It must be fair time… 

It’s one of the best weeks of the year. The week our kids work toward all.year.long. Fair week. It is that week which all the bittersweet emotions of saying goodbye to a partner and friend in the ring can get the best of you. The week a FFA or 4H exhibitor can reach the highest high of winning the grand champion trophy and then hit the lowest low of saying goodbye to a pet they have worked with daily in 2 consecutive back to back days. Admittedly, it can be tough.

I am guilty too.  The night before sale day this year I sat in the barn next to “Phil”, Nate’s reserve grand champion FFA market steer and cried as I petted him that one last time. How to do you say goodbye to the partner that helped your child achieve his dream? The friend who occupied the majority of his time those early mornings and those late evenings when he was washing and clipping and missing supper. How do you thank that friend? How do you say good-bye to that friend?

Did Phil lead a privileged life? He did. He led a life that surpassed those many a cow lead. He was housed under fans, fed show feed, blown dry and shampooed on a daily basis. He was talked to, petted and confided in as most never will dream to be. He.was.a.pet.

He is not the first FFA or 4H animal I have said goodbye to. He is not the first one I sat next to and cried. Trust me… I remember watching “Junior” ride away in the trailer behind our truck. Call me sentimental. Call me crazy. But I believe in giving credit where credit is due and Nate could not have accomplished reserve champion in showmanship, reserve grand champion FFA market steer and first in his class without the help of his partner in the ring. And for THAT I am thankful.

So for those who think that raising and showing an animal as my son has done is not work, and for those who think the kids are unattached… I beg you watch on sale day as the kids say goodbye. It is gut wrenching. But it is a valuable life lesson being taught. Respect the animal, appreciate what it has given you, work hard, take care of animals, learn the value of a dollar and be proud of the hard work you put into your project. Even though it is hard to say goodbye, it is also a moment that makes parents proud of their kids for what they have accomplished.

I am proud of what my son did this year. Fair week was bittersweet. We have not forgotten Junior, or Phil, or Daisy, or Buddy or any of the other friends Nate has had along the way. He has learned some valuable lessons that remind me of how mature he has become and how hard he can work.

Now…. lets get started on Fair 2016.

Phil, winner of FFA grand champion market steer, first in class and reserve grand champion in showmanship 2015

Trophies in our camper after the beef show. The next day, we said goodbye to a friend

Judge, Nate, Cass County Beef Queen and Phil’s owner and Nate’s coach together for photo

Check out this post on the March Country Fair blog party! Click here: March Country Fair blog party

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September Ipsy Bag

Better late than never right? It has been such a busy month with football games 3 times a week, full-time work, and trying to keep up with cooking and running around for my now family of FOUR kids plus a husband that I have not had much time to breathe. It’s Sunday and I spent the morning teaching Sunday school for my awesome class of 4th graders, then home for lunch for the fam, then we had our monthly 4H Clover kid meeting so I am finally sitting down to take a breath. Which is crazy because it is already almost 4pm. Paula Deen’s crock pot mac and cheese is in the crockpot, boys are at football, 4H is done and my bathtub is calling my name. But first I NEED to share my products…..
Admittedly, I haven’t tried most of these products yet. So I will have to come back to post reviews later. BUT I am so excited to share my Ipsy glam bag for September! Love the colors… specially since the trend is fall and browns/taupes which is completely me. PLUS my haircolor has been changed to my fall darb browns and reds for fall so this is perfect!

Here is what I got:

*Ipsy NYX 01 3 color shadow palette in No tans allowed – click here IpsyNYX

Update! I have been using this eye color for several months and love it! Stays on, minimal creasing and love the color! 

*Trust fund beauty nail polish is Elegantly Wasted- click here Trust fund beauty

*Eau Thermale Ave’ne Masque- click here Lau Thermale

*JCats Beauty #Makeup of the day Slide on pencil in Bronze- click here Jcat Beauty

I also got a Crown shadow/crease duet brush that I desperately needed as my old one is getting pretty flat. I cannot wait to try these all and get a report back….

So there you have it- my products for the month. Now that my bathtub is calling my name, I think I may slap the mask on and finally get a chance to try some of these out. Has anyone else used these and what did you think? Anyone else have the same in their Ipsy bag?

Have a great rest of your Sunday!

Iowa summer sights 2015 “Clark Tower”

Tyler sitting under the ladder you have to climb to get to the observation deck, note how steep the steps are

Madison County part II. The Clark tower in Winterset City Park.  This was an interesting quick stop. We were already here for the covered Bridges of Madison County anyway. It was a quick stop, it did not take long.   The best way to find the tower is to enter the city park in the main entrance and then follow the road straight up into the hilly dense tree area ahead of you. (Past the covered bridge). It is a long drive in the dense trees and is tight. The road curves and has tight turns, and side note…..it is one lane in width. Not an easy drive if you have a big vehicle… and I don’t believe motorhomes are allowed in that area of the park. Once at the top of the bluff the road enters a clearing and the tower is up in a gravel lot.

 The tower is old. Its best attribute is the view which looks over all the bluffs below. To get to the top you have to climb a rickety old ladder that appears to have been there since the 40’s. If you cannot easily manipulate steep ladder stairs and narrow openings then this stop isn’t for you. The pay off is definitely the view which was spectacular.

I had to help my youngest to the top. She does not handle heights well. But she enjoyed it when she got to lookout area and she was able to see over the trees. For me it was worth the stop… I enjoy seeing off the road places.

Another side note, it is very deserted up there. You have to drive off in a wooden area alone and there is NO ONE around when you get to the top. I felt a little disconnected from society, not sure I would walk all the way up there alone.

All in all- good stop, but quick. Won’t take up too much time. 🙂

It goes by so fast…..

 It all started with this tonight. One picture on my phone. One side by side shot of my oldest in his kindergarten year in his first official “Lifetouch” photo against his last official “Lifetouch” photo. His junior year. His last school picture. Next will be senior pictures and then graduation and then college and then marriage after finding a life partner and then what? I cannot don’t want to imagine it. Time… please.slow.down.

I remember his kindergarten pictures like it was yesterday. He was so excited to be in kindergarten. He was shy. He was my first. He was the one I made all the mistakes with. The one I hovered over. The one I let room with me at the hospital and then sleep with me as a baby because I just could not let go. He was the one I would look at in his crib in tears because I just loved him so SO much. The one I held the hand of the longest. The one I didn’t want hurt because I was learning that his pain was my pain. Where did time go? Can I get it back? No… I can’t. It is the harsh truth that is so hard to admit. That time… the time you thought you had so much of when they handed you that newly bundled warm sweet-smelling baby. It flies. It won’t slow down no matter how much you wish it to and want it to and try to force it to. In my mind I am screaming “Nooooo!!!! Not ready… not READY!!” I know my mind will say it’s time to let go when it comes… but my heart- my heart will never be.

But I am happy also. My ultimate goal has always been to give my children roots and also wings. God has this strange way of making you ready. There are days that I am so frustrated with the teenage attitude and testing of freedom that I am ready to move him on, and along with that there are days I am not. There are days I look at him and see a grown man and there are days I see my chubby little 1st grader who still needs to hold moms hand at the store so I don’t lose him. He is the child I “cut my teeth on”. He is the one I held and had no clue what I was getting into. He was the one I cried over because I had no idea what I as doing and the one I cried over because I was so damn proud of who he was becoming.

Time is marching on. I am running out of time with my kids. I know this. I accept this…. I am entering a new phase in my life. I also admit the next year will be one of the hardest of my life. Holding on tighter. Letting go. I can do this. I know this is part of the natural process of being a parent. I have to learn to trust him more and watch him become the successful, productive person he is destined to be.

This was tough, yes. It started tears flowing when I sat and looked at it. It signified a new phase of life for me. I think I am ready. I know he is ready- and that means I have my job, and I have done it well.

Iowa summer sights “Bridges of Madison County”

Bridges of Madison County What a beautiful sight! If you live in Iowa… as I have my whole life.. Then the covered bridges in Madison County are a must see. There is nothing quite like walking through the old wooden structures knowing that once upon a time they held horse-drawn buggies and wagons. They are beautiful. 
Popularity rose for the bridges in 1995 when award-winning actor Clint Eastwood released a movie starring Meryl Streep that’s title was “The Bridges of Madison County” . People flocked to Iowa to see one of the 6 remaining covered bridges. Originally Madison County housed 19, and today 5 are on the National Registry of Historic Places.

You can read more about their history, the novel, the movie, and their tours here:

Bridges of Madison County

I decided this was another stop in Iowa that my kids should take the time to visit. I remember my Grandparents going once upon a time.. and since we only live an hour away, this was another stop we should take the time to make.

We visited 2 of the bridges. The first one was Roseman Bridge (the one in the picture of the backside of 2 of my kids) and it is known as the “haunted bridge”. Legend has it that this bridge is haunted because in 1892 two sheriff’s posses trapped a county jail escapee in the bridge. Legend says that the man cried out and jumped up straight through the roof of the bridge and disappeared. As the story goes he was not found again. The bridge was very quiet, covered with signatures of those who had been there before (marked in marker on the inside of one of the walls) and had a nice area for a picnic just outside the front entrance. The bad part of this one? It is literally in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, you can pick up a map at the Madison County Visitors Center that has the names and locations of all the bridges, so I was able to navigate my way there off that map.

The second one we visited was in Winterset City Park and is named the Cutler-Donahoe covered bridge which was built in 1870. It was smaller than the first and had less graffiti and signatures in it. The park itself also houses the Clark tower which I will write about on a another day.

If you are wanting more information on the bridges as well as directions you can click here:

Madison County Covered Bridges Map

All in all the Bridges made a great day trip for my kids and I. Top the day off with ice cream from the local ice cream shop and it is a perfect summer day trip. One more thing off my bucket list of things to see in this beautiful state.

~Laura

Taiwanese Treats

It’s been a busy summer… to say the least. Between basketball and the day to day rush of herding my own 3 kids, we acquired a Taiwanese foreign exchange student who arrived in the US and had nowhere to stay. This was unplanned. BUT like all things in a busy household even the best laid plans fail. So we go with it. And we expect to roll with the punches.

So Leo, our foreign exchange student arrived at our home at the end of August. One week after the start of school. He is easy to have. appreciative of what we do for him, follows the rules etc. Really I cannot complain.

Since his arrival we have experienced so much!  The biggest and best fair in the whole United States… the Iowa State Fair http://www.iowastatefair.org/, the Iowa vs. Iowa State game (unfortunately Iowa State lost) .. and everything from fireworks on the farm to deer calls, playing football, and a bonfire. We will share more on that later….

So Leo arrived and we started our new “routine” and fortunately the greatest issue we have had thus far is his extreme overeating tendencies. We have since discovered that our diet is so flavorful that he just cannot get enough… and he is not full because our diet is missing the tea and rice he is used to filling up on.

We continue to adjust and we continue to see changes little by little. He has learned he can stop, there will be more food for him later. He has learned he likes EVERYTHING we offer so he has to limit himself. But he is very considerate and makes every attempt to follow the rules.

One of the unexpected surprises of having a foreign exchange student was the arrival of a treat box from his mother in Taiwan. She speaks no English, so our opportunity to visit with him about it came from visiting with Leo. His mother was kind enough to send the expensive pastries and desserts that the Taiwanese enjoy in their country for their celebration. I can briefly describe these, although not a big favorite at our house, my children were kind enough to sample them and give feedback. Let me say though- I can see why our “American food” is so delicious to him, as the Taiwanese desserts are very bland in flavor, and not too exciting. 🙂

The first thing we tried was a expensive white cake with a red dot in the middle. This was a flaky layered type snowball shaped cake and tasted like sugar cookie dough unbaked would taste. It was so-so.

We also tried “moon cake” which was a brown squared shaped heavier cake with a date baked in the middle. This cake is consumed in conjunction with the festival in Taiwan. Interesting, but not very good.

Lastly we tried a “pineapple cake” again a square cake similar to a fig newton in consistancy. The newton part was pineapple flavored and very chewy. I guess if I had to have a favorite this would be it?

Even if the desserts were not our favorite, we loved the opportunity to try something from his culture. He also had a package of what appeared to be ramen type noodles that teenagers eat uncooked with seasoning on them. Similar to chips, they carry the bag and eat the noodles as a snack. The bag has a wizard on the front and is a child favorite.

We continue to learn from this experience and apprecitae the opportunity y to teach about this beautiul country we call home …. will keep updates as I can!

~Laura

Boxed treats from Taiwan, moon cake, pineapple cake and desserts