25 April 2019

Oh Ryan. He’s finally 38. Unfortunately his birthday fell during three of the hard work/personal weeks he’s had in awhile. Not to mention being bone tired from dealing with all the estrogen in the house.

We originally were going to meet for lunch during Gertie’s therapy, but he just couldn’t get away, so I picked up some fast food and we sat in the car for a few minutes to eat it. I spent that time talking about a child abuse-turn-murder news story I’d just read, sobbing about all the poor little children that just want to be loved and that we need to adopt them all. Before he hopped out, he said, “Well this has been a lovely birthday meal.” 😆

I picked up the girls from school and as soon as we walked through the door, Ruthie started to help me decorate while Annie cleaned the toy room, Gertie finished her snack and I cleaned the kitchen. It really felt like I had teammates and They were so proud of the decor.

There was NO question what they wanted to get him. Candles.

Ruth made a list of the activities this evening:

Ryan told her that this was the best birthday… she’s ever had.

We all do love our Ryan and take turns looking out the window hoping to see his car pull up every night. Thankful to see another year with him.

22 April 2019

Their whole day revolves around when the neighbor boy walks home from the bus stop. It’s painful/so funny to watch… they circle him like sharks in the water, Ruthie loudly mentions awards she’s received or projects she has to do, and Annie outright giggling and saying “Oh Sean”.

21 April 2019

Early morning Easter craziness. Ruth woke up first and we caught her in the hallway. She said that the Easter bunny hadn’t come yet and climbed into bed with us. So that was fun, her thinking all the magic happened while all three of us laid there.

In the afternoon we went to our nearby little lake. Annie was surprisingly the only girl in her Easter dress wading in the creek.

17 Apr 2019

A hodgepodge of pics. But first, this morning was like the wild west trying to get everyone ready and out the door. Gertie was particularly fussy. I don’t know if it’s a growth spurt coupled with unable to express herself, but it’s been like that consistently for the past few months. I feel like I’m in newborn territory again. Ryan woke up to it on Saturday and asked, “Does she always wake up like that?” Yes.

But today, I tried to fight the frustration and picked up my bible asking God to lead me to comfort. I don’t normally do this, so it was really out of the ordinary. Well the first page I opened to was exactly what I needed to see. A little box within the text.


Teaching Gertie to pump her legs. She really only needs to be told once or twice on things now. Including saying “help” if her walker gets stuck somewhere. She’ll stand there and quietly say help until someone rescues her.

Ryan and his Australian accent.

Perfect spring days for making roads and bridges and lakes and markets. Gertie walked from the front yard to the back over and over without me needing to follow her and I actually sat my butt in a chair and finished a book. It was a glorious day.

On another day, I hadn’t seen Ruthie and Annie for awhile and found them making a little house inside this bush, using clippers to form a window. It’s kind of hollow in the middle, allowing them to climb into it. I honestly could care less what they do as long as they stay outside on these sunny cool days.


When Ryan and I hiked the Konza prairie in Manhattan, KS. A trail I’d walk incollege whenever I was struggling with my emotions. The wide expanse of it really helped me reposition my attitude. The world is actually a lot bigger than my little world, I’d remind myself. I’d like to walk it again when it’s green.

Ruthie did a “wax museum” with her class, dressing up as characters from Winn Dixie. They’d stand still and a parent could push the button on their hand. Then they’d say a little blurb they memorized about the character. She did such a good job for a shy little girl!

Haven’t had a play date in a long time. They spent the majority of the time forming a train down the slides. We went to go get donuts afterwards and I made a big deal about getting whatever donut they wanted and when I went up to pay, I couldn’t find my wallet. The cashier was so sweet, cancelled the transaction, and pushed the donuts towards me saying they were on the house. I was so grateful. Ryan swung by during his lunch later and paid for them.

A new found love: the mall. Gertie feels so cool walking around and gets a major workout. We always tell her she’s a mall walker like her Papa! Can’t wait to do this more when the heat sets in.


Sick Gertie. One of those nights where she laid on me the whole time.

One of my favorite things: open windows where breezes billows out the curtains.



Ruthie at her science lab.


At her school’s fun run.

This girl Katie, the girl on the playdate standing to her right, Haddie, and Ruthie are tight friends at school. And I’m so thankful they’re sweet. We always try to squeeze in before she rolls her eyes, “What’s the most important thing, more than being pretty or cool?”

“Being kind.”

18 feb 2019

Ruthie wanted to throw her stuffed animal, Tabor, a birthday party, so she and I went to Walmart and bought some half price cupcakes and $1 plates and streamer. While they were setting up the table, Annie said how nice it was of Ruthie to get all this and Ruthie replied, “You should really thank Mommy. She spent her money on a birthday party for just a toy.” And I promise I didn’t guilt her during our Walmart trip, in fact I had to consciously refrain from making comments about that very thing. So it was nice to know that she at least had some awareness.

And yes, cupcakes at 7:45am. Give me some points, girls! They’re basically donuts, right?

I’ll never get tired of hearing him read to them. Gertie loves being read to too, and sometimes she’ll hang during the big-girl books, but normally he reads different ones to her. He wore himself out with all the various voices in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane, though, so now I’m reading Judy Moody to them, with considerably less character fluctuation. I’d recently finished an audiobook and the woman reading didn’t change her voice that drastically, yet still conveyed different characters to me, so I’m feeling confident in my delivery. They don’t care. They say that too. Annie said directly that I didn’t have to lower my voice to be a boy.

We go to Sam’s every Sunday after church to eat because it’s so cheap and then we can get shopping done afterwards. Ruthie times it so she’s the first in line for the coveted steak sample and will get one for her dad if he’s not near. That’s a good partner. This past Sunday, Annie was standing up in the cart scream/singing “The Ants Go Marching One by One” through the aisles and Ruthie whispered to me, “When will she ever learn to be embarrassed?” Annie literally has no concept of people watching her. I wish she had though, because they were all smiling.

But little Miss Gertie. She is talking more and more, in her own way, sometimes just the begining of a word, which is enough to excite the speech therapists, so it does me too. She and I have grown so much together just in the last couple months. I find myself cooing over her all the time. This has been the best age yet.

The director of the special needs ministry at our church texted me Saturday night to encourage us to attend a smaller service the next morning. She said a family with a special needs child is going to talk about their journey. I knew I needed to go even though my knee jerk was to avoid it. But that knee jerk has gotten less and less forceful these past few months.

So we went.

And within 30 seconds of them talking I started crying. It was one of those silent cries like in the movie theatre where your shoulders shake and you’re desperately trying to keep your shiz together to not break out into a sob.

Their daughter is 17 now, so they’re kinda on the other side. But they did talk a bit about those first few years and it amazes me how two families with slightly different experiences could have the exact same doubts. The father would dwell every day on the things their daughter wouldn’t be able to do. (That sounds familiar, Carolyn.) Their pastor at the time told him this, that he was focusing on the future mountains. That God gives us just enough strength to get through today’s so that when those future ones come around, we’ll be strong enough. To trust is one of the biggest manifestations of faith we can produce, not trusting that God would move the mountains themselves, but that he would move us to climb them.

The mom talked about how their family’s spiritual make-up had been irrevocably changed because of their daughter. That it was she who led the parents to the light during many dark days, and without saying a word, also turned her siblings into compassionate adults simply by her being alive. The weak leading the strong, which is just so like something Jesus would do.

Today I have my weekly women’s bible study and it’s centered around my Identity in Christ. So, following on the heels of that emotional Sunday experience, we touched on Mark 6:45-52 today:

45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

…drilling down to verse 48. Why was Jesus just gonna walk by them instead of help? Because we have to sometimes endure hardship to strengthen ourselves. That sometimes our prayers aren’t answered immediately. And sometimes we need to work stuff out within us before being given a blessing that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to handle prior. Blessings on a cracked foundation can crumble.

I dunno. The longer we work with and love on and raise Gertie, the more I’m learning patience and trust. Every day I grow more grateful for her existence.

But she also chipped her front tooth and we don’t know how it happened. So there’s that too.

1 dec 2018

Oh a Jane Austen play, I was giddy. A spin-off of Pride & Prejudice about Mary Bennet, the one always overlooked, getting her day at love.  I immediately got ahold of the girl I knew would be my sidekick in all things Jane and we were in. We spent a frantic 15 minutes texting dates back and forth because I just knew they’d be sold out in less than that. Thus is life with me, the easiest sell in the world if I think there’s competition.

I looked up the seating chart, found great seats in the center front. The stage was far away, but at least we were in that first row. I was thrilled.


We debated about just wearing sweat pants because we’re tired, but settled on stretchy black leggings that neither of us admitted were what we also wore while pregnant three years ago. I wore a necklace to offset the sweater jacket that’s normally my ‘curled up in bed, reading a book’ look. Hopefully it’d been washed. We grabbed a quick dinner at Chipotle and talked about the usual – how we were gonna monetize everything we touched. It’s my favorite topic and nothing ever comes of it. I’m a dreamer.
And then we sat down.

Inches from the stage.

Do you see that gold line? That’s the end of the stage.

No big deal though, because we were prepared. At every stage of getting to our seats, we were warned of the dancing at the end. The ticket-checker guy: “Keep your legs tucked, there’ll be dancing.” The usher: “Your feet, keep them back. Just tellin’ ya.” The lady in the bathroom stall: “Just letting you know to watch your feet! Also, pass me some toilet paper.”

Got it. We’re ready.

The play was sweet. At intermission we analyzed the actors as if we were getting paid for it, because God knows we wouldn’t ever get paid for actually acting. But dissecting and judging, oh gosh yes. Jesyka notices the same small things that I do which made me want to wrap my arm in hers just like the Bennet sisters do while they walk and talk. It’s fun to have a fellow observer.

The lights did the little dim thing to let you know they were about to start and we looked at each other, knowing that this was going to be our time to shine, to prove that we really can listen and put our legs just so, delicately, properly, and tucked out of the way when they needed us to. We wouldn’t let you down, sweet actors of a bygone era.

And the dancing started. They laughed and went in circles and everyone in the front row looked up and down at each other knowing that we’d succeeded. No one had tripped. Jesyka and I’d even managed to keep a polite smile on our face instead of the normal awkward pained look we’re used to giving.

Mary found her love and we all started clapping.

And that’s when I remembered.

The standing ovation. 

No one had warned us.

I looked around, wild thoughts in my head: maybe this time people will actually stay seated in their seats because when did we all of sudden become so flippant with the standing ovation wasn’t that just when the acting was exceedingly good and now every actor is getting one even the girl who played Lydia Bennet who we all could agree by scene two should’ve changed majors when she had the chance but now she is committed but doesn’t she know she’ll only get the flirty roles that require fluttering her eye lashes instead of actual acting? Oh god it’s happening. The back row just stood up. It’s starting, no no no no no…Maybe it’s like the wave at a baseball game, they’ll stand up then sit down. Nope, they’re still standing. Okay the lady next to me is super sweet and happy and cheerful and she’s still sitting so there might be a chance, oh no. Sweet lady is looking down the row to see if it’s our turn. I’ll make eye contact with her with the silent agreement that if she stays seating, we will too and that won’t diminish our love of Jane. She’s up. Deep breath. Jesyka – my last resort. Nope? Okay, here we go…

And we stood up. And they, the actors, the ones who perform with lights on them and the audience in darkness, were standing at the gold rim around the stage, less than a foot from my face.

Even this was way too far away. This seems like a dream compared to our experience.


I could actually see the pores on Elizabeth Bennet’s nose we were that close. She could see the chipotle in my teeth. When she’d take a bow, I felt like I should lean back on my chair so she wouldn’t face plant into my clapping hands. When she took a second bow, the wind of it blew my hair back.

No one warned us.

When they finally, after what felt like hours, exited stage left, Jesyka and I dropped into our seats to recover. Everyone filed out while we decompressed and tried to understand what just happened.  Jesyka started laughing and then I did and then she started crying and then I did and we sat there crying and laughing and no one else in the theatre understood why.

She said, “I’m so glad that happened with you, Carolyn, because you’re weird and understand.” And I took that as a great compliment.

15 nov 2018

I snuck out last night to get some things for a mini kitchen makeover and popped into Barnes and Noble to walk around. The words “Green Gables” caught my eye and saw this prequel to my beloved Anne. I about fainted.

Marilla could very well be my favorite character. And to already know the ending, that she never married and lived out her years with just her brother on the farm? My heart already hurts.

I debated about buying it as a Christmas present to myself, but ended up swinging by the library and getting on the waiting list which was good because that money was instead spent on this sweet vintage tea kettle.

I’m trying really hard to not buy things just to fill a space. But no microwave and no kettle means we boil up water daily in a saucepan for our tea (What have we become? Coffee is barely used anymore.) The sauce pan is fine, but this. Just in time for the holidays and gives me the feels.

I was walking around Hobby Lobby still telling myself to not buy just to buy, and must have been staring at one particular shelf for a long time. An older employee next to me said, “Ma’am? Can I help you find something?” I said “no thanks” and went back to staring. And then he added, “Sometimes it’s just nice to have a few moments of quiet and peace, huh.” I laughed so loudly and said, Is it written all over my face?? He smiled, “I’ve been there before. Enjoy these few minutes alone.” There have been several times someone has commented on me just wandering the aisles at a store. It’s like we’re all on the same team, raising these kids.

12 nov 2018

First snow of the season and so happy.

Ballet was cancelled (one of the perks of being literally half the class, if the other two girls call in, so do we!) After they tried hard to have a snowball fight, they finally came in and helped me make bagels. One of them had the gall to ask, Does it have to be perfect? Perfectly imperfect is our motto around here, for both people and activities.

9 nov 2018

They only sleep in on days they can’t. So as I put on a robe, made some tea, and plopped myself onto the chair to bask in the extra 15 (maybe 30 if there’s a miracle?) minutes, I heard the door open and close and knew it was Annie. She wanted to immediately play a game with me, so I somehow convinced her to do all the work, which included performing various ballet moves, while I continued to sit in the chair. This was enough for her, thankfully. Ryan said the other day that when you hear the phrase “they’re full of life”, you don’t really see many people embody that…until you meet Annie. The tricky part we’re trying to figure out now is how to make her obey without breaking her spirit.

Gertie’s dear Sherrie worked her last day at our clinic yesterday. She was one of her first physical therapists and saw the ups and downs with both of us. I had a couple crying spells in front of this poor woman, who not once batted an eye. Ryan picked Gertie up one day and she and him were talking about a maneuver or a piece of equipment or something and he said, I’m glad you’re thinking a few steps ahead for her and she replied, “oh I’m always thinking about Gertie.” Almost three years with that mindset on Gertie can only have been a blessing.

And then part of Ruth’s homework, what she’d like to know about Abe Lincoln. Death and Fashion, you go girl.

8 nov 2018

When I picked Gertie up yesterday, her head therapist said they practiced walking with no walker, just her hands on G’s back so she’d feel comforted. “Oh!” I said, kinda surprised. Weren’t they just getting her used to the walker (although she can climb up and turn around in it all by herself now). And she said, “Oh yeah and we’re fully expecting you to donate that walker when she’s done with it.” I laughed a little and told her she needed to set the expectation level down a notch for dear ole mom. They’ve seen my own journey along with Gertie’s, struggling to find a place of reality with her abilities. Later that evening she texted me and reiterated that she 100% believes Gertie will walk on her own and she doesn’t throw that percentage around lightly, especially to parents, and especially to me.

I guess I just don’t know how to react. Of course I’m elated to hear that, but my knee jerk is to still reserve a fraction of my heart to safe keeping. I’ve been burned by my own and sometimes other’s overly optimistic expectations and I’ve only just gotten to a place of peace. So then, to be offered a better than expected scenario, it’s just scary and vulnerable. I remind myself to still take it day by day with what Gertie gives me.

I’m still amazed (and sometimes embarrassed) that it’s taken me having to give birth to and then raise a special needs kid to learn these lessons of patience and contentment. Why couldn’t I have learned it beforehand, without G needing to be a part of it? I used to sometimes think that because of my stubbornness and selfishness God gave me Gertie. But I don’t believe that anymore. It’s nothing that I did or how I am that made him give anything to me, to “teach” me anything. Sad things happen, he doesn’t want them to, but they do. The difference is He uses these situations to bless us if we let Him in. And despite the daily exhaustion, I feel honored to say that through Gertie, He has given my life a depth that wouldn’t have been as easily found without her.

6 nov 2018

I hope they remember, after we graduated Gertie to the main table and removed her high chair, the excitement we all felt to have that tiny extra space in the kitchen. I hope they remember us crowding around our corner table, them drawing on the chalkboard wall half the time and their paintings hanging from the dishwasher and refrigerator.

31 oct 2018

This post is long overdue. The more days that went by, the less I wanted to upload anything. But the worst part is that I can’t remember the small details of these pictures, the things they said or mishaps that occurred. If that’s not a reason to be diligent, for the little nuances, I don’t know what is, because those are my favorite things about life.

We’ve had so many pretty days this fall. I plop Gertie in the middle of the yard and let the girls run into the woods, which they think is the coolest thing. They took my phone at one point and took pics of what they saw.





That poor turtle finally managed to get away. It probably’d never crawled so fast in its life.

Annie is taking swim lessons. The difference between these girls is amazing. Ruth wants to wear her mermaid flippers and swim down to the whales and Annie I think would be happy wearing her floaties the rest of her life. She cries during each lesson and her arms and legs are all over the place when trying to paddle. We’ve learned that, with her, we need to go slow.

A couple saturdays ago we went to our children’s museum, tested Gertie’s walker on the different surfaces, and immediately went home to start marking our path for her (and us.)


It started out as a small one to get to the garden, but my mom mentioned that the girls could ride their bikes on it, so now we’re planning to wrap it all around our property.


Gertie upgraded her swing and the girls drank hot cocoa as the sunset. This was a delicious cool day, spent almost entirely outdoors.


Tired, but with dear old dad.

After church last week, I stole the girls during Gertie’s nap and walked around our little lake.


Last weekend we went to Manhattan to visit Kate and family. Her son played CCR on his guitar and we went through our normal talking points: traveling, the trials and tribulations of being required to speak spanish at work (doesn’t anyone remember my job as a translator at the insurance company?? shoot me), books, and the same four stories of how we met in college. img_7629


Saturday afternoon Kate stole the girls to go her daughter’s volleyball game so Ryan and I could walk around campus and Aggieville. Ruth randomly asked “What happens at the end of the world?” Kate was just about to get into the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse when Ruth clarified “Do we just fall off?” She said she was afraid to answer because she didn’t know if we were flat-earthers or not.


Walking around campus, for 90 minutes. KSU in the fall is just so daydreamy. Gertie came with us and she didn’t fuss one moment. It was a Wildcat miracle and we kept thanking her at every turn.


We wondered if there were still computer labs there, so I stopped a student and asked where the nearest one was. There’s a couple computers in the Union if anyone’s interested. What I would give to just have classes, homework, and an easy job to focus on again. Kate and I reminisced about how we flunked Accounting so had to take the summer course together. He gave us a project at the beginning and none of us started until the night before it was due, needing the final sheet to balance was the goal, and each of our projects were different. So our entire class was sitting at the same table in the small 24 hour section of the library and one by one they all yelled “Yes!!” and got up to leave. One by one, except for us two until early into the morning. It’s just so funny analyzing the right/left brain. We are right brained through and through. (Side note: Ryan took the right/left brain test and he is 50% left, 50% right. We made him retake it just to make sure and it came out the same. That’s crazy to me, but he is both very analytical and very artistic so it makes sense.)

Side note again, Ryan and I agreed it’s nice we’re both alumni from the same university otherwise we’d have to fake acting like we think any of each other’s stories are interesting.

We walked through Aggieville and tried to remember what it was like to have no obligations. Of course everything looked so much nicer than when we were there.

That evening, we went to Kate’s friend’s barn for a hayride. I wore my usual pepperoni pizza outfit. The girls were exhausted.



I love the rolling hills of the Ozarks, but the pull of the prairie also draws me in. To see the sun actually set on the horizon makes you feel like you can see the world.

Nostalgia at work, we stopped at the gas station of my teenage years in Topeka and drove down the steepest hill in town.

Ryan and his friends went to the chiefs game and we girls stayed at mom and dad’s.

Mom caught an interview with her beloved, Lebron.

So proud. img_1295
Helping me with Ruth’s homework. The bonus of her schooling is Ryan took Friday and Monday off and she didn’t miss a day of school.
Making cookies with the cousins. I hope Ruth washed her hand, but I’m sure at midnight that night, it didn’t matter to me if she did or not.
We had a wild ride after the chiefs game. I got physically sick and then couldn’t catch my breath which caused my feet to go numb and my hands to lock up. It was to the point that they called the paramedics to check on me. Everything is okay except for the fact that my parents and sister saw me rolling around in my underwear. And when the paramedic asked Did you have anything to eat today, my sister said OH YEAH SHE DID. Settle, Lisa. It was only 40 wings.

Never a dull moment, I guess. Halloween is tonight!

16 oct 2018

Parent Teacher conferences this evening. Afterwards we ate ice cream, turned off all the lights, and played Slap Jack.

Her teacher loves her, as I knew she would. And thanked us for being good partners. Little did she know that I almost changed schools an hour earlier when Ruth had to identify all the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs on a worksheet. It was torture. At the same time, it’s good practice for me to explain things simply, which I’m not good at. So we diagramed all over our chalkboard wall, and to a grammar freak, that’s pretty much an art mural.

13 oct 2018 (pt 2)

I hope I never forget that feeling of being watched by your child as you hold them while they’re sick. The comfort and safety they feel just resting in your arms. I may not even get to experience this level of intimacy as a grandparent either, so am soaking this up today. Ryan said he was jealous, having a sleeping baby on my chest all day.

It’s rainy and cold. Annie has kissed Gertie’s head a billion times and I heard Ruth say a prayer for her in the bathroom. They’ve painted a few pictures for us and brought in a toad to show her from outside. Ryan just took them to see a movie. We’re all happy.

12 oct 2018

We’ve had some rough days this week, the girls and me, but those are almost always followed up with calm and rewarding sequels. I know they’re just kids and I know they only know what they know, but the amount of complaining and whining hit a threshold and I couldn’t keep any of my frustration in. The Compassion Experience is coming through our town the end of the month and if we can make it, I desperately hope it sticks in their heads. The amount of abundance our family has, and the amount of waste, it bogles my mind. The more they complain, the more I want to dig my heels into this 1500 sq ft home, make them continue to share a room until college, and throw half their toys away. And maybe a part of that anger was directed at myself, for also wanting more than we need. We are so rich, in the most important of ways.

The lulling waves of our arguments and apologies and snipes and prayers, it’s an inevitable water to tread together as we all mature.

But then, the warm weather broke and we spent a much needed afternoon outdoors in the cool wind. It was life-breathing.



Gertie and I were laying in the grass together as the others flew their kite and above we saw three monarch butterflies flying south. They were flying so high, as far up as the birds and I worried they were too high. I don’t know why I love monarchs so much.

Every night this week either Ryan or I have been gone, attending classes or speakers or meeting with mentors. We’ve been passing by as the other started the second shift, barely enough time to go through our days. Tonight is our church date night and as much as I always love a good event to go to, the best thing is to do is sit across from each other for 2 hours.

Water therapy was cancelled today and I was thankful. We had a slow morning where we played and swung outside in the mist. The girls got new rain boots and rode their pretend horses around outside: Oatmeal and Booma, smacking their reigns and yelling “hi-yah” over and over.

Instead of starting her school work, we got out the paints, and gave Gertie some playdoh. They said they were pretending to be Bob Ross’ daughters. I’ve only shown them a few of his videos and they quickly lost interest, so it surprised me to hear his name brought up. If you could feel the happiness. When they’re in that sweet space, they chatter about everything and call me mama and I genuinely feel like one.

The beginnings of Annie’s painting, it was my favorite part. The top yellow circle is the sun, the bottom two would eventually become our heads. She asked me if I knew what the red line was and answered it herself, saying it’s the line where grass and the sky meet. Thanks Bob!

I’m ashamed to say this is the first time I’ve painted with Gertie. It was part fear of the unknown: her eating it or smearing it all over herself, the mess to clean up, and basically just being a pansy. She loved it, of course. But I can’t fall into the trap of beating myself up for not trying earlier, she may not have been ready anyway.

I’m a contented mama today. Gonna make that choice to be one tomorrow too.

8 oct 2018

The weeks are just clipping along. Every day this week are maxed out and so it’s a good reminder to myself to lean into the chaos and not take it out on everyone around me. Over the weekend my sweet friend helped put on a festival in Siloam and we took the family there, which was so nice. This time we showed Annie where she was born, a little townhouse at the end unit of 4. We told her about the neighbors we had: 2 other stay at home moms with their one year olds and looking back, it was exactly what I needed at that time as a new parent.

Annie did the appropriate ooohing and aaaahing and we headed to the festival running into several people we hadn’t seen in years. Even managed to squeeze in a pumpkin patch shot…. of sorts.

(Gertie had spilt water right before.)
We ate lunch and Gertie sat at the table like a big girl.

And Gertie later thinking her daddy is so funny.


2 oct 2018

We love their new dance school. It’s more serious, which they were ready for. I caught Annie practicing some moves. Zoom in and notice at the end, how they have to hold their head a certain way until the teacher says Relax. ❤️

1 oct 2018

It’s nice having a built-in party waiting for you the morning of your birthday. My gift to everyone else was not talking about it beforehand. Ryan said I talked about it a lot in April (his birthday) but haven’t since. That has mostly to do with hearing Ruthie go on and on about hers for the entire month of August and then the day after her birthday planning for next year. I was worn out.

Annie said I looked like a kid and that’s pretty much the best thing to be said to a gray-haired mama.

Mom and dad came into town and my plan-making went like this:

  • Oh! We’ll get a babysitter, go out to eat, and then go karaokeing.
  • Oh! We’ll get a babysitter and then go out for dinner.
  • Oh! We’ll have a nice dinner at home followed by in-house karaokeing.
  • We can have a nice dinner at home followed by scrabble.
  • Let’s just do yard work.

But truthfully, checking things off our never-ending list is the way straight to my heart. And we’ve got ideas for that backyard that I can’t stop thinking about, so fence posts were pulled up, arbors taken down, holes filled in and more talking and planning. Not a better day to do it either, weather-wise.

Ruth made a list for Ryan of what to get me.  The days leading up, Ruth kept saying how beautiful one of my gifts was, but never told me which surprised us all.


My wig. They begged me to wear it to church the next day. Another gift was a nightgown that was straight out of the senior section and when I put it on, Annie said, “You look like grandma.” I love my granny nightgowns though.

After lunch, we skipped Gertie’s nap and put on Busy Beavers (her absolute favorite show) and mom and I hightailed it to Lowes to pick up some mulch, with a stop along the way to a thrift store. When we got back, Gertie was absolutely comatose relaxed. It’s a good way to get some snuggles in.

Ryan grilled us some steaks and we had dinner outside. It’s also the only place that can hold more than four people.

We put the kids to bed, got the beloved scrabble game out, and opened some beers. We played this on my last birthday while visiting Laura Ingall Wilder’s house in Missouri, so now I feel like it needs to be a tradition. We love our scrabble games. Ryan normally wins. Mom suggested that we slip him an Ambien beforehand so it could be an even playing field.
Dad said we only ever talked when it was his turn and that made us laugh because it was true. But we argued that isn’t that better that everyone is doing something rather than them sitting in silence and you feeling the pressure to put a word down?

A few rounds later mom slipped me this note.

This is only for me to remember because it was funny and you had to be there and like to play scrabble. We all play defensively, guarding those triple word scores (nerds!). So when mom broke down and spelt J-O-T with the triple word score two spaces below the J, we all got excited… especially me because I was next after her. I looked at my letters, trying to come up with a three letter word. I found one and before putting it down, wrote it out in the air to make sure it was spelt right. I laid it out and made a big todo about all I had to go through to make sure it was the correct word. The three letter word, starting with J, was J-O-T.  So mom made fun of me in a deep nerd voice “I’ve never seen that word before and it just came to me.”

We laughed and laughed.

I also got to spend some time this weekend working on a little project that may or may not come to light. At the core, it’s been therapeutic for me, but if it turns out to be more then that will just be a bonus. I’ve pulled in a friend who intimately understands my journey, her having gone through something similar, allowing us to be actual handwritten pen pals; editing and correcting and giving me suggestions on how to improve my idea. I’ve read two books back to back that were written in letter form and have become obsessed with getting back to written mail. So while we could text or meet up for lunch, this feels more special, and I’m forever thankful for her input.

Edited to add: I just walked to the mail and got a handwritten letter from another friend for my birthday! I was skipping up to the front door. You guys do know me!

At our community group last night, Ryan and I shared our faith stories. There were 12 of us there. I’d told it several times before in group settings, but I feel like it’s changed since then so was nervous to add in the new part. You could hear my voice shaking, but it felt good to acknowledge a slice of my life I’ve previously left out. A part that I thought was cliche and sappy and annoying: oh the special needs mom who says her child is a gift. How predictable (eye roll). I’m starting to embrace exactly how big of a gift she’s been to me personally, my growth finally into an adult at 38. I understand now how God knows I’m a slow learner and needed a lifelong assignment, something I can’t run away from, forcing me to hit my doubts and fears head on daily and to trust that everything will work out or at least trust that I’ll adjust if it doesn’t. I’m learning to put my energy into relationships that are a two way street and to not stress if the others fall to the wayside. The ones that stick are meant to be. I’m learning to not worry about the small details in the day-to-day, they honestly don’t bother me as much as they did before. I’m focusing my eyes on the horizon instead of my feet and lifting my head those few inches has never brought me so much peace. So I can’t help but thank you God (via Gertie) for this new perspective I couldn’t have found in any other way.

In other news, today is the first of October and that means we can get out the Halloween stuff which is the most thrilling time of the year for the girls.

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.