"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fun with Family

So, back in June, my mom came for a week to spend time with Ryley. Then, at the end of the week, they went to Texas to spend time with my brother and his family. At the end of that week, Ryan and I drove down to Oklahoma, and they all drove up to meet us and have a bunch of wonderful family time together. It was complicated to the naked eye, but meticulously planned out. :-) And other than some minor homesickness on Ryley’s part, it was a great time for all!


Yes, that is a real snake…My mom took Ryley to an event our library was having.



In between arriving in Oklahoma and driving to Texas, Ryley got to spend a fun day with her Pappaw too…She caught five fish in their pond, and they played with his Lionel trains!





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Cousins… :-)

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A surprise birthday celebration for Ryley!




Thanks to my mom, dad, brother Justin, and sister-in-law Alyson for such a wonderful summer! We had so much fun together!!!! We love you all!

The Treehouse (and other happenings)

Everything decided to happen at once.

Throughout the last few weeks I have had several freelance writing projects, for which I am extremely grateful. I interviewed some fascinating people, including a former prostitute, and wrote some very interesting stories. I love that work, as it is so satisfying and rewarding! I wish I could do more of it. :-)

But at the same time, my company’s lease expired, and when renewal negotiations fell through, we were left without a place to go. Every day for two weeks we went in to the office prepared to move should a new lease agreement just happen to fall into place that day. We finally moved yesterday, and I am so glad it’s over. I look forward to organizing and arranging everything on Monday. This is the third time I have helped my company move in the seven years I have worked for them. The ironic thing? We are ending up back in the same building where we began! ;-)

Then, there’s Ryan’s car issues. We have had his car at three different mechanics in the last three weeks, and nobody can figure out what’s wrong with it. If it’s sitting, say, in front of our house, or maybe in the parking lot of his work, it will not start, leaving him stranded on multiple occasions. It doesn’t respond to jumping, and we’ve actually had to call tow-trucks twice. But if it’s sitting at the mechanic or dealership, the car starts just fine, and when they hook it up to their machines for testing, everything checks out normally. This is extremely frustrating on many levels. Ryan actually suggested today that maybe we should drive it around and then park it back at the mechanic, all the while making comments like, “It’s good to be home!”, thereby tricking the car into thinking it’s in front of our house! And yes, after all the back-and-forth we’ve been through, this logic actually makes sense to me!  :-) The sharing a car thing has been complicated, especially since we work 16 miles from each other, and every day our schedules are different. We’re praying that after sitting at the shop untouched for a full weekend, the car won’t start on Monday. Maybe then we can at least get a diagnosis!

On top of all of this, our house’s swamp cooler motor went out during a week of 90+ degree days. But Ryan was able to replace it. Yay!

Also, in an effort to save some money, we canceled our satellite dish service at the end of our contract period. Ryan purchased an antenna for indoors, which we thought would hook us up with local channels. But alas, we can only pick up Fox and some Spanish networks, and we will need to invest in a roof antenna if we want more than that. So we’ve been without TV for three weeks. It’s actually not as bad as I thought it would be, although when fall comes, I will be antsy to get something in place!

In summary, it’s been a strange few weeks for us!

But here are some pics from earlier in the summer, when Ryan, inspired by “Pete” from Treehouse Masters (“I’m the treehouse man!”, decided to build a doozy of a treeless treehouse in our backyard while Ryley was visiting family in Oklahoma and Texas:


(Please don’t judge our grass situation. Yes, it’s embarrassing. Yes, we’ve given up.) :-)


Ryan had so much fun with power tools!


We didn’t really have any specific plans, other than a hodgepodge of ideas Ryan pulled from the internet. And with no previous building experience, it was quite a project. We took multiple trips to Home Depot and hauled a lot of wood in the back of our van, then ended the nights with trips to Dairy Queen to cool down. :-
) But it was so much fun working on it together.


Getting the roof installed was particularly dramatic, as Ryan teetered on a 16 ft ladder wedged between a fence and me after the sun had set. I prayed the entire time he was up there.


Ryley got home and was super pleased!!!


Ryan built an amazingly sturdy ladder that I trust even for myself!

And he included a pulley system!


And a secret compartment…


Even Juliet wanted to be part of the finishing touches:

After we moved some of her stuff inside, Ryley invited me up for a tea party.


Then, we decorated the outside a little, and she invited my aunt and uncle up for a tea party as well…






Then, Ryley and my aunt busted out the sewing machine and some scrap material, and they made curtains and a table cloth!


When it was all complete, Ryley and her best friend had a sleepover…There was some drama about bugs, but overall, it was a fun time!


This has been quite a project! I am so proud of Ryan for all the research and effort he put into it. It is highly rewarding for him to look at it and realize he built it with his own two hands, all from ideas in his mind! It’s that whole “build something from nothing” thing. Kind of crazy, actually. We both learned a lot.

We know that Ryley will enjoy this labor of love for years to come. :-)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Locks of Love

Ryley’s goal for three years has been to grow her hair out long. She loves the “idea” of long hair, though taking care of it has proven to be a struggle. It gets hot, it gets in the way, it gets in her food, it gets tangly, it gets sunscreen in it…Let’s just say that it has been a rough summer for those long locks! Most days she doesn’t even bother to run a brush through it after her shower, which gives it the straggly hippie look we’re not too fond of. :-)

To this point, we’ve indulged her and allowed her to have it as long as she wants. But today she asked me to make her a hair appointment. So I did. And then she spent the next five hours wondering if she was making the right decision. She’s always toyed with the idea of one day donating her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for children with cancer and other diseases that cause hair loss. We looked at before/after pictures online, and I made it clear to her that though I thought she should cut it, I wasn’t going to pressure her or make the decision for her. And in the end, she decided to go to the salon and ask them what they thought about how much length would be left over. She didn’t want to be left with a short cut.

So here’s before:



We went to a place we’ve gone to off and on for years, and they handled everything so perfectly. They were really enthusiastic and encouraging, and they answered all of her questions.


She was so nervous!


10 inches! And plenty left over!





Slight layers in the back




We think she’s gorgeous both ways, of course! But we love the new cut and are so proud of her for making such a hard decision. And some little girl will be grateful for the beautiful wig!!

She is still wrapping her head around it (literally!)…still mourning it in some ways. But I think this will make her life so much easier, and she will start 5th grade with a fresh look! Yay!