Sunday, June 29, 2008


One of the highlights of our trip to Helen was my date with Mom. We left the kids and drove through beautiful country on a choose-your-own-adventure pottery shop hunt. We never intended to stumble upon Serendipity Stained Glass Shop, my favorite.

The owners were a delightful retired couple from, of all places, Central Florida. They'd been vacationing in Helen years ago when they stumbled upon the shop. The husband was inspired to take up stained glass. So he did. (An engineering and math teacher by profession, the puzzle aspect of glass appealed to his precise and meticulous nature...Any wonder why I love it myself?)

Every year they visited Serendipity. Every year as they drove away they'd muse, "Someday we'll take over that place." And so, as I'm sure you've guessed, the summer after he retired they drove up to find a For Sale sign out front. The story includes many coincidental and fortuitous twists and turns, but I wouldn't do it justice.

I felt such joy for this couple, who chatted with each other day in and day out as he worked on glass and she ran the business. They finished each other's sentences and read each other's thoughts. They were in it for the fun, so when we came in they dropped everything and visited with us for an hour, like old friends. They were spending their twilight years doing something they enjoyed as a team. Sweet.

Perhaps one day Paris and I will buy the shop from them. I can picture it, I really can.

Shoot, maybe I'll call and make an offer tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cinderella Shoutout...

I am so proud to be from Fresno right now.

After being seeded last in the NCAA World Series of Baseball the Bulldogs made it to the finals, in and of itself pretty amazing. Lost their first game. Down 5-0 in the second. Rebounded, then just beat Georgia (also Bulldogs) to take the title. Never been done in NCAA any sport.

We Fresnans are resilliant! It's good to be reminded.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Don't Even Want to Know...

Driving with the kids:

Ryan: Aah-choo!

Wyatt: Beh-Doo (Bless You)


Wyatt: Eeeeeewwwww!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lady (Me) and the Tramp - A.K.A. My Most Embarrassing Moment

I blame it all on Mom. And Walt.

Ryan family vacations always include some sort of attempt at music. 8-part singalongs around the piano, Irish tin whistles and Bohr ans, ORFF in the 5th grade, a miniature accordion, or her newest addition to the Ryan family musical instruments - handbells. I'm about to geek out - Handbells are so fun! You have to be on your toes, and it involves teamwork and communication in a way traditional choral music doesn't.

This trip's theme was Disney. Mom orchestrated a medley of 5 or 6 songs played by only 4 people. (Quite a feat, actually.) When we got the kids down we'd bust out the handbells. (I'm not making this up.) One of the standout numbers was the extremely catchy "Siamese Twin Song" from Lady and the Tramp. It took a bit of rehearsing, and as the timing is tricky we got in the habit of singing along as we played. "We are si-a-me-ese if you plea-ese...Purrrrrrrrrrrr."

Fast forward to our trip to the Georgia Aquarium. We'd been on our feet for hours and had yet to eat lunch. I was holding Ryan while the boys checked out the on site playground. I was in that state of consciousness where you find yourself staring vacantly into space, awake, but not really seeing or processing anything. It was in that condition I was repeating The Siamese Twin Song in my head over and over again.

"We are Si-a-me-ese if you plea-ese," I sang in the safe confines of my exhausted mind.

Imagine my surprise when I followed this line by actually purring out loud. Imagine my further surprise when, because of my exhaustion the purr lost all of its cuteness and came across a bit...sensuous. Imagine my mortification when I realized the exact moment I purrrrrrrrrred intersected with the exact moment a scantily clad woman finally noticed I had been staring at her.

To this poor woman, who was clearly seeking attention although I doubt I was what she had in mind, a strange lady holding a baby stared at her and waited to make eye contact before purring, sensuously.


The situation was far beyond explanation. All I could do was throw my head back laugh hysterically. I laughed so hard I started crying, which I'm sure did little to ease the woman's discomfort. She probably went home and made her blog private.

My Visit to Another World...

I have had a few people question "spaceykasey."

No joke. This week it took until about 3:30 in the afternoon for me to realize that was, indeed, Wednesday and not Friday.

And that my shirt was on inside out. It was a button-up.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Georgia Aquarium...

You can't imagine the joy our trip to the Georgia Aquarium brought. Especially for a woman who sincerely believed she would be a marine biologist until she was in high school. These photos don't begin to capture the majesty of the largest aquarium in the world.
Apparently the boys enjoyed it since they didn't look away from the exhibits long enough to get good pictures of their faces. I like the silhouette shots of the them dreaming of life under the sea better, anyway.
Atticus enchanted by the Beluga whales...3 of them!

You walk through an acrylic tunnel where whale sharks swim right over you, inches away.

The tunnel leads to the 2nd largest viewing window in the world; 23 feet tall, 61 feet wide, and 2 FEET THICK! The viewing room is so large they have mini stadium seating. I couldn't fit the whole thing with my camera lens.

Needless to say I was totally geeking out...How heavy is the acrylic window? How did they fuse the panels together? How did they transport it? How many pounds of pressure per square inch can it withstand? What would happen if it burst and 8.1 million gallons of water poured out? How could we evacuate the kids safely? And on and on.
The picture above perfectly captures the effect the place had on Atticus. With awe-induced schizophenia he was either stopped dead in his tracks or whirling off to the next exhibit.

I wondered how Wyatt would react. The only thing he didn't like was the 4-D theatre... Otherwise he adored it.
The penguins loved him. One kept coming over to him and "touching" him through the glass then running away. He and Wyatt played tag and laughed together for minutes. Other patrons even took pictures of the exchange. (My pictures are on Mom's camera.)
It occurs to me I rarely take pictures of the whole family together. I'm drafting a mental sticky note to start.
In my defense, I was pretty distracted.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Have Your Cheese Bread, and Eat it Too...

How do you make a celebratory cake for someone who despises sweets?
This question plagues me each year as Paris's birthday approaches.

Mom has had a few clever ideas:
1. Our wedding cake had a tier made from a sourdough bread filled with Spinach dip and frosted with Whipped cream cheese.
2. Shortly after we were married she got a hot, rotisserie chicken. 23 candles in a hot chicken? It wasn't pretty, but it was thoughtful!
This year I finally figured it out.
We made 32 Pao de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) balls.

They made a cute "cake" and offered the boys and I a thrill as we defied the laws of physics.
Best of all, Paris loved it. Happy birthday, sweetie. (Pun intended.)

I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home...

Yes, they've started a fan club.

Wyatt is President. He loves his Daddy above and beyond the call of duty. Today I was getting him off the trampoline and he saw Paris walking across the field toward us. Wyatt was so excited I scooped him up and started running toward Paris. Apparently I wasn't going fast enough because he wriggled out of my arms so he could run faster himself.

After 2 years of calling Paris Dah-dah, he woke up yesterday and called him Dah-Dee. This is a big step, and I think Paris loved it. His own personalized Father's Day gift!
And then there's Atticus - Thinks the sun rises an sets on Daddy. Perhaps because Paris tries to beat-box and says things like, "I got Mad Skillz." He filled this survey out for Paris in his Pre-K class.

One of the best things about Paris's sweet ride is that it doesn't have a muffler. Consequently, the boys can hear him coming from a mile away...literally. When the distinctive rattle of Daddy's car fades in the boys run outside and dance around in anticipation of DADDY! 60 seconds later he turns the corner. By then it's pure chaos.

Ryan isn't old enough to express it yet, but you can see it in her eyes. She's in love. She sits and stares at him with the sweeest grin.

I'm grateful for Paris, too. He's a devoted father in every way. And the beat-boxing cracks me up.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Paris

Happy Happy Birthday, Baby

I had fun digging through old photos of Paris to chronicle 32 years of "Mad Skillz." I particularly like the white Miami Vice suit, the FSU muscle shirt, and the one with Peter Vidmar. Not to mention the skateboards and the MULLET - we were meant to be!

Had to include the Senior Prom picture because the story makes me laugh...Paris ate bad seafood and got woozy. He passed out exactly as the picture was taken. His 4'10" date tried to catch him. Needless to say, decorative columns and plastic plants were injured in the making of this portrait. The one here is actually the retake. I'd love to see the original!

Happy Birthday to a wonderful father, hunky-hunk, sweet husband, and good man.

Bonus: In honor of Father's Day I found some pictures of Paris at

the approximate ages of our 3 kids...

No mailman involved here.

Ryan's Daddy

Wyatt's Daddy

Atticus's Daddy

Friday, June 13, 2008

What I Did for My Summer Vacation; A Photo Essay...

Way Down Yonder on the Chattahoochee. (I'm not kidding, Travis.)

Floating the river was a peaceful joyride, especially after Wyatt fell asleep. We even took Ryan down on our last day there.
We thought of Brittany as we worked on a puzzle similar to the mystery puzzle from Christmas. Dad and Paris even joined in, making it especially fun. And of course we had to do some chocolate research of our own!
We had bets going as to how many pieces would be missing. Paris won...11.

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Helenians are stingy with their water. You have to be persistent and pay a fee in restaurants. They blame it on the drought, not the rain.
(True story: heard that song on the radio yesterday. I was shocked.)

What would a Ryan Family vacation be without some additction. I alluded to the chocolate, but there was also Eli Stone and House of Elliot.
Here's where the river ran by our place. The rooms were tiny, but the grounds were immaculate. Absoluely beautiful!
Wyatt threw rocks in the river for hours.

Ryan's first dip in the pool. For Heaven's sake, we hope this girl will eventually tan! She basically glows. I had to buy a pair of sunglasses. She belongs with her cousins. (You know who you are.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

To Helen in a Hand Basket...

All right, maybe not a hand basket. But with 5 people, car seats, and gear for a week's vacation it sort of felt like it at times. Not to disrespect the Civic.

I love our 2000 Civic. It reminds me of the early years. Knowing we'd never buy a brand new car again, we splurged after graduating and getting our first "real" jobs. We went all over California and across the country in this baby...Camping, weekend trips, visits to friends'. So fun!

I think she is beautiful.

I had a depressing aha moment on the trip. Like the bleach blond, chain-smoking, leather-skinned 39 year-old who still wears skimpy bikinis suddenly realizing she's past her prime, I realized the Civ is also past her prime. She's got 165,000 miles! She doesn't purr like a kitten anymore. (The air-conditioner, in particular, has been screeching more like a cat in heat lately.) And she could use automotive microderm abrasion. So sad.

Anyway, the ride to Helen went as well as could be expected. We did rearrange car seats part way through so the boys wouldn't be able to "bother" each other. The result: they continued to "bother" each other, but Ryan (seated between them) caught some of the fallout.

We visited Zoo Atlanta on the way. We had a blast! And the result? Heavenly...See picture left.

So after a week of fun with Grandma and Grandpa we were dreading the drive home. Neither boy slept the entire trip. And they were wonderful! They read books, sang songs, and just played quietly. Felt a little Twilight Zone-ish. But we weren't complaining.
We rewarded them with a pit stop in Tifton, Georgia where they each got 1/3 of a Wendy's frosty. Yes, I'm cheap. :)

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Complicated Relationship with Readin' Rita...

We love the library. We enjoy picking out books, and the new Leesburg library is just too cool.

Atticus asks me regularly if we can go "rent" movies from the library. Compared with the $4 a pop fee at Blockbuster the answer is always a resounding YES!

Wyatt adores the puppet theater and bursts out of his shell. (When hiding safely behind the proscenium.) :)

Good Times are sure to be had at the Leesburg Public Library.

There is one thing, though...I inevitably frighten myself by forgetting that the bronze-cast statue on the bench in front of the library is, indeed, just a statue. This usually involves flinching wildly then walking quickly away while checking my blood pressure.

(A few weeks ago I stopped in one especially dark evening to pick up a book. Paris's car doesn't have a clicker, so I made an obnoxiously overt point of locking and checking the doors after noticing the shady character silhouetted on the bench. It was just the statue - not a mugger or carjacker.)

I decided to start calling her Readin' Rita - to establish a relationship of trust. Didn't work. She still startles me every time.

So you'll understand why today was an especially great library morning. Wyatt's puppet show was sheer genius, a book was waiting for me that I forgot I'd reserved, and I walked right past Readin' Rita without even flinching.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Field Trip and A Warning...

Warning: We just got home from a vacation with Mom and Dad in GA.
Okay, so that, in and of itself isn't really a warning. The warning is that I have got pictures and pictures and stories and stories to tell. And I will.

You see, I thoroughly enjoy looking at pictures of random families' trips to The Grand Canyon or photos of the guy-next-to-me-on-the-plane's grand kids. So I have no filter or social skills in this regard. (And if you stick it out you just may hear a mortifyingly embarrassing story...And I don't embarrass easily.)

But first I must tell about a delightful Sunday in Florida. The Sumterville Branch (Population: 50) hopped a charter bus and visited the Belleview Ward (Population: More than 50.) We were warmly welcomed by the ward and inspired by the visit! The building is beautiful, and it wasn't that long ago that the Belleview Ward was tiny like we are. Hopeful.

I was most touched by a poignant and well prepared lesson in Relief Society about the importance of personal prayer. I'm grateful for prayer and I know I'm heard when I pray. Could there be a better gift from a loving Father in Heaven?

On the way home from church Atticus said, "So, let's go on a field trip next Sunday too, okay?" :)