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.

Standing out in your field

Some have asked why we would want our sweet corn to be able to be grown with our field corn, and I thought it would be easiest to just show you the answer:

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Our sweet corn is a little shorter, mainly because it likes warmer weather than what we’ve been having.

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But it’s growing well, and we’ve been able to keep it weed-free! Look at those cobs!

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If you want to catch up on just what our corn is, and why we’re growing it…check out my post from last year!

And just wait ’til you see what we were able to do with it! Check that out here!

UPDATE: Check out this new video released today!

Having never met…

The hubby and I have been on a whirlwind vacation/conference schedule for the last week or so. I have so much to catch up on, but something came across my screen that stopped me dead in my tracks.

I have previously asked you, my followers, to pray for my friend, Leontien, who was battling melanoma. It is with a very heavy heart that I share with you the news that Leontien gained her angel wings on January 10.

I had never met Leontien face-to-face, but it didn’t matter. We had a quick friendship, albeit online, as I’m sure many did. I remember one time I messaged her that someone had mistakenly assumed we were sisters. She simply replied, “haha oh my gosh that is soo funny!!! i loved your sweet blog and i hope you got lot’s and lot’s of comments and some new followers but it is really funny that they think you are my sister! I would love to have you as a sister!!!”

That comment meant the world to me…and we would “talk” to each other frequently through various social media outlets.

Our last personal interaction was at the end of November. Although Leontien knew that her battle was coming to an end, she asked if she could help with my Christmas Angel project. She wanted to make a lasting impression on someone…little did she know just how much she had already accomplished.

I dedicate this in her honor:

Having Never Met

Having never met…you taught me the value of sunshine, the value of rain and to know that when one is upon you, the other is around the corner.

Having never met…you taught me that the weight of a woman has nothing to do with what she accomplishes in life, and everything to do with how she accomplishes it.

Having never met…you taught me that even when the chips are down, there is someone there to help you pick them up. And no matter what, there’s always time for one more smile.

Having never met…you taught me that even when bad things happen to good people, good people receive the greatest reward. And true goodness is found in the eyes and the soul of those that possess it.

Having never met…you taught me that love is not just a feeling or emotion. It can even be an alpaca out your window.

Having never met…you taught me the value of a friend is not having to be there physically, but to know when just a simple word or phrase is all that is needed.

Having never met…you taught me about the person I will always strive to be.

My dearest Leontien…although we never met, I would like to thank you for all of this and, oh, so much more.

My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends that are grieving. In her spirit, I will continue to strive to make this world a better place…for she did that for me – and we never even met.

Faith in humanity restored…almost

Part of the craziness that I was alluding to in previous posts is the fact that my Dad recently had surgery. They basically cleaned out the arteries in his lower extremities, put seven or so stents up to his kidneys and called it a day. Oh yeah, and they wrapped the artery with the lining of a cow heart to help it heal and “patch” it. Cool, huh? Talk about value-added agriculture!

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. I want to tell you a little story about my trip into a store.

My Dad - I took this picture ice fishing last year. It's one of my favorites!

My Dad – I took this picture ice fishing last year. It’s one of my favorites!

On Friday, my Dad’s legs were hurting worse than usual. The docs had some concern about a blood clot, so I ended up driving him to the emergency room. Mind you, we were in the starting phases of a winter storm, so traveling wasn’t exactly pleasant.

After a few hours with the friendly docs, they determined that it was just a giant pool of fluid/blood (a hematoma), that was causing the discomfort, not a blood clot. Whew! So off we went, headed home.

My Mom had asked if I would pick up a few things in the larger town we were in, so I ran over to a near-by store and had quite the experience:

As I was waiting in line to check out the few items I had purchased, a lady came up to the customer service counter. Somehow a few extra bags of groceries were placed with her things, and she was returning the items that weren’t hers.

The cashier was extremely grateful, knowing that someone would be delighted to have their purchases back, and thanked her kindly for her thoughtfulness. Instead of walking away, with a happy heart, knowing she had made someone’s day a little brighter, the Good Samaritan asked to see a manager, requesting that she be rewarded for her honesty.


Is that the world we now live in? We’ll only do good things, if someone pays us for it? Was I being punked? Could this be happening?

I didn’t stick around to see how the situation ended up. I’m not sure if the lady was “rewarded” in a way that she felt was suitable or not. All I know is that I left the store with a heavy heart, wondering what happened to our society.

I have quickly come to the conclusion that although there is nothing I can do to change that situation, I certainly can do my part to restore a little faith in humanity.

What are my plans? Ah, you see, a true Good Samaritan never talks about their good deeds, and never expects a reward in exchange.

They just do what comes naturally.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Christmas Angel Project – 2012

OK everyone, I’ve got an idea up my sleeve, but I need all of YOU to help me. Got it?

Here’s the plan (bear with me, I may babble a bit, but there’s a good plan here, I promise!):

I want you to email me suggestions, ideas, requests for Christmas wishes. For the sake of this project, please don’t make them unattainable (such as houses or vehicles), but they can be as simple as prayer requests, or a gift card to get a few groceries…think of someone in your neighborhood who may be down on their luck, or a young family who could use an extra smile. Be creative, I know you can!

You can email those requests to…and then I’ll compile the information. I will take emails up until Dec. 15, after that point, our angels would need some time to shop/ship/make whatever is needed!

While taking requests for those in need, I’m adding a twist to this charity drive. I’m taking requests for those who want to give. I know that a lot of us give locally, but let me tell you from experience, that giving anonymously is an AMAZING feeling! Imagine getting a package in the mail that you weren’t expecting?!? Isn’t that the coolest feeling in the world?

Anyway, if you can also email me at and let me know if you’re interested in being an angel…to what extent, etc. I’ll match up my requests to angels and let God take care of the rest! Sound like a deal?

Now, for the most part, I’m going to keep the requests confidential…only angels will have the information sent to me. I’ll do my best to set up good matches, but I’m human, so there may be some trial and error going on here. But I’m so excited about this opportunity to share our good fortune and blessings with so many others!

So here’s how I have it played out in my head (just to give you an example): Angie emails me, telling me that a lady in her neighborhood could use a helping hand with a few groceries this holiday season. She sends me a list of local grocery stores, the lady’s address and any specific items she may know that she needs (whatever would be helpful). I then look at my list of “angels” and see that Suzy is interested in sending gift cards and has access to one of the stores that has a site near Angie’s neighbor. I email Suzy the address and request for Angie’s neighbor and let Suzy take care of the rest. Got it? Questions?

Now, I get that there could be problems, issues, etc. I don’t pretend to think that this is the ultimate in plans…but I think we can work together and iron out any issues that may come up. I’ll do what I can to check out both the recipient and the giver prior to passing out any information, but trust me, nothing top secret is really going on here.

Alright, get to brainstorming some ideas for gifts, and let me know if you can help out with the “angel” end of things. I’ll keep you updated everyday on how many “matches” were made…and if I’m in need of more of one or the other!

I can’t wait to get this thing rolling! 🙂

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The Ultimate Gift

I’m sure you’ve read about our sweet corn before. We planted it earlier this spring, have watched it grow, taken care of it and waited for the day that we could enjoy the product of our hard work…and now we’ve given the excess of our crop to some pretty deserving people.

Giving our corn through the ND Huger Free Garden Project.

The Great Plains Food Bank arrived on Wednesday afternoon and picked up the remainder of our crop that was ripe and have been able to make it available to food banks across the state of North Dakota.

I have to thank my friends, neighbors and everyone who volunteered to help with this crazy project of mine.  Especially those that came from a distance, like my friend JP who flew in from St. Louis, and my friends at the ND Dept. of Agriculture. Thank you all!

So many volunteers, thank you everyone!!!!!

I’m so happy that we are able to share this with those that are down on their luck, or are struggling to put a meal on the table. And I’m so happy that we were able to find a place for it, instead of seeing it destroyed by wildlife, time and eventually, our tractors.

Sacks of corn, ready to share across the state.

It’s been a crazy week, one I’ll have to tell you about later. I’m going to go enjoy a cob of corn, a cold glass of milk and some time with my kiddos. School starts next week, and I’m not ready…even if they are.

Monday madness – Giveaway!

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve sent off a package to a lucky blog reader, so I’m going to correct that problem today. By the end of today (midnight) I will pick a winner of this amazing bracelet from Premier Designs:

Talk about beautiful!

It’s a beautiful adjustable belt-buckle/rhinestone bracelet, and is stretchy, so I can truly fit anyone and everyone. I already have one, but snagged up this one specifically for you guys (and with Mother’s Day right around the corner, it would make a great gift!)

Just leave me a comment and you’ll be entered. Simple as that. I’ll announce the random winner tomorrow morning.

And don’t forget, help me out by spreading the word about my latest project…and if you have something you would like some help on, just give me a shout and we’ll work something out.

Oh, and stay tuned…it’s a double-post Monday. I’m working on a Hunk of Meat Monday recipe that will knock your socks off! (Well, it’s working on mine anyway!) Here’s a clue:

A yummy slab of pork for my Monday munchies! 🙂 Can't wait to share the rest of this with you!

Need your help – Memory Drive

A very near and dear friend to me is working on a project, and I would like to request your help.

You see, almost a year ago, my good friend lost a little boy. He was a true angel, in every sense of the word, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what to do. I have four boys of my own, and I know the anxiety that comes with going in for the “big” ultrasound. But I couldn’t imagine the pain and heartbreak of hearing that your child wasn’t going to make it.

I don’t know what I would have done in her place. I imagine that perhaps I would have shut down for awhile. Maybe turned inwards and blamed myself for what happened, or tried to move on without thinking, without feeling. I just don’t know.

But I do know what she did…she became a beacon of light for others. She is hurting, terribly…but she’s also making sure that her pain isn’t in vain. She’s using the energy to help comfort others, and for that, I feel she’s a saint.

June will mark the one-year anniversary of sweet Jacob’s passing. And in his memory, Jackie is having a donation drive to make Memory Boxes for other families that suffer from the same terrible types of loss.

And that’s where you come in.

These are the items that they are looking for:

  • Teddy bears, Lambs, other stuffed animals in all sizes
  • Hand/foot molds to make 3 D impressions of baby’s hand and feet as keepsakes
  • Soft Knit Flannel material in baby patterns (3 Yard pieces)
  • Books: Heaven Is For Real (adult and Children’s version)
  • Packets of “Forget Me Not” seeds (flowers)

And if you don’t want to send the items, or can’t find specific items, you can send me a message and I will purchase the items on your behalf. If you’d like to stay anonymous, I can certainly grant that wish.

If you have any questions, please email me at – items can be sent to:

Jacob’s Wings

c/o Val Wagner

8809 86th St. SE

Monango, ND 58436

Thank you. I know that I have an incredible group of people following me here, and I know that we’ll knock this one out of the park. *Please, pass this on.*

Common thread

A young boy, without a care in the world…a young woman, who followed her dreams…a man in retirement, making plans to enjoy himself. What could they possibly have in common?

Well, unfortunately, what they have in common is all too common…cancer.

This past week has been an overly tough one for me. But I’ve decided to turn the new month into a new goal…a battle against cancer, if you may.

I’m tired of this disease that takes, takes, takes. I’m tired of losing friends, family and loved ones in a battle that can be so one-sided. I’m just so tired of it all.

No, I understand that it won’t be changed today, or tomorrow, but someday…yes, someday…I’m confident that we will be able to provide better options for those that are faced with these battles. Science is there, we just need to support it.

And so, with that I’m declaring March Madness as my war on cancer month. A friend of mine has started a Relay for Life page, rounding up some social media friends and others to raise funds for cancer research. It’s a great cause and one that I fully support. And I’m choosing to support her efforts in an unusual way.

Kelly doesn’t know this yet, but I have heard somewhere that there is someone willing to match her goal of $315 raised, if she makes it to her goal by the end of the month. You can check out her progress (and give!) here.

As I’m writing this, my brother is sitting beside his friend, Jackie, in the hospital…waiting for her pain and suffering to end. A little more than a month ago, my uncle was planning his annual fishing trip to North Dakota, but we traveled to Wisconsin for a funeral instead.

Cancer is a common thread for so many, but as you learn quickly when cancer touches your family, you’re never in the battle alone.

If you would like to share a word of encouragement with Samuel and his family, you can find his CaringBridge site here…and you can follow along with Leontien’s battle here, or click on the link in the upper right-hand corner.

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.