6.30.2013

Kindness Ripples

Today I'm excited because of a book that came while I was away thanks to a kindness from my blogging friend Barb at Grade ONEderful:  

Each Kindness, written by Jacqueline Woodson and brilliantly illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

This gem tells the story of the new girl, Maya, and all of the chances to be kind to her that Chloe and her friends repeatedly and intentionally pass up.

And when Maya moves away, it's like a splash of cold water on Chloe's face to realize that she let her only opportunity to create a kindness ripple with Maya go out and forever get away. Out and away.
I like this book a lot because it's. so. real
Each and every interaction is either 
kind or unkind, 
helpful or hurtful. 
And sometimes we don't get a second chance.
Just imagine a world where young and old alike
stopped before every encounter and asked aloud,
Am I being kind or unkind?
Will this help or hurt?

And then purposefully chose 
helpful and kind.

Check out this boomerang; 
you'll be glad it's on your shelves for 
your kind kids.


6.29.2013

Three Happy Words

Perhaps you've gone through the exercise of encapsulating an experience into three words; Joshua did this at the end of his sixth-grade year under Mrs. Bockart's mentorship. I'm thinking about this great reflection activity, because these three words made me very happy this morning:

Yep, they're here! 

Some background information might help you better understand why. Yesterday was a very long day of travel for us. We left my childhood home around 2 pm en route by car to the airport in Milwaukee, where we arrived three hours early for our plane. The flight was delayed by half an hour, but the employee who helped us  told us the good news was that our connecting flight was also delayed, now departing from St. Louis at 11:05 pm. How that was good news, I'm still not sure, but we enjoyed a leisurely dinner, snuck in a little nap, got one last cup of custard, and headed south. When we got to St. Louis, we saw on the arrival board that now our flight would be leaving at ... get this ... 12:55 a.m. 
{Don't they know that my bedtime is 8:00?} 
And that's when we noticed that the 6:50 flight was also delayed and would now be leaving at 9:10. We promptly took ourselves and our stuff to E-18 and stood in line to beg for a transfer. Jacob found out that there was room, while Matt, Southwest's friendly and accommodating customer service manager, worked his magic and we were on our way. 
Without our checked bags, which would be arriving at 3:05 a.m. 
It was worth going back this morning, to be home and in bed before the other passengers on Flight 272 were even leaving St. Louis. Score!

Cheese made it!

Our luggage was waiting for us under lock and key. We couldn't wait to get to our bags and see if our cheese survived. Sure enough, it's aged a bit, but it tastes better at room temperature anyway. 

Three words about Southwest Airlines? 
Friendly. Flexible. Fair.

And later today if I'm awake enough? 
Three more happy words:  
Houston Blogger Meet-Up!

What three words would you use 
to describe a recent travel experience?


6.27.2013

Happiness and Love

Today I'm thinking about happiness and love. A lot. And I'm wondering if my happiness factor would go up substantially if I were better at this:


It's not that I've amassed a lot of enemies during my 50-plus years, but I'm wondering about the people in life with whom I find myself less than patient, less than accepting, less than understanding. The ones that don't seem to get it right, at least in my eyes. The ones that bug me or don't seem to have much concern for others.

Let's use a recent experience I had with a certain physician whom I found a little deficient in his bedside manner. He didn't seem very caring at all and I wondered whether or not he was even listening to me. My impression was that he was just going through the motions. And when I questioned him about something, his answer had to do with who signs his paycheck rather than how he could best help me. Ugh. It occurred to me that he could easily fall into that enemy category. Was I supposed to love this guy who couldn't care less about me? And when he didn't accurately document my last visit to his office, he fell even farther into that pit because not only did I not trust him anymore, but now I'd been wronged by him. Love him? Really??

So the way I see it I've got two choices. Express gratitude for what he was able to do for me and move on, or let his inability to meet my needs victimize me further and allow me to plunge deeper into that deep, dark place where light doesn't shine and happiness can't possibly prevail. Oh, sure, I'll dispute his report, just to set the record straight, and that'll be another hoop to jump through on the road to recovery {which evidently isn't named Easy Street!}. 
But in the end, I think that subscribing to 
Love Your Enemies 
will be a healthier, happier choice for my overall well-being.
It'll make my heart happy. 
And there'll be more capacity for love.

On a scale of 1-100, where is your happiness factor today?


6.25.2013

Blogiversary & Breakfast

My two years at the Corner pale in comparison to my family's 150 years on the farm, but our milestones merged on Sunday when we celebrated both! Words cannot adequately describe the AmAzInG Breakfast On The Farm event held on my family's dairy in Wayside, Wisconsin. Early estimates were that we fed about 6600 people, including the volunteers.

Here now, the pictures that are worth more than a thousand words:

The calm before the breakfast storm.

My brother Mark climbed the neighbor's silo for an aerial view.

Check out this EGG-cellent concoction!

What's a WI breakfast without cheese curds in bulk?

Feeding the five thousand (plus!) takes many serving lines . . .

and a LOT of frosted cinnamon rolls!
My favorite part?  
Three hours on the serving line next to my sister!
And the very hungry people kept on coming.
How many sausage links did we go through?
Deep-fried cheese curds?  For breakfast??
And still more breakfast-goers ready for their grub.

What's left of the cupola from the old timber barn.
Five generations of history.

And Wisconsin's 66th Alice in Dairyland is our niece Kristin!

A tractor tram tour through the new 600-foot barn.
Coming through!

Out with the old, in with the new . . . 
these bunkers have replaced the silos.


So many nice little touches around the place.

Can we take this little jersey calf with us, mom?

We're milking 1750 cows three times a day now!

This is what horse power meant back in the day!

The original lawn mower ...

and some bunny special . . . 

and a Holstein pig? Oh my!

And the sun sets over the farm on a very special day.


Here's to another year of blogging and
another 150 years in the dairying industry.


6.22.2013

Because Of Our Church Duck

Doesn't summertime feel like an excellent opportunity for nesting? You know, for preparing a place for your next year's class, and then just sitting around and waiting. The second definition of the word nest is a place to rest, retreat, or lodge; the first one, of course, references the bed that a bird makes for its young. I guess today I'm thinking about both, and it's all 
because of this duck.


Meet our church duck. She built her nest right outside of the window near the pew where we typically sit on Sunday mornings. Our pew. Our duck. And, when we probably should be paying attention to the sermon instead of the duck, we've enjoyed the last few Sunday visits immensely more because we get to watch her nest. It's such great fun to try to get inside of her thoughts as she rotates a full 180 during the hour that we're there and tends to her impending family. For now, they're just eggs, five of them, and it's so cool how she periodically rotates them with her beak to give them equal time, I suppose, in certain spots while she keeps them safe and warm. One day they'll be ducklings, real live offspring, ready to live and learn from her. To experience life, following her, and then to leave the nest to live on their own. But not right now. 
For now, she's just sitting, patiently waiting, nonchalantly nesting.


As the sun moves across the southern sky, it's hot and she's sweating. But that doesn't ruffle the feathers of this mama duck. She's busy, in a laid back sort of way, getting ready for her little quackers. She's practicing patience and learning to just be. To be okay with waiting. To just be. To rest, to retreat, to prepare lodging for her little ones. To be ready for them. To just be.

So today I woke up thinking about our church duck. 
And wondering about nesting. 
And working on being that patient. 
  

6.21.2013

My Whirlwind Blog Tour

Today I'm excited because I've been on this whirlwind tour of
 connections,  
character, 
and cheerfulness this week.

It started in St. Louis where I met up with the amazing
Is she not the most adorable thing? She did a phenomenal job on her keynote about motivating the underachiever, but her sidekick tried to steal the show 
in his cute little tux!


If you don't have any of Julia's books, you're missing out big time. My favorite is probably the one about feelings and horse sense, 


I went off site for lunch on day two to meet up with Pam Dyson from the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy. I met Pam online when she guest posted for me {here} and it was so delightful to meet her in person. Turns out we both grew up on a farm, so being farmer's daughters connected us and made us feel like we'd known one another forever. In the end when I thanked her for driving a half an hour to take me to lunch, she told me that she'd have driven sixty minutes. 
Isn't that just the kindest thing to say?


That night I flew to Milwaukee and my brother Mark shared his second-row concert seats to hear Jewel rock the acoustics on stage.  
I had heard of few of her songs, but hadn't really known much about this artist, whose velvety voice was soulfully smooth as silk. Did you know that for a time before she was discovered, she was homeless and living out of her car? Her songs tell her life's stories. They were so meaningful because she shared a bit of history before each one; she gave them authenticity and sprinkled in a huge helping of humor. She's a new mom, too, and she spoke so endearingly about her toddler. We were so lucky to get in on this epic performance, which ended with Jewel's yodeling encore. 
Such a talented beauty. 
Jewel's warm-up singer was Tori Kelly. Her song Fill A Heart was written to help in the fight against hunger. 
Talk about a treasure!


I've heard it said that good things come in threes, but I actually had a fourth outstanding outing when I met up with Lisa from Growing Firsties in downtown Wauwatosa for lunch on Thursday. I don't think we stopped talking for two solid hours. Though we're a decade apart in age, we had so much in common, starting with being Badgers and UW-Madison School of Education alumni. 
Teachers, bloggers, moms, wives, daughters, friends. 
We discussed all sorts of things and I left there 
feeling pure joy in my heart.

It's been an exhausting whirlwind few days, but I am energized and so encouraged by the compassionate and courageous collaborators who share my passion for character and kids.


6.20.2013

Happy {150th} Birthday!

It's almost time for 
I am now back in my home state and reuniting with family as we prepare to celebrate 150 years living off the land. 

Here's a billboard that my brother Mark worked on to help us advertise:








Look at the BeAuTiFuL artwork that my brother Paul commissioned for the wall on the outside bunker:

Mural designed, drawn and painted by Lisa Griffin

Looks like we're all set! 
If you're in the Fox River Valley area or anywhere near Brown County, WI, this Sunday, June 23rd, please swing by for the party and 
enjoy our birthday breakfast with us.


6.18.2013

From Texas With Love

Today there's only time for a quick follow up from earlier in the month when I blogged about the Pay It Forward Exchange I was fortunate to get in on. The idea was to put together a bag of goodies from your corner of the world; I got my PIF package from Victoria, B.C. 

So yesterday I sent a big envelope to Jo at Prairie Elementary in Wisconsin and I saw that she was already busily delivering hers. {Of course she was!} 

I brought along this bundle to St. Louis to deliver to Laurel in person when we meet for the first time:


It includes a copy of this month's Texas Highways magazine, an author-signed book written by a retired FISD school teacher, a dozen of my hand-dipped turtles made with Texas pecans, a CD with some of my favorite music, and a set of my Character Card prompts. I've not heard from the Yum Sisters yet, so I'll put a similar package in the mail for Amanda once she gets settled in her new home out east.

I think it was as much a gift to me to put the packages together 
as it will be for them to enjoy their treats, 
from Texas with love.



6.17.2013

No Matter How You Slice It

Today I'm excited because I'm headed to the Show-Me State 
so that I can attend the Characterplus Conference.


Inspiring Lives of Integrity ... I love that!

Wouldn't it be so cool if the 
Core in Common Core stood for character? 
Or if the C in C-Scope (for you 
Texas educators) meant character!

 How much character-development training have you had?

My breakout is called 
I hope that if you're at this conference, 
you'll dance on in to my session. 
We'll be singing and laughing for sure.
And I'll throw in some move-your-body brain brakes.
Or stop by the Film Clips for Character booth so we can chat. 
We'll even give you a 10% discount if you see something that would help in 
your character building.
If you've never been to a national conference, add that your bucket list because when character educators convene, the synergistic
passion is palpable.

Maybe I'll see you in St. Louis ..... 




6.16.2013

Bob The Builder

Happy Father's Day.

When Bob the Builder came on the scene and quickly became a smashing success with our youngest son, I was kicking myself because why didn't I think of that? After all, I grew up with a real-life Bob the Builder ... 
my dad!


Not only was he a great builder of buildings on the farm, but my dad was (and still is!) a major fix-it guy, a handy man to have around, and an artisan.
Since his retirement from the family farm, he's served with an organization working on, remodeling, and building churches. If you want something done right, this Bob the Builder is the right man for the job.


When he visits us, his first question after how we're doing is what projects do we have for him. Check out the rain barrel John and Jacob engineered that he finished up (with his wife's help!) when he was here in May:


Dad is an expert craftsman who pays attention to every detail. 
If this Bob builds something, it's durable and it lasts.

Not only is my dad is an accomplished carpenter, but he's a master mentor, too. He has helped build character in a lot of people over the years, including in many troubled kids along the way. He was a foster parent to many wayward souls during our formative years and he instilled in them confidence, compassion, and citizenship. He taught them respect and responsibility. He modeled service and gave each one of them a chance at something better. 

Thank you, Dad, for being a blessing in our lives;
enjoy your day!


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