I Fell for Fall

If you don’t like the weather in North Dakota, wait 15 minutes.  That is one of those annoying folksy sayings people like to quip when someone is complaining about the weather.  The first day of Autumn fell this past week, which has me VERY excited. You see I live for Fall: cool weather, sweaters, bonfires, things cooked in crockpots, hoodies and harvest.

Usually around the changing of the seasons comes the cooler weather.  Apparently no one told Mother Nature this because yesterday was hot. It was hot and humid.  Our little kitchen was 78.2 degrees when we had dinner and it felt so thick, I thought if I fainted, the air would just hold me upright in its gelatinous hug.  It’s the kind of weather that whips up thunderstorms.

I am a girl with a crush on a good thunderstorm. We didn’t have a thunderstorm las night, but the humidity was blown out of here today during our “high wind advisory”.  See? Just wait a day. It’s 20 degrees cooler and the wind is at least 20 miles per hour faster.

So as I go into this Autumn with spiced apples and cinnamon sticks dancing through my head, I hope you get a chance to enjoy my most favorite of my four favorite seasons: Fall. Plus if you don’t like it, just wait 15 minutes(winter’s coming).



Oh Deer!

When I was old enough to leave home, I was also bestowed with another milestone: getting dropped from the family insurance. When you are in your late teens, you know everything but don’t understand a lot and this was true of me and car insurance. My late teens and early twenties involved a lot of moving: six-month leases were my jam. Something I found very interesting and perplexing was this: when I lived in a rural area my car insurance cost more than when I lived in an “urban” area. Now let me explain: Fargo is considered an “urban” area in North Dakota. It was bestowed this honor by being the most populated town in North Dakota. All y’all who are from actual cities can pick yourself up off the floor from you fit of laughter, we’ll move on.

When I lived in “small towns” in North Dakota(I’m talking no stop lights, a bar, a post office, maybe one school, and Main street has the right-of-way all the way through town with not so much as a yield sign), my car insurance would go up. When I lived in the “city” of Fargo, with actual populations of people…driving cars or pickups…everywhere( a lot of them being college kids, Go Bison/Dragons/Cobbers/etc), my insurance would go down.

My freshly-formed almost-adult brain couldn’t quite wrap around this idea, so I asked: “What the what???? Why does my insurance go up when the likelihood of me being in a fender-bender with another vehicle drops? Why wouldn’t my insurance cost more when I’m living among a larger vehicle-driving population? When I interact with dozens of cars on a daily basis, instead of a handful of cars, why does my insurance drop? What is going on???” The answer I received was: “You are more likely to hit a deer in a rural area.”

That’s right people. It wasn’t the uninsured rate-suckers, the color of my car, my driving record, or the hitch in my giddyup that was causing my insurance rate to fluctuate. My insurance premium was being driven by Bambi’s much tougher and heartier third cousin once removed: a NoDak whitetail deer.

If you are a NoDak driver, you not only have to be able to drive in 50 mph winds, rain storms, blizzards, heat, in subzero temps and be able to give the two finger wave(think peace sign but your fingers are glued together) when meeting a vehicle in any area with a population of less than 1000 people(that’s a lot of area), but you are also tasked with dodging suicidal woodland creatures.

Here’s the NoDak driving tip that my dad gave me when I started driving: if you see an animal in the road, hit it. Do not swerve. Stay in your lane, brake if you can, and hit it. You’ll do more damage trying to miss the animal(going into the ditch, hitting an approach, swerving into oncoming traffic, rolling, head-on collision, etc). In the grand scheme, committing varmint vehicular homicide is better outcome.

Now you may be wondering how often do these suicidal critters jump into the road? Is this some part of a NoDak critter gang-initiation?? Are we constantly bobbing and weaving to avoid Bambi’s seventh cousin???  Well…no.  Between Hubby and myself, we have over 40 years of driving experience between the two of us(obviously he’s incredibly old and I got my license when I was born), as far as I can recollect, we only have one vehicular deer murder between us, and it wasn’t me. (I wonder if Hubby’s in pain from me throwing him under the bus so often?…Nah! He’s fine!)

So come! Visit North Dakota! Drive around! We deer you.


Milk Spill Aisle 1

Truth is not finite. Truth is a perception and for every interaction there are multiple truths. Don’t believe me? Have a conversation with your spouse and then hash over the conversation a week later. You’ll remember one thing, your spouse will remember something else, and you are both right and both wrong at the same time.

There are multiple truths for every interaction. For example: the milk incident.

Miss E LOVES to go to “Old MacDonalds” and get a lunch in a box with a toy inside. With her lunch, she always gets a white milk. I’m good with this, but sometimes her carseat’s cup holder is missing. This is usually due to her carseat being shuffled into different vehicles and not being able to fit with the cup holder attached. In my mom-truck of a large SUV, I have all kinds of fun storage compartments. When Miss E’s cup holder is missing or already has something in it, I’ll keep her milk up front with me…usually in a cup holder or if there isn’t one available: perched atop one of the super-functional storage compartments. Some of you may know where this is going…

I have a pretty good sense of smell. I’m able to identify where items in my house come from based on the aroma that the item is carrying with it. My theory is that is why I was blessed with such nauseating pregnancies: super smell on steroids. That’s a story for another time.

I climbed into mom-truck one day after work and was hit with a pungent stench. I could tell it was of dairy origin, and my daughters are fans of cheese sticks, so I assumed that was the culprit. I took a quick once-over of the rear seat and didn’t see any obvious culprits, so I vented a couple windows, started the car and went to pick up the girls. By the time I got home, I had tired, hungry and somewhat crabby kids, so I took them into the house, closed up my car and didn’t give the phantom dairy-fragrance another thought.

Fast forward a few hours later: my car continued to be outside baking in the early-September, pre-harvest, NoDak sun. Hubby, who doesn’t have an overly acute sense of smell, except when it comes to dairy, which I theorize is because he’s lactose intolerant. Anyhoo- he went to put a pair of work gloves in my car and this is how he tells it: “Tonight I bought Kelli a pair of gloves for work. Being the nice guy I am I went to put them in her car so she wouldn’t forget them in the morning. I open the door of the pilot and get punched in the face by the most rotten horrible stench this side of the dairy farm. I went digging for the stench. I found a milk jug right from the devil Mc D’s itself. Not sure how long it had been there but it leaked all over under the little storage area. It was overwhelming. After I woke up on the driveway 4 ft in front the car I used my shirt filter and removed the guilty prey from the premises. I’ve always hated eating in the car but it does come in handy with the screaming toddler and her big sister. The car is usually messy but don’t stink. It has been bombed with some fresh air and some apple pumpkin spice stink from a can.”

Somehow or another, a bottle of apparently already-opened milk ended up falling into a compartment, leaking into the compartment, and then made my car smell. My truth is: milk spilt, now it’s cleaned up, and Hubby is dramatic. Hubby’s truth is: there was a biohazard in my wife’s car, this reinforces why we should never-ever-ever consume food or beverages in the car, expletive-expletive-expletive, I hate milk. Miss E’s truth: I didn’t get to drink my whole bottle of milk, mama’s car stinks, daddy’s face is red, I wonder when we are going to Old MacDonald’s again, and I come by my dramatic ways quite naturally.

There are many ways to look at a situation. They’re all right. Know that how see a situation is not the same way someone else see it…that’s okay. Your side is still true and it doesn’t make someone else less-true.

Oh! Make sure to always screw the milk caps on tightly.


Buck Up Boo-Boo

I recently received one of the highest and unfounded compliments.  As I sat with a friend, who I’ve had forever, and a group of ladies celebrating said friend’s impending wedding, my friend said when she’s a mom, she wants to be a mom like me.  I think most people, my daughter included, would think this is not a wise goal.

I am an unsympathetic mom.  When my daughter comes running with an owie, I don’t shower the boo-boo with kisses and stop the world. I’ll ask if she’s going to live.

I’m not unloving, but I think in the real world there are real things to celebrate and real things to be saddened over and if the world stops for a scratch on the knee, what’s going to happen when she needs stitches?  If Popsicles and cookies are presented for a paper cut, what’s the expectation for a broken bone?  If a stumble and fall results in a shopping trip to town, what am I saying to my daughter?

Anything unpleasant in life isn’t going to be met an over-compensation of something fun or desirable.  If Miss E gets reprimanded at a future job, her boss isn’t going to be standing there with a plate of fresh-baked cookies as the corrective action happens. People don’t get fired with bouquets of balloon animals. Publishers Clearing House doesn’t show up when you attend a funeral. Life is full of hard things to deal with. There are unfair circumstances, mean people, and you are going to get hurt emotionally and physically. It’s a true statement.

With every owie, mean kid, unfair adult, and sad situation, I try to teach my girls something. The main lesson is that you gotta get up and keep going.  Yes acknowledge the injury, acknowledge why it happened, decide if it was preventable, and then move on.  Are you going to die?  Is it going to kill you? Do we need to amputate? No?

Then slap an Elsa bandaid on it and keep rollin’.

That’s how we do it.



Night Off

I have a pretty righteous Hubby.  This is a well-known fact if you know me or if you’ve read a handful of my blog posts.  It shouldn’t be surprising that his parents are pretty swell as well.  They are a good balance of helpful, yet not in intrusive.  Kind but not doormats, quirky but not completely nuts, and they are fantastic grandparents.

Last night was a big night for us: it was the first grandparent sleepover for Miss A and Miss E with grandma and grandpa…ever.  It came out of an idea I had to wisk Hubby away for a getaway and In-laws agreeing to take the girls. Miss E exclaimed: “I get to SLEEP there?!?” When she found out.

After dropping off the girls, I had visions of driving to Medora, Minot, or some other distant NoDak locale.  The rational and realistic version of us won out and we decided a more local date night would be just as exotic: Fargo just the two of us.

We headed downtown with visions of pizza dancing in our heads. We went to Blackbird Woodfire grill for bison meatballs and a Lumberjack pizza(it has an egg and maple syrup…um yes please). Then we went to a moo…vee…Thea-Tur. They play movies there.  I know.  I didn’t realize these were still a thing: I thought they’d gone the way of eight-tracks, Sheena E, and organized religion(oh no she didn’t-relax, I’ve been drinking-it’s a joke…or is it?). Anyway, we saw a DC Comics, Will Smith, action comedy movie that was totally fine. Then we went out for yogurt.  Our yogurt was drowning in candy clusters and brownies but it was yogurt just the same. It was great.  Hubby and I had conversations.  We had uninterrupted thoughts. The only drink we had was our one beer with pizza. I had a Grainbelt Blue. It was awesome!

Then the best part: we slept in today! When we woke up? We didn’t have to choose between tending to the unhappy child or getting to take a shower.  I got to wash my hair and drink a caffeinated beverage in peace this morning!  Now don’t get me wrong; being a mom is amazing, beyond words, I wouldn’t blink to lay down my life for them, but getting a night to remember who my Hubby is and then getting to wake up on my own? Fan-freakin-tastic!

This morning the girls came rolling me up with grandpa and an apology claiming he didn’t know how destructive one square of chocolate could be.  After hosing off Miss A, and getting her a fresh set of non-chocolate-covered clothes, we were ready to take on the day.

Cherish life. Love every day.  But, if you get a night off? Enjoy the Hell out of it!


The End of Summer?!?!?

As another Labor Day weekend looms, I am shocked by the amount of fun summer things we did not accomplish. Another summer has gone by where I haven’t gotten out to do the trips that I always envision in the spring: Medora to watch the Medora Musical, eat deep-fried-pitchfork-pierced steak or walk the streets reminiscing of how a teenage version of NoDak Kelli used to run the same Medora streets for two summers as an employee of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. Another year of missing the state fair in Minot. This makes the consecutive number of North Dakota State Fairs that I’ve missed…all of them. I’m NoDak Kelli and I’ve never been to the NoDak state fair! I’m as appalled as you.  I didn’t get up to the International Peace Gardens which is nestled between North Dakota and Canada to watch my girls ogle the flowers. We missed the Red River Valley fair in West Fargo. Jeesh! When I think of all of the things that we’ve missed, I wonder what the heck have we been doing?

Logical, realist Kelli says: “All of these things take money and we have two small girls, I’ve switched careers, we’re just getting out of the first year of budgeting for a family of four while now living in the country; two kids in daycare, higher utilities, bigger mortgage, blah, blah, no money, blah.” Okay so no elaborate vacations this summer makes sense.

Then I think of all of the projects we were going to accomplish at home: felling and splitting one of the giant dead trees that line our driveway for firewood, installing a wood-burning stove for our house to use said firewood, repairing and painting the granaries that dot our farmyard, digging out and planting the overgrown flowerbeds that surround our house, creating our roadside railroad tie/boulder focal piece for our yard, removing overgrown yard bushes, planting boarder evergreens, and any of the numerous indoor updating projects of our desperately dated little 60s house needs. None of them have been done.

Thinking of all of this and making a list, gives me palpitations. What on Earth have we been doing all summer??? Then it comes to me: what we can. We’ve been doing what we can. Our evenings are filled with running errands, trying to educate people on oxidative stress and the benefits of Protandim. Seriously. Everyone should be taking it: http://www.bowen.lifevantage.com. Almost every night involves baths because our girls? They like dirt. They like to play outside, get dirty, and play some more. They get dirty to the point, there is no option of hitting the surface with a washcloth and calling it good. We need full-immersion, how did you get rocks in your hair?, get the strong soap, is this a bruise-nope just ground in dirt, how do you get ketchup there? baths…almost every night. We are going through a Frisbee-tag phase with Miss E. The requests to play Frisbee, tag, or some combination of the two start about the time we can see our house when we come home and end when it starts to get dark. And we play. Weekends involve either running, visiting, weddings, shopping or trying to find our furniture under piles of clean but now very-very wrinkled clothes and wondering how these bandits keeping breaking into our house just to mess it up to a point that no one outside of our immediate circle is granted access into our home. Are we going to be on Hoarders? Is it considered “hoarding” empty cardboard diaper boxes and soda boxes if you end up with a mountain of them every week before garbage day? Anyhoo. Summer is coming to an end, but that also ushers in my FAVORITE season: FALL!

Enjoy your long weekend. Do something fun. I’m going to dare to leave Laundry Mountain and Cardboard Mountain to fend for themselves while my little family does something that builds a memory. I hope you do the same!