In the first place…

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Well we had a fun weekend last weekend. I’ve been so busy thinking about next weekend’s plans,  I haven’t had much time to reflect. All I know is now that we have Edie in our lives, time seems to go so much faster, even on the weeks I feel like I barely see her, which was the case last week as I spent my days getting ready for our Arts Council Showcase and a weekend full of music.

And it all went as good as can be. Thanks to my wonderful community and board members we enjoyed a flawless evening of music and art and I got to accompany Native American Hoop Dancer Kevin Locke as he performed and visited the kids at all our local schools. He was inspiring and the kids’ energy invigorated me.

Saturday morning our arts council hosted a writing workshop with an award winning author for people over 50 to help encourage them to share their stories and pass on their legacy.  I attended for most of it, but had to cut out early to hit the road for Bismarck for the North Dakota Music Awards. But I was so glad I popped in and to participate for a few hours and see my community members engaging in the creative process. So much of my life is focused on writing and creating, and lately I admit I’ve been feeling less than inspired as I try to balance this brief, but chaotic time in my schedule. Just a few hours of focusing on the process in a room with all minds on the same goal was just what I needed.

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Then down the road I went to meet up with the band and sound check a performance. My grandparents and aunt from Arizona were passing through on their way back home to Minnesota, so it was a special treat to have my aunt in the audience when I found out you all voted me (along with the very cool Bismarck band Kids with Beards) as your favorite folk artist for 2017.

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Thank you so much for that honor, I don’t take your support for granted for a day. And you showed up then, the way you always do, on Sunday afternoon for my book release concert at the Heritage Center where you (and my grandparents too!) were able to be in the audience to see Edie’s stage debut.

Turns out my girl and I missed each other that week, so she couldn’t watch the concert without making a fuss about wanting me to hold her so she could play guitar, so at the end of the show my mom brought her up and, well, it was a sweet moment.

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Next time I imagine she’ll bring her harmonica and demand a solo.

The crowd was so wonderful to come inside on one of the nicest days of the year and hear my stories. I truly enjoy being out and about meeting you all. I like it best when Edie can come along too (thanks to my niece and my mom), even if it’s a little more sweaty and stinky and covered in cracker crumbs.

Click here to see a TV interview with me discussing that day’s concert.

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And so here we are, in the middle of a new week and I’m so glad it’s spring now. The grass is greening up, the forecast is in the 70s for the foreseeable future and I just want to sprawl out and let the sun soak in my skin.

So when Edie came home we went out to frolic a bit, to feed the bulls and tinker with fences and pick her dad some flowers.

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It was only for an hour or so before we had to head in and get supper ready, clean up and get Edie to bed, but it was a nice reminder for me about the importance of doing the non-urgent things together, the just sitting outside and watching her run.

And while I haven’t been much for recaps in this space, usually more compelled to reflect on individual moments, I felt like recounting the past few days tonight. Because some days, especially these days, I’m too focused on what comes tomorrow. And I realize as she’s one moment away from being able to open the door to the outside by herself, that her wings are coming in much quicker than I expected.

Because last night I opened her baby book and couldn’t remember how old she was when she first rolled over, or her first trip to the pool or when she decided peas were her favorite vegetable.  For a woman who makes a living off of memories, sometimes the short term ones, the dates, the logistics, they don’t stick. So I panicked a bit, realizing just how little time there is for reflecting in the middle of this parenting gig and just how many more reasons there are to give ourselves that time.

Like the way she runs to get her boots when we tell her it’s time to go outside. How she puts her cap on backwards every time.

The big swell of pride that filled my chest as I watched my husband patiently teach her how to scootch down the stairs on her butt, because he doesn’t want her to get hurt and she’s always trying to do it herself when we’re not looking.

I want to remember the way she says “puppy” and I know I’m going to forget. I want to close my eyes on the hard days and smile at the way she insists on sitting behind the wheel of the pickup every time we go outside.

Because she’s such an unexpected gift indeed and the stuff good songs and stories are made of.

And I think maybe she’s the reason, long before I believed I might ever meet her, that I starting singing them in the first place.

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Winter and why we’re never doing anything ever again…

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It’s winter. It’s almost Christmas. December 21st. It’s official.

As if the weeks of sub-zero temperatures, snow piling up and blowing across the road and last nights freezing rain didn’t give us enough of a clue, we needed the calendar to confirm it.

Well, Happy Winter.

We’re going a little nutty around here, doing whatever it takes to find amusement while we’re socked in the house dealing with teeth problems and head colds, both mom and baby included.

There’s nothing more fun than a teething baby who can’t breathe out of her nose hanging out with her mom with a toothache who can’t breathe out of her nose.

Good thing we have the same sense of humor. Like, only a mother would find her child’s grapes-on-her-head-instead-of-in-her-mouth-trick funny.

What a weirdo.

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In a few days we’ll be celebrating Christmas with all the relatives we can get our hands on, so I’m hoping we can get our shit together. Husband’s been in on that goal. He’s actually helped me wrap presents this year, a task I find so amusing to watch, him hanging out on the floor with me hunched over little boxes, his big hands trying to maneuver little folds and pieces of tape, trying to get things just right and pretty in an adorable juxtaposition of masculine energy performing a task that requires some daintiness.

I’d post a photo of it, but he’d never help me again, soooooo…..

In other news, Husband and I finally took my little sister up on the offer of watching Edie for a few hours while we had an impromptu date night. I came to town with the baby to visit the nursing home on behalf of the Cattlewomen and afterwards I didn’t feel much like pushing my runny-nosed child through the aisles of the store trying to remember what I needed cream cheese for,

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so I called Little Sister and all was arranged. I would meet Husband after he was off work and our first night out together since the baby was born  (besides our anniversary vacation) would include grocery shopping and a burger.

Seriously. What’s wrong with us? Why don’t we go out together? We need to make a resolution. Did you get a haircut? Is that a new shirt? Are your eyes still brown? I forgot what you look like. Aren’t we having a good time? These are the things we talked about while I tried hard to remember that I didn’t need to hurry in the store or scarf my burger because we were frrreeeeee…….

And then I got a text message. A video. From Little Sister.

Edie was walking! Ever since she took her first little steps in the hallway weeks ago, I’ve been begging her to do it again. I’ve tried all my tricks and the kid would dance. She would bounce. She would clap and play peek-a-boo, but she wouldn’t walk.

She was never going to walk.

Unless we went out for the first time in months and months and months and left her with her aunt for thirty minutes. Then she’d walk.

“This is why we don’t do anything ever,” said my husband.

And it appears we might have to go for a burger and leave her with Aunty A. if we ever want to see her walk again…

Why am I in such a hurry to get her to walk. I’m going to regret this…

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Ah, anyway. Merry Christmas friends. I hope you find yourself in a season void of the sniffles and full of tiny little every day miracles.

Peace, Love and some pictures of my baby in a sled.

 

 

 

“How to make a phone call”-a step by step guide for mothers

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Oh, the things I took for granted before I became a mom hell bent on working from home. I could make a list now that includes showering, going to the bathroom, finishing a meal, uninterrupted sleep and an undisturbed laundry pile, but really I want to talk about phone calls.

Yes. Phone calls.

I knew this was a thing. A child could be sleeping a sleep of a sweet fluffy angel from heaven, or completely enthralled in the drama of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, or distracted by the love and adoration received by her father who just arrived home from work, but as soon as you make the commitment and pick up the phone to place that important call, the one you’ve been waiting to complete for probably a week because, if you’re like me you procrastinate stuff like that, and shit hits the fan.

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It’s like dialing the number sets off alarm bells of panic in young children, like they fear the little white box is going to take control of all their mother’s attention until the end of time so they must act to make sure they’re not abandoned. I think it’s some sort of born-in instinct.

Anyway, the phone hasn’t always been my best friend, but now it’s become a sort of nemesis of mine, especially when I finally have to give in and make those annoying calls to  a credit card company or “customer service line,” the kind that sends you through forty-seven options, where you can press “1” for English, “6” for French, enter your card number, speak clearly your reason for calling, and then again because the robot didn’t understand you, and then try to magically recall and type in the mysterious access code you were never given so you can state your hair color, shoe size, reason for living, bank account number, your father’s mother’s grandmother’s maiden name and your thoughts on Donald Trump all the while frantically pressing “0” for the operator hoping that the message will get through the vortex of space and time you’ve been living in since dialing the damn number 45 minutes ago and you might get a shot at talking to an actual human being who will promptly put you on hold thirteen times before they tell you that your name’s not on the account and your husband needs to call to make the changes.

 

 

The Lord’s on my side if Edie’s first word is “momma” or “puppy” and not
“*%&$*(#@&!”

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Because I don’t have time for this shit. I have a window of five minutes at a time where the baby might have found something other than a magazine or a crusted piece of spaghetti on the floor from last night’s supper to chew on to keep her busy and then it’s over. Surely some of the managers of these customer service centers have children of their own?!

Or maybe I just have more annoying problems than most. Because after my failed half-hour credit card phone call I decided to tackle my UPS situation. See I ordered my husband a custom pocket knife for our anniversary two months ago (hey, that’s as close to on-time as I can get) and I wanted to make sure that they didn’t deliver it to my mom and dad’s place.

Because that’s what UPS has been doing with our other packages. They set it, with the best intentions, on a bench in their garage where it enjoys a safe existence for approximately 5 seconds before dad’s pup Waylon shreds into it, spreading shards of cardboard, plastic and the entire contents of the package across the front lawn and driveway, sending my poor parents on a scavenger hunt for our belongings.

It’s not a pretty sight, especially if I order diapers.

Seriously. Sometimes I feel so alone in my redneck situations.

So long story (sorta) short, I made the dreaded phone call, if only to save me from having to dig through Waylon’s future poop pile for the expensive pocket knife.

It didn’t go well.

It started out with the baby safely in her high chair enjoying strawberry pieces and, by the time I got through the above process, dialing zero while declaring my religion, counting backwards from 100 by fives and offering cash to the robot lady if I could just please, for the love of George Clooney, talk to an actual person, the baby was on my hip trying her damnedest to get that phone in her hands so that maybe she could give them piece of her baby mind, or, more likely, take a bite out of it.

By the time I got to the first operator I found out that she didn’t care about the dog problem. She just wanted a tracking number.

But I didn’t have a tracking number. What I had was a baby who had just pooped her pants.

I was put on hold.

I changed the diaper.

I was put on hold again.

I made a bottle.

I was put on hold again only to be told to call the company and give them the right address.

They had the right address. It took me thirty minutes to get her to misunderstand me.

I hung up.

I called for a tracking number.

I called UPS again. I put the baby down to crawl around and picked up a broom to try to multi-task.

UPS call. House Cleaning. Keeping the baby alive. That’s what my life has come to.

But I nearly failed at it all. While I swept dirt and half-alive boxelder bugs in little piles I tried to explain the dog situation to the UPS lady, pleaded with her to just tell me how to get the message to my local UPS driver, who, according to her, doesn’t have a phone, or a boss, turned around to find the baby playing in the dirt piles and hung up with no delivery solution just in time to watch my baby put a boxelder bug in her mouth and chomp down.

I screeched.

She crawled toward me, her hands slower than her knees, and banged her head on the floor.

She cried.

I picked her up.

I cried.

And that is why I hate the phone.

 

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The chance to be ungrateful…

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It was truly a “take your daughter to work day” today as I hauled Edie to town and used her as a model for a little photoshoot I did for this new publication I’m working on for Western North Dakota called “Prairie Parent.”

When work means taking photos of cute kids in cute clothes with your friends and their kids and your baby on a beautiful fall day, it really can’t get any better.

Even if poor little Edie is coming down with something…and I think so am I.

And we have a big weekend of music coming up which means another trip across the state and a little prayer up to stay healthy. And a lot of packing. And a lot of catching up to do on work and laundry between now and Thursday.

Somedays I’m a little overwhelmed, but today I focused on the positives. I thought I was handling it thanks to my mom and the sunshine.

I don’t always think I’m handling it. Sometimes it’s harder to keep it all level and balanced. Sometimes it all comes boiling out my mouth because I can’t stop and think because I’m tired of thinking and I need to say things out loud so that it might all come together in some semblance of perspective.

And that’s what I got last week…

Lucky to have the chance to be ungrateful
by Jessie Veeder
9-19-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Last weekend on the way to meet my husband’s family to celebrate his grandmother’s 87th birthday, I had one of those moments where I broke everything down that wasn’t working in my life. Something my husband said set me off and I took it as an opportunity to let the steam out of the frustration kettle that had been boiling for a couple weeks.

Then I worried about making enough money to make it worth it and moved that into my frustration about unfinished projects.

And by the way, the house is never clean and how am I going to keep cockleburs out of the baby’s mouth if they keep coming in on the bottoms of our jeans?

Seriously? Is there anyone else in the world who has to worry about their baby eating cockleburs in the house?!

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And it just went on from there while the baby slept in the car seat behind me and my patient, but probably pretty annoyed, husband tried to offer solutions I wasn’t in the mood to hear like men tend to do with women during meltdowns like these.

Please tell me other women have meltdowns like these.

I threw those words at the windshield and we rolled down Highway 85 on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, the leaves turning gold on the trees, sparkling against a blue sky. By the time we got to where we were going the radio was a bit louder and conversation had turned to the new funny laugh that Edie was trying out lately and what we needed to pick up while we were in the big town.

We spent the day watching Edie get passed around from cousin to aunt to gramma to uncle. We strolled through the zoo and heard her use her new scruffy laugh while watching the otters swim. We swatted away hornets and took some family pictures and ate three different types of cake, gave hugs and drove home toward the setting sun, not a trace of residue on the windows from my morning words.

Earlier that week I stood over our kitchen counter. It was scattered with Tupperware containers, unopened mail, sunglasses and probably a spare tool or two. I had a knife in one hand and a fork in the other and as I sliced into the big juicy steak we pulled from a freezer packed with meat we just picked up from the butcher, I was overcome with this unexpected wave of complete gratefulness, so much so that I had to stop and say it out loud.

“We are so lucky that this is our meal. On a regular Tuesday night,” I said to my husband sitting in front of his plate full of vegetables from the garden and his steak grilled to perfection. “There are people in this world who’ve never tasted a fresh garden tomato.”

He agreed.

Lucky.

Thing is, I didn’t think about that Tuesday night steak on my Saturday morning rant. It was long dissolved into my uncertainties of the week, crumpled into wondering if we were doing anything right.

And I’m sitting here this morning sort of worried about how quickly the taste left my mouth.

Just over a year ago I was holding my breath for a baby to come in and throw my schedule into chaos, just like she’s doing, just like I was complaining about on Saturday morning.

And now here she is, staring up at me from the living room rug while she’s pooping her pants. And I am grateful.

I’m lucky to be grateful. But maybe sometimes, and I’ve never thought of this before, we’re even more lucky to have the chance to be ungrateful.

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Sunday Column: A warm welcome to the mommy club.

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Coming Home: Wait is over to celebrate Mother’s Day as a mom

by Jessie Veeder
5-9-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Long before I became a mom, I often heard the phrase “You just wait” from other parents. While well-meaning, it was an expression that made me cringe for a few reasons. Besides the fact that it made me feel like I was being set aside to a place they put people who couldn’t possibly get it, it made me want to scream, “I am waiting! I’ve been waiting for years!”

“You’ll understand when you have kids of your own.” That was another one.

It was never really clear, the mystical thing that I was to understand. If I could just get it together enough to have a kid already, I could finally know what I desperately needed to know.

I’m sorry. I’m sounding sarcastic. I haven’t been sleeping.

I think that’s one of those things I couldn’t have possibly understood.

OK, I get it now.

This year I will celebrate my first Mother’s Day with a baby of our own in our house (and in my arms and in my car and in the bathtub and in her carrier walking with me across the cow pastures) and I can’t help but notice that over the past five months it’s felt like I’ve become a part of this big, new and welcoming club.

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My Sister-in-law, who is busy raising my three nieces. She sent us home yesterday with five big bins of girl clothes. God bless her.

I walk through the grocery store with the baby strapped to my chest, wiggling and drooling and smiling at the stranger in the dairy aisle who smiles back. “Two teeth already! How old is she? Wow, that’s early! My son didn’t get teeth until he was almost a year. He’s 21 now. They grow so fast …”

And we stop there, holding our milk cartons, feeling compelled for some numinous reason to share with one another our most intimate birth story, the struggles we had or didn’t have with feeding, the joy of the first smile and ugh, the sleepless nights, the stranger so eager to reflect and relay, and me, a new mom, hungry to know that I’m not alone in the joy and, more importantly, the challenge.

“She’s precious,” she says. And I beam with pride as I move on to the cereal.

Working men in muddy boots push past us with carts full of chips, burgers and pop. One stops to take a peek at my baby’s chubby cheeks. His daughter is 3 and back home in Tennessee. Before I had Edie I would say, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be away from her.” Now my heart breaks for him.

Until five months ago I only understood motherhood from the perspective of having one. And I have a great one. One of the best. But I always thought she worried too much. I’ve been telling her that since I was a little girl. Don’t worry, Mom. Don’t worry!

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Now I know what an impossible demand I was making on her as I pulled on my boots and went out into this big, sharp and dangerous world, my little sister trailing behind me.

Asking her not to worry was like asking her not to breathe. I get it now, Mom. I haven’t stopped worrying since the moment I found out I was pregnant. And when I’m done writing this I’m ordering Edie a full-body helmet.

Because the big, sharp world is dangerous, yes, but now I get to watch my baby discover it, and I think I might have taken for granted what a gift it is to have hands that can touch and eyes that can see and a voice that can laugh at the wonder of it all.

Apparently with all this motherly worry comes waves of overwhelming gratefulness.

Yes, they told me I’ll understand when I have kids of my own and, finally, here I am discovering what being a mother means to me.

And while the birth of my daughter has somehow given me a big happy welcome into this warm and open club of parenthood, after such a big discovery, this Mother’s Day I don’t have anything more profound to say than this:

Thank you, Mom, for worrying.

Thank you, Baby, for being born.

And to all the mothers-in-waiting, may your children find you.

 

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With a little help from the best…

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Edie’s getting a new perspective on the world these days.

The weather has been warmer and I’ve scheduled a few appearances out of town, so that means road time, restaurant time, hotel time, shopping time and the best part, auntie and gramma time.

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They are the only reasons there is even a prayer for me to continue to travel and sing with a baby in tow.

And last weekend they earned their keep as they endured loading all four of us and our suitcases, a guitar, a giant stroller, a car seat and thirty-seven changes of clothes for the baby into Husband’s giant pickup because the tire was low on my car. They held their pee without complaint for the three hour drive because the baby was sleeping and we didn’t want to disrupt a good thing only to have to pull off the interstate to feed her twenty miles from our destination just like I predicted.

Because a screaming baby can test even the most loving aunt, gramma and mother…

It’s a small price to pay to have the little cherub along though. Because 90% of the time she’s a drooly dream who makes everything harder and more fun. We got the hotel and just stared at her on the bed, hanging out in her diaper practicing rolling over.

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And leave it to Edie to wait until I’m gone to bust out her big tricks. While I was waiting to go on air at the North Dakota Today show the next morning, my little sister was texting me video from the hotel room of the little turkey rolling all over the bed.

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Apparently she needs a bigger audience.

And after one live TV appearance, one terrifying trip through the carwash with the giant pickup, one equally terrifying trip through the narrow Starbucks drive through, lunch, a nursing/puking/outfit changing session in the parking lot of the liquor store while my mom and sister shopped the buy one/get one sale…

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and a meltdown in the car seat from one end of town to another, we finally made it to the mall where we promised ourselves a quick trip.

Mom just needed to exchange some things. Little Sister just needed to look at some boots. I just needed a couple new shirts and ingredients to make some bars for the Fireman’s fundraiser the next day…

But also I needed makeup. And mom needed a giant pack of paper towels for the store and an equally giant box of toilet paper. And speaking of boxes, she might as well pick up that plastic box for the deck so Pops can store his grilling tools out of the weather. He just leaves them outside you know…

Oh, and I guess she also needed a bucket and a mop. Apparently it’s spring cleaning at the store…

And while she was trying to fit that all in the cart I figured I should pick up some more socks for Edie. And then pick up Edie out of the stroller. Because the stroller is a little too much like the carseat and, well, she has a short tolerance for such confinement.

So you can about picture it. Three women, one pushing an overflowing cart full of cleaning supplies, one pulling a stroller full of purses and coats instead of a baby like God intended and the other one wandering around aimlessly, a burp rag over her shoulder, holding the baby in one hand and a cell phone in the other, texting to locate the other two women she arrived with.

I swear, we passed two moms strolling tiny twin babies in the mall that day who both looked like they just arrived from a spa vacation compared to the hot mess we had going on.

And that was before we attempted to sort all our treasures in the checkout line and fit them into the pickup.

Really. Only the Veeder women could fill a one-ton, long box pickup to the brim after one overnight stay in the big town.

It’s like we never get off the ranch.

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So that was Friday.

Saturday mom came with me to take care of Edie while I sang at an event that evening, and Edie only screamed once for no apparent reason and didn’t require an outfit change, so that was good.

I however, emerged from a back room feeding to sign CDs with my dress hiked up past my hips, puke on my shoulder and my bra unlatched.

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I got distracted.

I’m sure no one noticed.

But then this was Sunday.

70-degree Sunday.

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Or as Little Sister declared as she walked the gravel road with my baby strapped like a little kangaroo to her body…”What Sundays are made for…”

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I couldn’t agree more.

And now it’s Monday. Time to rest up for the weekend.

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Because I’m raising a singing, kicking, screaming, wiggly, drooly, road warrior…with a little help from the best…

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Sunday Column: Two sisters, two puppies, a baby girl, a 5-year-old Batman and 100 crickets take a road trip.

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If there’s one thing I predicted correctly when it came to new motherhood it’s that all of the gadgets associated with keeping the baby happy, healthy, safe and alive would put make me crazy, sweaty, confused and hanging by a thread.

I could go on here with the examples of how I continue to find a way to lock the lid in the up position on the Diaper Genie, rendering it completely useless for its intended purposes, or how I inherited a bottle sanitizer without the directions so I just. Can’t. Even.  Or this weekend’s battle involving tears, pools of sweat and a nearly dislocated shoulder in an all out war to get the baby in one of those cool, hippy-mommy baby carriers I always envisioned myself sporting so we could go on a walk together for the love of fleece beanies and 60 degree February weather…

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But that’s nothing compared the the weekly battle with the car seat. No one in this house loves the car seat. Especially not the baby.

Because why, when we live at least a half hour away from anywhere we need to go, would God give me one of those babies who loves to snuggle and falls asleep as soon as she’s strapped in and rolling down the road? That would just be too easy on this momma.

Instead, I got one of those babies who likes to sprawl, arms above her head and legs pumping, one who would prefer to lay on her back and watch the world smile on her than be rocked in the chair in front of a TV tuned to the hunting channel like her dad hoped.

Maybe the next one.

But for now we have this…

And unless you’re sitting in the back seat with her inserting her pacifier on demand so that she might lull off to dreamland, or entertaining her enough to distract her from realizing her unjust confinement, traveling can be loud and, well, just like everything else these days, sweaty.

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So when I was charged with delivering the last of the puppies to a town two hours away from the ranch, I knew it was going to be an adventure. And when I heard Husband had to stay back because he was on call for work, and my 5-year-old nephew was coming for a sleepover, I knew I had to call in reinforcements…

Her name was Little Sister and after it was all was said and done, well, it might be a while before Edie get’s another cousin…

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Coming Home: Mastering routine of traveling with a baby is easier said than done
by Jessie Veeder
2-28-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Two sisters, two puppies, a baby girl, a 5-year-old Batman and 100 crickets take a road trip.

That was last Saturday in a nutshell. Because the last of the 11 puppies were ready to be delivered to their new owners, and plans had been made to meet up in Minot, a good two-hour drive from the ranch.

These days, a two-hour drive might as well be across the country when you factor in the preparation needed to get me and my 3-month-old out the door, buckled in and rolling down the road anywhere close to a promised timeline.

Add to that my 5-year-old nephew who stayed for a sleepover and two wiggly, fluffy little cow dogs who needed to be retrieved from the barn, loaded in a crate and introduced to a moving vehicle on a full tummy. It became pretty clear I needed backup.

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So I called my little sister, who I recently discovered would do anything if it means she gets to hang out with the baby, even if it requires waking up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday with no guarantee that the babies, human or canine, won’t cry, puke or poop along the way.

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Now, I like to give myself credit for being a multitasker, and I’ve certainly put plenty of miles under these tires, but I’ve only been a mom for a couple of months, and to say that I’ve mastered the routine of packing up and traveling with a baby would be a lie. In all of the mom blogs and what-to-expect essays I’ve read, no one maps out what it really looks like to get you and an infant out the door with minimal puke or poop on your outfits.

Sometimes there just aren’t enough burp rags in the world.

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Anyway, here’s my opportunity to fill in the missing information: Life with an infant is a ticking time bomb that can be controlled by a meticulously managed process of wake up, change her, feed her and get her happy and comfortable enough so that maybe she’ll take a little nap while you take a quick shower, find something to wear, run a comb through your hair and, if you’re lucky, find some eyeliner while filling up a thermos full of hot water so that in a pinch you can warm a bottle because you get a 3-second window of time between a hundred smiles and a wail of hunger that needs immediate attention, always during a time it’s not so convenient to feed the baby the old-fashioned way.

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And then there’s planning for the blowout that may or may not happen when you’re in the middle of buying laundry detergent and more tiny socks. They don’t tell you that the world isn’t quite set up for spontaneous diaper changes. I mean, up until Edie shot a poop so explosive the aftermath reached well past her little shoulder blades while I was holding her in the plumbing section of Menards, I was completely unaware of the importance of the life-saving “family bathroom.”

These are the life lessons I have come to appreciate.

And last Saturday, I also came to appreciate a 5-year-old who can brush his own teeth, comb his own hair, dress himself in the clothes he wore the day before and provide running commentary on why the puppies were crying, why the baby was crying, why he doesn’t want the crying baby to come with him into McDonalds and why, for the love of chicken nuggets, the puppies barfed everywhere.

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Because they ate too much, he thought. And maybe I drove a little too crazy.

Crazy like his mother, my brave older sister, who, after the pukey puppies were delivered, the 5-year-old was filled with french fries, the baby fed, changed and almost sleeping in her car seat, and two lattes were purchased for an aunt who just spent half her paycheck on gifts for her niece and nephew and a frazzled mom who had to call her husband to figure out how to close the collapsible stroller, thought it would be a good time to text with a request to pick up 100 crickets at the pet store for the 5-year-old’s lizard, Frank. You know, if we hadn’t left yet.

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Sunday Column: What they didn’t tell me

IMG_6853They didn’t tell me that I would have the appetite of a teenage boy or that I would be more hungry feeding a baby than growing one. And so they didn’t tell me that I would have to acquire a new set of skills, like eating cereal with my left hand while feeding the baby on my right.

They didn’t tell me how horrified I would be the first time I dribbled a little of that cereal milk on her head or that I would get over it by the third or fourth time…or that spilling my food on the baby’s outfit would actually be a thing.

And they didn’t tell me that my baby might not look like me. Or my husband really. And that, despite our certainty that the tiny human would show up with brown eyes like ours, it might just happen that hers will turn blue. And that it’s weird and sort of wonderful how she is so incredibly and uniquely herself.

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And they told me my body would never be the same afterwards, but they didn’t tell me that would be the last thing on my mind, because the first thing on my mind would be getting it to do what it needed to do.

And they told me that it might not work out, that feeding her would be painful and mind-numbing and the hardest and most time consuming commitment, but they didn’t tell me how proud I would feel when it did work. They didn’t tell me that putting her on the scale at the pediatrician’s office to find that she’s gained pound after pound and inch after inch would have me puffing out a chest that no longer fits into any of the shirts or jackets in my closet, beaming with pride to have one of those babies with rolls and squish.

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No, they didn’t tell me how relieved I would feel about all that eating and pooping. And they certainly didn’t tell me how loud babies can fart.

Or how far they can shoot their puke…and that it sometimes comes out of their noses…

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Yes, they told me that we would never sleep again, but they didn’t tell me what it’s like to be awake, just her and I, in the peace of the early morning when even the wild things are quiet.

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And they didn’t tell me that I could be simultaneously lonesome and fulfilled. How I could cry tears of joy and frustration at the same time. How my favorite time of the day would be the first smile at 5 am.

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And they should have told me not to panic if things don’t go right, because next week I would have a new set of worries and wonder. And they should have told me that so I might be prepared for how that phenomenon sends you wishing for time to speed up and stand still at the same time.

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And that I would be crazy in so many different wonderful and worrisome ways.

They should have told me about the crazy. And then they should have told me that the most important thing to have on hand is not diaper cream or nasal aspirators or yoga pants, but a good dose of patience.

And then they should have told me that it wasn’t all going to be wonderful, but that it was all going to be ok…

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Coming Home: A new mom can’t be told everything
by Jessie Veeder
1-31-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Before Edie was born, I was the queen of reading up on what was to come, from the “Top 50 Baby Must Haves” to “Tips to Make Your Baby Smarter.” I talked to other moms, too, about what to expect when I brought my baby home. All were so willing to share tips for gas (because her baby was gassy) or information on the best diaper cream (because her baby got rashes).

But sprinkled among the overwhelming advice was the resounding declaration that “every baby is different.” Which is helpful to remember when you hear about a baby who only falls asleep after an hour drive in the car and, two years later, still wakes up every two hours. It gives you a little sliver of hope.

Yes, there are so many things they tell you, so much to learn, and while the whirlwind of Edie’s birth left me awestruck, in pain and completely in love, when my husband and I stepped foot into our house, our 8-plus-pound baby in tow, I soon realized that I could have spent a lifetime collecting advice, but in the end, just like every baby is different, so is every couple, every mother and every household.

Because I didn’t come across one article that discussed what it was like taking care of a newborn in the middle of a North Dakota winter, 30 miles away from the nearest grocery store or doctor’s office, married to a husband who had to go back to work after the first week of his new baby’s life.

Tip No. 1 should have been: With a nursing baby in one hand and your cellphone in the other, you can magically make almost anything arrive at your doorstep. Just don’t be surprised that by the time the new shelves/special diaper cream/adorable baby cardigan arrive, you likely won’t remember you bought it.

Because that whole pregnancy brain thing has nothing on the brain you receive with a newborn. Nobody talked much about that.

Perhaps they forgot. Just like I forget where I put all five of Edie’s pacifiers.

And there are plenty other things they forgot to tell me. Like, when changing a diaper, have another one ready. Which seems like a no-brainer now, except at 5 a.m. when your baby has literally pooped in your hand and you realize you don’t have a brain anyway.

That’s the other thing no one tells you — that poop-in-your hand story will suddenly become a go-to conversation starter with your mom/sister/random stranger in the grocery store.

That is, until you see your baby’s smile for the first time. I suppose no one can tell you what that’s like.

Or how you will put on a thousand miles bouncing and walking your baby around the house, and how after she finally falls asleep, you will miss her.

And everyone likes to wish you good luck with the sleepless nights, but no one told me that getting up to feed my baby at 3 a.m., in the dark and still of the early morning, would be my favorite time with her and the best moments of my life so far. Because the days are long, but the months, the years are short. That’s something everybody told me, but I wouldn’t comprehend until I packed away the newborn clothes just a few short weeks after she arrived in this world.

And until now I couldn’t possibly understand the new kind of trust I would place in my husband, or the physical toll motherhood would take on my body, or how hard but so incredibly important it is to hold on to the parts of me that are not solely mother so that I can be the best version of myself for my family.

Or how, at the end of the day, your body may be drained and your wits may be frayed, but you’ll lay down in the dark and hear your baby breathing in her crib next to you, safe and calm, and, well, that’s all I can say, because there’s no list or conversation in the world that would have prepared me for that.

And I can’t help but hope that in that way all of us could be the same.

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Happy Momma’s Day!

I love my momma.

There she is after giving me life.

There I am on about my tenth minute out in the world. I’m looking a bit concerned..but she’s smiling.

That smile is a miraculous site knowing now that I was a whole month late–and I haven’t been on time for anything since.

You would have thought she would have given up on me.

But my momma never gives up. Pair that with the fact that she’s beautiful, caring, energetic, kind, funny, crazy, has a sexy shoe collection and knows how to throw a party, and you can understand why I want to be like her in all those ways when I grow up.

I’m working really hard on that shoe-collection part…

Love you mom!

Re-visit all the reasons why here: She chose us

She chose us

I like to imagine my mother before I knew her–before she became a mom for the first time to my big sister and wife to my father. I like to imagine her long straight hair, jeans that hugged her ballerina legs, her high heels clicking along the pavement on her way to a job she was damn good at, her tan skin on elegant arms that opened out wide to the world.

Because it was those open arms that brought me into my world. A world with gravel roads, cattle grazing in the yard, clay buttes, children on horses and neighbors who lived miles a way. A world I am certain this beauty queen who used to twirl and spin in satin dresses on stages never pictured herself in.

I like to imagine her this way, young and in love and willing to sacrifice the life between city streets, the life she was familiar with, for a man in a band with wild, black hair wearing a suit with cowboy boots and looking displaced in that city where they met–ready to bust out at the polyester seams, saddle his horse and ride out on the interstate toward home.

I like to imagine him, my father before he was my father, enamored  by this woman with quiet confidence, natural beauty and an aversion to practical shoes. A woman who was like no other woman he had ever met, who was fine on her own raising a beautiful daughter, but might be convinced, if treated with the kindness and respect that she deserved, to go with him.

Go with him to live in this wild space, a space that I imagine has always been under appreciative of a woman so refined and polished and poised. A space that required more practical shoes.

I like to picture that she pulled on her boots and listened to her new husband’s dreams of cattle and horses while she searched for work, taught dance classes in the nearby small town, had two more daughters and raised them in a landscape so far from the sidewalks and movie theaters and restaurants of her youth.

But she never complained. At least I have never heard it. And out here surrounded by snakes and trees and creeks and buttes and big blue sky my mother watched her daughters grow and get their hands dirty and tangle their fuzzy hair in the wind. She cheered them on at small town rodeos, tended to broken arms, made makeshift habitats for pet turtles in her roasting pan, gave advice on cheerleading moves, helped with 4-H projects and bought them pretty shoes, no matter the dirt and mud they insisted on dragging into the house on our boots.

And while she drove one with ballerina aspirations to lessons 75 miles away, sent one to ride horses and sing her songs on stage and  scheduled the other for basketball and volleyball camps around the state, I imagine her grabbing little pieces of her heart and spirit and handing them quietly off to her daughters…

Her pointed toes, blue eyes, poise, gentle nature and quiet beauty slipped to her oldest in her mug filled with hot chocolate on her way out the door.

The honesty, determination, quick wit, strength and social graces that exist within my mother flew out of her mouth and attached to her youngest during an argument about boyfriends or clothes or parties with friends.

And to her middle daughter, a daughter who in her younger days was convinced that she had nothing in common with the woman who gave birth to her, she gave a gift of gentle touches, encouragement, belief in wild dreams and understanding of untamed emotions. But most of all her sacrifice, her perseverance, tolerance and acceptance of a world she had to grow to understand and appreciate has been her greatest gift to me…the gift of a home on the landscape I will always belong to.

That, and an affection for impractical shoes.

But for all that she’s given, all of the sacrifices she has made through winters at the ranch that seemed to have lasted years, through snakes and skunks making their way into her home, through thankless jobs, burned tuna casseroles, drought and dust storms, drained bank accounts and children who just won’t listen, my mother has held on to the best parts of herself:

The beauty queen parts, the wine connoisseur, hilarious loon interpreter and graceful selflessness parts. The life of the party, the fashionista, giver of the most thoughtful gifts, Christmas loving, sun seeker, tasteful, best friend in the world parts. The big sister, the caring daughter, the understanding wife parts. The organized and impeccably clean and always prepared (even when 30 miles away from the nearest grocery store) parts.

The parts of her that have always known what is best for her family. Best for her daughters.

So, yes, I like to imagine my mother before I knew her, before she was my mother. I like to imagine her with all of that love to give, all of that joy, all of those dreams and talents with the world at her delicate fingertips.

And then give thanks that she chose this life. Of all of the things and people she could have belonged to, all of the places she could have laid her heart down, she chose to lay it  here.

She chose us.

And we are the luckiest.

Happy Mother’s Day momma.

Love you as wide as this prairie sky we live under…as wide as your arms reach.