Friday, January 30, 2015

Pam’s Homemade Pizza


Bread Machine Pizza Dough Recipe (thin or pan crust)


For one large pizza


                    3/4 Cups warm water(110 degrees)

                    1 Tbls butter softened or melted

                    1 tbls sugar

                    1 teas of salt

                    2 cups of flour (I like bread flour) and make a well in it and then

                    1 teas bread machine yeast in the flour well


For two large pizzas


                    1 ½ Cups of warm water (110 degrees or so, like bath water)

2 Tbls butter softened or melted

2 Tbls sugar

2 teas salt

4 Cups of flour ( I like bread flour) and make a well in it.

2 teas of bread machine yeast


Set the bread machine to the dough setting. Mine takes 90 min. When it beeps that’s its done take it out and on a lightly floured surface work the dough a little and then roll out on a buttered pizza pan forming a crust. Top

with pizza sauce( I use the Chef Boyardee brand),pizza fixings of your choice and lots of mozzarella cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 18-25 min. You are looking for lightly browned crust and bubbling browning cheese .

Note: Without the bread machine I  just buy the Chef Boyardee double pizza mix, some pepperoni, and shredded mozzarella cheese and toppings that are your family favorites and follow the box instructions. I mix the dough with my hands, or a fork, or your dough hook, cover with cling wrap and set it in warm water for the time it says.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rice Pudding (Norwegian Risengrynsgrøt:)

1 cup white rice of choice
2 cups water

1/3 cup sugar
1/2- teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

2 teas vanilla
4 cups milk

1 cup cream  stirred in or enough to make a creamy pudding.


Boil water and add rice, and salt according to directions. When rice is soft ( in about 20 minutes and all the water is absorbed add the 4 cups of milk, raisins, sugar, vanilla. Cover with a lid. Stir often and check often but let it simmer for an hour or so, watching it carefully.   

Rice will keep expanding as it cools. Be sure you add enough milk while it is still simmering and keep stirring to prevent it from burning. When the rice is soft and the milk mostly absorbed so it looks like rice pudding, let it cool a little and then stir in the cup of cream more or less,  until you have a creamy consistency.

When risengrynsgrøten is done, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar with a dollop of butter in the center.

The next day add some whipping cream for glorified rice. If you know you are going to make it into glorified you can leave the raisins out and add other fruits then. Mom liked to add bananas at the last minute before serving or pinnapple. To make that you just make sweetened whipping cream with vanilla and add it to yesterdays cold pudding.


Start heating the oil. I used a fry daddy. But it can be done on the stove too.  

Whisk together:

             2 eggs

            1 tbsp sugar

             1/4 teas salt


1 cup milk

1 Teas. Vanilla


1 cup of sifted flour. Mix so there are no lumps and it’s the consistency of heavy cream.  

Pour the batter into a shallow container. I used a loaf pan. Heat oil to 375 and keep at that temp. Let the irons get hot in the oil and then quickly blot on a paper towel and dip irons into batter being sure not to go over the top, or they won’t release. Fry in the hot oil about thirty seconds. They may come off in the oil or some may need some gentle help with a fork. You can make many different patterns. When finished sprinkle with powdered sugar, white sugar or cinnamon and sugar. Embrace your inner Norwegian and enjoy this delicacy made for Christmas,  or for special occasions in Norway. I had them at my wedding 41 years ago.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life

Isn’t it funny how life comes around full circle sometimes? When our family went to Hawaii last year, crazily, I took a suitcase with seven ukuleles in it. They were cheap little colorful ones that as it turns out don’t want to stay in tune very bad. When I passed them all out to the kids and Kerry and they were "underwhelmed" with my surprise ha.  Shelbey and I however loved it! We plunked out The Lion Sleeps Tonight and another one or two. Since I got back I still love to strum away, and sing You Are My Sunshine to Easton. When I got a gift certificate from Brendon and Melissa for Christmas, I even upgraded my little red ukulele to a little better one that holds its tune a little better.

              I didn’t really make New Years 2015 resolutions this year except as always; I vowed to take better care of myself, especially after the Bell’s palsy experience. Second, I kind of reviewed the things I found fun, because I don’t have enough fun and I heard someone say the only fun they were actually having was what they watched on TV! I thought yeah Pam…that’s you! So more fun is on my list this year! Playing the ukulele reminds me so much of my Mom. Some of my best memories of her are her playing the guitar for us as kids.


            Mom never sang or played, in front of my Dad. Therefore when he was out in the barn or fields, she would pull her guitar out from behind her blonde dresser with the mirror, and position herself so she could see the barn or grain bins… wherever he was. That way she could hurry and put it back in its secret place, if he started for the house! The guitar had been a birthday gift from her brother Julius on her seventeenth birthday. She had many brown covered raggedy “composition” books with handwritten songs in them. There was the title of the song, and singer of the song underlined beneath the title. The pages were yellow and were written in ink from one of those sharp pointed fountain pens with the ink cartridges. There were letters over the word of the song you change chords on.  She wrote the lyrics down by listening to the radio and scribbling the first and third lines the first time, and the second and fourth lines the second time she heard the song. Then in her beautiful handwriting, added it to her songbook. Many, many hours spent on her music.  She tuned her guitar by ear, and played it so much the neck of the brown guitar had white spots worn on it where her fingers had chorded over and over and over, while strumming ( that spot was worn too) with her white, thumb pick.


                    We would look through her books and choose songs. Some of my favorites were, At Mail Call Today by Gene Autry, A Soldiers Last Letter by Ernest Tubb,  Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, Don’t Pop and I’ll Be Good, I Just Don’t Give a Hoot,  The Old Rugged Cross and Down in the Valley. Many were sad songs it seemed.  I have written before about all the musical talent in the Bruhn family down the line. Many who could play instruments and sing with no formal training.

                     The other great memory of a ukulele for me is being in Palermo school, up on the stage behind the curtain with our unforgettable music teacher. Mrs. Hook was probably “seventyish” at the time. She was a little lady, white chin length hair cut straight off and held to one side with a barrette.
She was always in a hurry and you could barely get her attention to ask her anything. Always in black tights a skirt and top, she was eccentric, scatterbrained and kind of people. She was a dynamo, who took on huge projects. One of those projects she tackled was teaching a bunch of kids a few cords on the ukulele. Seems half the music session was used up tuning them. With her exuberant encouragement we finally, all proudly played Little Grass Shack! I think I could still sing it. Later that same teacher took on the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream coat, when we were teenagers. She was so much fun, and definitely someone I never forgot.

          So this year I plan eat healthier as I always do, and find time for more ukulele, more card games, more theater, more music, more knitting,  more thrift stores, more knitting and things I really love. I encourage all of us to remember this year to make time, schedule time, to do things we enjoy. I think it makes us all healthier, happier and set good examples for those watching us as well. One day our kids will remember something they did with us like I do Mom’s guitar playing, in a full circle. Why not make it a colorful, well rounded circle?    

Friday, June 20, 2014

Love of a Lifetime


                 (Picture by paulasserindipity.blogspot)

Love That Lasts a Lifetime

What’s the first thing that goes through your mind when you see a picture like the one above? Study it a minute. Do you wonder what they are talking about? What they are thinking looking out at the endless water?  If you’re like me the thought that follows is something like… “I always wanted a love like inseparable, unbreakable, Notebook kind of love”. How many of those loves do you personally know? Did you say not many?  I venture to say you know more than you think!

When I was a teenager, I think I dated three people before Kerry and got married a month after I turned eighteen. Not because I was pregnant or for any other reason, other than I couldn’t think of anything greater than being married to Kerry and waking up with him every day. I came from a time of when you were going to sleep with somebody, you better be married.  From the time I met him, how I felt about him was different from anyone else. He was and is the love of my life.

 I’d be lying if I said I knew how tough it was going to be! Not long after I got married and my friends were still going out, I was a little sad that I was staying home. When I found out what a temper Kerry had, I wondered how can he say he loves me so much,  but yet get this mad at me once a month or so? I’m sure I wasn’t all Kerry thought I was either. I think he had the idea the husband was the final say, the boss, the money holder and I was to be submissive. If you know me submissive is one word in the dictionary I missed! I am and have always been, determined to be what I believe I was born to be, and follow what I feel is God’s plan for my life.
                                    Picture from flickr

I gave my all to my husband and family. Kerry and I had our stereotypical gender roles and followed them. I being the woman, cooked all the meals, grocery shopped, washed all the clothes, minded the kids who were all my responsibility to bathe, discipline and tend to. He worked at one and two jobs at times to support us and did a good job of it. He had to be the handyman, the mechanic, and do the “man stuff”.

We were happy a lot of the time. We're either laughing, joking and having fun,  or screaming, fighting and not getting along. Fights seemed to come out of the blue. But after every fight came new promises of change and we both believed change was on the way. So we muddled on.

You have heard me say before that marriage is like thinking your going to Hawaii and winding up in Alaska…still pretty but just a whole different thing than your young mind thinks it was going to be. No map, no trail your just whacking your way through life with a machete! Not very pretty when you look back but you blazed a trail none the less.  

I know couples our age that have been married around forty years too that got to where they are with a whole lot less drama than Kerry and I. One couple has just kind of run parallel down the road side by side, all these years. She stayed in her lane and he stayed in his. They didn’t have all the trips to "Crazyville" we had, they just didn’t interact much at all. They went in their own cars and showed up at the same functions. They just didn’t communicate much. Their lanes are running a little closer together these days.

Another couple I know has survived years of infidelity. Just looking the other way at all that went with that. They too never had the crazy fighting we had. A polite topical on the outside, relationship that hid both peoples real feelings. In the end it was all put in the past and they had a lot of  joy from having stuck it out and the reward that came from from that decision. They were closer than ever at the end of their lives.

Another love I know was more fighting and struggling this time with alcoholism. She’d have to literally escape sometimes to get away from him when he was drinking, yet they are inseparable all these years later. He is her best friend and she his.

Other of our friends seem to have been each other’s half since they got together. But years of him not working and other issues nearly tore them apart at one point. They too are closer now that they are older. They have been left with no kids at home and who else but that person that’s walked the same walk as you, wants to talk about the kids like you do? Who else shares your worries, your pride and their kids now?

My own parents didn’t get to live their’s all out. My Dad passed away after thirty years of marriage,  and they had had their share of problems like everyone else. There had been infidelity and communication problems but when he lay in the hospital bed at the end of his life,  and he seemed to know his time was short. Believe me, he wanted to be with my Mom and would have been for eternity had he been granted that chance.


My point to this blog is that wouldn't it be great if we all stop feeling like we don’t have that love like the old people in the pictures? A PERFECT love. Maybe imperfect is perfect? I don’t know any that had no down times, do you? Kerry’s and mine is more like the couple directly above. She’s being bossy, and he’s wondering what the hell she’s talking about (even the bird seems a little leary of her). The relationship however is honest, real and both of us have the best of intentions to live peacefully, it just runs off the rails at times!  There really might not even be ANY perfect love stories, do you agree? I think it’s ok too,  if there isn’t.  It’s an incredible thing to have worked for the relationship, weathered the storms… the personal storms, that are unique to only that one love.  They’re still muddling through, whatever the struggles. Looking back at that path,  its not straight, it's not neat and surely the outcome was never well planned, but they made it. Now that is a testament to real love!

Some friends got into marriages that didn’t work, and one of them decided the struggles were to much, the price was to high.  They cut the cord and let the marriage go. That probably saved everyone a lot of turmoil, because every case is different, and every decision has pros and cons.  Today maybe they are lucky enough to be in love with the love of their lives. That’s their love story, that’s what worked for them. Everyone has a unique love story! The length of it is just that… the length of it.

I’m happy Kerry and I are still together. Still laughing and having fun one minute, only to fight about the radio five seconds later. Important stuff like that you know…after forty years!  We enjoy Easton and all that’s going on with our kids. Soon were going to be Grandparents again, and get a new daughter in law, who we love!  When I’m sick and I call Kerry…he’s concerned about me, he checks on me and just the sound of his voice gives me comfort. The kids gave us shirts for our anniversary that said, Married since 1973 on the back. On the front it says, “14,975 days but who’s counting”! We got so many people asking about our shirts as we were pushing Easton around in a stroller Hawaii.  

So next time we look at aged faces capturing perfect love, maybe if we were more realistic with ourselves, and took off our rose colored glasses we’d see struggle, lots of it, that led them to this place of facing the uncertain years huddled together with determination to get to the other side with dignity and trust you only have in that one special person! Let’s rejoice in our personal love stories, now matter how long they’ve been going on or how long they last. Give ourselves a pat on the back! Here’s to us! Here’s to love!  Cheers!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Yummy in the Tummy

I have jotted down how Syd and I make Easton’s baby food for some of the girls’ friends who are asking me. I am just a Grandma, not a nutritionist so this is just how we did it, not thee way to do it. When the doctor said to go ahead and give Easton solid foods this is how we did it.

First of all we bought these trays from Amazon. There are cheaper ones on Amazon now but I haven’t used them. Some covers look like they slide on… I dunno about that.  



We bought organic fruits and vegetables when we could. Sprouts has a good selection, but any of the grocery stores and Wal-Mart has organic produce. We also bought a Nutribullet which was perfect for the job of pureeing.

We started with rice cereal and oat meal. After four days of each of them, we tried apples. I peeled, cooked and pureed about six apples in distilled water about half way up the apples. After freezing them we fed him one cube once a day for four days, (watching for any allergy symptoms like rash or breathing issues), to start out with. After four days we made carrots (organic baby carrots) the same way we made the apples. Only cook them until they are soft enough to puree. For example, we fed him apples and rice cereal in the morning and carrots and oatmeal at night after enough days had past. Next we added one fruit or veg every four days. In the stage one category are:











Green beans



Sweet Potato

He also ate bananas and avocados( he doesn’t like avocados much but we try it) which we didn’t freeze and fed mashed up


After the baby food is cooked, pureed, and frozen at least over night, we bagged them in labeled gallon baggies (dollar store) and put them in the freezer. I get the cubes out of the trays by running hot water on the bottom of the tray. The trays with the green lid just take a quick twist. The mumi ones you have to push one end of the cube with your finger and they come out. You can even freeze breast milk in these but we just used the little plastic bags for that.  I did use my microwave about twenty seconds to thaw them knowing cooking in the microwave might be not as good as heating on the stove but it was fast.

We added whole milk yogurt at eight months and he started eating three times a day- the recipe for that is on my blog too. He ate these foods until he was a year old, and the doctor told us he could eat whatever we ate. At that time we started mixing and adding to the list.

We are still experimenting as he is only fourteen months now. We don’t have a full menu but some of the things Easton likes, that we added are green peas mixed with organic black beans ( which I freeze in the cubes with a little water on the top, I don’t have to puree them for some reason and he likes them)! At fourteen months he eats two or three green pea cubes and one black bean mixed in. I also make him chicken pot pie, puree it and freeze it in cubes. We also buy organic rotisserie chicken, roast it a little longer with some water in the bottom of the pan, let it cool and puree it with some of the water for chicken cubes. He only eats one of those because it’s solid protein. I make cauliflower and broccoli and add some white cheese, puree it, and freeze. I make him whole wheat baby pancakes and freeze them in a gallon zip lock and take out what I need. He’s up to five little pancakes in the morning with some spiced apples (apples with cinnamon in them). I make pumpkin pie filling and freeze that. We have frozen mashed potatoes.  If I have left over bean soup I puree it. You wouldn’t have to puree it at this point but he has only certain things he likes the texture of. He could be eating macaroni and cheese and lots of things you will think of but he doesn’t like a lot yet. The doctor wants Easton to drink two cups of whole milk a day so he has yogurt every lunch right now, with a vegetable and a fruit on top and a little pumpkin muffin or raisin toast or something. If he has a green veg at lunch then he has orange at night or vise versa. I keep potato flakes and rice cereal handy and if whatever hes going to eat is runny or something I add tablespoon of potatos or a little rice cereal to thicken it.  

I could go into a long spiel about how much cheaper this is but I will leave it at this. Apples are 2.67 a bag and one bag makes about 40 cubes. That is .07 a cube. There are probably three cubes in a pouch of apples for 1.83 in some stores compared to .21 cents and you know what’s in it! When you are going somewhere you just put the frozen cubes in the bowls. I like these because the lids are good and tight.


When were home we heat in glass bowls only, like the ones below.


This is just a rough guideline. It depends on your children, your life, how busy you are, and how making baby food fits into your life. If you’re already doing a balancing act then it’s probably not for you because it is time consuming, which is the biggest drawback. For Sydney and me it was good because I am home all day, and she is a single Mom without a lot of money. I was asked to write this down for some of the kids’ friends and that’s all this is…what we did. Growing up all of my kids ate Gerber’s in a glass jar, drank juice etc because that’s what we did then so don’t beat yourself up if that’s what you want to do.
They all grow up! Speaking of that this is the cutest baby movie.
 It shows how babies all over the world have a different norm and all grow up fine!  Here’s to all the sweet babies in the world!





Thursday, January 16, 2014

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

My little grandson has been eating these muffins since he was about 8 mo old. They are one of his favorite things to eat so I decided to jot it down. Maybe there are other babies that would love them too. Wholesome ingredients are the best part.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins


8    TBSP coconut oil

1  cup sugar

4  eggs

2  cups pumpkin puree

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice

3/4 tsp salt

2 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line about 50 ( if that’s too many cut the recipe in half) muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil and sugar until well mixed. Add the eggs, pumpkin and vanilla and continue mixing until smooth.
  3. Mix in the baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add flour a little bit at a time until everything is well mixed.
  4. Spoon batter into the muffin cups, this doesn’t rise much so you can almost fill them.
  5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
These muffins are dense and not crumbly for a baby to handle. Serve warmed up with a little butter on them. Keeps well in the freezer so you can take out one or two as needed.   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Home Made Vanilla Greek Yogurt


This is my recipe to make yogurt. I started making it for Easton, my then 8 mo old grandson, but I eat it too. If you have babies… it’s so simple, wholesome and cheap. Babies as you probably know need fat and are supposed to be drinking whole milk according to the AAP after the age of one. About 8 mos old they can start on whole milk yogurt because yogurt is digested differently than milk. The story behind this yogurt making of mine is that when Easton was born, Sydney being a single Mom wanted to feed him as cheaply and wholesomely as we could. We’ve been making his food all along.

You will need a crock pot, although you can follow the same procedure on the stove, I just haven’t tried it.

You’ll need a gallon of organic WHOLE milk (I use Shamrock here in AZ)

A 12 oz carton of organic (I use Stony field) Plain yogurt. (Nothing in it but milk and milk cultures). * I buy organic milk, and yogurt, because I don’t like the antibiotics in reg. milk but you can use any whole milk if you are comfortable or even raw milk.   

1 to 1½ cup sugar

2 TBSP vanilla

I start this process about noon on a day that I will be home all afternoon. It’s not time consuming but you need to be around to watch the temperature. Every crock pot heats up at a different speed, so for the first few times you make it,  note how long your crock pot took to get to the desired temp ...YOU DON"T WANT TO BOIL IT!


 Start by pouring the milk into the crock pot and heating it on high it until it reaches 180 degrees on a candy thermometer like the one below, to kill all the bacteria in the milk. This takes about 2 hours in my crock pot but it will depend on your pot, and the amount of milk you put in as well. If a scum forms on the milk while you're checking the temp just skim it off and throw it away.


 Once the milk reaches 180, unplug the crock pot and let it sit covered for a couple hours or so until the temp cool down to 110 degrees. You cool the milk to that temp so it’s not too warm to kill off the new cultures you are going to add when you add the yogurt starter to make the new batch of yogurt. 

At the 110 degree point you add 12 oz of yogurt and mix into the milk with a whisk.  No need to whip it just mix it in good. Make sure the yogurt you buy has nothing but milk and milk cultures in it (no pectin or stablizers), if you want to stay true to the nothing added for babies, although any yogurt will work. At that time you can add the sugar to your own liking, and pure vanilla and stir it all together throughly.  ( I tried other more organic sweeteners like maple syrup, etc. but I didn't like the taste so went back to sugar. Like I said this is how I make it, not how it is to be made, chiseled in stone. A recipe is just a starting place... mess around with it and make it your own like you and your family like it. Maybe you'd rather use a pot than a crock pot for example, or you like yours unsweetened. 
After you mix the sugar, starter yogurt, and vanilla in, put the lid back on the crock pot leaving it unplugged ( so no one messes with the knobs ) crock pot, and cover and tuck around three bath towels making a warm, dark environment for bacteria to grow. Let is sit there for 12 hours or so (overnight). When you open the lid there may be water standing on top. That is called whey and is full of protein and vitamins and a wonderful probiodics. You can drain that off, if you like a thicker yogurt and use it in something else.  I never do I just mix it back in to the yogurt and then pour the yogurt into a plastic bowl with a pouring spout to fill my jars neatly. I invested in some little jars just because I like them but it can be stored in any jar with a cover.  The jars I like are these from Amazon, although they will leak if tipped over in a lunch bag the reviews say, but I only keep them in the fridge so I love them.

The batch this size makes 24 6 oz jars of yogurt. I feed my Grandson one every day so that’s how long it last depending on how many I eat, it’s so good! It keeps in the fridge up to a month, however I’m always out by then. You can cut the recipe in half if you want to.

Now, do the math money wise. A carton of yogurt is on average $1.25 per 6 ounce serving. The home made yogurt was 3.83 for the milk, .75 for the sugar, .25 for the vanilla and 3.24 for the 12 oz Greek yogurt starter. That adds up to 8.07 divided by 24 = 33.6 cents compared to 1.25. It’s a little less firm, than the yogurt that has stabilizers and pectin etc... but not enough to make a huge difference and you know they are eating just milk, yogurt, sugar and vanilla, rather than an inch of stuff on a carton you don’t even know what it is. Easton likes it plain, or sometimes I put fruit in it. I have pureed strawberries ( after baby is a year) . Until then they can have blueberries, peaches, apples or many other fruits. It’s so simple, I hope you enjoy it.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Do

Kerry and I met when I was a junior in high school and he was just out of his trade school college, earning a certificate in auto mechanics from Williston, ND. I was walking to my Aunt Florence’s house in Palermo after staying in town after school to work on the school newspaper. A car with two guys in the front seat and one sprawled out in back, drove up beside me talking as I walked ( it just hit me how that would be different these days, I'd be frightened). The passenger ask if I knew who he was? I said," No should I"? He said he was Lori Picek’s brother. Lori was dating Kelly Moore and I’d known Kelly my whole life, as his Dad and my Dad were best friends. I talked to the passenger a bit and noticed his pretty eyes that kind of danced when he talked and were rimmed with curly long eyelashes. His name was Kerry and he asked if I wanted to go to the state line club with them ( you could drink there at 18). I pretended to go in Florence's house and ask Mom. She actually said I could, but I came out and said I couldn’t. I had anxiety even back then and wasn’t about to get in a car with three guys who were drinking that I didn’t know. I wasn't scared of them but didn't want to get in a car accident.

I few nights later I was driving around in Stanley which is what we farm girls did when we went to town, and I kept meeting this cute little white car which swerved at me every time I met it! After meeting the little white car several times, the driver stuck his arm out the window, and motioned for me to pull over to a side street. It was Kerry Picek again. Pulling into a vacant parking lot, our cars facing opposite directions, this time  I noticed he had long hair to his shoulders, the same dancing eyes, white teeth with a wide split in them and silver wire rim glasses. The car was as cute as he was and I felt an immediate attraction unlike any I'd experienced before.

Later in the week there was a dance at the memorial building in Stanley, where my favorite local band Podipto, was playing cover tunes. From the dance floor I happened to look out to the people on the sidelines and Kerry was one of them. We left the dance together and  he told me he was living in his Grandmas basement after an argument with his stepfather. We sat there in the basement talked for the longest time before I said I need to get going.

We became good friends, but I always said I liked him more than he liked me. I was a tomboy. I may have plowed a field or something as equally girly before I came to town, not because I wanted to but I had to with just Sonny and us girls to do farm work. Plus I was never a tiny girl. Anyway, he played me around in the strangest ways. He didn’t really want to say we were dating but yet if I dated anyone else he ran interference. For me there was always something different about my feelings for him than anyone else. I used to get teased about how crazy in love I was with him. As soon as high school ended I moved to Stanley, got a job at the Two Way Inn and he worked construction. Some nights he’d sleep on my couch and I’d bake brownies etc. for his lunch just because if felt right to be together but Mom had the "good girl" thing drilled in my head tight!

Finally,  I got tired of his silly games and decided I had to come to terms with the fact that I liked him more than he liked me, I needed to accept that and I was moving on! I moved home and enrolled in college.  When I walked away he missed me and realized he loved me too. He found me a few weeks later and was ready to not only date, but get married. We got married quickly on Nov 17,1973, a month after I turned 18. My idea of marriage was immature. I thought nothing would be better than being with him every day of my life. I literally had a horse and a 13” black and white tv. He literally had a stereo and a car. That what we brought into the marriage.

Didn’t take long before we had some horrible fights. Kerry was very verbally and sometimes physically abusive and an angry guy. Anger that had nothing to do with me. He became extremely jealous and bossy. I fought back after awhile because I wasn't about to be bossed around by anybody. We had Brendon in 1976 and Shelbey in 1979. They witnessed some crazy fights! I realized I had married someone far different from me, but I loved him so much.

Over the years we held on to our passion and commitment to each other.  The explosive anger issues however were always in the way of a peaceful existence that I desperately needed as someone with anxiety issues. My Mom got sick with Alzheimer's disease and passed away about the same time Syd went through a rough time in Minot being bullied by jealous girls, and I brought her to Phoenix to live, to protect her and she's had a great life here. Kerry planed on coming, and wanted to get Syd out of Minot as well,  but couldn’t transfer here without losing seniority and that's a big deal on the railroad. So we have traveled back and forth for ten years almost. After I was here in Phx and away from the anger I'd always been around awhile, I noticed my own reactions when something that would have sent Kerry into a fit of anger, Jerry (my sister’s husband ) handled calmly. I grew resentful at Kerry that his anger had stirred such emotions over small things. Not to make this an even close comparison but like when someone comes home from war and hears a boom and it brings up feelings... all these years I grew to expect anger over simple daily frustrations…I got distant towards Kerry and eventually Kerry went in his own direction for awhile.

Ten years after moving here and 40 years of marriage later, we are starting to figure it out,... I hope, (never say you have something figured out or it will come back and bite you). We have been put through life like a salad shooter…fast, furious, not always fun but spit out the other end in some kind of a blend that seems to work.

Some things I always loved about Kerry was that he always took the responsibility for taking care of the family financially, and the rest was my responsibility. Ever since he got on with the railroad in 1988, I have only done odd jobs that worked around being there for the kids because his was a 24/7 job. He never told me what color I could paint a wall, what to cook or even what to do with the kids. He always stood behind me when I laid down the law with the kids. I remember the night before I started college when Syd was in the 7th grade, I stayed up all night bawling because I had spent 500.00 on books and $2500. on tuition. He got up at some point to use the bathroom and came out in the living room where I was sobbing away. I told him I was stressed out, what if I can’t do the work? What if I waste a bunch of money, what if…and he said,( and this is a direct quote). “If you go to school and don’t like it, you won’t wonder anymore if you should have gone to college. I said I was going to take care of you when I married you, and you were going to take care of me, and the kids. I don’t care if times have changed since those days, nothings changed between us that I know of. Stop pressuring yourself and get your ass to bed.”

I loved him for that. Kerry is a guy of few reassuring words, but when he says something it means a lot because in a few words he nails it. He’s a complicated person, a wounded person that is his own worst enemy. Sometimes the depth of his anger surprises even me, but under it he is a soft, sensitive soul. He makes me laugh, pisses me off to the max, hurts me the deepest, as I do him but I can count on him and he can count on me. Was it a match made in heaven or hell, I dunno…cuz its been both. Sometimes sheer determination keeps us together.

One time we were at the fair in Minot at a concert. Full well knowing the answer I asked Kerry, “how come you have never held me on your shoulders so I can see the concert like a lot of these guys do their women?” Without even blinking he fired back, “well climb on, but its gonna be a quick peak before we both hit the ground!” Then we laughed till we were about sick! A few years ago we went on a summer road trip down the Oregon coast and after four or five days having fun in the car we got in a hell of a big fight over the radio outside of Reno. I was driving and slammed on the brakes and about dumped him out on the side of the road! It was a long silent ride for awhile, until one of us burst out laughing at the insanity of it and got over it. That’s how we handle things these days…get mad, get over it, it’s a new day.

Long marriages aren’t easy, it takes commitment and always keeping your eye on the horizon, instead of the potholes in the road, and hang on to the vision of where you want this to all end. It’s like you got married, expecting the Hawaiian tropics and instead winding up in a  jungle slashing weeds and fighting for survival…later you think… well it wasn’t what I expected in my eighteen year old mind, but parts of it were beautiful, parts were harrowing, but every bit of it was worth this incredible experience. 

My wish for my own kids is that when they tie the knot, they tie it good and tight and hang on, it’s a wild ride but so worth it in the end when you look back at the highs the lows and the children you've raised and parented together. In Nov. it will be 40 years, which seems impossible. Happy Anniversary Kerry! Love you!

High Anxiety

High Anxiety


Passing by the bathroom mirror I was drawn in by the image I saw. The “me” I was looking at, was not the some one I had always known. I was pale and thin with my collar bones sticking out. My eyes were as vacant and haunted as I felt. I had not been able to eat much of anything for several weeks, six weeks actually. That alone was strange for someone who loves to eat, and finds comfort in eating. Anxiety attacks had plagued me like a victim being stalked, never knowing where or when the siege would start, or how long the terror would last.
I had been depressed since I left the hospital with my beautiful, perfect baby girl. How perfect she was added more guilt that I couldn’t enjoy the moment. I wondered how I would ever be able to pull myself together and be the mother I’d dreamed of being to her and our four year old son Brendon. Lately, I didn’t have any feelings…just flat nothingness. Nothing brought me any joy, even this new perfect baby. I’d have had no feelings at all, if not for the torturous, nervous ones that came in waves. I just wanted to get though each endless day. At the beginning of this strange new existence, I went to bed praying and hopeful that tomorrow would be a new day, a better day, and I’d be my “old” self! The longer I was sick the less I was able to believe that tomorrow would be any different than today had been. I paced the floor, woke Kerry several times a night just to tell him how miserable and frightened I was.  My Mother had been staying with us off and on for weeks trying to interest me in the baby, in food… in life for that matter. From three days after giving birth to this point I had tried four medications, which mostly only made things worse and the situation more hopeless.

In desperation one night after a horrible panic attack I agreed to enter the local hospital. My Mom and my husband both knew this was more than the baby blues some women get. Backing out of our driveway that night I couldn’t stop shaking. It was a weird sensation penetrating throughout my whole body.  I also felt like I was looking at everything through a long telescope. I wondered if I’d ever be home. I will never forget backing out of the driveway, my Mom holding my new breastfed 6 week old baby(she told me later she was pretty frightened herself hoping to get the baby to take formula and the responsibility of it), and my four year old frightened, sad son clinging to her leg. Silently I prayed, pleeeaaasssse God let me come home again, and I did six weeks later but wasn’t really well for 8 long years.

When something that traumatic happens to you it changes who you are to the core. I had actually been mad at God for a long time that my Dad was taken away from our family when I was twelve. There were a lot of things adding up to me getting to the place I was in. My Dad’s death, getting married far to young, Kerry’s anger issues and we were building a new house which was fun but stressful. I liken what happened to the rain barrel effect. The rain comes down slowly but it all adds up in the barrel and the barrel eventually overflows and once it’s overflowing it’s going to run awhile.

 I saw people far worse than I was in the hospital and still have images of the suffering people I saw there filed away in a locked file in my head. That’s why I studied Social work because I wanted to be able to say, “I’ve been where you are, I recovered and you can too”.

Over the years I got my hormones straightened out, dealt with the death of my dad, learned to stop being a people pleaser, stand up to Kerry, and I found ways to talk myself out of full blown panic. During my illness I never ever thought of harming my children but wasn’t so sure everyone around me wouldn’t be better off without me. I felt like everyone deserved better. The kids not such a distant mother, and  Kerry was working hard and I was running to the ER or a Dr every couple days. He never called me crazy or put me down and if I thought I needed to go he drove me. He visited me every single night in the hospital and some nights I begged him to check me out and let me go home with him. I still tear up at his dedication to me and appreciate him. I had these morose thoughts about  how they’d be better off without me for quite a long time. One day though, I looked at a photo of the four of us and really studied it. I pictured myself cut out of the picture, and a black hole where I was and imagined another smiling face in its place. Then I thought of my own family, of  my Dad who’d died.  Who else could be slipped in a picture he was in, and take his place?  NO ONE! I still missed him terribly and NO ONE on the planet could take his place. I knew at that moment that I would have to find a way to handle this because my kids needed me and I had to make it.

 Something like four million people give birth in the US every year. Of that number, I was one of the lucky ten percent that suffered with neurotic symptoms rather than psychotic ones. My heart bleeds for the five hundred or so, who become psychotic, hear delusional voices telling them to kill their children and commit horrible acts of violence. While the postpartum defense is part of the insanity defense in the US, it is not a defense by itself in this country. In the United States it must be entered as an insanity plea and then the defense must prove she didn’t know right from wrong at the time of the crime. They go through testing months after the crime ( and many times by then the hormones are calmed back down) to determine if they did indeed know right from wrong back at the time of the crime. Many mentally ill people do know right from wrong at times and other times don’t.

When my Mom was in the nursing home and struggling with Alzheimer’s, another puzzling brain disease, her brain worked intermittently. I always compared her brain activity to an electrical cord with a short in it. An hour ago she may not have known my name nor had any idea who I was but at this particular moment the connection flickers, the lights come on and she calls me by name and tells me to have a safe drive back to Minot like Mom always did. How long will the power stay on? I don’t know, she doesn’t know and the Dr’s don’t even know. So legally, she was insane for a time and sane for a time. That’s caused by plaque build up on the brain. Postpartum is caused by an extreme shift in hormones. Mental illness is not logical, but it’s a hard sell to the US justice system. In at least other 22 other countries including Great Britain, Italy, Canada, and Australia, if the, “balance of a women’s mind is disturbed” she would get manslaughter at the most and the sentence would be hospitalization instead of jail. I am not saying I don’t have compassion for innocent children because I do, I love kids.  I don’t have answers or think everyone should get off in these cases, I am just raising a question I don’t have answers for...only empathy.  

Ten years after Shelbey was born, I had one more baby and one miscarriage. Both times I was treated with progesterone injections and never had any depression at all with Sydney. My life was a lot calmer then too, and I’d decided God had a purpose for me and I was going to live until his purpose for me is over, scared or not!  Once I got a grip on that idea, I embraced motherhood, travel, and my relationship with God that got me through all of this. It was the worst and best thing that ever happened to me, certainly the most painful and certainly made big changes in how I viewed things.  

 If only I could have read the back of the book first back then. I’d have known while backing out of that driveway in 1979,  that the sweet baby girl in my Mothers arms that night, would grow up to be one of my best friends, and support systems. And that my frightened little boy, clinging to Grandmas leg, would be there to help me through a lot of dark days. It’s true that good things come in small packages.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Games People Play

The other day I was thinking about all the games and activities Kathy and I found to do growing up on the ND prairie in the middle of nowhere. When we were kids, in the summer we always played outside, probably cuz Mom was out more than in the house herself, gardening, mowing etc. We made mud pies, and played with our favorite barn cats a lot. We had doll clothes Mom sewed with tail holes cut in them. Kathy had gotten a blue buggy from Santa and mine was red. The cats were always good natured and just lay in the buggies all bundled up with bonnets and carefully swaddled extra tight like you must do with cats ha. I guess not knowing that babies don’t walk, my cat kept escaping one day only to get slung back in my buggy, a little rougher each time…until he pooped in the clothes, on the blanket and in my buggy! Mom wasn’t too happy about that mess her Grankitty made! Guess he really did need to get out…oops! We had a couple of big rusty barrels we walked on which was quite a feat in itself… considering the grass grew in clumps and going over a clump was good cause for a hard spill. But we showed our skills to random visitors I remember. Other times we put a board across the barrel and teeter tottered.

We always rode horses, starting out with big work horses cuz Dad thought they were smoother and easier to stay on cuz they were mighty wide. First thing in the morning, one of us would carry the box of cereal and our own bowl and spoon,  and the other would carry the milk and her own bowl and spoon. We’d ride somewhere in the trees with tall grass so the horses would be content to eat and stay still.  Kix tasted extra good turned around backwards, bowl on the horses rump, and in your jammies still! We were free spirits, never scared of strangers or any of that, never scared of falling off the the huge horses,…wood ticks and bees were all we were scared of.  Life was simple, laying on the lawn, watching the clouds moving, and talking about God, wondering how he watched over a world so big.

In the winter we played Indian maidens, ( you could do that in the fifties when we were born). We had “Indian” cousins that we loved very much so it was never a negative thing to be "Indian" in our family.  With made up names that screamed creativity, I was always Red Bird and she was Blue bird , honorably named after our favorite colors ( sometimes I wonder now, if red is really my favorite color or if I was branded with it long ago ha.) We each made forts in the snow and visited each other using lingo from the western movies we'd seen. No one ever died and nothing was ever to serious we were just good Indian neighbors.I am not being insensitive, just describing life back then.

We made snowmen in the spring when it was warm enough for the snow to actually stick together, and slide down the hill when the snow was hard, and shiny from the frigid wind. You could use a real sled that had blades you could steer with. You wouldn’t even sink in…and travel a long ways. When we got older we would take the manure scoop down to the water hole and push the snow off  of it to skate. By the time we got the snow off, we were almost too pooped to skate,  but I still remember the quietness, just sitting there resting. The quiet was unreal, I miss that stillness sometimes, but only for a bit. Fox and Goose was another of our favorite games but it usually ended in us fighting for some reason. Kathy probably outrun me and I cut the pie or something I dunno.

When we got a little older we played Barbie and Ken a lot. Kathy had dark haired dolls and mine were blond. I always secretly liked hers better. For some reason Mom got me a blonde Barbie and a dark haired Ken so I traded Kens with Sara Nyberg so both of mine were blonde. Mom made us many, many Barbie clothes that I still have today. We didn’t have Barbie accessories, well Kathy had a Midge I guess with three wigs...but mostly we had just the dolls and lots of clothes for their wardrobe suitcases. We loved those dolls!

Probably some of the most laughable times were from roller skating. We got the clip on your shoes roller-skates for Christmas on year. They worked best on cowboy boots that had a hard sole. Tennis shoes made your toes scrunch together and they came off. We used to roller-skate in the house when Mom was trying to cook. We’d clear out rugs, push the table back and skate. She tolerated all that until one of us fell and tore the dish towel rod off the wall on the way down!  Then she banished us to a swept out grain bin. We’d string our cord for a radio out there from the yard pole,  get it all tuned in to KCJB, and prepare to skate. Have you ever skated in a grain bin with two rods in it cutting it up like a pie cut in four pieces? Pretty hard to get your speed on! One kernel of stray grain (and there were many), was enough to make you biff it! Never liked that grain bin skating. I can still smell it if I try, but desperate to skate we were!

We were lucky enough to grow up in a house with a tall ceiling in the kitchen. We could tied a double jump rope to the junk drawer handle and one of us twirl and the other jump and recite jump rope rhymes, complete with the actions… like:

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Touch your shoe.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
That will do.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Go upstairs.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Say your prayers.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn out the light.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Say good night!

Every once in awhile Mom would jump in with us.Then of course there was Chinese jumprope which was sure to get a rumble out of Mom with that stretched across the stool legs taking up the kitchen with more fighting of course!

Hop Scotch…we were the queens of hopscotch and fighting, IF you stepped on the chalk line, IF you balanced with your other foot or IF you broke the rules. We used to hop scotch in the basement in the dry years, drawing our game out over the chipped up damp cement. We loved it though!

Jacks anyone? We played jacks till we had dirty callouses on our right hand little fingers from swiping the floor 98,741,231,478 times a day. Oh the fights we had… whether the ball did or didn’t bounce, whose turn it was, what we were on when we missed last time…all that.

When our cousins would come for a visit we loved to play red light, green light and hope to see a ghost tonight under the yard light. Our parents all played cards late into the night…no alcohol, no partying...some fresh coffee and good food,  just family fun.

We rode our bikes a lot, even though Mom tried to kill me by not putting it together right, and the front wheel came off half way down the grade, and I did a nose dive in the gravel...I stood on the side of the road bawling, holding the wheel and watching Kathy speed on home to get Mom! Little rocks embedded in my knees, and hands burning like fire with the skin scrapped off. Pretty soon here came handywomen Mom with a wrench to put the wheel on and Tincture Merthiolate! Before long I was riding my 24" new blue bike again, this time the wheel was on good and tight.

Life seemed really simple. I had a wonderful childhood, as probably every kid thinks they did…it was after all, your childhood. I remember my Mom telling about how they rolled tires around for fun when she was a kid,  and thinking... ok..guess if you think it would be fun in the olden days :).

Go back in your memories. What games did you play? Relive the fun you had in your mind. Tell your kids about your life. I am so glad I had my little sister to play with, and fight with, but in the end its all love and laughs. I wish you lots of both!