18 june 2018

Little cousin Gunner came over to play. I packed a cooler like we were gonna be out there for several days and forgot what an 11 month old’s time frame was. Or maybe there was just too much estrogen in that pool.

These kittens are gonna get a hard dose of reality once they transition to the garage, but they’re way too small yet.

In the past two nights, we’ve caught a raccoon and possum, so we’re having to lock the adult cats up in the garage after sundown.

On Sunday morning, over donuts, we yelled “Happy Father’s Day!” and he said, “Just trapping coons to take care of muh family.” Ah, my Laura Ingalls Wilder daydream come true.

Ruthie goes to summer school on Wednesdays and last week, Annie insisted on sitting on the front porch with frozen blueberries and her Berenstain Bears book to wait for her. She had about 4 hours to go.


The passive aggressive notifications on my phone have been making me laugh, followed by the obvious.

Went over to AJ’s house to meet up with Mandy, visiting from out of town. Their garage door was open so I just walked in, because I like to force the feeling of being small town neighbors even though I’m aware it’s entirely rude. Everyone was trying to put the kids to bed upstairs and AJ’s oldest saw me, smiled sweetly, then walked upstairs to tell his mom there was a stranger in the living room. Backfire!

After we settled in outside, it went downhill (in a good way). Chilled Rosé on a summer evening is now going to be my go-to.

Why I started twerking with my belly pushed out is beyond me, but at least I had a captive audience. Which by the way, if you’ve never sat on AJ’s back porch with the fan blowing overhead, dang. Even though I ended up leaving at 1:30 (on a weeknight, gasp!) I could’ve easily sat there for another few more hours. It’s like it lulls you into a time warp.

A couple days later, Mandy’s crew came over to hang out with us. The girls made a fort.


We had another little visitor today who dug into our dress up clothes with complete abandon.


Her mama and I talked about lots of stuff including Gertie. She reads this blog and I mentioned that I need to start changing the narrative about me and G. It has been a great month, and it mostly has to do with me accepting where she and I are at. Finding small (sometimes microscopic) victories and celebrating them loudly. I sometimes feel silly getting crazy excited that she says the h sound when playing my hair. Or like today, I was reclining on the couch and she was standing up on my legs holding unto my fingers. She moved her leg off mine and off the couch and I said, “Oh no Gertie, watch out!” So she did it again. And again. And I laughed because she’s ornery. Those are such tiny moments of connection that I have to be intentional about magnifying. Also, she laughs hysterically whenever Annie snores. Sharing a room has its benefits.

8 june 2018

I said, You guys. It’s just me and three of you. Please just listen to what I say and don’t go nuts. 

So we went to the Splash Pad, which on the scale of venturing out solo is like a 2, but you just never know. And honestly, I always expect the worst, especially hauling Gertie around. I should’ve known there’d be no issue though since she and water are best buds.

Right off, they found “Camille” in the plants. She’s the lady bug that I somehow convinced is the same one they’ve been seeing since last year when they had to send her back into the garden. They were so worried about her, but ended up reuniting this spring. How amazing that she remembered where they lived and even visited them at the splash pad. What a great gal.



Ryan and I have a few fun things coming up this summer. One of which is leading a new small group through our church. I really never thought we would, but the stars have aligned with another couple to get one going. And, after taking a year off to rest on Sunday evenings (which I absolutely needed and was thankful for), we’re ready to jump back in. You can get kind of eyes-glazed-over when you hear them say over and over while urging people to join one: We’re not a church with community groups, we’re a church made up of them. But now I fully understand the need to have a constant small circle around you.

I’ve only shared with a few people, and not even with my family, but about a month ago I had what I think was a nervous breakdown. Ryan had to come home early every day for almost a week. I was incapable of doing much beyond a simple meal: (think pb&js for dinner). I spent most of the week crying: in bed, in Gertie’s therapy waiting room, with her therapists, in the shower, at dinner. During nap/movie times, I would walk around the backyard sobbing and praying for help. From my core praying. It was probably the scariest it’s ever gotten. I guess in the midst of the news recently, I should add that it  never got to a point where I was worried of what I’d do, but I wonder what it would’ve looked like if I didn’t have that single thread of communication directly to God, the frailest of threads that was somehow strong enough to keep me upright.

Afterwards I casually shared that experience with a friend and she asked me why didn’t I reach out to her. She would’ve been the first person called too. I can share the deepest of my neuroses with her and there’s no judgement. We’ve done online bible studies together. She is a children’s pastor for goodness sakes. So why when I hit bottom did I not call? But I do know why. For someone, and maybe you’re the same way, it’s hard to ask for help. I want someone to just know without me having to explain everything. I want them to proactively send me a text. I want them to show up with a dinner (because everyone knows that’s a mom’s holy grail, a pre-made meal). Even Ryan said that he does me a disservice because whenever anyone asks about us (alluding to life with Gertie), it’s always positive. It’s always, “Great! She’s continuously improving! Hooray Tada!” And while I can see his point of only sharing the good news, it also isolates us from help when we need it. On the flip side, it’s helped me learn what I need to look for and do for others.

This is why we’re excited to start back in with a group. To have people who keep up with us (and us them) weekly, where no one will be expected to cold call a friend from ground zero. Where we can see the progression of a snowball going down hill and either all stand in front of it mid-descent or rebuild it after it shatters at the bottom. I so understand now why these face-to-face relationships are important.

And just to update, I feel really good right now. Another friend mentioned that trauma and the brain go through cycles, showing its recurring face like clockwork. Is it related to when Gertie was born and all that followed? I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had a little to do with it. But in the aftermath of everything a month ago, I feel different. I’m starting to be intentional. I am repeating to her the same things I say to the others: I am proud of you. You are a good girl. You make me happy. And she does. She really does, if I’ll just let her. But I do feel it happening. Her personality is coming out and I find myself laughing a lot at her.

Here she is stringing two “words” together (don’t mind her stained shirt). Two words/sounds in a row are a critical step in speech. Yesterday, when Ryan came home, I carried her out to meet him and he said “Hi Gertie!” and she responded without me cueing her a clear “Hi Dada”. Today, at the splash pad a girl came up to her little fountain and said Hi and Gertie said Hi back. To understand conversation, the back and forth. We are so hopeful.

Ryan has been amazing at giving me the evenings to run. And while I can’t do anything but gain weight, it has been very therapeutic mentally for me. Those evenings have been, along with my monthly meeting with a mentor, and then our book club that’s been meeting for the past six months. It has shoved me back into reading, where now I want to do nothing else at night except read. A friend’s therapist told her that reading activates the same part of the brain as hypnosis so is a great way to “self-medicate.” But the book clubs! We’ve been choosing restaurants/flavors relating to the books and it’s so fun. I love the different personalities and we’re at the point now where no opinion goes unsaid (I kicked that off with my book choice that no one liked, ha!)



Our first night. When I made everyone wear name tags and answer an ice breaker question. That lasted one time.

And Ruthie has already asked when we can do a book club together. The other night she wanted to lay in bed with me while Ryan worked in the living room. So she got her reader books, I got mine and it was so comfortable and exactly what I’d hoped to do with my child. I told her once she gets into 2nd or 3rd grade we’ll start it up.

3 June 2018

Saturday was all about the horses. Ruthie asked if we could set aside money each month to save up for one.

To be honest, this isn’t how I picture myself when I get into a carriage: sweaty, hot, and that familiar wide flat butt in everyone’s faces. I’m not sure which side it comes from, but as I like to say, I descend from a long line of farmers’ wives. That girth would be an asset in the 1880s, so move over you dainty little things! (Or more likely, let me bump you over.)

I pretend the stagecoach ride was for them, but you know it was for me too.

Our downtown had pony rides too. All of this was free!

Today we left church thinking we’d eat at Crystal Bridges. Walked the mile trail to the front doors in the most beautiful weather. It almost reminded me of fall. But it for sure reminded me of our wedding day 12 years ago. The weather was perfect, like today.

They each wanted pictures with the bride and groom.

The restaurant has a special on Sundays that require reservations which we didn’t have, so we walked back to the the little downtown Walmart and got some food to go. Ruthie said, “We thought we were going to Crystal Bridges, but we ended up at Walmart!”

That pretty much sums up our life, Ruthie dear.

2 June 2018

I think she might be the most positive out of all of us. I’d even venture to say, the most everything of all of us. And she’s five. Our Annie.

I’m thankful for our intimate birthday breakfasts. She was expecting streamers (Walmart sold none that I could find) and said, “I really wanted that paper coming down from the ceiling, but that’s okay I like that sign too!” Ruth got her a birthday tiara and that made up for the decorations. She slept with it in her bed the night before so she’d remember to give it to Ann the next day.

Ruthie was in charge of hiding all the gifts and we thought she’d hid the wrapping paper too because we couldn’t find that either. Even after sending Ryan out to the van at 11pm we couldn’t find it, so I scrummaged around and ended up using Christmas wrapping paper. This is a new parenting low.

Annie. How you find joy in everything and always say “But that’s okay!”. It’s inspiring to me.

She picked out a cake instead of donuts and you bet that’s what we had for breakfast.

Ryan had to miss the breakfast celebration. He’d correctly predicted that Annie would sleep in, which she did, and he couldn’t wait around. Ruthie was very upset about it. Secretly I was sad too, but it gave me an opportunity to talk to her about sacrifices. And it allowed me to build him up in front of her, how lucky she is to have a hardworking dad who provides for his family.

He ended up taking the afternoon off and they excitedly put on their new swimsuits to go to the city pool.

Our fireplace is packed with furniture because we also had our carpets cleaned. It’s fitting it happened on her birthday since she’s our main mud collector. (And mom, are you proud that Dan Patrick is playing in the background?)

We went twice to the pool, once before lunch and once after dinner. We’d gotten our hands stamped and immediately on the way home Annie wiped hers off. I went for a run in between and spent most of it blowing on the stamp so sweat wouldn’t smear mine too.

We loved talking about Annie’s arrival with her over lunch. On her due date there was a tornado warning that sent my parents running into a casino near their RV park. Drenched by the time they got in the door, they stood in a bathroom with a bunch of strangers. We holed up with Ruth in the closet under our stairs. I remember my midwife saying she fully expected a call (barometric pressure pushing babies down and all that) and because she didn’t, she knew Annie was staying put. Exactly a week later, it was tornadoish again. I listened to the swirling whirling of wind outside before falling asleep. She was our easiest and quickest delivery – 90 minutes from my first contraction at midnight to holding her in my arms at 1:30am, then watching the sunrise with Ryan in bed after the midwives had left. I remember feeling so incredibly at peace for those few hours before Ruthie woke up and family arrived.

The highlight for Annie was the lazy river. We spent probably two hours going around and around. Ruthie wanted to jump off the diving board but quietly climbed back down three times. The teenage boys waiting in line smiled sweetly at her, letting her pass. Ryan and I took turns going down the waterslides while the rest sat at the bottom cheering. Gertie’d sit on the side of the pool and when we’d hold our hands out, she’d fall forward. Her “jump.” But she’d always wait until she saw our hands. It doesn’t take much to make us go on and on about the littlest detail.

We ate Chick-Fil-A at Annie’s request and she declared the day to be the best birthday ever. I was going to make a joke about keeping the bar low, but then I was thinking of how happy we all were together as a family, so I can see how just that alone can be the best gift of all.

It’s 3am and I’m writing this. Annie had crawled into our bed and I woke up with her foot on my cheek. I love her, that Ann Julia.