So – to totally go from that to this….

Here is a crazy unedited video of me and the babies reviewing the pina coca yogurt drinks i found at the mexican grocery store.

Just in case you were also in the market for pina coca yogurt drinks.

And while you’re watching it – go ahead and subscribe. With how easy it is now to do vlogs from my laptop, i’m sure i’ll be adding more awesomeness just like this much more regularly!

The girls love feedback on their videos so let us know what you thought!

Hope you all have a wonderful Friday!



And K3 and K4


Somedays I have to remind myself that it’s ok that all I am doing is just breathing. It means my head is above water. I am not drowning. I am breathing, and that means i am alive. And if i’m alive, we’re all still alive.
Things are flowing along at their typical pace – some days ultra crazy and other days ultra boring and somewhere in the middle we find our rhythm and ride the waves and just keep breathing.

Kendall is improving every day. Well – in her usual way. Two steps forward, one step back. Overall – her pain is being well controlled with the addition of two “long term” medications, both in her J-tube (yay for no more IV narcs!), and her strength continues to return in amazing ways. That girl is the very definition of fierce determination (also of massive distractibility and wild banshee screaming at random times, but hey, we can’t nitpick here i guess!)

The other girls are doing well. Kealey had tried out for her school cheerleading team and did not make it and that was a really tough blow. I think maybe more for me than for her. She took it in stride. I was crushed for her. She worked SO hard on learning the routines and I tried to help her even though I was exhausted that week and I just wanted her to have something FUN and GOOD and something to look forward to…She gives up so much, you know? They all do. I just wanted her to GET something for once instead of having to give something up again. But that’s not life I guess. You want a lot of stuff and sometimes you don’t get it and you move on anyways and find something else new to look forward to and work on. She has her sights already set on how she will improve over the next year to try out again next fall. That’s my girl.
Karissa is doing well – she has become ultra loving and affectionate towards everyone since we’ve been home. She is a girl who can both read and pick up on emotions in people, even in a room full of strangers/people she doesn’t know well. It is hard sometimes to hide my emotions from her – whether that’s exhaustion or frustration or whatever – she picks up on it and she takes them on as her own, or tries to fix them somehow…She is doing pretty well in school finally with the help of her Special Ed teacher through her IEP. That is a huge relief in so many ways. Mostly I am happy for her that she doesn’t feel dejected or overwhelmed by school anymore really. It actually almost moves me to tears to think about because it has been SO hard for her the past few years, the struggles, the frustrations, the helpless feeling at knowing she needed better support but not knowing how to get the school to recognize or address it. But we are moving forward now with her support and it is so huge….
Kaylen….oh my little hurricane. Where do I start? She is doing good. She is just one of those kids IMG_7565 who will find her own way to get what she needs. She will get the attention and the love she needs one way or another – good or bad! I realized a few days ago that she is the age Kealey was when we brought Kendall home from the hospital…and I look at how much she does, how independent she is in many ways and yet how very much she still needs me. My heart breaks for her sometimes, and other times she makes ME want to break something….She also is doing so well in school and I credit her teacher with a lot of that success. She was Kaylen’s first grade teacher also and we worked very hard to ensure Kaylen stayed in her class this year because her bond with Kaylen is such a large part of Kaylen’s day to day success at coping with our somewhat chaotic family situation.  Mrs. P – I don’t thank you enough – but thank you – for all you do. 

And that’s about how that’s all going. For those of you who have been bringing us meals and sending cards…I am overwhelmed at your kindnesses and my own gratitude for you. I will never ever ever be able to write the thank you cards fast enough or respond back to emails and messages in timely manners. But if you have sent something, or done something, or brought something….it has touched my heart and given me strength. Know that. Please know that. YOU are the reason I am able to tread water and keep on keepin on. I am tearing up trying to even write this. Thank you written here seems so completely inadequate – but I hope you know how much of a difference you are making for the positive in our life. I am SO very grateful for the meals – and the love that comes into our house with every single bag of food delivered. They are the difference between me going completely over the edge of insanity and being able to know that at least one thing is set and taken care of on those days.

So there it is. A brief update of sorts. For the most part, things are under control. Supplies are ordered for the month and week, things are in place and moving forward, I am *pretty sure* that everyone has some semblance of a costume for tomorrow night for Halloween…..yeah I can’t think of anything i’m forgetting….
At least for right now!

I’m working on getting my NaBloPoMo – blog every day in November – posts all set up. I enjoy the challenge of doing it but am usually SO glad when November is done! If you aren’t already – go “like” the Terra Talking page on Facebook so you can get the notifications when the posts go up. Plus it will make me ridiculously happy to hit 1000 fans on that page (SO PAINFULLY CLOSE!!!!) Kendall’s birthday is two weeks from tomorrow which just blows my mind….this is the first year we aren’t doing some bigger thing for her birthday so i think that’s why it hasn’t quite hit me yet that it’s that close!

Anyways – now i’m rambling because i just drained a Venti mocha in about twenty minutes and i am JITTERY!!!!! YAY!!!!

I hope you are all having a beautiful week. Thank you for coming here to check on us. check on me. See what craziness i’m up to. Keep checking back. November will be chock full of it.

Peace out party people.


Today. the 28th.

Just a sampling of the randomness of my days:

I did laundry today. And by “did” i mean I washed four loads, dried them all, and now have it all stacked in baskets in the TV room. I will attempt to fold it all tomorrow. That’ll do, pig, that’ll do. (you have to say that in the accent of the old man in “babe” at the end when the pig has herded all the sheep {Baaaa RAmmmmm Ewwwwweee} into the right ring at the competition. Otherwise it makes no sense.)

Kealey told me today she had deja vu about the second coming of Jesus.

This led to kaylen asking a whole bunch of questions like this:

“Does Jesus have a mustache?”

me – ummmm sure. If you want Jesus to have a mustache, he has the rockingest mustache ever.

“Does Jesus wear socks?”

me – uuhhhhhh……yes. Because Jesus likes warm feet and fuzzy things.

“Does Jesus wear glasses?”

me – (Oh i know this one!!!) No he doesn’t – he has perfect vision and we all will up in heaven.

“Does Jesus have boobies?”

me – “NEW TOPIC!!!!!! Look at that crazy thunderstorm behind us!”


To which all three girls started screaming at me to drive faster before the storm got us.


This Pin made me crack up. like literally about to fall off the couch laughing. I don’t really know why it struck me as so funny.

get it together, crayola.......haha i'm still laughing lol


And then Kendall had a crazy day of what i hope was just autonomic wonkiness – which is our code for “we have no idea what she’s doing but her vitals are making me uncomfortable so let’s hope some oxygen at naptime settles things down”. she did wake up in a slightly better mood, and has a little bit of improvement in her vitals, so i’ll take it. Ben’s in Nashville all week and then I leave for St Louis with the bigs for dance comp so we REALLY dont have time for a stay at the CHdubs. Not to mention that this coming weekend is one year since the first of the big crashes of last summer and i am trying very hard to not let the memories of that day overtake my brain and emotions and turn me into a hot blubbering mess. So we will NOT be visiting the hospital again anytime soon thankyouverymuch.

(side note – i cannot guarantee that that little tidbit up above will not be revisited on or before may 5.)

And sometimes I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.



two blog posts in a row.



t-crest out.

The others – hurricane Kaylen.

I posted about Ben the other day, the lone male in a pack of crazy girls.

20131103_221344000_iOS Today I want to tell you more about the one we call the Hurricane.

Kaylen Hope. 6 years old going on 26. Wisdom beyond her years, energy enough for five people. Hence the Hurricane moniker.
If you’ve never read her birth story, you should.  Here it is.

She came into this world like a firework and that’s how she lives every day of her life.
She tests my patience on the daily, and she makes me laugh pretty gosh darn hard when I need it the most. The things that come out of this kids head and mouth would make the best book. I do my best to try to capture the amazingness of her personality by journaling some of her “kaylenisms”, but I think inevitably I will fall short. This kid is going to go places, of that I have no doubt.

She has had to push, pull, scream and kick her way into this family. 358_1061418613042_1462_n

She was 6 months old when I found out I was pregnant with Kendall. By the time she was a year it was hard for me to rock her to sleep at night like I always did with my babies. She was 15 months old when Kendall was born, and life as she knew it changed drastically.

There is a picture somewhere that my sister snapped on the day Kendall was born. None of us had ANY idea that Kendall was anything but the picture of health. The family was all gathered, anxiously awaiting the announcement of Kendall’s birth and then we would all have a fun meal together in the hospital. But that wasn’t what happened, and as they were whisking Kendall away to the NICU, and I was recovering from my own shock (almost literally with the amount of blood I lost) over having a baby who was sick, and the speed with which it all happened, and we were all holding back our tears at the unknown, trying to be strong for kealey and karissa who were crying….we heard a strange noise. And there was Kaylen, laying on her belly on the cart they use to hold the placenta after a birth, wheeling herself around the room without a care in the world.
Finding her own fun in a world that had just been turned upside down. I look at that picture, with her chubby little baby cheeks, and her short little legs that had only learned how to walk a few months before, and I see that she was still so little. So young. She still needed me, so very much.

372_1070351516359_2482_n But her sister needed me more, and in a different way.

And thus began mine and kaylen’s strange, wonderful, crazy new relationship. Oh I still was and always will be her mommy – but our relationship changed that day, somehow, and in ways I may never be able to fully verbalize. It is imperceptible to probably all but her and I, but it was changed. She needed so very much of me, and there was none of me left to go around.  Even once we got Kendall home from the hospital, there was just so very much to be done for Kendall, my emotional energies were poured into figuring out why she wouldn’t eat or breathe or wake up.  And then she got really really sick and life as I knew it was blown right out of the water. I changed. I changed as a person and I changed as a mom and Kaylen still needed me. That has never changed.

I know i fall so short of what she needs from me, every day, even now. Even when things are calm, I’m not enough for her. Her love is fierce and wild and strong and demands every single ounce of your focus and attention. she is INTENSE – in everything she does, from sunup (when she wakes up) til beyond sundown (when she finally crashes). She has learned to do so much on her own, so far ahead of her own time.  Our relationship, it is so hard to define. I did not get enough time to cuddle her, to spoil her with my love and attention, to form the same mommy/baby bond that I did with my other girls.  She spent time with her daddy and time with her Memaw and time with babysitters and friends and whoever was around to grab her while I ran to the ER again, sat in a hospital again, went to a doctor’s appointment again. She watched as therapists came into our house to work with her sister and play with toys that weren’t for her and she couldn’t understand (I need to say here that our EI therapists were all great and did their best to include kaylen all the time as much as they could). She has watched as nurses came into our house whose sole intention was to give attention to Kendall and her care. She has watched me drive off countless times with just her sister – not grasping that her sister would GLADLY trade alone time with mommy for all the pokes/appointments/medical stuff, not understanding that it wasn’t fun times we were driving off into the sunset for.

IMG_4809 She has heard words like lab draws, vesicostomy, GJ tube, saline flushes, occupational therapy and countless others her whole life. She learned to read by learning how to spell “STOP” and “RUN” on her sister’s feeding pumps. She can tell you what day is Bingo Day with Child Life at the hospital and what alcohol wipes are useful for. She does craft projects with medical tape and IV tubing.  She is so very smart. Smarter than her 6 tender years would belie. 

But what she has always needed is ME, all of me. And she has so rarely gotten that. Last year when she was in half day kindergarten, we would try to have mommy/kaylen time in the mornings – running errands, getting lunch together, just sitting and talking and laughing and then making a mad dash to get home in time for the bus. And while I know she needed that time, it was still heartbreaking to hear the cries of the one we left behind with the nurse.  There are really hardly ever any “easy” answers in a family dynamic like ours. We all do our best to make the most of it – but we live a strange life, with strange circumstances.

IMG_4323.JPG (2) I don’t know what the future exactly holds for this Hurricane of mine. I’m betting it will involve a position of authority, if she can manage to not be hyper during an interview process long enough to impress someone with her strength and determination.  But this is my baby Kaylen. She is strong and fierce and intense and amazing.  I don’t get enough time to spend one on one with her and I need to find a way to make that better.  Someday I will be enough for you my Kaylen Hope. You have so much love in your heart and I hope you find a way to harness that intense energy into a way to share it with the world. The world needs your love and your fierceness. It needs that crazy sense of humor and that amazing loud giggle of yours.

Keep being you, my little hurricane.

I love you so much.



The gift of happiness.

A couple months ago, I posted about my girls looking through the American Girl doll catalog. It comes every couple of months – some enterprising young marketer did their research on our address – and we ooo and ahhh our way through it. I mean, have you seen it? It’s like every girls dream – all these amazing playsets to play with your dolls, the accessories – the miniature little life you can create! I love it. I’m a sucker. I’m unfortunately a broke sucker – so our shopping is limited to tearing up the catalog usually.  I had posted something on this particular day about Kendall laying in bed with me looking at the catalog, and it sparked one of our awesome Kendall Krew members to send me a message asking which doll Kendall had and could she send her a little something from that doll’s collection. Shortly thereafter, Kendall ended up in the hospital for that long horrible stay, and that conversation was forgotten.

Fast forward a few weeks after coming home, and in the mail one day came a beautiful package from the American Girl doll store. This amazing woman had rallied a few friends who also had little girls in love with all things AG, and they sent a gift card for Kendall and her constant playmate Kaylen to be able to pick out whatever they wanted from the store. I mean, even just typing that in retelling the story brings me to tears. We have been so very very blessed by so many amazing people throughout this journey – in so many ways – from paper towels and lysol, to delectable meals,  to gas cards – so very blessed. We would not survive if were not for every single way we are blessed. But this gift – to be able to take my girls to do something “fun” and “frivolous” and just for them – i can’t put it into words.

So i’ll try to show you their absolute joy in pictures.


If kaylen’s face doesn’t make you smile then you need to be checked for a pulse! She was excited just seeing the store, and getting to go in and look at stuff. When I told her she could actually pick out a baby or an outfit or a small playset – holy cow I think all of Water Tower Place heard her squeal!  Kendall was a little slower to catch on since concepts like that aren’t real until they are concrete. But she was no less ecstatic at being able to look around at everything. And subsequently ask for one of everything.


After much back and forth debate – Kaylen decided to pick a “My AG doll” – where you can get pretty much any combination of skin/hair/eyes imaginable, and then customize each doll with what your likes/interests are. It’s a really cute idea and I am so glad that my baby loves still to play with babies so much. This doll will definitely see a lot of the world – or at least a lot of our suburban chicago world!

They had one “hands on” display where you could see/feel the doll and some of her accessories (actually i’m pretty sure the display case was just broken so it was temporarily set aside) but it was a perfect height for kendall – and she pulled herself around this little table playing with everything for the better part of a half-hour (if you have seen kendall’s non-existent attention span in real-live action, you will know that 30 minutes is a miracle!) 

Oh my babies had such an amazing time, getting to focus on getting something just for them! And at such a magical place no less!

After the AG experience, we wanted to let the big girls pick something out for themselves too at the mall next door, so off we trekked through a very full mall with the worlds most inaccessible elevator system ever.

Here’s what happens when my children are in front of a large mirror.


Dance party, crazy faces – i’m sure the security cameras got quite a show!

And the highlight of any good trip to the mall downtown –


A chocolate covered strawberry from Godiva chocolates. This was the only thing on Kealey’s mind from the second we were parking in the Hancock center lot – that’s my girl! i’ve trained her well!

I feel like even the pictures don’t do a whole ton of justice to just how much fun this day was. A day as just a regular family. Doing something fun. Thanks to some good planning and an easy week prior, there weren’t any medical crazinesses to deal with. I didn’t have to explain to the other girls with disappointed faces that no we couldn’t afford this, that we had to leave quickly because kendall needed to get home, that we had to cut the fun short to deal with a medical emergency/issue. We got to just be together, look around, enjoy the small stuff. 

Living life.

Breathe in and breathe out.

It was a great day. It was the kind of day that reminds you what really matters in life.

It was a day full of happiness, that came from a gift from others, from a place in their hearts that is so full of generosity and love, it spilled over and into others’ lives.  I cannot thank them enough. I hope only that someday we can be in a place to pay this forward. And we will.

Tonight I am preparing for our early morning trek up to Milwaukee for Kendall’s IVIG infusion.  We will leave the house before 5 am, drive 3 hours up to milwaukee, sit in the infusion room for 7 hours,  have two more hours of appointments and checkups with various doctors, and then three more hours back home.  And while things have been going quite well with her infusions, there is always a slim chance that she could have an adverse event and we would not be home that night as planned. I am extremely optimistic though that our last infusion that was well controlled with extra fluids and good pre-meds will be how this one goes also. Her birthday is on Thursday and I cannot even think of her having a reaction that would send her back north! So i won’t. (this is one of those weird special needs mama superstitions – like if i talk about it out loud, put it into words, then it won’t come true. If i bring my hospital bag, then i won’t need it.)

But anyways – I should really get in bed. That 4 am wake up call is going to be brutal.

In the words of coolio, that great lyricist –

I’ll see you when you get there.


My girls.

you thought i’d miss a day, didn’t you? This is technically going to be “yesterday’s” post, even though it will show up today, and then today’s post will show up LATER today. confused yet? good. we all operate better under that assumption of craziness.
Yesterday I was just so busy…

One of the prompts for NaBloPoMo is to write about “a day in my life”….That would pretty much be a book so i’ll spare you the gory/overwhelming/boring/crazy details and just say – I was busy doing all the things I normally do to keep Atkinson General Faux-Hospital running and then I had to add in Parent Teacher conferences.
Kendall’s 15 minute conference turned into nearly two hours of IEP Re-evaluation planning with part of her awesome team from her school. But in spite of the fact that it took so long, it was awesome to feel like my concerns for her were being truly heard, and I think our IEP progress for Kendall will be so much smoother thanks to all that brainstorming.
Then we ran to therapy, then home, then I had to run and pick up the girls from my friends’ house where they had all gone because we were at therapy when they got out (early dismissal due to conferences), then home to get dance stuff together, then to dance, then to conferences. Then dinner, Kendall troubleshooting, cleanup, bedtime. Ehh – I guess that wasn’t so bad.
Anyways – we all survived.

Conferences for the middle two were a split. Karissa is currently in the middle of a re-evaluation for services at her school due to a MAJOR gap in her tested intelligence/cognitive level, and how she is performing at school (her grades). She is just such a non-verbal learner – symbols, patterns, numbers, choreography, movement – these things are how Karissa interprets the world around her. Everything is a dance. And words interrupt that dance. In her words “the letters squiggle”. She wears bifocals (progressive lenses), made in an effort to help her vision be as good as it can be for both near and far sight. We have identified a visual processing disorder (her brain doesn’t always interpret two-dimensional information – words on a piece of paper for instance – as one cohesive image), an auditory processing disorder (she cannot differentiate background noise from a dominant noise – for instance, if a teacher is talking while there is ANY kind of other noise going on in the classroom, papers rustling, pencils scratching, noses sniffing, etc.), and we believe there is a possible element of an ADHD like process at play too (executive functioning, the ability to prioritize and order tasks into a list to be done in order to complete something like homework, or getting dressed in the morning, etc).
All of this is making it very difficult for Karissa to perform to her best in a typical classroom setting. She is in the honors program at her school, but is quickly falling farther and farther behind compared to her peers because….well – we don’t know why. I am hopeful, but not optimistic, that her school is going to be able to help us identify WHY she is failing at school all of a sudden. I hope that someone is able to help turn the lightbulb back on in her mind and help us unlock all of her amazing mysteries residing in that crazy, cloud-filled, puppy-riddled world in her mind. I know there is SOMETHING, some piece of info out there, that we will be able to say – “Ah-ha! this is how we help Karissa! THIS is her problem, and THIS is the solution!”
To that end, a child with a less than stellar report card, a frustrated teacher overwhelmed with how to keep a child like Karissa at grade level, and my own worries for my child led to a less than productive conference for her. But still – I’m so proud of her for fighting through all that is stacked against her, for plugging away at homework that “squiggles”, for not letting any of her issues get her down.  she’s awesome.

Kaylen, however, the one i WAS worried about – sure her conference would be filled with stories of how she destroyed this, that or the other thing in her classroom, or other tales of the terror she can bring on at home – Blew me away.
Her teacher told us a story at the beginning of her conference that left me with tears in my eyes.
They were having a special day where all the students got to eat lunch in the classroom with their teacher. (I’m not sure how or why such a thing would be a “reward” for the teacher, God bless her, she’s an amazing person…I digress.) anyways – there was one little boy in the class who was sitting off on his own. My beautiful little social butterfly got up from her group of friends, took her lunch, and went and plopped herself down next to this boy. She told Mrs. Pullos – “I think he is lonely and needs someone to sit by him.”

Would I have done that? Would you?

Oh to be more like my beautiful Hurricane Kaylen…
(Later when I asked her about that situation, she said “yeah i think maybe he didn’t WANT anyone to sit by him. But it’s ok. I sat by him anyways.” That’s my girl!)

And then today was Kealey’s conference. Her school does this super trendy “self-directed” conference thing. It actually worked out very well for us – Kealey is such a good kid and it was so great to see her really digging into her work to look for areas where she excelled and areas where she could improve. Every single one of her teachers came to tell us that they were so impressed with her work ethic, her compassion for others, and her amazing persistence in doing her very best, all the time, no matter what. And my girl who works so so so hard to be my little helper, my mini-me, help me keep everything together when Ben is out of town – this girl on whose shoulders rests so much responsiblity, and grace, and grown-up-ness – this girl made the High Honor Roll.  I sat there listening to her read her self-assessments to us, looking at the beautiful young lady she is becoming – and I could not help but cry, just a little bit, just to myself.  How did we get here? How did my little Kealey Grace, my constant companion for all these years, the wriggly little crying baby who i brought home scared to death I was going to break her almost 12 years ago – how did that little baby grow into this vision of loveliness? Where did that time go?

So that is what I wanted to tell you about My Girls.

They are amazing and I love them and I am so so so proud of them. For all that I do wrong – THEY are what I do right. By the grace of God, my own amazing examples of parenting, a village of friends and family around to support us – by all of those things – my girls are amazing.



To my Hurricane.

A letter to my 3rd baby girl, Kaylen Hope.


IMG_4616 Baby Budget~

Someday you will read this letter, a long long time from now. You might be 10 or you might be 20 or you might be a mommy with a baby budget of your own. You remember that we called you baby budget, right? And that it’s short for “fussbudget” which is all you were for the first few months of your life? And then you turned into Hurricane Kaylen. Somedays you were sad at yourself for being a Hurricane – but then you realized that it was a good nickname because Hurricanes are strong. And you are very very strong. Strong-willed mostly. But I hope that someday that bullheaded stubbornness serves you well.

Tonight I am sitting here with tears in my eyes because something horrible happened today. A man walked into a school and killed a class full of Kindergarteners, for no reason other than he hated his mom, and wanted to take away what his mom loved most – her kindergartener students in her classroom. today, in 2012, I have shielded you from this. I wish I could always shield you from all the evil that happens in this world. But for today, I can save you from this evil. I heard the story over facebook minutes before you were set to walk out the door to head to your own kindergarten class. At that time I had no idea that it was a classroom of Kindy students, or else i may not have sent you out that door. (not that I could ever stop you – you have loved going to school since the first minute you could!) It had also been “one of those mornings” – the kind we have far too often these days.

The kind of morning where I am trying desperately to stay on top of all of Kendall’s medical needs because we don’t have a nurse, and every time I turn around to mix a medication, empty a bag, get something ready –  you and Kendall are in another room making a mess out of something. Destroying something. Ruining yet another item/piece of furniture/toy that we’ve spent money on simply because it seemed like fun at the time. The kind of morning where I didn’t talk to you so much as yell at and correct and roll my eyes at you and your incessantly hard to handle behavior. Your daddy has been travelling a lot the last couple weeks. He has to for work, and while that is normally an ok thing for me to handle, having to be full time nurse to Kendall, full time mommy to all of you, and trying to somehow come up with a way to make Christmas magic happen has worn me down. I have no patience left for much of anything. I am not proud to admit it. I have been a very bad mommy the last few weeks. Most especially to you.  You and I butt heads like none other. I say the sky is blue and you challenge me that it’s even a sky.

You have not been “healthy” in months. I am so tired of fighting with you to get you to eat or drink something, to stop the incessant snacking, to stop the incessant mess-making destruction and just keep the house clean for five minutes PLEASE. I have not loved you like you need, given you the attention you need, been the mommy you need, probably since Kendall was born if I am honest. I try. I try really really hard to find ways to be with you, do special things with you – and they IMG_4717all somehow end up with us frustrated at each other. I don’t know exactly why this is. You need so much more than I have available left to give most days. I am so very sorry baby girl.

So when I sent you out to the bus this morning, I knew that something bad was going on at another school – but it was a half a country away. And surely you would be safe. you were blissfully innocent and unaware of what was happening. As you should be.

But i came back inside and heard more and more of the tragedy unfolding in that far-away town in Connecticut – and it hit me so hard. 18 little kindergarteners – just like you and your best friend Lauren and your friend Umaimah, and your other friend Isabella, and Yahira, and Ethan, and all the other little boys and girls in your class…They were brutally killed. Instead of counting to 100 and trekking down to the library, they were being trekked in ambulances to the hospital.

Maybe their mommies had sent them off that morning like I send you off so many mornings – with a sigh of relief that a few hours of peace and quiet are here. That i can finally think a whole thought in my head. That I can turn off the crazy cartoons, clean up the mess of bowls and plates and other assorted chaos and just BREATHE for a few hours. Let someone else answer your questions and deal with your emotional outbursts and answer your 830 requests for another snack for a few hours.

Except it wasn’t for just a few hours for those moms. It was forever.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks – what if I didn’t have your messes to clean up anymore? what if you never came bouncing down those huge bus steps and running up to the front door like you do every day? what if i never felt your little arms wrapped tightly around my neck again, or heard your screams of anguish at your sister messing something up, or had you throwing a fit in the middle of the walmart again? I would do ANYTHING to have all of it back…ANYTHING.

IMG_4698As much as you drive me to the brink of alcoholism some days – you are my amazing hope and joy and reason for living. You make me laugh like no one else does with the crazy things you say and do some days. You make every day a party. You rock a striped stripes with polka dots in fluorescent colors outfit like nobody’s business. You march to your own beat and you don’t care what anyone else has to say about that. You are amazing.

So when that bus pulled up to our stop today, I was out there waiting for you. I scooped you up in my arms and just held on tight for a few seconds – until you started whining that i was crushing your cardinal cash. I was just so very glad to see you. I want to be that glad to see you every day. I want to be the mommy you need me to be. I want you to know every second of every day that I love you with all of my heart.

My heart is still aching for those mommies who will not have a warm bodied little kindergartener to tuck into bed tonite. with all those presents that will sit unopened on Christmas morning. I cannot even begin to fathom the depths of pain and torment and anguish over their lives cut far far far too short.

I wish I knew why there was so much pain and evil in this world. Like I said – I wish I could shield you from it forever. i wish you could always live in this perfect innocence of kindergarten – where everybody shares, and everybody gets along, and as long as you have a full box of crayons and a working glue stick, you can solve any problem you need to.

But I can’t. I can only equip you the best way I know how to deal with it. Always be the light that the world needs to see. You are that light. Jesus in you is that light. Let it shine, little girl, let it shine. Be your beautiful crazy hurricaney self and never let anyone or anything change that. I’m so so sorry that it took a senseless tragedy like this to open my eyes to the amazing gift before me every day – the gift of having YOU. And all your sisters. I love you all. But tonight, you are the one on my heart the most.

I just really really love you, baby budget. My kaylen hope…

Love always,

your mommy.


My thoughts and prayers are with the families enduring this horrific tragedy in Newton, CT. I pray that the God whose peace passes all understanding is with them at this time in ways that I cannot even begin to comprehend.

i am thankful for my girls’ school, that it is always locked, that it has a very set plan of security and action and that was enacted today when there was first word about the shooting. Kealey asked us at dinner what had happened. We hadn’t brought anything up, but she had seen something on her Instagram, and then told us that they had a soft lockdown today. Growing up in small private schools, Ben and i had no idea what soft lockdown meant. It breaks my heart a little bit that my kids have to know what a lockdown is. That they have to have lockdown drills. When I was little, we had tornado drills and that was super fun and all getting to go into the *giggle giggle* boys bathroom!!!! And sit with our heads between our knees for a few minutes. Anyways – Kealey said that in a lockdown drill, the office lady gets on the PA and announces whatever they are doing and always emphasizes the DRILL part – “Sorry for the interruption Liberty staff and students, but we are entering a lockdown DRILL.” Kealey said – “except today she didn’t say drill. And we all had to be locked into the classrooms, but since it was a soft lockdown, we had to stay at our desks and continue learning. In a hard lockdown we all have to get into the cubbies and turn off the lights.” (the classrooms are designed so that the cubbies are all against the same wall that the door is on – the doors all have very narrow small windows – if they were in the cubbies they would be unseen by anyone at the door.)

Oh…i have NEVER EVER EVER EVER in my whole entire life even once for half of a nanosecond considered homeschooling. But in that minute, as my 10 year old is describing to me what lockdown drills involve, I wanted to scoop them all up, move to montana, live off the land and never ever interact with another human being as long as we all shall live so help me Jesus.

I know that fear is never the answer. We will continue on as we have, firm in our resolve to not let evil win.

If anything has changed, it will be that I think everyone will hug their kids a little tighter, play a real game with them instead of letting the ipad babysit them, maybe be like REAL families again. I know that’s how it is for me. I have so very much I could say on all of this – but I am cried out at the moment. Absolutely spent. It is late.  My babies are in their beds. Life is good.

Pray for our nation, friends.

Hug your kids tight.

Be the light our world needs. It starts with you. And me. And all of us.


much love,


Motivation Monday.

As in, I need to get some! This is bound to be an absolutely crazy next couple of weeks. (Is anyone else as shocked as I am that Christmas is only two weeks away??? Say whaaaaa?????) Ben leaves for almost two straight weeks of travel today, we will likely have new nurses orienting at some point in the next couple of weeks, I have the Christmas shopping almost wrapped up (wait, i mean finished…i’m horrible about actually wrapping everything. That’s what sitting with a huge cup of coffee, a slice of pumpkin pie, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” on christmas Eve is for!)

And through all of this, I am praying that Kendall manages to keep on keepin’ on like she does. We still have no word on the culture growth from Thursday – but that doesn’t necessarily mean all is hunky-dory. Overall though she has improved clinically from last week’s nightly screamfests, so i’m less concerned about any information the cultures may reveal. But a part of me worries that it is just her typical ebb and flow with these infections, and that this is an “ebb”, and the “flow” will pick up speed at the most inconvenient time possible before Christmas! If it does, we’ll obviously just roll with it – but I’m hopeful that this is all just my overactive imagination talking!

We have been doing a lot of fun “Christmasy” crafts and activities here in the house of k’s – so i’ll share a few of those pictures. I will do a full post with instructions separately for anyone else who wants the info on the tu-tu dresses or the ornaments (or you could just follow my December Daily board on Pinterest too!) But here’s a few shots of what we’ve been up to:

IMG_4896 IMG_4899IMG_4907IMG_4988 IMG_5028IMG_5038SURPRISE!!!! Wehadababyitsaboy!!!!


JUST KIDDING!!!! That is my ADORABLE new nephew, Benjamin Ethan Aaron Read, or Baby BEAR as we like to call him. (Actually I call him baby doobie because he is the son of my littlest brother, who i have called doobie his whole life. For no reason other than it seemed to fit him when my mommy brought him home from the hospital for me to play real life babies with when i was 11. I am sure my parents as the pastor of our Baptist church, had so much fun explaining to people why their son was nicknamed after drug paraphernalia, but whatevs.) Anyways – my sister and my mom and I were able to fly out to Boston last weekend to see him for a couple days (and my brother and sister in law too!) And we had so much fun! he is the snuggliest little baby and noelle and I had a blast posing him for three straight days of newborn photo shoot craziness! We have also made a gingerbread house as a family, decorated our Christmas tree, had lots of hot cocoa with marshmallows, had indoor picnics, had fun finding our crazy Elf every morning and are looking forward to lots more christmasy fun in the weeks ahead!

I am trying to keep up with a December Daily album this year – and think I may actually be able to do it thanks to a few apps that help me journal what we did each day and then send off my iphone pics for printing easily! Again, another post for the future!

And to do all of this fun stuff – I really need to get some monday motivation! I’ve actually been doing pretty good in the “self-motivation” department (well, good for me, compared to usual). On Friday I spent Kendall’s entire naptime cleaning up the main living area of our house, which was quite neglected. It positively sparkled – right up until the big girls got home from school and then it was destroyed again. This really sucked a lot of my motivation for much of anything right out the window. The two younger ones can absolutely destroy any room in ten seconds flat – and then when i ask them to clean it up, the incessant and ridiculous whining and screaming start up, and it is just very draining. They’ve both been in rare form all weekend too, so while it’s been a fun weekend, I think Ben was pretty excited that he gets to leave the house and chaos for a few days. I’m rambling now…Anyways. I’m trying to figure out a way to stay motivated even while having my mojo leaked out of me quicker than I get generate it. If you have any good ideas on how to cope with their chaos, let me know!  (I mean besides drugs for them and wine for me, which is Plan A.)

I’ve also started trying to walk a mile a day. it was just a fun thing I saw on Instagram and I thought – I can do that! It takes about 20 minutes, I finally found the treadmill key again, there’s really no reason why i can’t carve out 20 minutes to get myself downstairs and walk that mile every day. I’m not trying to do any marathons or anything anytime soon – so for now i’m keeping it simple and just sticking to a mile every day. If I get more in, great. But the main goal is that one mile. I get EXTREMELY bored on the treadmill so i’ve been watching my favorite biographical documentaries and History Channel shows while i’m doing it and that’s been helping!

And I think that is about all the motivation i’m gonna be able to muster up today. I have gotten interrupted 2923 times trying to write this, so if it makes no sense (or, less sense than usual, which isn’t saying much i know) then that’s why! Maybe tomorrow will be more sensical. NTJ button picture

If you are looking for something that DOES make sense, head on over to my friend Kelley’s blog  and check out her series “Name That Job”! I’m a featured “Jobber” today – go see if you pick the right answer about my previous jobs!
She has a fun giveaway going on as part of her post – super easy and lots of fun! (She’s also hilarious – so if you need a good laugh, check out her posts about Honey Boo Boo!)
(click on the graphic to go to the post!)

Speaking of Honey Boo Boo, maybe I need to go make some Go-Go Juice as motivation for this Monday! Red Bull + Mountain Dew in a bottle??? That has to be one of the best ideas ever.

Ok i’m off. To see what I can be motivated to do today! Tell me what you’re doing this fine Monday and/or what motivates you when you feel like you have none! Thanks for stopping by to read this ultra boring post! Love you all!



What a Week!

When I stop and think about the fact that last Saturday we were getting discharged from the hospital – it makes this week seem like it’s been a MONTH long. And i don’t say that to be ultra-dramatic or because it has been full of super crappy news (only kinda crappy!) – it just has been a very long week!

I’m very hopeful that this week will be MUCH calmer, but as I say that I am thinking of the fact that due to teacher conferences/in-service days, Kaylen and Kendall don’t have school at all this week  (Kaylen will go her usual half day on Monday and half day on Friday) – and then nobody has school on tuesday, and then only half-days on Wednesday and Thursday. I have one conference at o-dark-thirty on Wednesday morning for Kendall (ok 8, but it means i will need to schlep everyone out of the house at o-dark-thirty or thereabouts because Ben is gone all week), and then I have three conferences on Thursday afternoon. With no nurse and no husband, this means I get to try to conference with four teachers while dealing with four children in the room. This should be awesomely productive. The only problem is – I actually NEED to have a productive conference with Karissa’s teacher. Due to the results of her hearing testing a couple weeks ago, we need to adjust her 504 plan because her schoolwork is in NO WAY reflecting the true educational level of this kid, and i’m frustrated. But i feel about as equipped to go into this battle as David must have felt going against Goliath. I just got nothin’.

I MUST make eye appointments this week for all of us – HOPING they can get us all in during one of IMG_4792 the half days for the girls. Kaylen says her eyes hurt all the time, Karissa’s main pair of glasses is broken, I am on my last precious pair of contacts, and Kendall is doing this weird blinking thing when she gets tired that i’m hoping doesn’t mean anything beyond her eyes are getting fatigued, but should at least get it checked out since we all have to be there. Kaylen needs to go back to either the ped or the ENT for week eleventy of this crappy croup stuff she’s dealing with, Karissa needs a final follow up with the neuropsych to get the testing recommendations, I need to strangle call someone at the nursing agency and discuss AGAIN how vitally important it is that we get at least SOME of our open hours filled with a skilled non-crazy nurse soon. I need to clean the house, dig out coats and hats and match up mittens/gloves and clean out the over=flowing front closet so the living room can stop being the dumping grounds for everything outdoor-wear related. i need to get control of life again. All of this Kendall stuff has me feeling very OUT of control lately, and my typical reaction to that is to just shut down. Focus only on what needs to happen in the next hour, and become paralyzed at the thought of anything beyond that.

But it’s time to get out of that funk show brother.

We are slowly getting used to Kendall’s new high-maintenance schedule. Having an extra hour in our schedule last nite threw me for a loop, but between my awesome “been there, done that” special needs momma friends and my super-smart cousin-in-law Jim talking me down on facebook, we think/hope/pray thatIMG_4749 we were able to keep her meds on a good enough schedule that it didn’t throw anything too far off. I’m still trying to get over the massive anxiety from the stern “speech” Dr. G gave me about having an active kid on a hefty dose of blood thinners. It included such fun remonstrations as “if you even suspect that she gets hit in the stomach hard enough to cause internal bleeding, go immediately to the ER. if she hits her head in ANY way that is suspicious for possible concussion, go immediately to the ER. if she has ANY cuts or wounds that will not stop bleeding, call 911 or go to the ER.” uhhhhhh….yeah. She didn’t earn the nickname “headwound harry” for nothing! Kendall’s head is magnetically attracted to hard surfaces. She is a walking accident. I feel like a helicopter mom these past few days hovering over her, yelling at anyone who gets near her…I don’t know how/if/when I will be able to let her go to school. She is definitely already showing signs of being on a blood thinner. Her poor legs are totally bruised up by the shots, anywhere she has been bumped or picked up there are small bruises, and withdrawing her ethanol/tpa meds from her lines earns major gushes of blood into the syringe that then leave a bigger mess. Sorry to be graphic but this is what we are living with! Normally we have to hold the kid in 82 different positions to get blood to flow for lab draws and such – not anymore! I’m sure I’ll adjust to this in time (she has to be on this therapy for 6 more weeks, and then indefinitely on a modified version of it), but MAN is it enough to make my heart hurt from the stress of constantly watching her like a hawk.

She is supposed to have a repeat ultrasound and meet with the newest member of our medical team, the hematologist, in two weeks. I am hopeful and fully expecting that we will get good news at that appointment (like theIMG_4765 clot was a total fluke, is now gone, and we can cut her lovenox therapy in half or stop it completely). She will also be finishing up her antibiotics and the anti-fungals around that same time, and all of this will hopefully help her start feeling much better. It is hard to explain how crappy these meds make her feel as they do their job and eradicate any and all traces of “the bad guys” from her bloodstream. She does her best to still be her normal self, and every day I feel like I see a few more minutes of “Kendall” back than the day before – but I know she doesn’t feel good at all. Today was actually a pretty good day. Her dressing was sloughing off (again!), so i wrapped her up like a bowl of leftovers (we use a special dressing protective cover and then wrap her entire torso in saran wrap to keep water out of her line area) and let her splash in the bath like a big girl for a few minutes. I got to scrub her knotty hair real good with conditioner and then put it back in braids so it doesn’t tangle. She’s due for a haircut again soon! She had her first haircut last year on her birthday, and will have her second one around this birthday! Actually they all need haircuts. See??? one MORE thing I have to fit in with everyone! Except Kaylen. She’s actually losing her hair for some reason (probably her crappy diet that consists of lucky charms and captain crunch and the occasional bite of noodles or mashed potatoes.)

this was supposed to be a quick short update so I don’t have novel-length blog posts this week…
Anyways – I hope it is a beautiful start to the week for all of you! Can you see the facebook “like” boxes on the side? If you aren’t already, please “like” Kendall’s page! We are SO excited that she surpassed my original goal of 400 so quickly – and now i’d LOVE to have her page get to 1000 prayer warrior friends by her birthday! Share her page with your friends! Help us hit 1000!
I’ve got a few fun things in mind for this place this week so stick around! you never what’s gonna happen next!


thanks for being here!

love and hugs~


Things I *Heart* thursday.

Aschool-1 And, as is par for the course this week, I know I’m a bit late with this post!

Today i wanted to tell you (well, at least those of you who care about all the things i love!) about my favorite place to get the girl’ hairbows – Blossom Country!


This business is the brain child of a beautiful lady name Meredith, who started makingAschool-6 hair bows/flowers for her own little girl when she was a baby. She couldn’t find any that she quite liked enough, so she started playing around with making her own, and out of that, her business emerged! I first met Meredith last year at a craft show, and was so impressed with her gentle spirit, and the obvious passion she had for what she does with her handiwork! Plus her flowers are just beautiful! She has this amazing eye for putting together colors and pattern combos that just make my heart happy!



I was honored to be able to take some photos of some of her newer items to put on her facebook page, where she sells her items from, and as you can see, my children just absolutely had to be DRUG into this! 😉 We are proud owners of a few gorgeous Blossom Country “blossoms”, and we are forever getting compliments on them.



Anyways – I am definitely in love with these gorgeous flowers and bows for my baby girls, and wanted to share them with you! Miss Meredith has graciously offered to give away a free bow/flower to one of my wonderful Aschool-27 readers!! To get your opportunity to win the flower/bow of your choice, all you need to do is make sure you go  like her facebook page, make sure you are a fan of Terra Talking the facebook page, and then leave a comment here to let me know that you did both of those things!

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Thanks for stopping by for this Things I <3 Thursday!

See you on the flipside!





Disclosure: I am pleased to have Blossom Country as a sponsor of Terra Talking. In exchange for this review/giveaway, I received a free blossom of my choice. If you have a blog or business that would be interested in sponsoring  or advertising on Terra Talking, please contact me for further details! Email: terra@2sisphotos.com   I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you!

Giveaway will run from 9:45 pm Thursday, Sept 13 through 9:45 pm Saturday, Sept 15. Winner will be announced in a blog post Sunday afternoon!

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