Posts Categorized: Today

Stay-at-Home Family Checklist

Whew, these are some crazy times we’re living through with this COVID-19 pandemic. When we told Roxie there was no school for four weeks, she just laughed in her bed in disbelief. Not that it’s at all funny – but it does feel pretty surreal. We are strategizing ways to keep getting positive news to you all (have you seen Benji’s Instagram videos yet?!?) and ways to keep supporting the amazing local businesses in our region.

Benji and I also want to make the best of this time with Roxie, while also trying not to freak her (or ourselves) out too much.

It’s been a little trial and error so far, but we’ve made it through four days of staying at home, all together! And so have you! Hooray! Back-pats all around!

We have found a few things that have made it easier for everyone. I know a lot of people are sharing schedules, but for me, lists work better. I get a little stressed if I fall off schedule – the family checklist allows me the flexibility I need, while still granting the satisfaction of a job (or jobs) done!

We thought we’d share our list in case it sparks some inspiration in your house! Be well, our friends! <3

(Just click the image below for a pdf you can print at home!)


30 Minutes (at least) of exercise daily – this can be inside or outside!

Outside time every day, no matter the weather
I went on a walk in the rain today, and it was refreshing!

Creative or nature of science project
So far, we made a leprechaun trap, planted some seeds, and made a wind sock!

Read
Roxie and I are currently reading the Harry Potter series! Good thing Benji got three of the books and movies from the library!

Dad and Mom work time
Even though we normally work from home, doing so with our kid at home is hard. Plus things are so tumultuous with the world right now, it can be hard to focus. Setting aside specific work times for each parent at home is really important.

Learn something new
On Tuesday of this week, I asked Roxie to write a list of things she wanted to learn about. I said it could be anything – it could even be what she might think inappropriate – and we would see about learning more. Her list included “mustangs from the old times, candles, rubber bands, the Mona Lisa,” and more. And today Benji taught her about feeding and making sourdough!

Declutter one thing or space
It can be just one drawer. Baby steps, people. For me, today, it was our magazine and mail stack.

Clean one thing or space
Again, baby steps. Don’t feel like you have to deep clean the whole house! I cleaned one bathroom today. But nothing makes me feel more sane than clean spaces.

Games or Puzzles
We are playing Five Crowns daily. Today we also did a puzzle. There have been many rounds of “Herd Your Horses” this week too (a 1980s game we bought secondhand at the Depot).

Support your neighbors, community, or world in some way
Buy gift certificates from local businesses. Make a donation to the food pantry. Offer to make a grocery run for an elderly or at-risk neighbor. Put a positive message out into the world via social media or through a cheerful sign in your window. We’re all in this together!

Other fun ideas
From writing letters to FaceTiming friends or relatives to cooking something for the freezer – there are lots of great ways to occupy your time during this period of social distancing.

We’re thinking of you and sending lots of love your way!

XOXO – Aryn

Make It: Pop-Up Paper Flower Cards!

Looking for something fun to make for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, May Day, or any old day? Try making these pop-up paper flower cards! They are really cute and surprisingly easy to put together! Happy Spring, friends!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Fun Paper – could be colored or patterned or plain. I used construction paper

Scissors

Paper Trimmer (optional)

Glue stick or other glue

Markers or Pens

Ruler

Piece of Cardstock

Download the template for card messages here, and then watch the video below (Aryn’s first!) to get the step-by-step tutorial!

Read the Spring 2020 Inspire(d) Online!

The Spring 2020 Inspire(d) is all about doing life in a way that works for you. Inside, you’ll find:

Take the Leap: Do life your way! Lauren Barry + Michael Anderson • Gap Years • Annie Titus • Zach Burke • Elliott Jewelers • Walking Space • Songs of Spring – Driftless Birds • Pop-Up Paper Flower Cards • And More!

Amazing cover illustration by Lauren Bonny 

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Some form of this question revisits us on a semi-regular basis here at Inspire(d) HQ (also, who even WANTS to grow up?!?).

When I was a kid, living in the country near Frankville, Iowa, I thought maybe I’d be a teacher, or a nurse like my mom. My dad was a pilot, so there was a time in middle school that I considered becoming a major airline pilot.

In college, I knew I loved to read and write, but wasn’t sure how that would translate to a “real job” post graduation.

So, back to teacher – I was even accepted to the College of Education at University of Iowa. There was a brief foray into selling Mary Kay cosmetics and dreaming of pink Cadillacs (very brief), and then I spent a short time in the Air Force ROTC program, coming back to that pilot idea. It wasn’t until my junior year that I came to journalism.

But even with a journalism degree, entering the world seemed impossible. I considered graduate programs, but my advisor said, “Unless you’re planning to teach, there’s not much point in going further in debt to learn what you can learn in the real world.” Whew, am I ever grateful for that advice.

So, after claiming my degree in English and journalism in 2003, I took a bit of a “gap year.” I still worked – I taught oral English to middle-schoolers in China from 2004-2005 – but it wasn’t exactly a career.

The things I learned on that gap, though, have led me through this life. They changed me, and expanded my opinions of the world, just as the Gap Years did for the Decorah area folks featured in Kristine Jepsen’s story on page 24.

Back in the states, I figured I better get a real job… finally. But no one wanted to hire me, much to my surprise (ha!). I did have a back-up plan: This magazine in your hands. Really, it was the plan A, but it seemed too crazy to just make it up!

In Maggie Sonnek’s story, Lauren Barry of Dancing Gnome Farm and Michael Anderson of Broken Paddle Guiding Company find that “just making it up” is the best way to a life filled with passion. I would have to agree.

All of this is to say: There are a lot of ways to do life. To grow up (or not) as you grow older. Sometimes you just have to Take the Leap! Throughout this issue, you’ll read stories of people who have done just that. Annie Titus decided to head to undergrad at UW Eau Claire in her late 50s (pg 47). Zach Burke knew in high school that he wanted to pursue the John Deere TECH program at Northeast Iowa Community College (pg 56). This issue’s Sum of Your Business interview features three generations working side-by-side at Elliott Jewelers in Waukon.

Everyone’s path is different. For Andrew Boddicker, it was a literal path – a pilgrimage in Spain inspired his new business, Walking Space, featuring carefully curated, long-distance walks in the Driftless Region. Written by Inspire(d) newcomer Erin Dorbin, this story highlights the great benefits of a simple walk (pg 60).

Speaking of new writers, we’ve got two others to introduce! Mary Hyland shares her love of geocaching in the region with our readers, and Craig Thompson helps us train our ears for the sounds of spring – birds! You can’t miss the accompanying illustrations by Decorah artist Lauren Bonney – the amazing oriole on the cover is just one of five that go along with the story. It gets me excited about spring and warm weather and flowers (make paper ones for a card in this issue’s paper project) and all the lovely spring things! It’s my favorite season! We hope you enjoy it as well!

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

Read the whole thing online here!