Farming truths…

When you fill your tank with gas, you expect to cover miles. It’s a given.
When you work, you expect to get paid… it’s usually contracted. But, production agriculture is not simple. There’s no guarantees you’ll work and get paid. Just guarantee you will work.

We stay up at night pondering the forecast, penciling our fate. Yet, at the end of 365 days our wrinkled, callused hands don’t grasp a pay check. In these tough years, we pay to work. And the gray hair comes free. And we still wait for rain.

We, the drought-affected farmers and ranchers of a very large area, are in a disaster. Our livelihoods devastated. For some, we’ve been hit a few years in a row. It takes its toll and it’s hard to get ahead.

Imagine watching a project you’ve spent a lifetime perfecting, only to watch it deteriorate with the thermometer climbing and forecasts without hope. The baking of the land.

I pluck another head of wheat. The color is wrong, its shape out of whack. The plant has not produced a single seed. An empty head of wheat. Just because we combine, doesn’t mean we get yields.

Glancing at the brown pastures, the cattle are hungry. The hay crop is slim. Yet, the mess needs to be cleaned up. So the tractors still run. Another expense.

Can you imagine showing up to work everyday, and not getting paid? Imagine the desire it takes to just get out of bed every day? Let alone engage your mind? Working to find the best problem-solving skills to make the most economical and environmental decisions? The basic tasks become quite difficult.

Families are burdened. Everyone is cutting back. The entire region, our state, is dramatically affected.

Yet, everyone is looking ahead. Because there’s always next year.

Maybe rain will come?
Maybe prices will climb?
But we know, expenses will not drop.

But, we get up, face the day, and find the beauty.

The pride in grilling a homegrown burger. Boiling a huge pot of noodles from our durum. Watching our kids care for their animals, and learn to weld. Appreciating wide open spaces and room to roam. Spaces to think. Chores to teach responsibility and tiny pleasures.

And dang… tractors are sexy. The new beard is pretty saucy too. And it all works out. For falling in love with farming and ranching, is falling in love with nature. With simplicity. With brilliant, unselfish souls. We appreciate the miracles in the muscling of our animals, and the delicate texture of our fields.

For we love farming. We love ranching. Sure, not everyday do we love our job, but we’re looking behind with we see a whole lot. Sometimes it’s just a fog. But ahead, we look with hope. And we will bond together. Through the tough years, and clinging tighter for a good year.

Mom’s top 4 secrets for survival!

Raising respectful kids begins at home with the safe boundaries we create and reinforce as their parents. Daily, we teach our kids to respect others and understand consequences by our very own example. (don’t worry – you’re doing great!!!)

You’re allowing space for growth, confidence, and independence in our children. And we both know, creating and reinforcing boundaries is giving our kids a place to make mistakes. No one has perfect kids! Or perfect parents! Just give warmth of our reassurance and love to help hold our kids up so they can mature into young men and women who benefit society.

Parents: This takes a lot of WORK!
But, you are equipped to do it!

I’m a mom who learns from wrecks and big time mistakes. You too? Well – let’s simplify the system. The feel of the family. To navigate the push and pull of society, with the tugs of your heart – and ultimately make life easier.

dsc_0165

So… these are boundaries you set for yourself!

Tips to make your parent life easier:

1. Kitchen closed. After supper dishes are washed and the counters cleaned, the kitchen is closed. The lights are off. Cabinets are shut. The pantry is off limits. And stomachs will survive. Sometimes our dietary needs prohibit this rule from happening, but that is the exception. Establishing respect in our very own kitchen, teaches our children to appreciate the exception. Because, of course, there are random nights for malts or hot fudge sundaes.

2. Don’t rescue the forgotten backpack. Your kids forget their backpack? Their basketball shoes? A sheet of homework? Try saying: Oh boy. What a bummer. Is this your “semester rescue call?” Establish a rescue plan for the things your kids leave behind. Our kids know Mom will rescue them once a semester. Create a “rescue” boundary that works for you. You can chase after your kids with the sweatshirt they left on the floor of their room once a semester – or you can constantly chase after your kids. Letting them feel the natural consequences of their decision sticks. Forgotten sweatshirt? They won’t freeze. A homework paper left behind? They’ll never forget that failing grade. It doesn’t mean they’ve failed – it only means they’ve learned from their mistakes! And, tomorrow they will choose preparation and organization. It’s such an important skill to learn as a child!

3. Surviving my child’s birthday! For some reason, celebrating the birth of our child can be overshadowed by stress, logistic nightmares, and a party etiquette fiasco! Here’s what we do to survive: One big party. Yes, one party can include their entire class – their big circle of friends – or their entire neighborhood. Do it once. And keep it short. Let them eat their birthday cake without forks! But, keep them well fed throughout the party. And ask a friend to help contain the kiddosyou’ll thank yourself later. Make it memorable for everyone! Set boundaries: personal devices stay home – its one less thing to find at the end of the party, too!

4. Sleepover survival: If the kids don’t sleep, mom can’t sleep – and MOMs need sleep! I know you agree. So, here are the secrets of the best, most amazing, unforgettable, sleepover our kids ever had! Before the party started, I covered our clocks. When the kids arrived, they tossed their electronics in a basket. We gave each kid two packs of football cards. And for almost an hour, they were entertained trading cards! They weren’t all huge NFL fans, but they were bonded anyhow. We had men snacks and pizza. For many of the kids, it was their first sleepover – so whenever they became weepy or scared, I stuffed Kleenix in their pockets, and hugged and squeezed, and they found bravery in themselves. When the kids asked what time it was, I often distracted them from an hour – and refocused them into the fun they had! It was dark – and they didn’t know much better – so I steered them into thinking it was later than they thought. They played air guitars, ice bucket drums, and tooted horns. The later they get – the more wild, right! So… I always helped them believe it was much later than it really was! They packed the night with buddy memories with lip sync and actions – Youtube videos, and trading cards. And… everyone jelled. And ultimately, mom survived the sleepover! Mom WON! Because they thought it was 2:00 A.M., and everyone was tucked in by 10:30 P.M.! Victorious. For everyone.

So… give them a try! Or skew them to work for you! I only want to create a spark in your heart – and inspire you with the confidence you need to do this parenting job the very, very best you can do! You have what it takes! Trust your heart! Follow your intuition! And share your secrets of survival!

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When the life of the party dies…

Hello! I’m Katie.

Life is way too short. And sometimes the life of the party dies. And the music stops. But, it seems only for a short time before the next verse plays. So, while we’re here, we need to leave a trace of our song.

Right before delivering a keynote in North Dakota, I received the most unexpected sadness. My 41-year-old “life of the party” friend – bursting with energy, hugs, and love – was now gone. And we were left devastated. Because Bubba was so full of life, the contrast of death seemed incomprehensible.

Bubba was a bubbly, joyful kind of guy.
Big hugs.
Burly embraces.
Enormous receptions at every encounter!
Frankly, Chris “Bubba” Enget simply loved BIG.

His tender heart was an open book. And he filled each section with his people. His clan. Of course, his favorite chapter was his precious children, and the love of his life. But everyone had a place in Bubba’s book. From his childhood friends, to college buddies, to the patients and staff who received his tender nursing care in the emergency room. Everyone was special in Bubba’s eyes. Everyone was a friend.

Sometimes we lose touch with our dear friends. Life gets too busy. Our interest change, and miles separate us. Sometimes friends quietly fade. Others we have to let go. But, Bubba was a pick-up-wherever-you-left-off friend.

Bubba and Katie

Shortly before his sudden death, I randomly shared a few Bubba stories with my oldest son. More fond memories surfaced that week when I stumbled on an old photo album I forgot existed. Although I hadn’t seen Bubba in quite some time, Bubba was on my mind. Friends just have that kind of connection. So, it really should not be a surprise when my eye caught a special sign the day of Bubba’s brain aneurysm. The day he left.

Even when we’re shattered and hurt, life goes on. In my brokenness, I reluctantly gave a 55-minute keynote to rural ND women – that night. I’m not sure it was really inspiring, but it was honest. Life is a Highway… ROLL ON!

After the crowd cleared and it grew dark, I left the building. It was dark and lonely and fatigue was heavy, but a reflection from the streetlight caught the edge of an marking Traced in the once-soft concrete was:

K.K.

My nickname.

Only one person in this world calls me K.K. and that’s BUBBA.

KK the mark

We never know how long we have.
But, we don’t have to live long to live a good life.
Just love BIG.

Give all humankind a place to BELONG.
And freely give love. And be loved.

That’s how we leave our mark.

Bubba

Bubba. Well done. Good and faithful friend. Well done.

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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!

Good supply 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 question 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 preparation, go to the accident department of your local hospital as soon as possible.

Boys and their big ideas

Bringing together four minds usually means four ideas.
And lots of ideas can be a wreck.
Especially when its strong-willed little boys we’re talking about.

As a farm family – we wanted our sons to learn to work together at a young age!

Making mistakes.
Fixing breakdowns.
Together.

So, we gave the boys a pile of supplies and enough tools to do the job.
And under the bright sunshine, they set out to replace the shovels on this piece of equipment.

The shovels are heavy.
Awkard.
Sharp.
Dirty.
Cumbersome.

The sun was glaring and our boys were sweaty.
They sat uncomfortably on the concrete.
Their backs a bit wrenched and that was ok.
Their hands were busy.

The four brothers figured out a process.
And everyone had a job.

They disassembled –
and Reassembled.

155x200_Jordan-fixing

They didn’t want to ask too many questions.
Because they loved getting to work!
They loved their newfound independence.
They felt tough.
Dirty.
Appreciated.
Valued.

155x200_Warrick-fixing

I watched from a distance, and couldn’t believe my eyes.
They looked like men – manhandling that large farm equipment.
It made me sad.
It made me happy.

They were working together great!
No fights.
No flareups.
Just determination.
Raw.
Gritty.

Before I knew it,
the shovels were changed.
Takes-them-all

And the boys stood back to admire their work.
They were satisfied.
Myself: in awe.

My husband: well, he was clenching in teeth, and scratching his head…
Because, after six hours of work, he realized the self-sufficient sons had gathered some of their own supplies! (you know where this is heading!)

To the untrained eye – a bolt is a bolt.
But to the experienced farmers – the threads of a bolt are standard or metric.
Unfortunately, they grabbed the wrong bolts.

And… back to work they went!

Twisting themselves out of a mess –
One bolt at a time.

So… about those bolts?
Whose idea was it to grab the wrong ones?
They won’t say.
They were a team.
And they stuck together.

Boys-together-working

Good nutrition 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 either diseases. At present hundreds articles were published about price of cialis. What may patients discuss with a doctor before taking Viagra? How you can get correct info about “”? The very significant question you must look for is “cialis tadalafil“. Undoubtedly, sexual diseases can soothe chronic hurt and, even more importantly, reaffirm the joys of living. You have to 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.