Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FAQ on Relocating to Williston ND

Williston the land of the jobs for everyone! And everyone makes over 100k per year!  WRONG! With all the attention out there I thought I would update my blog and then over the holiday update my YouTube video.  So much information needs to be cleared up… I hear the “mis-information” from family, friends and individuals that relocate…they wish they had some more info, on a personal level.  Much has changed since I recorded FAQ on Relocating to Williston ND.  I think I should do a little housekeeping.  I guess I am going to start by reminding everyone: Nothing EVER comes for free.  Hard work, Long Days and commitment go a long way.  It is a way of life here! The other thing that was not even on my radar when we were considering our relocation was, how my presence in this town might affect others. Everyone is different and change especially when you didn’t expect it is hard to deal with. I was so wrapped up in the thought of ruining my children’s lives that I didn’t think much about those lives I would touch once I arrived.  …I had nothing to worry about with my kids! They are resilient and have learned quite a bit.  They have good and bad days but I am so proud.  See last Blog called Inspiration!
Respect!  I am going to address this early on, I have met people from all different levels of residency here in Williston and I am so lucky to say I have made some life long friends.  I am honored to know you and that you have allowed me in!  Those who have lived here and had family who homestead the area and they are carrying on the lifestyle and tradition from their ancestors, I admire. Those who lived and stayed through the last Boom/Bust period are flourishing and have learned many life lessons they are influencing this new type of boom, I am inspired.  Those who are have been here for 2-4 years and have brought their family here and are trying to become part of the community, I say get involved and be heard.  Those who are here to work their days and go home on their days off, I commend you and your love and commitment to family, this boom would not be possible without your service.  Those who are just arriving, and have decided to make this home, are going thru changes and challenges, Be Strong, we need good people to form a strong bond and a community we can be proud of.  Most of all be respectful… This is your home too, if only for your "days on" or full time, we are all in this together.  Remember we are all irritated by the traffic, and lack of services and the high prices…but if we try to do it as a united front…then that my friends, is half the battle!
Yes, I had preconceived notions about… moving to a small town, much less a micropolitan area (that is the official term).  You travel about 6 miles in any direction and you are in what I would consider a “rural” area.  Most of the time when we are traveling or exploring other areas of Williams County we travel on Dirt, gravel, Chip Seal roads.  When you come from an area that is very urbanized and has been planned out down to the last blade of grass, this is most certainly a shock.  But now that our 2 year anniversary date is coming up there are many things that are normal now that were in the least bit normal in that, during our first few months here. 
Lets talk about SALARIES and how much money “EVERYONE” makes here:  Don’t believe everything you see on television.  Reporters have come to Williston “Boomtown” North Dakota to get a “scoop”  If they were to say that the average household makes nearly, the same as the average American household… now that wouldn’t be exciting? Or a “story”… I have checked the numbers; happily, it is slightly higher than the average AMERICAN household.  In 2014 the Average American household income was $52,000.00 per year.   2014 Williston is $72,000.00 PER HOUSEHOLD PER YEAR according to  Yes there are jobs/careers, for men and women, that pay more, much more!...yes they pay $100k a year or more!  I work for the County so I am not making a boatload of money!  We need 2 incomes to raise our 4 children and secure their future, college is just around the corner!  I love my job and could, most likely, get paid more in the oilfield but I do prefer to make a difference in my new hometown.  I know my family is not banking $200k a year!  Add the cost of living opposed to what we bring home, well…. That’s for another paragraph.  I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I do want to inform those who are researching moving to our fine Boomtown!  Kuddos to those trying to be prepared!
High Paying Jobs: Be warned and prepared! Yes, any men or women can get a high paying job. Yes you can get a job pretty quick after arriving in Williston North Dakota… but these are very specific jobs, and generally companies want people with some experience (and a current CDL is helpful as well as an OSHA 10 class or some safety certifications).  If you are a go getter who is determined and tenacious, I have faith that you could come to Williston, find a job and make it all work out!  When I arrived 2 years ago there weren't as many jobs for women, there are jobs for everyone...I have 2 sons that work and make a very good wage!  So really man, woman, child (15 and over) Please do your homework, be prepared and please do not come with your criminal record, suspended license and last 40 bucks...  For every story that is positive there are another 10 (probably more) That doesn’t NOT turn out that way. Some end in tragedy, I am still touched when I think about the young man who was fatally stabbed about 6 months ago at the local gentlemen's club...He came here to work and find the golden goose, instead he was sent home to his family, to grieve and lay him to rest.  I still have a hard time with it!  I didn't even know him, but heart breaks for all who did.  I go back to nothing comes for free.  In my experience (2 years and being close to the heartbeat of the county) and talking with many people who have relocated here, their journey was not the easiest.  Some were desperate… and after hearing about a small Northern Plains town that has 35,000 jobs to offer ,how could they not find employment right off the train?  The media makes it sound like there are people standing at the train station with applications to fill out and keys to housing units ready for you to move right in with your rucksack.  FYI, that’s not the case!
Cost of Living:  What no one talks about, it is the silent downside to living here.  Everything has a “Williston tax” on it, really it’s a phrase we have coined, there is no real tax that it implemented.  It seems goods and services in this area have a premium attached to them.  Any normal cost of living item or service is at least 30% more than what you find in “Anytown USA”.  Groceries are insanely expensive and there are no Big Box stores like Sam’s or Costco (well… There are but you have to drive to Bismarck, 4 hours, or Billing Montana 6 hours) to buy in bulk and get a savings.  There is Walmart but the prices there are in line with everything else in the area.  I pay $5.75 for a gallon of milk.  Produce sucks (I miss California produce) I know people who need vehicle repairs.  It takes 3-4 weeks to get an appt then sometimes (especially body work) it could take 8 to 10 weeks to get your vehicle back and to rent a car here it is generally $100 per day…so off to Minot or Bismarck to even find a rental to get you thru the 8-10 week stint.  SO you see everything here is just a little more of a challenge.  Oh, and that body repair will cost you an additional 40%!  What was once a sleepy little town is slowly growing into a larger city and that is sometimes met with resistance.  But growth is the necessary evil when it comes to the individuals that have made this their home getting the day to day services just to keep things going.  The oil field is a 24/7 business and it wears on everyone.  There is other industry here, like farming and ranching and those are not jobs, they are lifestyles and they do not stop for holidays or weekends either.  Williston is a non-stop town (except for Sunday morning from 5am to noon, most everything is closed! we have that going for us)
Housing is a challenge; we now have more options and there are places to live but the prices are still sky high.  I have touched on this before and not much has changed…except you CAN find housing its just if you want to pay the price they are asking.  We are lucky enough to own a home and our mortgage is nothing near what some are paying to rent an apartment!
Job Hunting is always the biggest question I get when asked about the area.  I have found that the job fair is a wonderful way to get facetime with the HR professionals that are seeking, not good, but exemplary job seekers.  You can visit JobND and get a feel for whats available but really it is important to know the area and the companies that are looking for outstanding individuals who have clean driving records, clean criminal records and can pass a drug test as well as have some experience in the field they are searching.  Keep in mind you will not just come to town and be able to access the HR department of any large company.  Most, if not all applications are done online so get them done before you head to town.  Try to do all of your applying and resume building before you leave your home base and also clean up your background and even your financials so you have the opportunity to buy instead of rent.
Schools:  There are a couple of Districts and one of my first revelations was that this area has some of the most wonderful teachers on the planet.  They have a challenge that is far different that other schools and districts in most of the United States.  You find that families move in to town and then are transferred or decide that this might not be the place for them and off they go, taking their children with them!  (similar with Military Families without the Military part) The transient style of life here is difficult for teachers, families and kids and so I wanted to be a part of the solution.  I ran to be a School Board Member for New Public School District 8; and won, after living here for about 9 months! I quickly realized that this takes a lot of hard work and dedication, every decision I make I take into consideration the children that attend that school and move forward the best way to assist them in achieving their goals!  District 8 is the rural district that covers many, many miles of Williams County and we have a revolving door type population in our schools.  When I arrived and realized I was going to put my children in a school that is considered a “Prairie School”… I was not sure about it, I had serious reservations!  I even had one of the kids say it reminded him of his Daycare back in California(he was from a Middle School that had about 1500 kids!) big change!  What we found is that these teachers care deeply for these children and did the best they could with what they were given.  These classrooms are way behind in Technology and some other areas.  But these teachers and students make the best of it.  My children are better people now and I attribute some of that to their teachers and most students making them feel welcome and part of their new community!  I am proud to be a District 8 Parent and most of all Board Member.
I have really taken to my new home and hope we will become a thriving community, there is a lot of work to be done and it is a full time job keeping our “Boomtown” in check.  It is no easy task coming to Williston North Dakota to find work and making all of the pieces come together.  I would be happy to answer anyone’s question but I do not have the magic answer to the burning question “Where do I find work there”…There are many ways, one of them is NOT coming here on a wing and a prayer.  There are message boards, JobsND, TrainND, Apply online at all the major employers in the area.  But just imagine: You are one of thousands looking to get work here… it can take months before your information gets in front of the right person.  You might be the perfect person for the position but the person on the other end has to sift through all of that info.  Be patient, I hear it’s a virtue!
Thank you Williston!  I know you didn't ask for me, but you got me!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Boomtown Family Williston ND from Palm Trees to Prairie Pipelines: Inspiration...on the Prairie of Williston North Da...

Boomtown Family Williston ND from Palm Trees to Prairie Pipelines: Inspiration...on the Prairie of Williston North Da...:   Inspiration… where does yours come from?   I am inspired by my children each and every day ...(and Ray,my husband, but that...

Inspiration...on the Prairie of Williston North Dakota

Inspiration… where does yours come from?  I am inspired by my children each and every day...(and Ray,my husband, but that's for another post) They are all so different and I see each of them growing and changing each and every day.  They were all very fine 2 years ago, with our new “adventure” to Williston North Dakota and now that the novelty has worn off they are finally back to normal.  I think we were all on eggshells for some time… I know, that sounds crazy!  But I think we were all afraid to say that we were scared of the change and so desperately wanted to make it into that adventure we spoke of.  I think that I was worried about the fragility of my kids and the guilt won me over more times than I care to admit!  I felt terrible making my children move and have all of these changes forced on them.  There is strength in numbers and if the name Senior is in any way associated with that number you have Super Strength!  Yes, I know there are military families that move often and yes, people move all the time. But I did not sign up for that! As a matter of fact Ray and I did not date while he was in the Navy for precisely that reason!  This move and all of these changes are shaping our lives and making us better people, I am inspired everyday by my children, they are resilient and incredible little people…
Logan, he is the epitome of first child syndrome, he is an over achiever, it helps that he is the first to do everything so it becomes a big deal. How could it not.  Now that he is a Junior in High School I am struggling with how to build him up and get him ready to face the world without setting him up to fail because in our eyes he has gotten so many accolades.  They are not misplaced, he works hard, he learned that from his Dad (he would never admit that)he knows that hard work pays off in the end.  Logan…Clever, diligent and obstinate.  He will go far, we will always be proud and will always worry, he will be the first to be on his own and we will send him off with love and pride, knowing he will succeed.  My worst fear is that in this big world he is going out into will eat him up and spit him out a couple of times before he gets it...with his tenacity he will be able to dust himself off and try again! 
Dillon, 2nd child but also (one of the) middle child, He and Logan are only 15 months apart so the milestones for Dillon come right after Logan.  He doesn’t know it any differently I tend to say to myself (to make myself feel better) but he is the one I think suffers because of it.  He is such a beautiful child!  He has the biggest heart and always the people pleaser.  Ask… for help or anything… and he is there, loyal and loving.  Everything that happens in Dillon’s world affects him deeply.  He tries so hard in school but good grades don’t come easy for him.  Whatever the grade we are proud.  But what I am most proud of is his inner light.  He cares deeply and in turn everything hurts just a deep.  He is always inside himself and Never Ever wants to be a burden.  He is anything but, Dillon is a joy and his sweet and carefree interior is what makes him one of the most genuine people you will ever meet.  This move has taught him that he really can do anything, just put his mind to it… it will happen.  He is not in his brother’s shadow… He is the light that makes the shadow, and his heart is what creates the blinding brightness that Dillon glows!
Mirada, 3rd child, first daughter and also middle child.  Wow that right there says so much.  I remember when I found out she was a girl! I was so excited to buy pink girly things… Oh that bedroom looked like Pink threw up in it!  Now she wants to throw up of the thought of the color pink!  Ironic right?  Oh to be a girl and 13… She doesn’t want to fit in, but she does… I remember it but I had no idea what it would look like from a Moms perspective.  She loves to laugh and make others laugh too, she gets that from her Dad, but would never EVER admit it.  I am not sure I have ever met anyone her age that was so funny.  Her quick wit and sensitivity makes her one of a kind.  Because of her humor, she is less in the background, she is beautiful and that puts her right in the forefront sometimes…she would rather not be anywhere near the front, at this time in her life, I hope that one day she embraces her beauty wears it proudly…She loves everyone and is learning that she deserves respect as well,  I hope that she will always demand that!   She could easily be the classic middle child…but I have spent many hours of my life showing my daughters that you have to be strong.  Sometimes this gets Mirada in a little trouble because she will stand up for what she believes in.  Until the end!  It is so frustrating, but quietly I beam with pride because I see the inner strength and fortitude she has.  This generation has it harder than we did and I watch her struggle with it all.  If you are able to break thru the hard outer crust she has built around her, you are in for one of the most wonderful treats of belly laughs and acts of kindness that will ever be bestowed upon you! This is going to be the hardest time of your life, my sweet girl, keep doing what you are and “You be you”  that’s all we can ask for! 
Sydney, baby Sissy, the fourth, the last, the Baby.  Wow, she can’t stand being called the baby but wants to curl up in a ball sit on my lap still.  She wants to be a big girl but give her the chance and she will pull the baby card as often as she can. She is so headstrong.  She never gives up (I have no idea where she gets that from) from the day she was born she has been trying to wear me down and one day she just might win.  She is the classic redhead, green/hazel eyes and freckles, with one glance you know she is into mischief.  She has many nicknames and Hurricane Sydney is one of them.  I have no idea how one little, tiny skinny girl can make such a mess!  She is a Hot mess!  She loves her brothers and sister so much and strives to be just like them!  But in the next few years I know she is going to give us a run for our money!  She is just starting to realize who Sydney is and she is a pretty great person.  She loves to help, wants to try just about anything and loves being the center of attention.  That’s not easy being the last of 4 kids all born in 5 years!  She has always had an angelic beauty but once you see past that you know there is a little demon in there somewhere.  (Yes, I said demon!) Sydney has a persona that is all her own, I know she is going to be ok in the long run because of her strength and determination, anyone lucky enough to be part of Sydney's inner circle is a blessed & lucky person.  Stay the baby for a little while longer my child, being one of the big kids isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
 (Me, Dana Baby Brother, Debi and Donna Big Sisters)
When I was younger I assume that inspiration came from my parents.  They inspired me in many ways to be the woman I am today. 
The one thing I was taught and I hope my children to carry on is:  Treat everyone equally, This has been my mantra before I even knew what a mantra was... It doesn't matter what you do for a living, what color your skin is or who you decide to date or marry... treat everyone the same, your life will be more rewarding if you are genuine and not only care for others, but show them. 
Today, I am inspired by my beautiful family.  Of course there are good days and bad, but if we didn’t have those bad days, we wouldn’t be the people we are now.  I find that on the bad days I tend to look inward or backward.  I glance inward and ask myself who holds me up when I am down. I do.  I glance backward and ask who held me up when I was struggling.  I did.  But not without the love and support of my family.  While I was growing up my Dad worked hard, he was rarely home at night and if he was he was dozing in the recliner with the news on the TV.  My mom was always carting us around, making sure we were safe or making dinner or folding laundry, you know doing all that Mom stuff...I remember how strong she was, WOW she went through many things and always with such dignity, I don't think I would ever be as strong as she was after losing 2 Adult children.  No one should ever have to go thru that, she fought cancer with a vengeance, twice...Once for my Dad and once for herself.  The Strength she had was indescribable, if I am only half the woman she was, I will be happy!   When we were growing up she kept my Dad up to date on what was going on and he was always quick to offer a hug or a victory dance in the living room.  (Usually to the sounds he was making with his mouth, he had no idea he was beat boxing at the time, the term didn’t even exist) 
I know that each of us kids were their inspiration.  I don’t remember them going out with friends or having many date nights.  What I do remember is: my Dad always making sure that once a year they went on a phenomenal vacation somewhere across the globe. They took that time to celebrate their achievements that year!  When we got older they would be gone for 2 weeks and we would hold some of the most epic parties that Palm Springs High School had ever seen.  Thank goodness YouTube didn’t exist or I would have been in HUGE trouble!  Nonetheless, I know we were their focus, their world, their inspiration.  I know I was loved, so very much and I have my brother and sisters to remind me of that.  I am convinced that my children will be better people because of our move to Williston, North Dakota…I know I am!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Emotional Basketcase!

About a week ago I was a mess, I realized that everyone is growing up and there are so many milestones that they are difficult to list, but here goes; Logan is going to be a Jr in High School, Dillon Graduated from Middle School Mirada is in her last year of Middle School and Sydney is in her last year of Elementary!  Logan got his Driver License June 20th and that's questionable if I am going to allow him on these Semi Infested, Lifted Pick-up traffic lined roads!  We spent over $400 for Drivers Ed and I am not sure I am ready for him to be ready, But am I finished with driving to and from work!  SO I guess sanity prevails! Gotta let go sometime!
 Spring is here and we all got spring fever the moment we saw green leaves!  I am in Love with North Dakota especially in the Spring!  It seems everything comes to life at the same time and so quickly!  I never experienced this in Cali because it was always spring there, but what we didn't have is the lilacs...This is how you know Spring is officially here.  They are everywhere, and explosion of these delicate purple flowers makes me smile.  They also make me pull over to the edge of the road and snip them every chance I get. 
A couple of weeks ago a tornado touched down in Watford City about 46.5 miles away.  I have joked with the kids so many times that they will probably never believe about a real tornado... The lightening and thunder starts and I start claiming a tornado is coming and they just completely ignore me.  I mainly stared doing this hoping they would disappear into the basement for some desperate needed solace!  The storm was crazy and I now know what raining buckets are.  Your windshield wipers wipe and then its like a bucket of water is thrown immediately! The good thing about our extreme storms here is that the after math is the beautiful sunrise the following day...
This post has been long over due and there is so much going on I will have to keep the masses updates As much as possible.  We are just loving the beautiful weather between the rain storms I just cant seem to find the time to sit still!  So as always... until next time and next time is always with less sanity and more non-sense! 

Williston Daily Struggles!

I though it was time to maybe update those of you who have no idea what the daily struggles are here.  Hopefully all of you will tune in to the docu-series that is going to start being filmed out here one of these days!  You will get an inside look at what its like in a modern day Boomtown.  Though they are getting better there are everyday things that have now become just that, everyday nuances that you just have to deal with!  We chose to have Ray come ahead of us and get us set up. We were fortunate that we did it that way.
There are many who come this time of year and bring their family and live in a camper, trailer, toy hauler, and even camp at a camp site with small children etc... I myself didn't do it that way and really I couldn't have...It is a strain on the whole family...a big move like that, but to do it in an area where its difficult to find rentals.  Hotel rooms are expensive and sometimes very difficult to come by, so we decided to have the house and jobs part all ready for the relocation so we didn't have to worry about the roof over our heads and comfort...Boy, comfort is a biggee when it's 45 below and you don't have that whole house thing figured out!  I know someone who pays over $500 per month in electricity (winter) that lives in a Motorhome because they have to keep electric heaters on under their Trailer to keep the pipes from freezing!!!!  WHAT?!
Housing:  Lack of housing is the biggest issue and there are man camps and FEMA trailers in the strangest places.  If you don’t know; a Man camp is a sea of trailers about the size of semis that all link together.  Some are end to end and some are side to side/end to end.  They offer 1 bedroom with a shower, TV small desk and closest.  There is a cafeteria type area where they serve food, it is pretty tasty but these places are charging around $160.00 a DAY 1 person and it is offered to Corporations, (generally)not just the individual who need housing.  I do know a few people who are individuals who live there and they are paying astronomical rates!  FEMA Trailers are usually found on a companies property with families or groups of workers living in them but business is being conducted 20 feet away...Truck Scales or Driver Check ins or even the Work Over Rig Crew lives right on the pad where they are drilling for the time they are there working and then move along when the job is complete... Nature of the business and you will see these housing situations dotting the countryside!  They even bus them into the market to pick up sundries etc... You DO NOT want to be around when that band of Men are shopping...It can get a little irritating!
Rentals:  We recently have seen large Apartment Buildings go up in and around town prices so high that the average American gasps at the price of a 2 bedroom apartment, over $3500.00 per month, don’t forget $25.00 per pet per month the $200 to $300 per month for a garage, Not to mention the First Last AND Security Deposit as well as $500 deposit for the dog etc..The list goes on  and on.  I have known people who have paid over $10,000.00 down on an apartment YES thats Ten Thousand!!! People will rent a bedroom in a house with other people they don’t even know, they have to share a kitchen and a bathroom with them, for over $1800 per month... It really is crazy and it makes you see why people pick the Motorhome route…

MotorCourts:  People (meaning many), whole families, are living in trailers, motorhomes, campers even skid shacks. This must be a huge challenge for them to function daily. Imagine the obstacles they must face daily. Fresh water if they don't have hook ups. Sewage if they can't get to the dump station as often as they like. Heating and Cooling... how do they possibly stay comfortable in some of these living conditions.

Some of the Motor home courts allow people to alter their area a little to make it a little more tolerable. I drove by one the other day and noticed some of these places have built on a "mudroom" and I am using the term 'built' loosely! WOW there is really NO structural support and its sort of a lean to situation at the door to their trailer or toy hauler! I can't imagine my children even possibly surviving school having to deal with that type of living situation! They would shut down and have difficulty learning!
Shopping: that is mostly grocery shopping, because that is what they have to offer in the area!  We have a Walmart and that is where the BIG shopping takes place.  Often times you will find that we do not have enough staff to stock up the stores and you will have to navigate around pallets and other shoppers just to get your Milk Bread and Eggs. 
I had someone tell me when I arrived, if you see it, buy it, because it will not be here when you come back....Oh boy am I glad I have taken that to heart.  There are many times I have come home with a half a cartful of stuff I really didn't have on my list but was very happy that I did. 
When you go back for more or a replacement you find that you might not even have the same type of items in that area! It is crazy! You never shop on a weekend because it is chaos! 1 hour (or more) in line just to check out!
We have a few cute little dress shops on Main Street (Yes 1 street about 3 Blocks Long) but not many options. You can get something in a pinch but nothing unique! Here we have to do our shopping wisely, or plan a to take a weekend trip into a city to get all items that we need. It makes us very grateful for the places we do have and I personally want to keep our wonderful small town options. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I step back in time at the bookstore with the tin ceiling! 
 (Regular Shopping Trip)
Dining Out:  Ray and I consider ourselves foodies in many ways.  We used to be Secret Diners so we know our way around a menu and a wonderful dining experience.  When we arrived there was not many places to get a great meal much less a dining experience.  Now we have many choices and can get a good meal with some ambience but you have to pay the price...ANd a family of 6 pays above and beyond! 

Today as I was weaving in and out of traffic I asked my self, "where the hell am I?" Los Angeles? San Francisco? Dallas???? Traffic lights cycle more than 3 times before you can make a left turn. Don't even try to make a left without the signal, you might be plowed down by a Big Rig. 40% (maybe even more) of vehicles on the road are commercial, half of those are Semi-Trucks. (Most all of the "regular" vehicles are pick-ups or larger size vehicles so don't think that cruising around Williston on a beautiful Summer day in your convertible would be nice!) Right in the middle of town; Big Huge Semi-Trucks...What a challenge! I am frightened to let the kids learn to drive here and I never thought I would believe this, but the dirt roads are actually safer than the main streets. In the city you don't have dirt road options! so you deal with the Steel jungle and Highway and city folk get to use this thing called the Subway, Metro or BART

Ice and Snow
We get Snow about 6 months (it feels like 8) out of the year. It's not the type of snow I expected, it is very dry (after the first few snows) and light, If you get to it right away you could grab a leaf blower and move it out of your side walk. Some days I don't think it is actually snowing its just snow flying around you, it might even be traveling from Montana or Canada...Just travelling thru!  Its kind of cool but actually really dangerous. Wind blowing you, Snow blowing all over the road and Snow fluffs flying across the road, Its a little dangerous! This year we had some strange weather and the Ice was terrible! It would be -20 one day and the 40 or 50 the next. Freeze then light Thaw it really created a tough year for driving and it was very dangerous. In the morning I would make sure I would leave early so I didn't find myself rushed, sometime the tires were not making contact and I was driving a 2000 lb sled. Glad I wasn't going too fast and just sledded to a stop!   
The Bullseye
You find that you are travelling along on a beautiful Summer day and you hear a sound! You look around to see if anyone in the car has been shot!!!  Nope, Its just a Rock that was hurled at you by that Semi, or some transformer looking piece of Farm equipment, that just passed and now you either have one of the following; a little chip in your windshield, better fix it right away!  A Bullseye, that is the size of a half Dollar and well no repair can help that damn thing!  Other times it is large enough to actually break your windshield and you have to get it replace immediately...And here immediately is about 4 to 6 weeks.  A Large crack on your windshield is a badge of honor...It says I am a local and I don't mind leaving this crack here!
We have our Challenges but I must say after being here for a year and a half now, I realize it could be worse...I could live in some desert in a little grass hut with no indoor plumbing or air... Or have to live off the land in an Igloo in Iceland!  If it weren't for the days that the sky is the Biggest and Bluest and the Crops are just starting to come up (like this flax Field right by our house) I would be crazy by now.  But I keep saying "It's and Adventure, It could be so much worse!" Right?

Friday, March 14, 2014


When we moved to Williston North Dakota I knew going back to Southern California was going to be one of two things, one of the worst things we could ever do or one of the best things… I thought we could get there, and the kids wouldn’t get back in the car without being James Bond style kidnapped.  Or maybe I wouldn’t want to go back.  I miss my friends terribly and it is much harder to live in ND than it is in Southern California, Its just a fact.  I was worried I would have doubts and want to stay behind as well.  About 3 days before we had to leave the Desert Logan, my oldest, said the words I never thought I would hear “I can’t wait to get home”...  I didn’t ever think the kids would embrace this as home or ever say In the dead of winter I can’t wait to get back to it! So obviously it was one of the best things we could have done.  It makes you appreciate to good things you have.  What a joy, what a trip… and as always, what an adenture!

We decided to drive to bring Baby Gunner with us and I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.  1760 miles (one way) in an SUV with 2 boys 16 and 15 and 2 Girls 13 and 11 and a dog 8 months…and of course The driver, I mean husband.  We were like a horse out of the gate.  We left right after work (first mistake) and decided to “get as far as we can” Rays words, “and we can stop when we get tired” Good God we were already tired when we got in the car!  So we made it halfway thru Montana that night… What a Nightmare, we were a mess.  We stopped, slept then jumped back in the car at 7am… I had my last pair of contacts in, during the stop I had to get them out, for the rest of the car trip I was wearing a $500 chew toy called Rx glasses with one arm and bite marks on one lens. I got some funny looks at our food and bathroom stops…Drove thru Mid Montana, Eastern Idaho, ALL of Utah, Arizona (tiny sliver) and Nevada.  Snow, Rain, Ice the whole way…at one point we watched a Semi Truck slightly lose control in front of us going down a grade and Ray said very quietly “We are not making contact” Talk about the pucker affect…Everything turned out fine but for about 15 seconds I was concerned.  This was true insanity, I was sure at the border of California there would be the white padded van to drag us away for being certifiably crazy!!!  It seemed like we were stopping every 20 minutes, to let someone go potty or the dog to stretch his legs.  Some people say the voyage is part of the fun.  This portion of the voyage sucked! 

At 2am I pulled into the driveway…  During the leg Vegas to Rancho Mirage, CA …I had seen aberritions floating across the road, I was talking to one (imaginary friend)in the passenger seat (really Ray was there passed out as well as the rest of the car) I saw deer run out in front of me (there are no deer on that stretch of road) as well as we sitting practically on top of the steering wheel and terrified that my fancy one armed glasses might fall off!   I can’t make this stuff up…really!  Feeling that crisp Desert Air and smelling the Night Blooming Jasmine made the stress of the drive melt away! So, the Vacation finally begins!
Rays Mom met us at the door, eyes filled with tears, offering Chicken salad Sandwiches.  Everyone declined and we got the allotted 6 bags out of Daisys “hat” (that little pod thing that goes on top of the car) and went to bed.
Let me explain the bags, I told everyone there were to bring only 2 outfits baiting suits and pajamas.  THAT’S IT!  This was going to be power shopping  vacation and not to worry, you would be coming back with that bag full and then some!   Do you think that it was a coincidence that the first weekend we were there it was President’s day?  NOPE, Sale weekend and 3 days at that! 
So our visit was spent doing a lot of Shopping, Mall Shopping, Outdoor Market Shopping, Walking and Shopping on the Beautiful Streets of Palm Desert, and of course Costco, Sams Club and Trader Joes Shopping! I am sure you get the picture.
Then the visiting began, Dinner with Rays family the whole group was there, the usual suspects…Sisters, Brothers, Nieces and everyone caught up.  I slipped out that night to a Girls night and saw Rick Springfield in Concert with some of my girlfriends I have known for about 15 years!  It was a bit of a struggle to sneak away on a family night but it was so worth it!  I miss being able to see live music at the drop of a hat! 
(Oh Dear this is getting long…I should have done a 2 part blog!)
The other thing we were looking forward to was eating during this trip…Self-proclaimed foodies, we have also been Mystery Diners for High End Restaurants, we had been spoiled to no end, living in the Mecca of wondrous dining options.  We had some catching up to do!  So we hit all of our Gastronomical delights and then some!  We even snuck in a trip to our Monday Night Beer appreciation (that was never missed unless illness or injury occurred) and a stop at a new Brewery La Quinta Brewing Co that is owned by a High School Class mate!  We even had time to sneak in a romantic Valentines Dinner too, just to two of us.
The neighborhood has changed, we have friends from one end of the street to  the other,  We caught up with most everyone which involved many glasses of wine, into the night.  Talking, eating and taking in the glorious view of Palm trees and feeling the joy of sitting outside into the night without freezing our butts off!  Gunner even made some new friends, Sierra even came over for a play date, while we were there.  He was a big hit and was on his best behavior at everyone’s house we visited!  
We headed to Orange County to see my side of the family and also told some of our friends in the area where we would be, so my Sister Donna, hosted the whole family including some of Rays friends that he used to teach with, and Catherine my best friend and her family for a whole day of swimming, eating and laughter.  It was an amazing day, a day full of love and one that will go down in history as one of the best days ever!  We got to see all of the family!  It was then that I realized that I was so lucky…

I have the best Husband and Children (and Gunner) that anyone could ask for.  We didn’t kill each other in the car for 4 days and 3520 (not counting the car ride to The OC and back) miles, with an 8 month old puppy no less… I married into a family that has not only become my family but has given me people who are not just in-laws or “the other side of the family” they have become friend...some of my best friends. 
My Sisters have become my biggest fans and have showed and told me how proud they are of us and our gigantic life change.  They love us so much and Donna and Bob throw the best parties on the planet! My Baby brother makes my heart glow at how blessed and loved he is and I am so proud of him and each day he reminds me of our gentle hearted but firm Dad.  My Nieces and Nephews make me so proud and I love how their kids are growing up like we did…As a village that depends on one another.  I loved and cherish every single day I picked you up from school or babysat you as little ones. 
This trip taught me a lot about myself and everyone around me.  You never how loved you are until your leaf from the family tree falls and is whisked away by the winds.  You come back the following spring, stronger, brighter and with even more support from the branch you grow from! 
That is a group that is exhausted from an amazing day with family and will ALWAYS "Keep in touch"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quest for Christmas First!

When I get in "the" funk it really is difficult to get out... but sometimes...there is one thing that can draw me out, often its the sights and sounds of NoDak.  They definitely out weigh the last nights sunset, as I watched it transform from a fiery lava sky to fluffy cotton candy clouds I had to smile, and say, its not so bad!  I may not be all the way out of my funk but am on the mend! :) I thought I would give you all a little more info on our Quest for Christmas First!

By now some of you know that the only Multi-Item shopping type place in town is Walmart, .  So you can imagine how busy the place is.  Keep in mind it is the ONLY place for Black Friday shopping, unless you want to head out of town, stay in a hotel (if you can find one) and head out to do your Grey Thursday, Black Friday Deed! 
In the past, have gone with my Sisters and Nieces to do Black Friday and we would have a ball.  It would put us all in the Holiday Spirit and we had the opportunity to shop any type store for any type gift, because we were in the Newport Beach area.  There is every store imaginable, Ikea to Pier One...Target to Walmart...Old Navy to American Eagle...Bed Bath and Beyond to Bath and Body Works as well as the Top of the line Shops like Apple store and Tiffany & Co! 
Now we have Walmart, Albertsons (Groceries) and Cash Wise (Groceries) to chose from when we do our stocking up.  Can you say culture shock?  The one good thing that came from not having family or anyone to entertain, is that we were able to take advantage of the Grey Thursday situation here in Williston because, we sure as hell didn't have anything else to do. So we had our Turkey Dinner and set out to wait in lines for Holiday Gifts...The kids had a great Christmas this year, they got most everything they wanted, and we spent all Day Thanksgiving in insanely long lines to purchase things like XBOX ONE and iPad Minis, then waited in additional lines to pick up these items.  Noon to 10pm... Yay Thanksgiving

and this is what the aisles at Walmart look like often, make sure you bring your Spyderco; Open the box, Get your item out, and Re-Stack the Boxes, SIMPLE!

Then Christmas Eve/Day, it seems it went just as fast as it came.  None of us had the Christmas Spirit.  It had never ever happened that way before!  The kids were just kinda…well Meh…Ray had to work that day and it really did put a damper on things. Everyone got up, opened gifts and Ray was off to work.  We all treated the day like any other.
The mood of the evening changed, thank goodness,  I cooked all day (Prime Rib and all the trimmings) and we had plans for the next door neighbors to come over to join us.  At least that was lovely.  We all had a nice time sharing stories, the kids were setting up new electronics and the new Air Hockey Game was in full swing.  We had a wonderful evening BUT everyone was in bed early because all of the adults had to be at work the next day. Aaargh! 
I also felt like we were out of sight outta mind.  I thought we were a much bigger presence in my family's celebration back home. I really had a rough time with being here and knowing that everyone was having their holiday ritual without me and they didn’t skip a beat!  Total pity party on my part but I got past it (If I am going to be honest with myself it took a lot longer than I want to admit)
I didn't know until I moved here how much I had relied on my retail therapy.  It was really apparent when I was looking for gifts that are unusual or unique and realized...DAMN, I did not prepare for the lack of retail and certainly didn't give myself the extra time to use the awesome tool called the Internet!  Because shipping is a whole other obstacle that we have to deal with!!! There is no such thing as "True Overnight" or Fed Ex Overnight in the town of Williston.  The price of "Almost Overnight" is outrageous! Mail gets delayed by days and shipments can be delayed by even more!  It is something the powers that be are working on BUT it is not immediate and we all just know we have to accept and deal with it.  Its just part of the package! (NO pun intended)
 An inscription on one of the Post Offices in New York says: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" I know our postal worker delivers the mail at 10pm some nights. He is appreciated by our household! (Thank you Postal Guy! You really are part of the heartbeat of NorthWest Willy) He takes this saying very seriously. I see him out there in the 30 MPH winds with Snow pummeling him...I make the mental note: It could be so so so much worse!!! I have my health and the love of my family really what more does one need?



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

...and the Oscar goes to

ok, ok...I know a Blog is a responsibility, and I have been terribly negligent!  I am so sorry, someone told me the other day that I was being completely irresponsible.  So I will start being responsible and updating you all. 

Let’s begin…It is winter, in Williston North Dakota.  Duh you say, well winter here is sort of a prison sentence. Its too cold to head outside and too dangerous to travel!!!  Remember we didn't get here until the beginning of February, so I had very little time in the horrendous conditions.  I had myself convinced it was going to be a piece of cake this year, well...NOT! 
We all have Cabin Fever.  Its real, totally and completely real. We are so sick of each other.  The kids are ready to kill each other.  I am kind of tired of being inside of my house and its worse being inside my own head!  I am tired of seeing snow and the sight of sand being dumped on top of snow or ice is even worse…because I know that it is going to take the month of April and May to wash all of that dirt, sand and grime off of the entire town.  Yuck...No double Yuck!
Sometimes, its nice to go shopping and get something new for a little pick me up.  Remember,  if we want some retail therapy we must go to Minot (the nearest Target)a 2 hour drive and we are kinda over the stores and stuff there so the trips out of town are starting to get longer and further away.  Which means more time together. Uuugh, Yeah, I totally want to get in the car with my crabby pants family!!!  More togetherness is not the answer. 
This holiday season was an eye opener.  We were her for Thanksgiving and it was the first time ever that we have been without extended family for really any holiday.  What an adjustment, I don’t suggest it to anyone, unless you are in Hawaii enjoying a sunny day and an umbrella cocktail.  I have a whole other post about Holiday Shopping and Spirit so stay tuned...

                                               Here is our Little Thanksgiving Dinner...Just us!
Christmas was even worse, It didn’t really feel like Christmas, more like any other day.  We opened presents then Ray went to work.  It was kind of a miserable day, I don't think I was prepared for it and the kids definitely weren't. It was just strange, thank goodness for our next door neighbors they came over and enjoyed our Prime Rib Dinner with us and cocktails, many, many cocktail...
Not really for the faint of heart. 

Ray and I are both used to a busy time,during any holiday.  Visiting both families, Christmas Eve,was always at Rays family and about 15 people for dinner and package opening.  The following day spent traveling to my family and about 40 people eating drinking and package opening for HOURS… Thinking Wow this is crazy and boring etc…Nope that was not boring at all.  Christmas at our house in Williston ND was the epitome of boring!!!!  
I guess that’s when the fever set in….I have found that I am more sensitive than I ever have been, take everything personal and really sort of bitchy at home.  I fell like I am becoming quite the actress because I can certainly fake it at work… Its impressive.  I am counting down the days until we leave for California!  Its going to be awesome, visiting friends, hiking the “Bump and Grind” laying in the sun from the moment the sun comes up til the sun goes down!!!  I am so ready.  Until then…The academy award goes to… Mrs. Senior, Queen of the Bakken!