A Spring Dinosaur Hunt

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


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

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


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


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


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


Pops grabbed a walking stick.


I grabbed a camera and we were off on a hike up the hill and past the dam and through the trees.

A hike that soon turned into an imaginary dinosaur hunt where we all got assignments and duties from the Pre-schooler.

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


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

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



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

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


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


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


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


And this.


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




Sunday Column: Another Superhero

Snow storm

We’re in the middle of one of those nasty spring storms that blows through North Dakota expectedly, unexpected. After a weekend spent celebrating the marriage of one of our best friends, Husband and I crawled back to the ranch with blood shot eyes and sore muscles from dancing  just in time to flop on the bed and watch the wind blow the snow around.

The roads turned to ice and the brown grass turned white and the geese wondered why the hell they ever came back.

That’s sort of what I was thinking really. Like, maybe I should have just kept drinking and dancing and singing 80’s rock songs at the top of my lungs until this March turns to July and we’re out of the winter woods.

IMG_6198If I were a superhero, that’s what I’d do. I’d just turn up the music and pour some margaritas for the world until there was enough crazy dancing, laughing and ridiculous stories to warm us all up and forget about our winter blues (and all those other worries this place has) forever.

IMG_6275Turns out I’m pretty good at this whole superhero invention thing.

Anyway, I know it’s snowing in other parts of the country and maybe some of you even got to stay home from work or school to wait it out. If you did, I hope there was dancing.


Me? I got to stand in my muck boots in the basement with the shop vac sucking up what I like to refer to as just another little “septic issue.”

I tell you what, I could sure use that other superhero right about now,  fart gun and all.

Coming Home: Adventures of Sock Boy, Crazy Aunt
by Jessie Veeder
Fargo Forum

Fart Gun

Fart Gun


I spent the weekend with Darth.

And he spent the weekend with his fart gun.

I thought it was an imaginary thing when he made me lean over so he could “Tell me a secret.”

“Ok,” I said. “What’s your secret?”

“Fart Gun,” he said.

Fart. Gun.

And then he laughed and laughed and said.

“Find it!”

And then I laughed and said, “Okay, yeah…go find it you crazy kid.”

Go find that weird imaginary and apparently “top secret” flatulence weapon…

And then we played Darth Vader some more…


and pirates…

and a little superhero game I invented while finishing up the chores called “Sock Boy,” the world’s most helpful and domestic hero.


Have a laundry situation? He’ll sort it out!

Need someone to hold your dustpan? He’s there in a jiffy!


Big home construction project? He’ll help you prioritize!

photo-25 Making french toast? He can beat eggs with the best of them.


Yes, it was a busy day for for a little man, and after a story or two about barnyard animals and wild things romping about, he was tuckered out, tucked in and snoring…

And when he woke the next morning you know what came toddling out with him?

A Fart Gun!



The Fart Gun is a real thing…

It was in his bag.

His mother packed it for him.

“Well look at that!” I declared.



And that’s pretty much all the both of them said for the next two days.

Forget Darth Vader, let’s shoot this Fart Gun at my aunt while she’s working on her taxes.


Forget the Pirate thing, let’s point it at the dog’s butt, pull the trigger and laugh hysterically.


Forget the whole “Sock Boy” routine, it’s just me and my Fart Gun now.


And ever.







Well played big sister

Well played.

Little Man, right before our eyes…

This is what Little Man does when he comes out to the ranch.

Little Man is my nephew, for those of you who just got on board here at Meanwhile. He’s my little big sister’s first and only son, our first and only nephew and the first and only grandkid, so, well, you know, his life’s rough.

This is what he used to look like before he grew up into a little boy who thinks he’s big enough to drive 4-wheelers.

Right before our very eyes! How did that happen?

Anyway, see that there? That’s him looking for the key to start up the machine. He knows we hid it from him.

We hid it from him because we knew if found it he would surely drive off over the hill with the puppy on his tail, flying fast, shifting gears, ramping rocks and cliffs and screaming through creeks and puddles.

He’s got an adventurous and mechanical mind.

He’s got overachieving coordination, just the kind you need to manage things like computers and iPads and lawnmowers and 4-wheelers.

He’s got an obsession.

I swear, he could sit on this thing for hours, and that says something, you know, for a two year old with an attention span of, well, a two year old.

That damn 4-wheeler, it’s one of a thousand tools Papa has to win his spot as Little Man’s favorite. It also helps that he has horses, a garden full of dirt, a really loud and funny monster impression, patience and a general willingness to allow Little Man to do whatever he wants.

Good thing Gram has fruit snacks or she wouldn’t stand a chance.

I know how she feels. I mean, Papa and Little Man are downright inseparable. When they’re together not one other thing exists in the whole entire world.

Except maybe the movie Despicable Me. Little Man loves Despicable Me, so I guess Gramma has that going for her too. It’s possible Papa could be ignored if she were to turn on Despicable Me.

But say the words “4-wheeler” or “horses” and all bets are off.

And that’s that.

So you see, if I don’t steal Little Man away from Papa when he comes out to the ranch, if I don’t bribe him with pug kisses and string cheese we wouldn’t get to bond over reading books, throwing the stick for the lab and playing “Hook” with the kitchen utensils.

Playing “Hook” means playing “Captain Hook” and that means playing swords.

Turns out my hamburger masher is a perfect sword.

So is my ladle.

I love Little Man. He’s such a cute little weirdo.

Now, if only Papa would go on vacation and his mom would let me keep him, I’d have everything I ever need 🙂

Just a short vacation Pops, you know, take that 4-wheeler and go fishing or something…

A little about Little Man

Check out my date for the day:

Yup, he’s a handsome catch.

Don’t judge me ok. But when I get a chance to hang with my baby nephew, the first thing I do (after getting a smile and a hug) is dress him as a mini version of an adult character, like a cowboy or a hunter or an extreme athlete who wears Under Armor gear and then head outside.

Yeah, there may be some past evidence of this tendency….

Anyway, Little Man loves it outside. And with the unseasonably warm temperatures this week the little guy didn’t even need a puffy coat to enjoy the sunshine, barn animals and a big boy ride on the 4-wheeler.

Which reminds me, I need to get him a pair of goggles to go with that flapper hat. I think it would really complete the outfit don’t you?

Other than that, we’ve been busy you know. So busy that the kid is currently snoring, exhausted from a morning of growing teeth, making his aunt gag with the giant surprise he left in his pants: twice, and you know, working on the walking thing.

Yup, today Little Man discovered how to stand up without any aid from a piece of furniture and  propel himself forward on his feet. You know, a little thing we refer to as walking. And if I ever had doubt about why parents get so insane over things like children pooping on the potty and saying “DaDa” or “Shoe” (which not surprisingly, was my first word) I will never question it again.

Because when this little phenomenon occurred (one I have been nagging him about for months) this morning in my momma’s kitchen, I nearly spontaneously combusted with pride. When the reoccurring single step he usually takes from the standing position turned into two and then three, the look on that Little Man’s face was priceless. I screamed. I clapped. I did a back flip.

I called President Obama.

Hearing the commotion from shower stall, my momma came rushing in from the bathroom in her towel, and, well, she did the same thing, joining me in crazy company.

And then she called Oprah and asked her if she would like the exclusive interview with this wondrous kid.

It was magic.

And it hasn’t happened again for a good three hours, despite all of my coaxing.

Ah, well.

And ah, to be a toddler.

Watching Little Man discover the world, grab the cat by the tail, and snuggle into his gramma’s lap opens up a whole new world for us here on the ranch. One that has been plumb full of adult wisdom and responsibilities for years. But when Little Man comes down the road backward in his car seat and reaches his arms up to us, his way of asking to be pulled out, to be shown something, to be held and bounced and kissed and hugged, I cant help but wish I had still had some of those memories with me.

I wish I could recall what it was like to taste the world for the first time, or the adventure of never knowing if it’s milk or juice in that sippy cup. I wish I could remember that thrill of my first step and the faces that were there cheering me on. I wish I could reach back in the depths of my mind to hear the lullabies sung and the stories told, to hear my mother’s young voice, my grandmother’s whistle. I wish I could feel the thrill of being tossed in the air with full confidence that my grandfather would be there to catch me.

I wish he could remember how happy he is making everyone around here. How he melts his grandmother’s worries away as soon as she see’s his face. How he makes everything else in his grandfather’s world disappear when he see’s his toothy smile.

I wish he could remember how his aunt loses all inhibitions in attempts to make him laugh and  how everything’s right in his uncle’s world when he comes home from work and finds Little Man’s arms stretched out for a hug.

I know these particular events won’t stick in his little memory, but I know he will understand how important he is to our world.

Oh, and I will tell him.

Certain things.

Like how I did my first and only backflip when she saw him walk and how his gram called Oprah about the whole thing…

I probably won’t tell him about all the times he’s peed on me. Or how I repeatedly put his diapers on backwards.

Or how much he used to poop his pants.

Some memories are meant to be repressed.

Have a great weekend everyone. If you need me, I’ll be napping too.


Aunty Jessie

When the leaves blow from their branches, I will tell you…

Dear Little Man with the wispy hair, bright blue eyes and smile that sweeps wide across your face, lifting those squeezable cheeks toward the sky…

This is your crazy aunty here, you know, the one that will do anything, including crawling around on the kitchen floor and underneath coffee tables, jumping up and down frantically or singing “You are my sunshine” forty-seven million times in a row if it means that you will keep laughing.

Hello there. I have something to tell you. Something I intend to tell you every year when the leaves on the trees outside of your window start to drop from their branches and  blow away in the chilly wind. Someday your momma will ask you to rake them up into neat little piles. Someday, when you are bigger you will happily oblige and you will fling your body into the middle of the pile you created, feeling happy and free and glad to be out in the crisp fall air playing and running and jumping and kicking and all around creating havoc like little boys should.

Yes, someday you will.

And someday you will detach and drift and blow with the wind like the very leaves that dropped to the ground on the day of your birth. Someday you will fly away with them into a world filled with adventures and challenges and mountains to climb–the same world you are learning something new about every day.

But today I want to tell you that we are so glad you are here. Before you arrived we were a family, we were happy and full of life and things to do. Before we met you we dreamed you. We dreamed your hair with some curls, your eyes big and blue, your smile the way it showed up on you…always there, lighting our lives. We talked about what you might look like and when you might arrive and who you might become and how we would teach you things about why then sun shines and where the stars go at night.

But we had no idea. We didn’t understand what one little child with two tiny hands and two tiny feet and a nose that turns up just a bit could do to a family that was happy and full of life and had things to do. When we heard you were coming, when we got the call, we couldn’t wait. We drove in the dark in the earliest hours of the morning under a moon that was full and bright to get to you, to welcome you to this earth with open arms. We didn’t want to  miss it. We needed to see you first thing!

So we waited, impatiently. We paced the floor. We called our friends. We were nervous. Your momma was brave. And we were so proud as the moon disappeared and made way for that sun that would hang high and bright and shiny in the sky above you. And that earth that just moments before was preparing for a long winter sleep woke up bright and beautiful as your cries bounced off of the walls and out the door and into the morning air on the day you were born.

We were there to hear that first cry. Your momma, your daddy, your grampa and gramma and me. Your other aunty was calling, anxious to meet you, to hear about your eyes and your hands and your hair. Your grandma and grandpa hundreds of miles away were saying their prayers and holding their breath, waiting to hear the news of your arrival. Your uncle came rushing down the hall to hold you in his arms and say hello. He drove fast to get there just in time. He said you were tiny and perfectly perfect.

Your daddy couldn’t stop smiling. 

Your momma cried tears of joy.

And in that moment we couldn’t imagine a world without you.

It’s been a year Little Man and every day you amaze us. Every day you learn something new, you grow just a bit more. Every day you bring us closer to one another as we fall more in love over your busy hands, your belly laughs, the way you crawl and climb and stand and reach and taste and touch and hold on tight.

We hold tight right back. We don’t want to miss a thing. We don’t want to forget.

And all of wonders we thought we would teach you, all of the things that we thought you should learn from us? It turns out we just don’t know a thing, except the way that your hair plops over your eyes when you play and how your breath sounds when you’re fast asleep.

And so I will tell you year after year as the cold comes marching in, the leaves let go and the moon shines longer into the night, as you reach higher toward the sky, walk stronger on the earth, speak words true and knowing from your mouth, I will tell you on the anniversary of your arrival, on the day of your birth,  of all of those things we thought you would be–a wonder, a blessing, a gift of a life–

Little Man, you are so much more.

Happy Birthday! I love you…

Now can I  please have a bite of that cake?…