The fair is upon us, and I hear rumor that parents are freaking out. How can that possibly be? Lol. I have been every year since birth and even though I only have nieces and nephews showing, I still have to plan accordingly.
My husband always asks why families show when all he hears is the bickering between us. I have learned over the years that Every. Single. Family. Argues. During. Fair. Every. One. And yes, it may seem not worth it in that moment, but it is. One of my favorite sayings is that you don’t see 4-Hers failing at life. You just don’t. So there’s that little nugget to hold onto when you go to the bathroom just to escape the family and avoid screaming in their faces that you need a drink and why can’t they scoop the crap just once!
Anyway, that being said, I hear that it’s sometimes a struggle to be prepared for fair week. Lol. Nah…you don’t say!
So here are a few helpful Bolton Carley tips to Fair Week – take ‘em or leave ‘em, no worries here, I’ll be in the barn having a Mountain Dew:
*Have totes ready pre-fair. Even if by pre-fair, you mean midnight the day before. I would recommend totes for each day of the fair or by activity if that works better for you. Pack everything in you will need for that day or event. If you need to use some of those things prior to then, make a checklist for the top of the tote that reminds you to grab those items before you walk out the door. Also, keep post-it notes next to your door at home and put them on the glass to remind you not to leave for the day without those small forgotten items. And Ziploc bags are your friend – to put on the static projects, to put wet clothes in, and food that you want to keep!
*Have a tote for clothes to be worn at fair. This is where you mooch all the 4-H t-shirts you can from cousins, siblings, etc. that are too old for 4-H or have outgrown them. And if you don’t have family to steal from, ask on Facebook or Swap. Load up! And then, you may laugh at me in the moment, but seriously – put a laundry basket in your car for all dirty laundry so you know what is dirty and what’s clean and can be re-washed if necessary for another day. Plus, your dirty stuff doesn’t get on the clean! Those wet, dirty socks seem to attract clean t-shirts!
*Speaking of clothes, don’t forget the belt and safety pins to pin your number on. Everyone forgets those. Plus, extra shoes. Ones to get wet when washing and then let dry while you wear the others. Socks, too. You can never have enough clean socks with you! And check your boots now. If they are too small, you still have time to ask on Swap or if you have a smaller kid – hit Pink & Green in CB, they have lots of used boots and he’s a Carson boy! Support local. If you’re not from Pott Co., find a local resale shop or hit Orschleins for good deals.
*Also in your clean clothes tote, pack a few towels. In an emergency, you might have to shower there or clean up after washing next to a Freddy that soaks you…accidentally…of course. And don’t forget to pack extra clothes for you. Yes, you worry so much about your kids, you forget about you!
*Pack food and drinks. Now, I am a huge advocate for taking a check and setting up an account at the 4-H Food Stand so that you don’t have to go find cash every time you want something, you can just swing by and grab what you need or want when you are on the run between events. That being said, I also like to have snacks in the barn for family bonding time. We like to have a cooler of everyone’s fave drinks and not just one type – you should only drink so many Pepsis. Gotta have those Gatorades, too. Or if your family likes tea or kool-aid that you can’t buy in the store (like I love lime kool-aid, yes, feel free to laugh at me), fill those empty water bottles with everyone’s faves and be sure to have lots of water! You can never have enough water bottles at fair. Plus, you don’t want to have to make a million convenience store runs – they add up! As for food, we usually try to have salty and sweet, but chocolate melts in the ungodly heat that always coincides with fair! So I stick to cookies instead of candy bars. I also like to take chips like Pringles and Lays because they come in a canister you can put the lid back on and you don’t have to have a chip clip and they don’t get smashed. But we do keep chip clips in our showbox. They are always worth having close by! Don’t forget the fly spray, marker, stapler, and hose for the showbox! They always get left at home!
*Cards. You should have cards to play when the day gets long. Yes, I know everyone just sits on their phones and plays their electronic devices, but more friendships have been built out of boredom on a game of cards than you can possibly imagine! Go old-school for your kids’ sake. You won’t regret it. And don’t be afraid to ask all the other kids to come join you. We always have multiple packs for war or BS. If you think that’s too boring, have a selfie competition in your barn and a time limit, see who can come up with the best photo or bring your tailgating cornhole game from home.
*Gas up the car. I know it sounds dumb, but it’s the little things that take time that can kick you off schedule. Have that done ahead.
*Make sure you have chairs. Sitting is necessary. Lol.
*Sleep. The number one recommendation I can make to you going into, and during, fair is to get as much sleep as possible. Your kid won’t, so that means you need to so one of you handles things properly and without disaster.
*Don’t forget this is your chance for family bonding. Fair never goes as planned. Tears happen, but 20 years from now, I hope they remember the water fight you had or the kid they met or just sitting in the barn with you. Big picture goals – 4-Hers don’t fail at life.
I have plenty more, but I’ve already been too wordy – where was that when I had to write a record book? Lol.
Happy Fair Week!
Other tips you’d like to share? Comments you’d like to make? Or questions you have for me to still answer? Happy to hear them.
I have exciting news! It just so happens that the producer (Eileen Adickes) of the Grist Mill’s performance of “The Odd Couple” happens to be a loyal, and lovely, reader of mine! So I have been given 2 tickets to give away to my other lucky readers to attend a performance this weekend!
Now, if you’re old like me, you instantly think Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. If you’re even older than me, you’re probably thinking Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. If you’re not old, well, you might be thinking Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon or be like “Um, who?”
So “The Odd Couple” was a Neil Simon comedy production based on two bachelor guys rooming together with one being a slob and the other a neat freak. Sound similar to your marriage? Lol. I could use a neat freak at my house! Anyway… The only thing you need to know is it’s a comedy, and it’s being put on by the Grist Mill in Macedonia.
If you don’t know much about Southwest Iowa, it’s super cool that Macedonia has its own theater! It’s rare that small towns have a theater troop, let alone a theater and a long-standing tradition of excellence, but ‘Donia does! Plus, for those of you from out of town, they don’t make you pay for parking, there’s no traffic jam, and there’s a great restaurant next door for drinks or a great meal!
But let me talk to you about the people in this production. The cast and crew are all locals that devote their hearts, souls, and endless amount of time into this. I just happen to know the 2 leads of this one. Gene –well, I went to high school with Gene. To say he was a creative talent then would have been an understatement. Now, with age and wisdom, comes honed skills, too. Tim – well, I only see Tim once a year…at county fair… but let me tell you, you can’t not laugh at this guy! Any guy who can make you laugh in the middle of scooping hog manure on a 100 degree day has talent, my friends. So needless to say, I feel like we are being set up for some quality entertainment!
So I only have two tickets to give away, which means the rest of you need to get on the phone and book yours now! You can pick them up at the door, and you won’t be sorry. There’s a small town Iowa charm and neighborliness you won’t get anywhere else.
Tickets are $15/adult and only $5 for students. There are 3 performances – Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday matinee. You can call for seats or check out the website, www.gristmillfinearts.com. All other info is on the flyer above! Support Local!
If you’d like to win tickets, you have 1 responsibility:
comment on my Facebook telling me a favorite performance you’ve been to, or why you’d like tickets
Cut off for the contest will be midnight Thursday, March 22, central time. Winner will be told via my blog and announced on Facebook on Friday.
So US News & World Report got it right! Something every Iowan already knew, but at least the rest of the world is going to hear about it – Iowa is the best state to live in! To which, the smart ass in me wants to reply “Well, tell me something I didn’t know!” but the polite Iowan in me says, “They noticed it! Wow!”
So here we are. Yes, my friends, Iowa is officially ranked as the best state. For all of you who still think we grow potatoes or live in teepees — well, bless your heart. You are welcome to your incorrect information, but we really do live well.
The report judges on 8 categories: health care, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, crime & corrections, fiscal stability, and quality of life. I like to think we have those things in aces because if we need something or want something, we make it happen. That’s an Iowan for you. Sure, you might hear the farmers complaining in Casey’s but that doesn’t mean they won’t go right out the door and find a solution to the problem. I always say I was taught to take care of myself and everyone else around me. Some farm. Some preach. Some teach. Some fix computer glitches, but we are all doing our part. Although we are most notably known for butter cows and caucuses, I’m gonna say we are a lot more than that!
Our state boasts of a 40 college-educated population. Yeah, let that sink in. That’s impressive, my friends. And that’s counting a whole lot of really well-educated people that didn’t go to college because it really wasn’t an option when they were growing up, plus, at the very least, 92% have a high school diploma. We aren’t all corn fields and hogs, even though I must say I enjoy both! Sign me up for sweet corn and bacon anytime! They say everything’s better with bacon and we’ve got that by the truckload!
Really, there’s no point to this post other than to say I am damn proud to be from Iowa, born and raised. I am proud to say I am an Iowan. I am proud to say “Go USA!” I am proud to be “Midwestern nice.” I am proud to be from a place where you can stand under a tree in the middle of a gravel road, you can attend 3 major universities (plus a lot of quality colleges), you can find a food pantry and a library in addition to a bar even in the smallest town, you can watch bikers from all over the country bike safely across our state any given July, you can get a jaunty wave from a neighbor, you can get the best steak off of a backyard grill, and you can still read the Wall Street Journal off the internet on your porch while watching the sun set.
I am blessed to live in a place where back yards still exist, as do manners, friendships, work ethic, skies you can see, and a desire for quality education. Welcome to Iowa! Love it or get out! J
What else do you love about Iowa? Do you live somewhere else that’s fabulous you want to tell us about? Do you have a memory you want to share? Well, go right ahead.
So you feel like everything in the news is depressing.
You feel like life is too busy and you are never home.
You believe in the good, but you’re tired of hearing about the bad.
You know you’re struggling on some front…or more.
If any, or all, of these sound like you, then there is no better time than now to dedicate yourself to The 6th Annual Blessed Turkey Project. I know. I get it. You don’t need one more thing to do, especially in November when the holidays are approaching, but I’m going to tell you it will be worth it.
If any of those things are plaguing you, then you need to allow yourself the pleasantry, the optimism, and the gratitude that comes with being a Blessed Turkey.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my terminology, I define a Blessed Turkey as someone who is at least meeting all their basic needs with a place to live, a job or school, a family or friends or both, and enough food to eat, and although they know they should be grateful for all they have, they sometimes, get too caught up in the daily grind to appreciate it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have it all together or that they have it easy, it just means they haven’t got it all wrong either! And they know enough to know they have it better than some. I am sooo a blessed turkey.
We tend to compare ourselves. We seem to always be wanting more. We think about everything around us and we get overwhelmed. It’s easy to do. But there’s no greater time than now to simply vocalize the gifts in our lives. I firmly believe it makes us happier. It makes us stronger. It makes us better people. It makes the world a better place. It makes us look at things differently. And most of all, it makes us part of something bigger.
This will not cost you any money (unless you decide to be a good Samaritan and buy a cup of Joe for someone or a can for the Food Pantry but that’s your decision, not mine). This is not something you have to do every day (although you’ll feel better if you do). This does not involve a committee, or funeral sandwiches, or you even leaving your house or your chair. Lol. It is simply taking a minute to be thankful for something each day between November 1 and Thanksgiving. Join here simply by clicking on the link! It can be a post on Facebook saying what you’re grateful for. It can be an Instagram pic of your favorite blessing. It can be a tweet of I’m a #BlessedTurkey because… All it is is a moment each day on some form of social media sharing your gratitude with others because, people, it spreads!
I’m not inviting you to the party because I want something from you. I’m inviting you to the party to give you something: I want to give you a little piece of happiness every day between now and Thanksgiving. I want to do that for you because there are good people in this world doing good things and celebrating that makes us all happier…and better…and kinder…and loved.
If you have people that you want to give this same gift to, share this with them and let’s wear our Blessed Turkey crowns proudly! All aboard the Blessed Turkey bus, head here: The Blessed Turkey Project – Year Six.
I can’t believe it, but we have yet another niece graduating (and a nephew graduating from college but he’s not the sentimental type)! And graduation always makes me reflective and feel the need to impart my wisdom. Okay, my wisdom hasn’t gotten me a national TV show or a Pulitzer, but it also hasn’t landed me in jail or on a hit list (at least, none I’m aware of)! So here are a few tidbits I hope our niece comes to learn and maybe you can share these with some kid in your family that listens better to somebody they don’t know! lol. Or maybe you just need your own little reminder:
First off, say farewell to your frenemies. Do it nicely. High school (and the business world and the PTA and the bar) is all about the people you like on any given day, hate on any given day, are jealous of on any given day, and can’t wait to get rid of on any given day. Today, you get to get rid of them. Do so gracefully. Wish them well. Cry over what was and what will be in all its scary glory, and then keep your mouth shut. You don’t have to burn a bridge, you can just choose not take that route anymore.
Old Money is still the best Money
Secondly, remember where you came from. Be loyal. Friends and family are just like clothing. The new is exciting and fun and always nice to have for special occasions, but the old stand-by pajama pants and prom t-shirt from 10 years ago will be comfy and reliable and what you need on a bad day. Same with the people you surround yourself with. It’s okay to have new people in your life, but don’t ditch the old. Dance with the one you came with. They brought you here.
Don’t be a Hater!
Third, the world may be screwed up, but you don’t have to be. I really like that Mother Theresa quote about how the world may hate or do wrong, do good anyway. There are plenty of screwed up people, situations, and moments in life. Rise above.
Better to change your mind than to not use it!
Fourth, it’s okay to change your mind. Not 500,047 times, but when you need to, go ahead. If the major isn’t right, switch it. If the friends aren’t the right circle, ditch ‘em. If the job is somewhere else, try it. We all have a plan. Sometimes, we stay on that path. Sometimes, we take the road less traveled and that makes all the difference… (Yes, Robert Frost, you were right.)
Humble and Kind, just like Tim McGraw says. Please!
Fifth, be humble. Never think you’re better than. There are those that have a lot to put on their résumé and there are those that could but don’t have to. There will always be people telling you how great they are and there will always be people that are just great. Be the great. Don’t think you’re owed anything. Hope floats when you realize your cup runneth over. (Yes, love that movie!)
It all comes out in the wash…
Here’s the bottom line: there will be crappy times when people die, your basement floods, your kid gets sick, and you want to crawl into bed and sleep it off. There will be times when you sit with a drink in your hand, look up at the blue sky, look around you at the group of people talking and laughing with you, and you’ll soak it in. Life isn’t easy, but it is doable.
Take God with you.
Build the right relationships.
Find your little piece of happiness and live in it.
Laugh when the wheels fall off. Then, put ‘em back on and bolt those sonofabitches down and take a roadtrip.
Happy Graduation, little girl! May life always treat you kind…
Any words of wisdom you’d like to share? Any of those ring true with you? Got a graduation you’d like me to speak at? lol. Tell me.
Mother’s Day is looming. I haven’t handled Mother’s Day yet for either mother, mine or the husband’s. I know what I want to do but making it happen is a whole ‘nother ball game. The funny part is that I forget that the day is for me, too, now. It’s weird. I guess I still think of my mom instead because she is most definitely a great mom.
I, however, am not a great mom. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for platitudes. I try. In fact, I try really hard, but my parenting fails are vast and many. So instead of telling you how glorious motherhood is and how wonderful the whole experience is, I will do my usual and keep it real.
Parenting fails – I don’t even know where to start on my list:
#ParentingFail #599 – Most nights, there’s more food on the floor at Chez Carley than in her mouth.
#ParentingFail #600 – Yes, she still sleeps with me.
#ParentingFail #695 – No, she is not potty-trained yet at 2 ½. No, I do not feel bad about that.
#ParentingFail #789 – I have already had to restrict her YouTube usage because she was going to inappropriate sites, like ones that had spiders on them and ones that involved laughing after farting. No, no nudity, but spiders are bad enough. Thank you.
#ParentingFail #1050 – My daughter may, or may not, have been known to eat a brownie for breakfast, but in her defense, she saw me doing it first.
#ParentingFail #2000 – My daycare provider is counting the days till she is rid of us, partly in hopes that my daughter doesn’t break a bone on her watch and partly because we don’t follow rules well.
#ParentingFail #2999 – Sometimes, I yell when I get mad or growl in attempt at not yelling. My daughter now grrrs… Clearly, I need to rethink my attack. However, I will consider it a parenting win that she hasn’t said any cuss words…yet.
And those are just the ones that come to my head today.
So here I am trying to remind you that parenting is hard. You shouldn’t feel bad if you think so, too. And, your mom, well, she deserves a new house, car, grand reception, and a mini-bar, but if you can’t make that happen, at least give her a call or a card. They gave us life and we gave them problems and insecurities and, with any luck, some happiness along the way.
That’s how it is for me…
Everyday, I worry about what I screw up. Everyday, I try to be better. Everyday, I know that my daughter doesn’t have it bad and that all I can do is love her the best I/we know how. Everyday, I hope that it will be enough. But everyday, in spite of the things I get frustrated with her for, I see that little face asleep on my arm and I hope I am doing her justice because for every naughty thing she does, she is still my precious little puddin’ pop, and I am blessed that she’s ours.
I’m not really sure that Mother’s Day covers the years of hard work, but it’s a good place to start.
So, thank you, to all of you who try hard, who put food on the table, and give your kids a moral compass. It isn’t easy. I have 2 and a half years under my belt and I think I could use 50 to be good at it. In the meantime, give yourself an umbrella drink and a night out with a babysitter if that’s what life requires right now. You’ve earned it.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Got any #ParentingFails? Got any #ParentingWins to brag about? Got something else to share or say? Let’s here it.