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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Secrets from a Teacher to Make You a Better Parent

secrets teacher

I’ve been thinking about this series for a long time. You see, I am not a perfect parent, but I have quite a bit of experience with kids, and a degree saying I’m qualified to work with them every day, so that’s something, right?

My 4 (and a half) years as a teacher taught me a thing or two about kids and their behavior, and I’ve tried to apply that thinking to my parenting. Because being a parent is hard, and we all want to do better, right?

My professional kid-focused career began when I served as the summertime nanny for my cousin’s kids as a high school student. And a professional, I was not. Those poor, sweet kids spent a lot of time watching tv while I read novels, worked on my scrapbooks, and napped with the baby. (Fast forward a few years, and that sounds really similar to my maternity leave with my second child. Ooops.)

(I think I should issue an official apology to my cousin, her husband and her children, who have grown up to be amazing high school and college students despite, not because, my involvement in their lives.)

(Apologies should also be extended to my little brother, who had to bear the brunt of my inexperience in child care. Sorry, dude. I’ll try to make it up to you someday.)

Fast forward a few years and I spent a year and a half working at an after school program for kindergarten – 6th graders. I had two amazing bosses (Hi Erin, Robin and Rachel!) and coworkers I loved. And because I was working towards my B.S. in Elementary Education at the time, I was able to try out many of the things I’d been learning in class

My senior year in college, I worked nearly full-time as a Child Abuse Prevention Specialist. I visited every kindergarten and 1st grade classroom in our county, and saw over 1300 kids that year. The program I taught (Talking About Touching) helped children identify safe and unsafe touches, and what to do if abuse occurs. And during my time in this position, I was again able to put into practice the methods and techniques I was learning in my classes (and figure out what to do when a kindergartener convinces his whole class that armpits are private parts, because he really hated being tickled.)

I did my student teaching in kindergarten and fourth grade. The fourth grade class was ½ Hispanic, ¼ English Language Learners, ¼ Talented and Gifted and ½ Special Ed (an integrated Special Ed/Gen Ed class.) Then, after graduating in December, I subbed for the rest of the year before interviewing and accepting my first teaching job as a 4th grade teacher in a rural Iowa school district.

And so began my official teaching career, which would last exactly the average in Iowa (4 ½ years) and include three different positions (4th grade, 4th – 6th Title 1 Reading and Math, and K – 12 Talented and Gifted.) I realized after signing my contract for the 5th year that I really wanted to be home with my 3 year old and 5 month old. But licensed Talented and Gifted teachers are hard to come by in Iowa, so it wasn’t until several months later, when a former TAG teacher decided to come out of retirement to finish the year for me that my “day job” came to an end.

That was 3 years ago, and although I no longer spend my free time writing lesson plans or grading papers, I still consider myself a teacher. And when I sat down a made a list of Secrets of a Teacher that make ME a better parent, I wasn’t surprised that my list grew to more than 50 tips quickly! I’ve whittled those down to 30 of the most important and most impactful to share with you.

Because, hey, I want my B.S. + 27 graduate credits + 15 years total experience with children to continue to make a difference in this world, even though my official title has gone from “teacher” to “mom.”

 


(This post is part of a 31 Days series, in which I’ll be writing about the same topic everyday in October.  The best way to keep up with this series is to subscribe via email here.)

By the way, I updated the “Our Little House” page!  Check it out!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blogger Book Club: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (and a few comments on domestic abuse)

bloggerbookclub

Somehow, in September, I read two books in which main characters were the victims of domestic abuse.

I don’t know how it happened.  I didn’t know either book dealt with the topic; it was just a coincidence.

And, also a coincidence, domestic abuse is a hot topic in the news right now, with the Ray Rice scandal on ESPN 24/7. (And I know this, because the first thing my husband does every morning is turn it on.)

One of the books I read, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, gave me incredible insight into the heart of the victim.  It examined the reasons the victim stayed and the difficulties she might face in leaving.  And when I finished the book, I had a new understanding of what domestic abuse might be like.

The other book (which I shall not name, because I truly think the author had good intentions, but unfortunately wasn’t as thorough as Moriarty in her research) dealt with the domestic abuse in a much different way.  The character was a victim of emotional abuse for years, until her husband finally hit her.  When that happened, her two friends rushed in to rescue her and she got divorced.  The end.

But what happens in real life is so much more complicated, as we’ve seen by the fact that Ray Rice’s fiancee went on to marry him, even after the abuse occurred.

Often, from the outside looking in, problems (and their solutions) seem simple.  But when you are deep within the situation, it is rarely so black and white.  Life is full of gray areas that make decisions difficult, and sometimes, there is not a clear-cut right answer.”

Big Little Lies was an accurate reflection of the complexities of real life, as all three main characters had intricate problems.  And yet, the story was about the positive aspects of their life, as well.  The characters were very believable and loveable, and this is a book I’d recommend to any of my girl friends.  I will be reading more by Liane Moriarty soon.

This book started the ball rolling, but domestic abuse is now at the front of my mind, so I will be writing a bit more about it in the coming weeks.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I’ve rounded up a couple links for you if you’re interested in reading more.

 

Why I Married My Abuser

Miss America’s Bold Statement on the Ray Rice Assault

Women Helping Women


In other news, I’m going to do the 31 Days challenge again this year!  Last year, I wrote about Decorating with Junk.  This year, the topic is near and dear to my heart again, but it’s very different.  Starting tomorrow, I’ll be blogging everyday about tips I learned while teaching that influence me as a parent.  Be sure to subscribe by email to follow along!

secrets teacher

Monday, September 29, 2014

Easy Orange Turkey in the Crock Pot

I’ve been trying to do a better job of planning my meals ahead of time lately, so I went to pinterest to look for some easy turkey recipes.

This CrockPot Orange Chicken recipe was (clearly) meant for chicken, but I always have good luck subbing turkey in chicken recipes. I changed the recipe slightly and ended up with sweet orange turkey mixed with crisp tender broccoli and peppers, served with rice.

And it was amazing.

 

easy orange turkey

 

Ingredients:

1 boneless turkey breast (frozen or thawed)

3/4 cup Smuckers Sweet Orange Marmalade

3/4 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory and Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

fresh broccoli, chopped

red, yellow & orange peppers, chopped

Directions:

Cook turkey breast on LOW in crock pot until meat thermometer registers 165 degrees Farenheit.  (I ALWAYS cook my turkey on LOW and ALWAYS use a meat thermometer.)  For a frozen turkey breast, 6-8 hours will do it.

Drain liquid from crock pot. Cut or shred turkey into smaller pieces. Return to crock pot.

Add cut veggies to crock pot (I used what I had on hand, which was a bunch of broccoli and a few sweet mini-peppers.)

Mix Sweet Orange Marmalade, soy sauce, and barbecue sauce.  Pour over meat & veggies in crock pot, and stir.

Cook on high for 30 more minutes.

Serve with brown rice.

 

After 30 minutes, the veggies were crisp tender and the sauce had warmed up to create the easiest, tastiest Orange Turkey we’ve ever had!  A piece of equipment broke in the turkey barn, so Bart didn’t get in to eat until after 8 pm, but the crock pot kept everything nice and warm for him.

We will definitely be making this again!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Case for Pink Fingernails

I painted my son’s fingernails last week.

One hand was bright red.  The other, a pretty, coral-y pink that matches my toes.  He chose both colors.

Over the weekend, he spent the night with my sister-in-law.  His nail polish had worn off, so she repainted.  Bright pink, with a layer of glitter on top.  (She also let him watch Ghostbusters, which explains the next picture.)

2014-09-22 13.46.35

Isaac, playing Ghostbusters with pink fingernails.  (Daddy is a ghost.)

Isaac is 3.  And he likes to have his fingernails painted.  And he likes pink.  And I don’t have a problem with that.

We’ve always told our boys that there are no “boy” colors and no “girl” colors, but it didn’t take long for our oldest to learn from his peers that “pink is for girls.”  After declaring that to us, once, we replied with something along the lines of, “Pink is not just for girls.  Anyone can choose any color they like.  After all, Mommy’s favorite color is blue, which some people think is a boy color.”

Now, when Adam, 6, sees a boy who prefers pink (or purple,) he asks, with some trepidation, “It’s okay for boys to like pink or purple, right?”

Dang right, son!

Adam, at last year’s church Christmas program, with a different color on each finger.

I recently read this article about a boy who wanted pink tennis shoes after a friend shared it on facebook.  And one of the comments on my friend’s facebook post struck me.  “My son wore a pink shirt to school and got all kinds of crap for it. Is that your moms shirt, or your sister's? Are you gay? Do you like boys? And he's only 9. Kids are buttheads.”

And a response.  “It's not even necessarily the kids who are buttheads - it's the stuff they learn from their parents and other adults.”

Exactly.

Isaac, when he painted his own nails red earlier this summer.  (He really did a pretty good job, for a 3 year old!)

 

So, my boys are free to strut around with pink fingernails.  And if they criticize another boy for his color choices, they will get an earful.  Because this momma IS NOT going to let her boys grow up to be the buttheads that shame a peer because of their favorite color.  Not on my watch.

~Katie, blue-loving, power-tool wielding, mom of 2 boys

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reclaimed Wood Wall Art–Pottery Barn Knock Off


I have a really fun DIY project to share with you today!

pottery barn painted pieced wood wall art knock off

The Iowa Turkey Federation is at the end of a long kitchen and board room remodeling project, and we needed something for the space above our buffet counter in the kitchen.  So we decided to do a knock off of the Pottery Barn Painted Pieced Woodwork.

pottery barn painted pieced woodwork

We measured the space and decided to go with three large panels under the DIY pendant lights.  I purchased a cheap piece of 1/4 inch plywood (sometimes used as underlayment for floors) at Lowes and had them cut it to size.

Then, I collected pallets from around our farm and brushed on different colored paints from my collection.  I cut them apart using a jigsaw, then circular saw, then sawzall.  The sawzall was definitely easiest, although it left the roughest cuts.  So then I used my compound miter saw to even up the ends.  Sounds like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t. And it could have been done with just the jigsaw, although it would have taken a LOT longer.

(Some people disassemble the pallets by prying them apart.  I didn’t do that because a)it’s a heckuva lot of work b) I had plenty of wood so I didn’t mind some going to waste and c) I needed short pieces, anyway.)

pallet

Next was the design.  I laid out the wood pieces in a pretty random pattern.

DIY pottery barn pieced wood wall art

When the big spots were filled in, my friend helped me measure and cut pieces to fit in all the small holes. 

DIY pottery barn painted pieced wood

We tried really hard to make sure the colors and size of boards were balanced.  In a few places, we cut down a larger board into skinnier or shorter pieces to vary it a bit, and I got out my paints and repainted some of the boards, too.

reclaimed wood wall art

After fitting all the pieces, and gluing them down with Gorilla Wood Glue, I rubbed stain over the entire piece.  (I wish I had stained the plywood base first.  Instead, I used a spray stain to get in the cracks between boards.)

diy reclaimed wood wall art

In the picture above, you can see the difference the stain made.  The panel in the foreground was not stained, but the back two were.
After the stain dried overnight, I brushed on two coats of polycrylic to seal things up and give the panels a little richer sheen.

DIY pottery barn wall art

And then, just in time for our first board meeting meeting in the remodeled office (today!) my coworkers and I hung the panels.

Pottery Barn knock off wall art
Our cost:
(compared to Pottery Barn’s $399)
Plywood: ~$13/sheet x 2 = $26
Wood glue: ~$4
Paint, stain and poly: Leftover from other projects
Hardware for hanging: ~4
Total: $34 for three panels (two 32 x 45, one 46 x 45)
pottery barn pieced wood knock off
Time: 8+ hours over three days to allow paint, glue, stain and poly to dry
DIY reclaimed pallet wood
Supplies:
paint & brushes
reciprocal saw (jigsaw or circular saw would work)
miter saw (jigsaw or circular saw would work)
measuring tape
wood glue
stain
polycrylic
hardware for hanging (we used a picture frame kit with eye hooks and wire)
Reclaimed wood art

One last shot to show the other wall in the kitchen.  We’ve still got plans for that rainbow canvas, and I have another remodeled room (and the cutest seating area!) to show off, too!

kitchen

I’ve had such a fun time working on these spaces with my coworkers and we’re just hoping our board of turkey farmers and industry gurus will approve!

Shared at: Inspire Me Wednesday
Inspire Me Please Weekend Blog Hop
Funky Junk Interiors

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Important HomeShed News

As I prepare for a HomeShed sale this weekend (September 5-7) I have some important news to share.

Oct. 3-5 will be the last HomeShed sale at Red Granite Farm.

And it’s all because of the turkeys.

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“Help Prevent Disease: Please do not enter without permission.”

One of the most important ways we keep our turkeys healthy is by limiting their exposure to germs.  Avian & poultry disease can be spread in many different ways…from birds flying from farm to farm, to rodents, to bugs, to visitors carrying germs in on their clothing or shoes.

Limiting germ exposure is called biosecurity.  It’s the reason why we don’t let many visitors in our barns.  It’s the reason why we have a separate pair of boots for each barn.  It’s the reason why Bart showers in between barns.

[img_7927_0001%255B3%255D.jpg]

 

And it’s the reason The HomeShed, as we know it, is coming to an end.

You see, Red Granite Farm has chickens.  And IF those chickens were carrying a disease that could make my turkeys sick, and IF I happened to step in chicken poo or get a feather stuck in my hair, and IF I then contaminated our barns, it could be devastating.  I know, I know…that’s a lot of IFs.  But it’s simply a risk we can no longer take.

This is so hard to explain to people, so I’m sure you have some questions.

Wouldn’t you know if the chickens were sick?

Maybe, maybe not.  Remember chicken pox? There’s an incubation period, where the affected person carries the germ but isn’t showing any signs of illness.  By the time the symptoms show up, they’ve already spread the illness.  It’s one of the reasons ebola is such a problem in Africa right now.

Second, although chickens and turkeys are both poultry, they have very different immune systems.  One disease that is going around (Mycoplasma gallisepticum) doesn’t seem to bother chickens.  They can carry the germ, but they don’t get sick.  Turkeys, on the other hand, suffer greatly from MG.  In some cases, farmers have lost more than 1/2 their flock to MG (thousands of birds) and then have had to euthanize the rest of the birds (depopulate) in order to disinfect their barns.

Why now? This wasn’t a problem the last two years? Why is it now?

It’s always been a concern, but things are changing at Red Granite Farm and it’s about to become riskier. RGF has expanded the number of chickens they have, and because of that, they’re going to build a new chicken coop closer to the end of the barn I use.  More chickens + new location = more risk.

Is this really the end of The HomeShed?

No!  I will keep my booth at Antiques Iowa, and may do some shows.  I love picking, collecting and decorating, so I’ll keep doing those things in some way, forever!  The last few days, working in the Shed, have convinced me this isn’t something I can just quit doing!

2014-09-03 16.23.202014-09-03 16.23.342014-09-03 16.24.13

So, come on out this weekend. The HomeShed will be open Fri & Sat 9-5 and Sunday 11-4, and I’ll probably be marking down a lot of my merchandise so I won’t have as much to move after the October sale!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Blogger Book Club: Dark Places

bloggerbookclub1

You guys, I did it.  I read a whole book last month (actually, I read two!)

I saw that some of my favorite bloggers started a book club, and I decided to join in. These gals are all home d├ęcor/DIY bloggers most of the time, but started a book club as a fun way to read with friends.

In August, we read Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.  I haven’t read any other novels by this author, who also wrote Gone Girl, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

What’d I think of Dark Places?  Well, it was…um…dark.  I love mysteries, but usually from the detective's point of view. This story focused on the victims’ family and the events that led up to the family’s murder. It was a sad story, with amazingly believable characters, and for me, it was just too much.  The characters’ pain, both before and after the murders, were too intense for me, especially knowing that there was no happy ending.

That said, Gillian Flynn is an amazing author, and I really enjoyed the background about the farm crisis and how it led to the devastation of a family.  It feels wrong to say I enjoyed reading about the farm crisis, but it was just so interesting to hear how it affected this family.  Although I wasn’t born until 1984 and didn’t start farming until 2009, the farm crisis of the 80s had a big impact on my family and agriculture in our area.

I know from a few emails back and forth that at least a couple of my fellow book clubbers liked this book more than I did, so be sure to check out their reviews, too!

Carmel @ Our Fifth House

Kirby @ Kirb Appeal

Cassie @ Primitive and Proper

Next month’s pick: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Read along with us, or suggest a book for our club.  It’s my turn to pick in October and I’m so far out of the reading loop, I don’t even know where to start!

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