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.

31 aug 2018

Gertie is asleep. The girls organized the toy room and are now watching a movie and I’m doing what I love to do: planning. Will these ever come to be? Maybe, maybe not. But this is my favorite part of the process. And it feels different this time because I’m forcing myself to take it slowly. Everything in dotted lines are the far future, but we do have 1 garden bed, a new chicken coop, and compost bins.

Here’s our first and only garden bed for next year. I’m excited about it. My back goes out a lot, so we’ve decided to raise the bed to a standing/sitting-on-the-edge height as a preemptive strike. Beyond it, to the right, are the fruit trees with more to come. A Dogwood behind the garden is a sweet place for a bench. Mandy, my gardening/chicken-raising/bee-curious soul sister, walked me around the backyard and suggested a layout. I will forever love her for that.

Behind the bench and tree, in the sunny spot near the two chairs will house our new chickens. We’ve missed having those silly girls around. I kinda want to mix up the breeds, but also feel like I should stick to what I know. And we do love our Buff Orpingtons.

We never really used this side of the house very much, so it feels like a new property in a way. So happy.

29 aug 2018

Today is what I’d say was our first full homeschool day since she was sick last week. I’m so thankful I have a teacher that’s walking me through this, keeping me accountable. I could see myself saying “Eh you’re smart Ruth, just play.” And then we’d get nothing done. I can feel a difference in workload between Kindergarten and First. We’re also already talking parts of the government so I’m quickly delegating that to Ryan.

Keeping Annie busy was a little difficult, but with lots of coloring and play-doh and puzzles we made it through. This has become our little work space with their new fish (Ocean Patricia Collier, nickname: Seaweed) watching them.

It took us 2 straight hours to get everything done, and that’s with a lot of hemming and hawing. Ruthie really likes to chat and anything distracts her because she wants to provide commentary on whatever’s happening. I told Ryan this at lunch and he said one of his teachers had said “Oh there goes Ryan again. Takes him 15 minutes to sharpen his pencil because he has to stop and talk to everyone along the way.”

Ruth’s taking an Improv class this year where she will have to come up with skits, impromptu speeches, and yesterday they had to take turns acting out something to try and get the other kids in the class to laugh while they tried to keep a straight face. I’m excited to hear more about it. Remember when she took Public Speaking last year and gave her Thanksgiving speech? I’ll have to try and find that again.

Annie wanted me to take a video, then started humming loudly and giving me orders.

Laundry day with Disney songs blaring. They sort and put away, then fold towels/napkins. Gertie asks to be held. It’s not really a fight anymore which is nice.

After a busy August, I am leaning into our life at home with a vengeance. It feels so good to have a routine. I’ve got oven baked chicken in the oven, corn on the cob ready to be dumped in and a creamed rice side, Ruthie’s playing her accordion, Annie’s out with the cats, and Gertie’s watching her ABC videos. Whenever I look at old photos, these are the  burning questions I have about them, what did they do in their day-to-day?

27 aug 2018

We’re free. I guess they’re free, but really it’s us. We let George & Ginger (the ever changing names, but I think these have stuck) out today and everyone came back at night except for Ginger. I went to the gym and after coming home, started a mini search party with a flashlight, eventually finding her up in our big gum tree. Way up. Ryan said to leave her, but I politely asked that he put on his shoes and climb the tree to retrieve her. He did. And we got her. And it was such a big hullabaloo.

I love these pics of Annie. Of her in mid-skip and smiling so big walking toward me. She’s enamored with this dress because it has pockets. The girls are feeling better, thank goodness. It’s been a long week.

I never had my camera around with Gertie today, but we had such a good day walking and swinging and sitting on a bench outside feeling the wind around us. She walked all over the driveway and into the backyard while the girls rode their bikes by her and she wanted to go through the grass into the more open space. We’ve started working on some things for next summer, only one single raised bed and planning around that because I’ve realized that I need to do babysteps to be successful at anything. But seeing her push through the grass always gets us wanting to move forward our plan of crushed gravel paths in the backyard for her (and me. and my pinterest boards. and my daydreams of winding through pockets of wildflowers.) Our local master gardener group is having a plant sale and I’ve pre-ordered some fun things: milkweed (there is a butterfly garden at our art museum with milkweed as its star and ever since our latest walk through it, Ruthie has been begging me to get some), Black-eyed Susan, Echinacea purpurea, Elderberry, and one I’m most excited about: Nanny Berry bushes. They said it’s native to Missouri and makes a nice hedgerow with pretty leaves spring/summer/fall as well as produces berries that can be eaten off the bush or canned. I’d planted a row of lilac bushes in a couple areas and our mow guy mowed them all down despite them being marked (ugh!) so these Nanny Berries may do the trick. I am falling in love with flowers!

Back to Gertie, she also moved out of her crib onto her floor mattress. I knew in the back of my head it was the beginning of the end for naps but I’m ready for it. I laid her down and it only took a few minutes before she crawled out of bed and knocked on the door. I’d open it to put her back in and she’d try to bolt (awkwardly and slowly – if you can imagine it, it was funny), but I’d pull her back in. Finally I just let her go and she crawled down the hallway repeating “Night Night” over and over. She’s a stinker.

Tomorrow she has a botox appointment to relax her eye muscles, allowing the one that’s pulling her eye inwards to loosen up and straighten out. We’ve done it before and it seemed to work a little bit. Her doc doesn’t like to rush surgery and we are definitely on board with that if there are other options to try beforehand. All I know is Ryan has to take her in at 5:30am and I’m thanking the heavens above it’s not me.


26 aug 2018

She had eaten frozen blueberries – but it looks so much worse, like she’s straight out of a Dickens novel. Ryan’s reading a story to them about a magical pig that, in one chapter, helps kids learn table manners. The next night when we ate spaghetti we looked over and Annie was shoving a fistful into her mouth with the tendrils all dangling down. Anyway, all I wanted to show here is that the page said to “draw an animal with spots” so she wrote Tiger and drew spots around it. She was dead serious.

They’ve been sick all week and grandma sent us a care package. New coloring books help everything.

Ryan got a taste of being needed in all directions for 15 minutes: Annie wanted to do puzzles with him, Ruthie make jewelry, and Gertie standing up.

Annie said today that she couldn’t decide if she wanted to be a swim teacher or a pirate when she grows up. Ryan suggested being a swim teacher on a pirate ship.

22 aug 2018

If you ask her, Ruthie hates Hobby Lobby. Because one time three years ago she toppled backwards in one of their small carts. She’s sure the same employee is still working there and will recognize her.

We finally convinced her to walk through the doors again and behold, how these aisles must look to a 3ft child. Pretending to be in a jungle ate up a good ten minutes.

It may have even inspired the big eagles nest they made later that day. I have to remind myself that telling them to not come inside unless they’re hurt or needing the bathroom may be a good thing despite their howls at me. They worked on and played in this nest for a good hour.

Ruth’s first day of first grade. She wanted to wear different earrings, and so while I was putting them in she said that last year another girl had these exact ones too but she never told her because she was shy. I asked if she was gonna be different this year and she said, ‘No, I’ll probably still be shy.’ Sweet Ruth.

19 aug 2018

All we did was spend a day on the lake yesterday but today it feels like it was a week long party cruise. And this is from someone who snuck back onto the boat for two naps.

Ryan’s best childhood friend has a family house on Beaver Lake with his six siblings and we got a coveted invite this year. Their first adults-only weekend get together. Although I’d never met them, their reputation had preceded them as funny and loud and good company. Fifteen minutes in and I was already gushing over them to them. Warm people. Instantly.

My floppy hat flew off en route to a cove and I screamed as if it were my wallet.

I’d gotten up at 430 to go to the gym, skipped breakfast, and immediately entered vacation mode upon arrival, so by late afternoon after jabbering to anyone within earshot of my noodle, I was already floating on my back fast asleep hanging onto the anchor rope.

14 hours after arriving we drove back home, kinda wishing we took up the offer to stay over. It was a short and fun adventure with the Redington crew, but it worked out because Ruth lost her second tooth while we were gone and only we had the special gold coins. She’d dropped it in the yard and left a note and drawing.

The kittens loved dad. He’s like the cat whisperer. I hope he told them they’re getting evicted to the garage next week after their surgeries. Mom got scolded by the girls for yelling at the cats. I don’t blame her though, they’re so obnoxious, but they’ve helped confirm that I will never get a baby animal ever again.

The night before, we turned on some 60s music and had a dance party. Mom likes to remind us that she grew up during the best decades of music.

And when mom read a chapter of their book and skipped over a few lines, Annie called her out. The era of jumping over sentences to speed up the book is over and we all grieved the loss.

Thanks for babysitting Grandma & Papa.

16 aug 2018

This isn’t the best pic I took of them, but it’s the one I like most. Ruthie starts school next week and met her first grade teacher today. She wanted to wear her most sparkly dress, given to her, I’m assuming, by her cousins. She brushed her hair twice and still looked like she’d rolled down a few hills. When asked a question, she answered in the quietest voice possible. I told Ruth she’s lucky to have such a sweet teacher, but truthfully her teacher is lucky to have Ruth.

She says her teacher has Aunt Amy’s nose.

Right now we’re at the library waiting to pick up Gertie. Annie skipped to the bathroom. After a few minutes I heard her calling my name. I opened the door and asked what she wanted and in the not quietest voice possible, told everyone in earshot how poop comes out your butt. I think Annie’s teacher is lucky too, mostly because I know she’ll get a good laugh in.

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?

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.

31 May 2018

Sitting here watching the Cavaliers in the finals and feel the need to document my mom’s love of LeBron James for her grandkids to remember. Motherly love. Crazy stage mom love. “He got them to the finals but he can’t DO IT ALL” in a hysterical, they’re putting too much pressure on my boy text today. It makes us laugh. All because of the documentary made about his childhood and, after watching it, it does make you appreciate his heart.

Anyway, it’s what makes her interesting I guess.

My neighbors gave me two tiny orphaned kittens she found on the street bc apparently I’m the neighborhood cat lady. The vet whispered (because Ruth and Annie were next to me) that there’s still a 50/50 shot for survival. He also said don’t get the vax shots unless we’re keeping them and when I said we were going to just foster for a few weeks, he looked at the girls then back at me and said Uh huh, I’ll be seeing you for the shots.

They’ve already been named Ginger and Petunia. I really don’t know how my life got to this.

28 apr 2018

I went to my first Celebrate Recovery meeting last night. I really wanted to hole up in the back bedroom and rest, but forced myself to put on makeup and go. When I walked into my church’s auditorium, the first sign I saw said Welcome Home and of course I welled up.

But I didn’t sing. I didn’t clap along and whoop and holler either when lyrics about God freeing us from ourselves crossed the screen. I didn’t go up when many others did, to receive hugs from people actually designated as huggers at the front of the room, so I also didn’t receive applause from everyone rewarding my bravery.

I just stood there.

Me, it felt like, in the middle of so many joyfully broken people, whose arms were outstretched so far to the sides that their fingertips brushed my shoulders, who walked up to loud cheers as they received their tokens for overcoming themselves for a month, 6 months, a year. They high-fived and hugged each other and all I could do was stand there.

Afterwards we newcomers broke off to a room and sat in a circle, to prepare for when we attended the more seasoned groups next time. And as each person passed because they were uncomfortable sharing their “intro”, it became clear I’d have to be the first to go. When they all turned and looked at me, before covering my face with my hands and crying, I said one of the hardest things I’ve ever admitted out loud:

I am a grateful believer of Jesus Christ. I struggle with anger, bitterness, and pride. I’m here today because I cannot find the value my special needs daughter brings to my life besides stress and exhaustion. I am full of hatred. My name is Carolyn. 

If you could also pray for me too.

5 apr 2018

Last night was the girls’ little recital where they show off what they learned. They asked a parent to come up and do a dance with them. Part of the dance includes tap and now I’m desperate to find a class for adults. But of course MY recital had to happen on the same day I texted a friend that I needed a personal shopper. So I was feeling a little…. masculine… amongst all these tutus.

Annie, not kidding, talked the whole time, making comments about everyone. I wanted to get her attention and give her the shhhh sign, but Ryan whispered that he liked how into it she was and if the teacher wanted her to stop she’s say something. Ruthie sat next to her, never making a peep, almost to the point of me wanting to get her attention too. They’re at both extremes.

But can you hear Annie in the video when the teacher says, “Point your toes!” Annie: “I am!!” 😂 let’s just say, we’ve been having our own power struggle in the house too. But that’s for another post… maybe once I survive.

Lovin’ on Ann

I think our third child is holding out their entry into the world until I properly gush over her big sister. So here goes, it’s an easy thing to do.

Because Annie is something else. Ryan always joked that his worst nightmare was to have a kid that looked like him and acted like me because he’d hate to ever see himself act like me. Well sorrynotsorry Ryan, because here she be. She is both full of spit and vinegar as well as the most loving and huggy girl around. I like that combo, but I may be biased to myself.



She turned 2 this month and I remember wondering what kind of personality this girl would have, excited to get to know her. And here we are, right in the thick of the blossoming of it. She used to drag her hand along the wall with her head on my shoulder as we walked back to the crib. Now she runs full throttle in front of me and climbs into her big girl bed like nothing. She used to let me sing Rock A Bye Baby to her in my arms. Now she tells me not to sing… so that she can have center stage for her ABCs. I’m both missing that small baby and eagerly waiting for more developments to share with her.

On her birthday, we got her mullet chopped off. She had a great time.









That bruise on her forehead. I kept hoping people would think it was Ash Wednesday, but in reality this girl is constantly running and falling. Running and falling. Mostly on our backyard pavement which Ryan has coined the Cheese Grater. Neither of them are gonna have skin on their knees by the time they reach 1st grade.

That night we had some family over to celebrate…nothing big. On the way back from getting her hair cut, Ruthie and I sang Happy Birthday over and over in the car to her and then she would blow out imaginary candles like Ruthie taught her. I didn’t thinking anything of it until the official time came for the song. And there she was, hands pressed on the table, staring at those candles like her life depended on it. Focused. Intense. And when we ended the song, she blew out each candle with such precision and determination.



You would’ve thought she won the Olympics I squealed so loudly. And my heart gushed for this little girl. Who is she?

Afterwards, they played with their water toy from the uncle & aunt before going to bed.





A couple days later, Ryan took some vacation and we hung out together. I’d bought tickets to a children’s theatre and we spent the morning walking around the square beforehand.



We didn’t take the stroller and Annie felt cool holding our hands to cross the street. She follows Ruthie everywhere, plays Stop/Go with us on the sidewalk, and screams and runs to any flower pot in sight.





Sometimes she’s shy though. She’s shy when I think she’ll be the most outgoing. Like at the children’s theatre. It was a rendition of Three Billy Goats Gruff and it was all very interactive with the kids. We had to walk through the woods, over a tree, and find our seats. They would ask the kids questions and get them to do silly things.



Annie wasn’t having it. And I was more than happy to snuggle her worries away.


But then she sat with her dad and got some confidence. And that made me happy too.



In a strange turn of events, Ruthie got up and helped act out a scene. Maybe she felt Annie’s hesitation and ran forward to show her it was okay. Or maybe she was just excited to walk around barefoot. I can’t keep shoes on the girl to save my life.



Later, I think, we went to the art gallery and walked the trails. I’m only basing this off of Annie’s outfit which was the same from earlier that day. It’s very possible that that’s the only outfit she wears and this could be from two weeks later. Let’s pretend it’s not and that we packed some more fun into her birthday day with daddy.

They played with the flannel grams.

image2And Ryan had to one-up them of course with his makeshift powercat.
image4 The trails are getting more fun now that Annie likes to walk. We can get back into the little nooks and crannies without a gigantic stroller tumbling down the side of a hill. It was a good day (whatever day that was.)
image5If there were one word to describe Annie, it would be ‘intense’. We find ourselves saying that over and over. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her ask us a question in a regular voice. Everything is yelled. She hits as hard as she hugs and runs, never walks. I’ve stopped comparing her to Ruthie, because there’s just no comparison. And I like that. I like her for her and will try to channel her traits into something positive.

Maybe she’ll be a bodyguard. And the guy she’s protecting will write a love song about her and they’ll run off and elope.

Either way, she’s my Annie. The one and only and I can’t wait to keep showing her how much I love her.

How To Almost Wreck a Bike AND Your Marriage

Once a month, Ryan and I are able to go out on a date thanks to a group of friends who take turn watching everyone else’s kids. If there were ever a time I wish grandparents lived nearby, it’d be now. But they don’t, so we circle the date on the calendar several times with a red marker and stare at it longingly through the mound of poopy diapers and incessant whining.

It finally came around this past weekend and as we all walked to the building, Annie kept asking “Happy? Happy?” Why yes, Annie… You must’ve seen my grin from three blocks down. I swear I love ya, but go on now. Play with your friends for FOUR HOURS. Yes!!!

As soon as neither were looking, we snuck out the door, raced to the van and headed to a nearby town for a little bike ride. A tandem bike ride. And for some reason, my mind immediately went to the word tantric whenever I said tandem. But I justified it and thought, hey if Sting has the stamina for 7 hours surely I can also ride for an hour.

We showed up at the bike shop, cute, in love, smiling as the guy oiled up our bike. He asked us if we needed helmets and we cackled at that silly question. Of course not, can’t you see we’re in love and riding as close to each other as humanly possible on two wheels? Only non in love people wear helmets. So he rolled the bike out and off we went.


We got this far from the building before our first full-on fight broke out.


Like growls-from-the-depth-of-your-bowels fight. If you’ve always wondered how low your voice can get while still remaining a woman, sit on the back of a tandem bike. Romance, giggling, and flirting quickly fly out the window when only one person has control of the steering wheel AND brakes. Good God! No literally, good God please save me….and we hadn’t even left the parking lot yet.

We did several circles before venturing out into the downtown area to hit up the trail. Ryan wanted to ride on the sidewalk to I guess make sure that anyone who hadn’t seen us swerve our way out of the parking lot, to have an up close and personal experience with our front wheel. I convinced him to ride on the street though because a) a bike lane is there for a reason and b) I wanted to get hit by a car.

After many hisses and screams later….from the car drivers avoiding our inability to stay within the bike lane, we finally made it to the trail. We’ve walked this trail many times and didn’t think anything of it. Until we approached the first of several hills that we’d conveniently forgotten about. You know when you’re cresting the top of a roller coaster and are powerless to stop it, all the while knowing there’s a 3% chance you’ll be the only person to eject from the seat 90 mph into the funnel cake stand? Yeah.

I took a deep breath and only quietly begged and pleaded to brake more, to not swerve, and to quit leaning so far this way or that. But with each person we passed (somehow we did remember to ring ring our little bell), my begging got louder and louder and reached it’s highest when up ahead we saw a sweet little girl on her pink bike riding towards us…and I knew. I knew she was going to crash. Ryan rang the bell, we zoomed forward like a game of chicken, he rang the bell again, she looked up and crash there she went down in our lane.

To our right was a straight shot down the hill, to our left more walkers. Mr. Oil Luber’s words came back to me “If you need to stop, you better start braking long before you need to. You’re like a semi, it’ll take a while to slow down.” At the time, I was too busy wondering if he was really calling me a semi or not, but now I got it. Holy crap girl, Mooooooooooove!!!! I yelled as Ryan started braking. Somehow, some way we managed to slow down enough to look like we were casually biking along, enough to smile at the girl’s mom and give a jolly hello before picking up too much speed right afterwards.

We swerved around several more groups and Ryan apologized for his insane bell ringing saying “Sorry, we’re barely in control here.” Nervous laughter by everyone.

But I tell you what. This was a great team building exercise, because before we got to our turnaround point, I started closing my trap and trusting that Ryan had control of us. And then I was able to look around and enjoy myself. It wasn’t entirely peaceful, but it became fun and we started laughing instead of barking.

So much so, that I wanted a pic of us on that darn bike. We stopped and waited for the man up head  walking toward us. He seemed nice and I asked if he could take our picture.

He looked straight ahead and kept walking. Sure, he was wearing headphones but I know he could feel us staring at him.


Don’t worry Orangie McGee, we got that pic. A girl down the way took one. Well not exactly. Her friend said ‘yes’ and then made her take the photo. Why was everyone afraid of taking our picture?! And then we looked at the picture she took and saw the reason.

Ryan apparently took the whole tantric word misuse a little too far.  He said he’s going to return those jeans, and not because they puff out in the worst places, but because the puff measurement wasn’t doing him any favors.

Later we walked by a wedding and hoped we were in the background of photos.

After busting our buns to get back before the store closed, I wandered around and saw this upcoming race ad in the window.

If I weren’t 7 months along by then, I would’ve totally made Ryan do it with me. “Bonus cards for blasting clay pigeons” ….in the middle of a bike ride. So random…Yes, please.

Afterwards we got a bite to eat. Our goal was to take as long as possible at the restaurant since we’re normally rushing and feeding other mouths and not sinking into our chairs. Ever.

Step 1 was to order our drinks without feeling pressured to also order food at the same time in fear of the two little ticking time bombs exploding. In fact, we ordered drinks, she came back with them, and we asked her for another few more minutes to look at the menu. Holla!!!!!!

We placed our order and I didn’t really notice what Ryan got. When he told me, and then said the price:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESthe most expensive thing on the menu. Whatever, I know those extra minutes before she came back were spent weighing pros and cons.

I remember when I turned 21 and my sisters came down to celebrate. We all got margaritas, but my oldest sister was pregnant. The bartender put lemonade in a margarita glass and sugar around the rim. So I asked our waitress to do the same. I wanted to feel sassy!!


Meh. I couldn’t tell which was the water. Sassiness fail. Luckily I had several other drink options to fall back on.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYikes. We were thirsty after our ride.

It was a fun night for sure. And no joke, I think our marriage got stronger because of that bike. Next date night though, we said we’re going to find a place and just sleep for four hours. We’re exhausted.

Grandparents visit and Misc

These are from the beginning of August. If I don’t squeeze these photos in this blog, Annie will hold it against me for the rest of my life. How many photos are there of me outside my play pen I ask you? Well, ask my mom. Actually don’t ask her because I’m sure she can’t remember, which equals not many. Maybe that’s why I’m so camera happy. Someone take my photo for the love!!! So really, I’m just helping Ruthie and Annie become desensitized to needing their life documented.

Oh whatever.

On with the show…

Eat this Family Circle. That’s called a car, made with blocks, set up in a circle. Haven’t seen that in *any* of your mags. Ruthie, don’t look at those magazines. Stay impressed with me, please.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe went to the ice cream shop. We pray for ice cream and brownies every night. I beg her to think of other things to pray about, but you know what… there’s been many a night that I’ve been grateful for a dessert at midnight, so she’s on the money actually.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESJama & Dad-dad came for a visit before Jama had to start teaching again. You can tell she’s a preschool teacher… immediately on the ground interacting.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe went to the farmers market and bought some flowers to bring home. At the park we met someone with a Golden-doodle dog (like a labradoodle but with a golden retriever) and talked all the way home about getting one because of Ryan’s allergies… only to look up that they’re cost more than a van needed to pick them up in. Oh, but I day dream…
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBefore going home, we stopped at a gas station/restaraunt in Garfield that have gigantic ice cream cones (and good food too.) There’s large, medium, small, baby, and peewee. A man in front of us got the large and had to put a cup on top and hold it with two hands. Ruthie opted for the peewee…. well, two I guess. Can you find her first cone?
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYou know it’s a good visit when you slip into routines. We eat dinner, play, kids go to bed, then I make dandelion coffee, and we all sit in our unofficial seats and watch a movie, then go to bed.  The two movies of choice were Heaven is For Real and Saving Mr. Banks. I hardly watched the second one, really I stared at everyone else to make sure they were crying along with me. I’ve already let loose in front of his parents because of Gus on Lonesome Dove, so now don’t feel the need to hide my sobs.

In other news, Annie makes the same face I used to for the camera.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRuthie pretended to be mary poppins.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESCarpet bags are a must in this household.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnnie loves chasing Ruthie around via her daddy.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYou probably already saw it, but we finally got a legit swingset. Our (funny) neighbors were getting rid of theirs, so we bought it cheap cheap cheap and we made a big deal watching it get brought over, complete with a blanket, toys, and no pants. That’s RUthie’s MO.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRyan’s brother came over to help set it up and we go outside the fenced backyard so much now. I love running around that area, but am too lazy to chase after Annie. This has been wonderful to use!

Friends and Sloth

It’s already been a week two weeks since Ruthie’s 3rd birthday and I can tell she’s already growing up. When I tell her the show is over and time to go to bed: “Mommy you have GOT to listen to me. There was still some show left. You’re just not listening to me.” Or justifying her poo-poo jokes by saying “You don’t think it’s funny, but I do.” Well, dang. How can I argue with that?!  But then there are moments like tonight in our (non-existant) garden where she digs a hole, runs to bring water in the watering can, and pours it over her hole. I ask what she’s growing…. “A fairy god-mother.” I simultaneously go awwwww and then say Yeah, good luck with that one. The deer will eat her before you get a Bibbidy-Bobbidy.

Anyway, back to her birthday. I had what I was calling a glorified play date with her friends… because it’s time she learns, if she hasn’t already (we all remember the Mary Poppins shenanigans), that her mom is not creative in a crafty way. In my head I’m creative, it’s just hard to connect that thought to my fingers.  My email to the moms started off with a goonies reference, which then spurred a mom to post a still from the movie.


Yep, I’m going for it. When was the last time kids played pin the tail on anything? I’m bringing it back!

I went to Staples and bought their $3 engineer print of that pic, and that night Ryan and I started coloring it. After watching him use 4 different colors to create a skin tone, I grabbed the dang peach pencil and went to town. Seriously. It’s 3 year olds, Ryan.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI decorated the backyard which to me means moving chairs around and plopping her easle nearby. Done.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHere it is kids… don’t be scared.


Oh, hold up. I did do a pinterest activity. Fishing poles with magnets to catch fish with paperclips. Yeah, I think only one fish was caught, and that’s because the magnet was already attached. Whatever, I tried.

It was pretty low key. We sang to Ruthie immediately, during which she looked at me to sit next to her. I was just happy she stayed there and didn’t cry. She’s been regressing a little into a shyer version of her once outgoing self. But I get it. I’m one way with a group, and another one-on-one. I’ll sit next to ya, girl, don’t worry.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen we just played and talked. Some of the boys were throwing pinecones on top of our detached garage/shed roof… when our mower-guy came that afternoon, he found a copperhead in that same area. I spent the rest of the night imagining everything that could’ve happened. I guess that’s where my creativeness comes into play: Imagining the worst of every situation until I can’t sleep at night.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESStay away spider if you value your life.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnnie was going nuts, so I asked Mandy to head up the baby ruth game.  I really think it was a hit!


SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOne mom commented on the bottles I used for the lemonade and asked if I made my own wine. Why, yes I do! Okay once I did (of dandelion wine) and have never since, but still. And randomly I had one tiny bottle in our fridge that we’ve lugged around for over 4 years. Why? I have no idea… it became sort of like a pet. So I broke it out for a quick taste test to which we all agreed that one tasting was plenting. I swear, don’t light matches next to that stuff, it’ll you’ll scorch your date. Out the rest was poured on the other dandelions in the yard. This is for my homie….

A few days prior we visted my brother’s house where Ruthie and Annie ate about 3 tons of grapes just because they could and because I wanted them to be quiet so the adults could talk. Think of all the crappy wine I could’ve made with those grapes.

We also had a family over that we hadn’t seen in about a year. They were in our birthing classes while I was pregnant with Ruthie, so it was fitting to see them so soon to her birth-day. This mama has 5 kids, homeschools, and still wears make-up. It all intrigues me.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRuthie was in heaven chasing her kids everywhere and making pinecone creations with them. Sometimes Ruthie pulls away shyly, and other times she is instantly someone’s shadow. Annie is the same way and they both just took to these kids so quickly.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe parents talked until 10:30 (!!!) and it wasn’t until the last ten minutes when the kids started getting restless and over-tired.
So fun. When I see all her kids running around it makes me want to have a gaggle of my own. Ryan would at least like to try.

Double Decker Weekends

Woah. These introverts had two weekends in a row where (don’t say it too loudly) people stayed over. I guess we’re only semi-introverts, because we sure do love company.

First up was my sister. She arrived Valentines day, just in time for me to receive a chocolate-covered strawberry delivery from Ryan. It was sweet. I think it was a groupon too. He remembers, when we were dating, me saying, $5 LIMIT! Looking back, I should’ve milked that holiday.

In walked Amy and Wiley. Ruth loves dogs.. and took advantage of following Wiley around whenever she could. And both nights Wiley would lay under the table to hide from her.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat night we celebrated Amy and Des’ birthday. February is the gauntlet of birthdays in our family. Every day from Feb 11 to Feb 15 a birthday is had. Apparently May 7 to May 11 is a happening time between lovebirds.

I can see that. The birds are chirping, the breezes are blowing, the kids are still in school for a couple more weeks so let’s get it on before our energy is zapped all summer,  yeah… I see the romance.

Anyway, we had the birthday girls over and celebrated with a sundae bar, complete with a bucket of ice cream and a candelabra.
If you haven’t heard (you must be living in a cave if you haven’t), this is my year for surviving. I was just happy candles were anywhere in the vicinity. I’m scared that Ryan may just get a Bic lighter stuck in a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats for his birthday coming up. I’ve only got three more months to use the Surviving excuse, so might as well get the most out of it.

Candles were blown, ice cream was eaten, and talks of the world;s end commenced. I had just gotten to a peaceful mental place not 2 weeks ago about that stuff. And then they started talking and now I’m trying to widdle every piece of stone I see into an arrowhead so I can “protect my babes.”

At some point we went to sleep and woke up to a cold, frigid day.

Ruthie wouldn’t eat her eggs. It was a stand off and mama always wins.


Ryan wouldn’t do a dare and eat some of Wiley’s buffalo jerky, so he was made to do three cartwheels in the front yard.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe mailman didn’t even acknowledge him.

Snow was still on the ground, so we made a mini snowman.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd Ruthie felt compelled to eat the carrot nose.  I was happy she was eating veggies.
After spending a bit of time outside, we laid around and watched movies, one of which was Watcher in the Woods. If you haven’t watched this gem of a thriller, please go do so now. I’ll wait for you.

Done? I know, wasn’t the main girl so annoying? Anywho…

We literally sat and relaxed until Amy left the next morning. It was a rare (and welcomed!) experience for me, but I needed that rest for the energy that was about to come the following day:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy sister Lisa and her two daughters!

There was a three minute window before toys were played with and coloring began. You know I loved it.

I cut up some oranges for them, but Ruthie hoarded them like it was her job.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat night we had a very breathy game of “kicking and hitting a balloon in the air without letting it touch the ground.” Welcome to Arkansas, kids, this is your entertainment. It consisted of me and Lisa sitting our lazy bottoms on the couch while the little ‘uns ran around hitting the balloons to us. I pulled a muscle reaching my toe out to keep one from touching the ground.  It was pathetic.

It’s my year of surviving. Next year I’ll dive for that sucker.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen we asked Uncle Ryan to read a story.

He pulled many accents out of his arsenal for his captive audience.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen Elayna read a book and tried her hand at accents.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis was the result:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBefore we went to bed, the girls asked if we could go bowling the next day. I said yes immediately, but then laid in bed wondering how I was going to survive. (It’s all about me this year.) My mind flipped through its mental pinterest and woke up with a suggestion.

Could we make our own bowling alley? It would be top-notch.

I braced myself for looks of disappointment, groans, and maybe an eye-roll, because I was sure they’d read my Mary Poppins crafts post, but apparently they don’t read my blog because they were both so excited! It made my heart happy.

We ate breakfast, cleaned up, and got to it.

Lisa and Kate were in charge of coloring the water bottle pins. Elayna tackled the scoreboard and Ruthie.. I don’t know what Ruth was doing. Just do something and don’t whine. Please!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter an hour or so of prep work, we were ready to go outside under our carport area. The part of the house that I was actually super excited about when we first viewed the home.

Welcome to Boom Bowling Alley!

Bowling on a sunny day? Yes, please.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRuthie whined only a little. Nothing a bag of popcorn couldn’t help stop. She robbed the concession stand even though we were all given fake money. Whatever.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI was able to not wear make-up and nurse at ease.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Afterwards we ran around, played soccer, and got dirty. It was my favorite kind of day.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The neighbor boy who is Elayna’s age came over to throw a Frisbee and I’ve never seen Elayna run so quickly before. Inside she went, stating that she really just wanted to “finish this page/chapter/series and can’t come back out.” Ah, the flutters of nervousness around boys. Maybe next time.

Ruthie was all sorts of flutters around Lisa’s nail polish. Immediately when she saw them, she said, “I like your nails!” Lisa thanked her and then off Ruthie went to the other room where it became quiet. That’s never a good sign so I checked in on her.


Ruthie could have slept next to her cousin every night if I let her. And when they had to leave, she pulled out her makeshift violin (out of two sticks) and played a farewell tune.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
That tune only had to last a few days though, because we invited a family over that following weekend for dinner. Somewhere along the line, dinner turned into a sleepover. They have six kids and if I were barely surviving with just two, I can’t imagine with six. So instead of making them come over and immediately pack the crew up a few hours later, I suggested they crash so the parents could have alone time longer.

Which ended up being 2:30am and in Carolyn time that was like pulling an all nighter. Whew!

But I was strangely perky the next day even without coffee, because it was the most beautiful day outside, ever. Mid-February and I rocked a tank top and my skin got pink.

More girls = more people for Ruthie to stalk. They dove into the dress up box and came out looking awesome.

And why shouldn’t they have? We had a picnic to get to people!
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTheir dad broke out (our) guitar (that still hasn’t been played by Ryan, ahem) and sang songs for hours while we drank a beer in the sun. Probably the best combo on earth.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI heard snapping in a Z-formation behind me and turned around to see Ruth making her entrance. Work it, girl.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMagicians arrived pulling The Never-Ending Scarf out of the Hat trick. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfterwards we tried to strike it rich, but only came up with random pieces of metal.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAs we were lounging inside, something caught my eye and I ran to the window.

Nuh uh.

Forts were in the process of being made, supported by sticks and designed around areas of clover “to keep it comfortable.”

But the kicker was the book laying on the ground.

The Little Prince!

You have got to be kidding me. Does anyone remember when I wrote a whole post on that darn book? Of course you don’t, so let me link it here: The Little Prince post.

Sigh. When I picture Ruthie playing outside by herself, it’s like this. A random book tossed to the side while she climbs a tree wrapped in blankets. You had better be taking notes, young missy.

The family stayed for dinner the next night and then had to leave.

Ruthie never saw them go.

She was out.

But good thing she got some sleep because more visitors came the next afternoon! Jesyka and David! And even more music was played for us. I love these two!


And just because I want to brag on him, David is part of a bluegrassy band called Sons of Otis Malone. You can’t not feel good while listening to them. I dare ya to feel bad:

See? Ya can’t.

All of these caring, funny, talented, and interesting people in our life and we so love having each of them in it.

When I had a mullet for a day….

I think it started with a college photo I uploaded to facebook.
MoiThat hair.

Whew! And you know I thought it looked good. It was easy to style too, even when I had to use Carmex after the gel ran out, which was pretty much all of the time. And even though it’s now clear that I was pushing the porcupine-skunk boundary to the max, that hair still resonated with me as I uploaded it.

Get out of your funk it said. Do something!

So when both girls were asleep at the same time, I took a shower, brushed my hair forward into a ponytail on top of my forehead and hacked away. No hesitation, no worries, nothing. I’m a cocky son of a gun during the scariest moments.

And why shouldn’t I’ve been, when I’ve got this before/after photo to gaze into:


Yep, no need to worry. And look she even got some new specs that magically appeared after cutting off that tail. This is the gift that just keeps on giving, folks. One cut and you’re a knockout.

And then I looked up.





Wait for it….





What the.


Look at how that gray hair glistens. You can take the girl out of the skunk, but you can’t take the skunk out of the girl.

I quickly ran back into the bathroom and redid the whole process. You know, because more of something is always a good thing? And as I was leaned over the sink about to take the next cut, I heard Ruthie yell at the top of her lungs “I’ve got to go POOOOOOP“. Oh yeah, we’re on day 9 of potty training. Not even two weeks. My response?

Yeah, go for it Ruth… Your mom’s taking care of an emergency.”

I quickly cut my hair and ran down the hall before even looking in the mirror. She ended up doing everything right, making it into the potty chair, and we had our usual discussion of what animal the poop looks like. She’s the one that started it, I just rolled with the punches. This time it looked like a bunny rabbit. Yeah, cool Ruthie, I gotta go.

I ran back into the bathroom and looked in the mirror.

What the.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI mean, I guess it did look sleeker.

And look at these layers!

No comment.

No, literally. No comments were made. Not even from my 2.5 year old, who is now trained under threat of expulsion that she shall scream “I LIKE YOUR HAIR” when mom comes out of the bathroom for an extended period of time. Because we all know I don’t spend the minimum quota of time required with a brush.

But nope, not a word.

I think she would’ve rather been sent packing into the wilderness and find wolves with better manes than this thing that is currently her mom.

So back to the bathroom I went and I just took the rest of my party hair in one hand and hacked away. It was pretty much Les Miserables all over again.


Though no one paid me for my locks.
Annie tried her best to photobomb the photo to protect your eyes, but I was too fast.
And then it really went down hill because I started day dreaming about my life with this haircut.

Do I tilt my head to counter the diagonal line of the cut in the back? But what if my head stays like that? I would forever be in mid-valley girl head toss.


Should I walk with Annie in front of me at all times, blocking the jagged layers?
But when she’s 16, she’s gonna be heavier, so no that wouldn’t work either.

What if I try to be a hipster and act like this was intentional and you’re actually not cool for having a symmetrical hairstyle..
No. And I think insulted the whole hipster community.

Then I walked through the room and pretended to be a bystander glancing at me.

My raw reaction was the push I needed….
FINE, I’ll go to an actual hairdresser.

Ryan came home and I scooted out the door faster than you could say “…and maybe you should look into highlights…

I didn’t know where to go, so I drove down the main strip looking for “Walk-ins Welcome” and, aha! I spotted one. Ooooh, and it was so cute too. In an old little home with a handmade “We’re open!” sign in the window. I pulled around the back away from the front windows.

Because… well, because I was driving Ryan’s car. The one he just got in a wreck with. The one with no muffler where it sounds like a freight train bearing down the road. The one where if I pull down the shade thing, all the fluff and dirt from the past 15 years falls on your face. Normally, I’m totally okay with all those quirks, especially if I can hop out with my hair straightened and full-on makeup. But not this night. Nope, I was a ball of self-consciousness. So when I pulled behind the cute little hairdresser house, my stomach sank when a hidden window appeared on the rear wall.

A window where three hairdressers were hanging out.

When I parked, they looked. All of them. And they continued looking. I looked back. We stared at each other for a full minute before I raised my hand in a semi “Yeah… what are you looking at, my HAIR???” move and stuck out my chin. One girl raised her hand back at me and did the same thing.

Oh, man, it is ON, I thought. How dare they laugh at my haircut when I am coming to them for help. Well, they’re not getting my business.

And I reversed out of that parking spot. But because I was driving a stick and because I was a ball of nerves, I stalled. So I had to restart the car and then peel out of the parking lot.

Good riddance, I thought. On down the road I went, refusing to acknowledge that I’d over-reacted. Denial is bliss, especially when truth can be drowned out by a bad muffler.

…and then I saw it. “Hair….And All That Jazz”.

HECK. YEAH. I swerved into the parking lot, but it was Closed.

Dang. It.  I had visions of them putting a sequined cloak around me and quietly singing, “Rat a tat tat, rat a tat tat tat” while snipping away.

Ah well, on I drove and finally came to a no-big-deal salon in a random strip mall. But what drew me in was that no one was seen in the salon itself. Dead is probably not the adjective most people want associated with their hair salon, but for me it’s a perfect one.

I walked in and out came this guy that smelt of a too-short smoke break. But he was soft-spoken as I rambled on about my episode.

Little did I know that I was about to have the best hair cut experience of my life. Not even joking. He made one gentle comment about the unevenness of the back and then that was all. I think he might be my hairstyling soulmate, because I hate chit-chatting during a hair cut. He let me sit there with my eyes closed as he slowly worked around my head. When his co-worker came back from her smoke break, she asked him several yes/no questions that he must have responded with nodding or shaking his head, because he uttered not a word and my peace was uninterrupted.

I left feeling shaky like I had just gotten a massage. It was wonderful.

And since I still had the keys and time alone, I headed to a store that I always have to rush through with two kids in tow: Hobby Lobby. When I heard a little toddler scream bloody murder and throw a tantrum, I smiled at the frazzled mom and continued on my slow… slow… slow stroll down the aisle.

Hi. This is me without kids staring at crafty things and home decor:
But let’s take a look at the new do that Smoke Break McGee did for me.
What a happy accident.


I’m starting this post at 8:40 am and both girls are asleep.

I think.

I might’ve heard Ruthie a few minutes ago but I’m gonna pretend it was my imagination just to buy myself some more time. Don’t judge. I can write a lot of words in five minutes. But ask me to remember where I put my wallet, and that may take all day.

Some random things:

  • Annie just farted.
  • A spider crawled out of Ryan’s beard and he flung it onto the wall and killed it. No joke. It’s time to shave.
  • Annie was on the verge of sleep the other day and literally laughed out loud. It was awesome.
  • We’re about to go on a walk because it’s gorgeous outside. 8:43 and 63 degrees. Yes, please.
  • Ryan makes me smoothies every morning.

…and I hear Ruthie. I’ll be back.

Okay, we’ve gone, we’re back, we’ve eaten lunch, and are about to go down for a nap.

Remember that broom from our garage sale adventures? Ruthie loved it, as I thought she would since she always wants to help sweep the floor when I do it. She spent a good long time sweeping in my parent’s house where we were all chit-chatting.

And then there was silence.

Where’s Ruthie?! Oh my gosh, ANNIE!!!

She’d been left to sleep on a chair in the living room…. and this is a reenactment of what Ryan found minus his hand.
DSC_7576As my mom said, Ruthie was trying to sweep Annie away.

Ryan and Ruthie were reading her Pride and Prejudice book one night on the couch. I love this book. The fact that they included her muddy skirt had me sold from the get go. This is the first book Ruth’s memorized, which is as it should be.
DSC_7698Then they got to the part where Jane gets sick at Bingley’s house…
DSC_7699Ruth said, “Sick. Mommy.”

“Mommy”, Ryan asked?

“Mommy. Couch. Sick.”

I then spent the next twenty minutes adamantly denying that I lay on the couch all day. And besides, you can’t trust Ruthie’s judgement anyway, because when I took down my favorite glittery picture of the holy family…

DSC_7700She looked at it and said, “Mommy and Daddy!”

Just because I may have cried out his name when pushing Annie out, doesn’t mean I’m his mother, Ruthie.

So see? You can’t take her word for it, Ryan.

A few minutes later, after staring at the picture some more, she whispered, “Jesus.” That unnerved me for a moment. How did she know that was of Jesus, when I’ve never even showed her it before? So I asked if she talks to Jesus, which one is Jesus, etc., and she said, “Go up! Book.” and started to walk up the stairs. I followed her to her room’s bookshelf and she grabbed the easter book that grandma and grandpa gave her this year.

Then brought it back down to read in front of the picture.

DSC_7689I love hearing her talk and read about Jesus.

Some other things of note:

Ruthie would like to be in a play pen.
DSC_7684The first day alone with them I let her play in there. Now it’s off limits after she tried to rock climb into it.

But the most important tidbit is the growing love between these girls.
The hard work is definitely worth it.

A few things…

Being the youngest of four, I’m appalled at what I’m about to confess. I swore I’d never: take less photos, document less, put her in a play pen. Literally the only documentation that I existed from ages 0-5 were of me playing with toys in a play pen. (You may roll your eyes, mom.) And just like my loud declaration that I would NEVER drive a mini-van after having to cruise around in one during college (complete with no a/c and a carpeted dashboard), I now understand how convenient they’d be with kids….and am considering diving back into that party-mobile again.

Alas, I’ve broken all my rules, the last mostly to protect Annie from Ruth’s curious hands.

So here is my attempt to correct the first two. Let’s learn a little bit more about Miss Annie:

She has long toes. Her second toe is even with the big one, just like mine. Ruth likes to do ‘This Little Piggy’ on them and I don’t blame her. Love those toesies.
She throws gang signs.  DSC_7547
Her favorite position gives me a good arm workout. DSC_7551
She has hairy ears.DSC_7609
Her second favorite position is over the shoulder. Her grandma likes to say she feels like a sack of flour. DSC_7610
She’s tired. DSC_7601
And then wakes up at 3am to give me this look:DSC_7602
She has some pretty killer eyebrows. DSC_7603
She apparently doesn’t like So You Think You Can Dance. Or several different blanket patterns in one shot. Ruthie does, thank heavens.DSC_7679
It’s generally going pretty well. She goes from 0 to 100 in nano seconds in the crying department. Every other night she’s a night owl. And every other night I get frustrated and tired and mumble angry things (that I don’t mean) about the rest of the world that does get to sleep. She lifts and throws her head back so much that her grandma says, “Annie!! Do you think you’re a big girl?” Her eye color is still undetermined. Some days they look light, other days dark.

But most of all she’s loved so very much by us all.


Week Two Down

Yeah, remember when I said that nights with Annie were going swimmingly? Well, the you’re-being-a-braggart gods heard my loud pompous cries to friends and family and decided it was time to strike me down. They always wait until after at least the third time you brag about something, because at that point you feel really comfortable in what you’re spewing and therefore spew it with much more vigor than you would otherwise.

And here is the result of said bragging:
ruth cryNormally I’m the one making that face, but she can’t hold the camera yet to capture it.

And this is after the fourth brag:


And after the fifth and sixth:DSC_7519
Fifth is the spit up. Sixth is the saggy mom boobs. If I’d only not opened my mouth these babies still would’ve been skyward.

But stormy weather makes the sun shine that much brighter, because interspersed were moments like this:
ruth annie
…and then right back to the grind. We love you Annie.DSC_7512Some other happenings involved mixing play-doh to make different colors. DSC_7513A random garage sale up the street. DSC_7521We found a book on frogs and an unopened package of colored printer paper. You just can’t buy that stuff for fiddy cents at the ole walmart. So even though the dresser drawer that houses my random sheets of blank paper is to the point of exploding into one gigantic origami windmill, the package still managed to make it home.

We also made cloud dough.

DSC_7536You can see where Ruth gets her hair styles from. DSC_7537It’s been hot and humid this past week. A couple mornings, we went to the park and then collapsed onto the couch in a heap of sweaty limbs. So we tried to find a shady spot to play with the cloud dough.

Later that night Ruth went to swim lessons. This is her swim hair when she gets home. DSC_7545Maybe I should take her swimming every day. I’m liking the flock of seagulls look (thank you for that line, Samuel L Jackson.)

Speaking of Ruth. She’ll say “Hold? Hold?” and then when we say “Hold you?” she’ll reply “Okay!” as if it were our idea in the first place. It kind of makes me proud.

In other news, she shoves her face like her mama. That also makes me proud.

DSC_7548We also gave Miss Annie her first bath.DSC_7524No cries from this babe. She liked it. Or maybe she was just too terrified of the knives behind her to show any emotion.DSC_7526
All I know is that while I’ve been tired, irritable, and short-tempered this week, I seriously love this new little addition and my growing family.DSC_7531
I can’t kiss her and Ruthie enough.

Hell(o) Week

As I’m writing this my head is bobbing and I could easily fall asleep within minutes.  I thought I’d escaped Hell Week, that first week of sleeplessness. And I did, at first. I probably shouldn’t have bragged about how quiet Annie has been throughout the day and evening.. and I probably shouldn’t have bragged about how she really only cries when she has a dirty diaper and then immediately quiets down before I even finish changing her. Yeah, probably shouldn’t have opened my big fat trap.

Because this week is hard. Not as hard as with Ruthie, I have to keep that in mind. There was one night, I remember, while holding a screaming Ruthie at 3am that I looked over and saw Ryan sound asleep in bed. I yelled the F word and kicked over a stool, it made me so mad. So while Annie may not cry as much as Ruthie did, it’s still hard to remember that in the early hours of the morning.  Luckily I have help during the day. My parents stayed last week and Ryan’s mom is holing up with us for the next two.

So while I have a few moments, let’s take a look at some highlights from last week. Warning: photo overload.

I loved waking up to this little gal, with sunlight streaming in…
Annie has really grown on Ruthie. She asks, “Hold?” every now and then, but gives kisses to her all throughout the day. DSC_7444
The day after having Ann, we had our herbal bath together. Usually that takes place shortly after the birth, but with both Ruth and Annie, I didn’t feel up to it. Ryan boiled the herbs and then we plopped it into the tub.DSC_7446
And we laid in there for a long time, swaying back and forth under the water. DSC_7449
While Annie and I were having our spa day, Ruth was also. Grandma put curlers in her hair. They lasted until the end of the Ant and the Grasshopper cartoon.DSC_7450
Dad was always on hand to hold the baby. He was normally asleep with her.DSC_7453
Ryan deflated the birthing tub. It comes with a disposable cover, which he had to walk through all over neighbors to throw into the dumpster. I’m sure we got popularity points with that one.


There’s a hose that you attach to the tub and it drains the water into the toilet. Ryan put the end of the hose into the toilet and went back to open the hatch from the tub. As soon as the water was let loose, the hose flew out of the toilet and sprayed all over the bathroom. He said that the bathroom has never been so clean after he wiped it down.

Ruthie’s first bow was put in her hair. She looked straight up flapper girl and I loved it.
Mom got some snuggles in too. She stayed for several nights, sleeping in Ruth’s room. Ruthie would always wake up once the door opened (how in the world did this child sleep through me moaning?), so she spooned her grandma in the big bed. The first night, mom said that she almost got spooned right out of bed. I told her to be aggressive and throw Ruthie back otherwise mom would end up on the floor. DSC_7464
Ryan and Ruth wait for the ice cream truck to drive by. She doesn’t know what lies inside it yet. Don’t tell her please. Thank you.DSC_7468
We tried to get a group shot of the grandparents and babies. Ruthie wasn’t having it. Maybe someone told her about the ice cream truck?DSC_7472
So dad set her down.DSC_7473DSC_7474
And then she saw her daddy.DSC_7475
And he saved the day.DSC_7477
There we go.DSC_7478
Ruth played ring around the rosie with her grandma.DSC_7481
Grandma and Jama tag-teamed a dirty diaper. DSC_7482
And then there was this.DSC_7486
And this.DSC_7487

And this.


Dad really takes “sleep when the baby sleeps” seriously. I wish I did.

Ruthie (hopefully) loving on Ann. I’m on the fence.

I’ve also been intentional about spending time with this lady. Reading books is the easiest way to do so. I’ve somewhat mourned our one-on-one time and am afraid of missing out on her as she grows during these first few months. DSC_7493
We’ll be okay. I’ve got some happy herbs to get me through. Not those happy herbs. Other happy herbs. And I think they’re already kicking in. I didn’t lean back in my mother’s arms like an infant and ball my eyes out when she left this time around.

This photo has only been included because I love Ruth’s thighs.DSC_7495
We celebrated my brother’s birthday.DSC_7498
Ruthie stole his wish. DSC_7499
Nope, you’ve still got your mama’s thighs, girl.

It was a busy, friend and family filled week.  I still have other photos of visitors that I’ll add. Everyone who has stopped by or who has dropped off food or has just kept us in their prayers, it has meant so much to me.

I’m feeling the love.

Hopefully I’ll feel the sleep someday too.