I need a stale cigarette STAT

Those were literally the first words out my mouth to my in-laws. I know they knew Ryan married a classy lady, they just didn’t know how classy.

It all started with their anniversary present. 40 years! Can I get a what-what?! I would’ve loved to throw them a party like we did for my parents (see here), but I didn’t think it’d be feasible. So if we couldn’t bring them to a party, why not bring the party to them? Enter our Party in a Box. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
In a box full of streamers and feathers we stacked a series of gifts. The feathers were from Ruthie’s boas that I’ve been picking up all over the house and saving in a plastic bag. I knew they’d come in handy one day.  I guess I figured I’d make myself a new swimsuit for the summer…



but the box will do instead. The pool patrons thank you, in-laws.

First in the party box were our toasts (aka letters).
Then the confetti from Ruthie:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The party-goers:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI sent out postcards to their friends and family to write a note and they sent them back to me so I could send them all at once. There was a good turn out to the party! I’d say 40+ sent the card back.


I think I was a stalker in my past life, because I had no qualms contacting their friends I’d never met and asking for addresses. Where was this confidence in 7th grade talking to boys? Strike that, in college talking to boys. I guess it’d be weird asking for their addresses though. “Hey, aren’t you in my Psych 101 class? Yeah, so what’s your address?”

But this is where things turned. For the worse, if you asked Ryan. For the better, if you asked me.

Ah, the After Party.

For my in-laws.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYeah, I went for it.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI blatantly disregarded the phallic shape of the bottle and giggly wrapped the presents. Giggling mostly because of Ryan’s mortification. In discussing anything even remotely sexual with parents in general, he said “Carrie, guys are visual, okay? Girls are disgusting.”

But those cigarettes. I’ve hung onto that pack for two years now. They were originally during a first-time dinner date with a girl I’d met at a Hip Mamas meet-up and her husband. Did you catch that? It was basically our first time meeting them, and I laid out cigarettes next to our salad plates. It was an experiment based on a chapter from the Emily Post of Etiquette book. I never expected the turn it took. Wanna read it? Click here.

The leftover pack of cigs have been moved from mobile home to townhome to house and miraculously none were broken. Or smoked. How one was not placed in my hand after my 2 hour delivery of Annie, I have no clue. I could’ve just hung out in the birthing pool with a cigarette and bottle of Cristal while everyone bustled around me that first hour afterwards.

The night before we headed back to visit his parents, Ryan went to a fashion show to support his friend from KC who was showing his collection. His texts that night cracked me up. He said he wish he’d had a friend with him who’d actually laugh at what was coming down the runway. Because everyone took it way too seriously.

You know, when a girl walked down holding a shelving unit around her face.

Or wearing a doile around her head.doile

My friend, Jesyka, said, “You don’t question fashion, Carolyn. I will be wearing a doile on my face this spring.” She should’ve gone with Ryan.

After the show, he met up with his friend Christian (from ChristianMicaheal) who incidentally also does historical reeanctments, one of which we visited several years ago.  At some point Ryan offered up our home for them to stay at that weekend since we’d be out of town. No big deal, I’d have done the same thing.

But when did he tell me this info? The day we were to leave for Wichita and only after I’d convinced myself to just leave the house a wreck because who cares, it’ll be a mess as soon as we walk back in the house. For some reason, I have to leave the house immaculate so that we can walk in the door to a clean home. Not this time though. It was a busy week working on a trip for my dad and I wasn’t in the mood to clean.

After hearing the news that our little home might be hosting some guests, I then had to go in overdrive to make every room look decent. Ruth watched about 12 hours of Barney and who knows where Annie was. By the time Ryan got home, I was frazzled, unkempt, and tired of hearing “I’m hungry” all day long. We got into our van and drove an hour longer to get to Wichita because one had to pee and then the other had to eat and the other had pee and the other had a blowout and then our van only drives 65 at the most and I couldn’t sleep because I have this asinine idea that if I fall asleep so will the driver and I was already tired from Annie getting up in the night and and and and. You people with young kids get it.

I was done.

And then we pulled up, was thanked heartily for our gift and I remembered.

The cigarettes.

“Don’t judge me, I need a cigarette now.” Julie must have seen a look in my eye because she ran to her bedroom and brought them out. I took one, went onto their back deck, stared into the dark acreage with the wind in my hair, and listened to… nothing. Nothing except me smoking that thing like it was made of gold. I closed my eyes and just inhaled. It was kinda like Clark Griswold’s wife, but more peaceful.


I feel like I should now start a DARE program so Ruthie and Annie don’t think I’m advocating it, but dang. It was darn near perfect that night.

Thank you ornery After Party gift.

The rest of the weekend was really nice too. That night we stayed up until after midnight talking and tried sleeping in the next day. Actually, now that I think about it, I did! 8:30! Boo-yah. We lounged around some more until we met up with Ryan’s grandma.


I wish Ruth would feel comfortable at their place. I mean, don’t be a wallflower, jeez. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESShe was so busy. I think she ran circles around the kitchen and living room for 3 hours straight.

They were both wore out and took good naps before going out to eat and then onto the nursing home.

I know I’m going to eat these words, but I’m never afraid taking Ruth out to eat. She normally does really well, probably because food is involved. And that night was no exception. The stars were all aligned for everyone. Dinner went well. Annie ate, then nursed right before going in to see his grandma. No one was fussing, everyone was happy.

We waited in the lobby for her to come out and when she did, she first saw Julie, then me, then Annie and she almost started crying. Later she would say, “I hope you didn’t get a photo of me going crazy. I was just so happy.”


His grandma (“maw-maw”) cracks me up. She asked if she could take ruthie back to pick out a stuffed animal from her closet. When they returned Ruth was carrying a huge panda bear, bigger than her almost. One time Ryan walked with her down the hallway because she wanted to show off Ruth, and he said she saw someone she wanted to talk to and rammed her scooter into his, almost pushing him backwards down the hall. Julie said she had to have her scooter taken away at one point because she was being too aggressive with it. Along the side you could see skid marks from who knows how many victims.

Ah, that made me smile. She’s still spunky as ever, even in her 90s.

It was a good visit and solidified my love of elderly people. My mom is thinking of volunteering at a retirement/nursing home. I might copy her and do the same. I just want to love on all these people and hear their stories!

The next morning we had a really good bible study and service around the dining room table. When I went on and on about fighting the same shortcomings every single day, Randy hit me with this verse:

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning
-Lamentations 3:22-23

They are new every morning. And that changed my outlook. God is good. God is love. He gives me grace every day. And I’m so thankful.

Afterwards we hopped back in the van to head home. The sun was shining, the girls were happy. It was just a 180 from the Friday before. Plus, we had a friend come along!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESShady! The girls are in heaven.
Shady is not. She’s exhausted. I think she’s used to sleeping all day and ain’t none of that is happening around these parts. Trust me, I’ve tried.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
…and on that note, I bid you adieu.

Baby Book Post

I’m going to start calling these my baby blog posts because I think only me, Ryan, and our parents are the most interested. Is it March already? Because I think these photos (and experiences) are a couple months old.

A friend gave me these sweet bird feeder ornaments for Christmas and we stashed them away until a snowstorm hit. What a snowstorm. Luckily it happened to fall right after our “3 Day Potty Training Weekend” so Ryan worked from home that Monday and Tuesday, which was a literal act from God because I would’ve thrown in the towel by Monday afternoon. Monday was the day when all the newness of “yay! You went on the potty chair!!!” wore off and Ruth was feeling defiant. We went back to as if it were day 1 again and forged on. I’m so proud of little Ruthie. She’s doing such a good job. One time though, she just stood there and peed in her pants. I said, “Oh no Ruthie! Remember we don’t pee in our pants… What do we do?” She said, “Well, I can sing and dance.”

And you know, I let her. What? Practice your future broadway debut? Darn right ya are young lady, get to it! Potty training can wait.

But anyway, back to the birds.  I felt bad for the little birdies so we hung the feeders up for them to snack on while the rest of us hunkered down.



SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd the next series of photos will prove that we are in fact senior citizens. Or rather, we’re becoming our dads. But man! Do we love watching birds! Remind me the next time we go to Barnes and Noble to pick up a good bird book.


These are desperate times in the Collier house while I don’t have a full nights sleep. Hey kid, here’s some snow on a towel. Play.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Ruth approved this photo:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
And this is (most times) the scene when Ryan gets home.. They love when he comes through that door. Ruthie’s a blur and Annie never smiles.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES


This is also how it looks when Ryan gets home. A game of hide-and-seek turned nap times.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I wish I had Ryan’s stomach.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Ruth has become a jumper. It started off small. Jumping up and down. Then jumping along the couch. Then jumping off the stool. Now she stands on the arm of the couch and jumps off. She’ll take the back cushion of the couch, throw it on the ground, and jump from the couch over it. It used to scare me, but now I’m in awe. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI’m in awe because one year in highschool I did track for some unknown reason. I’m just not a fast runner. Nor a long-distance runner. Nor a jumper. So…..why did I join again? It was painful. But to see my little girl jumping over those cushions onto the floor makes me want to sign her up for the triple long jump. She needs a coaching session with her aunt Lisa who apparently was asked to do the triple because they needed someone at that particular meet, and she broke school records. Or something like that. I don’t know, I was too busy not winning medals.

Look! She’s smiling again!
And we’re back to jumping.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
There was a Saturday during the Olympics where I had big plans to organize certain areas of the house. Then Annie came down with a fever and I was (happily) stuck on a recliner all day with a sleeping babe in my arms.

So instead we watched some figure skating. After five minutes of staring mouth wide open at the screen, she ran to the toy room and came back out with her skating outfit on.


SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis may have been the first time Annie saw herself. She took a while to warm up… that may have been her first lesson on smiling when you meet someone.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Ruth still gets bitten by the Mary Poppins bug, although less frequently now. When she does, she loves to reenact the Jolly Holiday with Ryan playing Bert. She makes sure he lifts his legs as they skip too. Sigh. I do love this little bugger.
Sometimes Ryan rearranges the doll house. Looks like grandpa got attacked by a giant spider this time around.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Sorting my grandma’s buttons. One day I’ll sew. One day.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
She feels cool in her Dora underwear. Too cool to pick up her toys apparently.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
But these. These are the moments I need to sear into my brain. Sitting on the floor with Annie crawling into everything she can find while Ruthie dresses up and cooks me spaghetti in her kitchen.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThose thighs. You’re welcome, Ruthie.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd Annie dancing. I need to get it on video, but the blur says it all.  All you need is clapping at the minimum and Jay-Z at the max. Either end of the spectrum will work.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI’m smiling right now. Partly because they’re both asleep and I have a breather. But mostly, I look at these photos and they’re a smack in my face at what a great gig I’ve got.