Why the fuss about lunch?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions, some support and a little flak about my position on the changes to the school foods rule. And I thought maybe I should explain where I’m coming from, so that those that are reading my opinions can understand my point of view a little better.

Let me start off by saying that I was not raised to stand my ground. In fact, if anything, it was the opposite. My mother is a “pleaser.” She will do anything/everything to not make waves, go with the flow, whatever phrase you want to use. (My oldest is just like her.) My dad has his opinions, and you would never change his mind…but you’d never hear him talk about it either.

If there were changes made to my school lunch plans when I was in school, I would have had to live with it…and live with whatever was being served. Even if it wasn’t enough. Not because my parents didn’t care, but more because they were from an era where you never questioned authority and never stood up to what was “law.”

Times have changed.

There are many, many things that I like about the new rules. I love the addition of fresh fruits/vegetables. I love the ideas of expanding food choices, introducing them to new foods. Love that.

I understand the thoughts behind the calorie limits, and appreciate the work that went into figuring where to draw the line. I get the reason behind limiting sodium intake. Really. I do.

But my inner “mother bear” comes out when you start messing with my children…even more so when it comes to something I’m very sensitive about, such as their diets. With George’s diagnosis of OTC, we work closely with a dietician at Mayo. Through the last few years, we’ve been made VERY aware of the importance of proper nutrition for growing bodies.

Now, I know that the changes made to the school lunch program must have followed a dietician’s suggestion…perhaps even a team of dieticians. But it still doesn’t hit all the marks that I’m looking for in a good, well-balanced meal. And not necessarily for every child, but for mine…which is who I am fighting for (and I know I’m not alone).

I’m not complaining to my school administration. I’m not complaining to my school board. I know they are doing the best they can with what they have been given. I am writing those that have the power to make a change, and I’m using the tools that are available to me (social media, for one) to encourage others to do the same.

This isn’t a witch hunt, I’m not looking for someone to blame. I don’t care who signed the law, I don’t care which party they are from. I want to know who I can talk to that will work with me to make changes…that’s all I need.

We have passed the eras where laws are made and citizens no longer question them and just follow along blindly, assuming that everything was made in good-faith effort to do the best for those involved. (Did that time ever truly exist?) We are in an age where we are expected to stand up for what’s right and ask to make changes when things aren’t working…and this isn’t working for me and my family.

Scooter may be bigger than most 8-year-olds, but he’s still a little boy who needs his mama to stand up for him…and his future. (Oh, and this is an OLD pic of the two of them. About 2 years or so.)

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He’s the one in the football gear.

I won’t spread rumors, I will try not to state anything without doing my research. I won’t place blame. I will just work towards a change. But I have to be vocal about what I find, or questions I may have…I have to use the tools that are at my disposal to get my message out to those who need to hear, and to those that can join in the movement.

I won’t stand by and watch an injustice when there’s something I can do…I’d say I wasn’t raised that way, but that’s not completely true. Let’s just say that I’m not raising my children that way.

Want to contact someone who can make a change? Here’s a good place to start:

Undersecretary of Food & Nutrition Services
Kevin Concannon
1400 Independence Ave, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250

Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack
1400 Independence Ave, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250

Back to School – 3 Down, 1 to Go

Our third child starts kindergarten today. Or at least that’s the plan. He has a way of deciding for himself whether or not he’ll follow through with my ideas, so I’ll wait to see if I get a phone call today letting me know that he’s had enough.

Scooter (yes, he’s only 8) in his football gear, surrounded by his biggest fans!

It’s crazy to think about. Big Bro is 10, George is now 3…I have been changing diapers for 10 years in a row (hoping that changes here shortly, but still end up changing him once or twice a day). And now I only have one child at home.

Ready to go!

So what will I do with my time? It should be pretty easy, right? Perhaps a nap or two, finish writing that book I’ve been talking about? Organize my house so that I can be on the Tour of Homes? Or just make it through each day.

EJ, ready for his first day of kindergarten.

You see, the last one left is the one that makes the rest all look like walks in the park. Yes, the force is strong in that one…strong indeed.

He’s the one that tried to put bubble solution in his Dad’s C-PAP machine yesterday afternoon. (I stopped him…through a fit of the giggles. The images were priceless!) He’s the one that dropped a bucket full of toads in my kitchen. He’s the one that put his jelly sandwich in the microwave for 20 minutes. (Don’t worry, I caught it only 3 minutes into it…but beyond salvage.)

I had to walk EJ to the bus…he wasn’t so sure about it once it stopped in the yard.

It’ll be 2 years before George is old enough for kindergarten. I’ll start praying for the teachers now.

The countdown is on…

Two days left until 4-H judging. We’re working on finishing up final touches, making sure the boys remember the steps to take their projects from beginning to end (the only downfall to starting projects early, making sure they remember them!). It’s been a crazy few weeks, but oh, so worth it!

Big Bro wasn’t happy with some of his photos that he was going to show at the fair, so he took some new ones yesterday. I really like his eye for the unusual, yet it’s the stuff that’s around us all the time. They may not judge as well as some dynamic photos, but I want him to explore what’s important to him…and that’s all that matters:

Big Bro and his cousins have turned an old grain bin into a “museum,” where they put things that they’ve collected around the farm.

I’m sure Grandma and Grandpa remember these.

Sometimes a boys best friend isn’t his dog…but the cat that thinks he’s a dog.

EJ posing with their kitty. I don’t think Big Bro realizes how great he framed this photo.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are

I basically took the month of June off on my blog. It wasn’t intentional, but it ended up being that I simply didn’t have time. We had swimming lessons, baseball practices and games, I play softball, parades, celebrations, a birthday party or two, fair preparations to make and life to live. It was wonderful.

But now it’s the day after the Fourth of July, and life is a little more subdued and relaxed. We can start truly enjoying our summer…and I intend to make every minute count.

I promise to blog more often (more for myself than anything), and I promise to continue to reach out and do what I can to share this great way of life that we are living.

It what I can do, without leaving my farm, and using the skills that I have.

It wasn’t until the 457th person told me (during this break of mine) that they enjoy my writing, they love to share what I share and realize how important farming and rural life is to the backbone of America. What more can I ask for?

And it’s something so simple, that I know you can do it, too. All it takes is a minute of time, an ounce of creativity and courage…a fair amount of courage.

Thank you for sticking with me…and as a reward, here’s a few photos of what we’ve been up to:

We watched storm clouds roll through, but never received much for rain.

We watched 70+ tractors roll past our farm on a Tractor Trek to celebrate a local town’s 125th celebration.

Boss Man joined the tractors!

We played some baseball.

We watched some amazing sunsets.

And we danced like no one was watching.

I may have become a little discouraged last month, questioning if I am doing the right thing, or if I have the right intentions. But those doubts are gone, my spirit is renewed and I have new goals in sight. And I can do it all from the comforts of my home.

Yes, summer, I am finally ready for you.

Surviving Mother’s Day – Planting Widow Syndrome

According to my calendar, yesterday was Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, since it didn’t rain on Saturday or yesterday, I was on my own. Just a note to the powers-that-be…scheduling Mother’s Day smack dab in the heat of planting season was not a great idea. Father’s Day is a much better date…and I am considering swapping them out.

Instead of enjoying a lazy day and letting my family pamper me, we started off early and kept on trucking through the day. I made a mention on my Twitter account that I was tackling church alone, with four boys, and someone responded that she would like some tips on handling church alone with kids. Great idea!

So here they are…my tips on taking kids to church (follow the ones you like, ignore the ones you don’t, and remember, it’s all about attitude…mostly yours.):

  • Start off on a good note. Wake up early, make sure everyone is wearing their favorite church-going outfits, eat breakfast, etc. Being rushed, miserable and griping the whole way to the car sets everyone off on a bad foot. It’s not worth it, trust me.
  • Take with a secret stash of snacks. Make sure they are “quiet” snacks. Fruit snacks work wonders, Dorito’s – not so much so. Animal crackers – great, Cheetos – not so great. Granola bars – super, anything chocolate – skip. Don’t forget that if you take with something too salty, you’ll need a bottle of water as well. (And some wet wipes for clean up!)
  • Pack distractions. The boys get to choose two things to bring with and put in their church bag. Remember, these need to be quiet toys, so skip the electronics and noise makers. For my boys, the key is Transformers, cars and tractors. Although, I will admit, that sometimes the sounds the boys make with these is just as distracting. Another good idea for older children are puzzle books, word finds, etc. (For those old enough to sit still, but not old enough to quite get the message of the sermon.)
  • Know when to say when. Not only do I have four children (ages 9, 8, 5 and 3), but I married into a front-of-the-church family. When our first son was born, and I realized that my husband still intended to sit at the front of the church, I was horrified. I never thought it would work. I was wrong. It can work…but you have to know when to say when. We did not have strict church rules until after our boys turned 2. At that point, we figured it was possible for them to stay in the sanctuary throughout the service. Yet, even then, there are sometimes problems. There’s a fine line between teaching a lesson and making everyone miserable, and you need to be able to read your child’s cues to know when you’re at that point. But make sure you’re not rewarding the behavior. If your child isn’t feeling well, and is acting up, go to the back of the church, but don’t reward them by taking them to the play room. On days when everyone sits well during church, and aren’t too loud, reward them with a special treat.
  • The best offense is a good defense. What does that have to do with church? I’m talking about the seating arrangement in the pew. Our biggest problem is George trying to escape and running throughout the sanctuary…or deciding to join the pastor at the pulpit. So I strategically place people at both ends of the pew. But they have to have stiff legs and a quick arm! (Big Bro is much better at this than Boss Man…just sayin’.)
  • Involve your children in the service. Make sure they all know when they should be praying, let them help with passing the offering plate, let them hold the hymnal. The only time I don’t let my kids be involved during the service is communion. They could be…our church has no rules regarding who can/can’t receive communion, but I do. They have to be able to explain to me why communion is significant to them, before they can participate. I expect that it will be a few years before Big Bro tackles the subject, although he remembers to look it up during the communion service. I figure if it were that important to him, he would remember outside of church as well.
  • The most important key: your attitude. It’s hard not to become frustrated, but it defeats the purpose. Making your child/children miserable in church sets a bad example and a bad precedent. I want my children to think of church as a fun, safe, happy place, where they can pray, learn and share.

No, going to church alone with children isn’t easy. It’s not for the feint of heart. Yet, it is extremely rewarding when your children finally get to the age where they ask questions, read their bibles on their own without prompting and share stories regarding what they’re learning.

I may not have all the answers, and I may not know how to handle every situation just right, but I have someone who does on my side…and His answers are so much clearer than mine!

This group of boys keeps me on my toes, especially in church!

At the bottom of it all, you have to find what works for you…but don’t give up without trying. And remember, everyone has bad days, it doesn’t always work out the best. Be flexible, be reasonable…

and don’t forget to pray!

WW – Enjoying some sunshine

No words are needed, when the weather is this beautiful!

Just had to get a quick shot of my handsome boys at Easter: George, EJ, Scooter and Big Bro. (Don't tell Big Bro that Scooter has almost a whole head on him, he's touchy about being the "little big brother.")

Cousin K had his birthday last week, George's birthday is this week...so we compromised and had a little cake in the middle!

Have your cake...and eat it too!

The boys love playing with the motorized toys at Grandma's. Spoiled? Yeah, but that's OK.

George, enjoying his first spin on the little 4-wheeler...and glad he's finally big enough!

One Crazy Easter Weekend

Easter. A holiday made for epic celebrations. One great event, a promise of things to come and a time to reflect, give thanks and gather…oh, and food, really great food. How do you improve upon that?

Oh, yeah…add in a broken nose.

Scooter, in his Easter finest, sporting his now off-centered nose. It adds character.

That’s right, a broken nose, 6 hours in the ER and getting to bed about 3 in the morning.

Don’t worry, we still made it to church, and Scooter was proud to sport his new black eye. My eyes were probably a little black, too, but from lack of sleep, not a baseball to the face.

Lesson learned? Don’t let the boys play baseball the night before a holiday. Or maybe I should teach Scooter some better catching methods.

So today we head to the eye doctor, to get his vision checked out and make sure his fuzziness isn’t anything that a new pair of glasses won’t fix. And later on this week, once the swelling is down, we’ll see the ENT and double check his nose.

You can believe me when I say that I’m not one of those people that asks, “What next?” Because I know where that may lead…and I’d rather not know! 🙂

School Carnival Craziness

Friday night was the Casper Carnival in Ellendale. It’s a carnival hosted by the SADD group and it gives the kids a chance to have some good, clean fun…but I also realized a few things:

The dreaded goldfish game.

1) The hot game at the carnival is the ping-pong bounce, where you try to get the ping pong ball into a glass jar. And win a goldfish. I must have my head examined for allowing my children to play the game, but they love it. For many years in a row now, my children tote home some goldfish and I wait patiently for them to die. The math ends up something like this:

Amount spent to win $0.50 goldfish – $20

Amount spent on supplies – $30 (tank, food, water…oh, and don’t forget the goldfish toys…yes, I said goldfish toys…you know, the cool stuff in the tank?)

And then, after spending all that time and money on goldfish “stuff,” I spend the next few weeks taking care of them…all while secretly hoping to find them floating in the morning. And no, they are still alive…today.

2) Scooter will spend $10 to win one can of pop…and then give it away to someone who hasn’t won yet. And that is awesome! (Don’t worry, he went on to win a 12-pack more…but I did convince him to share with his cousins, so he only had one to drink the next day.)

3) EJ believes that giving two tickets at the cake walk should be all you need to do, before walking home with a cake. This whole walking in circles until the music stops is for the birds! And then waiting for your number to be called? Not his cup of tea. Well, until he won a plate of cupcakes.

Just waiting on his fish.

4) The fishing pond will ALWAYS be the best game ever. You stand there, throw the line over and win something. Simple, to the point, and a no-brainer. That’s my kind of game-of-chance.

5) Duck ponds don’t work if you don’t like water. EJ was excited about playing the game, until he realized he had to get close to the pool of water. Then he thought maybe Mom should help him out. Sorry, son, I’m a little old for that! But I did hold his hand while he reached down…and neither of us fell in!

6) Big crowds scare George. He was excited about the games…until he realized that he had to share space with all those people. Grandma quickly realized that this wasn’t his idea of fun and took him to her house. He was much happier playing trains without his brother competing for space, than he was waiting in line. Just don’t tell his brother!

Scooter, right, and his buddy enjoyed playing on the pillow fight. I'm considering setting one up in the house.

All-in-all it was a great night, for a great cause! And the best part is that it will be another whole year before we get another goldfish!

Young Farmer Friday

Just loving my day with the boys…and who can blame me? We head to Mayo on Monday, and that’ll be worries for Monday. For today, I’ll just enjoy what we have.

"Mom, will this be mine some day?"

A rare moment of stillness, and no one fighting!

George teasing EJ that he was going to beat him to the shop.

Well, he decided the reward wasn't worth it.