Tag Archives: parenting

Goals, Accountability, and Teenagers…

  • I believe that setting goals and working to achieve them gives life purpose.
  • I believe that accountability empowers integrity and results in making good decisions.
  • I believe that in all of my life journeys, the one that I take as a parent is the most important.

I live in a house full of teenagers.  My girls bring me intermittent bouts of joy and exasperation as we make our way together as a family.  They are both my greatest pride and my best challenge.  What we build together provides life’s greatest blessing.

I am a habitual goal maker.  Setting and working toward goals keeps me passionately excited to be better tomorrow than I am today.  I set goals in every facet of my life and hold myself accountable while working toward achieving them.  I try each and every day to pass this habit on to my daughters. This often results in interesting feedback from them 😉

agstatexc3I remember a couple years ago when my favorite brunette was struggling during track.  I asked her at the dinner table one night what her goals were for the season.  Her reply caused me to grit my teeth as she stated: “I don’t have a goal for the season.  I am afraid to set a goal because I might not reach it, and I don’t want to fail.”

Fear is real.  It is part of being human and affects the decisions that each of us makes every day.  Acknowledging it empowers you to deal with it and ultimately move past it.  Setting goals that are challenging, yet achievable is one of the best ways to keep fear under control and gain confidence on the journey.

Although that night at the dinner table I wondered if my mentoring was flawed, the maturity and fortitude that my daughter went on to show in the next two Cross Country seasons demonstrated that we were both on the right path.  She ended both seasons as the lead runner on the respective XC squads helping to bring home the runner up team medal in 2015, and garnering an individual medal in 2016.

While she would likely tell you that the hardware was her greatest achievement, I would argue that learning to set goals and finding the personal strength to hold herself accountable for them creates her greatest accolade.  Over the last 18 months, I have watched her dig deep, over come adversity, and persevere with greatness.

This weekend, I will watch proudly as she competes in her first 1/2 marathon.  Completing the race accomplishes a long term goal and checks off a bucket list item.  She loves to run, and I love to watch her love to run.

Finding the appropriate balance as both her parent and her coach provides my greatest accomplishment.  While I want her to find success more than anything in the world, I realize that success only holds meaning when she learns to do it for herself.  From finding the personal discipline to get through the daily grind to daring to dream and packing her faith to go after it — that’s what makes her a winner.

She may be a teenager today, but tomorrow her contributions will help to shape our country.  That’s plenty of motivation to fuel us both on the journey 🙂

 

 

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Making Good Choices…

My favorite farmer sarcastically noted shortly after our third daughter’s birth that he was planning to temporarily live in a different house when the girls were 18, 16, and 13.  You can likely imagine how well that went over as I rested on the hospital bed welcoming Karyn into the world…

It seems like that was just yesterday, but the truth is that we are a short year and a half away from the above referenced scenario.  This summer we plan to take a trip back East for our oldest daughter to look at colleges, our middle daughter is old enough to have her rural school driver’s permit, and little Karyn now stands at 5’7”.  Matt likely never really imagined the complete impact of a house full of estrogen, but somehow he seems to thrive in it 🙂

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As I think back over the last 16 and ½ years, I seem to always come back to the thought that a successful life comes from making good choices.  Perhaps it is living in a house full of teenage girls, but that phrase seems to come out of my mouth multiple times in a day.

The following is a list of things that I have learned help to develop the skill of making good choices:

  1. Love and respect yourself.  Your life is a gift and you only get one body with which to live it.  Feed it well, get enough sleep, and honor it with your actions.
  2. Surround yourself with people who love and respect themselves.  A culture of respect breeds good decision making.
  3. Know when to remove yourself from a situation, and have enough confidence to leave.  If your gut tells you that you should not be there, odds are you shouldn’t be there.
  4. Honor your obligations.  You were placed on this earth to not only accomplish great things but also to bless others with your gifts.  Be dedicated and committed to creating a positive legacy.
  5. Make goals.  Your life will be more meaningful if you have a purpose.  Your purpose will be clear and accomplishable if you set goals along the journey.
  6. Develop a passion for greatness.  The best decision makers not only know what they want, but they want it more and are willing to work for it.
  7. Recognize that mental toughness goes hand in hand with confidence.  Confidence is a choice – Being mentally tough allows you to persevere and make good choices despite distractions, pressure from others, or self-doubt.
  8. Realize that fear and failure are both realities of life.  Acknowledging your fears allows you to use faith to overcome them.  Failure does not define you – It is how you choose to deal with it that does.  Use it to fuel you on your journey rather than letting it stand between you and your goals.
  9. Understand that you are not expected to be perfect.  Success is a journey, not a destination.  Look for mentors to help you navigate the challenges that create unplanned detours.
  10. Never forget that you are loved.  Look to your heart and always remember that God travels along with you on the journey.
As for my favorite farmer, it looks like he is going to make the good choice of sticking around so that he can continue to thrive amidst the harem of women that inhabit his home!

As for my favorite farmer, it looks like he is going to make the good choice of sticking around so that he can continue to thrive amidst the harem of women that inhabit his home!

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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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4 Wheel Drive…

When my favorite blonde cowgirl was about a year old, her Granddaddy nick-named her “4 Wheel Drive”. Her smiling antics combined with an incredible natural sense of balance and lack of fear put a distinct twinkle in his eye. In the years that followed, it warmed my heart to watch them together: wading through trout streams, rock climbing along the river and playing with his beloved dogs.July_2006_114[1]

Granddaddy made a valiant effort to keep up with his 4 wheel drive despite the fact that she always seemed to remain a few steps ahead of him, looking over her shoulder with an impish grin. That grin proved to be contagious, and their times together left my dad laughing more than his serious and quiet nature normally allowed.

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Cancer took Granddaddy out of our lives about 18 months ago. I remember a friend telling me shortly after he died that grief would come in stages, eventually settling into acute and distinct moments when his presence would be painfully missed. I had one of those moments on Saturday at the Nebraska State Junior High Championship Track meet.

My favorite blonde cowgirl aka 4 wheel drive decided last winter that she would compete in the Pole Vault her 7th grade track season. My favorite farmer Pole Vaulted during his high school tenure, so it seemed a pretty natural fit. In typical Meg fashion, she embraced the season with that big smile, fearless drive, and quiet determination that warmed her Granddaddy’s heart.

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Her season of 7 regular track meets became augmented with a trip to the state meet. Megan ended the season clearing 8’ — earning 9th place overall, with a love of vaulting and a tremendous acquisition of new skills due to a talented young coach.

Every time that I watch her sail over the bar, I think of my dad and his 4 wheel drive. My heart hurts just a little bit because I know that we will never get to share that moment together. Instead, I have to imagine the twinkle, the big smile, and the victorious celebration whistle. While I am sure that the bleachers in heaven offer a great view, it just isn’t the same.

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I grieve for myself, and for my blonde cowgirl who may never fully understand how proud her granddaddy would be. The focus, determination, and strength that are required for the Pole Vault epitomize the qualities that my dad held close to his heart. Combining those with Meg’s contagious smile creates a powerful package.

I am certain that each one of us has lost a loved one and finds moments of loss amidst times of great joy. The regret and disappointment that comes from not being able to share is strong. I think that part of the grieving process is learning to accept that a lost loved one’s role in making new memories is different. It requires an added component of faith – a peaceful acceptance that the love, pride, and presence can still be felt albeit in a less tangible way.

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I struggle with this, but I also know that this journey is inevitable — happening regardless of my desires to change the past rather than to look to the future. My pole vaulting blonde cowgirl carries a piece of her Granddaddy with her each and every day.

Perhaps that is part of the reason that she carries a perpetual twinkle in her eye?

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The Greatest Gift…

Thoughtful Thursday

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When we brought her home from the hospital almost 15 years ago, she fit in the palm of her daddy’s hand.  Today, she and her teammates compete at the Class C District Cross Country Championships. 

I am reminded that one of my greatest joys is sharing in the lives of my children:  mentoring them, supporting them, and loving them on their journey.  There is no greater gift.

Go Haymakers!

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5 Lessons That I Want My Children To Learn Before They Go To College…

Thoughtful Thursday

While the love story that brought me to agriculture was steeped in romanticism, the secret to my success as a cattle caregiver and the “boss lady” at our feed yard is buried deeply in the five lessons listed below.

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I learned to “run” a scoop shovel when I went to work on our farm in 1997. I still run one every Sunday morning because it plays a role in my search for excellence…

5 Lessons that I want my children to learn before they go to college…

  1. The only thing that you are entitled to is work.  Do not expect for the world to hand you what you want — Know that you will have to work for it.
  2. Realize that attitude is everything and will shape your perspective — Look favorably upon your responsibilities, then they will also become your joys.
  3. The most important thing that you take with you is your integrity.  Respect it enough to always be loyal to the truth.
  4. Work Ethic + Attitude + Integrity = A Leader.  Be one — The world will be a better place if you share of yourself.
  5. The Road To Excellence Is Rarely Comfortable.  Excellence is not about comfort — It is about reaching above and beyond your capabilities in order accomplish far more than your dreams.

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Harnessing The Power Of Our Youth…

Over the past decade, I have coached hundreds (perhaps thousands…) of children through local youth sports teams.  Whether it is on the soccer field, the track, the t-ball diamond, or in the swimming pool it is easy to tell the children who are expected to tenaciously work hard and problem solve at home.

As I coach them, I not only teach them to be good swimmers---more importantly I teach them to work hard and challenge themselves.

I studied psychology in college, and am a firm believer that good work habits and problem solving skills need to be ingrained in children from a very early age.  Learning to work hard and finish with pride gives them confidence and teaches them to be positive contributors to their team, their community, and their country.

My coach used to tell me "Pain is temporary, Pride is forever"...I tell her the same thing. It is how we push ourselves to work through challenges that creates excellence.

Although it is a natural human tendency to want to smother our children and complete tasks for them, it is so important to not give into that tendency, and rather instead to empower them to complete tasks on their own.  There are times, as a parent, when I have to let go.  I have to believe in my girls and allow them to work through a task even when it challenges them.  Challenges teach tenacity—they inspire confidence—and they reinforce the importance of digging deep to be able to finish strong.

I often ask them how they should end a race---they instantly answer "STRONG!".

My oldest daughter, Ashley Grace, is blessed with an incredible verbal ability—she has the vocabulary of a college student and expresses herself well both when publicly speaking and writing.  She is a 12 year old walking dictionary…

This is her favorite place, and her favorite pastime...

She is not a natural problem solver.  If something is broken or if anything needs to be done that requires mechanized equipment, she calls her younger sister Megan to do it.  Megan is not a walking dictionary, but she is an incredibly resourceful problem solver…

My "problem solving" cowgirl would rather ride her horse or exercise cattle than read a book...Caring for animals teaches her personal responsibility and a commitment to excellence.

Last weekend our lawn mower was broken.  Matt was in the middle of planting alfalfa, so I knew that our mower would not get fixed before the grass was tall enough to hide my youngest daughter Karyn (Matt is the mechanical problem solver in our marriage—can you tell which of us each of the girls take after?!).  Matt’s parents have a mower similar to ours, so we borrowed it for the weekend.

After the job was finished...

I gave the task of mowing the grass to Ashley Grace.  I took a few minutes to show her how to operate the mower and then headed off to get Karyn ready for her soccer game.  Ashley Grace was not keen on the idea of mowing and, consequently, did not pay much attention when I was showing her how to run it.  It took her a long time to mow our large lawn, and before she was finished she had christened the mower with a new name: the hell wagon.

The newly mowed grass looks beautiful, but the lesson that my daughter learned was far more valuable...

Perhaps the lawn would have gotten mowed faster if I had done it for her…Perhaps she would have exerted less frustration and fewer tears if I had done it for her…Perhaps she would have had a more enjoyable afternoon reading a book.  None of those were the point.  The point was that I gave her the instruction and tools that she needed to complete the task—I expected her to complete the task—She learned by completing the task.

Did I mention that I also harvested the power of my youth to plant part of the vegetable garden last weekend?

Whether I am parenting my own children or coaching someone else’s, I believe that it is my job to empower the next generation to strive for greatness.  In order to harness the power of our youth, I must first empower them to believe in themselves and want to excel.

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The Balancer…

I define success as the ability to maintain balance while moving forward in a positive way.  Complete balance involves physical, mental and emotional components.  Whether you are managing yourself, your family, running a business, or caring for animals; maintaining balance is both an art and a skill.

I mentioned in a previous post that my life is a juggling act, and that I am both a planner and a creature of habit because this helps me to be a more successful juggler (https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/a-two-legged-creature-of-habit%E2%80%A6/).  Despite my quest for balance and my dedicated attempt to plan and run both my life and my feed yard with a regimen based on HAACP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points), being a mother of three (in addition to being a caregiver to thousands of animals) has also taught me to “go with the flow”.

HACCP is a critical part of BQA. At a basic level, it means "Figure out what can challenge you before you are challenged so that you can deal with the situation effectively and efficiently."

Although both Matt and I had to work off and on all weekend (me at the feed yard and Matt at the alfalfa dehydration plant loading railroad cars with alfalfa dehy pellets and corn destined for the west coast), we had plans to spend time as a family cutting down a Christmas tree, riding horses, and watching college football (in addition to the traditional over-eating that generally occurs Thanksgiving weekend).

"Horse time" with my girls is a very special time for me. Here I am "ponying" Karyn as she learns to develop good balance and feel in the saddle...

Instead, we spent the weekend at the hospital with our youngest daughter.  Karyn was diagnosed with pneumonia the day before Thanksgiving and we kept her at home on oral antibiotics until Friday when it became apparent that it was going to take more intensive care for her to get better.

After the blood work and IV were put in, but before the need for extra oxygen...It's hard work to "cowgirl up" when you are sick...

My life is consumed by the desire to keep my kids and my animals healthy…It is sobering when I fail…

I believe in the proactive power of:

  1. A Balanced Diet
  2. Being well rested with adequate sleep.
  3. Maintaining up to date vaccinations.
  4. Having time to play and learn.
  5. Being active and getting sufficient exercise.

 Sometimes, however, even the highest dedication to a good proactive health plan is not successful at keeping illness at bay…

 Sometimes the best laid plans change and challenges occur—that is life…It is how we deal with those challenges that define us as individuals…

So, instead of Christmas trees and relaxing horse rides, we got: IV antibiotics, breathing treatments, additional oxygen, and worries about our sick little girl.  All of this on top of reading bunks (the process of determining how much each bovine will be feed for the day) and making sure that the cattle were fed on schedule (they are creatures of habit just like I am and expect to be fed at the same time every day).  A special thanks to my crew for filling in for me as much as they could so that I could spend most of the weekend at the hospital.

I am looking forward to getting my littlest cowgirl back to good health!

Challenges allow for learning and the development of personal strength.  If we are never thrown off balance then we never learn how to obtain it.  Unfortunately, my seven year old had a hard time believing that being stuck with a needle, an IV, and enduring little plastic pokey things sticking up her nose to increase her oxygen levels would make her a better and stronger person (all of these on top of a fever, cough, nausea, and a rash)…But, I know that learning to deal with crisis and being tough enough to do what it takes to improve is an important  life lesson.   It is my job as a parent to teach her to deal with challenges because no matter how much I would like to be able to solve all of her problems for her, I know that I cannot.

Our children mirror us and our behavior.  They look to us for leadership and guidance.  We fail them when we do not deliver it.  It is so hard to stay strong when your child is lying lethargically on a hospital bed and you want to move mountains to make her better, yet really all you can do is help her professional caregivers and pray that God will make her better.  Although Karyn does not really understand why she has to endure all of the medical procedures that go along with fighting a pneumonia infection, my support and quiet strength show her how important it is for her to be tough and to cooperate with the hospital staff.  We had a couple of bouts of tears over the blood work and the IV, but she “cowgirled up” and rose to the occasion.  She is a fighter and gets better each day.  She also is learning to balance herself when faced with adversity, and that is a lesson that she will carry with her long after the pneumonia infection is gone.

Although my little cowgirl is improving, she is still a  sick little girl.  Please pray for her speedy recovery—we are hoping to have her home from the hospital soon.

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