Just some random happenings.

Like how Annie clings to Ryan’s shirt whenever he carries her.
DSC_7849 It’s almost like she can feel Ruthie pulling him away from her. These girls. They love their daddy.

Sometimes they like me too.

DSC_7861_2We have a mow guy come every couple weeks. By the time he arrives, it’s pretty much a jungle. So after he finished mowing, we immediately went out to play. Ruthie loves kicking the soccer ball around (she’s a leftie when it comes to her feet), so what better thing to do?
DSC_7887Especially since she’s dressed like a coach. But she was afraid to walk across the lawn to the gate for some reason. I eventually had to hold her hand for those few steps.DSC_7890When she finally made, she just stood there staring at the ball.DSC_7891Then eventually decided that playing with leftover clumps of grass was much more fun. That, and playing Ring Around the Rosie with the birdhouse pole.DSC_7893Also, chase was much more entertaining. I get you!, she yells. But really she means you get her. DSC_7897Poor ball. But now she wants to back up to this bush and let it’s leaves tickle her.DSC_7894Annie was nonplussed about it all, which was just fine by me.DSC_7899Then we went exploring to the side yard. DSC_7900She love pinecones. And ants. And mushrooms. Eeek!

While we were in our own little world, I caught the sight of a figure rushing at me from the corner of my eye. I turned and a man was running straight for me. I did this deep guttural, gut scream. It was not pretty at all. And then I yelled at Ryan for the next five minutes for doing that.

Yeah! Ryan came home early! Let’s keep exploring! …or try to find a good tree to climb. I had a friend with a huuuuge pine tree in her yard. We would make bread with peanut butter and climb up a few stories (it felt like) to chit chat. Mostly about our next move on Kings Quest, but sometimes about non-geeky things….like the next BabySitters Club book that was coming out. Oh wait, still geeky.  Whatever.

I want Ruth to be a geek! So that means, first up we need to find a tree to climb.

I looked down our side yard and saw one that may fit the bill. Straight ahead, low branches. Yes!
DSC_7907But Ryan pulled on them and they were almost dead and brittle.


But then we went to the front yard and found one with pretty good bones. This is serious business, people, finding a tree.

Ryan tested it out.DSC_7902
Yeah, maybe this will do. Ruthie was concerned, we thought. DSC_7904 So Ryan jumped down.

But really she just wanted in on the action.DSC_7906Yay, Ruth likes it! Now let’s talk Pippy Longstocking and Chronicles of Narnia. This will be the place of such conversations indeed.

Lake and Relatives

Since moving in, we’ve been busy unpacking and visiting with relatives.

My sister rented a lake house and asked if we would like to stay the night. I assured her that it was in her best interest if we did not. Especially when she led up to that question like this: I’m just so excited to be a hermit, read a book and drink a glass of wine. Just to relax, you know? So could you and your toddler and your newborn stay the night?

Um, no. I probably wouldn’t have if she’d asked it this way either: I’m just so excited to witness the crazy highs and lows of a 2 year old, have my sip of wine buzz-killed by a screeching baby, and watch my sister whip out her boob every couple hours to nurse.

No. We’ll just visit for a day and go back home, but thank you.

That morning came and Ryan ran off to do an errand that I’m so excited to share. When he got home, we packed a lunch and dinner, some extra clothes, and headed to the lake. Even though we’re 45 min closer to the lake than we used to be, it still took us an hour to get there. This place was secluded.

Ruthie was concerned about Annie on the drive through the woods and reassured her many a time.
DSC_7911Or maybe she was trying to reassure herself, because as we drove down the private drive to this cabin, she asked multiple times where the wolf was.DSC_7912Maybe I shouldn’t have read Little Red Riding Hood the day before.

But finally we saw the cabin.

DSC_7914It was so cute! Sitting on 150+ acres with it’s own cove? Yes, please.DSC_7915My brother and his wife did stay with Amy for a weekend, though.

DSC_7916Matt really took in the views. Or maybe the tv, it was hard to tell.

Almost immediately after arriving, Ruthie asked to put on her raincoat, which means she wants her swimming suit. Don’t ask me, I don’t know why.

DSC_7927We threw on a life jacket and headed to the homeowner’s boat for a quick jaunt in the cove.DSC_7922I mean, seriously.

Gorgeous.DSC_7931By the end of the day, Ruthie was nicknamed Huckleberry Finn because of her barefoot, crazy haired, dirty face ways. Or am I thinking of Tom Sawyer? Either way, she was loving all the snack food, the woodsy trails, and the not taking a nap part.

companyThanks Amy! It was fun.

We also had a special visitor come down to see the new house and baby. Ryan’s grandma! She’s 92 and hurt her ankle the day before coming down, but didn’t tell anyone at the nursing home because she didn’t want to miss the trip. Oh Vivian.

She probably thought she was still in the nursing home after seeing my décor.

We ran out the door when we saw them pull up.
DSC_7864Ruthie first had hugs for her Dad-Dad. Annie was full of energy too.DSC_7865And then she became acquainted with her Maw-maw again.DSC_7866The first place Ruthie took her was to her toy room. Her first words? Well Ruthie just doesn’t have anything to play with. 🙂 So Vivian then asked Ruthie to play the piano. Ruth pressed one key and then started laughing uncontrollably in the way kids do when they’re embarrassed. DSC_7867So maw-maw took over and played us a diddy.DSC_7869As they took her to see the backyard, I noticed some tracks left behind as if to say, I was here y’all!DSC_7875If I could’ve, I would’ve preserved them in the carpet like how they’ve done to the Oregon trail ruts. Speaking of which, I have so many travelling plans for our family. One is to visit some of those ruts where you also ride in a covered wagon, camp out, tell stories around the fire, and come back the next day. I even wanted to do pre-kids, but maybe we’ll get less weird looks if we have a couple rugrats tagging along. Love things like that. And by golly I’m gonna force my girls to love it too.

As soon as they arrived at the house, we hit the floor running rolling. So it wasn’t until we were in the backyard that I got my neck hugged by this funny lady.

DSC_7871And then came the family shots:

DSC_7870For goodness sakes, someone get that girl a haircut. There, I said it mom. She’s to the point that she starts to pull it down in front of her eyes, not away. That can’t be good.

Here’s four generations of Colliers.
DSC_7874Sorry Annie. You were there in spirit. You’re now officially a member of the Youngest Child Club.

We went back in to eat lunch. I came out from the back room and spotted this duo hanging out together. DSC_7876The last time Ruthie saw Maw-maw, she was a little nervous around her.

I was glad to see that that feeling passed and she was able to break some bread with her.DSC_7878Aren’t those girls two peas in a pod.

Afterwards we went into the living room and chit-chatted. And to look at new babies.

DSC_7880Vivian’s brother and sister-in-law came over to visit. That brother/sister duo makes my cheeks hurt they’re so funny.DSC_7879Ryan’s brother and sister-in-law came over too. We played soccer in the living room and I made Ryan yell questions into his grandma’s ear for her to answer.DSC_7882Like, how she and her husband met. He was on a date with another girl, saw Vivian, and apparently told his date that he was going to marry her. While Vivian was walking with her sister and told her sister, Do you want to meet your future brother-in-law? Crazy.

After she was done telling stories, I hurried into the other room to write them all down. I can’t help myself. I love family stories.
Ruthie ended the visit by taking a spin in her great-grandma’s wheels. Vivian was tickled by it all.  Every so often I’d catch her laughing at something Ruthie did. It warms my heart to know that Ruthie will know that her great-grandmother adored her as much as Ryan and I do.

A Decor Style Epiphany

A friend said that in a year we’re going to look back at the photos of our babes and feel like crying because of how much they’ve grown. I responded that I’m already sad. There are moments throughout the day where my eyes well up because of how everything is changing so quickly. Like, just a few moments ago, when I put Ruthie down for bed. There was just a barely bit of light coming through the window, so she ran to her bookcase and got a couple books to lay down with, which is what she does for her afternoon nap.

And after we said our prayers and I kissed her chubby cheek, and after I tucked her in and slowly closed the door, I heard her little voice “read” her books. Daddy’s a boy. Mommy’s a goorl. Reeethie’s a goorl. 

Life is moving so fast. Even faster now that I’m distracted with a new baby. And Ruthie is breaking my heart with her sweetness. I’m excited to share the future with her, but I’m already sad for that future to come. I’m feeling very blessed to spend my days with her.

So let’s take my mind off the slipping away of time and focus on a place where time stands still. It’s called: my decor style. Apparently only grandma’s like it.

Ryan’s grandma came down last Saturday, so that gave us the push we needed to clear out at least the front rooms. It’s always evolving, so if you were to come over next week, I’m sure it would look different. My dad would say he’d wake up in the morning while it was still dark and immediately run into a piece of furniture that had been moved during the wee hours of the morning by my mom. It must be our therapy.

Fair warning, throw me a bone. I’m happy there are pathways not lined with boxes.

Here is the front room. I have no idea what to do with it. We’ve been looking at free pianos on craigslist and I picture ryan and me doing puzzles and card games at that table every night…. or bills. Whatever.
DSC_7852The guitar is near the front door so that someone who actually knows how to play it will pick it up and have a jam session with me. With me and my air guitar. Somehow I think that with two kids under my belt I’ll have even more time to take music lessons. Piano and Guitar are on the bucket list.

I actually had already taken piano lessons in grade school. But it went south when I decided to tell my male, mid-40s piano teacher about a giraffe trying to seduce his long-necked lover at the LA Zoo. I went on to describe every part of his anatomy which included holding my hands really far apart and maybe dropping the line, “And it dragged on the ground!!!

I don’t think he felt comfortable teaching me after that.

So anyway, yeah, the piano lessons. I wanna get on that.

Wait. That sounded wrong. Dangit!!! What’s with me and piano lessons??

Okay, so if you run over to pick up the guitar and turn around, this is what you see:
DSC_7854Our family room.

DSC_7862The map has already been removed, the pillows replaced, the couch moved over.

And there’s now playdoh droppings everywhere. Yes, welcome to my home.

DSC_7850Mantles scare me.

As for the rest of the room, all I know is that Ryan’s 92 year old grandma rolled in and went on and on about how much she loved the decor.

Because she’s 92. And there’s afghans and doilies and needle points everywhere you look.

Now looking into the toy room.
DSC_7851Once again, things have moved around.

I wish I knew what my style is. My problem is that I like so many different types. Pottery barn, Beach Cottage, English Cottage, Shabby Chic, Granny Chic, Bohemian, Natural, Mid-Century, Primitive, Antiquey.


Help me.

By accident I did catch this grouping:
DSC_7884and really liked it.

Maybe I’ll go with that.

Or maybe I’ll go with my unbearably bright afghan that was crocheted by my grandma. We’ll see. This is the fun part, I have to keep reminding myself.

Longer Days

Ryan used to help with breakfast in the morning. Now he’s already on the road. He used to come home for lunch. Now he brings a lunch with him. He used to be home at 5:30. Now it’s 6 or later.

Now that we live 45 minutes away from his work, we knew the commute would make longer days for us both. Mostly for me, though. I would look forward to those lunches so much. I could plop onto the couch and watch Ruthie talk talk talk to her daddy for an hour. So, to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this change.

But can I share something? It has been, dare I say it aloud, lovely.

There was a point while living in the townhome where Ruth basically shut me down. No hugs, no kisses, barely any acknowledgement. But these long days together has changed that around 180 degrees. It’s forced me to be more laid back about the shenanigans (like, this morning she spent a good 5-10 minutes mixing water and milk on her high chair tray. Did I care that it sometimes splashed onto the floor? Heck no! She was serious and quiet, like a science experiment. I’ll take a little quiet in the morning any old day). The longer days have also helped me practice my reactions to fussiness, messes, and other things that can bug me. My goal is to try to be soft-spoken. Did I already break that goal today after she screamed right into Annie’s ear juuuuust at the moment Annie was falling asleep? Yes. And because of that, Ruthie has picked up on my exasperated GOSH DANGIT!!! But there’s always another long day for me to try again.

I no longer look at the clock every 15 minutes wondering when Ryan will get back so I can take a break. I just forge ahead, finding our rhythm, and focusing on these two little ladies. It’s banded us together, Ruthie and me.

Like how on the verge of a fit, I quickly asked Ruthie to play a song on her little piano. Elmo’s world was played over and over again (or her version of it) while I sang it and danced. She would pause, watch me, and laugh. Hooray! I got the approval of a toddler and I should be ashamed at how happy I was about it.

DSC_7812We’ll be going on the road soon.

That’s their play room by the way. It’s already changed from all of these photos, but I might as well show the space anyway.
DSC_7814Her rock collection we started at the townhome:
DSC_7818We color every flipping day. It’s so fun. These long days have forced me to play longer with her too, because I need to the pass the time, for my own sanity. It’s gotten to the point that when our neighbor girl came over to play with Ruthie (she’s 12 and pretty much auditioning for a babysitting job), I missed being the one Ruthie wanted to play with. Because as soon as she entered the picture, mama was toast.

That’s okay.

We also read a lot. Especially when I’m nursing or early in the morning so we can both wake up.
DSC_7828We get cozy, as Ruthie says.
DSC_7822So does Annie once she’s done eating. She loves watching and listening to Ruthie.

Don’t mind my leg. At least it’s shaved.
DSC_7824Speaking of Annie. She’s generally happy. She has the straightest posture. I love holding her, then feeling her pop up and back and then holding the pose. I kiss her face all the time. Can’t help it. She literally lights up when Ryan sticks his face in hers. She would rather suck her entire fist than the pacifier. She kick kick kicks almost all the water out of the bath every time. She could be held all day long and be happy, but she’s also starting to go to sleep more easily with me just rubbing or patting her back.
DSC_7845Would you know that as soon as I took the photo of how “always” (that’s the dreaded key word) happy she is, she immediately started wailing.
DSC_7835It doesn’t stress me out like it used to, though. I feel like I can read her better than I could with Ruthie.

Ruth is still trying to read her though. During one of our coloring sessions, we were both head down on our own page when I heard Ruthie yell, “Annie NO. NO Annie NO!
DSC_7843Annie’s foot kept bumping into Ruthie’s hand while coloring. But Ruthie never moved, she just kept yelling at Annie.

Oh Ruth, get used to it girl. She’s going to be bothering you all day long pretty soon.

Unpacking is going very slowly. One day it’ll be done and I’ll have a virtual housewarming party. One day.

Our New Home

I really tried hard not to. But it just couldn’t be helped…

This was the shot that sold me.

The half-opened wood gate, the barn-like detached garage, the clothesline. Hello, lovely, it’s me Carolyn, your long lost owner.

Ryan and I had been casually looking for homes. Nothing too serious, just keeping an eye out for what our price range could bring us.. hoping we could spread out a teeny bit more. Most of the time I would show him a property and yell, JUST DAYDREAMING, so that he wouldn’t think I wasn’t content at the townhome. That’s how I am. I love researching things… it used to be vacation ideas. It almost gave me more pleasure to daydream and research different vacations than to actually go on them. Almost.

So normally he’d humor me and ooh and aah over little details and I was happy with that. One night I showed him this new listing. He went upstairs to use the bathroom, came back down, and said, We need to go see this one. It surprised me, but heck yeah, let’s do it!  We called the agent and made an appointment.

Oh, right. Annie was only a week old.

But off we went with our new baby. I prepped myself to not get attached. To take photos and analyze them afterwards with no emotion. That’s hard for a daydreamer.

After our walkthrough I managed to make it to the car with a stony façade. And then I saw that photo with the gate opening to an open yard backed by trees and began imagining picnics and hide and seek and kickball. Uh oh, here it starts.

We initially arrived home, crunched numbers and then decided against it. It was just too much per month for our comfort level.

And then we talked to a mortgage lender who said this property was a “lay-up” for us. We’d worked hard to pay off most of our debt and it was well under the normal % of debt they look for in a good candidate. What was our hesitancy?

Ah, yes. The ultra cheap rent payments we’ve been used to, that’s what. So we talked, we heard people discuss how the housing market in this area of Arkansas was already starting to pick up, and we agreed that we probably wouldn’t be able to find another property similar to this at the price it was listed for. Why not?

It was a done deal.

On the morning of closing, both Ruthie and Annie puked in the car. I hadn’t brought a second set of clothes for Ruth so we scrubbed her down as best we could as we didn’t have time to stop and buy a new outfit. Annie was put in another onesie and we continued on our way. And then we heard Ann grunting. Hard.

When we arrived at the title company, she was lifted up to reveal a gigantic blowout. I cleaned her up and put her back in the pukey outfit. As we walked in and sat down, she started crying. And I knew I’d have to feed her. So there I sat, nursing Annie while signing with whatever hand was free at the moment. I was sweaty and frazzled, Ruthie had snot out of her nose, Annie was nursing. I wanted to leave and forget the whole thing.

But then the lady handling the transaction said, I know it’s hard right now, but trust me… you’ll miss all of this. That changed my attitude instantly. Thank you lady.

She was probably just wanting to make sure the sale went through, but oh well, it worked.

We had a house!! Woo hoo!

Now we had to move.

Ugh. I definitely do not daydream about moving. But this is what I’d been living in for the previous month:

DSC_7730And that was when it was clean! Ruthie would run up and down that tiny aisle of a space into the dining room and back. I felt sorry for her. But Ryan noticed that she was still happy. Even though I’d go crazy in the head, if we had to live in a bathroom, Ruthie would still be happy, and that’s something to remember.

Especially when things got messy.
DSC_7731This was a good lesson on claustrophobia.

So I was admittedly excited to finally drive up to this:

photo-23Our 1970s brick ranch!

It’s not the biggest of homes, but to us it feels palatial. I guess there’s something to be said for keeping your standards low. What? There are TWO bathrooms? It’s a mansion!!! Plus, after The Shack I was just ecstatic that it had a concrete foundation.

Let me show you around the property. Later we’ll go inside to see the nitty gritty.. but first let’s have a little walkabout in the greenery.

Here’s a shot of the carport, which was another feature I was excited about.

photo-24To have a place to run around, ride tricycles, or use sidewalk chalk during crummy weather makes my heart go pitter patter.

You can open the gate at the back of the carport and drive through into the backyard. That drive leads to our detached garage/shop.photo-25I have major daydreams about this guy.

How awesome would it be to converted into a guest house? The barn loft window thing actually can be opened up and there are stairs leading up to that loft space. Pinterest has been blowing up because of this.

If you turn back around and face the home, this is what you see:

photo-26The carport and a teeny screened in porch that was used to house a cat jungle gym.DSC_7802A shot of the backyard.

I of course had to try out the clothesline as soon as possible. It at least helped push me to use cloth again.

DSC_7810There’s a corner of the backyard that I really like. It’s under the crab apple tree.DSC_7805I picture so many things back there for Ruth. It’s flat and shady all day. If you go back in that corner and turn around you see this:DSC_7806Can you spot the deer? There’s a trail in the woodsy area that about 8 deer use to find food. We’ve seen them every night since moving in. DSC_7786One of them has an orange collar on because a neighbor raised it when it was little. It still goes to him when called and I also got pretty close before it ran off.DSC_7797If you walk to that line of trees and look back towards the house, this is what you see:DSC_7799The next shot is standing right behind the detached garage and looking to the side. Our property line goes past those two trees dead center and around behind the woods.DSC_7801Looking back from the opposite side. The two trees are on the right in this pic:photo-30The home sits on just over three acres, but one of those acres is a separate plot. Meaning we could, say, build a home and sell it off if we wanted. That doesn’t seem to be in the forecast, but it’s nice to know it’s an option at least.photo-20Above is a shot of that extra parcel looking out onto the road. There are two rows of pine trees which dictate the lines of that piece of land. Did someone say Longest SlipNSlide in the World??? Let’s do it!

But first we had to actually move there. Ugh.

DSC_7736 Especially since it rained all day.

I say Ugh when really I didn’t have to do much because I was “nursing”. No really I had to nurse every fifteen minutes that day for some reason so just couldn’t be spared to help load/unload. Plus, I had to oversee other things. Like grandmas coloring with Ruthies.

DSC_7737So yeah, sorry guys. Just couldn’t help with all this:DSC_7738And I’m pretty sure that was just the first load. How in the heck did we store everything in our little townhome?

In the midst of the chaos we did make our first friend. A little box turtle!
DSC_7755Can you find it amongst all the junk? It must be a garage saler like me. On a side note, this was the only shot I got of Ruthie’s dad… his legs and feet. When really I should dedicate an entire blog post to him. He busted his butt, doing some trips to the townhome by himself loading/unloading all with no complaints.

The rest of us were on baby duty.
DSC_7739No I swear it took all of us women to watch over Annie. It’s hard work holding her on our chest as she snoozes away. I broke a sweat.

The next day my parents and oldest sister came into town to help out.


They thought they were going to be helping unloading all day, but surprise! The boys got it all done the night before.

I squealed when Lisa said she was going to make a visit. She doesn’t get a lot of one-on-one time with mom and dad, so doing a roadtrip and staying in a motel room with them was nice… until, she said, she was laying in bed trying to sleep while they both sat on the edge of the bed staring at her. I can just picture them too. But Ruthie doesn’t get to see her often either besides the occasional FaceTime chat and the whole time we’re doing that we’re too busy staring at ourselves on the phone.

DSC_7759So snuggle time was a must. DSC_7754So was getting Ruthie gussied up for the day. This included pulling her hair back for the first time ever.DSC_7772I’m smitten by this face.DSC_7771She also took over when Ruthie started to get fussy and walked around the yard with her. There’s no sidewalks unfortunately, so they had to make do.DSC_7763They also helped unpack a lot of boxes, especially in the kitchen and play room. At one point as I was wondering why I have so many cookbooks collecting dust, I realized I hadn’t seen Ruthie in a while. The rest of us were all in the kitchen but where was she??DSC_7774Bestill my beating heart, she was already plopped into her chair coloring with no urging needed.

This is one of her top favorite things to do everyday.

DSC_7775After we were semi-unpacked (we’re actually still unpacking to this day), Lisa ran around cutting Crepe Myrtle blossoms off and putting them in vases around the house.DSC_7779That evening the guys went back to the townhome for something, I can’t remember, but it left my sister, my mom, and I by ourselves. With wine. And with discussions of my pre-baby-I’m-judging-you days. It’s nice to be on the other end of that growth experience and be humbled by it.DSC_7784It was a nice way to end a very busy weekend.

This was nice too:


Crashing with my littlest. If only it’d lasted all night.

One day it will… but until then, I’ve got some unpacking to do!