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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | Evansville
Tag Archive - Evansville

Yes, Kids Can Like Vegetables

This morning, a friend of mine, Cheryl Mochau, and I signed copies of books we had written for next year’s members of Seton Harvest, a CSA in Evansville, Indiana. Throughout this year, I’ve watched young families bring their children to collect their produce shares.  Many of them are preschoolers, developing good eating habits for a lifetime.

Yes, kids can like vegetables. Here are some of the wonderful things I’ve seen:

  • When eggplants were in season, a mother took her preschoolers into the fields each week so they could pick an eggplant to take with them. She explained that eggplant was their favorite vegetable, and they loved it.
  • A young boy stood eating a fresh radish like it was an apple, enjoying every bite.
  • With the surplus this week, one couple took their kids to the field to pick some arugula. Their 4-year-old daughter told me, “We don’t pick it. Mommy cuts it with scissors for salad.” My favorite part was listening to her brother beg to go get arugula.
  • A third grader told me he loves to make salad with his family after they visit Seton.
  • A fourth grader told me he likes to eat kale when it’s cooked with salt and pepper.
  • The weeks that we were able to pick strawberries, young children ventured to the strawberry patch to gather fresh berries.
  • Kids help their parents gather fresh herbs from the herb garden.
  • They also get to visit the farm’s chickens, donate compost, and savor for a little while each week a quieter, steadier rhythm of life.
Farmer Joe, Sister Virginia, and all the Seton staff work hard to make children feel welcome every week. When turnips were dug and a 7-pound turnip was discovered, it was displayed and some members’ kids posed with pictures of it. The afternoon of our shareholder potluck, families could ride hayrides around the farm, and kids got to hit a pinata in the pole barn.
As my own kids are now teens, about to leave home, I doubly enjoy watching young families on the child-raising adventures. They illustrate once again that kids can learn to love vegetables beyond potatoes, ketchup, and corn.
Seton offers its shareholders more than the opportunity to enjoy fresh produce 26 weeks a year, from early spring to late fall. It helps us raise up a generation of children who look forward to their weekly treat to visit the farm, see some fun things, and enjoy good food to eat. Their fresh, local produce not just a way of life but a way to enjoy better living.

Ten Years Post Fire & Why I Love Evansville, Indiana

'House Fire' photo (c) 2009, Doug Shick - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/On the night of August 11, 2001, our home burned, along with our 1-year-old mom and pop shop business. We rebuilt, and our business survived, by the grace of God and with the help of good friends.

Neither Richard nor I grew up in Evansville. We’re both transplants. That night, and the months that followed, changed our lives forever. I can never thank enough those who helped us survive. Some heroic memories last forever:

  • Bob and Steve working with Richard, pushing and dragging our office equipment over wet, debris covered stairs.
  • Jean, Kathy, Lori, and Andrea helping me salvage some pictures and family items – and then finding clothes to lend our family.
  • Friends who hosted a rebuilding party so we could set up a temporary home in an apartment.
  • Friends who helped us find temporary office space and equipment.
  • Local contractors who helped us pack out, demolish, and rebuild in 3 months.

In my soon to be released book, He Uses It For Good, I describe how so many friends did what they could to help us. God used them all to carry us during a terrible time.

The morning after our fire, we went to Church, albeit in borrowed clothes, with no home, no idea how to save our business, and no clue how we would survive. I think it was more humbling to see my children in borrowed clothes than my own wearing them. How would we provide for our children?

By the grace of God, and the heart and grit of Evansville friends, we survived. We may have been transplants, but our Evansville friends made us feel as welcome as family.

That Sunday morning, on my knees, I begged God to carry us. Other than a Sunday after a broken arm and one after surgery, I’ve been in Church every Sunday since. The first thing I do is thank God that He blessed us another week.

Then, I thank God for bringing me to Evansville, Indiana, the land – and the city – I love.

Water Lessons

Flooded house in Mtwapaphoto © 2007 Villager_87 | more info (via: Wylio)
“‘Water is patient, Adelaide, water just waits. It wears down the clifftops, the mountains, the whole of the world. Water always wins!’ says the Doctor in “The Waters of Mars” episode of Dr. Who. As it begins to rain again in Evansville, I think of this and our battle against flood water.

Though we cannot stop water, we can divert it. We can try to minimize the damage to homes and buildings and pray for sunshine so the water can recede.  As we learn from water, we can gain tactical advantages over it. Lessons I’ve learned the past week.

  1. Start Right. If you begin to build a sandbag wall without learning how to do it right or planning it, you will probably fail. Plastic sheeting needs to be strategically placed because water seeps through sand. Your wall needs to be constructed so it will not collapse. Some recommend a pyramid style with as many rows at the base as you have rows high. Sandbags have to be filled correctly. If you just start throwing down a sandbag wall without this planning, it will either fail, or you will work 10 times harder trying to fix your mistake than if you had done it right the first time.
  2. Accept the Help You Get. Unless you absolutely know someone is physically or mentally incapable of helping with any part of a sandbagging operation, accept their help. One lady called me in an emergency this week to find sandbaggers for someone. I put out the call. One lady who called was turned down because she didn’t sound “strong enough” on the phone to manage sandbags. The lady who was turned down, a former Air Force veteran, then took her 4 youngest children to another location where they worked for an entire day. She worked out a system for her own family where she held the bags and directed her sons as they filled and lifted them. If someone offers you a flood relief meal of sandwiches, don’t refuse and hold out for a donation of hot food. Those you alienate today could well be people who would help you tomorrow if you thank them and treat them right.
  3. Care for Yourself. Stay hydrated – get plenty of water bottles for those you help and who help you. Then drink the water, as in the bottles, not the flood. Take that 5-10 minutes to take care of yourself in a crisis to pace yourself for the long haul. If it’s sunny, get sunscreen. Take especially good care of your feet.

Some day, the rain will stop. Instead of thinking how we can beat the water – we never will – we can figure out how to divert it and outwait it until the flooding recedes.

Then we can take the lessons we’ve learned and apply them to the rest of our lives.

My Tri Fest Tow Truck Teaching Adventure

Get towedphoto © 2009 Emran Kassim | more info (via: Wylio)
I love Henderson, Kentucky, and its annual Tri-Fest that starts tomorrow. As I pulled into town tonight to teach a Facebook class at the Henderson County Public Library, they were beginning to set up. Cool!  They have great food, rides, and more, in their historic downtown district.  I parked across the street from the library and went in to prepare.

My classes are taught with my Facebook profile live, on big screen, with my own News Feed.

Just over halfway through the 2-hour class, a Henderson friend posted, “The police just towed all the cars off South Main Street for the Tri-Fest.”

I had parked on South Main Street.

So I excused myself and went across the street. My car was gone. When I tried to ask the festival workers where my car was, my Spanish wasn’t good enough to communicate. So I returned to my class.

“Is your car there?” The class asked.


“Do you need to end class to find it?”

“No. We have 40 minutes left. I can find my car then. If I can teach through an earthquake, a flash flood, and a storm that rips the front door off a building, I can teach through a towed car.”

I didn’t tell them that if I could hitch-hike alone through a thunderstorm in Ireland 25 years ago, survive a near-death hemorrhage during a pregnancy 15 years ago, and rebuild a burned out business 10 years ago, a towed car in Henderson was something I knew would have a happy ending. Somehow. The only thing to do was laugh about it.

This could be an example of Facebook problem solving for my class. I posted that my car was towed during my class, telling the class in the time that remained we would see if Facebook would help me solve my problem. Then we went back to our objectives list to keep going.

Friends posted phone numbers of who to call. I answered conversations while we kept on our to do list. Friends, both in Evansville and Henderson, offered me rides if needed. My friends Jo Ann and Joann both gave invaluable help. My phone started ringing with friends asking me if I needed a ride.

A grandmother taking the class posted on her own wall that my car had gotten towed. Her grandson commented, “WTF?” When she asked me what WTF stood for, I suggested she ask her grandson as I wasn’t going to say it in class.

After the class was over, I called the first number, a towing company who said they had towed nothing. Then I called the police. They had posted in the paper they would tow cars but acknowledged they had posted no signage that out-of-state visitors would see. They asked me what my car was.

“Blue. With 4 doors.” We just bought my car last month, and I was so rattled I could remember neither the make nor the model.

So I called my husband, who had just read my Facebook saga. “What’s my car?”

“You’re joking.”

“No. All I can remember is it’s blue with 4 doors.”

“You can teach any kind of computer class and don’t know your own car?”

“Nope. Not when I just taught a class for 40 minutes after it happened.”

“It’s a Mazda 626.” So I told the Henderson City Police, they told me who had towed it and gave me an address. They said there would be no fine.

A librarian offered to drive me to it, though the address didn’t match Google’s. We drove to the address given, and it was a crop production business. When I called the police, they insisted they gave me the right address and we were lost.

Then Nibby Priest, a dear friend who lives in Henderson, called me. He gave us the correct address, called the towing company, and they said they would have it waiting for me. As we struggled to find the towing company, he talked us by way of speaker phone through the neighborhood for the right house with the tow truck with my car on it.

Another librarian called me various times as we searched for my car, and she met us at the tow truck to make sure I was able to get my car and journey home. I was never so happy to drive to my home sweet home.

Lessons from tonight?

  • Even when bad things happen, good friends can help you survive them.
  • Henderson, KY and Evansville, IN are full of nice people willing to help others.
  • I don’t need to watch reality TV because I live it.
  • My life is a string of adventures that mix Charles Dickens with Bridget Jones with Lucille Ball.
  • If I teach the night before Henderson’s Handy Blues Fest, I’ll pick my parking spot more carefully.

Thanks to the Henderson County Public Library, Nibby, and all my friends who pitched in to help me find my car so I can click my heels and say, 

“There’s no place like home. And no car like my…..blue one with 4 doors.”

Speak With Confidence…to Build Your Network


Where do I begin to organize a presentation?

A friend asks me that at least once a month. Maybe it’s an elevator speech for a new business. It could be an invitation to speak to a room full of prospective clients. Or a business owner needs to demonstrate a new product for current clients.

Speaking in public scares me…

Some will mention pre-speaking nerves. I still have them.  There are ways to overcome that fear and use it to give your presentation more punch.

Our Solution:

Speak With Confidence…To Build Your Network program by Kimberly Delcoco and me.

DATES:  Wednesday – April 20, April 27, May 4 & May 11

TIME:  2:00PM – 5:00PM

LOCATION:  Hulman Building in Downtown Evansvile, 20 NW 4th Street, Third Floor Conference Room


Gain confidence and learn in a safe environment at only $197 total per participant for all four sessions.

Click here to enroll now. 

Why I’m Excited About This Program:

  • Last fall, I attended Kim’s Living Hell to Living Well program which helped me refocus my life and balance my priorities. During the weekend retreat, Kim encouraged and guided us to search our hearts, dig deeper, and develop plans to improve our lives. Kim empowers and respects everyone she works with, inspiring them to reach their goals.
  • Speaking in public and helping others do the same has always been a passion for me. For five years, I taught public speaking classes to teen, and I’ve coached adults with their presentations for a lifetime.
  • My students have placed in national speech contests, won state demonstration contests, and one uses her speaking skills as Miss Vanderburgh County. Now, I get to use my experiences to help friends working in business
  • I love to help people not only conquer their fears but build their strengths to develop their unique voice to become better speakers.

I hope you will join Kim and me on our public speaking adventure!

What’s Your Social Media Curb Appeal?

For Salephoto © 2010 Aparna E. | more info (via: Wylio)
Last weekend, Terry Haas of HGTV’s show Designed to Sell spoke at the Evansville Home Show, thanks to sponsorship by F. C. Tucker Emge Realtors.  Besides being a dynamic and terribly funny speaker, Terry had great ideas to build the curb appeal of your home. “Potential buyers have 7 to 10 seconds to decide whether or not to get out of the car at your house and go in. It won’t matter what your bathroom looks like if they won’t walk in the front door.” Great point.

In social media, you have 1-2 seconds for people to decide if they like you enough to friend, follow, network, or hire you. Build your social media curb appeal so you stand out from the crowd and brand yourself well.

Home stagers like Terry help home buyers package their homes so buyers will see the value of the home.  It’s better for a home on the market to be remembered for the smell of freshly baked cookies than the aroma of a barely cleaned cat litter box.

So what impacts social media curb appeal?

  1. Pictures. A real, recognizable and flattering photo of you works best. If you post lots of party pictures where you’re about to pass out, I worry that if I friend you, you’ll be hammered at a party and pass around your smartphone to all your drunken friends so they too might see my private information. Your dog might be cute, but I hope you don’t look like it. Posting photos of kids or families as a profile photo scares me because of privacy issues. It’s like leaving out family photos of your kids before you open your home to show to strangers.
  2. Words. How do you describe yourself? What are your really like? This is like the handbook of information home sellers leave out for potential buyers. Can I see not only who you are but what activities and interests you have that make you unique?
  3. Network. Who are your friends and followers? This is like who are the neighbors on your block when your house sells. If I have a privacy setting of friends of friends, I want to see who those friends are and what they are like.
  4. Conversation. Do you talk online? Do your friends view you as a problem solver or a trouble maker? Do you respond when people comment or ask questions, or do you ignore them? Do you add value and share knowledge (that’s not a commercial blast pushing your products)?

Designed to Sell helps home sellers package their home so it’s more likely to sell. Good social media strategists can help you package your social media presence so you’re more likely to build your business, develop more clients, or find your dream job.

If you need professional help for a Designed to be Social makeover, I can help you.

The Cialis Dance Disaster

Huh?photo © 2007 Goddess Adrasteia | more info (via: Wylio)
Several years ago, I watched a dance disaster with a children’s talent show. A video glitched that was to be the background to a group of fourth grade girls dancing. The girls were going to dance a “Rise and Shine” tribute to Marcia Yockey, a beloved, infamous lady who used to forecast the weather in Evansville, Indiana. The girls were going to sing and dance to “Rise and Shine” while old footage of Marsha’s weather forecasts showed on the screen behind them.

Marcia was a character unto herself, making her forecasts as much entertainment as information. Legend has it she once quit a TV station and went to another because she didn’t like the old station’s new theme song.

A funny thing happened on the way to the performance. The video glitched. As the girls started to dance and sing, a Cialis commercial aired without the sound. So we heard “Rise and Shine” just as the Cialis logo appeared on the screen. The adults in the audience struggled to maintain their composure. The girls dancing spun around, and you could tell they were puzzled by the screen and kept going. Thank God they were too young to know what Cialis treats and how their lyrics conjured all kinds of images never intended.

Businesses can learn from the Cialis Dance Disaster. How many times is a business marketing, getting its message out without realizing what’s going on the screen behind them, that their audience customers see but they don’t? Do they know what’s being Tweeted about their products?

Take it a step further. Does that business understand its customers well enough to really engage with them? Those girls didn’t know what Cialis was, but the audience did. What happens if a business talks iCarly, but their customers are more familiar with Hannah Montana, Happy Days, or – dusting off the cobwebs – Family Affair? What if a business’s client base includes multiple demographics? Do they tailor their message and their communication message to each?

Or are they still old school one message fits all let the dollars roll in?

Businesses who market old school in the new social world run the risk of being like the girls dancing “Rise and Shine,” while their customers laugh and then walk next door to the competitor who integrates marketing efforts to reach clients where they already are.

Water, Water Everywhere

The new Borehole/Well in Mvungutiphoto © 2007 khym54 | more info (via: Wylio)
I can’t throw a bucket down a well the right way to pull it back up with a pail full of water. If I had been in charge, Jack and Jill never would have made it up the hill.

A lifetime ago, when I was a child, I visited my grandparents in the foothills of the Ozarks. My mother had grown up in a log cabin, and when I was little, her parents still drew their water from a well. That meant daily trips to the well to fetch in water for cooking and cleaning. It didn’t matter whether it was hot, cold, icy, or raining. If you wanted drinking water, you fetched it from the well.

Their well tapped into a natural spring, and the water was the coldest, freshest, clearest tasting water I’ve ever had. That made it worth it. Almost. As long as someone else could throw that dang bucket down the well to get it.

Evansville is under a boil advisory for its water. Our inconvenience is we draw it from the tap and boil it for 5 minutes to make it safe for drinking and cooking. We can still shower and run laundry.

How my grandparents would have enjoyed living with my current inconvenience.

One of every 6 people on the planet still struggles to get clean water.  In developing countries, 80% of their illnesses are related to lack of access to good water.

Last fall, my son’s youth group raised money through the Water Project to help. A donation of $10 can make a huge difference. Wells can also be sponsored. A well in the Sudan or Sierra Leon costs $4,500.  In Kenya or Uganda, it costs $6,500.

A club can take a Water Challenge to raise money towards a well and then track progress of their well and its building.

Imagine what would happen if everyone in Evansville donated $1 for each of the 3 days of our boil order. How many lives could we save and change?

How to Succeed Without Being an Expert

physics for kids: powerful rocket engines on a windy day may not be a good ideaphoto © 2010 woodleywonderworks | more info (via: Wylio)

You don’t have to be an all-around top-notch expert to be successful….if you work with talented, smart people.

Last night at 4-H Tech Club, I was reminded of this.  At this year’s planning meeting, Mark, another leader, suggested we do a hands-on rockets workshop. In the past, we had done workshops on building  rockets and the physics behind them. He suggested a different approach: get a simple rocket for each kid in the club and have each of them build it together. Then at the next meeting, launch them. Then, every kid in the club will have experienced a build and a launch.

Sounded good to me.

One challenge though. I’m an organizer but know nothing about how to build a rocket. And I surely didn’t know how to help 20+ kids, from grades 3 through 12, all build rockets at the same time. Others would need to carry the ball.

Success lesson 1: find smart people who work hard

Mark researched how and what types of rockets to buy. He figured out the best options.

Success lesson 2: don’t micromanage those smart people

Throughout the process, Mark asked for input at key points.

Success lesson 3: careful money management lets you experiment

Our 4-H Tech Club has been careful with every dime of its 3 year existence.  The members are frugal with their dues.  Last year, when we accepted donations from sponsors, we designated them to go towards education. Those donations paid for last night’s rockets. 

Success lesson 4: ask for help when needed

Mark said we needed to find adult team leaders to break the club into smaller groups. So I put out the word to our parents and leaders and said a quiet prayer we would get the help we needed.  The night of the workshop, we divided 20+ kids in 5 small groups.  The club’s top officers, all teens, registered members as they came in, assigned them to groups, and gave them rocket kits.

Each group had an adult team leader and a teen assistant. Our adult helpers included our county’s rockets superintendent, along with a web designer, software programmer, accountant, engineering professor, and middle school math teacher with an engineering background.

Success lesson 5: thank those involved

Last night, twenty members, from ages 9 to 16, built 20 rockets in 2 hours.

This is my thank you

  • to Mark for having a vision and making it a success,
  • to the other leaders and parents who encouraged and helped as needed, and
  • to our members for being a great team.

I’m looking forward to next month’s rocket launch!

Last night’s roll call question for members was where they would like to venture in a rocket. Answers included New Zealand, Pluto, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. I hope we help our members realize that they can build their dreams, launch their rockets, and go after their dreams.

Sharing Our Table of Plenty!

Image courtesy of Lusi at http://www.sxc.hu/.

As the mother sat at a table in a crowded dining room, a lady accidentally touched her arm. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said.

The mother patted her on the arm and answered, “Don’t apologize. Life is hard. We should celebrate the times people brush against each other instead of apologizing.”

What a perspective. Apply it to social networking – to Facebook, Twitter, or whatever your platform of choice it is.

Every day, you have an opportunity to listen to other people – those you know and those you don’t. You can share their joy, celebrate their wins, comfort the lonely, and console the hurting.

Global is the new local, especially in our world of social media. I can get up in the morning and Tweet with friends in China and Australia before they retire for the night. In between, as I sip my coffee, I wish good morning to my friends across the United States and beyond.

There are over 500 million Facebookers on the planet, which means one of every twelve people on earth Facebooks. 190 million Tweeters Tweet 65 million times daily. While on Facebook we talk with those we already know, Twitter provides opportunities across the planet.  Imagine the opportunities!

My dawn is another’s sunset. Share your dawns when others are struggling through the night.  Every night, there are sick and hurting people trying to make it through the night. Some turn to social networking to share their pains and fears.

I may be just a wife, mom, and business owner in Evansville, Indiana. But with social networking, I can be a mom to friends and neighbors all around the planet.

My social media challenge to you:

  • Every day, encourage at least two people who are tired, discouraged, or having a bad day.

  • Every day, celebrate at least two people’s victories by congratulating and complimenting them.

  • Every day, thank at least two people who help make your life and your world a better place.

Trust me – when you cast your bread upon the waters, you will be blessed as well. What would happen to our planet if 100 million Facebook users started doing this daily?

You’re my neighbor. I’m your neighbor. Wherever we live.  Let’s share our table of plenty.

What great times we’ll enjoy together!

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