About wagfarms

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

Are laws good or bad?

Yesterday I received a letter in the mail that I’ve been dreading for years. I was notified that our insurance will be discontinued on June 30. But I’m not supposed to worry, because they have a plan that’s “comparable,” that can start July 1.

Our insurance is being discontinued, like so many others...but don't simply blame a law and call it quits. Work for solutions. It's why we live where we live.

Our insurance is being discontinued, like so many others…but don’t simply blame a law and call it quits. Work for solutions. It’s why we live where we live.

Except I don’t trust that it is.

It’s not that I’m always this distrustful. But George doesn’t rely on me taking someone else’s word for it. We live in North Dakota. His pediatrician is in South Dakota. His specialists are in Minnesota. Right now, I don’t have to worry about things like “networks” and “preferred providers” and whatever other words they throw in the way of the search for medicine.

George, summer 2010, before we had a diagnosis more than "failure to thrive." This is the picture that I look at when I wonder if I'm pushing too hard...and then I push harder.

George, summer 2010, (about 16-months old, wearing 6-9 month clothing) before we had a diagnosis more than “failure to thrive.” This is the picture that I look at when I wonder if I’m pushing too hard…and then I push harder.

But I digress.

So, I posted last night that I received the dreaded letter, and the response was pretty much what I figured it would be – people blamed the law.

Is it the law’s fault? Did the law write itself? Did it pass on its own? Has it not had a chance to be corrected? The flaws less flawed? The problems less problematic? The promises more promissory?

And yet, we’re so quick to blame the legislation. Blame the party. Blame whatever inanimate object, thing or idea that cannot possibly take the blame. So where does the blame lie? (Here’s where I probably lose a little popularity…) It lies with legislators, lawmakers, elected officials…and us.

That’s right. I take partial responsibility. Do you? I voted. And have, in every election since I turned 18. Which means I’m partially to blame. Not because I didn’t vote “right,” but because I haven’t done enough to make sure that my lawmakers understand who I am, where I’m coming from and what it is that I need from the laws they are passing.

I cannot blame the law, when I haven’t done as much as I could do to ensure that the changes I need are being made. And that doesn’t begin and end with complaining – it includes constructive criticism, yes, but also solutions – real ones.

Let me be clear, I know of several families (real ones), that have been helped by the Affordable Care Act. I do not deny that we truly need access for all to health care, and health insurance, as well.

I guess it’s time I get to working on my suggestions for solutions, because I definitely have a problem.

What keeps me away?

Yikes…a little more than two months. I’ve missed you all. Really and truly. And I know you have a ton of questions, so ask away, and I promise I’ll answer them…all of them.

But before you start rambling them off, let me give you a quick run down of what’s been going on, so you can get a brief picture of what’s been happening, and what’s been keeping me busy…here’s my top 10 list:

  1. I finished my paralegal education. Finished. Done. Complete. That’s right, 18 months of education, finished with honors. My advice? Do it when younger. Yes, I was more focused, but my energy levels were lacking. And staying up until 3 finishing projects is not for someone on this side of 35.
  2. I was bit by a spider…or some sort of bug…at the end of November, which led to an infection and a whole mess of doctor’s appointments. And medicines. And not feeling so hot. Yep, I was a hot mess.
    The "tattooed" marker line showed the doctor if my infection spread at all. They should have used Z-tag marker.

    The “tattooed” marker line showed the doctor if my infection spread at all. They should have used Z-tag marker.

    The doc sliced an "X" in the wound to get it to drain...and although I have a scar still, I'm grateful for how well it healed now.

    The doc sliced an “X” in the wound to get it to drain…and although I have a scar still, I’m grateful for how well it healed now.

  3. My oldest son tackled his first set of semester tests as a seventh-grade student. And neither one of us required therapy. I’m making no comments about the number of glasses of wine I may have consumed.
  4. We all own a calendar and realize there were approximately three holidays in there, right?
  5. Since I was already seeing the doctor so often, I decided to do something drastic about this extra weight I’ve been carrying. It’s a work in progress, but it’s been a pretty successful one so far. I consider that a win. (And see #4 for the difficulty factor in this.)
  6. Science fair finished last night. I don’t think I need to explain any more.

    Big brother tested the staining effects of different non-dairy "milk" on egg shells. Lesson learned? Brush your teeth.

    Big brother tested the staining effects of different non-dairy “milk” on egg shells. Lesson learned? Brush your teeth.

  7. We lost a very close neighbor and had a close friend have two children involved in a tragic bus/train accident. One child did not survive. It’s hard enough understanding these events as an adult – trying to work through them with a pre-teen takes skills that I did not possess as a mother. But I have some amazing friends that can pull some amazing resources from out of thin air. And provide support for me as well. I owe them more than I could ever repay.
  8. Meetings. Winter is meeting season. And it’s not slowing down through February. But I’m going to do a better job of writing and scheduling.
  9. I took a time-out to spend some needed time with my kiddos. We spent Christmas break doing a whole lot of nothing – and it was the best schedule ever.
  10. Leaning in. I’ve been working on leaning in. Leaning in to my church. Leaning in to my boys’ schedules. Leaning in to my health. Leaning in to my hobbies. Everything has its season and time. And the last few weeks have been my time to reconnect – to real life.

But I must admit, I miss blogging. And I have no intentions of staying away. It’s a great tool, and one that I use as much for my benefit as anyone else’s.

So here’s to a great 2015. One more engaged.

An attitude of gratitude

Today is a day that I need to say a few words to some people that mean the world to me. I’m not going to mention any names, because those of you out there know who you are…and truly, most anyone reading this has played a role in all of this, and I owe you all a debt of gratitude.

Even on the cloudy days...you know the sunshine is still there.

Even on the cloudy days…you know the sunshine is still there.

First of all, I thank the Lord above for all of the blessings I’ve been given. And those have been too numerous to count. Friends, family, opportunities…seriously, I lead a pretty amazing life. I have some amazing kids. I some times shake my head at the wonder of it all.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t been all wine and roses. My life has not always been a golden path of gifts and a fountain of well-wishes. No…that’s not quite it at all. But the fact is, that your past makes you who you are, not what you have to be. The same goes for your experiences now.

The same is true for friends and family. You can grow together and grow apart. You can meet someone tomorrow that can become as close to you as anyone you have ever met. And you can wonder how you ever lived without them. Or you can rediscover someone you have always known, and remember why it is that you enjoy their company.

The beauty of it all is that it takes all types, all kinds to make it all work. And I have all types, all kinds, involved in my life. I have old friends, and new friends, and old new friends, and new old friends. I have friends that I have never met in person, and yet would do just about anything for…and I have friends that have never read anything I have wrote on a computer, and I would still do anything for them.

But the same is true for them all: you mean the world to me. I cannot stress enough how important you are to my day. You help me make sense of it all. I have this place where I can get it all out of my head. Let the words flow out, release, and be accepted…just as I am. Here’s a little secret: You may find this hard to believe, but I struggle with acceptance – a lot. I always feel as if I never have a place. I’ve always felt as if I’m never quite enough. And yet here – well, here…I am. And it’s mostly because of you.

Thank you.

Even on the cloudy days, the sunshine is still there.

Pause for a cause…Anne Carlsen Center

There are times in our lives when we see something, or are faced with something, and we are forced to take a step back and realize what we have been given…and the last few weeks have been that type of journey for me.

As many of you know, George (as you have all come to know him), my 5-year-old son, has a metabolic disorder that can have some pretty scary consequences if not taken seriously. I wouldn’t say that his diagnosis was stumbled upon accidentally, but it was definitely just the right mix of science and miracle. Our family has been blessed beyond belief. It has open my eyes to so many things, and I’m working through them, sharing my thoughts with all of you, as I work through them myself. (And for that, I thank you for your patience!)

But as we near the holiday season, my mind turns to those that haven’t had such an easy road. For those whose answers haven’t come so quickly, and without the successes that George has had…and for those that have had to make some hard decisions.

It is in those times that I am grateful that a place such as the Anne Carlsen Center exists. And I use the word “place,” like it’s a facility…and that doesn’t even come close to describing what it means to those that use its services throughout the state of North Dakota.

The center provides services, therapy, support, technology and training – but its so much more than that…it provides care, and love, and understanding, and compassion, and a shoulder when you are certain there is no where else to turn.

Usually, at this time of the year I start my Christmas Angel program – where I ask for you to send me names of people in your area that you feel could use a little pick-me-up. And then I set my angels to work, sending out little bits of sunshine to brighten someone else’s day. This year, I’m going to go about this a little differently. I’m going to ask that for each one of you touched by George and his story of success take the time to either make or donation or send a card of encouragement to the Anne Carlsen Center:

Anne Carlsen Center
701 3rd St. NW, PO Box 8000
Jamestown, ND 58402

It’s the season of thanks – but truthfully, every day is my season of thanks. Every morning I wake up and a pair of bright, beautiful, inquisitive eyes reminds me just how lucky I am. And I have three more pairs to back it up. I’ve been given so much, it’s not hard to pay it forward.

Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

Our journey is far from over…thank you for coming along for the ride.

The life of George…an update

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated on George’s story. And for those that have been following along, you’ll be happy to know that kindergarten has been going great! We’ve only missed 9 days so far, which in George’s world is pretty remarkable. And only once was it a pretty serious illness…but no hospital stays.

We had a check up at Mayo in October. The pediatric neurologist is amazed with our progress. She cannot believe how far he has come. We had a repeat MRI and the gaps in his brain that they have been concerned about have not grown any. Some serious miracles here, folks. Science and God…together.

Every day at Mayo, George would stop and say the Pledge of Allegiance to this flag. He's one amazing little kid.

Every day at Mayo, George would stop and say the Pledge of Allegiance to this flag. He’s one amazing little kid.

The last two weeks have been a bit more difficult. George has had some tummy issues that we can’t quite figure out. We’ve had an ER trip, a few docs visits…and it seems to be getting worse, not better. But we were able to get in to see a doctor this afternoon and we have a plan – and for some reason I always feel a little better when we have a plan. And if things aren’t looking better by Friday, well, then we are looking at another plan.

On day 2 at Mayo, George wore his Ninja Turtle sweatshirt. One doctor came up to him and shook his hand, and told him it was a pleasure to meet a real super hero. George is definitely MY super hero!

On day 2 at Mayo, George wore his Ninja Turtle sweatshirt. One doctor came up to him and shook his hand, and told him it was a pleasure to meet a real super hero. George is definitely MY super hero!

But with everything that has been going on, I’ve become a bit difficult. A little sensitive. Sleeping less. Needing more. Just not myself. I’ve lost a bit of my focus.

And then tonight, it all came sharply back into focus.

George was sitting behind me in the suburban on the way home. Today I had woke up late, managed to get the kids ready, worked, had rearranged schedules so I could squeeze in a doctor’s appointment for George, drove 45 minutes to the appointment, then back for two parent-teacher’s conferences, listen to my 10-year-old explain how a schoolmate had told him that he’s growing too fast that he’s going to die, talk to him about bullying and coping techniques, went to a book fair, gave my son some meds…and we were finally on the way home.

In the two minutes of silence that we were blessed with, George asked, “Is heaven fun?”

I didn’t know how…or if…I should respond. Why was he asking? Was he having dreams? Had he been hearing me talking to his doctors at Mayo? Had someone else been talking near him?

So I carefully said, “Yes, I am sure it is. But why do you ask?”

He said, “I just want to be sure I can play there when I die.”


I couldn’t say a word.

My 5-year-old made me speechless.

I sometimes get so wrapped up in the minutia of life…and I forget the big picture. And then George will say something and it will be like God tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me that in the grand scheme of things, the destination is much more important than the scenery along the way.

I do not know how many more tomorrows George has ahead of him…nobody knows how many tomorrows they may have. Yet I know that George faces a few more obstacles than the average person. But he faces those obstacles with more bravery and courage than I could ever muster.


Clean water, wildlife and parks – but dirty politics

Let me clarify a few things: First and foremost, I’m a mother. My four boys are my sun, moon and stars, even when they drive me crazy. On top of that, I’m a farmer, a rancher, an agriculture advocate, a student, a blogger, a paralegal, a softball player, a writer and someone who enjoys having a fun time. I am not an economist, a tax expert, a politician (yet), an accountant, a lawyer…none of those things.

boys on first day of school

I have four reasons for writing…and here they are.

So when I write, I write from the heart, I do my research and I write my opinion. It’s how I view the world, and the $18 per year that I spend on this site gives me the right to share those views as I see fit, within legal reason. If you want to point out what you see as flaws in my reasoning, I’m OK with that. But be careful what you wish for – because I like research. And I like information. And I like to share.

Recently one of my posts on Measure 5 apparently ruffled some feathers. I was told that my “pie analogy” was flawed. I actually find that funny, because one of the “Yes on 5” ads brings up the same analogy. Stating something along the lines that there’s still “enough to go around.”

He stated that this proposed constitutional amendment does not affect the general fund. I think he needs to double check that. Unless, of course, my research is all flawed. And it’s possible, since I’m not paid to do this professionally.

Check out the numbers yourself:

Oil Tax allocations for 2011-13 biennium

So that little issue should be answered. Yes, Measure 5 would seem to have an impact on the whole “pie” thing. But let’s say that wasn’t an issue. There’s still a lot of flaws here.

Let me check off my biggest concerns:

1) Mandated spending in our state constitution. How many times can I emphasize that this is a bad idea?

2) An extraordinary amount of money with no clear plan. It sets up a fund where money can be “granted” to projects that are approved by a board of people (only one is specifically a farmer).  $150 million per year. Almost $3 million per week. Yikes. I was told that it’s really not all that much money. I’m sorry, but as a mother of a child that has been diagnosed with a rare metabolic condition, I could only imagine what that type of money could do for research into a cure. Not that much money? I shudder to think of the type of world we’re heading towards, when you can scoff at that type of funding.

Yes, our family values the outdoors. But the type of funding tied to this constitutional amendment could change the world for a lot of kids in our state...including George's.

Yes, our family values the outdoors. But the type of funding tied to this constitutional amendment could change the world for a lot of kids in our state…including George’s.

3) I wonder if they forgot that our last legislative session passed a similar fund already. Oh, that’s right, though…they can’t buy land with that money.

4) We have some real needs in our state that this money can address. There are children with rare conditions that slip through the cracks. There is research that can be funded. There are advances that can be made.

I have no desire to get into a mudslinging fight. But I cannot put my children’s future at risk with this type of irresponsible mandate.

Do we really want to keep North Dakota’s traditions alive? Then let’s take care of the water, the air, the land the right way. Because it’s the right thing to do. That’s the North Dakota tradition.

My sunset tonight was just as beautiful as it was yesterday – and it will be beautiful tomorrow, too.

Hungry for Harvest – Chicken pot pie

I decided that I would start a little feature on my blog called Hungry for Harvest. I’ll post occasional, easy recipes that are a hit at harvest time. And my first one was a doozy!

I’ve never made homemade pot pies before. I don’t mind the one I buy at the store, and I always thought homemade ones were time consuming and difficult. I was wrong. And they are delicious!

The best part? Less than 15 minutes from start to in the oven. Can’t beat that during harvest season! (And I bet it would freeze amazing, too!)

Here’s my ingredients:

  • Two refrigerator pie crusts (go ahead, make your own, I’m just not that good)
  • Chicken breasts, cooked, cut up and seasoned to your liking
  • Frozen bag of mixed veggies (whatever you like)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Heavy whipping cream (milk, half-and-half, all work)

I sprayed a glass pie plate with olive oil, and then laid out one pie crust.

In a pan, I heated the chicken, soup, veggies and cream. Mix thoroughly.

Dish into the pie plate, top with second crust.

Pinch together the two pie crusts. I then pressed the edges with a fork. Slice four slices in the crust, about an inch from the edge.

Cook in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes, or until crust is golden.

chicken pot pie slice

Not the cleanest photo, but that’s real harvest cooking right there.

Stand back as the herd devours supper.

Four and twenty chickens...baked in a pie.

Four and twenty chickens…baked in a pie.