Rylan Michelle

Yesterday afternoon, I spent time sitting perched next to a window with the sun streaming in - holding a baby girl - visiting with her mama - drinking an iced black coffee from the bucks.  Talk about perfection.  

Lisa, the mama of sweet Rylan is my fourth grade teaching partner and we are more than coworkers, we are friends.  I truly feel as if we were meant to work together; it's just that kind of clicking.  And we laugh.  A lot.  Niels, the daddio of sweet Rylan is a fabulous guy.  He brings us chips, salsa, and unsweetened iced tea to work for our after school lesson planning parties.  That's a keeper.  He also comes and gets us when we have had too much fun on Fridays after work.  Again, he's a keeper.  Although, little Rylan has changed some of that fun this year, but only for the better.  

The evening sun was coming in the window beautifully so Lisa and I, on an impromptu whim, rigged up the boppy pillow on a bar stool to put Rylan in front of the window.  Then we both crossed our fingers she wouldn't slip off...no, I'm kidding.  We both stood guard.  Very closely.    

Let me tell you this.  Rylan is a doll.  Plain and simple.  Baby girl perfection.  A spur of the moment little photo shoot is no biggie to this one.  She's got it all figured out.    

A beautiful new life.  And she's going to be a spunky one.  I just know it. 


In Pictures

Whoooiee, what a week. 

Here's a little picture walk through it... 

I went on another business trip to a conference with six other people from our district.  One was my friend Karen who is also a teacher.  We have a really hard time acting normal together.  And sitting still.  Sitting still is almost out of the question.  Since we were the only two that wore sweatpants the morning we left, we offered to take the back back seat of the Ford Expedition for the eight hour trip to St. Cloud, Minnesota.  Then, we proceeded to try and act normal so the other five people would not think we were crazy.    

The whole acting normal thing lasted about ten minutes.  At which point Karen said, "This is like riding a donkey through the Grand Canyon back here."

When we stopped at the first gas station, Karen asked the guy in line behind us, "Do you have a cat in your truck with you?"  He replied, "No.  Not a cat."  I then piped in and said, "Oh good.  Because a cat is one letter away from being a rat and that is not a coincidence.  Not at all."

After getting back in the vehicle, one of the ladies we were with turned around to us and said, "Is this going to happen at every gas station?  I need to prepare myself if it is."  Then, Karen told her, "Yes, this one can be a bit embarrassing."  And the lady said back to her, "Which one?"  Turns out, we both can be a bit embarrassing. 

By about hour three, we had ourselves a regular old road trip going on.  Complete with Cenex coffee and cards.  There's nothing like playing Slapjack and Crazy Eights in the back back seat of a vehicle that will make you feel like you are a kid again.

And we did text the driver from way in the back back seat every once in awhile just to remind him that we were with him.  Didn't want him to feel left out. 

I packed my running gear but the only time it was used was to be my camera protector in my purse.  I figure good intentions for running while on a trip is better than no intentions.   

Once we arrived in St. Cloud, I declared to all of the people in the vehicle, "Well, I think we've known each other long enough now and have been through enough together that we should probably all share our deepest darkest secret."  They didn't want to do that quite yet so we went for pizza and wine instead.  It was the best pizza I've ever eaten.  So good that Karen asked our waitress to get the cook so she could give him a kiss.  It might have actually happened.  I will never say for sure.  

Then, we went and discovered that strangers in Minnesota love a good squeeze hug just as much as strangers in our town do. 

The next day was the conference and I put my glasses on and learned a lot about how to manage all of our data.  Afterward, everyone from the conference boarded a bus and went out for dinner together.  I've never been to a conference like that before.  Apparently the data people have something figured out.  A guy wrote me a note in some pretty fabulous looking handwriting.  The note was about my big brown handbag that is so large you can crawl inside of it, but still.  A note is a note.

There was amazing live music.  I love amazing live music. 

The next day, we went to the conference again and I put my glasses on again and learned a lot more about managing all of our data.  Then, we left to make the trip back home.  I forgot to turn in my room keys.   

In addition to packing running gear with good intentions, I also packed The Great Gatsby with good intentions to read for book club.  I was gone Tuesday through Thursday and book club was Friday.  I read as much as I ran while gone.  So late Thursday night, I spent a long time in my favorite chair ferociously reading.  I loved the book as much as I love book club and that's serious.   

My favorite quote:
He smiled understandingly -- much more than understandingly.  It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.  It faced -- or seemed to face -- the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.  It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression on you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.   

Those are some words. 

I guess the week of traveling wore me out.  When I was getting caught up from being out of my classroom and entering grades at my dining room table, I fell asleep sitting up with my glasses on my face.  I woke up with a head bobbing jump and then started to laugh because it reminded me of the time that Sister Pister fell asleep in her spaghetti.

On Saturday night I went out with some friends to watch the UFC fights.  This guy came over  to our table and said to me, "I've been staring at you all night."  My reply was, "You're scared of me?  Why are you scared of me?"  His reply was, "No, I've been staring at you."  My reply was, "Oh.  hahahaha."  And what I was thinking was -- this is creepy.  Then, he shook my hand to introduce himself, went to shake my friend's hand, knocked over an entire drink on my lap, and walked away without saying anything else.  It was perfect.  As if soaking me wasn't enough, he came up again after awhile and started trying to hug me.  I said, "You're not from here are you?"  I could tell from his accent.  Then, he proceeded to take a pocket knife out of his pocket and flip it open saying, "I'm from Sacramento baby."  Well, I guess girls in Sacramento like having a drink spilled on them and then a pocket knife pulled on them.  But, this North Dakota girl does not find that attractive.  I have such good luck with guys coming up to me.  I'm wondering if anyone knows someone to introduce me to that is not related to me or that won't write me a note about my handbag or that won't pull a pocket knife on me?  This streak has to end sometime.  

Today, a six mile run was in the plan and it happened.   Whoo!  And I visited my fourth grade teaching partner, her husband, and their new baby.  Of course I had to put that baby in front of the window and take some pictures.  More on that later.  She's a cute little bug.

It has been a week.  A busy, fun, and slightly odd week.  Here's the best part.  Tomorrow is the last day of February.  Peace out February.  I will not miss you.



A Gift

Let's see.  In December of 2003, I was a junior in college.  My life consisted of class, naps, papers, going out, road trips, shopping, studying...and not cooking.  Really, the normal college life.  So when I opened this present from Momma Debi that Christmas, I was all, "Cookbooks?  Hmmm.  What does one do with cookbooks?" 

At that point in my life, this was a gift that I knew would be a treasure to me someday.  But as a junior in college, when EasyMac was still an appropriate meal, it just wasn't there for me yet.  

Well, now I'm there.  These are truly a treasure to me.  They are a compilation of all of the recipes that my mom or dad have used for the past thirty plus years to feed us, their family.  There are recipes from every branch of my family tree, including great-grandparents and every recipe card was typed by Momma Debi with the name of the person who originated the recipe noted in parantheses.  Yes, all of those recipes from all of those different family members fed us the nourishment our bodies needed to grow.  But, I think more than that, those recipes are full of the love that nourished our souls.   


Momma Debi compiled and gave these recipe books to me and other family members out of love...it had to be out of love because I'm sure it was a serious amount of work to round up all of those hundreds of recipes, type them, and then organize them into books. 

And everytime I go to pull one of the books out of the cupboard, like last Sunday when I was making frosting, I feel like my mom is with me.  Right there with me, measuring and mixing.  There is a legacy involved in family and I am so very grateful that Momma Debi had and still has the foresight to know how to pass that legacy on to the next generations.    

Now that I've grown up past the days of EasyMac and naps and parties and homework, I feel I have capability to truly treasure that legacy and hopefully continue to foster it in my own life.     

I believe in the passing down of legacies and I can now say that I treasure those recipe books that were given to me when I was a junior in college without any kitchen utensils.   

Because each recipe is a mixture of my family. 


A Birthday Happy

The jury is in and...

I still have the frosting touch.  Even my brother, who is not quick to fill me full of sunshine said, "I guess this is alright."  And because he said that with a smile and then later on became seriously defensive of the leftover cake, I believe it was more than just alright.  I won't talk about the fact that my first batch of frosting boiled ferociously over leaving a sugary syrupy mess running down the front of my microwave and I had to make a second batch.  I won't talk about that part because at least the second batch was finger licking good. 

I will, however, talk about having a perfect day with family.  There is no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than just being with your family.  Just lounging around playing with laughing kids.  Just visiting and spending time with each other.  Cake crumbs on little faces make those moments even better.       

Figuring the walking thing out!  

It's pretty evident that Little Man loves his dad.  I guess he is a pretty fun guy, that brother of mine.  He's pretty fun because at his birthday party, he gave me a present.  And I forgot his present on my dining room table because of the whole frosting boiling over mess, but anyways, he gave me a present. 

It's a plaque for Student of the Quarter.  I never received that award from our high school.  He did.  Three or four times.  Sister Pister has.  Twice.  And she's only a junior.  But, me?  Not me.  I was never Student of the Quarter.  I do believe it had something to do with the fact that I liked to run my mouth and cause a ruckus.  So, when Brother found one of his many plaques, I guess he felt the need to fix it up for me so I wouldn't feel so bad about being the only sibling that was never Student of the Quarter.  He's so nice like that.  Or really, he probably just wanted to rub it in.  But, don't think I'm going to give that back to him either.  I'm leaving my name taped on and hanging that in my office.  Hey, an accomplishment is an accomplishment. 

At least Sil tried to make me feel better by saying that she was never Student of the Quarter either.  I guess we can be the rebels of the family together. 

Yes, a Sunday afternoon with family on Momma Debi's birthday is as good as receiving a plaque with a your name taped on it.   

Because it just doesn't get any better than some family time.  Especially when it includes Sil and Brother telling you, "The kids were doing weird kick things and throwing their arms around the other night and when we asked them what on earth they were doing, they said TWO FIST PUMPS AND A DONKEY KICK.  Then, when we asked them where they got that from, they yelled...AMY!!"

Well, that will make your day.  It sure will.