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.
By the time you read this we will be a family of four. I'm writing this from a borrowed laptop in the basement of my best friend's house in Bismarck, waiting on a baby who has shown us that it's not safe to drive the three hours home, because we might not make it back in time to deliver. It's fitting really for this to be the sort of in-limbo news I'm sharing considering the tough and unpredictable month we've had as a family.
In the hardest times of our lives it seems we are reminded to be grateful. Grateful that it isn't worse. Thankful you still have your health or your loved ones besides you. That the cut wasn't deeper, the hit harder, the sickness more violent, the call closer. That in the end, we should be grateful that they're still here with us. Or be thankful that they're in a better place, even if you're not sure you believe in that place anymore.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit schools across the state through a program called "Poetry Out Loud," a national organization that our state arts organization facilitates. I spoke to the students in a few different formats, gave them writing prompts, talked music and road time and tried my best to give them a chance to share their stories too. Because really, these kids, they're more interesting than I ever will be.
She took his hand and looked him square in the eyes as he lay there in the hospital bed, in pain, worried and frustrated. His thoughts and words were clouded under the mask of painkillers, and it was her job to check his vitals, help manage his pain and answer his family's questions about what was going on in our dad's body. Seeing him in that hospital bed, the man who was in his wool cap and on a horse just days before, laying there so vulnerable and sick brought back too many memories of that long January night just three years ago when his heart tore and we nearly lost him.
I've known my husband since I was 11 years old. He's been my best friend starting sometime around when I was 15 when he was old enough drive out to the ranch to talk horses with my dad, and teach my little sister to play chess. We went to college together, we got married and we've moved six times. We're about to bring a second child into this world together.