Making What Matters: Building Up Community with Moms

This summer, I've been pretty proud of a few accomplishments. This article meant a lot to me and caused the intended reader to cry, a few new and exciting opportunities presented themselves to me, and I just recently established a community Mom's Coffee Hour meet-up!

As you've probably read already, we live in an unincorporated small town. Although it's small, it's chop-full of young families with many babies and kids. A few houses are spread out with acreage, but a few are centrally located, and at the center of town is a church.

Ever since my first baby, I've dreamt of a local get-together for moms of babies in the area. It can be such an isolating time, especially when you are physically isolated out in the country. After creating a Facebook group to rally some of the local moms, I gauged their interest in this idea of a get-together. Once other moms connected and loved the idea, too, I reached out to the church as the ideal location. 

The great thing about living in a small town is the ability to just reach out to anyone in town! Everyone has a common interest in building up this small and close-knit community. After a short exchange and official approval, a Mom's Monthly Monday Coffee Hour was born! (Say that ten times fast!)

The first Monday we meet will be in August, officially. I am so proud of this little step that may make a difference for any isolated mom or our community as a whole. We are so much better when we build each other up instead of compare! Here's hoping to inspire YOU to make a difference if you have an idea for your community.

Speedy Sour Cream Mac N' Cheese

The other day I (or should I say baby?) was looking for a more homemade, gourmet tasting Mac N' Cheese compared to the usual Kraft we keep on hand, and I searched for options that would be super quick versus spending all of precious naptime making a rue. This was such a success, it needed to blogged about!

It's only 5 steps, and seriously takes less time than the boxed version- with the homemade feel and love of an oven baked Mac N' Cheese. Being in Wisconsin, we keep a ton of variety of cheeses in our fridge. If you only have cheddar, this recipe works just as well with just cheddar. I will advise that shredding cheese off of the block melts much smoother than the pre-packaged shredded cheeses, so if you can swing shredding your own, do it!

Speedy Sour Cream Mac N' Cheese

Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
Butter Kase Cheese (shredded)
Sour Cream
Shredded Parmesan to top

1. Cook the pasta until al dente
2. Drain pasta, and add back into the pot
3. Add in the shredded cheese and mix until melty
4. Add in a few scoopfuls of sour cream and continue mixing
5. Top off with shredded parmesan cheese

*If you don't have Butter Kase cheese on hand, using just Cheddar is fine

**After a few times of making this, you'll find your perfect balance of cheese and cream, and if you need to adjust the flavor it will easily adjust afterward!

Teacher Appreciation Week Printable!

Hey Everyone!

I had my very first teacher appreciation week surprise me by a Monday school-wide informative e-mail. I'm a planner, so I was definitely caught off guard! I quickly brainstormed different options on what I could pull together in a pinch, and created a super cute tag to throw on a Bath and Body Works hand soap!

In case any of you are in a similar pinch, I'm here to save the day!

Just download the printable tag, print it to a 3x5 index card, cut, and attach to your desired hand soap, sanitizer, or what ever you like. :)

4 Steps to Get Involved in your Community

One of the best parts of living in a small town has got to be the ease to get involved in everything. I'm a service-driven kind of gal, it's totally my love language. Getting involved and helping our community is so important to me as a hobby, but also as a mom trying to raise my babies into the young men I hope that they become!

While it may be more difficult to get involved in a larger community, I've learned great tips and tricks on how to get your hands into everything:

1. Research Online: Step one is definitely checking Google for programs that already exist in your community. Our own community has a website with volunteer information already provided for the nursing home, the county park, the park and rec board, the school, the church, and even community garden and farmers markets. Finding these websites and doing the research to track down the right person to get in touch with narrows down your time wandering around and asking everyone how to get involved!

2. Reach Out: After you locate the contact person and information, you need to reach out to them. Be it e-mail or a phone call, if they had resources online, they usually have a system in place for getting new volunteers up and running! If they didn't have an online resource, reaching out the organization directly would be your next logical step. The person you would want to contact would be an outreach coordinator or the actual head or director to point you in the right direction. If you are hoping to help a small organization who doesn't have many resources, it's fairly safe to assume that they'd welcome your help, even in a less-formal way.

3. Make Your Abilities Known: Regardless of any fillable form or what you think an organization might need help with, listing all of your abilities will benefit BOTH of you! For example, I recently reached out to our local county park in hopes of showing my toddlers the value of giving back to a place that we love to visit and enjoy. I contacted them with the intention of helping pull weeds with the boys or doing some planting. Once I revealed all of my abilities with them, it was clear that I would be an asset on the technical side of things instead of physically getting out there once or twice (which I still hope to do). In the end, this organization that my family thoroughly enjoys was in deep need of anyone who understood website, social media, and graphic design, and I was able to fill that void for them! (check out their new Instagram here!)

4. Make Your Own Opportunities: In some cases, there may not be an actual organization or program for you to work with. But, don't let that stop you! If you have an idea or a way to help your community, I encourage you to think creatively to make it happen! My husband is big on fireworks for the 4th of July, and we live in the center of town. On one of our first 4th's in our home, my husband and friend put on some private fireworks in the corn field behind our house. By the end of the display, we had neighbors in lawn chairs watching with us! This got my husband thinking, and after contacting multiple different local organizations, boards, and the town hall, he managed to start our town's legitimate fireworks show hosted at the park. The show has now grown to involve the town's bar hosting a beer tent, live music, and all collaborated with the existing 4th of July day events of a parade, chicken dinner, and silent auction. It's so cool to know that because he was passionate about something, it's now an actual event in our town that draws in a crowd!

There are my 4 tips for getting started in your community. I hope it inspired you to follow your passion and bring it to your neighbors! Do you have a cool story to share about a way you've enriched your community? Please share!
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