"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School (and other things)

So when I asked Ryley what she was most looking forward to about starting 2nd grade, she answered, “That you will be picking me up on time every day so I don’t have to go to after-care.” :-)

Today was her first day, and she loves it. She seems too small to be entering 2nd grade, though.


Here she is posing in front of her desk last week at Back to School Night. She is so excited to have her very own desk for the first time!!



Other Ryley Stories of interest:

Yesterday I was baking some banana bread, and Ryley asked, “Are you using a new reesip?”

Me: “A what?”

Ryley: “A new reesip.”

And then it dawned on me. Ryley reads a ton. She sees the word “recipe” and, in her head, she pronounces it “reesip.” Of course she knows the word “recipe” when she hears it. But sometimes there is that disconnect when you are learning by hearing and learning by reading. And you’re seven. :-)


Tonight Ryley asked me to take her temperature because she felt hot. I took it, and it was normal. As I showed her, she suddenly got a concerned look.

“What does the F mean?”

“It stands for Fahrenheit. You’re fine,” I reassured her.

“Oh,” she answered. “I thought the F stood for fever.”


My dear sweet friend Danielle is getting married this weekend, so a few of us took her out last Thursday for a wonderful little bachelorette dinner at The Cheesecake Factory downtown.


I am so grateful for good friends. We have all been together since our freshman year of high school, and some of us go back to 3rd grade. Such beautiful ladies!



And now, please pray for my brother Justin and sister-in-law Alyson. Her blog says it best. We are all on the roller coaster ride of our lives while waiting for God to bring my precious twin nephews Will and Jack safely into the world. It has been a very intense and anxiety-filled 11 days.

Every time the phone rings…. Let’s just say it’s a lot of deja vu for our family. Please pray for another few weeks of tummy time for the twins, as well as for supernatural peace for Aly, Justin, and the rest of us! Thank you. :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Narnia, Green Gables, and Ryley

Ryley is finally at the age Ryan and I been waiting for…the age when we as parents can begin to share our favorite stories with her...when we can pass on to her a love for the very characters that helped shape and define  and inspire us when we were young.

So we decided that this summer we would each, individually,  introduce her to our favorite book, then watch the corresponding movie together.

I chose “Anne of Green Gables.” It was an abridged junior edition, but it was the same beautiful story nonetheless. And as we alternated reading with watching the mini-series, Ryley told me that she liked my “Anne” voice when I read much better than the actress’s voice on the movie. Considering that I worked so hard on my Anne voice, that was the best compliment she could have given me. :-) She also loves it when I do Rachel Lynde.

It has been so fun to witness her frustration at Anne’s haughtiness, to see her genuine sadness when Matthew dies, to hear her ask time and time again if Anne marries Gilbert at the end, to hear her talk out her comparisons when the book and the movie story lines don’t quite line up. We finally finished both the book and the movie yesterday, and her joy at the ending did not disappoint! She bounced around our bed in jubilation that Anne finally realized Gilbert had been the one all along. I honestly think that, since the moment I found out I was expecting a baby girl, this was the motherhood moment I had been waiting for. :-)

Now that we’ve concluded our girlie time, Ryan has launched into “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” his favorite book of all time. Ryley loves it. What’s even better for me is to watch the joy in Ryan’s face as he reads it to her and to hear how his voice caresses each word of the story like it’s an old friend. In response, Ryley’s eyes grow wide when she fears for Mr. Tumnus’s life and when she hopes aloud that Lucy and Edmund will just stay safely back in the real world and not try to bring their brother and sister back to that strange land called Narnia.

The goal is to read the first three books of the series and watch the first two movies in preparation for the third Narnia movie which comes out in December.

Then what? “Little Women”?  I showed Ryley my collection of Anne books that she can read when she’s a bit older, and she was thrilled that there is even more to the story.

Nothing can live up to Narnia or Green Gables.

In our book, at least. :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Ryley Story: The Short-Lived Boyfriend Named Chasz

The following conversation from yesterday is true:

Ryley: "Oh, Mommy, I almost forgot to tell you. I had a REALLY good day today. I have a boyfriend!"

Me: "What??? You do?"

Ryley (sheepishly): "Yes."

Me: "So, ok...tell me about it...What's his name? Did he ask you, or how did it happen?"

Ryley: "His name is Chasz."

Me: "What?? Chasz? Spell it..."

Ryley: "C-H-A-S-Z. Chasz."

(Silence for a second while I grab my phone and text Ryan with the newsflash that Ryley has a boyfriend named Chasz. Sounds like a winner!)

Me: "Ok, so how did it happen?"

Ryley: "Weelll...We were lining up to go outside, and he whispered in my ear, 'Ryley, can I tell you a secret?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Will you be my girlfriend?' And I said, 'Well, my mommy and daddy don't want me to have a boyfriend.' And I told him the story about Zachary from kindergarten. I told him all about that. And he said, 'Well, we can keep it a secret. You don't have to tell your parents.' And I didn't want to hurt his feelings and say no, so I decided to say yes and I decided that I would tell you anyway."

Me: "Um, ok....Do you like him? Is he nice? How did it make you feel when he asked you?"

Ryley: "I felt nervous. Well, um, maybe something else too, but I can't think of the word..."

Me: "Maybe excited?"

Ryley: "YES. Nervous and excited, all at the same time."

Me: "Ryley, it was a really good decision to tell us, even though Chasz said not to. Because we don't ever keep secrets from Mommy and Daddy, do we?"

Ryley: "Right. And I don't like to feel all closed up. I like to feel clear. But then later I decided I didn't want to be his girlfriend anymore anyway, but I don't want to hurt his feelings, so I will just pretend to be his girlfriend. Or maybe I will tell him that we should just be friends..."

(When telling my mom later, she actually used the phrase "break up.")


So tonight I attended Ryley's daycare end-of-summer program. I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her to point Chasz out to me.

"Don't worry, Mom," she said. "I told him we were just going to be friends."

"That's good," I answered, "but I still want to see which one he is."

She pointed to a cute, short kid with unruly brown hair and mischievous brown eyes sitting quietly with his classmates. But during the program, he began to run around the stage hiding behind people and objects while the other kids were singing their praise songs. Chasz was completely out of control!

As we got into the van, I said, "I'm glad you broke up with Chasz today. He seemed like a really disobedient and naughty little boy."


"Well, he was running around the stage while the rest of you were singing," I answered. "He was hiding behind Robert and not doing what he was supposed to be doing."

"No! You're kidding!" Ryley was in absolute shock.

And that is the end of that.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Camping Yogi-Style (aka Adventures in Estes Park)

I think that someday, when we “retire,” it would be fun to run a Yogi Bear camping franchise in the summers. What more happiness could there be than in seeing young families have fun? We’d lead the campers in Friday night bingo; Ryan would dress up in his Yogi costume while we have the daily flag-raising ceremony and lead the campers in the Pledge of Allegiance. I mean, seriously. I think it would be a really relaxing and rewarding “job.” ;-)

We’ve been wanting to do a family camping trip for awhile. We camped out in the backyard once a couple of years ago, and Ryan and I have vivid memories of an Oklahoma camping trip in our early marriage that was pure misery. But Ryley is old enough now to really enjoy it, and camping in Colorado is really hard to beat. So we got the time off from work, dug our survival gear out of the garage, and set off for a wonderful weekend together at Jellystone Park of Estes.



We joined all the campers for a rousing six games of bingo on Friday night. It was really fun!










We discovered a little pond while gathering sticks for kindling…


You can see Ryley in our camp site below….What a view we had!



I love how you can see that her marshmallow has caught fire!


This was her first experience with s’mores….I was sure we’d done them before, but if so, she doesn’t remember!


Ryley saw her first falling star, which was really special! Then we slept oh, so soundly!





We explored the camp a little bit on Saturday morning and felt like we had ended up with the best site. Definitely the most secluded. Beautiful view!


After breakfast, we (purely by chance) attended the flag-raising ceremony where all the kids got to meet Yogi Bear. We even said the Pledge of Allegiance, and Yogi checked his mailbox. It was just too darn cute; I actually got tears in my eyes. It had that old-fashioned, family-values “feel” that you don’t find everywhere anymore.




We then headed into downtown Estes Park, which is always just a lovely place.


Since we had our honeymoon in Estes Park, we had to drive by our little cabin.  Ryley took a picture of us, but it’s not flattering at all, so we will just stick with this photo. :-)


Then Ryan had the idea to go on the gondola ride to the top of Prospect Mountain! LOVE the way this guy’s beard flows in the wind.



The view was absolutely gorgeous.






We fed peanuts to the chipmunks. I’d never seen so many chipmunks in my life! They run around these boulders like they’re a playground.

When we’d had our fill of breathtaking views and chipmunks, we headed back down the side of the mountain.


It was a wonderful little get-away, filled with new, relatively inexpensive experiences for Ryley to enjoy. She’s totally sold on camping now and is anxious to do it again. We’re just sold on Estes Park in general. And we’re definitely sold on family time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


What a strange, stressful few weeks it has been on many levels! God is speaking to me about the frailty of life...about the importance of being courageous and stepping out to do what I am called to do. I am learning to prioritize my family over my job. I am mourning for two separate families we know who have lost husbands/fathers much too soon. And we are wondering and praying about how God will use us to do what He created us to do in the limited years that we have to make an impact on this earth.


I was a freshman in college when I first admired Shannon...a quiet, beautiful blonde who lived one door down and across the hall. She was sweet and smart and completely in love with her fiance Ryan. Long after midnight, I would often see Shannon sitting in the hallway on the phone with Ryan, talking and laughing quietly, studying, etc. She practically lived in the hall outside her door. She was engaged then, and I think she and Ryan got married that following summer and commuted for a year before graduating. They were a cute couple, and they carried that sweet newlywed aura wherever I saw them on campus.

That was the last I heard of Shannon. I've thought of her many times in the last 12 or 13 years, and I have often wondered where she and Ryan ended up, whether they had a family, etc.

Then yesterday, one of my college friends posted a link on Facebook, and I clicked on it. I found myself face-to-face with their pictures...12 years older, but still as beautiful of a couple as ever. And I found myself reading an incredible story of how, this past weekend, Shannon's husband Ryan (now an orthodontist) went through a simultaneous surgery with his liver-diseased brother Chad, in order to donate 60% of his liver and save his brother's life. But a couple of days after the successful transplant, Ryan (the donor) was struggling with his recovery. He went into cardiac arrest and ended up passing away yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, his brother Chad's prospects look hopeful.

I just can't even imagine.... What a tremendous, heartbreaking story of how one brother laid down his life for the other... And I have been praying continually for Shannon and their three small boys. Can you imagine what this family is going through?

I just think back to the days when I knew them...when they were young and full of hope for a long life together. How could this have been the plan for them all along?


Another good family friend of ours named Patty lost her husband on Friday to an aneurism in his aorta. He had horrible back pain in the middle of the night and died extremely suddenly. I haven't known what to say to Patty; my heart breaks for her, and I didn't know how to reach out at all. The funeral is scheduled at an awkward time for me to try to attend (with work, picking up Ryley, etc.), so I haven't been sure how it was going to work out. Then she called me this morning to talk about some business matters, and I just knew then that I had to go to the funeral. For her.

My aunt will graciously pick up Ryley from daycare since Ryan can't get out of work that evening, and it will all work out.


Life is short. Shorter than we know. In the midst of all of this, I have been dealing with some issues at my job that have stirred my heart toward expanding my (non-existent?) niche in the freelance editing/writing genre. That is my dream...to edit and write all day long. To make money at it too! Ha! But I am 32 years old, and it's time to start making progress toward what I really want to do...what I feel I am called to do. What holds me back? Fear of a non-fixed income? Fear of rejection? Both? But if God is in the dream, then surely He will orchestrate it, right? I have to be willing to take more risks.

Also, with Ryley entering second grade, God put on Ryan's and my heart that I needed to be off of work every day at 3:00 so that she wouldn't have to go to daycare anymore. I proposed this to my boss, and it was approved....then denied two weeks later. I had to fight for it and tweak my schedule somewhat to make it work for them, too, but in the end, God gave me favor, and I didn't have to fight as hard as I expected. He worked it out. For now.

What it comes down to is that whether it be Ryley, my writing/editing projects, my overall health and exercise, or the keeping of our home, my life needs me for 10 more hours per week. I need me for 10 more hours a week, or I will severely regret it down the road. My family comes first. My God-given dreams come first. This is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind and heart for the last week, and God is finally bringing it all together. I know it's not over. I need to continually work hard to expand my freelance business and get to a place where it is enough income. That takes courage that I am still working on. :-) He is Jehovah Jireh, and He provides and makes a way. In the meantime, though it's not currently the most pleasant situation, I am grateful for my job and for the experience in PR, accounting, and human resources that I am gaining every minute of the day.

We have dreams of owning our own bookstore.... Ryan would like to teach college English, as well as write. I would like to write and edit books. We would like a few more children. We have to know that He is using the variety of situations and experiences in our life to prepare us for the next step...whatever that may be.

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” -- Deuteronomy 31:6

Life is too short to waste. Shannon's husband Ryan and Patty's husband Rob didn't know that that day would be their last. One week ago they were each living their lives like the rest of us. And now they're in heaven much sooner than anyone could have imagined.

We must be courageous.