Hit Them First- My Unpopular Opinion

Bullying is not okay.

No one should ever have to go through some of the hateful and hurtful things kids (and adults) say and do to each other.

Parents should not allow their children to bully other kids.

With all those, I agree but…

I’m gonna be the unpopular person- but here it goes… 

I disagree with parents who film their children after having been bullied and post it on social media. I don’t think you’re doing it to raise awareness- I feel like it’s a “let’s see how many shares and comments I can get on social media” stunt. There. I said it.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how holding your cell phone in your child’s face during his or her most vulnerable moments and asking them to “speak out” is really going to help anyone in the long run… and you can’t really think it’s going to stop the crap from continuing. Those bullies saw that post. You think they saw that and thought “Oh, I made him cry. I better stop!” More than likely- the answer is no. Kids are mean. People are mean. Sometimes, life in general is mean.

I’ll admit, I’m no parenting expert. In fact, most days I’m barely capable of handling my own affairs, let alone those of the tiny human I am also in charge of. But I just can’t see that if or when that day comes when my sweet boy comes home in tears with bruises on his back.. or his heart, because some boys in the locker room decided to pick on him or say mean things to him, that the first thing that comes to mind is “I’m gonna grab my camera and document this moment.” No. I, like to think that I will scoop him into a hug and let him talk about it… if he wants to… and then I’m going to give him the same advice my dad gave me.

“Don’t you dare go picking fights, but if it comes down to that; hit ’em firstest, hit ’em mostest, and hit ’em hardest.”  And then we are going to go to the school and inform the teachers and principal of the situation at hand and inform them that if nothing can be done about said bullies, my son has full permission to defend himself.

I’m not a violent person. I’m not a fighter. I never have been. But when I was in high school and was having some trouble with a group of girls constantly on a mission to ruin my life I remember that feeling of hopelessness. But I also remember the night it all came to a head and the first time I heard that little diddy from my dad.

My best friend was spending the night. My mom had taken my brother somewhere so my dad was charged with watching me. Around 10:30 the phone calls and texts from these girls started coming in. They wanted to fight. There were 5 of them and 2 of us. At first my friend and I were “preparing for battle” (putting boots on, and maybe some rings or something.. I mean whatever a 9th grader could think of to use as self protection.) Then I got a message on my phone (an unintentional recording on their part) talking about bringing rakes. *Nope. That’s it. I’m out. I don’t care how stupid I look, my dad is getting involved now.* By this time it was around midnight. The girls (driven by a college aged sister) showed up at my house but were met by my dad instead, who told them they needed to go on home.

I believe this was the first time my parents knew of any problems I was having at school. We filed a sheriff’s report (I had the texts and message recordings on my phone) and my parents talked to the school. But my parents are old fashioned in the sense that they believe the best way to solve a personal problem is to do it personally. During that time in my life I was meek and quiet for the most part, but my dad quoted the old book “Of Mice and Men” me time after time while the drama persisted. “Don’t start a fight, but if it’s coming to that, hit ’em firstest, hit ’em mostest, and hit ’em hardest.” (no my dad doesn’t have that terrible of grammar.) The teachers and principal were given a heads up of that permission I was given.

Nothing ever actually came of that couple months of girl drama. But the fact that my parents stood back on the sidelines but were there to listen to me- and also gave me the permission to stand up for myself has stuck with me since. As I’ve grown older I hold that little quote close to me. Not in the sense that I actually think I’m going to go hit someone because they made me mad- but I have that permission to stand up for myself. Verbally or physically. I don’t have to go through life scared of others- scared of the “mean” people. I don’t have to put up with crap I truly don’t deserve. I have permission and the capability to demand better.

Now, with that permission and realization comes responsibility. You can’t turn into the bully. Stay true to yourself. Stay true to what you believe in. Live an honest life. Know when to defend yourself and when to let the rain roll off your back and move on down the road. Not every action requires a reaction- but know the ones that do. Teach your kids the same.

Give your child permission to defend his or herself. Don’t just shove a phone in his face and record him in his vulnerability. Accept and harbor that vulnerable side, but encourage that strength- because like I said above. Life is mean.

Life is rough and if a man’s gonna make it he’s gotta be tough.

-Johnny Cash

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Urgent Care Revelations

So, last Friday I had to take my sick kiddo to Urgent Care. I HATE Urgent Care- but I won’t rant about that today. I tend to pride myself on being a nice person- but I had a real truth bomb hit me that day sitting in the waiting room. (for 4 freaking hours, but we won’t get into that.)

I marched into that clinic in my typical (though I didn’t realize it until that day) snotty fashion. (Opening the door with a Wet Ones wipe) then proceeding to sanitize my hands and Gage’s hands after signing in- finding the least populated and cleanest looking area to sit… not letting Gage or myself touch A N Y T H I N G other than our rears to the seat. (quite a tough task for a two year old) The place looks dirty… and it’s full of sick people. It’s gross and I hate being there. While I was submersed in my discontent for having to be there, of course I was people watching. One of my favorite activities.

There was a couple sitting a few seats away from me that particularly caught my interest. They had sat nearest the outlet so they could charge their cell phones. They were both submersed in facebook videos (and playing them much too loudly for a public waiting room) They were shabbily dressed and just over all didn’t look well kept. I couldn’t help but listen to their conversation when it turned to having children.

“I wouldn’t mind trying again and having a boy this time.” the woman said and the man agreed… after they were talking about living with one of them’s parents.

OH LAWD, no, no you do not need more kids! Where is your child now? Probably in state custody by the looks and sounds of you two. 

I couldn’t help it. My internal dialogue went nuts… and not in a good way.

Pretty soon a cute little girl comes out of the little playroom where there was a T.V., probably 10 or 11 years old, and hugged both of them. They were asking how she was feeling, and promising they would be seeing the doctor soon. She asked the dad to braid her hair and he gave it a shot- the mom then had to step in and try to show him (for the millionth time, by the sounds of it) They were working on times tables with the little girl and there was genuine love and concern there.

They were happy.

The child was happy.

…and clean and well taken care of.  She wasn’t dressed in the trendiest or nicest clothing, but it was appropriate for the weather, her size, etc…and she was comfortable.

She was loved, she was wanted, and she loved and wanted those two people as well.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about those people all weekend. As I said earlier, I tend to take pride in the fact that I am a genuinely nice and caring person. Apparently I’m not as nice as I like to think I am. As the old adage goes “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I’ve started paying closer attention to what I allow myself to think, and I’m not nearly as kind as I once thought.

I’m working on that. I’m praying for eyes of Jesus and not eyes of my own, torn and sinful nature. I’m praying for more compassion.

I encourage you to take a look at yourself. to slow down and listen and actually pay attention to your thoughts sometime. You may find you need to do the same.

 

 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

Colossians 3:12

 

 

In The Field Meal- Homemade Pizza Pockets

I’ve been meaning to post this for a couple days and just haven’t got around to it…

As my last post was about harvest- what better thing to follow up than with an “in the field meal” recipe? If your crew is anything like mine- handheld, easy to eat while still being able to drive equipment- and NOT a plain old ham and cheese sandwich is ideal. (tall order, huh?) I’ve had to get kind of creative with some of the meals I take.

This Pizza Pocket was the perfect handheld! They took around an hour and a half to prepare start-finish (that includes time for dough to rise)

 

I use the same bread dough recipe that is used in my strawberry sweetrolls (Stick around and you will see I use this recipe for basically everything.) but I’ll go ahead and give it again.

 

Bread Dough: 

ingredients:

2 tbsp active yeast

2 cups warm milk

2 large eggs + white of one more egg (if you’re using farm fresh that are much smaller go ahead and use the entire third egg)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

5 tablespoons salted butter, softened

6 cups flour

instructions:

  • Combine sugar, milk, and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes (should be frothy when you check it)
  • Mix in eggs, salt, and butter until well combined
  • add flour one cup at a time up to 4 cups. Dough should be tacky, but not sticking to the edge. add 1/4 cup flour until you reach the consistency you want.
  • Move dough from mixing bowl to a large greased and lightly floured bowl and let rise for 1 hour.
  • After that hour is up, dump dough onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly. (only 3-4 times)
  • Roll out and cut into rectangles (apx 4×7 in) (or to desired size)

dough

Meat Filling

Ingredients: 

1 lb hamburger

1 package mini pepperonis

Seasonings to taste (I used oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, red chilli flakes, basil, and package of italian seasoning.)

2 small cans tomato paste

1.5 of those tomato paste cans of water

2 pkgs McCormick Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning

Shreddded Motzerella cheese

Instructions:

Brown the hamburger with your seasonings, add pepperonis, tomato paste spaghetti sauce seasonings and water. Cover and let simmer 5-10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

put mozzarella cheese (however little or much you like, my bunch likes their cheese) and the meat sauce mixture (I used an ice cream scoop as my measurement) onto one end of the dough, leaving enough space to fold it over and close up. seal edges and use a fork to press (mainly it’s just pretty, not necessary)

pocket

Bake for about 10 minutes or until light golden browned. brush the tops with garlic butter and serve. (Or wrap in foil and take to the field)

…and I forgot to take a picture of the cooked product. I’m blaming pregnancy brain.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Fall Harvest-A Time for Joy

It’s fall harvest time.

A time of year that I personally love.

Something about the crisp fall air and the hustle and bustle of farmers to get their crops out of the fields before winter hits… I just can’t help but feel happy. Maybe it’s just the season- the time of year that thankfulness is on everyone’s mind or the excitement of winding down one year and beginning a whole new year. Whatever it is, the past five years I have grown to adore fall harvest.

Yesterday, what should have been a great day of celebrating my son’s second birthday-was a rough day. Between news of the Las Vegas shooting, my grandfather in law having had his arm crushed working on some of our equipment and yet more sad news coming from my hometown. Days like yesterday- where nothing seems to be going right, all the news is bad, and so many people around are hurting it’s easy to lose the joy. It’s so easy to lose the focus of the good only see the bad.

Yesterday evening, however- standing in the hospital room with my family I was reminded once again to find the joy. At the news of Bob’s accident we had friends who had gone to the field after Nick and Bob headed to the hospital to make sure that everything was shut down and taken care of then came to the hospital to check on us. We had neighbors dropping by and making sure we didn’t need anything. We had people on the phone in an instant wanting to know what they could do to help us keep harvest going and get wheat planted. We were all inundated with calls, texts, snapchats, facebook messages, and drop ins- a show of support. Despite the sadness that was in the air all day and the chatter, not just amongst us, but all over the hospitals and on the T.V.s  I remembered that there is far more good. There is more love than there is hate. There is more care and concern than there is selfishness. There are more heroes than villains. Sometimes our vision just gets clouded.

This morning I woke up and kissed my husband goodbye as he left. I drove past him as he was back in the field planting wheat. If weather permits I will haul supper to the field this evening as harvest has resumed. We will stand around the vehicles and laugh and eat- we may even talk about yesterday’s events. We will wave at the other trucks hauling their grain to town. Harvest will go on. Life will go on. We will not let the blinders of bitterness creep over us- we will not let darkness steal our light… and we will not let hate steal our love.

Happy Harvest, ya’ll.

Bitterness and Boundaries-There is a Difference

Get rid of all bitterness, anger and rage, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, just as in Christ God forgave you. 

Ephesians 4:31

I like to think of myself as a pretty kind person- I think we all do. I tend to look back on the good things I’ve done each day (if any) and say to myself “I’ve done my good deed for the day.” I don’t intentionally pick fights and on the rare occasions that I do “bite back” so to speak, it’s not without justification- or at least in my mind.

When I was younger I was a bit of a doormat. I let people take advantage of me and often fell right in line with things I disagreed with- be it the desire to be liked by my peers or just the simple lack of courage to change directions. I credit some of those circumstances to my newfound backbone.

The past few years I’ve found myself tolerating less and less of people’s nonsense. I’ve also found myself getting defensive and even judge-y to people who just get on my nerves a little bit or like to push the envelope more than I care to deal with. I find myself harboring bitterness to people who have upset me-if even only one time. I find myself talking poorly of people, getting annoyed at the mere sight of certain people, and being short and even rude to people. All this time I have prided myself on becoming a stronger person and on not being a doormat.

Honestly, it’s only been a few weeks that it’s starting to dawn on me that maybe- just maybe, I’d be a happier person if I just let go of some of that anger and frustration that I had toward people- who only, honestly, play a very small roll in my life in the grand scheme of things. I’m learning (not always applying) that it’s okay to have boundaries. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not let people just walk all over you. It’s okay.

BUT…

 But it’s not okay to let those people get under your skin. It’s not okay to treat people poorly-even when it’s hard. It’s not okay to take those frustrations to the point of complaining constantly to anyone who might listen, or taking it home and taking my day out on my family. It’s not okay.

It’s something that is going to be a process for me. It’s going to be hard for me not to see (insert burr in my coat person here)’s vehicle pull up to my office and go on instant defense. It’s going to be hard for me to have compassion and kindness for someone whom I have built up so much defence against.

But I’m working on it- and it’s going to be a long journey.

4-H, Where You Work Your Ass Off for “Nothing”

That title got your attention, didn’t it?  Now before you come at me with pitchforks and torches, hear me out.

If you have read  my bio you will know that I work in Extension and even if I didn’t, I would still have a deep passion for 4-H in my heart. I love all of the opportunities that present themselves through 4-H. I love spending time with kids teaching them life skills and sharing passions that have been and still are very, very much a part of my life. I love seeing youth grow into productive, responsible, hardworking, caring, and community minded adults.

The title of this blog post is an actually paraphrased from a quote from a 4-H mother made to me as we were walking out of our trophy auction and donor’s lunch where several companies and individuals had literally just spent thousands of dollars supporting our organization. “That’s what 4-H is all about, working your ass off and getting nothing in return, huh, Amber.” The anger came instantly. How dare someone make comments like that as we are walking out of especially that event. How dare someone say something like that to people who spend countless hours both paid and unpaid making sure programs are organized, newsletters set, putting on project meetings, buying supplies for those meetings-often out of pocket, spending countless unpaid hours away from family. How. Dare. You.  But as the evening went on I began to feel sadness for the individual who said that and her kids participating in our organization. Somewhere along the way for them 4-H became about the money being made rather than the experiences, lessons, and memories.

All I can say is that- If in 4-H you are “working your ass off” and getting nothing in return… you’re doing it wrong.

You will never “get rich” in 4-H

Sure that extra premium money you get from the livestock sale or the little extra ribbon money you get for a job well done is nice. Who wouldn’t agree. But that’s not the point of anything that you’re doing. The money you get for livestock is intended to help with cost associated with showing them, to help you to be able to continue your project- not give you a free ride. That’s part of the lessons you learn in 4-H. Life costs money.

You have options

4-H is a youth organization focused on providing participants with skills to last for a lifetime. Opportunities for classes in food and nutrition, woodworking, sewing, photography, entomology, rocketry, electricity, arts and crafts, livestock, and so, so much more which volunteers spend their time and money to put on for the youth is just the tip of the iceberg. Through each project offered a certain set of skills is obtained, you may choose to participate in everything offered or just a few that interest you.

Life skills are obtained

be it the actual skills you are learning in the different project, the tips, tricks and ideas you take home from leadership camps and events, or the subconscious things like being on time, speaking to adults, networking with others, respect, “practice makes perfect” etc. You learn things like dressing appropriately for certain occasions, volunteerism, speaking to people you don’t know, community development, interview skills, the impact of a good, strong handshake… I could go on and on.

Lifetime friends are made

Honestly, if you had told me when I was younger that I would have gone to college and knew a ton of people once I got there I would have told you that you were lying. My freshman year when I got to school I was honestly so surprised at how many people I knew because of 4-H and FFA events that I had been to. For a rather shy person who generally wouldn’t take initiative to go meet people, it was such a help to have people I was already at least a little familiar with. Even as we have all grown and gone on to our careers, families, and new places, we still keep up via social media. They are people with whom I share memories- not just in college, but youthful memories from 4-H and FFA with and people who I will always enjoy keeping up with and being friends with.

Memories

The memories made with family, schoolmates, and friends from across my county and state are memories that I will cherish for as long as I live. From late nights spent in the barn the night before the show washing, clipping, feeding, and honestly just horsing around. To show day shenanigans and sale night primping. From trips 5 miles out of town, across the state, or across the country for camps, conventions, retreats, or trainings. The laughs, the tears, the jokes, the heart to hearts and the obnoxious roadtrip karaoke sessions.  In the moment I never would have guessed how all of those little snapshots of time were forming me into the person that I am today. Be it with my family or with the various groups I would have traveled with- they helped me grow into the woman I am today.

I credit 4-H (and FFA) to my successes to date. I can walk into an interview with confidence, I can look a potential employer in the eye and give a firm handshake. I am comfortable with speaking to groups. I learned how to manage money, how to pay bills, how and when to jump in and help where it is needed, I learned how to volunteer and the importance of volunteerism. I am more community minded. I have networking resources. I can participate in an organized meeting.

Sure, 4-H is a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun too (If you’re taking full advantage of it)… and if “nothing” is what you are getting in return… you’re doing it all wrong.

 

love and peace,
Amber

Right, Left, or American?

Okay… So I’m going to get a little political on this post. Not in the “if you’re not republican/democrat you’re wrong” way- don’t worry. It’s just that I just can’t help but be frustrated and disheartened by the mere fact of turning on my TV or opening up a social media platform. The negativity on both sides of the aisle is just overwhelming! (Amiright?)

Regardless of who holds the office of the presidency- he or she deserves respect. I’m not saying you have to agree with all of their policies or clap and cheer every time he opens his mouth to speak. No, I’m saying that be it Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or Tommy-Joe from down the street- we, as Americans, should have the decency to show basic human respect. To defend our causes relentlessly- but in a way that understands that not everyone in the world has the same opinions or holds the same causes as dearly as we- and that includes the President of the United States. Defend your causes, but do so with the understanding that the person in the office of the presidency has taken on the most difficult job in our nation. Not only are they responsible for the social and economic well-being within the borders of the U.S., but they are responsible for diplomatic relations with every other country in the world. The president has never been a president before- he or she has never held such an important role, regardless of whether they have been in politics previously or not. Defend your causes, but do so respectfully and with understanding.

I will be the first person to admit- “President Trump” was not exactly the outcome I was hoping for in this last election cycle. (Just to clear the record, President Clinton was pretty bottom of the barrel for me.) But President Trump is who we got. He’s loud, he’s rude, he can be vulgar, he’s certainly not politically correct, he could be more careful about what he’s putting on social media- with all of those, I agree; but I believe the man is trying. He’s honestly trying to make good on the promises he made on the campaign trail. He’s trying to find a way to fit into a world of proper politics instead of his Hollywood lifestyle. Unfortunately our media and career politicians on either side of the aisle don’t want to give him a chance.

Instead of uniting and using their national platforms to spread messages of hope and unity, our politicians and media are so focused on proving who’s right or wrong- so focused on getting a one-up on their oppositions- that they are causing hysteria on both sides of the political spectrum. It’s wrong. It’s wrong on so many levels. Are we not all Americans? Should we not be standing united as one? What difference does it make who your neighbor voted for? The mass media as well as national and local politicians should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for, directly or indirectly- depending on who you talk to, causing this mess, this dysfunction, this complete rift between the American people. And to be honest- we, the American people should be ashamed of ourselves for letting such a small group of people influence our relationships and sense of “togetherness” the way they have. We know better. Deep down, I think we all want better. We deserve better. Our children deserve better.

It’s not about being democrat or republican or anything in between… It’s about being human and showing respect, love, and tolerance for our neighbors, families, and ourselves. First and foremost we are children of God, then we are husbands/wives/parents/grandparents/children/friends the list is endless… who we voted for the last election cycle should be the least of what makes up our identities. We are all humans. We are all Americans. Let’s act like it.

“There is more strength in unity than in division.”  Emanuel Cleaver

X’s & O’s

Amber