Tuesday, May 31, 2011

smith mountain lake.

justin and i both love the water. he grew up going to cherokee lake in ky and i grew up going to lake michigan. my grandparents own a home on the water and i have countless memories of spending many hours swimming, putt putt golfing with my grandpa, playing card games at the lake, and enjoying the beach. we ate good food too. justin talked about playing all day at the lake. never getting bored. there was always something to explore. as we drove over a bridge and saw a few docks of houseboats we realized yet again, how much we miss his dad's houseboat in ky and spending memorial day at lake michigan. living far from our families does not make it easy to spend weekends on the water like we did growing up. we miss it and we miss all of you. please know that.  but we still want ava to be around it and to love it like we do. thankfully we found out this weekend she does. running around the dock, going on boat rides, and playing on the raft in the water. she did not stop all weekend unless it was to sleep. she slept long and hard. but when that girl is up she is on the go and does not sit for more than a second. it made playing around the dock and near the water fun, but a little nerve racking too. thankfully we had her purple life vest and we never needed to test it out. she stayed close. but she is not scared. not even a little bit. she ran after the dogs all weekend. she even did a somersault down one of the steps to the water. it was almost like it was in slow motion. when i got to her she just laid there and looked up at me. not crying. not hurt. just seemed a little confused on what just happened. that's our girl. busy. brave. tough and adventurous.
 we were looking for "goldies." since one of ava's favorite food is goldfish crackers. she now calls all fish...goldies.
 sweet juanita. she is a cancer survivor too. she had leukemia when she was younger. twice actually. laura's cousin micheal is also a cancer survivor. he had it when he was young too. both their stories are amazing. they were so young and so strong. listening to juanita's story made me yet again realize how it could have been so much worse. i hope you know what i mean. juanita went through a lot. she wrote me a letter while i was sick. we had met a couple times at the lake. but when she came down to the lake and we were talking i actually did not realize it was her who had written me this lengthy letter and shared her heart. sadly it got lost in the mix of all the letters i had received. but once i realized it was her and put it all together i remember exactly what she wrote me. it was typed. it was long. in a good way. i sat in bed and read it and it's actually right on the middle shelf of my nightstand. its encouraging to be around fellow cancer survivors and hear their stories and how the Lord carried them through. reminds me yet again how we are not alone. cancer is not just in our story. but in hundreds around us. the three of us survived and it's incredible. 
uh-oh is our new favorite word. along with no. whenever anything. i mean anything is not as it should be we hear a couple uh-ohs from ava. her shoe fell off in this picture and uh-oh. spill her animal crackers on the ground and uh-oh. part of her popsicle falls on the ground and uh-oh. we hear it about fifty times a day.
momma is tubing. have not done that since college. ava was a little sad. but she had her aunt laura.
the last three remaining. i can't take too much credit. i was on the inside and its way easier to stay on the tube oppose to the outside. either way i didn't fall off.
 thanks guys for helping with the mulch. you all are so manly and tough. thanks justin for taking this last minute snap shot of Q. he did not want to miss out just because he was working in the front yard.
thanks guys for giving your lives away for the sake of Christ. leading young life in college is incredible to me. i am always so encouraged to see college students who get it. really get it. who could be spending the four years of college in a thousand different ways other than sharing Christ along with their lives with high school and middle school students. don't stop.
 avas godparents. thanks for loving her so well. she has great examples in the both of you. we are working on teaching her to say lala and iffy. maybe by assignment.
yay for new mommas. sarah (far right) you are looking so good and so natural at being brently's mom. sadly i did not get any pictures. but she is real cute. oh and carter you are a good dad too.
loves to have a popsicle in each hand. just like her red and green suckers.
it was a great weekend. relaxing. i mean sorta. after ava went to bed it was real relaxing. and even though people were sceptical of her sleeping in a dark work room...who slept from 7pm to 10am? ava did. little girl was exhausted. she literally did not stop moving from when she woke up to when she went to sleep. i like that though. as much as i feel like all i  do is follow and run after her all day. secretly i love it. i love that she is learning and exploring. i love that she is discovering this great big world and we get to introduce it to her. just remind of that when i am so too tired to move. that it's worth it. all of it. i was reminded again this weekend as i talked about cancer a little when people asked...how thankful i am. yet again that ava was not this mobile when i was sick. i would have missed out on so much. i know it. we would have needed more help. thank you thank you thank you that i did not miss this. the right now. the non stop i do not want to sit down for more than a minute unless i am eating a popsicle or a sucker stage of life. i am glad i am here. to take her on her second boat ride. to take her into the lake for the first time. to look for goldies. to take walks. to run after the dogs. even then they knock her over she can not seem to get enough. that's our girl. oh, our sweet ava. awesome weather. more food than you could possibly ever need to eat. great conversation and fellowship. i love this family and i love this place. thank you for welcoming the ryder family in. we feel so loved and cared by you all. you all began loving ava when she was inside my belly and you threw us a baby shower on the porch over labor day in 2009. agness, lizzy, and grandmom you rocked her and held her last memorial day when she was just four and half months old. she even got her first bath in the infamous henderson kitchen sink. we missed this past labor day and we all know why. but you prayed, sent gifts and letters. you loved us from afar. and now this past weekend you ran after our little girl, took her exploring, helped her play with the dogs, read her books, gave her cups to stack, gave her lots of goldies, hugged and kissed her. a lot. thank you thank you thank you. someone even told me this weekend that they liked how we parented ava. i think as a mom. especially a mom who stays at home full time and finds a lot of identity in being a mommy...best compliment ever.
thanks ava for making us a family and for doing amazing in the car on our five hour trip.
seriously. best kid ever.


  1. this is one of my favorite recent posts. you are such a great mom and love justin and ava so well!

    miss you guys!

  2. I swear Inara and Ava are SO similar. From their beautiful pouty lips, blue eyes, and short blonde hair to their personality. Whenever you describe Ava's personality, you describe Inara! Wish they could be buddies :)

  3. Hi Libby, You may have felt blessed this weekend, but so did we! You, Justin, & Ava blessed us. Your faith & trust in the Lord, your love for each other, & your sweet patience with Ava is inspiring. Being around you is such a special time! We love it when you come & we look forward to your next visit. We love you guys! Love & Hugs, Lee & Betty :)

  4. OMG, you were like 2 hours away from where we live!!! How cool. We live on the other side of SML. It's a great place to spend vacation and fun time with friends. I'm glad you and your family got a chance to relax and soak up the mountain sun!!!


  5. So fun. I had the chance to go to the lake house with Sarah when I was in high school. Love the Hendersons. They are the best. I am so thankful you are doing so well. Miss you all!

  6. hi libby. i am a brand new reader, maybe 14-15 minutes old. i found it on bloglovin, and when i saw it was primarily about cancer, i have to admit, i assumed it would be clinical, depressing, or fake-happy. it's none, it's simply so real. there is no pretense in what you express. also-we just left virgina after having been in lynchburg and charlottesville for years, and moved back home to none other than, michigan. small world.


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