Family Field Trip: Dry Valley Dairy

“When you grow up on a dairy farm, cows don’t take a day off. So you work every day and my dad always said, ‘No one can outwork you.” ~Pat Summitt, Head Coach Emeritus, University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball

Dry Valley Farm Collage with words

PIN IT, y’all!

Awhile back, Big Daddy and I decided it was time for our now-suburban children to take a pilgrimage to the land of raw milk and farm-fresh eggs. For far too long, Big Daddy asserted, they’d been drinking milk and eating eggs that came from the evil corporate conglomeration known as The WalMart. After seeing a local friend post on Facebook about Dry Valley Dairy, I looked them up online. Big Daddy gave Charles, the owner, a quick call and, before you could say, “Moo,” we had packed up our kids and a cooler and were on our way to get milk.

Real milk. And eggs. From real chickens that we could see with our own eyes.

Here’s a pictorial tour (photo credit: me) and, afterwards, some tips for visiting a dairy with your crew. There’s bound to be one somewhere around you.

Hey, guys...the hay barn's empty. Um, guys? Somebody?

Hey, guys…the hay barn’s empty. Um, guys? Somebody?




I know you have food in there. And I see you.

I know you have food in there. And I see you.


Mooooom! Not while I'm milking!

Mooooom! Not while I’m milking!


Prince Charles.

Prince Charles.


Texas beauty.

Texas beauty.





She thinks my tractor's sexy.

She thinks my tractor’s sexy.





Say, "Cheese!" (photo credit: McKenna)

Say, “Cheese!” (photo credit: McKenna)


Loving the country!

Loving the country!


Teenagers, man.

Teenagers, man.

What to see: Cows, cows, cows. Cows in the pasture. Cows being milked. Cows eating. And pigs! Rabbits. And more cows! Geese. Wide, open spaces. Good people. Cheese. And…cows. Ask Charles to take you in his new cheese cooler and show you his cheese-making room. He was so gracious to explain the cheese-making process to our kiddos!

What to do: We called ahead to ask about milking times. Dairy cows are milked twice a day, usually about 12 hours apart. While we didn’t want to hoof it out there at 6:00am, 6:00pm was okay. We went earlier (around 4:30 or so), so we could see the other animals and tour the cheese room and cooler before the milking. We stayed for part of the milking and left around 8:00pm.

How to prepare: Talk with your kids about where their food comes from. Read books on the topic. Research Dry Valley or your dairy on the Internet. Prepare them for how to behave around animals that can be skittish at times. Borrow a farming DVD from your local library. I bought one at Half-Price Books, and Ty (2) watches that thing about once a day (minimum). He’s hooked on tractors…bigtime.

What to take: A camera is a must!  If the dairy you are visiting sells milk or other refrigerated goodies on-site, be sure to bring a cooler with ice. Dairies are often a bit of a drive for us city-dwellers, so the trek back might be a bit much for cold stuff unless it’s packed in ice. Snacks are a good idea. Convenience stores are not nearby. Also, consider the weather when dressing. Layers are best, unless it’s a Texas summer. Make sure the kiddos (and adults, too!) are wearing sturdy shoes. While boots are not necessary, closed shoes are appropriate. Cute sandals and cow poop do not mix. I took baby wipes for the after-the-touching-of-farm-animals wipedown. My OCD, and all. Don’t forget the money! Dry Valley takes checks or cash for milk, eggs and cheese. The tour is free! Free is in my budget.


Don’t forget that The 30-Day Exercise Challenge begins THIS Monday, August 4! It’s not too late to join the more-than-500 women who will be exercising together but separately in their own homes (like good introverts). There’ll be daily updates and encouragement, both on our Facebook group and our group Pinterest board. If you need support and encouragement on your own fitness journey, this is the group for you!

The GIVEAWAY ends this Sunday, August 3! Don’t forget to check out this post to learn about how to enter to win!


The Diva Blogs!

The Diva has decided to try her hand at this blogging thing. Should I be proud or intimidated?

Hi guys! It’s the Diva here!:)

Let  me explain:  I wanted to blog, just once. If y’all like it, I will do another one.

Who wants to know some fun facts about me?


1.       I love my mom. Duh.

2.       I love the color pink.

3.       I love chocolate meringue pie. I call it chocolate shampoo pie because the meringue looks like sudsy shampoo.

4.       I absolutely hate math. My mom makes me do it anyway.

5.       I love babies and baby animals!!!:)

6.       Cheer rocks!  As for  the people who don’t think cheer is a sport, it’s harder than basketball. Trust me!

7.        I love to draw.

8.       My family’s crazy, but I love ‘em.

9.       The Bubbe drives  me crazy sometimes.

10.   I’m a make-up fanatic!! Ask mommy.

That’s all for now.

The cutest wittle girl in the world (and don’t call me wittle!!!),

Sugar Bear
Baby Girl
Boo Boo
Precious One
The Diva

My Child Won’t Do Any Chores! A Solution…

At our house, as you know from the quee-chee post, we all do chores.

Big Daddy gets a reprieve from alot of them for two, simple reasons:

1. He works outside our home.

2. We have no grass to mow, and the garbage needs to be handled when he’s at work, usually. Refer back to reason 1.

While he does his fair share, the Diva and I do the bulk of the chores around here, and I don’t mind one bit. I’m so grateful to be able to stay home for the first time in my life and homeschool my daughter that a little sweeping here and there doesn’t phase me in the slightest.  Back in the day, when I was working about 60 hours a week, chores made me bitter and disgruntled, but NO MORE! Like Brooks and Dunn say, “I’m a brand new man!” Wait, I’m not a dude. Oh, nevermind.

Anywho, the Diva still tends toward bitter and disgruntled where chores are concerned; however, chores are a way of life. Adam was placed in the garden to work it (Gen. 2:15), then he and “the woman [God] gave [him]” sinned, and it got even worse (Gen. 3: 17-19).

We bear out that curse today. Can I get an, “Amen”?

The sooner the Diva gets used to it, the better off she’ll be, I say.

“Welcome to a fallen world, Sister!”I say.

The Diva pulls the covers over her head.

Anyway, thought I would share with you the process by which we manage her chores and allowance.

We use a chore chart.

I got tired of saying, “Did you brush your teeth? Did you make your bed? Did you straighten your room? Have you done the dishes?” So I solved the problem. I am a problem solver.  It’s like rocket science, really.

Basically, there are three, main times of the day that the Diva does chores: between waking up and breakfast, after breakfast, and evening.  She is responsible for checking on the chart whether she did it or not. This requires her complete honesty. The penalty for not being honest is bad.

Really bad.

And she knows it.

She may not get to go to Sonic for weeks, and that’s just not something she’s willing to risk.

The Diva’s a rocket scientist, too.

Once a week, on Sunday morning, she brings me her signed chore chart, and I trade it for her allowance. This is the way the world works. At the end of a pay period, an employee brings his/her boss a signed time card, and it’s traded for a paycheck, more or less.

The responsibility is fully on  her.

No reminding.

No nagging.

And never, never any fussing over it.

God forbid there be any yelling. We don’t yell in our house. Yelling makes me nervous. Plus, it isn’t necessary.

Her allowance is a dollar per week per year of age ($10 per week, at current), and she’s required to save 10% and tithe 10%. After that, she can generally spend her money however she wants, within reason. Sometimes reason (aka Mommy) has to step in, but not usually.

Here’s the beauty of this plan, besides a child’s self-regulation: a few weeks ago, when the cable guy came to install our internet service, the Diva got up from the breakfast table and started working on her laundry (she does her own laundry except for reaching down into the washer to get the wet clothes out…she’s too short).

Cable Guy stared at her for awhile. Thinking he might be a nut, I smiled at him as if to say, “Get back to work before I have to put the smack down on you, buddy. You obviously don’t know with whom you are messing.”

He said, “How did you get her to do that?  I can’t get my kids to do anything around our house!”

I smiled and shared the Biblical basis for this exercise (the idea of work…above, and the concept of honoring one’s mother and father).

He grinned and told me he hadn’t been to church in awhile and wondered if he should go back.

I went on to talk about how our recognition of God’s grace in our lives compels us to live with grace.

He was sure he should go back to church.

And take his punk kids.

His words; not mine.

Through obedience to her parents, the Diva was, potentially, able to lead an entire family back to the Lord.

She rocks I Timothy 4:12, I say.

She wonders if that deserves a trip to Sonic.

It is what it is.

Here’s the chart: McKenna’s Chore Chart

Couldn’t be more joyful,


Thinking Maps: A MUST have!

As an educator, one of the instructional methods I most lean on is Thinking Maps.

It’s not the product that students produce, but rather a process for getting students (whether children or adults) to produce a richer, more well-thought-out product.

The program includes a set of 8 “maps”.  Some people have referred to diagrams like these as graphic organizers, but beware, the Thinking Maps people don’t like that.  Thinking Maps is much, much more.

Basically, there is one map for each identified thinking process.

Moving from left to right, then top to bottom on the diagram above:
The Circle Map:  defining in context; brainstorming
The Tree Map:  classifying
The Bubble Map:  describing
The Double Bubble Map: comparing and contrasting
The Flow Map: sequencing; ranking; ordering
The Multi-Flow Map: cause and effect
The Brace Map:  whole to part; part to whole
The Bridge Map: analogies; relationships

Talk about your critical thinking skills!

I dare you to come up with a thinking process that doesn’t fit into one of these categories.  I love a good dare; don’t you?

These maps can be used with any lesson, at any level.  I have used them to teach kindergarten (back in the day), as well as adults, and every age in between. I’ve incorporated them into my middle-school math class, as well as my high school, ESL English classes.

If you are an educator, whether outside the home or at home, I encourage you to check out Thinking Maps.

As a trained trainer, I’m happy to answer any questions that I can, as well.



P.S. I don’t recommend products unless I’ve fully tried and tested them.  I don’t dish out compliments easily, either. This is the only one I’ll endorse so far on this blog, so it’s a keeper!