Monday, September 21, 2015

I'm Special Because... I'm Different

Getting through the mountain of grade school 'mail' is sometimes a feat at my crazy house. I look at every paper, because it's important to the girls and should be just as important to the parent. This week Miss R brought home a little packet of papers that her teacher had them fill out.  It's the regular beginning of school things about what they like and what they want to be when they grow up.  I always love to see what the kids put.  As I flipped through the pages I came across this one:
I'm Different

I stopped and smiled. Because countless times I've told Miss R it's ok to be different and often that's how I describe her to people.
Sitting doing homework at her brothers football game,
she created an 'inspiring spot' to focus on Math, she said.
I'm excited that she is embracing it and knows that is good not bad.  She just looks at the world through eyes that I only can pray she never looses. She finds joy and laughter in so many interesting things because of the angle she observes them.

Some people spend their whole life trying not to conform and I find that sad. I want my kids to embrace who they are and love that.  I think that's the big secret to life.  Be who you are and love yourself for it. I found that at an early age and know I'm very lucky to go through life happy.

I've reflected a lot this past month about finding the rewards of being a parent.  Let's face it when you're in the trenches everyday it's hard to find the rewards.  Between the reminding everyone to brush their teeth, being asked for the zillionth time where something is (that I didn't wear so how I would I know), breaking up stupid fights, and worrying if they are eating right, being good people, laughing enough, praying enough... you name it, I worry when it comes to my kids.

I said to my dad just the other night, when does the rewarding part of parenthood come?  He looked at me and said right now, when they are adults. So, I look forward to that time, but for right now I better keep my nose the grindstone so that I can relish in those big rewards. This simple little note that Miss R wrote helped remind me that I'm on the right path. The path to help my kids just be happy with being different.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Small School Big Opportunities

I’m sure some of you have heard me say that I thought I grew up in a small town until I met My Cowboy.  He came from a town of 600 people I had more then that in my high school. Cowboy had 14 people he graduated with, I had nearly 180. 

When we chose to return back to My Cowboy’s small town, I have to admit I had my concerns about the school experience for our children.  My perception was that in small schools you don’t have as many opportunities for a well rounded education.  I soon learned there are plenty of  opportunities, they’re just different.  Turns out, small schools are better then I could have ever imagined. 

In a small town school the first day jitters are not the same.  After all, by about 4th grade, everyone knows you and you know them- really well.  At least that’s what Miss O told me.  She didn’t need to worrying about who will be in your class those things are not a surprise. So, it’s not a big deal to have a new outfit the first day of school. 

In a small school you certainly already know your teacher, there isn’t a concern about which teacher you will get. One teacher per grade or class. We’re extremely fortunate to have amazing teachers in our school who care and go the extra mile to help the kids. I know that not all teachers are created equal and that’s not as easy to pass over in a small school. 

In a small school we may not have a full time art teacher. But our community knows the importance of creativity and we have an amazing arts council. In the coming weeks our school has an artist in residence that will work with our youth to help paint a mural downtown.  I will share that progress in a blog soon. 

In a small town the Senior boys drive their semi and stock trucks to the first day of school.  Yes, the lot has enough space for truck parking. I’m so proud of those boys and their clever showing of agriculture pride. 

In a small town school when your team makes it to the playoffs, the entire town attends the event not just the sport families! The team pride is felt throughout the community and everyone is included. 

I will be honest and say there are times I think my kids would enjoy some of the things a big school has to offer.  But then I think of the benefits we've experienced and those are important to making them who they are. So, yes it’s different then what our friends who go to big schools experience but different isn’t bad it’s just different. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Going Beyond the Gravel Road

Last weekend the Hadrick’s traveled to the biggest town in SD. The 4 hour drive is well worth the experience but one we rarely do. Just going to the big town can be very overwhelming for our small town kids. We had lots planned, some family fun, birthday celebration meal, shopping for both boys and girls and a bit of swimming planned.  

Every time Cowboy and I take the kids our of our small environment I’m reminded why it’s a good thing we get them out! Don’t get me wrong, I love our small town, I never have to worry about my kids, someone is always watching out for them, they all feel safe and secure. We never lock our doors- to our house or cars, even if they are parked on main street. T starts Jr. High this year and his locker won’t have a pad lock, it can if we want, but there’s no need.  We’re very sheltered and I love it. 

It’s reality that my kids lack exposure to diversity, of any kind. We don’t have different cultures, race(not really), or hear a language they don’t understand. It’s very exciting to see people who dress different then we do, there is amazement that we can choose from 100’s of different places to eat, that there are many stop lights on one street and that we have to wait for traffic. Keep in mind our county doesn’t have a stop light. 

It took me a while to figure out why Miss R was underfoot the entire shopping day. It drove me crazy tripping over her. It finally occurred to me that she was scared of all the people. The big town has too much going on and although I feel secure in Sioux Falls, she doesn’t. It’s not like when we’re in Washington DC and I’m wanting the kids close.  It was a great lesson for me to remember that we have to continue to help the kids appreciate experience of all the different people.  

As a mom I am thankful to feel the security of our small town. It may lack in conveniences but it makes up in safety and in this day and age, I can take that.  So, we’ll continue to go and visit. But nothing will ever beat turning off the paved road onto our gravel one. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Miss R & Cloverbud Creations

Fair this year for Miss R was a bit different.  She has been sick on and off over the past month and we needed to take it easy. But that didn't mean we missed out on taking her exhibits to the fair. 
Miss R is still a Cloverbud which means:
1. She gets to make whatever she wants, there are no project areas for her creations to fit in.
2. She doesn't have to write out the dreaded cards that must accompany all the exhibits, that's a fun killer.
3. She gets to interview all of her projects, not just a few as the 'Big 4-H' kids are limited to. 
     As you can imagine she had a lot of exciting stories to share with each of the precious projects she brought.  I think all in all she brought eleven.
4. She gets to pick the ribbon color she wants.  Her goal this year was to pick ribbons to match the project. I think towards the end, she just picked the color she liked the most. When it was all done, she had a mitt full of ribbons and a big smile to match! 

Here is a peak at a few projects she took this year.  Hopefully it will inspire you with your young children. 

I ordered her a wooden name cut out from Zulily and she decided to make it school colors. Painted it black and we added gold glitter.  Note that the project is still in the plastic bag, that glitter can get everywhere and we thought it was best to contain it at the fair, of course at home is a different story.  

The bowls are probably her favorite project.  I picked up the bowls at the church give away last fall. Last time I was in the big town, we picked up a 16 pack of sharpies. Nothing gets creative & organized kids more excited then a rainbow of sharpies. Miss R was instantly looking for ways to use them. It's easy to pull out the stencils and encourage her to make something special. I think she may give these as gifts to all of her friends for Christmas. 

She did her fair share of foam craft.  I find this is something easy for her to do that I don't have to supervise. This year she made a different snowman for each family member, including our new puppy, Cali. Well now it's official, if you have a foam piece, you're stuck with us.

 As I've said many times, the secret to getting 4-H projects done is working on them throughout the year. Miss R created this beautiful piece at her birthday party this year. It's her modern interpretation of golf. I think my golf game is the inspiration. Notice how the ball is not far off the tee, that's usually how far I hit it. 

A Cloverbud can't show livestock. So in her switch to being an official 4-H'er next year she will get to show. As we were watching her siblings show pigs the morning of the fair,  I said this will be you next year.  She said 'No, I"m not a pig showing girl'.  I said really?  She was quick to follow with 'No, I'm a beef girl.  I want to show heifers'. So, the prayers have began for her to be gifted with a mellow heifer to start her beef showing career out with. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Memories of a Lifetime... Fair Recap

County Fair has come and gone in a flash.  Left in the wake are wonderful memories, many laughs and another successful year of accomplishments. We squeezed a lot into our small town fair.  It's not like many of you think a county fair is.  We don't have a carnival, we don't have venders that offer fair food or trinkets to buy, we don't have bands that play music.

What we do have is volunteers that make pies to sell as a fundraiser, we have kids that run wild with their friends laughing and enjoying the last drops of summer, we have good clean fun like kids doing gunny sack races.

The kids had an amazing fair. We were all very disappointed when the beef cattle project didn't work out this year. T's heifer was hurt early on and the focus was getting the heifer healthy, not a 4-H project. Miss O's heifer had an attitude and a will that made it impossible for a young girl to safely show the animal. So, for the first time the beef people didn't bring beef cattle to the fair. Let me tell you it was weird! We did have the pigs and it went well this year. No, major fights in the show ring and Miss R won Reserve Champ Market Hog. Best of all, we will have pork in the freezer soon!

I've had great feedback from my I'm NOT a Crazy 4-H Mom piece. Here is an update on our  projects.  I'm so proud of T and all he accomplished!  Our wood pile scavenging came together with a new end table, clothes hanger, and display base for his deer heads.  Thanks to our local carpentry shop the boards were plained and turned out amazing.  He's a creative boy and I really love how he can take his vision and with a bit of help make it happen. He's taking orders for the end tables if you would like one too.

Miss O had an outstanding fair. She spent every waking moment that was allowed at the event. She helped friends show goats,  had fun with a friend at the pet show, learned the value of a good interview and went home with 4 best of show's, 2 trophies and although she is totally exhausted, this may be the highlight of her summer.

 Miss R had to pace herself this year since of her sickness setback. She wasn't able to do extended activities. She filled her fair time with many memories. All of which is going to be in my next post. Believe me it deserves it own post...

My absolute favorite memory of this years fair, is this picture.  Dad sharing some solid advice with his son before going into the show ring.  That my friends is what it is all about.  Those tiny moments of sharing wisdom that stick with you for a life time.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Wheat Harvest Widow

Well it’s that time of year again- harvest has began.  In agriculture every year we experience the same things- it’s a cycle… Wheat harvest is the first of the harvests and seems to always catch me by surprise. 

I grew up in agriculture and I understand there are busy times of the year and not as busy times of the year.  Harvest time is one of the very busy times on the farm. When it’s time to harvest, there is an extreme urgency to get the crop in.  Everything else stops, doesn’t matter what’s going on, it stops.  Long hours and shorter tempers usually surround the event. 

As a Farmer, I revel in the beauty of the crop and the joy and sense of accomplishment of harvest. It’s the reward for hard work and perseverance and although we don’t do it enough, we do try to at least have a small celebration at the completion of each crop harvested. Which sometimes is just a home cooked meal and a bottle of wine. 

As a Wife and a Mom, I hate harvest!  The world doesn’t stop turning for the kids and I during harvest.  It keeps going, but access to My Cowboy stops.  We go to bed without seeing him, eat our meals without him, work 4-H livestock without his important help, and try to be on our best behavior when he’s home because we know he’s tired. There- I’ve complained enough! 

So as a farm family, we try to make the most of it, riding in the truck with him, waiting as long as we can before we eat supper at night, praying for rain so he’s around to help. 

This year I tried really hard to prepare myself for harvest. About the second week of July, I figured that we were 3 weeks out. I kept telling myself that. Yet, I signed Cowboy & I up for a golf tournament for end of July.  The morning of he said to me, ‘Now, we’re starting wheat harvest today and I’m probably not going to be able to golf.’ I only golf with him, since I really suck at golf I don’t subject any one else to my horrible playing.  Let’s say that Cheryl was a wonderful partner and the two hits I made to help us out was very appreciated. ugh.

We’re all counting down the days until Wheat Harvest is done. Knowing that our days until soybean harvest starts are numbered. But we're thankful to have crops harvest. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I'm NOT one of those Crazy 4-H Moms

"I'm not one of those crazy 4-H moms"  I repeat that to myself many times a day as I look at this mess....

9 Days.. County Fair Crunch time has began at the Hadrick House! As you can tell by this picture there is still a lot to do.

There are 2 'Rules" I have when making 4-H projects. My kids like to create, they come from a long line of creators and I'm always looking for ways they can create.  So, I leave a lot up to them on what they want to make and that means picking their own colors, embellishments and encouraging them to make what they see in their mind.

My other 4-H project rule is that it has to be useful. I don't need junk around my house.  Let's face it, I don't spend a lot of time dusting and I don't need more stuff to collect it.

So, we make useful & creative things, can you find them in the picture...
Recycled cookie sheets- new chore charts painted with chalkboard paint.  Kids picked their colors and from the many old cookie sheets I've collected make their chore charts.

Deer head is being mounted on a recycled board from the old wood pile to display the boys last season kills.  T and I spent an hour a few weeks ago scavenging through the huge farm wood pile.  He took the old planks into our cabinet maker and asked him to plane them.  They turned out amazing and we're also hoping to get the end table done he has started...

The huge pickle jar I picked up from the church give away last fall- our new Fun Money jar. Miss O is going to stencil on it. She's picking the colors and letter stencils.

Oh see the candle holders- one cream and one teal... I got those from our on-line rummage site. I have to admit the teal one isn't what I had planned, but Miss O has a vision and I'm letting her run with it.  After all I can just paint it again when she's done with it.  Actually she can repaint it and use it in the recycled project area in if the future... Always thinking

See the copper dear head- Zulily find, the boy love hunting and this is a easy paintable item that adds to his room decor.  I typically have him spray paint, because who doesn't like to spray paint??  But for this item he is using some really cool metallic paint that we sell at my store.  I may have to find somewhere else to display it, because it is turning out really cool!

Don't forget the galvanized bucket at the end of the table...that's our new entertaining bucket for drinks or it might be the new towel holder for the basement bathroom guest towels.  Whatever the case, a stencil is being added in the color of Miss O's choice

Now we do have some projects complete... We don't save everything for the final week. The tubs and boxes hold the things we've worked on all year long. The painted frames we did at a fun paint class, pottery we did with the cousins in the big town, Tye Dye from bible school and the extension cords we did with the club.

Plus we have these cool boards with knobs on them for each child done.  Thanks in most part to my mother who came with her power tools.  I had the supplies, again a trip to the farm wood pile and the big town where each child picked the knobs that spoke to them.  These will be displayed in their room to hang important things on.

I'm sure there is more then that...

You know what I don't see in this box- the rockets, where Dear Lord did I put the rockets???

As a side note, Miss R is still a clover bud and with that comes freedom to create like no other! The State Fair 4-H rules do not apply to her and so her creations are a whole different blog post.  I may not get to it until after fair, but I promise to take pictures and have her commentary. 

Wish us Luck!  I didn't even get to the livestock... 2 pigs raised like cows and 2 heifers that are being pampered like I can only dream of. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Birthday Girl Talks Beef

The baby of the family had a birthday!   I'm not exactly sure where the time has went, but as people say, it goes fast. The youngest of the Hadrick 5 has entered into the final few years of the single digits. This year we held a Art Studio Party for her friends.  Miss R's favorite subject is art and unfortunately she doesn't get enough of it, so what better way to celebrate then to buy some canvas and let there be paint! 
The party started out with tacos and dinner conversation that consisted of meat.  Of course, what else would 7 & 8 year old girls want to talk about... Miss R was quick to point out that the meat we were eating came from the cows outside our window. That left a few of the girls with confused looks on their faces. 

One friend said, "How can you eat something you care for?"  Which is a common question for many people.  Miss R never missed a beat and quickly respond, "We care for them, but they also make good beef that helps us grow strong." 

Another friend suggested we quit talking about cattle at the dinner table. But, the girls had many questions and comments about eating meat and they just kept coming.  

The class had recently been to the veterinary office on a field trip and started to relive moments from that adventure.  The discussion about how to make a steer was probably my favorite and the point where My Cowboy and I started to laugh and had to turn our backs. Apparently Dr. B explained how to band the scrotum to the kids and then the bull becomes a steer. The girls all laughed and I thought this is certainly not the usual conversations these girls have at their dinner tables. All of them were Miss R's town friends. To my kids, these are normal conversations we have at the dinner table. 

But for one last comment, from Miss Grace (I can put her name because her mother will know it was her anyway) "Well your dad raises some good beef and I need another taco!" BTW all the girls ate their tacos. We went on to paint some really cool pictures and of course did cheers and played games. 

I always tell My Cowboy that we can never get away from talking cows at the dinner table. I guess even at our daughters birthday party, we talk cows.  Maybe it's the table...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Not All Protein Created Equal

We’re not a normal family for many reasons, but one that I often have to remind myself is that we eat beef at almost every meal. I have a freezer full of meat that we raise ourselves.  It is the same beef that we raise for thousand’s of families to serve at their tables. But, I have to always stop and think that not every family eats beef like my family does. 

I strive like most moms to make sure my kids get a balanced diet. I am always thinking, did they eat enough fruit and vegetables today; how about milk, did they get enough calcium today; am I instilling these important eating habits that they will carry with them throughout their life? But one thing I don’t worry about is their protein intake because I know that feeding them beef means I am getting a big bang for my buck. Beef is packed with the good stuff that their bodies need.

Tumbleweed captured in fence on our farm
Not all protein is created equal.  Sure, I’ve found myself packing peanut butter sandwiches in lunches, thinking well that’s good enough for protein. But is it? When I look at this list, sure it is. All of these foods have 25 grams of protein. But, it’s not realistic for me to get my kids to eat 1 ¾ cups of black beans. I also have to admit that I’ve never even served Quinoa in my house. After all it’s related to the tumbleweed and where we come from that’s not food.

In a world that is concerned with kids and obesity this chart also explains the calories involved with getting 25 grams of protein. That is where not all proteins are created equal. The dietary guidelines have proposed to cut lean red meat out of our diets. Looking at this comparison of foods and calories, it takes twice the calories to get the same 25 grams of protein from beans and grains compared to lean beef.  

So what can you do? Take the time to comment on the proposed guidelines. This link takes you to the comment section, you can read what others have commented and the full proposal. Remember that you can make difference.  Comment period closes May 8th.