"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Month of May

I have no profound thoughts to share tonight -- just pictures chronicling the events of the last couple of weeks. As always, we're growing, wiggling teeth, etc.

Ryley had her first-ever sleep-over last weekend. Amirah was a perfect guest, and the girls had so much fun. Here, Ryley waits ever so impatiently for her friend to arrive....

Ryley's Kindergarten Graduation was Thursday. It was really cute!

Here she poses with one of her teachers, Miss Saunier.

Here she is with Mrs. Chadwick and Amirah.

With Aunt Coleen and Uncle Paul...

And with Mom and Dad....Before Ryan dropped her off that day, she said, "Don't forget to wear a tie, Daddy!"

Yesterday was Field Day.

Her school set a world record for the largest "Duck, Duck, Goose" game ever (500 people). In the distance, you can see Ryley running after the little boy in the wheelchair who tagged her. :-)

We had a baby shower and graduation party to attend today, and now I look forward to two days of work in the house and yard. Ryan layed the sod in the front lawn this week, and we're hoping our property will start looking a little more decent in the weeks to come. ;-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ryley Stories

A couple of book-related Ryley Stories from this week:

We had ordered some books for Ryley through her Scholastic book club at school. Ryan and I actually love looking through the Scholastic catalogs and choosing books for her (they're cheap!!!); thus, we rarely ask for her opinion, and the books she receives are often a surprise to her. So today she received her books -- a four-pack of "Junie B. Jones, First Grader" chapter books and a Max Lucado princess book. I had thought that maybe over the summer we could work on encouraging/challenging her to read a little bit longer of stories, AND these books are supposedly on a first grade reading level. When Ryan picked her up from school, her teacher relayed Ryley's reaction to her new books:

"Oh, no! My mommy and daddy ordered chapter books! I'm just a little girl -- I can't read chapter books! Oh, I know....They must have ordered them for themselves!"

Ryley's teacher thought it was so funny....She said she had an image in her head of Ryan and me sitting up in bed reading "Junie B. Jones" books to ourselves. ;-)

Also, on Saturday, I stopped by the library and picked up "The Five Love Languages of Children," which came highly recommended to me by a lady at church. Ryley wanted to know what the book was about, so I told her it was a book that helps mommies understand their kids a little better so they can ultimately become better mommies. In retrospect, I probably should have worded that differently.

A couple of hours later, I was sitting on the couch reading a regular old novel, and Ryley sat next to me watching cartoons. She leaned over my lap to look at the book I was reading.

"Mommy? Why aren't you reading that book that will make you a better mommy?"

"Do you think I need to be a better mommy?"

"Well...." She looked at me hesitantly and shyly. "Sometimes, when I do something bad, you can be kind of mean."

"Oh. So I'm a mean mommy?"

"Only when I do bad things. Not all the time."

And she snuggled back down against me to cuddle some more on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Happy Mother's Day to me. :-)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Making Friends and Neighbors

Ryan and I have long had a phrase that we use to describe those days when we feel like we're just a few seconds off everyone else's time -- "out of sync." And we have had a few of those this week. If I were just 20 seconds faster or slower, I wouldn't be stopping at every stoplight, there wouldn't be a crowd of people standing in front of every item I need at the grocery store, etc. Just now, we came home from swimming lessons to find two men in suits standing on our porch, clipboards in hand. Not wanting to deal with that right then, I drove on past, and we proceeded to circle the neighborhood for the next 15 minutes as the two men knocked on each of our neighbors' doors. I have found that you either have to increase your speed or be still for a few minutes while you wait for your life to sync up with those around you. :-) Silly, I know. But I hate awkwardness.

Ryley's school held a Book Fair at Barnes and Noble this week to raise money for the new wing they're building. I would have gladly not gone (just to avoid the awkward conversations), but Ryley's heart was set on it. "Mommy, we have to go so that they can raise enough money to build the 5th and 6th graders' new classrooms!" So we went. And stood awkwardly. But then, her teacher showed up. And four other little kindergarteners came with their parents, all of whom stood awkwardly. So we all delved into awkward conversations that, in the end, turned out really, really nice. Ryley has been concerned for awhile that we need to collect phone numbers from her friends so she can invite them to her birthday party in July. And that night, I had a nice, long talk with her friend's aunt...and we got a number! I had a nice conversation with her teacher, too. Sometimes it's good to force ourselves into those situations, I suppose. And I know there will be plenty more events like that in the future. ;-) It's just part of parenting.

We're making strides in the neighborliness arena as well. Ryley and I attended the fire spinners' BBQ a few weeks back, and then in the last two weeks, she has played nearly every day with the two little kids from next door. They hop back and forth over the fence into each others' yards. I am glad to see her making friends from all backgrounds. It does my heart good to see her little blonde head bobbing up and down on their jungle gym, and them, in turn, swinging on our swingset. It's very, very sweet. The only problem we have is when a friend from school calls, and Ryley has to come in and talk on the phone. "Life is hard," she says. "Sometimes there are two fun things, and you have to make a choice about which fun thing you're going to do!" If only that was the hardest thing about life. :-)

I went to the eye doctor this week for the first time since Ryley was a wee baby in Montana. That's pretty bad when you consider how bad my eyes are! But my eyes have been burning and watering uncontrollably, and I decided it was because my contacts are five years old (I've been stretching the wear in an attempt to save money). So I made an appointment with my childhood optometrist; I hadn't seen him since I was 18. Funny how his office was remarkably the same; and he is the same....just older. And now I have to wear my glasses for the next month and use lots and lots of eye drops in the hopes of reversing the damage I've done to my corneas. Yay.

Well, I have three hours before Ryan gets home, and I need to clean the house so we can start working on the yard and garden later on. Even though it's so expensive, I love strolling and browsing through our local nursery. Last week when we visited, Ryley announced so confidently, "I am into beautiful flowers."

And so am I. :-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Time Marches On" or "Once Upon a Time on I-80"

I've been looking forward to this posting for several days, but as always, work before play! There was editing to be done, piano lessons to be taught, surfaces to be dusted, little girls to be fed, dishes to be cleaned, dogs to be dealt with, etc. And repeat.

Ryley and I enjoyed a lovely, rainy weekend in Nebraska with my grandma. She and I had been looking forward to it for several weeks, and it did not disappoint! Lots of good girl-time ensued. We sewed...or rather, my grandma sewed. :-)

Ryley and I just watched as our dolly blanket and piano bench cover took shape under her capable, talented hands, as well as her new sewing machine "toy." Honey indulged Ryley by sewing all the scraps of material into bracelets, dolly belts, etc...Such a good great-grandma! We also talked a lot about her childhood memories. Precious, precious time, and we need to do it again soon!

The entire weekend felt a little surreal, and it all began on Friday night. I had purposed in my heart that I would be more "present" with Ryley on the drive...that I would sing the songs that she wanted to sing, talk about the things she wanted to talk about, etc. So, around 9:30 p.m., we had just exited a patch of fog (through which we had sung rounds to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat") when my front driver side tire blew out. Shredded, in fact. I found myself alone, on I-80, in pitch black, somewhere in the 20 miles between Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, and Kimball, Nebraska. I was in shock...(not here, not now!). I pulled over, got out, and stared blankly at the shredded tire, still smoking. I walked to the back of the van, opened it, and stared blankly inside, wondering where we kept a spare tire and jack. I eventually found them, but in the pitch black darkness, I didn’t know how to use them. I actually don’t think I’d know how to use them in daylight! I shakily called Ryan, and at that point, I didn’t know if I had yet crossed the state line, so I didn’t even know what state I was in. But God was good. He brought to Ryan’s remembrance our Chrysler Roadside Assistance card in his wallet, so I was able to call for help, and a service representative arrived within an hour. In the meantime, Ryley and I prayed, sang songs, and I did my best to make a tired and concerned little girl very comfortable. I feared we would be struck by one of the big semi-trucks zooming past. I felt completely removed from the situation, like it was a very bad dream, and I felt powerless, helpless, and out of control. Good thing God is bigger than all of that. A lot of things could have gone wrong that didn't.

Speaking of vehicles, Ryan traded in his 10-year-old Chevy for a 2008 Hyundai Sonata last week. It was much needed (if you call air conditioning a need), and God provided a good car at the right price. I had originally been against the idea of acquiring another bill just as we are finishing paying off some debt, but then, one fateful morning I had to drive the Chevy, myself. We bought the Hyundai that night. :-)

In my editing for the magazine this week, my responsibility was to write a bio for each of our 20 contributors, and the bio was to revolve around the type of flower that is most like the writer's personality. OK. So, apparently, while other ladies can be likened to something pretty like a water lily or a daffodil, I am most similar to the very rare "Venice Sumac." I had never heard of it, so I googled it. What I found was an article titled, "Is the Sumac garden-worthy?" Hmmmm. So now I know. The flower I am most similar to is a rare plant whose presence in a garden is generally questioned. Figures. ;-)

I look forward to planting my garden in the next two weeks. It is always difficult for me to narrow down the list of vegetables I will plant! I am typically over-zealous. Now if only I could find a way to keep Juliet's excited "Figure 8 of Jubilation" run out of the garden plot....

My husband just got home from work, and it's time to watch LOST over a bowl of ice cream. I wish I could become more regular in my posting. Writing is so therapeutic for me! But time always seems so short. The evenings turn to weeks, and the weeks become months. Ryley graduates to 1st Grade in 15 days.