Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday = Library Day

What is your favorite day of the week?  Well, for LP it would have to be Wednesday, also known around our house as Library Day.

I grew up going to my hometown's library and participating in "Story Time" as a child, and I have continued the tradition with my children.  I started taking LP to the library when he was just a couple of months old and MP's first trip to the library was at age Day 6.  We are so lucky to have such a great library just 15 miles away.  If you live in North Iowa or travel through, I encourage you all to visit the Hampton Public Library.  This Carnegie Library offers a wide variety of services for all ages, including these fun and unique things: book clubs, public computers (including a bilingual AWE computer), interlibrary exchange program (they'll borrow a book, movie, etc. from another library for you if they don't have it), eBooks, youth drama club and LP's favorite - children's "Story Time" (which is held on Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings).

LP standing outside of the library this summer
with a prize he got during the Summer Reading Program
Do you have a library card?  Do you participate in programs at your local library?  If not, I encourage you all to sign up for a library card and see what your local library all offers.  If you have children, I especially hope you check out your local library's children's programming.

Library Fun Fact:  In a recent study of which states 
have the highest attendance at children's programming, 
Iowa was among the top five. 
#1 Wyoming, #2 Vermont, #3 Iowa, #4 Idaho, and #5 Indiana.

Story Time is an opportunity for my kids to read books, sing songs, make crafts, make friends, etc.  It also gives me a time to build relationships with other parents with children close to my children's ages.  If you are from the Franklin County, Iowa area, be sure to check out Story Time, it starts up October 1st and 2nd.

LP playing with the train set in the children's library
To conclude today, if you're looking for some books to read, here are MP, LP and my top picks from this summer:

LP's Top Pick: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
MP's Top Pick:  Counting Kisses
My Top Pick:  The Duck Commander Family
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker
This is a fun book for all truck lovers and that is why LP recommends it!  The story goes through the construction site by showing several types of equipment trucks.  One by one, each piece of equipment goes to rest so they can be ready for the next day.  This book is a great bedtime story to help your busy toddler go to sleep.

Counting Kisses, by Karen Katz
MP recommends this book because she loves how LP, My Farmer and I count and kiss our way through it.  Each number highlights a different area of the body to kiss.  This is a great book for babies and siblings to do together, and is overall a great way for your kids to relax and unwind before bedtime.

The Duck Commander Family, by Willie & Korie Robertson
Calling all Duck Dynasty fans!  If you enjoy watching Duck Dynasty you'll love learning more about the Robertson family.  This book goes through the family's struggles and successes, all while showcasing the family's humor and faith.  Also, it includes some family favorite recipes!  If you haven't watched Duck Dynasty before I encourage you to sit down to this easy read.  I guarantee you'll be intrigued about this family after the reading book and will become a fan before you know it.

Gotta go - we're off to the library!

Wordless Wednesday

Don't worry - Be happy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hunger Action Month

In the United States 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger; in Iowa, 1 in 8.

September is Hunger Action Month.  This is a nationwide campaign that networks food banks and individuals from across the United States to create a movement to create awareness and help end hunger in America.

As a farmer, I work hard to provide healthy, affordable and quality food.  Even though farmers work hard everyday to provide that for all Americans, hunger is still an issue.  I am fortunate and have not had to struggle with hunger myself.  There were times growing up in the 80's during the farm crisis my family had to literally save our pennies to buy a gallon of milk, but we survived.  Unemployment is a strong predictor of food insecurity and with unemployment levels at some of the highest levels they have been in years, I think we all know and can see hunger in our communities, no matter how big or small they may be.

So what can you do to help this cause?

  • The first thing I encourage all of you to do is "Like" Iowa RISE UP.  By liking this page during the month of September $1 will be donated to the Iowa Food Bank Association to help the more than 400,000 Iowans who are food insecure.
  • The second thing you can do is take the SNAP Challenge.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) provides monthly benefits to supplement the food budgets of families in need.  The SNAP Challenge "encourages participants to get a sense of what life is like for millions of low-income Americans facing hunger."  The SNAP Challenge allocates the average SNAP benefit, which is $4.50 per person per day - for ALL your food and beverages.
  • The third thing you can do is make a donation of nonperishable food items to your local food bank.  I know our local food bank suggests items such as canned tuna or chicken, canned fruit and vegetables, peanut butter, juice, rice, soup, crackers, spaghetti sauce, and oatmeal.
  • The final thing you can do is check out lots of other ideas through the 30 Ways in 30 Days! program.  Be creative, have fun, get others involved and fight hunger!
So what is your plan?  What are you going to do in recognition of Hunger Action Month?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

2013 Family Fall Fun Bucket List

Today is the first day of fall (my favorite season) and to celebrate I decided to make a Family Fun Fall Bucket List.  Fall is our busiest time of the year on the farm due to the many hours, days, weeks and really months of harvesting and fall field work, but we had so much fun working on our Family Fun Summer Bucket List I decided to make one for fall too!

  1. Go to a Pumpkin Patch
  2. Carve Pumpkins
  3. Go Trick-or-Treating
  4. Have a Halloween Play Date
  5. Jump into Leaves
  6. Tailgate
  7. Go to a Football Game
  8. Go on a Nature Walk at Beeds Lake
  9. Make a Tree of Thanks
  10. Have Family Dates (Mom & Dad, Mom & LP, Mom & MP, Dad & LP, Dad & MP)
What is on your Fall Bucket List?  What are some of your favorite things to do in the fall with your family?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Summer Bucket List - A Final Look

I think we can officially say that summer is over (or at least it feels like it!) and it is time to think fall.  Before I share my Fall Family Fun Bucket List (stay turned for it later this week) I'd like to share how we ended up on our 2013 Family Summer Fun Bucket List:

  1. Go to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines (and invite my Grandma J/LP's Great-Grandma to come along)
  2. Ride the Train at the Boone Scenic Valley Road (and invite my Grandpa & Grandma K/LP's Great-Grandparents to come along)
  3. Go to the County Fair
  4. Go to the State Fair
  5. Visit a New Midwest Town/Landmark
  6. Go Camping at Pine Lake with Friends
  7. Go on a Family Vacation
  8. Sign-up for the Summer Reading Program at our Local Library
  9. Participate in the Latimer Fun Day 5K Run/2 Mile Walk
  10. Go Swimming at the Swimming Pool
  11. Go Golfing
  12. Go on a Nature Walk at Beeds Lake
  13. Have a Picnic at Clear Lake's Beach
  14. Watch Fireworks for the 4th of July
  15. Have Family Dates (Mom & Dad, Mom & LP, Mom & MP, Dad & LP, Dad & MP)
  16. Go to a Baseball Game
To finish out the summer we went on our first family vacation to Chicago!  And we stopped in Dyersville, Iowa on the way and visited some Iowa landmarks we had never been to before.  You might be wondering with how busy our summer was how we fit in a family vacation?  Well, we went the week after Labor Day.  It was really the perfect time.  We all needed a break from the house, the farm and just needed to relax and just be the four of us.  We had a great time and can't wait to make going on a vacation a tradition and go on our 2nd Annual Family Vacation next year.  After some of our travel this year I learned that My Farmer hasn't seen very much of South Dakota, so I think we'll be traveling over to South Dakota next year!  (My Farmer always says I like planning for the future way too much, I think starting to plan your next family vacation a year in advance probably shows an example of that...)

Our family vacation was a nice four day, three night getaway.  On day one we drove about half way to Chicago and landed in Dyersville, Iowa.  We have driven by and through Dyersville countless times but had never ventured out to the "Field of Dreams" movie site.  This was a great place to stop at to not only break up our trip and let LP run around, but also so we could mark off visiting a Midwest landmark off our Summer Bucket List.

"Is this heaven?  No, it's Iowa."
The farm and baseball diamond made famous by the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams"
LP is ready to go explore the baseball diamond
My Farmer and LP ran the bases a couple of times
"If you build it, they will come."
LP and My Farmer standing in the corn
(It took awhile to get this photo because both My Farmer and LP
were more interested in scouting the corn then taking a photo...)
After touring the "Field of Dreams" movie site, we went into the town of Dyersville and went through the National Farm Toy Museum.  This was obviously a big hit with LP!

LP checking out a tractor display
My favorite tractor display, showing the different
sizes of model tractors made
Then we hit the road again and made our way to Chicago.  By the time we made it to the city we decided to just check into our hotel and eat some supper.  We stayed at the Hyatt in Deerfield, Illinois (a northern suburb of Chicago).  This was a great place to stay.  Our hotel room had a nice living room with refrigerator and separate bedroom, which was nice for the whole family.  Also, we couldn't beat the price due to the 25% off discount they had for residents of Illinois and surrounding states!  And the best part was that it had FREE parking and we could get to any Chicago attraction in a half hour or less.  (If you've been to Chicago before you know how big of a deal free parking is, and if you've never been before, believe me, paying nothing, let alone less than $25 to $50 to park anywhere is a great thing!)  During our vacation we had scouted out a few places for foods we wanted to be sure to eat while visiting.  One of them being - a Chicago style hot dog.  Our first night we went to Superdawg - a great, classic Chicago drive-in restaurant known for their hot dogs.  Now, I'm not a big hot dog fan, but their Superdawg hit the spot for me.  And their service was great!  If we go back to Chicago, we'll be stopping at Superdawg again!

Superdawg in Wheeling, Illinois
You can't even see the hot dog under all the great toppings on their
classic Superdawg!  My favorite topping was probably the pickled tomato!
Day Two was our big tourist day.  We started out the morning by going to Shedd Aquarium.  Our favorite parts of the aquarium were going to the One World aquatic show where we got to see seal lions, dolphins, beluga wales, penguins and dogs, and going to through the Caribbean Reef exhibit.

LP and My Farmer checking out the aquariums in the
Caribbean Reef exhibit
LP enjoying the Penguin Slide in the Pacific Northwest exhibit
An added bonus of going to the Shedd Aquarium is that you get a great view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.  We did a lot of picnicing during our vacation and enjoyed a picnic with these great views on Day Two.

View of Chicago (Shedd Aquarium is the round building to the far left)
Our family enjoying the beautiful weather with Navy Pier in the background
LP had a great time trying to catch the seagulls near Lake Michigan
Enjoying a picnic along Lake Michigan
We wrapped up our Day Two by going to Navy Pier and eating supper there.  We also went on a Chicago Architecture River Cruise.  We really enjoyed the boat tour.  It gave us an in-depth look at Chicago and we learned a lot.

Navy Pier
View of Chicago from River Cruise
View of Chicago and the Sears/Willis Tower on the River Cruise
View of Chicago on River Cruise
My Farmer and LP taking in the River Cruise
On Day Three of our vacation we went to the Chicago Botanic Garden.  This space was spactular.  It was really quite amazing how many acres of gardens there are at Botanic Gardens.  LP really enjoyed the Model Railroad Garden.  This was a neat garden for all ages.  The garden has 18 model trains, 26 bridges and 1700 feet of track. I personally really enjoyed the Landscaping and Vegetable & Fruit Gardens.  I came home with some great ideas for our acreage!

Our family taking a little photo break on one of the
garden's many trails
My Farmer and LP in the Model Railroad Garden
LP was sure to check out every train the garden
Following our trip to the Botanic Gardens we traveled to 2 Toots Train Whistle Grill.  This was a fun place for us to eat, where your food comes out to your table via a model train that runs on a track that goes around the entire restaurant.  While I wasn't a huge fan of their grass fed beef burger menu, I did enjoy their shakes and brownies, which included a souvenir train whistle on top.  An added bonus was that the town where this restaurant was located was having a carnival so we spent some time going on inflatables.  We ended Day Three by swimming at our hotel and eating some Chicago style deep-dish pizza.

On Day Four we took a different route back home, taking two-lane roads throughout Illinois and Iowa.  We crossed the Mississippi River from Savanna, Illinois to Sabula, Iowa, Iowa's only island city.  This was a fun route to take home where we got to see lots of the country-side and got to visit some good friends who live near Lost Nation, Iowa on the way home.  We had a great time on the vacation and like I said earlier, I can't wait to make this an annual tradition.

So we didn't quite accomplish our entire list but this being our first try at something like this, I think we did pretty good.  We love to go camping and I can't believe we never went camping this year!  The one time we were going to it got late and then rainy.  So next year we'll have to keep camping on the list.  As for golfing, My Farmer and I both enjoy golfing but since we got married have found it hard to make time to golf for fun besides being in a couple tournaments each summer.  This too will have to stay on next year's list.  We need to all go golfing some Sunday after church and not just go to the golf course to eat dinner...  And going on a nature walk at Beeds Lake.  This too didn't get done this summer but I'm planning on putting it on our Fall Bucket List.  Lastly, family dates: sure there were times we split up the kids between the two of us but we didn't really go on any official family dates.  This too will be on our Fall Bucket List.

What was your favorite thing you did this summer?  What are you looking forward to doing this fall?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Moving Up Monday

I mentioned in my last "Moving Up Monday" post that we moved at the beginning of the month.  We're still unpacking but are starting to feel settled.  Last week I did my first big grocery shopping trip and My Farmer finished building shelves in the basement for storage, so I hope that means this week I'll finish unpacking our boxes and then next week I may even put holes in my precious unmarked walls!

I wanted to share how each room of the house ended up finishing up, so here is quick tour of the place:

The Kitchen really turned out nice I think with the additional wall of cabinets, new floors, change of location of the refrigerator, new counter tops, new sink and new knobs and handles - I think it looks like a completely different kitchen.

New wall of cabinets and counter space
We were lucky and were able to get the same cabinets
that they had used in the kitchen about 15 years ago
during a remodel
(Photo taken August 18, 2013)
New larger under-mount sink and a look at the new counter tops
(Photo taken August 18, 2013)
Original cabinets with new counter tops
The cabinet on the far right that you can see part of is a new pantry cabinet
It is slightly a different color due to age of the original cabinets but in the
end, it is a pretty close match
(Photo taken August 18, 2013)
Look into kitchen from dinning room
(Photo taken August 18, 2013)
New kitchen knobs and pulls
(Photo taken August 25, 2013)
Moving onto the Dinning Room, Living Room and Play Room, we got a fresh coat of "Winter Oats" paint on the walls, new carpet and wood floors, and got two ceiling fans for the living room and play room spaces.  I cleaned up one of the original house lights for the dinning room light.

The dinning room light that I cleaned up from the original house
(Photo taken August 25, 2013)
A little thank you plug for my Mom
Thanks for all your help painting - it wouldn't have gotten done without you!
(Photo taken August 24, 2013)
New dinning room floors
This view shows how the room is open to the kitchen, the doorway
to the second floor and the far right door goes to the bathroom,
which has its other entrance door from the mud room also open so
you can actually see our entry coat closet from this angel.
(Photo taken August 29, 2013)
New carpet floors in living room
Photo taken from dinning room
I love the "open concept" flow of the house now and how you can see
the living room all the way from the kitchen.
(Photo taken August 29, 2013)
New carpet floors in play room
Photo taken from living room
By keeping the archway divide between these rooms I think it helps
give each area its own space and hopefully is a divider
so no toys enter the living room...
(Photo taken August 29, 2013)
Due to changes we made in the house, the downstairs Bathroom is now easily accessible from any part of the downstairs.  You can just go straight there from the entry and through the mudroom or can go through the door in the dinning room.

The bathroom with its new tile floor,
vanity, sink, counter and toilet
(Photo taken August 29, 2013)
Our general contractor also did a couple extra
things for us like, made our linen closet which
is in the bathroom cedar lined
(Photo taken August 18, 2013)
He also made a line-up of hooks for towels too
(At our old house we didn't have hooks, we had a towel bar that hung
over the back of the door and My Farmer didn't like it.
So we made sure to have hooks for towels in his house, along with a couple
extra bars on another wall)
(Photo taken August 29, 2013)
The mudroom might be my favorite space where we made the most changes.  This space is a great entry area and includes a mudrom sink, built in coat closet, a desk area with lots of surrounding storage and our laundry.  Before it was a tight hallway and bedroom/office room.

View of the mudroom from the bathroom entry
You can see the built in closet, the cabinets you see on the left are in
the office space and we have a desk that lines up with the wall, on the
other side of that wall is the entry sink, and to the right out of sight of
the camera is where the washing machine and dryer are.
We put in the same tile floor from the bathroom in here.
(Photo taken August 29, 2013)
Mudroom sink area
(Photo taken August 25, 2013)
Now onto the Upstairs.  All of our bedrooms have new carpet, fresh coats of paint and new ceiling fans.  This is the area I still need to do the most unpacking, especially our room, because as we've unpacked other areas, things that don't belong have been put into our bedroom where they are out of sight and out of mind, that is until it is time to go to bed and the easiest way for me to get to my side of the bed is to crawl over My Farmer's side...  Hopefully that gets taken care of as the week goes on.  And I guess I have no new photos of the upstairs half bath, but in a previous Moving Up Monday post it was pretty well finished.

Welcome to the Upstairs
The bathroom door is to the right of the photo and is unseen in this view,
the bedroom door on the left is the nursery and MP's room,
the door at the end of the hall is mine and My Farmer's room,
and the doorway on the right that you see is LP's bedroom.
(Photo taken August 24, 2013)
Nursery and MP's bedroom
with new carpet, paint, ceiling fan and windows
(Photo taken August 24, 2013)
LP's bedroom
with new carpet, paint, ceiling fan and windows
(Photo taken August 24, 2013)
Mine and My Farmer's bedroom
with new carpet, paint, ceiling fan and windows
(Photo taken August 24, 2013)
So there you have it, an updated view of the house!  My plan at the end of the month is to give you a current look at the house furnished.  I'm hosting a little party at our new home at the end of the month and the best part of doing that is that I now have a deadline to get things unpacked, so I'll plan on taking photos after the party and show before and afters of the house in a couple of weeks.  Until then, check out all the progress on the house by looking at previous Moving Up Monday posts:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Dash

Have you ever heard of, or read the poem "The Dash"?  I think this is a poem that most people have heard of but maybe you haven't read it in awhile.  I've been thinking of this poem a lot this week because of my involvement with the Iowa Soybean Association's Ag-Urban Initiative program.  Some of you may know that I do some independent consulting and contract work, and one of the programs I contract coordinate is the Ag-Urban Initiative.  This leadership program brings together urban and agriculture leaders together to collaborate, find common understanding, and produce solutions that benefit Iowa.  There are two main parts to the program: one - an in depth look at servant, values-driven leadership, and two - creating an individual ag-urban community project.  I truly believe this leadership program is like no other and I'm so proud of the Class of 2013 who graduated yesterday.

This program has evolved every year since it began in 2007 and I feel like this year's class was one of the best year's yet!  This class became a community of their own and I know they all made life-long connections and friendships.  Official recruitment for the Class of 2014 won't begin until January but if you are interested in learning more, let me know, or check out the Ag-Urban Initiative website for updates on details of the 2014 program.

In dedication of the Class of 2013, I'd now like to share with you the words of "The Dash", written by Linda Ellis (Copyright 1996):

I read of a man who stood to speak
at a funeral of a friend.
Her referred to the dates on he tombstone,
from the beginning... to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars... the house... the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can sill be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what's true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read,
with you life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

How are you living your dash?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Moving Up Monday

We've Moved!
My Farmer, LP, MP and I after church yesterday in front of our new home
I have a lot of things I want to share today on my "Moving Up Monday" update, but since we don't have internet yet, and I'm borrowing some to just post this photo I'll have to share more at a later date.  But we have officially moved into our new acreage!  Last week we moved the bedrooms into the upstairs and on Friday we moved the rest of the house in after the final floors were laid on the main floor.  Then on Saturday we cleaned our old house and started unpacking.  And yesterday our friends moved into our old house and we've been continually unpacking since Saturday.  We aren't all the way unpacked yet but we have definitely made a huge dent.  Thank goodness we have had several family and friends agree to help us with the move and unpacking, as well as a new sand box to keep LP entertained as we work on the house!  It feels good to be moved and it will feel really good when we are all the way settled.  I plan on sharing some before and after photos in the coming weeks so keep your eyes open for more "Moving Up Monday" posts.

Check out how far we've come on our home remodel by checking out past "Moving Up Monday" reports: