My dad once told me that he didn't believe that there was just one person for everyone. I was sitting shotgun in the pickup as he drove us somewhere. He likely asked me about my boyfriend, and I think I responded with a sort of fed-up answer. I was in that transition from teenager to adult, heading off to college and thinking I might be in love. And I was wondering if I should break it off, because that's what most people do. And at that age, what most people do sort of means something.
"Sorry for the mess," my friend's husband said as he opened the door to the pickup he was letting me borrow during the week I was waiting for my new baby to be born in the big town. I took a look around to find an orange hunting vest lying on the back seat and (GASP!) a stray penny on the floor. And that was it.
After three long, agonizing months in and out of intensive care unit in a Minneapolis hospital battling pancreatitis and fighting for his life, my dad is set to come home to the ranch in a few weeks. Friends are calling wondering what they can do, making plans to clear the driveway, buy groceries and welcome him back, and we are so very grateful.
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — Congratulations North Dakota! You've made it to the end of the longest month. From here I can see spring — if I stand on the top of the highest hill, on a rock, with my binoculars, but probably only because February's a short month and the past week we've had a break from the sub-zero temperatures long enough for us to find optimism and wrangle the toddler into her snow clothes and play outside.
My 2-year-old stood before me, her little pastel jewelry set draped around her neck and wrists, and took a bow. "I a queeeennn!!!" she declared as she bent down to the ground and stood back up, beaming before sprinting down the hallway for more props. Queen. This is not a label we parents have given to her, but one of many she's picked up for herself as part of the pretend world she's creating, the way a 2-year-old should.
I woke up to the sun slowly appearing over the big hill that faces our tall windows. "One ribbon at a time" is a quote I read somewhere describing the sunrise, and I recite it in my head as the pinks, purples and golds appear in the sky just long enough to transform and fade into blue. Some mornings I don't take the time to notice it the way I used to before the babies arrived, but when I do, it always reminds me of the reasons we moved back home to the ranch seven years ago.
You guys, this parenting thing is no joke. I say this as I'm celebrating my first month spent working to keep two kids happy, healthy and out of harm's way. And by out of harm's way, I mean so many things. Like encouraging the toddler to be helpful, but not the "pulling-her-infant-baby-sister-out-of-her-swing-to-change-her-diaper" kind of helpful. Or the "shoving-the-pacifier-back-in-her-tiny-mouth-with-the-strength-and-grace-of-a-hippo" sort of helpful.
Christmas is here. The weatherman on the news this morning is warning us of the impending winter storm, the kind that will blow cold arctic air in from Canada and give us a gift of a white and freezing holiday.
Rosalee Gene came into this world quickly on Friday, Dec. 1, at 9:14 am. Before she was born we hadn't decided on a name, so we agreed we would need to meet her first. And when I met her I knew. I looked up at my husband looking down at the squishy, slimy, dark-haired little human resting on my chest and he said he knew too. "You say it first," he said. "Rosalee," I said. "Yes. I think so too. Rosalee."
Editor's note: Jessie Veeder and her family welcomed daughter Rosalee "Rosie" Gene on Dec. 1. Mother and baby are doing well, and we offer our sincere congratulations to them! Please enjoy this column written in 2011 while Jessie and her family settle into being a family of four. The Merriest Christmas to all of you! To honor your friendship and support I am giving you a gift that has been enjoyed by many families around the countryside here Christmas after Christmas, courtesy of my momma.