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.

19 aug 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for babysitting Grandma & Papa.

14 aug 2018

Ryan had a business trip so we went to KC for the week.
img_0003

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.

img_0001

img_0232

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!
img_0008

img_0011

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.
img_0020

img_0226

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.
img_0237
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.
img_0243

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

img_5154

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.
img_0244
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.
img_0246
I love enthusiastic people, Ruthie. Thank you.img_0250

img_0256
A fun full week. We tired though.

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.
img_9277

img_9278

img_9276

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!)

img_9280

img_9281

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

img_9279
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.

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.

Hmmmm…..

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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 PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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 PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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!!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESJust wanted to be like her auntie. Can’t blame her.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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!

farleys

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.

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…
DSC_7439
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.

Not.

DSC_7461
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.
DSC_7463
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.

DSC_7503

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

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

DSC_7491DSC_7492
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.

DSC_7494
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.

Rapunzel

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:

On Being a Coward

I had mentioned before that during our Les Mis sparring session which included several nights of watching two versions of the movie, Jesyka (her blog here) and I also drooled through basically the whole season of Basketball Wives, had some good serious conversations, and stumbled upon an Extreme Couponing epiphany. Several of the episodes showed people who were not buying groceries to be stored away in some basement apocalyptic shelving unit, but rather were getting these free goods to give to charities.

What a novel idea, we thought.

We vowed by the end of April to try our own feeble attempt at couponing so we could do the same.

I have to be honest, though. I really feel awkward writing posts like this, as if I’m saying “Hi – Look at me! I tried doing something good!!! I’m going to heaven, nanny nanny poo poo stick your head in doo doo.” It really does bother me. But then I remembered the first time I kinda stuck my neck out there to share my attempt at doing good… It was this post (click here), about the homeless bags. Several of you told me that after reading it, have either thrown it out as an idea or have actually done it with friends, bible study groups, etc. And Jesyka even said that it was only after reading that post that she decided to take a chance and post her first ever comment on my blog, thus beginning a strange start to a stranger friendship.

But really, my semi-recent obsession with focusing outward goes back further to this post I wrote: click here.

I’ve always been a “do-er”, which normally entails doing things for myself, for entertainment, but never really focusing on other people. It wasn’t until I had Ruthie, I think, that it started to shift dramatically.

It started to shift so much that Ryan and I began having long talks about how we wanted to raise Ruth, what kind of community (spiritual and otherwise) did we want her surrounded by, what did we want her to learn. This led to us joining another church, being (more) proactive in charities, and taking leaps of faith with friends to try to do. Just try to do. That’s it, really.

Our pastor had a great sermon last Sunday on the need to strike the balance of brain and heart. Studying the bible is awesome and necessary, but you also need passion. And heart. And a certain “umph” to do. Ryan and I are right where we need to be in this spiritual community of studiers/do-ers. I am excited and grateful.

But there’s also friends in my local community that feel just as compelled. They’re not hard to find. You just have to talk about it and commit to trying.

DSC_7115
Jesyka came over one night for a little planning session. We had just started subscribing to the weekend newspaper, so plenty o’coupons were to be had.

In our small town, we don’t have a lot of options as far as retailers go, so the ability to find huge savings was difficult.
DSC_7117
But I do have to say, Walgreens is pretty darn awesome. I’m sure most of you know about the points system and that if you get so many points, it’ll take off five dollar increments towards your next purchase. So we basically looked at this first shopping adventure as a starting off point for the next time…in which we can save even more.

I took cutting out the coupons very seriously.

DSC_7118
And folding the coupons to go into the baseball card plastic holders even more so.
DSC_7120
Check out that skill: Amount off, brand, and expiration date all visible.

Hey, it’s the little things.
DSC_7121
Jesyka tried. I told her to never make that face again. (See? I’m always being charitable, even with my advice.)
DSC_7122
And this is the loot we came up with. We were able to make four packages of all of this and spent, now I can’t remember exactly, was it $25-30 each? So just over ten dollars a package, not so bad. Next time will be better because of all the points we’re accumulating.
securedownload-1
We daydreamed about how to go about handing out these four boxes. She knew of a pregnant woman that was in need of some goods and got it delivered to her through another friend. I knew of a family that lived directly behind us that could use it as well. One of the boys is always riding around our townhomes and talks openly about what they (don’t) eat.

My heart was screaming at me to take one of the boxes to his mom.

But.

I’m a coward.

Everytime I got the cojones to do something, I’d imagine flubbering all over myself when talking to her:

“Hi! I’m Carolyn. I heard you were POOR. Have some food.”

“Hi! We’re helping out the NEEDY, take this food.”

“Hi! Your son’s hungry. Feed him this.”

Ugh. I could not get over my fear of what would come out of my mouth. I know this is when I should’ve taken a deep breath, prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me with words, and just done it. As someone told me once, you can’t fail if you try to do good.

But I just couldn’t. And everytime I see him, I think of a missed opportunity…. Seeing something I put together to directly help a family in need.

Instead, I packed up the boxes, along with an old blanket, and it took it to our town’s food drive/thrift store.

securedownload

They were of course happy to receive the items, and I know that they do a lot of good for the community. I think I just wanted to help directly… hand-to-hand. Instead of like “paying towards the administration fees” as I know I’m doing when I donate money to charities.

The good thing is there is always someone in need, always another opportunity. Look around, you’ll see too.

…now back to the regularly scheduled program: Ruthie. And the shoes she put on backwards all by herself.
Ruth shoes

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_7009
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.

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.

Wait.

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.

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.

20121209-221950.jpg

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.

20121209-222216.jpg
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.
20121209-222231.jpg
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.
20121209-222203.jpg

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

20121209-222244.jpg
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?

20121209-222513.jpg
20121209-222523.jpg
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.

20121209-222613.jpg
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.

State Fair

Whew Lawdy (I stole that from a friend. You know who you are), a weekend at the state fair with old college friends was an eye-opener. An “I just might still got it” eye-opener. A “pulling all-nighters without a newborn is pretty freaking fun” eye-opener. An “I can stay up talking until 4am, and feel great the next day walking around the state fair with only one cuppa joe” eye-opener.

Yep. I still (kinda) got it, because a nap was needed after our adventures. However, naps also got me through college, so really I was just reliving those days.

I haven’t mentioned that as soon as I got home in Arkansas, I zonked completely until the next day. That’s called an eye-closener, folks.

So yes, these girls and I go back to my junior year in college, in which we lived in a 6.5 bedroom home. (6.5 because L basically lived in a closet for a lower rent.) It was our sorority without the fees. And as life went on, some of us drew apart, others got closer together, until we’ve now settled into a nice rhythm of annual, or, if we’re lucky, semi-annual get togethers. These three have all taken a trip (some more than once) down to visit me in Arkansas, taking time out of their busy lives to do so.

It’s hard, keeping in touch, especially in person. So I’m making the effort to return the favor.

This meeting had a goal in mind: The Missouri State Fair.


And those sunglasses were needed my friends. While the boys and babies slept soundly in their beds Friday night, we girls chatted and sampled various wines, including my dandelion bottle. If the state fair needed someone to light fire from their mouth, all they need is this stuff.

This photo sums it up. Someone get that girl a coffee, stat.
20120905-223842.jpg

After moving the girltalk outdoors, you could hear windows slamming shut and doors closing. Our work here was done and we went to sleep. In typical bossy-like-her-mama fashion, Ruth decided to wake up at 7am on the nose. Thanks.

Everyone slowly got around. Coffee was brewed, hair combed, and off we went.
Big pillars welcomed us to the fair. The weather was perfect. Slightly cloudy and not at all humid or overly hot. All the stars were aligned.
Ruth couldn’t contain her excitement as her dad bought tickets. I mean, we were about to see something that we’ve read about only in books. It was pretty much a celebrity sighting.
What was it, you ask?

None other than sheep. I can name three books, along with a puzzle had this animal glorified. Ruth could hardly contain herself. Okay, maybe it was just me.

And maybe it was because I knew that eventually I’d see my lover that I meet at every fair: the Tilt-A-Whirl. Except this time I was nervous. Partly butterflies, and partly because I had just thrown my back out a few days earlier. Two chiro appointments later, our trip to L’s house was in jeopardy. But I laid low, and felt good enough to go. But good enough for the Tilt-A-Whirl?

I was going to take my chances.

So, as we left the sheep, and headed to the rides, the sun broke open from the clouds to shine down on one in particular. We stood in line, patiently waiting our turn.


And as we started forward to get onto the platform, the carnie informed us that it had suddenly broke down. Actually, he didn’t tell us, he just simply left us there wondering what was going on. After staying up all night, it took one of our kids to figure it out.

Deflated, we moved on.


Ruth laughed in our faces.
20120905-223736.jpg

So we stuck her on R’s shoulders so I couldn’t look her in the eye. But I still felt her hovering over me, so we plopped her into block heaven.
20120905-223617.jpg
She had never seen so many shapes. From the look on her face, it was quite possibly the best moment of her life.

After she came down from her high, we drove back and (after a nap) hung out painting rocks. What a fun way to eat up some time! I’m definitely stealing this for when Ruth can hold a paint brush.
Storm clouds were coming in, but held out long enough for fingers to get messy.
And inner artists to emerge.

And for Ruth to be anointed by M. He was so sweet with her the entire weekend, saying that he “can’t take his eyes off of her because she’s so cute.” Oh M. Don’t make me pack you up in my suitcase.

And after another late night of singing, dancing, and game-playing, we crashed around 2am.

Good food was eaten, We slept in a comfy bed, And Ryan drove home to let me nap. Yes, it was a great time indeed.

The Tale of Two Cities

Hello! Have you forgotten about our trip that we took A MONTH AGO? Good grief, this is unacceptable.

Well just to refresh your memory, here was our vacation layout:

Fly to Jacksonville
Hang with the cousins
Get the runs within 20 minutes of saying hi
Play with the kids
Dirty up their house
Say Goodbye
Drive to Folly Beach, SC
Make a Pit Stop in Savannah, GA
Stay at the beach for a week
Drive back to Jacksonville
Arrive home with a few more sunspots on your face

That’s it in a nutshell. Bye.

Fine, okay I’m back… because I’ve gotta tell you about these tours we went on in. One was in Savannah and the other in Charleston several days later. It was yin and yang, fire and ice, oil and water, feisty and calm. I liked them both.

We left Jacksonville around 10am and had an uneventful 2 hour drive to Savannah. We like uneventful. We like spacing out. We like quiet.

I’m going to share something which may cause me to lose friends: Most of the time, I don’t like to listen to the radio.

I like silence.

That is, unless Boyz II Men are on and I can alternate octaves depending on my mood. If I’ve got eyeliner on and my hair brushed, I’m the bass graveling my voice a la Kathleen Turner. If I’m upset, it’s soprano all the way, wanting to go so high that my goal is to shatter the windshield. Then I’d be happy because my car would almost be a convertible. Then I’d be sad that I didn’t have a scarf for my hair. Then I’d be happy because if I were to have a scarf in my hair, I would feel the need to reenact Thelma and Louise. Then I’d be sad because I’m just not fond of driving over cliffs. All of those in between feelings would be sung via the Alto and Tenor boyz.

And that right there, folks, is why it’s normally silent. Too much drama.

Well, either silent or with a book on tape.

So, as we sat in blissful silence, pointing out different fauna or landmarks, we eventually arrived in Savannah. I have always wanted to come here and I want to go back. Two hours is just not enough, especially when you’ve got someone showing you around that didn’t make it on Jersey Shore… because she was too Jersey Shore.

We walked into the visitor center and when confronted with a billion different tours to choose from, saw a coupon for one and snagged it. That should’ve been our first clue. The coupon.

Because as we waited for take-off, we glanced at the trolly next door. There was literally a line from the visitor center onto it. Either they didn’t know there was a coupon over here, or their Fodor’s Guidebook told them to steer clear.
20120529-141943.jpg
And clear they did steer. We felt lonely.
20120529-141954.jpg
However, we did appreciate taking up the entire back row without guilt. And that’s always nice. So as a few more unsuspecting people jumped on, we headed out.

It was muggy.

So I chose to wear a cardigan, because that’s what you’re supposed to wear if you want sweat to drip down your back and you can’t pat it dry because in doing so it will cause your white shirt to get wet and maybe if you were still playing volleyball daily and were proud of your over-the-shoulder-boulder pebble-holder it would be fine, but hosting a post baby wet t-shirt contest due to a sweaty back while holding said baby is probably not the most flattering introduction you want to give to Savannah’s elite.
20120529-141935.jpg
But I probably shouldn’t have been worried about making a good impression, there’s no way I could have, because our driver alternated between yelling at people with her microphone to get off their phone while driving, cackling when, as she pointed out a landmark, it looked like two people were doing the nasty. Then hollering back that we should have any kids on the tour close their eyes. There weren’t any children, except for Ruth. And she thought ‘the nasty’ meant they were eating avocadoes. She hates them so.

There was a brief pause of civility as we oogled over the lovely homes like this one…
20120529-142109.jpg
…and then she was back at it: screaming at a girl on the sidewalk to turn around because she looked like Pippa and yelling ‘Nice horse!’ to a guy walking his great dane. Followed by You’re pretty cute, but I bet you don’t like women!

Ahhh, savannah southern hospitality at its best. I think my tactlessness would fit in just nicely down here. If not, I could always become a tour guide.
20120529-142122.jpg
Ruth hung in there for the 90 minute tour. By the end we simultaneously juggled balls, patty-clapped, and stood on our heads to entertain her. It seemed to work, though, as several people commented on how well she did. No one seemed to notice the bedraggled lady holding her. Ah well.

We hopped in our car and continued on our way to Folly Beach. After a few stops before everyone settled down, it was back to silence with the occasional fervor of conversation.

Shortly we arrived and thus began our week with friends, a beach (briefly), and piñatas. On one of those days another couple and we drove into Charleston and did a tour there as well.

We waited in the shade for our ride.
20120529-142011.jpg
Side note: J’s baby does not have a yellow perfectly oval with squiggly black lines face.

I introduced Ruth to a horse.
20120529-142025.jpg
But she was mostly enthralled by this black one. I bet she knows how much I loved The Black Stallion growing up.
20120529-142035.jpg
Our little carriage took off with only a few people. This was my fault, though, as I thought several other couples were coming with us and therefore reserved basically an entire carriage. In the end, it worked out for the best. More elbow room = happy mama.

The guide did not yell at pedestrians, nor drivers, nor the patrons, but instead gave a thorough (if monotone) background of everything we saw. It was calm, easy going, and breezy. Just what I needed after being sequestered in a bedroom with a teething baby girl (whose second tooth did in fact appear by the time we arrived home).

Ruth fell asleep on my chest, I semi-listened to the history of the town, and R took control of the camera. It was like he worked for National Geographic and just happened on a rare breed of animal.

Click-click-cliking away at everything. And I mean everything, including the little flag the guide would drop when the horse went tinkle. I mean, it was a Charleston tinkle flag, right? Therefore, it must be documented.

Like this one, I asked him later?
20120529-142143.jpg
What is it?

I don’t know.

Okay.

But he did capture things like this: a low-lying old tree in front of a big white old home that I would love to uproot and wheel back to Arkansas with us. So, it all evened out.

20120529-142202.jpg
Ruth agreed with me.
20120529-142132.jpg
Afterwards, we walked around a bit, ate a bit, and then drove back to the beach.

Two different tour guides and I liked them both. That pretty much describes me though. I like being around people that make me laugh, but at a certain point I like to ask, can we have a serious conversation too?

You need both.

And this trip, so far, had it.

Socialite

Not. But for a second this anti-social girl was getting into the swing of things. Like, having face-to-face conversations with multiple people within a short span of time. It was weird, like I had friends or something.

Like S. Who was one half of the duo during our Emily Post, “Can I offer you a cigarette after the salad course”, test. She passed. She would’ve passed even if she’d declined too, but got extra points for being a good sport. You can read about it here. 

Ruth and I met up for lunch at the darn near cutest little restaurant. Heirloom is its name, great food is its game. They try to use as much local organic food as possible. That, along with bread baked in a flowerpot, water in the cutest carafe, and the nicest owners around, it made for a memorable lunch.

Wanna know what else was memorable? Trying to nurse Ruthie in front of a guy at the picture window while holding down the jacket/nursing cover in 300 mph wind. Yeah, that was awesome. I’m sure he got a show.

But, being handed a travel guide by the owner that dear S created made up for it. I told her she should autograph it and give it back to the owner.  That will be worth money one day!

My other favorite part was admiring their vintage mid-50s home with pretty much everything still in tact.

The little stove stole my heart. But then Ruthie threw up on their kitchen floor and it was time to go. We know how to make an exit.

We also had some family over where we watched about 3 million youtube videos trying to find the scandal on The Wizard of Oz set, along with finding compilations of other scandalous images in various Disney movies. I was already biased against Beauty and the Beast to begin with, but these other clips just helped me spread that gag reflex to the other ones.

No, instead I’ll have her watch something more wholesome. Like, The Real Housewives.

I have a love affair with Fridays. They’re my go-to day for inviting people over. You can stay up late, sleep in the next day and still have the rest of your weekend. It’s amazing.

We’ve been lucky with most of our dates, in that we end the night eager to set up a second one to hang out. Other couples, well one in particular, decide that in order to avoid going out with us again, they need to move. Like, to Florida. Like, in two weeks after said dinner. Hopefully it wasn’t because I served our food on old-school cafeteria plates, because I consider these my china. It doesn’t matter the reason, because whether they want us to or not, we’re going to be popping up in sunny FL for a beach date.

One couple, however, I was extremely nervous about meeting. “Meeting” because we never actually met in person. Long story short, J is a blogger at Hotchabyrd, and we have a mutual friend. The friend suggested she read my blog. So she read it, left a few comments that made me laugh hard gut laughs, and then we slowly worked up the courage to set a date.  As we live in the same town, it shouldn’t have been a big deal, right?

Wrong. I was terrified. This girl is funny. Real funny. And funny people make me nervous.

So we agreed on a sushi night with my native american sushi dishes (wrap that one around your brain) and vintage sake cups.

They were my only source of solitude throughout the process, those cups. Well, if I act like a dork, and she is appalled, at least I have my sake cups was my mantra throughout the day leading up.

When they arrived, her husband gave me a big hug. This gave me the courage to attack his wife as she walked through the door. I poured us some sake, we cried as it burned down our throats, and then began talking.

And talking.

And talking.

In fact, the conversation lasted for 6 hours straight. Not bad for a first double date.

We hit on some of her “Things to talk about in case it gets awkward” list (even though it didn’t get awkward). My personal favorite, “Enjoying being AWAY from other people.” I don’t think we discussed that one. But now I wonder how it would’ve been brought up if that was her last ditch effort for a topic.

[In the middle of complete silence] So, don’t you just hate being AWAY from other people?

[pause] Yes. Please go.

I mean, how do you respond to that?

Anyway, we did some of our talking on the deck.

Her husband riffed gently on the guitar as we warmed our feet by the fire. It’s why I want R to learn the guitar, if only for that background music.

I even felt comfortable enough to do my “Take a photo of me while I act like I don’t know what you’re doing so I can prove that I indeed exist” stance.

That one is crucial to me. If I can act my unnatural natural self around you, you’re in.

And they were. Totally in.

All I know is that by the end of the night, J broke out house shoes she brought in case she felt comfortable, we’d planned a weekend trip, I shared the most random of random personal stories usually reserved for date #250, R fell backwards in a chair and got stuck in the corner, D serenaded us with his musical talents, and we all agreed that a good time was had.

[raising a glass] Here’s to blogs and their aid in making new friends.

Just don’t drink sake with that toast. It’ll burn.

How to Host 5 Families in a Shack

First off, everyone needs to wear deoderant. No ifs, ands, or buts, because this space is tight.

But it worked.

Secondly, just order pizza and be done with it. Don’t try to get fancy with hand-rolled sushi this time around. You’ll end up deciding to make and eat a wasabi bomb and hope that it explodes so you don’t have to finish rolling one more roll.

Deoderant, check. Pizza, check. Here’s the calm before the storm.

And here’s the storm. The fun storm, the funny storm, the comfortable-I-feel-like-we’ve-known-these-couples-for-a-long-time storm.

You remember this storm.. from our reunion a month ago?


Before leaving the reunion we suggested that we have a game night. So the Shack was offered up as the first meeting point and accepted.

They arrived on a rainy cold night and we ushered them in to park their car seats. 5 babies, under 5 months.

A couple that was unable to make it to the reunion came as well. Little did we know that all the stars were aligned for them to possibly not make it to game night: a baby that strongly dislikes being in her car seat, not knowing how to get to our place, and no internet connection to figure out how to get to our place.

As luck would have it, they walked out of a coffee shop and saw our midwife across the street who gave them directions.

Yay! Here they are. I wish I had their baby girl’s hair:

And here’s the rest of the crew. Cozying up in our single-wide. You see that baby at 10 o’clock.

He weighs over 20 lbs. Guess how old he is.

3 flipping months.

That’s the mama that had him in 90 minutes in her living room. From first contraction to out-comes-baby. Let’s all take a moment of silence.

Another tidbit for housing a bigger group than normal? Open up every nook and cranny for use. With having 5 babies in the place, it really didn’t feel chaotic. Some people went into the guest room to nurse, others laid their baby in our room to nap. It seemed to work out.


Sweet little S. He and Ruth napped together in her room. Gone are the days (already!) that we can lay little miss rolly-poly on the middle of the bed. What a difference a few months makes.

In between nursings and naps, we did manage to play a game.

Catchphrase – Girls vs Boys

Which I still think was uneven because none of us women can remember our last name, let alone guess Pad Thai in 5 seconds. At one point, one mama stopped talking in the middle of a conversation. Two minutes later I asked, What were we just talking about? 

I don’t know, she said. Literally, only 2 minutes had elapsed. It’s nice to be around others that understand.

So, even though we were at a disadvantage, and even though we lost….


…it was still a blast.

Look at little C in the green shirt.

He reminds me of a older man, shrunk down in size.

We’ve already agreed on the next location for game night. One of the mamas said she had asked our midwife if any other class kept in touch afterwards, and was disappointed to find out that yes, some other classes have. I’ll ask her again in 5 years, she said.

I hope we’ll still be playing games 5 years from now. Maybe by then I’ll be able to remember my name.

Play Date

Ruthie sure loves her play dates. While in KC, my friend J and her daughter O came up for a visit.

J was my gateway drug into the world of starting a family.

R and I waited 5 years after getting hitched before having a baby, because, well, I was content with our lives. Why rock the boat so soon? I felt like Braveheart yelling at R and myself to Hold…. HOLD….

Then, Wait, J is pregnant? And enjoying it? And embracing this life-changer?

Okay, let’s do it.



She has been a big help, too. For instance, I made her describe in excruciating detail her unmedicated hospital birth. Like, every detail. Several times.

The biggest thing I took away from her was positive self-talk during the hardest moments, “My body is made for this. My body is made for this.”

That helped me so much.

She also encouraged me and another friend into trying cloth diapers. We all love it. In fact, every person that I know who is cloth diapering loves it.

A few days prior, O turned the big ‘O’.

One.

Her name isn’t One by the way. And she does have a face. Just not on the internet.


Ruth and I wrapped up a present for and watched as it was opened in painstaking detail.

Later we went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was a gorgeous winter day and we both huffed and puffed our way up some hills. I started huffing and puffing as soon as I got down the driveway.

We’ll be rejoining this duo and two other couples in April for a little beachside getaway. Can’t wait.

Carthage Thrifting

Well, there went our budget for the week, but oh my it was worth it. I got some fun things and didn’t talk baby talk once the entire day.

I asked an old coworker of mine, N, to escort me around some thrift stores. She ended up being our chaperone. For the thrift store and me, I mean. She made sure I didn’t get too grabby with the store’s body and helped the store open up a bit more and show me its silly side.

I wasn’t only excited about thrifting, but also to get out like a normal human being for a day. Well, kinda normal. I did have my breasts unashamedly exposed on a highway so I could pump in order to return to being normal for the next 3 hours.

No one noticed though. I think everyone we passed could feel me boring my eyes into the side of their heads saying Oh I just dare you to look, my friend. So help me, if you even move your face one iota to the side…

You know how you get that subconscious feeling of danger every now and again? Sometimes it can come on so strong that you just keep looking forward and keep on keeping on. I’m pretty sure that’s what they felt and stared straight ahead.

We finally arrived and ran into the shop.

N, luckily, also likes to take her time browsing, so I didn’t feel rushed or like I was holding her hostage. My kind of thrifting experience.

This first store rocked it. We dove in and didn’t come up for air until 3.5 hours later. Awe-some.

There were many things I talked myself in and out of throughout those hours. For one, this band hat. My goal (once we’re out of The Shack) is to create an attic space, complete with old wardrobe, mirror, and mannequin, sofa etc. for a dress-up corner and this hat just about made the cut.

Six months ago, I wouldn’t have blinked. But now that we’re trying to stick to a budget and have bigger plans for our moulah, I eventually nixed it. Maybe next time I’ll pick it up.

N found many things too.


Like this old pastry cutter and a paper-mache Santa that lit up. I watched her wheel and deal for that one. We literally ran around like chickens with our heads cut off and every once in a while would see the same thing at the same time and take in a huge gulp of air before grabbing it.

It’s nice to be surrounded by people who get the same sort of joy out of similar things as you do. It’s also nice to watch people get excited about different things than you too, but nothing beats a shared passion.

After that shopping extravaganza I was starving and brought out our lunch.

PB & J’s, lemonade, popcorn, nuts, and fruit. Next week, at The Mobile-Homemaker, I’ll be showing you how to bake the bread used for these sandwiches. Just a plain white bread, but R & I both enjoy it.

You can’t really tell, but it’s oh only 28 DEGREES FREAKING OUTSIDE.

The conversation was short and we hopped back into the car to make another stop.

Enter Doris.

She was manning the front desk and, I believe, owned the place. Within 10 minutes of us walking in, she literally made us take several things for free.

I knew she was a girl after my own heart when we asked for her photo and after taking it, insisted on seeing how she looked. Yes, we thrifters are all vain.

I picked up some wool socks (R and I are addicted) and a piece of artwork that knocked my (wool) socks off, along with some other things.

We stopped at a couple more places before heading home. The drained feeling of exploring and searching and squealing and buying makes for a laid-back ride home. We chatted, I soaked in the setting sun, and stared out at the rolling fields.


I was happy.

But nothing is as exciting as when you arrive home and get to show off your wares. Most of the time R just laughs and he didn’t disappoint this time. Except he threw in some head shakes and “What the heck is that” questions.

My absolute favorite buy of the day, and I can’t even tell you how much it was because Doris just said $5 for everything (and I had a good pile going…) is this artwork:

What the.

I just couldn’t take my eyes off it. It grabbed me, spun me around, and dipped me. So you know I was in love.

This deserved a prominent place in The Shack.

And there she be. Right above our french press that we use every day. So now every time R wants coffee, he’ll have the pleasure of soaking in that glittering beauty of a print.

This is one happy mama.

Reunion

Saturday night our little family went to a reunion. Our (home)birthing class reunion. If there’s one way to become close to someone, watch Peruvian women squat out their babies for 30 minutes.

I think I’ll start using that as an ice-breaker at parties. Hi, nice to meet you. Hey, take a look at this video… 

Friends will be lining up at the Shack, I’m sure of it.

Here are the kidlets, along with their papas and a few Chucky-looking dolls behind them. The two on the left were born within 24 hours of each other as well as the two on the right. Our class put J, the midwife, through the ringer.

Speaking of her, here she is!

She was the teacher of our class and we all walked away with so much knowledge. The class was held on four saturdays for about 3 hours long.

But besides the education, we walked away getting to know some seriously funny folks. Like, I would double over as far as a pregnant lady could double over, funny. That was during the class, though, when we’d snicker like a 12 year old if someone said vajayjay. Or like when we were asked why a women gets shaved while in the delivery room. And someone answered, “Tangles?”  Ah, yes, we were all back in 6th grade and loving it.

So I wondered how it would be after the fact. When we’re not joking about how the guys shouldn’t massage your wife during labor and expect it to lead to anything. Or hearing the men verbally high-five each other upon finding out that having sex can actually help induce labor naturally.

Those were all funny moments. But what about now? Oh my word, yes.


We all had different birthing experiences.

One lasted 35 hours while another only last 90 minutes. (Can we pause and try to imagine that? Yikes.)

One couple took a walk together under the moon and another ran around cleaning tubs and toilets (us).

I had my baby on my bed and another had hers squatting in the hallway. One gave birth in the water, and the other was on her hands and knees in the living room.

It was FAScinating. Yes, sometimes we were serious while listening to each other.

But for the most part, we looked like this:

I pretty much guffawed the whole night. Didn’t even talk to anyone. How are you, Carolyn? Bahahahaha! Ehhh, okay. Good to hear you’re well. How’s your baby? Tee hee hee hee.

I mean, good grief. Get a room with the jokes, Carrie.


In other news: Ruth was introduced to several friends. She, again, licked her chops as if she were going to devour them in apparently the only first impression she gives potential buddies.

We lasted as long as the little tykes would let us and then headed home. But not without first planning another get together at, guess where, THE SHACK for some games and more baby talk.

And yes, there will be laughter too. Yes, indeed.

My Dear John Letter to Nyquil

Dear Nyquil,

You had me at my goodni–, because I never got to the end of that word before succumbing to the lovely coma you provided. You know that I don’t typically go for tall, dark shotglasses of liquid dreams. In most cases, I go down fighting just even to take tylenol for a headache. But you Nyquil, you wormed your foggy-head-inducing way into my heart.

But I…

…I met someone. He was introduced to me by Frugally Sustainable. Don’t blame her, she didn’t know I was seeing you. I was fully aware of what I was doing, but couldn’t stop it. You know that I’m breast feeding and understood that we would be apart for awhile. That was gracious of you, yes.

I just didn’t expect… this. I think it’s love.

If it’s not too painful, a few other people are reading this over your shoulder and kinda want to know how this other syrup and I met.

Try to avert your eyes, Nyquil.

Click here to read about our first date in a nutshell and the recipe. It was kinda awkward because I didn’t say much. In fact, I said nothing at all…. because we met over the internet, which is no big deal except he had no clue I was hunting him down in person.

Eventually, I did find him and laid out all the ingredients on the counter. Then smiled that the bottles bought for me last Christmas from my in-laws were finally getting used. And they’re almost exactly like Frugally Sustainable’s bottles. Who’s trying their darndest to imitate Frugally? This girl. It’s embarrassing.

Picture me with Ruth’s scary “I’m gonna stalk you” grin when she stared down her new friend. I have no idea where she gets that weird social ineptness. I mean, I only hounded my future college roommate and super good friend, K, for months before agreeing to be my roommate. So what if she swears that whenever she got new eyeglasses, I showed up the next day with similar ones. And it’s not that big of a deal that we both married guys of the same name, and those guys have fathers with the same name.

Pure coincidence.

It’s not like I researched his family line on ancestry.com before settling on a husband to make sure mine was in sync. I mean, everyone knows that his family came from Prussia on the 1886 transatlantic ship to America. Right?

Back to my current victim author. She has an entire section dedicated to making your own medicine. And since I’m new to this world of herbs, I thought we would get up close and personal with them as they are introduced.

Meet Licorice Root. Licorice Root, meet… well, meet whomever’s the current person I’ve bribed to read my blog.

From http://www.herbwisdom.com, here are just some of the benefits of Licorice Root:

  • has a similarly soothing and healing action, reducing irritation and inflammation and has an expectorant effect, useful in irritating coughs, asthma and chest infections
  • appears to enhance immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a key immune system chemical that fights off attacking viruses
  • has an aspirin-like action and is helpful in relieving fevers and soothing pain such as headaches. Its anti-allergenic effect is very useful for hay fever, allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and bronchial asthma

Next up: Echinacea Root.

Ech-uh-NAY-sha.

Guess who called up the local health food store and asked for Ech-ee-nuh-SAY-uh? You’re right. Me, again. No one knew what I was talking about so I naturally just kept repeating it the same way over and over again. Pretty sure they weren’t annoyed.

From http://www.herbwisdom.com, here are just some of the benefits of Echinacea Root:

  • stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. Unlike antibiotics, which directly attack bacteria, echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells
  • increases the number and activity of immune system cells including anti-tumor cells, promotes T-cell activation, stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing and reduces inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions

…and Ginger Root:

  •  a remedy for travel sickness, nausea and indigestion and is used for wind, colic, irritable bowel, loss of appetite, chills, cold, flu, poor circulation, menstrual cramps, dyspepsia (bloating, heartburn, flatulence), indigestion and gastrointestinal problems such as gas and stomach cramps
  • a powerful anti-inflammatory herb and there has been much recent interest in its use for joint problems
  • arthritis, fevers, headaches, toothaches, coughs, bronchitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, to ease tendonitis, lower cholesterol and blood-pressure and aid in preventing internal blood clots

After steeping and then filtering out the herbs once, I decided to do it again for the last few bits and pieces.

Ruth played with her friends, while I poured in the syrup.

I interrupted the play date and asked her to model the finished product. She was suspicious.

And had a right to be. I used her because I felt guilty throwing an arm around my new man. Nyquil, I hate to admit this, but I already forgot you were reading. Now that I’ve remembered that you are, maybe I shouldn’t mention that this concoction helped my sore throat at night like you did but it also tasted much better.

I’m sorry it had to end this way. Keep reading my blog, please.

Carolyn

Ruthie got sick of me talking about my breakup and asked me to read her a book.  So we did, and I purposely read the cupcake page about 20 times. She understands at 4 months that that’s the perfect cure after a long relationship ends.

I do feel the need to mention that while nursing you still want to watch your intake. I did a tablespoon every 3-4 hours. There are also some herbs that you shouldn’t take at all while nursing. Just a heads up and do your research.

Hairy and the Hendersons

What do you get when you combine hair, sugar, and Moscoto wine? Duh, spa night. Particularly with girlfriends you haven’t seen in what feels like forever.

FOR-ev-er. For-EV-er.

Nevermind, Sandlot reference. There are some words that I can’t say without thinking of a movie/show. Like I’ve mentioned before, ‘fickle’ (I Love Lucy with Bill Harden – I’m fickle?); ‘Occurs’ (The Last of the Mohicans – No matter what occurs, I WILL find you.); and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Mary Poppins – …even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious). That last one comes up quite a bit, believe it or not.

Anyway, so L & A came down for the weekend. Upon arrival, R uncorked a couple bottles of wine and then immediately went to bed….leaving us in the living room to talk until, wait for it, 5 o’clock in the morning. Look out kids – Mama’s gettin’ caraaaazy up in he-uh!

I can’t remember the last time I stayed up that late. Oh, wait, yes I can.. the first week with Ruthie. This time around was infinitely better, though. The hours flew by, discussing jobs, babies, memories…

The next day we ate breakfast, chit-chatted for a few more hours and then drove to Fayetteville to pick up our 5K race packets that we never ended up going to. We had priorities: sleep.

When we returned…

A teeny spa area had been set up. I looked at R and smiled.

He follows directions well! [For anyone who cares about how sexy R and my conversations are, we spent a good portion of this morning discussing when to use ‘good’ and ‘well’. We decided that the state of being is good, and doing a task is well. Please correct me if there are any exceptions, my fellow grammar freaks.]

So, yes, he follow directions well.

because I left him details on how to set it up. Yes, I am that cool. I even erased one rectangle because it was not proportionate to the coffee table. How R snagged such a catch as me, we’ll never know.

The excitement of seeing the table was short-lived, because we were exhausted. So we took a nap. I came out only when I heard hooting owls in the living room. A had found some background spa music. I mean, when aren’t owls relaxing?

So I ran out there and yelled, bootcamp style, at them to get in relaxed positions. NOW!

Nothing like stressing someone out beforehand. But L happily obliged with the foot soak.

And A, who I’m sure is ecstatic about this photo, started in on her toenails.

I used my almond meal/honey/jojoba oil scrub (Told ya I was gray)…

…and then it got serious, folks. I’d been wanting to try a sugar wax recipe I saw on youtube. This was a big deal to me. Because even though I have a high pain tolerance (for the most part), waxing is my achilles’ heel. The last time I had my legs done, I was living in Spain and spent the majority of the time trying to yell in spanish that waxing is akin to corsets and will be written about in future history books on how women torture themselves for beauty.

I gave up after trying to think of the word  for ‘waxing’ and just started whimpering. Big baby.

This would be my redemption.

Before the girls came down, I made a couple batches of wax. R was impressed and said that was unlike me. I said Thank You without realizing it really wasn’t much of a compliment.

Here’s the recipe. Get ready, because it’s extremely difficult:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water

Have I lost you yet?

Mix it all together and then throw into a pot until boiling.

Oh yeah, if possible, have a candy thermometer handy. Would you know that I had just picked that bad boy up at an estate sale a couple weeks prior? And R says I only bring home junk. Hmph.

After you get it to a boil, reduce the heat to the low.

I don’t know what ‘low’ looks like on a gas stove, but this is what my flame looked like.

Here’s where the trickiest part begins. You want the mixture to be slightly thicker than honey and a dark amber color. But watch out! It will literally turn to candy if you let it cook for too long.

Here it is light.

Darker.

More Darker. The temp on the thermometer should be between 240 – 260.

The first batch I made was left on until close to 260. The second was taken off around 240 and they both work fine.

In fact, it worked great. So well in fact, that I made loud exclamations on each pull of the cloth.

Okay, I’ll admit. I did two strips on my leg and then was dunzo. Both A & L were champs and did several areas.

I was intending on waxing the rest of my legs at my parents’ house and each night would find a new excuse… usually a word that started with HG and ended with TV bailed me out. When we got home yesterday, I took a look at my now extremely scary-looking legs and by golly, those two strips were still bare after a full week! That, coupled with R’s observation of how whiney I was: “Did A & L even do the waxing because they didn’t make any noise,” I am now finished with both lower legs.

I don’t know why everyone made such a big deal out of it.

You big babies.

When did I give birth to James Gandolfini

Well, at least in looks, that is. I’d say she’s more Don Corleone in personality.

Take when our friends stopped over on their way from South Carolina to Kansas. First off, let’s give them a virtual fist bump for driving straight through to our house. When Ruth was Is’s age, we took her to Kansas City and I remember asking to be dropped off at every intersection we came to. “Don’t worry. I can walk the rest of the way,” I assured them.

It was a rough ride.

So when they arrived, I allowed only minimal small talk before kicking them into the back bedroom for a nap. Ruth and I would take care of baby.

She was only slightly excited to make a new friend. Just like her mama, creating an awkward tension with her overeagerness of potential friendships.

I whispered to her to wipe that scary “I’m gonna gobble you up!” smile off her face and play it cool.

She didn’t listen.

Ruth wanted to sit on my knee and just stare at Is. I told her that was creepy, but she insisted.

She waited for Is’s aknowledgement. And waited…

And waited.

Nothing.

In fact, I’m pretty sure Is hurt herself in avoiding eye contact with Ruth. It was tough to watch, but Ruth needed to learn this lesson in how not to go about making friends. Hovering over a resting person, boring your eyes into the side of their head is probably not the best plan of attack.

And that’s when something changed in Ruthie, aka Don Corleone.

She leaned back during a forced photo op, her bulky cloth diaper making her reminiscent of an old mob boss at the coffee shop…. waiting to have “a talk.” Ruth said something to Is that none of us could hear, causing her to get very upset.

It didn’t faze Ruthie. She calmly continued with her Godfather/Sopranos ways…

and poor Is eventually succumbed to Ruth’s friendship. Probably against her will, we’ll never know the specifics of that conversation…. but we think it had something to do with offers that Is couldn’t refuse.

Who could blame Is, though, when faced with James’ identical twin. Would you refuse?

——————————————————–
Special Features: Behind the photo shoot

These girls never saw it coming.

You’ve got that lovin’ feeling…

After I wrote my post on “The Balance” between enjoying life and helping those in it, our friend T immediately invited us over for a patio fire and discussion. While I didn’t get to hang out by the fire that much (Ruthie has taken quite a liking to this thing called milk), we did collectively agree that we need to move past talking and into doing. Do, do, do. Action speaks louder than words kind of thing.

As he wrote in an email: …it’s a big deal, you know, loving people and pointing them to God. I think it’s the reason for our existence.

That pretty much sums it up, now doesn’t it.

And so we decided to start meeting on a regular basis to make word on our decision, and I’ll be documenting each get together. My intent is not to boast about our doings in hopes that your estimation of me will rise (although, I think we can all agree that with my track record it wouldn’t take much to see an improvement. Oh look honey, she took out the trash. She’s a saint) but rather it’s for encouragement. If I told no one, I’d still be tickled pink… however we need to be each others’ cheerleader and inspiration. As my mom said, “You never know what ripples you may cause..” Would T have asked us over to have such a pointed conversation? Probably, in time. But maybe that post helped speed up the process.

Also, I’ll be sharing these to give you ideas. I think we could all use a little help that department. I certainly didn’t come up with Blessing Bags (to give to homeless people on the street. Keep them in your car and deliver as needed.) I happened to be reading one blog that linked to another blog that linked to another and there you have it, the internet. It’s a wonderful thing.

For our first get together, I invited everyone to The Shack (you know, to keep us humble) for chili, vino, and bag-making.

I set up all the items, buffet style. This would be the first time people actually got around our table in what would be, let me see… how old is ruth, over two months. Normally we find a spot that’s easy to collapse into, shove our face and then grab her so the other can eat.

I had offered to buy everyone’s items, but T wanted his son to be a part of the entire process. This is something I had not considered, and love. Our children need to know these things didn’t just come out of thin air. We are setting aside money (and time) for people…. because they are that important to us.

Ruth slept through the buying trip.

Here’s what we put into the gallon-sized bag:

  • Cough Drops
  • Socks
  • Tylenol
  • Band-Aids
  • Gum
  • Combs
  • Kleenex
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Handi-Wipes
  • Granola Bars
  • PB Crackers
  • Mouthwash
  • Chapstick

Along with a scripture:

(you can print this and many others off from here)

Ro had a great idea of including feminine hygiene products, like maxi-pads, in future bags. Again, that’s something I’ve never considered before. This group thing is already working out… throwing out suggestions to keep our minds thinking.

She and her boys came over to have a glass of wine and chit-chat before the dads came home… if you call chit-chatting me spending who knows how long in the bedroom trying to get Ruthie to sleep. How nice am I? Hi! C’mon in… hey, hang tight for a couple hours while I hole myself up in the bedroom, ‘kay? There’s some Comet under the sink for J to drink, just make yourself at home.

Because we quickly realized that The Shack is not baby-proof. Unless Comet really is on the menu, then I’m the most thoughtful host on the block. I found some locks and plug-in covers and her oldest ran around sticking them in for me. The covers, not his fingers.

He also kept an eye (or ear, to be more precise) out for Ruthie. Several times throughout the evening he would run up to me and say, “Miss Carrie! Ruth is crying.”  Oh, huh, kinda forgot she was back there with all the excitement.

The dads came home and we squealed as J walked his longest stretch yet to his papa.

Then another big and little friend came over. C’s wife is out of the country at the moment, otherwise she would have been there front and center with us. We ate a quick dinner and got to work. Side note: I cannot eat chili anymore while nursing Ruth. I think that’s self-explanatory.

And while it made me happy to see this unfold:

These are what really inspired me… seeing the future generation in on the action:


Little S-man, right in the thick of things. This guy is hilarious. The first thing he said to me when he walked in was, “Miss Carrie, we saw some animals that you may be interested in eating.” Well, don’t mind if I do, S. I love me some chickens!

And this blue-eyed boy… too young to partake in the bag-stuffing, but soaking it all in. Seeing and then imitating!

And this girl. Oh, B! After petting Ruth’s head and calling her Bee-bee, she hopped onto a chair and got straight to work… like she was born on an assembly line.

Even Ruthie jumped in. Sort of. She was more concerned with keeping her head up than putting a purple comb into a baggie, but we all have priorities, I guess.

(source)

By the end of the night, I was one happy mama. We ate and talked and laughed…which is what we normally would have done anyway, so why not throw a little ‘do good’ in the mix?

Drop me a line, I’d love to hear your stories.  And if you have any ideas for us to tackle, please send them my way!

Who let the freak out? (aka, my first night out since Ruth)

Last Friday we went to a masquerade ball. It was our first night out by ourselves since D-Day, or I guess it should be called R-Day.

And actually, it probably really was like D-day for everyone else. No one saw the Carrie-bomb that was about to be dropped on them. It was like I was 16 all over again, attending a senior’s party. Only this time with cleavage. And a boyfriend. And no braces. And a girdle on. And no job. And – okay, I better stop while I’m ahead.

But I’m probably a good 1% cooler now than I was in high school. Thank you milk production. Man, if I had only known then that all I needed was a baby. I could’ve had better fitting tops and my own MTV show.

Ruth was terrified of us. Or she can see into the future.

I literally acted as if I had never been let out of the house before. Letting my mouth, feet, and hands (I’m a gesticulator) run wild.

Couldn’t help it, though. First off the place was fantastic. Above one of our little downtown shops, in a space that was about to be renovated into apartments. The walls were cracked and crumbling, antique-y chairs were used as a lounge, mason jars with lights were used to illuminate. Ah, loved it. The juxtaposition of velvet chairs, wood floors, and crumbling walls? Candy for the eyes.

courtesy of someone on facebook

I forced people to dance with me (The band was awesome. Is there anything better than acoustic versions of Snoop Dog & Violent Femmes?), I about karate chopped a guy’s head off with my excited hand gestures, and completely put my foot in my mouth several times. The scariest moment came when I saw D, my midwife’s assistant, at the party. We hugged and another girl asked how we knew each other.

“How do we know each other? Well, she looked down there for 4 straight hours.”

And I may or may not have used the word hoo-haw.

Just keeping it classy, folks. Keeping. It. Classy. High school Carrie had edged me out at that point.

courtesy of someone on facebook

But, can I raise a glass of vino in my honor for one thing, though? When the time came for the crowd to get into the inevitable large circle, so we can break out in the middle with our favorite early 90s moves, I did not, I repeat, did not do The Carlton. Talk about self-control. Because that had been haunting me since J’s last shindig.

You know The Carlton, don’t you? Everyone knows The Carlton.

It was pretty much my first time meeting everyone, and much to R’s horror, I whipped out The Carlton. In an 80s prom dress. And high freaking heels.

Do you see what’s coming? Literally two arm swings in I landed wrong and had to stumble out of the circle in shame. We quickly left afterwards.

courtesy of someone on facebook

Not this time, though. I held back in spite of the possible redemption and R was proud. So I immediately said or did something to make him shake his head. Can’t let him wonder if I’ve changed for the better for too long.

And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up hobbling my way out to the car anyway.

Girl hasn’t worn heels (let alone dance in them) in what seems like ages. But the blisters were well worth it, my friends. Well worth it.

Apparently being hip is not a requirement.

I don’t know how I snaked by. Unless it means that only mamas with hips can join. In that case, I was a shoe-in. In fact, I’m sure there’s an email in my inbox right now requesting that I be the spokesperson for that group of mamas with hips. If that were true, though, I don’t think the current clipart is appropriate.

Either which way, I’ve joined this local group.

It’s confirmed, people, I’m hip. So you can stop sending me emails on how to up my cool factor. It’s already been achieved.  After I read the acceptance, I strutted around The Shack pointing and winking at everything.

Then I looked at Ruthie and she gave me her ‘I can see through you and you’re not as cool as you think’ look. Oh yeah, Ruth? Well, for your information I’m now a hip mama. Eat it. So she did. And after 15 minutes gave me the look again.

Whatever. I’ll show you.

But before I walk through this nerdy wardrobe into the Chronicles of Hipness, let’s take a look at my past life. My past awkward life.

Like how I forced R to participate in Thrill The World with me and another couple. It was a bid to try and have the most number of people dance the Thriller at the same time. People all over the world did it. See? I’m not alone. We showed up for the practice and were swarmed by 14 year olds.

If you want to watch the video, here it is. Don’t hate. We spent the day leading up to this at an Oktoberfest festival. It took me nano seconds into the first lager to forget the steps. My friend, J, and I are on the left side (I’m in the black dress and she is in front of me in pants and small jacket.) T & R are on the right, (T wearing a tuxedo shirt and R right behind him.) R’s favorite part is the high-five they did at the very end.

Or what about the time I slipped on stairs in college, landed on my back, and laid there as a high school tour walked by? That will never happen again. Because I’m hip now, ya’all. (maybe I should quit saying ya’all, then.)

If you’re interested in getting a glimpse into my disturbing psyche, in which I obsess over a graceful girl all through class and then try to emulate her, click on the photo. It will take you to the post.

And talk about disturbing. Me, in the woods, with a Jane Austen book. What would Jane think? And why would she be walking around with a copy of her own book? I don’t know, but she was cool… why couldn’t me reenacting mesmerizing looks not be? Well, that’s in the past now. I’ll only be throwing around hip looks from now on, which means I may or may not acknowledge you now that I’m several notches higher.

Click on the photo if you’re into the neuroses of a jane-aholic and would like to be hypnotized by my captivating stares. You’re getting very sleepy….

Upon being accepted into this group, I started looking around at the various meet-ups and found one that would fit Ruthie’s age. I remembered R’s word of advice: “don’t just throw all your cards out there at once, Carrie. Let people know you’re nice and then drop the weird jokes on them.”  So I RSVP’d for an event, and told myself to write something short and sweet. Don’t always try to go for the laugh, Carolyn. They’ll get to know you soon enough.

I’m screwed.

Me, me, me

I had a really nice birthday. Even little Ruth slept well the night before. Wait, no, I take that back. No she didn’t.

I remember thinking, “Happy Birthday to me” at 3am and wondering if little miss fussiness would settle down so I could get some sleep. Those days are gone.. not the staying up late apparently, but definitely the crashing until lunch.

It was a hard night.

But around 7:30, I stumbled into the living room to lay on the couch for any zzz’s I could get and realized that R was fixing me breakfast. He had only a few minutes before going to work, so I grappled for some toothpicks to keep my eyelids open and shuffled to the table.

This is R’s dream breakfast. No color. I grabbed my nearest fake plant, blew off the dust, and took a shot. I cannot not have color on (or near, at least) my plate.

And then I saw the card that had “Yo necesito un Caroline” on it. This harkens back to my days working in the insurance industry, having file incoming claims. I was on the spanish-speaking queue. Remember when I made a complete and utter fool of myself on that queue with the spanish language, as well as telling my class in college how delicious penis pasta is? No? Read my blog post on it, here.

Well, I joined the company as they were just implementing that group of employees (side note: I accidentally wrote ‘groupo’), meaning there weren’t very many of us. Anyway, I was on a call with a nice older lady and we got disconnected. Later, a co-worker came up and said that he finished the claim, but she kept asking for ‘Caroline’. That she needed Caroline. I was the only Carolyn that spoke spanish there, so he figured it was me.

After telling R this, he starting saying it every now and then. He added ‘un’ which doesn’t really make sense, but I never corrected him because I thought it was cute.

Long story short, the card made me smile.

We made plans to meet up for lunch that afternoon. He originally offered to bring food home, but I reminded him of our pact. Our “we will not be prisoners of Ruth” pact, and decided to go out.

I have to get used to taking her places. I don’t want to be scared or anxious or stressed out. Just go with the flow and take your time, is what I tell myself. So far it’s worked pretty well.

We had a nice lunch and showed her off to his coworkers that were meeting at the local coffee shop. We didn’t stay long, because I needed to get home and clean. We were having company that night!

R , T and their two little ones came over with food (and drinks and plates and utensils and napkins – everything!) in hand.

I was taught how to use the Moby wrap and little S helped me blow out the candles. This wasn’t the last we’d see of his mom, though…

Because she was starring in the local production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors” that following night!

Again, I took a deep breath and said “I am not a prisoner. I am not a prisoner.” Now, this was a tricky decision for us. It’s almost like bringing a baby to the movie theatre (don’t worry, that won’t be us) and I won’t be hauling Ruth to a major production of Hair anytime soon, but I felt like this venture wasn’t going to leave me crying & depleted from disgruntled patron’s dirty looks.

We sat literally right next to the door for a quick exit and I made sure to leave (only twice!) before she started to get fussy. Success was had, my friends.

I did miss the first scene that R was in because Ruth was hungry, but caught the rest. The production was very funny and I was so proud of our little theatre.

Afterwards, Ruthie and I attacked the actors (mostly R) and got our photos with her. Ruth was really impressed as you can tell. She was just trying to act cool, I think. Don’t let this photo lie, though. Literally as soon as we got into the car, the cries started and only stopped after ten minutes of a particular Weezer song on repeat.

Saturday we slept on and off, forgoing the Apple Festival in favor of rest and relaxation. Next year, Ruth. Apples galore.

My brother-in-law and his wife asked us over Saturday night along with another couple to play dominoes. Lots, and I mean lots, of singing was sung, laughing was laughed, and jokes were joked.

A cake was brought out, and let’s all take a moment to see how bright that darn cake was. Seriously, how old am I??

I managed to blow them all out though. I attribute that ability to my labor breathing practice. I knew those 12 hours would come in handy!

Thank you all for a really nice birthday. Hopefully my wish will come true: getting a good night’s sleep.

My Weekend, in Bullet Points

To sum up:

  • Packing up the car for a couple nights at Beaver Lake with my siblings and sister’s friend
  • Making a pit-stop at Tontitown winery to listen to music with R’s friends
  • Within 2 minutes of meeting, asking one of the girls in the group if she’d take photos of my homebirth. (I couldn’t help it, she made the fatal mistake of showing me photos of her work: Aus10)
  • Accepting her polite refusal
  • Spending the next 20 minutes assuring her I’m not a weirdo.
  • When trying to make a great first impression, telling the group that because of my feminist/ women’s studies days in college, R doesn’t think a boy would survive in my womb. Therefore, he’s almost positive we’re having a girl.
  • Spending the next 20 minutes assuring everyone I’m not a weirdo nor a man-hater.
  • When introduced to the singer, who happens to be R’s boss’ brother, squealing like a groupie.
  • Spending the next 20 minutes assuring everyone I’m not a weirdo, man-hater, nor a groupie.
  • Leaving the winery and heading to Beaver Lake, singing Weezer songs at the top of our lungs.

  • Seeing our sweet cabin in the woods.
  • Thanking my brother and sister-in-law for saving the beds for us, instead of asking us to sleep on the couch.
  • Sharing the baby drama that no longer is, PTL!
  • Only getting up once in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
  • Stumbling over everything in my path on the way to said restroom, and waking up everyone  in the living room.
  • Hanging out in the lake on baby inner tubes because that was the only pool item available at Walmart. Wait. I take that back, we did find a small swimming pool that we debated on buying. We were pretty sure a hole in the middle of it would be perfect for this belly.
  • Getting a red forehead.
  • Laughing.
  • Talking.
  • Listening.
  • Grazing on all the food in the kitchen.
  • Getting described as “petite” by my sister, and realizing that it has taken me being almost 9 mos pregnant before anyone on the face of this planet has ever called me petite.
  • Playing spoons and getting out in the first round every time.
  • Dancing and singing to “I want you to want me”
  • Getting out of breath within 3 seconds of dancing.
  • Putting head between my legs so as not to faint.
  • Repeating this sequence for the duration of the song.
  • Crashing at 11:30 with sunburnt bodies and more wrinkles.
  • Using the bathroom only once again during the night.
  • Waking up the house again due to stumbles.
  • Early morning & quiet ride to church.
  • Talking pregnancy with the 3 billion other girls my age that are also due within the year. Do not drink the water, N & A.
  • Taking a two hour nap in between movies once we got home.
  • Not even looking at the laundry hamper until today.
  • Just looked at it, and deciding to forget about it.

All in all, a good time.

And the winner is…

What happens when you mix two girls, one of which is due soon, and two dueling chicken restaurants in Pittsburg, KS?  Honestly?Mostly heartburn. But at least there’s laughter along the way.

My friend, J, and I met up at Fort Scott, KS to enjoy one last get together before baby H is born. We were coming from opposite directions so this little town seemed a good midway point. I found a hotel right smack in the middle of downtown, in which all streets were bricked.

You know that made me happy.

We pulled up to our hotel, waved at the owner and hopped out.
Move it, J. I know you’ve just driven a couple hours and need to relax, but we’ve got some eating to do… and Momma Carolyn is hungry.
Here was the plan:

 

 

VS

 

 

This is not for the faint of heart, my friends. You need to train diligently for this type of assault. No sit-ups, no portioning, and definitely no dieting. Eat grease, nap, and conveniently forget where you put the scale.

I’ve been in training for this night it seems since the day I was born.

But first, we had to check out the barracks.

And this was our first test. Could we walk in to a multitude of patterns on the bed and the wall without losing focus? J held up well. I, on the other hand, had to sit down and put my head between my legs for a second.

Luckily I only wear solids, otherwise J would’ve lost me in there.

We didn’t waste any time, but headed to our first destination: Chicken Mary’s.

Before I get into our analysis of each restaurant, can I point out that J only has two months to go before she’s due (not to mention the fact that she’s wearing horizontal stripes!)? Don’t make me cuss, J.

She looks like me after Thanksgiving dinner. So I was more than happy to shove fried chicken in her mouth.

I don’t have as many photos of Chicken Mary’s as I do Chicken Annie’s, so I’ll give you a brief description. We walked in and me, being a bundle of nerves, walked up to the check out lady and asked her seat us. She pointed us to the right person who graciously led us to a corner table. The room was busy and it felt cozy. Country decor, candle on the table.

The waitress, whose name we did not write down (oh yes, folks, we took notes) advised us to *not* drink the tap water. She looked horrified at our suggestion that we could.

J loved the potato salad, stating “It has a dill taste.” This is of course after she took a nibble and rolled it around in her mouth like a Top Chef judge. I could only taste potato.  The applesauce was sweeter than Motts, which we later found out had cherry mixed in.

We loved the thigh, to which we agreed, that once you go thigh you just can’t go back. The fried skin on all pieces were perfect: crunchy & greasy, or, how we justified it, “juicy.”

Then it was off to Chicken Annie’s.

We walked there from Chicken Mary’s as they are literally side by side, and appreciated the brief reprieve from grease. I spotted a windmill and it instantly got a plus sign in my book.

We entered into a more open floorplan, which made it seem less busy. I had no confusion as to who was the hostess. She took us to a corner table as well, however this one was not yet ready and the cooks in the kitchen yelled at someone to come clean it. Open floorplan, remember.

I guess Annie would’ve yelled from the kitchen too. Authenticity? check.

Our waitress, Carly, instantly sat down with us to discuss the menu.

She said to J, and I quote “You can drink it. I like the water, but I’m weird.” Chicken Mary’s – no water. Chicken Annie’s – yes water.

We’re getting somewhere.

We devoured our meal and discussed:

J thought the potato salad was greasier, with more of saur kraut taste. I could only taste potato. The applesauce was plain. The chicken skins were not extra crispy and the white meat surprisingly ended up being juicer than the dark.

By the looks of my hands, it appears that I was slowly turning into a chicken myself.

Let’s take a look at a few more comparisons:

  • CM – no stuffed chicken in lobby. CA – chicken proudly displayed.
  • CM – smaller butter, but no trans fat. CA – HUGE, but with hydrogenated oil.
  • CM – no arcade corner/living room. CA – yes, in which we both dilly-dallied.
  • CM – total $12.45  CA – total $9.39 (however, I did buy a lottery ticket at CA and won a dollar, so make that $8.39)
  • CM – only lettering on sign. CA – lettering and a chicken that spoke.

The verdict?

Chicken Mary’s won on the actual chicken dish. Chicken Annies? Ambiance & Creativity. Who can beat looking eye to eye with the animal you just enjoyed.

Did you think we ended there, though?

Heck no! We took our wild and crazy selves, back to our 20-toned room for some dessert. Chocolate on graham crackers, cheeze whiz style.

J asked if I could make her one. Little did she know that my chocolate to cracker ratio is about 300 to 1.

She didn’t touch it.

Afterwards, we watched TV and knitted for a couple hours. Looks like I was trying to knit a spider web of sorts.

But it didn’t take long before we fell asleep into a grease-induced coma.

The next morning we hopped on a guided tour of Fort Scott.

We were the only ones on it.

The announcer said that if we had any questions, to feel free and ask him. I did several times and he never answered. Ah, I felt right at home, Fort Scott. Or shall I call you Scott from now on?

The town has got some real beauties of architecture. I was so engrossed with it that I didn’t realize how stupid it was to not have a lid on my steaming coffee. Several third-degree burns later, I was still enjoying the views.

It was a quick trip; we only stayed a night and left before noon the next day. But like every time I hang out with J, it’s never the amount of time, but the quality. I so enjoy her! Can’t wait to make these trips a trio with baby H.

Kansan Girls Visit

This photo at the top of White Rock Mountain is proof that we are not still hiking at this very moment.

My friends, S & L, came down for a weekend visit a couple weeks ago, and I still have bug bites as memories. They visited The Shack, we went on a hike, and then played board games until 1 in the morning. A pretty well-rounded time I must say.

When I found this hike, I saw the outlook at the top and knew this was the one. It wasn’t too far south, and you could still get some good views.

Little did I know that you literally had to call upon the native american navigational skills you’ve been studying, because there were moments when the trail disappeared. What, you didn’t study them? Neither did I, and a broken record of “Are you sure this is the trail” questioning ensued.

What. I was nervous! Two of my friends took time away from their busy lives to visit and then I lead them into the woods never to be seen from again?

L registered our names at the trailhead while reminding us what to do if we encounter a bear. I don’t know where I read that you’re supposed to scream, trip your neighbor, then run; but it seemed like sound advice to me. So I dismissed everything L read.

It was kind of warm that day and I was happy to have worn shorts, silently gloating over that fact as S & L changed into pants.

And then it started. Or ended, I guess I should say. The trail, that is.

It ended.

And we had to eyeball our way to what looked like a white rock on a mountain. That meant going through bushes. And bushes. And thorny bushes, and kinda thorny bushes, and not thorny bushes.

My legs got tore up, people. And every so often I would turn around and see…

two smiling faces going through any sort of foliage with ease.

Those smarty-pants.

[let me pause here for awkward laughter as I say, “no pun intended” but you really know that I meant to say the pun and suddenly realize that you’re required to make some sort of noise, so just do a muffled golf laugh and avoid eye-contact]

ahem.

It eventually got so bad, that after finding a map of the trail, yet not being able to decipher which way was north, we took to turning S into a sundial to figure it out.

We kinda just went forward and hoped to see a white rock somewhere. We’d even take a white flower, at that point. Anything white, in fact and we’re followin’ ya.

What we found in the meantime was a nice waterfall….

With remnants of someone’s campfire, complete with homemade chairs. There were only two, so S rolled a couple stones together and formed a third.

We decided to take a breather and snack on fruit and a sip of wine, cheersing to our inate ability to identify plants. For instance, the extremely rare reese’s pieces plant, along with the more common purple gobstopper flower. I know, we’re pretty savvy.

We hiked on and enjoyed streams of sunlight.

Then eventually found a spot to eat our lunch before hiking our way to the main overlook.

On the rock wall, we noticed engravings of various places and the distance away from there.

We followed the arrow and looked up.

Ah, there it is.

Take a deep breath and imagine sitting with your legs dangling on the other side of the wall, and a breeze blowing through your now slightly wet hair. I could’ve sat looking at that view all day.

But we couldn’t. We had to get to our little cabin in the woods before sundown. We don’t know what happens after sundown in these parts.

But I do know what happens at the cabin after sundown. Did someone say hot-tubbin’ time? More exciting than that was forcing L to wear my vintage 1950s swimsuit which I unfortunately did not get a picture of.

Forget Ralphie’s shotgun, the bra on this bathing suit could shoot your eye out. And who knows, maybe it did at one time.. because I’m pretty sure a pistol could have clear, level aim through those puppies.

The night was rounded out by a wine board game, which solidified the fact that I should not get into the wine business. S & L tried their best to help me…

Game card: “What color of wine are you drinking?”

Me: I dunno. Lemme see…. wait… it went down too fast. Ask me again.

But having Anne of Green Gables playing in the background solaced my hurt pride.

The next morning we narrowly escaped getting murdered by Garmin, as the road he took us down turned into a dry river bed. Seriously. But with S’s help, I did a 40 point turn and we made it out.

All-in-all a relaxing weekend with the girls. Thank you so much for visiting, I had a wonderful time!

“It’s (still not) my birthday” month

This entire month, I’ve been planning (and not planning) things, using my birthday as the excuse. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t think it will ever arrive, it’s taking so long.

It kind of reminds me of a friend, who will remain nameless, that literally told me of the conception of her child the day after said event occurred. It felt like she was carrying that kid for years. Who knows, maybe she did, because he came out as big as a three year old, I swear.

Speaking of which, is it possible to give birth to an 8-yr old? That’s what I would like to do once the C & R family starts growing. I love that age.

But anyway, back to me. (oh Lord, am I now stealing the spotlight back from the twinkle of a twinkle in my eye?) My birthday. I’ve been using it as an excuse for everything.

Like when I forced some friends on a pontoon boat. It’s my birthday.

Or when I reached for that second brownie. It’s my birthday.

Or when tagging along while my bro-in-law was buying his bday gift, I bought the same thing for mine. It’s been a month and I still haven’t worn them. N, on the other hand, wore them out the door and into Starbucks where everyone asked him where he uses them. This is literally an hour after the purchase, so we had the pleasure of watching him lie to the general public on “the best” places to wear them. “Well, I normally use them canoeing, but they’re also very comfortable to work out in as well.” Oh, it was priceless… and it was also my birthday, you know.

Or when unable to find the remote to watch a movie, asked R to please press play because if he hadn’t heard already… it’s my birthday.

Or indulging myself with a 50 cent pair of salt/pepper shakers because they are reminiscent of R and me. It’s MY BIRTHDAY.

Or sleeping in that extra 15 minutes and forgoing the Shaving of the Legs. Leave me alone, it’s my birthday.

Or going to a scotch-tasting with a co-worker and realizing that I really can’t fake making a face when drinking it. I tried to cover it up by smiling extra hard when the guy came by, but it only resulted in him thinking I actually liked it and thus giving me a little bit more the next round. The irony here is that as each round increased in liquid amount, so did my liking of it. My head the next day did not. However, it was my birthday, so I let it slide.

And lastly, having a Wuthering Heights experience on the shoreline of Rhode Island.

Thank you for the birthday surprise trip, R.

And still, it is not my birthday yet. Even I’m annoyed.  I hope we do nothing, because, you guessed it… It’s my birthday (tomorrow).