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!

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The ultimate gift of thanks…

“This is really, really the best time of my life,” the 22-year-old college student said in the Bismarck airport last week.

And just like that, he turned, and walked away.
To fly across the world.

It was an 8-month dream.
One that changed our hearts, and his.

Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the most difficult things in life.
Leo.
My Brazilian son for life.

He taught me gratitude.
Thanksgiving from the heart.

For the most genuine gift came through him. An unforgettable moment of pure gratitude. No grand gifts. No loud hoopla. Just a quiet moment where his heart could speak to mine.

Leo left his South American family, and countless friends to come to unknown territory last March. His first flight away from his homeland, to an American family he had never met. Co-workers he knew nothing about. An a language that was foreign.

With lots of trust and faith, he became a son to me.
A friend.
A teacher.
An inspiration.

He told his friends all about our family. You know, the 5 Guys.
He talked about our fields of wheat. Our wind.

He invited his own mother across the world to see what the United States of America, the land of the free is all about.

Leo’s mother fell in love with our country.
Our open spaces.
Our sunrises and sunsets.
She was relieved to see that her son was well cared for.

And… when a quiet moment arrived, she pulled me aside.
To say thanks.

“Thank you for taking care of my son,” this Brazilian beauty said.

Leo gratitude

Mom to mom.
Soul to soul.

It was a huge moment.
Because her heart was pure.
Her gratitude was so sincere. So huge.
It filled every inch of my heart.
It flowed through the room like a peace. A tranquility.

With an open heart, I accepted the most beautiful gift of gratitude of my life.

Thanksgiving is really about the people we love.

We need to share our love.
Invest in people.
Strengthen relationships.
And pause for gratitude.
For the greatest gifts of life can only come if our hearts are open, and our lives are ready to be touched.

Because, Thanksgiving is now.
But… gratitude is every day.

Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to yours!
Enjoy your time with your family!
Make time for your dearest friends!
Savor every last bite of your pumpkin pie. (thanks pumpkin farmers of the world!)
And… savor the games you play, and the moments of conversation.

Thanksgiving is really about our friends.
Our family. And the people who become our family.
The pseudo Moms of life.
The “sisters” of the heart.
Brothers of the soul.

Its about the kids being kids.
And adults joining in.
Its gonna be a bit wild.
Chaotic and crazy!

But… that Brazilian boy taught us wild is GOOD!

Really. Really. Good.

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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.

Seven days to be your best Dad.

Here’s the deal.
There’s no book on how to earn that #1 Dad card.
But, it boils down to spending time with your kids.
Here’s one week guide to become a better Dad.

Day 1. Know each of your kids and know them well. It’s you’re life’s book you’re writing – know every character!

Day 2. Make time to play their favorite game. And trust me, they don’t always ask between projects, most of the time its when you’re in the middle of one. But when they ask – it really means they need you. so be there. really there.

200x200_Stu-and-boys

Day 3. Be ready to wrestle. Kids love to get their parents tangled – especially Dads – to show you their newfound strength! Kids score with every parent take-down! Let them. Then, get up and show them what it means to escape or to get yourself out of a sticky situation. Life is full of them.

200x200_Stu-and-Jordan

Day 4. When they hit a new phase – go with it. You’ll get through it. Sure, it might get ugly. Think of it as morning breath. It doesn’t last forever.

200x200_Stu-and-Malachi

Day 5. They are watching all the time. Learning. Documenting. And, they’re ready to play back your moves at any given moment!

200x200_Stu-and-Warrick

Day 6. Play games with your kids – but for heaven’s sake, don’t let them win! Teach them to handle defeat gracefully.

200x200_Stu-and-Connor

Day 7. Kids will endure tough lessons. Don’t back down. Be a tough Dad. A tough Mom. A compassionate father. A caring mother. When a situation has you completely baffled and perplexed – go back to parenting 101: Love your kid.

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 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 data about “”? The very significant matter you must look for is “cialis tadalafil“. Undoubtedly, sexual diseases can soothe chronic pain and, even more importantly, reaffirm the joys of living. You must 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.