Total Pageviews

Saturday, October 29, 2011

County Food Show...Surprise!

We thought we had missed it!  I had it on my schedule for last weekend and we were supposed to take pictures and generally help out throughout the event.  However, Thursday evening I was talking to one of the other parents and found out it was today.  I decided that we should go even though we were not entering any food dishes to follow through with our commitments. (Very important 4H skill sis to take responsibility to "make the best better.")

We gathered everyone and headed out the door and arrived early (only because we got the time wrong!) and found a lot of help was needed.  All of a sudden Sean became the official greeter showing everyone to their designated set up location.  Henry started taking pictures.  I was volunteered to judge categories.  Thank goodness I thought to bring an activity for the younger boys to do so they would not need direct attention.

Judging was fun...I had never judged a food contest.  I was impressed with the intermediate group.  They know more about food than many adults.  I especially enjoyed seeing the young girl coming to her first show, Jasmyne, who thought she was supposed to cook her recipe at the show.  She quickly went into the kitchen and had her recipe (Stuffed Bell Peppers) made in time to show! 

After judging, I suggested that we review the My Plate information because the 4Hers were not fully presenting the nutrition guidelines. many things in life...if you make suggestions be ready to follow through...I was asked to give out information after the contest results were announced.  It was a good opportunity for Sean to present what he knows about My Plate.  So we were happy to do it.

Then they realized no one had judged the displays, so I judged the displays for all age groups.  I was once again impressed with the displays.  They did a great job with themed presentations.  However the one I enjoyed the most was perfect way to center her theme around her dish.  Rozalinn had prepared Andouille (Shrimp Cream Soup) for her main dish category.  She got really clever with her display by creating a lighthouse scene.  The lighthouse was made from a ship steering wheel and a tall candy dish with peaked top.  This held the main soup.  Then she had a boat shaped bowl to hold a serving of her soup.  She also added a large shell to hold her napkin and spoon.  Just add water!  Very creative!

Then after all the announcements of category winners were made, we were told there were extra categories available to go to District Food Show in February.  Since there were no others Senior 4Hers interested in advancing, Sean was asked to represent our county in the Fruit&Vegetable category!  He was so excited!!  Thank goodness we have time to work out the details! 

Here are some of our first place winners:


Friday, October 28, 2011

Being a Good Citizen!

The boys and I enjoyed a day but little to do with 4H for a change.  After all, every day can't be about 4H...I like to make sure the boys are well rounded.  Which brings me to the subject of my post today.

Good Citizenship

What does that mean exactly?

In 4H we do a lot of community service...that sounds like a good citizen...helping to take care of neighbors.

In 4H, we also learn about careers related to our projects...that sounds like being a good citizen also...looking to the future so we can be productive citizens.

But, today we chose to learn about how the election process works!  Mom (that's me!) took her sons (YES! all four of them) into the voting polls today!

I arrived at the early voting polls to find no one else racing in the doors to vote, so I asked if the boys could see the process.  The election judges were glad to have the excitement.   So we went through the steps, explaining as we went along.  Then I voted on the Texas Constitution amendments.  This meant explaining the words used on the ballot and how to use the computer generated ballot.  The boys loved getting to help push the buttons, especially the one that cast my vote! 

I think all parents should take their children along to cast their vote.  Every one's opinion counts.To be a good citizen, you need to be involved in your community.  You need to know what's happening in your community. If you're a good citizen, the community will be a better place to live.  A good citizen must stay informed and take pride in casting their vote.  I want my boys to take responsibility when they are old enough to vote.  The more they see us doing this, the more likely they will do the same when they are old enough.
So today the boys learned a new step to being a good citizen.  Even thought they know I vote, they were able to see the process.  It just makes it a little more real to them.  In fact, one of the boys is still trying to decide how he would have voted and he wants me to read over the amendments again!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Full Day of Fun!

We had an exciting day today ending with a community watch party with Dustin on Top Shot finale...but I am getting ahead of myself.

We started out with a review day for Wildlife contest.  With our contest coming up quickly NEXT week, we needed the review.  However, I know it has been a long week for most of us so I decided to have a little fun with the group.  We played Jeopardy!  Thanks to a nifty program I found on the Internet a few years ago, I collected enough questions for three rounds.  We split up into groups about a little bit of everything.

The first round categories were:
  • Tails and Ears
  • Cry Baby
  • Colorful Wings
  • Food for the Holidays
  • Nut Hogs 
Then in the second round we had all the plant ID and preferences:

  • Vines/Shrubs
  • Flowers/Annuals
  • Miscellaneous
  • Trees
  • Grasses
Our final round included:
  • Wildlife Management
  • Hunter Safety
  • Habitat Evaluation
  • Techniques
  • Game Laws 
We had a lot of excitement and found we had some very competitive groups.  However, in the end it taught us what we know and what we need to know.  Don't forget to check out the hunter safety course.  Also go back to earlier post that has other sites for review each Tuesday.

After this meeting, we hurried over to the Godtel to drop off all the canned goods we had collected last week.  They were very appreciative and asked when we would come again.  Hopefully we can make that trip to the center soon.

The group shaking out their stress
so they could perform well.
Then we were off to the park to meet for our first Share the Fun project meeting.  This is a great project for those who like to perform.  This year our senior group is going to perform the poem, Ragged Old Flag, written by Johnny Cash.  I will tell you more about this as we get the details pinned down.  Hopefully soon as we are to perform the skit for Veteran's Day.

Henry trying out his
Top Shot stance
Sean watching Caleb trying
his hand at the bow
Dustin answering questions during commercial breaks
Then the excitement of the evening.  We all went to the season finale party for Top Shot.  Dustin did an awesome job once again.  I think he surprised us all with all of his amazing shots.  Once again he proved he remains a humble servant of the Lord. 

We got to meet his entire family and just loved to see how he showed he is still the same down to earth guy who can now officially be called the Top Shot!  He told the crowd that of everything that happened he was glad to be a witness to others.  He also said it goes to show you how awesome God can be...He took a love of shooting and turned into a way to witness to the WORLD!!! how awesome it is to be a Christian! 

His parting words to the crowd were, “God can use you to do big, good things. Listen to God and obey him.”  And while he said he didn’t know God would use shooting to help him spread the message of Christianity, “He’s a cool and big God, and he can do that.”

Thank you once again Dustin for your great example to us all!
Dustin and his family after the big win on Top Shot

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In Memory

There are some types of community service that no one really enjoys.  However, these are the opportunities that should come from the heart. Today we went to offer comfort to one of our 4H families as they grieved the loss of a family member.  We provided a meal for the family and attended the visitation and funeral services. 

What makes this particularly hard was that he was a young man just starting out in his adult life.  Furtehrmore, our outreach to the community hit a little closer to home this time. Even though we knew him only through his wife and her family, we often heard about how he was a loving husband and great dad to his two boys (2yo and 6mo) and how much he loved the Lord. 

Last night we were at the visitation and we saw how much he was loved by so many people.  Many attended from family, church, friends and work.  We also saw how much his boys favor him in appearance, especially his oldest, when we saw a picture where they could have been twins!

Today at the funeral services, the pastor spoke about Aaron as a young man who persevered in hard times and stayed strong.  He loved the Lord and his family, his church and his work.  He loved 4H  and FFA, showing rabbits and cows and he also loved horses and roping. 

Recently, they built a new church building and he would often stay so long they had to turn him away.  Toward the end of the construction, each man was asked to write their favorite verse on the wall.  Aaron chose to write, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."--Revelation 21:4

The pastor ended by saying, "Last Tuesday we were not ready for Aaron to go, but Aaron was ready to go to Heaven." 

At the graveside service the pastor comforted the family by saying, "God is too kind to be cruel.  God is too wise to make mistakes.  God is too deep for us to understand."  He then quoted, "The Lord giveth and he taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."--Job 1:21.

May God's loving arms be wrapped around Aaron.  May God's outpouring of love surround Aaron's family and friends.  May we all understand God's wisdom in this time of sorrow.

Aaron truly showed the world how "to make the best better."  He will be missed by many.
Not a good picture but I will try to get one later.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Last Night's Club Meeting

So...I was so quick to talk about how great Dustin was that I forgot to mention that we did have a club meeting last night also. 

It was a nice short meeting so we could prepare for the crowd that joined us to meet Dustin.  It made me think that we should have a celebrity come speak at all of our meetings!  LOL!  No really, we were able to finish all of our normal business in about half the time!  We even had time for a quick refreshment before Dustin arrived.

The members did a great job of staying focused but covering all the business for the month.  We talked about all of our projects, our raffle fundraiser, and upcoming events.  We even had time to review the proposed changes in our bylaws and vote to accept the changes.  Not bad for thirty minutes! 

Henry did a great job leading our Texas pledge.  Then after the minutes were read, Henry made a motion to accept the minutes with Sean's quick second to the motion.  Sean later seconded a motion to accept the treasure's report.

Henry also gave the photography project report.  He is getting better...we could actually hear him tonight!  Sean gave the computer science report.  He was excited to be able to tell the group that his Dad would lead the project.  He also gave a report on the Gold Star banquet. 

I want to brag on one of our members...somehow I missed her participation in a clothing & textile contest at the Texas State Fair.  Brianna entered two garments (I will need to ask her what she made!) and won third place.  Congratulations!

I also would like to say that our president Caleb did a great job of opening our meeting with an inspirational verse from Nahum 1:7, "The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him."

Henry then ended the meeting by giving out a door prize and announcing the snack for the evening.  All that just in time for the crowd to show up!  Truly amazing!  Now what famous person can we get to come to our next meeting?  LOL!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dustin is One Top Shot!

When my boys and I heard that a young man from a neighboring town was on a marksmanship reality show, we had to check it out.  It was more a curiosity to see how he could shoot a historical weapon.  Little did we know that he would one day go on to be one of the top four contestants on he show or that he would be coming to our club meeting as a guest speaker.  However, more than anything, we did not know he was going to turn out to be such a great guy! 

As the weeks progressed, we became more and more interested in Dustin Ellerman's ability to profess his deep love for the Lord among tough guys who did not seem to care.  He held his own as others (specifically Jake) ridiculed him.  Dustin's only response was to torture them with kindness!  His smile became contagious an the other contestants on the show seemed to begin to respect him not only for his ability to shoot a weapon but also for his ability to keep that smile on his face. 

He has become a role model for my boys that I have encouraged.  In fact, I think he has become a role model for all of us.  He truly emulates what a true Christian should be.  He even spoke about being a camp director at a Christian camp. 

So, after watching the show for the first four weeks, we decided to ask him if he would be interested in coming to talk to our 4H club.  It seemed providential that the day after I tried to contact him I read an article in the newspaper that he had spoke to another 4H group in the area.  Soon after he emailed and plans were made for this month's club meeting. 

Then the weeks passed and Dustin continued to do well in the show.  The boys could hardly wait to see the next show.  And the thought of his appearance at our club meeting was becoming more and more the subject of our day. 

Together with the club manager we made the decision to open up our meeting for all the 4H clubs in our county.  We also decided to make the event into a canned food drive.  Anyone who would like to come hear Dustin speak would need to donate at least 5 cans of food to our food drive. 

We could not have asked for a better turn out!  Tonight people began to arrive quickly and the large room began to fill.  We had over 100 people in attendance!  We were also able to collect over 150 cans of food for our local homeless shelter! 

Dustin arrived and true to his nature he began talking with the kids, taking pictures, and signing autographs much to his chagrin.  He put up with it all with patience and humility.  He never questioned the time he spent with the group.  He never lost that great smile!

He spoke to the group about his experience on the show.  He spoke about the weapons and his love of shooting and hunting.  He spoke about the other members of the show with respect.  He even shared how he tried to work with Jake.  One of my favorite stories was about his talks he had with the members about God.  He told us that Mike (we call him Superman) told him soon after the taping for the show began that Dustin was one the coolest Christians he had ever met.  Then there was Bill (he had to leave the show early because his wife was having complications with pregnancy) who asked Dustin how he could stop cursing because he wanted to do it as a gift for his child.  Dustin also spoke about other times he was able to discuss what Christians believed about certain issues. 

Through the talk to the group he showed that all that we see on the show is genuine.  He really does care about others and sharing the Word of God with everyone he meets.  Once again, I knew that he was a good role model for our boys.

Then he spent over an hour talking to the kids, taking pictures, and signing autographs.  Once again never showing any sign of weariness, only patience for those around him.

We can't thank him enough for coming out to the club meeting.  He shared what we all want to see in our youth in 4H.  The desire to "make the best better" by touching the lives of those around them.  Keeping a positive attitude and persevering through life with a lot of prayer and commitment.

Thanks Dustin!  You are our Top Shot regardless of the outcome of the finale next week!

To see more information about Dustin and his time on Top Shot or his camp go to Camp His Way website.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back to the VA Clinic

We had a quick trip back to the VA Clinic this morning.  We made another batch of tuna sandwiches to feed those hungry Veterans.  But more than anything, we had a lesson in community service from a surprising source.  We learned a lot about why we come to volunteer today.

We spoke with the security guard this morning.  I guess it helps to see this from a different perspective to help us get our focus.  He told us that many of the Veterans come to belong to a group.  They enjoy having the young people there to tell them stories.  Many times we get so caught up in serving the food that we forget that we are really there to serve the men and women.  Most of the time it is about being there for them and showing them respect and honor for what they have done for us.

So today we did a little more serving from the heart.  We spoke with the Veterans and let them share stories with us and we shared a little about ourselves as well.

Even though we were only there for a short time, it was a good visit to the clinic.  Looking forward to many more, so we can get to know these men and women better.

May God bless our Veterans!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wildlife Review

Today we just had a two hour review of last week's contest.  Everyone had a chance to find out if their answers were correct and ask questions.  Now we all know what we need to study for the next two weeks!

Then we identified plants and animal preferences.  A special thanks to Treyton and Henry for finding some plants on the property for everyone to identify. 

We found 18 plants without even looking too hard:

American Beautyberry (deer, quail)
Blackcherry (squirrel, turkey)
Black-gum (squirrel, turkey)
Croton (deer, quail, turkey, dove)
Dogwood (deer, squirrel, quail, turkey)
Grapes (deer, squirrel, quail, turkey)
Greenbriar (deer)
Elm (deer, squirrel, turkey)
Hickory (squirrel)
Magnolia (squirrel, waterfowl)
Mulberry (squirrel)
Postoak (deer, squirrel, quail, turkey, waterfowl)
Red maple (squirrel)
Sassafras (deer)
Southern Red Oak (squirrel, turkey, waterfowl)
Sumac-littleleaf (deer, quail, turkey, dove)
White Oak (squirrel, waterfowl)
Yaupon (squirrel, quail)

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Community Service Opportunity, 2 Project Meetings, and a Birthday!!!

It's another full day!  Hang on to your seat belts and enjoy the ride!

Woke up early to the sound of "Happy Birthday" as we made a yummy batch of chocolate chip pancakes for our now 8 year old!  Edward was happy to start his day with breakfast in bed.

Then we hopped into the car and headed to one of our favorite community service opportunities....feeding the veterans at the VA clinic.  Each month we try to make a healthy snack for the patients at the clinic.  Most o he time the patients are asked to fast before having blood work done so we are there to give them a little boost before heading home. 

Today we prepared 50 tuna salad sandwiches and another member brought fruit and cookies.  We had a big group today to help (7 members and 4 adults) and it was a good thing.  The clinic was very busy and the sandwiches and other food was gone within an hour of serving.

After a full day of school, we arrived at our first project meeting.  We were excited to learn about taking good portraits from a professional photographer.  However, before we did that we took a look at the assignment for the last month. We discussed what liked about each of the photographs and then chose our overall favorite.  This month, Sean had the best photo:

Our portrait expert was Shay and she did a great job of covering basic photo skills.  She even taught us a neat trick to stabilize our camera without a tripod, making a string attached to an eye hook screw large enough to go into the tripod insert.  It really helped the boys and I to brace our camera for a shot.

We then went outside to grab a partner and take some portraits.  We had a lot of fun finding the perfect spot for the perfect picture.

But as they say in the south...We ain't through playin' yet!

We gathered everyone back inside for a food workshop.  And so begins our second project meeting of the day.

Brenda kindly showed us how to make scones.  She set up in the kitchen window area and explained how to measure and mix the scone recipe.  She added a little history to the mix as well.  Then popped them in the oven, allowing us time to hear Christi talk about ratio cooking with several recipes with a little help from her friends (Becca and Jaron). 
One of our members wanted to try her healthy snack recipe out before submitting it for the county food show.  We got to be her guinea pigs...yummy!  She can pick me to do that anytime.  Then Christi started the second part of the meeting with a roux (butter and flour cooked then milk or broth added to create sauce)...then a Beurre Manie (equal parts butter flour added to sauce for thickening)...then ended with creating vinegrettes.  She finished just in time for us to pull our scones out of the oven for tasting!
A quick clean up the building and we were on our way home to make a birthday dinner (Somehow we found time to make a strawberry cake from scratch earlier in the day!).  We made it by the skin of our teeth and enjoyed ourselves along the way! 

Time to crash and burn because we have another full day of 4H tomorrow!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Missed Opportunity Redeemed

Well, last Thursday we got back from our contest exhausted...we were in bed by the time it got dark and forgot all about it being the night of the Beekeeper's meeting!  We felt terrible, especially since we were supposed to help present the award for the best honey in the group. 

So tonight I decided to post on our observation hive we had at the Forest Festival.  It will make me feel like we accomplished something for the month related to our little gals.  Besides, I promised you all I would tell you about our bee adventure.

One of the best parts of having the observation hive was...well...being able to observe!  All of our experience at looking at a hive up until this point was an abrupt disruption to the hive to check for brood and honey stores.  Having the observation hive allowed us to watch a live hive in action.

One of the first things we noticed was how busy bees really are!  It is not just a saying you hear by chance...these gals really are busy!   The queen, especially, was all over the frame we had provided her.  This meant the worker bees were following after her to make her happy and take care of the brood she was laying.  Her little court never left her side as they encircled her to protect her from harm while she laid the eggs.  Can you believe a queen bee lays 1200-200 eggs EVERY day?  Her only job is to lay the eggs and her court takes care of her by feeding her, cooling her, and so much more!  Makes you wish you a queen bee right?  But she never gets a break and wears herself out within 3-5 years.  Then the hive, sensing her demise, will form a new queen for the hive. 

After we told the group this, they started asking typical bee questions.
How do they form a new queen?  By feeding a larvae a special food called royal jelly. 

How many bees are in a hive?  A typical hive has 50-70,000 bees in one hive but they rely on her to keep the hive going strong. 

How does a hive produce honey?  The bees convert nectar to honey by enzyme infusion and evaporation of more than 80 percent of the water from the nectar.

How long do your bees live? The queen may live 3-5 years; drones, (male bees) from 6 weeks to a few months; workers, (female bees) live for 4-9 months during the winter season, but only 6 weeks during the busy summer months (they literally work themselves to death).

Then the more curious questions that I had to look up answers:

How does a queen fertilize the egg?  The virgin queen will fly out on a sunny, warm day to a "drone congregation area" where she will mate with 12-15 drones. If the weather holds, she may return to the drone congregation area for several days until she is fully mated. Mating occurs in flight. The young queen stores sperm from multiple drones in her spermatheca. She will selectively release sperm for the remaining 2–7 years of her life.
Drone bee
How is the sex of bee determined?  Males (drones) hatch from unfertilized eggs, and females (queen and workers) only from fertilized eggs. Thus sperm added to an egg means a female; if not, it will be a male, so that the queen should control the sex of new individuals. The worker bees build the chambers (cells) in which the queen deposits its eggs. Bigger cells will harbor males, as these larvae are bigger.  However, the queen can still determine the fertilization of eggs regardless of cell size.
All of that was great to talk about and learn as we taught others.  But then we had two exciting things happen.  The first was seeing the hive take care of a deformed larva.  I am not sure if they were eating the remains or trying to find a place to get it out of the hive (I believe that is what bees will do with larva as that is what they do with dead bees in the hive.)  However, we watched as the worker bee carried the larva all around the observation hive.
Then a very observant little girl said, "What is happening to this bee?"

We looked over to see a newly hatched bee emerging from its cell!  That was so awesome!  I was watching it so close that I did not even think to take a picture of it!  So the one provided is from a web search.  Just watching the queen lay eggs was exciting, but to actually see one emerge from a cell was something I never imagined being able to watch. 
The entire experience was wonderful.  It makes me want to set one up to watch the bees all the time...better than TV!!!

Information found in the book: Root, A.I.; Root, E.R. (1980). The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture. Medina, Ohio: The A.I. Root Company.  Love this book!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

District Wildlife Contest

Well, the boys must have been excited this morning...they were up by 4am and dressed and out the door by 6am.  It must be a 4H contest day!  We met up with the rest of the group and were on our way to our first real contest of the year.  We had 3 teams of 4Hers full of anxious pre-contest jitters!  However, we were not the only ones as we looked around at the other 4H and FFA teams, it was easy to see that they were all ready to get started. 
As the members arrived, I gave them their new Wildlife t-shirts.  The shirts say "Lone Star Wildlife team on the front.  On the back, a Davy Crockett quote saying, "Be always sure you are right--then go ahead," followed by Proverbs 16:9.  They all looked so good in their shirts!

I just loved seeing all the first-timers asking last minute questions and wondering how it would all happen.  We stopped to gather together for one last pep-talk and a prayer. 

I talked about how important it was to take a deep breath and remember that it was supposed to be fun and remain calm.  Each of the members was competing against themselves to improve their own score.  Also, we should remember the 4H motto to "make the best better."  Kevin graciously offered to lead the prayer and then we anxiously awaited the contest.

Once started, Lynda and I went around with the coaches group.  As we went from station to station we felt confident with our teams' abilities to do well.  It was especially nice to see the new ones come with their beaming smiles after the compass & pacing course to tell us they scored a perfect score! 

DSC_0379   DSC_0414    DSC_0398  
After a nice BBQ sandwich lunch we found out that our teams won 1st and 2nd place.  We actually had a tie with our third team and rank was determined by a tie breaker.  All teams should be very proud of their work today!

Two of our teams will now advance to the regional contest on November 2nd.  Looking forward to more time with the entire group as we have enough slots to take them all with extras going as alternates.

DSC_0433  DSC_0440