Make way for the rough patches…

A few weeks back, I met a couple so in love – celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary! It was easy to see – they were absolutely wild about each other! For you and for me, I wanted to know their secret.

Without a minute of hesitation, the man who chose this woman to have and to hold for life looked deep in my eyes and shared the secret no one wants to talk about. “It’s not easy.”

Whether its marriage, school, friendships, family relationships, teammates, or business colleagues – we are made to handle the difficult times – but how can we do it?

Here’s 3 quick Katie tips for handling the rough roads….

1. Hope. Clinging to hope can carrying you through. Its really the greatest gift of all. Hope’s best friend is Believe. Hang onto both!

2. Call in support. Your family and your friends love you so very much. Be frank. Be assertive. And take care of yourself. Their love and prayers may be just enough to get you over the hill – to see with a new perspective!

3. Honest. Be honest with yourself. Only you can define your core values. Be bold in your actions. Be kind in your thoughts. Be a friend to yourself.

Always remember – you are loved.

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Gingerbread party for brave ones

If family projects excite you, and sticky messes don’t frighten you – and you are really, really brave and pretty ambitious – check out this awesome Gingerbread Party! We make our dough from scratch, our frosting is a family favorite, a finger-licking deliciousness, and our gingerbread designs are unique every year. It’s a seven-family tradition!

Welcome to our North Dakota Gingerbread Party.

Gingerbreadgang

It’s not like the picture-perfect gingerbread houses on TV.
Because family life is not picture-perfect.
This is real life.
With imperfect pieces.
Disproportional windows.
Some ugly sides.

And…. we put our houses together with glue guns. It’s disappointing, I know – but then we guilt-free, of course cover the evidence with frosting!
Because… these houses travel at least 30 miles to their final destination.

And even with glue, sometimes they fall apart.
Isn’t that life?
We take a corner too fast – and we’re left with a mess!
We don’t pay attention and we hit the brakes too fast.

We are a group of families that embrace the messes! We try to make it special – realizing the overturned house left with a lingering scent of peppermint frosting aroma in our trunk!

A fair warning: This party is not for the faint hearts. This is die-hard. For hosts who don’t mind if a little green frosting finds its way down the carpet steps. For families who break out in Christmas carols and dough juggling! Families who aren’t afraid of powdered-sugar-covered kitchen counters that become tick-tack-toe boards. This is THAT kind of project.

gingerbread catch

We’ve been doing this for 12 years! We’ve learned a lot about gingerbread house making! To… here are some tips! As hosts, we choose a theme by creating patterns by measuring, calculating, and pretending to be architects! Or find a free one online!

We cut the pieces light, but dense cardboard. Creative Memories cardboard pieces in your scrapbooking supplies works the very best!

Then.. Load up on molasses, flour, butter, salt, eggs and lots of sugar!
We love the Family Fun dough recipe – because it means exactly what it says! Be patient and make single batches… doubling can be a wreck!

Once you’ve finished your first batch, fill a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with dough! Spread the dough to the very corners of each bag and refrigerating for at least 24 hours!

cutting-windows

The next day… we set the dough on the counter for at least 2 hours – and we’re ready to ROLL! Rock and ROLL!

We cut every seam of the ziploc bag – leaving only the bottom piece of the bag. Then, cut your dough piece in half and flop one piece of dough on a cookie-sheet size piece of parchment paper. Try not to bend the dough!

Scatter a bit of granulated sugar on the dough to prevent it from sticking to your rolling pin and parchment paper and GET TO WORK!!!

gingerbread-pattern

Roll and roll!
Make sure your Christmas music is cranked and your muscles primed!

Roll the dough about 1/4 inch thick – until you get your dough the same size as your pattern. Gently rest your cardboard pattern on the dough, and create the edges of your gingerbread piece. Dragging the knife can leave frayed edges, so pressing works the very best! Have fun creating doors, windows, and other details you’d love to have in your dream gingerbread house!

Then… this is ultra important… pull away the extra dough! Leave the gingerbread piece on your parchment paper!!! Don’t try to move your large piece with a spatula and expect it to stay nice! We all conform to what’s holding us up – if our edges become unsupoorted. We break. So, be sure to drag the entire gingerbread piece with the parchment paper to your cookie sheet!

Then… BAKE!!!

If you want to get extra fancy and have stained glass windows, that’s easy too!

Just crush your candy…

Candycrush

and half-way through the baking of your gingerbread piece, add the crushed candy in your already formed windows!

Adding candy crush

Finish baking and watch the candy melt!

We admit… we bake the daylights out of our gingerbread pieces! Usually, they are in the oven about 25 minutes at 350 degrees (sometimes we crank it to 375 after we’ve been opening and closing the oven doors so many time! Truthfully, we snitch uneven edges of dough right out of the oven. But you won’t catch us eatting the finished pieces. So it doesn’t matter that we overbake the pieces! We just want to get most of the moisture out of the pieces so they are easier to handle! But.. be careful… baking too long may make a brittle piece!

gingerbread pieces

Leave your pieces to dry on cookie racks! We leave it for days. Preferably in a guest bedroom, with the windows and doors closed so when you open the door after a week of drying – you are gifted with the most delicious gingerbread smell of the season!
Then… invite your friends!

Starting your party around noon with a hearty meal gives everyone energy for the fun – and prevents too many sugar belly aches!

Wherever you party – make it special and meaningful.
I love having each family with their own table.
To see them all work together, laugh, and share is extra special.

But… let’s just keep this real! The pictures make it look amazing – but there are stressful moments when the house pieces don’t line up, the base is crooked, or the frosting won’t stick well. But… its during those times, that you see families draw closer. They rely on each other. They work together. With an ultimate goal, you will see them overcome the little imperfections of the house – and build a home.

Gingerbread-pieces-organized

It often takes two hours to assemble and decorate the houses…

Frosting-Mommy

Although everyone has similar pieces, the creativity is amazing!!!

Each family has pieces for success:

– the baked gingerbread house pieces
– a wooden base
– frosting bag
– wet wash cloth for sticky fingers
– glue gun we need a firm glue to keep us together in life
– extra glue sticks
– battery operated lights

At a central location, we have a huge candy station!

gingerbread-brothers

gingrebread-santa
Its inspiring!
Its so meaningful.

gingrebreadhouse
And a beautiful way to begin the Christmas season!

gingerbread-hockey-rink

Then… we all gather around the kitchen with the lights off, and watch the lights of our houses come to life! We admire the details of our work!

gingerbread-castles

We gather for a huge group picture!
And individual families too!
And everyone takes home their dining room centerpiece.
It’s their art.
A symbol of their family uniqueness. Togetherness. Their mess. and their beauty.

gingerbread families

It’s our way of saying Merry Christmas!

Our gifts to each other is simply the time we spend together. And… that is really what this season is all about!

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Letting go… letting them grow

A wise mother once said: Life is about letting go.

EVERY DAY.

Watching our sons leave the fan section – to wear a jersey. I’m letting go.

Charging the football field for the first time. This letting go hurts.
And who ever said my son didn’t have hops? He’s blocking punts. I’m filling with pride.

As I hear myself hollering too loud, I watch from the corner of my eye… a beautiful young girl walking by. She’s wearing my son’s jersey. So, I’m forced to let go.

Life is about letting them take a hit.
And knowing our kids will fall. Sometimes hard. Sometimes they can’t get back up.

I’m forced to watch my strong son limp into the emergency room. On his own.
While I walk behind pushing an empty wheelchair. I feel broke. He’s hanging on.

He can barely support his weight.
He wobbles. His knee looks wrong. Something is very wrong.
I study his expression, but he does not show his pain. I only see determination.

We smalltalk. About his team. Their mission. Their vision. Their need… for each other.

We talk about it takes to be a team player. unselfishness. dedication. resilience. a positive spirit. talent.

Then, we talk about his future.
The nurse forces him into the wheelchair. he finally gives in.

jordan in wheelchair

I hear the doctor say something about his ligaments.
No weight bearing. Torn. Surgery.
His season is most likely done.

This time, my son is letting go to an athlete’s dream.
We’re both letting go.

We search to hang onto something! Each other.

We talk all the way home.
We grab lunch, and play cards as we eat.
Ignoring emails. Ignoring the phone.

Instead of putting our clothes into baskets, we’re putting that time into each other.
Just simply being there.
Together. Hanging on.

Watching movies.
Working on projects.

“You know Mom, you really don’t need to sit here all day,” he said.

I grinned. He had no idea how much I loved this!!!

I’m hanging on. To the teenage boy who is so busy, I just follow his dirty clothes.
I’m desperately hanging onto the boy who goes from one athletic season to another.
From the field, to the court, to the diamond. We let him go.

I’m holding tight to the days we read books and played in the dirt.
We’d race inside for science projects and board games. Cookies and Koolaid.
I’m clinging to the days we’d rock all day. Together.

I’m hanging on to the days I could kiss him goodnight, and he didn’t mind.

When your son can only stand on one leg, yet walks his way with his head held high- his mental game is strong. Letting go is a good thing.

It’s much easier to let go of today – when you are filled with great hope in tomorrow!

LET THEM GO to GROW.

JD-crutches

Good food is an momentous part of leading a wholesome lifestyle. How can medications help us? What can customers get without prescription? There are many medicaments for each diseases. At present hundreds articles were published about price of cialis. What may patients discuss with a doctor before capture Viagra? How you can get correct information about “”? The very significant matter you must look for is “cialis tadalafil“. Undoubtedly, sexual diseases can soothe chronic hurt and, even more importantly, reaffirm the joys of living. You should not take any drug if you are allergic to it’s ingredients. If you have a feeling that someone might have taken an overdose of this medicament, go to the accident department of your local hospital as soon as possible.

Dirt…. dirty… we need more AXE!

“Why did Grandpa have to die?”
“How many seconds in a year?”
“How many Super Bowls have the Falcons won?”
“How deep are the roots of a 20 foot tall tree?”
“What is Europe like?”
“Why isn’t she nice to me?”
“Mom, he makes me feel awkward. I don’t know how to talk to him.”

In a 20 minute window – they fired all of these questions! BIG picture observations. In a fast-paced world, it’s tough to create the right place for kids. Somewhere they can really talk. So you can get to what’s on a kids’ mind, or what concerns them.

Creating an environment without pressure. A place they are not rushed. Or distracted. Where they feel open to talk, but not cornered.

Engaging brains… and creating space for the tough conversations. We do it on the farm.

They are so busy, they forget we’re working on their hearts. Not just the job ahead of us.

farming together... building tomorrow

No video games. No phone interruptions. Just us. And a little dirt.

You only need one thing: a rake. or a hoe.

The best conversations happen in the pumpkin patch. In the tractor. In the garden. Driving semi. Or cleaning closets.

It’s asking, “hey, you’re terribly crabby. What’s up?”

“I miss Dad,” one of the little Guys say.

I agree. It’s springs work on the farm – long days, short nights. “So do I, but you don’t have to pounce on your brother. It won’t get Dad home any sooner.” suddenly, he gets it.

The real dirt on raising kids: its not easy. But. With the right fertilizer and favorable conditions, the crop will surpass all of your greatest yield dreams!

Get rid of the weeds. the bad influences
Water often. spend time together
Watch for identifiable diseases.you know the dangers
Keep your eye out for pesty rodents. usually, you can smell them
Cultivate your soil. your future
Plant good seeds. watch them grow

tractor time... with Dad

Good food is an momentous part of leading a wholesome lifestyle. How can medications help us? What can customers get without prescription? There are many medicaments for each diseases. At present hundreds articles were published about price of cialis. What may patients discuss with a physician before taking Viagra? How you can get correct information about “”? The very significant problem you must look for is “cialis tadalafil“. Undoubtedly, sexual diseases can soothe chronic pain and, even more importantly, reaffirm the joys of living. You should not take any drug if you are allergic to it’s ingredients. If you have a feeling that someone might have taken an overdose of this medicament, go to the accident department of your local hospital as soon as possible.

18 wheels… and a dozen reasons I shouldn’t drive TRUCK!

It wasn’t Needles Highway… but it felt like it! A daunting drop off on either side… my green semi and I. Like dangling a hippopotamus on a tightrope!

With 18 WIDE wheels, one lone trail, and a crazy driving history… I was scared.

White knuckles, I grabbed the oversized steering wheel. How fitting: I’m wearing “I fell in love with a John Deere boy” on my t-shirt. I adjusted the air-ride seat. Guess I’m fit to drive a rig.

“Don’t drive in the track… ride the ridge. If you don’t, you’ll wreck the truck,” my farmer instructed.

This grass-lined road and my rig was like pulling a firehose through a straw!

This grass-lined road and my rig was like pulling a firehose through a straw!

Ride the ridge? I don’t even know where my tires are! I know they’re under the semi – but exactly where? My mind was picturing… somewhere within a 3 foot area – but my tires needed to fit unto a small 18 inch ridge. this is not good. it’s bad.

My driving record flashed! Taking a corner too tight and hanging my rig in mid-air. only 16 wheels touching earth. 18 were supposed to.

What about the traffic jam I caused? And… the fence I wrapped around the plow? How do I get myself in these predicaments? glancing at my t-shirt… I remember.

It’s spring planting. Hectic. Time-crunched. Adrenaline-driven. Stretched-to-the-limits. So the world can eat.
My farmer needs me, and I want to help.

Balancing on the narrowing ridge I shifted into low. Two-miles. I can do this. How long can two miles really take? (Just ask a beginning runner.) The drive felt like 200 miles.

I carefully… ever-so-slowly… took the rig down the needle. Like a cooked spaghetti noodle in a confining cardboard box, I tried to maintain my rigid, determined spirit.

The most intense driving of my life. I was sweating. Profusely. I was cursing. Everything.

“I’d rather drive 500 miles in a white-out blizzard, than drive that road with this rig again,” I yelled! I pulled the parking break. Leaving that nasty green machine in the dust.

At least for the day.

Like the lone rider, this big rig and I take a road that seems to have no end!

Like the lone rider, this big rig and I take a road that seems to have no end!

But tomorrow, I’ll try it again.
I’ll jump behind the wheel, smile wide, and give it another spin!
All… because I fell in love with a farm boy!

threading this big daddy through the fields where your food is grown....

threading this big daddy through the fields where your food is grown….

Good food is an momentous part of leading a wholesome lifestyle. How can medications help us? What can customers get without prescription? There are many medicaments for each diseases. At present hundreds articles were published about price of cialis. What may patients discuss with a doctor before grab Viagra? How you can get correct data about “”? The very significant problem you must look for is “cialis tadalafil“. Undoubtedly, sexual diseases can soothe chronic pain and, even more importantly, reaffirm the joys of living. You should not take any drug if you are allergic to it’s ingredients. If you have a feeling that someone might have taken an overdose of this medicament, go to the accident department of your local hospital as soon as possible.