"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tales from 5th Grade (and other cool stuff!)

I guess it’s obvious that my blog has been taking a backseat recently. I’ve been doing a lot of other writing, which is really good (make sure you read all the way to the bottom for some exciting news!), but unfortunately it leaves little time for my musings about life and motherhood. And I have to admit that that’s a problem that stresses me out a bit….Writing about my life is cathartic for me.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that Ryley is already in 5th grade, and other times she seems every bit of 5th grade material. I am beginning to wonder if I need to change my voicemail to “You’ve reached Ryley and Joy.” That’s how many calls she gets on my cell phone each night. It’s actually quite annoying, and every day I get closer to thinking that it’s time for her to have a phone of her own. Ryan’s all about putting it off, but he’s not the one with the constant influx of calls and then inaccessibility to his phone while she wanders off with it. But I’m glad that she has lots of friends. Smile

1 Kindergarten063

(Kindergarten vs. 5th grade! It makes me sad!)

The biggest change this year is Ryley’s decision to join the volleyball team. She knew absolutely nothing about volleyball beforehand, and I think the initial interest was because she’d get to wear a team uniform to school on game days! Haha. But her confusion at practices combined with difficult coaches (she’d never had a coach yell at her before) and the fact that she doesn’t really have any friends on the team made for several tearful evenings. It also drudged up some terrible memories for me! *tear* As a mom, it’s difficult to guide your kids through stuff that you remember to be hurtful…and yet, you know it built character in you and it’s important to forge on!

So Ryan took her out and bought her a volleyball. With a little practice in the backyard, she feels so much more confident! After a couple more weeks, she’s also making new friends and enjoying being a part of the team dynamic.

Ryley has a hard time allowing herself to keep doing things that she knows she’s not good at. She’s very competitive and wants to be the best, so if she’s not automatically the best, then she figures “what’s the point?” But these experiences are so important for exposing weaknesses and immaturity that we didn’t previously know were a problem, so we can work on them. She’s grown so much in the last couple of weeks. She’s still the worst one on her team (her words, not mine!), but at least she says she likes it!


Her school is finally offering orchestra this year, so she has also decided to take up violin! I taught her the basics over the past weekend, and within an hour she could play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Music definitely comes more naturally for her! Smile She’s only had one rehearsal so far, so we will see how it goes!


But Ryley’s favorite thing so far was being accepted into Student Council! It’s been her goal for several years, and we are very proud of her. 

I remember sobbing on the gymnasium steps when I was in 7th grade because I was so stressed out by all my activities. My volleyball coach (whom I practically loathed at the time!) sat down next to me and said that she had always found that the more she was involved in, the better she did at everything. Her mind stayed active, and she learned to work quickly and more efficiently. Over the next few years, I found her advice/experience to be extremely true for myself as well. The busier I was, the better I did. And ever mindful that Ryley doesn’t over-work herself, I have been carefully watching her these last few weeks. She does seem to be actually doing better in school, using her time wisely, completing projects early, etc.

But of course, today is a good day. I can’t speak for tomorrow. Smile But so far, 5th grade has been really great!


Down below, beneath the surface of Ryley’s sunny disposition and the success of 5th grade, lies the harried chaos that is our home. Clean laundry stays in baskets until it’s worn, thrown in the pile of dirty clothes, and ready to be cycled back through again. Complete honesty here? Sometimes clothes don’t even make it out of the dryer. A thin layer of dust covers the piano, and if we dare to make dinner, we will have to clean the kitchen first.

It’s been a month of changes and stress for both of us at work (my company moved and my dear Leahh left, and Ryan’s assistant manager went on disability), and by the time we get home, we don’t have any mental or physical energy. Add to that our little Hyundai Sonata that only sometimes worked for over a month, and the failure of three mechanics to figure out what was wrong. Then, Ryan had a car accident during the first week of school, and for the next three weeks, we shared a vehicle while the car was towed yet again to a body shop and then a dealership so that at last they could figure out it was a failed fuel pump.

Add to that, the Colorado Flood of 2013, which left its muddy remnants all over our family room and guest room floor, after Ryan vacuumed up 100 gallons of water. Yes, it absolutely could have been worse…soooo much worse. It wasn’t standing water. Even so, the carpet is not salvageable, and with insurance coverage seeming to be a longshot, and our savings blown on car repairs, all we can do is praise God in advance for His provision. It’s not that much money when put in perspective…but you know how $20 can seem like the world when you have nothing? Mold remediation and carpet replacement seem completely out of reach. And yet, we know that to God, it’s completely do-able. In fact, it’s easy. Ryan texted me “Luke 12:22-31” today in a moment of my unbelief. Somehow, some way, we will be okay. Smile

And when we’re 70, we’ll look back and say, “Do you remember the Flood of 2013? Remember how our basement flooded and God provided for us to get all new carpet?” And we’ll smile and think back on this little cozy house with fondness.


On a great note, my dad had ankle surgery to re-set his foot after living for years of pain. They inserted a metal rod through his heel. (I know!) But he is definitely on the mend, and I cannot wait to see him walk without pain! My mom has been amazing through the process (he’s in a wheelchair while he recovers), and she has been taking care of him while working full-time and managing their lives. I love my parents so much!


My freelance writing at Good Catch Publishing has definitely gone up a notch. I have completed four stories since the beginning of August. My two most memorable were 1) a testimony of a former prostitute and how she came to Jesus, and 2) a woman who adopted a frozen embryo and had a baby girl so the embryo wouldn’t go to waste. Both books are available for pre-order on Amazon (click the links above), and the second one will be featured on Katie Couric on Monday, September 30! If you click on the second book’s “About the Author,” you will see my name listed! My name’s on Amazon!! Yay! Praise God…These are such powerful testimonies, and I am so excited to be a part of sharing what God has done in these people’s lives! And I have two more stories scheduled to start within the next five days…Yay!!! I cannot tell you how excited I am about all of this!


For those that followed on Facebook, I finally allowed Ryley to try her made-up recipe for “cookie cupcakes.” I offered some suggestions on how to make the ingredients a bit “wetter,” and you know what? They turned out great!!!!!!! Very delicious. You should have seen the joy and pride in her face when Ryan asked for a second cupcake! And Ryan does not particularly care for cupcakes!!!



And here are some pictures from the last couple of months…


Four-Mile Park


5th Grade Classroom


Italian Lunch Date (we later discovered that soda is the cause of Ryley’s frequent tummy problems this summer…no more carbonated drinks for her!)


Broncos Pre-season game


She’s flying!


Ryan’s work gave us tickets to the Rockies game!


And I’m all caught up. Maybe by the next time I blog, we will have new carpet. Annnnddd, let’s be honest…I will probably be 36 and have a book available for SALE (not just pre-sale) on Amazon. Winking smile