Friday, December 26, 2014

Milk and Cookies 2014

As I tried to take care of two things at once this year and help Gracyn with her Girl Scouts fall product sale AND get my holiday cards paid for I should have known better. Because then I got busy and didn't realize it was past time to order our picture shirts so they were not ready in time for the usual post cookie baking picture [which was actually OK because Gretchyn and Gwyn had far too much sugar!] Thanks to Marcia for coming out again that week to try to wrangle us for our annual craziness of trying to get five people to look at one camera without sticking their tongues out [like their dad taught them!] After a short rest from the insanity my insomnia kicked in that night and I got the photo loaded, rhyme written, and card made then ordered in the wee hours of the morning. But even paying the extra $10 for quick shipping, the card is still not here or ready to mail.

So here I am with Christmas over finishing up the letter [as my procrastination kicked in even more when I knew the card was late so the e-letter did not have to be done] hoping to email out the link to those I have in my electronic address book and send cards out when they come for some extra holiday cheer after the big guy and his reindeer have jingled their way back to the North Pole.

Happy Holidays from us on the funny farm - and if you are reading this now or later we hope family and friends filled your homes, , you can still get your pants zipped after all that good cheer and food, you are down from your sugar high, Santa made all your wishes come true, and you continue to pass on the true reason for the season as 2014 comes to an end and we hang on for another trip around the sun in 2015!

Milk & Cookies 2014 From the Kane Farm

The 'tail' end - What would you share about the wonderful things that happened with you this year?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The true reason for the season

I am sure you have all heard the saying, it is better to give then to receive. And as I think back to getting caught sneaking a peek at my Christmas presents a few years in a row (what can I say, I have always been curious and at times impatient!)  I can see why this is such an important concept. 

As a child I did not always realize the joy was in the giving and receiving, not just the gift. But I do think I have enjoyed the action of giving for quite some time. It always made me feel good when a friend liked the gift I gave them for their birthday or when I could help someone smile with a small item they liked to use. I was the coordinator of Secret Santa, Cupids, and Fluffer Butts with a group of friends my senior year in high school. And while some of my friends were busy trying to figure out who had their name I found myself listening to my person to see what they would enjoy to find in their locker most. 

That is the part of giving I truly enjoy the most. Asking questions and listening to conversations to make note of what might help them smile as they tear off the wrapping paper. I love to personalize gifts and make them mean something. That is where the joy is for me - knowing I got it right for that 

I also love the journey of finding that special gift, using my searching skills to find out where I can find the best deal or item for each person, and even customizing and creating items that are one of a kind from inside my mind. My husband would tell you Pinterest is my biggest time waster, but I love seeing ideas people have put together and making it my own. I borrow from the best and turn it into what I can do, so my items never turn out exactly like they are online, but my own version of what I see. My favorite gift from last year was the canvas collages I made with pictures of letters on signs from places that were important to those people to spell out their names. I had more fun finding the places to take the pictures of the letters then anything else. And this idea came to me as I saw a photo collage of doors important in my hometown. It was especially fun to hear them talk about where the letters were from as they guessed or matched it up with the laminated card I put inside that gave the information. 

Each year I am trying to pass this on to my girls and show them we can work together to make presents or put together a few small items with a theme for their teachers, friends, and cousins that are even more special then something expensive from the store.

 I am even playing around with an idea in my head to start a new tradition this year to help pass our waiting time Christmas morning that involves making something for our siblings or finding a way to give back to our community. 

I have always tried to work with my girls to give back at the holiday time when we clean out our toy box and toys to donate to others who might not have all the nice things we have. We discuss how we are fortunate to have our family and nice things to share with each other, but that doesn't happen for everyone for a lot of different reasons so we can help make that happen for someone with something we loved to play with for awhile, but is ready for a new happy home. I need to work on this all year as a way to keep the kindness going. 

The girls have also really enjoyed shopping the last two years to put a present in the box for a toy drive started in our local school to remember a special little girl taken too soon in a car accident. They look forward to picking something out and telling me how it will be played with. They also like to see the pictures of the girls little sister with all the toys before the family donates them. I like to hear them chatter about 'wow, look at all those toys kids will now have to play with' and 'isn't she lucky to give all those toys away.' And to read the posts about how this toy drive is helping the family remember their daughter and her giving spirit makes my heart melt even more. 

I have been reading many stories of Random Acts of a Kindness and Paying it Forward as part of stories on Random Act of Kindness web page and the 26 Acts of Kindness Facebook page that started after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. It is heartwarming to hear the good in our country as sometimes we tend to focus on the bad. Another friend also posted his girls with the toys they bought with money they saved in their piggy banks to buy toys to put in the Toys for Tots bin at Toys R Us. What an an amazing tradition to start with their family! 

When I was a middle school librarian my announcement team worked ever year to spread the word on live morning announcements via the TV to gather items to share at the holiday time. We did movies for soldiers overseas, books for the book mobiles in Africa, canned goods to forgive library fines, and sold candy-grams to raise money to donate. We also did a penny war each April to celebrate reading month and donated the money to places like Camp Courageous, the Heifer Project and local students after car accidents involving them or their parents. The kids looked forward to it each year and really got into the idea of giving back. And the ladies at the bank we extra kind when they saw me coming with my buckets of change to run through their machine.

The 'tail' end - I hope the 'spirit' of the season finds you merry and bright during this holiday time. What do you do to give back or pay it forward during the holidays or any time of the year? 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

There is always, always something to be thankful for

What happened to Thanksgiving? I saw this comic on Facebook and had to immediately share it with others!

In my house Christmas decorating does not start until December. The only thing I might do a little early is pick up some presents (to save a lecture from my husband about the amount of money I spend in December) so I can spread out the spending! 

I saw Christmas items up in stores before Halloween and Black Friday has creeped into Thursday at many stores. Retail is taking over time with our families to enjoy talking, laughing, unbuttoning pants because we ate too much, and random naps from the turkey. But I cannot just blame the stores, they are reacting to the supply and demand system our society is built on. It would not pay for them to be open on Thanksgiving if no one was there, but the problem is - there are people there to get the deal. We are helping to create the monster. Why is saving a few dollars more important to us then being with the ones we love? If everyone stayed home there would be no reason for stores to be open.

 But instead I see stories on the news about women camping out at Best Buy 20+ days before Black Friday (how do you afford to buy anything if you are not working for 20+ days?)  and the woman who K-Mart is going to fire because she is refusing to work on Thanksgiving to be with her family. (I know there are many jobs that work holidays - including my husband the dairy farmer who works 365 days a year as the cows don't know it is time for turkey - and I am sure those people would like to be home with family too, so why are we creating more reasons to break into family time.)  When will it end? When will we stay at home to be with family instead of pretend we are saving money. (You know a sale is only marking it down so they don't make AS much, but don't kid yourself they are still making a profit) 

We have forgotten the real reason the Pilgrims and Indians sat down together to enjoy a homegrown meal - they were thankful to have the food and friendship. 

The choice is yours - help big business or stay home and love the ones you are with. What if everyone took the money and time they were going to waste in line and spent it to help a needy family or serve Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter. Just imagine the impact of that. 

The 'tail' end - What are you thankful for this fall season? 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sometimes questions are more important than answers ~ Nancy Willard

With a house full of giggly girls we have some pretty colorful conversations. And being a former teacher librarian I am pretty used to fielding questions. But lately I have been baffled by a few things I have had to explain to one girl or another or heard as a response to something I asked them. So I have been keeping a list and decided to turn it into a post of girly wonders.

I asked G2 the other day why it was so hard to flush the toilet after she went to the bathroom. As I am constantly finding it unfleshed when I find time to go. Her response was so that of little girl born in an automatic society. She said "the toilets at school flush automatically, so I am not used to it at home." And she was so dead serious as if that explained everything. Never mind the 15+ hours she is home at night, the 48+ hours on the weekend and the 2 1/2 months we just spent at home for the summer! Those 8 hours at school where she probably goes to the bathroom no more then 3 times a day make her forget! But to her that made perfect sense. (For $900 you can get a no touch Kohler toilet in your home - guess I better have the girls start saving their pennies!)

Just after school started G2 came home and informed me she now knew the F word (which was bound to happen because she had already told me the a and s word before) So I calmly asked her where she had heard it and without missing a beat she launched into letting me know a boy got on the bus that afternoon and as he was putting his window down he yelled "it's f#*%ing hot out!" While trying to keep a straight face, I let her know while it was rather hot that day, she should not be using that word as she was describing the heat that had so pleasantly hit Iowa just as school started. The even better part of this is when I told my husband the story that night his comments were what do you expect to happen on the bus, at least she could repeat it in the right context, and it was more than f#*%ing hot out today so it was at least a true statement. I guess riding the bus in the country with all ages of kids and riding the bus across town with only kids your age is a very different experience.

My husband would tell you that the girls and I watch entirely too much TV and G1 probably does, but despite what he may think we do spend time doing other things as well even if G1 is at times glued to the TV, but that would be a different post entirely! (Yet another difference b/w growing up in town and growing up in the country.) But I grew up watching soap operas with my mom and begging to stay up and watch the newest episode of Star Trek on Sunday nights with my dad. It was just one way we spent time together doing and then had another common thing to talk about during down time. So I guess that is something I started to do with my kids too. G1 and I enjoyed many episodes of Sesame Street when she was young and more often then not you can find the Disney channel on in our house. But the TV is not usually a babysitter in our house. We always talk about what we learned or what was happening on the show  (it has actually a good connection for some kiddos at school when I teach reading strategies - it gives us a common ground to meet on before we dive into reading an article/story I hope they are interested in but may fall flat with some.) Anyway there are some times I do get control of the remote and watch shows I enjoy and the girls sometimes wander in and out or sit on my lap and watch with me. I do not censor what they watch, but would rather be there to explain to them what is going on. (Which is sometimes lost in their childhood minds) But even occasionally I am caught by surprise at what they see and understand. One night I was catching up on General Hospital just before bedtime and G2 very honestly asked me why the two men were kissing? (Which was actually an innocent question for a six year old growing up in a small rural town so I hope this does not offend anyone) But rather it lead to a good talk about how we love who we love and we should not be afraid to share that love because of what others might not understand. I am not sure at the age of six she truly understands, but it gave us a starting point for when she does understand. 

Since my husbands job is dependent on the life cycle of the dairy cow there are many questions that center around birth and death on our farm. Why do we have only one boy cow? If you don't milk the bull why do we keep him? Why is that bull trying to ride that cow? Why is a steer different then a bull? Why are you flipping that calf over and putting a rubber band on it? How do you know when a cow is going to have a calf? How do the calves get out of the mommy cows? Why do you have those long rubber gloves on? You are going to stick your arm where? Why do you have to use a rope and chain to pull the calf out of the mommy? What is that other liquid coming out with the calf? What is that reddish/creamish pile of yucky thing on the ground where the calf was born? Why don't the mommy cows stay with the calves? Why is that cow not getting up after it did the splits in the holding pen? Why is that cow just laying in the yard? Why is their a trail of blood from where that cow was laying to the now dead cow waiting for the rendering truck? The calf I named Domino is not moving in his hut, what happened? Why did the vet come and cut that dead calf open in the belly? Where do the steers go after they get on the semi? All of which lead to a pretty honest conversation that I hope they will be able to make the connection to as they grow and learn about the life cycle of humans. (But sometimes that connection does not always come and questions from teenagers can still amaze you as I will never forget the reaction of a student at school as teacher I was working with tried to explain to him where all the babies in Africa come from when he asked why the population was growing so rapidly there!)  

Oh and I almost forgot - after hearing Dierks Bentley's 'Drunk on a Plane' 453,127 times on the radio G2 stopped to look at me wanting to know what this 'drunk' word - she had been shouting out so many times she belted out the song - was and why was this guy getting that way on a plane? I try to be up front with questions, so I gave her the high school health answer about how the alcohol changes your brain and makes you feel and act different if you drink too much at one time and it can be dangerous to your body if you do that too often or drive a car after you have been drinking. And of course at age 6 she think that sounds like a bad idea - so I hope that thinking continues when she is 16! 

The 'tail' end - What is the most surprising thing you have been asked by your child? 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"There are two lasting gifts we can give our children - one is roots and the other is wings" Hodding Carter Jr

As summer has officially ended and we have had a few weeks to get back into the swing of being away from the farm at school each day, I was thinking about the things we do over the summer that I never thought I would do until I became a farmer's wife. I grew up a city girl. Some may even say I was a pool rat as I lived only a block away from the swimming pool in town and sometimes spent more afternoons there then in my house. Since this is my sixth summer as a farmer's wife, here is a list of the top six things for you -

6. Going for 'asleep' on a big RED tractor - Even when we first started dating and Mark still lived in the basement and then when we moved in together, I soon found out if I wanted to spend time with him I was going to have to learn to farm. One of my first experiences was helping chop corn - which involves many trips back and forth between the field and the bag to hook and unhook wagons full of corn silage then unload them into a VERY large plastic bag. It was such a fun day, by the end of it I was curled on the tractor floor sleeping! Now my girls have taken my turn on the tractor (and I believe all of them have fallen asleep in their daddy's lap - a place I am now a little too big for -at some point in time too.)

5. Pretending I have the muscles to 'throw' around some bales of hay and straw - Anyone who knows me knows that I have little to no muscles, but every summer I break out the ones I do have to help unload bales of hay and straw from the many wagons that make their way from the field into the yard. My girls have always liked to watch and now my middle one really wants to be big enough to help. (I hope that enthusiasm continues for the next five years until she is able to help!)

4. Mixing up 'milk' in a 5 gallon bucket (or two or three) twice a day - This was one of the first jobs I learned how to do on my own on the farm and now my six year old has done the same. This summer she had about a two week stint when she got up with her dad and learned how to mix up milk, fill bottles, and put the nipples on all by herself - I was not allowed to help with the preparation. It was neat to watch her take charge and learn how to do it on her own. You can also often find her up in the new free stall barn petting her favorite cow (605) or telling the cows what 'movie' is playing on the imaginary big screen she said was in the barn when her dad asked why all the cows were standing together on one end of the barn on a hot day!

3. Knowing my husbands mood by the weather outside - I am not sure I can ever count the number of times I have heard 'Did I ever tell you I hate the cold, snow, sleet, rain, heat, sun, clouds (insert any weather word here!) And because we live in Iowa we burn both ends of the candle. When the Polar Vortex marked extreme cold temps this winter the snowmobile goggles came out to ride the tractor when feeding the cattle and the calves needed coats, but last summer when the temp marked 100+ almost daily a sprinkler system traveled along the fence line to keep the cows cool.

2. Planning life around the cows - Cows need fed and milked two times a day 365 days a year - there is no day off. This includes all major holidays. Christmas has become the most interesting to work around. Last year we added making homemade cinnamon roll dough in the breadmaker and baking the rolls so we had something to do to wait for daddy - and usually stockings get dumped out to play with what is inside ;) I heard an idea from a friend about a scavenger hunt they do with their boys to make opening presents a little more exciting and I think that may make its way to out house next year and maybe even get us out to the barn to help daddy get done sooner! We are lucky enough to have family close enough to help if I can convince my husband he needs to have a little time away so we usually take at least one or two overnight trips in a year. And we also do some really fun day trips that I hope my girls will remember. One of the best I can remember is a day we took a ferry with van and all across the Mississippi on our way back from Cabela's in Prairie du Chien - the girls (and mommy) found it fascinating the van could float across the river. I hope these are the things my girls will remember when they grow up and have families of their own.
1. Watching my girls hold their daddy's hand as they follow him around and learn the 'way' of the land - It is pretty handy that we can walk out the door and find Mark somewhere working most all times of the day. (And on occasion he can take a break and join us for some fun as well.) They see him in action most all the time - as he never seems to slow down. (which has given me the idea for a different post - so stay tuned for that!) I am not saying that I did not learn A LOT from two of the hardest working parents when I lived in town, because I did. It was just that I did not live the job and that is what we do here. They can join in and help and anytime which not only makes us a family, but a family who works and plays together.

The 'tail' end - what do you like the most about where you raise your family? 

Monday, September 1, 2014

These pink farm boots aren't made for wearing

About a month ago we were shopping at 'The Popcorn Store' (aka Thiesens) and our oldest G told us she needed a new pair of farm boots so we browsed the shoe aisle and came across a pair of pink ones that light up when you walk. She was sure they were perfect and would make her want to come outside more to help with chores. (As of today she has wore them twice to bring her youngest sister outside to find us.)

You see our oldest G probably has the least amount of farm girl in her and would actually prefer to live in town. We often tease her and call her Marcia because she acts a lot like my husband's middle sister when she was growing up on the farm. She is very much a girly girl who prefers to wear dresses and be inside watching TV or pretending to be a teacher, chef, mom, hairstylist, or whatever pops in her mind that day. Which sort of reminds me a lot of myself as a little girl. (When I was eight I organized and hosted a wedding and reception for my five year old brother and the neighbor girl.) 

When I was deep inside the darkness of myself during the worst of my postpartum depression I believed this was all my fault. I always knew the farm was important to my husband and there are times it feels like the farm comes before everything else in life - which at certain times in the year is probably true. Even though I love that my kids will have a chance to grow up in the country and learn from the hard work of their daddy there are times when I wish there was a little more time for family togetherness outside of the milking parlor or cab of a tractor. So when the oldest G was born I made it pretty clear she would make the choice on what she wanted to do about her time on the farm. My husband was not a full time farmer when she was born so going to the farm when she was little was an adventure that we went home after.  We also did not live on the home farm at first when he did take over so she did not have as much time lounging in the stroller (covered in flies) as the younger two G's. So in my irrational mind it was all my fault she does not spend as much time outside helping as the other two.

I now understand that she is her own person and it would really be boring in this world if we were all the same. I will continue to encourage her to put on those pink light up boots and come out to help us, but it really needs to be her own decision as she grows up and learns more about herself. There are times when it is not a discussion because she needs to help so we can go somewhere when we are done or just because she needs to get outside the four walls of the house and the glow of the TV screen. And isn't that what parenting should be about? Guiding our kids to make the best decisions for them.

The 'tail' end - What are some things you do to guide your children to the best decisions for them? 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Light at the end of a long dark tunnel

I have not written in awhile because I had a slight slip this summer as my meds went out of whack and I felt like I was the worst person on the planet again. You may think this is an exaggeration and I have thought about just deleting this post, but I think it is important to put out there. It reminds me there is light at the end of the tunnel even if I can't see it sometimes. There were some times this summer I felt like it could be the end and even though it is really awful to feel that way, I need to remember so I can hold on to what it feels like to come out on the other side. 

Here is how I honestly and truly felt as my summer began - 

There is a cow on our farm that my husband said fell and did the splits in the holding pen and now can not get up. He tried to get her to stand back up, but she has been laying in a pen slowly dying for the last week. Everyday I walk by her and see myself, because I feel like her on the inside but unlike her I look fine on the outside and even though I try each day to get up and carry on something is pushing me down. I can feel it in my body, but cannot explain it.

 I feel like I do not deserve to have the very understanding husband and beautiful children I have been blessed with when getting going in the morning is like a weight so heavy on my heart it hurts. What kind of wife and mom can't get up in the morning and enjoy the time she has with her husband and children? This is the question I ask myself everyday which of course makes me feel even worse then I already do. It is a vicious cycle in my mind that I have a hard time stopping. Even if my thoughts may not be true, they feel so real to me it hurts. 

There are times when I can measure up enough strength to tell myself it is stupid to think like this. I mean no one truly knows how much time they have and I am wasting my time. Who does that? Then it hits me again like a ton of bricks and a lot of time comes out in tears I cannot explain to my six year old. How can I continue to do this to my family? I have no reason to be sad or stressed or frustrated. I cannot even get through this post without tears running down my cheeks. 

I have now spent most of my summer picking up the pieces of feeling like this and trying to overcome it. I am having better days, but it has been a process and will continue to be. 

 I have to say thank you everyday for my husband (who I am sure sometimes rethinks those for better or worse vows we said almost 11 years ago) Even when I complain as I sometimes drag myself to the barn in the morning, it has been him pushing me to get up and help with chores that gets me going each day. I do believe things happen for a reason and me bumping into him on the dance floor 14 years ago was surely one of the best things to happen to me for more reasons then I could ever say.

And my three girls keep me smiling as I watch them grow and learn each day. (Believe me it's not always coming up daisies as they can also push my buttons and take me close to the edge - but even that is an experience worth having.) I may not ever truly know if what I am doing as a mom is right at the time, but isn't that true of any mom as they navigate the strangeness of growing children?

I have to stop worrying that I am doing it all wrong, not like everyone else would, or I don't know anything. (These are all real feelings that I experience when I am low in life.) I have to believe I can do the best I can and that is all I can do even when I truly believe I can not do it. I have to keep living, because this is what I have to live for - 

The tail end - What are the different things in life that keep you going each day? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

“Don't try to fix me, I'm not broken...”― Evanescence

As I searched the make-up aisles in two stores today simply trying to find something to apply make-up to my daughters for an upcoming recital I realized why I generally despise having to get fixed up because I am a girl. I have never been over the top with make-up. As a matter of fact I can still hear one of my bridesmaids offering to finish up my make-up the day of my wedding because we all know I don't know much about it. I think it is because I have worn cover up or concealer since I hit puberty and was (as my grandma tells me) blessed with the Buckingham skin. I am now close to half way through my 30's and still must use prescription medicine to keep my acne under control. (So much for growing out of it like I was told I would.) I do try to remember to put my face on each day, but I have noticed with each girl I add to the family, the less time I spend on me. I have even realized half way to work I forgot to put on my cover-up and am completely- just me.

As I sat on the floor tonight and painted finger and toe nails with all three of my girls, I loved joining in on the giggles, but it made me wonder - what am in for as my girls continue to grow up? I have already muddled my way through two dance recitals, but could be in for 18 more - not to mention six proms and three weddings! I can only hope they will pick up some tips to teach me along the way!

It does make me wonder why we have to 'make-up' our looks in society? What is wrong with the way we are? Why are trying to look like someone else?

I spent most of my teen years with low self-esteem, being tormented with such names as pizza and crater face. I have seen the lowest part of life during postpartum depression when I truly believed for a little while that my family might be better off without me. The mind can be a very powerful force and I have seen the worst of it. I NEVER want my girls to feel this way, but how do we change a society that believes thin, blond, and beautiful are the best traits? I wish I had a magic answer, but all I can do is hope they will listen to me (better than I did to my mom) when I tell them it wouldn't be fun if we were all the same. Or is that a life lesson you must learn on your own?

The 'tail' end - what do you do with your kids to make them realize they are best to be who they are and not worry about what others think of them?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Are we changing our children with technology?

Anyone who knows me knows I love technology and I am always looking for ways to use it in my everyday life and in teaching.

I have an app (Anylist) on my phone for my shopping list or I would walk out of the store without the one thing I came for. I take care of my banking (I only write checks to my babysitter and the hospital) and budgeting online. I take all my pictures on a digital camera or with my phone or tablet and do most of my scrapping on sites like Snapfish, Picaboo, Smilebox, and apps like PicCollage of InstaMessage. I can carry my music collection in my pocket on my iPod or connect to my radio in my car with a cord and not worry about changing the CD. TV and movies can be watched anytime or anywhere on tablets or laptops. And since I am no longer in a library everyday most of my reading is borrowed via wireless without stepping foot in a library. I can constantly connect and respond instantly (which I often do before I forget what you asked b/c I am on to my next task)  with old or new friends via Facebook, Google+, FaceTime, email, or text. I even keep virtual post it notes via reminders on my iPhone or iPad so I don't forget to do something. I very rarely write things on paper anymore because it is faster to put a quick note on Evernote so I can access it wherever I have an Internet connection. I even keep my calendar and lesson plans online so I can put in notes and know where I need to be when I need to be there. I have been trying to convince my husband to keep track of his calves and dairy herd online so he doesn't have to scrape manure off his notebook. I can find my news instantly and interact with it via social media and Web 2.0. I am even an author as I write this blog and another about education and follow many more to get ideas and advice. I can spend hours scouring Pinterest for ideas on crafts and recipes. I can sell my creations on Etsy and have a virtual yard sale anytime on eBay. I am sure there is something I haven't thought of or will learn about tomorrow I want to try. Technology is everywhere and if we don't embrace it we may be left behind. 

But I have seen some posts on Facebook and other blogs about how children today are different because of all these changes and it made me think. My two year old is already learning, playing games, and finding music or pictures on our tablets. I feel lucky they will get to have better experiences due to changes in technology, but I have to agree they are changing and missing out on some things because of all this technology. 

The biggest thing is patience. Everything is instant. They will never have to wait all night for the DJ to play their favorite song on the radio only to have him talk over the beginning when they push record so they can play back in their tape player when they want to hear it again. They will never learn to be kind and rewind when they return a video to the store. They no longer have to cruise up and down Main Street all night to find their friends. They will not wait for their sister or even a neighbor to get off the phone so they can place a call. They will never flip through the card catalog to find the title, author, or subject card to send them in the direction of a book they need. They won't wait six weeks for a toy to come in the mail they sent in for via an offer on a cereal box. They won't spend time searching the couch cushions for change to go to the neighborhood Ma and Pop store to get a glass bottle of Pepsi to enjoy on a hot day. Pictures are even instant. No more taking them to the store to develop and waiting a week only to find out you head was cut off or the best one was blurry. Even shaking a Polaroid to see the picture appear takes too long. 

Imagination is also dwindling. Boxes don't become houses, cars, and the sheriff's jail. Two cans don't get strung together or a blinking flashlight code is not made to get messages to their neighbor. They can't leave the house on their bike after breakfast and explore in the woods until the street lights come on and it's time for dinner. They won't sit around a 9" black and white TV in your grandma's kitchen with your cousins and guess the color of the dresses of the ladies in the Miss America pageant. The week will probably not be spent on their grandparents family farm learning to plant gardens or flowers and create things in the wood shop. Even in my own van and on my last field trip all I can see in the early morning light is the blue/green glow of electronics to occupy out times instead of seeing what is going on around us. 

Kids are too busy and forget about being kids. Sitting around the table all together for supper after the farm chores are done is almost a thing of the past. In order to be competitive and win you must play school and club sports. And if you don't win you can be so hard on yourself because of what others must think of you. A friendly neighborhood game of kickball in the empty lot on a dead end street where the only prize is a slap on the back and some skinned knees to brag about does not happen anymore. What happened to learning fundamentals and having fun as you are playing? And to be well rounded you must also find time for drama, speech, musical, volunteer and academic activities as well. I am not saying these activities are not a good thing as I have said before I learned just as much from my extracurricular activities then some of my classes at school, but it did ultimately take away from time for me and with my family. With all of the technology we have it sometimes seems we are too separated by our devices as we spend more time on them then in a conversation. I personally find it sad that my girls will probably never receive a hand written love (or rejection) letter as they grow up. 

Now don't get me wrong, I am not ready to become unwired or give up all my technology. As I started this entry with some of those things really make my life better and easier and in some cases technology advances are really saving lives. I just wish that attitudes and behaviors did not change with the technology as well. I do wish there was a way to have a better balance of both. 

It was sort of fitting that I started my day with this video by Miranda Lambert from her new song Automatic. My husband was telling me about it the other day as it sounded just like what I was talking about when I was sad to hear that due to budget cuts the librarian at my daughters school will only be available one day a week, because (in not these exact words) technology will be replacing the need for a librarian in the minds of the decisions makers in the district. 

The 'tail' end - what do you wish was still around from your past and how did it teach you to be a better person? 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cold and snow go away the kids are SO ready to go out and play

To say it has been a long winter would not really cut it! We have had snow on the ground since November and sub zero temps most of the winter. It is now March and we are jumping for joy at above zero temperatures. Recess and snow days have been spent inside most of the winter because being outside for more the five minutes this winter could mean freezing your tush off. I have never seen so many calves dead and frozen littered around the farm or had to wrestle coats on calves to keep them warm. The cows and my husband messed up their legs from all the frozen manure, snow, and ice. My middle daughter is ready to go find the groundhog and have a talk about making sure spring happens exactly six weeks after he saw his shadow.

So I thought I might put together a list of 7 (I do love my odd numbers) things we did to keep us from going stir crazy this winter. And I am adding a few little ideas we should have tried if we would have known winter would have been so long. 

7 - Put your pinkies up for a 'tea' party - well in our case it is usually a hot cocoa session - especially since I order myself a Keurig machine for a holiday gift with my well earned Kohl's cash. The girls and I have really gotten our use of the hot cocoa cups! 

Had we known this was going to be a winter for the record books we should have set our table in the basement and invited all our stuffed friends and dressed up with scarves, boas, and big hats! I think this summer it may be my mission to find some of those items at garage sales to stash away for our next hibernation cycle. 

6 - Set up an oh la la fashion show - it turns out the center of our living room doubles as a runway with the curtains making a great place to start the show. Changing clothes is also a natural occurrence in this house so fashion shows happen quiet a bit sometimes just to show off our walk and dance moves. 

If we would have known this winter was going to be colder than the North Pole we could have hit the thrift store to stock up on our dress up supply. We could have also looked for some red fabric to make a red carpet runway and brought up the karaoke machine to MC the festivities. 

5 - Create your own paradise - blankets, the couch, and kitchen chairs make a pretty good fort to spend lazy afternoons. It even makes movie watching an adventure. We also added a pretty amazing teepee to our collection via Grandma and made by my sister-in-law so it makes set-up even easier. And my youngest thinks it makes peek a boo even funnier as she peeks out from inside. 

If we would have known this winter was going to cause us to hibernate we should have found some inflatable palm trees, flower leis, and hula skirts to make it feel like an island paradise inside our forts. That may be as close as I ever get to the islands again... 

4 - Extremely girly makeover - when your oldest daughter is a girly girl nail polish, make-up, and hair bows are a staple in this house. Santa also picked up a fun pump up chair that has found a place in our bathroom for makeovers. I have even got a nice updo with bobby pins, hair clips, and lots of hairspray! And finger and toe nails are never one shade of pink for too long. A few nights we had a full out salon and I received a bill for $42 for getting my nails painted at the salon! 

Had we known we were in for subzero temps a majority of the winter we could have created a poster for the bathroom door to name the salon and tell the prices of all services. We could have scanned Pinterest for hair updo's and finger nail designs. We could have also invested in those nail pens and learned how to create designs on our nails. 

3 - Family Fun Night - always a good stand by - this gets everyone together and usually results in some great giggles. Our new game of choice is a card game called Ruckus. We all get cards and try to make matches. Once you have a card in your hand that is the same as a match you can say the name of the card and move the pile to your collection. If you don't have a match you draw from the pile in the middle until you do? This continues until all your cards are matched up and you yell RUCKUS! We also had fun one afternoon getting all the mega blocks we had in the house and making the highest tower we could w!

If I had known it would be a winter even the polar bears would be cold in we could have featured a new game to play each week or stocked up on more puzzles to put together as a family. We did do some sticky back wall puzzles the girls got for Christmas and redone small puzzles many times, but I think we could have done a few larger puzzles to glue together and add to the collection of puzzles on the walls from my husband's childhood. 

2 - Arts and Crafts Corner - it is no secret that Pinterest can be one of my biggest time wasters and I am always trying some new craft to share with family and friends. I have passed the love of creating on to my girls already. We love to color, paint, create with play dough, and draw. Sometimes the kitchen table and counter are over run by our crafts. Before the holidays we had fun turning rice filled socks into snowmen that I found on Pinterest. I have created a Snapguide to show how ours turned out. They are not as neat and professional looking as the ones we found, but they were a heck of a lot of fun to make and made the teachers we gave them to smile, so that was all that mattered. 

Had we been aware it would be a winter longer then the lines on Black Friday (and just as brutal) we might have made Sunday afternoon Pinterest Playday and found a different ideas to do each Sunday. Just think of all the great items we would have had by now? 

1 - Do a room swap - this was probably the most fun we had this winter. The two big girls decided they were old enough to stop sharing a room and move to the basement. Which meant a lot of sorting and moving for a pack rat such as myself. My father-in-law was in awe when we switched housed and I was able to fill up a house in one weekend that supposedly took him 40 years to do so (and that was before two of the three girls- so imagine what I have picked up in the last 6 years!) but we got things done and over the course of this never ending deep freeze we have got all of their belongings situated - yet I still wake to find girls sprawled on the couch, curled up in chairs, and even tucked up in their old beds sometime, so the transition is clearly still happening! 

Well with all the fun the last few weeks of the littlest chickadee having pneumonia and the farm boy having knee surgery to fix some torn cartilage it took me awhile to compile this list so hopefully we are on our way to muddy boots and dripping wet snow pants (I never thought that would make me smile!) and you won't have to pack yourself (or your sister up) and ship yourself to a warmer climate! 

The 'tail' end - Share what you and your family have done to make it through this Arctic Vortex/ Polar Freeze of a winter?