The space between now and the future

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Coming Home: 10 years just a ‘blip on the timeline of forever’
by Jessie Veeder
8-14-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

We measure our lives by years. We mark them as they pass and wrap them up neat in a package to commemorate. We move on and look back

I sat down this morning to write something trivial, like “Ten reasons you shouldn’t wear shorts on the ranch,” because last week the calf tongue up and down my bare leg reminded me. And then the leaky garbage bag reminded me again. And then a frog in my garden took a flying leap and landed splat and slimy on the back of my thigh, and I thought surely it was a sign that I needed to make a public service announcement on the importance of long pants around the barnyard … but then I looked at the calendar, and I was reminded of something a little more important.

(And really, that’s all I had about the shorts thing … some weeks, the idea pool’s a little shallow).

Yes, the gears shifted a bit when I realized that on Aug. 12, I’ve been a wife for 10 years.

For 10 years, I’ve had a man living in my house, leaving his tools on the kitchen table and unclogging the hairball from the drain.

For 10 years, I’ve been mismatching that lovely man’s socks and confusing everybody and the IRS by using two last names.

And I feel like I should be more sentimental about it all. Ten years is a nice, even number. A milestone. Something to celebrate.

But then, 10 years is only a fraction of the time my husband has kept some of the T-shirts in his drawers … This isn’t getting romantic very quickly, is it?

Well, no one’s ever accused us of being overly starry-eyed. For the first few years of our marriage, I thought our anniversary was Aug. 19, so that’s how much I pay attention to things like this.

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But truthfully, I don’t really measure the success of our relationship by the calendar. Lord knows I’ve known this boy who became my husband for long enough to mark our friendship and love as a victory, but time is only part of the equation.

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I think the way we spend that time is what we like to lament about when we hit these big milestones together. Like, dear husband, remember when we loaded up your dad’s 1970s pickup camper on the back of his old Ford and headed across the great state of Montana to camp in Yellowstone together? And remember that it was 104 degrees? And the pickup didn’t have air-conditioning? Remember the cooler of ice we kept in the back seat and the way the grasshoppers felt slamming into the hot, bare skin of our arms resting on the open windowsill? Remember how, when we finally made it to our campsite and unloaded our supplies, the sky opened up and it started pouring? And you just laughed and cooked our hot dogs on the tiny stove in that tiny old camper?

I loved you so much for the way you could just do things like that, so effortlessly. You can’t be shaken. And that was the start of it all, really. That calm you possess has carried me through a life we try to spend making the minutes count toward a bigger picture we’ve been promising each other will emerge someday.

Although sometimes it’s been hard to see it. And I know that 10 years is just a blip on the timeline of the forever we’ve promised each other. Ten years together as part of this family has shown us that you’re not promised the plans you’ve made and you’re not promised forever. Or tomorrow.

And while the top 10 reasons not to wear shorts in the barnyard fell flat, the top 10 lessons I’ve learned from 10 years of marriage would make a nice and neatly packaged little piece. But I’ve had 10 years to craft those words, and I’ve learned plenty along the way — about myself and about the man who lies beside me every night — and the only thing I can say for certain is that I want him around because he’s good to me.

And I try to be the same for him.

And that’s all I want in the space between now and the future.

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What it takes to be a dad

I’ve always said that men can’t multi-task. This weekend Husband proved me wrong.

Apparently it just depends on the task.

This is fatherhood.

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I’ve wondered a long time how it would look on him.

On Sunday mornings when we don’t have to rush off to some big chore right away, it looks like this.

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And on nights when things are rough (like when she’s cutting top and bottom teeth at the same time and mom had nothing but a granola bar and guacamole for breakfast, lunch and supper) it looks like this.

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And while there’s no question that there is plenty of sacrifice in being a mother, I think sometimes we’re guilty of skipping over the dad part.

Like, we just got in from a beautiful summer evening, an evening Husband could have used  to fix fence or ride through the cattle or go fishing or drink beer on the deck, pretty much anything else in the world, but he didn’t. Instead he spent it in his fancy shirt carting the baby around the hills and smiling for a photographer so we could get those family photos I’ve been talking about for weeks.

And while I will admit that I’ve complained plenty during my six + months of being a momma (knowing full well I should just shut my mouth and be grateful after all we’ve gone through to get to this point but sometimes I’m tired and sometimes it’s hard) but I will tell you the truth here, the man I married hasn’t complained one moment about his role as a dad.

Not one moment.

Even when I leave for the night and she only wants mom and lets him know it loudly and for a long time.

Even when she poops through her pants and on to his.

Even when he has to leave his perfectly cooked steak at the table to bounce her on his knee.

Even when he has to take part of the day off work to give me the chance to do my work.

Even when she cries in her carseat the whole hour drive home, and so do I.

And what great qualities to find in a man, the ones that aren’t written about in the Cosmo Magazine articles about dating and finding a perfect match, the ones that will make him a good father to the kids you may one day have together. The most important ones.

Turns out, in the end, it isn’t his six pack abs or his high paying power career or his kick ass karaoke skills that really matter when you find yourself at your wits end because you can’t get the damn carseat installed or you need someone you can count on to get home from work when he says he’ll be home from work because you have a deadline or somewhere you have to be. No. All those things are fun and the karaoke skills may come in handy for the lullabies, but it’s the steadiness, the strength of character, the reliability that matters the most when you need it the most. Because turns out the task of raising a human just might be the most terrifying and wonderful and most important part of your relationship. And so you should pick accordingly.

Not something you really think of when he put a ring on it.

But it’s true.

And after a long day with a teething baby where I only had granola and guacamole for breakfast, lunch and supper, I am glad to be in the trenches with a man who was built for this stuff.

And I’m so glad to know that I did something right, picking him to be Edie’s dad.

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Happy Father’s Day to you and to all the good ones out there.

Love,

Your girls

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To nurture the world…

My heart is heavy today. I’m looking for a reason not to be afraid of the world I’ve brought my daughter into.

50 souls. 50 brothers, sisters, wives, best friends, grandchildren, aunts, uncles. Mothers. Fathers.

Sons. Daughters.

5o more with physical and emotional wounds.

A country torn and aching and seemingly at a loss of what to do next.

I spent the day yesterday in little spurts of tears, going back and forth from the garden to my baby, because there was nothing I could do personally to change things and I just felt an overwhelming need to nurture the world at my fingertips.

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“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”-Fred Rogers

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A Spring Dinosaur Hunt

As the weather’s warmed up a bit, we finally get to spend some time outside. And it seems I was given the right baby because Edie loves it as much as I do.

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And as much as the dogs it seems. Every time I put her in the carrier, eyes facing the world in front of her, she calms. She looks. She kicks her legs. She laughs at the dogs running in front of her. She looks up at the sky and smiles.

I wish it were spring and 70 here forever, and maybe that she would stay little, so that I could take her out like this every day.

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A few weeks back on a pretty nice day (yeah, these photos are from a few weeks back…I’m not as quick on the updates as I used to be) Little Man came over to visit and we all went out on a walk, Little Man, Little Sister, Pops, Edie and I.

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Little Man wore Husband’s cap to keep the sun from his eyes and Little Sister wore Edie because when she’s here the two are stuck together like glue.

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Edie wore her hat and and sunglasses and other hat and snowsuit of course. Because it was  warm but not that warm. And windy. And sunny. A typical North Dakota spring day and a girl’s gotta dress the part.

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Pops grabbed a walking stick.

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I grabbed a camera and we were off on a hike up the hill and past the dam and through the trees.
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A hike that soon turned into an imaginary dinosaur hunt where we all got assignments and duties from the Pre-schooler.

Pops was the hunter, Little Man was the scientist, I was the photographer and Little Sister and Edie needed to be on the lookout.

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Maybe when Little Man grows up he’ll be an actual scientist, but he’d also make a pretty good movie director.

And while we were hunting for bones we looked for spring.

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The weeks that passed since taking this walk and taking these pictures has greened things up considerably. Edie has even gotten to go on a walk without her second hat and snowsuit, so summer’s just around the corner.

And I have so many things to say about spring out here. You know me.  I want to tell you how I got back in the saddle for the first time since finding out I was pregnant over a year ago and it was the best therapy in the world. And how I saw and heard a rattlesnake outside our fence the other day while I was on a walk and it scared the shit out of me. And then how we watched two elk come down to water in the dam outside our house and no matter how many times we see them it’s still pretty magical.

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And how the blossoms smell and how, when I call Gus back, Dolly crouches down beside me and waits to tackle him when he arrives. Every. Singe. Time. And it’s hilarious and Gus deserves all the pestering he’s receiving.

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I want to tell you how I love this little boy, who just graduated from Pre-school and is on to Kindergarten in the fall, who wants to be a cop and a scientist and a cowboy and everything, he can’t pick just one.

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And there’s more I have to say, you know there is, but the baby is waking in her crib an it’s time for our morning snuggle. So I’ll just leave you with this…

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And this.

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Happy Thursday and Happy Spring. May you find time to get out and enjoy it with your nephew and Little Sister and your Pops and your baby and your dogs…or whoever you love who you can convince to go dinosaur hunting with you…

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Sunday Column: Small Houses/Big Love

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Since baby Edie arrived, it seems we have a house full of company more often. She sure draws a crowd, and it’s taking me back…

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Sunday Column: Small houses feel big to kids who fill them with love
by Jessie Veeder
5-1-16
Forum Communications

 The first few years my husband and I were married, we lived in the house where my dad was raised. Gramma’s house stood modestly next to the red barn on the end of a scoria road.

 

That was just one string of memories I had attached to the house, but they all sort of looked like that, a piece of the good life attached to a pile of cousins gathered at Gramma’s.

 

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My sister Lindsay, me and my cousin in the Veeder house on Easter morning.

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The Veeder cousins with Grandma Edie during Easter at the Veeder House. I’m directly next to my grandma in the adorable striped jumpsuit, always a good choice in the early 90s.

It was my favorite thing in the whole world to meet up with these people who sorta looked like me. They were the only ones in my life who understood that the hay bales covered in snow stacked by the barn were really Frosted Mini Wheats and we were shrunken kids trying to escape the giant spoon. The short, bald gumbo hills in the pasture actually formed a mansion, and we were the fabulous people who lived there. The scoria road that wound up the hill to the grain bins was actually the Yellow Brick Road and, after a long discussion about who was who, we would link arms, sing at the top of our lungs and dance our way to the Emerald City.

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That was the thing about Gramma’s house. We could be anything we wanted because we were at the perfect age to imagine it all to be so. The red carpet in the basement was hot lava. The hallway was a wedding aisle. The closets were secret passageways, and the deep freeze was full of ice cream sandwiches.

When I moved to that little brown house with my new husband all of those years later, I couldn’t believe we fit that much possibility and so many big suppers into 1,200 square feet. I was having a hard time finding enough space for my shoes.

Every time I walked through that door and took my boots off on the hot-lava carpet, I was transported back to standing in bare feet next to my cousins while Gramma handed us each an orange Schwan’s push-up pop.

The plan was never to stay living in that little house. Time and weather took its toll on the structure, and we needed more space. So here we are, over the hill in a new house of our own.

Last weekend, the cousins came to visit with their mom and Gramma and Grampa. The kids spent the day changing Edie’s clothes, baking banana bread, feeding the bottle calf, tracking in mud and indulging the littlest ones in make-believe games.

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There was a point when I was crammed into our modest bathroom giving Edie a bath with four of her cousins as assistants. I was sweating, she was splashing, the three sisters were bossing and laughing, and my nephew was tossing bath toys in the little basketball hoop suction-cupped to the shower wall.

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This house that we built is not huge by design, and the basement isn’t finished, so we all bumped into one another plenty of times as we squeezed in on chairs, couches and floors eating hamburgers and helping put batteries into the remote-controlled toys.

At one point, my nephew came down to the basement with me, a construction zone filled with tools and dust, and he asked about plans for the space. When I told him where the walls will go, he threw his hands out and declared this is “the biggest house in the world!”

I laughed and thought of the little brown house and hoped that this one was at least small enough to hold as many good memories for Edie and her cousins.

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Tutus, cousins and pipe cleaner glasses…

IMG_9107Remember my three blonde nieces?

Well, it turns out we’re pretty popular with them these days, you know because we managed to produce the girl cousin they hoped and shopped for.

And it turns out, that little girl cousin sorta looks like them, especially when you add the pink tutu and headband.

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Anyway, they came for an impromptu visit last weekend and it was just as much the explosion of fun as they always bring, only we got to add an infant and a new puppy to the mix, so yeah, this is the place to be man…

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The first thing on their agenda was picking out Edie’s outfit,

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then on to pancakes,

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then it was time to play with the puppy

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and then, well, Edie needed to be dressed again, because the last outfit wasn’t pink or frilly enough apparently…

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And then the highlight of my weekend, when The Middle Niece whipped up a pair of pipe cleaner glasses, you know, so Edie fits in with her semi-blind cousins.

Oh. My. Gawd. I can’t stop laughing.

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Seriously. I think I peed a little (and not because I recently gave birth).

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No, there’s no shortage of cute and chaos around these parts.

Having family around at the ranch with this new little human is a big blur of love and kisses and weekend afternoons spent cuddling and fussing over her. Add to that the a couple puppies and, well, this is life these days…

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I still don’t know exactly how I’m going to handle a baby and a baby puppy, but we’re full-on bringing Dolly over to the house this weekend after I get back from a road trip with Mom, Little Sister and Edie to the big town. I’m starting to get back into playing some music now and will be on the North Dakota Today show on Friday morning, so at night I’ve been playing the guitar and practicing a bit while Edie kicks her legs and flings her arms and coos and works out some good gas bubbles for me.

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So while life is completely different it is also so much the same. Three months into parenthood and we’re not sure what we did before her, except it’s been established that road trips were a little easier.

Probably everything was easier, but who’s to say really when it doesn’t really matter.

If I know anything it’s that the best part of life happens in moments that look a lot like chaos.

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And now, in case you didn’t laugh hard enough the first time…

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Sunday Column: What love looks like these days

IMG_7994I’m going to preface the sharing of this week’s column by letting you know that I’m feeling much better now.

I can breathe out of my right nostril and I’m not going through as many cough drops these days.

Also, Edie, though not a great napper is a relatively good night sleeper, so I can’t complain really…except for when she chooses the night when I have a head cold from hell (the fourth disease I’ve acquired since her birth only a few short months ago) to wake up every time ten minutes from 2 am until 7 am.

I wrote this column the day after that night.

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But today I’m sitting here with a fancy new laptop I bought myself because I’ve been doing most of my work these days from my bed or my chair while the little pumpkin sleeps or swings or squeaks next to me and I feel like it’s a work necessity and she’s sleeping like an angel in her swing right now and I’m not coughing out a lung and we’re going to have steak tonight and so things are going good.

That being said, I still can’t find the debit card I lost two weeks ago after buying a photo album from Shutterfly and accidentally sending it to the address where we lived five years ago.

So I don’t have my mind.

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But every day, between the crazy, the sweating, the crying, the snuggling, the explosive and inconveniently timed poops and the mess it’s all made in this house of ours, I am finding out a little more about this thing called love.

And it turns out it’s not what it looked like a few months ago.

And it’s not what I really expected, as in, I’m not who I expected I would be in the middle of it.

It’s wonderfully terrifying, this whole motherhood thing. Wonderfully terrifying one second and the most peace I’ve ever felt the next.

I haven’t smiled or cried so much in my life.

And, as it turns out, even when I think I’ve depleted all of the love I have in this haggard, sweat pants clad, spit up coated body, I hear him singing an off key version of “You Are My Sunshine” to his daughter for the four thousandth time and another wave washes over me and I cry for the thirty-seventh time that day because I know it could just keep getting better…

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Coming Home: Love looks different a year, and a baby later
by Jessie Veeder
2-14-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

I don’t think my husband has seen my hair out of a ponytail for a good two months.

The statistics on him seeing me out of my stretchy pants is about the same.

This is the fourth cold I’ve had since this baby was born, and last night that baby was on a timer to wake up each time I finally fell asleep.

It’s the same timer that reminds her to fuss as soon as her parents sit down at their supper plates.

I would say that I haven’t been at my best these days, but at this point I think as good as it can get is a chance to take a hot shower, sleep for three hours straight and breathe out of my right nostril, and that seems to be asking a lot.

Anyway, today my plan was to talk about love, being it’s mid-February and the stores are selling heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Last year at this time I was likely showered and make-uped and in a black dress somewhere singing to people toasting love, completely unaware that in a year, fitting into that black dress again would be a distant goal.

One that comes after the long overdue haircut.

Last year at this time I would have written about love a bit differently. I would have been more in tune with myself and my husband. I might have mentioned patience and plans and the flowers sitting on the table that he picked up for me at the grocery store in town or how he stayed up that night and waited for me to get home.

Last year at this time I didn’t know that in a year I would be nursing a 2-month old in our bed at 5 in the morning, blowing my nose for the 1,500th time while his alarm clock blasts a rock song and he fumbles around quietly locating his clothes, wallet and cell phone by the light of the television news, set on mute so as not to disturb a baby that I need to fall back to sleep for the love of cough syrup.

It only took a year and the growth and delivery of a new life, but these days I have a different take on love entirely.

Because for nine months my husband slept so far on his side of the bed that one leg was resting on the floor and half his body was on the bed railing. And it’s not because he wanted to keep his distance from his pregnant wife, but more because the woman he loved needed space for her giant body and the giant body pillow she needed to help her sleep.

Love looks like that to me now.

And once that baby was born, love looked like that same man changing every dirty diaper in the first few days he could be home from work, and taking every diaper and helping to give every bath every evening since then.

And I didn’t know this was going to happen, but love looks like me crying because I love my baby, and crying harder because I haven’t been outside in days, and then crying because I think I’m crying too much lately, and a man holding a baby dressed in pink in his arms telling me to take a walk.

And yes, of course, love looks like that baby dressed in pink who fell asleep listening to the click of her mom’s fingers against the keyboard trying to explain to a world (that’s likely already figured it out) that sometimes love can be a compliment on your outfit or the way you wear your hair, but then there’s something really romantic about not mentioning it at all (the sweatpants, the three-day ponytail, the pile of cough-drop wrappers laying around the house).

And to me, that might be the difference between falling in love and being in love forever.

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Sunday Column: Press that red button

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This weekend, between feeding, burping and rocking the baby, I worked on collecting photos on my computer to put into photo albums, a sort of New Years resolution (besides trying to cut back on the caramel rolls and donuts I’ve grown accustomed to during my pregnancy) I’ve set aside for myself after suffering a major computer and external drive meltdown a few months back.

I don’t want Edie’s memories to be stuck on some broken hard drive somewhere.

And this Christmas the importance of that resolution became even clearer when we dug out a couple old VHS tapes from the back room and spent the afternoon waiting on the prime rib and watching ourselves, scratchy and sorta blurry, on mom and dad’s big screen t.v.

I was five or so with my big sister, inside a cardboard box we made out to be a t.v., doing a Jergens lotion television commercial bit.

Then carving pumpkins in the little kitchen, our mom pregnant with our little sister giving our dad the very classic and signature (still used to this day) evil eye when he put the camera on her and her big belly.

And then there we were, when she was born, my big sister holding her arms out like a ballerina waiting for her turn to hold the baby, the same way she does today waiting to hold Edie.

But this week’s column is about what was most precious about those moving pictures my family captured in the year of the first camcorder, 1989 or so I suppose, purchased together by the family to help us remember on cold winter afternoons like these.

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Because to hear the voice of my grandmother again, to see the way she climbed up on a horse, the way her husband teased her and she teased back, to see them interact right there before our eyes twenty-some years later, not only reinforces a memory, but may help create one, on just an ordinary day, that might have been lost.

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Because some people leave us too soon and all we’re left with is what we remember and what we’ve done to help us do so.

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And just those few minutes we got to spend in the past that day stuck in my guts and so I spent the Christmas celebration trying to remember to put my phone on record, to capture Edie smiling, to capture a gift exchange or a conversation between aunts and uncles gathered in the same room, little moments that might seem mundane at the time but could mean the world to us some day far away.

Coming Home: Give yourself the gift of recording family moments
by Jessie Veeder
1-10-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com
 

We watched her from the couch, her silver hair tucked up under her flat-brimmed feed store cap, her husband on the other side of the camcorder lightheartedly poking fun at the way she climbed up on her horse, laughing with the reins in her hand as she set out for the gate.

The VHS tape with our family memories found its way into my dad’s hand while he was searching for something else in the back closet. It’s funny how we seem to stumble upon such important things.

The label read something like “Feeding cattle, Alex’s Birth, Dance, 1989,” the year my little sister was born.

The year my dad’s father was battling his second bout of cancer and the outcome looked grim. And until I saw him again, dressed in coveralls and a wool cap emerging from that little brown house in the farmyard, blurry, shaky and worn like the old tape itself, it hadn’t occurred to me the reason the new camcorder existed in my family that year.

 Because Polaroids wouldn’t capture his voice or her laugh or the joke she told about her first husband filming her backside.

So they bought a camcorder. Bulky and not the least bit user-friendly, they read the manual, pushed the red button at the wrong times and carted it around so that they might remember how he dressed when he fed cattle, what he looked like opening a gate and the expression on his face when he cradled his tiny and brand new grandchild just months before he said goodbye to this world.

But of course they didn’t know how little time they had then, not just with Grandpa Pete, but with Grandma Edie as well. Because that’s the trouble with things like time, we always think we have more of it.

It’s been a couple weeks since we all sat down as a family on Christmas unprepared for the emotions that would stick in our guts after seeing and hearing them in living, breathing, moving color, and still I’m stirred.

Because there I was, standing on the stoop outside the little brown house, barely 5 years old, in my snowsuit and stocking cap watching my grandma wrap my scarf around my neck and I remembered what that was like. I remembered that scarf and how she didn’t tie it like my mother did. How she wrapped it tighter and up over my nose.

And there was her voice saying my name, saying “Jessica, why don’t you go stand by your grandpa so your dad can take a picture.” And I turned the other way, acting shy, not knowing much of time or about how some goodbyes are forever.

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Frame by frame we went, the little snippets of our ordinary lives—unwrapping presents at Christmas, playing dress-up with my cousins in the farmhouse, listening to the grownups talk and sip coffee around the table—somehow made extraordinary after all of these years.

And I can’t shake it. As we spent our holiday carting our newborn to holiday celebrations here and across the state to meet relatives, I thought about the way my mother looked at my tiny little sister from across the hospital room, just minutes after she gave birth to that 9-pound baby on her 33rd birthday, smiling and fresh and caught on camera putting on mascara in her hospital bed, just a year older than I was when I had baby Edie. It was a simple moment captured, but it said so much about a woman.

And there were my grandparents, facing an illness that could end a life and welcoming a new one with big smiles, bundled up and fresh in the chill and uncertainty of a new year.

Time has ticked on like it promises to, making televisions bigger, communication easier and access to video more affordable and at our fingertips.

In this new year, even in what seems like the most ordinary times, give yourself a gift and press that red button.

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Sunday Column: On instincts

Whew.

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We made it through the holiday!

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I hope you’re all feeling the same way we are here–a little bigger in the waistline, a little haggard from all the merriment and happy for time spent with family and friends.

In Edie’s short little life, in a matter of a couple weeks, she has managed to meet nearly all of her more immediate relatives, on both sides of the family, whose locations range from Arizona to Minneapolis and back again.

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Yes, it was all about family, and one long road trip with the infant across the state that, thankfully, my little sister and I survived.

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I was never worried about Edie, just how we might handle a giant barf explosion that pooled up in the carseat halfway there…

And we did. We both cried (my little sister and I), but we made it.

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Speaking of family, Edie’s not the only baby at the ranch anymore!

Nope. Actually, she has eleven, yes, you heard that right, ELEVEN! new baby puppies to add to her crew that are part sweet Juno and part crazy Gus.

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You should have seen the look on Pops’ face when we finally got a count on them, thinking maybe there were only four of five, only to discover, when momma dog moved out of the way, a whole pile of wiggly, squeaky little things.

We took them out of her bed to get a good count and put dry towel down after I pretty confidently declared I counted nine in that pile, but when we got to nine, we weren’t done yet.

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Eleven.

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That’s a pile of cow pups there to have in the coldest part of winter.

And while we planned for pups, we didn’t plan for this sort of timing.

But, well, I know all about how timing goes.

Anyway, I was sure glad we were around to help her count them and make sure they were nice and warm, but Juno didn’t really need us.

We knew she would be a good mom judging by the time a neighbor brought over their new puppy and Juno picked it up by the neck skin and tried to take it back to her bed and claim it as her own.

Those instincts are strong.

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And that’s what this week’s column is about. Motherly instincts and the security of a village.

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We’re getting better at this whole mother/daughter routine here, so I am hoping to be posting more on our trials and tribulations, and of course, keeping tabs on these babies’ growth and adventures.

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Thanks for being such loyal and supportive followers year after year. It has been so fulfilling to share with you and hear your stories too.

Cheers to a healthy, happy 2016.

Coming Home: Trusting my motherly instincts
by Jessie Veeder
1-3-15
Forum Communications

Early this morning I got a text from my dad. A picture of his cow dog Juno came through with the caption, “4 puppies so far!”

And there they were, all squishy, slimy and black and white, poor timing to be born in the coldest part of winter, but tucked in snug in a bed my dad made up for her.

Downstairs, my oldest niece was sleeping on an air mattress in my makeshift office. After all of the Christmas festivities, she made plans to come home with us for a few days to help with the baby.

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As I write this, the little girl I used to rock, burp and snuggle who suddenly grew up to become a 12-year-old with superb baby-sitting skills is upstairs burping and snuggling my baby.

And so I’m plotting how I can keep her around.

Because she likes changing diapers. And the projectile vomit Edie gifted me, the one that coated my shirt and hair last night, didn’t even faze her.

I got up out of the chair to head for a towel, and that 12-year old (who was just a baby yesterday) looked at me and said, “That’s not a cleanup situation there … that’s a shower and find new clothes situation.”

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Husband’s first instinct in this situation was to grab the camera, not the baby…you know, for the photo album…

And she was right. There was no saving me.

Yes, I’m in the trenches of motherhood now, the period where the guests carting meals stop knocking on your door, the burp rags pile up in the hamper and reality sets in.

This is not a drill. This is the part that I was nervous about.

Because unlike the motherly, animal instincts that kicked in for my parents’ dog early this winter morning, the one that will keep her licking on those pups and keeping them snug throughout the winter, I was worried I didn’t have the natural, know-what-to-do caretaking instinct in me.

I love children, but hand me an infant before Edie was born and the “I’m gonna break this thing” panic set in, complete with stiff arms and cold sweats.

But it’s been a month now and besides checking her breathing in her car seat every five minutes on the way home from the hospital, and a few middle of the night soft pokes to the tummy just to make sure, much to my surprise, I haven’t panicked yet.

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Little by little I’m finding out that all of the tips, tricks and preparation articles I’ve read don’t compare to the instincts nature equipped me with.

It’s a welcome relief because the observation of instinct is where growing up as a ranch kid can either calm you or terrify you. I’ve seen plenty of animals being born. I’ve seen motherhood and babyhood in its most raw and natural form. I’ve seen a momma cow take after my dad, knocking him to the ground while he was on his way to check on her baby—a dangerous, protective motherly instinct that nearly sent him to the hospital.

I’ve seen mother cats move their kittens from secret spot to secret spot in an attempt to keep pesky farm kids at bay.

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I’ve seen it go well and I’ve seen it go terribly wrong—a momma cow rejecting her needy, wet calf in the middle of a blizzard; a confused pregnant dog dropping her puppies, helpless and alone all over the barnyard; a baby calf born and unable to feed.

And in these situations, as animal caretakers, we step in to find an orphan calf a new momma cow to take her, pick up the puppies and introduce them to their mother, and find a bottle or a tube to feed the calf.

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Every day my baby stays healthy, eating and pooping and burping away, I say that I am lucky and whisper a quiet prayer of thanks.

Every day that my mind is clear and my body cooperates, I am grateful knowing that motherhood doesn’t always come easy.

But watching my mother change her granddaughter’s diaper, hearing my friend on the other end of the line offering advice and trusting my young niece to rock my baby safely and expertly in the other room, I am assured in knowing that if and when I falter, like Juno has her rancher to make her a warm bed, I have my village.

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Please take a moment to vote for me and my band Outlaw Sippin’, in the North DakotaMusic Awards!
You don’t have to be from ND and you can vote on multiple devices! Thanks so much!

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Sunday Column: A Baby Jesus #4

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas weekend. We have one more holiday visit to make to wrap up Edie’s first Christmas. We’ll hit the road tomorrow for eastern North Dakota to introduce her to my mom’s side of the family and her cousins, great aunts and uncles and of course,  great grandma and grandpa.

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It’s safe to say between the food, the visits, the gifts and the games, baby Edie fits well into our Christmas traditions.

And she’s already started a few of her own.

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This week’s column is about her a stage debut, baby Jesus, a fart in church and other meaningful messages.

Sunday Column: We all have a story about how we came into this world
by Jessie Veeder
12-27-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

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Edie made her stage debut as “Baby Jesus No. 4” in church last Sunday.

As the story of Mary, Joseph and the angel unfolded on a stage filled with neighbor kids in homemade costumes, moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins looked on adoringly, waiting for their kid to take the stage as a camel or a wise man.

Turns out Edie’s first church fart led to a poop explosion that leaked through the special “Baby Jesus No. 4” outfit I picked out for the occasion, which also seeped onto her dad’s pants, which sent him and his sweet, stinky daughter to the back room for a quick change, only to have her re-emerge down the aisle dressed in fuzzy footie pajamas right on cue and right in time to lie down in a bouncy seat manger among a half-dozen barn animals, a dove, a monkey, a skunk, a couple shepherds, the angels, Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus Nos. 1, 2 and 3.

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The little country church where I grew up is experiencing a baby boom, and there was our Edie, second to youngest by a day, right in the middle of a Christmas story with carols, memorized lines and a close call with the Christmas tree, the advent candles and a toddler in a donkey hat.

It struck me then that Edie’s only 4 weeks old and already she has a memory. Not one that she’ll recall necessarily, but one I will retell to her year after year, about her first Christmas, her first stage debut and her first trip to that little church.

When I was young, I used to love to hear the story about the day I was born. It was a drought year, 100 degrees for days on end and a tough year for cattle. I was expected mid-July, but it was late August and my dad drove my mom over summer fallow fields in their old pickup to help induce labor.

But I came on my own time, in a small hospital in my hometown, delivered by an old Norwegian doctor with a thick accent. And when my dad held me for the first time, he looked out the window to find the sky had opened up and it was finally raining.

I don’t tell it as well as my parents do, because it isn’t my memory. But it is part of my story, a part that I loved to hear because it made me feel like my coming into this world had something to do with the long-awaited rain.

When I tell Edie the story of her birth, I will tell her how peaceful it was, arriving at the hospital in the early hours of the morning. I will tell her how she came to us quickly and without issue, and how I wailed a breath of relief and gratefulness when I heard her cry.

I will tell her how we got to take her home on Thanksgiving, which was fitting because we were the most thankful we’ve ever been, and so began weeks of an endless stream of guests, friends and family lining up at the door to meet her.

Watching all 20 or so children stand up in front of the church last Sunday to help tell the most famous birth story of all and seeing our tiny baby girl among them, I couldn’t help but think that each and every one of those children have their own special “coming into the world story” that they will hear year after year.

And some will hear about that day in church, about how she recited her lines as Mary perfectly, about how he ran down the aisle on a stick horse, the most gallant and swift 2-year-old king of all, about how he almost knocked the Advent candle over into the Christmas tree and about how only Baby Jesus No. 4 could get away with such a loud fart in church.

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