26 sept 2018

I attended my second beekeeping class last night and am properly overwhelmed. It’s basically just a bunch of (self-proclaimed) good ole country boys talking shop, but occasionally they’ll dumb it down for me to understand. Until then, my notebook is filling up with pages full of words and processes and science that confuses me, but I’m hoping that by the time I’m actively involved some of these pages will come back to help.


I did learn a new nugget of info that makes me fall in love with bees all over again. If I’ve been around you for any amount of time, I’ve already shown you the “bee dance” on youtube. Basically the foragers go out looking for nectar and pollen, then fly back to tell the others where it is. To do this, they do a figure 8 and the direction of the dance along with the number of times they shake their butt tells the others what angle from the sun along with how many miles in that direction to go.


However, last night I learned that the foragers, when they come back loaded down with nectar, don’t even enter the hive. They transfer the nectar to the house bees in front of the entrance. And in that transfer, an enzyme is passed which starts the process of the nectar turning into honey. That nectar is continually transferred up through the hive between hundreds of house bees, along with enzymes with each transfer, until it transforms into honey and placed into the honey comb.

Also, they never sleep.

My pinterest boards are getting flooded with meadow ideas. It’s terrifying and exciting all at once. Someone hold my hand, please.

Anyway, Ruthie got mermaid flippers for her birthday and thankfully Gertie’s water therapy gives her a chance to use them all year.



Dentist today and Annie was terrified she’d fall off the table.
No cavities (yet) and lollipops on the way home. On the Oldies station, “Lollipop Lollipop” came on and we thought it was the best thing ever.

Ryan does the bible homework and they’re working through Exodus right now. (I honestly would never have the patience to read and go over all this, so am thankful he’s excited to do it.)
Fall is officially here today with cooler temps and we’re jazzed.

20 sept 2018

Some soundbites from this past week:

Gunner got swept up in the Ruth-Ann cousin tornado, but held his own. We walked around the block and kissed his chubby cheeks.

Ryan gave him his tractor from when he was a child which I thought was so sweet. None of our girls took to it much.

Later, I bought a 5lb bag of candy to whip out during a movie and it was so obnoxious and large, but we couldn’t stop grabbing from it. Next time I might try a full course meal.

I hadn’t read Crazy Rich Asians, but the movie made me laugh out loud. I’m not a laugher out louder at the movies for some reason, but this one had me going. It could’ve been the sugar high, but I don’t think so.

Once a month they let parents bring in cupcakes for that month’s birthday students, so Ruth picked out a Sams Club number of unicorn cupcakes when she only has 11 kids in her class. So we dropped the leftovers off for the teachers. Ryan was thinking about politics when I took this picture.

She was so happy to a) have McDonalds and b) eat with her little sister.

A couple nights ago, Ryan suggested they start watching “how to draw” videos and we found the cutest one with a dad and his 5 year old daughter drawing My Little Pony characters.


Annie gave up after a few minutes, but we talked her into finishing and they did surprisingly well! Now they are hooked on the step-by-step books and videos, so I bought Sharpie markers specifically for this activity, hoping it will make drawing feel special and they’ll do it more.

Today, I propagated three raspberry bushes and fiddle-faddled around the backyard. It was perfect out. Gertie took a long nap and Annie helped me water those baby raspberries while Ruth and Ryan went to the store. She’s been begging to do something with just him and he bought her a new dress. She was so happy when they got home.

We didn’t want to go in after dinner. So while the girls pretended to be fairies (always) and ran all over the yard, we drew on the front porch with Gertie. When she got fussy, Ryan sang one of her favorite songs and, in the middle of it, Ruth and Annie sat on the porch and we all finished the song together. It was like straight out of…. something. I dunno. Us all singing together outside.  Here are the words, I’m pretty sure I cried until I finally toughened up. Of course, it’s written by the Sherman brothers, whom I love.

Three creaky wooden stairs
Those squeaky rocking chairs
The well worn welcome mat
The lattice vines, the happy times
All I wanna do when the day is through
Is linger here on the front porch with you
From the wicker swing, while the night birds sing
We’ll watch the fireflies sparkin, do some sparkin too
How the hours fly, as the moon drifts by
How sweet the air as we stare at the sky
Oh how I’d love to linger here like this,
Hold your hand and steal a kiss or two on the front porch with you
All I wanna do, when the day is through
Is linger here on the front porch with you
From the wicker swing, as the night birds sing
We’ll watch the fireflies sparking do some sparking too
How the hours fly, as the moon drifts by
How sweet the air, as we stare at the sky
Oh how I love to linger here like this
Hold your hand and steal a kiss or two
On the front porch with you
Can you picture us all singing? Followed with us cleaning the kitchen together and baths and bedtime stories. It makes me feel all content and happy.

18 sept 2018

Ruthie finished her schoolwork early because we won’t have time tomorrow morning to do it and she and Ryan hid behind our big recliner to play checkers. Gertie was already in bed and Annie in another room reading a book. I’m reading one too, that I can’t stop. I say to myself, ‘just a few more lines’ and then twenty minutes go by. So I asked Annie to bring her book into bed with me and we could read next to each other. She was ecstatic and laid her apple just so on the napkin between us.

Her little voice. Her reading. All self motivated, I had nothing to do with it.

She asked me to look at every picture on every page and before I knew it, her pajamas were in the air and she was showing me her wedgie. Somehow I got a few chapters in, though.

She rolled over and gave me a hug with her sleepy eyes and big smile.

But let’s also not forget this Annie, who had us cracking up at dinner last night with her spaghetti sauced body (clothes are off until trust is built) and noodle mustache.

Later tonight they asked me to lay in bed. I covered up Gertie as I passed, she was curled up in a ball with no blankets over her. I laid on Annie’s side since she was the most emotional. Ruthie yelled that Annie was touching her legs and when I draped my arm across them, they both clung to it. These are the best of times.

15 sept 2018

RECESS has started up again, a ministry within our church, where volunteers babysit special needs children and their siblings once a month so the parents can catch a break. I basically walk backwards bowing down to them over and over as we leave. So thankful. We went to Crystal Bridges without wearing workout clothes, sweaty pits, and pushing three kids in a two seater stroller. It was weird not having everyone stare at our usual circus.
After we sat down and scanned the not-so-crowded restaurant, a table in front of us caught our eye. It was very long, seating maybe 20 people. The girls facing us laughed in 5 second intervals at whatever was being said and when the chef came out to talk to them, they clapped and ogled like it was Eric Ripert.

Then Ryan recognized one of the guys as Walmart Sam Walton’s sons (if you’re wondering, they’re worth 140 billion). Ah, so that’s why there were courtesy laughs galore.  Shoot, I would too. It doesn’t take much for me though. One time a customer service rep at Sam’s offered to give me a refund on a product I had to buy instead of what they usually sell because at that time they were out. Without me returning the actual product. This, just because I asked if they’d be getting the one I normally like in stock again. I went beet red and kept exclaiming how nice they were and laughing crazily. (I didn’t take him up on his offer, I was too flustered.) But then Ryan recognized another guy at the table:  Moshe Safdie, the Israeli architect of the entire Crystal Bridges complex. This probably wouldn’t intrigue anyone else, but since we visit a couple times a month and love it so, it felt like a celebrity sighting to us.  After they were finished eating and stood up to chat for a bit, I encouraged Ryan to go over and shake his hand (which he later regretted not doing).

Instead of wandering around the paintings, we decided to walk through the Frank Lloyd Wright house that was disassembled elsewhere and rebuilt on the grounds. Something we never think to do with the kids. We couldn’t bring our drinks in, so left them on the ticket taker’s table outside.
After about three minutes, I was bored listening to the audio tour, which normally isn’t like me since I love looking at homes, but this one felt meh to me. And I lurve Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. Then I heard clapping and cheering from outside. I said see ya to Ryan and ran out there, picked up my drink, and walked quickly down the path. Before we’d gone into the house, Ryan had left his phone in the restaurant and while he was getting it, I sat on a bench watching a group of friends holding balloons. “She’s almost here” and “Are you nervous” were floating around and before I knew what was going on for sure, Ryan had shown up.
So after hearing the cheersing later on, I went back to my prey and inserted my butt into their background to find out if my prayers had been answered: that this wasn’t a “dance proposal”. Ugh. The things kids have to keep up with nowadays. (I’ve become a crotchety old man.) So I asked one of the outlyers and they said it was indeed an engagement and I squealed Congratulations, none of them knowing that my happiness was mostly because it wasn’t a teenager needing to keep up with expectations.

But, in fairness to my eye-rolling, I was partly tired from celebrating my friend’s birthday the night before. Happy Birthday AJ!

When I went up to get a beer, the bartender pulled a glass out from somewhere down below and I yelled, “OH MY GOSH, IS THIS SAFE?!?!?!?!” People on both sides of me jerked their heads around. It looked like they’d hacked it off with a saw, jagged edges all around. The girl let out a sigh and said, “It’s ice.”

This is what it looked like after melting. It was surrounded by those little ice pieces. In flight or fight, I’m a fighter and there was no way you were gonna give me that glass, lady.

So after waking up the next day with a slight headache and before our recess date night, we girls got to experience just a wonderful afternoon. This little circle of trees is becoming my favorite place to hang out now.



Ruth brought her schoolwork outside to finish and so far we’re thinking this school was a good route for us. Ryan helps with her government and bible study (girl can ask some questions!) and I do the rest because there’s no moral dilemma about addition. Last week she had to give a speech about herself for the class and afterwards, in the car, she said it went well, although her stomach hurt beforehand. Little Annie is always nearby, listening and watching, so I wonder what her experience will be like once she starts. I can’t tell you how much fun I’m having so far though.

12 sept 2018

Just had to share this video of Gertie doing her scooter work. It helps strengthen her neck and upper back for better posture. Last week she couldn’t figure it out and today she’s flying. Her therapists love her so much and come out to the handoff squealing about her ability to process and pick up new things, how it’s just picking up speed. Her speech therapist said she’s getting better eating in some areas, but still shoves too much food in her mouth when she likes something. I was like, “Isn’t that normal?”

Her little hands slapping the floor though. Can’t help but laugh.

10 sept 2018

What a weekend! Apart from hosting our first community group on Sunday where Ryan said he was thankful he doesn’t get nervous talking in front of people because my eyes were boring into him (I was a ball of nerves the whole evening, thankful though of how easily he can talk to groups) and coming down from the high of realizing how well we all did fit together, a group of believers in different stages of life committing our time to study and pray and support each other over the next year. Both tears and laughter were shed this first night and it’s amazing to me how quickly strangers can bond if only just a sliver of vulnerability is shown.

But aside from all that, Ruthie turned 7 today. She actually got teary-eyed last night, her last tuck-in as a 6 year old.

In an effort to push back against the me-me-me that we all have inside us and hoping they learn to appreciate experiences with only a few friends, I’ve pretty much opted out of parties. You know they’ll end up wanting the exact opposite later on and that’s fine too, just hoping a piece of this gets stuck in their psyche. Last year, Ruthie asked her friend Kalyn to go canoeing with their dads who are also good friends. Ryan was hoping that’d become a tradition, but this year we asked if Kalyn could spend the night on Saturday and she did! They chased after cats and fireflies, helped me make noodles for dinner, tore apart a pinata, and had a pillow fight. 

Ryan slept.

They all crashed in one big bed after watching a movie and woke up in the morning when Annie farted really loudly.

Our favorite donut shop was closed this morning, so we had to forgo our donut tradition and had chocolate chip pancakes instead, Ruth’s second favorite.

I asked Ruthie to choose a couple friends from school to take through a drive-thru safari today. I decorated the van with streamers and leaned into the jabbering that only 7 year olds can create. Their endurance is admirable.

Annie thought it was her birthday because I let her sit up front with me during the safari.  She couldn’t believe how big the windshield window was. The emus made us scream and anytime we saw one ahead, the race to roll up all the windows and hide below the window was intense. But my favorite moment was when an employee cut up an apple, opened up the gates just for us to feed the giraffe and they all ooohed and ahhhed….over the cat lying on the bench. That literally proves that you don’t have to do jack for a good time at this age. My gawd, Ruth, you have four cats at home.

As I’m typing this, I hear classical music in the living room along with squeals and laughter and I’m imagining them reenacting their ballet class with dear-ole-dad.

Thankful for another year with my kind, shy, funny Ruthie. I like you.

6 aug 2018

We got a six month subscription to one of those mail-order true crime/detective type thing as a way to have mini-dates after the girls go to bed. I am a complete airhead. Blaming it on fatigue though. If Ryan weren’t involved, I’d still be staring at that pocket watch into the early hours of the morning. Plus, I overanalyze every word to the point I collapse onto the couch in despair. Ironically I always thought I’d make a great detective. Maybe I’m more cut out for the sitting in my car on the street with a camera, reading my book until a bedroom light turns on kinda gig.

3 sept 2018

It was a nice long slow weekend for us. We went for a walk at crystal bridges and ate downtown. We set up our badminton net (yes – I kept it mom!) and Ruth really got into it. Annie tried to hit it once, missed, threw her racket down in frustration, and stormed inside. She later came out after drawing about it.

They all three played in the pool and we fed them their burritos in there as well, just so we didn’t have to deal with drying them off.

They ran around catching fireflies after dark and then Ryan held Gertie as he chased them through the house.

And to give you a taste of what motivates Gertie to side step…. apparently it’s witch laughter. (And books).

I always compliment Ryan on not allowing Gertie to become sensitive to loud noises. He and the girls do a stellar job at it. Stellar.

One day I’ll write more story-like posts again, but that’s not today.

2 sept 2018

We’ve always joked that this little house is preparing us to live in a log cabin in the woods because we pretty much already spend our lives within 20 feet of each other.

Ruthie was very mad when I sold the bunk beds and asked if she could have her own room. We said nope. I follow a mom on Instagram who recently posted that the majority of the time she and her husband make their five kids share everything, from cotton candy at the fair to bedrooms. And they can certainly afford not to have to do that. So it’s the principle of it all, and I dig it. Annie, on the other hand, was extremely excited to share a bed with her big sister so she could cuddle and do other things like watch Ruth trace her hand and write addition problems in her bedside journal. Ryan’s now reading Chocolate Fever to them which was one of my favorites. Gertie gets out of her new floor bed at least thirty times a night, we sometimes find her curled up next to the door, and then also wakes up for the day before six which she’s never done. We are plumb tired but determined to stick it out.