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Our Family's 2020 School at Home Experience


We are some of the lucky ones, I guess. We chose to do school at home. I know there are many families who don't have a choice - they're forced into school at home or face-to-face, with few options in between.

But we feel very fortunate that our careers allow us some flexibility. My husband and I are both able to work from home - sort of. As a farmer, he makes his own schedule, and our kids can spend time with him during the day (but he puts in way more than 40 hours a week.)

The School at Home Podcast



Whether it’s virtual learning, distance learning, or traditional homeschool, many families are taking a different approach to school in 2020, either by choice or by default. The School at Home podcast is an up-close and personal look at how different families are managing their children's education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you're a busy mom, juggling work, childcare and school at home, then this is the podcast for you! Join me, Katie Olthoff, a working mom-of-three, as I chat with women across the country who are trying to do it all in the midst of a global pandemic. Grab a cup of coffee and listen as these moms share their plans, tips and tricks to make the best of “School at Home."


All about that BEEF!



This month it's all about the beef, 'bout that beef, no turkey! (anybody else singing with me now?)

That's right, I know you're used to hearing about turkey on this blog, but May is Beef Month!

Since I started working for the Iowa Cattlemen's Association last fall, I've learned a LOT about cattle and beef production. And when I say a lot, I mean, a lot. Don't tell my boss, but when I interviewed for the job, I had a hard time remembering the difference between a steer and a cow. Now, I'm able to actively participate in conversations about best weaning practices and cattle handling and feed efficiency and pasture management. I'm not an expert, by any means, but like I said, I've learned a lot.

It's more than money...

My mind is on the farmers in New Mexico this morning, dealing with the aftermath of Winter Storm Goliath.

One article I read estimated that 5% of the dairy cows in New Mexico were killed by the storm. Five percent doesn’t sound like a lot. But there were around 150 farms affected.
Many of those farms were forced to dump their milk when trucks were unable to reach them. Dairy farms do not have long-term milk storage – they depend on a regular schedule to transport their milk from the farm. Two days of milk, literally down the drain.

The media coverage in events like this usually focuses on the financial fall-out. How much were the cows worth? How much production was lost because of the storm? How much was the dumped milk worth?

The Stauffer Family, dairy farmers in Washington.
www.thefarmerswifee.com
But for the farmers, the impact is so, so much more than financial. That fact became very apparent to us when we were living in daily fear of bird flu last spring. The financial aspect is scary – no doubt about that. Farming is a risky business and there’s a huge capital investment that makes today’s farms run. With tight profit margins, one disaster can be enough to ruin a farm that’s been in the family for generations.

How a Turkey Farmer Roasts a Turkey

roast a turkey from frozen

I know – the title makes it sound like I’m an expert. I should be, since I am a turkey farmer (or at least I’m married to one.)

Interested in learning more about our turkey farm? Click here.

The truth is, I cook a lot of turkey. But I don’t roast one very often. In fact, I’ve roasted a turkey exactly once in my life.

But here’s the deal. It’s so easy, I promise I’ll be doing it again. 

Choose a job you love…

Most stay at home moms I know can’t imagine returning to work full time.

How will I possibly keep up on housework? I can’t keep up now!

You mean I have to drag myself and my kids out of the house by 7:30 every morning?

What is it like to shower everyday?

But I have good news for you.

Working full time, even after a 5 year hiatus, isn’t that bad, as long as

A) you love your job.

and

B) you know what’s important to you.

Working moms get to interact with adults and run errands on their lunch break, without kids in tow. They get to do something they’re good at, without anyone yelling at them or throwing temper tantrums. And if they’re lucky, they get to spend their days making a difference in a field that’s important to them, too. (That part is the key.)

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not always sunshine and roses. I’ve been back to work full time for about 3 months, now, and for the most part, the transition has gone more smoothly than I ever imagined. But there have been days at work that have been more stressful than others, leaving me drained. Sometimes, I just don’t have a lot of energy to tackle job #2, the housework and parenting. Other days, work invigorates me. I come home and keep the momentum going, making supper and completing the homework and bedroom routine like I’m June Cleaver.

Yesterday, I had to work from 5:30 to 3:00 (for a special project- this is not my regular work schedule) so this weekend is a prime example of the work/life issues that we all face.  Except, my work and life are closely intertwined, and most days, yesterday included, don’t feel like work at all.

Although I try to spend Saturday mornings catching up on housework nowadays, I’m trying hard to ignore the fact that this place is a pigsty right now. Because you know what? My work and my life matter way more than the dishes in the sink.

So here’s my advice for you mommas that are considering going back to work, or who are working and miserable…

Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. ~Confucious

and

Ignore that your house is dirty because it really doesn’t matter.

~ Katie Olthoff

Working on a Saturday isn't so bad when you have good company. #iacattle #iowaag

A photo posted by Katie @ Squaw Creek (@katieolthoff) on

Back to School Realities

Back to school time is so exciting! After a summer of lazy, routine-less days, extra dishes and extra messes from the little bodies at home all day, it’s time for a fresh start!

You’ve all heard the back-to school tips…Start bedtime 10 minutes earlier every night for 2 weeks to ease your kids into the new schedule! Try cute little bento boxes to pack their lunch – pack them all up on Sunday night so they’re ready for the week! Create an adorable little homework station because that will magically make your kids WANT to do more schoolwork when they get home!

I was going to write a post like that. But here’s the deal: no matter what you do to prepare, back-to-school will probably offer you a few minor challenges…

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First of all, you can try to ease into the new sleep schedule for weeks, but your precious children will still be exhausted and grumpy for at least 2 weeks. Expect plenty of random sleep-deprivation fueled tantrums until the zombie-monsters get so tired that they forget that the sun stays up two hours past bedtime and finally crash and burn.

Second, you know that handy bus schedule you get? It’s wrong. The bus will not be there at 7:13. One day it will arrive at 7:09 and then next it will come at 7:17. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

And that gigantic list of school supplies? With “Ticonderoga” pencils? (Because of course, no other #2 pencils will do. MUST BE TICONDEROGA.) Good luck getting everything on the list in one trip. And good luck keeping track of your preschooler while you try. (Someone should invent a school supply delivery service: type in your school & grade level and they magically send you a box with everything you need. And wine. Wine would also be included. Seems much more relaxing this way.)

Finally, let’s talk about back-to-school clothes. No matter what you buy, your children will either a) grow out of them before they get a chance to wear them more than twice or b) suddenly refuse to wear what they picked out three weeks prior. And either way, you’re screwed.

With that, I wish you all a happy September! Let’s all hope we’ll get a few weeks of sanity in October, before the candy and parties that accompany monthly holidays start up. Heaven help us.

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