Happy Memorial Day

No blog post this week due to the holiday weekend. Hoping you have a restful and safe time with family and friends honoring those who served and gave their life.

Freedom is the ability to live without fear. I’m sure we all feel fearful from time to time but looking back at historical photos and film, you can see fear in peoples’ eyes as they fought wars, ran with their children in their arms, left their homes, lost their loved ones; fear fills their faces as they look for food and safety. That type of fear we don’t face and hope we don’t have too.

Thank you to all who serve and those who gave their lives.

Summer Goals 2022

Each summer I set out with a number of goals.  Some are personal while others relate to our children/family as a whole.  I am sure some people think I am crazy for even setting summer goals but I am a type-A person, routine, structured, highly self-motivated, and goal orientated.  Goals help me grow as a person and help me use my time wisely.  Some of these goals have been part of larger goals set in January, such as running a 5 K this year.  Some goals have needed more work, more time, and more devotion.  See my list below. 

Health and running: I enjoy working out, running, and being active.  Since Christmas, I have been building up my running so I could take part in a 5K this summer.  On June 4th, I am running the Sunburst, and love the fact that ends on Norte Dame’s campus and you run into the stadium.  My husband is happy about this and he/Ada will be there to cheer me on.  I spend 5 days a week running and lifting.  This is my therapy.  I have learned that the older you get, the more work it takes to be healthy and in shape.  I swear I can just look at a milkshake and put on 3 pounds.  And if I drink one, it takes 2 weeks to lose 3 pounds.  Being older just means I have to work harder.  Consistency is key as working out or running 1 day a week or randomly, does nothing.  I will keep working, pushing, and getting stronger (for my kids and for myself).

4-H: this goal includes survival for all.  As the boys take multiple projects and I plan on entering in the open class.  Working on projects, attending 4-H meetings, working with livestock, working on record forms, reading all the rules, getting all the supplies, going into the 4-H system and confirming all projects, livestock, my DNA (just joking, but seriously) no wonder this seems incredibly intimidating to new 4-H families.  I was the 4-H Youth Educator and Extension Director for my county for almost 8 years, I know the ins and outs and still worry about messing it up.  But we will work now on projects, not at the last minute, plus the fair comes early this year.  Sanity, lots of sanity is needed. 

Travel: this goal includes making time to organize and plan trips and experiences for my family which I think is very important.  Even just day trips to places (museums, state parks, gardens, etc.) is a great way to build memories and provide exposure.  French Lick is on the list this summer, I have to attend and present at a national conference in Kansas City, and a possible trip to Springfield, IL.  Short trips, limited driving (Ada hates her car seat at the moment), and the price of gas is not helping.  But this is how memories are made.  I usually need a vacation after the vacation. But we are looking forward to adventures and making memories.

Home: to finish the snack bar is a must, we are almost there.  I am working on a gallery wall in my office.  White, blank walls leave room for lots of creativity.  I have been stockpiling pictures, photos, frames, and vintage finds for months for the wall.  We are hoping to put in a small fireplace this fall/winter in our living room as well.  A small, contemporary unit (not an insert) that we found that will look amazing and provide heat/flame.  We have some other ideas and needs for the house as well.  Any home, even a new home, is hard to keep up, especially in the country with dust, wind, weather, etc. 

Work/to Read: I just finished a batch of books this spring and started a new set about a month ago.  I usually read 4-6 books at a time and then end them all simultaneously.  I love to read and more so enjoy the physical book instead of reading on my iPad but I do have some e-books that I have worked through and audiobooks are amazing which I listen to on my way to work and back.  In the summer, I try to read more “fun” books and not for work.  Books about the Kennedys, the British royal family, and other historical topics of interest.  Some home design and landscape/plant historical books as well.  They are my idea of fun, maybe not others. 

I hope your summer is filled with some downtime, memory-making, and time with family/friends.  It goes so fast!  If you set goals, I wish you the best of luck!  If you don’t set goals, I hope you have a fun-filled summer!  Cheers to the summer, sunshine, and summer goals!

The Arizona Desert

A quick and great trip out west to Tucson which was amazing. We love Tucson and the resort we stay at, the landscape, the food, the sun, and the heat. Here is a short recap of our trip which started out with our flights being canceled out of O’Hare and we were 1 hour from leaving to drive up to the airport. Talk about a frustrating experience that seems more and more common now. We got a full refund on our flight (not a voucher, I would not take a voucher) and we were able to book flights out of Indianapolis that left an hour earlier and returned about 12 hours later than what we had previously booked. The flights cost us more, but it worked.

We rushed to Indianapolis caught the flight and flew into Phoenix and then drove about 1.5 hours to Tucson. Tucson is a great city! Surrounded on two sides by the Saguaro National Park, the area is filled with bike trails, hiking, parks, great restaurants, and lots of outdoor activities. The saguaro cactus (which is the large, tall, traditional-looking cactuses) line the roads, landscape, parks, and mountains. The sunsets are amazing, and the sky is always blue.

The Wyndham Grand Resort is a wonderful place to stay and provides a lot of great views of the mountains. It consists of suites, multiple pools, a tennis club, horseback riding, a great workout facility, a restaurant, live music at night, trails, and many other amenities.

We are hoping to take the kids in the future. The heat will challenge us all (76 degrees by 6 am in the morning and 98 by 10 am) but such a beautiful yet harsh landscape filled with life. The kids have not seen a saguaro cactus in person (they have in botanical gardens) but to see thousands of them is awesome. To look at them up close and see how old they are, and to understand their strength and resilience to the dry, hot weather is pretty amazing.

Upon return, it happened to jump from maybe 1 week of spring straight to summer.  Welcome to Indiana… Excited to be home but we can’t wait to go back! 

Early Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day: honoring all who love and care for others

This is an early honorary post for Mother’s Day as next Sunday, we will be busy but wanted to honor those who love and support others.  To all the women, moms, grandmothers, aunts, friends, daughters, etc. who show love, support, and encouragement to others.  Today (Mother’s Day) is for you. 

Being a mother is one of the hardest things I have ever done but also one of the most rewarding aspects of my life.  All women, who provide support, care, kindness, etc. to other human beings, today is for you.  Caring for others, showing unconditional love and support, and being a good, kind motherly figure impact so many people.  For that, I am grateful for all the supportive women in my life today, including those who are family and others who are friends. 

Women and their love come in many different shapes and forms.  Some women show love by caring for or taking care of others; making food, keeping their homes clean, washing clothes, taking care of children, etc.  Some women show love by devoting time to others to help watch grandchildren, to take friends and family to the zoo or the movies, or by just playing board games.  Others show love by physically holding, kissing you goodnight on the cheek, whispering “I love you” as you fall asleep. 

No one is a perfect mother or mother figure.  I struggle with times when I have not been the best mom, reacted the way I should, or spoke in love.  But I am trying.  I keep trying, learning, and want to be better.  Even when I stumble, I know that I can do better next time.  To those all trying, working hard, and growing as a mother, keep going.  You are doing hard work, you are doing great work.   

Today, my wish is for all of you to have a happy and relaxing Mother’s Day.  To keep on showing love, even when others are unlovable; to show kindness and the ability to care for others, and continue giving hugs and kisses.  You are loved, you are appreciated. 

Project Snack Bar

Our basement is a busy place and is consistently being used.  The finished first floor (that is what I call it) consists of a large playroom/workout space, TV and couch, a bedroom, an office/workout room (my space), bathroom, laundry, and utility room.  The floors are heated and we are so glad that our contractor insisted on that feature being added to the house.  Then you have a walkout sliding door to the patio.  I designed this space to be more of a recreation space.  It has turned into a man cave of sorts, but I still retain my office/workout space.  The teenage son has taken over this floor but we all still use it, a lot.

To add to the man-cave, we put a mini-frig by the TV and for Easter, the kids got a large popcorn maker which went downstairs (much like that of a carnival popcorn maker).  When the kids have friends over, this is the space they play, watch movies and stay for the night.  So, I decided it would be nice to have a space for snacks, popcorn, drinks, etc.  A high bar with stools, etc. where you can see the TV and eat but also keep food/snacks in one area.  Between campfires, corn hole, a gaming station, basketball hoops, and now a snack bar, we might not see our 14-year-old son again. 

This space/wall in the basement is unused.  It makes sense to take unused space and make it purposeful.  A cabinet had sat there for a year; some random pictures on the wall, but no one really used this area and I dusted it and ignored it.  Taking space and making it meaningful and purposeful is one of my passions.   Making it into an area/space that everyone will use and serve a purpose is very rewarding!

So, I started with a wall space that could be painted which this small wall and area are unused.  The deep grey paint took two coats as the walls in our house are so dry because of the newness of the home and the dryness of the home. The counter is a poplar wood stained in a Jacobean stain which matches all the stains in the house.  It is my favorite wood stain color.  We purchased industry shelf mounts for the top of the wood counter. 

As of today, the counter has been stained, the wall painted twice (needs some touch up) and black metal bar stools (2) have been ordered. A neon snack light is coming.  We are so excited to have this space updated and our children are pumped for movie nights and having friends over. Hoping to finish by this week and will share photos.  What I like about this small project because it creates a space that is purposeful, easy to complete, and fairly cheap to do.   Don’t be scared or ignore small unused spaces in your home.  They can really be a purposeful and functional area for your family.  I spent some time on Pinterest getting ideas/inspiration.  But at the end of the day, it was a simple and affordable update that will get great use from the family.     

Will share the finished pictures next week! Have a great week!

New Additions to the Farmstead

Meet our sweet chickens…

This past week we welcomed 4 chickens and have succussed in keeping them alive.  Not an easy task seeing how we live in a wooded area filled with foxes, raccoons, etc.  Each day, each morning, we drive by our little coop and hope to see no feathers and four happy chickens.  So far, so good.  Their names: Rico, Skipper, Private, and Kowalski.  Can you tell that an 11-year boy named them?  (From the cartoon, Penguins of Madagascar).  I can’t tell you which chicken is by which name.  But that works.

Another adventure besides the possibility of getting a few more chickens is we wanted to give fruit trees a try.  We love apples and raspberries.  So, deciding to purchase some trees and bushes was easy.  Keeping them alive is what will be hard. 

Raspberry bushes and trellises will go in another week or two (after the cold weather and snow leaves us).  The apple trees which arrived from New York will be planted as a group in another week with a trellis.  They are dwarf apple trees that grow much smaller but are easier to care for, easier to pick from, and easier to prune.  So excited about these new journeys and adventures.  The challenge, keeping them alive, keeping them from the deer, and hoping to eventually get some berries and apples in a few years. 

I will be doing some ph soil testing this week to see the ph levels in the soil in our yard for good locations to plant the trees and bushes.  The ph level will make or break any plants (level of acid in the soil).  I can also test for a number of other elements such as nitrogen and potassium.  Soil health is vital to plant growth, and we live on a sandhill.  Not wanting to set myself up for failure, taking the time to test the soil with a kit I purchased from a local hardware store is only smart to do prior to putting trees into the ground.

Hoping that soil temps increase with good weather next week.  The soil needs to warm up a lot in order for farmers to get into the fields for some of us, to get into the garden.  My garden going in the college greenhouse is thriving but not without challenge with cabbage worms and we have won a small battle against aphids but have found organic ways to combat these pests.  But I am ready to be outside.  To work in the garden. 

In need of spring, and hoping it is right around the corner… next week. 

In Need of Spring

Maybe, I am too impatient, or I need to move somewhere warmer, but I am in need of spring. I’ve lost count of which winter relapse we are in or which fool’s spring (welcome to Indiana).  I need green grass, leaves on trees, slightly warmer temperatures, sunshine, and flowers to bloom.  I need spring.  Don’t we all?

April showers bring May flowers.  Agree, we need rain but day after day of rain, grey skies, and cold temperatures, not so much.  Over spring break, I normally find mushrooms.  The woods are slightly greened up, the temperatures are moderate and many who like to look for mushrooms can find sponge ones around this time.  But from my three trips to the woods, the ground is still brown with leaves, there is little to no greening up of plants, and there is hardly any vegetational growth.  The woods is a sea of brown and beige.    

My husband reported that he was mowing the first week of April last year.  I potted flowers in late March.  The yard hasn’t greened up much.  My potted, hardy flowers are struggling to keep up in the cold wind and random snow.   Buds are just now starting on some trees but even that is limited.  It looks and feels as if we are 2 to 3 weeks behind in our changing of the season. 

I find myself moving a little slower on a grey day.  Sunshine brings joy to the soul.  It brings energy, happiness, and optimism.  Warmth brings healing, relaxation, and calmness.  Both of which we are tremendously lacking and the forecast for this week doesn’t look any better.  However, I can’t control the weather.  But I can control my perspective. 

So, a week of grey skies will be combated with a cheery attitude (to the best of my ability); lots of coffee (stocking up now), and knowing that sunshine and warmth are coming.  Enjoy the sunshine today.  Enjoy the ability to be outside, take walk, or sit by a fire.  Take in the sunshine, soak it in.

Here are too grey skies; may your week be filled with rest, optimism, and lots of caffeine.   

French Lick

Like many others, we headed out of town over the weeklong break.  Instead of heading way south, we drove 4 hours to southern Indiana to French Lick and this drive was long enough with a 1-year-old who does not want to be in a car seat. 

French Lick Resort is a family friend resort/hotel that is nestled in the hills of southern Indiana not far from Bloomington, Louisville, or Evansville.  The area was first founded due to the natural water springs.  Many of those natural springs still flow today.  Natural springs were thought to have medical and beauty-related cures.  So normally wealthy people (who could afford this) would travel to the springs (which a hotel or resort would spring up around) to “take in the water” which was to drink a cup of sulfur water a day (egg smelling water) in hopes it would provide medical relief or sustain youthfulness. 

The showstopper in local attractions and historical architecture is the West Baden Hotel with the amazing domed center and beautiful, restored architecture.  It is truly a grand, historical, piece of history and art.  The dome is actually on rollers.  It slowly pivots with the building as concrete tends to shrink and expand during temperature changes.  This is pretty amazing engineering. 

The area was a hot spot for the wealthy, the mafia, a training area for MLB camps, resorts, and a monastery (hence there is a cemetery on the property) so a very interesting history.  In the early 1980s, the buildings/property were completely abandoned.  You could walk right into them, broken doors, windows, tiled floors were rolling, animals living in the spaces, etc.  It wasn’t until the 1990s that a wealthy pharmaceutical company family (the Cooks) invested in the property that we have this amazing gem of a resort today.

The French Lick resort boost numerous restaurants, stores, bowling alley, arcade, ice cream/coffee shop, three pools/hot tubs, etc.  It is one of the most family-friendly places we have stayed and one of the most incredibly beautiful hotels we have seen.  (It is often used for conferences; there is a casino and they host concerts as well, all in the same building).   

We came, we saw, we conquered, and then needed a vacation from our vacation.  But highly recommended.  One of the boys asked if he could live there.  We booked rooms for the summer.  The whole family loved it.  Hope your spring break was relaxing and hoping that this week brings warmer temps!  Long, live spring! 

Spring Break and Midterm Blues

I am not sure who is more in a state of depression, the college students or
faculty (and all educators everywhere) but I would assume like most; we all need a break. A break from grades, a break from projects, a break from lectures, a break from administration tasks, a break from campus, a break from meetings, from lesson plans, from parents and students, etc.

It is college spring break time as colleges tend to hold spring break or a spring
recess the first 2 weeks of March. This is also coinciding with the midterm tests,
midterm projects, and midterm grades. Both are taxing for students and
faculty alike. However, this year, I would say, probably one of my hardest and
most challenging midterm experiences in almost 10 years of teaching at the
college level.

Getting students to turn in midterms is like pulling teeth even though midterm projects were introduced at weeks 3 and 4 of this semester. Students departed the state to head south for fun or for sporting-related activities (games, training,
etc.) with no midterms submitted. Like it doesn’t even matter; not on the
radar; no big deal…

Midterms will make or break grades and GPA. As the semester moves on, the number of points gets larger, thus making it harder to impact or raise a low grade (like
digging out of a hole that someone keeps throwing dirt in). And like most
colleges, we abound with tutoring opportunities, student workshops on time
management, tremendous tools, and resources to help students be academically and
personally successful but they either do not attend or attend and do not

I blame COVID and horrible time management which leads to stress or anxiety (and
for some depression) as they see their work compiling. COVID created shut-ins who
didn’t have to do much to get through high school and now in college, they are told
they need to work, they need to show up, they need to engage.  Instead of using an agenda book, mapping out assignments, organizing time, and prioritizing their homework, projects, work, sports, etc., we have a group of students who just fall to the floor in despair; no accountability for their commitment to their courses or college education; use stress as a crutch, and they cannot rise above any or all circumstances in front of them. They are weak. (Not all are weak, but I would at least 50% to 60% fall in this category).

The midterm blues are legit. No matter all the email reminders, all the checklist
for homework (that I made for them), all the office hours, pep talks, etc.
doesn’t seem to increase the student’s abilities to actively take some
responsibility for their education and their grades. As I teach from a guide on
the side approach, and feel that grades are earned, not freely given, I find
myself completely baffled. As I spend hours trying to learn how to empower
these students, incorporate new teaching methods, create more space and time
for life skills development, mental health check-ins, or literally walking to
the dorms to check on students who have not been in class for weeks, at what point
are we doing more harm than good here?

Midterm grades go in this week and the quality of the midterm projects is the lowest I
have ever graded. Disappointment is an understatement. Anyone can tell that the
projects were rushed,  an afterthought, no higher-level thinking, no analytical thought, poorly written and organized. My midterm blues worsen. We need to turn a corner with collegiate academics or change the tide here from one that is of service to a group of highly stressed youth who cannot or will not develop time management abilities and take accountability for their educational journey to a group of students who are actively engaged in their education; who want to excel and find ways to intergrade/learn/develop skills, abilities, habits that help them be successful (hiding in dorm rooms from class is not an option).  Students with determination and grit. 

My spring break was highjacked by house cleaning, children’s appointments, training, grading, more work, and a little shopping. I did finish up 4 books and got to run more, work out more. We head for a short trip south when the kids are on break.

Only time will tell as the semester will come to an end in April/early May. For
those all working in education (at all levels) hats off to you. You are my
people. As we are all trying to educate and prepare a generation of socially
engaged citizens and workforce, I know the days are long, but may your spring
break be longer.


Today, there is no blog post. But my hope is that you are enjoying the sunshine, some warmth, and spending time with family and friends or being productive or simply reading a great book.

Most people seem uneasy with the War continuing, rising gas prices, increased food prices, well everything has gone up in cost and will continue. The workforce is still weak, 100,000s if not more open positions need to be filled; we need people to work, to go to work, support themselves/family, we need people to take ownership of their lives, living and spending.

Even with uncertainty, take a moment to reflect, relax, and get ready for the week. I hope today brings you peace for a bit. Sunshine brightens your soul and you hit the ground running on Monday. Have a great week.