About wagfarms

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

Why I beat my kids…

Put down the phone. Seriously. It’s not what you think, I promise.

Let me explain…

Yesterday, while picking George up from daycare, I noticed someone watching our exit. As I thought about what they had seen, I figured they were picking me out as the worst mommy in the place, but I was actually trying hard not to be. Really hard.

Almost every day that George goes to daycare, we race to the door. And every night that I pick him up, we race to the suburban. And to tell you the truth, about half of the time…I beat him.

Terrible, right?

Except not.

At the tender age of 4, my son is learning that Mom doesn’t always have to protect him from everything. That he’s responsible for his own wins and losses. That he can lose gracefully and still love the person you lose to. Of course, he just thinks he’s having fun.

And the same is true at home. We win some games, we lose some games, fits are not allowed, but good sportsmanship is mandatory. Is it hard to lose? Certainly (especially to your mom), but it’s a lesson that we don’t teach often enough these days.

It’s time that we stop telling our children that there is nothing they can’t do…because, truly, there are things they can’t do…at least, not right away. And if you never have to strive towards a goal and work hard, then what’s the value of winning?

Being an adult is hard…but having to become an adult and never having to stand on your own would be harder yet. So let’s spend a little less time making sure everyone has a trophy, and a little more time making sure that everyone is learning something.

And to the lady who may have thought I was off my rocker yesterday…yes, I was racing a 4-year-old, and yes, I won. But Mom needed a little boost to her self-esteem, too. ;)

My prize? The biggest smile and a great big kiss from the cutest 4-year-old I know. I’d do it again in a second.

Teaching our children includes teaching them how to lose, not just win.

Teaching our children includes teaching them how to lose, not just win. And when the prize includes a smile like this, that can melt your heart, well, you better believe that I give it my all!

Who are you growing food for?

A few weeks ago I spent a day at a conference, where I participated in a session that discussed how independent seed professionals could engage with their growers. It really got me to thinking about the reasons why we do what we do…and that includes our crop/livestock decisions.

What seeds are you planting today? Who are you planting for?

What seeds are you planting today? Who are you planting for?

Here’s the deal: we spend a lot of time reading articles and blog posts and listening to the activists and those that have the time/means/ability to use media to increase their audience. I know how that goes, I do it as well.

We aim our messages at the masses that fire back at us, the vocal minority that give us reason to pause and take note of what we’re doing, and more importantly, why we’re doing it. And I have no problem with that.

But do you know who I would really like to hear from?

Those that don’t have access to a blog community. The homeless woman in NY…the single father of four in Chicago…the family in San Diego where both parents work two jobs. THOSE are the people I want to reach. THOSE are the people I’m most concerned about.

But those are the people that have neither the time, nor the connections to speak to me. So I will continue to reach out, to explain our decisions, to answer questions, all while knowing that I haven’t quite reached my goal. Because where would we be without goals that we haven’t reached?

Don’t get me wrong, I love to be challenged. I love having to think outside the box and no one should be afraid of having their beliefs questioned. In fact, I enjoy it. I have some pretty strong convictions, if you haven’t noticed, and I’m willing to stand behind them, explain myself, whatever it may be.

While at that conference, one of the people listening asked how we respond to the accusations. Although some would suggest that you don’t respond, my answer was this:

There’s no one I don’t try to respond to, whether or not I agree with them. You’re not responding to change that person’s mind. You’re responding for those that haven’t made up their mind, those that don’t feel strongly enough to submit a comment, those that are just watching the conversation. THAT’S where you can make a difference.

So who are you growing food for? Your family? Your neighbor? A family in Chicago? Your customer is who you should be concerned about…and once you have no customers, than the answer is in front of you.

Glorifying God doesn’t require a diet

I’m going to ask for forgiveness from the get-go. I have a feeling this post may cause an eyebrow or two to rise, if not some full-out protests. But I have a confession to make…I have a problem with diets. Especially those that claim to have a higher calling.

Stick with me a minute. I have a pretty sound reason. But it takes a second to explain.

Let me start with this: my son is limited in his diet. Genetically he cannot handle much protein. In fact, when we first started his “diet,” he was limited to 9 grams of protein per day. To put that into perspective, a glass of milk is about 8 grams of protein. There is protein in almost everything we eat…bread, noodles, potatoes, some veggies, dairy, and meat. The only “freebies” are sweets and fruits.

Let's eat intentionally, instead of judging food choices that are different. Some do not have the freedom of choice...such as those that must eat what is given.

Let’s eat intentionally, instead of judging food choices that are different. Some do not have the freedom of choice…such as those that must eat what is given.

So where is my problem? I’ve had a few acquaintances come out flashing their new diets as a badge of honor. They are deciding to give up certain foods and habits, as a hardship in honor of God. Which I’m completely OK with…but I question the message it sends.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for eating healthy and being aware of what we’re putting in our mouths and our bodies, but I question what we’re telling those that have no choice.

For example, I recently read an article where a young woman claimed to give up meat as a way to be closer to God. She stated that the hardship was worth it, because she knew what Jesus had given up for her soul.

So what does this mean for my son? Since he has no choice in his diet, does that mean that he’s destined for a life of being unable to show his gratitude? If he finds himself really wishing he could enjoy “forbidden” foods, does that make him less worthy than the others?

"Diet" means something different to him than to most people.

“Diet” means something different to him than to most people.

And then there’s the ridiculousness of it all. What happened to common sense? And someone profits from this? Really? Is that a sign of righteousness? Someone being able to sell a book?

Sorry…I did get a little snarky there. But I just question a lot of the “diets” going around.

Here’s my take on it all: Imagine, if you will, someone deciding no o use he leer “T” in heir communicaion. No maer wha, hey don’ use he leer “T.” I’s no ha hey can’ use he leer, nohing is sopping hem from doing so, hey jus feel called o no use i. Now, ruh be old, i doesn’ change much abou heir life, i jus makes communicaion wih ohers a lile more difficul.

Now, for someone who may actually have a speech impediment that prohibits them from using the letter “T,” they may actually be offended, hearing someone not use the letter, just because they feel God is calling them not to…when that person has been dreaming of being able to speak with the letter “T” for their whole life.

Does that make sense?

This is how I imagine my son feeling, if he knew that someone was mimicking his diet without a medical reason to…and I am pretty sure I would feel the same way.

I have no problem with eating healthy, exercising more and becoming more intentional in our eating as a society, but I do not believe that we’ve been given dominion over all of the gifts of this land, only to judge and chastise those that enjoy the fruits of our labors.

For those that have dietary needs that severely restrict their choices, it isn’t a decision that they take lightly…and I know that many would wish nothing more than to be able to enjoy a day of not thinking about what they are craving and to enjoy those foods that are otherwise forbidden.

And what about those that can’t afford to make such decisions? Are they less worthy?

Instead of giving up desired foods as some sort of “gift,” why don’t we just eat more intentionally…and treat each item produced as food as the gift it was meant to be.

Genesis 9:3 – “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”

I went hog hunting…really

Howdy, folks. Sorry about the delay in writing. It appears as if life snuck right up on me and bit me in the behind. ;) Really, that’s basically what happened. But it was worth every minute.

Let me start by saying that our holiday was amazing. I spent a few days with my boys, have been able to get things pretty well back in order and have even enjoyed a minute or two to myself. Hard to believe, I know.

And then I traveled to San Antonio, TX, for the American Farm Bureau annual meeting. And I took the opportunity to go hog hunting with a friend of mine. And although I was not successful, in the most basic definition of the word, it was an experience that I will never forget.

This was my special tag for hunting hogs in Texas. Really. Truly. I didn't think it would happen.

This was my special tag for hunting hogs in Texas. Really. Truly. I didn’t think it would happen. And yes, I did the nails, just for the hunt.

Let’s just say that I don’t believe that Miss J and I could ever do anything the “easy” way. It’s always an…adventure…to say the least. And this was no exception.

The details in the hunt are really not that exciting. We sat in a blind, in the dark, for roughly six hours. We saw a few pigs that were located close to us, but to our left and slightly behind us, in the blind spot of the blind, you may say. Add to that the fact that I had never used a night-vision scope, and well, let’s just say the pigs are still happily destroying Texas countryside.

Daylight view from our blind. The night-time view was remarkably darker. (Sarcasm...that's sarcasm.)

Daylight view from our blind. The night-time view was remarkably darker. (Sarcasm…that’s sarcasm.)

But our discussions were interesting. And there was a moment when an acorn dropped on the roof of the blind (steel roof, mind you), and Miss J believed for a split second that I had shot my gun.

No, the trip was definitely laughter-filled. And when we wrapped up, right around 11, we knew that it was an experience worth having gone through, even if we didn’t do it again.

And then the story becomes even more interesting.

You see, Miss J and I were dropped off some 20+ miles south of San Antonio at a gas station by a cab driver. He had been driving us around most of the day, and was willing to come back to get us, but he didn’t answer his phone.

So we get dropped off at a gas station, in the middle of nowhere, with no cab driver, and a guide that was ready to go home. And the gas station was closed. And our guide didn’t like to go into town. What do we do next? We call the yellow cab company. Problem solved. Send someone our way, we’ll be on our way back to our hotel.

Except we weren’t. The cab company never sent anyone.

And time ticked by.

And finally…finally…it was decided that our guide would at least get us closer to town. Which is a step in the right direction. Because, really, what choice did we have?

Long story short, we get dropped off by our guide just a block or two from our hotel. We had offered to be dropped off where we had walked earlier that day, but were quickly informed that it wasn’t  safe neighborhood to be in. Handy information to have, after the fact. :)

All in all, the trip was amazing, even though nary a hog was shot. The story itself is so remarkable that few would believe it from beginning to end.

But that’s the way real life is lived…just on the outskirts of believable.

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?