Sunday, November 28, 2010


Ryder Luke.....the name that sustained the negotiations during the months preceding our son's birth. It was NOT an easy process. We used several copies of the "Best Book of Over a Gazillion Baby Names," crossing out, circling, making lists, adding to, hearing suggestions (solicited and unsolicited), gauging reactions of possibilites, looking at current popular names, and trying to balance the line of different but not weird. I am thankful that my blog is not waitingforBismarc (which I'm sure is the perfect name for your child if you named him Bismarc :) I even asked my freshmen their opinions on the names that were our top considerations, and they were very eager to evaluate the names for teasibility factors that we might not have considered. Cody had suggested Luke from the beginning, and although I liked the name and liked having a Biblical name, and didn't know any Lukes, I still wanted something not so common. And of all the names we had considered, Ryder just seemed like the name that would fit Cody's son. So, despite it not being a favorite of all the family, we decided to make the decision and embroider Ryder Luke on blankets, and bags, and towels, and toys, and anything that could be written on in any way.

And it just...fits. He IS Ryder. His very own sweet and precious, funny and unique self.

However, recently Ryder has informed us that his name is now Batman. The kid doesn't even really know much about Batman. He doesn't watch Batman, and has no Batman toys. But he does have some Batman underwear, and Camden and Carter like Batman, and so apparently that is enough to warrant an entire renaming of himself. It started with a simple "I'm Batman!!!" It has progressed to an insistence that he be called Batman. I have no problem with it, but I continue to call him Ryder. (That is his name, and I don't think EVERYONE should give in to his renaming). So when I say "Come on, Ryder," he will say under his breath, "Ok, but I'm Batman." After a while, it progressed to him referring to himself as Batman in various situations: " Bye Mommy. Daddy and Batman are going outside."
Of course, as is only reasonable, he isn't consistently Batman. We were going to swim lessons last week, and Cody said, "Excuse me, Batman," (which is how he likes to be addressed, because both Ryder and Batman want to use good manners) and Ry says, "I changed back into Ryder. Batman doesn't swim."

He is a fun kid...whatever his name his.

Ryder has been naming things for a while, and it is always a source of fun to hear his names for his toys. Many of our friends have played with his toys, ToffeeToffeeYAY! and Nerniesinger. Of course, we all are happy to see Mannienewt, the pocket squirrel. Well, maybe not, SEE Mannienewt exactly. At Papa Bear and Gigi's house, he rides on Marf the 4 wheeler. Less popular is his stuffed otter Intourniquet and the lost Ardmore the Dragon. He has a Christmas elf that comes to visit, and I have thought for a year now, that the elf's name was Oliver (since that WAS the name that was written on him when he came to us last year), but Ryder has told me that his name is Chikit. So we love Ryder's fun with names, and his friends young and old just go along with it.

And then, yesterday, in Barnes and Noble, Ryder was in the children's section playing with a train set. There was another child playing, and his grandparents were there. I was around the corner looking at books, but I could see and hear Ryder. Some other people came up, and they began talking to the other little boy and Ryder. They asked my son what his name was, and very seriously, and very clearly, he responded, "Batman." They didn't really know what to say. I just stayed around the corner, waitingforBatman to say goodbye to his new friends while I laughed at my very own beautiful little super hero.
(TOP PHOTO: At Grey's party two years ago. Ryder wasn't so interested in being Batman and wearing Batwings there. BOTTOM PHOTO: Ryder is playing with ToffeeToffeeYAY! the leopard and Nerniesinger the caterpillar. These toys are the origin of the incredibly awesome, but not so well known, band ToffeeToffeeYAY! and the Nerniesingers. This picture was taken by Denise Skelton (

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Cahoots with the Portertown Family

I love the phrase "in cahoots." I know it's not so very much popular anymore, but I think it may make a comeback. Particularly around our family and friends. I think the Alpha Chugga Milka boys may bring this particular term into popularity. (I'm including Ry in the frat, even though he doesn't have the frat boy look. I'm hoping he gets in just by being friends with the cool kids. For more info, see Jonie's post Alpha Chugga Milka for Life in my blog list.)

When Ry was the age of just walking pretty good, and Cam was 8 months older than just walking pretty good, Cam was in a vacuum loving phase. Vacuum cleaner=best toy ever to Cam. Not so much to Ryder. The boys had been playing in Cam's room, but suddenly were quiet. So of course, quietness has to be checked on because two little boys and quietness surely means some kind of trouble. We open the bathroom door, and Camden has somehow wiggled and maneuvered and coaxed the vacuum cleaner out of its spot in the bathroom closet and he and Ryder are in the bathroom, door closed, playing with the vacuum cleaner. In diapers, and in cahoots.

I suppose Mannienewt is part of Alpha Chugga Milka, too. Maybe he's the mascot. The whole Cam throwing the very patient and very invisible pocket squirrel over the fence story shows more evidence of the boys being in cahoots, but it's not only Cam and Ryder who play together with the imaginary squirrel. At Camp Wetoga, Carter and Ryder were playing catch with Mannienewt across the breakfast table. Usually throwing things at the breakfast table is not allowed, but I suppose Mannienewt will have to learn to run and hide if he doesn't want to play catch with the boys at breakfast. So, even though Carter just turned two, he is very much in cahoots with the boys.

Ryder has been in the three year old Bible school class with Camden for a couple of months now. Cody gets this report when he picks Ryder up for class (following story as reported by Cody:

"Cody, what is your last name? I just went blank in class and could not remember."

Cody tells Ms. Teresa our last name.

"I couldn't remember your last name, so I asked Ryder. He said your last was Portertown. I didn't think that was right, but I just couldn't remember it, so I asked Camden what Ryder's last name was, and he said it wasPortertown, so I thought maybe I had just completely forgotten." I must admit that I don't keep many of Ryder's creations, but I think the Bible school paper with the title "The Portertown family" will have to be saved. So, I love the ways these boys play together. I just hope that their episodes of being in cahoots stay so funny and innocent! I love not knowing what to expect while waitingforRyder....Portertown :)

(And by the way, I have now used the phrase "in cahoots" so much that I'm really starting not to like it. My apologies if you are now supremely annoyed by the phrase. I am just now realizing that it is only fun in small doses :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Introduction to Shakespeare

In my former life as a freshmen English teacher, I spent about six weeks a year introducing my 100 or so kids to Shakespeare.

In my current life as a mom of the most fabulous three year old, I was told that Ryder introduced my mom and dad to Shakespeare.

I loved teaching my freshmen Romeo and Juliet every year. I was shocked that the Shakespeare unit would become one of my favorites. There are so many difficulties teaching Shakespeare to kids with literacy skills that are overall (for the most part) quite unimpressive. But after a couple of years, I anticipated the groans of anxiety when I told the kids we were going to start the Romeo and Juliet unit because I knew that by the end, they were going to LOVE this story. So maybe most of them never left discussing the advantages of free verse and iambic pentameter, and I'm sure they did not realize how heartbreakingly beautiful the images and wordplay and characters were, but they were so with me on making fun of traditional romantic hero Romeo.

I loved watching the kids rush in to class to sign up for parts and watching the boys fight to read Juliet's part, because every year in at least one class, I had a group of boys who thought that reading Juliet's part was funny. Different kids every year (well, mostly, I had a few who loved me so much they came back for seconds of the same class :); same responses to Shakespeare. And the end...oh, the end, when we were all just over it, and ready for fickle, sissy, whining Romeo to just die in the most tragic of death scenes, and the kids would be realizing how useless the deaths were, and lamenting the decisions the characters had so quickly made to be brought to the tombs. And of course I loved that after we had read, discussed, interpreted, dissected, and then reassembled the story, and we would watch the movie, I would always have at least a couple of kids who would be yelling at the TV, "No, don't drink it....she's NOT DEAD!" (The first experience I had of this was watching it with Jonie when we were teenagers, but Jonie did not KNOW that they both died before watching the movie. Imagine how sad the movie is when you don't know they both die). So, before I started teaching, I loved Shakespeare for his beautiful writing and timeless stories, but now my reasons that Romeo and Juliet will always be one of my all-time favorite stories are reasons such as Ashley, and DeMario, Jessica, and Justin, and many other similar names.

But as much as I loved introducing those kids to Shakespeare, my best teaching efforts were no match for Ryder. He was sitting on our front porch with Mom and Dad, and Shakepeare (our furry, gray and white, neighborhood wondering version who meows in perfect iambic pentameter) came to visit. Ryder said, "Granna, this is Shakespeare," and then, "Shakespeare, this is my cousin, Granna." Ryder totally understands Shakespeare, but we may need a lesson on grandmothers vs. cousins :)

So, Ryder really loves Shakespeare, the wandering cat, and this is huge because he used to scream and hide and be terrified of cats (just ask Hokey, Kyle and Kellee's cat). He has full conversations with Shakespeare. I overheard him talking to him the other day: "Jonie's coming over here. Do you like Jonie, Shakespeare? (Meow...he is a very talkative cat). You do? I like Jonie, too." I asked Ryder after one of his conversations with Shakespeare who his favorite pet was, and he said Shakespeare was. I was feeling bad for faithful Aprilia, who has so patiently allowed Ryder to climb over her since he was born, so I asked, "What about Aprilia?" Ryder looked at me like I had just asked the silliest question ever. "Aprilia's my friend, Mom. She's my buddy." (Ryder really does have real, live people friends for those of you that are concerned about these friendships with cats, dogs, and imaginary squirrels).

And finally, Ryder does know about the playwright and poet Shakespeare, and that he is different from the cat. We can ask Ryder who whe writer Shakespeare was, and Ryder will reply "Milliam Shakespeare." And then when we ask what he wrote, Ryder quotes the witches from Macbeth (sort of). "Bubble, Bubble, toil and trouble. Fire burn and called him TROUBLE!" (And he laughs because he knows the last word is bubble.) He's known these lines for about a year now, because that is what I say to him every time I put bubbles in his bath. I know that it's not something that every mother does, but I thought I was introducing him to Shakespeare in a sweet and cute way. However, I never knew in all the years I planned lessons to introduce Shakespeare to kids, that I would be waitingforRyder to introduce Shakespeare to us.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Camden and Ryder Through the Ages :)

"It takes a long time to grow an old friend." -John Leonard

"The language of friends is not words, but meanings." - Henry David Thoreau

"Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried; Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel," -William Shakespeare

Protecting Your Pocket Squirrel (from your BFF :)

This story comes from Jonie. I wasn't there. There is much sadness in not being there. I would have loved to see this exchange between our boys, but I missed it. I am reasonably sure that writing it will be nowhere near as funny as Jonie telling the story even, (Jonie is REALLY very funny) but I will write it anyway.

Jonie was sweet enough to keep Ryder for us while we (by we, I really mean Cody :) put down hardwood. She had the boys at the pool, and Ryder (who does really like to "swim" now, by the way) starts to go up the stairs to the porch.

Jonie: "Ryder, where are you going?"
Ryder: "To get Mannienewt."
Jonie: "No, you don't need to go to the porch. Just tell Mannienewt to come down here."
Mannienewt was a very good pocket squirrel, and he obeyed.

Ryder: "Camden, do you want to see Mannienewt?" and Ryder holds out his hand to show Cam Mannie.
Camden: "What is it?" (Imagine his expression. I think Mannie was hiding behind all the air in Ryder's hand).
Ryder (incredulous at having to explain): "He's my squirrel."
Camden (shrugs his shoulders): "Oh."

Then Camden grabs Mannienewt and power throws him as hard as he can. (OOOhhhh, can I say how much I would have love to have seen this.)

Ryder starts running to get Mannienewt, and Camden says, "You can't get him. I threw him over the fence."

Jonie intervenes, not wanting to go over the fence to get Mannie, and tells Ryder to tell him to come back to him.

Mannie comes back to Ryder and Ryder puts him safely back in his pocket.

Ryder asks Camden: "Do you want a cow?"
Camden: "Sure." (Goes to put cow in his pocket, but realizes he doesn't have a pocket, so he puts the cow down his shorts.)

So now, Mannienewt, pocket squirrel, has company in Ryder's pocket. His friend, Cowsang, pocket cow, usually is with him. I think Ryder keeps Cowsang around in case he is expected to share one of his pocket animals with a friend :)

Disclaimer: Details of this story may be a bit off as I wasn't actually present at the time. (But I'm sure that all the parenthetical asides make up for the inaccuracies.) Jonie can help if you are confused. She is really talented with boys and pocket squirrels and imitating the throwing of Mannie over the fence. (And no worries, Mannienewt wasn't hurt :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

For Loving Memories of Mannienewt

Mannienewt running down Ryder's arm

Mannienewt, the pocket squirrel, passed away on July 12, 2010 due to unknown causes. When not living in Ryder's pocket, Mannienewt resided at 890 Yorthsite. A picture of his house can be seen on the trivet given to Cody and Kristy by the Rowley's as a wedding gift. Mannienewt came to live with Ryder's family a few months ago,

Closeup of Mannienewt

and spent most of his time with Ryder. Mannienewt had a troubling history of going outside by himself, going in the road, or getting up from the dinner table before everyone was finished eating. He spent much time in timeout and being disciplined by Ryder. His favorite activities were going down the slide at Deer Park with Ryder. Mannienewt was often left behind, but Ryder would diligently go ALL THE WAY back down the stairs to pick him up, and then climb back up the slide, so that Mannienewt could go too. Mannienewt also liked to go fishing and to be thrown in the water at Papa and Granna's house. Mannienewt was a good friend to Ryder and was always there when needed. Ryder informed many of Mannienewt's friends that he was sick at the 4th of July part at Tommy and Brittany's house. We had no idea his illness was so serious, and many friends were saddened when Ryder informed us that "Mannienewt is dead." Services for Mannienewt have not been arranged yet, but....oh...wait...Mannienewt is in your pocket, Ryder? YIPPEEEE!!! Nevermind, friends, Mannienewt is NOT dead!!!! That crazy Mannienewt. He's just waitingforRyder to open the door and let him back in :)

Ryder telling us "Mannienewt is siiicckk."
(with classic Ryder wink expression)

Pictures of Mannienewt by Denise Skelton ( Not just any photographer could get such great pictures of a very tricky squirrel like Mannienewt. Thanks, Denise!

Monday, June 28, 2010

These are a few of my Favorite Things

Many mommies weep over the idea of their babies getting so big so quickly. While I hated when "upbo" became simply, boringly, ordinarily "up," and I must admit that I was a little sad when Ryder first actually said "W" instead of just wiggling, and I do really miss hearing Camden being called "Oh Wow!," overall, I really, truly LOVE watching Ryder grow. While I wasn't so much a huge fan of the infant stage, the toddler stage is exciting and funny and interesting (and now he can feed himself, and go potty, and tell stories, AND he still loves to cuddle with his momma!). Here is a list of Ryder's favorite things today, in his words:

Me: "Who is your best friend?"

Ryder: "Camden"

Me: "Who else?"

Ryder: "Drake and Carter"

Me: "What is your favorite color?"

Ryder: "Orange and Blue"

Me: What is your favorite movie?

Ryder: "Frosty"

Me: What is your favorite song?

Ryder: "Blue and orange color song" (I don't really believe this since he is currently constantly singing "Booster, Trust and Obey, Sea of Galilee, Are You Washed in the Blood, and Old McDonald", but that is what he said.)

Me: What is your favorite letter?

Ryder: "W" (This I believe :)

Me: What is your favorite word?

Ryder: "O-W-E-N" (all spelled out)

Me: What is your favorite book?

Ryder: "Rudolph...I need to go to Kellee's and read Rudolph." (So apparently, his favorite book is one that is at the Gilpin house).

Me: What is your favorite thing to do?

Ryder: "Ride with Jonie!" (Yes, very true. He will wake up asking to ride with Jonie :)

Me: Where is your favorite place to go?

Ryder: "Jonie's house"

Me: What is your favorite toy?

Ryder: "My green tractor."

Me: What is your favorite food?

Ryder: "French fries."

Me: What is your favorite restaraunt?

Ryder: "Cracker Barrell"

Me: What is your favorite shirt to wear?

Ryder: "My Ry Ry don't like sand shirt, and the hippo shirt, and the soccer ball shirt." (He asks to wear the Ry Ry don't like sand shirt EVERYDAY.)

Me: Who is your favorite dog?

Ryder: "Aprilia....and Ricos"

Me: What is your favorite animal?

Ryder: "Cows"

Me: Who is Mommy's best friend?

Ryder: "Daddy"

Me: Who is Daddy's best friend?

Ryder: "Mommy"

I love waitingforRyder to answer a question because I really never, ever am quite sure what he is going to say. I'm sure the list of favorites will change, but for right now, I love knowing the things that Ryder loves most!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ryder's Daddy

Cody didn't get to panic when we found out that we were going to be parents. Perhaps he wanted to, but that just wasn't possible.... because I had already claimed that role. Instead he got stuck in the supporter, comforter, encourager role...a far less appealing role at a time of such crisis as realizing there was a tiny hearbeat growing inside of me that would present itself to the world as a BABY that I would have to take care of. A CHILD I could handle, but a BABY, a non verbal, non mobile, non funny BABY.....

It was a Friday, and it's just one of those days that I remember pieces of very vividly. I remember leaving school just to go back in and ask the teacher across the hall where exactly I needed to go to get a pregnancy test.

I remember looking at the tests in the drugstore, and scoffing at the idea of paying more to get a test that said "Pregnant or Not Pregnant." (I went back that night and purchased two of those :)

I remember NOT EVEN waking Cody up when I took the test because I was SO sure that I would just tell him after it was negative.

I remember calling a friend and asking what a very, very faint line means. I remember opening the unused test to see if the test line was already a little pink.

Then I remember Cody walking sleepily into the bathroom, hugging me close, and after my listening to my serious questioning of the pink line validity, saying "I think this means we're pregnant."

So then, of course, we went to doctor's appointments, and kept our little secret for the standard three months, and decided on sweet and cute ways to tell everyone. Oh, that all sounds so sweet...too bad none of it is true...we IMMEDIATELY called our parents, Joe and Jonie, and several friends and blurted out the unlikely news that a baby would be here to greet us all in about nine months.

We were going to celebrate our new heartbeat with some friends at Cracker Barrell, and we were driving past the Food Lion intersection, and I am still panicking, and Cody says,

"We'll get to hear his first words, and see his first steps, and tell him his first stories. It will be exciting to watch him grow and learn, and you're going to be a great mom...." And if I knew that I would be okay, because my baby sure did have an amazing daddy to take care of him (of course at that time, I was insisting that it was a her) and his mommy. When I think about the day we found out we were pregnant, it it this moment that I think of. I hear these words, and I feel the support and comfort and peace that it brought at that time. These are lasting words to me, and how beautiful they are!

About nine months later, we had some trouble with the delivery, and Cody was there to take care of both of us. He would give me ice, and sometimes, he would even get a little water in the spoon where the ice had melted, and I KNEW that I was the luckiest wife in the world.

When you get married, you vow to be together in sickness or health, but that is sure to mean when you are both old. Here we were, almost two years after our wedding date, and Cody is having to help me stand up, help me walk all bent over, help me wash my me everything. I couldn't even tell him or anyone else how grateful I was for all that he was doing without combusting into uncontrollable tears.

Even after we got home, Cody changed every diaper for almost a month. He gave Ryder his first bath, and he would hand him to me and help me sit up to feed him at night. He fixed me supper, and walked my very, very slow walk up and down the cul-de-sac to let me get out some. When he had to go back to work, I cried everyday for a week because I didn't know how I would take care of Ryder without him. He always told me "I know you can do it. I know you'll be okay." And then he would call again after he had been gone about ten minutes to tell me the same thing.

It's almost three years later, but thinking about those early days seems like a different life. Ryder was a great baby, and he is a most wonderful child. He is funny, and quirky, and sweet, and so smart, and very beautiful-He is his daddy's boy.

Cody plays kayaking with him in the clothes basket, or makes up stories, or plays the guitar while Ryder sings. He teaches him, and hugs him, and wrestles with him, and disciplines him, and loves him, and he takes care of Ryder and his momma. He works hard so that I can stay home with Ryder, and he's provided us a beautiful home, and everything we need, and more.

I am so blessed to share my life with such a wonderful man who promised me, before we even knew Ryder, how exciting it would be when we were waitingforRyder to take the next step in his life. He was right in ways that neither of us could have expected. Thank you, Cody, for being a wonderful husband and a wonderful father to our precious son.
*Pictures taken by Denise Skelton (

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mudder's Day

Moms everywhere celebrated Mother's Day today. But not me. I celebrated something far more special than Mother's Day. I celebrated Mudder's Day.

The most beautiful blond headed, blue eyed boy to have ever come down the stairs from his sweet pirate nursery (that now has a big boy (toddler) bed), complete with messy sleepy hair and footie pajamas was so happy to announce to his mother "Happy Mudder's Day!" He was holding the hand of his so very handsome daddy, and we were not even running late. *Morning Bliss*

That very handsome husband had thought to get a card that was made just for me: it had a spelling joke (he knew I was such a nerd and yet married me anyway :) *True love*

Two striped ties later, we were in the van heading to Bible class on a beautiful day in a beautiful place with my beautiful boys. Ryder's hair wasn't even sticking up. *Perfection*

The first words I heard when we got close to Ryder's Bible class were sweet Carter's voice asking for "Ry Ry," and I got to hug my own beautiful Momma who helps teach Ryder and Carter's Bible class. I remember Mom reading stories to us from a Bible storybook that is an image in my memory. Daniel in the Lion's Den is always the page I see when I remember that book because that was always my favorite, and now my mom is there teaching my boys (I share Camden and Carter :) those same stories every Sunday morning. *God's plan*

I was able to sing to my Savior and worship God the Father who as Jeff preached, shows His children the compassion of a mother, with my family all together (we were missing Papa Bear and Gigi, but knowing that they would be back later in the day made them seem not so far away while they spent the day with Granny Bill). Joe's mother was with us, and having Nana sit with us adds joy upon a time of joy. *In truth and spirit*

After services, we were able to add Granny to our group of mothers, and we all went to Tako Yaki to eat at the habichi table. My Granny and Papaw are tangled up in so many of my favorite childhood memories, and I am so thankful that she is a part of the boys' childhood since so much of my childhood was shaped by time with her and Papaw. We even got to share the day with an aunt and uncle we don't get to see very often. *Precious memories*

Unfortunately, Ryder decided that the show put on by the habachi chef was a little too high thrill for him. He tried to escape the scary vent (I don't like that vent!) and the volcano flames (I no like that fire!) by several trips to the potty. Last time we went, he was interested and fine, but this time was a little much for my not-quite-the-daredevil son. His report of the dinner: I cried because I don't like that vent. Well....that's my Ryder....*shrug*

Ryder's terror of the vent was replaced by his current favorite pasttime: riding with Jonie! So off with Aunt Jonie and Uncle Joe and Carter he goes to Papa and Granna's new house on the lake. The house is getting close to completion, and it is gorgeous. Ryder loves playing on the porch, and he was happy to talk about the trees and the sticks and the scary vent and the terrifying fire and butterflies and Mannienewt his imaginary squirrel. *Happiness*

A short not-a-nap later, we were back with our East Side family for evening services. We then went to eat with friends and returned home with to an evening of hide and seek with Aprilia. The game works pretty well when I hide and she and Ryder both look for me, but then Ryder decided that he needed to hide with me and let Aprilia find us. He is the worst hider ever. He laughs and moves and giggles and talks, and then springs out as soon as Aprilia comes into the room. He thinks it's fun anyways, and laughs like a maniac, and well, Aprilia didn't complain about it or tell him how bad he was at the game :) At some point during my Happy Mudder's Day, my son's hands turned blue. Don't know exactly how or when it happened. Don't know exactly or even roughly what caused the blue of Ryder's hands, but it's something that is stronger than two rounds of Dial soap. *Mysteries*

I'm now spending the rest of my Mudder's Day in a quiet, still house. Cody said he was sorry that he didn't have a present for me today, which was my choice because I picked out cushions for my porch chairs and got a quilt for my bed recently (and they are so pretty and covered with flowers!). What presents could compare with a Mudder's Day spent as a granddaughter, and a daughter, and a Mommy? What Mother's Day present could come close to an arm hug from a blue handed little boy telling me Happy Mudder's Day as we hide not so quietly while we are waitingforAprilia to find us cuddled under a blanket in his night night room? I may spend my life waiting for Ryder, but today I wasn't waiting for him at, I was just enjoying being a very happy Mudder. *Blessed am I*

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Precious in His Sight

I sat with butterflies in my stomach Sunday night as I sat waiting for Ryder's turn to lead a song during worship service. Ryder was third, after Grey and then Camden. I have not been that nervous in such a long time. It was a crazy, unexpected feeling. I always love watching the kids lead services, and sometimes you can tell the kids are nervous, but I really never, ever thought about the mother's being nervous. I expected to be proud, excited, joyful, but I didn't get where the nervousness was coming from.....until AFTER....

Yes, AFTER services, AFTER Camden and Ryder had walked up to the pulpit, climbed the step stool (stoodle, as Ryder would say :), led their songs (and Cam said his verses), climbed down and came back to sit with us with a big hug. AFTER it was all over, I finally realized why I was so nervous.

I had willingly, knowingly, and purposefully allowed my TWO year old to walk by HIMSELF up to the pulpit in front of everyone (and we were at Central, so it wasn't even our home congregation) during worship services-a time meant to be respectful, with a MICROPHONE, where he was SUPPOSED to sing loud enough for everyone to hear, and the closest adult was not in INSTANT grabbing distance (although John was very close, and he is VERY good with kids), and then Ryder was once again was supposed to walk by HIMSELF back to me. At that point, I realized that ANYTHING could have happened.

ANYTHING. I will name just a few that I thought: He could have ran across the other side of the pulpit screaming, or happily began Old McDonald, or decided to not come back down after realizing he was finally up at the pulpit instead of quietly on the pew beside me. And that doesn't even include the not-bad things such as getting scared and crying or leading "Jesus Loves Me" instead of his song or just going blank.

No wonder I was nervous! I had given away control of my baby, but I just didn't realize what I was doing. I'm just happy that I realized WHY I was so nervous AFTER he had done such a sweetly perfect job of leading his song. And it really was sweetly perfect. Because right now, it doesn't matter what his voice sounds like with the tune, or if he skips a word or jumbles red and yellow together. The little baby voice proudly proclaiming that Jesus loves all the children of the world just lets you know how very true that is, and how very meaningful it is. Hearing Ryder sing those words, even when he is not at the pulpit, puts the picture to Jesus telling his disciples, "Let the little children come to me."

So next week, the boys will be leading services at East Side. I have no idea if I will be nervous or not, but I do know that listening to the girls lead the women in songs and prayer and lessons, and then hearing the boys lead the worship service lets us know why we should be as little children. I am so proud of all our kids, and so thankful for the leadership at East Side that makes it a priority to give our kids, our babies, a chance to become leaders, to write the word of God on their hearts, and to develop their own faith, from which we ALL can learn.

I've watched Ryder playing on the pulpit for two years now from crawling to jumping, but I never expected that I would be sitting and waitingforRyder to walk himself up to the pulpit, and lead the congregation in a song, all by himself, and do such a perfect job so soon.

(Picture from VBS last year. Thanks, Brittany, for the picture of this gorgeous boy :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Recommended Bloggy Reading

I was working diligently on my blog a few weeks ago ( REALLY I was looking for new backgrounds on a new site, which I spend ridiculous amounts of time "trying on" for my blog. Time may be better spent actually writing...but trying on backgrounds is like shopping from the couch, without spending money, without realizing that you no longer even come close to fitting in size ____, without having to consider age appropriateness, AND it isn't as messy as redecorating, and you can have a blog makeover in just a few I guess it's obvious I'm a big fan) Okay, now that I'm through with my digression, I was working on my blog, and I clicked on a link to a featured blog called Two Shades of Pink.

Jessica's blog is a fun mixture of useful, insightful, playful, and random. Perfect for my blogging tastes. She writes about the joys, the struggles, the life revelations, and the realness of being a mommy, and she digresses a lot, which I personally like since I also tend to meander around the point of my intended posts on a shamefully frequent basis. She is also very crafty...not shady and sneaky, although that may also be true, but crafty in that she can do amazing things with glue guns and pretty paper and ordinary objects, rather unlike me, so she gives lots of fun ideas.

So, now I'm going to avoid sharing the joys of being a mommy with you since my current joy involves taking care of a pretty potent diaper, and advise you to make a new bloggy friend.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Ryder's naptime/bedtime ritual:
*Sit on potty... this may or may not result in producing anything potty worthy
*During potty time, Mommy is asked to sit on bath tub, close door, sing songs (which Mommy always does for a little while because the cuteness of Ryder singing is almost irresistible)T
*Wash our hands...even if we've just gotten out of the bath tub
*Change diaper and into pajamas if we need to
*Pick up heavy, huge baby, and rock him while sing songing together "Oh, Baby, Baby"
*Cover up Ryder, tuck blankies under his feet, cover him with blue blankie on top
*Say our prayers...and we are thankful for so many things depending on what has been going on or is in line of sight....Mommy, all our b'essings, doors, Jesus, church, pants, shirts, jackets, socks, shoes, a list of friends and families, and even once pee and poop
*Give big hugs, and little hugs, and big kisses, and little kisses
*Turn out the light, shut the door, while calling out sweet dreams, and love yous, and more hugs and kisses in the morning/when you get up

Mommy's ritual:
*About halfway down the stairs, a small victory dance and a big sigh that I hope NOONE ever sees.

He is the best, sweetest, most wonderful child, and still I feel like I have accomplished feats of unusual bravery, cunning, and heroism EVERY time I put him to bed. And it's not like he's even asleep yet.....I get a few minutes of listening to second prayers or songs or conversations until he falls asleep all by himself. I guess part of my ritual is also listening to those sweet baby words as I'm waitingforryder to go to sleep in the blessed stillness and peacefulness of being a Mommy who knows that naptime/bedtime is FINALLY here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The W Christmas

Due to the screaming, crying, and general uncontrollable sadness that Santa brought to Ryder's young life last year, we started talking about Santa early this year. Ryder has been watching Frosty all summer in Papa and Granna's van, since it became a favorite of Camden's last Christmas (and the idea of only watching a favorite movie one month out of the year is just obviously absurd), and I held Ryder, and talked him through Rudolph to maintain his interest. So with the help of the appearance of Santa on Frosty and Rudolph, we were able to convince Ryder that Santa was really very sweet and nice, and an overall good friend to have.

Before going to see Santa, I asked Ryder what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. I expected: a ball, a train, a car, a book, a game, a ...fill in the list of normal 2 year old boy toys. I heard a ball as the answer one time, however, every other time Ryder was asked, he said, "a W!"

We visited Santa when he was at the Cleveland Mall, and Ryder sat with him, without screaming or crying, and talked to him, and asked him for a W. Apparently, he surprised Santa because Cody heard Santa say, "a W?"

So Santa had many friends help him look for a W, since his elves had not prepared to make a W. There were suggestions made on Facebook, and an elf must have visited Papa Bear's shop because a handmade wooden W appeared during the gift exchange at Papa Bear and Gigi's house, and Jeff (friend, preacher, and Santa's helper) even played Santa with a phone call when he spotted a W while out shopping. Santa found: a W notepad, a W magnet, a wooden train with an engine, a W car, and a caboose for us to paint together, and with Aunt Jonie's help, a W shirt for Ryder's favorite bear. Santa also threw in a Mr. Potato Head, the Word Factory DVD, a puzzle, balls, some crayons, markers, and notepads (for writing Ws, the only thing Ryder wants to color, of course :), and a few other toys.

Ryder's response to his Ws? "LOOK, it's a W...(turn it upside down)...and a M!"

Cody and I have always loved the season of Christmas, but never more than when we were waitingforRyder to wake up and share with us blessings that are sometimes overlooked, such as Ws.....and Ms.....and Ws.......and.....