About wagfarms

Mom to 4 busy boys and passionate about all things agriculture!

How to suck the fun out of gifts…the conclusion

Well, guess what? I won. Not the lottery, something much more rewarding than that. I figured out the stinking building sets and have one whole set completed. Only two more to go. Good thing it’s a long weekend for me.

After my post yesterday, I feel like I have to clarify a few things:

  1. My boys play with their toys. I may joke about them being put on a shelf and threatening grounding, but it’s all pretend so I sound like a tough parent. I’m not. Not really. My boys are never given something I don’t fully expect to be broken. That includes the furniture in my house, the vehicles I drive, etc. It’s also the reason why all church clothes are completely washable. I’m prepared for the worst. Kinda like a boyscout.
  2. I really don’t drink that much wine.
  3. I was exaggerating about the difficulties of these sets. They’re actually much worse than what I claimed. Much, much worse.
  4. I will more than likely buy another set if they come out with them. Why? Because I enjoy pain. Actually, because once I have this much of the set completed, the somewhat OCD part of me wants to have the whole set. And since they’re such a pain, I’m guessing they’ll go on a killer sale. And then the cheapskate part of me will also be intrigued. Meaning that the part of me that hates these sets will lose out. :( I can’t win.
  5. I lied about #2. Oh wait, my Mom reads this. Just kidding. Really. #2 is completely true. I promise.

Well, that’s about it. We now have a complete seeding system. And four happy boys. And one mama whose fingers are sore. But I did get a brilliant suggestion from a friend. SUPER GLUE! I may have to use that one for the next set.

Good night friends! Here’s a few pics just to prove that I did, indeed, finish…and that I’m not a mean Mama.

And now I’ll patiently wait for my own mother to call… ;)

Complete...and check out all the extra pieces, minus two that were actually needed. But I compromised with colors.

Complete…and check out all the extra pieces, minus two that were actually needed. But I compromised with colors.

The tractor and seeder together. I can't believe I spent this amount of time on this! LOL!

The tractor and seeder together. I can’t believe I spent this amount of time on this! LOL!

EJ was making sure that George wasn't sharing any secret farmer information while Mom was taking photos. Priceless moments.

EJ was making sure that George wasn’t sharing any secret farmer information while Mom was taking photos. Priceless moments.

Farming the kitchen floor...nothing is better than this!

Farming the kitchen floor…nothing is better than this!



How to suck the fun right out of gifts…a lesson

Excuse me for a moment. I’m a tad delirious and need to share a few thoughts. Actually, it’s just that my eyes need to rest, so staring at the computer seemed like a good idea.

I would like to take a moment to address my friends at Mega Bloks. Your product ranks right up there with a set of Chinese finger traps. Seriously. Except I can just throw away the cheap finger traps and not feel bad. I have a 6-year-old looking at me with tears in his eyes, while I feel like a complete failure for not getting his set put together yet.

It all started with a well-intentioned aunt. And a Santa that found a great deal on Zulilly. Or so I heard.

A set of building blocks…but green and yellow. John Deere. Just like Dad’s. But last time I checked, Dad’s didn’t come in pieces that you had to put together on your own. Not only pieces (828 to be exact), but the pieces come in bags.

Ages 5+...yeah right. Cool set, not so cool set up.

Ages 5+…yeah right. Cool set, not so cool set up.

No biggie. Fewer pieces to lose if you have the project separated into bags, right? Wrong.

The set is labeled for ages 5 and older. Great! Three out of my four boys can build it without assistance! The youngest is almost there as well, he’ll be able to handle it. My 11-year-old is darn near an engineer. He shouldn’t have a problem at all. Wrong. All three were almost to tears a few minutes in.

The problem? The bags mean nothing. You might as well open them all up and pour them into a giant tupperware container to start with..and perhaps a glass of wine. Or two. Don’t put the bottle too far away.

Are you kidding me? Please tell me you're kidding me. They forgot the two most important pieces. Patience and a sense of humor.

Are you kidding me? Please tell me you’re kidding me. They forgot the two most important pieces. Patience and a sense of humor.

I won’t even tell you how long it took me to build the large tractor. I’m almost ashamed to admit it. It would have been fun, but every time I thought I had it figured out, I had to back up a few steps. And let’s not talk about pieces that were missing.

Let's just say that completion was figured in hours...not minutes. A true sign that I really love my boys. Really.

Let’s just say that completion was figured in hours…not minutes. A true sign that I really love my boys. Really.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle the planter. And a new bottle of wine. ;)

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • I’m pretty certain that the people who packaged and wrote the instructions for these sets should have a job with the CIA. They could write out the instructions for nuclear weapons and no one else in the world could replicate them. It would end with the enemy rocking in the fetal position, demanding a glass of wine, crying out, “It can’t be done! It can’t be done!”
  • The person in charge of suggesting what age is appropriate for these sets is on crack. “For ages 5+,” yeah right. I do believe the fine print also suggests you have a working understanding of Olde English, hieroglyphics and advanced calculus, as well as a background in engineering…preferably genetic.Oh, and be a member of Mensa.
  • The next person who buys a set of these for my children will also be required to put it together.
  • I have warned my children that these will go on a shelf. If I see anyone touching them, they will be grounded until they turn 475. I’m only exaggerating a little.

Hometown Holiday

I had a very important date last night…several of them, really. And I thought that maybe I should tell you about it, because, well, really, we talk about most things, don’t we?

Last night I took my four boys Christmas shopping. They each had to shop for one of their brothers. I didn’t limit their spending, I didn’t limit their choices, and it was worth every minute and every dime.

We live in a small, rural community. We have a few stores, but nothing extravagant…yet we had a blast. Let me replay the evening:

Nothing beats a great hometown store...nothing. I've been shopping here for more than 30 years.

Nothing beats a great hometown store…nothing. I’ve been shopping here for more than 30 years.

I went to take Scooter to basketball practice, only to realize that practice was an hour later than I was expecting. No problem, we’ll get some Christmas shopping out of the way at Village Variety. Scooter’s job was to pick one brother, and to buy a gift. He picked Big Bro, found something that “he would love.” We paid for it, had it wrapped and were on our way.

I dropped Scooter off at my Mom’s, and picked up EJ. He picked George. We found a gift, had it wrapped and were on our way.

George met me at the door, ready to go. He knew he was going to go shopping for a gift, and he wanted to buy one for EJ. He already knew what to get him, so we picked it up, had it wrapped (found a little extra something for Grandma), and were on our way.

A happy boy, with his gift for his brother all wrapped and ready for the tree!

A happy boy, with his gift for his brother all wrapped and ready for the tree!

Last, but certainly not least, was Big Bro. He knew that the only brother left was Scooter to buy for, but he also knew what Scooter would want. We picked it up, had it wrapped and were on our way. Voila. Shopping complete.

Big Bro had to carefully determine what Scooter would want. No rushing a well-thought-out gift!

Big Bro had to carefully determine what Scooter would want. No rushing a well-thought-out gift!

And it was the best trip EVER!

Here are the lessons I learned:

  • It truly doesn’t matter what you buy, it’s why you buy it. And if it DOES matter what you buy, you shouldn’t have bought it in the first place. Love isn’t shown with the amount spent, it’s shown with the meaning behind it.
  • A friendly face, a word or two of encouragement to my children and knowing that I’m supporting a local family goes a long way.
  • My children know that my love is not depicted by the number (or grandeur) of the gifts they receive. We do not count gifts in this house. If you are so wrapped up in the gift-giving that you set guidelines, parameters and dollar amounts…well, I think you forgot what the point was for giving the gift. (And I’m not talking budget limitations.)
  • The best gifts I have ever received (aside from my children, naturally), are those that showed how much someone was paying attention: a lasagna pan (I love to cook for my family, and lasagna is my specialty), a necklace that one of my boys picked out, anything that my boys have made, etc. It’s not the amount spent, it’s the “why” behind it. :)
  • I am most certain that my boys will follow in my footsteps and will enjoy the giving just as much, if not more than, the receiving. And in that aspect, I feel as if I’ve succeeded as a parent. Yay!

It was a great night, indeed…and in case I get busy and don’t write for a few days again, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my heart to yours. (And yes, I meant that.)

My first final

I took my first final today…well, my first final in a decade or more (let’s not really count, ‘k?).

Wonder why I haven’t been blogging as much? Why I seem preoccupied? Well, part of it is that I’m currently a college student. Full time. Yes, I may have lost my mind.

My advice to this girl, could I go back in time, finish it the first time. But what a ride.

My advice to this girl, could I go back in time, finish it the first time. But what a ride.

I am a full-time mom, a most-time employee and a full-time student. I just finished my first four credits out of 16 this quarter…with three quarters left to go. When I am complete with my year of study, I will be a certified paralegal…or certifiable, I’m not sure which yet.

In order to be a full-time student and receive a better tuition rate, I had to re-take some of the credits that I had already transferred. (Someone, please explain to me the whole “you need to spend more money to save more money” deal…I still don’t understand.) I could have chosen any class, and I was tempted to cheese out and take algebra or English 101. But I went with Critical Thinking.

Oy vey.

The class itself is helpful, and a great learning tool, and all those things that I expected. Except one…my professor is a vegan. And an animal lover. And about as opposite of me as you could possibly get.

Oy vey.

It’s been one heck of an experience, though. And I’ve definitely stretched my wings a bit. Now I just need to face the final and see where the chips may fall. I’m not too concerned, but I write much better than I test out. Give me an essay any day! :)

But I have one class completed. Final in, grades are out…I finished with a 97%. Not too shabby for an OTA student in an online course.

It’s all in the perspective

It’s amazing sometimes to think about how our situations can have a vast effect on how we view things. For example, think back to October. Those first few days of hitting 30 seemed downright cruel, didn’t they? And now, here we are in December, just hoping for a temp in the positive degrees.

I am not ready for these types of pictures, not that anyone is asking me.

I am not ready for these types of pictures, not that anyone is asking me.

 Amazing what a little time does, isn’t it?


The same is true for much of our lives. Take, for instance, the children in school. I know for a fact that my sixth-grader is pretty convinced that there is nothing harder than trying to figure out his algebra problems. And all I can think is, “Just wait until calculus!”


My fourth-grader is certain that without eating seconds, thirds or fourths at school, he will not be able to physically make it through the day. And all I can think is, “One day, that metabolism will start to slow down, boy!”

The tall one in the red? Yeah, that's my 9-year-old.

The tall one in the red? Yeah, that’s my 9-year-old.

 My first-grader is determined that he does not have to speak, unless he has fully surveyed the situation, has come to the conclusion that you are an OK person to speak to, and that he has something valuable to say. And all I can think is, “I know that one day I will not get you to be quiet.”

Yeah...that's the look that I will fear in years to come. Watch out ladies!

Yeah…that’s the look that I will fear in years to come. Watch out ladies!

 And my littlest one, the one that can cause the most trouble, all while looking the most innocent, he  believes that the world is his oyster, and there is nothing he cannot achieve, nor is there anything that’s out of his reach…literally, as well as figuratively.

Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

 And, for once, I completely agree. Yes, he may have some bumps and he may have some limitations, but as cynical as I may get sometimes, I know that he can achieve it all. They all can.


Yes, distance from youth may have made me a little wiser, a little more cautious in my optimism, but I know that their drive and motivation can take them far. And I would never do anything less than support them fully.


Much like these cold temps, going through a down moment is temporary. Once you’re on the other side, it’ll all seem so trivial. And you’ll be ready to face those demons once again.


Just as the temp tomorrow being 20 would seem like a welcome reprieve and a beautiful winter day, our point of view changes, based on where we’re at in life. And I, for one, cannot wait to change my perspective.


No, I’m no longer a 20-something with grand ideas of setting the world on fire, but I am a somewhat-sensible 30-something with a plan in place of making an impact on the world around me. I’ve made some pretty remarkable strides already, and already my perspective has changed.


You don’t have to live in an urban setting, you don’t have to own the newest gadgets, you don’t have to have the highest of degrees. You just have to have a little passion.


And then you have to try.

Day 26 – Thoughts on asking

I hate asking people for things. Seriously. I hate asking for help. I hate asking for more time. I hate asking, period. Really.

Why is it that I’m made that way? Why can’t I find it easier to reach out? I have some ideas, but it would probably take months of psychotherapy, and I ain’t got time for that. Hello, my name is Val, and I have a problem with asking.

But I needed to, so I did.

You see, I have a little project going on. I’m collecting names of people in need, and names of people that wish to help out, matching them up and letting the cheer of Christmas take over from there. It’s the third year that I’ve arranged this type of exchange, but this year I had a new problem: I had helpers, but no one in need.

I knew better, so I waited, and waited, and received more helpers and more helpers. So finally, I broke down and asked. And the response was OVERWHELMING!

I have so many great ideas, and I would love to implement every single one of them…and I might.

What is it about children and gifts? It just makes your heart warm up!

What is it about children and gifts? It just makes your heart warm up!

But asking is the only way I would have had the chance to put this all together. And now I have five days to get it all together, but I’m up to the challenge. And I have an extra spring in my step, and a purpose for shopping. I seriously don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I am stoked.

Perhaps I should have asked a little sooner?

Day 25 – Thoughts on shopping

It’s just a few days before Thanksgiving, and the controversial pseudo-holiday, “Black Friday,” which actually is Black Thursday night through Sunday, leading into Cyber Monday, leading into over-purchasing the rest of 2013.

Wait a minute…I got off track a moment.

I’ve been reading a lot of people complaining about some retail chains deciding to be open Thanksgiving evening, taking people away from their families and commercializing such a noble holiday. You know, the one where we celebrate with food and football? Overindulging, giving thanks for all that we’ve been blessed with, for just one day? Are you catching what I’m throwing yet? ;)

My blessings are many, including having a place such as this to raise my boys. And the work that comes with it.

My blessings are many, including having a place such as this to raise my boys. And the work that comes with it.

And here’s an even more shocking point of view: not every family celebrates Thanksgiving, and some celebrate it on different days, and some end up harvesting or working right on through it, and no one has boycotted our farm or family yet. Well, not that I know of anyway.

Does it bother me that stores are opening Thanksgiving eve? Not really. But then again, Thanksgiving was never a real big holiday for the house I was raised in. Since it was the end of hunting season, many times the week of Thanksgiving was spent butchering deer and pigs, making our own sausage, smoking it, stuffing it, wrapping it.

No, Thanksgiving has never been high on my list of must-celebrate holidays. But I also tend to think that I spend more than one day of the year being thankful for all I’ve been given. I don’t really need one whole day to catch up with the Big Guy Upstairs, making sure He understands how much I appreciate the gifts I’ve received. But that’s just me.

Will I be shopping Thursday night? Probably. I’m on a one-woman mission to bring this country out of the economic slump it’s facing. (Sarcasm folks, sarcasm.) And I may just save a total of $1.27 while doing it.

Actually, it’s the people-watching that gets me every time. Want to see the best and worst of human kind? Go Black Friday shopping.

I dare you.

Day 23 – Thoughts on Waldo

I am sitting in a delegate session while I am writing this, and have been struck by the most curious of thoughts: Where is Waldo?

No, really.

I am a member of North Dakota Farm Bureau. I enjoy sitting through the delegate session, watching public policy take shape. But it reminds me a lot of those books I used to look through when I was younger.

I sit and listen and watch, trying to find the voices of reason, the voices of passion, the use of common sense. It’s an amazing process to witness, and an exciting process to participate in. Yet you look around the room, and you see all the characters that it takes to make good policy…which is where Waldo comes into play.

A room of brilliant minds, passionate voices and forward-thinking people.

A room of brilliant minds, passionate voices and forward-thinking people.

After being actively involved in this organization for more than a decade, I know most of the characters that drive policy. And looking around the room, it’s like looking at a page in a “Where’s Waldo” book. Find the man with the purple tie and a knack for making the room groan when he stands up. Find the woman that sits as an alternate, yet speaks on issues that touch her heart, like school lunch. Find the guys that may have stayed out a little late last night.

Yes, it’s an amazing cast of characters. And as I sit here, in the back of the room, I know how lucky I am to be able to be part of this process. Maybe it’s the political-science geek in me, but this is the stuff that dreams are made of…and our public policy as a state and national organization.

So Where is Waldo? He’s right in front of me.

Day 21 – Thoughts on distance

I’m sitting in a hotel room, half-way across the state from my farm, and tonight I’m thinking about the meaning of distance.

According to the dictionary, distance is the “amount of space between two things or people.” And distance is a relative thing.

Distance no longer means what it used to, it’s much more relative now.

For example, you can be in the same room with someone, and still be light years away, or you can be half-way across the country, yet feel like you’re in the same room. And social media has closed that gap even further. I was talking to my friend on FaceTime the other night, while she was in her hotel room in Hershey, PA, showing me the pictures on the walls, her hotel key (with a chocolate bar on it, of course), and other cool décor in her room. I wasn’t there with her, but for a few moments, it was like we were in the same room, just having a chat.

It’s truly amazing what technology has done for our world, good and bad.

I can now say that I have friends that live entirely too far from me, when you figure it in miles, yet are right here with me, when you consider true distance. It’s amazing, and mind-boggling, all at the same time.

Now, if we could just get that teleportation stuff figured out…then we’d be getting somewhere! ;)

Day 20 – Thoughts on gardening

I love to garden. I really, truly do. My problem is time. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

One of George's favorites out of the garden this year!

One of George’s favorites out of the garden this year!

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about people who are pretty serious about where other people should get their food from…and here’s a deep thought for them: butt out.

I’m sorry, that’s not very polite, but I’m getting a little tired of the judgments that occur daily, without people thinking twice about what it is that they are truly saying.

Guess what? The world’s not such an easy place. Answers aren’t always black or white, and so many times we get so wrapped up in being right, that we forget what it is we’re even arguing about! Argh! (Sorry, there went a rant, I should have warned you.)

Let me put it this way: If you can garden, go ahead. If you can buy organic, go ahead. If you have 10 minutes to shop and the produce aisle in Wallyworld happens to be right next to the diaper aisle, go ahead.

We need to quit getting so wrapped up in other people’s business, shouting from the rooftops that they aren’t doing it “right” that we forget to be thankful that they can even make those decisions to begin with…there are so many that do not have that privilege. And yes, it’s a privilege.

I garden because I enjoy it, not because I do not believe that anyone else could possibly grow food for my children. I use my canner because it’s a tradition, not because I fear anything at the grocery store.

Homemade salsa, a staple for the winter months!

Homemade salsa, a staple for the winter months!

But my decisions are just that, my decisions. And you each have your own to make.

It’s a month of thankfulness, perhaps we should work on that, instead of judgments.

Just a thought.