So St. Patrick’s Day is Saturday. I know what that means for the die-hards: even more green beer than usual! But at 44 with a toddler, it will more likely look like some March Madness on TV (if I’m lucky) and Dr. Seuss before 9 pm. However, if you’re a little less lame than I am, there are options! And I promise to get to those here in a minute, but first I’d like to do a little St. Patty’s Day reflecting. I promise it won’t hurt.
So growing up, I didn’t eat Reubens or anything involving cabbage nor did I drink beer, green or not. Needless to say, it didn’t really rank in my book as important, but if you were like me and grew up in Oakland, you know who it did matter to: the Finnegans! Specifically, our principal. Most of my St. Paddy’s Day memories involve Mr. Finnegan out of character in his green suit and a jovial mood. If you asked me to do word association with St. Patrick’s Day, I would say Finnegans probably before green! I’m not the only one, right?
Even in college, I wasn’t much of a partier. I thought it was hysterical that they held the Bud Flood on the Hill and people would get up earlier than they ever did for class to hit the bar for Kegs and Eggs. Class was usually especially fun that day with a little extra liquid courage in the classroom! But otherwise, my St. Patrick’s Days are usually about my dad heading to the Ozark Cattle Sale and hoping nothing goes wrong for my mom while he’s away!
But as any girl who loves holidays, I can’t not encourage you to celebrate the big day!
If you’re near UNI, I recommend a trip to the Hill.
If you’re in Omaha, Dubliner Pub or Brazen Head are always the places to be.
But if you’re rural Southwest Iowa folk like me, you can live the dream! You can start off the day with a Seuss-style Green Eggs and Ham in Avoca. From there, you can take your toddler to the Hancock City Park for an Easter Egg Hunt thanks to the Botna Valley Achievers 4-H Club! Woo-hoo! (No, that was not a sarcastic woo-hoo. I will be there!) And then you can find a really great babysitter and make your way to The Station in Hancock. They are having Ruebens and corned beef and cabbage all day along with the better option of $2 Domestic beers! Yes, there can be green beer in your future!
From there, you can finish off your day helping out a good cause! Head down to the Carson Community Center for Trivia Night. The Bar ‘N Grill is serving supper. Take on some tough competition, or laugh into your flask over your lack of ability, but either way, you’ll be chipping in to help out the Carson Community Park Board. Plus, if you get a good team of lads and lassies, you can dress up and win prizes, too! No team? No worries. If it were me, I’d post on Facebook I needed a team or you can simply show up and I bet they get you hooked up!
So there you have it – I have your whole day planned out for you! The luck of the Irish be with you!
And here’s to sunshine and rainbows and pots of gold for all!
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 January is over! And although it’s a very rough month for a lot of people, I have to tell you that a lot of good things have been happening here in my neck of the woods (to quote Al Roker). It’s crazy that so much can happen in one little month.
First off, Oakland has a new doctor! I, unfortunately, know that because I was blessed with the flu and strep all in one week. The fortunate portion of it was that they could actually get me in that day! Yes, that’s right! That means double the appointments they can make in a day! That meant I also got to meet Dr. Guzman. For the record, he seems like a very nice guy. He listened and confirmed my self-diagnosis (lol) and got me on my way! If you have the unfortunate pleasure, like I did, be sure to thank him for being here. And a big shout-out to Dr. Pigneri, too, for looking out for Oakland and making sure we have a doctor’s office. Again, we have a lot to be thankful for.
Secondly, corporate decided to keep Blimpie’s in Oakland! Yay us! Will we miss Mike and Teresa? Um, definitely! Understatement of a lifetime. Do we wish them the best? Definitely! But due to their tenacity, we still have a sub shop. Let’s make sure we keep it that way!
Third, rumor has it we have a new dentist in town (or a couple). Yes, Dr. Lenaghan retired, but Omni Dental out of CB decided to pick up where he left off. So no trip to Council Bluffs, you can get the misery over right here! 🙂 Again, yay us!
Fourth, if you haven’t liked the Impact Hill Facebook page yet, you should. They are doing some incredibly fun stuff and it’s only just the beginning! People, they have family game night coming up on the 9th and the father-daughter dance on the 23rd. I think it’s super cute that not only are some dads taking their little girls, but even cuter that some adult girls are taking their dads! How sweet is that?
Fifth, yes, there really is more! If you were unaware, the library now has a website! There’s lots more new stuff coming our way, but stop by, check out a book or a DVD, and hear about it!
Sixth – I know. Crazy, huh? I hope you also head over to Facebook and like the Oakland, Iowa Chamber of Commerce page. That’s going to be the new hub for big announcements and hopefully some really nice shout-outs to the people who keep businesses open in Oakland for all of us to use!
Seventh – wow, right? Be sure to take a minute to thank Mr. and Mrs. McCowen for donating the new bulldog at Riverside. Not only did they make it their life’s work to teach all of us, they are donating a gift in memory of their fabulous daughter. You don’t just get that anywhere…
Finally, I went to 3 meetings last week. I met some amazing people doing some amazing stuff for our town and for the Riverside community. I don’t think I can fully express how impressive it is that so many people volunteer their time to make things better. I know it’s easy to think the people in charge are pushy (which they have to be to get things done). I know it’s easy to resist change (I’m the queen of it!). I know it’s easy to think someone else has more time than you (they don’t, they just prioritize differently). I know it’s sometimes easier to let someone else handle it (it is!). I know it’s easier to complain than to make things happen, but I want to make things happen. I am surrounded by good people and together, we can make more good happen. If you don’t have time right now, that’s okay. As I’m pretty sure it was my 4-H leader, Marge Piece, who used to say: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!” So lead if you can. Follow if you’re willing or can fit it in. Or just stay out of our way if you have nothing nice to say!
I will add an addendum onto that and say, “Or join us to be a part of it when you’re ready!”
Got other big news? Let me know and I’ll be happy to share it. Or head over to the Chamber page and give a shout-out to some good people around here!
For those of you not from my hometown, two people were killed in a bus fire this morning. I pondered whether to post or not about this topic, but deduced that perhaps it is in these times that people need someone else’s perspective and words to put a voice to their own. So here are my thoughts…
First, there are always people who cast blame in these situations. I get that, because part of the grieving process includes anger, and we live in a world where sometimes it’s easier to blame than look inward. But this is not a situation where blame will do anyone any good… It won’t. Unfortunately, it is too late for that. We must now figure out how to avoid this happening ever again and we must take action, and by action, I don’t mean complaining to your neighbors or your family. I mean fixing problems, standing up for injustices, putting good into the world – whatever it is that makes our homes, our community, and our world a better place.
Second, love, sympathy, and if you believe in prayers, prayers for all of those affected and all those who weren’t. Yes, I said “weren’t.” Everyone needs it.
I saw tons of prayers for Riverside posts on my Facebook feed, even from surrounding communities. That’s why we live here. But don’t lose sight of taking part in person. We live lonely lives because we are afraid to reach out. We are more comfortable on a computer.
I went to the elementary today. You can’t know a teacher’s job till you’ve been one. You can’t know the heartfelt thoughts of a child till you’ve heard your own say something that makes you cry. You can’t know how it feels if you have not walked in the shoes of losing someone, but you can love instead of hate. You can provide extra support for those that need it, or food to the families, or donations, or even your services to a school that is going to need direction. Go to the sources. Put your talents to task on helping in the way you can. Don’t complain to your friends. Go to those that can make a difference and make one.
Third, grieve. Allow yourself to have those thoughts and process them. I will be honest. I knew that the kids on my street would have been riding that bus later in the route. It caused me angst just having that thought. I thought about my sister who fielded all those calls this morning and who loves every kid that walks in the doors. I cried just watching people around me deal with what they have to deal with, but it reminded me that I have a burning desire to make things better. I joined the Oakland Betterment Committee because I am going to do my part. I know a lot of other people that do, too. You can’t make a difference if you’re not in the game…
Fourth, life is all about choices and good decision-making. When things like this happen, a lot of people are left feeling lost and asking “why?” The “whys” don’t usually have answers. But I have learned that when I am lost, the first place I start is by doing for others. No, that’s not a goody-good statement. It is a matter of self-preservation. I feel best when I can do for others. If you need to sit in a bathtub and soak, or sleep for an extra 6 hours, or hug your kids and take them to supper, do what you need to do. But don’t judge others who choose differently. And don’t take your anger out on others or push away a hand that reaches out.
Finally, life is hard. That’s not going to change. But what are they going to say at your funeral? Whether it be painting rocks for the parks, buying pieces for shoeboxes for shelters, leading a 4-H club of future overachievers, being a coach or teacher or a bus driver, do what you can and don’t knock those that are doing what they can. There’s an old quote that I think was Oscar Wilde who said, “Live your life so that when you go, even the undertaker will be sorry.”
In times of tragedy, we must not cast stones, but well wishes. As I always say:
Peace and love.
How ‘bout making it an Iowa Christmas?
You all know this was the magical (I use that term loosely) year we moved back home. What better way to honor my great state than to tell you how you can make it an Iowa-kind-of-Christmas for your family, too!
First off, if you know someone who lives in Iowa or is from Iowa that doesn’t get the Our Iowa magazine, well, it’s about time they did! Amazing pictures, great articles, and feel-good Iowa moments.
Bring on da butter cow…
Secondly, it’s never too early to think about the Iowa State Fair! Yes, you can buy advance tickets, plus a ton of memorabilia from them, too! Only 250 days till ISF! They have a count-down. True story.
Hand me a Samwitch, Joey…
Third, do you have those lovely, but annoyingly hard-to-buy-for-retired people in your life? Get them gift cards to do the Tenderloin Trail and eat their way through Iowa! Yum!
Fourth, sport a native Iowa t-shirt like me! I love these shirts! They have them for women, men, and children! We can be twinzies.
Go Team Go!
Finally, if someone has time on their hands, then they should be supporting the home teams! Check out Iowa State, UNI, or even Iowa basketball, football, hockey, or volleyball games. Nothing boring about catching a game in person!
I could actually add a ton to this list. Might even do that next week, but for now – let’s just say we Iowegians, as they call us, gotta stick together!
Happy Holidays from Oakland, Iowa!
Thinking of purchasing one of these? Let me know. A proud Iowan? Tell me about it.
Thanksgiving is upon us. Some of you are probably excited for the spread of down-home, good cooking. Some of you are probably fretting over your to-do list. Some of you are probably plotting your Black Friday strategies. And some of you are thinking about how annoying your family is or whether you should even attend.
But here’s what I have to say: I drove by the local bar today, and I was so very impressed with the idea that they are hosting a Thanksgiving Day potluck for those who don’t have a place to go. I think that is truly a rockstar idea and the thoughtfulness of it is genuinely sweet. Way to go, Tailgaters! What a great situation for those that need it. However, those of us who don’t, should maybe take a step back and appreciate we don’t need a place to go, that our assumed holiday plans are still intact. It’s so easy to lose sight of that fact.
Let me go on record as saying, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Yes, your Uncle Tom will say something hideous like you’re going to be an old maid. Your mother will pick at the collar of your shirt and doubt your attire. Your 3-year-old niece will scream at the top of her lungs over the Cool Whip. Yes, you will be irritated, but they are your family. Do you know who realizes how important family is? Those who don’t have one. When you are in the thick of it, it’s hard to remember you are blessed with the crazy, the nosy, the difficult, the show-off, the once-a-year-glory-hound, the obnoxious, and the jokester, but you are.
The world is not an easy place, but it can be a good place. When we quit finding faults with those that surround us and start loving them for what they do have to offer, we all win. I won’t say that’s an easy task when you’ve been burned, and I won’t say everyone makes it easy, but Thanksgiving is about being thankful. Be thankful this Thursday… even when the toddler spills your wine. Because there’s always a silver lining: Walgreens will be open and it’s at least a 15-minute drive away from the clamor of the annual family flag football competition. See – always a solution!
Happy Turkey Day, America!
We are less than a week out from Halloween! My daughter has been practicing her trick-or-treat protocol. All I can say is not to ask her for a trick. It won’t be pretty. Lol. But what I truly love is that Halloween is like a week-long process here. She got to wear her costume to dance. She gets to wear it to daycare. She gets to wear it for the neighborhood trick-or-treat on Halloween, AND she gets to wear it for the Trunk-or-Treat. How freaking awesome is that? It’s like only $4 a wearing! 🙂
For those of you who are from out of town and have no idea what a trunk-or-treat is – well, businesses literally open up the backs of their vehicles and give out candy from them in a well-lit venue. From what I saw last year, I was thoroughly impressed! Some of them had games the kids could play to win their candy, or floating heads moving in the vehicle for the kids to see a show, or they dressed up themselves even. Clearly these people put some time and effort into making a special day for all those kids.
Last year was the first time we experienced the trunk-or-treat. Let me just say “how cool is that?” I think it’s awesome that businesses and organizations show up to give out treats on a quiet afternoon. Carson is having their Trunk-or-Treat Friday night and the Carson Methodist Church is having their soup supper in conjunction with it. A no-make-supper night for mom! Gotta like that! And Oakland is having theirs on Sunday afternoon and if you’re wanting to see the giraffe known as Carley, you’ll find her there. Plus, rumor has it that the Oakland Christian Church is doing a Pancake supper! Woohoo!
We loved it last year. Ellen got candy, and we got to socialize! She was obsessed with Jo and Dick Cates who were dressed up, sitting in rocking chairs, and had a taxidermied jack rabbit that she couldn’t stop petting. It was creepy as sin and she loved it.
What I’m getting at is that if you are looking for the good – it’s right here in front of you. A bunch of people take time out of their lives on a weekend outside of work to make a special day for a lot of kids and it’s a pretty sweet gig for my daughter. We don’t go for the candy. We can buy her candy. We go for the experience, and I hope the people out there that put the love into these events know it is appreciated.
Kid or not, stop by! We’ll be looking for you (well, truthfully, I might be chasing my child, but…)!
Schedule of Events according to Riverside Links:
Halloween Trick-or-Treating around Riverside!
Carson Business Trick or Treat
Friday, October 27, 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Soup Supper 4:00 to 7:00 at Carson United Methodist Church
Oakland – Halloween Trick-or-Treating
Sunday, October 29 – 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Macedonia – Halloween Treats on Main Street
Tuesday, October 31 – 4:30 to 6:30 pm
Questions? Thoughts? Let’s hear them.