"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Sunday, May 29, 2011


My mind is whirling from a very full Memorial Day weekend already. I feel like I have learned and gleaned so much in the past 36 hours alone.

This sounds completely geeky, but the entire time Ryley and I were on her Girl Scout overnight trip in Winter Park, I typed notes into my phone of “oddities” that I witnessed in others and wanted to remember to share with Ryan and explore in more detail. I think I may just have learned more on this trip than Ryley did.


Let’s just get a couple of things clear: I jay-walk. I wear flipflops in winter. I am not one to buckle my seatbelt when driving from one side of a park to another. I wouldn’t chase a napkin across a picnic area for the sake of the environment. I don’t worry about whether or not paper is safe to burn in a campfire. I enjoy it when my daughter picks a wildflower for me. I like cooking with salt and pepper. I like real bacon, not turkey bacon. I don’t dig through trashcans looking for CapriSun wrappers. I don’t make my daughter put an equal number of peanuts in her trail mix to counteract the number of M&Ms.

In summary, when it comes to the environment and health, I am pretty carefree and relaxed.  I am not overly cautious and “aware” in those areas. Maybe I should be.


On the flipside, I haven’t told my daughter about the birds and the bees or used the official terminology thereof. We don’t listen to Radio Disney or really watch any Disney Channel shows at all. Ryley will probably never read Harry Potter, and I don’t feel like I should have to apologize for that. I don’t want her reading about a school of wizardry and witchcraft. I just don’t. In those ways, I am an extremely protective and overly cautious mother.



So, as it dawned on me that my parenting style is so different from that of the other moms, I struggled with feelings of inferiority. I don’t usually consider myself a “young” mom, but I soon realized I was the youngest mom by far. Two of the moms were old enough to have been my own mother; the others were in their 40s (which isn’t THAT far off, I know!). And as I felt defensive of my cooking habits, our conservative beliefs, and our apparent non-existent respect for the environment, I found myself jumping to unfair conclusions and judgments of the other ladies.

But just as I did so, I was welcomed. They weren’t judging me. My inferior feelings were my very own. And as I warmed up to them in return, I saw the need for Jesus in their eyes. I found a common bond in others.


I realized that all seven-year-olds are whiny, no matter the parenting style. They all cry. They’re all scatter-brained. They are ALL obsessed with flashlights.

I discovered that whether or not a mom knows all the words to the Justin Bieber songs, our daughters are all about the same. None of us are perfect. We were each little girls once, whether it was in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. And we are all doing the best we can with what we have and what we know.

We all agreed it was easier to cook the meals ourselves than to watch our 3rd graders drop ingredients and make a mess of the kitchen.


And gosh darn it, they liked my hashbrowns. It must have been the salt and pepper that I snuck into the skillet.

Ryley and I both made some new friends, and it was so, so wonderful. Considering I had been dreading this trip for months, I really enjoyed myself!

So here are some more pics:


The “bunk-bed talk,” in which the girls “expressed concerns” regarding the need for each of them to sleep on a top bunk (aka World War III).


Gathering kindling:




Friends eating S’Mores:


Good morning, Mommy! (from the top bunk)





Ryley and her group learned how to build a shelter:



Fun times!!!!


In other news, Friday was the last day of school, and Ryan accompanied Ryley on her field day! She received the “Bookworm Award” from her teachers, which is extremely fitting!


Miss Stupansky with Ryley and her friend Emma!


Miss Neufeld too:


And on to 3rd grade we go!!!!

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It’s Complicated

So I was raised in a family and church where drinking alcohol was considered wrong.  We simply didn’t have it in our home. Call it the “brand” of Christians we were or whatever, but that’s just the way it was. I once heard it compared to Puritanism, and I think I tend to agree with that. My parents may have had a rare glass of wine with dinner at a friend’s house, but overall, from school to church to even our extended family, we simply did not drink, and we didn’t know anybody who did.

It’s funny because when people find this out about me, they are appalled that there are places in society where this is the case. But it is just as funny to me to imagine a society or Christian upbringing where the fridge is stocked with beer. It’s just ingrained in me that alcohol is wrong.

When you really think about it, what’s wrong with a society like that? My parents were strict and protective, but what’s wrong with being overly protective of your child’s soul? What’s wrong with instilling a mindset of abstinence in your children and finding other ways of having a good time? My family is pretty stinkin’ funny, and we’ve never had to rely on alcohol to bring relaxation and fun.

But Ryan was raised the opposite of me….His parents, Spirit-filled Catholics, drank freely and saw nothing wrong with it. Beer was found in the fridge as easily as Coke would be. Our favorite picture of his mom and dad is one where they are having a romantic dinner in Mexico, alcoholic drinks visible in the foreground.

I had my first drink of alcohol completely by accident on a college missions trip to Germany. The mayor of Hannover served us what we thought was orange juice, but what turned out to be a “screwdriver.” Mmmm. Can you imagine what ORU would have thought if they had found out they sent a bunch of underage Christian kids to Europe who were then served Vodka??

I married Ryan, and we bought some champagne to toast in the New Year on our honeymoon. Little by little, I was converted to the belief that alcohol isn’t evil; it’s the over-consumption of it that’s wrong. It’s drunkenness that’s the sin. Even Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine, right?

Even so, because it wasn’t part of my upbringing, I forget about alcohol most of the time. I forget it exists because I was raised where it didn’t. Sure, I love a little glass of Bailey’s and cream now and then, but I don’t buy it regularly. Wine makes me feel warm and fuzzy, but I only have a rare glass as an afterthought. Ryan, though completely unopposed to it, has never liked the taste, so we just don’t think about it. We don’t need it.

I have had two co-workers get DUIs in the last six months. I can’t even imagine. I’m a little na├»ve, so when an employee isn’t answering their phone, the thought that they’re nursing a hangover or passed out somewhere doesn’t even cross my mind. I’m learning fast, though.

So this week, I had to buy beer for a company BBQ we had today. I bought 40 beers for 25 people. That’s enough, right? But I’ve gotten a lot of crap about it.

“That’s not even two beers per person.”

(You need more than one? Don’t forget we had water, Coke, Diet Coke, etc., in abundance)

“Two cases? Think you got enough?”

I am so confused!!! I mean, come on….The BBQ took place at 1:00 on a Friday when we were still technically working!! I wouldn’t think it would be prudent to drink in the afternoon when you still have to drive home. But what do I know? :-)

So after looking in the fridge and offering up a loud guffaw at my expense, my boss brought a ton more beer today. Sure enough, people drank it. Not all of it, but a lot of it.

You can laugh at my naivety. I guess I will just never be completely comfortable with it, and I will never understand the obsession. I’m not knowledgeable about it, and who really cares? No matter how much I try to “be cool” and change my perceptions, I still feel a little bit “naughty” when I drink, and I just don’t care enough about it to go gung-ho either way. It makes people uncomfortable when I don’t drink (when they are), and it would offend others if they knew I did on occasion.


It’s certainly complicated. :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Love for the Babies

Ryley and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Texas to see my brother’s family and attend my twin nephews’ baby dedication. We’ve been looking forward to it for so long that it’s a little sad to get back into the rhythm of things here at home! :-(

Denver and Dallas are very different cities. Sometimes it’s especially depressing to come back to our cold and still-winter-dreary city and  “older,” cluttered Denver home when everything in Dallas seems spring-like and new, and Justin and Aly’s house is super cute and clean!!! But Ryan had cleaned the house thoroughly over the weekend, and it was so nice to come home to cleanliness!!! He’s a wonderful husband. :-)

Ryley is ready to up and move to Dallas, and the beautiful 70-degree temps there this weekend did not help matters any!

But here’s the real reason she wants to move (or at least half of it!):


Jack loves his cousin Ryley! He’s so handsome.

Oh, you want more pictures? Ok. Well, maybe just a few… :-)


Ryley with Aunt Alyson and Jack….Ryley was such a big helper to Aly this weekend. She fed lots of bottles, and she was always ready to hold one of the babies!


She learned pretty quickly that babies like to hold on to hair! She ended up doing ponytails and pigtails for much of the weekend!


Pappaw holds a happy baby Jack!


Look at his dimple! They both have that cute dimple!


Pappaw holding Will, and me holding Jack


Will is indeed pretty awesome, just as his shirt implies!


Cousins watching Baby Neptune, our favorite! Their little feet would get moving so quickly to the beat of the music. It was so fun to see their different personalities emerging, even now!


Hanging out with Will


I love this pic of Mammaw and Will! He loves to chill outside on their patio swing!


I love this one too! He was chewing on Mammaw’s fingers!


Ryley and Jack


During bath time, Jack tagged his daddy! That was a first!


Game time after the babies were in bed!!


This is a very typical scene in their household….one baby in one recliner; one in the other!


Pappaw and Will


Steiner men…Three generations!


William John, Ryley Elisabeth, Jackson Paul…

We tried so hard to get a good pic of the three cousins all weekend, and these were the best we could get.



Pappaw showed Ryley how to make paper airplanes, and she had a lot of fun with that! She even threw them into the yard from the window of the upstairs loft, where we slept.



On Saturday night we headed to Justin and Alyson’s church to dedicate the babies to the Lord! This was a special time, especially because of the long, sad journey to parenthood that’s finally behind them. These babies are miracles, and they are God’s!



There was a reception afterwards, which was really nice!




I absolutely love the picture above!!!




Mammaw the English teacher shows Ryley what she did wrong on her pronoun homework!




Grandmas feeding babies!!!


Sunday afternoon chill-time



Mammaw and Ryley


Ryley with Mammaw and Pappaw

We had such a great time; thank you, Justin and Aly, for your hospitality!


Other things we’ve been up to in recent weeks:

My friend Sarah is a 1st grade teacher, and her class hatched some baby chicks! So she was sweet enough to invite us down on a Saturday morning so Ryley could see them!



And of course, there was the school’s spring choir concert last week….Ryley’s class performed a piece based on Aesop’s Fable “The Fox and the Grapes.”



She was a grape.


I can’t believe school is almost over, and summer is just around the corner! Crazy.

Happy Trails.