Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Letter to My Parents

Dear Dad and Mom,

Thank you for Kansas.  I doubt you know how life on that old farm sticks with me and shapes me.   I don't know that I can express all you've given me through it.  Its like a secret I keep hidden within my chest, but I wanted to at least try to tell you: thank you for Kansas.

At the very least, you gave me wide open spaces.  You gave me the quiet sounds of nature by itself without interference.  You gave me the sound of locusts on a hot summers' day.  You gave me freedom to romp and wander through the country--wading in the creek, chasing away water skiers and dragonflies. You gave me creaking screen door sounds and the pleasure of pumping water from the old water pump out the back door.  You gave me fearful trips to the outhouse when playing outside necessitated it, leading to many wonderings about those who came there before me.  And the experience of catching magical lightning bugs flitting in the dark and visions of lightning tearing up the entire sky and rain pouring down in unrelenting sheets like I've never seen elsewhere.  You gave me opportunity to fear the dark and mysterious cellar and tornadoes that would mean going down there for more than just a jar of pickles or a dare. Forever and ever, Kansas will be in my heart.

You gave me abandoned barns full of old things left behind from mysterious people, useful for endless imaginings and fort building.  You gave me hard working days picking green beans in the intense summer humidity and lots and lots of brick carrying to help with Mom's garden.  You showed me rhubarb and honeysuckle (what a wonder!) and horse back riding and fence walking and sled riding.  Kansas is in me, its in my heart.

Dad, you gave me your love of cowboys and farms and country, of the rich smells of the earth and manure.  You both allowed me freezing days of exploring what was around each bend of the frozen creeks we skidded on and beautiful spring days of family bike rides down lonely gravel country lanes with no one around for miles and miles except the lonely sound of the bob white birds and their songs you patiently explained to me. You showed me the oddity of how horses love sugar cubes and licking salt blocks and how they swish their tails to ward off flies.  You gave me memories of dragonflies and dreaded horses flies that bite, always hovering above the backs of our horses.  I have memories of small old churches with parsonages and the smell of cheese crackers and crayons in the upstairs Sunday School rooms as well as potlucks and early sun rise services.  And of eating freshly popped popcorn from a paper bag on the roof of the pastor's shed with his rough-and-tumble boys as my companions and memories of their near-fatal falls from fearless climbing feats. Memories of sewing lessons from some lonely town lady and a gum ball machine along the route from school to the pastor's house that only cost one penny.  Kansas parades and 4th of July festivities are etched into the fabric of my being along with memories of the weeds and cracks in the sidewalks where the ashes from the snakes fireworks would smear along the hot cement.

You showed me your dreams of a dream house never finished and a swimming hole that never held water, of a farm we never really farmed, and fruit trees of all kinds that never produced fruit.  Your dreams were big and bold and beautiful like you--as were my dreams, in fact, too.  Dreams of robbers coming into our forts and actually being surprised by our booby traps, dreams of hitting intruders that never came with walnuts from our secret perch in one of the walnut trees along the drive.  Thanks for letting me spend some of my formative years in such a slow, quiet place.  Thank you for putting old things, wide open spaces, bird songs, dreaming, horses, dirt, and baseball into my heart.

I live in California now, but I see Kansas every time I visit the sea.  I breathe a huge sigh of relief when I view the big wide ocean and my eye can see and see without bumping into anything just like the plains of Kansas.  I see Kansas when I hear birds singing, perched atop blades of long swishing grasses and when I buy corn on the cob and peel back all those silks and surprisingly don't find any worms like we almost always did in Kansas.  I see it when I smell the earth and see beautiful fields of golden brown grass that most people wish was green, but I love just the way it is because it reminds me of Kansas.  Kansas is in me and I'm pretty sure its never letting go.

I just want you to know that although its possible that maybe your dreams didn't pan out exactly the way you thought they should--that old house never finished, the farm long abandoned--they very much did make a lasting impression on me and I can't imagine my life at all without your dreams of Kansas as part of my story.

Love forever,
Your Corynnie-poopies.

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.