Thursday, January 29, 2015


Every morning at 7:00 am my alarm starts chirping, but I'm too tired to get up so I nudge my kid who appeared in my bed sometime after I fell asleep and tell him to "pass me my phone" and then I hit snooze.  It goes off again and I try really hard to get up, but my eyes are so heavy, my bed warm, and the air is too cold so I swipe open my phone hoping that maybe looking at some news or Instagram will wake me up or somehow magically inspire me to take the plunge to that cold world outside my bed.  No luck.  I fall back asleep until the alarm goes off again and maybe again until finally one of my kids gets really stressed out about being late and decides to get up (the other one couldn't care less about going to school: she's in the kitchen cutting paper while the rest of us sleep).  It still takes me a few minutes more.

We get dressed, grab some food, and head out the door where we find the car cold and dewy with its windows all fogged up. We don't have any time to waste waiting for it to warm up because we stayed in bed so long and we can't be late.  I used to have a windshield scrape-y thing somewhere, but I can't find it so I rustle around the center console and door pockets looking for something to wipe the windows with so I can actually see out of them.  I find a stiff wax paper kind of bag in the side of the door and use it to scrape the windows and mirrors.  I can't decide what to do with the wet, dirty paper so I stick it back inside the door pocket and get in.

Each day is basically the same.  The same reluctance to get out of bed, the same panic of my oldest child, and the same old, dirty, paper bag to wipe the windows.  I guess I just thought you might want to know...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Apples and Oranges

Every day at 2:15, I wait outside of school to pick up Caiden and Elliott.  Caiden comes out first and greets me with an over-the-top shout, "MOMMMMMYYYY!", her face lights up, and she runs full-force at me before throwing herself at my legs, sometimes jumping up and grabbing on to me.  She does this pretty much every single day.

Everyday--along with this brilliant greeting--Caiden presents me with a piece of fruit, in her typical nonchalant way (Caiden has two modes: over-the-top and nonchalant). "Here Mommy." as she thrusts a piece of fruit at me without really looking at my face.  I've tried to tell her that she doesn't need to take apples from school for me, but she doesn't listen.  Every day its the same: a green apple, "Here Mommy, I got this for you."  Maybe that's why I thought to write this today--today was different.  It was a mandarin today, which was kind of a shock after months and months of green apples.  I have green apples in my fridge, in my purse, in the pockets of Caiden's backpack, and driving home today I looked down and found one in the center console of my car. When I saw it there, I thought about Caiden; Caiden, who can be like a stone wall on the outside that hides a deep, deep well--a well that sends little green apples of love bobbing to the surface of its mysterious, unknown depths.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

21 Books from my 2014 Library

A friend of mine posted a list of books he had read last year and I thought, "Man! That's a lot of books!" and I immediately examined my own internal list which probably was like "0" or maybe "2".  I was ashamed to realize that I wasn't investing in reading books at all!  I vowed to change that so I decided to keep a little tally for myself and record the books as I read them this year.

For as far back as I can remember, I have been a competitive person.  I distinctly remember being about 4 or 5, sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter, peeling potatoes like a speed demon, and furtively stealing glances at my 3 years elder sister who was completely unaware of our "race" and was peacefully peeling potatoes on a stool of her own.  So, its not really shocking that my book list has become like a competition with myself and, alright, maybe its a tiny bit competitive with the size of my friend's list from last year.

Some books I've read are just silly "junk food" type books, some I have read with my kids, and some have been really good investments and uplifting books for my soul.  I'm a little bit embarrassed to dredge the caverns of my (reading) soul like this, but in the hopes of challenging you to read a bit more, too, here is my "so far" this year reading list…

Cryn's Books of 2014

1) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

2) The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger -- I really enjoyed this nonfiction account of this crazy storm.  It was interesting as a story, but also really informative about weather, sailing, and the sea.

3) Basic Christian,the Inside Story of John Stott by Roger Steer -- This was a very interesting and encouraging read about the life of one very influential theologian and pastor who has influenced many of the well-known theologians of our time.  This was an extremely ordinary man with the same struggles and conflicts as many of us.  His respect for his father in difficult circumstances, his ordinariness, his hobby of birdwatching and camping with friends, his diligent study, his patience and trust in God over controversies within the Christian faith were all very inspiring.

4) The Giver by Lois Lowry -- A classic, but not my favorite.  An interesting and quick read.

5) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom -- A story about saying goodbye and death

6) Holes by Louis Sachar -- Ok, this one is embarrassing to admit, but what can I say, I needed something to read and someone had given it to the kids.  Honestly, ever since Shia LaBeouf starred in the Disney Production of the movie, I was curious what this story was about.

7) Knowing God by J. I. Packer -- This was a tough read and took me a while, but it was a great book and I would definitely recommend it.

8) Bridges with Spirit by Adam Voith -- Random short stories. Meh.

9) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

10) Divergent by Veronica Roth -- I loved the movie, so I had to read the series.  Totally addicting teen book series.

11) Insurgent by Veronica Roth

12) Allegiant by Veronica Roth

13) The Maze Runner by James Dasher -- After my experience reading the Divergent series and having to wait for a copy from the library for forever, I decided to get a jump on the Maze Runner series before the movie came out in case I liked it.  It was ok.  I don't want to see the movie after reading the books.  Interesting story, but too gory and zombie like if it turned into a movie for me.

14) The Scorch Trials by James Dasher

15) The Death Cure by James Dasher

16) The Kill Order by James Dasher

17) The Privilege by Kay Smith -- A book about the privilege of being a pastor's wife.  Some good nuggets and some stuff to take with a grain of salt.

18) Peace Like A River by Leif Enger

19) Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller -- An illuminating read about the idols all of us collect, sometimes without even realizing.  This book has given me news eyes with which to view everything.  Where I once was blind to the subtleties of my and other people's idolatry, I am now much more aware and therefore equipped to deal with them. A super quick read.

20) The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller -- A beautiful and uplifting book about the parable Jesus tells about the TWO sons of a certain man and the failings of each son: the prodigal one and the one who stayed behind.  And how we often fall into the same trap as either of them. A super quick read.

Currently Reading: 21) Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Magical Pie Nightmare

This sounds so snobbish, but… I'm sort of against store-bought pie.  Its just really hard to bring myself to eat it.  One giant store-bought pie showed up at our house last week and Caiden kept bugging me to have some and here were my difficulties with that.  First, it was giant and I was imaging what would happen when I cut one little piece of pie out of that giant thing and then the rest of it would inevitably go to waste.  I wanted to see if anyone else would want to take the pie off of our hands.  Second, after a while, I wasn't too sure if the pie was still good.  Third, after a while after that I wondered what was wrong with the pie that no mold was growing on it or anything.  What kinds of steps were taken to preserve this thing anyway?!

But even with all my reservations, I felt kind of bad about the whole pie thing and I finally confessed to David, "I don't know what to do! Caiden wants some of this pie, but I don't really want her to have it and I'm not even sure if its good or not.  What should I do?!"

That's when he encouraged me to go with my gut and get rid of the pie with the assurance that "You guys can just make your own little galette or something."

Well, to me, those words were freedom, liberation, empowerment!  Did he just tell me to make pie? Yes, he did!

So the next day, I picked up my little fools from school and asked them what kind of pie they wanted to make.  When they couldn't agree, I thought, "What the heck; it's fall; it's a beautiful day; I made enough pie crust; why not make two pies?"  So I let them each choose what kind of small pie they would make.  In my head they would be little pies, but when Elliott decided to go with pumpkin it felt weird to picture throwing out half a batch of pumpkin pie filling so we made a whole pumpkin pie and a little apple galette for Caiden.  It was so fun to whip up some special desserts without having a special occasion or any good reason to do it.

We all were looking forward to dessert after dinner, everyone, that is except for David who is basically allergic to all forms of pie.  And that's exactly when the magical aura of delight and whimsy around our pie making adventure came crashing down around us me.  David had snuck away to the couch and I grumpily ordered him to take part in witnessing our ingestion of delightful pie whether he likes pie or not. He would not be exempt from this experience, thank you very much.  And then weirdly, something went awry with my children.  They are defective.  It turn out, they don't really like pie very much and to my horror and devastation they turned up their noses at my beautiful, flaky, buttery pie crust.  On one side of the table was a weird group of urchins who only like the pie fillings, but even then only gave it a "thumbs in the middle," which means halfway between good and bad: on the other side of the table was a handsome, but pie-grinchy, old man who detests what is inside of the pie, but delights in the crust, commanding me to put cinnamon sugar on plain crust for him next time.  In short, nobody really appreciated the pie except for me.

Oh, to have someone to appreciate pie with… Will the day ever come?!  I am halfway excited that there will be more pie leftovers just for me and halfway scared of there being more pie leftovers just for me. I know I will eat them all.

And so that is how it came to be that Elliott, Caiden, and even me, had made from scratch a pumpkin pie and apple galette.

But no one was happy.  The end.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Elliott and Caiden Visit Connecticut

All my mom's kids and a straggler grand baby (Photo Credit: Monica Montgomery)

So, my mama turned sixty years old a few days ago and my stepdad made sure to surround his bride with all six of her children and eight grandchildren for her birthday.  It was a marvelous opportunity to reunite with my family and meet some of the newer members.  The kids and I jumped on a plane to Connecticut and what I took away from the whole experience is this: you can take my kids out of the city, but you can't take the city out of my kids--not in just one week anyway.

All my mom's grand babies (Photo Credit: Monica Montgomery)

Connecticut Day 1: My sister, Heather, was searching high and low for her purse until she finally asked for help.  

"Does anyone know where my purse is??  I thought I left it on my bed."

"Oh, that was me."  Elliott said.  "I hid your purse under the bed so no one would steal it!"

Connecticut Day 2: Driving a normal route from one town to another, Caiden is completely carsick from a drive that Connecticut kids have to take every single day.

Connecticut Day 3: Driving down a paved road that has lots of cracks that have been patched, Elliott asks, "What's all that graffiti supposed to be?"

Connecticut Day 4: Grandpa is taking the kids outside to find sticks for roasting marshmallows.  Elliott worries the flashlight will die and they won't be able to find their way back to the house which is fifty yards away.

Connecticut Day 4: We were going to take some kayaks out on Burr Pond and the kids want to know what a pond is and whether it is dirty or not.

"I thought you said it wasn't dirty!" they worried when we arrived. 

And then we when we left they were so impressed and told me, "That water was so cool!  It wasn't salty at all.  When it got it my mouth it wasn't salty, it was like water you can drink!"

(Photo Credit: Monica Montgomery)

David had tried to warn me before I left.  He was so insistent about the fact that our "city kids" (as he kept calling them) would be clueless out there.  He asked me if my mom's house was next to a forest and I started cracking up.  All of Connecticut is like one giant forest.  All you can see in any direction is hills covered in trees.  Secretly I was doubtful about labeling our kids "city kids."  I thought he was being a bit dramatic, but after the week we just had in Connecticut I'm convinced he's right!  City kids it is!