Playgrounds for Farmers

My children love the park as much as the next kid, but what they don’t realize is that much of our daily life on the farm/ranch is a playground.  Our latest favorite toy is our nicely tarped silage pile.

My girls have climbed the pile of chopped corn countless times and ran or slid back down.  It’s a never ending source of fun and excitement, what with the baling twine trip-wires scattered all over the tarp.

We are very aware of the blessing it is to living our agricultural lifestyle so filled with fun, adventures, and memories.



September flew by this year, in a haze of canning, school, Joy School, and farming.  Here are snapshots of our life during that crazy, busy month.  I hope to never repeat the intensity it brought, but am thankful for all that was accomplished and that it is behind us now!

Playing in the Water 2018

We love playing in the water.  I think I said that once already, but it bears repeating.


These two photos are from a trip up to Mundo Hotsprings in June.  We went to check a river crossing and portion of fence Mr. Rancher was building in preparation to the arrival of our cows.  We brought swimsuits and played in the shallow, warm water of the Weiser River.  Isn’t the picture of Henley amazing?!  My mother-in-law took it with her iPhone, I love how clear it is.  And I really love that mop of curly hair on one of the happiest girls I know.

The girls and I played near the shore, in the very shallow water until Ty finished his work, then we all swam/floated down the river to the dam.  We ran into a family of four otters on our way.  They were wildly entertaining to watch swim, dive, and chase each other around the river.


These next photos are of our favorite vacation destination: the Salmon River in Riggins, Idaho.  We spent six (I think) weekends here rafting, playing in the sand, and checking out the Seven Devils.  Henley repeatedly declares that “Riggins life is the best life” and I think we all agree.IMG_6042IMG_6040IMG_6024

We finally convinced almost all my side of the family to come rafting with us!  As expected, everyone had a blast and can’t wait to come next year.  Also, they are all aware now that Mr. Rancher is NOT shy or quiet or nice like he may seem.  Once you get to know the “river Ty” you know the real Ty.  He’s fun, wild, crazy, full of energy, relentless in his teasing, and the life of the party on the rafts.IMG_6011IMG_6009IMG_6045

My girls do not go down the river on rafts yet as Henley is afraid of the big water and Becca hates wearing her life jacket for very long.  Luckily, Riggins is home to lots of sandy beaches.  They are content to stay on the beach playing with the sand and rocks for the entire day it takes to raft the river.  Grandma Hawkins helped them build this dragonfly out of the river rocks.


Cousins are the best.IMG_6172

Hen trying to chop wood.  Poor girl has inherited her mother’s talent for handling an ax.IMG_6171

We also ventured up to Lost Lake, on what appears to be the smokiest day of the year.  I can’t wait to go back next year, when hopefully there is not a raging wildfire in the area.  The last and surrounding scenery were beautiful and perfect for paddle boarding.


Becca is such a champ on the paddle boards.  So long as she is with me.  She doesn’t like the water with anyone else.


Thank goodness for Aunt Lexcie who helps with Henley or Becca whenever or wherever we need her to.IMG_6182 (1)



We even scored some child-free time on the paddle boards!  Not a regular occurrence, nor do I want it to be, but fun every so often.IMG_6177




Trying to Be Quiet at Church

Two separate Sundays.  Two separate methods to try to keep these girls quiet.  Forget about helping them feel the Spirit or understand what is being said.  Just hoping to keep them quiet enough to not distract those sitting two rows in front, behind, or to the side of us.

I’m sorry for the ones who sit just one row in front of us.  Or behind us. Or to the side.  Y’all get to enjoy the show Sunday after Sunday.

This is five minutes into the meeting and Daddy has miraculously wrangled both little tyrants onto his lap to color pictures in a teeny tiny notebook.  Sacrament meeting went swimmingly that day, for fifteen minutes.  Too bad the meeting lasts for one hour fifteen minutes.

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Next day in question, we brought toy tractors on a complete whim from me as I was hurriedly throwing toys in the diaper bag, since our regular fare of books, lacing cards, snacks, pens, and coloring books was not working out.

And these happy faces made it all through the first half hour of sacrament meeting.



What am I going to have throw in the bag to make it all the way through the 75 minutes of quietude required?!

Bath-time Happy-Time

Becca and I had a few moments alone a few weeks ago while Henley was out working with Ty and the little miss had the chance to take a bath all by herself.  She loved the water as always and was excited to look at the darling baby in the mirror afterwards.


My beautiful girl is all grown up now, a big, bad one year old.  Pictures of her birthday party to come soon!


The following is my final paper written for my Diversity 598 class required for my masters program.  Excuse the formal tone and academic citations, this is a blog after all, but I hope you’ll enjoy this memory of a very precious and intriguing experience I was able to have.

The assignment was to experience a person or culture which is different from my own, to really step outside my comfort zone and become more familiar with diversity in action.  After the experience, I was assigned to write a paper describing the event and relating it back to the content studied throughout the course.

I chose to attend a Friday service or Jumu’ah at the Islamic Center of Boise and interview one of the female members of the congregation for this assignment.  Initially, I considered attending a Catholic church in my small town which offers meetings in Spanish, as I do not speak Spanish fluently, but I was already familiar with the Catholic faith and the congregation and really wanted to step outside my level of comfort for this assignment.  Having been raised in small-town, rural, United States, I had never met and rarely seen any Muslims in person.  I was thrilled to be able to attend the Friday meeting held on June 8, 2018.

Prior to attending services, I was extremely nervous concerning what I should wear and how I should move through the building and church meeting.  I contacted the center via email and was referred to one of the older female members named Dalia.  Dalia instructed me to wear modest clothing and to bring a head scarf for the meeting.  She invited me to come a little early to the meeting, to stay afterwards to discuss beliefs with her, and to participate in the evening meal to break the fast as my visit fell on the second to last day of Ramadan.  I invited my sister to attend with me, and we had several conversations and internet-searches between us as to what was appropriate to wear and do during a Muslim church service.  We were both very afraid of offending the members and of doing something inappropriate out of ignorance.

Once we had our head scarfs properly situated, we entered the center after removing our shoes and were greeted by Tyler (he has chosen to use an Americanized name) who is a refugee from Africa (he did not specify which country).  He shook our hands, a gesture I waited for him to initiate thanks to the work from Al-Mutawah (2016) and introduced us to Dalia.  Dalia led us into a room separate from the men and found us seats near the back so we could view all the proceedings.  She provided us a brief outline of the service and left us to pray and socialize with the other women.  We viewed the imam leading the prayers and giving the sermon on a large television screen.

There was a mixture of African and Middle Eastern women and several adorable babies participating in the service.  The African women, as explained later by Dalia, were primarily refugees from various countries and cultures.  As Mutua (2016) explains, I as a member of the host community held pre-conceived ideas of refugees as desperate, impoverished, and potentially harmful.  What I actually encountered were mothers, much like myself, who struggled to keep their small children content and quiet during worship services. The small children drew shapes in the carpet when they were bored of the sermon.  Much of the sermon was difficult to understand as well as all the prayers as so much of the language used is Arabic.  We were unsure of what to do during the prayers and chose to stand with the congregation once then remain seated for the duration.

Afterwards Dalia, my sister, and I discussed what we had experienced and Dalia answered questions regarding her faith as well as her culture.  She shared with us the story of Muhammed as well as of Abraham and Ishmael from the Islamic perspective.  We discussed the dress and health code, religious obligations, family dynamics, contraception, education, prejudice and politics.  I have a follow-up appointment with Dalia to discuss more questions which came up after I had left the center, we will be talking on the phone on June 26, 2018.

This experience was completely new, intimidating, exciting, and eye-opening for me.  I understand on a deeper level why Delgado and Stefancic (2001) as well as Chin and Rudelius-Palmer (2010) focus on storytelling and actually experiencing diverse peoples and cultures as the only true way to practice inclusion.  I understand the Muslim religion and culture far better than I did before this experience, and have the beginnings of a friendship with Dalia.  I will admit that I was nervous and fearful about attending a Muslim service.  I was concerned I would be offensive in some way or seen as an ignorant and materialistic westerner.  My pre-conceived biases stemmed from nothing other than snippets and pieces of news headlines that mainly centered on terrorism and Muslim extremism.  I was so unfamiliar with Islam that I was a little fearful to attend the Jumu’ah. What I encountered in the Islamic Center of Boise and in the individual Dalia was completely different from anything I had learned through headline news.  The story of Dalia and her culture have indeed brought understanding between two cultures: mine and hers (Chin & Rudelius-Palmer, 2010).

I plan to join the Muslim community and my new friend Dalia for a day of Ramadan next year and also plan to attend the Jewish Synagogue in Boise; the comparison of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is just too tempting to resist.  Kahil (2016) states that “The more people travel, establish diverse friendships, and experience the richness of each other’s cultures, the less likely they are to bomb them (p. 338).”  Not that I have ever wanted to bomb anyone, but I have found that the more diversity I experience, the more diversity I want to experience, which is how I interpret Kahil’s (2016) words.

This experience with Islam and Muslim people has forever change me and the way that I view the world.  There is a vast religion and belief system which I know little about and want to know more.  I realize now how lacking my understanding of politics and history is on this subject, and I cannot afford to simply rely on news headlines—highlighting conflict and terrorism—to shape my view of such a large portion of the world.


I did, in fact, have a follow-up call with Dalia on June 26 and was able to explore and learn even more about Islam.  Dalia is one of the most gracious women I have ever met and was so kind to answer all of my questions, including those which must have seemed very naive.  Diversity 598 has been the most difficult class thus far in my masters program, as it challenged me to analyze and question every belief or world view I possess and compare it with other’s perspectives and experiences.  This class changed my outlook and helped me to see there is such a vast richness of culture to be experienced and appreciated, even in my small community.  I loved this class and look forward to exploring and learning more about other cultures, faiths, and belief-systems in years to come.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

We love to be outside.  Absolutely love it.  The one weather phenomenon that constantly foils our ability to be outdoors is the wind.  The wind is so hard to dress against and find enjoyment in.  But sometimes, just sometimes, we find ways to enjoy even the wind.

Like a few weeks ago when we went to Grandma’s and flew kites!  Remember the part in Mary Poppins when the children are trying to explain to their father that the kite got away and they were simply trying to get it back home but got lost in the park and that was why they ran away?  My wispy daughter Henley almost was carried away with the kite.  It’s so fun to see the wonder and amazement on her face as she experiences so many things for the first time.  Miss Becca was far more impressed with the barking dogs than the kites flying.  To each her own!