Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eight years ago my life changed forever--I was given the gift of motherhood and all the joys that come with it.

After Jenna was born, I remember holding her and looking into her eyes amazed at how perfect she was. I remember her infancy like it was yesterday. I remember toting her car seat around, cuddling her after baths, and staring at her face amazed at how much I had been blessed with this tiny bundle. I couldn’t wait for her to walk, and talk. I couldn’t wait to take her hand and show her the world.

But now it seems merely a blink has morphed her into a beautiful little lady. Now she is leading me places and showing me the world. It amazes me how fast Jenna has grown and matured. Just as she grows, I too grow as a person. She has taught me to be a better person, she has taught me to WANT to be a better person. She inspires me every day to be brighter, kinder and better.

One of my greatest joys has been watching Jenna grow into the little lady she is becoming. She loves to laugh and be silly, is a very loving, kind person, a wonderful role model for her younger brother and sister, and beautiful inside and out!

I want you to be the very best you—don’t ever sell yourself short.
I want you to succeed and be happy—always keep in mind what makes you happy and do it.
I want you to remember to enjoy life and the wonderful moments in it.
I want you to remember you are perfect just the way you are—you are more than I could ever ask for.
I want you to remember I love you—always and forever.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY GIRL… The world is a better place with you in it, and I am so honored, blessed and grateful to be your mommy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Yesterday afternoon I got one of those phone calls. The kind where you know your life will instantly change once the conversation is over. The kind you hope to never receive.

When I saw my aunt’s number on the caller ID, I thought maybe she was calling to check on the kids for her babysitting duties later that afternoon. But I couldn’t be more wrong. She was calling to let me know that my cousin had been shot and killed.

Early yesterday morning my cousin, David Andrew Ryder, was shot and killed by a "friend.” While specific details aren’t known at this time, what I do know is that he will be greatly missed--missed by wife, DeAnna, his adorable two-year-old son, Landon. Missed by his mom, dad, and sister. Missed by his numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Missed by his many friends.

Although David lived in Bend, Oregon, and hasn’t lived in this area for several years, the memories I have from our childhood are vivid in my memory. Growing up David (who was only 9 months younger than me), his sister Amber, my brother Jake, and I often referred to ourselves as the Fab Four. We were the four oldest cousins on that side of the family and we were practically inseparable. I will always cherish the memories we shared--Camping trips with our grandparents and fighting over who was going to sleep where in the camper. I remember going to Brookeville Lake and Grandma Ryder threatening to drive us into the lake because we were driving her crazy. I remember gum being banned in my grandma and grandpa’s house because one of the “Fab Four” somehow managed to get gum on the carpet in the basement of their house. (We still don’t know who did that!) I remember huddling under the ski tubes on my Uncle David’s boat when we got stuck on Lake Cumberland during a thunderstorm and then later that night after getting positively muddy and gross, playing cards under the dining fly while it was still raining. I remember riding bikes together with our Mickey ears on when our grandparents took us to Disney World. I remember David’s big blue eyes, his mischievous but infectious smile, and his love for life.

Although I haven’t had the chance to spend much time with David as an adult, one thing I can tell you for sure is he continued to have that zest for life. He loved his wife and son and he lived his life in way he could be proud of. I will always cherish the memories we created on family camping trips, driving our grandparents crazy, and spending time together at family gatherings.

Please keep David’s wife, DeAnna, his two-year-old son, Landon, and the rest of my family in your thoughts and prayers as we are faced with this tragedy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My apologies...

Apparently there were several typos and punctuation errors in my previous post.

If for some reason you thought I was talking about World War II instead of the Wii game system, like my husband insisted he did, I apologize. While I sometimes feel I am in the middle of a war zone—destroyed house, people yelling, Nerf darts flying—I assure you, I was in fact talking about Carter’s love for playing Wii, not creating war.

Also, if you were as embarrassed for me when you noticed the misuse of an apostrophe in the word sisters, as I was when I reread the post after John mentioned the above mistake, please take this as my admittance to imperfection. The misuse of apostrophes is one of my BIGGEST punctuation pet peeves, and I can’t believe I publicly committed the error!! (I also am quite disappointed that my sister has not called me out on this!) After rereading the same essay over and over again, my eyes see what my brain thinks they should see.

While these errors have been fixed, I will try my best to keep them from happening again. Between being pulled in four directions, packing lunches, dropping off at preschool and speech, doctors and dentist appointments, working and trying to be the best mommy I can be, I think I can handle a little imperfection every now and then…Right?

P.S. Please don’t let me know if there were any more terrible errors. I’ve already admitted to two today thus meeting my quota for the day!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Little Man

Five and a half years ago, as we were leaving my 20 week ultrasound appointment revealing Carter’s gender, I looked at John and said, “What the heck will I do with a boy?” Don’t get me wrong, when the technician announced that I was carrying a little man, tears streamed down my face. Since we already had Jenna, I was super excited to see what was in store for me by having a boy.

But let’s face it; I am not used to boys. Most of the kids I babysat as a teen were girls. John’s family is very female dominant-- out of the now 14 grandchildren, only 2 are boys (one of which is Carter). And of course, my job has me teaching shuffle steps and changements to mostly little girls. I was not used to all the boy toys—Star Wars, Legos, and superheroes. I was not used to their rough and tough, play in the dirt way of fun. And I was certainly not used to changing boys’ diapers. While I was super excited for the new challenge of raising a boy, I was still unsure of what my future held.

But on October 1, 2007, I fell in love with a man for the second time. (The first time was with John. And yes, of course, he still holds that special place in my heart.) When I looked into Carter’s little puffy newborn eyes, I knew that I knew exactly what to do with my boy—LOVE him.

Over the past five years, Carter has proved that he is a boy’s boy. He likes to get dirty and make messes and taunt his sisters with silly words like poo poo head. And even as young as he is, Carter has some stinky feet. Carter loves all the movies and toys, I know nothing about: Star Wars, Wii, Spiderman, Batman, etc. He has even recently found a new love—“playing with” and watching Daddy play paintball. While I know nothing about most of these things and quite frankly have no interest in any of these things, I love to watch Carter get excited about them.

Although Carter is 100% boy, I can affirm without a doubt, he is a Mama’s boy. His sweet smiles, big hugs, and slobbery kisses melt my heart. And while I can’t relate to much of that stinky crazy boy stuff, I know the love I have in my heart for Carter couldn’t be greater. Happy 5th Birthday to my little man. I love you!!!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

My baby's not a baby anymore!!!

About two weeks ago, when I was dropping Carter off at preschool, his teacher took a look at Mary Ava’s self-chosen outfit and said, “Boy, I can tell you’re a character.” After admitting that I can’t really come up with words to describe my precious THREE year old, she replied, “Well you got the rest of the year to think of a description for me.”

I didn’t really know how to respond to this. At the time I just kind of laughed it off, and I must admit, I was even a little offended. But even still, it made me think. Why can’t I come up with words to describe my not so little anymore bundle of joy?

Mary Ava was my easiest baby. She didn’t cry unless she was hungry, needed to be changed or was being picked on by one of her siblings. She was easy going and smiled at everyone. But after that first go with the flow year, she began to change. She morphed into a child with a STRONG opinion. A child that wouldn’t do anything she didn’t want to and everything she did. Right after her first birthday, before her vocabulary developed beyond a handful of words, Mary Ava began squealing and growling at anyone and everything if things didn’t go her way. I never thought I would have to tell my beautiful little lady to “Stop growling.” Now that she has many words, she doesn’t growl any longer, but she still practices her squeal whenever she can and has no problem letting her brother and sister know when they have pushed their luck.

At times, Mary Ava can be the sweetest, most thoughtful child but she can also give you a look that makes you think she is silently willing your head to pop off your body. Sometimes she will share her last bite of a special treat with Jenna or Carter and other times, she would rather throw away left over fruit snacks than share them with a sibling.

Mary Ava is feisty and full of opinion, but also loves to please her Mommy and Daddy—she actually gets quite upset when she knows she has done something wrong. She has a way of infuriating me with her “I do it by MESELF” faze, but then looks up at me with her gorgeous blue eyes and says, “You’re the best mommy ever!” She has her own sense of style and coordination, but likes to make sure she looks pretty!

Mary Ava is a smart little girl. She knows her ABC’s, can count, sing songs, and is beginning to learn some letter sounds (That’s a perk to having kids close in age. She is trying to keep up with Carter!) But, and this is a HUGE but, she absolutely refuses to be potty trained.

Really, I could list anecdotes forever, but there’s no need. After really thinking about it for awhile, clearly, I am able to describe my child. Just not in a set in stone way and not with just one or two words. But why should I? I began to realize that at this point in her short little life, I don’t have to come up with words to describe Mary Ava. They will come on their own. As she continues to grow, she will decide who she wants to become and as daunting as the years ahead may seem, I look forward to it.

But for today, I am just going to say HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY to my precious Mary Ava—my easy going but feisty, sweet but devilish, smart but stubborn, crazy but loving, beautiful baby girl. You have brought much joy to our family and I treasure the craziness and fun you have brought to our family. It is a great honor to be your mommy and I will continue to love you no matter who you become!!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Every Little Girl Wants to Marry Prince Charming

Jenna is “love” crazy. She loves everything about people being in love and her favorite part of a movie is when the boy and girl finally fall in love or even kiss. Yes, I know she is only seven. But her intentions are innocent—she wants to see a happy couple. When Jenna was two, and on a major princess kick, she decided she was going to marry Prince Charming. This went on for a long time. (She has since moved on to Justin Bieber and has even “married” him—his picture at least.)

Right around this time I remember riding in the car with my very precocious little Jenna and she was once again talking about marrying Prince Charming. And that’s when it hit me. She should marry Prince Charming--HER Prince Charming. A prince who will love her unconditionally with all his heart, even during her worst moments. A prince who will treat her like a princess even when she is acting like a princess. A prince that will support and encourage her, laugh with her, grow with her, respect her, pick her up when she falls, and praise her when she succeeds. A prince, who above all else, devotes his life to making her happy.

Eighteen years ago, while on family vacation as a teenager, I met my Prince. And ten years ago today, after dating through high school and college, I married my Prince. He may be more the Shrek or Beast type prince, but he is MY prince and I love him more every day!

John…You are a wonderful man, father and husband. I thank God every day for bringing you into my life. I have enjoyed every minute we have shared and look forward to the making more wonderful memories in the future. Thank you for devoting your life to making me happy! I love you with all my heart and soul—Happy 10th Anniversary!!!

Jenna and Mary Ava…One day you will find your prince. And when that day comes, many years for now, I only hope you will be as happy as your daddy makes me!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Library's a new sport!

When I had just Jenna, even for awhile after Carter was born, we went to the library regularly. We went at least once a week, sometimes even twice. But once Jenna started school (and now with Carter in preschool) it has gotten hard to fit Storytime or Play Art in around bus pick-ups and drop-offs. I still take my kids to the library, just not as regularly. Actually, most of the time, I just place a request and pick it up at the drive up window.

Since I had items that needed to be returned, I decided to take Carter and Mary Ava to Play Art. Everything started out great. We got there early enough to select new books and movies before Play Art began and the kids even sat and listened quietly to the story being read by the librarian.

For those of you that have attended Play Art, you know there are are two kinds of moms. The ones that for whatever reason, whether it's the need to be in control, to make their children appear perfect, or maybe even just because they like to do childish art projects themselves, they will not let their child complete the art project themselves. Then there are moms like me, the ones that let their child do the entire project. Even if it includes cutting strips of garbage bag and stapling them to a paper plate with a ghost face drawn on with a Sharpie marker. Who cares if the face is a bunch of scribbles instead of the traditional ghost eyes and mouth? Who cares if Carter's strips of bag were cut in half length wise and were shorter than all the others. Who cares? Right???

Before she even touched the Sharpie to the plate, Mary Ava had marker on her hands. If you know my children they can't stand for their hands to be dirty. As soon as Mary Ava her marked up hands, she wanted to wash them. Somehow I convinced her to wait until she was finished the project and she continued coloring. After she finished, I tied the string on the top of the plate to hang her ghost, Mary Ava ran over to the sink to wash her hands and I moved on to help Carter finish up his ghost plate.

I guess Mary Ava was a little over zealous in washing her hands because when she came back to the table, her sleeves were wet up to her armpits. To say the least, she freaked out! Of course, I left the diaper bag in the car, but we were getting ready to check out, so I took her shirt off, put her coat on and zipped it up. This made her happy!

As we walked to the check out desk, Carter and Mary Ava headed for their usually waiting place...the chairs about 10 feet from the counter. I began placing the books and movies to be checked out on the desk when I felt a coat hit my bag. I didn't think anything of it, I figured it was one of my kid's coats. Even when the librarians behind the desk were looking towards my children laughing out loud, I didn't think anything of it. As I turned to see what was so funny, I realized that it was Mary Ava's coat that had been thrown at me and she was currently topless, running around the library and ever so happy about it!

At that point, as my two-year-old was running around the library naked, I finished checking out, grabbed her coat, put it on my streaking baby and headed for the door!