Samuel Jerome and Richnightder

Samuel Jerome and Richnightder
Our boys in Haiti

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shining Through

Many of you know the extreme racism that we experienced at church back in North Dakota.  It was a disgusting situation that would shock anybody in current times, or for that fact, anybody that believes we as humans are made in the image and likeness of God.  The pain we felt at the time was immeasurable. 

We feel like we've collectively come through the gates of hell and have landed in a place of refuge.  While no place is perfect, we feel good to be here.  The kids have settled in and our summer is packed with people visiting and kids' camps and sports.  Looking forward is good for us, and not looking backward. 

I prayed like crazy during that difficult time.  I prayed with fervor like I've only done a handful of times in my 4 decades + of life.  Out of our heartache and gut-punch came good things.  Things we are still trying to wrap our brains around. But even though we are happy and settled, we still have these lingering feelings of fear, panic, and entrapment that spring to the for front of our minds.  I was talking to a new friend here and she labeled the feelings as PTSD. 

I never gave the feelings a title, but I feel it's accurate.   Out of the 9 years we lived in North Dakota, we worked hard to blend in and adapt to our new living environment.  We gave of our time and sacrificed family time to help our new community.  No matter how hard we worked and volunteered, we were kept at arms length by the 'locals'.  We laughed about it then. We joked that we would never be accepted as residents since we were not born on our great grandfathers farm, attend the two room schoolhouse, the church your family helped build, marry your neighbor who lives on the farm next door, send your kids to the same two room schoolhouse and then die in the house in which you were born.  Living and dying on one road in North Dakota. 

Our family was just too much for them to integrate.  What happened at our church was a slap in the face and hindsight offers a perspective we weren't able to grasp at the moment.  We would have continued to change who we were in the hopes of being accepted by people who made it abundantly clear would never have fully accepted us as friends and neighbors.

What we learned from this experience is that while it is necessary to acclimate to whatever culture you might be living in, it's not good to lose sight of who you are.  Our family did a little introspection and realized some key traits that we have.  As a family we are kind and generous, have great sense of humours, and are proud to be an atypical appearing lot.  Not a single one of us are related by DNA, yet we have a cohesiveness that would try any of those 'one road' families in North Dakota.

We look back on our life in North Dakota and are immensely happy to be outta there.  I learned a lot about myself there.  I learned that the people of rural North Dakota are some of the friendliest people around........... if you look just like them and have similar 'one-road-life stories' to share. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's a Good Fit

Picking up where I left off yesterday brings us to the frantic week before Christmas.  Oh was that a mad dash!  Fortunately we no longer lived in the land of desperation and nothingness....North Dakota.  We have so many choices here from grocery stores to tack stores to department stores.  St. Paul and Minneapolis have it all.  It feels so good to be back among a population of diversity and choices. 

I frantically dashed through stores to get the things the kids had asked for and was pleased to have more than one Target and Walmart in which to shop.  We are 33 miles from the Mall of America and it offers just about anything anyone could ever want.  Of course my favorite store there is Nordstrom and it was like the Mother Ship had called me home.

After Christmas, I rang in the New Year with Influenza A.  Oh was that a special treat.  I had a 104 degree temp for 2 days and then it began to drop.  I went to our local hospital/clinic which is a Mayo Clinic and they were nice enough to prescribe Tamiflu for everyone else in the family which I know prevented them from getting it too.  The end of January Marc left for two weeks to go to Washington D.C.  Naturally, we had an ice storm which meant Madison had several snow days from school and that left me with 4 arguing kids at home.  UGH

February was Jerome's birthday and Marc's and for Jerome's bday, Victoria joined us from UND.  My PEO friend, Bonnie and her daughter, Hallie joined us from Bismarck.  Jerome had never been to a Chuck E. Cheese so we indulged him and tortured ourselves and took everyone to a chaotic, filthy, over-crowded pizzeria where a large mouse leads children around like the pied piper.  Victoria ended up getting sick from the disgusting place and after taking her to the doctor, she had Strep.  She left our place after staying a week and still was not feeling well, but headed back to UND.  Once there she discovered she still had Strep and in addition, Mono. 

My birthday rolled around in March and I was somewhat indulgent with myself.  I went with Marc to Sears so he could get a $10 part for the snow blower, and while he was getting that, I wandered over to the large appliances.  While he was buying that, I bought a new fridge.  It was a really good deal and the French doors function much better in this kitchen than the other fridge.  Then we went to the auto show and I kind of liked a couple of cars.  I came home and researched them and lo and behold, we ended up buying a new car on my birthday.  I love my new Durango and it too seats 7 so there is room for our newest family member, Victoria.

April saw Madison turn 16.  While she has had a valid North Dakota driver's license since she was 15, Minnesota does not license persons under 16 so as soon as she was 16 we went in to take our driver's tests here.  Seems Minnesota has a weirdo rule that licensed drivers from other states must take a written knowledge test to get a license.  I'm happy to report that Marc and I got 94% and our smarty pants kid got a 99%. 

Madison also has a new boyfriend.  He seems like a nice young man and always picks her up and drops her off without being late.  He's polite and respectful and she enjoys spending the afternoons at his house after school.  I like that his dad is home while they are there and he seems to be a plugged-in kind of dad.  I like that.

May brings up the end of the school year for Madison who started public school in January here in Cannon Falls.  She's doing VERY well.  I'm so proud of her being on the honor roll and for taking her AP and honor's classes.  My baby is even getting an A- in algebra.    Tomorrow we head back to Mayo which is 40 miles south of us so she can have her two impacted wisdom teeth removed.  I'm so glad we are so close to Mayo for all of our healthcare needs.  After living in North  Dakota where the medical care left something to be desired, we are ecstatic to be so near world class healthcare. 

The horses are out in the fields grazing happily.  Madison has enjoyed having an indoor riding arena and still uses it even in the nicer weather since two sides of the arena slide open.  The dogs love the huge fenced in dog area and the kids have enjoyed exploring the woods that surround our house.  We have confirmed that there are indeed two mountain lions that live in the woods surrounding us, a den of wolves, badgers in our field and the most annoying of all....a woodchuck.  He's eating the beautiful aspens and his little whistle like chirping is my morning wake up call.  I really hate that large rodent.  The bald eagles are abundant here and sitting on the front porch is such a treat watching them soar on the wind. 

This is our new life here in Minnesota.  Marc LOVES, LOVES, LOVES his new office and all the people he works with in the office here.  He's a happy camper.  We are working on letting the wounds and hurt feelings we experienced at church in ND scab over and begin their migration to the back of our minds.  The kids are still too scared to attend church here for fear of experiencing bullying, racism and a weak pastor, but I think we might be on the track to finding a church that feels right.  I think in time, Madison and Thomas will come around. 

We look forward to June with lots of excitement.  We have a large group of friends coming who have all adopted kids from the same orphanage that our little boys came from and all 40 of us will be doing fun things like a Twin's baseball game, Mississippi River boat trip, the Spam museuem and other 'normal' things.  Who knows?  Maybe we'll head to another historic brothel.  Ah memories. 

Life in Minnesota for us, has been good.  It's like slipping on an old shoe that you forgot you had and finding it still fits great and feels good. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

ordinary is good.

So very much has happened since my last posting.  I suppose I'll start with the big move and work forward from there.

The movers showed up and got us completely packed in 3 days instead of the 4 they anticipated it would take.  Then they loaded all of our possessions into the truck in 2 days.  We actually had a pretty good move this time.  Nothing was broken and nothing turned up missing.  Yeah.  The moving truck departed the day before we did and of course as we hit the road, we looked like the Beverly Hill Billies. 

Marc drove the pickup and horse trailer which had the 4 mini's.  In the living quarters of the trailer we had two large dog crates that contained our 8 cats.  Marc also had one Sheltie and Richnigthder for company.  I drove the Denali which had was stuffed to the gills with kids and animals.  I travelled with Thomas, 2 Rottweilers and one Sheltie, two guinea pigs, and one rabbit.  Madison drove the Mazda with Jerome, one sheltie and one rabbit.  See what I mean about the hicks hitting the road.

We caravanned from Bismarck to Minneapolis.  I led the way and we kept Madison between us as Marc brought up the rear in the truck and trailer.  We had to make it to Minneapolis in enough time to get to the title company to sign the closing documents before the end of the business day so we really couldn't make a leisurely trip out of it.  We drove 75MPH the whole way and pulled into the parking lot of the title company at 4:45 PM on December 13th.  The kids stayed in the cars while Marc and I went in to sign the documents and finally got the keys to the new place.  At 6:30 the three of us hit the road to navigate our way to the new house we had only been to twice before.   Madison had never driven in city traffic, nor rush hour traffic in the dark so the trip was a little nerve-wracking for her. 

We got to the new place and unloaded horses and animals and hit the hay....on the floor of course.  The moving truck came the next day and it took them 15 hours to unload us.  I finally sent them pun....and we began to settle in.  Our dear, wonderful friends, Todd and Tami Iszler arrived the next day with our 6 large horses.  They picked up our horses at our old place in Bismarck and then braved snowy, icy roads to make the 450 trip to Cannon Falls.  Once the large horses were unloaded in the barn, the Laurie's were officially all present and accounted for in Minnesota.

More to come tomorrow!  After all, I have 5 months to fill you in on.