of my challenge is not knowing what all the Bible has to say and part of it is a struggle with responsibility to supply. How do my personal values and morals co-exist in an industry that no longer (not for a long time now) is a self sustaining lifestyle. U.S. agriculture is a worldwide life sustaining business that is always moving ahead. Where does my balance come within farming practices, desire to get a few more cents per bushel, relationships with business partners and landlords. I have stated several times that I will not become someone that I am not comfortable with to move up the ladder, but when does livelihood and need to compete compromise that statement? I have not had to deal to heavily with that as of yet, but I know my day will come and I will need my faith to pull me through. I hope that as time goes on that my dinner conversation with a dear friend will continue for she is very knowledgeable, has a different perspective than many in our community and is a wonderful listener!

So, I guess the moral of today's message is that no matter what the theme or topic of the conversation is, listen, ask questions, and share. You will always learn something; even if it is just a better understand of the other person or perspectives that are out there!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A House Cheer Up that Smells Good Too!

So, I love to be outside working in my yard and garden. Infact, I think that I could spend most of everyday there. I also think about what I am going to change, rearrange etc. on a regular basis. But, sometimes I have to focus on the inside of my house too. During the summer, I can certainly say that the inside of my house definately gets neglected!

Anyway, I hosted a Vintage Couture clothing party last night. ( AWESOMELY CUTE STUFF I MUST SAY!) This meant that I had to venture inside and clean/ tidy up the inside of my house and hide the things that I knew I was not going to get put away. I tossed a few things in closets, a few things in baskets and cupboards and the rest found semi- correct resting places. But thenI realized I had tables and counters without the regular piles and collections on them and my house felt "empty". So, I ventured outside to see what I could find to brighten and fill up the space..... I was able to find a few lillies still in bloom and some other flowers that I am not sure what they are. Oh yah and sunflowers! So I tossed them into a few vases and set them out. It is amazing what you can do with a few glass jars, river rock from the landscaping and the last of the flowers....
As I got started finalizing my "cleaning" I found one last table that needed a little something. So, I decided that I would try out a herb bouquet.

A bit of Rosemary, some Basil and a pom of Hydrangia and I had a cute little very fresh smelling arrangement. Not to mention a living room that smelled wonderful!
So, enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer, treat it with care and it will repay you with lots of enjoyment, entertainment and beauty.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Zucchini Time

It is that time of year when there are a few things that grow in abundance no matter how many seeds you plant. For me it is zucchini. Whether I put in 5 seeds or 50 it always seems like I end up with the same amount...too much!

The other day my husband, oldest son and I took full advantage of our supply and experimented with a few new recipes. The two that ended up to be winners were Cheesy Italian Layered Zucchini and Zucchini Funnel Cakes. I should have known... who can't resist cheese and a good tasting funnel cake!
Here is my best shot at the recipes... as you may know, I don't use recipes very often and of course I didn't write anything down as we went along.

Cheesy Layered Zucchini
1 large or 2 medium zucchini sliced thin
mozzerella cheese
parmesean or parmesean/ romano
asiago cheese
1 -2 sliced and patted dry roma tomato
8x8 or 9x9 pan
Cooking Spray
Layer ingredients beginning with the zuccini in the pan. Use one kind of cheese then place a layer of zucchini. When you use the parmeasean replace the zucchini with the tomato. Top the zucchini bake with parmesean and fresh or dried italian herbs.
Bake uncovered at 375 for 45 minutes. It will get good and bubbly and golden brown on top.
Let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Zucchini Funnel Cake
chopped or minced zucchini
3 c.pancake batter
1/4 c. honey
dash of cinnamon
water(to make batter pancake/waffle consistancy)
powder sugar

Chop or mince your zucchini.

Mix first 5 ingredients.
Let sit while deep dry oil is heating. When oil is hot, drizzle 1 cup batter in. Allow to cook until edges are golden brown (about 90 sec- 2 minutes) then flip and cook for about another 90 secs.
Flip fried dough out onto a plate covered with paper towels,
sprinkle with powered sugar and let cool for 1 minute-- if possible :) Eat and enjoy!

We enjoyed experimenting and hope that others do too! If all else fails, when you find yourself not knowing what to do with the plentiful produce coming from your garden, bundle it up and deliver it to a neighbor, but don't forget to include a recipe!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beauty IS in the Eye of the Beholder

Well, last night I decided that it was time to start taking care of the veggies that were ready in my garden. Now, let me say that being that it is my first official year gardening I have not been the best at taking care of all my produce. I forgot that certain veggies need to be dusted or sprayed for things like larva, bugs etc. So, never the less I found some unexpected creatures when I went to collect the broccoli and cabbage. WORMS!

Immediately I wanted to curse, but I screamed instead. This caused my 4 year little guy Chris to come running over. "What mom," he says. So I showed him the hundreds of eggs and numerous little green worms. "That is so cool! Can I have them?" he continued. I wanted to ask if he was kidding, but by the look on his face I knew that he was serious and excited as a 4 year old could be. So, I continued to collect the broccoli and cabbage with their worms and all and carry them into the house.

Chris grabbed a bucket, tossed some veggie leaves in and said, "I need them all. They turn into the pretty butterflies." He tossed the bucket on the counter and headed off to play a bit more. I on the other hand spent the next 3 hours de-worming, cutting cleaning and packaging veggies. When I was done Chris had a nice collection in his bucket
and my freezer was starting to look a bit more colorful.

I will say that a few thoughts traveled through my mind as I was working. Some of them include...
*Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
*I wish I was excited about worms as Chris.
*Next year I will powder and spray for critters.
*I wonder if my food from the store, Farmer's market etc. has worms that I just don't know about.
*Thank the good Lord that we have people smart enough to figure out how to make and when to apply products to make our food sources safe.

...and then my dimmly lit light bulb of a brain after hours of picking realized that as frustrated that I am about my small inconvience in my garden it is nothing compared to the stress and constant battle that our farmers (organic and non-organic) and ranchers face each and every day in order to keep our crops and livestock healthy so that it is safe for our consumption.

So, in honor of the WORMS, I thank Chris for seeing a silver lining and finding some fun in my frustration and I thank all that work to make the food in the USA the safe!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hidden Messages, Hear What is Really Being Said

Today I opened up my email and saw a forward from my mom. Now, I wasn't alarmed because she sends these about once a week. Some of them are cute, funny and some I admit I delete without even opening. Today the subject line caught my eye, "Tyson Foods".

So, I opened it and began reading.....

The initial line said " verified by Snopes and Fox" which peeked my curiousity even more. So I actually READ, not skimmed the email.

Overall it was about boycotting the Tyson company because their Tennesse plant negotiated to switch paid holidays from Labor Day to that of a Muslim holiday in response to the high number of Muslim employees. The email made it seem like this was recent, but in actuality if one does the research this happened about 3 years ago and the switch was made in only one of the processing plants. I can see why people get worked up about a switch of this matter, but one must realize that we are living in the 21st Century. We choose to live in a country with a vast variety of cultures and religiuos beliefs. We also need to remember that we have our personal beliefs and then we have our businesses. Sometimes these two perspectives do not see eye to eye.

Anyway, my response to this email was, " I guess one needs to look at this wholistically... As a business, we need to accommodate those who work for us. We have to set our personal beliefs aside and figure out what is best for the company. We also cannot persecute and entire culture/religion for what a small number of brain-washed crazy people have done. So I guess I am saying that if a company has a large number of employees whose culture/ religion should prevent them from being able to work on a particular day, then the company should consider changing up the work schedule in order to accommodate their work force. Also, it is important to note that not all Muslims are recent relocators from the Middle East. The religion has what we may call " white" or non-traditional believers. I think if we look at history we one will see that if we group them all into one category, we will find ourselves on the wrong side of the argument and assumption."

I also would like to say, that the circulation of this email is concerning to me, especially since this is a matter of 3 years ago. My gut says that this is not really an email about the change of a paid holiday. My concern comes from the increasing negative publicity from special interest groups that are taking wild and far reaching actions to discredit, terrorize and destroy animal agriculture in the United States. With that being said, I encourage you to gather accurate information from those who work directly in the animal agriculture industry. Do not let a wild card emails, commercials, mailings etc persuade you to travel down a road of inaccuracies. When hearing information question it, research it and look to those within the realm of the information for their side and info before passing it on to someone else. And if nothing else, PLEASE read between the lines!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Food Budget Out of Control

As a mom of four I have come to accept that I will only have to keep increasing the food budget over the next several years! It amazes me how much we actually spend and then also how much we end up throwing away.

I have a few picky eaters, one that will not eat leftovers and 2 that if can be eaten they will comsume it. So, I am always looking for easy, flexible dinner ideas that use leftovers (without anyone knowing). I am getting to be a pro at reseasoning beef, pork and chicken for use in soup, stew, between tortillas or in gravy. Sometimes we reheat, then set out a wide variety of sauces for "doctoring it up", cheeses and a choice side. (They say it is kids choice night.) Most of the time the kids think I worked really hard to make several things... Little do they know they are eating last nights hambergers crumbled with pizza seasoning on their homemade pizza or the leftover brats sliced and fried with the cut up extra baked potatos and then scrambled with eggs for breakfast....I figure what they don't know won't hurt them. :)

Tonight I opened my pantry and found 2 gallon sized bags of cookies, left over from a family celebration about 10 days ago. The ones that were left were not to the liking of my kids.. so now what do I do. Make them into bars! Here's what I did....

Preheat oven to 350
Crumble cookies (I took all 3 kinds- oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and sugar)
Melt enough butter to make cookies moist
Grease a 9x13 pan
Pat cookie mix into bottom of pan
Mix up a family size (enough for 9x13 pan) brownie mix and spread over cookie mix
Add any additional goodies desired ( choc. chips, nuts, coconut etc.)
Cook for about 20 minutes or until done
Let cool
(I know, no specific measurements... sorry, that is how I cook.)

So, now to figure out what to do with all that other stuff just hanging around the pantry and fridge. Here's to hoping reducing the amount of food I make, and reusing the leftovers helps out the good old pocket book! CHEERS!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sitting the Bench

As of tonight Ben, now 10, will be riding the bench for the remainder of the baseball season. He will also have to miss out on the elementary football season, trampoline jumping, and any movement that is not in the pool or on a bike... the growth plates in his heels are badly inflammed and he winces in pain each time he steps.

He was supposed to sit out tonight, but after a bit of begging, puppy eyes and a few batted eyelashes, I let him play in 2 baseball games. It saddens me to know how sad he is to not do the things he loves, but warms my heart to know he's taking it in stride. He pointed out that he can still cheer on his team, shoot blackbirds out the playhouse windows and catch his brother when he bounces off the tramp. What a great kid.

What really got me today was when he said to me, "Mom, I am sorry I put you through all this. I know it is a lot of work to give us all we need." Fighting tears, I simply said, "No need for sorry. This is what being a mom is all about. It is my job to run you here and there and make sure you are taken care of." He then says, "But who takes care of you?" I didn't know what to say, but I know that there is a God because just then I was saved from an out pouring of tears by the spunky nurse/ physician's assistant that walked into the room. THANK YOU!

Wow! What a day! And now it's time for the tears, an extra hug good night for my kids and bed for myself. Tomorrow will be another adventure that will start earlier than I desire.

Cookin' Up My Favorites!

Food is always coming in thr house and then flying out of my fridge and cupboards. I took a minute the other day to look at what my kiddos were eating. Some of it was good and some of it was not so good! So, I brought some of the good old easy summer recipes back.

Campfire Apple "Pie"
Apples of your choice
Pot holder
Stick entire apple on a stick.
Cook over open fire or grill until tender to touch ( use pot holder to squeeze)
Peel off burnt skin and eat. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar if desired.

Pineapple Dream
Cut a fresh pineapple into circles of half circles 1/2-1 inch thick.
Place on grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.
You can also cut into chunks and use kabobs or roasting sticks and a fire.
Add ham chunks on kabobs for a meal.

Pickle & Pork Poppers
1 pound bacon of your choice
Dill pickles ( 1 per bacon slice)
Tooth Picks (soaked for 5-10 minutes in water before use)

Wrap pickle in bacon. Secure with soaked toothpick.
Cook for about 5 minutes or until bacon is to desired crispness.
**If using store bought already cooked bacon, cook over low heat to allow pickle to get warm and avoiding burning the bacon.

For hot days... Frozen watermelon and grapes are a super treat. Also, Freezing pudding in paper cups with a spoon stuck inside makes for calcium rich treats!


Monday, July 11, 2011

To Say What When

Ok... Something I have been struggling with ever since I moved to my small town is how to say what when. What I mean is that because we are small, many people do not voice concerns for fear that they will make waves, because it has always been this or that way, their family will be affected, etc. AS a non-small town girl I get upset because at what point do we as people lose our rights because we live in a small town. I also become frustrated at the fact the we have many differnet roles that we play (parent, community member, board member, cousin, brother etc) and that we need to be able to seperate those roles when we have concerns or congratulations to share. I may be a tax payer, teacher and a community member, but I still have the right to be heard as the parent of my child. I have become upset at small town politics and the struggle to do what is right for fear of what might happen.

What I am in search of is how do you get others to see that making the right decision is not always easy, will not always give you an immediate sense of relief/ accomplishment, and may not be of benefit to you, but may simply be the right thing to do? In 11 years I have continued to beat my head against the wall. Yet, I do not give up hope for there has to be someone or a group of someones that still have their feet on the ground, head screwed on straight, and thick skin. So, until I find them, I continue to gentally ruffle feathers looking for the flock that stands for what is right and not easy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Few Moments to Play?

After a long 6 weeks and no post (once again) I can say what could be planted is, insurance and other paperwork has met the deadline, some sleep has been caught up on and a deep breath has been taken. Yet, as so many of us know, you can never get ahead of mother nature. Infact, I was told just a few days ago, I have two days to go until spraying is caught up and then I will find myself 5 days behind. All I could do is think, I don't even know what to say.

Then I thought, if you don't go check the field for a day, you won't know that you are 5 days behind! So that is what we did! We took a much needed break, 2 infact and boy did it make EVERYTHING so much better.

Steven headed camping and four wheeling in the Badlands 2 weekends ago and then yesterday we headed to the lake without kids, but with family and friends for an afternoon. It's amazing how much more can get done when you set out, take a break and see the "world" instead of feeling like your world is getting smaller and smaller.

One great thing we have in ND is wide open space, and with is comes the ability to see things in the distance, a sense of natural freedom and feeling that all things are possible. So I have again been reminded, when the times get tough, the tough step outside (the house, the car, the tractor etc.) and breathe in possibility, patience and perservence! How awesome ND is and how lucky we are to live here!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday, Pictures Say It All or Do They?

As I work on several projects and ponder what I can write for this weeks Wordless Wednesday, I realize that pictures often say more and then leave us thinking than words can at times. So in honor of WW I share the following with you!

Have a GREAT day!
(P.S. Thank You internet for a few quick pics!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


What is the most popular pizza topping in America?
In honor of Farm Fact Friday and my family's tradition of eating pizza on Friday for as long as I can remember....I thought this was appropriate.

Did you know that Americans eat about 100 acres of pizza every day. That is a little over the total area of 100 NFL football fields.

I have never thought as much about pizza as I have in the past few months. I always entertained the thought about what kind I wanted to eat, why the kinds my kids wanted were so much more expensive than what I wanted (thank you advertising and package design specialists) and how many different brands of frozen pizza there are still surprises me, but I have now thought about what really makes a pizza.

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend 3 days, one each in Minot, Bismarck and Dickinson talking to and sprouting seeds in glove gardens with elementary students through the Marketplace for Kids program. It was here that we talked about food. We talked about growing food, the foods we liked to eat and fun things that we could do with food besides eat it. Most importantly we talked about where all the food mentioned came from. About 90% of the items mentioned could be raised on or grown from the ground right here in the state of North Dakota. I told them that there were not too many places that could actually claim that and that they should be proud.

We also talked about the fact that many of us can say one of our favorite foods is pizza. This can be said because the ability to mix and match toppings in infiniate and can be adjusted to meet everyone's tastes. Despite the ability to place anything on top of a ground wheat, yeast and water crust, most of the toppings (minus pinapple) all could be raised or grown in North Dakota.

So, the next time you bite into that hot, cheesy, tasty pizza, think about what you are eating, where it came from and the work that went into raising and growing the product that you enjoy eating so much!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Reason My Kids Are Worth It

My kids really do keep me on my toes and running in circles. But on a windy afternoon when I am trying to figure out which end is up and whether I am going forward or back I paused to record my almost 4 year old singing. This really was the best moment of the day!!

Check out my Moment from Monday on this Wordless Wednesday at ... it is definately worth a minute!

Take Advantage of Every Moment

Ok, so it has been way too long since I have put up a post and a lot has happpened.  Today, I vow to start a new life philosophy... make use of every moment and take time to enjoy! So, being that I have 15 minutes before I have to walk out the door I am using it!

I have officially been done working  for 18 days. I am not sure what all  I have accomplished. Well wait, I have paid bills on time, made a few more home cooked meals and spent more time with the kiddos. But visually everything around me is out of control!  Small piles of this here, shoes  all around my house, laundry scattered there, and dishes that appear from no where... AHHHH!

Yesterday I came home from subbing for lunch and was amazed what I got accomplished in 75 minutes. I made a hotdish for dinner, baked lemon muffins, made a few phone calls, did a load and a half of laundry, washed dishes, picked up the toys and books from the morning, and made my 4th cup of coffee.  When I got home later it felt so good to walk into a "tidy" house with supper ready to roll.

The best part was that it just takes effort and a bit of strategic planning. So, I am thinking that on days when I have my munchkins running around all of these tasks will be accomplished while they play outside or take naps. I have learned that when they are awake and inside that everything gets undone faster than I can do it!

Anyway, here's to taking advantage and making every moment count so that we have time to enjoy the good stuff!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today I was the Sub for a Sub!

One of my favorite things to do in my "freetime" is sub at our school. I really don't mind which class I am asked to spend the day in, but there are a few that are my favorites... today's class was one of them!!  Mrs. Cottingham, high school teacher, has classes that the topics/ content are fun, can be made realavent to kids and a group of students that are willing to talk and join in a good conversation. My sister-in-law was planning on subbing for her all week and then was asked to switch to a long-term sub in the building, so I got to spend time in a great school with a wonderful and interesting group of teenagers for the day! Yippee!!!!!

I got to "teach" Citizenship/Civics, Sociology, Economics, hang with the students during study hall and work with a student on an optical illusion project while avoiding computer viruses. I say "teach" because the students actually taught me a lot more more about them, why they interact with each other the way they do and how needy they are for attention, than the information and conversational learning that I went over with them. One of the most fun parts of the day was watching the 9th graders put on skits about relationships and listening to some of the comments that showed strength and self worth!

The young adults asked good questions about debt, why college is so expensive and listened to me explain over and over the pros and cons of credit. I was very impressed that the econ class knew the rule of 72 (I didn't before my husband explained it to me last night). I was even more impressed that they thought it was crazy that texting lingo and slang conversational vocabulary was adopted into the English dictionary.

Kids are kids and teenagers will continue to challenge us, but today I stopped to wonder whether we take enough time to try and understand them, connect with them, and meet them where they are or if we spend too much time asking them to understand us, connect with us and take our goals and our "important" info to heart when it may not have any meaning to them. I truly feel that they are a puzzle that is worth putting the pieces together to figure out. I can't wait until I can spend another day subbing, finding the pieces that will help with picture come together!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Who Needs Toys!

Today was one of those busy days. Work started at 7 am, meaning that I left the house at 5:45. I got home about 4:30 to a quiet house with 2 kids in it. Quiet house of an unattended 9 1/2 and 7 year old generally is not a good thing. To my surprise they were finished with their homework and were putting in time downstairs with Wii fit. I almost stopped to make sure they were my kids... no fighting taking turns, TV at a normal volume... I began wondering what they were going to ask for.  Well, they continued to take turns on the Wii for a few more minutes and the my oldest came upstairs. he started chatting and then picked up a stack of plastic cups and got busy making towers, more towers, designs and challenging himself cups pick up contests to see how fast he could get them all in a tidy stack. Who needs toys when plastic cups are around? Not Ben.

I began cooking taco meat and the youngest came upstairs heading straight for the tin foil. She grabbed it, watched it roll across the floor and shook it like a sheet laughing hysterically as she tried looking into it as if it were a mirror.  After dinner she provided entertainment as she played drums on the empty milk jug. Who needs toys? Not Nellie!

It always amazes me how the medical syringe full of medicine is one of the worst things to a 3 year old in the world, but let them grab it, fill it with juice, water or milk and it becomes the coolest toy to use in revenge on your siblings. Who needs toys? Not Chris!

A few sheets of paper and a pen or the cups that others were using to build towers taller than themselves are also some of the simple things that kids love. Libby would take these and a good old radio any day! Who needs shelves of toys? Not Libby!

Well, toys of all sorts do make life entertaining and are always fun to look at and receive. My kids do love all the toys and gadgets that they have. But when it comes right down to it, some of the best and most fun things to play with are all the things in the kitchen cupboards, drawers or in the family office!  I LOVE to see them use their creative side and invent their fun! I am so thankful for them as they are one of the best gifts!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Franklin Comes for a Visit

Gotta love the excitement when guests come! This week we have had Franklin ( yes, the Turtle from PBS) come and visit. The best part is that there is no food involved and the house doesn't have to be cleaned.

The 1st grade teacher in Underwood has a Franklin that goes home each week with her students. Franklin comes with a tote bag, a book and a journal. The kids get to write about what they have done with Franklin during the week and either draw or glue pictures onto the journal pages. I love it! Libby loves it too! It is so much fun to read about what Franklin has been doing throughout the year on his visits to the different homes. It is also fun to see how the kids have changed through pictures and writing! The only trouble with the entire process is when you get forget to take pictures and write so you play catch up at the week's end!

This week Franklin has had many adventures... reading, bedroom cleaning, playing outdoors, building a chicken coop, hanging out at the dinner table, visiting the guys at the shop while drinking coffee, snow removal duty, and has been on a snowmobile and bus ride. He has also experienced our ever so lovely winter storm-- farm style.

This is such a fun family project and one that I hope each first grader gets to experience!

Wordless Wednesday... A Day of Silent Memories

As a friend and fellow blogger calls today... it's Wordless Wednesday!
Today it really is. It has been an interesting few days and now I am at a loss for words.
My grandma passed away yesterday and I am OK with it knowing that she is in heaven continuing her life in a new phase. Don't get me wrong, I have shed my share of tears, but I know that she is rejuvenated, smiling, continuing to give of herself and as always is the eternal optimist. But I struggle to know what I am to say to all those that are still here. I am not sure why this is. I have lost numerous people in my life during the past 1 1/2 years and it hasn't been a problem.  This time, I just don't know what to say. Perhaps it is that I am so far away and cannot get to where everyone is gathering, perhaps I am at peace knowing that she had an amazing selfless life and that her faith, family, and friends were the most important things in her life and that God called her at a time when she was ready to go or perhaps I am still processing. Whatever it is, I know that I have wonderful memories, infinite life lessons and some very special knitted items that I will hold close.
For these three things I am forever grateful! Ultimately I have learned that simplicity, love and selflessness can take you on a journey better than one could ever expect!

Love you! May you enjoy the adventures ahead...You deserve the peace of heaven and eternal life!