Humorous thoughts on adulthood – thank goodness for chocolate, drinks, friends, and duck tape!

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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:

Do right.

Do good.

Do yours…

Peace and love.

-ebc

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Love Iowa

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!

Mag Me…

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!

Natives Unite…

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!

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Thinking of purchasing one of these? Let me know.  A proud Iowan?  Tell me about it.


Happy Thanksgiving!

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

 

 

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Questions? Thoughts? Let’s hear them.


The Holiday Singaloo brought to you by
The Betterment Comm. and the City of Oakland

So I’m feelin’ pretty lucky right now because I get to share some more big news!  I kinda feel like a good news fairy princess, but we all know I’m not exactly the “princess” type! lol.  So… Anyway… Mark your calendars for November 25 because you officially have plans!  Yes, it’s a Saturday night.  Yes, it’s Thanksgiving weekend.  Yes, if you have family in town you can bring them… and you should!  It’s FREE!  And FUN!

In conjunction with Small Business Saturday in Oakland and the surrounding communities, we are finishing off the day with a family-rated show!  It’s a pack-the-house-except-it’s-not-really-a-house-it’s-actually-a-park situation!

I know, I know.  You’re thinking it’s going to be cold.  SO WHAT?  Bring your bag chairs, your lawn chairs, your recliner for all I care to Chautauqua Park sporting your Under Armor, your Carhartts, or your hunting gear and your favorite blankey and you’ll be fine!

It’s a chair-blanket-and-thermos (with extra “delights”) kind of night!

We are going to kick off the holiday season right with all upbeat, familiar Christmas songs from some amazing singers!  Feel free to sing along if you want, or don’t… Up to you!

There will be glow sticks and candy canes for the kids. Adult refreshments for the big kids – Buck Snort will be offering cash bar of some fabulous hot toddies and we will be selling some winter treats to support the betterment committee.   But the event itself will be free for all!  Part of Oakland’s way of saying “we are glad you’re here!”

Think of it as a Christmas tailgate!

Tell your crew!  We’ll be ready for you!

Hit share to tell your friends!


Neighbors and Friends
National Good Neighbor Day – Sept. 28

We moved back to Oakland to have neighbors again.  Growing up, I knew every neighbor.  In fact, I was related to some, and the others weren’t surprised if I showed up unannounced!  When we moved back, we wanted Ellen to be able to play with neighbor kids and for us to know our neighbors.  Choosing to live on a cul de sac was our best move.  However, our neighbors might disagree! Lol.

Truth be told, our daughter has helped us meet lots of people, like the night Ellen decided to take off from Jason when he had three broken toes.  She saw a neighbor’s garage door open, made a break for it, got through the door into their house and headed for the furthest point in their basement.  Nothing like being the new neighbors and knocking on someone’s door to say our kid’s in your house!  Our only hope was there were no guns, snakes, or fornicating teenagers in it.  Pretty sure there wasn’t!  But we sure do know how to make a first impression! Many embarrassing stories later, we have met almost all of our neighbors!  Of course, there were a few who already knew us!  Bless their hearts for letting the sale go through. 🙂

Point of all this:  September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day. 

The Riverside Links group is encouraging everyone to take part.  What does that mean?  Well, it means go next door and invite the neighbors over for tea, beer, or supper.  It means taking some flowers to the elderly lady who doesn’t get out much.  It means having a block party in the middle of the street for your kids to paint kindness rocks.  It means setting a 7pm chat time and maybe bribe one of the neighbors to make brownies.  It means removing the giant branch for the couple that can’t physically do it.  It means s’mores on the deck with the family next door.  It basically means whatever you want it to mean as long as you are actually talking to or doing something nice for your neighbors!  Acknowledgement makes communities strong!  And I’m not just talking here, I’m talking wherever you live in the world!

Listen, we are all so busy and it’s so easy to wave hellos and good-byes and to never even talk to a person you live 100 feet from.  I’m not judging.  I am equally as guilty, but I’m pretty pumped to get this going!  It’s like May Day but in September! 🙂  And if you know me, you know I love May Day – treats, friends, and something a little unexpected!

Seriously, when we moved back, all I wanted was that home town feeling for my kid.  When we got here, Dick and Leslie realized we were in over our heads and mowed our yard for us.  Jamie and Jill invited us for supper.  My family and Jason’s unloaded boxes and more boxes.  Jen brought us possibly the greatest bars ever! Magaly and Josh offered my daughter a chance to play on their trampoline whenever she wanted.  Jodi and Tim gave me stuff for our nephew who was getting his first apartment. Kaitlin gave Ellen toys she’d outgrown and the stories go on…  And I chatted with my neighbor in the ‘burbs one every year…maybe.

It’s easy to take a neighbor for granted.  It’s not so easy to get good ones.  I hope you take a minute or twenty or more out of your day next Thursday to make it a day to remember.  It will be worth it:

 “As our Nation struggles to build friendship among the peoples of this world, we are mindful that the noblest human concern is concern for others. Understanding, love and respect build cohesive families and communities.” – Former Pres. Jimmy Carter

Isn’t that what we want for all of us?

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And if you do something fabulous (which I know some of you will), please drop by and comment here.  We’d love to hear, or share on Facebook and tag the Riverside Links or me. 🙂  Got some other suggestions for what people could do?  Tell us!


Freedom Rock – Oakland, Iowa by Bubba Sorensen

You knew it was only a matter of time before I pointed out the Freedom Rock as something good in Oakland. It’s really beyond cool.  On my frequent drives past it, I see a continual stream of people stopping to check it out. That, in and of itself, is awesome! It’s nice to have a little tourism in town.

But I love it, and find the good in it, for more than one reason. I love that the Pott. County rock is in Oakland. That makes me happy. And I love that a bunch of ladies who meet for coffee every week decided they were going to make that happen. Amazing what a group of women with caffeine can do!

It also makes me happy that the other 98 counties have a rock, too. There’s a sense of unity to it, and the people who travel around to see all of them – well, that’s even cooler!

However, to me, the best part is about one man, Bubba Sorensen. You would probably know him as the artist behind the rock. Funny enough, I only know Bubba by name. I’ve known his dad for many years. He worked our cattle sales in the old days. One of the things that made him stand out to me was that he always treated me as a worthy conversationalist. When you’re young and a girl, you don’t always get acknowledged in the cattle industry, but Bubba’s dad, Mike, wasn’t like that. So it is not at all surprising that he raised a thought-provoking, fabulous family. I mention it because what impresses me most is not that Bubba takes time away from his family to continue his artwork and leave a legacy which is remarkable in itself, but that he is a perfect example of the power of one. One man who was taught to make a place for himself.  Sure, there are plenty of people who help him on his path, but…

He is one man painting rocks for freedom, for respect, and for thousands to enjoy. He is the sole creative, artful mastermind of each rock. He is painting his way into Iowa history. He is making a difference…

Every day, I hear people complaining about the world we live in. I get it. As a former pessimist, it’s easy to get bogged down in the bad, but here Bubba Sorensen sits to show us all the power of one man changing the face of Iowa. Let it be your guide. As a friend of mine says, go “let your little light shine.”

It can, and will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.
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Have you seen the rock or some of the others? What impressed you most? What is your power of one? Tell me about it.