"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Saturday, March 23, 2013


We have a foot of new snow and are snuggled in for the day, candles burning and brownies baking. Ryley spent a good portion of the mid-day trying to capture the attention of the new neighbor boys across the street by donning her snow pants and playing demonstratively in the front yard.

We’ve never had neighbors with children Ryley’s age before. And this family has between four and seven boys. Their van is like a clown car, with children piling out and running into the house before we can accurately count them. But there is one (I would guess that he is about 10) that comes outside a lot and just hangs out in his front yard…almost like he needs a break from the chaos inside. I’ve even heard him singing to himself.

Ryley has longed for neighbors she can play with for several years. She has even prayed for neighbors she can play with. So these people are interesting to her.

They’re interesting to me, too, because there is a lot of strange adult activity happening around there. For instance, I think they have two bearded, backpacking drifters that live there on snowy weekends and then go back to the mountains when the weather turns nice again. Just my perceptions from my “RearWindow”-esque observations. But I digress.

One morning at 7 a.m.,  we watched as they filled their clown car with ease and drove off toward their school/work obligations before we had even gotten the comb through Ryley’s tangles.

“Wow, they must be really organized!” was Ryley’s summation.

But here’s the thing:

The other day, Ryley came bounding down the stairs in her cutest top and jeans.

“Hey, pretty girl!” Ryan greeted her. “You look cute!”

She blushed and plopped down on the armrest of the chair where I was sitting. I could tell something was up.

“Um, Mom? How do you, uh, meet neighbors?” she asked, her voice giving out nervously.

And suddenly it was clear. Hmmmm.

“Are they outside?”

She nodded.

“Well, you could take a book and sit on the front porch and read. And then, if they start playing, you could ask them if you can play too.”

She loved that idea. So she went to grab a book. Before too long, it was too dark to read, but not before she had managed a “hi” when the boy’s ball ended up in our gutter.

A couple days later, Ryley and Ryan were preparing to take Juliet to the vet for her shots, so Ryley took her out the front door on her leash. The neighbor boy happened to be out checking their mailbox, so Ryley casually checked our mailbox too.

The boy stopped, stared, and waved shyly. Ryley waved back.

“Did you see that?!” Ryan was putting on his coat, and he whirled around to face me, helplessness in his eyes. “That boy just waved shyly to our daughter!”

“Well, she’s a pretty girl.”

“It’s not an option. I’m going to have to buy a gun.”



Last weekend, my grandma came into town, so Ryley showed off her hostess skillz….


Then, my mom came to visit during her Spring Break. It was so much fun to have her here!




Now Ryley is on Spring Break, and we leave for Atlanta on Wednesday morning.

I am off to put soup on the stove and start a fire in the fireplace. Happy spring to all!


A year ago this time, we were preparing for a Spring Break trip to Georgia. It was a wonderful trip….We spent some good quality time with Ryan’s dad, stepmom, and sisters, and we even fit in a little roadtrip to South Carolina to see my cousin, as well as a quick stop in Augusta to meet some friends. It was a vacation jam-packed with adventure and touristy attractions and fun times with family. What we didn’t know was that that would be it…that that would be the last time Ryley and I would ever see Ryan’s dad, and it would be the last time Ryan would spend quality time with him. Three months later, Ryan would spend a week sitting at his dad’s bedside while he lay in a coma. Two months after that, his dad would be dead.

So now it’s Spring Break again. And we are preparing for yet another trip to Georgia. But this one will be quite different. This time, we will be putting his dad to rest.

I think the grieving period has been different, in part, because the funeral/memorial service has been delayed. There is still a lot of unresolved grief…there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

Every now and then, randomly, I will see Ryan’s beautiful blue eyes – his dad’s eyes, only darker – cloud over with unspeakable sadness. And just as quickly as they clouded, they flicker back to normal. But not before I see it – the pressure on him that he’s the oldest living of his family line…the sadness that all the people who raised him have gone on before. It pains my heart.

You see, we keep pushing off the emotions – burying them so we can deal with them later when we have time to process. But when we have time, we don’t feel like dealing with them, so we distract ourselves. Then days and weeks and months go by during which our ability to bury our feelings is astounding. And we know that one day we’ll wake up, months down the road, and we won’t be able to deal with it anymore, and we’ll break down. But nobody will understand because it’s been, well, seven months. And gosh, by seven months, we “should” be adjusting.


Ryan has an employee who keeps taking off work because “a friend died.” She has lost three “friends” in five weeks.  It’s hard for him to have much mercy for that when he still hasn’t taken any time off to mourn his own dad.

A few weeks ago, we visited the cemetery where his mom is buried. The plan was to just ask about the plot next to hers…to see if it was even feasible or affordable to bury his dad’s remains near hers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. But we weren’t prepared for the emotional “setback.” Ryan ran inside the funeral home to talk to them while Ryley and I waited outside in the van. It was all very matter-of-fact at first. Emotionless. Then, as the minutes ticked by, I wondered if I should have gone in too. Ryan texted me that they were making him wait in a family grieving room furnished with only a table, chairs, and a box of tissues. And it began to sink in that he was there to talk to them about his dad. And after we left, the rest of the day was just blah. We were cranky and irritable and very, very sad.

And that’s when I knew that no matter how nice it will be to bask in the Georgia sunshine (after another foot of snow here today), no matter how much fun I try to make Ryan’s birthday on Thursday, no matter how nice it will be to see all our nieces and nephews and even Ryan’s aunt and uncle who are coming in from Tennessee, this trip is going to be really, really sad. The purpose of the trip is to put his dad’s remains to rest and ultimately say goodbye. I dread this and want this -- all at the same time.

Hopefully, for my husband, there will be an opportunity to share the grief with his siblings…to talk through it in a healthy way…to come to some kind of “closure,” whatever that means. At the very least, maybe it will force all of us to deal with his death at whatever stage we’re at and stop shoving it under the rug…stop pretending it didn’t happen.

It would be wonderful if, in the lovely blooming of Georgia’s spring, during Holy Week no less, we could remember that his dad is in perfect peace, perfect health, celebrating His Lord’s resurrection continuously. It would be wonderful if we learned to rejoice in that, taking to heart the promise in Revelation 21:4 that someday every tear will be wiped away.

Because we are so very tired of being sad.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

-- I Corinthians 15:55

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Days of Good Cheer (the Glory of Enchiladas)

Ryley sat on my lap just now, offering a variety of suggestions for blog topics and titles (our weekend trip to see Honey, the glory of enchiladas, among others), before I sent her off to get ready for bed. She talks constantly these days, and she skips up and down the stairs taking them three and four at a time. She flies through a random piano piece for the fun of it, then out to the mailbox, then back inside, up the stairs, down the stairs, bouncy, enthusiastic, and always on the go. She’s happy and healthy and coming into her own, which is such a dramatic difference from the struggles she had in 3rd grade. She avoids getting into trouble for the most part (last year it was almost every day), and even though a few of her A’s dropped to B’s this quarter, we didn’t mind because her teachers raved at the parent/teacher conferences on Friday about how much she has grown as a person since Christmas….how she has matured and exercised self-control and steered clear of the typical girl drama.

Ryley had misplaced her iPod this last week, and though we searched the house high and low, we could not find it. So this weekend, our brand new neighbors knocked on the door and returned it to Ryan; they had found it lying in the street. When Ryley got home, we encouraged her to go over and thank them; after all, they could have left it in the street or kept it for themselves. We expected an argument, but no, she slipped her shoes back on and marched across the street.

“I can’t believe she’s doing this,” Ryan said, as we knelt down behind the couch to watch through the big living room window.

But she did it. She knocked on the door, introduced herself to strangers, thanked them, and looked both ways before crossing the street to come back home. My baby is growing up, and it thrills me to no end to see the fruits of our parenting labor. She’s not perfect, and she still has so much growing to do, but we thoroughly enjoy the person she is and continues to become.

Some pictures of the last couple of weeks:

Our friends Rachel and Benjamin had an extra ticket to the Denver Aquarium a couple of weekends ago, so they invited Ryley to go along!  It was great for everyone involved…Ryan was still sick and so he got to sleep all day, and I had a freelance writing project to work on.


The next day, we got 10 inches of snow.


So we stayed home and played.


And we baked.


And we made the soup.


And we made snow cream.


It really was a perfect day, and we were sad when it was over.

This past weekend, Ryley had a couple of days off school, so she and I headed up to Nebraska to see my grandma for a few days. We left Ryan at home with the dog so he could work, do boy things, and eat his boy food (crockpot o’ sausage and green beans).

Sarah and Lily crossed the border into Nebraska first!



Our favorite taco joint may be going out of business soon (apparently they were selling cocaine on the side?), so we ate there twice in two days! Honey was so nice to humor us like that!


So there’s crack in the enchiladas…No wonder they’re so addicting!


Like seriously addicting. Mmmmmmm.

We had a wonderful time with Honey….eating, talking, watching movies, church, eating, talking, watching movies, eating, talking! My favorite kind of weekend! :-)

On the way home, I taught Ryley how to blow bubbles with bubble gum. She was pretty proud of herself. :-)



I read this quote by C.S. Lewis recently and loved it:

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career. ”

It’s so true. Sure, I do my best at work, but ultimately, it’s all to fund and help support this family life that we cherish so much. We live for snow days and weekend vacations and time together. We live for these happy moments at home when we are essentially doing nothing…when our daughter flits about the house like a busy butterfly. We live for the feeling of “home” – whatever that means to each and every one of us.