"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Some Ryley Stories (Just for Fun)

Ryley and Ryan are watching Star Wars Episode II tonight. Ryley’s questions are incessant, but Ryan’s patience is endless. They’re actually pretty adorable, sitting there  together on the couch, while Juliet snuggles in close so Ryley will rub her tummy.

“How do you get the force?” she asks.

“You just have it. You’re born with it,” he answers.


These stories are actually pretty inconsequential, but in light of the fact that this is our family journal, I am recording them because they’re things I don’t want to forget. :-)

Last week, in the car, Ryley was trying to read something aloud to me. After a few minutes, I felt my mind wandering. But by this point, I had missed so much of the story that I realized it was too late.

“Mom, are you bored listening to this?” she asked, interrupting her story.

I felt bad. I was afraid she had picked up on my frustration.

“Well, not bored exactly, but can I be completely honest? I have never been good at listening to people read aloud. My mind wanders.”

Ryley sucked in her breath in excitement. “Me too!! I’m the same way! So you don’t mind if I stop reading aloud?”

“No. Just read to yourself, if you want.”

“Oh, good! ’Cause I hate reading aloud! I read so much faster on my own! But it is a good story, and I would like you to read it sometime.”

And suddenly there’s an explanation for why, when I tried reading Little Women aloud and Little House and even Anne of Green Gables, I lost interest after a few chapters and Ryley started sneaking the book behind my back to read on her own. :-) Reading aloud doesn’t work too well for us, and we’re agreed on that, to both of our relief.


On Ryan’s first day at his new restaurant, we were getting ready for work and school in the morning, and Ryan admitted to Ryley that he was feeling a little nervous.

“Why are you nervous?” she wondered.

“Well, there are a lot of reasons. I’m going to meet all my employees today, for one.”

“But, Daddy, don’t you think your new employees are nervous to meet you, too, since you’re their new boss?”

Ryan laughed. The thought actually made him feel better.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” he answered. “I suppose they probably are.”


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Weirdness and Grace

It’s been a very, very weird few days for our family.

On Thursday, when I went to pick Ryley up from her after-school Odyssey of the Mind club, I was met in the pick-up line by a grinning girl carrying a cardboard house almost bigger than she is!

“I get to paint this by Monday!”

Upon further investigation I learned that she had volunteered herself to paint it, and she had also volunteered our decorative sofa pillows (which I found out by discovering a pile of sofa pillows by the front door, ready to go). As annoyed as we were at the entire project, I’m glad she feels enough support from us to feel the freedom to volunteer herself for things. :-)

So Saturday morning, she painted.


One of the stipulations of the project is that the students are to receive absolutely no parental help in any form. That is very, very difficult. But she did it.



The chimney is actually being re-done by another student because it was discovered that I had assisted with the hot glue gun, which I guess is considered to be too much parental help.

Also, when we delivered the house to the school, it was caught in a gust of wind and blew into three pieces across the parking lot. But all was recovered.

Her group is showing their skit on Thursday evening at the school; then they compete on March 17.


On Sunday, after church, I was in charge of running one of Ryley’s Girl Scout troop’s cookie sales at a grocery store.


This picture cracks me up because everyone looks fairly happy still. But we had one little girl who couldn’t handle standing, or didn’t feel good, or felt like another Scout was stealing the show, or I don’t know what. I never was very clear on what triggered it. But about 30 minutes in, a massive fit took place, which lasted for the next hour and a half. I have never felt so horrified and miserable and embarrassed in my entire life.

It was the cookie booth from hell.

As if it’s not bad enough to have to stand there for 3.5 hours feeling the rejection, right?

We had people passing our booth and rolling their eyes and doing double-takes at the attitude being displayed. Thank goodness Ryan was there, and he finally took her outside to wait for her family.

Anyway, the entire thing was a good learning experience for me, I suppose. It was mentally draining, however, and it’s taken a few days for me to get over my anger.


I’ve been dealing with anger a lot recently…anger with teachers when I feel they’re being unfair or merciless…anger with other parents who try to be hotshots…anger with Ryley’s friends or a certain little Girl Scout…anger with snotty customers at work….  What happens most often is that I get angry with people who are legalistic…who aren’t extending the grace and mercy we’ve experienced in Christ. But what’s interesting is that they’re not Christians, so why am I expecting them to live in grace that they know nothing about? Isn’t that what I should be showing them, instead of getting so angry with them? Funny how that works.

Then God reminded me that I should be praying for those who persecute us.

I have not been good about that at all, and now I’m trying to remember to be better about it. Instead of getting angry, I need to put it in perspective and realize that the way they handled the situation is due to a lack of Christ in their lives. They, too, need the light and life of Jesus, and my non-angry reaction can play a part in that.

Ughhhh. Right? :-)

I am so tired of pointless rules and rigmarole. Rules for the sake of rules. Obsession with the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law. Rules make me angry!!! :-) I often think back to my college days, and I am a different person than the submissive student who bought into all the legalism. I remember one time, as a 22-year-old graduate starting my new job in the PR department, being told that it was not acceptable for me to go without pantyhose under my skirts. This was a school that already required women to wear skirts, and on 110-degree days with 100% humidity and my overweight thighs rubbing together, pantyhose was the last thing I wanted to wear! If someone told me that today, I would have a completely different reaction.

He whom Christ has set free is free indeed. I just keep thinking about that…

I have specifically been trying to extend grace to Ryley, within reason. She has had a great year extra-curricularly, but her classroom experience has been tough. Sometimes, when she gets home, she just needs my love.

I once heard it said that we need to constantly be building our children up…. that the world will take so much out of our kids, that we can’t build them up enough. I didn’t agree with that statement at first because I thought it was an excuse not to discipline. But in the last few months, I’ve come to believe that it’s partially true.

Ryley had an exceptionally bad day at school a couple of weeks ago, and her teacher had her call me to tell me about all that she had done wrong. Well, while the things she did were not right, I also didn’t feel like the world was coming to an end because of them. She was so embarrassed at having to call me, and I was tough with her on the phone. When school was over and I was picking her up, she came running toward the van, and when she got inside, she just melted into tears in fear of what I was going to do. She just wailed and wailed that it was such a bad day!!! I let her get it out for a minute, then I handed her a cookie.

“Oh, Mommy! This is the best thing that’s happened to me all day!”

I just felt that in that particular moment, Ryley needed me on her side.

Like that song says, “I knew you were on my side, even when I wrong.”

I can’t do that every day; I don’t want her to blow off her teachers’ discipline or think that she can get away with things. But I’m learning to be sensitive to what she needs in that moment. I’m learning to extend grace.


Continuing back to the weirdness, I reported to Court today for the accident I was in in January. Ryan went with me, though he wasn’t allowed in the actual courtroom. It turned out to be an interesting experience overall, and it served to prove how crooked our justice system really is. In order to plead “not guilty,” which I had always intended, I would have had to schedule an actual trial-by-jury for a later date and either hire an attorney or represent myself. But if I accepted their bargain and pled guilty, I would maintain my clean driving record but have to pay a fine. I chose the latter because I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. It’s a hefty fine too. Ughhh. It was hard because I had to make the decision without consulting Ryan.  Is it wrong that I played along with their system, even though I feel that I’m innocent? It just seems over-the-top for a traffic accident caused by weather.


Ryan is working late tonight; Tuesdays are kind of my one night to myself anymore. I think I’ll turn on Downton Abbey and pray that the wind doesn’t blow the house down around us. :-)

Good night!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

“And There Was Revelry in the Camp”

Ten points to whoever can name that movie! I found that line oddly fitting since today is Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday, and the theme of this post is “my salute to indulgences,” or rather “the things I’m into right now.” :-)

1. The movie “500 Days of Summer” – My friend Taryn told me about this movie more than a year ago, and it’s been on my list ever since. We don’t find a lot of time to watch movies anymore; it has to really be a priority for us to seek it out (with the death of Blockbuster) and dedicate two consecutives hours of our attention to watching it. But this one… We finally made the time, and I loved it. Ryan really enjoyed it too. It was so unique and well-written and fun, and we promptly downloaded the soundtrack the very next day.

2. Speaking of music, Ryan and I both have a weakness for folk music. I know; I know. Not cool, per se. :-) For me, it started in college with my obsession with Jewel. Then she went more country, and I stopped buying her albums. Nowadays, it’s evolved into a love for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ song Home, which I could listen to all day. It’s definitely a hippie song. I like the idea of a family band traveling the country in a van. I saw that The Magnetic Zeros were coming to perform in Denver soon, and I asked Ryan if he wanted to get tickets. “No,” he responded. “We’d get a ‘contact high’ just being there.” True enough. :-)  

3. Hot green tea. I’m the one that’s always sipped my white mocha while thinking the people who ordered hot tea were uppity health snobs. But I’m slowly being converted. I like Tazo’s Zen tea the best…enough that I bought my very own box and took some tea bags to work. Those will come in especially handy now that I am giving up coffee for Lent. It seems that I always make the decision to give up coffee right after I have stocked up on coffee and creamer at both work and home. Oh, well. It’ll keep, I suppose.

4. Pinterest. Oh my goodness. I always said I didn’t have time in my life for Pinterest. Then someone (Christie, I think) said that I needed to make time. It’s better to sit and be inspired by ideas that spur creativity rather than sit and stalk others’ lives on Facebook. :-) How is Pinterest changing my life? Oh, if I could only count the ways! There’s nothing like Pinterest to make me feel a kinship with other women who may have previously intimidated me. When I see that they, too, are in search of good systems for organizing their wrapping paper, I somehow feel that the playing field is leveled a bit. We’re all in this thing together, and nobody has it figured out quite yet. And if you do have it all figured out, well, you’re sharing it with others, and that’s just a nice thing to do. :-)


Speaking of intimidating women and Lent, Ryan has challenged me to give up reading a specific blog for 40 days. Every time I read it, I have nothing positive to say about it. I become cynical and icky in my heart, yet I can’t stop reading! That’s hard for me to admit, but this is something I just need to do. I honestly think that the writer has pure intentions and speaks wisdom to a lot of people. But my personal interpretations of it stink and incite anger, bitterness, hatred, and (dare I say it?) jealousy in my heart. It’s certainly not pleasing to Christ. So if my eye causes me to sin, I’m supposed to “cut it out,” right? Thank you, Ryan, for being so candid with me about what my soul really needs.


Here are some pictures of the last few days:


For Valentine’s Day, my mom and dad gave Ryley money to get a manicure and pedicure! We found this adorable little girls’ beauty salon called Sweet and Sassy, and I made her appointment for last Saturday morning. It was so fun! And now, guess what kind of birthday party Ryley is planning? :-)



Thank you, Mammaw and Pappaw!!

Then, on Sunday, we took Ryley and her BFF to the Denver Dog Show. That black blur? It’s a racing dog.


I didn’t know dogs of this size actually existed outside of Sesame Street:



We watched the Cocker Spaniels and realized just how poorly behaved our Juliet really is:


Definitely an educational experience in many ways!!


We picked up some overalls for $3 at the thrift store recently, and Ryley decided to debut them at my work on Presidents' Day:


She could wear them every day for the rest of her life, and I would not complain.  :-)

Thank you, friends, for reading my random thoughts. It truly means the world to me.

Nighty night!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cinderella Outgrows the Glass Slipper

Ryley and her school’s Drama Club put on such an amazing performance of “Cinderella” on Friday night! They had put so much work into it, and the hard work paid off! We were so thankful that Ryley got the experience; she performed beautifully, and we couldn’t help but be so proud of her!

Thanks to my Uncle Paul for photographing the event so perfectly!

Ryley peeks out from behind the curtain, before the production…


And the play begins… Cinderella sweeps her kitchen while the two narrators tell the story.



The Fairy Godmother appears and tells Cinderella that she’s going to the ball, which in this version of the story, is NOT exciting to Cinderella.


Cinderella reacts negatively to the news that she could possibly snag the affections of the prince and be forced to marry a perfect stranger. This feminist Cinderella has her own dreams of breaking free of her stepmother’s household and becoming a veterinarian.


Cinderella decides to wake her sleeping stepsisters and see if they would be interested in using the Fairy Godmother’s services instead.



But both sisters refuse. They both believe they can impress the prince without the help of the Fairy Godmother.


Then, wouldn’t you know it? A second Fairy Godmother appears! The first one is ill, and this second one has been given the responsibility of accompanying Cinderella to the ball:


That night, the Fairy Godmother outfits Cinderella in a fancy dress and glass slippers and takes her to the ball. But Cinderella, who does a bit of shoemaking as a hobby  in her spare time, elects to wear her own homemade shoes, which are much more comfortable than the glass slippers:




The prince arrives and is instantly stunned and impressed by Cinderella’s shoes.


But before he has a chance to talk to Cinderella and express his admiration for the shoes, the clock strikes midnight, and Cinderella runs home, leaving a shoe behind by mistake.


Two weeks later, Cinderella is sweeping her kitchen again, when she is once again approached by a different Fairy Godmother. The second one had quit after Cinderella’s lack of cooperation, and this third one has been charged with talking some sense into her. But Cinderella tells her to “get lost,” in so many words.


As the Fairy Godmother leaves, she crosses paths with the prince, who has been working hard to track down the lovely, young shoemaker:


The prince asks Cinderella if she would consider making new comfortable shoes for the king, queen, and himself, as they are so tired of wearing the ritzy, uncomfortable styles that the royal shoesmith makes.


Ecstatic that his interests are in the shoes alone, Cinderella takes the prince to see her shoe shop.


Later, it is revealed that she was able to make enough money making shoes for royalty that she was able to enter veterinary school, her lifelong dream. And everyone lives happily ever after!





The cast poses together afterwards:



Celebrating at home:



Good job, Ryley! We are so proud of you!!!!

And that’s a wrap! :-)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sometimes a Family Just Wants Spaghetti

So I need to be completely honest here. We’ve been having trouble with our low-carb food choices in the last few weeks. I haven’t lost any more weight in the last month; in fact, I think I’ve gained about three or four pounds. I seem to bounce back and forth on the scale, and while sometimes it shows that I’ve lost 36 pounds, I’m no longer on my streak of healthy losing momentum.

We’re burnt out. We’re burnt out on BBQ chicken and chili and beef tacos and tuna and protein shakes. Most of all, I’m just burnt out on cooking. I’m burnt out on cleaning the kitchen.

Our schedule has been crazy busy, and the last thing I want to do is spend my weekend doing meal-planning and grocery shopping. To be truthful, sometimes we’re so busy on the weekends that we can’t fit it in. So we wing it. And everyone knows what “winging it” does to a diet. Planning is key.

It’s not all bad. I’m still not drinking pop or milk, and I am still not eating processed foods or hamburger buns. But I’ve been having more sugar, and when I do, I get an instant headache. So that’s still good, right? I’m trying to convince myself that it is anyway. Ryley and I bought a box of her Girl Scout cookies, and once I had one, I couldn’t stop. I ate the whole sleeve in less than an hour (deprivation, maybe?), and I felt instantly nauseated. I have had Chinese food twice, and I felt tired and draggy for the following 24 hours. I’ve had pizza three times, and even though I tried to make a better decision by choosing thin crust, I lacked mental focus for the next day. I’m learning that my food choices really do affect my productivity and mental health!

My poor body is so confused. One day I feed it with vitamins and proteins and I’m able to make it through with virtually no carbs. The next day I cram egg rolls and pizza down my throat.

If I learned anything from my nutritionist though, it’s that you can always start over the next day and truly mean it. It’s the truly mean it part I seem to have trouble with right now.

After Ryley’s play on Friday, we had red velvet cake (her favorite) and vanilla ice cream to celebrate. Well, I had to indulge in that.  And on Valentine’s Day, we went to Carrabba’s, and I decided I would let myself eat what I really wanted, which included pasta. And tonight? Well, Ryan and I were sitting on the couch, and he said, “You know what sounds really good to me? Spaghetti.”

I haven’t made spaghetti for our family since September, and it used to be a weekly meal for us. Well, I did make it once with quinoa, but it didn’t turn out so great. He wanted real spaghetti, and I’m sorry… if we’re going to make spaghetti, I’m going to eat it too. So we made it, and it was delicious, and both Ryan and Ryley thanked me over and over again for making it. Sometimes a family just wants spaghetti, you know?

In addition to sticking with our diet, I know it’s time to add some exercise to the regimen. I’ve hit that plateau where my eating choices alone can’t support the weight loss. For the last month, courtesy of Ryan’s work, we have had an elliptical in our home, which I have never used. I look at it, and I just don’t want to!  It’s so much more enjoyable to just sit. :-)

Anyway, here are some things we have been doing right:  :-)

Chicken skewers


Sometimes I can be a little dense. I absolutely love the flavor of these….chicken massaged with lemon juice, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper, then skewed and grilled. But cutting the chicken into pieces and skewing it is more labor-intensive that you think. When I complained to Ryan about it, he said, “Well, why can’t we marinate the chicken the same way, then grill it normally, without the skewers?” :-)  That’s why we’re married; God knew I needed such a smart husband.

And our new fave… roasted broccoli:


This is a variation on a recipe I found on Catherine Newman's blog, which I've mentioned before. We have this a lot. It’s taken me some practice to get it just right. I burned the first batch, and the second batch was too salty. But now I’ve got it down.

I usually use two heads of fresh raw broccoli. I pull them apart and cut each of the florets in half, then cut the large stems into several smaller pieces too. I massage everything in a drizzle of olive oil, a few teaspoons of kosher salt, and a teaspoon or two of sugar, then bake them at 375 on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 15-20 minutes until they’re soft and golden on the underside. Delicious! Even Ryley loves it. The sugar and kosher salt combo is light and yummy, and I guess I feel like the fact that we’re eating so much fresh broccoli counteracts the fact that we’re sprinkling sugar on it. :-)  It’s also good to serve with lemon juice!

Anyway, so here’s to making healthy food choices! Pics of the play coming soon, so stay tuned!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sing Like Nobody’s Listening

Tonight is the long-awaited event…Ryley’s school play. Why am I sitting at home writing, only two hours before the show? Well, it’s because Ryley is fine. She insisted I not come down to the school early unless she calls me, needing help with her hair. I’m still going to show up early, of course, because I’m her mother, and she may need the pizza wiped off her face before she takes the stage. But I’m trying not to hover too much. I’m trying to allow her some independence. I’m really trying. :-)

Last Friday was the talent show. Remember the hula-hooping act that Ryley and her friends came up with? Well, Ryley started coming down with a nasty cough on Thursday, and by Friday morning she had a 102-degree fever. She felt pretty lousy. We kept her home, and we told her that if she felt better by the evening, she could still perform with her friends. She rested all day, trying so hard to get better. But at 4:00, I received both an e-mail and a voicemail from the school saying that Ryley would not be allowed to participate since she was absent. She and I both sat on the bed and just cried in disappointment (and maybe a little anger on my part)! After the play had been canceled due to weather the week before, she felt like so much was going wrong in her life. Poor girl. We tried to look on the bright side…that she had made it into the talent show in the first place, while other friends didn’t…that she had also performed last year…that her friends still got to perform the act that she had worked so hard to organize…and that in reality, it’s just a stupid talent show. :-) We were actually really proud of how she shook off her disappointment so quickly.

This plaque came in the mail from my Aunt Gail that very hour…


It was perfect timing to cheer up our girl. She promptly hung it outside her bedroom, above her horseshoe doorbell.  I love the message too, which I found appropriate. ;-)

She has been so loved on by all our family in the past few weeks, and we so appreciate every bit of it!


We’ve been passing sickness back and forth in the last week, trying hard to stay healthy. I’ve been feeding Ryley with EmergenC packets, and Ryan and I have been downing Wellness Formula, which is absolutely miraculous and worth every bit of the money it costs. A friend at work introduced it to me five years ago, but I was never willing to shell out the money for a vitamin. But in the last year, I’ve become a believer in taking things that heal your body, as opposed to just treating the symptoms, and this stuff does the trick. It just keeps you trucking. Ryan’s a believer too, and he hardly gets impressed by anything. :-)

We had a nice Valentine’s Day. Ryan took me to a fancy restaurant in the Cherry Creek area last Saturday, and then all three of us went out together on Tuesday night. Thanks to Pinterest, I was able to come up with some fun stuff to do. I know it’s crazy, but I’m a bit of a sucker for Valentine’s Day; I always say I won’t do anything, but then I always get into it at the last minute.

So here is our heart-shaped bacon!



And baked:


It didn’t look quite as good when it was cooked. But it was still tasty! :-)


And thanks to another blog I read, I lined a pink heart-shaped pool of yogurt with raspberries, which was actually pretty delicious!


And then, again, thanks to Pinterest, Ryley’s hair:


Her school does not allow the exchange of valentines (don’t get me started!), so I wanted to send her to school with a little reminder of Valentine’s Day and how much we love her. I wasn’t sure what the teachers would think, but I was prepared to defend. To our surprise, she received lots of compliments!



Fun, fun!

Tuesday was also Ryan’s last day at his restaurant in Cherry Creek. After approximately seven years in that neighborhood, it was a bittersweet move. He is still with Noodles and is actually a little closer to our house now. The challenge of managing a larger, busier location will be good for his growth.

His employees made him this going-away cake, which they intended to resemble him:


I think it’s a pretty accurate depiction. How ’bout you? :-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This and That and Ryley Stories

I just spent a few minutes blog-hopping, and wow, there are a lot of blogs out there. So many writing styles. So many people. So many words. So many people writing in stream-of-consciousness, bending the rules of grammar to make their thoughts sound fancy.  Am I allowed to be honest about my feelings about that?

It’s actually kind of overwhelming.

And I think, if there are that many writers out there keeping professional-looking blogs, what hope is there for someone like me who loves writing but has trouble writing about anything other than my own life?

I love writing. The more I write, the more I want to write. But in the end, I hope my writing sounds like me. I’m not fancy, and neither are my words. I never want my writing to sound, as Ryan puts it, “overwrought.” In the last several weeks, I have felt my mind coming alive with things to say. There are so many words in my head. I find myself jotting down notes of ideas at stoplights, at work, and in my kitchen. I store the ideas in my phone, and the whole time I’m sitting at my desk at work, I feel like I am wasting my time there…that I should be (and would rather be) at home, writing.

Two weeks ago, I attended a writer’s guild meeting. It was my first meeting like that, so I had no idea what to expect. I was extremely nervous when I learned we would be sitting in circles, critiquing each other’s writing. I hadn’t brought any of my own, and honestly, it might be awhile before I feel comfortable doing that! But we sat in a circle around a table, and I was given the job of reading a story aloud while everyone else read silently and scribbled notes. To my surprise, I loved it. Every time I noticed a comma missing, I saw five other people marking the spot with their pens, out of the corner of my eye.

“You are my people!” I wanted to shout. “I am among friends!”

We entered into a lively discussion about “point of view” and Chicago Style vs. AP Style, and the entire time I was taking notes of things to research later. We read stories that were good and some that weren’t so good. Some writers are amateur; others are professional. But every writer received honest feedback from other writers.  I think it was extremely encouraging for me overall; it boosts a writer’s confidence to read others’ unfinished stories. We all have stories to tell, and we’re all trying to tell them in our own way, I suppose. :-)


I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that our van ended up being totaled in the accident I was in a month ago. It was a sad day when we had to go clean it out. There were six years of memories and road trips and poptart crumbs and lollipops melted to children’s praise CDs in the basket between our front seats. That van took us lots of places. Ryley and I both cried in the parking lot of the auto body shop as we filled a trash bag with all our personal belongings.


I think that somewhere along the way, I had assigned a personality to our van in my head. I thought of it as a stupid, yet loyal dog. It sounds silly, I know. But I viewed it as a member of the family. The day before the accident, I had just filled it up with gas and gotten it a car wash for the first time in almost a year. Talk about bad timing!

But when I look at the situation, I see God’s hand at work. For several months, the brakes had been slipping. The tires were getting bad, especially on icy roads (as was confirmed!). The ABS light was on, and the transmission was making a funny noise. The passenger side window has never rolled down, and the driver’s seat was broken at the base. One of the airbags didn’t work. Two of the door locks were broken, and I joked that there were so many notification lights that my dashboard was lit up like a Christmas tree. We never would have trusted that van on a big roadtrip, and in the weeks leading up to the accident, I had begun to get a little uptight about the money we were going to have to shell out for brakes, tires, and several other necessities just to keep it running.

But God had other plans.

All things work together for good to those who love Him.

Our insurance paid retail value for the van when they totaled it, so we had a heftier sum to put toward a down-payment than what we had imagined we would.

And after a lot of research, we chose a 2008 Honda Odyssey with more buttons and systems than we know what to do with. It has all the things that were important to us, as well as some things that were just bonuses! We call it our space shuttle. We got a great deal on it, and we are so, so grateful.


Ryley and her friend test out the DVD entertainment system.


Ryley explores the sunroof, my favorite feature.


Praise the Lord. He just took that situation and made it work for us. :-)


Here are some quick Ryley Stories of late:

1. We were counting her Girl Scout cookie money one evening, getting ready to turn some in to the troop leader.

“I’m going to make sure none of these are fake,” Ryley announced, and one by one, she held each bill up to the light and declared it real.

“I’m sure they’re all fine,” I answered. “Who taught you that anyway?”

“Daddy. Oh, no. This one is fake!” It was an odd mixture of horror and excitement in her voice.

I examined the $5 bill and declared it fine. But yes, we are raising a nerd, apparently. I love it.


2. We were sitting at the dinner table with my mom and Alyson, and we were discussing the upcoming SuperBowl, weighing the merits (or lack thereof) of each team.

“Well, I want the Patriots to win because then they will have to pick their new players last.”

She said it so matter-of-factly, so confidently. Just joining the family NFL discussion like it’s no big deal.

We all stopped and turned to look at her.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Are you talking about the draft?”

“Yes. Whoever wins the SuperBowl doesn’t get to pick good new players.”

I think Ryan’s love for her doubled in that instant. Tripled, even. His daughter eats up every word he says, even when he thinks she’s not paying attention. :-)


3. The other night, as we were preparing for bedtime, she said, “Mom, what’s that word that means ‘bad’ about a group of people? Like…with Native Americans, you would say, ‘All Indians do this: [insert war cries here].’”

“Oh, do you mean stereotypes?”

“Yes! Stereotypes! I came up with a perfect stereotype about girls. Wanna hear it?”


“All girls love Justin Bieber. That’s a stereotype because it’s not true! I don’t love Justin Bieber!”

Then, a couple days later, she came home from school all upset.

“Martin had a stereotype about me! He thinks I’m evil because I’m German!”

Oh dear. :-) She is a little ridiculously proud of her German heritage.  We explained that our ancestors left Germany long before the World Wars.


Pictures from the last few weeks:



Play practice


Talent show practice:


This picture represents our family life perfectly. Ketchup on her face, messy room, but lots and lots of love. :-)