When the guy you live with transforms from boy to man,

9915 02when his voice takes on that deeper, stronger, more mellow tone
and you sometimes don’t even realize it’s him talking,

when the space he fills in a room becomes somehow more commanding
and your cute vintage couch is starting to seem ridiculously small,

9915 11when you’re lifting your chin higher every day just to look into his eyes—
that is, if you’re lucky enough to be granted the privilege—

when the “can you fix this for me” roles start to reverse
and the “can you lift this for me” roles already have,

9915 15when who he’s becoming has less and less to do with you
and so much more to do with him,

when all of this happens
in the span of four short seasons,

9915 10if you’re his mom,

your heart will swell with pride and awe as you welcome this man
and it might also ache just a bit as you say goodbye to the boy,

but you will see an amazing future ahead for him
and you will smile about it,

9915 09secretly,
to yourself of course,
without any gushing.

Because jeez, Mom.

Happy strong, smart, savvy and sweet sixteenth birthday to you, R-boy!

I love you like mad.


[Photo creds to R-girl: @alexandria_ry // Alex Anne Photography]


Posted in Celebrating, Cool Things, Growing, Happy Things, Heart Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Raving, Single-Momming, Wording | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment



This week I’ve been thinking a lot about water.

Things like: “Wait. Why is neither toilet flushing?”

Followed the next morning by, “They’re both still not flushing? What’s going on? The water is working everywhere else…??”

Followed that evening by “So what you’re telling me is I haven’t washed my hair in four days and I’m getting picked up for a party in 45 minutes and now there is literally not one drop of water flowing from any faucet in our home…? Correct? Yes? Fantastic.”

Followed by five stages of grief:

1. Denial (Maybe if I keep turning this knob back and forth…)


3. Bargaining (Please, oh please, pretty faucet, if you will just provide me with 10 minutes of water, I promise to make you shiny and clean a lot more often. I’ll even use a real lemon and a Norwex cloth.)

4. Depression (What’s the point. Cancel the party.)

5. And, finally (28 seconds later): Acceptance

(Hello, Heidi [neighbor who has five boys under the age of 7, including a 3-week-old newborn]? I’m sure you don’t have much going on over there or anything, so can I come take a shower at your house? And use your flushing toilet? Like, right this minute?)

Followed by a summer-camp flashback as I carried my caddy of supplies over to the available restroom.

Followed by the news that not only had the water mysteriously returned while I was away showering, but it had begun gushing out of the back of our main-level toilet. Fortunately, R-boy solved that with some quick thinking and a bowl from the kitchen.

Things like that.

But also, things like, “Hmmm. I lost access to water in my home for a few (very pivotal, pre-party) moments, and this caused me to basically also lose my mind.”

Not to shame myself or anything. It’s just worth noticing though? Right? Considering, you know…that a huge percentage of the global population never has that problem? Because they don’t have water in their homes at all? Or anywhere near them for that matter? It had me thinking.

It also had me thinking that, apparently, it takes a village to keep me showered and supplied with water:

– A fabulous neighbor willing to share her (perfectly-clean-on-a-moment’s-notice!) shower.

– A good friend willing to spend his Saturday night turning my gushing toilet into a flushing one.

– A host of other friends and neighbors willing to whine and empathize with me about my water drama.

– And a city worker willing to come by and assure me that it’s all in my head and that nothing is actually going wrong, because “The water is hooked up so it should all be working.”

water-carafe---shorts-and-longs---julie-rybarczyk2Granted, I am currently getting my household water supply through a garden hose attached to my outside spigot (I’m not even kidding, and don’t ask me how that works. Our whole block has this strange set-up going on.), but at least I do have clean water today when I turn on my any of my faucets.

Which I’m going to do right now.

For a long drink of cool water.

And a moment of gratitude.



P.S. I’ll say, this does make me think of my friend and the brave thing she’s doing: Here’s to water, friends.


Posted in Chuckling, Everyday Things, Funny Things, House Things, Messy Things, Noticing, Ranting, Raving, Thanking, Wise Things | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


I’ve always loved biking with my kids.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk7Back in the day, I’d tell my freelance clients I had a “meeting,” load the toddler version of R-boy into the Burley, cram R-girl’s purple bike into the tiny seat next to him (i.e., on top of him), and pedal the three miles to her preschool, where we’d pick her up and bike home together.

Cruising along on two wheels with my kids by my side is still one of my favorite ways to spend an hour or two.

That is, if we could just get to the biking part.

Lately we seem to be hitting every literal and metaphorical bump in the road.


Last week, for example, our outing to Betty Danger’s in Northeast Minneapolis for a round of mini golf resulted in us arriving at said destination, securing our bikes to the bike rack, walking a few feet toward the establishment, and then walking those same few feet back because R-boy wanted to adjust his lock.

We then spent the next 90 minutes fighting with his brand new lock, which is apparently so impossible to pick that you sometimes can’t even open it with the actual key. That you own.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

We sat on the pavement taking turns wiggling the key in the lock, flagging down strangers for help, calling the bike shop where he had just bought the fancy new lock, calling locksmiths, calling his dad for help, and finally breaking in with a paper clip.

By that time, R-boy’s tire had somehow become flat and he had to get a ride home.

Needless to say, no mini golf.


So, last night we tried again. No one had the energy for mini golf, but maybe we’d bike back to Betty Danger’s for a treat of some sort.


R-girl’s tire was completely flat when she rolled it out of the garage. This has happened before. What has not happened before is that after the tire is pumped up, we can hear air hissing right back out of it.

“Think we should still go?” someone said.

“Well I don’t want to just stay here,” someone else said. We all agreed.

“That tire might not make it.”

“But it might.”

“I think there’s probably a gas station or two near the route if we get desperate.”

“Hopefully they have air?”

“Hmmm. What do you guys think?”

“This might not work.”

“Let’s do it.”

And we were off.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk6


Within minutes, R-girl was saying, “It’s getting lower.”

“Should we turn back?”



We soon learned that the front tire on R-girl’s bike had a shelf life of approximately three miles. Three and a half if you detoured off your intended route, rode the last few blocks on a completely flat tire, and continually said things like, “This is impossible to pedal! I can’t steer. I think I should walk it now. How much further?”

Almost exactly at that point in the ride, we reached Gas Station A and paid fifty cents to refill her tire.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk5Once the air hose was removed, there was no time to dawdle. We could not only hear the air hissing back out, we could basically see it escaping through the brittle cracks in her tire.

We jumped on our bikes and headed back the way we’d come.


The shelf life was shrinking. Now it only took about two miles before R-girl was saying, “It’s almost flat again!”

“Should we make R-boy ride home and grab our bike pump?” I said.

“No,” said R-boy.

“I think I can make it to the next gas station,” said R-girl.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3She did.


And after a 75-cent refill at Gas Station B, she made it home.

Probably never to ride that bike again.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk10I’d say that’s appropriate, because we’ve owned it for longer than she’s been around, which is 10 days shy of 19 years.

Also, she’s requested that our resident cycling expert (R-boy) find her a great (totally hip) road bike for her birthday.

So the adventures will continue. Hopefully a little smoother next time.


Posted in Fun Things, Kid Things, Parenting, Playing, Single-Momming, Wandering | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


dad and me - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk
To all you fathers who have
shown up,
stuck around,
raised up,
cheered on,
cared for,
and sat down.

To the fathers
who are still doing it
day in and day out.

And to the fathers
who always meant to do it.

To the fathers who are
and true.

And to the fathers
who hope they are
at least some of those things,
at least some of the time.

To the fathers who are
and treasured.

To the fathers who are
and longed for.

To the fathers who have
stepped in
and become a father
to the fatherless.

You matter.

than you probably know.

than you might have intended to.

than anything can ever change.

Thank you for giving life.

And thank you
for every single moment that you
have chosen
(and still choose)
your children
by offering your brave,

Nothing can ever
the father that is



Happy Father’s Day to my sweet dad who spent hours and hours sitting on the floor with me. And Happy Father’s Day to all the rest of you very important men!


Posted in Celebrating, Heart Things, Kid Things, Parenting, Raving, Wise Things, Wording | Tagged , | Leave a comment


Tomorrow I will point my Honda Pilot in the direction of R-girl, load her stuff back into it, and drive her home from her first year of college.

I have no idea how this is even possible. I literally just dropped her off. And yet, this day feels decidedly different than last August 28 did. Like, different-universe different. So a few things must have happened in between now and then. Right?

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetBecause, in case you missed it, I had kind of a rough time saying goodbye to R-girl last fall – and to the amazing chapter of my life that ended when she left.

Besides the fresh absence of one of my favorite people to hug, besides the huge void in our suddenly two-person household, besides the mid-life-crisis-divorced-single-parent anxieties, the worst part of saying goodbye to that chapter was that I had no idea how the next one would look.

But I had plenty of fears.

What if R-girl and I were finished? What if I was not only losing her in proximity but also in relationship? What if I would now only hear from her on Mother’s Day and see her at Christmas, if I was lucky? What if I would no longer get to listen to her hopes and her dreams and her analysis of everyone’s Myers-Briggs personality types and her crazy, giggly antics with her very best friends? What if I was being demoted to the least important person in her life? 

I knew that all of those losses were possible. I knew that many losses were necessary and normal. I knew I would survive. But I didn’t yet know how.

If I’m being honest, I was as scared as I was sad. Yes, I was happy for R-girl to start her new life, but a big part of me wanted things to stay the way they had been for so long. Familiar and comforting. I felt childish and selfish to sometimes want the opposite of what she was so excited for. I felt alone as I wrestled the unknowns – as well as the knowns. And I felt helpless to fight off the feelings.

So I didn’t.

I let them come.

I let her go.

I let time pass.

I let myself adjust, reacclimate, and start to enjoy the new rhythms of my life.

And now…

I find myself here.

A whole school year into this new chapter.

Things have definitely changed. In some pretty great ways, actually. There have been a few (very sweet) surprises. And even though R-girl is coming home for the summer, it’s clear: This is a new chapter of R-fam, not a return to the old one. And that’s a good thing.

Oh, and guess what? 

Here’s what:


Here’s to new chapters being unexpectedly richer than the last, friends. xo

Posted in Growing, Hard Things, Heart Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Single-Momming, Wise Things | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


spring blossoms 2 - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1
Do you ever find it hard to believe
that the season you’ve longed for
and dreamed of
and spoken of only in whispers

for so long

that it began to seem more like legend
or fairytale
or prophesy
of the most fantastically preposterous variety –
and the monotony of waiting for it
eventually lulled your hope into a
slumber –

may have actually arrived?

spring blossoms 2 - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2

Me too.


Here’s to signs of new life (and warmth), friends.


margit mindrum painting - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk__

And also, here’s to Margit Mindrum, who I just discovered is the talent behind the painting that currently hangs near my front door. I found it at a thrift store (naturally) but decided to learn who M. Mindrum is.

Here’s what I now know:
– She didn’t start painting until she was in her mid-50s – after her six children were grown.
– Over the next 20 years, she completed more than 600 paintings and had a waiting list three years long.
– She was featured in an exhibition at the James J. Hill House, titled “Minnesota Painters of Norwegian Background.”
– She never had any formal training.
– She wrote a memoir for her family and called it No Change My Heart Shall Fear, which sounds so inspiring that I’m considering buying it on Amazon. I would bet she borrowed the title from a line in this hymn.

Thanks for creating so much beauty in the second half of your life, Margit, and for welcoming this new season to mine.



Posted in Beautiful Things, Heart Things, Noticing, Thinking, Wondering, Wording | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


to mother - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

To mother is

to care for
to sacrifice
to protect

to soothe
to see
to hold

to cheer
to guide
to clean up messes

to play
to cry
to ache

to smother
to control
to royally mess up

to own it
to learn
to grow

to hang on
to let go

over and over again.



Whether the mothering in your life came from your mother, or from others, or from your own adult self; whether it came from somewhere up above, or someone unexpected, or some intricately woven combination of it all…

Whether you have birthed a child, or raised one, or loved one, or nurtured the child-heart inside someone else…

Whether your experience with your mother was safe and precious, or jagged and complex, or distant and unclear, or all of the above…

Happy Day of Truly Needed and Beautifully Human Mothers.




Posted in Beautiful Things, Celebrating, Happy Things, Heart Things, Kid Things, Parenting, Single-Momming, Thanking, Wise Things, Wording | Tagged , | Leave a comment


1. The new bike that has joined our household may be from the 80s but apparently it’s not cool to call it a ten-speed anymore.

road bike - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

2. Some bike shops are more aesthetically pleasing than others.

bicycle basement - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk the hub bike coop - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

3. The new, gaudy ferris wheel that just went up in Northeast Minneapolis provides a 20-minute ride complete with drinks, snacks, a fantastically kitchy experience, amazing views of the city, and, best of all, a blanket if you’re chilly/me. I definitely recommend checking out the brand new Betty Danger’s Country Club. The day R-boy and I stopped in (as a short detour on our first long bike ride of the spring), the Food Network was there filming. Perhaps we will be famous.

betty dangers - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk13 betty dangers - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk11 betty dangers - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk12 betty dangers - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1

4. My childhood church still uses the same hymnals. I learned this while I was there watching my niece and nephew perform in an adorable musical at my alma mater church.

hymnal - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

5. Artists are everywhere. And not just at the St. Paul Art Crawl, where I met some amazing painters last weekend. Also in the incredible circle of beautiful, creative people who surround my life. And also in the high school classroom where my friend Stephanie teaches art.

art class - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

6. I stay far warmer on a January day that’s 30 degrees below zero than pretty much any spring day during baseball season.

baseball field - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

7. These two people continue to amaze and delight me.

shorts and longs image

8. And life can take some pretty crazy turns. Now and then, some really beautiful ones that catch you completely off guard.

Am I right?



Here’s to learning more great stuff in May, friends.



Posted in Cool Things, Everyday Things, Fun Things, Happy Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Playing, Random Things, Raving | Leave a comment


You guys! I’m not even kidding. I was right here last night. Without a blanket. Or a parka. What is happening??!

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk6The cushions are out. The French doors have been unlocked. And the screen porch is officially open.

Could it be that spring may actually be springing?

I know, I know. I’ll have to close it all back up again next week during the impending cold snap. And perhaps I’ll even have to shelter the cushions from a Minnesota May snowstorm like we had two years ago (please, God, no).

But I did get to spend last evening on the porch with a new friend of mine, and I’m choosing to believe there will soon be many more.

Because the only thing better than a book or a beer or a breakfast – or really anything on the screen porch – is a friend on the screen porch with me.

So. Want to meet my newest friend?

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1We met online.

A little place called Craigslist.

I saw this guy and drove way out of my usual self-imposed mileage limits – in the dead of winter – to grab him. He was a beauty, and a steal.

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3 screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2 screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk4Perfectly imperfect, with pretty handsome bones, if I do say so myself.

I might paint him up, I might not. We’re just getting to know each other for now. I’ll give it a minute before I make any drastic decisions.

Besides, as you know, I’m kind of a sucker for anything that’s been around long enough to have a story. Do I really want to cover all that up? (Maybe.)

Either way, I think we’re going to have a pretty great summer together.

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk5And there’s plenty of room to make a few more stories here. Care to join us??


Here’s to new seasons, new friends, and always lots of new old stuff to keep you company.


Posted in Beautiful Things, Chilling, Cool Things, Decorating, Finding, House Things, Junking, Raving, Yard Things | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetOne sunset from Good Friday. One sunrise from Easter.

Some might call it the place in between the despair and the hope.

But, really, the only people who can easily call it that are those who’ve seen the end of the story.

Because for those who were actually living that soo-not-good Friday, I’m positive that their Saturday was still, fully, overwhelmingly, a place of despair. With an ample serving of confusion, grief, fear, anger, and hopelessness.

And, let’s be honest, for most of us, a whole lot of life happens in that place – on the Saturday after the pain invades and before the hope shows up.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time there. More than I’ve wanted, for sure. And when I’ve been in that place, if there’s one thing that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other, walking toward a hope I can’t see, it’s the people in my life. It’s what they see and affirm and speak on my behalf. It’s what they believe is true, about me and about life. And it’s how they don’t try to push me to be someplace I’m not.

This song is to those of you who keep me believing – and to the rest of you who keep someone else believing. You know who you are.


by Emily Shackleton, Kate York & Tami Hinesh

I don’t remember,
How I got here,
When my rose-colored glasses disappeared

Sometimes my fingers
They can lose touch
Start letting go of everything I love

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning
You keep me believing

My fears are safe here
Held in your hands
When I’m broken
You put me back together again

All that I once was
All I could be
When I’ve forgotten,
Baby you remind me

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning
You keep me believing

If ever your red heart starts beating blue
All you are to me
Baby I’ll be that for you

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning
When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning

You keep me believing
You keep me believing
You keep me believing


May all your Silent Saturdays be filled with soothing songs of hope, friends.




Posted in Hard Things, Healing, Noticing, Wondering | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

  • Subscribe via Email