Year end wrap up-2015 πŸŽ‰

What a year! Did I do everything on my list for the year? No… but I DID accomplish several things on my bucket list and I did meet some of my personal goals. This is a mark in the positive category for me for sure…

January start of the new year. New goals, new expectations, new resolutions. I set goals to read more, travel more and take more time enjoying my children. This was something important to me since I have one graduating in 2 years. And looking back.. I accomplished these goals and for that I am so proud of myself!

February- no new things accomplished. Surviving winter in Iowa. Made plans for spring break trip to Florida. Planning family trips in the last years with my children is such a huge thing for me. I want to share as much with them as I can before they are gone.

March- Spring brought new opportunities. We let Tyler try out for travelling basketball. A huge step for him. He LOVES the sport. The financial investment and time investment was a big one. Were we ready? Was he? I was so uncertain but wanted my son to have this opportunity. I let him try out… he made it. And this was a GREAT opportunity for him. He grew so much as a player having this opportunity.

We headed to Florida this month. Another longggg road trip for the family. Which is exactly.what.I.wanted. We needed another opportunity to bond over miles. We went to Florida for a week and I accomplished one major thing off my bucket list! I wanted to take my kids parasailing. We went together and it was without a doubt one of these once in a lifetime opportunities. I had a ball. The boys and I will never forget that time together.


 April- basketball ramps up. We start traveling team. Hours of practice and  back and forth drives. Clint starts a new planting season for farm management. He gets busier with work, I get busier with kids.


May- end of school, we start travelling. We head to Wichita, Kansas and Omaha Nebraska, Bellevue and Lincoln following Tyler and the Western Iowa Express Blue team in basketball. What a fun time. I absolutely love being my sons favorite fan.

June- Nate ramps up show season and starts showing cattle. We watch him show in the Junior Angus show on Facetime while sitting in the bleachers in Wichita. He does well. I am so proud of them both. Addie has dance recital and rocked it on stage as a ballerina and tap dancer! We start the summer of Iowa experiences! 


  
July- Lake time after basketball season wrapped up. Spent time boating and enjoying our family cabin at Twin. Nice to have time to hang out and have the boys’ friends to one of their favorite places on earth. This is a place we wish we had more time at. Lake time is where I spent my summers growing up. Tubing, skiing and 4th of July fireworks over the lake are some of my favorite memories. Fair time is here. Nate is busy showing steers. Addie and I are busy with Clover Kids. We camp at the fair all week.


August- super busy month. I head to Ohio with mom. Longaberger experience off her bucket list… and mine. Another new years goal accomplished. We accept and take in a foreign exchange student from Taiwan, football starts and school starts. We welcome Leo into our home just as we finish a full renovation to our bathroom (yes.. we hired someone who gutted and redid the upstairs bathroom- what a project!). Life starts to return to normal and other than a few stray tournaments… we wrap up travelling basketball season. Some camps are attended and I head back to work full time.

September- football season is in full swing and we are back on the road for both boys games. Addie starts up dance and we learn a new normal. September means getting accustomed to being back at work. It means Clint gets busier.. and so do the kids. We head to 8th grade football games for Ty, JV for Leo and Varsity for Nate. 3 nights a week at football.

October- Football wraps up and we have a breather before wrestling and basketball. Birthday season begins with Ty and Addie having parties. Ty had an overnight, Addie had a bowling party. Tyler turns 14 and (sigh) he starts to DRIVE. What a change. Time flies. Harvest is in swing and so Clint is busier. Leo experiences Harvest and rides in a combine.

  
 

November- big family wedding for Clint’s brother Chris. We spend 3 days in Des. Moines over Thanksgiving weekend. Leo starts.. and stops swimming. Nate starts wrestling and Ty starts travelling basketball and school basketball. Addie starts ballet, tap, tumbling and now a new addition… jazz. I head to a girls weekend in Nashville (what fun!).

December- we wrap up the year with a bang. We say goodbye to Leo… we decorate for the holidays and we look toward new year and new goals for the upcoming year.

  
I am wishing you much happiness, health, and love in 2016. Thanks for reading this quick recap of our year. We had such a good one!

~Laura

 

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Challenges of being a host mom

I have been a host mom to a foreign exchange student for the past 5 months. Let me put my disclaimer out there first so here it is ……

*****Disclaimer- not all host family experiences are positive and not all experiences are negative. This is my experience and is not a reflection of a positive or negative feeling toward the idea of having an exchange student. This is just simply MY thoughts about MY experience. No negativity and no offense noted toward anyone or anything. Thank you.******

I have been asked after the past worst five months of my life if I would do it again and my resounding answer is NO. Without going in to specifics, it’s time to move on.

The whole idea of hosting a foreign exchange student is about chemistry. Do they fit in with you and you with them? Do you have the same interests? In our case… initially yes and now… not so much. The chemistry that was once there is gone. Unlike your own children, they come to you already set in who they are and you either are a good match or you are not. Β In this case our work ethics, spiritual upbringings and so many other things are NOT the same. And without naming specific names… the company we are working with is by FAR one of the worst I have ever dealt with. Dishonest, terrible at communication, and not to mention disrespectful to host families.

For us, the common threads we had in the beginning are unravelling. We have no common thread anymore. It is time to move on.

We have assisted with finding another host family for our student second semester. He is not enjoying attending wrestling meets and basketball games. Was not enjoying the time we spend cheering our two sons on. Was no longer having fun.

He asked us if we could take him to museums and historical places and unfortunately we cannot do that because of our own kids busy and demanding schedules. Our weekends are spent being their biggest fans and I do NOT regret that. That is simply our life now, and it does not mesh with what he is wanting to accomplish.

We are beginning the process this week of getting him moved on to his next stop. We were his second host family in a year and he now moves on to his third. We wish him well, thank him for the experiences he has given us and hope he sees how proud we are to represent this beautiful country we call home.

He will finish out his year in our same small community in a home with children who are not involved in as much as our kids are. With us he was able to attend the Iowa State Fair, experience playing American football, experience Christmas in an American home, experience Thanksgiving and Halloween cultures and experience harvest and the fun of combining on a farm in the great state of Iowa.

We wish him well on his next step of his journey, and we look forward to having our life fall back into its “normal” again.

I am sharing this only because “all that glitters sometimes is not gold” as the saying goes, and if you have ever thought about hosting, just know that while there is some beautiful and wonderful things that can come from the experience, there is also some negative in some cases. There are different cultures, backgrounds and expectations at play and sometimes you have to recognize when it is time to move on.

We wish him our best!

 

Easy Hamballs… A Family Favorite!

It’s a snow day!! a perfect day to cook a family favorite in our house. Pair this with a pan of cheesy potatoes and a veggie and you are set. My kids LOVE this recipe and it has become a fall favorite at our house. The basis of it is simple. You can make your own basic ham loaf mixture (or…. if you are like me, you drive to your local grocery store and buy theirs from the meat counter. HA!)

I have made this for my family literally a THOUSAND times. In Iowa we have a chain of grocery stores called Fareway. This is where I buy my ham loaf already made. Then I doctor it up. I have to give credit to the recipe for ham balls to Fareway though the butcher gave me the recipe on a recipe card one night when I was stewing over what to make for dinner. He simply said to modify their ham loaf recipe and make ham balls and “Voila!” here is the recipe all typed up on a card already. πŸ™‚

So here you go! Enjoy!

Easy Ham Balls

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

3 pounds premade Hamloaf

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 can tomato soup

1/2 cup vinegar

1 TSP DRY mustard

1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar

Mix meat, milk, eggs and crackers together and form 18-20 small ham balls (or I make 12 large ham balls)

Place in large flat baking dish

Mix soup, sugar, vinegar and mustard together, Pour over hamballs

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees uncovered

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe credit to Fareway Food stores meat counter

Find this at the February Country LINKed blog party at this link!

Β February Country Fair blog party!

Beauty of Christmas

I love this time of year! The sights, sounds and smells of Christmas are some of my favorite things ever! I cannot think of anything better than the food, decorations, smells and sights of Christmas.

My church hosts a festival of trees every Christmas season. The trees are decorated by community organizations, youth clubs and churches. It is literally one of my favorite things to go and see every holiday season. My daughter and I have made it a tradition to go together and look at the trees. I think they are beautiful.

This is the tallest tree in the parish center and it is the one decorated by my church. It is one of my favorite πŸ™‚

My other favorite part of the Festival of trees is the cookies and cider at the end of the tour. We are able to sit and look at the trees, listen to the Christmas music and spend time enjoying the season and remembering the true meaning of the holiday together. I LOVE this time with my daughter.

The other favorite thing we see is the memory tree. This is a tree decorated in honor of those that we love and have lost. We fill out an ornament in memory of my grandparents every year, and in turn take a memory ornament that is crocheted by the church women to hang on our tree in honor of those we have lost. In our own special way, it is a way to remember those who are in heaven that we no longer have with us during the holiday.

Addie enjoying the cider and cookies with mom after our tour.

We have lots of other traditions in my home over the holidays. We have a tree upstairs that has my childrens ornaments from over the years. They get one from us every year that signifies something they did over the course of the year. When they move out they will take these ornaments with them. It is covered with everything from the babies first Christmas ornaments they had their first Christmas to Teletubbies, Bob the Builder, and everything in between as they grew up.

Our downstairs tree has the ornaments I had growing up on it. My babies first Christmas and all the ornaments the kids have made me over the years. This is another tradition we have in our home.

Our community is decorated beautifully in our downtown. The whole main street is covered in white lights and it is especially beautiful when it snows. It is gorgeous to take a drive downtown for the Christmas season. The cover photo is my daughter and our foreign exchange student standing downtown for the grand lighting ceremony earlier this month. This too is another tradition in our home along with attending the grand lighting and lighted parade downtown that they have every year.

What traditions do you have? We have many more but these are the first that come to mind. I hope you find the season as beautiful and peaceful as I do. Take time to enjoy the season, it is one of the best times of the year…..