WW – A Passion for 4H

Sunday was the annual 4H carnival at a near-by town. Scooter was tickled pink to be a part of it, and eventually Big Bro warmed up to the idea. Check out some of the great pics!

Why yes, yes it does!

Great cake for the cake walk!

Big Bro kept playing the cake walk game until this cake was gone. He was disappointed that it didn't come home with us.

Face painting, er, arm painting booth.

Scooter wanted to help out with the face painting, but he's only 8 and I didn't think he would do a very good job. Mom was wrong, and is proud to admit it. He made this flame, with oranges and yellows, and did an amazing job. He was so incredibly focused. Thank you, 4H!


Wordless Wednesday – Christmas Break

Great Christmas celebrations!


EJ lost a fingernail during a Christmas-gift-opening incident. Let's just say that it involved a concrete floor, knee-high boots and a hand. Needless to say, the fingernail was ripped completely out and EJ's days of being a hand model are over. Just when you thought you had your child's future planned. 😉


Scooter turned 8 on New Year's Eve. A tough time to have a party, that's for sure.


Grandpa tried to convince Scooter that he should share his birthday gifts...at least the cash ones!

The Unknown Christmas Gift

It seems like Christmas was ages ago, although a full month hasn’t even passed yet. The weeks before and after were so filled with activities and birthdays and trips and doctor’s appointments and all things crazy, that I didn’t even have time to digest it all.

Scooter and Big Bro, reading together. Scooter celebrated his 8th birthday New Year's Eve...EJ turned 5 Jan. 12. It's been a busy birthday/Christmas/holiday/vacation time!


But that’s usually when the really good stuff happens, and you don’t even know about it until later.

At least, that’s the way it works in my life.

The week before Christmas, I took my mom to Fargo for an eye appointment. Since we were already in town, we stayed up for a special Christmas party for children with special health concerns. It was George’s first time ever meeting Santa, and he was so enthralled with the big bushy-haired man. (I actually think he thought it was his dad!)

It didn’t dawn on me until after Christmas break was just about done that I had forgotten to send a Christmas gift to school with the boys for their teachers. When it hit me, I apologized to the boys immediately and promised to send them back to school with something for each teacher.

They told me not to worry about it…they had it covered.

They knew I was busy, and the day that I was gone to Fargo, they each took a book from the book orders that we placed and gave them to their teachers. Not only a gift to the teacher, but a gift to the whole class as well.

I tried to pretend that I wasn’t moved to tears, and thanked them both for being so thoughtful.

Sometimes I worry about raising boys in these times. Sometimes I worry that I’m not doing a good job, or that I’m doing something wrong.

But then sometimes I wonder how I became such a lucky mother, to have not one, but four amazing children gifted to me by God.

Tasty Tuesday – Two Treats!

I have two snack recipes ready to go…first is Homemade Root Beer, the second are Homemade Mozzarella Sticks. They are both super easy and sooooo delicious! Made a great after-school snack today! (And don’t forget about my Gooseberry Patch cookbook giveaway!)

Here we go!

Homemade Root Beer


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/2 bottle root beer extract

Doesn't take much, but tastes so good!

Dissolve yeast in a little tepid water. Mix extract with sugar, add a quart of water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a gallon jug. Add dissolved yeast, add enough tepid water to fill jug. Let stand 6 hours with cap off, then screw on cap and put in refrigerator. It is ready to drink as soon as it’s cold. (Root Beer recipe came from the Fullerton 125th Cookbook.)

Letting the yeast dissolve in tepid water.

Not dark in color, but full in flavor!

And treat number two:

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks


  • String cheese
  • Egg roll wrappers (or wonton wrappers)
  • Water
  • Oil

Only two main ingredients! So simple!

Place string cheese on egg roll wrapper, fold ends in and roll up the wrapper. Wet the corner of the wrapper with water to seal. Heat oil on stove top, place 3-4 sticks in hot oil. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until brown. Turn and cook other side. Drain on paper towel. Enjoy! (This recipe came off Pinterest. That’s right. I actually made something off Pinterest. Amazing. I know.)

Roll up stick (make sure ends are tucked in) and seal with a dab of water!

Send those sticks for a little swim in hot oil...this is extra virgin olive oil.

Really...to die for...really.

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Yes, Virginia…

I knew it would happen one day, but this one was a doozy…and I’m thinking someone may end up paying for it with her job.

Apparently a news anchor expressed her opinion during prime time that the easiest way to handle Christmas in these tough economic times was to tell children that there is no Santa Claus. Wow. I’m guessing the big guy’s gonna have some coal for someone’s stocking this year.

Now, as a mother of four children, oldest age 9, I’m constantly bombarded by the question, “Mom, is Santa real?” And my answer is always the same, “What do you want to believe?”

To me, the answer is simple. In a day when we are hit with so much bad news, so much doom and gloom, so many heart aches and issues, why do we need to pop the bubble of happiness that surrounds the Christmas season? Yes, my children know that celebrating Christmas is ALL about the birth of Jesus and what He has sacrificed for us. Christmas is a religious holiday in our house. Always has been, always will be. But does believing that someone delivers a gift for you, without expecting anything in return, all that different?

My children have never been told that a man in a red suit and reindeer is at our house. We don’t have a fireplace, and cookies aren’t always left. Sometimes we’re home, and sometimes we’re not. They know that the Santa’s in the mall are not the “real” Santa. And whatever else they have made up in their mind, is just that, their own beliefs.

Telling the world during the newscast that the solution to your financial woes at Christmas is to break your children’s hearts and tell them that the mystery surrounding Christmas is fake…well, that’s just plain mean. And I can tell you for a fact that it’s not true. There is a Santa Claus. He might not live at the north pole, he might not like cookies and he may be allergic to reindeer fur, but he’s real and he’s important and he lives inside each and every one of us.

And if you don’t believe it, then why would a woman from North Dakota set up a project to send gifts to and from people all around the country? (Speaking of which, click on the blue angel in the top right corner…I’m looking for more angels!) Why would a company set up red kettles throughout the country, knowing that others will give when they can? And why would children willingly give up their gifts, to another child that they know would appreciate it more?

God and santa CAN coexist…I’m pretty sure both big guys are OK with that. I know I am.

Gooseberry Patch Recipe #7 and a KitchenAid!

Last night I was planning on being involved in a great online connecting party with Rockin’ Rural Women…but fate stepped in. At about 8:20 p.m., our power went out. And it stayed out forever (according to my boys).

Things that I learned last night:

* Four-year-olds will turn on every light in the house, and then report back that, yes, the light in such-and-such a room is not working either.

* For some reason, my boys cannot fall asleep if the power is off. I don’t know why, but believe we should have a federal study regarding this phenomenon. Really, it makes more sense than some of the other things they study.

* LeapPads make great flashlights when surprised with a power outage.

* Throwing out all my candles when my boys went through a stage of playing with them, was (in hindsight) not the greatest idea I’ve ever come up with.

* During a power outage is not the best of time to find out that your children have taken all the batteries out of your flashlights. But, I mean, how else would they power their toys when you refuse to replace dead batteries? I may have to rethink my decisions here.

Yes, it was an interesting, exciting and quiet evening. But we got through it. And thankfully, I had put some potatoes in the oven before the power went out…and they were the only thing done enough to eat for supper! But the boys LOVED them! And I’ll make them again (along with the rest of supper), tonight.

Here is Gooseberry Patch Recipe #7…Buttery Parmesan Potatoes


All you need, and I had it all on hand!



  • 3 T. butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 redskin potatoes, halved

Everything, ready to go. So simple!



Pour butter into a 9″X9″ baking pan; sprinkle cheese over butter. Arrange potatoes cut-side down over cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until tender. Serves 4.

*Notes: You can easily bump this recipe up to serve more. And it’s absolutely, wonderfully easy and delicious. My boys requested more…and were disappointed that the power was off and we couldn’t make more. But I promised more tonight, and that’s what we’ll have!

Just to prove the power was out. (Actually, I took this photo minus the flash...didn't work so well in the dark.)



After serving each child half a potato, I thought I might have some left to taste!



I was wrong.




Cost : Are you sitting? Nothing. Nada. Zip. I had the butter and Parmesan on hand, and the potatoes were from the garden. So, it truly, truly was a “Dinner on a Dime.” Love it!

Now, be sure to enter my KitchenAid giveaway. I will be drawing a lucky winner at NOON on Monday! What a way to celebrate the end of a great Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Halloween…all in one! 🙂

Halloween from the Past

Photobucket(Baxter, the Bat)I’m trying to come up with a great Halloween idea for my kids this year. Last year, we didn’t do anything special, because George was once again not feeling well…but this year, we hope to really do a bang-up job!

The year before that we had a Star Wars theme…and I have to say, the boys were cute as buttons (in a totally Star-Warsish-tough-guy way).

Here were my three big boys:

Scooter, EJ and Big Bro, all decked out.

And then came our little George…I made his costume:

My lovely little Yoda!

Yep, those are Shrek ears, folded down. Simple. The shirt is just a brown onesie (does yours have words on it? turn it inside out, or better yet, backwards!). Then brown pants. The “jacket” is a simple tan sheet, cut in the shape of a hoodie, then sew the sleeves together and put the hood together. Had I been blogging at that time, I totally would have shown a step-by-step way to make your own. Dang it!

Oh well, if you have specific questions on how to make one, I can make another and show it to you…it was a rough finish, but from a distance no one could tell. And I don’t think it turned out too bad!

But now for ideas for this year. Anyone?

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Wind of Change

Today has been a windy day on the prairie. And not just a little windy, but Wizard of Oz, there’s-no-place-like-home windy.

It’s been a rough 24 hours for the Wagner boys. First of all, yesterday a gentleman came in the yard to buy hay…and he had a pickup load of dogs (four to be exact). Just before they left, the dogs attacked and killed EJ’s kitty. He handled it pretty well, but the older boys took it pretty hard. *sigh* One of the dangers of farm life, I guess.

Then this morning, we woke up to this:

Uh oh, something doesn't look right here.



This time, it's not going to be a set-it-up-and-go kinda fix.



Yep, that's a doozy.



This horse may have to be put down.



I’m a little concerned about our garage (you know, the one without doors, thanks to this summers wind storm?), but I guess time will tell. May these winds settle down fast!

Thankful Thursday – Zoo Days

Yesterday was a crazy day…really, really crazy. So today, I was looking back through some photos and remembered a trip I took with my boys to the zoo.

It wasn’t that long ago, and we took some of my nephews with. It was so much fun…and on days like today (when I feel lousy and exhausted), it’s a great chance to relive those moments.

So here we go:

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Eating Dinosaur Eggs

Just thought I would throw out a quick blog update, so that you didn’t think that I had fallen off the face of the planet. Actually, harvest is upon us and things are getting busy around here. This week we:

  • need to clear an area for our new hay shed
  • need to freeze more corn
  • need to can more salsa and tomatoes
  • finishing my Dad’s siding project
  • county Farm Bureau annual meeting
  • attended a funeral
  • school functions/homework/etc.
  • prepare for corn chopping
  • get ready to wean cattle
  • prepare for my trip with Katie to the Small Town 140 Conference in Hutchinson, KS!!! (I’ll be a presenter there!)
  • prepare for a return trip to Rochester
  • get ready for a super-huge, ginormous rummage sale next weekend
  • get ready for Applefest
  • get some freezer meals ready for the rest of harvest

Sounds simple, right?

But this little story had me giggling this morning, so let me share with you…

EJ (4), asked if he could eat some oatmeal for lunch. I didn’t have a problem with that at all, I mean, a simple, fast meal that dirties one dish and can be made in a minute? Sure, count me in! I had picked up some special instant oatmeal packages the last time we were in Aberdeen, so he grabbed one of those and away we went.

EJ’s job was to open the package and put it in a bowl. I add the water, we push the buttons on the microwave together and voila! A meal is served. But he had a bit of a problem when he opened the package.

Dinosaur eggs in your oatmeal? Why not?

“Mom, what are those?”

“Hmmm….well, it says that those are dinosaur eggs.”

“Mom, I don’t think I’m hungry any more.”

“Don’t you want dinosaur eggs in your belly?”

“No, they might eat me.”

Well, being the nice mom that I am, I only tormented him for a little bit, then explained that they were actually just like little jelly beans. I would’ve kept the ruse going longer, but I didn’t want to have to make something else for lunch! 😉