They’re not babies long..

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This is my view lately.

A pre-nap snuggle after the tiny monster had free reign of the living room for approximately three minutes and I’m sitting here sort of dazed at how fast they turn from helpless babies to tiny humans with minds of their own.

She’s hit the stage where she learns something new every minute, I swear. A few weeks ago it was standing against the furniture.

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Tuesday it was standing against the furniture with one hand.

Yesterday she decided to let go and see what would happen.

Because she’s pretty sure she can walk now.

She can’t.

But she’s amused anyway with falling on her butt.

 

 

Those legs need less squish and more muscle before this walking train is leaving the station, so I’m optimistic I have some time to do pad the walls of this house.

This girl. She’s funny. Like entertaining and wild and full of this spirit I just can’t get enough of and have a hard time describing.

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She laughs all day, like she’s practicing the one she likes best and then she tries it out when things get really funny. Right now it’s a cross between evil and adorable and she is so amused with herself.

And I’m so amused with her.

 

Because she’s woken up to the world and it’s so fun to watch. I didn’t know how incredible it would be to see her change every day.  She knows what it means when she hears the door open. She stops what she’s doing and waits to see him come around the corner in the hallway. She flings her arms and reaches for her dad, squealing with delight when he comes closer to pick her up.

I tried to take her from him to change her diaper on Sunday morning and her lip stuck out in the biggest pout I’d ever seen, literally showcasing on her face her little heart breaking at the thought. So I put her back in the nook of his arm and the pout morphed back into her sort of permanent working smile.

And it was one of the sweetest things I’ve seen.

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Every day of this mom thing is like that. Full of such extremes. Extreme frustration. Extreme exhaustion. Extreme happiness. Extreme hilarity. And that all bounces around in the mundane tasks and drone of the work of the ordinary days.

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The colors are changing outside our window and just as this baby started waking up in the spring I feel like she’s following another change in the season.

They’re not babies long. That’s what my friend told me a few years back.

And she was right.

They’re not babies long…

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In the thick of it.

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I spent Labor Day weekend on a little getaway with my husband to celebrate ten years married and our two birthdays. It was the first time we’ve done anything together since the baby was born. It was the first time I was away from the baby overnight.

We left her in good hands, at home with my mother and father-in-law and two of our nieces who Edie’s attached to and we headed south to the Black Hills of South Dakota, so extremely aware of how we used to take these sort of outings together for granted.

I mean, we only had two bags between us.

There was a moment when I stepped out of the hotel that morning and into the pickup where I felt like I was missing a limb without that baby attached to my hip.

We didn’t do much in particular. We just drove and ate and drank and walked around and visited and made plans for the future like we like to do. Gave each other advice. Laughed at things probably only we would find funny.

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And talked about the baby.

We came home on Sunday in time to tuck her in and the next morning my husband turned 34 so I made him breakfast in our kitchen with the cool rain soaking the oak trees outside our windows and our baby crawling around on floor.

We are in this thing now, the both of us. Deep into adulthood and marriage. On the brand new edge of parenting. In the thick of it, as they say.

I doubt we’ve been happier.

And it’s terrifying and surprising and lovely and a wonderful thing to say out loud.

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Life in your 30s means knowing who you are
by Jessie Veeder
9-4-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

When I turned the more momentous 30 a few years back, I was discouraged at all the advice I was reading in women’s magazines about what it meant to get older. I wondered how many times I could be told what jeans I should wear and what face cream to use.

Coming from a woman who had recently won an Elvis-impersonating contest in front of thousands of people, I really couldn’t argue.

But it wasn’t until lately that I started to believe she might be right about this phase of life. I mean, gone are the days of ramen noodle suppers, paying rent on questionable apartments and wondering who I should be when I grow up.

Because I am grown up. This is me, give or take a few hundred lessons coming down the pipe. Not that I no longer have aspirations and goals, I’m simply saying I’ve lived long enough to know which direction I should steer this truck and what prairie trails to avoid to keep me sane and happy.

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The day I turned 30 I sat down and wrote a list titled “30 things I know at 30.” Having found no inspiration from those women’s magazines for what’s ahead besides more face cream, I needed to be reassured that I had acquired some tools for this adulthood thing.

I’m glad I saved it. Because among a few reflections on cleaning, clothing choices and eating carrots straight out of the garden were some good reminders:

• When you’re younger you expect your community to take care of you. I know now that it’s our responsibility to take care of our community.

• Art is a chance to see life through one another’s eyes. If we don’t encourage it, we’re ignoring the part that reassures us that it can be beautiful. Because even the sad parts have colors that move you or a melody that sweeps you up.

• I used to think that love was enough. It turns out love goes a lot better mixed with kindness, respect, laughter, humility and a nice meal together once in awhile. So maybe loving is just the easiest part.

• A girl needs a dog.

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• My mom was right. My sister did become my best friend. Just like she said she would when I was slamming my bedroom door.

• There will always be more work, more things to build and more stories to write. When there isn’t we will make it so, because as much as anything, living’s in the work.

• Some people struggle to have what may come easy to you. Think of this when you say your hellos. Compassion is a quality we could use more of.

• Learning to cook does not make you a housewife, a stereotype, or some sort of overly domesticated version of yourself. It makes you capable. Same goes with laundry, lawn mowing and hanging a dang shelf by yourself.

• On Christmas, feed the animals first … and a little extra.

• Always wear proper footwear. And by proper, I mean practical, and sometimes practical means cute. You know what I’m saying.

• You can tell yourself there’s a reason for everything. It helps to ease the heartbreak and suffering. Believe it. It’s likely true. But know that sometimes it’s OK to think that life’s not fair, because sometimes it isn’t.

And here is where I’d like to add perhaps the only profound thing I’ve learned since writing this list, which is you just don’t know what’s really in store for you. All you can do is use the strength of your will, your community, your family and your coffee and try to believe that maybe the best work is yet to be done.

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Click here to see the entire list.

 

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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A Friday update…

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Here’s a quick update from the ranch while the baby is sleeping.

  • Edie’s getting sassier every day and I’m declaring now that I’m in big trouble. Good Lord she has me wrapped around her finger and also who knew 8 month-olds had agendas for the day.

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    Here she is chilling’ with her post bath mohawk, drinking from her sippy cup and eating puffs. She only really likes to feed herself. Unless she sees me attempting to eat a plate full of food, then she wants what I’m having, and spoon-feeding is allowed.

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  • Also, the girl will crawl. But only to get to the cereal puff I put just out of her reach. And I think I can relate. Like, I will run, but only if means a burger when it’s all over.

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  • The guys have been trying to get the hay crop in for weeks. It’s not going well. Between the rain and equipment that breaks I think we’ll have to feed the cows lettuce from the grocery store this winter. In the meantime, they are getting their fill in Pops’ garden. Yesterday would mark the third trip they’ve made to the Veeder Backyard buffet in the last two weeks. At first I laughed an evil laugh about it all, but then I took a look for myself and realized that even with cow sabotage, dad currently still has more vegetables growing in his garden than me. But I’m not worried. I found enough spinach to make a couple salads. And some radishes. And look! Tomatoes. It’s only a matter of time he’ll be knocking on my door asking for some samples.

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  • Seems like even when things are going shitty, Pops still sees the beauty in this life we’re leading. Here’s a photo he sent me earlier this week from hayfield probably like five minutes before he broke down. Looks like heaven.

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  • And here’s a rare photo of all of my dogs in the same frame. Dolly is a sweet thing but the girl can’t sit still. It’s in her genes. Seems like her and Edie have that in common, but out of all three dogs Gus is Edie’s I would say. When I bring her out in the yard he doesn’t get too far from her. It’s sweet and unexpected from the high energy beast.

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  • We got my parent’s hand-me-down hot tub and now I feel really fancy when I put the baby to bed and head down there with my plastic cup full of wine, my raggedy swim suit and flippy floppies. Hot tub trips have replaced date night for Husband and I, because we haven’t had an official one since the baby’s first month on earth. I just realized that last night and it made me one part disappointed in us and one part amazed that time has gone that fast. Maybe we’ll have a date next month when we celebrate our ten-year anniversary.

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  • Ten years already?!!! Didn’t we just get home from our Junior prom?

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  • We went over to the neighbors’ last week. I opened the cooler and found this scene.
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    Yesterday Husband was sitting at the counter eating, looked up from his plate and informed me that “there’s a nipple under the dishwasher.” A phrase and a scene that wouldn’t have existed in our old life
  • I started writing this yesterday afternoon and now it is morning today. The baby woke up from her nap and the rest is history. The whole baby thing combined with the fact that we haven’t had good Internet out here since we moved and haven’t had Internet at all since Edie was born has made this website and work from home thing nearly impossible. Husband and I are looking forward to doing things the real world gets to do, like streaming cat videos on YouTube and checking out what all the hype is about this whole Netflix thing. Someday. Someday…For now we’re just using the shit out of our cell phone hotspot and depleting Edie’s college fund.
  • Here’s a photo of Edie on our walk the other day, as a storm rolled in all around us.
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    I don’t think they’ll ever make a stroller meant for the trails I roll the poor girl across. A few trip sup the prairie road to the fields and back and the thing’s sort of worse for the wear. But all that bouncing can be worth something…

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    and also the reason I almost always put the baby in the pack.

  • But oh shit, my back is killing me.
  • We’ve made up for our lack of snow this winter with an abundance of rain this summer. It’s almost August and it’s green as can be. Here are a couple photos of wildflowers to prove it.

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  • I forgot to water my garden last night. But maybe that’s the key to success. Just do what I did last year, like hardly pay attention to the thing at all, and maybe I’ll reap giant carrots and buckets of beans again. That math seems to add up.
  • Have a great weekend. I plan on hanging at the ranch, gearing up for an August that will find me away from the ranch more than at home. Because if I thought things would slow down with the birth of this wild child, well, it’s safe to say it’s kicked back in high gear again.
    North Dakota readers, click here to see if I’ll be performing in your area in August
  • The baby’s awake…if you’re reading this, I’ve kept her busy long enough to hit “publish.”

Peace, Love and Huggies,

Jessie and her sidekick

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This not-so-glamourous life…

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A photographer came to visit the ranch and I’ll tell you right now, it wasn’t pretty people. We spent the day before working an art event in town that I had been planning for months and didn’t get home until after eleven. It was the last event in a week with a full schedule. I was tired. I had to gather the troops. I sorta forgot to take a shower and fix my hair.  I didn’t make even a remotely healthy lunch for my niece and I (because when you’re tired you much prefer Doritos to salad). I didn’t put pants on the baby. I didn’t get the horses in ahead of time to prepare them and de-bur them so that they were photo ready. And I didn’t mention in the newspaper column below the part where the baby stuck her finger up my horses’s snotty nose, which was bleeding a bit because of a fresh little cut.

That was horrifying. And there was a man from Minneapolis with a big camera to witness my disgust.

So this is my confession published in newspapers across the state, in case you might get the wrong idea when you see the photos and article in the magazine that we have our shit together out here.

Because we don’t.

But I think you all knew that already…

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Coming Home: Glossy pages don’t reflect our not-so-glamourous life
by Jessie Veeder
6-5-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inform.com

This morning a big yellow screwdriver sits next to a half-eaten pan of cinnamon rolls (the kind out of the freezer section, not out of my KitchenAid mixer) and that sits next to a couple baby books about farm life that feature a perfect red barn against green rolling hills dotted with smiling black and white cows.

Today as I reflect on the last couple weeks, I’m wondering if I should even read those little farm books to poor Edie. Maybe I should just toss them in the trash and keep her from asking some hard-hitting questions about this place.

Like, why don’t the horses in the books have cockleburs in their manes? Aren’t horses born with them?

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And momma, why don’t you wear an apron like the mommas in the books? And where is that fresh-baked pie that’s supposed to be sitting on the windowsill to cool?

Yes, follow us around for a day and you would see that clearly the authors of these children’s farm books didn’t base them off of our life.

No.

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And while Edie’s not old enough to start asking questions (sigh of relief) I did have a reporter call me a few weeks ago with some questions of her own. Like, what’s life like on the family ranch for two people who got to move back to it? What does a typical day look like?

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I couldn’t think of an interesting or straightforward way to answer that. When she called my husband just got home from work and he was rocking the baby, trying to keep her happy so I could have an uninterrupted conversation. When that was over, he was going to go to his next job of taking care of this place. And when he returned we would have leftover lasagna for the third night in a row because I got distracted by a writing deadline when I should have been doing laundry because I’m out of clean underwear, for crying out loud.

And so they sent out a photographer to see for himself. A photographer who likely had a hope of capturing what I’m sure he envisioned as some picturesque scenes of a family of three working side by side and meeting up for a picnic meal with the grandparents who live down the road.

But this was an agricultural magazine so I hope they knew better. And while I was raised in an environment where both my parents worked, ran a ranching operation and managed to keep three kids alive, I’m learning what that really means as an adult. And I’m not sure we’re exactly killing it.

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I mean, when a photographer shows up, completely announced and expected, a balanced and together woman would have had pants on the baby. Or combed her hair.

Or at least cleared the evidence of her recent Dorito and Oreo lunch from the counter.

And when the request for a photo of my husband and I riding side by side through a herd of calm cattle sent me down to the barnyard attempting to lure uninterested horses in with a bucket of grain before resorting to leading one with the shirt I was planning on wearing tied around his neck so that I could spend the next half hour before my husband arrived home currying the tangle of burs out of their manes and tails so I wouldn’t embarrass the long line of Veeders who once called this place home, I began to question if we were really worthy of the press.

But at least he got authentic. Authentic sweat. And authentic cussing as my husband and I attempted the impossible task of moving a herd of cattle toward a man with a camera standing in an open pasture.

Needless to say, none of it was picture perfect.

Because around here burs stick to horses while they fill up on green grass that makes them fat and sassy on the hilltop behind the barn that needs painting. And inside, where the books might write in the apple pie, we have a screwdriver instead. Or a calf tagger. Or a hammer.

And it might not be glamorous, and it might not be easy, but that’s why they make frozen cinnamon rolls.

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The long way home

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Coming Home: Sometimes we need to take a different road to get back home
by Jessie Veeder
5-15-16
Forum Communications


Last week I took a different road from town to home. I do that sometimes, to break up the scenery that flies by outside the window of my car. There were blossoms in the brush patches, the gravel roads had dried up from a week of rain, and I needed to see something new.

 
And we have gotten really good at arguing after all these years together. Throw a baby, a man who can’t eat solids and a woman who can’t sleep in the mix, and we got plenty of practice that week.

And it was only Monday.

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But as the sun was setting on a day that took him to work and kept me home trying figure out a way to rock the baby, type and return a phone call at the same time, we found ourselves all three alone in the car together, driving home. 

I can’t remember why we were all in town together, but I do remember that the radio was low and the baby was sleeping and I turned left off the highway where I normally would keep going straight and my husband asked what I was doing.

I said, “Don’t you ever take a different way home?”

“Yeah, I do sometimes,” he replied. And then we were on the back roads driving past neighbors’ houses we haven’t seen for a while, taking note of the green grass growing in the pastures, the baby calves kicking up their heels and the way the light hit the big butte close to home.

And under that butte, right next to the road, two large dark figures appeared before us and revealed themselves as giant elk. I reminded him of the weekend before

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Yesterday morning while the baby slept, I watched a flock of turkeys come down to the same dam to water. They lingered there undisrupted, one tom fanning his feathers, showing off in the morning sun.

I was wrapped up in the tasks of the day, the dirty bottles in the sink, the dirt tracked in on the floor and the work deadlines, but the privilege of witnessing wild things never fails to make me pause.

I’m glad we put so many windows in this house. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what a majestic place we’re living in when we’re living in it. I looked up from my computer screen and watched them waddle up the hill. I cracked the patio door and listened for the gobbles.

Last Saturday my husband arranged for my little sister to babysit for a few hours so we could take a ride together through the cows. It was a simple gesture that put me back in one of my favorite places after over a year of giving it up to grow and care for a baby. I swung my leg up over the saddle and listened to it squeak as I rode alongside my husband out of the barnyard and into the hills, the sun and the scent of plum blossoms.

In the past few months I’ve experienced some of the most wonderful moments of my life, but I’ve also found myself overcome with the task of working, mothering and trying to figure out how to be my best for my family. I’ve had my most happy moments, but I’ve also had my most ungrateful waves rush over me in frustration and exhaustion. But last Saturday my husband took me out — not to a movie or to a restaurant for wine — but out of our house and into the hills and coulees of the place we love.

Because he knows, sometimes all I need is to take a different way home.

Sunday Column: The plans we make…

In this week’s column I was trying to convey my appreciation for the things in life that go as planned. I’m not sure I successfully got to the meat of the point I was trying to make in the morning fog I was in after a sleepless night with the baby trying to meet my deadline while she took her typical 20 minute morning nap.

Re-reading it now it’s funny that the little baby that was our plan has finally made her way into our life, throwing every other plan we’ve ever had upside down or out the window.

Like sleep. Or ever getting work done. Or having a conversation that doesn’t involve her ever again. Or getting anywhere on time (like I was ever good at that in the first place, but now I can blame her…)

Today I’m thankful for the rain and this baby and the husband who helps me raise her and the work I will get to later and this body that stays healthy enough to make it all so…because sometimes those things don’t go as planned.

And then, sometimes they do.

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Sunday Column: Noticing the everyday moments of life, routine and frustrating
by Jessie Veeder
4-24-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Outside my window a mist has settled in heavy and has been busy soaking this thirsty landscape for days, turning the grass green. We’re all breathing a sigh of relief before going back to holding our breath, because we needed the moisture but we’re worried about calves being born in this weather.

Inside this house, I’m pressing my nose to the glass. The wiggly baby in my arms does the same, her eyes transfixed on something she finds interesting out there in the big wide world.

When I’m done writing this, I will fill up a big bottle with warm water and powder milk, put a little beanie and snowsuit on my daughter, and we will go feed the baby calf in the barn. I will set Edie in her seat on the floor and she will watch the calf suck the milk from that big bottle, listen to the squishy noises it makes and smell the must of the straw and the breath of the animal.

She won’t look back on her life and remember these daily rituals we kept when she was so young, but I know she’s learning something here. And already she knows what she likes and what she wants.

As it turns out, she likes to be in that big wide world we see outside the glass.

So I take her out there. Because I want to and because some days I have no choice. She sits beside us when we feed the cows and check for babies, the bumpy trails combined with the way we bundle her up and the heat and the closeness lulls her to sleep. 

Someday soon she’ll be telling us that the cows say “moo” and the sky is blue and that no, she doesn’t want to wear her snow boots and it will be another ceremony entirely getting this girl out the door.

But these days, when my husband gets home from work in the late afternoon he’ll find me sitting in the chair feeding his daughter. I’ll say hello and he’ll set his thermos on the counter along with the mail he picked up on his way home and we’ll say something about supper and I’ll fill him in on his daughter’s state of affairs that day (she was fussy or she rolled around everywhere or she took a full hour nap), and then I’ll lift her up to him and she’ll smile, eyes bright and wide at the face of the familiar man she knows.

And he’ll scoop her up and say, “Hey, baby girl,” and I’ll say, “Let’s go check on the cows.”

There are dozens of other moments in every 24 hours together as a family that are difficult or frustrating or go so incredibly awry and off the rails, the kinds of moments that you don’t see in the musical montage of the life you’re planning when you’re young and in love and certain it will all turn out like a romantic comedy. By now, you all know us well enough to understand that nothing about the horse poop in the yard, the four-year unfinished home construction project or the middle-of-the-night meltdowns willing this baby we waited seven years to meet to please, for the love of blankies, fall asleep, indicate that it all went as planned.

But we also didn’t plan for my husband to come into the bathroom with a towel ready to wrap up his daughter every night after her bath. We couldn’t have, because we didn’t know how great that little ordinary and predictable part would be.

And we didn’t plan on her light hair or blue eyes or feisty little attitude sprouting as early as her first two teeth.

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But watching my husband bundle up his smiley baby girl, getting her ready to ride down a bumpy trail, all three of us together and close and out looking at our world at the end of a long day, I can’t help but take a breath and take notice.

Because we might not have planned on waiting so long, but this, we planned on this.

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While I rock the baby: Confessions of a new mom

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These days I don’t know where the weeks go. They fly by me as I sit rocking this teething baby who just started to notice when I enter and exit the room, making sure to voice her distaste at the whole exiting part.

I’m trying to work from home and take care of her at the same time, so I spend a lot of time thinking I should be doing another thing while I’m doing what I’m doing.

Like, I’m rocking this baby, but I have a pile of emails I need to respond to.

Or, I’m working on this column, but I should be rocking the baby.

Or, maybe when the emails are answered and the baby’s fed and napped we can take the dogs for a walk.

But I should really do the dishes.

Or return that phone call…oh, look, she just pooped up her back. Guess I’ll change her outfit for the third time today. Oh, is it 4:00 already? I should probably think about supper…

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I knew it was going to look a lot like this as I tried my hand mixing what I was doing before I was a mom into my life as a mom. I knew my days would look a lot like a juggling act and that I would have to bust out my best multi-tasking skills. I knew it was going to be a challenge, so I’m trying to cut myself a little slack as I work on figuring it out.

And by cutting myself some slack I mean letting some things slip. Like my own personal hygiene for one, which was pretty predictable considering the amount of days I sometimes went without a shower before an infant arrived. I mean, if I didn’t have to go to town and see people, what was the point?

Anyway, turns out Edie’s morning nap is a good time to squeeze some work in, so I’ve learned I can sacrifice the shower…my husband can see me with my hair fixed when I get home from a meeting or something.

I haven’t shaved my legs for days.

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And so this is my Friday night confession. It’s 10 o’clock and the baby’s in her crib at the foot of our bed. The lights are off and I’m tired as hell. Last night was one of the first times I left Edie with Husband to go out and do something that wasn’t work. I went to a movie with Little Sister and ate too much popcorn and worried the whole time that I didn’t leave enough milk for her.

They were fine.

When I got home she was sleeping and Husband shushed me when I started asking questions in a whisper.

I fell asleep just in time for the baby to wake up at midnight and then again at 4 and then again at 6 and I’m sorta holding my breath right now wondering if she’s really down for the night or if she’s just playing me like usual.

And so this is what it’s like now to be me. It’s me + 1. Me + the worry. Me + that little thread that ties me to that tiny person that is learning something new every day.

Me, half wishing time to slow down because she’s growing so fast while the other half is so excited to see what she’s going to become.

Me, a little lonesome for the great outdoors, cursing the cool spring wind that keeps me from taking this baby on a walk.

Me, a little lonesome for a husband I haven’t really been alone with in months.

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Me, who used to have a lot more time for the slow pace of nature. Me who can’t remember what I used to do all day before her.

Me, who, even after 5 months, can’t believe this baby is mine forever, God willing.

Me, so grateful and humbled by what it actually means to be a mother while wondering at the same time if I’m really cut out for this.

Me, who meant to write something here on Wednesday about the cows or the budding trees or how thankful I am for the rain, but those thoughts were thoughts I thought I should be thinking while I was rocking the baby.

So thankful to be rocking the baby.

Jessie and Edie 2

Sunday Column: Do it yourselfing

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In the beginning, there was big vision, big enthusiasm and big mess…

For those of you who have been following this blog since the beginning of time, you are good and familiar with our home building/do it yourself/never ending construction that is our lives.

We have been ankle deep in saw dust since moving out of the little farmhouse four years ago and into a house we are building as we go along. And in four years, while we’ve made progress pouring a basement and foundation, climbing scary homemade scaffolding to build the loft, nearly deciding to live in separate houses over a bathroom tile project the seemed to never end, my husband and father in law falling to their near deaths off of the roof, a giant garage project and countless power tools just hanging out on the kitchen table, I am not here to tell you that we are finished.

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No.

But I am here to tell you that we bit the bullet and, despite my pledge to hold off on new furniture until the damn house was done, we actually bought. new. furniture.

And, because we do things ourselves around here, I almost pulled every muscle in my back helping Husband get the couch through the door and around the corner.

He said he hasn’t seen me grunt so hard since giving birth.

And it was the truth.

 

Here’s the rest of the story…

Coming Home: Life and love look different for do-it-yourselfers
by Jessie Veeder
3-13-16
Forum Communications

A new couch was delivered to our house yesterday.

In almost 10 years of marriage, we’ve never had a new couch. In fact, the ratio of new to used furniture in this house prior to yesterday was like four to 20, the new pieces being Edie’s nursery furniture, the worn-out recliner we bought the week after we were married on a trip to one of my concerts in South Dakota that we passed off as a honeymoon, and the bar stools that were a little too big for our space, but we couldn’t pass up, because, you know, they were on super sale.

And so when guests started to get stuck in the cracks of the deep-sunk couch we bought from one of our landlords eight years ago, we thought it might be time to take the furniture plunge.

Turns out, for a couple who has survived on other people’s cast-off items for years, we’re sorta picky. It must be the whole “we’re spending lots of money so we better love this forever and never, ever spill wine on it” mentality.

Anyway, our track record with furniture could really sum up the way the two of us have been dealing with grown-up life. I was contemplating this as I stood resting my noodle arms on our new couch as it lay in limbo, half on the landing and half wedged in the door, while my husband searched for a tool to take the door off its hinges.

We will never be people who hire movers.

No. We are the people who save every random nut, bolt and spare piece of plastic in an old coffee can on the tool bench because we might need it someday.

Our garage and the room in the basement that we don’t let anyone see will always be a scary place full of useful things … if only we could remember where we put them.

I blame it on our fathers. While completely different, both held the same mentality when it came to saving money and squeezing every bit of life out of the things they owned. Neither one of them ever saw a stray bucket on the side of the road without stopping to load it in the back of the pickup.

It makes sense. I was raised by a North Dakota rancher who could make anything work good enough with a pair of leather gloves and a spare piece of wire.

And my husband was raised by a man who had a garage full of things like extra doorknobs, old, out-of-warranty power tools and a couple extra lawn mowers, you know, for parts.

I mean, the man built his own croquet set for crying out loud. My husband didn’t stand a chance.

So I wasn’t surprised when, in college, my washing machine went out and my then boyfriend/now husband had at least three washing machine motors laying around in storage.

I tell you, it’s a special type of romance to love a man with the skills to save you from the laundromat. If only I would have known that years later it would turn into me painstakingly putting up tiles on the kitchen island while my husband made 500 trips up and down the ladder leading to the dirt basement, because we still needed to build steps. And pour the concrete floor.

Ourselves.

I’m here to tell you that sometimes the “do it yourself” movement is only romantic when your car is broke down on the side of the road and he shows up with a toolbox and pops the hood.

Stay married long enough and it turns out he might expect you to know how to fix it yourself. Because apparently that sort of thing should wear off on you.

But if together we can get this couch through the doorway, past the bedrooms and around the corner to the living room without me pulling every muscle along the way, perhaps it’s a sign we’re turning a corner in our lives.

And the old couch will work great in the basement … once we get it finished

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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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