Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sharing His Memory

"Mommy, is that your grandpa?" he asked as he pointed to a picture of my grandpa Halter and me. I've never spoken to him about my grandpa, all the wonderful things I remember about him. Like how he taught me how to play the piano, which I did at his funeral, or how involved he was in the community.

"Yep! That's my grandpa Halter," I replied, smiling. "He went to heaven before your great grandma did. He was waiting there for her."

"Oh. I don't know him," he said, a frown creasing his eyebrows.

"I know, buddy. I wish you knew him, too."

"I don't like that," he pouted.

I was a little confused. "That he went to heaven and you didn't get to meet him?"

"Yeah," he replied. "I don't like that."

All I could do was say I was sorry. He would have loved my grandpa Halter, and my grandpa would have loved him right back. I can just picture them sitting side by side at the upright piano that now resides in my mom's living room, pounding out Chopsticks and giggling when they hit a wrong note. I'm sure my grandpa would have already tried to teach him how to waltz around the living room.

I looked behind me and saw my mom with tears streaming down her face. I know she misses him even more than I do and I feel bad that this random conversation upset her. Still, I'm sure that it also made her happy to know that Brenden and Lauren will know their great grandpa through me. They'll hear the story about how he would get dressed for church and "forget" that he was only in his long johns. Or how we made lasagna one time and he let me "accidentally" plant a sauce-y hand print on his forehead. They'll know that one spring a family of robins built a nest on my grandparents' porch and they videotaped the little eggs' progress until they hatched.

William Lee Halter
(Lauren got one of her middle names from him.)

No matter if they spend years or months or no time at all, great grandparents have a way of shaping the future of their great grandchildren. I feel so lucky that I had such a wonderful person in my life to share with them.

(ETA: I wrote this post on Tuesday night and scheduled it to be published today. Yesterday, we were outside playing and a robin landed next to me. I can't help but think my grandpa was saying, "Hi!" I made sure to point it out to Brenden and explained the thought behind it. Brenden loved it!)

Brenden and the robin.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Like most parents, I only want what is best for my children. If they are in pain I would do anything to fix it, which is why we had tubes put in Lauren's ears. (So thankful we did.) If they cannot figure out how to do something, we teach them. And if we think they may be delayed, we have them checked out before it becomes an even bigger issue. That's why, after consulting with an ENT, we decided to get Brenden's hearing and speech evaluated.

His hearing test was a few weeks ago. I wasn't sure what to expect and I didn't know how Brenden would behave. It turned out to be pretty simple and Brenden did better than I could have ever expected. They tested the pressure in his ears and how his middle ear reacted to sound, which were both fine. Next, she showed him a paper with pictures on it and made sure he knew what they all were. Then she closed us into a sound proof booth, put some headphones on him, and asked him to point to different things, which he did with no problems.

His last test was to clap when he heard beeps, which he thought was hilarious. A few minutes later she declared his hearing to be "perfect". She also said that he did extremely well and surprised her by following all of her directions. I have to admit, I was surprised, too. His reward was a toy car from their office and a chocolate shake from Braum's, plus lots of "good job, Brenden!"

Today we had his speech evaluation. This was the one that made me the most nervous. Ever since he started preschool I've been concerned that he is behind. I even had a nosy rude concerned grandparent at the park ask me if he was in speech therapy yet, but I think that's because her daughter is a speech therapist. I really wanted to know if there was anything we needed to be doing at home to help him or if something more worrisome was going on.

The doctor was extremely nice and Brenden was immediately at ease with her, which he is with most people. She had him tell her about different pictures, all of which he was able to identify. In the middle of that she turned to me and said, "He's got a great vocabulary. Most three year olds don't know all of these." At the end, she let him play with some toys while she explained what the test showed.

Surprisingly, he's a little ahead of the curve. He's 3 years 9 months and he's on par with a 3 year 11 month old, so just a bit. She said that he can say all of the different sounds but that he just doesn't have them all in the right places yet, which is totally normal. For example, he substitutes "W's" for "L's" (Example: Saying "ye-whoa" instead of "yellow") but that's okay. He can say them, which means eventually he'll get them in the right places.

Besides learning that he's totally okay and that there is no need to worry or do any special work with him, she also explained that most kids are resistant if you ask them to say a certain sound. I've noticed that he does this if we ask him to correct a way he says something. Like "wipe" when he really means "white". The best way to handle it is to repeat the word back to him correctly, which we usually do. Someday he'll get it on his own.

I am just so completely relieved to know exactly where he stands and that he's on track for his age. If there had been something we needed to work on we would have done it, but now we can focus on other things to help him out next year in school, like writing his letters and knowing the sounds they make.

Or maybe how to play nicely with his sister. That would help a ton. :)

It may look like a hug, but he's really trying to tackle her. Sigh...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Whee!! (Kiddie Park!!)

This past weekend my mom and I were able to take both kids to Kiddie Park in Bartlesville. They had both been before, but Lauren had never ridden a ride, apart from the train. I was finally ready to let her try a few and boy did she love it!

Brenden is an old pro at riding all the rides and was more than happy to show his sister how they worked. He even rode a few that he really didn't want to just to ride with her. *and then mommy's heart melts!* Her very first ride was the boats which I thought had straps until I put her into the seat. That was terrifying! Of course, she totally surprised me and sat the entire time, turning her steering wheel and having a blast.

That's one happy little girl!

After that they both rode the horses, which was not Brenden's favorite, but he decided it was okay because Lauren was going to be with him. Grandma stood next to the fence and they had the best time waving at her as they went around and around.

Hi, Grandma!

We decided that Brenden had been super nice and that he deserved to pick the next few rides. I rode Aquarius with him and then he went on the bumper cars for the first time. He made a friend in line and ended up riding in the same car with him, which was so sweet to see.


Our next stop was the train, which we all enjoyed. I thought Lauren would get really upset when we went through the dark tunnel and everyone screamed but all she did was stand really still with big eyes. She even learned how to say, "Toot, toot!"

Lauren's last ride was the cars which have been around for a very long time. I believe they were one of the first rides which means they have been around since the 1950's. (Some upgrades have been made of course.) Brenden was again a little too old for this ride but he was happy to snag the Thomas the Train car. I think this was Lauren's favorite ride. She spent the entire time with a huge smile on her face, squealing with delight.


Like I've said before, Kiddie Park is cheap and fun and a wonderful way to spend an evening with your little kids. Brenden's ready to go back already, and I must admit, I am, too!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rick Update 6-25-11

From Karen, via Facebook:

I can’t believe it’s been over three weeks since Rick was admitted to the hospital. In some respects it seems like we have been living here for months. In others, it’s like just yesterday we were unpacking from our trip to Tennessee.

The past 7-10 days have really been rough on Rick. They had to start giving him pain meds to make him somewhat comfortable. His throat hurts so much it’s hard to eat and the fever just won’t go away. His white count just isn’t there to help fight everything, so they put him on every known antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral they could to knock the bad guys out. His platelets dropped last Sunday, and his red blood count went right behind them. They had to give him transfusions every day of one of them. These were all expected things, and they warned us he would have to have them at some point. But in the back of your mind, you held out hope he wouldn’t. Friday was the first day he didn’t have to get one. In the middle of it all, he had a terrible reaction to one of the meds which caused an itchy rash all over his body. On a good note, he actually started to have a white count which is a sign that things are going to turn around. We are all just trying to make him comfortable to get through the rough patch and get him home. It’s probably going to be at least another week or so before we can start planning for that.

We continue to be amazed at the nurses and staff here. They all are so concerned and check in on Rick even when they aren’t on this floor. Even Abraham the “flooring engineer” stops by every day. I drop a package of goodies at the desk each day to thank them. They think it is a bribe, but I don’t think you have to bribe them for anything here. It make such a difference when you know it’s not just a job…they truly care.

His room is turning into a photo album of grandkids, cards and Packer gear. Kay and Jeff sent him a Packer care package which perked him up! Every card, letter and phone call is greatly appreciated. I think I’ve told more than one person that we will need a small U-Haul just to move out of this place.

Look for something wonderful and positive on my next update!!! I know it is coming.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Not To Get A Tip (And then maybe get fired.)

While on vacation this past weekend we had some amazing experiences, and some not so great ones. One of the bad ones was at a restaurants called Landry's. The food was pretty good and the server would have been just fine if she would have stopped getting onto Brenden.

Yep, she actually took it upon herself to tell my child how to behave. To say we were shocked would be an understatement. I've never dealt with this before so I wasn't quite sure what to do. In the end I got on their website and left them feedback about what had happened.

It didn't take long for them to reply. They asked for my phone number so they could call me. I thought they would ask me more about what she had said and done and then re-train her. The manager called me this morning and told me that after questioning the waitress she fired her. I was actually shocked. I didn't expect that to happen, although she did say that there were other problems and this was the last straw.

When she asked the waitress what had happened she was told that Brenden was standing on the chair and she was scared he would get hurt. #1 He was on his knees because he didn't have a booster seat. #2 We were right there and he never came close to falling. #3. She told him OVER and OVER about it, among other things.

I explained to the manager that every time she came over that she said something different to him. How to hold his food over his plate and to finish his food. Telling him to not touch a knife, which he didn't. He actually hands the knives to us now before we even ask. She was always shushing him when he wasn't even being loud. It was beyond ridiculous. I would have understood if she had said it once and then apologized for stepping in or something, but that was not the case. After we ate she showed him where to "drive" the boat, which was nice, but she also rushed him down the stairs, which was scary. The manager agreed that she was out of line and that she should have come to her if he was being a problem.

At the end of the call she invited us to return to the restaurant and I told her we would, which was my way of saying "Thank you." I definitely feel like it was handled and that we were taken care of, but I wish it hadn't happened in the first place.

Note to servers: if you feel something is wrong, get a manager, especially if it has to do with someone's child. If that child is running around like a heathen I completely understand that they are a hazard to themselves and other patrons. Heck, I'd even go to a manager for that.

And to all the great servers out there, THANK YOU. I promise we're good tippers. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
~Elizabeth Stone

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Beach!!!

One thing I've wanted to do since Brenden started showing an interest in water was take him to the beach. This weekend, Mike and Connie made that a reality, and it was amazing!!!

Somehow we hit the jackpot with two kids that can endure ridiculously long car rides with minimum complaint as long as we stop for bathroom breaks and to eat and let them stretch their legs. (A DVD player in the car helped, too!) We got up at 2 am on Thursday morning (ouch!) and made it to the hotel around 4 pm. Immediately, Brenden started stripping down so he could go swimming. Since it was a vacation and he was so great in the car we decided to all go. It was Lauren's first time in a pool and she had a great time splashing around. Brenden of course had a blast.

Ready to go!

We convinced Brenden to check out the beach and he was not disappointed. Lauren, however, was a little nervous and screamed like crazy when we got her near the water. She did decide that digging in the sand (and eating a little bit...ewww) was great.

Beach baby!

The next few days we alternated between the beach and the pool and even fit in some shopping. We rode on a ferry, had some great food, some awful food and had some great service and some awful service. (A waitress getting onto my child when he's doing nothing wrong? Not okay.)

By the end of our trip Brenden was boogie boarding and learned how to hold his breath and go under the water in the pool. Lauren finally realized that the ocean was lots of fun and scared us all by trying to run into the water on her own over and over. She also ate a lot more sand and watched Tim and Brenden build a sand castle which the kids then destroyed while we cheered.

Brenden's special bed made out of couch cushions on the floor of Mike and Connie's room; Lauren learning how to say milk "ick", purple "pu-pal", cracker "ca-cack", and happy snappy "appy nappy"; finally being able to give Tim his Father's Day present (Ben Folds tickets!); drinking wine on the balcony and listening to the waves; watching the kids play together on the beach.

Fantastic and unforgettable memories that I will always treasure. Again, thank you Mike and Connie. We can't wait to go again!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!!

A very Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads that we have the pleasure of having in our lives!!!

I'd write more but we're kinda busy enjoying the beach. :) Hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rick Update

From Karen, via Facebook:

Today Rick's white count completely bottomed out. He is now at zero. This is expected and means the treatment is right on track. He really felt the effects yesterday and today. He doesn’t have the pep in his step he has had since he has been here. He is fighting it, but knows his limits. We got some good news today. The genetic coding came back that the leukemia is “typical”. This means that the treatment he is receiving is exactly the correct one. There was a possibility that if it was a different mutation, that he would have to start on again on a different chemo. The doctors are still very impressed with his progress and tolerance. Now we just have to wait for the counts to start bouncing back. Then we can start talking about a release date.

Mentally, I think he is doing very well. We continue to laugh, and just take each day as it comes. He amazes me each and every day with his positive attitude. We had to “re-learn” how to play rummy, and I got a Monopoly program for the computer that we started playing last night. We’ve got Xfinity and Netflix on the computer for “movie nights” and the couch is great for a little movie cuddling. I don’t know WHAT Rick would do without his new Kindle. That has been a great source of relaxation and distraction. THANK YOU AGAIN KIMBERLY and MARC!!!

He got more mail today, which really picks him up. I have an agreement with the volunteers at the front desk, and Rick has been successfully getting his mail. Again, everyone thanks so much your thoughts and prayers.

I’ve been making it home every other day or so, and spent about 5 hours in a store doing work yesterday. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t stay here with him. Hopefully, he thinks the same thing. I’ve told him if he ever needs his space, just let me know. Marc and Kimberly took me to this awesome sushi restaurant. We took a drive around the neighborhood and checked out the amazing houses. Everything from Victorians to Craftsmans. Oh to have the buckaroos to buy one of those gorgeous houses. But at $1.4M, I think it is a little out of reach…at least for this year ;)

Thanks again for all your support, calls and messages. They are all greatly appreciated and welcomed at any time.

Rick 2 Mutants 0

Absolutely fantastic news so far! We love you guys!

We Got Ears, Say Cheers!

Today was Brenden's hearing test and I have to say, I was nervous. I've been concerned about his speech for awhile since it seems like Lauren picks up on certain sounds better than he does. His ENT wasn't concerned about his ears, but agreed that a hearing test would still be a good idea to make sure he's where he should be.

Before we left, I told him that we were going to get his ears checked out and that if he was really good that we would get ice cream afterwards. Ice cream = Most Awesome Thing Ever in Brenden's universe. I'm always worried about how he'll act at the doctor's office, but I should have known better.

The doctor was so very nice and explained everything really well. She checked the pressure in his ears, which was great, and then used something that tested how well his cochlea responded, which was also great.

Next, we went into the sound proof box, which was kind of a strange experience. Sort of like being in an airplane when they start messing with the pressure. I held a piece of paper up with different objects on it while Brenden listened to the doctor through the headphones. He pointed to every object that she said. After that he had to clap any time he hear beeping. The whole thing took about 10 minutes and she pronounced his hearing to be "perfect."

The doctor was completely surprised at how well he listened and followed directions. She made sure to tell me that several times, actually. Brenden knowing his shapes or showing off his intelligence in other ways makes me very proud, but I have to admit that I'd take him being well behaved over showing off any day.

His speech evaluation is scheduled for a few weeks from now. I'm ready to have that over and done with. I'm sure that they will be able to give us some great information as well as ease my concerns a little bit.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy the ice cream that we all got for Brenden doing so well. Don't worry, he got one, too. He said, "Yay! Chocolate!"

Proud Mama!

As a mom, I have found that even the smallest things that my children do can make me burst with pride. (The reverse is also true when they do awful things...just fyi.)

Here's Brenden showing off the shapes that he knows:

And Lauren knows a bunch of animal sounds:

I love them so much and will always be so proud of them!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jesus Loves the Little Children

This weekend we had the very great pleasure of having Brenden and Lauren baptized at the First Presbyterian Church in Independence. They were the 4th generation of Kellys to be baptized in this beautiful church and we are all so grateful and thankful that we were able to share this day with our family.

We met with the minister before the service and found out that it was her first day at the church. Their regular minister was on sabbatical so we were making this day quite eventful for her! She was wonderful and Brenden was completely comfortable with her from the beginning. She explained how it would all work, what was expected of us, and even let Brenden help get the water.

Brenden was great during the service. He stood still, let her place the water on his head, and shook her hand. Lauren was the complete opposite. She was a screaming mess with two days of non-napping. (ETA: I forgot that while she was being blessed, Lauren decided to play in the baptismal water. We were told ahead of time that if she did that it was okay, but what we didn't expect was for her to then splash water at the minister and then herself! Silly girl!) We made it through and Rev. Fran even blessed the crosses my parents bought the kids.

We herded the kids down the aisle so that the congregation could see them and Lauren was adamant about walking. Eventually she made it to the end and even shook one man's hand. Brenden happily marched down the aisle, ever the attention seeker. Then they were able to go play in the nursery with their grandmas and were even given some fruity snacks, which were a definite hit.

(A quick Brenden-ism. Right before Children's Church they call all the kids up to the front to have a little chat with the minister. She asked them if they knew about the Pentecost and Brenden piped up and said he did. What did my crazy boy say? "My mommy has Power Rangers!" Lovely...and very memorable.)

After church we had a yummy lunch at El Pablito's (Try the flautas!) and Lauren eventually hit her limit. I took her out to the car and as soon as we got going she was out. Brenden eventually fell asleep, and I may have snoozed a bit as well.

It was a wonderful weekend full of family and we are so glad that we had so many people to celebrate this blessed occasion with us.

Thank you Ginny for helping us set everything up!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

For GiGi

On Saturday night we were able to celebrate Ginny's (AKA GiGi) birthday with her! We went to a restaurant in a beautiful old hotel. I had some fanstastic lobster ravioli and the kids, even with no naps, were totally fine.

We asked Brenden to sing to GiGi for her birthday and this was the song he chose.

Happy Birthday Ginny!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


My son cracks me up on a daily basis. Here are a few things he's said lately:

Me: "Brenden can you say 'Hello' in Spanish?"

Brenden: "Hello in Spanish!"

Me: *laughing* "Touche. Can you say 'Hola'?"

Brenden: "Hola. Como estas?"

Me: "Seriously? Thanks Handy Manny!"


Me: "Brenden, it's time to get up. We're late for t-ball!" (Note: He loves t-ball.)

Brenden: *yawns* " I don't want to go. Getting up makes me feel bad. This makes me feel better." *pulls blanket over his head*

Me: "You are 3, not 13, this is not allowed!"


Me: "Brenden, where do Gigi and Poppy live?"

Brenden: ....

Me: "They live where LuLu and Jim live. Where is that?"

Brenden: .... *grunts*

Me: "Brenden, do you know?"

Brenden: "Mommy, I don't want to talk to you. I want to look out the window."

Me: ....

My silly boy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Sometimes, I just want to record the beautiful, funny, or crazy memories that I don't want to lose. So that's what I'm going to do! It won't be a fluid story, but I know I'll be happy to have them.

  • The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, Tim, Brenden and I were able to attend my friend Sara's wedding. The weather was beautiful, the food was fantastic, the bride looked gorgeous and the maid of honor speech was the best I've ever heard. However, the one thing that stood out to me about the whole day was the drive into town. Not long after we got into the car, Brenden realized that we were leaving Lauren with Mike and Connie. (She hadn't napped well and I didn't want to ruin a lovely wedding with a screaming baby.) He immediately started bawling and yelling, "I want my Lauren! I love her! I miss my sister!" I'll definitely have to remind him about that when he's a teenager and doesn't like her very much.
Brenden wanted to dance with the bride!

  • In the past few months they have become closer than I thought they could be. Lauren follows Brenden around like a shadow, constantly trying to do everything he does. She copies all of his noises and wants to sit in his chair all the time. Surprisingly, Brenden has been very willing to share with his sister, even when he's not asked. If he has an ice juice he makes sure to give her bites. When we went to Osakas while Karen was visiting he fed her soup and rice. He even gave her a drink of juice last night because he thought she looked thirsty. Many mornings I'll hear Brenden through the baby monitor, yelling at me that they are awake. When I walk into her room I find both of them in her crib, bouncing around like monkeys. Now that she can bop around in a little dance he holds her hands and dances with her while they giggle like crazy. He's also always worried about her getting sick, especially when it comes to the things she eats. He knows she can't have his milk or his peanut butter sandwiches. Again, I'll have to remind him when he's older that at one time he didn't think his sister was so bad.

  • Brenden has always been a ham and since starting preschool his repertoire of songs he sings has become huge. He sings all the time. In Walmart, in his room when he should be sleeping, while he's going to the bathroom, and just randomly walking around the house. This weekend he stayed with my parents while Tim was gone so that Lauren could go get her pictures taken. While on our way to the splash pad on Sunday, my mom texted me and told me to ask him about the song he made up for her. I'm not sure about the words but I think it was "I'm going to church with my grandma!" to some unknown tune. Then he added another line: "My mommy and daddy are taking me to the sprinklers!" When he first started singing it we thought it was a continuation of the first line. It became pretty obvious that he was adding on as he went. It cracked us up!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rick and the Hospital

From Karen, via Facebook:

As most of you know, Rick was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia called APL on Friday after routine blood work. We were extremely lucky to have the doctors and lab personnel that reacted so quickly. He was admitted Friday afternoon and by Saturday morning he had his tests completed, and his first round of chemo started. Today will be day 3 of his chemo therapy, and he could not be more pleased with how he feels. His spirits are high and he can’t thank all the family and friends that have been so supportive. You could not ask for a more wonderful staff than those they have here at Porter Hospital! It has made a world of difference.

Thanks for all your messages and phone calls. He has is phone and computer with him, and found out today that he can continue to work “from home”. He was extremely happy to hear that.

Today is a good day with Rick already doing 3 laps around the floor before I even woke up. He is eating well, and continues to tell everyone…”We are going to kick this thing in the butt and get on with it.”

Rick 1 – Mutants 0


Yes, he has been inhabited by mutant blood cells and after those are kicked out they are going to repopulate his body with normal ones. He's also calling his i.v. cart "Walli" and the glass atrium where he sets up his computer to do work his "corner office." I think this type of upbeat attitude will help to ease the discomfort of the medications and the normal wear and tear of an extended stay in the hospital.

We love you Rick! Keep up the good work!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


This wonderful guy is Karen's husband, the kids' grandpa Rick.

He adores the kids and they adore him right back. We are so blessed to have him in our lives.

On Friday, Rick was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Last week he went in for some routine blood work and they found that his white blood cell count was not what it was supposed to be. They thought it was due to some medication he was taking so they discontinued that and retested his blood at the beginning of this week. It was still off so they did a bone marrow biopsy. On Friday they went in to get the results and he was admitted to the hospital that night and started chemotherapy yesterday. He will be in the hospital for about a month and after that he will have to be careful where he goes because he'll be very susceptible to disease.

There are a few good things. First, they caught it early and he doesn't have any other symptoms. Second, out of all of the types he could have, this is the best kind. It has a 90% CURE rate, which is much better than a survival rate. I talked to him on Friday and he seems to be in good spirits so far. It probably feels strange to just be sitting in the hospital, not feeling like anything is wrong, but not being able to leave.

We are all in a state of shock, especially, and understandably, Karen. One day life was normal and the next...BAM. I wish we lived closer so that we could be there to at least distract her from everything that is going on for a little bit. There are very few instances where a grandkid hug doesn't make you feel a little better.

So please, lots of prayers and good thoughts for this very special guy. We love you, Rick and I can't wait until I can tell everyone that you're doing great and completely cured.

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