Death of the Chelsey Nebraska Act

My dad recently mentioned that I haven’t posted on here since December. The truth is, I don’t feel any passion towards this project anymore. The Chelsey Nebraska Act was started at the end of a job and shortly after having my first baby. It was my intention to use this blog to settle in and start liking the state that I was destined to be in for a long time. Little did I know, it was actually an attempt to appreciate the here and now. What I have realized in the nearly five years since starting this, is that I don’t need Nebraska to appreciate my here and now.  I think it was a fun project that served a purpose for me and I am grateful for that, but my passions have changed. I see things differently.

As much as I would like to be able to write about the beauty of this state, I can’t anymore. I cannot continue to write in a voice that is no longer (or maybe never was) mine.  I have changed, and when I feel like writing I feel like being brutally honest. I feel like telling everyone about the deep pain and the deep joy I feel. I feel like talking about how god damned hard being a mom is some day, and also how some days I feel like the luckiest human on the planet. I want to tell everyone about how my soul is being transformed. About how I refuse to tolerate hate, fear, bigotry, and close-mindedness. I can no longer sit by and pretend to be someone I am not.

Who am I? I am a mom/wife/daughter/sister/friend, a feminist, a liberal, a believer in love and mysticism.  I am open-hearted and open-minded. I believe everyone should have equal rights and a right to love and feel safe. I get angry and feel rage about the current state of our world, our families, and our lives. I ebb and flow…which is probably why I decided to publish this after a full moon. Some days I feel grounded and like I can spread love to the world, and some days I want to burn it all down. I am human and I am evolving. I have never felt “seen” in this world, but I am seeing myself for the first time. I am new and I am old.

So, I just can’t write any more puff pieces on here. It’s not me. I cannot sit by and tell you how great this Republican state is. It has it’s perks like any state does, but everyone (every state) can make progress. Everyone is capable of change. Everyone can love more and fear/hate less. Everyone can choose presence over worry and regret. But we cannot do it alone.  We must do it together and we must speak up about love and change. Passivity is only making things worse and it’s my belief that, as a human race, we are being called to make radical change. So here’s to the the death of the Chelsey Nebraska Act and the birth of something new!

 

A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life. 

-Virginia Woolf 

 

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Christmas 2015. A review.

Let me start this blog by sharing my true feelings about Christmas. I have not liked Christmas since I was maybe 18 years old. Since then I have dreaded every moment of it. Now that I have 2 small children, I put on a brave face, I try to enjoy it and make peace with it.  This year in particular, I feel like I kept the holiday spirit in my heart until about December 19th. Then it left me with my normal cold dead heart.

So. Here is how Christmas was this year for the Kosterpelding clan.

We woke up (at 7:30! woo woo) Christmas Eve to tons of unexpected snow. The flakes were giant. It was beautiful. We took the girls out to play in the snow. Bette hated every minute that she wasn’t being fed snow. Edith loved it. Our neighbors came over and we took turns running them down our driveway in a sled. Luckily traffic was pretty slow that day and there were no fatalities. A bit later we came inside and had a pretty warm snuggly day. We drank hot cocoa. Took naps. Then opened up our family presents. Brent bought me a beautiful onyx ring that I am hoping shields me from the remaining negativity that 2015 might try to sneak in (so far not working). As we were preparing to go to my in-laws house, Edith fell on her face and busted her chin. This resulted in her 3rd set of stitches for 2015.  I was mad as hell at her. She was brave and quickly recovered after the hospital.

IMG_3953

Christmas morning! Yay! Santa brought a bunk bed to the girl with the busted chin. Not a wise move. Bette is teething, or has a cold, or a combination and is completely miserable. The day is nuts. 2 crazy kids who just can’t seem to control their emotions=2 crazy parents who can’t control their emotions. But we survive and go to the in-laws for more family time and Edith gets to bond with her teenage cousins.

The next morning we go back to the in-laws for MORE PRESENTS! These 2 children are flush with gifts.  It is very exciting. Then we go home for Christmas celebration round 234 (or that’s what it feels like). My family comes up and they bring the children bikes (per my dumb ass suggestion). Clearly if my kid can’t handle standing on a couch she can’t handle a bike. But whatever. They must learn! There is a great deal of bike riding around the house that happens and is super cute and fun.

The 27th is celebrated by spending time with my parents. I get to try out my new juicer and feel a glimmer of hope about how great 2016 is going to be when I am juicing my face off. I am completely wiped out by the time my parents leave and fall asleep in a ball on the couch. The rest of the day is spent in survival mode until we can put the kids to bed.

I tell you my truth not because I am a selfish hateful human, but because I am human. The holidays are stressful for me. However, I am grateful. My kids are healthy, and somewhat safe when they are not putting themselves in harms way. Our family came from near and far to visit us in this cold place. We all received many beautiful gifts. We are warm and cozy.  We love each other…for the most part. And I am also glad it’s over.

Happy New Year! May 2016 be safe, glorious, peaceful, and may this year’s calendar end at December 23rd!

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A picture of me in all of my holiday to cheer to show you I am not a monster. Weirdly cut out due to randos in the background.

Destin, Florida

Our first family vacation

Our first family vacation

We took our first real family vacation as a foursome. But it was really more of an eighteensome. My family joined 4 other families at Destin, Florida. We all stayed in one big house together. And if you ever wanted to know what “The Real World” would look like with 8 kids under the age of 5, this was it. There was a great deal of nudity.  People were peeing on the floor and passing out on the beach.  There were more than a few physical fights. And there were glow-stick parties in the closet. The adults also managed to have their own late night pool party one night. In short, it was pure insanity.

The ladies at the beach

The ladies at the beach

Wild ones

Wild ones

We managed to get to the beach every single day. Beach access was only a few blocks away from the house we were staying in. One night we flew kites on the beach as the sun set. It was truly a magical moment.  My little ladies were surprisingly brave in the gulf waters and really found their sea legs in the pool. Edith even learned how to swim underwater by the end of the trip. She was deathly afraid of seeing crabs before we left for the trip she kept claiming she would not go to the beach because the crabs would bite her. After finding many hermit crabs and seeing one full sized crab, she repeatedly said “See, I told you there would be crabs!” In addition to the crab sightings, there was a stingray who swam a little too close to me, someone saw a shark, and there were several small fish in the waters that really enjoyed biting me.

Edith underwater

Edith underwater

Bette's favorite beach pastime

Bette’s favorite beach pastime

The small children drove their parents crazy. There were moments that I announced that I’d never do it again, but I think now that I have had a few days of distance, I can say that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Weird photo-shopped picture of the lot of us (minus Bette)

Weird photo-shopped picture of the lot of us (minus Bette)

Chelsey’s Nebraska Lovin’ Gravy Recipe

Ever since Tommy Colina’s closed in Omaha (RIP) I have been searching for the most perfect wonderful biscuits and gravy recipe. I have tried several things and I have come pretty damn close to recreating it, or at least making … Continue reading

Bellevue Berry Farm, Take 2

This weekend we made it out to the Bellevue Berry Farm in the nick of time to pick strawberries. It was their last weekend and they assured us it was very picked over. But it was a beautiful morning, and nothing was going to stop us…except maybe the few peacocks who were guarding/mesmerized by the soda cooler.

peacocks

We were out in the fields for about an hour. We managed to avoid most mosquitoes an any other unwanted critters. Although, Brent claims he saw a field mouse when we were pulling up. His dad disagrees claiming it was probably a ground squirrel or something like it.

Future Farmer of Mud

Future Farmer of Mud

The strawberries are grown organically and taste delicious. Apparently even the dirt tasted good (according to Baby Bette). We picked about 6.8 pounds between the four adults and 2 children in our crew. Although, I am sure we ate a good half pound while picking.  Bellevue Berry Farm continues to deliver.

Berry Bette

Berry Bette


The bounty.

The bounty.


  

Important!

If any of you read my blog, are friends with me, are related to me by blood, you are required to go vote for my ice-cream flavor here: https://www.ecreamery.com/index.php/sweetest-giveaway/view/detail/id/37

It’s called Roller Rink Pink. It’s bubblegum. With sprinkles. And cherry swirl. It’s a dream come true. Please. Thank you. I love you.

Here is a picture of Bette eating cherries. Think of how cute she'd be if she were eating bubblegum ice cream with cherry swirl!!!!

Here is a picture of Bette eating cherries. Think of how cute she’d be if she were eating bubblegum ice cream with cherry swirl!!!!

Ponca State Park

Just two hours North of Omaha, you will find Ponca State Park. It lies on the West side of the Missouri River, on the edges of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. The park is covered in big green trees and the Loess Hills. It’s a beautiful sight. There was a light rain most of the time we were there, so to me it felt like the Pacific Northwest (or what I imagine it to be).

This is Ponca State Park

This is Ponca State Park

We rented a cabin there for Memorial Day weekend. We stayed in one of their “Rustic” cabins which had “2” bedrooms, a bathroom, small kitchen, and a couch. Most importantly (according to Edith) it had a bunk bed. The cabin had a small bathroom, a kitchen, and a very large octagon table that our kids kept running into. There was also a nice enclosed porch.

Sweet Cabin!

                          Sweet Cabin!

The park has miles of hiking trails, a small golf course, a pool that was not yet opened, and a shooting range. I think there may have also been horses you could ride, but I did not see them. I think if we had gone in mid-summer we would have been able to do a lot more while we were there. Live and learn.

Tall Trees. Tall Kids.

        Tall Trees. Tall Kids.

We planned on staying two nights in the cabin, but after one very restless night of sleep we decided it would be best to head back home. During the time we were there however, we tried to get our money’s worth. We grilled hot-dogs on the fire, we roasted marshmallows (aka marshing the mellows), and we went hiking. After about 30 minutes of hiking we realized we might end up killing one of our kids. There was quite an incline and it was so muddy we kept sliding around. My dumb lower back still hurt from carrying my cute baby on my back.

Marshed Mellows.

                          Marshed Mellows.

Professional Hikers

                      Professional Hikers

We drove back to Omaha the next day and stopped in Jackson, Nebraska for lunch. We stopped at some small town dairy freeze that served fried food. I ordered a patty melt. Thinking it’d be a cheeseburger with onions on rye bread. What it turned out to be was some sort of breaded meat patty with cheese in the middle. It was a shock, but not necessarily a bad one.

Patty Melt. Whatever.

        Patty Melt. Whatever.

We spent the rest of our long weekend sleeping in our own beds, and gardening. It was glorious.

(I apologize for the crappy quality of writing in this blog. Enjoy the pictures instead!)

400 Year Old Oak

         400 Year Old Oak

Missouri River, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska

Missouri River, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska

So this is Nebraska

Thanks to my cousin, Suzanne, Ted Kooser- Poet Laureate and Nebraskan, has found his way into my life. I heard him read this poem today on NPR and it made my brain flood with memories of Nebraska summers.

So This is Nebraska, by Ted Kooser

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop   
over the fields, the telephone lines   
streaming behind, its billow of dust   
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.


On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows   
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs   
hide broken tractors under their skirts.


So this is Nebraska. A Sunday   
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,   
a meadowlark waiting on every post.


Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,   
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.


You feel like that; you feel like letting   
your tires go flat, like letting the mice   
build a nest in your muffler, like being   
no more than a truck in the weeds,


clucking with chickens or sticky with honey   
or holding a skinny old man in your lap   
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like


waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave   
instead and leave your hand out gliding   
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.


This poem brought me back to my childhood, to a somewhat less populated area of Nebraska. Riding on the handlebars of my friends bike, challenging ourselves to fit three, even four people on one bike (all without helmets). Spending the whole day outside. Our mom’s yelled for us when it started to get dark. To get from point A to point B, we’d hop fences and run through yards. We’d go to the neighborhood pool without parental supervision or nannies literally everyday of the summer. We ate melted Reese’s pieces for lunch.

 

When we turned 16, we’d drive around for hours. With the windows down and our arms out. Feeling the warm air turn cool as it became dark. We’d find undiscovered places in the spaces around us. Drinking beer in cornfields and searching for the haunted “Chinese Cemetery” in the middle of the country. We no longer went to the pool but would go cool off in the Platte River or the DX sandpits.  Available, ungoverned, warm water.



 

It is amazing how a decade of distance can make you appreciate that which you once found boring and even despicable. From this viewpoint, my memories of smaller-town Nebraska are magical. Looking back now from the place of a parent, I wish my children could have that experience. And yet, I know there is no way I will let them have that much freedom.


And  yes, my wild childhood involved a bowl-cut perm. Because what says freedom, like a perm?

And yes, my wild childhood involved a bowl-cut perm. Because what says freedom, like a perm?

Winter phenomenon.

No flash. Just light.

No flash. Just light.


I often dream of a winterless a winter. A place that never sees snow or experiences the bitter chill of a 10 degree day. Then every year, winter comes and brings with it a sense of peace and ending. A time to retreat and rest up for the spring. If you live in Nebraska you don’t stop in the summer: you are busy every weekend, you eat outdoors as much as you can, you go swimming as much as you can, you try to absorb every parcel of vitamin D that the sun has to offer. This requires a great deal of energy, and I find that by the end of summer, I am ready for a break. Winter allows us to slow down, to cozy up on the couch, to read, to watch movies, to sleep, to watch the beauty of outside from within.
Reindeer.

Reindeer.

The first big snow storm is always magical. It always brings a blanket of comfort and quiet. It also brings light. Winter is dark. The days end at 5 PM and start at 8 AM. But when you get a good snow, sometimes you get this weird winter light that feels like broad daylight into the night. Because of the reflection of the snow and the cloud coverage, you can see blocks away just like it was daytime. And all of the sudden you feel safe. Like nothing bad could ever happen. This is a phenomenon I have often recognized and appreciated, but never really discussed with anyone else. After our first big snowfall this winter, my husband and I talked about how lucky we are to experience this.

Just doing a little outdoor maintenance after the first snow.

Just doing a little outdoor maintenance after the first snow.

A ways into winter, after your body has properly rested and the vitamin D has been fully depleted from your system you are ready for spring again. You crave it and need it. Sometimes you have to wait, and sometimes the winter gives you breaks of sunshine and warmth to help you make it to the end. So until then, I am going to go hibernate.

Wine to keep you warm.

Wine to keep you warm.

30. Part 1.

I am just rounding the orbit to year 31 of my life. Since I made an unofficial bucket list for my 30’s I thought I should review my progress based on my last year of life.

Here it goes:

1. Do fun things.

I have done a few fun things this year. One favorite memories of the year is going to Jenny Lewis with friends and singing along at the top of our lungs. Another favorite memory is sitting around a fire with my husband, best friend, and brother-in-law talking and laughing.

2. Appreciate my time as a mom of little kids.

Edith amazes me daily. She says some of the strangest things and her imagination is always on the run. I am awed by her. Bette is just the best baby. She smiles constantly and loves to laugh. I could not have asked for a better second child.

3. Discover a balance in my roles as worker, mom, wife, friend.

This year I transitioned to another job. While it is not a super professional/fancy/high-up position, it was a good change. I have found that working 30 hours a week, and being home with my kids 2 days a week is pretty good balance. I also make time to see my friends at least twice a month.

4. Date my husband again.

We have gone on a handful of dates in the past year…not nearly as many as I’d like. I guess we will have to keep working at this one.

5. Appreciate my inner and outer beauty.

This is still a struggle for me. My body has changed after having two kids. I also chopped all of my hair off and most days I don’t see myself as very feminine. I guess it’s about appreciating my new looks.

6. Celebrate my friendships.

The first half of the year I was digging through motherhood and was not able to connect with people. The second half of the year I am still struggling to find time for everyone, but certain friendships have grown stronger than ever. I am grateful for this.

7. Make do and mend.

I did not have a successful garden this year. I blame the weather, but I am sure my grumpy neighbors would say it was because I didn’t pull my weeds. On the plus side, I have barely bought any new clothes. So I think I get points for that.

8. Give myself a break.

I am trying. Not only am I trying to give myself a break from being a good mom/wife/worker etc. I am also trying to let go of guilt and unrealistic expectations. I do have to focus on myself and my family right now. Later in life, I may be more available to others, but right now I am not.

9. Take care of my body.

For part of the year I was pretty good about going on regular walks and runs. This has not been very consistent.

10. Travel.

Well I did go to Long Beach, CA with Brent and Bette this year. As a family, we went to Seward, NE and Brownville, NE for day trips. Besides that, the thought of overnight travel with two kids is horrifying to me. We will not be traveling for a while.

Thirty-wonderful.

Thirty-wonderful.