28 July 2018

Ryan, tonight, reading to his three girls. A new book about two cats on the run.


We’ve changed their room around again. I just couldn’t get behind the practicality of  bunk beds. I wanted to be nostalgic. So we got an antique full bed and now Ruth and Annie sleep together. I shared a bed with my sister, my mom did with hers, and I know for sure my grandma Gertie did with hers. The thought of carrying this on feels right.

Little Gertie will be transitioning to a floor bed this summer, right next to them. I’m a little nervous, but am hoping it’s one of those things where I’m lowering the standard too much. She loves being close to her sisters.

We got a new water table and spent all Friday morning, right up until lunch, outside.

The older two played hopscotch and Gertie, after getting frustrated at not being able to reach a rubber duck across the table, finally stuck her head under the waterfall and pulled it back, then kept throwing it to the other side so she’d have to stick her head under again. Hearing her laugh at herself made me smile. We’re getting closer, she and I. A lot closer. Like, I wanna nuzzle her neck and kiss her cheeks all the time closer. Something is changing and it’s probably (annoyingly) me.


23 july 2018

Last Friday was a scorcher, so they scrubbed down the van. The day before, Ruthie begged to go through a car wash but I just couldn’t justify it.


After a good 45 minutes wiping it down, they spent another 45 on the porch filling buckets and playing with the hose. I live for mornings like these.

Annie has been on a love note kick, painting pictures of us then writing the sweetest things on them, folding them up and pretending they’re pieces of trash she randomly found. On one of her last days of school this year she’d painted me a self-portrait and her teacher framed it. She put it by my bed and said “This is me. If you wake up in the night and are scared, just look at me.”

17 july 2018


Do you think they’re making cookies? Ruthie hoped Ryan would. She had the idea of making little pizzas with cookie cutters and really thought he wouldn’t notice the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. Score 300 points for an extra 20 minutes of them playing with dough while I cleaned up though.

This is a weight-watchers recipe: 1 cup greek yogurt, 1.5 cups self rising flour (plus more to knead). It’s so easy and they love it.

And yes, a christmas gown in the middle of July. Why not?

16 july 2018

They stood in line taking turns pushing Gertie. It’s been hard to find things where they can all interact together, so this in particular makes me happy. I was also able to read a chapter from a book so that’s a double jackpot.

One of Gertie’s beloved occupational therapists quit a few weeks ago to stay at home with her one year old. I of course am so happy for her decision, but she was one of our favorites. Her lasting legacy though is Gertie now swinging with glee. It took 18 months (gosh, maybe even longer) of twice weekly turns on the swing to get to this point. We’ll miss her so much.img_9491

But in my maturing as a person and a christian (and also in my exhaustion), I didn’t fret over it. We pray all the time that Gertie gets what she needs when she needs it. And maybe a pair of fresh eyes is just that.

In other news, Ruthie lost her first tooth over the weekend. Ryan and I high-fived that we got the gold dollar coin before our bank closed. She came in crying that she couldn’t find her tooth and thought she swallowed it while eating cherries. So we started writing a letter to put under the pillow: Dear Tooth Fairy, I lost my tooth. It might come out in my poop. In crisis mode, sneak in the word poop and you’re sure to get a laugh. But Ryan found it on the kitchen floor and we all cheered. As I tucked her in later, she asked Is the tooth fairy real or is it just you? I ignored her question and said I was excited to see what she got.

Annie was up and down all night, sick, so I was too and around 4am I saw the light next to Ruthie on. She was wide awake holding onto her coin.
It was just us two at church because everyone else was battling a stomach bug. Afterwards we got a soft pretzel with nacho cheese and sat at the high chairs at the counter, people watching. We walked around Sam’s just eating samples and drove home, passing by one of our favorite old homes that is about to be demolished. The Steele House on the edge of downtown. Every time we’d drive by, Ruthie would say she was gonna live there. It was so grand. And when she saw it, already set upon by vandals that took doors and who knows what else on the inside, she almost burst into tears and asked What can we do?! Can we get a lot of people to say we don’t want it to be taken down? A store can’t move there. If they build a store, I will take a bunch of stuff and not pay for it and say ‘Well you shouldn’t have taken down that house!’  Rally the troops, girl. I like listening to how you think.

14 july 2018

All I know is, when we first met Des’s parents, I had flashbacks of meeting one of my spanish teacher’s moms while studying in Spain. They double kiss as a greeting and when she said, “This is my mom” I immediately went over and tried to kiss her hello, never minding that she was facing away from me sitting on a couch. And even though I sensed none of the other girls leaving their place against the living room wall, I was determined to make that kiss happen. So I leaned over the sofa and forced my cheek against hers. It’s seared in my memory.

So Des’s mom greeted me with a rose at the airport and leaned in for that same greeting. She went one way and I happened to go the same way. We went side to side several times, me mirroring her face trying to get that double kiss in when I finally just stood there and let her do it. Hi. I’m Carrie. Get used to this. Her dad would later catch me at almost every stop wandering alone trying to figure out where I was (or more likely, where Ryan was). “Carrie!” in his sweet accent “Carrie!” I would spot him, then twirl in a circle as if I was completely lost looking around. Making fun of yourself is cross-cultural.

We got off the plane and went to their home for lunch. Amy and I took turns trying to say phrases from Google Translate (it gives you the phonetic pronunciation) and was introduced to what would soon become a frequent scenario: A long pause, followed by them asking Des what we were trying to say.
By the end of the week, we just showed them the translation on the screen.

Here’s our fearless leaders driving us.


Plum trees everywhere. We’d driven up to the Rila mountains to stay.

rila 2

I was walking with her mom and asked Isn’t today just beautiful in Bulgarian. Pause. Ask Des.

I’d said something about it being annoying.

It was still early in the week, so I hadn’t learned my lesson yet to just show the phone translation.

You can’t tell below, except for maybe Vesco’s (Des’s brother) expression, how tired everyone was of saying the Bulgarian word for “Cheers!”. I took about thirty photos already, trying to get everyone in my selfie until finally someone asked the waiter to do it. We still said it on the 31st time. I’d joke that we only cheersed 31 times because it was still day 1, but I have a feeling her family would’ve still been good sports about it on the very last day too.


Ryan and I had this idea that we’d get up before everyone to have some alone time, walking around whatever town we were in. That lasted one day, the first day, because we were just exhausted. It’s one of those times where you don’t realize how long you’ve been running on fumes until you get a proper break. We slept every chance we could.

But that first morning in the mountains, we woke up and walked aways to find a trail.
A rickety bridge that entered the woods.
On the other side we walked up and up until we found large scat on the trail. I was able to take a photo to verify later but in my head already it was a bear poop and I went running back down, tumbling until I found that bridge again. We came out of the woods and just then a van passed us. It happened to be Des’s brother and his girlfriend (both of whom I am absolutely smitten with) and they stopped the car and took us to find coffee. I felt the need to act out bear poop with hand motions and fart noises. It wasn’t even 7am yet. Get used to it, Bulgaria!

We visited the Rila Monastery. img_6373


The oldest structure, that brick tower in the background, was open for us to climb but I couldn’t find Ryan (my dad had whisked him off) and I spent 20 minutes running around occasionally hearing “Carrie!”, would see Des’s dad, twirl around so he’d laugh, then continue my search until I gave up and climbed without him.

Also, I didn’t pack well. I had no idea I’d wear that sweater every darn day.

But it was still fresh-smelling at the monastery and there were artisan wells everywhere.
Later we climbed up a trail to visit where a hermit stayed until he died. I’m sure there’s more to the story, but I was too out of breath to hear it. This hike felt like we were going straight up. It was so pretty though.


We had to climb through his little cave and then pull ourselves up out of the rocks. It was like I was being birthed again.
Artisan well.

Lunch at a ski resort town.
I saw the ski lift and encouraged anyone who showed an inkling of interest to do it with me, then backed out at the last-minute leaving the boys to do it themselves. Halfway up it started raining and when they met up with us, cozy in a pizzeria, they were completely soaked.

ski 1

In my defense, I knew that the cross-bar would never be pulled down and this is photographic evidence. I’m a scaredy cat. And cats don’t like to get wet anyway.

11 July 2018

They said they’d never really practiced this before with Gertrude and though they had to assist her, were very proud of what she was doing. Sticking her booty in the air is a key part in learning to stand up by herself.

I was telling Ryan about her booty and Ruthie asked if she did that. Yes! But you were very very little. Watching the breakdown of all the little movements needed to get around is actually very humbling. Our bodies are amazing and we don’t even realize it.

6 july 2018

I can only handle a phew* photos at a time. (*I am not joking. I meant to write ‘few’. Freudian slip, and if it were 10 years ago, Ryan and I would have debated into the early morning whether or not freudian slips could only have a sexual implication. I am here to proudly say he was defeated in that theory.)

Anyway, on the way out Amy was crazy germ lady so I went along with it for the photos and attention from strangers, but then I started having crazy germ lady thoughts and realized that she actually infected me. The irony.

While waiting to board, the sunlight glared off of someone’s gold earphones and realized it was Mac Lethal, our beloved hometown rapper. Look him up on youtube. He fast.


I’m sure I made him feel good though:

“Hey!!!! Are you the KC rapper?” 


“What’s your name again?”

I’d have asked him to perform on the flight but Ryan and I were busy.


We got to Vienna and were one flight away from meeting our Bulgarian family-in-law. So we facetimed and spent 5 minutes just waving.


The world cup was playing during our stop and Ryan jostled for a place to watch it at a central open-air bar/food court thing. There were lots of people from every language watching because, you know, futbol. And when a team scored, the whole place roared. I love being in a crowd for only a few things: sporting events, movie theatres, and dance floors. The last of which I’d have to overcome later in the week.

5 july 2018


One of these days I’ll upload my trip pics. It feels overwhelming at the moment though. But I will say that, as always happens when you travel, you learn things. And I learned, by listening to my sister-in-law and her brother talk about Bulgaria, that it’s okay and downright impressive to witness one’s pride of their country. It’s contagious too. With all of these “privileges” thrown around, I don’t ever really hear about our American privilege which we all share no matter how much we apologize for this or that. I’m probably just turning into an over-the-top 70 year old, but gosh darn it, I’m proud to live in the USA.