Starlight STarbright

I am truly SO very pleased to present today’s blog post to you!

As many of you know, Kendall is frequently hospitalized, and has been since she was born. Many of the hospitals that serve children are part of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, through which they receive support for their child-life programs and family based support programs. I am SO happy to report that recently, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin became a Starlight hospital too! While we are able to be part of Starlight events locally in Chicago where we live, there wasn’t  a way to stay in touch with our Starlight friends at the hospital! And now it’s all one big happy family!

If you think it’s a little weird that I am  THIS excited about this – let me tell you a little about Starlight in their own words:


Over the past 30 years, Starlight Children’s Foundation® has become a leading global charity that partners with experts to improve the life and health of kids and families around the world. Collaborating with experts in pediatric healthcare, entertainment and technology, Starlight provides a unique blend of family-centered programs and services from hospital to home. Starlight partners with more than 1,750 healthcare facilities and every major pediatric hospital in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, serving millions of children every year.

STARLIGHT programs –

Starbright World® – The first-ever online social network for teens with chronic and life-threatening medical conditions, and their siblings. Members are able to connect globally with others experiencing similar medical journeys.

Starlight Fun Center® – Mobile entertainment units containing the latest gaming system that roll bedside in hospitals to provide distractive entertainment and therapeutic play for pediatric patients.

Starlight Tablets – A critical resource for healthcare professionals to support the ongoing needs of kids while in the hospital.


Basically, Starlight is able to help the hospitals provide things for all the kids treated in their facilties. As part of this Christmas season, they have been having a #12DaysofGiving campaign, designed to show everyone that THEY can make a difference with a small gift. I am honored to be able to highlight the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Wish List – because it means a whole lot to me personally. I literally think I had a few tears in my eyes when I saw “PlayDoh” on their wish list. I know that my precious little playdoh addict had a LARGE role in the reason why there is probably a critical shortage of Playdoh on every floor in that whole huge place. If you could see the difference in Kendall, that sparkle that hits her eyes when her child life worker, or a volunteer, or one of the doctors she has conned into going on a special mission walks in with that yellow can and a couple medical tools to be used as playdoh toys – you would know that these things on this list, they can be just as important to a child’s recovery as the life-saving medicine being given to them in the hospital. It’s a piece of normalcy, a piece of home.
Playdoh is just one small example of the kind of stuff on the CHW Starlight Wishlist.  There’s a need for books, card games, movies, cars – so many things that are so simple and inexpensive.


For my girls this Christmas, we have talked about giving back, and not focusing on what we receive. One of the things we talked about was being able to give back to the hospital that has given us so much this year. We will be making a few purchases off of this list in honor of Kendall Quinn and in celebration of the fact that she will continue to decimate the playdoh population at the hospital in the years ahead BECAUSE of how amazing the people of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin are.  It is not nearly a good enough way to say Thank You – but it is a start.

I encourage you to look through this list, see how easy it is to make a donation, and consider replacing one of the toys you would be buying for your children by purchasing a toy off of this list in their name. Talk about it with them. Help them understand how very much it means to any child in the hospital to get a new book, or have a new toy to play with. Spread love and joy beyond your own tree this Christmas morning. I know it’s a hard thing to capture and do – and this is SUCH an easy way to start!

And then come back here and let us know how you’ve helped out our home away from home! I’d love to hear if you are able to be a part of the #12DaysofGiving for Starlight!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and to head on over to check out the wishlist! I really appreciate it!


Have a beautiful day my friends!



Black friday fun.

No not that kind – the kind where you stand in line in the freezing cold for a good deal or two. (Although my sister and I DO have that kind of crazy fun every Black Friday!) I mean, the kind where my girls and I get the Christmas tree stuff out and put it all up to surprise daddy before he gets home from work!

And we did it!

After my all-nighter in the cold (which was super disappointing this year because there really wasn’t anything that was THAT great of a deal so all of that and I’m still mostly empty-handed in the shopping department!), Kealey Grace rallied the other girls to let me sleep in a little bit, brought up all the heavy and large bins full of tree stuff, and in true “mini-Ben” fashion, had the tree parts all laid out according to color (how our tree is set up).

20131129_224632000_iOS It was so fun to crank the Christmas music up loud, sing at the top of our lungs, put the tree together, smother it in lights and ornaments, and sit with our hot chocolate and admire our handiwork three hours later! It is a weird and new thing to have actual HELPERS at this time instead of trying to corral small bodies and take 39 diaper/feeding breaks. Times like this it hits me that I don’t have BABIES anymore, I have big grown up girls! When did this happen? When did I stop having to shop in the baby part of Target for clothes and instead try to find all matching outfits in the little girls area? When did they stop liking matching outfits? (Ok they haven’t. Or at least I refuse to believe this one yet!)

It is hitting me this year, this Christmas season, that our lives are changing. We are entering new territory – as parents, as kids, as a family. On the one hand I embrace it – I mean – I didn’t have to bring all those boxes up by myself, right? Holla!!! On the other, I’m not ready for this! i don’t have a baby to rock to sleep while patting it’s little diapered tushy, I don’t have a bunch of plastic toys created in China that someone HAS to have this year, I don’t have babies I have big girls! (Basically this post and it’s sentiments will probably be on steady repeat for the next fifteen years…)

So for now, we are soaking up every minute of this holiday season. Putting up the tree, trying to find the perfect wreath for the front door (this is seriously stressing me out, but i’ll put that in another post), trying to clear out some of my usual clutter so I can make it look more “christmasy” in the few areas of this house that I can actually decorate. Our elf “Snowflake” has begun to make her seasonal appearances, to observe on the behaviors of four certain little girls and report her findings back to Santa. We listen to Christmas music in the car, and we are anxiously awaiting the first REAL snowfall of the season to make it seem more Christmasy. Plans with our awesome extended family are starting to be made and it is most definitely beginning to look (or at least feel) a lot like Christmas around here!  I love this. The anticipation of this entire season – never knowing exactly how it will turn out or what magic will happen when you least expect it.

And that’s what I want to focus on this coming month  – the magic of Christmas, of the season, of the reason for the season, of just being together. I hope you’ll come along with us on this journey.  I want to post more pictures of the “stuff” of what this season means to me and our family.  (Again, i’m pretty sure I say this every year and it fizzles out by December 8th or so, but we will see. i’ve done better with this NaBloPoMo than I have in years past so…there’s always hope???)

So that’s our fun for today. Lots of togetherness. Admiring my beautiful baby girls who are not babies anymore. Making memories, laughing together, singing loud for all to hear and spreading Christmas cheer.  And now I have to go type up a few posts to backdate so – have fun on the old post scavenger hunt!

And then head on over to the Terra Talking FB page and tell me what your family does on Black Friday/the day 20131127_154338000_iOS after Thanksgiving/Nov 29 if you don’t live in the USA. Because it will be fun and stuff. Plus i like hearing from you!
hope you all had a beautiful wonderful holiday with your family and friends, celebrating and giving thanks however your family does!
Thanks for checking in here on our crazy family!

peace out party people.


the weather outside is frightful.

Not sure that THIS is what Ol’ Deano was singing about – the tornadoes, strong winds, flash flooding, hail, and thunderstorms – but oh well. Frightful weather is frightful weather, right?
IMG_2868 The good news is that our immediate area was safe from the worst of the storms, we only had an hour or so of scary winds and nonstop thunder with pouring rain. We have some friends, including some with children who rely on medical equipment that runs off of electrical power, who will be without power for days and who are not even sure when or how they will be able to leave their neighborhoods. My heart aches for them, as well as the cities that endured such devastation in today’s storms. While the threat of some storms is near our area quite often, today’s storm had a much different “feel” to it, and Ben and I were both spurred into action to prepare things for Kendall’s medical needs, as well as the food/warmth needs of our other girls, down in the basement. While we have spent more than a few hours in the basement when there’s a threat of bad weather, it has been a very long time since we’ve made any real “emergency” preparations. I guess today just had a more urgent feel to it. We actually got up in the middle of church once our phones started alarming nonstop with the EMS and the tornado sirens outside were also going off.
Anyways – we are ok.

I know so many are not, and our prayers are with them and their families at this time.

Besides the actual frightful weather,  the title reminds me that it is Christmas season! I am getting so excited! christmas music, red cups at starbucks, christmas lights and decorations – the wonderful beautiful anticipation of all that Christmas holds! I’m hoping we can get decorations out and put up soon! It feels like this season has the ability to just FLY by, more so than usual even, probably because of how soon after Thanksgiving Christmas will come this year. Whatever the reason – I want to soak it all up. All the craziness and all the good times and all the memories – I just want to BE in these moments.

We have a busy week coming up – I will be speaking at a women’s bible study on tuesday morning (not a whole lot, just a few minutes in correlation with our special spaces friends bringing awareness to their amazing gifts to families like ours. Wednesday we will be seeing our dearly beloved Dr. A to get a good plan for kendall’s respiratory care this winter (and just to check in with him like we need to do every once in a while!) The girls have their first performance of the dance season on Saturday so they have extra rehearsals this week also. But these are the weeks that are FUN!!! the weeks that once i’ve survived them I feel an actual sense of accomplishment!

sorry this one is kind of just general minutiae – maybe one of the backdated blog posts i have to get will be more exciting. I will also have pictures tomorrow of Kendall’s “Wish Granting” party tonight, where Ariel came from Under the Sea to tell her that her wish to go swimming with her down at Walt Disney World had been granted! She was so excited she could hardly sit still – and once all the activity was over, and we were on our way up to bed, she says “mommy – i just so diz-osted. but dat was so much fun.”

i’m getting pretty “diz-osted” myself. So i’ll see you crazy kids on the flip side.


did you know?

Did you know that a few weeks from now will mark the 50th anniversary of the day JFK was shot? Did you know that I have a mild obsession with the JFK assassination? Did you know that I watch/record pretty much every documentary regarding the JFK assassination?
Did you also know that in five days my baby will turn five?

Did you know there are only 6 and a half weeks until Christmas?

Random factoids for tonight.

And what do you all think of the new digs around here, hey? I got a little more work to get it fully loaded with the right info, and plugging posts into the right categories and figuring out how to make them more easily accessible and a few other similar issues. But  –  here it is.

Today was a super fun day, going down to the city, surprising the babies with a trip to the American Girl doll store thanks to some generous Kendall Krew members, just spending time together as a family.  It was awesome to just go and enjoy that Kendall didn’t need nonstop interventions (meds/monitors/drainage bags/etc) – she had such a great day! We all did. I will do a better blog update with pictures about the trip tomorrow.

Did you know there are a lot of panhandlers on the Mag Mile in Chicago? there are.  Maybe they are all drug addicts, maybe they are all crazy, maybe they are all getting rich off the sympathy of tourists – i don’t know. What I do know is that today, for some reason, I found it so hard to pass them by. I almost always find it hard to pass them by – but even more so as we walked around as a family, feeling so blessed to be together, to have this opportunity….

I only had spare change in my pocket. i gave a few quarters to Kealey to put in a man’s bucket who was sitting in a wheelchair with a sign that said he had nerve damage. I put a few more in a cup for a mom who just wanted to pay rent for her and her two children. And the last handful went to a man who was standing on a perch shouting, “Can Anyone Help?? Can Anyone Help???” – his voice resonated with desperation. Perhaps it was the desperation of the drugged, the mentally unstable. All I know is that I felt compelled to look him in the eye – to tell him that I didn’t have much but that I wanted to help. I just wanted to help…I was struck by the thoughts of watching my own child go through withdrawal from the narcotics that had been coursing through her very sick body for weeks. It was heartbreaking and horrible and whatever the circumstances – I cannot imagine that pain.
I’m not sure where I was going with this. Only that I wanted to show my girls that the panhandlers are people too. That it’s ok to look in their eyes, that it’s always ok to give what you have to help others, no matter how small it might seem. That everyone deserves to know they are loved, in whatever small way we may be able to show it.

Never be afraid to do something. Especially if its the right thing to do.

that’s all i have to say about that.



Essay Tea-You-Are D.A.Y. {night}

Random Update of Randomness shall now commence.

Life has been busy around here. Busier than usual even.IMG_5085

Our house is full.

A friend who is like a daughter to us is here visiting from Tacoma with her 4 month old beautiful baby girl.

Poor Ben. A house full of 7 women. He thought it was bad when it was only the 5 of us!

The girls are LOVING having their own little living baby doll to play with/feed/swing/hold/take pictures of! I am loving the extra help with dinner/cleaning/projects!

We are wrapping up final Christmas preparations – last minute shopping, we got the teacher gifts all finished up and wrapped, making (more) cookies, watching our favorite Christmas movies football games. Ok I wanted to watch Christmas movies but I don’t control the remote in this house. Maybe tonite I’ll get to watch my movies! (Because we all know i’m actually finishing this on Sunday in spite of my best intentions to blog yesterday on Saturday. Or the day before that. or the week before that!)

It seems semi-surreal to me, that Christmas is only a few days away yet here we sit going about our Sunday afternoon routine – sitting in jammies, reading, playing computer games, watching more football…Shouldn’t we be like, i dunno, making merry or something? Don’t get me wrong, we WILL do all that stuff, the stuff that makes Christmas merry. Like singing christmas carols in church, driving around looking at lights, drinking hot cocoa while we watch feel good Holiday movies, wrapping gifts. But is that what it HAS to be? Christmas really is about the feeling in your heart – of giving, and loving, and spreading joy and warmth to others around you out of the goodness of your heart. And if I ask myself if we’ve done THAT stuff, then yes. Christmas is here.

christmas2011-13 I hope that my current lack of Christmas cheer is only because I have a leaky eye and a stuffy nose and every time I turn around the littles have created another mess I have to clean up. I hope that tonight as we are all getting into Christmas finery to head to church that i get “that feeling” back. I know I will as I sit and wrap gifts tomorrow night as is my usual Christmas Eve tradition – drinking loads of coffee, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”, wrapping gifts that I should have thought about wrapping weeks prior…And as I put the gifts under the tree, and imagine the excited squeals of delight as my babies view their loot from Santa, then it all hits me. All the good stuff. I’m not being very coherent today. It’s my stupid eye.

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow morning. I hope it does. Nothing says Christmas spirit to me like a good old-fashioned snow storm, right??? (and i don’t wanna hear from all you haters who hate snow. Let me have my moment please!!!) CHRISTMAS = SNOW. Welcome to my world. This is how it is.

I think i’m almost done boring you to death with this bunch of random rambles…

I hope you are all having wonderful Christmas Eve-Eve’s. i hope your hearts are filled with love and whatever semblance of Christmas Spirit that makes you feel whole and fulfilled.

I’ll be back to bore you some more later!


Love and hugs –




Also – don’t forget to enter the holiday photo contest at BabbaCo! It’s super easy – and since it helps me earn a few pennies to rub together in my pocket, i’d be super appreciative if you could help spread the word and have your friends go to THIS LINK and enter also!

And a huge thank you to everyone who already has clicked, signed up for the newsletter, and entered a silly photo in the holiday contest! I really really really hope one of my awesome readers is the one who wins!

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