Thursday, September 26, 2013

little lyla

i love nursing lyla. i don't love newborn nursing. i like it. but i don't love it. it's every three hours or less and you feel like their is no reprieve from it. but now 3-4 times a day feels relaxing. no matter what i get 10 minutes, with ocean sounds, lights off, just the two of us. i enjoyed nursing ava as well. it was cut short a bit when i got sick, so i seem to think about it a lot more now because at this point in ava's life she was on formula (which is totally great. every family needs to do what is best for them and the baby). i believe i cherish it more now with lyla because of how quickly is ceased to exist with ava. it's a special time for just her and i. i am thankful for it because i can often miss the small things. i can move through the day a little quicker than necessary and miss really being with my kids.

justin put together lyla's birth video last night. i remember how fragile and beaten down i felt that day. nervous for the jumbled mess she was being born into. two heart broken parents. (justin's dad passed away this past christmas. unexpected and quickly). i don't think we realized how unsettled and shaken we were at the time of her birth until we've looked back. a time of grief compounded with a time of joy. i listened to myself on her video talk about ava and how much i love being a mom. but i realized that my love for being a mom tends to get jumbled up with yelling and shortness and frustration and annoyance and fatigue. all usually valid. i am not trying to be super mom nor be perfect nor pretend i have it all together. but i felt convicted as i watched myself on her video. do my girls see how i deeply i love them? how proud i am to be in their lives? to spend each day with them and be a part of nearly all the firsts they will have? i don't wanna miss this. time passes quickly and i do not want to miss this time. this is not stemming from guilt. life can cease to exist as it was meant to be if we sit in our guilt. or play the comparison game. that gets us no where and it only makes us feel bad about ourselves. that not my heart nor what i want. but i found as i watched a healthy conviction rise to the surface...i do love being a mother. that is true. is it not always fun and not at all. but do my girls see in my actions and words that my love for them can not be measured nor put into words. do they know that? will they tell others someday that their mommy loved them hard and deep? i hope so. because that is the desire of my heart that often gets sidetracked. i want the sincere love i felt so raw when i told justin hours before welcoming lyla into this world...i love being a mom. I LOVE BEING A MOM. now i want to act like it. not be fake. sometimes it's hard and exhausting. but so is work and relationships and life. but in the midst of the realities of life and what comes into our paths i will choose to say yes more and smile more and be willing to read one more book at bedtime. not every night. i wont say yes all the time. i will get mad. i will cry. i will feel overwhelmed. but i want to be quicker to breath and listen and wait. not react out of my own stuff or my annoyance or my short fuse. i will keep my eyes on Christ and pray that what flows out of me is more of Him and way less of me.

above lyla's crib is a picture of justin and i and ava. lyla is photographed far less. we are working on that. anyways it's a picture that my sister, sara, took of us before i got sick and lost most of my hair. i look at it everyday. multiply times a day as it's right above lyla's crib. yesterday i remembered the back story to this picture. the three of us were on our bed and ava was only 8 months old at this point so was moving a lot and it was hard to get her to sit still for a second. we were on our bed looking out the window onto the water at the river house and pop pop was wearing a too small life jacket and walking back and forth making funny faces trying to get her to laugh and sit still. she did sit still. he had done his job. we got a very special picture out of it all. i am thankful we took the time to do that. but then i got mad and screamed. i cussed. i do that sometimes. the grief of losing ted seems to display itself in waves. this moment didn't last that long. i almost sent justin a text and then sara but something stopped me. what if they are having a great day and not hurting for ted in this moment. i would hate to cause that. so instead i sat on the bed with lyla and told her about pop pop and gave her the back story of the picture. then it hit me that because ted is no longer with us...his life, his memory is now told through stories and back stories. i became overwhelmed with sadness that lyla will not know him personally and really hating that. hating that life often times is far harder than what we would prefer. i think it's our nature to desire to comfort. that is not a bad thing. but comfort is fleeting and rarely exists for very long. because i believe in a greater hope and eternal life i am thankful that one day i will live in permanent comfort and safety and joy. that is what i can look forward too and i am thankful for it. but in that day my heart was over taken by sadness. i often wonder will lyla always represent these extreme wave of emotion for me. i don't really know and i that's okay. i just know that i missed ted really hard in that moment.

lyla is laid back. she seems to only cry if she is sleepy and her poop is hard as rocks. that happened this week but it's taken care of now. i can't hold lyla or smile at her without falling more in love with her. she gave me the chance to be a mom again. another reason to remember how far from cancer we have come and the greater purpose i find in my life because i am here. she brings justin so much joy that he is ready for us to have another one. i am not at the same place as him so we will just continue to enjoy her. both the girls represent such different things to me. ava is my strong fighter who cares deeply for those around her. i think maybe her mom taught her those things in cancer. lyla is my laid back joyful spirit. i think maybe her mom taught her those things post cancer. cancer showed me i was stronger than i ever imagined i was and life during and after cancer taught me that regardless of what happens to is a choice. i want to choose joy everyday and lyla shows me that it is possible.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

school and teachable moments. for me and her.

since i am continuing to have a hard time with the ol' blog i thought i would do a little ryder family update. i am not sure why i am not writing. i think about it. i think about it a lot. not that i see this place as a "should do" or a "have to." that's a little silly considering i write on this blog for no other reason than to share my heart and our life and it's a great way to not forget stuff. but it's not like i am getting paid or signed a contract or anything like that. it's here and it's free and it's not going anywhere. no promises about when i will write next which has to be annoying if you follow our blog. it would annoy me because i get sad when the sites i read don't post for a while. but as we get into the routine of the fall and school and the hecticness and wonderfulness about young life i hoping to get into a nice little groove. whatever that might look like.

ava started school a couple weeks ago. two days a week she heads to school where her favorite part of the day is...recess. shocker. after her first day when i went to pick her up i asked her teacher, "how did ava do?" to which she said, "good. we had a good day." this is where i sometimes can't help myself but i need to learn to help myself. i ask, "anything we can work on at home or any concerns." side note: i guess i ask stuff like this out of my own insecurities about ava and her behavior and blah blah blah..she is a reflection of me and i can't control her and she can be loud and yell and not listen and sometimes push and sharing is not her strongest gift. i guess i asked that because i assumed she maybe had done one or all of the things i just noted. her teacher said, "oh, she just needs to learn the routine and how she can't go first all the time. but it's fine she just needs to get into the rhythm of school." ok so not that bad. she didn't say anything hurtful or mean. she just shared more because i asked for more. i wanted some details. but this is where i need to just stop. she had a good day...okay moving right along. because i am ava's biggest fan i was quick to read into it and think...oh, man she didn't listen and wanted to be first, etc, etc. but here is the thing i kinda just wanted her teacher to say something like this..."oh, ava she is smart and friendly and a leader and knows what she wants." i guess i wanted that. but i realized that maybe i shouldn't ask questions to which this 1st day of school momma whose heart is sensitive wasn't able to handle. i want my girl to flourish and grow and have fun...and all of those things are happening. but i need to lay down my own pride and my own...this little peanut is a reflection of me and our parenting and when she is gone at school i really have no control of what she does or how she acts. but this is good and right and normal. whatever normal is.

my girl doesn't have it all together and thank goodness because neither do i. my hope for ava is that she is able to grow and be her own person and be creative and mess up and learn and say sorry and forgive others. it can seem complex but really it's not. i am thankful for the spirit the Lord has given ava and the way she loves people around her and we are working on her sharp tongue when she screams, "no." but i am proud of who she is becoming and that i get a front row seat.

classic and kinda sad recess story. on the way to school this week i asked her who she was going to play with today. (i ask ava about school on the ride home every time i pick her up and she has already forgotten what she did that day so we usually just wait for her to share about her day at random times when she is ready). anyways, she shared this. "i was at recess and wanted to play with "michelle" and she said her group was too big and that i couldn't play. so i told my teacher and she gave me a napkin because i had a tear." my heart broke. into a million little pieces. her group was full? seriously. who has "groups" in pre-school and that girl is crazy to not bring ava into her "group" because if i may say so myself...she's the life of the party in my humble opinion. but this is where having two parents comes in real nicely because to be honest i hurt for ava. i hate that she felt left out and her feelings were hurt. i know it is not that big of a deal and i did not get all dramatic about it...i just think i realized that this was the beginning. the beginning of what life outside of our the home and in the home can look like. girls can be mean. i know because i was one. insecure and selfish and so desperate to fit in and be accepted that how i treated people in the process tended to get shoved to the wayside. but justin came in and encouraged her to ask someone else to play and make sure no one on the playground was playing alone and to ask "michelle" if she wanted to play today. try again. we reminded her that now that she knew what it felt like to be left out and how her own heart will be aware of that and how we want to play with everyone. always kind. never exclusive. i want her to know that meanness is not how we roll. to teach her that life is too precious to be mean. we never know what people are walking through...even at 4 years old. what is happening at home and behind closed doors. since we don't always know the whole story or any of the story sometimes...let's be a family that is about people. loving them. asking questions. sharing what we have. for ava maybe that is her favorite dress up clothes and for us it's opening our home and sharing a meal with people. we want to be about others and have a heart that is looking outward. inward is okay. but we don't want to be too into ourselves. i am thankful that because our little girl is strong and sensitive she can live both out in different ways. i am scared and honored to walk alongside her as we both try and navigate through it all. thankfully we are not alone.

i think life and parenting is all about teachable moments. with our kids, spouses, friends, family. discovering how can we be a light to one another...everyday.

(next post. lyla update. but for now...that open mouth smile. it's too much).

Friday, September 13, 2013

winner winner winner

Thanks for all the entires for the super cute monogrammed t-shirt by crystal faye.

We are heading to the beach this weekend with 100 or so young life leaders from JMU so this is quick.

Congrats Ally McConnell your new initials will look great. Email me at to claim your new shirt.

Don't we all love a nice monogrammed...well anything.

check out for more goodies.

Enjoy your weekend it's going to be a pretty around here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monogrammed giveaway

Dropping in quick today for a little giveaway from our sweet friend crystal faye...check her shop out at

Just leave a comment and you will be automatically entered to win your own grey t shirt with your personalized monogram. Enter. It's easy and everyone likes a free t shirt!!!