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


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…


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.


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…


Coming Home: Mastering routine of traveling with a baby is easier said than done
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Sunday Column: Don’t look in my car…

On Thursday night after a morning of rounding up cattle, an afternoon of office work and an evening of photography, I threw some clothes in a bag, squashed a cap over my tangled hair and pulled out of the muddy drive in the dark toward the highway to make my way the 180 miles to the big town for a meeting early the next morning.

In the box of the pickup were five giant rolls of orange electrical wire we purchased last week for the garage project, a bucket of grain and an antique chair I used during the evening’s photo shoot, but neglected to bring into the house.

In the back seat was Husband’s fireman’s uniform, three to ten half empty bottles of water or diet coke or Gatorade, a copy of Marie Claire Magazine from last May, a hand saw, an extension cord, a blanket, the muck boots I wore to get from the house to the pickup, a variety of tools, three to-go cups, a couple pamphlets on patio blocks from the lumber yard, a half-eaten bag of pretzels, a winter cap, a regular cap, a pair of fencing gloves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

And then there was me with my duffle bag packed in a half-hearted attempt to be prepared and convince someone around the table at the board meeting that I have my shit together enough to at least take the construction supplies out of the pickup before coming to town.

(Then I made a mental note to pull the Tunneau cover over the evidence on my next stop for diesel.)

I sat down at the table, only fifteen minutes late on account of two previous and failed attempts at locating the correct venue and within moments the hotel manager arrived to announce that someone in a black pickup was blocking a semi-truck trying to exit the parking lot.

I slumped my shoulders and announced to the room of professors, business owners, and put-together professionals that I would be right back.

Sometimes it’s hard to fit it all in out here thirty miles from the nearest civilized community when fitting it in means scheduling hours of time traveling down the road.

Sometimes it feels like half of my life is spent behind the wheel accumulating miles, sunflower seeds and opinions derived from endless talk radio on my way to pick up groceries, get a hair cut, get to a show or get my tooth fixed.

Because, despite my best efforts, the professionals in my life don’t seem to be too keen on holding board meetings around my kitchen table and contrary to some romantic beliefs, this country living thing doesn’t mean we grow our own vodka out here among the cow poop and scenic hills.

No, sometimes we need to make the three-hour trip to the big town to meet face to face  and sometimes we have to go even further to get that special giant bright orange electrical wire for the garage project, and sometimes we take the same vehicle we just used to grain the horses and respond to a fire call to stock up on the essentials.

Like donuts.

And hairspray.

And vodka.

You’ll have to understand this if you ever ask me for a lift and find yourself moving a saw horse, an Elmo doll, a microphone stand, a leather jacket and a bag of Cheetos off the seat to get in and get buckled up.

Because with all those miles between me and civilization, you never know when you’re going to get hungry, be called to help with a construction project, put on an impromptu concert or entertain a three-year old.

And a girl needs to be prepared.

Coming Home: Rural living’s romantic notions dashed by reality of time on the road
by Jessie Veeder
Fargo Forum

Coffee shops and city streets.

I’m in the big town today. I left the buttes of western North Dakota yesterday morning with half of the countryside stuck on the tires and body of my car. I watched the road stretch out in front of me from behind my cracked windshield and my world flatten out and disappear in my rearview mirror.

I headed east via the backroads, stopping only to drop off a photograph, get an oil change and, well, wash my damn car already. I figured it would be worth the effort now. Because today there’s not a scoria road in site, which means my car will remain clean for approximately 3.5 days before I head back west after my CD release concert on Saturday.

I spent this morning remembering how to use street signs instead of landmarks to navigate while I made my way downtown for a couple of radio interviews. Since then I’ve been wandering in and out of stores and coffee shops, browsing trinkets and clothes, people watching and latte sipping, procrastinating the list every country girl makes when she gets a chance to spend a weekend in the big town and thinking about Christmas presents.

Because I love the ranch. I love the stars at night and the way the sun rises through my big windows while I sit on my overstuffed chair and wait for an idea to come. I love the way the grass grows tall and unkempt, the barbed wire fences, the mud on my boots and the horses grazing in the pastures. I love the quiet and the familiarity and the loneliness of it all.

But today I’m writing to you from behind the window of a coffee shop in Fargo, North Dakota. Outside cars roll by, couples hunker down against the cold, the store fronts twinkle with garland and Christmas lights and men in business suits and hair-gel carry briefcases as they swing open the glass doors of tall buildings, looking like a completely different species than the men in our oil patch, on our ranches and in our tractors.

I watch the city bustle on the brink of another holiday with a familiar fondness I feel each time I visit cities like these across the country and I understand what it is that has me looking forward to these visits.

Because with all of that space around me, all of the familiarity that comes with living as an adult where you were born, working where you went to school and knowing how the road winds, how the dust blows, what winter smells like as it comes in with the wind and what time the coffee’s on at home, it is nice to be surrounded for a while by a place in constant motion.

It’s nice to go unnoticed as I stop in to grab a bite to eat, slowly turning through the pages of the paper where my column appears every Sunday, my face next a headline that tells a little story about the ranch and life on the other side of the state. I laugh a little at the thought of my weekly visits to this town, put down the paper and think that it’s nice to actually be here.

It’s nice to go unnoticed as I weave in and out of stores, touching the soft fabrics of clothing hanging in cute boutiques and I like how my boots look on the pavement.

I like the old buildings bordering the one-way downtown streets.

I like the alleys.

We don’t have alleys.

I like the street lights and stop lights and rooftop fences. I like the pigeons and the glass doors, the  pretty women in pea coats and heels and the walls full of beautiful shoes.

I like the well groomed couples in SUVs. I like to imagine them going home to perfectly shoveled walkways and a Christmas tree sparkling in their picture window facing out on a quiet loop of a neighborhood.

I like how there’s a place for coffee on every corner and I don’t have to brew it.

The same goes with bagels and burgers and muffins and beer.

I want to buy every pretty thing in the windows and every book in the bookstore. I want to take the art back to the ranch and hang it on my walls. I want to eat at every restaurant and drink every cocktail and listen to the music in the bars at night. I want to walk through the streets, sing my songs and get this city stuck to the bottom of my boots, having my fill before I head back home.

Because sometimes I get lonesome for places like Fargo, places that could so easily be home to a girl who knows she belongs in the hills, but just needs the lights of the big town to remind her.

I‘ll be playing at Studio 222 in Downtown Fargo, ND on Saturday at 7:00 pm.
CD signing at Zandbroz downtown on Saturday from 12-2 pm
Click here for a chance to win exclusive tickets to the concert.
Contest ends tonight at midnight