10 sept 2018

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

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

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

Ryan slept.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 aug 2018

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

3 sept 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 sept 2018

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

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

29 aug 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 aug 2018

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

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

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

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

22 aug 2018

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

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

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

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

14 aug 2018

Ryan had a business trip so we went to KC for the week.

They listen to audio books in the car and one of our favorites is Winnie the Pooh (Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, & Geoffrey Palmer!!). I don’t remember ever getting into it as a kid, but these stories with the fun voices has me hooked now. And it’s a million times better than hearing If You’re Happy and You Know It over and over.

Anyway, the new movie about Winnie, Christopher Robin, is very sweet. I cried within the first 15 minutes and Ruthie said she cried during it too.



We’d been trying for years to catch this darn train. Finally did and Gertie was not a fan. The rest of us were though and we went around 8 times!


While Gertie and I took a break, one of the adorable volunteer workers came over and talked about how she’d raised a disabled son. She then cussed about the weather and thrust a bottle of water in my hand. It was a meeting between me and my future self.

The rest of the time was spent shoe shopping, playing with cousins, and binge watching shows, none of which I took pics. I need to be more aggressive with the camera again.


The day after Ryan flew back to KC, we drove from there to Oklahoma City and visited our friends that’d moved from NWA. Ruthie dove off the diving board and Gertie, I’m not exaggerating, kicked her feet and arms until she swam by herself. It was maybe for 6-12 inches, but still. She loves the water so much.
We pretty much didn’t stop talking for 48 hours. 30 of those were me going on and on about her garden area and backyard (there’s not many who will gladly talk compost and chicken poop with me), 16 about the meals and ginger drinkie poos, and the remaining 2 hours me thinking I’m funny because of those ginger drinks.

At one point Annie had to go pee so Mandy told her to just pop a squat in the yard (another reason we’re friends!) right by the fence. Annie, in her own special way, decided to go in the middle of the front yard right as a car drove by.

I hardly saw these three girls the whole time. It was nonstop mermaids and dolls and dress up clothes.


On our way home.

We drove through Siloam Springs and decided to show Ruthie where she was born. We made a big ole deal about the home there, in the countryside, on a dirt road, surrounded by cows. We laughed so hard thinking of what she was picturing. So we slowed down and showed her her birthplace.
And for proof that she is indeed my daughter, she didn’t care at all about what it looked like. She gasped and squealed and said she loved it.
I love enthusiastic people, Ruthie. Thank you.img_0250

A fun full week. We tired though.

7 aug 2018

An early birthday present came when Aunt Mary brought over an old photo album for us to go through, writing as many names as we could identify on the back.

Sisters with their magnifying glasses.

Ruthie started writing down all the names she heard too, just like me. If she gets into family history, I will be thrilled. I can picture us traipsing through all sorts of landscapes uncovering clues.

Mom getting flustered over our cute farm stock genes. Great Uncle Bessie and lots of giggles around the table.

So much fun. I love hearing about these lives before me.

28 July 2018

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


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

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

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

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


23 july 2018

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


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

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

17 july 2018


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

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

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

14 july 2018

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

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

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

Here’s our fearless leaders driving us.


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

rila 2

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

I’d said something about it being annoying.

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

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


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

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

We visited the Rila Monastery. img_6373


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

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

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


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

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

ski 1

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

6 july 2018

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

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

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


I’m sure I made him feel good though:

“Hey!!!! Are you the KC rapper?” 


“What’s your name again?”

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


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


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

5 july 2018


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

8 june 2018

I said, You guys. It’s just me and three of you. Please just listen to what I say and don’t go nuts. 

So we went to the Splash Pad, which on the scale of venturing out solo is like a 2, but you just never know. And honestly, I always expect the worst, especially hauling Gertie around. I should’ve known there’d be no issue though since she and water are best buds.

Right off, they found “Camille” in the plants. She’s the lady bug that I somehow convinced is the same one they’ve been seeing since last year when they had to send her back into the garden. They were so worried about her, but ended up reuniting this spring. How amazing that she remembered where they lived and even visited them at the splash pad. What a great gal.



Ryan and I have a few fun things coming up this summer. One of which is leading a new small group through our church. I really never thought we would, but the stars have aligned with another couple to get one going. And, after taking a year off to rest on Sunday evenings (which I absolutely needed and was thankful for), we’re ready to jump back in. You can get kind of eyes-glazed-over when you hear them say over and over while urging people to join one: We’re not a church with community groups, we’re a church made up of them. But now I fully understand the need to have a constant small circle around you.

I’ve only shared with a few people, and not even with my family, but about a month ago I had what I think was a nervous breakdown. Ryan had to come home early every day for almost a week. I was incapable of doing much beyond a simple meal: (think pb&js for dinner). I spent most of the week crying: in bed, in Gertie’s therapy waiting room, with her therapists, in the shower, at dinner. During nap/movie times, I would walk around the backyard sobbing and praying for help. From my core praying. It was probably the scariest it’s ever gotten. I guess in the midst of the news recently, I should add that it  never got to a point where I was worried of what I’d do, but I wonder what it would’ve looked like if I didn’t have that single thread of communication directly to God, the frailest of threads that was somehow strong enough to keep me upright.

Afterwards I casually shared that experience with a friend and she asked me why didn’t I reach out to her. She would’ve been the first person called too. I can share the deepest of my neuroses with her and there’s no judgement. We’ve done online bible studies together. She is a children’s pastor for goodness sakes. So why when I hit bottom did I not call? But I do know why. For someone, and maybe you’re the same way, it’s hard to ask for help. I want someone to just know without me having to explain everything. I want them to proactively send me a text. I want them to show up with a dinner (because everyone knows that’s a mom’s holy grail, a pre-made meal). Even Ryan said that he does me a disservice because whenever anyone asks about us (alluding to life with Gertie), it’s always positive. It’s always, “Great! She’s continuously improving! Hooray Tada!” And while I can see his point of only sharing the good news, it also isolates us from help when we need it. On the flip side, it’s helped me learn what I need to look for and do for others.

This is why we’re excited to start back in with a group. To have people who keep up with us (and us them) weekly, where no one will be expected to cold call a friend from ground zero. Where we can see the progression of a snowball going down hill and either all stand in front of it mid-descent or rebuild it after it shatters at the bottom. I so understand now why these face-to-face relationships are important.

And just to update, I feel really good right now. Another friend mentioned that trauma and the brain go through cycles, showing its recurring face like clockwork. Is it related to when Gertie was born and all that followed? I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had a little to do with it. But in the aftermath of everything a month ago, I feel different. I’m starting to be intentional. I am repeating to her the same things I say to the others: I am proud of you. You are a good girl. You make me happy. And she does. She really does, if I’ll just let her. But I do feel it happening. Her personality is coming out and I find myself laughing a lot at her.

Here she is stringing two “words” together (don’t mind her stained shirt). Two words/sounds in a row are a critical step in speech. Yesterday, when Ryan came home, I carried her out to meet him and he said “Hi Gertie!” and she responded without me cueing her a clear “Hi Dada”. Today, at the splash pad a girl came up to her little fountain and said Hi and Gertie said Hi back. To understand conversation, the back and forth. We are so hopeful.

Ryan has been amazing at giving me the evenings to run. And while I can’t do anything but gain weight, it has been very therapeutic mentally for me. Those evenings have been, along with my monthly meeting with a mentor, and then our book club that’s been meeting for the past six months. It has shoved me back into reading, where now I want to do nothing else at night except read. A friend’s therapist told her that reading activates the same part of the brain as hypnosis so is a great way to “self-medicate.” But the book clubs! We’ve been choosing restaurants/flavors relating to the books and it’s so fun. I love the different personalities and we’re at the point now where no opinion goes unsaid (I kicked that off with my book choice that no one liked, ha!)



Our first night. When I made everyone wear name tags and answer an ice breaker question. That lasted one time.

And Ruthie has already asked when we can do a book club together. The other night she wanted to lay in bed with me while Ryan worked in the living room. So she got her reader books, I got mine and it was so comfortable and exactly what I’d hoped to do with my child. I told her once she gets into 2nd or 3rd grade we’ll start it up.

31 May 2018

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

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

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

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

10 feb 2018

Cathedrals. They sometimes took a hundred years to complete. Imagine being that first person, knowing you’d never see the end result. So when I’m tired of asking what’s my purpose here, impatient that nothing has been revealed yet, and maybe insecure that I even have one because I’m not seeing any fruition from my efforts, I need to think of that first bricklayer. I need to remember that God’s capacity doesn’t work within my finite timeline. That the end result of what I’m doing now could span generations, lifetimes. That the one little pebble I kick down the road could become an avalanche without me ever feeling the ground shake.

I need to think of the line of mothers following the birth of King David, proudly celebrating him as their ancestor. And them maybe also wondering what meaning their own lives have or how they could ever leave a mark in this world like he did. Them not knowing that their mundane days of raising children, cleaning the house, cooking dinner… those same days that maybe made them feel sad or insignificant would in fact be critical in eventually bringing about the Son of God. They were just the bricklayers. That them simply being would later change the world. They would never see the realization of their tedious, tiresome daily lives, instead just paving the path for Jesus without ever knowing it.

He has a purpose for me, but I have to also be willing to accept that I may never see the culmination of it with my own eyes.

So for now I will focus on my children and try to lay those bricks as solidly as possible, imagining the trickle of this ordinary life maybe one day flooding into greatness.

7 feb 2018

The overnight train trip: a cautionary tale. Be forewarned, I get hyped up about the littlest things. Did Ryan think it was as cool as I did? Eh, maybe not as much, but he still enjoyed the adventure. Do your standards have to be set low? Yes. This is not the Hilton. But the characters on board, along with the cozy privacy of the bedroom is worth not being fussy.

We finally arrived at the train station, a different station than planned in fact. There were mudslides up the coast of Washington and so they had to bus us to the next depot just north of us. We were a little bummed because that was the only hour of daylight we’d have looking out onto the countryside.

But, here we were, happy to be boarding anyway.


As you might expect, everything is tight. (I feel like I’m turning into the Amtrak ambassador here. I even started daydreaming about a train-only vacation blog, but then time and money snapped me back to reality.)img_7873

Do you see the window? Do you see the silver door jam? That’s our room. Pack light is all I’m saying.  Two chairs facing each other (with a table in between) turn into a bed with an upper one ready to come down when needed. The carpeted end table next to me is actually the stair for the bunkbed.


You could not have pinched me harder. I said at least 1000 times, “Isn’t this fun?” We had an attendant named Gul who over-enunciated the “s” sound at the end of words: “Yesssss, your dinner serviccccccce issss going on now.”  So we headed to the dining car for dinner. (FYI: If you reserve a sleeper car, your meals are free. Your welcome, Ambassador Carolyn.)


It’s like a bed and breakfast where they sit you with strangers which… I like. People intrigue me. And there were several that made me feel like we were truly in a movie. The two young Australian friends checking off a bucket list before they head back. (They also watched a rocket take off in Florida. It was cancelled the first day because a plane flew right into it’s path before launching. So they had to defuel and refuel the rocket the next day, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. I laughed so hard. Can you imagine being that pilot? That would so be me, just minding my own business, ruining official government procedures.) Anyway, it was an enjoyable dinner, especially since Ryan could get his Australian itch scratched, talking about his college adventures there.

There was one guy we called The Major. He practically shouted everything he said and was also eager to talk with everyone, a potent combination. Every sentence was a joke where he himself laughed the loudest. Another was a lady who used to be homeless, now with a roommate and a house, traveling to Seattle to visit her homeless friends. She showed us many pictures of said house and I couldn’t have beamed brighter for her.

I’ve found that learning people’s stories, and letting them talk, has become one of my favorite things. They are so interesting, aren’t they? And I can truly say that I’ve never appreciated them more than I do right now in my life.

Maybe I’m just nosy.  But I think it’s more than that.

Bedtime was the ultimate part of the ride for me. We had our own little night lights. The train rocked side to side, gently though, and it would speed up and slow down at the stops. It was lovely. Every person I asked how they slept, said “Great!”, usually surprised at their own answer. I was just as surprised in the morning too.


Meanwhile, as we were taking in the silence, the girls were ratcheting it up at Jama & Da-dads. Gertie’s starting to act ornery which is a good and bad thing. It’s a relief for something to feel normal, but it’s annoying too. This series of pictures texted to us pretty much summed up the progression.


Thank you for holding down the fort, in-laws!! I’ll mail you some Excedrin.

When we woke up, it was early morning. I had to apply my make-up in the window reflection. Expectations low, people. I probably still asked Ryan if he was loving this like me, even while messily applying my eye-liner.


We had rented a car in Whitefish, MT so we could drive to Glacier National Park. In the winter the park rangers host snowshoeing hikes for free. I’d never been hiking in snow before, so off we went.


We stopped several times to listen to our ranger give lessons…..very….slowly. It was almost painful, how long         the         pauses        were        between        words. For all my previous appreciation of people, I was about to break down in impatience. Like, I’d started hoping the mountain lion she said to look out for would actually relieve me of my misery. I’d see it in the woods and would just walk over to it and lay down by its mouth.


After a suspenseful ten minute lead-in, we finally found out that across the river was a 50 year old beaver den.



Mamasita hadn’t eaten since 6:30 that morning and it was nearing 1pm, after a 2 hour hike. We’d heard that the restaurant at the top of Whitefish Resort’s summit was really good. So we bought lift tickets and headed that way.

Okay. Can we pause here to remember that I’ve become (ironically, unafraid to admit) AFRAID?! I’m not a ski bunny. I tremble at the thought of going down a hill with zero brakes. And let’s also not forget, I don’t have the ski lift finesse needed to fake any sense of belonging. The guy who sold me the tickets said that this one goes very fast. I said, Fine, no problem. Inside I was quaking.

We stood in line and it was very peaceful. Watching little groups getting on the lift, shuffling their way out and hopping on. And then the attendant, a lady sturdier than nfl linebackers, turned to see us next. She’d not uttered a word since we got there, but once our feet hit the front of the line, she yelled “COME UP. PUT YOUR FEET HERE. NOT THERE. RIGHT HERE. MOVE FORWARD. IT’S COMING. IT’S COMING. SIT DOWN. SIT DOWN. PULL YOUR LEGS UP. PULL THE BAR DOWN NOOOOWWWWWWwwwwwww!” And I think she was still yelling at us halfway up the mountain. If I hadn’t been scared out of my mind, I would’ve laughed at how ridiculous that scene must’ve looked to the regulars.


I cried turning around in the seat to get this picture of the town below.



We got to the top, ordered our food. Hamburgers, poutine, and pho: a natural combo. I pushed a table to the side of a balcony and we, again, people watched. In silence. We sat there for a long time too, because I dreaded going back down the mountain. img_7919

When we got off the lift, there was the linebacker ready for us, with the same commands. It was all a blur.

We had a few hours to kill before getting back on the train, and since we’d already done the three things we really wanted to do (Pike Place Market, Snowshoeing at Glacier, & the Summit Restaurant), we decided to go to the movies. And both promptly fell asleep.

After another night on board, we woke up to watch the last bit of Washington go by before arriving in Seattle. We crossed over the fastest moving creeks I’ve ever seen. There were whitecaps all over it, just forcing its way down the mountain. It was gorgeous. We saw trees that we don’t get to experience in the south. And squinted our eyes at the constant glare of snow on the ground.


Have you heard the saying “You can travel the world, only to come back and see your home for the first time.” Or something like that. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that while we saw so many fun things and made wonderful memories, there’s nothing quite like home. It made us love it more.

6 feb 2018

Let’s all have a moment of silence for getting back into the swing of things after a whirlwind weekend. For us, that’s looking like lots of cartoons and mac n cheese. No m&c for me though, since for some stupid reason I started weight watchers a week before leaving on a trip. So dumb. In line for our flight check-in, I stared lovingly at all the foods displayed.


There was one little glob of glue next to the m&ms where I’m sure another weight watcher’s member must’ve succumbed to a candy bar. I bowed my head and gave them a moment. Later, on the plane, one snippet from the book I read had a guy getting a funnel shoved down his throat and liquor poured into his stomach, killing him. Instead of being shocked, all I could focus on was the funnel being filled with food and how glorious that sounded.

I made it through the gauntlet of stale snacks unscathed and onto the plane.

Some changes I noticed after having 3 kids:

  1. I’m a more patient, slow-moving, tired traveller.
  2. If you don’t feel like talking, I’m beyond fine with that. We can just people watch.
  3. I’ve become a scaredy cat and have to be reassured every few minutes that my life insurance is current.

Every little bump in the air had me gripping Ryan’s knee.

Before that though, we heard whisperings of a man sitting some seats ahead. (“He’s a big news broadcaster. He’s covering the Olympics. etc. etc.”) So we craned our necks and stared at him while he talked and laughed with the people around him. Ryan’s friend is also a reporter and because they are both from Denver, Ryan texted him about this guy and wrote that he was gonna get a pic with him.

Wait. What did I read over his shoulder? That Ryan was gonna willingly act the fool? For once it won’t be me? That about made the entire trip because…. read #1 & #2 again.

Once we landed, the hunt was on. We stalked him until it was obvious he was going the other way and Ryan made his move.


I know, no one knows who this guy is. But he was very happy to have his photo taken.

Anyway, here was the itinerary for our 3 day adventure. I’m including it because that’s stuff I like to read:

  • 10am Friday – Arrive in Seattle – tool around until getting on the train.
  • 4:30pm Friday – Train departs for Whitefish, MT
  • 7am Saturday – Train arrives in Whitefish
  • Spend day in Whitefish & Glacier National Park
  • 9:30pm Saturday – Train departs back for Seattle
  • 10:30am Sunday – Train arrives in Seattle.
  • 6pm Sunday – Arrive home

Another change I’ve noticed was that I didn’t really have a preference of what to see or, more importantly, what I didn’t see. There were 3 things we planned and both agreed to make an effort to do, but everything else was kinda figured out last minute depending on if we felt like it.

For someone who would normally have lists of times/events/venues, this was unusual. It made the trip a lot more relaxed for both of us.

First, The Public Market.

I’d visited before with a friend, but Ryan had never been and this was a must for him. No flying fish today. However, the croony street corner music was perfect for this cloudy, spring-like day. We walked all around and up and down, then found a restaurant overlooking the sound and ate fish tacos and fish & chips.


After that, we didn’t really know what to do. We researched a few things, but Ryan remembered that his coworker told him about the Starbucks Roasterie and how you can get a flight of coffees to sample. Next to a fire and big windows where we could people watch, this was just what these tired parents needed. (see #1 & 2).



Afterwards, along the way to a destination that got nixed mid-walk, we saw this building and I flat-out refused it’s existance. If I were offered a job there, I’d decline.


All I’d be able to think about during my 9-5 is how small of a foundation we were sitting on. (Read #3)

That was seriously the extent to Seattle, besides more food and coffee and people watching. I’d mentioned in the previous post that this was one of our best trips, and it was. But we really didn’t do much. We didn’t climb the space needle, or go to any museums. We didn’t put gum on the famous wall or drive to the sound. And we were perfectly content with that. Between the plane and train and only a few activities, it really was a refueling of sorts – no massages needed.

Up next the train! My favorite.

1 feb 2018

This is the face of someone excited. Like, crazy excited. I haven’t been on a plane WITHOUT KIDS in seven years. Ryan and I are leaving tomorrow on a quick trip to the Northwest, jumping on an overnight train, and spending the day at Glacier National Park. You guys. No one can bring me down today.

One of my goals this year is to write longer stories and I’m hoping this trip will inspire me. Weeeeeeeee!

16 jan 2018

Ruthie’s school was cancelled today and Annie’s was not. I jumped at the chance to focus on her during Gertie’s therapy. We bundled up and went for a hike around our woods along the deer trail and tried to find signs of life. Like a circle of dirt on the ground, picturing a doe laying there while the snow fell around her.

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.


How To Almost Wreck a Bike AND Your Marriage

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYikes. We were thirsty after our ride.

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

Grandparents visit and Misc

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

Oh whatever.

On with the show…

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

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

Friends and Sloth

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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