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Friday, December 31, 2010


It's 5:45 in the morning, and I'm sitting here with my 9 day old baby boy. There were certainly times where I doubted this would ever be able to happen. But it DID finally happen! He's here, he's beautiful, and I couldn't be happier.

This blog is slowly evolving into something more personal. At first, all I did was blog about stupid criminal stories. They were fun, I enjoyed them, but it just seemed like there should be more of me to this. As I have blogged more about my life and the world around me, it's seemed a little empty without pictures that were actually part of that world. It was also very hard to find pictures that actually worked with my topics, and I've worried about copyright issues. If I use my own pictures, that's not an issue.

I've found so many blogs out there where people use actual pictures of their kids, they just don't use their real names. I was still debating the issue when I sort of accidentally posted a picture of the new kitten. I didn't even think about it, and didn't realize what I'd done until a couple hours later.

So consider yourselves lucky that you get to see real pictures of my real family now. :)

And isn't that little tiny person up there just plain adorable??

His birth was quite an adventure:

Pirate Munchkin had gone to bed, and Surfer Pirate and I were standing in the kitchen talking. It was Tuesday, December 21st. I had finished my last shift for the week, and I was really looking forward to the few days I would have to get things done before Christmas. Originally, I was only going to be working up until that week, but we were still so far behind I had promised to work two more days the next week. My house was a mess because I'd been so tired with my job, so I was looking forward to getting the kitchen nice and clean and doing some baking.

Suddenly, everything was very wet. With just a second's thought, I knew I needed to get upstairs to the bathroom to see what was going on. I said to Surfer Pirate "We have a problem", and took off like a bullet up the stairs. The entire way across the main floor and up the stairs, there was more and more. I got into the bathroom, and the flood really started. (Sorry if this is TMI, but I did warn you that this was a birth story!) Being more than 4 weeks early, I was more than a little concerned that my water had just broken! I picked up my cell phone - thankful that I'd had it with me - and called the midwife. She had told me previously that I would most likely know I was in labor before my water broke. But there were no other signs of labor. She told me that sometimes the cervix can open a little and let some fluid out, but then can close up again. We decided together that I would put myself on bedrest and wait and see. I had already set up an appointment with her for Thursday afternoon, so if nothing else happened, at least she would be there soon to see what was going on. In the back of my head, I knew there was too much fluid for it to be something like that, but I didn't want to panic. That was 8:45.

For the next few hours, I laid in bed and watched TV, had a little snack (a big ol' bowl of Malt-O-Meal's Marshmallow Mateys, thank you very much!), and dealt with a VERY stressed husband! He was basically having a panic attack. He was scared to death that he was going to have to deliver this baby by himself. I finally had to call a member of our ND (surrogate) family over to help him calm down. It worked, and Surfer Pirate was able to go to bed next to me and fall asleep.

At 11:45, the contractions started. It was obvious now between the contractions and the fluid that still kept leaking that this baby was ready to come out now! I called the midwife again, and we decided together that with it being so early, it was best that I go to the hospital. I woke up Surfer Pirate and started gathering up anything I could think of that I would need in the hospital for the baby and me. He went right back into panic mode, poor guy. We found someone to be at the house for Pirate Munchkin, loaded up everything in the truck and left town. I had been timing the contractions since they started. While they weren't intense, they were getting closer and closer together. We were only a couple miles out of town when they became pretty steady at 2 minutes apart. We decided to turn around and go back to our local hospital. They don't deliver babies there, but in an emergency, they're sure better than delivering the baby somewhere along the highway in the truck!

The doctor came in to the little ER exam room and checked me out. He didn't believe me that I was in labor! He kept talking about making sure my water really did break, and he checked to see if the baby was in position for delivery. He was pushing so hard on my stomach with that part that I almost punched him! But then the frosting on the cake was when he checked my cervix! If you've never had that done, you're missing out on one of the most painful experiences ever! Only the heaviest contractions equaled that amount of pain! He declared that I was dilated to less than 1 centimeter, and I would be safe to make the 1 hour drive to the nearest hospital that delivers.

Meanwhile, Surfer Pirate was so stressed and freaked out about the whole thing that he started hiccuping and didn't stop for over an hour!

Back in the truck and back on the highway. The snow was drifting all over the road. There was fog so thick that you couldn't even see the side of the highway. Surfer Pirate was doing his best to drive safely, hiccuping the whole time, while I said silent prayers through the contractions that we would arrive safely at the hospital before the baby was born. I kept my mother updated via text message. She and Dad were scared and worried, and feeling very helpless that they were so far away. Thankfully, the only animals were saw on the road were staying out of the way. We saw four HUGE snowshoe rabbits, and my mom was amused that even in during labor and a very stressful drive I managed to inform her about the bunnies. I saw one deer as he was leaping off the highway, but Surfer Pirate saw a large herd of deer in one of the places where the fog was lighter. Luckily, this drive is one I do to get to church every week, so I am very familiar with the drive. I was able to keep Surfer Pirate (and the parents via text) how many more miles we had to go.

Finally, the lights of the city were in view! We got into town and found our way to the hospital. (Previously, we didn't even know where it was, so they printed us a map at our little local hospital.) While it was tricky to find the emergency room door, we were thrilled to get there in time. We got inside, answered what questions we needed to to get me admitted, and they brought me a wheelchair. (Thank goodness! That was a LONG hallway to the maternity ward!) I was taken to a very nice, modern birthing suite and introduced to Laura - world's greatest nurse. She told me she actually worked full-time in the bigger hospital 90 miles away. She filled in part-time at this hospital. The doctor checked my cervix (OW! OW! OW!), had me sign a bunch of paperwork, and then he left the room. Surfer Pirate went out to our truck to see if he could take a little nap. When the doctor came back, he told me that after checking my delivery date, I was only 35 1/2 weeks, meaning my baby definitely qualified as a preemie. They didn't have a NICU unit in their hospital, so they would need to send me via ambulance 90 miles away to the other hospital! I was pretty upset about that, but I knew it was for the best. Laura told me she would be working the next night there and would see me then.

For the record, if I had known this hospital didn't have a NICU, I would have gone to the other hospital in the first place!

Surfer Pirate decided that he would go home first so Pirate Munchkin would find out from him what was going on. He was going to see her off to school and bring back the baby's car seat since we'd forgotten it in the rush to leave the house.

I was strapped onto the ambulance gurney and loaded up. The car lover in me was very interested in the hydraulics on the gurney and how it smoothly loaded into the ambulance with very little jostling of the patient. By now, it was REALLY early in the morning and I had been awake for almost 24 hours. The contractions were exhausting, and they were just getting more and more intense. The EMT kept talking to me throughout the ride, keeping my mind moving as much as he could while timing the contractions. I was so tired that I even dozed off between contractions while we were still talking. Let me tell you, contractions and bumpy, snowy, rural North Dakota roads in the dark of the early morning are not a good mix. Most of the hard labor happened on the ambulance ride.

We finally arrived, and I was hurried down the hall and into an elevator. Through the pain, I was still able to see the humor in the people who were waiting to get on, but chose not to climb into the elevator with the woman in labor! Smart thinking on their part because I had a contraction start right as we got on and spent most of the ride screaming. I was brought into a much more industrial-looking delivery room, but it didn't matter because the exhaustion and the contraction pain made it almost impossible to open my eyes. Tammy (a great nurse, but not as great as Laura) told me that all the screaming and moaning weren't helping my labor along and I needed to focus on just breathing through the contractions. She was my cheerleader and my coach through the contractions, and she was there waiting with a spoonful of ice as soon as the contraction ended. When I got there, I was dilated to a 6, and it didn't take long until I was up to a 9 - about 10 or 15 minutes, I think. At one point, the nurse had just given me my ice when the next contraction started. She told me to breathe, but I couldn't because of the ice. I finally just spit the whole mouthful out onto the bed.

Then came time to push. With each contraction, I was to push 3 times. Then, rest. I did that several times. Then at one point, I could hear Tammy telling me to push, and I realized I'd blacked out. A few more pushes, and another blackout. I kept listening to the conversation the doctor was having with the nurses. They kept saying how well I was doing, and how this was a perfect birth. That was really nice to hear because they weren't talking to me, so I knew they meant it and weren't just trying to cheer me on. I got to the point when I could feel the head and I knew we were almost done. Tammy told me to rest, and I said no. She told me it was okay, that if I felt the need to keep going, I should keep going. I pushed 3 more times, and the head was out! One last push, and the baby was all the way out! The little cry was immediate! It was the greatest sound in the world! I sat up and looked at my gorgeous baby. My first feeling was recognition - that I'd seen him before. Someone said "He looks great", but no one had announced if it was a boy or a girl. There were so many hands around him that I couldn't see for sure. I asked if it was a boy, and someone made the announcement official. I had a son!

Pirate Baby was born at 8:59am, weighing 5 pounds, 15 ounces. He was 20 1/2 inches long, but they didn't actually measure his length until the next day.

From there, everything was a blur. H was taken to be cleaned up and evaluated. I kept watching him and all the action around him. I got to hold my baby. I kissed him and talked to him. He was kind of gray, and he kept grunting. They said he was struggling to breathe and took him back from me. I was disappointed, but I knew his health was more important than my need to hold him. The doctor told me I needed to push again because the placenta was coming. He said I had a small tear and would need a few stitches. Stitches were done (OW! OW! OW!). The doctor kept saying "Everything we do down here is painful." I was cleaned up and was able to sit up. I sat there eating my ice with a spoon and watching everything going on around me. The nurse asked me what his name was, and I spelled it for her so she could put it in the computer.

Meanwhile, poor Surfer Pirate was trying to get to the hospital on nasty roads while functioning on no sleep. He had checked in with his job, made arrangements for the dogs and our daughter, got Pirate Munchkin up and off to school, grabbed the car seat and was on his way. He was about a third of the way there when I called him and told him we had a son. He didn't process what I said at first because he was distracted by hearing Pirate Baby crying in the background. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about how he choked up when he realized what was going on. I filled him in on what details I could and encouraged him to pull over if he needed a minute to regroup before finishing the drive (he didn't). Next, I called my mom and told her about her new grandson.

Eventually, Pirate Baby was taken to the NICU, and I was taken to my regular room.

*There is much more to the story, since we were in the hospital for 5 days - over Christmas. I'm not sure yet how much detail to include, so Part 2 will continue sometime in the future.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December, the Month of Family Additions

It's official!!! The stork has arrived!

Our baby boy arrived 4 1/2 weeks early on December 22nd, 5 pounds, 15 ounces and 20 1/2 inches. He had a little fluid on his lungs, but otherwise, he's healthy and wonderful! I'll fill in his very interesting birth story sometime when I'm not half asleep.

I'm also thinking I may change how I do things on this blog. More to come.

Oh, and update on the newest furbaby. After 5 days in the hospital with Pirate Baby, we came home to a happy and very healthy kitten! Her breastbone and shoulder blades are still sticking out more than they should, but her little spine has a nice little layer of fat around it. She is one cute little girl!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Newest Family Member

Yesterday, we went out to the farm to let the dogs run around in the snow. Since we don't have a fenced yard and our town has strict leash laws, I don't like to let them run around too much in our yard. They do have a tendency to try to check out the whole neighborhood.

While we were out there, we needed to make sure the barn cats had been fed. Surfer Pirate fed the kitties and whistled for his favorite kitten.

We've been told that usually the friendliest kittens don't make it through the winter on the farm, so we were already a little prepared for what we found.

The poor baby was sick, shivering and WAY too skinny!

It didn't take long to decide the baby would be coming home with us. I bundled the kitten up in my coat and we headed home.

Back in this baby's early, early kittenhood, Surfer Pirate had checked for gender and settled on Boy. But after a bath to remove the musty barn smells and renew soft fluffy kitten fur, I discovered our new little one was indeed a Girl.

She's eaten two cans of soft cat food and some dry cat food in the 24 hours or so that she's been here, had a bath (well, technically 3 baths, but I'll get to that in a minute), used her litter box, and has spent lots of time sleeping and snuggling. She's very affectionate. I love the way animals react when they know they've been rescued. We figure she wouldn't have made it through the night if we'd left her at the farm.

She's so very skinny. You can't tell with all the fur, but I could probably count her vertebrae if I wanted to. And her little shoulder blades and breast bone stick out much too far. Poor little thing.

She did have a little adventure earlier today. I took a bath, and had her in the bathroom with me because that's where the litter box is right now. She seemed very disturbed at not being able to snuggle with me and kept pacing and meowing. At one point, she was standing on the edge of the tub staring at what I THOUGHT was the doorknob on the cabinet above the tub. Before I could even react, she jumped over my head and onto the shelf above the cabinet. She landed halfway into the wicker basket that holds all my hair things (bands, barrettes, hair brush, etc). It is a rounded basket and couldn't hold her, so down she came - along with the basket and all its contents, AND my hair dryer! (Bath #2.) She scrambled out of the tub, and while I scooped all the stuff out of the water, she decided that the best place to dry herself off was in the litter box. Yeah. So, once I was done with MY bath, I had to give her ANOTHER bath to get all the wet kitty litter off her lower half. (Bath #3.) Hopefully she won't try that trick again.

Meanwhile, Pirate Baby is due in 37 days! That also means only 39 days until my mom is here!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


There's that little game that people play. If you could go back in time in your life and change something, what would you do differently?

For years, my answer was always "Nothing." Every choice I have made in my life - even the bad choices - have taught me something. Everything I've done, good or bad, has shaped who I am.

But I started to realize in the last few years that there is just one thing I would change if I could.


I would have been friends with Danny.

When I was growing up, there was a family who lived just down the street from us. They had 2 kids - a son who was a year or two older than me, and a daughter who was a year younger. Danny was the son, and he had Down Syndrome.

Sometimes, Danny would go for walks around the neighborhood and would find me playing in our yard. He wouldn't really talk to me, but he would try to play with me. I was afraid of him because he was different and would go in the house. Leaving him outside alone.

That breaks my heart now.

I never gave him a chance. It wasn't until we were in high school that I realized how amazing he was.

Danny is a trouper. He is always happy, always smiling. He wants to be friends with the whole world! He told me once that he was going to be an actor, and I had no doubt that he would be great at it. I swear, he could do anything he sets his mind to. I'm so happy to know that even though the life span for someone with Down Syndrome is fairly short, Danny is still spreading his wonderful spirit to the people he meets. He's in his mid 30's now, and I hope he sticks around for a long, long time.

I haven't had a lot of opportunity to spend with him since high school. I moved back to our old neighborhood, but he was gone for a long time. I was happy to see him riding in his dad's car a few weeks before we moved away.

So that's my one big regret in life. I should have been Danny's friend. I should have learned at a really young age how amazing he is.

I was thinking about him again today. There is a group of kids with Down Syndrome who work at the gas station near my house. Thanks to Danny, I have an immediate love for anyone who has that magic extra chromosome. I make a point to talk to those wonderful kids when I see them, and I hope I'll have a chance to get to know them individually as time goes on. (Kelle Hampton - who's beautiful baby girl is in the picture I posted above - can teach you a thing or two about how special Down Syndrome children are. If you're not already a fan of her blog, I highly recommend it!)

So to Danny - I'm so sorry I didn't give you a chance when we were kids, but know that I love you and I'm a better person for having known you!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Funny Dog Story

The snow has finally arrived in Northern Middle of Nowhere, ND!

Montana winters are not always pretty - at least not where I'm from. We would get snow. And then it would all melt away. And then it would snow again. And all melt away. Etc. Etc. Etc. It's a frustrating cycle, and quite often leads to a Brown Christmas. Blah.

I have been told that here, when we get snow? It's there. Always - until spring.

But then we got snow in October. That melted. And a light snow again a few weeks ago - that melted before the day was even over. So once we really started to get snow, I've been pretty darn excited about it! It's thick and fluffy and beautiful!

It's also VERY cold.

Which leads to my funny dog story that happened a couple days ago.

Pirate Puppy is an Akita/Aussie/Rottie mix. His fur is thick and warm, and if he really does have enough Akita in him, it's also possibly waterproof. The snow doesn't phase him at all. He loves to charge around it, dig his nose in it, scoop it up in his mouth like a plow. If dogs have favorite seasons, I think winter must be his because he has so much fun playing in the snow.

Pirate Wench Puppy*, on the other hand, has very short fur, so she gets cold very easily. Usually, when I let her outside, she goes right to the end of the porch, does her thing as quickly as possible, and races back inside. But for whatever reason, she decided to take off with Pirate Puppy across the yard the other day. I tried to call her back, knowing what was coming, but she wouldn't listen. She then proceeded to have her own attempt at the World's Longest Pee Competition. (I would swear that Pirate Dog and Pirate Puppy were both competing for some world championship that I don't know about. They would be out there, in one spot, with one leg in the air FOREVER!) As I knew would happen, she came hobbling back to the porch, completely frozen. When she got there, her poor little legs were so cold she couldn't even raise a foot above the first step. So I had to rescue her. As I got to the base of the stairs, Pirate Puppy was racing back and forth in the snow, having a lovely time. I put my hands under Pirate Wench Puppy's belly and helped her get up the stairs (at 60+ pounds, carrying her up the stairs was out of the question in my current condition). She was quite happy to get inside the warm house.

And then I turned around.

Pirate Puppy was sitting in the snow just past the porch. His front left foot was raised in the air like it was injured, completely covered in snow. He had the saddest, most forlorn expression on his face. "Me too, Mom. I need help too." I laughed at him, and went to help him. (He weighs over 90 pounds, so you can imagine how difficult that could be for my big ol' pregnant butt!) As soon as I had my hands under his belly to assist him, he took off like a rocket straight up the stairs into the house! The big stinker!! He was jealous that she got the extra attention and was ACTING so he could get some attention, too! Then he enjoyed his little prank he played on me!

We have a tendancy around here to talk about him being dumb as a post. I think he's a lot smarter than he likes to let on.

* If you've been reading my blog for very long, you might be surprised to hear that Pirate Wench Puppy is back with us. It's a long story, and we're not really sure what needs to happen next. I may devote another posting to it, but then again, I may not. It's all pretty painful. Meanwhile, we're happy to have her home and we're enjoying all the love and snuggles we can get out of our sweet, affectionate girl.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving means.....


This little beauty came home from school yesterday.

Seriously. Is there anything cuter than the yearly standard pine cone turkey?? This one is especially precious with it's baby-sized pine cone and funky feathers.

I've heard the project for tomorrow is turkey hats. I can't wait to see what that is going to look like!

You've got to love elementary holiday handicrafts. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010


The house we moved from in Montana was in my family for three generations. I lived there off and on for about 25 years. I knew where the creaky places were in the hallway. I knew the sound of the furnace right before it turned on. I knew which door in the house had just been closed from anywhere else in the house. I knew all the noises. I didn't have to question where what sounds came from.

And then I moved.

To a house built in 1903.

Let me tell you, this house has a lot of noises.

There's a ticking that seems to be coming from the living room wall at night. Is it really coming from the wall, or is it echoing off the wall from somewhere else? Is there a bomb in my wall?

I keep finding new creaky spaces on the floor in different rooms. One of them, I'm happy to report is directly under the rocking chair in the nursery. That's a really good thing because my dad refinished my rocking chair for me several months ago, and in the process, it lost the lovely creak it had that was so good at soothing babies that didn't want to go to sleep.

The furnace always startles me if it kicks on when I'm in the upstairs bathroom. It just sounds so weird up there.

I heard a door slam this afternoon and it took me almost an hour to figure out where the sound came from. I had been trying to figure out whether we had a bad draft somewhere, or if maybe Captain Kitty had managed to shut a door. (After a long day at work, I was exhausted and those 16 stairs to the upper floor are really daunting at times! Most of the doors in the house are upstairs.) I finally realized that it was the screen door right on the other side of the wall where I was sitting. It hadn't been shut fully and was blowing back and forth in the wind. I felt pretty silly when I figured that one out.

And the stairs! They're pretty darn creaky when you're on them, but they're NOTHING compared to how loud they sound when you're in the kitchen and someone is coming down them!

This morning, I heard a really strange sound (while I was in the upstairs bathroom), and I was trying to figure out why the furnace was being extra noisy. Turns out, my neighbor had just started his snow blower! I'm so not used to my house's noises that I can't even recognize a sound coming from outside!

We plan on being in this house forever. This little town is our home from now on, and this house will be a part of us as long as we can (we're hoping our kids will keep it in the family after we're gone). I know I'll eventually get used to the sounds here, and they'll be second nature just like in my old house. But for now, they sure can be a mystery when I'm the only one awake in the house!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tuna Sandwiches, Water and Furry Beasties

My stomach was growling. Baby Pirate and I were apparently hungry. But it just so happened that I had some tuna already made up in the fridge.

Sandwich time!

It was yummy.

And not at all surprising, Captain Kitty had to come investigate the good fishy smell.

So he was curled up on my lap and we were having a lovely time snuggling while I read my blogs and tried to decide if I should go back to bed yet.

As usual, I am accompanied by my constant companion - my water bottle.

As I took a drink out of it, it was apparently the most fascinating thing on the planet to Captain Kitty! His eyes went super-wide as he watched me pick up the bottle, put it to my mouth, take a big drink and put it back on the computer desk.

Huh. I never thought water was that interesting.

But then again, I'm not a cat.

Pandora is Letting Me Down

In general, I love Pandora radio. It's very nice to be able to either find or set up my very own station with the kinds of music I want to listen to at any given time. I have a couple of stations that I truly, truly enjoy.

But then there's my Love Song station. I set it up one day when I was feeling all romantic about my upcoming wedding. I wanted to be surrounded all day at work by the mushy lovey-dovey stuff I was feeling at home.

It started out well. I gave Pandora THIRTY-THREE song seeds! I'm not kidding! Thirty three! From there, I thumbed-up fifty two songs that played on there. (Yes, I really just went in there and counted all of them.) Should be pretty simple, right?

Love songs. Easy. Just play the little things that couples who are sickeningly in love want to slow dance to.

Except Pandora is completely lost tonight apparently.

It's 4:00 in the morning. I went to bed WAY too early tonight, and was wide awake by 1:30. So I decided to come downstairs, catch up on some blogs and listen to music (mostly because I had a really annoying country song in my head that wouldn't die - and no, I won't say what it was because it will weasel its annoying self back in there). But this is not the time of night that I want loud dance music. I wanted soft, soothing love songs.

Tonight, Pandora thinks I want to listen to a million Beatles, George Michael and Air Supply songs. Okay, yeah. So some of their songs are romantic and mushy, but not all of them.

And don't even get me STARTED on "Take It On the Run" by REO Speedwagon! I HATE that song with a passion!!! The guy hears through the rumor mill that his girl is cheating on him. Then he goes on and on about how he knows rumors are crap and he doesn't believe it. But then he turns back around and says that he knows she's lying and she's on her way out. Huh?? Make up your mind, dude! That's the kind of mind-game garbage that makes me want to punch people! AAAAAARRRRGHHH!!


Sorry. Little ex-husband flashback there.


Pandora. I love you. Now figure out what you're doing so I don't have to hurt you. Killing Me Softly is a nice try, but the word "killing" in the title doesn't exactly scream mushy love song.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

There's Somebody in There!

First of all, I have to show off my favorite t-shirt. It came from the same website the Rock Baby shirt came from. Surfer Pirate and I both love tools and working with our hands, so the first time I saw this shirt over a year ago, I knew I had to have it!


We're in the 7th month now.

It's hard to believe that I've been pregnant for well over half a year! It's certainly been an adventure. I haven't enjoyed it as much as I always thought I would. The hormonal issues are driving me insane. My pelvis has been separated for weeks now, and it's quite painful. I've had pretty much non-stop heartburn for about 4 months now.

Pregnancy is definitely not a picnic.

But the one thing I wouldn't trade for anything in the world is getting to feel this little baby moving around in there.

I don't think this kid has STOPPED moving all day today! Rolling, kicking, punching. I've got little elbows and knees and feet roaming around all over in there! Quite often, I'll get a good solid lump on one side or the other of my stomach and I'll have to announce to the family "Baby Butt!!" Up until the last few days, this little one and I have had a little game going. The Little Pirate likes to kick my hand! If I move my hand away to watch the rolling and kicking, everything stops. I put my hand back on the belly... kick, kick, kick. But I guess we're getting to the point now where things are pretty crowded in there because the last couple days, I've had the chance to watch quite a bit of movement. It's really fun!

It's my newest source of entertainment.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dear, Sweet Technology

I went to church today. In my living room. While wearing my slippers.

That is the blessing of technology.

Periodically, throughout the year, we have different conferences where our smaller congregations get together in one bigger congregation. We call it conference. In my case, it would be a 3 hour drive to get there. Since it starts at 10am, that means I would have to be out the door no later than 7am. Which means, to get myself and Pirate Munchkin ready for church, we would have to be up by 5-5:30am.

That's really early.

Not to mention all the gas it would take to get there and back.

And I'm now 7 months pregnant and road trips are getting harder to do.

But thanks to the wonderful internet, they've started running live-streaming video of our conferences for those of us who can't make it. Aside from a moment about halfway through when the live feed froze, it went just fine.


There was another issue.

Apparently they either didn't give the "When you sit directly behind the speaker, sit very still because you are on camera" speech, or one particular teenage boy in the choir didn't take that advice seriously.

So those of us got to watch his lovely antics during the conference. He yawned and stretched, scratched his head, fidgeted, rubbed his face and talked to himself. But that had nothing on the multiple times he picked his nose while sitting up there. On camera. For half a state to see.

He wiped it on his pants.

His poor mother.

Wow! Another Food Post!!

I have already mentioned my food issues lately.

So when I come across a food that makes me blissfully happy, I try to make sure I keep it on hand.

(Peanut butter, how I love thee!!)

Okay, seriously?? Has anyone else tried these pies??? As my sister would say, they are THE YUM!!

I picked these little babies up on a sale at my local grocery store for a dollar apiece. 4 minutes in the microwave for perfect peachy pie-ness. They come out gold and flaky and wonderful!! I have to eat them with a spoon so I make sure not to miss any of the sauce.

Maybe one day I'll get around to trying them with ice cream. But for now, when I pull one of these bundles of deliciousness out of the microwave I can't be bothered by things like getting the ice cream out of the freezer and grabbing the ice cream scoop. The peachiness calls to me!

Thankfully, I've discovered the regular price is only $1.09 at my little store.

So okay, Banquet people? You're more than welcome to pay me for this lovely commercial I've written for you. And I would totally be okay with you paying me in pie!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I have a headache.

It hurts, and it feels yucky.

It's caused by florescent lighting and staring at bad handwriting for 5 hours.

Because I have a job.

It was all pretty quick. Two days ago, Surfer Pirate told me his boss wants to hire me. They have paperwork overtaking their office, and they need some help. Since I have lots of office work experience, they need me.

The best part is since they need ME, not the other way around, I get to make my own hours!

That's kind of cool.

So I'm working 20 hours a week, and the plan at this point is I'll do this for about 2 months.

Today, I got the exciting job of trying to decipher various people's handwriting. Not fun.

But I accomplished something today while still sitting in basically one spot. That was nice since I don't have much energy these days. I spend big chunks of time sitting in one spot while accomplishing nothing, so today was an improvement.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pirate Dog

This is my sweet Pirate Dog.

He left this life on Wednesday.

The best way to tribute my sweet dog is to tell his story.

The story actually starts with a different dog. When the ex and I were married, we had a German Shepherd. He was a wonderful dog, and by the time we split up, he was old and sick. He always insisted on sleeping next to my bed, between the bedroom door and me - as my protector. When he died, I really missed feeling the safety of a big dog in the house.

But I also had 4 cats at the time. That's a lot to deal with when you're a single mom.

Along came Surfer Pirate.

He's a big animal lover - doesn't matter what kind of animal. He loved my cats, but deep down, he's really a dog person. Since he knew right from the start that we were going to be together forever, and I had my own home with a big yard, he wanted to get a dog. I still figured at that point that our relationship was temporary, and did I really want to get another dog to add to my already fur-filled house? But I did always feel safer with that big guard dog in my house, so I let Surfer Pirate talk me into a dog.

I went to the pound to see what dogs they had there. There were a couple of neat dogs, but I fell hard for a tiny German Shepherd puppy. She was so sweet and helpless. She was being treated for mange, so I wouldn't be able to take her home that day. I went home to wait it out.

I told Surfer Pirate about the puppy, and he had the sense to talk me out of getting her. With me working full-time, it was not a good idea to try to train a new puppy - especially one that already had health problems. We decided to go together - Surfer Pirate, Pirate Munchkin and me - to look for a dog.

As much as it killed me to do it, I passed by the little shepherd puppy and led the way to the other kennels where the two other dogs I had liked were. The one was a nice dog, but Surfer Pirate didn't seem too interested. Then, we went to the kennel where I had seen the adult yellow lab. Surfer Pirate looked at the dog, seemed to like him, then pointed at him and said "Sit." The dog sat. He turned to me, grinned and said "That's the one!"

So, we took him home.

He was a really fun dog, right from the start. He loved hugs! I had always wanted to have a big dog that liked hugs! (My other dog was a little skittish about hugging.) He had boundless energy, loved to play fetch, was loyal and loving, and was very gentle with my daughter.

He also was an escape artist.

We'd only had him a couple of weeks when he dug under the fence and went for a run. I was at work when I got the phone call from the animal shelter. Animal Control had picked up my dog and I needed to come get him. So, after work, I went down to the pound to bail him out of jail. They sent me back to the kennels (same kennels where I first saw him) to make sure he was back there. I had been instructed to find him, get the clipboard off his kennel and bring it back to the front office. I would pay his fine and then they would bring him up to me. When I got back to the kennels, I saw him before he saw me. He looked so sad and downtrodden! Poor guy. When he saw me, he got so excited that he started bounding around the kennel and barking! "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom's here to get me! Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!" I talked to him, grabbed the clipboard and went back up front. He couldn't figure out why I was leaving him, and he started to cry and whine and carry on. I felt so bad, but at the same time, it was pretty funny. I paid his $35 bail and they brought him out to me. He practically pulled over the girl in his excitement to get to me! "I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!"

He dug his way out a few more times, but thankfully, he was always found by one neighbor or another who would call me so I could come get him. We found out about a year and a half later that there was a woman down the street who had 2 female labs. He kept going to visit her dogs.

The pound had estimated his age to between 4-6 years old. The vet thought it was more like 6-7 years. Based on the last year of his life and how fast he wore down, we think he was actually closer to 8 when we got him.

The pound also didn't know much about his background. They told us he was left with them because the owner was moving and couldn't take him. Based on how he reacted to me the first few months, I suspected his previous owner had been a woman - I was the one he listened to the most. (Although when Surfer Pirate broke his back and was home for 2 months, they really bonded in that time. I never had the full command after that.) It was obvious that he'd always been allowed to ride in the bed of a pickup because any time we would ask him if he wanted to go for a ride, he would go straight for the tailgate. (I didn't allow that in our city in Montana - too much traffic and crazy drivers. Since we've been in North Dakota, I have no problem with the dogs riding in the back around here. The pace is so much slower that it's much safer. I'm sure he enjoyed getting his pickup bed back for the last few months of his life!) One day, Surfer Pirate took him outside and there were ducks flying overhead. He told Pirate Dog "get the ducks!" That dog took off across the lawn chasing those ducks! We were quite surprised to discover that he must have been a duck hunting dog with his previous owner!

The poor guy was lonely when everyone was gone during the day. Knowing he was an older dog and one day we would be losing him, we didn't want to just have an empty home. The decision was made to get a puppy to be a companion for him as well as a comfort for us for one day when Pirate Dog would be gone. That's when we got Pirate Puppy. He really enjoyed having a new little buddy to play with, and that slowed down his escape attempts a little. A few months later, we ended up with Pirate Wench Puppy as well. Pirate Dog couldn't quite keep up with these two crazy young pups, so he settled into his roll as a father figure to them. He would play with them at times, other times, he would lay quietly and watch them. But he was always quick to bark at them if they got out of hand.

His barking was actually a nice feature about him. I was never a fan of dogs barking in the house, but his barks served a great purpose. He would bark when he wanted to go outside, and he would bark when he was ready to eat. He was also quite prone to "talking" for other various reasons. It was always fun to communicate back and forth with him with his barks and other interesting grumbles and growls.

He was a good guard dog. He watched out for danger, and I had no doubt that if he ever had to protect us, he would do it fearlessly. But much like Marley from the Marley & Me book, Pirate Dog was TERRIFIED of thunderstorms! (Thankfully, that's pretty much the only way he and Marley compared - aside from their breed.) Thunderstorms would start an interesting routine of quivering, whining and the previously mentioned talking. If we were home, he would usually insist on being held. The dog who rarely ever got on the furniture would come diving into any lap he could find! The main trouble was when we weren't home during a thunderstorm. He would lose control of himself and have accidents in the house. The week we were in North Dakota getting Surfer Pirate settled in to his new job here, there was a tornado in our town in Montana. I came home to a DISASTER in the house!

He's been pretty clingy in the last few weeks - always having to be right next to someone. More than once, he's been squished by the recliner or stepped on because he got too close. I've suspected for a while that he wouldn't be with us much longer. But he started having trouble controlling his bodily functions inside the house. We would take him outside and he would just wander around the yard. Then he would come inside and relieve himself. He just wasn't feeling like himself anymore. His eyesight was going, and he seemed confused most of the time. Tuesday was an especially bad day, and the decision was made that it was time to let him go. He'd been spoiled and loved, got to feel the wind in his face driving down the road, and was pretty much the king of the universe in our home. He'd had a good life. So, Wednesday, Surfer Pirate took the day off work and we drove to the vet an hour away (no vet in our little town). Saying goodbye was especially hard on my loving husband. He adored that dog. We gave him our love and let him go. The vet office was nice enough to let us take a box of tissue with us - which we used as we cried together in the truck.

We had thought long and hard how to break the news to Pirate Munchkin. When she got home from school that day, I sat her down on my lap and told her that because Pirate Dog was old and sick and wasn't feeling like himself, he wasn't happy. So, we took him to the vet where they gave him a little shot that would make him go to sleep. When he woke up, he would be in heaven and would be able to play with our old German Shepherd and our cat who we'd also had to put to sleep a couple years ago. She was happy to hear that part and took the news very well - not a single tear shed.

We got less than 3 years with our wonderful Pirate Dog, but he will always be remembered. I couldn't have asked for a better dog.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Food: My Enemy, My Friend

I have such a mixed relationship with food these days.

I'm always the hungriest around 10 or 11 in the morning. At that time of day, I could practically eat ANYTHING!

And by the time supper-time arrives, I can't handle much of anything. When I can think of something that sounds good, I usually don't eat much. Most of the time, I make something quick for Pirate Munchkin and then sit around for a while trying to figure out what I could stomach. (Thank goodness Surfer Pirate usually eats at the farm so I don't have to figure out a meal for him as well!)

But then there are the cravings.

The horrible cravings!

And they always hit either late at night when the grocery store is closed (we only have one here), so I can't take care of the craving, or I crave something I can't even get here.

Tonight, it was seafood - specifically lobster.

I haven't had lobster in at least 3 years. Pirate Munchkin and I were watching a Man vs. Food marathon tonight. The different burgers and things they were showing mostly made me want to gag. But then he went someplace for lobster. It was so beautiful and so tempting I wanted to cry! I even went so far as to look online and see where I could order lobster to have shipped to me! Let me tell you, the prices are HORRIFYING!!

This is one of those days where I miss being in a city. I could get in the car and drive to the grocery store, and I could usually find at least lobster tails at the meat counter. Not cheap, but certainly cheaper than ordering online! And then there's Red Lobster and their lobster pizza!

Maybe we should have moved to Maine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thoughts on Scooby-Doo

I have so much to do today. But I have to get this thought out of my head.

I loved Scooby-Doo as a kid. I watched it all the time. I can still hear the background music in my head. (While I can appreciate that they've made more and updated stories, I wish they'd kept the music.)

Pirate Munchkin has decided she really likes the show. I don't have a problem with the cartoons, but have you seen the live-action made-for-tv movies they're making now? Soooooooo incredibly bad! I've banned those being watched if I'm in the house.

I've decided I want to be a Scooby-Doo villain. I want to dress in a really cool costume and come up with some elaborate scheme to scare people. And when I'm caught, I want to confess the whole thing and get to say the famous line "And I would have gotten away with it, too! If it weren't for you meddling kids!"

But you've got to wonder.

After all these years, don't you think eventually they would figure out that there aren't any ghosts or evil trolls or headless horsemen to be afraid of? Every. single. time. they come across one of these scary creatures, it always turns out to be someone in costume. And every. single. time. they (or at least Shaggy and Scooby) are terrified and holding each other. How many more people do they need to unmask before they finally figure out maybe they need to stop being scared all the time?

It's like all the people on Murder She Wrote. You'd think eventually people would figure out inviting Jessica Fletcher to their dinner party is a bad idea. I can't decide if she's a serial murderer who's just really clever and good at brainwashing people, or if she's the Angel of Death. Everywhere she goes, someone dies! Either way, if I knew her, I would keep her away from all my loved ones.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I don't feel good. I got a bad case of motion sickness last weekend, and either it's still sticking around, or I have a stomach bug that comes and goes. I felt icky at the beginning of the week, felt a little better in the middle, and now I feel icky again this morning. Blah.

So I was sitting in the recliner, catching up on a blog that I'm trying to read from the beginning (2005! I'm up to 2007 now), just basically ignoring the rest of the world. Surfer Pirate is at work, Pirate Munchkin is off to school and Pirate Baby is happily kicking away inside of me. It was peaceful, and I could pretty much spend the rest of the day doing the same thing.

Except the dogs were whining.

I hadn't taken them out yet for the day.

I very politely asked them if they could go live somewhere else today so I wouldn't have to take them out at all today. They not only IGNORED this very reasonable request, but insisted that I take them outside.

Not fair. It's cold out there this morning.

But now that they've been out, I'm happy to report they are quietly resting and I can pretend they aren't here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Concert Review

Surfer Pirate and I are going to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary in 9 days. Shortly before we moved to North Dakota, we heard about a great concert that was going to be happening this month. It was eventually decided that since the concert was only 2 weeks before our anniversary, we would make that our gift to each other. It was also going to be our first chance to get away - just the two of us - since we've moved.

So, Sunday, we got in the truck and drove for a few hours to get to the concert venue. We picked up our tickets in Will-Call and went to check into our motel room. I changed into my concert attire: jeans, a long sleeved black t-shirt with the t-shirt shown here over the top. We went back to the venue, paid for parking, and were trying to find a good parking spot when I realized I had left the tickets in my purse - back in the motel. Thankfully, they gave us a ticket for the parking lot, so we were able to leave and come back without having to pay for parking again. But I felt pretty dumb.

There were technically two concerts going on. One was during the afternoon outside. Then the rest would be inside. We missed most of the outdoor part, but we did catch a group from Texas called Hell Yeah. Surfer Pirate and I were both pretty impressed with them. We'll have to pick up some of their music.

The first group is one that Surfer Pirate and I were both really familiar with (although he was very familiar with all the groups). Halestorm, as led by the very talented Lzzy Hale (and yes, that is how her name is spelled). I was really looking forward to seeing them live, but I was in no way prepared for how amazing that would be! Before she even stepped out on stage, Lzzy let loose with the longest notes I think I've ever heard! I knew she could sing, but holy cow! She is AMAZING!! The whole group is really good, but her brother (Arejay) is about as good as his sister. He's a very impressive drummer. I have to admit I have a little crush on him now. If you get the chance to see them perform live, I highly recommend it.

Next up was Stone Sour. I haven't really listened to them before, so I didn't know any of their songs. They were good, but I wouldn't say I'm going to be a fan of theirs anytime soon. Surfer Pirate really enjoyed them.

Avenged Sevenfold was third in line. There was quite a bit of set-up with the curtain down before they came on. Let me tell you, it was worth the wait!! They had a backdrop of an old assylum (although I thought it was a haunted house at first). There was an old Gothic looking fence with fire coming out of the pillars. To start off the drama, a guy hung himself off the scaffolding at the top of the stage (he had a safety harness on, but I was a little concerned when he jumped off because the scaffolding fell a little - he was fine). He hung there through the whole first song, which was about 5 minutes long. To start the first song, the lead singer started by playing a very creepy organ. It all made the Halloween-lover in me VERY happy! Their music was really good, the theatrics kept going, and they did a very touching tribute to their late drummer Jim Sullivan, who died last December. I would definitely see them again if I got the chance.

Last, but definitely not least was one of my very favorites - Disturbed. If you're not familiar with them, the lead singer David Draiman has one of the most interesting singing voices I've ever heard. It's very choppy, and I was really looking forward to seeing him do that in person. Their show wasn't nearly as theatric as Avenged, but it was just as interesting. They had screens up behind them, and had all kinds of different things going on with the screens. They started with a clip from one of their videos (at least I think I've seen it before in a video), and there was fire and interesting swirled graphic designs, and all kinds of things. Sadly, after a very long tour schedule (we saw the 2nd to last night), David was coming close to losing his voice. The cool sound effects and screams that he does all worked just fine, but there were a couple places where he even had to change pitch in order to get through the song when he was harmonizing. But all in all, they were amazing, and I loved every minute of it.

Surfer Pirate and I both left the concert without much of a voice from singing along to our favorite songs.

The sound system at the venue was really impressive. We were seated facing the stage straight on, in the 4th row. We made sure to be in the seating area, away from where everyone was standing (anywhere else, there probably would have been a big mosh pit, but apparently it's not a big thing to do here in ND). The sound system was so good that the seats vibrated and rattled with the music. So the question you may be wondering is how did the baby deal with the music? Apparently the baby loved it because it was ALL OVER the place! Bouncing around and kicking. It was like the baby was slam dancing, or having its own little mosh pit inside of me. It was pretty fun.

All in all, we had a wonderful time, and it was a very good choice for our anniversary celebration.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I want one.

Completely unrealistic for my lifestyle. I have a 6 year old and a baby on the way. I live in Small Farm Town, North Dakota. I've never driven faster than maybe 90 (on a nice flat, empty stretch of road back when Montana had the Reasonable and Prudent Speed Limit Law - loved that law!)

But I love this car.

It's the 2011 Audi R8.

I first saw it on Top Gear a couple years ago. My brother in law (and new daddy as of last night!) and I took to watching Top Gear all night long in the days after my sister's death.

It's so beautiful.

Every time I see it in a movie (I've never seen it in real life and will be stunned if I ever do), I drool over it. I want one. I really do.

A brand new one costs $156,000.

Yeah, I don't have that.

But I can dream, right?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I have so many things to say about the changes in our lives. I feel like I should go on and on about our new state, new town, new house. But the fact is, there is something so much more fantastic in my life right now, and I really just want to talk about it.

I've wanted this for 34 years. I remember as a little girl putting pillows and teddy bears under my shirt to pretend I was pregnant. I would hold my baby dolls against me as if I was nursing them. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, along with the dreams of teacher, fashion designer and interior designer, I also added that I wanted to be a Mom.

From start to finish, I've basically been actively trying to have a child of my own for 11 years. I love Pirate Munchkin intensely, but there's always been a little hole in my heart that she didn't grow in my own womb. When I was a foster mom to a beautiful little baby, I resented every bottle I had to give her. I wanted so dearly to be able to nourish her with my own body.

And here it is. My dream is finally coming true. There is a tiny little person growing inside of me. I've waited anxiously for the time that I'm finally showing and feeling movement in there. The first few months were a little bit of torture because I really wanted to get to the point that I'm just starting to feel. I had the joy of knowing there were changes going on. The morning sickness and mood swings and exhaustion were signs of the wonderful future.

But this.

This is what I've been waiting for.

Look at that belly!! Isn't it beautiful?

I've only felt gentle little flutters once. But don't get me wrong, this baby has definitely been moving. It likes to push! I get fairly regular little shoves and stretches. Yesterday, it was even fully stretched diagonally across my belly - from the top left to the bottom right. I hadn't even realized my uterus was that big yet. Then, I got what I can only guess was a foot all the way up. This is going to get really interesting when this child is able to get all the way up to my ribs. My mom has a friend who's baby actually dislocated her ribs from kicking so hard!

As I'm in the middle of it, and finally getting an idea of what this whole thing is like, I'm stunned by how very odd it is. My whole body isn't mine anymore. It's one thing to have your stomach grumble. When that happens, you know that you need to eat something or maybe you've eaten something you shouldn't. But I'm starting to get to the point where there are movements going on inside me that I have absolutely no control over. And the crazy thing is I look forward to it! I can't wait until I'm feeling more and more of these little movements. I can't wait until I can actually see the movements, and the baby is reacting and kicking to the voices of our other family members.

Stay tuned for further belly excitement adventures. :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Not Fair At All

For the record, I love our new little town. It's a great place full of warm, friendly people.

Unfortunately, they're misled.

We got our stuff up here, found a house we want to live in forever, moved into it and were getting fully settled into our new life.

And then I got a knock on my front door.

No one uses the front door here. This is the kind of community where only strangers and solicitors use the front door. So, when someone knocked on my front door, I knew it wasn't something I wanted to deal with.

I was right.

It was a sheriff's deputy.

Turns out, pit bulls are illegal in our little town! We were going to have to get rid of our sweet Pirate Wench Puppy! If we had known this before we moved here, we would have looked for a home outside city limits. And we did make an effort to find out before we moved - and couldn't find anything. I sobbed in front of the deputy - thankfully, I can blame pregnancy hormones for not being in better control of myself.

I called my mom because I always call my mom when I'm upset about things. She suggested that I call my dad and see if he would be willing to take our dog. Our sweet girl has issues with a lot of people. The guy we bought her from was obviously planning on training her to be mean - the kind of pit bull you read about in the paper. So she has a hard time trusting people - especially men. But she has adored my dad from the first time she met him. He's just got a way with animals - they know he has a very gentle spirit. So I was completely relieved when my dad agreed to take our little girl - in fact, he was so upset himself about the circumstances that I could hear him choking up over the phone.

Our recent trip to Montana was a very painful one because it meant we had to say goodbye to this sweet girl.

Dad calls me a couple times a week to fill me in on what's going on with her.

Meanwhile, this isn't over. We're going to fight to get our girl back! Communities all over the country are discovering that Breed Specific Laws don't work. The criminals just switch to a different dog breed. In fact, there are 25 different breeds of dogs that LOOK like pits, but they don't qualify. And just as the majority of pit bulls are sweet, gentle dogs, there are plenty of different dogs that are dangerous dogs. A Dangerous Dog law makes more sense - it deals with dogs on an individual basis. I could see getting rid of our girl if she had bitten someone, but she hasn't. She's barked at people, sure. The move was hard on her. And just as we were getting her used to her new home and territory, we had to change everything for her all over again.

It's not fair for her that she had to be taken away from her loving family. She doesn't understand why she had to be taken away from us. And it's not fair for us to have to lose a perfectly sweet dog.

Hopefully, it won't take too long to get it turned around. It's going to take a lot of knowledge, and lot of information, and a lot of work. But I'm not stopping until this law is changed. There are other pit bulls in this town. Why they haven't been told (yet) that they have to get rid of their dogs, I'm not sure. But I don't want to see another family have to lose their beloved pets just because of a pointless law.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Just Eeeew

I'm passing up Stupid Criminal Saturday for a story that's just plain gross.

Search for Las Vegas woman called off after husband finds her body buried in home's clutter

LAS VEGAS — A four-month search for a missing Las Vegas woman came to a ghastly end this week when her husband found her corpse in their home amid a labyrinth of squalor that had been impassable even to search dogs.

Bill James apparently had no idea that the body of his pack-rat wife, Billie Jean, was under the same roof as he helped police scour the home and the Nevada desert for any sign of her. Then he spotted the feet of the body poking out of a floor-to-ceiling pile of junk Wednesday, revealing in shocking detail the woman’s penchant for hoarding.

Police say they searched the home several times — even using dogs from a unit that helped locate bodies at ground zero after Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina. But they were unable to find the body of amid the piles of clothes, knickknacks, trash and other junk.

“For our dogs to go through that house and not find something should be indicative of the tremendous environmental challenges they faced,” police spokesman Bill Cassell said.

Clark County Coroner’s office spokeswoman Jessica Coloma said it could take weeks to determine when and how the 67-year-old woman died. The husband has been cooperative throughout the investigation and quickly notified police of his discovery.

One thing is not in doubt about the case: Billie Jean James loved to hoard. It’s a behavior that has received new attention this year with two popular reality TV shows — “Hoarding: Buried Alive” and “Hoarders” — that chronicle the lives of people who live in absolute squalor because they cannot bring themselves to throw anything away.

A similar situation could be seen at the James’ home in a desert-front cul-de-sac near the Las Vegas Strip. In the driveway sits two huge trash bins that require industrial-sized trucks to haul them away. The front patio is filled with knickknacks including old chairs, smaller trash bins and a 10-foot basketball hoop.

Inside, Cassell said James’ piles of clutter left just small pathways to walk and strong odors that hindered their search — generated by animals, decomposing garbage, food, clothes and other stuff.

“If there had been any indication that there was a remote possibility that somebody was back underneath that stuff we would have taken the appropriate action,” Cassell said.

Sari Connolly, who walked dogs with James and her husband daily at a nearby park with a group of friends, said the woman bought things at thrift stores each day and accumulated them in the house.

“She became this hoarder person and she wouldn’t let anyone come in her house,” Connolly said.

Connolly said one of Billie Jean James’ closest friends once asked to use the bathroom at the home after a camping trip, but James wouldn’t let her in.

“It sounds like it was beyond control,” said Connolly, who had a big banner made to help find James during the search.

Approached at the home Thursday, Bill James declined to speak with an Associated Press reporter.

Cassell said initial reports had James last seen walking away from the house in late April. He said along with the dogs, police visited the house several times and searched the desert with a helicopter equipped with infrared detection.

Friends and family searched the nearby desert several times on foot, horseback and with all-terrain vehicles. They created a Facebook page to help coordinate efforts, while the family offered a $10,000 reward in hopes of finding a woman described as a peace activist who to loved hiking, camping and the arts.

Nine digital billboards publicized her search amid the bright lights of Las Vegas to draw attention the search, and Connolly said they hired someone to hold a banner in a spot near the home where a woman reported possibly seeing James.

“This was certainly something that was not glossed over,” Cassell said. “We did everything that we could.”

But Connolly said she and friends think police may have botched the search.

“I’m trying to figure out how a body couldn’t smell so bad — that’s what everyone’s saying,” she said. “It’s the million-dollar question right now.”

The case is not completely surprising given the fact that 2 to 5 percent of Americans are chronic hoarders, said Dr. David Tolin, a hoarding expert from Hartford Hospital who co-wrote “Buried in Treasures” to help people who compulsively collect things.

“Every year, there’s at least a few deaths that can be attributed to hoarding,” he said.

I can't even imagine. FOUR MONTHS??? Was her husband in the house the entire time??? I've watched some of the stories about hoarders, and sadly, I can kind of understand how it happens. I had a couple of rooms in our last house that were the dumping ground for things that I didn't feel like dealing with. There were piles of boxes all over the place. Luckily, I don't have nearly the storage space in the new house, so I'm forced to get rid of things and be more organized. I feel so bad for these people. Once you get into a point where your house is chaos, it's got to be terribly difficult to even figure out where to start to get rid of things. How sad that her life had to end like that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Don't get me wrong. I love Montana. And I will miss it. But I am sooooo excited to start our new adventure in life.

Pirate Munchkin and I actually arrived a month ago. But we had to go back to Montana this past weekend to get the last load of our things. It was raining the first time we crossed the state boarder back in June, so I wasn't able to get pictures that time. But with this past trip, I was able to stop and get the pictures I wanted.

Truth be told, it was a VERY hard trip, so when we crossed in to North Dakota, I actually got out of the truck and kissed the ground!

I'll update later about some of the difficult things we had to deal with over those three short days, but I just don't have the strength to deal with them right now.

But in other family news, I have to share the update on our baby. Monday, we had our first appointment with the new midwife. The whole family was able to be there for it, so we were all together when we got to hear the heartbeat! It was the greatest sound in the entire world! The baby was very squirmy and kept moving away from the doppler, but then it would move back. I've been a little nervous because I'm in the phase where I'm not really feeling movement yet, but I'm past all the first trimester symptoms. So, it was really nice to be able to hear the signs of life and know it was moving around in there. I'm still having a hard time believing this is real. I have waited a very long time for this baby.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I'm stealing this from someone else's blog. It was such a good idea that I couldn't resist. The suggestion was to take a moment to list some things we are thankful for. So here we go:

1. I am extremely grateful for my wonderful husband. I waited a very long time for this guy, kissed a lot of frogs as the saying goes. He is my best friend, my own personal clown, the guy who's kisses curl my toes, the man who I can share my dreams with - and those dreams just so happen to be just like his.

2. The internet. First of all, I figure since I don't plan on listing in this blog where we'll be living, there's no harm in showing a picture of my beautiful new house. Thanks to the internet, before we took our trip up there to check out our new town, I was able to look through home listings and have an idea of houses I was interested in. I house hunted from over 600 miles away! We got word today that we officially get to move in August 1st! I'm really excited. I'll probably post pictures of the inside once we're moved in. But I'm also grateful that even though I'm moving so far away from so many friends, we'll still be in touch. AND, even though my little town only has one grocery store and one general-type store, I won't be limited to buying ANYTHING because I can order off the internet and have the UPS man bring it right to my door!

3. Pirate Munchkin. For all that she's mostly driving me crazy this summer, I love this kid more than I can ever fully express. It's a hard summer for both of us because I've been feeling pretty sick and exhausted and she's super bored. She got used to having projects and games and things to learn and friends to play with every day in kindergarten. I'm really looking forward to being in our new town where I can finally relax a little more. I don't care if we live in a sea of boxes for a while. That's why I'm inventorying all the boxes - anything we need will be really easy to find. I'm going to take time to walk the town with my little girl. We'll go to the park and to the pool. She'll finally get the one-on-one time she's been craving. She lost one of her front teeth last week, and I swear I have never seen a cuter smile ever. On anyone. Now if I could just get her not to pose when I take her picture and I could get a shot of the REAL gap-toothed smile!

4. I'm overwhelmingly thankful for the fact that I've made it to 12 weeks with this pregnancy. There was a time where I didn't feel like I would ever get to this point. But here I am. And so far, so good! I'm getting into the nervous time. For the next few weeks, the morning sickness (hopefully) will start tapering off, and it will probably be a while before I will start feeling the baby move. I do know of some women who started feeling the little flutters at 13 weeks, so maybe I'll be lucky and feel something much sooner than the standard 18-22 weeks. But I feel extremely grateful for this time in my life, and I'm trying to enjoy every single minute. And I look forward to January when I'll get to hold this special little baby in my arms.

5. My love and my belief in the Lord. Nothing in my life would matter without this. I am who I am because of my faith. I would never have gotten through the challenges in my life without prayer. I know that all of these blessings come from Him. I know that this new move is part of His plan for my little family.

6. My mom. She is the most amazing woman I know! You will never meet a stronger woman than my mom. I can't even imagine how she got through 17 years of being a single parent. (I had a hard time just dealing with a YEAR!) She touched countless lives as a teacher and was well loved there. She was also a very respected member of society. She mentioned one time how nice it was that she would get instant respect when people found out she was her parents' daughter. My grandparents were highly loved and respected people. What Mom didn't know was that I get the same respect - when people find out I'm HER daughter! Mom taught me many different, important things in my life, but one of the biggest ones was that happiness is a choice. Life is going to throw a lot at us - both good and bad. We have to decide if we're going to let the bad things drag us down, or if we will be happy despite them. Will we be grateful for the good things in our lives, or be upset because of what we DON'T have? Thanks to my mother's wonderful example, I've chosen to be happy - no matter what. And I'm trying to teach my daughter the same thing. And since she reads my blog, I have to tell her I LOVE YOU MOM!!

7. My father and his many talents. My dad is a very interesting person. He's got a lot of issues in his life and hasn't always made the best choices. But he has amazing abilities. He's an excellent musician and has been responsible for introducing me to so many different kinds of music I never would have been exposed to otherwise. My dad has always been good with woodworking. There is a beautiful kitchen that he made for my sister and me when I was little. It's in Pirate Munchkin's room now, and she loves it just as much as I did. He's made several other things through the years - including a rocking horse that he created based off an old photograph of one my mom had when she was little. Then, a few years ago, he discovered a new love based off his old woodworking abilities - refinishing furniture. One of his first attempts was a dresser that was in pieces in his house when he bought it. He put it back together and gave it a beautiful new finish. From there, he's redone my favorite rocking chair and the child-sized rocking chair that was my sister's. He's currently working on the cradle he built for my sister when she was born. He will have it done before we move to ND next week. My rocking chair, tiny rocking chair and cradle are all going to have matching finishes. People are going to be very jealous of my nursery!

8. My step-dad. (Otherwise known as Dad. He's earned that right.) Just like I waited a long time for my wonderful husband, my mom waited a much longer time for him. Although they got a little sneak-peek first. They were college sweethearts! Eventually, time brought them back together again. The love he and my mom share for each other brings tears to my eyes! They've certainly had their challenges in their 10-year marriage. His health has been bad for half that time. But they joke around and tease each other. They learn and grow together. They are an amazing team. He considers me his own daughter, and adores his little granddaughter. And I'm very grateful to him that he's figured out a way for my mom to be in ND when our baby is born - despite his health issues.

9. Our new adopted family. It started as a friendship with a co-worker. Someone who Surfer Pirate only worked with for a month or so. They just hit it off together - and now they consider each other a brother. D. is the one who pushed us to consider this move to ND. When we decided to make the move, we instantly became a part of his family. His parents and siblings and even grandparents now consider us one of them. I've been concerned for a long time about how my kids were going to grow up without cousins. Summers wouldn't have been complete growing up without all my wonderful cousins! My husband's natural family aren't very close, and I have only seen my nieces and nephew a few times. My sister is gone now. And while her husband has remarried (and they have a baby girl due in September!), they live very far away in Nevada. But in our new town, we have a built-in family. Cousins from a few months old to 13 to run around with and play at the family farm. The 4th of July is a family day - complete with 4-wheeling, bonfires, barbecues and fireworks. I look forward to years of family get-togethers.

10. My animals. They are a GREAT source of entertainment. I couldn't imagine living in a household without pets. I'm extremely grateful that Surfer Pirate shares my love of animals. Although I have to admit there are days when I'd love to shave the dogs and cats bare. I get really tired of cleaning up fur.

So there's a short list. I actually planned on only listing 5, but once I got started, I couldn't help myself. If I had the time, I could go on for many more hours. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Big Announcement

I've made it to 12 weeks, so it's time to officially announce! I'm pregnant! The baby is due January 25th.

A few people already know, and I have a really hard time NOT randomly telling strangers, so I'll answer some of the questions I already know will be coming up:

Q: Do you know what you're having?
A: No. It's too soon to know.

Q: How are you feeling? Have you had any morning sickness?
A: Oh yeah! And exhausted, and cranky. But I'm looking very forward to the second trimester.

Q: How far along are you? You're showing!
A: Actually no. I'm not showing yet. That's just early pregnancy bloat - I've looked like that for about 8 weeks now. But maternity clothes are sooooo comfy that I let it LOOK like I'm showing.

Q: What are you hoping for?
A: I already have a girl, so I'm really hoping this baby is a boy. But if we have a girl, we'll be just as happy. We really just want a healthy baby.

That's all the questions I can think of for now. I know there are other ones. Luckily no one has tried to rub my belly yet. I'll probably slap the first person to do that. My closest friends and family will be allowed to, but strangers and general acquaintances had better watch out! There's a t-shirt I really want that says "Touch the belly, pull back a stump!" I'm not a big fan of strangers touching me!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Just had to share

How funny is that??

Hoping you're giggling as much as I am.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Drowning in Boxes

You don't realize how many boxes it takes to pack a whole household until you actually have. to. pack. up. an. entire. household.

I already felt like there were boxes everywhere I turned. Then, I got those boxes packed and realized I need more boxes. LOTS more boxes! It's scary how little I've packed so far and I've used up almost all of my boxes already.

Boxes. Boxes. Boxes. Boxes.

I have a great big one in my living room right now. We got it from our tool guy. I'm sure it probably had a really big toolbox in it. I think I want to curl up in it and take a nap.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Nope. Don't Have To

I was complaining one day to an online friend about annoying solicitors coming to my front door. There was this really obnoxious girl who rang my doorbell. I was very clearly on the phone, and one of my dogs was at my feet. She started by asking me if I was busy. I was so stunned by such an obviously stupid question that I responded with sarcasm "Um... YEAH." Instead of making her little schpeel brief, she proceeded to try to make small talk about my dog. ARE YOU SERIOUS?? She finally got to her point - wanting money for some school trip thing. Except it wasn't any school group I've ever heard of. Can you say SCAM??

Anyway, as I was complaining about this obnoxious girl, my friend said "You realize you are under no obligation to open your door to anyone, right?" Honestly, I hadn't really thought about it. She pointed out that I screen my phone calls - this is no different. She said she will sometimes ignore the door when it's even someone she knows - if they haven't called in advance and she is busy doing something else.


What a thought!

So I vowed to ignore the door when I didn't feel like answering it.

And today was my chance. Some girl I've never seen before showed up at my door with a clipboard. And I just sat here. If she had taken a few steps back on my porch and looked at my front window, she would have seen me sitting here ignoring her. The TV was very clearly on. The dogs were barking. She may have even heard Pirate Munchkin asking me why I wasn't opening the door. Didn't care. She rang twice. I still ignored her. Finally she left.


I'm so proud of myself. This may become a trend.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

North Dakota!

In telling people that we were moving to North Dakota, we have heard several things over and over. "Do you realize how COLD it is up there??" (usually with all kinds of drama about layers of clothing, heating costs, and even details on how long it takes for skin to freeze!) "You are going to be sooooo bored! There's nothing to do there!" and my favorite "It's so ugly out there!"

To the people who've said these things? If you think the gorgeous rolling hills of North Dakota are ugly, you are crazy! And honestly, if you feel that way, you are welcome to stay away. I like quiet rural areas, and we don't need you and your negativity around.

Okay, I feel better now. I've had nothing but support here, so the above comments haven't been directed to any of my dear readers. Just needed to vent. :)

Anyway, I've been there, I've seen it, and I'm in love! Our new little town is everything I could have hoped for. The landscapes we've seen all the way across the state are beautiful!

I didn't know what to expect. I haven't been too far east in Montana before, and I know eastern MT and looks very similar to ND. As we got farther east, I kept waiting to see something ugly. Nothing. I will admit that I have a tendency to fall in love with areas where it's recently rained - and it had definitely been raining everywhere we went. I had been told it was flat. I expected to see nothing but wild grasses for miles. What I found was beautiful rolling hills and lots of interesting scenery.

And the smells! We had the windows partially down for most of the trip, and the smell of the flowers growing wild along the sides of the roads was amazing!! So sweet and clean!

I will admit the first few days were really hard to deal with. I get cold easy, and I had thought a sweatshirt would be enough of a jacket. I didn't account for the difference higher humidity makes! It was rainy and sooooo cooooold! Come to find out the first day we were there, the humidity was at 90%! The next day, it was 78%. But after a nice sunny day, I got aclimated to the new area pretty well because the next rainy day, I was just fine.

As far as nothing to do? We went 4-wheeling, we went out to eat, there's a bowling alley and a movie theater. We're not too far from Fargo where we played mini-golf and raced go-carts. There's also a HUGE concert in October in Fargo that we're really looking forward to. Yes, our little town doesn't have a lot going on. But that's a big part of what we love about it - life is simple. Crime is very low. We saw law enforcement patrolling all the time. We walked a large part of the town and felt completely safe the entire time. People watch out for each other and take care of each other.

We have a couple of options of houses to buy when our house in MT sells. We have a house to rent for now. And the best part? Surfer Pirate's new employers are wonderful people who appreciate and take care of their employees!

I can't wait for our entire transition to our new town to be done! This is such a wonderful change for our little family!