Samuel Jerome and Richnightder

Samuel Jerome and Richnightder
Our boys in Haiti

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bismarck is flooding in historic proportions

The city of Bismarck is suffering a flood something akin to a 300-500 year flood.  Many homes along the river may be a total loss, but the flood isn't just affecting riverside homes.  Most of the Southern part of Bismarck, including the mall, numerous businesses and homes well inland are being innundated. 

Bismarck looks like a war zone.  Everywhere you go, people are covered in mud and sand.  The roads are closed so the Army Corps of Engineers can construct 'Hail Mary' levy's and dikes.  The zoo evacuated all of its animals and sent them far away.  Fire stations in the flood zone are sandbagged and levied.  Grocery stores are ringed with 6 foot dikes.  It's a scary situation to witness.  And it won't just flood and recede, it is expected to last 2 months or more.

The problem for the Missouri River flood actually originates in Montana.  Eastern and Central Montana have had astronomical amounts of rain in the last several weeks and that all drains down the Yellowstone towards the Missouri and passes right thru Bismarck.  All this flooding doesn't even take into account the snow in the mountains of Montana yet to melt and rush into the rivers.  Once this volume of water is released from the Garrison Dam it will reach Bismarck, and then pour thru the drainage canals and cause massive overland flooding.  They anticipate the water will stay put for several months and worried homeowners are frantic to save what they can and get their possessions out.

We are high and drive at our home, but we have friends near the river that are frantically trying to save their home.  We met this couple when the wife was Thomas' tutor.  She's everything you picture when you think of a kind, patient, teacher who loves teaching struggling students.  She and her husband have no children, are in their early 60's and have no one to help them.  Our family has spent the last several days filling,  tying, delivering and unloading sandbags, moving their furniture upstairs, packing up goods to be moved out to their new apartment and as of yesterday, helping building a 9 foot dike of clay around their house.

These people built their house to an elevation of a 300 year flood and never thought they would have to  face an epic flood.  They bought an Aquadam and although it cost them about $8000 it is leaking.  Not a good time to have a leak!  So yesterday, the dike plan went into effect.  We head back to their place in a few minutes.  The boys and Marc will be outside sandbagging and Madison and I will be inside helping frantically pack up someone's possessions. 

Madison's trip to Seattle via Amtrak was cancelled yesterday because the tracks are washed out in Montana.  Now Pastor Paul in his faithful sense of determination is securing a chartered bus to drag our group to  Seattle.  GULP!  Scheduled departure is tomorrow morning......insert massive swear words and foot stomping here!

I am grateful that our family is able to help those who need it.  Our backs are sore but our spirits are hopeful that we can mitigate our friends losses.  I can't imagine the panic and desperation that one must feel when you know in about 72 hours the water will begin to overtake your home and you may never, ever, be able to return.  Today's outside work is compounded by a high wind warning of sustained winds near 50MPH.  The spirit of help is running strong right now throughout the community.

The kids are dressed and ready to begin another day of back-breaking work.  We walk out our front door with a new sense of appreciation and gratitude that at this moment in time, we are not in danger of losing our home, but with a new found recognition that in the blink of an eye, we too, could be faced with a similar tragedy. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Seat o'death

God help us all.  Madison got her driver's permit yesterday.  North Dakota seems a little (a lot) backwards in allowing children to get their permits and possibly driver's license at the tender age of 14.  Insert indigestion and massive headache here.

For anyone in and around the Bismarck, North Dakota area, please refrain from walking on sidewalks.  A large, white Denali may inadvertantly swerve as she gets distracted by something shiny.  I jest, but it is scary to sit in the passenger seat while your child takes the wheel and drives on a 4 lane highway with a speed limit of 70MPH. 

Life keeps marching on and the children keep on growing.  I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for this new phase, but I guess I'll give it a whirl.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A relaxing, no bra Sunday!

Today was the first day in a loooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggggggg time that we didn't have to go anywhere or do anything in particular.  To celebrate this occasion, I took a shower, got dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt and refused to wear a bra all day!!!!!

Most people in this home were grossed out by my glaring act of rebellion, but I stood firmly in my decision.  I can't remember the last time I puttered around the house finishing the laundry, vacuuming, baking goodies all without having to be somewhere at an appointed time.  We played hookie from church and enjoyed getting some long overdue household chores completed. 

And to think I did all those things bra-less.  TMI?  Oh well.  I enjoyed my freedom

When was the last time you went bra less in your own home and felt like a rebel? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I hate Spring/Summer colds

Thomas is feeling better on his second antibiotic and is not nearly as crabby as he had been.  I don't know about you, but whenever I take a kid to the doctor's office, I am paranoid that they will pick up another new virus and/or bacteria that will cause me to head back with a new list of complaints in just a few days. 

I have proven this point yet again.  Thomas went to the doctors on Mother's Day and then again last Wednesday.  Yesterday I woke up all stuffy, but the OTC meds made me feel better.  Today is a different story.  I am stuffed up, with an earache and sore throat.  I know I picked this gem up at the pediatricians office.  I KNOW IT!

I'll tough it out for another few days before deciding if it is something more than a virus and needs medication.  Until then, I'll keep plugging along and doing all the necessary aspects of life to include, school, laundry, animal care...which is not much different from taking care of the ankel-biters...and cooking.  Timing of illnesses always suck.  I leave in two weeks as a chaperone on Madison's faith adventure trip with her youth group from church as we head to Seattle.  Wonderful.  Just what I need.  An entire 24 hours each way on Amtrak with 70 teenagers.  God help me now!

And just for fun, the kids and I were at church all day yesterday (9-3) to help with yet another damn funeral.  Enough already.  When I know the funeral directors by name, it's a for sure sign that I've been partaking of this funeral stuff way too much of late.  But the good news is.....the ground is defrosted and the plantings...ahem...the burials are now taking place immediately after the funeral service!  YAHOO

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Just so you don't get confused, Thomas is the black boy, second row on the right side! :)

Thomas had a big day today.  My oldest son, Thomas, just went to a Taekwondo seminar with about 50 other kids and tested for his orange belt.  He passed the test easily, but for Thomas this is about developing self discipline. 

He has more than enough athletic ability, but it requires Thomas to maintain his focus and perservere when he is struggling.  It instills a sense of respect for elders and those with higher belt colors and allows him to demonstrate good sportsmanship.  His ability to perform under pressure is fantastic and it is building his self-confidence at light speed.  For my son who struggles with some aspects of life, he is working his tiny tushie off to earn respect from others and demonstrate his skill and knowledge of Taekwondo.

In front of roughly 100 people, he was the first to be tested today.  He rose from his spot, addressed the Grand Master with Sir and went thru his steps and kicks perfectly.  Then he broke his board with a front kick on his first try.  Each belt achieved by Thomas is proof that he is working his ass off to develop skills that will translate to helping him with general life skills.  The diligence he shows with  his effort at Taekwondo is admirable and I love him so much for trying.  The success he has had is just icing on my cake!

I am so proud of my son!  Although there are days his behavior and moods drive me flipping nuts, I am so happy, proud, and thrilled that Thomas is my boy!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Help

I'm exactly 98 pages into a novel by Kathryn Stockett called The Help and I can't put it down.  This is a great book that deals with racial tensions, friendships and the historical truths and realities of prejudice in the early 1960's.  This book is written in a free flowing manner and the dialogue is genuine.  There are moments I get so lost in the vivid dialogues I feel as though I am sitting at the kitchen table with the characters.  Run out and get this book today!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The infamous ice cream pie recipe

This absolutely delicious recipe is from Schwan's.  Let me just say it is highly addicting and this recipe is a keeper.  Once you make it following the directions, you will see how easy it would be to adapt it/change it by using different flavors of ice cream and fruits!

Here is the original recipe from the Schwan's catalogue.

Summer's Dream Orange Ice Cream Tart

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp. butter, melted
8 cups Schwan's Summer's Dream Ice Cream, partially thawed
1 tub (8 oz) cool whip or similar
1 (15 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained

Mix: graham cracker crumbs and butter

Press: firmly onto bottom and halfway up side of oiled 9-inchh springform pan.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Spoon: and spread half of partially thawed ice cream onto cold graham cracker crust.

Mix: remaining ice cream with whipped topping and gently fold in drained mandarin oranges.

Pour: whipped topping mixture over ice cream and crust.

Freeze: for 2 hours before removing cake from springform pan.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

This just in from the land of sweet-tart sayings

Marc is a sweet man, especially when he makes me an orange ice cream dream pie.  My stomach feels gurgly  from eating so much, but it is OH SO YUMMY!  We all had seconds...maybe even thirds...maybe even fourths of this scrumptious pie and as we sat around gorging on this decadence, Richnightder asked me a question.

Richnigthder: "Mom, have I been very good today?"

Me: "Yes, you have been. Why do you ask?"

Richnigthder: "Because that's what I wanted to give you for Mother's Day."

My little Haitian man is such a sensitive, sweet, determined child and all day long he worked his skinny butt off to follow rules, avoid fights with his brothers and sister and to make my day as stress free as possible. 

Ice cream pie and a sweet boy who thought of a way to make my day special.

My tummy and heart are both full.

What's Mother's Day without a trip to the pediatrician?

Madison awakened me this morning with a plate full of french toast and orange juice.  She stood beside my bed and roused me from a lovely slumber at a little before 6AM.  The thought was lovely, but 6AM???  Ok, we had to leave for church at 8AM, but 6AM? too darn early. 

Everyone made handmade cards which I love, and we only had 2 fights on the short drive to church, so the morning moved along nicely.  Thomas stayed home because he has been complaining of  sinus pressure and a sore throat for a few days.  He's also had L.O.T.S of bloody noses, so I kind of knew he had a sinus infection.

You would be amazed at how many people were at the urgent care center on Mother's Day.  Mostly mom's with an assorted variety of kids.  Even on Mother's Day, there's no rest for the weary.  Moms' work is never done.  We work on holidays, weekends, late nights and early mornings.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see mom's shlepping their kids to the doc on a holiday weekend.  I am scratching my head, however, trying to figure out where the dad's were today.  Why couldn't they take their sick kids to the doc in a box?

 We left there with a script for an antibiotic to treat his double ear infections, sinus infection, and sore throat.  Thomas was more than pleased to tell the doctor that I've pooh-poohed his complaints for several days and that he really wasn't lying!  Yep, I'm sure the doctor made some notes to call social services on me due to my neglect.  Whatever....I could use an all expense paid vacation!

I received a Mother's Day card in the mail from an Orlando Soul Sister and it is the funniest card EVER!  The card made me laugh so hard I snorted.  The card features a smiling middle-aged woman holding a bottle of what appears to be vitamins, except the name on the bottle is SCREWITOL!  You get the gist now, but I wanted my Soul Sister over at The Accidental Mommy to know how much I loved it!  These Orlando friends and I share some unique commonalities and I treasure our new friendships and the fact that we can still find humor in our otherwise atypical lives.

Now I've got to get Thomas off the phone, hog tie him and shove some medicine down his throat!  Good times are just ahead!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our foxy new neighbors

We've lived in 5 different houses in our 20 years of marriage.  That equates to 5 different neighborhoods and numerous different neighbors.

 Our first house was picture perfect except for the crazy-jealous man who lived directly behind us.  He had his pathetic wife come to our front door and tell me not to sit in MY OWN BACKYARD and paint my nails since it bothered her husband that I wasn't working.  This same crazy man would always show up at my front door, drunk off his ample butt and threaten me.  I could never figure out how he only ever did this when Marc was out of town.  Hmmmmm, it turned out after Marc's Super Fly/Super Spy agency started checking on this guy and found he had tapped our phone lines.  He had it set up that when our phone rang, it would ring in his house too.  I suppose it helped that the crazy man had once worked for the phone company before being arrested and convicted for rape/harrassment/ terrorizing, etc.  That crazy neighbor ended up spending some time in a free- of- charge housing environment, complete with free meals and a charming roommate named Bubba!!  I'm pretty sure his living arrangements were delightful for him for 78 months!

Our next neighborhood was fantastic.  Great neighbors who I still keep in touch with even after almost 10 years of living away from them.  Wonderful people in a wonderful town.  I really loved Sherwood, Oregon.

Our next neighborhood was in Bismarck, North Dakota where we found a lovely house with a super view of the valley and Missouri River.  That neighborhood had some freaky people.  Given Marc's position with the government, he's a little hesitant to make friends and tell people what he does.  Our nearest next door neighbor just happened to have a daughter the same age as Madison.  That kid was welcome to play at our house, but sadly, we could not permit Madison to go next door as the daddy was not an upstanding citizen and not suprisingly, he is now partaking of free housing and meals for about 120 months. 

When it came time to move from that house, we sold it to some really whacked out, eccentric people.  I knew something was weird with them when they moved into our house without permission 3 days prior to closing.  Their realtor gave them the key and they just started living there without telling us...the owners....!  When I found this out on the morning of closing, I flipped out and I thought the guy was going to punch me.  Later that afternoon at closing, the wife of this freak did look like he had been punching on her.  3 years after we closed on that house, we were killing time in Miami waiting for our flight to Haiti. Marc was reading the online edition of the Bismarck Tribune and showed me the article about some dude here in Bismarck that embezzled almost 8 million dollars from his own company and was about to begin his extended stay in a free housing situation...(Federal Prison), and you guessed was the guy who bought our house!

Now in our current house, we have some maliciously crazy neighbors.  The wife in particular is plain mean and scares me as to what she will do to the kids.  We just can't seem to avoid the nut-job, crazy people even living out here in the middle of nowhere.  However, about 5 days ago some new neighbors showed up and just started living on our property, completely uninvited and unwelcomed.  They are smelly, destructive killers and the boys are scared to go outback near our riding arena.  Marc wanted to call in a 'relocation team' and have them forcibly removed to a more suitable neighborhood, but because I'm a little bit of an animal lover, I've convinced Marc to let them stay for a while.

Our new neighbors are complete foxes.  Like totally!  A mama, papa and 3 baby foxes are living on the edge of our riding arena, technically in our backyard.  They are beautiful animals, but they have dug some serious holes in the field and I'm afraid they will be feasting on our cats soon.  It's neat to see them lying around the opening to their den and watch the kits romp and jump.  I just wish they would do it somewhere else.  I'm feeling pretty upset that once again I have some annoying neighbors that make weird noises at night and are causing me to lose time while I sit at the window and watch their darling antics. 

Watching the foxes play officially makes me Gladys Kravitz.  Kitchen window, binoculars and a beer and I have become the epitome of peeping, nosy neighbors!  I can't get enough of these new neighbors.  Maybe it's because they are so damn foxy.  Fortunately the foxy mama has just had 3 babies so she's not looking her best and I don't have to worry about Marc craning his neck to check her out!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Daddy's little girl

Yesterday and today....ALL DAY....Marc, Madison and I were at her riding instructors barn to participate in a saddle fitting session.  Twice a year, Madison's instructor has Schleese Saddlery come to her barn and if you choose to have a custom saddle fit session, you and your horse will be measured and analyzed for body conformation and movement.

It was fascinating and I firmly believe that anyone who rides a horse, whether for pleasure or show, should be required to participate in something like this.  I learned a great deal about the anatomy of the horse, functionality of movement and the importance of the saddle fitting both the horse and the rider.

After Ka Ching was measured and studied, Denise, the saddle fitting expert, placed several custom made Schleese saddles on Ka Ching's back.  It blew my mind to watch and see with my eyes, the phrase, "The horse picks the saddle."  It was spot-on accurate!  Ka Ching made known her dislike of one saddle by flinching, tucking under, getting squirrly, and being obstinate.  The next saddle she worked 'ok' under, but didn't seem to enjoy it.  Finally, Denise put on the HK, or Heike Kemmer model and Madison and the horse moved like a symphony.  Ka Ching was fluid and stretched her back, reached under, and enjoyed the movement.  Madison loved the saddle too for MANY reasons. 

For a variety of reasons, we chose to wait until this fall to have the Heike Kemmer model saddle hand-made by Schleese for Madison to do her dressage work.  Trust me when I say, it is a beautiful piece of workmanship with loads of science behind its functionality but those attributes carry an equally steep price that rivals a full year of tuition, room and board at any 4 year university!

Madison and Ka Ching were also fitted for a hunt seat/jumping saddle and found a match-made-in-heaven.  She is now the proud owner of her first Schleese Saddle.  A perfectly fitting saddle for Ka Ching and a fabulous saddle for Madison to begin her jumping training.  Of course we needed to also buy the matching girth, stirrup leathers and pads so she is set with a complete ensemble. And to ensure Marc didn't feel left out, he got a Schleese baseball cap.  Woohoo!

One thing is for sure.  Madison is Daddy's little girl.  He watched her ride and saw the pleasure that both she and the horse experienced and he knew he couldn't say no to his girl.  I knew that look in his eye.  One that said he was hiding the tear in his eye watching his baby girl do what brings her her greatest joy and seeing her excel and succeed. 

I a sick, perverse way... watching Marc almost cry when Denise told him that Madison has a unique pelvic structure and leg length that makes her a custom order kind of girl and definetely a not-off-the-rack kind of girl!  That's my girl!!!!!

She's in bed asleep already.  After we trailered home, she saddled up and rode in her new saddle, on a happy horse, outside in the glorious sun.  I can think of few things that bring me greater joy than watching one of my kids thoroughly enjoying life.