Gertrude Fern’s Arrival

Warning: There are more references to vagina in this blog post than in your junior high sex-ed class. Reader discretion advised.

But it doesn’t matter, because this is for when little Gertrude inevitably gets curious about her birth story. And we all do, don’t we. I’ve asked my mom about mine and the only thing I took away was that she was disappointed to not get a 5 day hospital stay like with the rest of my siblings. She only got 3 days, and really, what that tells me is that not only was I surprise pregnancy, causing more stress on a mama of 3, but that I also cut her all-inclusive vacation short.

Sorry mom.

Hope my uninspiring gift of play tickets every year for Christmas makes up for it. You do make an effort to look surprised every year, which is a skill that’s been honed from the first moment you saw the pregnancy stick.

We were surprised too, when we saw that I was pregnant. It took a couple days to get used to the idea of not having another child because we were going to start the adoption process, but to be pregnant again. I was dreading the tiredness, the inability to go for a run (which I had just started getting back into), and yes, the delivery. I was scared this time around with no real reason for it. I had no idea what to expect with Ruth, so wasn’t afraid at all. And with Annie, I was cocky about my pain tolerance so was excited to prove to myself I could do it. This time, though, I was an extremely tired mama and prayed every so often that the stork stories were true. My poor midwife acted as my counselor having to talk me off the ledge a couple times and I had to constantly remind myself why I wanted to do homebirths in the first place.

But before we get into the nitty gritty, and I do mean nitty gritty, let’s back up a few days prior. Our last weekend together as a family of four, and I knew, I just knew, that it was our last. So we soaked up each other as much as we could and took advantage of the great weather at the local splash pad. Everyone made a friend, including Ryan. She was 9 years old (in the white swimsuit) and I laughed my guffawing laugh from back in the shadows of the park like some creeper, watching Ryan back away every time she took a step closer to talk. He tried to shoo her off to Ruthie, but she wasn’t having it. Eventually some boy came up with the idea to have the sprayers spray on his butt, so that made all the kids scurry to find their own little bidet, leaving Ryan in peace.



image1Afterwards we ate a nutella crepe and walked along the street while Annie tried to destroy every living plant in her site. Yes, I was walking blissfully along not knowing that I was growing a giant in my belly. I look at this picture of me towering over Annie like Godzilla and want to reach in and stick an epidural in my back right then. Just let it soak in for a few days just for good measure….

My parents came down about a week early to help my sister-in-law after her surgery, which was a blessing in disguise because they originally weren’t even going to attempt the trip until after baby was born. So one day my mom and I decided to take the girls to their favorite library story time with Miss Erin. Ruth was acting differently and didn’t participate, while Annie was sitting up in the front by herself and getting into the mix hardcore. I didn’t push Ruthie to get in there because I figured she’d come around when she was ready. When you go to the same story time every week you start to recognize parents and their kids. One week, a new father and son started coming. The boy was extremely shy and the father could be heard saying (nicely, but repeatedly) “Go on. Sit by the rest of the kids. Go on, get the shaker. Go on, do this and that.” I know he was feeling like all eyes were on them and assuming we were wondering why his kid wasn’t dancing with the rest. But as the weeks went on, he started backing off, and then slowly the boy started participating. That was an indirect learning experience for me. So when Ruthie wanted to just sit on the floor during all the library activities, I let her and didn’t worry about it.

It was while she was sitting there like a bump on a log when I felt my first…something.

10:30am – Not a big something, not an “ouch” something. Just a something. I turned to mom and said, “I feel weird.” She was fresh blood with that line. If it’d been Ryan he would’ve hardly glanced at me and mumbled uh-huh. I’d been feeling weird for the past couple weeks and had to tell him every. single. time. But mom’s eyes perked up and that made me feel good. I went to the bathroom and when I came back, that something felt a smidge bigger. So I suggested we go home. This surprised me because I normally soak every single second of library time just to make it to lunch, so that I can then make it to nap time. But I felt confident in this something.

On the way home, I called Ryan and asked him to come home because this particular weird felt weird. Before I called, he had just finished presenting his part in a team meeting and said, “Okay well my wife’s gonna have a baby so bye.”

Soulmates. Or maybe my “I feel weird” line had become so engrained that it transcended space to reach him at work.

After we hung up, I peeled into Dairy Queen for my “last supper”, because I was sure I’d have this baby in mere minutes according to past history and what literally everyone predicted. Mom begged me to get something light, so I got the quarter pounder with fries and ice cream. It apparently was also my last “go-against-what-mom-says-as-a-mother-of-two” too.

When I got home, I called Lucy and she was at another client’s house for a home visit and would come over afterwards.

1:15pm – Lucy and her apprentice, Bethany, arrived. She checked me and I was at a 4 and 85% effaced. They decided to stay and see if I progressed in a couple hours.
image4 Bethany goes to church with me. So I was really excited to parade naked around her for several hours, complaining nonstop, and then seeing her for the next however many Sundays in the future.

3:30pm – I was checked again and this time was at a 5, still 85%. They decided to stay, so Ryan blew up the birthing pool. . Only at a 5, I thought. Shouldn’t I have already had this kid already, because that was the plan. Mom and Dad were playing with the kids, thank goodness, because the contractions were starting to bug me to the point I had to close my eyes and breath through them.

During one contraction, my eyes were closed and dad yelled, “Wake up Carrie!” It was the first moment I knew everyone had to leave. Like, now. Everything seemed to be loud and clangy and bangy and toddlery. Go, please. So they took the girls to their RV and planned on them staying the night.

The moment they left I felt so much calmer. Props to the moms who can birth with their kids in the room, because I obviously need them shuttled off to another state.

4:00pm – Before leaving, mom made a plate of cheese and crackers for us to snack on. One part of homebirthing that made me act nuts was the feeling that I was a hostess. I asked Lucy and Bethany about 300 times if they were hungry and then closed my eyes during contractions and then asked them another 300 times before the next one hit me. Mom thankfully swooped in and stopped that before the next round of interrogations began.

Then Ryan pulled out the big guns and set out dinner for us as well.
image2Right before I asked everyone 300 times if they wanted seconds, the doorbell rang. It was a RN who had to administer my antibiotic. I had tested positive for Strep B, so she got the lucky job of hanging out with me for 30 minutes. It has to be administered once every 4 hours when labor starts. The lady who prescribed it for me said she really only thought I needed one dose because, ahem, I WAS SURE TO HAVE THIS BABY FAST, but that she’d set up a few doses just in case.
image3With that in the back of my head, I chit-chatted with the friendly RN, sure to never see her again. She said I looked like I was handling the contractions well, so of course i wanted her to leave before I started my patented pleading and begging.. wanting her to think I was so genteel I’d only do a couple quick breaths and oh here’s baby. Not even a peep from mama, what a demure southern bell!

That thought was blown out the water when she told me she’d just had a baby like 4 months ago. I wanted to shove her like Elaine and yell ‘shut UP!’, but calmly said, “Don’t make me hit you.”

I think we’re best friends now.

So off went skinny-mama-with-a-four-month-old.. I mean, the RN. And back I went to breathing through these contractions.

6:00pm – I decided to get into the pool. Why not, I thought, baby is imminent. After getting in, Lucy checked me and I was at a 6-7, 95% effaced. The hot water felt awesome and it either calmed my contractions down or I was just getting used to the pain, because they didn’t hurt (too badly.) I still had to breathe through them, but it was totally manageable.
And that’s when the cockiness set in. After two previous home births that went pretty well (Annie’s was two hours, start to finish) I started laughing with Ryan during the breaks between contractions and would go on and on about how easy it was.


At 7pm – I was at a 7, edging on 8 and 95%.

So I posted a photo on Facebook and even replied here and there.
Home birthing problems: when your mug doesn’t fit in the birthing pool’s cupholder. 

Cocky. And probably kind of weird too, but I’m used to that. So I sat back with my ice water and warm pool water and patiently waited for this baby to just appear out of nowhere.

9pm – Still at a 7/8. Two. Hours. Later. That took the wind out of my sails and started feeling disappointed. So Lucy suggested I get out of the tub, walk around, and swivel my hips. I said yes just to appease her because in the back of my head I still thought it’d happen in 15 minutes. I climbed out, walked down the hall, and swiveled my hips as requested.

And then all hell broke loose. Like, contraction hell. And I wasn’t ready.

In the past, I’d had a pretty good rhythm and sound to my breathing. But these took my breath away and I couldn’t really focus. I literally felt out of control in my head. Once, someone came over and talked me through a contraction which helped a lot. But mostly I wanted to sleep and by golly, I made sure everyone knew it. I think I said ‘I just want to sleep’ more times than ‘Are you hungry’.

It got to the point where I suggested everyone start a drinking game every time I said it, but that was ruled out because they’d be wasted after five minutes. I laid down once and really did try to sleep. Silly girl.

10pm – My skinny RN friend came back and I just looked at her wondering why she was there (and what her workout routine was) because I thought we’d all agreed that I didn’t need a second dose. Where is this dang baby. I know I was psyching myself out.

11pm – We went back to the bedroom and I kneeled over the bed. And this is when The Period of Whining commenced. It was annoying, even to me. Lucy checked me and I was at a 9 but said that it could stretch if I felt pushy.  After awhile I did start to push. Lucy later told me they seemed like ‘trial’ pushes. Every time I moved or changed positions, a midwife would appear with a fresh pad to lay underneath. Again, for some reason I took this as that baby was about to arrive.

Let’s all say it together…. Oh Carolyn.

I climbed back into the tub and Lucy asked to check me. She said the top of my cervix was falling forward (this is how I remembered her saying it, later she said it was an anterior lip. Ryan gets really excited every time I bring that up with friends.)  She asked me to lean back while she manually held the cervix up so baby could get through.


I remember holding onto her arm for dear life and I do remember screaming, but Ryan said I didn’t. It must have been in my head. All I know is… ouch. I have a high pain tolerance and that was the most pain I’ve yet to experience.

After a few pushes, I turned back onto my knees and it did feel different. I felt the head close. I remember Lucy holding up her finger to me showing how far I had to go which was less than the top of the first finger wrinkle. The ring of fire came (with thankfulness this time!) and all I can remember is Ryan saying how close I was and “Oh Carrie!!” He held onto my hand throughout the pushes while Lucy explained what she would do when baby came out…she’ll push the baby through my legs and up to Ryan.

The next push I felt her come out and I whispered Holy Sh*t. Ryan put her into my arms and I scooted back with her on my chest. I remember looking down at her and thinking how good it felt, her little head on my chest. Lucy started smacking her feet and put her lips on Gertie’s and then put an oxygen mask on her to help, all the while telling me not to worry. Within minutes she perked up, Ryan cut the cord, and then she went into his arms while I did the rest of my business.

I climbed into the bed and tried to nurse her. She’d latch on and then let go. I was frustrated and exhausted, so Ryan took her as Lucy checked me out. He told me he laid with her in bed and sang the Snowflake song to her. Later, in the hospital, with many unknowns swirling around us, he said he thought back to that moment often.

Gertie ended getting stuck during the labor which caused bruising on her face, so don’t be alarmed at her coloring.


Lucy laid her down to inspect her vitals and then weighed and measured her: 10lbs 2oz and 21 inches long! But as she looked at Gertie longer, she noticed some swelling in her feet that didn’t sit well Lucy. She suggested that we get it checked out at the hospital and off we went. Little Gertie on her first car ride, only 2 hours old.

She didn’t know that the next adventure would last a month. We’re so happy she’s a part of our family.


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.

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.


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.

Ann Julia’s Debut Story

Ann Julia, she’s named after her two grandmothers. My mom’s middle name is Ann and Ryan’s mom’s name is Julia. I just can’t get away from family names. I figure if they’re named after someone in the family, the chances of them talking about that person will be a bit higher, thus keeping his/her memory alive. It’s silly, but I can’t help it. I should’ve just named her Gertrude Leitta Mary Margaret Vivian Julia Patricia Collier and be done with it. Instead it’s just Ann Julia. Or Annie if you want to get cute.

It’s taken me until today to not call her Ruth or It, so things are looking up.

But let’s talk about her arrival, shall we? It may get too detailed, so avert your reading eyes. This is mostly for her when she’s older, so you have to bear with it in the interim.

She was due on Saturday May 25th and arrived one week later on Saturday June 1st just after 3:30am. By Friday May 31st I’d convinced myself that I was actually an elephant and would carry her for another two years. As I said in my previous post, Dana came by on Friday to sweep my membranes for the second time in hopes of starting something. I had very mild cramping as soon as she left, but after researching on Dr. Google, that appeared to be par for the course. So I sat on the couch and felt sorry for myself.

And then I got a text that a friend who was due two weeks after me had her baby that day. While I was happy for her, I sighed and continued planning a life in which I would be forever carrying mine: waddling up bleachers at Ruth’s soccer games, convincing the airline that it is indeed safe for me to fly 10 months pregnant because I will always be 10 months pregnant, looking for maternity mother-of-the-bride dresses for Ruth’s wedding. It would be physically uncomfortable, but I was already preparing myself for this lifetime of baby carrying.

That evening I had some stronger cramps and decided to text Lucy and Dana and let them know. I asked them to just ignore me if my texts were obviously not an indication of labor, because I was going to keep texting with every pain felt. With Ruth my water broke, so I’ve never ramped up to a birth and was hesitant to make judgement calls for fear of it just being Braxton Hicks or something.

They asked me to keep them in the loop on everything. So I cramped a bit more and took a shower.

As I was drying off, I heard Ruth cry, so I used that as an excuse to sleep with her. We cuddled in the bed and I fell asleep around 10:30pm. After an awesome dream in which two girls and I went to a British nightclub and danced danced danced, I woke up at 1am.

Wide awake. A storm was thundering outside, maybe that’s what woke me up? All I know is that I needed to text those girls about the dream immediately. I have no idea why. Ryan says I don’t have texting etiquette for sending those messages in the middle of the night. It was just so much fun, I had to let them know.

After probably waking them up, I laid there in bed and read some blogs until about 1:30.

And then I had a cramp. Woah, I thought, that was a good one. Some few minutes later, another one. Woah, I thought, that was a better one. They made me tense up next to Ruth and hold my breath.

So I decided to commit another social etiquette faux pas and text Lucy and Dana too.

Not gonna lie. Dana’s winkie smiley face scared the crap out of me. I had already planned out my pregnant life, didn’t she know this??

But the cramps kept coming…
Dana asking me to actually call them a contraction also scared the crap out of me. If I didn’t call them by name, then surely it wasn’t happening, right?

Friends, as much as I wanted to have this baby, I was so scared. See previous post. I didn’t want to do this alone and laying in the dark next to Ruthie with bad weather swirling around us, I never felt more alone then I did just then.

So I went into the bedroom and woke up Ryan, who I’m pretty sure had just barely gone to sleep. After waking him, I had another contraction/cramp that had me bending over my knees. He hopped up and immediately started getting the pool blown up.

I had told myself that this time I was going to be nicer to him and I was. But I think it’s because he learned to not talk to me, which he didn’t. He just went right to work and that made me feel comforted. He was calm and focused which helped me be the same.
Yes, I was nervous about wasting their time. I was sure these weren’t real and if they arrived I’d be relaxing in front of the tv with a plate of cheese and crackers watching Tabatha Takes Over.

But I took a deep breath and finally admitted they might be contractions.
Ah, my favorite laboring phrase: the mucus plug. You don’t know how many times I loved to drop that line in conversations just to watch people scrunch their faces up. It sounds disgusting, and you know what, I was disgusted when I saw it. And it also made me feel a bit weak in the knees knowing that this is probably for real.

Yep, still in denial, but maybe less so.
And here comes the moaning.

Holy moly am I a moaner. (Side note, I say Holy Moly about three billion times a day apparently. To the point that Ruth will say Moly to finish off my Holy.) I was not saying Holy Moly during the contractions however. I really wasn’t saying anything except moaning. After changing out the sheets and putting a mattress cover on, I leaned over the bed and buried my face into it through each one.

Literally two days earlier, our next door townhome neighbors moved out. I wonder if my body held out until I knew I could moan to my heart’s content. Who knows, but I sure let loose.

Oh yeah, Ruth is still sleeping soundly in the big bed by herself. Amazing.


The fact that I had to give one last ditch effort to give them an out makes me laugh. I knew that going #2 was a sign of labor, but still I had to pretend otherwise.

Dana arrived not long after that and I actually smiled when she arrived. And then immediately asked why she wasn’t wearing her Grey’s Anatomy scrubs. You know from a conversation we had, oh, about 8 months prior. You mean you didn’t remember I’d requested that you wear your least favorite scrubs just to make me laugh? Luckily another contraction came before I could launch into a tirade.

So I leaned over the bed and moaned through it while listening to her and Ryan discuss the best way to fill up the pool. This was probably the closest I got to getting snappy. I don’t know why that conversation annoyed me so much, but it did. Maybe because I wanted them to focus on me, I don’t know. Amazingly, I held it all in my head and reasoned to myself. I feel like I was much more aware of myself this time around. Much more in control of what I wanted to do, say, etc.

Another contraction. Dana came over and massaged my back. I managed to thank her afterwards.

She asked to check me and I was at a 7. The same number that I was with Ruth when they arrived, but this time instead of laboring for 9 hours beforehand, it was probably 30-45 minutes.

I continued to moan and contract and be massaged while Ryan filled up the pool.

At some point Lucy arrived. I don’t think the pool was ready before she had, because I think she was there when I got in. Yes, I do remember. She was there when I climbed in. And it immediately felt awesome. The contractions were coming one after another after another after another. I remember whimpering at one point (something I’d told myself I would NOT do) and saying, I just wanna cry. As it was coming out of my mouth, it made me mad. But a contraction would come too soon for me to dwell on it.

Throughout it all, I remember getting massaged, having water poured down my back, and getting kissed on the head. It was exactly what I wanted, and needed. I needed to be touched and comforted.

Ryan still had not spoken. Words of Affirmation are not my Love Language. Him being silent apparently is. He really loves me, that man.

Then all of a sudden I was having a couple minutes in between contractions where I could talk. Lucy said that this sometimes happens when you’re fully dilated as a way to give your body a break before pushing.

And what do ya know, I started to feel the urge to push during the next one and managed to say so during it. Lucy said that they could check me if I needed confirmation, or I could just do it. I asked for confirmation.

Dana checked me and I wasn’t quite at a ten, but I knew that I wanted to push. So Lucy said, Trust your body, Carolyn. If you need to push, it should open up to the ten. Or something along those lines. All I really remember was her saying:

Trust. Your. Body.

So I did.

And I started pushing.

Holy (say it Ruthie, Moly). I’ve never actually birthed a bowling ball, but now I think I know what it must feel like. With Ruth I remember the pushing phase as, dare I say it, delightful? I don’t remember pain.

But  I can assure you, I’ve never felt pain like I had with Annie ever in my life. It felt like she filled my entire body and there was absolutely no way she was exiting without putting me into a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

And then, Pop!

I felt my water break underwater. And the next contraction stung like the dickens. The next one stung even worse.

Someone said Ring of Fire and I just couldn’t believe I was that close to the end. So thank you whoever said that, because it gave me so much hope.

I was on my hands and knees leaning over the pool this whole time and after hearing Ring of Fire, I remember saying to myself: Try to remember this Carolyn. This will be your last experience. Stay in the moment and remember….

On my next contraction after Ring of Fire, Dana checked me.

Then Lucy said, On your next contraction, you will most likely deliver your baby.

Again, in complete shock that we were at that point after only 2 hours. I do remember getting super excited for the next contraction, which seemed to last forever. I remember thinking that she was wrong. That it’s not coming out and then there was one last burst of pain and then swoosh, out came baby.

Into the water and quickly up into my arms. As she was being handed to me, I saw that it was a girl and remember not being surprised. I was mostly surprised that I’d had a water birth. Something I didn’t want to have, but things moved so quickly that there was no way I was getting out.

But I was holding my baby and that was all that mattered.

Hair and facial expressions did not matter. Once again, just like with Ruth, I managed to make the sweetest motherly expression to my child after they were born. Seriously, why can’t I smile?
And once again, I have to reassure you Annie, just like I had to reassure Ruth, that I really did love you in this photo. DSC_7380
After checking to make sure the cord had stopped pulsing, Ryan came over to cut it. DSC_7387
He was so happy. Probably because I didn’t tell him to shut up this time (in much more colorful language) like during Ruth’s birth. DSC_7388
I was helped out of the pool and into my bed with fresh sheets and new pajamas. That was worth the pain right there. There’s nothing like snuggling into fresh sheets. It’s one of my favorite moments in life.

Annie and I hung out together for awhile as Lucy and Dana finished up paperwork and then they checked her vitals.


The official stats were 8 lbs, 9 oz and 20 inches long. If I hadn’t seen her, I would’ve sworn 8 lbs of that were just in her head.


I drank some orange juice and then went to the bathroom. While in there, I took an opportunity to fix my face. Without shame.

You all remember when I talked about my first photo with Ruth:


Especially when I compared it to my beautiful cousin Katie’s first photo. So I was bound and determined to make up for it this time around. If I could’ve shalacked my face to be like Ru Paul, I would’ve. But my knees were shaky and ended up with this:


It’ll do.
See how clean sheets can make us smile? Annie does too.

Lucy and Dana, thank you for seeing through my “cramps”!
DSC_7419Unbelievably, Ruth slept through everything. And this is the girl that will wake up if Ryan and I whisper to each other in the other room. That’s gotta be the Holy Spirit. While she slept and after the midwives left, Ryan, Annie, and I laid in our bed, snuggled our new friend, and watched the sun rise. This was such a special and intimate few hours for us. The light was low, our spirits were high, and smiles never left our faces.

But eventually Ruthie did wake up, at her normal time. By this time, however, my parents had arrived. We called them around 6am to tell them the news. Ryan’s parents had come down the day prior to wait it out. My parents had come the weekend prior after an especially crampy night in which I thought for sure I’d go into labor. It didn’t happen, but that only put the “But what will we do with Ruthie when it does happen” on high alert.

Apparently all we needed to do with Ruthie was lay in her a big girl bed for the night.

Once my parents arrived they saw Annie’s pink hat (we didn’t tell them the sex or name, partly because dad was half asleep and quickly got off the phone after hearing the news). Mom said for a split second she thought I put a pink hat on our baby boy to trick them.

But no, it was a girl and she was about to be introduced to her older sister.
After plopping down and saying, Boom Boom Boom, in reference to the thunder storms the night before, she finally looked at this new baby.
And never cracked a smile.DSC_7426
She was mostly concerned….DSC_7428
….for herself.DSC_7429
And out came her bottom lip as she sat on the edge of tears. DSC_7431
But then Papaw and Grandma scooped her up and loved on her, leaving us alone with our new baby girl for a little while longer.

And thus begins our first week with two children.

We’ve had so much help, so it’s hard to gauge how hard it will be, but I’m not thinking of that. I’m just thinking of how fun it is this time around. How smitten I am with my girls as I watch them literally grow in front of me. And how blessed I am for this happy family that had become my own little world and sanctuary.

Thank you to my family, to Ryan’s family, to Ryan, and my midwives for making this experience and transition a treasured one.

My Last Midwife Appointment

I had started this post before our little Ann Julia arrived two days later. She was a week overdue and I had cockily not written down my appointment time for the next prenatal appointment. So after confirming the time, I took a deep heartburned breath and headed to my midwife’s house.

As the saying goes, If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Well, my plans are to not have another pregnancy. So I’ll probably end up pregnant within a few months. That’s not to say I don’t want more children. In fact, the complete opposite. I want at least two more! But I never thought I’d have biological children at all. And, to be honest, I never had that overwhelming “I need to be pregnant” feeling I know some mothers-to-be feel. Before I even started dating boys, I knew I wanted to adopt. And since having my own children, the feeling that was laid on my young heart has grown even more. I talk about it nonstop in between kissing my sweet girls. But more on that later.

Because now I just wanted to document at least one of my appointments in the chance it never happens again. …and because I thought maybe some of you might want to know what it’s like to go to a midwife.

We basically stand around a cauldron, stirring a mystery broth while saying “Double Double Toil and Trouble” for an hour and then I leave.


It’s an actual appointment where medical information is documented. Let’s begin.

I knock on the door and am immediately hugged by my midwife, Lucy, and her apprentice, Dana. I’ve never seen them in a bad mood.

They let me be moody (which, believe it or not, I never really felt moody around them. Probably because Ryan was usually watching Ruthie and the thirty minute drive to and from Lucy’s house felt like the longest, most glorious minutes to myself ever.) With my previous midwife, I felt like I had to tiptoe around her and her moods dominated the room. But Lucy and Dana never let on if they’re grumpy and let me be me. They let me talk about my fears, they let me make fun of myself, and they let me be tired and quiet.

But before I start blubbering to them like I’m on a psychiatrist’s couch, I have to go pee and weigh myself.
Dana checks to make sure the sample looks good. Most times it did.

And then I head to the scale.

The one thing I remember my previous midwife saying was that in France the average weight gain was 50 pounds.
Yep, I’m still French.

Then I plop myself back on the couch to talk about how I’m psyching myself out mentally.
Ruthie’s labor and delivery was 12 hours long and I spent the majority of that by myself. Ryan was in the house, but too busy filling up the birthing pool and probably too busy not wanting to have a complete freak out session. So I labored until the midwife and Dana (who was at the time apprenticing under her) arrived. At that point I was transition and really feeling it. And I wanted to be touched. Not talked to, just touched.

I remember crawling across the pool and laying my head in Dana’s lap. I remember her saying, Awwww and rubbing my head. But apart from that, I can’t remember a lot of hands on me before Ruth was born.

Being alone and not being touched.

And dwelling on that scared me to the point where I was convinced I’d not be able to do a natural delivery again. Or maybe I was convinced I just wouldn’t want to do a natural delivery.

Several times they assured me that they would come at any moment I needed them. (Another side note, my previous midwife made a rather long pit stop that may or may not have involved eating breakfast with a previous client-mama before arriving to my house. This was always in the back of my mind leading up to Annie’s arrival. I’d become cynical and scared.) So even though they told me this, I was still slightly skeptical and fully scared of being alone. They also said that I hadn’t benefitted from being massaged or other pain-reducing tactics with Ruth’s delivery.

So I filed away their responses and hoped for the best. (Spoiler: They were true to their word. But more on that in my next post.)

After I whined a bit more, we went to the back room to listen to the heartbeat and feel my belly. It’s nice to lay on a daybed with lots of pillows. I asked several times if I could take a nap. They said no.

Playing with fake rubber babies. You’re welcome for that visual.

Lucy feels around my belly to check the baby’s position. At this point, the head was super low.
And then they measure my belly. The number of centimeters normally correlates to the number of weeks you are. I was averaging about a week behind, but at this appointment, I was measuring a 38 I believe, which indicated that the baby had dropped.
Then we listened to the heartbeat. It was pretty much consistently in the 150s range. Lucy would say, That’s sounds so girlish!
Afterwards she checked me to see how far along I was. This was the first time I asked her to check me because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. We can walk around for weeks at a 3 and never go into labor and I had a feeling that was the case. But edging on 41 weeks made me curious. I was at a 3, 70% effaced, and the baby’s head was at zero station. She swiped my membranes (which sounds gross, but is just running her fingers between the sac and the cervix in the hopes of stimulating the cervix to start labor).

When we went back to the living room, I asked what zero station meant and Lucy demonstrated it for me.
It means that the baby’s head is even with my pelvis. (-5 station means the baby is still floating around in my belly and +5 means the baby is crowning). It was encouraging to hear that, but made me wonder what the heck was taking the baby so long!
The next day Dana came to my house to swipe my membranes again (sorry!). Who knows if it was because of those back-to-back swipes or if it was because of the thunderstorms, but that night was little Annie’s debut into this world.

I can’t wait to share it with you. She is such a delight you guys. I’m smitten.

The Games We Play

It’s nice to have a mother-in-law that’s also a preschool teacher. She brings you things that either she’s made or photocopied from her curriculum. I’ve yelled at her to follow her dream to retire and make literacy-based curriculum, she’s so creative! It also makes me feel good to know she thinks reading is one of the best ways to teach, since I fall back on books any chance I can. Mostly for the snuggles, though.

So when things spiral to the point that Ruth spends her evenings slaving away on the computer:
I break out the homemade toys from Jama.

First up is the Feely Cup Thingamaroo. It’s just a plastic cup with a sock around it, filled with various things… soft, hard, round, square, etc.
DSC_7254Ruth isn’t to the point where I can ask her to pick out the soft ball, so we just discuss whatever comes out. DSC_7252And then it’s my turn to be creative…DSC_7259Uh, yeah. How about I just dump a bunch of colored gem stone thingies on a tray and let you scoop them up. Ta da!!!DSC_7262I don’t know what it taught her besides the fact that Walmart sells some hard to maneuver shovels, but this did also kill the time it took for Ryan to cook dinner.

Now back to Jama’s.

Her eye-spy game is still a hit. Ruth pulls it out every so often and goes back to find the camera.



Now back to my mine.

What? Colored gem stone things again? This time in WATER?

Ruth never saw that twist coming.


Neither did I, actually. In fact, I couldn’t see much of anything with this big ole belly in the way.DSC_7297So we go back to Jama’s creations where she actually learns something. You may remember her little flannelgram dress-up doll from a while back. Well, a Pete The Cat has been made as well. Mamas – go buy these books, they crack me up!

One book is all about his buttons, so she included some buttons to place on the cat.

I think Ruthie thought she was bedazzeling his shirt, which I fully approved of.DSC_7309

And of course Jama didn’t leave out his belly button, only the climax of the entire story!DSC_7308
The second book was about his shoes, so several pairs were included as well. Apparently we’re still trying to work out where shoes go on the body.DSC_7312
And I’ve been trying to get Ruthie to recognize numbers out of order, by asking her to place buttons on them randomly. It’s a hit or miss. I probably asked her to put this button on 3. She was more concerned with touching her nipple, I think. And of course, nipple is one of the words that comes out of her mouth perfectly. Lovely.DSC_7313
Anyway, don’t you think Jama should retire and follow this passion? I do. Or at least set up a blog and help us come up with ideas.

Now where did those gem stones go….

Mother’s Day

….or more like Be a Cry Baby Day.

I honestly don’t remember being this uncomfortable carrying Ruth. Sometimes I think the baby is so far down that it might already be halfway out and I’m just walking around with a baby’s head near my knees staring at people. So I spent the majority of Mother’s Day laying on the couch. I guess that sounds nice, doesn’t it. But then the thoughts and daydreams came… and I started to psyche myself out again about the impending labor. For those of you I’ve texted or emailed during these freak outs, I apologize, but thank you for your rah rah cheers. They’re what I need at the moment.

My pregnant friends and I are all discussing our upcoming plans. And when they start talking about getting epidurals, I  imagine a half-naked man waving palm leaves while feeding them grapes and giving them a pedicure. It sounds wonderful, but I know they still work hard and I totally get why women would want one. I have my own reasons for opting out of the hospital experience, some based on medical practices, but mostly it’s just personal preference. I hate staying in a hospital, period. When I had my appendix out, they strongly suggested I stay one more night, but instead I left and immediately went straight for my couch. I like being at home. That’s pretty much it. I just really like being at home.

So I spent Mother’s Day wondering how I was going to have the energy with a shot lower back and a toddler running around. And you can see it in my face.

That’s part pain, part exhaustion, part I’m wearing a tight jean skirt to church because it’s all I have clean and I could really give a rat’s ass, part scaredy-pants, part impatience, part hunger, part gratefulness for a beautiful day, part love for my family. But I’d be lying if that last part had to be focused on intensely to even make it in the pie. Why is that the part that’s so easily removed?

It did make it in the pie, though. Because I didn’t change one dirty diaper all weekend. I didn’t clean up after any meal. I was not made to feel guilty for sneaking upstairs for naps. For watching Sesame Street when normally I’d be down in the trenches playing. For barely having any meal plans ready throughout the week. For letting Ruthie throw crayons all over the living room and then asking Ryan to help pick them up. For, in general, being a grumpy butt.

So thank you Ryan, even though you never read my blog. Thank you for picking up the slack without so much a grumble.

Sunday morning I watched my girl get so excited to wear a her red hooker skirt (sorry mom, it just kind of reminds me of those red Christmas candles you put in all your windows one year that made us look like a brothel.) She does love it so and asks to wear it every day. I told her that hooker skirts were not appropriate for church, unlike tight jean skirts.
I watched Ruthie chase after a black cat. She so reminded me of Alice in Wonderland for some reason. Must be the white tights and black shoes. I’m sure she was hoping to go down the rabbit hole. DSC_7290But no, mean ole mom had to tell her it was time to get in the car. DSC_7293She stomped the whole way there. DSC_7294
And it made me smile. Oddly enough, when she throws a tantrum, those are my biggest laughs of the day.

We grabbed a pizza on the way home, listened to Ruth try to sing along with the cd, and talked about our faith and how it gets stronger every time we leave that place.  We came home, took a historically long nap, and then played outside a bit before watching the Survivor finale and wishing other people would watch that show too.

It wasn’t eventful, it wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t exciting. But it was my day and my life. And I really do love it, even in a too-tight jean skirt.


Ruthie wasn’t feeling well one evening. So we played it safe and stayed away from other kids the next day. This was fine until she heard her next door neighbor outside and scrambled up on the couch to watch her.
DSC_7102It was then that she realized she was being imprisoned.DSC_7107But then a prince(ess) came to rescue her!DSC_7106Blanche! However Ruthie can’t say L’s and says Biiiiiiiiiiitch. Literally. It’s especially awesome during quiet moments in church when she suddenly thinks of her friend and decides to yell out her name.DSC_7109Happy Days are here again! DSC_7110
Here’s what the giggling conversation sounded like:


As I mentioned, it was Ryan’s birthday last week. He’s 7 months younger than me, but looks at least 12 years younger. One day we’ll even out.

So Ruth and I made him his first official gaudy birthday present, which he will have to love and feign excitement about.

Ruth loves her some play-doh, so I thought we could make something out of it. What is better than glittered, sparkly paper weights as her first gift? Oh, it makes me giggle. Paper weights.DSC_7144
I broke out the dough in his favorite color and got everything ready for her. Her strained smile reminds me of my mom before going to see Les Mis.


Buttons were added carefully.DSC_7147As were gems.

Oh boy, I love it when she gets slack-jawed and sticks out her tongue while doing things. This means she’s serious. DSC_7150
And the end result. Not bad… if you’re going for that gypsy bridal gown kind of look. DSC_7157They’re proudly (at least that’s what he says) sitting on his desk at work.

Ruth then spent another ten minutes just playing with jar lids. (Notice the tongue again.) Learning how to screw things on and off has been her latest endeavor. It scares me.

DSC_7158About a month ago, my neighbor Jeran offered to watch Ruth so I could organize at home…. and I went bizerk. The shelves over our dining table housed our ‘How-to’ books, middle-school fiction books, random bulk foods, and last but not least, homeschooling material… because I literally cannot pass up anything homeschool related at garage sales.

We’re not even certain that’s what we’re going to do, but I’d still like to have it all on hand just to teach anyway. It included a 12 book science set (teacher manuals and student manuals), along with tapes and projector slides. Why. Why must I keep these? They’re probably teaching that the earth is flat.

Anyway, I spent a full hour hauling those bad boys along with other material upstairs… huffing and puffing and hoping I don’t go into labor. Jeran said my face was really flushed when I came back.  But I was happy because it opened up room for my slowly developing craft/paper weight-making shelf.  Thank goodness for old spaghetti jars.

DSC_7153Could I leave it like that, though? No. As Jeran puts it, when you’re pregnant, you want to organize the world.

So I bought a bunch of these buckets on clearance to hide everything.

shelfAh. It did make my pregnant heart happy.

I wonder what other bad crafts I can make? The possibilities are endless!

G-Parents, Round Two

Ruthie’s one lucky gal. Yet again, she got a back to back visit from both sets of grandparents.

My parents swung through Arkansas on their way back from a three week RV adventure to the southeast and stayed a couple nights. There’s a decent golf course/rv park where they used to stay at until the park owners decided to only allow RV’s of a certain age. Well, our little Beulah (#2) didn’t make the cut, but they still called and asked to park there anyway. After admitting the year of the RV, there was a long pause and the guy said, “What condition is it in?”

Man, this is like the Spanish discotheque of RV parks. I remember once (okay many more times than once) while studying in Andalucía having to be surrounded by a group of people in order to get into a club because I (gasp!) wore tennis shoes. And, okay, a sweatshirt. Sue me. I was not a fancy college student. And it was cold. And I felt like wearing sneakers. My outfit in no way hindered my awesome Elaine Benes dance moves.

elaine-benes%20danceAnd if anyone would like a visual tool on how to perform said dance moves, here ye be:

elaine teachDid you hurt yourself? I know. Leave it to the professionals next time.

Anyway, so Beulah barely made the cut and be-bopped her way amongst newer versions of herself. Ruthie didn’t know the difference and of course immediately got comfortable at the wheel of this old beast. My brother and his dog came up to visit as well.

DSC_7125We talked about Survivor, their travel stories, and work.

I sat around waiting for someone to ask about any stories on the stay-at-home front. No one did, so we broke out the bubbles. This girl could chase bubbles all the live long day.

DSC_7128 DSC_7130
And then the kite was broken out. My mom said that my brother test drove it before we arrived and had to tell all the passers-by that the princess kite was not his. I wonder what kind of kite the newer RV’s brought. Probably hot-air balloons instead, actually.DSC_7132 The girls went inside to get supper ready. Ruthie wanted to stay out with the boys. DSC_7133Probably to avoid getting attacked by the lotion monster. Every time we see Grandma (which turned into Me-maw because my mom didn’t think Ruthie could pronounce Grandma…. which then turned into Mamie because Ruthie couldn’t pronounce Me-maw either. But Mamie was the name of my mom’s grandma so it worked. Anyway, every time  we see grandma/me-maw/mamie, she lotions up Ruth’s cheeks. Maybe I should quit sticking her face out the window down the highway.

After a quick dinner during which I made Ruthie show off everything she’s learned so far. (I only do this in front of her grandparents, but besides.. they love it.) My mom commented that Ruth comes off somewhat serious on the blog and was happy to see her silly side rearing its head in person.

Before we left, I asked for a photo of the three of them.

And that’s when I wanted to stand in front of an oncoming new RV.

How many times does it take? Seriously.

Open your eyes, dad:DSC_7138
Open your eyes, dad. Show me your teeth, Ruth:DSC_7139
Open your eyes, dad:DSC_7136
Okay, go back to closing your eyes. Please, for the love of God.DSC_7137
And finally, a decent one. DSC_7135
I was so happy they popped through!
The next weekend, Ryan’s parents came down on Ryan’s birthday for a couple nights. I made black bean brownies for the occasion because, let’s face it, I sure as heck wasn’t gonna be the only one with gas.

Ruth helped blow out the birthday candles. His mom’s birthday was a few days prior, so it worked out!

DSC_7164The weather was rainy, but we managed to sneak out of the house for a bit. Our library had a book sale going on, buy one get one free. With a car full of bibliophiles (including Ruthie), we walked away with a large loot.

Then we popped into our small town’s museum. And by ‘popped in’, I mean it literally took 8 minutes to walk through.


So we hurried home to go through our books. It’s like Christmas for us!DSC_7166
Then Ruth took a nap and Julia & I went garage saling. I can’t even remember what I bought, but I’m sure it was extremely essential to have. When she woke up, we broke out some of the things Jama made for her. I’m going to do a separate blog post on those things, they’re so fun! One of which was this Eye Spy game:DSC_7171
…complete with a camera to look through…DSC_7170I love games like this. Mostly because Ryan had just told us about an article he’d read about kids now needing therapy to quit their addiction to iPads, iPhones, etc. The therapist in the article said that detox was like coming off of heroin. We were Shocked! Appalled! Disgusted!

Hmmmm…. Looks like Ruth’s gonna get her first Intervention. She’ll only think it’s her second birthday party and then, bam! Off to Southern California to live with other addicted toddlers.

In other news, our mini library was rummaged through by Randy.

DSC_7189When Ruth went to sleep, Ryan and his dad peeled out of the drive drove off to live music while Julie and I watched a movie. It was a no biggie, nice weekend.

The next morning, Jama read Ruthie some stories before getting ready to visit Ryan’s brother and wife.

…so I asked them for a picture as well, dreading what I was sure to be an excruciating process like with my parents.
Heh. That was the first try. Take notes, dad.

Can’t wait for everyone to visit us again… it’ll be coming up quickly!!

The Blue Balloon

Have you ever seen The Red Balloon? It’s a silent French short film following a boy and his, well, red balloon. So sweet. Here’s a clip:

So when I asked Ruth to pull out a book to read, this is the one she chose. And guess what caught her eye.
DSC_7034BUE. BAWOON. She can’t say her L’s yet and ends each word like there’s a period and pause. BUE (end of sentence) BAWOON.

So I went into my trusty hanging shoe holder thing inside the closet where I keep some crafts for her and scrummaged around for a balloon.

Here are some her some stills from her own sweet short film. If only we had some french in us. Well, I kinda was, you know. I remember my first midwife, while carrying Ruthie, said something to the effect of… Didn’t you know that the average weight gain for a woman in France is 50 lbs?

I was sooo french, people.

Anyway, onto Ruth’s mini photoshoot with her own friendly balloon.
I really was going for an artsy blurry look.


Go out and find a balloon, everyone! They bring so much joy.

A New Favorite Place to Read

A conversation of sorts:

Me:      What should we do today? I want to do something. Maybe we could go to the library?

Ruth:   [pointing at her diaper] Potty? Poop?

Me:      Yes, we’ll probably go potty and poop today, you’re right.

[Ruth walks over to where her toilet used to be downstairs.]

Me:      Oh, it’s upstairs now in the bathroom… your toilet.

Ruth:   [pondering for a second, then…] Book!

book toilet

At least she’s making connections.

Bull in China Closet

I’m bound and determined to get these posts done before baby 2 comes along. I may even go back in time and finish some that were started but never saw the light of the blog’s day.

I guess I never really understood how hard it was to parent. First off, no matter who you talk to or what article you read, you’re doing it wrong. My compassion for other parents’ choices regarding any aspect of this 24/7 job has significantly increased since having Ruthie.

I’m now in the weird gray area of having Ruth unlearn a few things.

Like block towers for instance. When she was 8 months old we would squeal and clapped if she knocked down the tower. But now? Do I want her thinking it’s okay to knock down any ole tower she sees? Probably not.

So one day I set it up and made a big deal about not knocking down another person’s tower… just to see how long she lasted.
DSC_6959At first she waved her hand really slowly in front of it, looking at me out of the corner of her eye. She knows.
DSC_6967 And then tried to bribe me: You give me 5 goldfish crackers, I won’t knock this down MOTHER.
DSC_6963 See? I’m already in the wrong.

But quickly she was distracted by something on her finger. It was probably a booger. That’s worth about 10 goldfish crackers in her world.
DSC_6964 But then she spent the majority of the afternoon playing without touching the tower.
DSC_6972 ….or reading
DSC_6970 But then it caught her eye again…
DSC_6965 and got distracted again by possibly another booger.
DSC_6973 Staring at the tower and contemplating….
DSC_6966 So I played the Sound of Music and promptly balled my eyes out when the Captain sees his kids singing for the first time.
DSC_6976 That gave the tower an extra 15 minutes of life I imagine.
..and that was the last known photo of the tower before enough was enough and it had to come down.

Did you like your peek into my day of parenting. It’s pretty hard core. And I’m sure I did it wrong.


Last month, Ruth had some special visitors. Both sets of grandparents made an appearance! My parents came down just in time to babysit while I failed my glucose test. Luckily, my midwife gave me an additional few days to try to purge my body of all that sugar and retest again… which I passed. Barely.

Before I left for the glucose test of doom (in which I had to eat 27 jelly beans – poor little Carolyn! NOT.), my parents came to take over during Ruthie’s breakfast. She couldn’t stop staring at my mom. Probably because she couldn’t tell which gray headed lady at the table was her mom or grandma.
DSC_7001 Then she turned to look at grandpa who had immediately fallen asleep on the couch. Morning, dad.
DSC_6998 She quickly turned back to tell us Shhhhhh because Papa was sleeping. Can’t you see, you women??
DSC_6997 Mom made the unfortunate mistake of speaking again, which resulted in Ruthie yelling at us with even more force to SHHHHHHH!
DSC_7002 Mom didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
DSC_7004 So instead chose to just obey like a good little grandma.
DSC_7005 Ruth sure does love bossing us around.

The next weekend, Ryan’s parents came down to watch Ruth during our little jaunt. Somehow, not one photo was taken with our short time with them, but I did later take photos of something given to Ruthie from her Jama.

She made her a felt dress up doll! And yes, I squealed.
DSC_7092 But even better than that, she included in the accessory pile a picture of Ruth’s face. We laugh every time it makes an appearance.
DSC_7094But it always gets taken off a la guill0tine while searching for outfits to wear.
DSC_7096Slowly making a decision…
DSC_7098 And finally, my favorite scene:
DSC_7100Lay off the bubbles and tie-dye, Ruth. This ain’t no Burning Man festival.

Thank you so much Jama!

Bathing Beauty

Ruthie pooped last night, so Ryan gave her a bath.

I didn’t help this time. No, I, on the other hand, was snuggled into this girl’s couch eating popcorn and watching the 1998 version of Les Miserables. This was part two of a Les Mis battle between us, which started with a passionate rant sentence on my facebook wall on how Les Mis did not need to be redone. I don’t think either of us were really excited about seeing the other’s preferred version. But we did and I think it’s safe to say, we liked both. A lot. Jesyka, I no longer harbor a grudge against your loving the ’98 better, but mostly because you made me a decaf americano and had chocolate covered bananas on hand.

It’s only taken us several months to finally watch these movies. Between listening to her husband play banjo in his band, discount baby-crud shopping, and reality tv marathons, we’ve had other things to do. And other things to talk about. These Tuesday night dates have led us into other, deeper conversations which were three-fourths serious, one-fourth making fun of Basketball Wives. Hopefully I’ll have an update on one particular discussion in particular.

All this to say that I was sitting on that couch, heart hurting from the dang movie, when I got this text from Ryan:

How’s the movie? Ruthie just pooped all the way down into both feet of her pajamas. Les miserables! Je suis malheureuse.

I smiled and shoved another handful of popcorn in my mouth. Ah, to be the one not sending those texts. It felt glorious, my friends.

So Ryan had to tackle that one alone, but usually I’m there in the midst of bathtime.
DSC_7008 Ruth waits patiently for the bath to fill up.
DSC_7014And then Ryan swoops in to play with her bathtub music set.
DSC_7018 What do I do, you ask?

I’ve got the glamorous job of cleaning poopy cloth diapers.
DSC_7021 Let’s all give a moment of silence to toilet sprayers.

Thank you.

So, yes, when I got that text, you bet I snuggled deeper into the couch.

Easter Weekend

What a dreary dreary start to Easter weekend. Ryan had Good Friday off and we spent the day organizing and cleaning so we wouldn’t think about anything else on Saturday and Sunday. Little Ruth had other plans… like, getting sick Saturday night. So we three spooned our way into Easter morning and took the day slow. It ended up being a gorgeous day and we were thankful that Ruth could get some fresh air.

Before that, though, it looked like this:
DSC_7081 So after breakfast, I broke out an easy Easter craft for us to do.
DSC_7080 Ribbon, tissue paper, and contact paper. Now that’s my kind of craft project. I quickly cut an egg shape out of the contact paper, showed it to Ryan and he shook his head.
DSC_7083 That’s how we differ. I just jump in and get going, but he likes to make sure everything’s nice and straight and even before, I don’t know, laying down train tracks for instance. I’m pretty much my dad in that regard. I don’t know if the model train in their basement actually runs smoothly on the tracks, but man those are some nice mountains and trees!

Oh well. He’s a good complement to me.

I showed Ruthie how to get started and after crying for a few minutes (that should’ve been our first sign she wasn’t feeling well – she’s happiest in the morning), she got to it.
Me, in my squealing nature, got really excited that Ruth squished up the tissue paper before putting it on the egg. And as always with information overload, I then had to explain what “adding texture” was. She slowly turned her head to look at me. I took the hint and shut up.

DSC_7087 Then we ran over and put in our window.
DSC_7089It’ll probably be there all summer. Deal with it, people.

We also gave Ruth her Easter basket. Well, it wasn’t a basket, actually. I keep saying “next year” “next year”. I’ve got a lot of things to do before next year. I mean, for her first birthday, we grilled hamburgers and wrapped toys from her toy box. She was excited to see the soccer ball that she’d already been playing with for two months prior. It’s probably laziness (or being snobby), but I just can’t get into the whole first birthday party thing. Next year though. Next year will be fun!

So this Easter, however, instead of a basket, we brought in a little piano found during a thrifting venture on our weekend away. (It was given to her on our clean up day, so don’t judge.)
DSC_7039 She didn’t touch the keys for the first five minutes, but chose to inspect all sides of it instead.
DSC_7042We all breathed a sigh of relief when it passed her inspections.
DSC_7045 The audience was spellbound:
DSC_7049 and all it took was one gesture from the pianist to said audience member…
DSC_7047 before Cleaning Day was thrown out the window and recreating the theme song for Elmo’s World became the most important task of the day.
DSC_7061 Some nights we will literally watch him “composing” for thirty minutes straight. I can’t wait until Ruthie’s old enough where we can share side glances at each other, then giggle.
DSC_7062She has taken it to though, and every so often will run to her little shelf and pull out the one book that shows a muppet playing the piano.

Hope everyone had a good weekend and holiday. It, of course, went by way too fast.

Aisle of Doom

Let me put it this way. Ryan and I have been EATING THIS GIRL UP lately. As soon as we pick her up out of the crib in the morning she points to the door and demands in her garbled jabbering to be taken downstairs, she points to her bottom and yells POOP when she’s done the deed, and she has adopted my “oooooooh!” reaction to anything and nothing in particular – saying it in a song-song way to make the recipient of said “ooooooh!” feel worthwhile. You know, things like the jar of cinnamon in the spice cabinet, or when I pull out a new crayon color, or if there’s poop in her diaper.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Did I take photos? No. But we played in the volleyball sand pits and buried each other’s feet, we went for a long morning walk, and then played on the jungle gym at the park. Another girl was playing there as well and Ruthie pounced on this potential new friend. This she has also adopted from me as I find myself lunging for various girls after church on Sundays. Today was no different and I pounced on a cute expectant mother. Here was my intro:

[Bee-lining my way to the victim] “Hey!! I feel like we should bump bellies!!!! [And then proceeded to imitate the footballer chest-bump-in-the-air move.] Ryan and I aren’t stalkers, but we did spy on you and your husband with binoculars while out to eat at the same restaurant last week. And, oh yeah, my name’s Carolyn, nice to meet you.”

If she’d had holy water in her hand, it would’ve been dumped on my head. It sure is hard girliefriend dating in this day in age.

Anyway, back to Ruthie and the girl. As Ruth followed her around, I heard the girl’s dad say in Spanish, “Friend (how cute is that? Calling his daughter friend), Play with the little girl, okay?” I made a comment in English but he didn’t respond, so I thought this might be my chance to break my almost two years of not speaking Spanish record, and as we were leaving I said something about how cute his daughter was and Ruth liked following her. And he responded! Maybe I should stick to pouncing on spanish-speaking fathers instead of  girlfriends.

That came out wrong.


If that came out wrong in english, I wonder what the hell I said in spanish to that guy. No wonder he responded.

And now I’ll go put a dollar into our cuss jar because I’m trying to stop. Ruth says ‘shoes’ in a way that is so eeerily close to the other s-word (shiiiuuuzt) that I’ve finally decided I have a problem and need to correct it before I can no longer reassure everyone that she is in fact saying Shoes.

But oh Miss Ruth. She’s been described as intense the past few days by a panel of two judges. It’s an appropriate description too. Cases in point: With the windows open last night, she heard her next door neighbor outside. She immediately started yelling jibberish very loudly, very intensely, bringing us her shiiiuuuuzt and pointing to the door. In the middle of this chaos, her eye caught the computer screen that had Elmo’s face on it and she stopped in the middle of yelling to sing the Elmo song (very demurely and softly) and then went right back to yelling. When they were outside, my neighbor said she saw a cat and started yelling, Cat Maow Maow Maow Maow (then looked up) Moon! Moon! Moon! Cat. Maow Maow Maow.

Holy multi-tasking to the psycho degree. She is living up to her middle name Margaret. My grandma was a busy bee and I can still picture her deliberate walk to wherever she was going. From just the kitchen to the sofa, even. Every movement was intentional and well, intense.

In other news, Ruth is afraid of our vacuum. So I deliberately took her down this aisle just get to see her get jazzed up. Aren’t I horrible? It’s like Nightmare on Vacuum Street. Better not sleep, Ruth.

ruth vaccums

Actually, it’s more like Nightmare on Ruth’s Clothes Street. If she looks like that, imagine what I must have been wearing.

Ah, it’s fun to have a built-in friend. And I sure can’t wait to pounce on her in the morning.


This week has been one for the record book, my friends. For one, I took a shower every day. Amen. Secondly, I’ve never seen Ruth as sick as she has been. On one hand, you like the cuddles. On the other, you just want to go play outside while yelling to Stay on the sidewalk! like the good ole days.

We’ve been bed mates, this girl and me, and usually we’d just tuck in at her normal time around 7:30. But one night we stayed in the living room to watch Survivor with Ryan. Don’t judge. You watch Downton Abbey and from the sounds of it, it’s become just as cut throat on the surviving side of things.

So while we watched, Ruth let me cradle her. Don’t forget to check out the bleached out towel look displayed in the drafty window. It’s so in this season, and I’m ahead of the curve.
And it reminded me of a memory stuck in my head of being cradled by my mom. I must have been in 2nd or 3rd grade because I was big on her lap. I remember being rocked with a glass of Sprite offered every now and then.  I don’t think we had a rocking chair in the living room, maybe it was a rocking arm chair? Or maybe it was just mom rocking her body? Anyway, it was dark with the only light in the room coming from the TV. It was quiet too, so everyone must have been in bed.

This is probably what it looked like:
Me on mom’s belly. Remote in mom’s hand.

And I could almost guarantee that we were watching David Letterman. I’ve no idea why I’m so confident in the matter. Maybe because another memory I have is not being able to sleep and walking into the living room to find my mom eating crackers with cream cheese and salsa. She didn’t tell me to go to bed, she let me sit with her and shared her plate. And David was on.

So there.

I told Ryan about my memory and he also shared one, from about the same age.

He remembers laying on his mom and listening to her talk on the phone, and was comforted by the sound of her voice.
Okay, she probably wasn’t that crazy-looking. But just so everyone knows, this is how I look whenever I laugh at what you say. That’s if we talk on the phone, because I’m not a phone-talker. I know I’ve shared this before, but it’s because people actually listen to what I say while on the phone. I can’t distract them with facial expressions or hand movements. And that intimidates me, so no, I’d rather not thankyouverymuch. It’s no offense to you.

I remember my mom saying, There’s no one like mama when you’re sick. Ruth will run to the door when her daddy gets home and basically ignore my existence. But once that sickness comes on, she’s all mine. And that’s just fine by me.

Eyeliner and Cigarettes

See who this is?

It’s the spokesperson of FWA (Future  Weirdos of America). The pink flannel, the wind jacket, the shoes. Oh, the shoes. Black patent leather lace-up boots. It really should be called Future Loners of America, but then I remembered that even Jared Leto had friends while wearing those shoes in My So Called Life.

So at least there’s that. But all I see is Ruth with raccoon eyes smoking cigarettes behind the school.

And probably still using sidewalk chalk as her drawing medium.
I’m not taking all the blame either, because she’s the one that pulled those boots out of the basket and asked to wear them.
Dang, she does make me smile, though, that weirdo of mine. I like weird. And I hope she is.

But at this moment, she’s not weird. She’s sick. Really sick. Like, she lays on the couch while Ryan and I watch back to back episodes of old Arrested Development sick. But she’s not laughing.
See? Weirdo.

It seems like only yesterday that she was reading her books, always stopping on the Bookmobile page.
And it only seems like yesterday that we rolled her up burrito-style after a long bath. DSC_6882

She laid there for at least three minutes without moving. I can never roll burritos right. Stuff from the middle always blow out the bottom and her legs are no exception. We only kissed that burrito stuffing though. We didn’t wipe it off our sweater and  plop it into our mouth like we do at the dinner table.

Yes, that was just a few days ago. But now she’s in day three of an all-day napping marathon. It’s been hard work for me. I’ve had to sit next to her on the couch and read,

or lay next to her on the bed reading or sleeping. Someone’s gotta do it.

But she has woken up occasionally to moan and call out for us.

Or to puke.

If there were a Mom-olypmics, I’m pretty sure I’d medal in the “Catch The Puke In Your Hand” event. You should see how fast my hand shoots out to catch it. I’d probably only get third place, because the silverist would catch the puke while changing a poopy diaper with her other hand. The gold medalist would catch it, reduce it in a skillet, and turn it into some disease-fighting tonic.

So yeah, just third, but at least I’d make the stand.

I do miss my busy little girl, but I can’t deny that spooning her for 20 hours a day has been a highlight of the season. I sure do love her.

When The Cat’s Away

I’m luckily in a position where I can run up to KC and visit family while Ryan goes on business trips. Holding Ruth in my six-month pregnant arms while squatting over a gas station toilet because gawd forbid I take the time to put down toilet paper and then lifting my six month pregnant leg to flush the toilet even though in two seconds I’ll be washing my hands at the sink sometimes makes me question if it had been a good decision or not.

We normally make a couple stops to various Walmarts to walk around and have a change of scenery. But in general, she’s a good road tripper. On the way home, she slept for two hours and then sang nursery rhymes with me (and the cd) for the last two. No stops, no not much crying, and content for the most part.

I normally try to start the trip right before her afternoon nap, but Ryan’s flight was in the morning and I was just itching to go. So after playing with her next door neighbor on the sidewalk for a few minutes, we took off. And am I glad we did. Because not three hours after we arrived, she got sick. Like, unidentifiable chunks down my shirt, in her hair, everywhere sick. I had to strip down to my birthday suit in front of my mom and jump in the bathtub with Ruth.

I told myself it was just a practice run for when she (hopefully) arrives at this next one’s birth. I think back on Ruth’s birth (click here to read it) and am amazed that I literally walked around buck naked with no care in the world. It makes me cringe. And now you’ll cringe with that image in your head… and my work on this earth has officially been completed, goodbye.

After our bath, Ruth slept on my chest the rest of the night. It was nice to snuggle her normally busy body.

The next day we started to see a glimpse of the old Ruthie, but her eyes still looked tired. Or maybe she was just sick and tired of me pointing out circles everywhere, including on grandma’s sock.
Ryan’s trip lasted 5 days and by the third day, Ruth was officially back to her old self again.

And by old self, it meant that she would have nothing to do with me or grandma but only wanted grandpa (“papa”). We tried everything. Grandma put on some cds to try and dance our way into her heart. We thought we had her too, watching her stand in grandma’s shadow. But really I think she just wanted to stand as close to the kid-unfriendly fireplace as possible.
Again we thought we had her when she started playing with the little people. On her knees she started rocking to the music. It made grandma laugh, but no dice from her end.
So we each got up and tried enticing her with our dance moves.
I even put my pregnancy at risk by jumping around with her on my shoulders. What I won’t do for acceptance.


But then she went to papa and all was well.

He even got kisses. Whatever, Ruth.


And he was followed while trying to go to the bathroom. Double whatever.

I have a suspicion it’s because they have the same sleeping face. Evidence A:


In other news, literally, Ruth got her first dose of O’Reilly’s talking points. We rolled out the little TV into the living room because I’m lazy and demanded it be done from the cocoon I created in the love seat. Ruth was quickly taught how to turn it on and off. Her hair acted as the antenna.


At first she was excited but it quickly went sour when she actually started listening. That’s what the news will do to ya, Ruth. Don’t become cynical just yet. At least wait until you’re two.


I tried to take her mind off of it by building a mini village for the little people. I’m tempted to get on ebay and just order a large lot of these, I love them so.


The toilet and vanity are my favorite. Hope he lit a match.


But Ruthie preferred to press the applause button on this little remote thing. She is officially her mother’s daughter.


When we first arrived, before she vomited all over my chest, I did my little joke for the grandparents.

Ruth, what does a cow say? Moooo

What does a sheep say? Baaaa

What does mommy say? NO!!

Later, I expanded and asked: What does Daddy say? NO!!! What does Grandma say? NO!!!

Then, What does Grandpa say? Papapapa

Yep, Papa was spared the Mommy Dearest interpretation. Mom suggested I get it on video before it becomes too rehearsed. So here it is… but little did I know that Ruth had already discovered the secret world of making people laugh. Watch her look at grandma when we ask her the question.

What does Grandma Say?

As I told a friend the other day, I’m really starting to feel like Ruth’s my little friend now. She makes me laugh out loud, makes me pull out my hair, makes my heart hurt, and makes me want to give her kisses all day long. Her dad feels the same way, with less pulling out his hair, but just as many kisses.

Light It Up

I finally stopped researching, daydreaming, and talking about doing certain activities with Ruth and am starting to jump right in. I read a blog called 1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals 1. She homeschools her three children but one of them is still a toddler, so she does ‘Tot School‘. It basically is just playing with your kid like you normally do, but being intentional on learning certain things: colors, shapes, how to not pick your nose. She tries to make it last an hour, but sometimes they aren’t having it. Ruth lasted five minutes the first day on circles and then wanted to run around with her vacuum. I don’t care if she never learns circles as long as she learns to help me clean.

After inundating her with every circle toy I could find and watching circle songs sung by Miss Tracy on youtube (Ryan’s preschool-teaching mom uses Miss Tracy for her own class), we walked around the house looking for others: the clock, the stove burners, a certain part of the female anatomy because she still wants to comfort nurse. Whatever, I’ll take what I can get.

And then I tried out our new DIY Light Box. I wish I could afford a real one, but that’s out of the question right now. This was discovered on the Play At Home Mom blog. These ladies really make me feel like a slacker, but man do they have good ideas.

So I finally made one.

And brought out a bag of clearance christmas items to use on it. God knows I tried in vain to talk circles to death on day two of Tot School, but Ruth was more interested in tearing up the gel pieces.
So I scoured Craigslist and found a teacher selling translucent manipulatives for projectors. They apparently don’t use projectors anymore in the classroom and she just wanted to get rid of them. It was crammed full of stuff: tangrams, money, clocks, as well as grammar manipulatives. She also threw in some literacy sheets for free.

We met at church after our Wed night bible study and literally 5 minutes before had studied the verses on Jesus throwing out all the people buying and selling wares in the temple. Then I walked right out the doors and exchanged cash for my new items.

Day 3 of Tot School and out came the tangrams.
I had decided that by day three we should really be starting on circles AND squares. This is literally how psycho I get. What timeline am I looking at? Is there a quiz at the end of the week? Will Ruth not get into college if she doesn’t know circles and squares by day three?
She went for the circle and as I started my schpeal on squares…
climbed aboard to distract me.

But I continued…
until she finally begged me in words (and not so many words) to stop.

Exhibit A:
We’re back to learning just about circles and in week two, people. You should be proud of me.

We’re sick of circles, but when her dad comes home, luckily she doesn’t have to be constantly pointing them out. Because he actually does interesting things.

Like making up a story about a duck being chased a snake being chased by a charging purple giraffe.
You know, fun stuff.

I’m sure there’s a circle in there somewhere. I’ll find it Ruth, don’t worry.

Stalking and White Elephant, a perfect pairing

We had a good visit to Kansas City over Christmas. Ruth was teething, I was prego hormonal, and Ryan drank eggnog and whiskey like it flowed from the fountain of youth. So yeah, we had a good visit. But with that combo, I don’t know if anyone else that saw us had a good one.

After a non-eventful drive up, in which Ruth screamed for twenty minutes, then passed out until ten minutes before arriving to grandma and grandpa’s house during which time we sang christmas carols together. I catch her singing a lot to herself now and the songs, I’m pretty sure, carry notes from Les Mis. The child (and Ryan) have been made to watch clips from the Les Mis 10th anniversary about everyday for the past three months in preparation for the premiere. Ryan has asked Ruth on more than one occasion to try to act interested for the love of gawd because doesn’t she know I’m pregnant and sensitive? But I’ve noticed  that he hums and sings it all the time now, so dost thou protest too much methinks?

We sang songs for ten minutes, and arrived happy….. to an empty home. Merry Christmas. My parents were at weekly their bridge club. They have more of a life than me. But that’s good. It makes me glad to know they’re keeping busy. When they got home, Ryan made a round of egg nog drinkie poos (minus me) and we all cheersed to Christmas. Then they breathed fire. By the end of the week, he mastered the ratio.

The next day, Ryan and I braved the mall to pick up some last minute gifts at the American Girl store. The shoppers there freaked me out. An older lady was standing in line behind us with her husband. After seeing the latest snow outfit on a little doll mannequin she squealed and gushed that they needed to get that too. She needs to find a bridge club. Stat.

When we got home, my sister had arrived to spend the night. So we took the opportunity to stalk my parent’s newish neighbor. A single (we think) chiropractor (found out by another neighbor) who lives with his sister (this fact has not been verified.)  DSC_6547
He comes out to sit on his porch for a cigarette a couple times a day which lets us peer through the window and analyze the situation. Apparently he breathes in and breathes out, from what we gather. I’ll need to use the binoculars next time to double check that. As we discussed various ways Amy and I could casually approach him (you know: giving a christmas card, Wiley going poo in his yard, asking for a smoke), another neighbor walked up to his door with a package in hand.

Scandal! What did she think this was anyway? Christmas? Whatever.

That night we played Taboo, girls against boys, and said that the losing team had to introduce themselves to the chiropractor. When we lost, my mom said sternly that she was not going to introduce herself. We suggested that maybe if she did, she’d get cookies every once in a while. This was not well received.

The next day we laid around until the White Elephant party at my aunt and uncle’s house. Don’t let this relaxed face fool you.
Because this is how Ruth was most of the night:

Every party has one, so Ruth decided to be the pooper that night. Literally. Three times over… because that’s what happens when you only pack one diaper thinking it’ll be plenty, thus causing you to mooch off your cousin’s daughter who is 8 months older than your own.

We took an opportunity to get some group shots. My brother and his wife must not have shown up yet. They were en route from Arkansas. We’re always amazed at how fast they can get there. It’s been a long time since we’ve made a non-stop venture.

And the girls… one of which recently got a new haircut. At a get together not long before, literally no one commented on the cut. Finally someone said, “Carolyn you got your hair cut!” and me, literally unable to not be self-deprecating said, “Yeah, it’s my official mom cut.” And they said, “Yeah….” with voice trailing off and then changing the subject.

What. EVER!!!! It made me laugh.

After Matt and Des did arrive, an interesting thing happened. Des had brought some of her dad’s moonshine, bulgarian-style. That’s cool and all, except when it’s in a Fanta bottle. Except when a niece asks for some soda and pours Fanta for herself then takes a swig. You’d think Ryan had poured it for her because she breathed fire for a bit herself. Merry Christmas Elayna!DSC_6554
Can you find a culprit leaning against the wall? This was after the Fanta label had been peeled off in hopes of less confusion. I’d still think it was coke.


Ruth was only happy (and by happy, I mean, not crying. A scowl thrilled me to no end at this point) when she was in one of her grandparent’s arms. Here she is with her grandma, great Aunt Mary, and cousin Kaylee.DSC_6555
…not happy unless in my arms,
or in a cousin’s arms. Or with food.
Whatever it takes. Just please stop crying and pooping.DSC_6559
So after some chit-chatting and catching up, we dug into the meal. Homemade meatballs and pasta. Mmmm! Aunt Sue is the only real Italian. The rest of us are just wannabes.
Next up was White Elephant, which is always fun. But there was yet another sad story. First it was Elayna getting chest hair from the Bulgarian moonshine. Then my nephew, Will, during White Elephant.
It was his first year to participate and was really excited.DSC_6568
He watched us open our gifts, analyzed them, decided not to steal any and so decided to choose a present to unwrap.
He looked over the presents carefully then chose one.
What luck! He’d unwrapped an X-box (or something like that)!!!! He’d been wanting one  and he looked at his mom with so much happiness.  Lisa whispered that he might want to open the box, because things aren’t always what they seem in White Elephant land.

And what did he find inside the box?

A six pack of beer.
He was sad, but from the looks of it, his dad was happy.
Maybe next time someone will bring an X-box, Will. Don’t give up.

Next up, Christmas, bad singing, and a Jamaican relative.

A Bookworm Holding Court

I’ve sunk down into the depths of a stomach bug and re-emerged a lighter, more cleansed version of myself. There’s nothing worse than that moment of sickness when you think the rest of your life will be spent laying on the couch, moaning with nausea. I pictured holidays, birthdays, Ruthie’s wedding, with me in the exact same position, the couch being the only thing moved. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind a couch as the first pew with me grabbing my stomach and hurling in between vows.

But then one night you actually have a full night’s sleep, and you start to hope.

Well, it’s over. And I’ve spent the last two days giving make up kisses to Ruthie for the ones I had to sacrifice in the name of hygiene. She’s learned a new tactic for deflecting them though.

It’s the ole “hold a book in front of my face” technique. I’m so happy she’s reading, that it doesn’t dawn on me I just got denied.


This particular refusal was brought to me by a Mark Twain classic: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I left her to it, which may have been a mistake, because apparently she thinks King Arthur is real and that people still act kingly.

…as demonstrated when her friend Blanche came over one day.

I saw them talking in front of Ruthie’s new favorite chair… that conveniently looks like a throne.

Awww, I thought, Ruth’s showing her how the fabric on this throne was made by a local weaver.
And then she had Blanche help her up.

Okay, I thought. She’s showing Blanche how to sit on thrones.

Followed by: Oh. My. Gosh. RUTH. It is NOT a throne. You can’t make people bow down to you. I mean, at least let her be a lady-in-waiting.

Poor Blanche. If this is a sign of how Ruthie plays with other kids, I’m in for a long, scary road.

As I discussed with the girls about equal opportunity in the work force, Ruthie gave me the once over.

And I looked down at myself.

Why am I wearing a bright pink satin nightgown?

While Ruth debated about throwing me in the stocks, I begged for her forgiveness of my garish clothing.

She agreed that I’d be spared if spaghetti were served.

And so this is how an Arkansas Housewife survived Queen Ruth’s Court.

PS, sorry for the such granulated photos. They were taken on my phone and I apparently don’t know how to let in natural sunlight to help mitigate it.

From 4-5 Daily

Oh my Lordie. This girl.

I like her. I swear I do. But we’re not the best of friends from 4-5pm. Well, actually maybe we are.. because isn’t that how girlie friends act? I love you, I hate you, I love you.

Whenever I start on dinner, and god forbid, the dishes, Ruth has an absolute meltdown. I bring in toys, I turn on Baby Einstein, I shove cheerios in her mouth.


For a second I thought I had it down. I mean, she was actually playing while I was working.


She ran away with the silverware holder like it was her new purse.

It was so lovely that I took a photo. But you better believe I threw that camera down and hid in the corner, thankful for a moment of peace.

Ah, no way she’ll be back with that cool purse she’s now holding. That’ll keep her busy for at least 10 minutes.DSC_6498

Is it 5 o’clock yet?