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!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blogging as an Educational Tool

Who said blogging couldn't be educational? Well, I am here to tell you that it is definately a better way to use technology than cell phones in classrooms!  Kids blogging can actually force them to write correctly since it will be seen by a lot of people and it can be reviewed by the teacher fro input or editting suggestions before publication. It can also be a way for kids to interact with people or topics that they may never else do. I can also tell you that many kid blogs are set up as tools to help kids learn academic content.

So, I have taken another leap into the world of technology, stretched my creative mind, thought about how I can connect with youth and started a blog to help kids and others who may be interested learn about what happens on our farm in central North Dakota through the year. I also pose questions hoping to get some responses. Where else should the info about what happens on farms and ranches come from, but from the farmers and ranchers themselves!

from USDA. gov

Amazingly it is very simple.... I have to add the users, I can elect to approve comments and blogs added by users before they are published to make sure it is appropriate and I can upload pictures, video and create links. I believe that my blog will help teachers, students, and individuals not involved in agriculture know more about the oldest industry of our great nation...agriculture!

If you want to be a user of  A Day in the Life of ND Agriculture ( my youth centered blog)... add a comment or send me a message and I will get you set up!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Views From My Windows

Growing up in Minneapolis, MN, I did not know what wide open spaces were. I was raised knowing that when you saw the black clouds above or heard the booms of thunder over the traffic that it was going to rain within a few minutes. I will never forget my first weather experience in ND.

Ok Ok, my first ND weather experience was a beautiful day and looked something like this view of a wheat field from this past summer.

My most memorable ND weather experience ....I was riding in the tractor for what seemed like forever. Early in the afternoon we were harrowing a very bumpy hilly field headed southwest and I looked out the massive front window onto the horizon and noticed a line of dark clouds. Instinctively I said, " We'll have to head in soon. It's going to pour in just a bit." Little did I know that the storm was over 60 miles away and was probably more like 150 miles from our location. I was quickly corrected and spent the rest of the afternoon amazed by the building and movement of the storm.

 Ever since then, I have been fascinated by the views of the sky and the countryside that I can see from the many windows I sit behind: the kitchen windows, front windows, car windows and yes, even tractor windows. No matter how often the sun shines, flakes fly, winds blow or a storm brews, I love all that the wide open spaces of rural ND that I call home.

Snow in backyard as of last week

Shingles blown off from the wind in front yard

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My daughter sparkled again!

For the past year and a half I have tried to find a way to communicate with my now 7 year old daughter about how to deal with other girls. ( I don't remember this much drama when I was in Kindergarten and 1st Grade). Now mind you that I know she is not perfect and has troubles at times because of something she has said or done. We have tried the just ignore them, maybe they are having a tough time too, try and be frinds with them, keep smiling, report it, pray for them, you can only control you actions and reactions make sure you are making good choices and so forth... Never the less she continues to run to me to help solve her problems. So, today I tried something that was I got from a book study I am leading. I told her, " I am sorry that happened." I then empowered her by giving her the words to express her feelings and a strategy to begin figuring out what was going on and off she went. I have come to the conclusion that she needs to be able to help herself appropriately and that she needs to have the confidence to do it. She walked herself through the steps and she came back to tell me she figured it out! MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT! My soft hearted, independant, head strong little girl had begun a process, that if we can keep going, will take her a long way!

Shining and Sparkling is something that I don't often see Libby do. This weekend was one of those amazing moments.... lots of smiles and experiences.... it is amazing how some of the littlest things can have a BIG impact! Not only did she begin to know how to problem solve, she had the chance to down hill ski again.  She started last weekend and loved it. Steven took her again yesterday and she bloomed. She hops off the chair lift and heads straight down the hill stopping at the bottom before hitting the buildings or people (unlike her mom). She even took full advantage of lack of parental supevision ( Steven was on the slope with Ben) to finish her hot cocoa, put her boots back on, hike it over to the hill, slip into her skiis and hit the bunny slope in hopes of learning how to jump!

Finally, the joy of singing and love of being in the public eye graced her this afternoon. At a local concert at our church the kids were invited up to sing and dance. Libby was handed the mic and she glowed. She sang in rhythm and tune and had all eyes on her. I am so proud of her and am glad that she had her moments! The only down side is that as of tonight, she has a new ambition to record her own album. She says it may not be now, it may be a long ways down the road, but that she intends on practicing and then God will let her know when it is time.

In the words of someone wise... don't squalsh the spirit of a child. Use it, protect it and enjoy it as if it were your own.

Selfish or Selfless

As I sit in my office surrounded by chaos, boxes of books and trinkets to go to kids during my Ag in a Bag classes, piles of papers to file, the washing machine spinning and the TV  playing the newest rerun episode of Chopped and kids running in and out asking for snacks, I find myself sitting on Facebook.

Now I have to say that most of the time I just like reading what other people post, most of it updates about kids or plans for the evening, but occasionally there is something worth reposting. Yesterday my cousin posted a video about a father and a son that was perhaps the most inspirational thing I had seen in a long time. It made me sit back, cry and ask myself to dig deep and reflect on all that we have in our life. I thought to myself, "Am I in a position to do this with my kids?". Then I found myself asking.... is this thing that I do or that thing that I do selfish or selfless and is it possible to be both.

I love being able to work outside the home, travel and do things that not everyone is able to do- selfish. I love being with my kids, giving my time to others and organizations that are in need- selfless. I also find it a bit selfish as it does provide some self gratification. I hate doing laundry, clean and do dishes, but they have to get done. I love to cook, read and sew, but they happen very rarely. I struggle to keep a balance and keep things in perspective and know that if I lean too far one way or another that I am not doing anyone any good.  So I then have to ask... what is the next step and where does one go from here....

I can honestly say that I have not been able to completely answer my own question. I do know though that if we never do anything for ourselves or for others we are missing HUGE pieces that help us feel good and truly make life rich. The biggest challenge is keeping a balance.

I ask you to please take a few minutes to watch this very powerful video and the interview that accompanies it. Never give up and know that it you set your mind to something that there always is a way!
Video: My Redeemer Lives, Team Hoyt
Video Interview: Dick and Rick Hoyt