Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Keeping It Real In ND

I like to keep it real.  Lately I have been talking about all the things I like/love about North Dakota. Today I want to talk about the things I dislike.

-Ticks.  I have never thought much about ticks, but in North Dakota they are rampant.  Any area with tall grass is a breeding ground for these nasty little bugs.  Ollie peed on the side of the road the other day and when I went to put him in his carseat there was a tick crawling up his knee.  Today I was changing Max from his swim shirt to his regular shirt and found a tick on the top of his head!!  I got off, and no harm was done, but still!!  Disgusting. And Jason sometimes picks over 10 ticks off a day when he is working out in the bees so I am constantly worried that I might get a tick on me.

-Crappy cell phone service.  80% of the time I have no cell service.  It really sucks.  If it seems like I am not answering calls or texts, it is probably because didn't get it or if I did it was hours and hours after you sent it.  We do have a home phone, but I can't call long distance.  You can call me though, so if you want my number let me know and I will send it to you.

-Wind.  It is so windy here ALL the time.  I'm talking 20-30 mph winds pretty much everyday.  On a really hot day it is kind of nice, but most of the time it just annoys me.

-Mosquitos and flies.  Jason has been warning me for months about how horrible the mosquitos are here.  So far they haven't been bad at all (insert me knocking on wood).  Everyone keeps telling me they are coming so I thought I would add them to the list since I really hate mosquitos, especially with kids.

-We live in the middle of nowhere.  Flights coming in to ND from anywhere are ridiculously expensive (and the closest airports are at least 2 hours away), therefore we are sequestered from our family and friends while we live here.

That is all I can think of at the moment.  Everything else is pretty good.  I just had a bad couple of days and was feeling unusually negative.  I'm over it now :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Going once, going twice, SOLD!

Nothing too crazy going on here (surprise, surprise).  I'm shocked by how quickly the weeks go by here.  The highlight of last weekend was the auction of a house in Gackle, as well as all the belongings inside.  It was SO fun!  I loved it.  I'll talk more about it below.  
A couple more things I wanted to add about Gackle.
-Everyone leaves everything unlocked.  The other night we were walking by city hall and I was peaking in the windows and Jason says "Just try the door" so I did and it was unlocked.  So we walked around inside.  All the papers that seemed like they would be important just sitting out.  People also leave their keys in the ignition all the time.
-Everyone waves to everyone, whether you know them or not.  It is really weird at first because I rack my brain trying to figure out who people are, but then I realized everyone waves, even if they don't know you.  I'm totally on board now and wave to everyone. It is fun, it makes you feel like you have tons of friends :)
The newspaper didn't really have anything interesting in it this week :(  Word on the street is Jason's dad might be in it next week since he donated a truck to the City of Gackle.  We'll see.  

We visit the Tastee Freeze for ice cream a couple times a week.  The boys love it and it has been a great bribe to get them to eat their dinner every night.

 A few times a week John (Jason's dad) comes by and picks up Ollie and takes him to mow lawns on his riding lawn mower.  Ollie is convinced that he is "helping" and every time he see papa he asks "papa do you need my help".  Max is still a little young but I always feel bad for him being left out so a lot of times Jason or I will take him for a ride on the red scooter.  He LOVES it and just grins the whole time.

Sunday evening we walked to the Gackle cemetery.  Cemeteries are really depressing to me, but I have a strange fascination with them.  I don't know what is wrong with me.  Anyway, there is a little hill you have to go up to get there. Ollie was on his bike and asked me to give him a push up the hill.  I did and as I let go his bike skidded on the gravel and he ate it.  It was so sad.  He cried really hard for about 30 seconds and then after that he was so tough.  He was kind of dramatic about it afterwards though and would limp around :)  We got it all cleaned up and he is doing much better now.

We walked to the honey house this week.  This is the old sign on the road going into the honey house. 

Ok on to the auction.  We had seen signs in front of this house since we got to Gackle saying it was going to auction.  We have never been to one and so we were very interested.  I have been looking forward to it since we got here, and it did not disappoint.  First they auctioned of the house.  I put a video of that below.  It ended up selling for $38,000.  To most of us that seems REALLY cheap for a house, but here that is a kind of a lot.  We talked to one guy here who bought his house for $8,000 in 2009.  Crazy!  Granted the homes are much older and usually pretty small, but still!  This was the auctioneers truck.  
How it works is, you get a number to use for bidding.  You fill out your info attached to the number and turn it in.  Then you use that number to bid.  Mine was #53.  I wish I would have taken a pic with my number :)

The boys had fun running around, sitting on all the furniture etc.  They are wearing their shirts Aunt Letty got them in Turkey. 

After the house sold they started auctioning off the boxes covering three big trailers, one box at a time.  If no one would bid on a box they would throw in another.  One time I bid on a picture for our house and what I didn't know was that it included a box of junk with it.  But a lot of times you were buying the box for like $1.  I got two different big salad bowls with matching little salad bowls for $2.  I was having so much fun bidding and winning things.  It was a little addicting.  Jason took Max home for a nap and I ended up staying most of the day.  I had a good pile of stuff I accumulated.  When I got home I went through and kept what I wanted and took the rest to Goodwill.

Ollie found a nice spot in this tree.  

I guess they have auctions all the time and I can't wait to go to another!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We have been in North Dakota a little over a week now, and I'm so happy to say I am actually kind of loving it.  It surprises me.  I was really skeptical of the whole ND thing and maybe because of that I have been pleasantly surprised.  Granted it has only been a week, ask me again in a month and things may have changed. However I feel like it will just get better as I meet more people and get more familiar with the area.  There are definitely hard days with the boys where I'm not sure how I'm going to keep them busy, but I have days like that at home.  

Here are some of the things I have made me really love it:

-I have completed 3 books in the week we have been here.  In CA we have house projects, church callings, etc that keep us busy in the evenings, none of that here.  It also helps that the only show I am watching on TV is The Bachelorette so each evening instead of watching TV, I read.  I love it.

-Today I used my clothesline for the first time.  It is always windy here so it works out pretty well.  I felt so country hanging our clothes out to dry.

-The pool opened this week.  The weather hasn't been warm enough for swimming, but I bought our family a summer pass and the boys and I went yesterday to get them use to the idea of going.  The heater for the water was broken so the water was ice cold.  We put our feet in and the boys wore their floatation devices around and played.  I'm looking forward to warmer weather.

-Gackle has a mens softball team.  Last night they had a home game so we headed over to the baseball field.  It was a beautiful evening and there was a really cool community vibe.  I also met a few people young people so that was cool.

-I mentioned the thunderstorms before, but we had another one last night that was awesome.  The sky just lights completely up and the thunder is so loud that it woke me up from a sound sleep.  Ollie was awake last night while it was going on (around 1am) and he didn't seemed bothered by it at all (he was more concerned that there were snakes in his bed because he had a dream about snakes), he told me he liked the lightning and thunder.  Max slept through the whole thing.

-We are looking forward to this weekend because there is a house auction.  We have never seen one.  I guess they are auctioning off the house and then a lot of the belongings.  It should be interesting.  I will report back.  

-As you may or may not have noticed Jason hasn't been so active in the triathlons this year.  He didn't sign up for any because he wasn't sure what his work schedule would be like and if it would allow time for training.  Well, it hasn't really allowed him the time, but he did find an Xterra triathlon in Jamestown ND (about an hour from Gackle).  It is a much shorter distance than his other races so he isn't so worried about not training enough.  I'm happy because I know how much he loves participating in races and I am glad he is getting to do what he loves.

-We went to church in Jamestown on Sunday.  They got a new church building since the last time we had been there.  It is really nice.  Everyone was so nice and happy to see us. The wanted to know if we were new in the branch.  I could sense the disappointment when we would tell them we were just visiting, when I added that it was for the summer the excitement would return.  I think they will definitely be putting us to work while we are joining them.

Ok last week I mentioned the Gackle newspaper.  It is actually call the Tri-County News, and covers the news for approx 9 different towns.  It costs $1 to buy and comes out every Wednesday.  I find this newspaper very interesting. I don't want it to sound like I am making fun of Gackle, I just want to show how small and laid back it is here.  Here are the two front page headlines from last weeks edition:

Central Prairie Basketball Camp
New dates for Lehr Campmeeting Wed-Sun June 13-17

Each week people from each city can call in their "news" if they want and it will be included in the paper.  Here is an excerpt from Gackle's news section:
"Myron and Jenneice Sommerfeld, Valley City stopped for a short visit Monday afternoon with Oliver and Phyllis Otto".
I got a kick out of this from the Jud News:
"Correction: Last weeks article omitted the name of Arlyn Elhard who also attended the birthday party for Austin Zubrod's 10th birthday in Valley City. (SORRY)".

I'm really glad they got that cleared up.  Anyway, it is pretty funny to read.  I would much rather read these sorts of articles than about burglaries, rapes etc.   Don't worry, I will be sure to include any good news on the blog :)  Jason and I were thinking we would call in some of our comings and goings for the newspaper one of these weeks.

So that is all of my observations this week about Gackle.  Now on to what we have been up to.

Last weekend we headed to Jamestown for a kite festival.  It was really cool.  The boys loved watching the kites.  There was even a kite team that was doing a synchronized kite routine that was pretty impressive.

On the other side of the park from the kite festival a church was having a celebration.  They had bounce houses and a tractor ride.  The boys were in heaven. Jason and I were shocked that we didn't have to sign any waivers or anything for them to ride the tractor or play on the bounce houses (that would never happen in CA).  

After the kite festival we headed to the mall, to the one nail place I could find, and I got a mani/pedi (it was the one thing I really wanted to do).  After that we headed to the Buffalo museum where they have a little frontier village. Every Saturday they have a "shoot out".  Basically they reenact a old western scene with fake guns etc.  It was actually kind of lame haha.  Now we know.  We got ice cream from the "general store" and walked around a little bit.  This museum's claim to fame is "white cloud", an albino buffalo.  She is usually wandering around the field and that day she was up close.  It is hard to see her from the picture but she was actually really close.

 Me and the boys at the "shoot out".

 Some of the characters.

The little table in our house has fold out wings and the other night Ollie was leaning on one and it broke.  He whacked his chin and got a little cut.  Poor guy.  He was pretty tough.

 Monday of this week was cold and windy.  Since a lot of our days are spent outside at the park or on walks, Monday was a LONG day for this mom trying to keep her two energetic boys occupied.  I built them a fort, because really what boy doesn't love a fort.  It wasn't pretty, but they liked it.

 Jason came home for lunch and took a little nap in the fort with Ollie.

 As I mentioned before, we go on lots of walks.  We were coming home from the park the other day and Ollie found this branch that he wanted to take home.  He was dragging it behind his bike (I ended up carrying it most of the way).

Ollie is really into singing lately, and sometimes he is LOUD.  This is how Max feels about it.

I had a horrible shopping experience with these two yesterday morning, but by the afternoon we were all feeling much better and enjoying the park.

 I found the idea for nature bracelets online and knew Ollie would love it.  He is always finding rocks, tiny pinecones etc to carry in his pockets while we are walking.  You just use duct tape and add things  you find along your walk to make your own nature bracelet.

 Ollie used the baby swing for days when he was little.  Max skipped right to the big boy swing.  Look how pleased he is with himself.

Ollie still sometimes prefers the baby swing.  He asked me to take a picture of him, which is funny because he is not always the most willing subject.

I'm not sure if this video is working, but this was during FHE.  Ollie's current favorite song is "Choose the Right" which he has been learning in primary.  It is so cute lately because he will say "Mommy do you want to sing "choose the right " with me?"  How could you ever resist a request like that?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

We Are Here!

Well, we made it to North Dakota.  We left Saturday morning and drove to Blackfoot, Idaho to stay with Jason's grandparents.  We spent Saturday night there and all day Sunday.  It was so good to see them and I think we all felt like we could have stayed longer, but apparently Jason needs to work :) so we continued our trip.  Monday we drove to Medora, North Dakota.  The drive to Idaho was old hat for us (I went to BYU-I and Jason has been going there his whole life), but after Idaho the drive was all new to me and it had been awhile for Jason.  It was so beautiful.  Most of the drive is through Montana and I think I said to Jason a hundred times "This is so beautiful", "I can't believe how pretty the landscape is."   Medora is a cute (but very little) town.  They are famous for their outdoor summer musical but it didn't start for another week so we will probably go in a few years when the kids are older.  Tuesday morning we left Medora, drove two hours to Bismarck where we loaded up on groceries etc, then drove the last two hours to Gackle.  We got in around 4:30, checked out our digs, walked around town and ate dinner at the Tastee Freeze (my favorite thing about Gackle).  The boys did pretty well on the drive.  Ollie was a breeze because he has a portable DVD player that we let him use on long drives.  Max was not so easy.  We turned his carseat forward for the first time, but because he could see everything, he wanted everything.  So he would yell "Mama" at the top of his lungs, point in random directions and expect me to figure out what he wanted (he isn't talking much yet, which is SO frustrating).  In addition he only sleep 20 minutes on our first day of driving, 1 hour on our second day, and none on the third day.  Oh well, what can you expect from a two year old?  Overall they did fine.  

 I have had two full days in Gackle.  The first day was tough.  The kids didn't have any toys or a DVD player so they were just plain bored, and I wanted to unpack and get settled but couldn't because I was attempting to entertain them.  We went on 3 walks that day just to get out of the house.  I spent some time that evening looking into fun summertime activities so we won't have another day like that.  Here are some interesting things I have learned about Gackle.

-The mail lady only goes on one route and if your house isn't on it you are out of luck (you have to get a P.O. box). If your house IS on her route, she doesn't want to get out of her car so you must get your mailbox as close to the street as possible.  The good news is that I have been told Amazon 2 day shipping does gets here in two days.  I'm a little skeptical, but I am testing it out.

-Everyone in town saw us move in.  I met 4 different people yesterday who told me "I saw you moving in".  When your town only has 350 people, everyone knows everything that is going on.  In fact, they have a section in their newspaper that is dedicated to peoples comings and goings.  For example it might say, "Joann Fletchers daughter was in town with her two children for the weekend, they had a great time together".  You better believe I plan on getting my hands on the weekly newspaper.

-The one room library hours are Wednesday 1-4pm, Friday 9-10am, Saturday 9-11 am.  But you can call the librarian if you need something outside of business hours. 

-There is no grocery store, but the CO-OP gas station has all the basic grocery necessities in case you are in a bind.

-If you don't have money to pay for something, you can just put it on your 'tab' and pay it off at some random later date. 

-Everyone talks like they are Canadian (minus the "eh"), I love it.

-There are three places you can eat in town, the Tastee Freeze (everyday but Wednesdays), Dani's Place (the bar in town) serves dinner specials on Wednesday and Saturday nights, and the cafe, but they are now only open until 1pm :(

-Thunder and lighting storms are frequent, but only last for a half hour or so and then clear up.  The moisture is very important for a good honey crop.

- Everyone (and I mean everyone) waves to you when driving.

- So far I have seen people driving around town on 4 wheelers, golf carts, tractors, crop sprayers, combines, and riding lawn mowers.

- The school here is K-12 grade, last years graduating class was 11 students. 

I'm sure I will learn many more funny things about this cute little town and I will be sure to share.  For now, here are some pictures of our journey to North Dakota.

The Flex all packed up and ready to go.

We bought the boys ugly dolls to be their traveling companions.  Ollie named his Knuffle bunny (after a book we once checked out at the library).

Ollie sleeping with his hands folded.

Riding with daddy on the lawnmower at Grandpa and Grandma Horrock's house. 

Ollie had a lot of fun with Jason's cousins, especially Charlie, he played so nicely with Ollie.

 The weather was beautiful.  Sunday evening most of the family came over for dessert.  We all sat outside and visited.

Grandpa and Grace

Monday night we checked into our hotel and ate at this yummy pizza place.  It was nice because we ate outside in this courtyard so the kids could run around after a long day in the car.

Ollie had to climb on this cool wagon.

 This is at a little diner in Medora.  We had breakfast there on Tuesday morning.  My kids usually eat right when they wake up so by the time we got there for breakfast, they were seriously melting down.

We found this cool park for the kids to play at.

Our hotel had a miniature golf course we tried out.  We decided our kids are still too young :)

 Me and Jason on the drive.  I took this pic on Instagram and the way it turned out makes it look like he is in the passenger side, haha.

 Sooooooo happy to be in ND.

 This is our humble little home while we are in ND.  It is small and cozy.  We are happy with it.  The honey house is a third of a mile from our place, which is nice.  Jason can ride his bike to work and come home for lunch.

I have been working on making a list of things the house needs, as well as stocking up on groceries.  Today was our big trip into Walmart in Jamestown (45 minutes away).  It was a pretty miserable experience.  I don't often shop at walmart so I wasn't familiar with where things were, and my list was SO long that it took me forever, and the kids were OVER it.  We survived, got lunch, and ate at this cool buffalo museum/park. We will definitely be making another trip back to see the buffalo.  At one point during our excursion Ollie started freaking out because he was literally trapped under everything in the cart and couldn't move, haha, poor kid.  We also stopped at a couple thrift stores to get some toys for the kids.  We are all stocked up now.

 This is the very beginning of Main St in Gackle.  When Jason was a kid it was quite a bustling little town with a bowling alley, hardware store, movie theater, etc.  Most of that is closed now.  This is the first summer with no movie theater :( They still have the community pool and are doing swimming lessons, so I plan to get the boys into that.  Despite the lack of things to do, I think we are really going to enjoy it.  It is so laid back here and everyone is really nice.  Life just moves at a slower pace.  I hope I can bring some of this lifestyle home with me.

This Lutheran church is across the street from our house and the Pastor lives right next door.  She stopped by and welcomed us and I can tell she is going to be a good person to know. And if we ever can't make it into our church (in Jamestown) we can join her congregation, it is a lot more convenient :)

To see more pictures of Gackle you can revisit this post from when we visited a couple years ago.