Friday, September 5, 2014

Our Farm is Growing!

My Farmer and I have been making plans to grow our farm over the past several years and today, I'm proud to announce that over the last 23 weeks we've been incubating a very special genetic variety that we can't wait to see how it yields around January 2nd.

Did I confuse you or do you get how we're growing our farm?

My Farmer and I are expecting our third child this winter!  This pregnancy has been so much fun and we love how excited the kids (mainly LP but MP is excited too - mainly because LP is...) are.  LP gives the baby a kiss and hug daily and already has big plans to build a snowman with MP and the baby this winter.

To answer questions you might be having:

  • We didn't find out the gender and will be "surprised", just like we did with our previous two pregnancies.
  • LP wants another baby sister but he tells everyone that God is the one who chooses if we have a boy or a girl.
  • For a couple of months we will have three kids ages 3 and under.
  • And even though that seems very close, because of the kids' birthdays they'll be every other year in school.
  • I have been feeling very well this pregnancy and hope/plan for that to continue the rest of the time.

Baby Bump 23 Weeks

And now I need your help.  What should our nickname for this baby be?  Our son's nickname during the pregnancy and continues today on the blog is LP (standing for Little-Our Last Name) and our daughter's nickname is MP (standing for Mini-Our Last Name).  Now we don't have to keep up with _P for a nickname but that is possible if we hear some good ideas.  I just want to give the baby something else to call it other than, "the baby".  So leave your ideas down below in the comment section and remember to Comment for a Cause!

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Comments for a Cause - Hampton Public Library

Happy Labor Day!  I hope you all were able to enjoy and relax for at least a little bit today.  Since it is the 1st of the month, it is time to talk about Comments for a Cause.  In the month of August I had a total of 26 comments, equally a $13 donation to the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

In the month of September I'm looking forward to donating $0.50 for every comment to the Hampton Public Library and their current projects they have going on right now to make the library more user friendly, including a new entrance to the the Children's Library & improved parking lot.

Hampton, Iowa Public Library

I have talked about my family's love and appreciation for our local public library in the past and thought what better way to promote our library, as well as encourage everyone to use their local library through this month's Comments for a Cause program.

I grew up going to my hometown's library and participating in "Story Time" as a child, and I have continued the tradition with my children.  I started taking LP to the library when he was just a couple of months old and MP's first trip to the library was at age Day 6.  We are so lucky to have such a great library just 15 miles away.  If you live in North Iowa or travel through, I encourage you all to visit the Hampton Public Library.  This Carnegie Library offers a wide variety of services for all ages, including these fun and unique things: book clubs, public computers (including a bilingual AWE computer), interlibrary exchange program (they'll borrow a book, movie, etc. from another library for you if they don't have it), eBooks, youth drama club and LP's favorite - children's "Story Time" (which is held on Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings).

Currently, the Hampton Public Library is celebrating 125 years serving Franklin County.  And what makes this year even more special, is that the Library is currently working on creating a new entrance and access to the Children's Library, as well as improving the parking lot and adding a courtyard for the library patrons.  My family visits the library on a regular basis and I can't think of a better way to give back to this great service for our community than supporting their efforts through Comments for a Cause.

Do you have a library card?  Do you participate in programs at your local library?  If not, I encourage you all to sign up for a library card and see what your local library all offers.  If you have children, I especially hope you check out your local library's children's programming.  (And if you're in the Franklin County, Iowa area, be sure to check out Story Time, it starts up October 7th and 8th.)  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Make a Blog Media Kit During Nap Time

Just like any stay-at-home mom, the kids' "quiet time" (aka nap time for MP and play quietly in bedroom time for LP) is a couple hour time frame that I try to get things done without four extra feet running around me.  Today I decided to focus my "quiet time" towards creating a media kit for my blog.  This is something I've been thinking about doing for probably over a year but have never sat down to do it.  And guess, what?  I was able to create a media kit in just one "quiet time"!  And - I did it using the free version of PicMonkey.  This is how I did it:

Make a Blog Media Kit During Nap Time

#1:  I researched what I needed in a media kit and decided I needed to include:

  • Information about myself
  • Description of my blog
  • Review, giveaway and sponsorship information
  • Companies/brand relationships
  • Blog Statistics
  • A fun profile photo
  • Contact information
  • Special project information

#2:  I created a PicMonkey collage placing my profile photo where I wanted it, so I could then use the rest of the blank template to edit.  (If you have a blog logo or header, you should place that in your collage as well before going to the edit screen.)  I used the free "Biggie Smalls" layout and changed the size of the collage to 1800x2400.

#3:  Under the edit PicMonkey function I then added overlays and text to create a fun and simple layout for my media kit.  I used banner overlays and Chelsea Market and Shadows Into Light Two fonts.  Use whatever layouts and text associate well with your blog.

#4:  I saved the PicMonkey collage as a jpeg and uploaded it to a tab on my blog!  Then under the PicMonkey image, I made sure to link my contact information and my Comments for a Cause information (because I also decided I wanted to share about special projects I'm working on).  Now whenever a company contacts me I can direct them to my media kit on my blog and hopefully it'll help them know and understand me and my blog.

Here is a look at what I created for free through PicMonkey:

Blog Media Kit example - using free version of PicMonkey

If you have a blog I recommend you take your next "quiet time", or a couple free hours, and create a media kit for your blog.  It is a great resource for companies that want to collaborate with you.  If you have a blog, do you have a media kit for your blog?  What do you recommend including?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Farm Progress Show Wordless Wednesday

Today My Farmer and I loaded up our van with LP, MP, my Father-in-law and one of our neighbors and we headed to the Farm Progress Show, the nation's largest outdoor agriculture show featuring the world's best seed genetics, equipment and in-field practices.  AKA a one-stop show for a farmer to look at the best of the best and get their questions answered by experts.  Before calling it a night I just had share a couple photos of our adventures today!

I enjoyed some GMO sweet corn at the Farm Progress Show today.
It was sweet, juicy and delicious!

Both of the kids had a lot of fun checking everything out
Here is LP checking out some drainage tile

I also took some time to attend a #FPS14 Tweet Up
It was a lot of fun to meet other Tweeters, including @JPlovesCOTTON
(Also, thanks Janice for letting me borrow your photo)
We had a great day and got to see a lot of great things and visit with a lot of great people.  Did you go to the Farm Progress Show?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Falling out of Summer

I don't know about you, but I'm loving this time of year!  The busyness of summer has ended and at the same time, the harvest pace of fall hasn't begun.  It is the perfect few weeks to just stop, relax and reflect.  One thing I got to thinking about this week was our family's Summer Bucket List we made at the beginning of the summer.  So with a few weeks left before our family gets into harvest mode, let's check out to see how we did!

  1. Go Camping at Beed's Lake or Pine Lake - We didn't get this accomplished but we did do a lot of backyard camping.  So I'm calling this one half-way done!
  2. Host a Baconfest on our farm - This didn't happen and won't be happening.  I guess we'll just have to go to area Baconfests this winter to make up for it :)
  3. Check out RAGBRAI Bicyclists as they come through North Iowa - We didn't do this either!  We saw RAGBRAI support teams but decided to stay away from as much RAGBRAI traffic as we could.
  4. Have fun at a Surf Ballroom Rock "n" Tots lesson - We not only had fun at one Rock "n" Tots class but the entire summer's worth of classes.  This was a great program that we look forward to participating in again next year!
    Surf Ballroom Rock n' Tots
    LP channeling his inner Buddy Holly
    while playing his rubber band guitar
    on stage at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake
  5. Watch one of the Fireworks Shows during the Pyrotechnics Guild International (PGI) convention - We had good intentions to go up and watch a show but never made it!  Next year!
  6. Go to an Iowa Cubs Baseball Game - We didn't get this accomplished either!  Maybe I shouldn't have looked at our bucket list...
  7. Shop the Des Moines Farmer's Market - I got to do this with my Mom and one of my sisters earlier this summer!  I enjoyed everything from my breakfast burrito, to picking up some salsa, to purchasing some cute clothes and toys for the kids.  The Des Moines Farmer's Market really does have a bit of everything!
  8. Visit a Science Center or Children's Museum - I am happy to say that we have gone on a couple two-day getaways this summer and one was to Des Moines a couple weeks ago.  We visited the Iowa State Fair, the Blank Park Zoo and the Science Center of Iowa.  The entire family had a great time!  There were so many hands-on activities at the Science Center.  We will definitely be back and will be sure to check out more science centers on our travels.
    Hands on activities at Science Center of Iowa
    LP testing his Lego car at the
    Science Center of Iowa
  9. Go on an Iowa Ice Cream Trip - Throughout June's Dairy Month we traveled to an Iowa ice cream destination weekly.  We had a lot of fun visiting Decorah's Whippy Dip, Hudson's Hansen Dairy, LeMars's Blue Bunny, and Mason City's Birdsall's.  I think we might just have to do this again next year! 
    Visiting LeMars - the Ice Cream Capital of the World
    MP enjoying her own ice cream cone at Blue Bunny in LeMars
  10. Continue our Tradition of going on a Family Vacation - And this is going to be happening soon!  We are excited to get away for a few days in South Dakota.  I'll be sure to post about our trip afterwards!
So, we didn't do as well as I thought we did, but nonetheless, we've had a great, fun-filled summer.  Did you make a Summer Bucket List?  How did you do?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Monday, August 11, 2014

August Comments for a Cause - ELCA Malaria Campaign

July and August, and well really, all this summer has been busy and I'll be making an announcement soon as to why I may have been a little preoccupied with other things then blogging this summer.  But anyways... let's talk about Comments for a Cause.  In the month of July I had a total of 18 comments, equally a $9 donation to the international Little Free Library program.

In the month of August I'm looking forward to donating $0.50 for every comment to the ELCA Malaria Campaign, that I got to help support at the beginning of the month through my local community's Vacation Bible School (VBS) program.

Part of our VBS youth practicing their songs
At the beginning of the month three area churches came together to teach the community's youth about Jesus's ministry and about malaria in Africa.  Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that is transmitted through female mosquitoes.  After being bitten, the disease works through the circulatory system in the blood and initially causes fever and headaches, eventually causing coma and death.  Children are easily susceptible to the disease.  In fact, it is estimated that a child dies from malaria every minute.

Through the ELCA church, we raised dollars to help combat this preventable and treatable disease.  One way to prevent this disease is to sleep in mosquito nets.  The female mosquitoes are nocturnal, so if families sleep under mosquito nets the infected mosquitoes can't bite them.  Each net costs $10, where half of the dollars goes toward the actual net and half towards education of how to use the nets.  During VBS we raised over $450, or 45 mosquito nets, and through August's Comments for a Cause I'm planning on adding to that total.

What world-wide efforts do you support, either individually or through your church?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer... Relaxing or Stressful

When you think of summer what do you think of?  Laying out in the sun, going for a dip in the pool, enjoying a nice frozen drink...  Or does reality sink in and you find yourself nearing the end of July like me and you aren't really sure what you can show for your summer except a lot of this and that.  I've been thinking about this a lot after I heard about a recent survey that said a third of Americans find themselves more stressed during the summer months than any other season of the year.  You hear about people getting the winter-blues, but could the new thing be the summer-rundown?

Now don't get me wrong, my family and I have been having a great and fun summer checking things off our bucket list, playing outside and simply enjoying each other.  But at the same time, with just a 3 year old and a 13 month old I will admit that I have possibly started over-scheduling ourselves.  Each Monday and Wednesday the kids have activities that we travel to, and it seem like I have some sort of meeting at least once a week, plus then trying to get stuff done on the farm and at home, all while trying to stay up on laundry and dishes and whoosh - my week is over and I've marked maybe one or two things off my to-do list it seems.  So does this mean that I am maybe in that one-third of stressed Americans?  Ummm, maybe, but I don't think quiet yet.  But to be on the safe side I'm going to start or reinstate some habits to help me combat the summer stress:

  • Wake up at the same time, every day, all week long AND go to sleep at a decent time to ensure I'm getting plenty of rest.
  • Keep up on my laundry and house cleaning routines.
  • Drink plenty of water all day long.
  • Get up and move!  Go on a walk or have some type of physical exercise daily.
  • Enjoy the little things with my family.

It seems with longer days I just want to fit as much as possible into them, but I need to remind my self to enjoy and relax.  Has the summer heat gotten to you this year or have you been enjoying your summer?  What are some tips you can share on how to beat summer stress?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!