The Games We Play

It’s nice to have a mother-in-law that’s also a preschool teacher. She brings you things that either she’s made or photocopied from her curriculum. I’ve yelled at her to follow her dream to retire and make literacy-based curriculum, she’s so creative! It also makes me feel good to know she thinks reading is one of the best ways to teach, since I fall back on books any chance I can. Mostly for the snuggles, though.

So when things spiral to the point that Ruth spends her evenings slaving away on the computer:
I break out the homemade toys from Jama.

First up is the Feely Cup Thingamaroo. It’s just a plastic cup with a sock around it, filled with various things… soft, hard, round, square, etc.
DSC_7254Ruth isn’t to the point where I can ask her to pick out the soft ball, so we just discuss whatever comes out. DSC_7252And then it’s my turn to be creative…DSC_7259Uh, yeah. How about I just dump a bunch of colored gem stone thingies on a tray and let you scoop them up. Ta da!!!DSC_7262I don’t know what it taught her besides the fact that Walmart sells some hard to maneuver shovels, but this did also kill the time it took for Ryan to cook dinner.

Now back to Jama’s.

Her eye-spy game is still a hit. Ruth pulls it out every so often and goes back to find the camera.



Now back to my mine.

What? Colored gem stone things again? This time in WATER?

Ruth never saw that twist coming.


Neither did I, actually. In fact, I couldn’t see much of anything with this big ole belly in the way.DSC_7297So we go back to Jama’s creations where she actually learns something. You may remember her little flannelgram dress-up doll from a while back. Well, a Pete The Cat has been made as well. Mamas – go buy these books, they crack me up!

One book is all about his buttons, so she included some buttons to place on the cat.

I think Ruthie thought she was bedazzeling his shirt, which I fully approved of.DSC_7309

And of course Jama didn’t leave out his belly button, only the climax of the entire story!DSC_7308
The second book was about his shoes, so several pairs were included as well. Apparently we’re still trying to work out where shoes go on the body.DSC_7312
And I’ve been trying to get Ruthie to recognize numbers out of order, by asking her to place buttons on them randomly. It’s a hit or miss. I probably asked her to put this button on 3. She was more concerned with touching her nipple, I think. And of course, nipple is one of the words that comes out of her mouth perfectly. Lovely.DSC_7313
Anyway, don’t you think Jama should retire and follow this passion? I do. Or at least set up a blog and help us come up with ideas.

Now where did those gem stones go….

Mother’s Day

….or more like Be a Cry Baby Day.

I honestly don’t remember being this uncomfortable carrying Ruth. Sometimes I think the baby is so far down that it might already be halfway out and I’m just walking around with a baby’s head near my knees staring at people. So I spent the majority of Mother’s Day laying on the couch. I guess that sounds nice, doesn’t it. But then the thoughts and daydreams came… and I started to psyche myself out again about the impending labor. For those of you I’ve texted or emailed during these freak outs, I apologize, but thank you for your rah rah cheers. They’re what I need at the moment.

My pregnant friends and I are all discussing our upcoming plans. And when they start talking about getting epidurals, I  imagine a half-naked man waving palm leaves while feeding them grapes and giving them a pedicure. It sounds wonderful, but I know they still work hard and I totally get why women would want one. I have my own reasons for opting out of the hospital experience, some based on medical practices, but mostly it’s just personal preference. I hate staying in a hospital, period. When I had my appendix out, they strongly suggested I stay one more night, but instead I left and immediately went straight for my couch. I like being at home. That’s pretty much it. I just really like being at home.

So I spent Mother’s Day wondering how I was going to have the energy with a shot lower back and a toddler running around. And you can see it in my face.

That’s part pain, part exhaustion, part I’m wearing a tight jean skirt to church because it’s all I have clean and I could really give a rat’s ass, part scaredy-pants, part impatience, part hunger, part gratefulness for a beautiful day, part love for my family. But I’d be lying if that last part had to be focused on intensely to even make it in the pie. Why is that the part that’s so easily removed?

It did make it in the pie, though. Because I didn’t change one dirty diaper all weekend. I didn’t clean up after any meal. I was not made to feel guilty for sneaking upstairs for naps. For watching Sesame Street when normally I’d be down in the trenches playing. For barely having any meal plans ready throughout the week. For letting Ruthie throw crayons all over the living room and then asking Ryan to help pick them up. For, in general, being a grumpy butt.

So thank you Ryan, even though you never read my blog. Thank you for picking up the slack without so much a grumble.

Sunday morning I watched my girl get so excited to wear a her red hooker skirt (sorry mom, it just kind of reminds me of those red Christmas candles you put in all your windows one year that made us look like a brothel.) She does love it so and asks to wear it every day. I told her that hooker skirts were not appropriate for church, unlike tight jean skirts.
I watched Ruthie chase after a black cat. She so reminded me of Alice in Wonderland for some reason. Must be the white tights and black shoes. I’m sure she was hoping to go down the rabbit hole. DSC_7290But no, mean ole mom had to tell her it was time to get in the car. DSC_7293She stomped the whole way there. DSC_7294
And it made me smile. Oddly enough, when she throws a tantrum, those are my biggest laughs of the day.

We grabbed a pizza on the way home, listened to Ruth try to sing along with the cd, and talked about our faith and how it gets stronger every time we leave that place.  We came home, took a historically long nap, and then played outside a bit before watching the Survivor finale and wishing other people would watch that show too.

It wasn’t eventful, it wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t exciting. But it was my day and my life. And I really do love it, even in a too-tight jean skirt.


Ruthie wasn’t feeling well one evening. So we played it safe and stayed away from other kids the next day. This was fine until she heard her next door neighbor outside and scrambled up on the couch to watch her.
DSC_7102It was then that she realized she was being imprisoned.DSC_7107But then a prince(ess) came to rescue her!DSC_7106Blanche! However Ruthie can’t say L’s and says Biiiiiiiiiiitch. Literally. It’s especially awesome during quiet moments in church when she suddenly thinks of her friend and decides to yell out her name.DSC_7109Happy Days are here again! DSC_7110
Here’s what the giggling conversation sounded like:

On Being a Coward

I had mentioned before that during our Les Mis sparring session which included several nights of watching two versions of the movie, Jesyka (her blog here) and I also drooled through basically the whole season of Basketball Wives, had some good serious conversations, and stumbled upon an Extreme Couponing epiphany. Several of the episodes showed people who were not buying groceries to be stored away in some basement apocalyptic shelving unit, but rather were getting these free goods to give to charities.

What a novel idea, we thought.

We vowed by the end of April to try our own feeble attempt at couponing so we could do the same.

I have to be honest, though. I really feel awkward writing posts like this, as if I’m saying “Hi – Look at me! I tried doing something good!!! I’m going to heaven, nanny nanny poo poo stick your head in doo doo.” It really does bother me. But then I remembered the first time I kinda stuck my neck out there to share my attempt at doing good… It was this post (click here), about the homeless bags. Several of you told me that after reading it, have either thrown it out as an idea or have actually done it with friends, bible study groups, etc. And Jesyka even said that it was only after reading that post that she decided to take a chance and post her first ever comment on my blog, thus beginning a strange start to a stranger friendship.

But really, my semi-recent obsession with focusing outward goes back further to this post I wrote: click here.

I’ve always been a “do-er”, which normally entails doing things for myself, for entertainment, but never really focusing on other people. It wasn’t until I had Ruthie, I think, that it started to shift dramatically.

It started to shift so much that Ryan and I began having long talks about how we wanted to raise Ruth, what kind of community (spiritual and otherwise) did we want her surrounded by, what did we want her to learn. This led to us joining another church, being (more) proactive in charities, and taking leaps of faith with friends to try to do. Just try to do. That’s it, really.

Our pastor had a great sermon last Sunday on the need to strike the balance of brain and heart. Studying the bible is awesome and necessary, but you also need passion. And heart. And a certain “umph” to do. Ryan and I are right where we need to be in this spiritual community of studiers/do-ers. I am excited and grateful.

But there’s also friends in my local community that feel just as compelled. They’re not hard to find. You just have to talk about it and commit to trying.

Jesyka came over one night for a little planning session. We had just started subscribing to the weekend newspaper, so plenty o’coupons were to be had.

In our small town, we don’t have a lot of options as far as retailers go, so the ability to find huge savings was difficult.
But I do have to say, Walgreens is pretty darn awesome. I’m sure most of you know about the points system and that if you get so many points, it’ll take off five dollar increments towards your next purchase. So we basically looked at this first shopping adventure as a starting off point for the next time…in which we can save even more.

I took cutting out the coupons very seriously.

And folding the coupons to go into the baseball card plastic holders even more so.
Check out that skill: Amount off, brand, and expiration date all visible.

Hey, it’s the little things.
Jesyka tried. I told her to never make that face again. (See? I’m always being charitable, even with my advice.)
And this is the loot we came up with. We were able to make four packages of all of this and spent, now I can’t remember exactly, was it $25-30 each? So just over ten dollars a package, not so bad. Next time will be better because of all the points we’re accumulating.
We daydreamed about how to go about handing out these four boxes. She knew of a pregnant woman that was in need of some goods and got it delivered to her through another friend. I knew of a family that lived directly behind us that could use it as well. One of the boys is always riding around our townhomes and talks openly about what they (don’t) eat.

My heart was screaming at me to take one of the boxes to his mom.


I’m a coward.

Everytime I got the cojones to do something, I’d imagine flubbering all over myself when talking to her:

“Hi! I’m Carolyn. I heard you were POOR. Have some food.”

“Hi! We’re helping out the NEEDY, take this food.”

“Hi! Your son’s hungry. Feed him this.”

Ugh. I could not get over my fear of what would come out of my mouth. I know this is when I should’ve taken a deep breath, prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me with words, and just done it. As someone told me once, you can’t fail if you try to do good.

But I just couldn’t. And everytime I see him, I think of a missed opportunity…. Seeing something I put together to directly help a family in need.

Instead, I packed up the boxes, along with an old blanket, and it took it to our town’s food drive/thrift store.


They were of course happy to receive the items, and I know that they do a lot of good for the community. I think I just wanted to help directly… hand-to-hand. Instead of like “paying towards the administration fees” as I know I’m doing when I donate money to charities.

The good thing is there is always someone in need, always another opportunity. Look around, you’ll see too.

…now back to the regularly scheduled program: Ruthie. And the shoes she put on backwards all by herself.
Ruth shoes


As I mentioned, it was Ryan’s birthday last week. He’s 7 months younger than me, but looks at least 12 years younger. One day we’ll even out.

So Ruth and I made him his first official gaudy birthday present, which he will have to love and feign excitement about.

Ruth loves her some play-doh, so I thought we could make something out of it. What is better than glittered, sparkly paper weights as her first gift? Oh, it makes me giggle. Paper weights.DSC_7144
I broke out the dough in his favorite color and got everything ready for her. Her strained smile reminds me of my mom before going to see Les Mis.


Buttons were added carefully.DSC_7147As were gems.

Oh boy, I love it when she gets slack-jawed and sticks out her tongue while doing things. This means she’s serious. DSC_7150
And the end result. Not bad… if you’re going for that gypsy bridal gown kind of look. DSC_7157They’re proudly (at least that’s what he says) sitting on his desk at work.

Ruth then spent another ten minutes just playing with jar lids. (Notice the tongue again.) Learning how to screw things on and off has been her latest endeavor. It scares me.

DSC_7158About a month ago, my neighbor Jeran offered to watch Ruth so I could organize at home…. and I went bizerk. The shelves over our dining table housed our ‘How-to’ books, middle-school fiction books, random bulk foods, and last but not least, homeschooling material… because I literally cannot pass up anything homeschool related at garage sales.

We’re not even certain that’s what we’re going to do, but I’d still like to have it all on hand just to teach anyway. It included a 12 book science set (teacher manuals and student manuals), along with tapes and projector slides. Why. Why must I keep these? They’re probably teaching that the earth is flat.

Anyway, I spent a full hour hauling those bad boys along with other material upstairs… huffing and puffing and hoping I don’t go into labor. Jeran said my face was really flushed when I came back.  But I was happy because it opened up room for my slowly developing craft/paper weight-making shelf.  Thank goodness for old spaghetti jars.

DSC_7153Could I leave it like that, though? No. As Jeran puts it, when you’re pregnant, you want to organize the world.

So I bought a bunch of these buckets on clearance to hide everything.

shelfAh. It did make my pregnant heart happy.

I wonder what other bad crafts I can make? The possibilities are endless!