4H Mom No More

It’s county fair time again, but this year has brought some changes. For the last few years I’ve worn two hats – 4H mom and 4H leader, making for a pretty stressful fair week.

But for the first time in forever, I do not have a child with 4H exhibits. I am no longer a 4H mom.

To be honest, this change brought some sadness, but trust me when I tell you it only lasted about five minutes.

After years of crazy fair weeks, coordinating multiple projects with multiple kids, early morning baking sessions, printing off last minute project reports and a mad dash to the fairgrounds with a stop at Hy Vee to print off pictures, there were no projects from this house.


Instead of the exhausted, stressed out 4H mom secretly eating chocolate to stay calm, I became the quiet, calm 4H leader.

The mentor.

The cheerleader.

The support staff.

The filler-outer of forms.

The finder of classes.

The high-fiver.

And I took great pride and joy in the accomplishments of my 4Her’s, even sitting through the 4H rabbit show (which is as exciting as watching paint dry.)

And when the judging was over, I went out to eat with my co-leader and hashed over every blue ribbon, and purple ribbon, and State Fair ribbon.

Then I returned home to a quiet and clean house.

And ate some chocolate – just for the memories!


Whale of a Week!

You should see my house right now.

VBS prep and the County Fair just collided on our schedule and my house looks like Hobby Lobby on Black Friday.

I have pool noodles in the dining room, glue bottles on the kitchen table and a shark costume on the living room floor.

There’s piles everywhere.

My mind is just as cluttered as my house.

This year’s VBS prep includes costumes for a turtle, a shark, and an octopus.

I’ve never made a shark costume before and the instructions on Pinterest were vague. “Put the shark fins were you think they should go.”

Seriously? I’ve never even considered where shark fins should go!

You don’t want to know how many times I’ve ripped out Sharky (as we now affectionately call him!)

And then there’s the octopus.

I kind of went a little wild with the tentacles and the entire costume has a life of it’s own.



Every once in a while I take off the VBS hat and put on the 4H leader hat and help with projects, design the club’s backdrop and help write project reports.

And occasionally I’ve even put on my mom hat and cooked.

But more often than not, when one of the kids will ask about food and I’ll tell them to cook something.

We’ve eaten a lot of hot dogs.

My poor husband should get a medal.

Our conversations have been a bit one-sided this week and have gone like this –

“How’s the best way to attach elastic straps to a turtle shell made of cardboard and flannel?”

“Can you print the 4H sign?”

“Would you make some coral reef from this spray foam? And paint it?”

“What should we use to pad sharkie’s head?”

“Can you find the 4H backdrop?

“Can you pick up elastic on your way home?”

“Where do shark fins go?”

“Can you tell me again that I’m wonderful and that I can do this?”

And he does.

And I do.

And little by little we’re gaining on it.

The next 10 days are gonna be crazy!

But one way or another – we’ll make it!


PS:  Where do shark fins go?!


Embracing the Craziness

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I hope it’s true – ’cause a picture is about all I have time for!
4-HSo what’s going on?

My friend Kimmer’s here! And 2 of her kids. And Dagmar’s friend Lainers and a random nephew.

9 kids. At my house. Eating.

That’s the fun stuff.

Then there’s –

The county fair. 4H projects. Dead calf. Vet visit. Blown tire.  No rain. Stinky pigs.

But God is good.

And Kimmer and I picked up more chocolate last night. (sshh – don’t tell the kids or they’ll eat that, too!)

We’re loving the craziness and making some memories!

County Fair 2011

It’s that time of year again.

The time of year when my kitchen looks like a war zone but smells heavenly.

When oven space is a hot commodity and that recipe that we’ve made a million times together without failing – fails.


When my table is covered with entry tags and project write ups and we’re scrambling to find the 4H t-shirts.
PhotosWhen a year’s worth of work is condensed into a few paragraphs and pictures.

When this mama is weary – but proud.

It’s time for the county fair and today is 4H judging.

Fasten your seat belts – here we go!

4H Judging at the County Fair

The County Fair.

The very words put fear and trembling into the hearts of 4H moms.

It’s marked in red on my calendar.

D -Day.

This year we have all five children in 4H. That means a grand total of 19 projects and all of those projects are due at the same time on the same day.

In a perfect world my diligent children would have been working on projects all year – on their own – with little assistance.

My world isn’t perfect.

We worked on projects the week before the fair like our lives depended on it.  (For some of my children – it did!)

Despite the stress and the rush, each child was completed on time even if we did had to use duct tape. 🙂

Judging went very well. Very, very well.

Six projects were chosen for the State Fair.

One was an Outstanding Junior exhibit.

And all the rest were blue ribbons – except Buddy’s – he still a Clover Kid and only gets a rainbow participation ribbon.

And now it’s over for another year.

We’ll take a couple of days to rest up and savor the moment.

Maybe by then I will have all my brain cells back…

Pinwheel Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Pinwheel CookiesOnce again it’s time for the County Fair – and that means 4H projects.

Angel Girl has been perfected these pinwheel cookies as one of her projects.

She’s made a double batch of these little gems every week for the last few weeks.

These are a really fancy cookie to make and are sure to impress your friends and family – just like they impressed the judges!

Chocolate Swirl Cookies

1/2 cup shortening or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons cocoa

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, mixing well.

In separate bowl mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture with the milk.

Divide the dough in half. Set one half aside and add the cocoa to the other half.

Roll each half on between sheets of waxed paper to about 1/8 inch thick. Take the top piece of waxed paper off of both layers. Place the white layer upside down on top of chocolate layer and peel back the waxed paper.

Roll up the long side of the dough and refrigerate.

Using a serrated knife, slice into long roll of dough into slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until firm.


And Then It’s Over for Another Year…

It’s all over.

It was a l-o-n-g day of 4H judging at the County Fair, but it’s all over now.

And I’m a proud momma.

The kids did well.

4 projects are going to the State Fair.

2 projects are Outstanding Junior exhibits.

7 projects got a blue ribbon and one project got a red ribbon.

But most importantly, the kids did a great job exhibiting, had good attitudes and showed maturity (at least for one afternoon!)

I am beyond tired.

My brain feels numb.

But it’s all over for another year.

(She sighs a happy sigh)

Twas the Night Before the County Fair

4H County Fair

I am a 4H mom and the county fair is tomorrow.

Some of you can appreciate the stress that is implied in that sentence.

I have spent the last 14 hours of my life answering questions, finding lost pieces to projects, giving advise, tasting cookie dough, reading project reports, finding lost recipes, printing project reports, filling out exhibit tags, reminding, encouraging, prodding, and multi- tasking.

Notice I didn’t say yelling. Or crying.

Not yet anyway.

Things have gone amazingly smooth this year and most of the projects are done. We have a few little details to finish up in the morning and 4 children have baked goods to make so they are fresh for the judging tomorrow afternoon.

It’s a big day.

We have five kids with 14 4H projects and 11 open class exhibits.

I still have my sanity – for now.

Stay tuned…

I am a 4H Mom…

Upholstering the top of the foot stoolIt’s mid-July folks, the time all 4H moms anticipate with fear and trembling. It’s time for the County fair.

For those of you who are uninitiated into the workings of 4H, let me describe it like this: imagine that all of your children have all of their school projects due on the same day and at the same time.

I have four children in 4H this year, and our family rule is at least 3 projects. My brain has been functioning a little like this…

“Need to fix the printer to print off the last… has Dagmar started her bread?…where is Angel Girls entry tags…I still need the printer…Pedro has to start… is the varnish dry?…write-ups…I forgot the laundry…are we out of flour?… Matt needs to mount his picture…where is the label maker?…mint flavoring…Class 521 A or is it B…the printer…oh no! I forgot about supper!”

Finished foot stoolOne project in particular has given me grief. Pedro refinished an old oak footstool and looked to me for help to upholster the top. I’ve done things like this in the past, years ago before children, when I had complete thoughts and working brain cells.

Somehow we muddled through and everything worked out. But I learned an important lesson, “Just because it looks easy on HGTV, doesn’t mean you can do at late at night, just before the project is due.”

It’s time to heat up some lunch, pack up the projects and head to the 4H building. That’s where I’ll spend the rest of this warm summer afternoon with other 4H moms just like me, dazed, brain dead, and much too tired to have an intelligent conversation.

Now if I can just remember who I am and which children are mine…

4H Achievement Show

4H Emblem Today was 4H Achievement Show for the 4 oldest children. It was a crazy busy day, but just a small taste of what life will be like in my home a month from now when the county fair begins.

At the local Achievement Show each club member brings in their projects from the year and a former 4H leader looks them over, asks questions and gives helpful comments.

Then each member gets a picture taken with one of their projects. This picture will be featured in the local paper the week before the fair. Pretty cool!

When we woke up this morning there was just one finished project on the dining room table. There were many other projects scattered all around the house in varying degrees of completion.

It was crazy for a while, but all four children had at least one finished project to bring this afternoon.

Whew! Time for this 4H mom to take a break…I think I need some chocolate!?