Tag Archives: family

Chores…

I was lucky enough to grow up down the street from my grandparents. Although they have been gone for several years now, when I think of them the word that comes to mind is devoted.  More than 70 years of marriage, the sun rose and set for them in each other.  As a little girl, I dreamed of finding a soul-mate — someone to build a life with just like my beloved Grannie and Dedaw.

Feb March 2006 017When I brought my favorite farmer to Florida for the first time, my Grannie loved him at first sight.  I still don’t know if she innately sensed that he was my one, or if she simply loved me enough to believe in my heart.  Either way, she showed me with her life that love required work — a good marriage necessitated diligently doing chores — and that the blessing of sharing your life with someone always topped the priority list.

One of the things that I love about Matt is our ability to work together in harmony.  After twenty years on the farm, I still love to do things with him. Whether we are checking fields, working on projects around the house, or building fence, we make a good team.  Matt figures stuff out, and I follow directions well 🙂

When you work well together, chores are not just a necessary part of life — they are part of what makes life fun.marchfence7.jpg

Last weekend Matt and I took down my winter horse fence.  Intermittent warm days inspire the alfalfa to green up and start to grow, so it is time to corral the horses and take them off their winter pasture. Since it snowed on Saturday, we opted to wait until Sunday to take down the electric wire fence. We traded the Saturday snow for a 35 mile an hour wind on Sunday. In hindsight, I’m not sure that we picked the correct day, but we bundled up and laughed our way through the chore.

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We brought along our favorite blondes as we’ve always maintained that families that work together find greater love together.

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We survived the wind, and finished the chore. I think perhaps the only ones pouting are the horses as they prefer their large winter grazing pasture to the corral 😉

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I spent much of the day thinking about my Grannie and Dedaw.  How my life on the farm is so different than their’s was on the Florida coast, yet how our days are actually so much the same.   When your better half provides the center of your world, love becomes much less of a chore and much more of a blessing…

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We’re In This Together…

My favorite farmer’s and my mantra has always been, We’re In This Together. We met the fall of my freshman year at Dartmouth and quickly became the couple that we still are today. We are the ones that do everything together – from home, to work on the farm, to parenting our three beautiful girls.

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The driving factor in our decision to head from the East coast back to the family farm in 1997 was our desire to build something meaningful together. Matt is my rock – the steady intelligent entrepreneur who somehow manages to thrive in a house of four very driven females.

My dedication to doing things right often makes me a work-a-hol-ic. I don’t rest until my animals have all that they need. That is just the way that God made me. I shrug off the fatigue and keep going, never stopping until the job is done. There are days that I am pretty sure that I exhaust both my husband and my crew, but they loyally stay and work alongside me. That is just the way that God made them.

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There are two young ladies that make us all smile. Their presence puts everything into perspective, and their good humor breaks up the long weeks of the fall. I look forward to the weekends and rely on them to practically help complete chores while also to lighten the mood at the feed yard.

It struck me Sunday morning, just how much I need them. It left me a bit in awe as I realized how well they listen, how quickly they learn, and how incredibly capable they are. From scooping bunks, to exercising calves, to checking daily animal health, to spouting Beef Quality Assurance and Progressive Beef protocols — all with a smile, and all with the work ethic and responsibility that permeates the culture of the farm. They GET IT.

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After we finished morning chores, we headed over to the feed yard office. Every Sunday morning, Megan writes a new inspirational quote on the white board in the office. The one she chose for this week could not have been more appropriate.

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Some might think that I expect too much of my girls, but one of my greatest responsibilities as a parent is to place them in situations where they can develop maturity, responsibility, accountability, and the resulting self-confidence that comes from true accomplishment.

My gift to them comes in the form of a shovel, coveralls, and Bogg boots all wrapped up with the knowledge of how to use these tools to benefit the animals on our farm and ultimately the people that those animals will go on to nourish.

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Between our home and our farm, our girls learn every day that life is more meaningful if we’re in this together.  I look at them and recognize Matt’s and my greatest success in our journey…

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Traditions…

My favorite family tradition is cutting down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.  Matt and I started this custom when we moved to Nebraska in 1997. Our family has grown over the years and so has the number of smiles that accompanies the tree.

A few years ago, the local tree farm bought tree carts --- Matt is a fan as he no longer has to carry the tree, AG is a fan as she enjoys instructing her sisters to give her a ride...

A few years ago, the local tree farm bought tree carts — Matt is a fan as he no longer has to carry the tree, AG is a fan as she enjoys instructing her sisters to give her a ride…

Looking for the *right* tree is quite the process...

Looking for the *right* tree is quite the process…

Apparently this process involves taking "selfies" to properly assess the tree possibilities...

With teenagers involved, this process now involves taking “selfies” to properly assess the tree possibilities…

When finding the *right* tree, hugging it is necessary...

When finding the *right* tree, hugging it is necessary…

Sometimes the vote for the *right* tree is not unanimous...

Sometimes the vote for the *right* tree is not unanimous…

She got over it...

She got over it…

Fortunately, we generally agree on the important things...

Fortunately, my favorite farmer and I generally agree on the important things…

Christmas is a magical time — A time of family — A time of celebration

A time of love.

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The Joy of Chaos…

While I tend to run my cattle feed yard with an incredible degree of particularity, my house can only be described as a place of joyful chaos. I gave up the need for carefully construed order sometime around the birth of my third daughter. It likely was a survival mechanism as I began to recognize the importance of retaining my sanity.

I traded order for laughter — the need to control for faith…

Although ten years ago I might have claimed that letting go was against my very nature, I actually think that it has improved my parenting prowess by inspiring my older daughters to achieve a greater degree of responsibility. I believe that the duo secretly enjoys attempting to keep the household running and, between the five of us, the daily chores always seem to get completed.

Every once in a while, we are thrown off kilter and the tenuous balance temporarily disappears. When this occurs, I do my best to laugh as I improvise and call on faith to carry us through. Friday was one of those days…

They seem to be cut from the same cloth...

They seem to be cut from the same cloth…

Early afternoon, my favorite farmer loaded up the vehicle with suitcases and our family set off for a trip to Florida. This past week has been more chaotic than normal, so each family member was charged with packing their own luggage for the trip and placing their suitcases in a predetermined location by the door.

As we pulled off of Interstate 80 (approaching the airport and about 100 miles from home), we realized that my youngest daughter’s suitcase was still buried on the end of her bed. (Anyone that has seen Karyn’s bed will understand that it is possible to lose a small mountain in the menagerie of stuffed animals that sleep there…) While she had followed directions and packed a suitcase, she failed to place it with the other luggage as she left for school that morning. It never occurred to my favorite farmer that the pile of luggage in the hallway was one bag short!

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The car got really quiet as it dawned on all of us that Karyn had no clothes for the long weekend trip. I quickly burst into laughter because it seemed to be the best available option of cutting the tension that permeated the car. It didn’t take long for Megan to join in my hilarity, and Ashley Grace to begin her typical litany of humorous sarcastic remarks—soon everyone but Karyn was smiling.

Exercising my savvy problem solving skills I pulled quickly into the Grand Island mall and bought Karyn some emergency clothes. We were back in the car within 10 minutes, and headed once again for the airport. We arrived just as the check-in desk was closing, and boarded the flight a few minutes later.

Laughter is good for the soul. Learning to let go and give it to God is a tremendous survival mechanism. What could have been a tensioned filled crisis became a source of humor that set the tone for a great family adventure.

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I cannot recall exactly what day I made the choice as a mother to embrace the joy of chaos, but it has enabled me to trade tension for laughter — shifting my focus to the blessings that come from the gift of a family.

What is your survival mechanism?

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Holiday Blessings…

True courage lies in the ability to surpass life's challenges and find joy in the simple moments of the day...

True courage: The ability to surpass life’s challenges in order to find joy in the simple moments of the day…

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and peaceful holiday season.

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Words to Live by…

My grandfather was an inspiration to many people.  His cheerful optimism served as a magnet which drew others toward him.

Hank was notorious for his “sayings”.  He frequently quoted poetry and had many “catch phrases” that we affectionately referred to as Hankisms.

Between the two of them, there is more than 180 years of wisdom to share...

More than 180 years of wisdom to share…

The largest mentor for Hank in his  adult life was his preacher, Rev. Dr. Samuel M. Lindsay.  The following is a poem written by Dr. Lindsay.  These words served as Hank’s Mantra all of the years that I knew him.

HANK’S RESOLVE

I will talk health—Instead of sickness.

I will talk prosperity—Instead of failure.

I will carry Good News—Instead of bad news.

I will tell the cheerful tale—Instead of the sad tale.

I will mention my blessings—Instead of my burdens.

I will encourage —Instead of criticize.

I will be a friend to everyone.

This mantra lends itself to a wonderful legacy of good will.  I cannot think of a better thing to leave behind as you enter the gates of heaven.

Cheers to a wonderful life, and many thanks to my beloved  Dedaw for all of the love and memories that we shared!

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91 Years of Greatness and 70 Years of Devotion…

Today my favorite farmer and I are in Florida celebrating the life of a wonderful man.  I like to laugh that when God created Hank McCall, he threw away the mold.  My grandfather lived for 91 years of greatness, and spent 70 of those years being married to his soul mate.

A lifetime of memories--sharing love and facing challenges as a team...

A lifetime of memories–sharing love and facing challenges as a team…

I was blessed to grow up down the street from my beloved Grannie and Dedaw, and spent countless hours with them during my formative years.  Their single minded devotion to each other serves as a constant inspiration to me as Matt and I travel our own life journey together.

One of my greatest adult pleasures has been sharing my children with my grandparents.  They made yearly spring trips to Nebraska to visit us and see the Sandhill Crane migration...

One of my greatest adult pleasures has been sharing my children with my grandparents. They made yearly spring trips to Nebraska in addition to our visits to Florida…

The following is the beautiful obituary that my Uncle Wally wrote in my grandfather’s honor. 
Hank McCall, 91, of West Palm Beach, FL died peacefully at home on October 3, 2013. He and Irma celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on June 23, 2013. Hank graduated from Penn State University in 1942 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He soon entered the United States Naval Academy as a “90 Day Wonder”, receiving his commission in May 1943. After submarine training, he was assigned to the USS Greenling in the Pacific where he participated in five war patrols and two special missions including the reconnaissance and photographing of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam in preparation for the US invasion of those islands. He retired from the Naval Reserves with a rank of Lt. Commander. Hank and Irma moved to West Palm Beach in 1952 with their three small children. After a brief stint with Crane Company, he became partners with Clarence Coston, a plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractor. Their projects included the Palm Beach Towers, Pratt-Whitney Aircraft, and the Kennedy Space Center. He also obtained his private pilot’s license to expand the business to the Bahamas, and for convenient bone fishing trips. After twenty years, Hank made a major career change, becoming an agent with National Life of Vermont and later, Sun Life of America. He was a Certified Life Underwriter and a member of the Million Dollar Round Table. Hank and Irma were active members of the Royal Poinciana Chapel in Palm Beach where he served as the head usher and Chairman of the Board of Directors. He was a charter member of Mayacoo Lakes Country Club and enjoyed the camaraderie of the Old Guard Society and the stimulating programs at the Society of the Four Arts. Besides his family, Hank’s passions were reading, birding, and walking. Hank and Irma traveled extensively, setting foot on all seven continents. After warm-up hikes across the state of Florida and around Lake Okeechobee, Hank and Irma walked across England in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. He was preceded in death by his son, Willie. Hank is survived by his beloved wife, Irma; a daughter, Sally Gibson (Herbert) of West Palm Beach; son, Wally McCall (Michelle) of Jupiter, FL; grandchildren, Terry Gibson (fiancee Theresa Sepko) of Jensen Beach, FL, Anne G. Burkholder (Matt) of Cozad, NE, Travis McCall (Laura) of Lynchburg, TN, Kelly Hough (Jeremy) of Old Town, VA, Abigail McCall of Hobe Sound, FL, Hunter McCall (Sean) of Charlotte, NC, and Margaret McCall of Seattle, WA; and seven great grandchildren. A Memorial Service will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at the Royal Poinciana Chapel, 60 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach, FL 33480 with Dr. Robert S. Norris, Pastor officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to the Samuel M. Lindsey Fund at the Royal Poinciana Chapel.

Last Christmas---my girls learning to caring on the tradition of devotion...

Last Christmas—my girls learning to carry on the tradition of devotion…

My grandfather demonstrated with his life that “With faith, discipline, and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve”.  Muhammad Ali

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Time Goes On…

My favorite farmer assures me that I turn 29 with every birthday that passes.  When I look at my girls, I have to admit that I call his math skills into question…IMG_4143

My first baby stands 4” taller than me, and appears to be taking the 8th grade by storm.  She achieved the 200 mile club for Cross Country again this summer pounding out 250 miles of training all on her own.  She is chalked full of true grit, and both her talent and her work ethic will ensure her a successful future.  Whether it is the quickness of her mind or that of her legs, to say that she makes me proud would be a tremendous understatement!IMG_4151

My second baby had her first day of Middle School last week.  Despite the fact that my cowgirl can handle a large group of cattle with ease and break into the yoga position of choice while standing on a feed yard fence, the thought of going to 6th grade in the “big school” terrified her.  I am happy to report that her inner confidence and natural tenacity kicked in when she walked through the school door and she appears to be thriving in her new environment.  Megan laughed when I told her that she simply needed to be acclimated just like the calves in the feed yard 🙂 IMG_3975

My third baby stands almost 5 feet tall and wears the same shoe size as I do.  I keep telling myself that it’s normal for an 8 year old to share shoes with her Mama, and I am dealing with the reality that if she keeps growing as fast as she did this summer, she will graduate from third grade taller than I am.  She is excitedly waiting for the soccer season to start this fall and has loved her first days of school.  Karyn and I were able to spend a few hours last week up in the Nebraska Sandhills with our horses for some special time before the start of school.  She is well on her way of becoming a great cowgirl just like her older sister.IMG_4093

As for my favorite farmer, he celebrates his 42nd birthday on Saturday.  He is commemorating the occasion by traveling into Lincoln with high school friends to watch the first Husker game of the year.  Some days it seems hard to believe that as our girls fondly tell us “we are approaching middle age”; however, I am positive that the gray that livens up Matt’s hair and the wrinkles that give character to my face are simply outward representations of all of the joy that has marked our last 20 years together 🙂DSC06166

How do you mark the passage of time in your own life?

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