a picture

I literally have a moment and I wanted to give you all a sneak peek of Blythe's two month photos. Enjoy! She's 11 pounds now and loving life! More later. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend :)


when i was little...

When I was little I thought the car wouldn't start unless I was buckled in.

When I was little I thought certain weeds were edible.

When I was little my sister protected me from a dog by throwing a stick at it.

When I was little my sister was my hero.

When I was little Barbies actually breathed.

When I was little we always ate supper as a family.

When I was little I sneaked a lick of butter when I set the table.

When I was little I got stickers on a chart if I pooped.

When I was little my parents let me decorate my room however I wanted.

When I was little I thumbed through chapter books, just waiting to be able to read the stories inside.

When I was little I crawled in and out of bushes and our woodpile.

When I was little I scribbled in a notebook on my dad's lap.

When I was little my mom braided my hair like a pro.

When I was little messes didn't bother me.

When I was little I would ride my bike up and down and up and down and up and down my street.

When I was little I didn't own a gaming system and my life was better for it.

When I was little my mom would sing me  the song "Toppins" when I was sick and gently rub my face until everything was better.

When I was little I would lay in my bed and look out at the night sky and wonder about the big world and what God was really like.

When I was little I prayed every night that a tornado, fire, or murderer would not get me.

When I was little I noticed my sister reading her bible every night.

When I was little I shared a bathroom with my entire family.

When I was little I would lay on my dad's chest and try and match the rhythm of my breath with his.

When I was little a tire swing kept me occupied for hours.

When I was little I never wanted any other parents but my own.

When I was little my mom let me use a hot glue gun to create to my hearts content.

When I was little I would ride on my grandpa's lap while he mowed the lawn.

When I was little I didn't know the income was scarce; I knew nothing but plenty.

When I was little I was loved into the woman I've become.


Our Story: Part XIV

If you have missed any of the first thirteen installments to "Our Story," click HERE and scroll to the bottom. Pull up a seat, and a snack…it's gotten fairly lengthy… and this is the end. Enjoy. 

Part XIV:

I had waited two years for him to notice me, and three years after that for him to ask me out. Then began three more years of long distance waiting for him to ask me the question, and now I only had to wait 1 year and 2 months longer to be called his wife. 

I had prayed that the Lord would help me keep my focus away from boys and on Him. Then I prayed that if I couldn't have Brent, that God would grant me a man like him. And then I prayed that God would give me the patience and trust to endure 4 years of distance from the boy I now loved. And now I prayed that God would empower us both in our final stretch; I prayed He would give us the strength to continue to wait for our wedding night. 

Throughout my final year of college I was a bag of mixed emotions. I planned a wedding from a distance, I student taught, I relished time with friends I would be leaving soon, I watched my dad go through hell with his job, and I fought, and prayed, and struggled with where we would be moving after the wedding. 

Graduation came and went in a flurry of square caps and fluttering gowns, and then I rushed off to Wisconsin to stand up in Renae's wedding. I sobbed through her entire ceremony at I thought of leaving her and at the rush of emotions that came as I thought of my own wedding in just three short weeks. 

The waiting was over. I was going to be Brent's bride.

*  *  *

I watch out the window as the clouds disintegrate and the city lights come into view. Louisville, Kentucky. Lord, I'm still so unsure about this place, please give me peace in this decision while I'm here interviewing. And Lord, may my time with Brent be refreshing and peace-giving. 

A short two days later, after rushing around, having an anxiety attack while driving through city traffic, interviewing and securing a job at a middle school, and checking out what Brent had been up to at his new internship, we hold one another close at the airport gate. 

"You know this is the last time we ever have to say goodbye like this?" I say as I secure my grip around his waist even tighter. 

His sigh and kiss on my forehead told me he knew. 

* * *

"Kels? Kelsey. Wake up, sweetie. It's your wedding day!" I groggily throw the covers back and look up at my mom. I had slept like a rock as nerves and anxiety were no where to be found in my excitement for today. I had never been so sure about something.  "Go jump through the shower. I have breakfast waiting for you." As mom leaves my room, I lay my hand on the empty pillow next to mine and smile-- tonight it would not be empty. Today I would become Brent's wife. 

The rest of the morning and afternoon is a madhouse of hairspray, dresses, makeup, pictures, family, cakes falling over, humidity and wind. However, nothing could mess up this day. As we snap photos I look around at what my grandparents' backyard has become. The space where I used to decorate their landscape with peony petals is now decorated with folding chairs; the lawn where my grandpa used to let me ride on his lap while mowing is now scattered with tables for the reception. My childhood dream is becoming a reality. Our photographer is giving us directions and Brent comes up behind me and scoops me into his arms. We already shared a special "first moment" with one another, and now we are just enjoying one another's company before the ceremony commences. Earlier he had given me a journal he had kept since our engagement. The last entry was just for me, and had been written this morning: I want to be so good to you, always. I want to be a good husband. I want to always care for you and love and protect you. Today, at the end of the day, I want you to fall asleep in my arms knowing that you are loved, cherished, and safe.

And then, in what seems like a matter of moments, I am standing beside my dad. Though he keeps asking me if he has time to go to the bathroom before we walk down the aisle, I am so thankful that this is the man that raised me. I know he is proud to give me away, but I also know that, though unspoken, we are both a little emotional about that moment. And finally the change in music is our cue, my aunt waves us around the corner and there, in an orange setting sun, Brent waits for me at the end of the aisle. He is waiting for me, as he has waited for me for many years. We trusted the Lord would bring us to this day if we remained faithful, and now I walk down the aisle that will forever bring our waiting to an end. 

I look at Brent and see in his face the perseverance that has ensured this day would come. I look at Brent and I see in his face how he beholds me in a way no man ever has or ever will. I looked at Brent and I see in his face the unknown journey we are about to embark. I look at Brent and I see in his face the love of our Heavenly Father, and I know that no matter where that unknown journey takes us-- for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health-- that Brent will love, cherish, and protect me until death. 

As my white dress trails down the aisle, I look at Brent and I see home. 


a conversation

The following is a conversation had between husband and wife while eating Whoppers. 

Wife, mouth partially full: I just got one of those weird ones that is chewy.

Husband, shaking his head knowingly: Those are Whoppers that haven't whopped.

Wife: Haven't "whopped"?

Husband: Yes. Whopped. The ones that haven't whopped are kind of like Milk Duds.

Wife: Actually, you're right, they do kind of taste like Milk Duds.

Husband: Because what happens is they are all placed in the whopping machine. The ones that whop become Whoppers, the ones that…dud…become Milk Duds.

I am not saying this conversation happened between Brent and me, because it sort of sounds like a conversation between five year olds, but if it did it would make me love Brent even more. Gotta love a man who doesn't take everything so seriously. 


one month of Blythe

First, I just have to say how much I LOVE the title of this post because to me I read it as "One month of BLITHE/JOY." And though I voiced the struggles and real-life-ness HERE, there truly has been JOY in our lives too.

Each month I want to post pictures of Blythe wearing this little outfit [which should fit her until she's nearly a year old…which is why it is ridiculously large on her now!]. I know the bow is way too large for her cute little head, but it's all about perspective. Without further adieu, here are some ONE MONTH pictures! [about two weeks late]

And now, because we caved and did the whole smart phone/iphone thing, we have tons of wonderful "quick shots" that we would have missed otherwise [so, okay okay the phones are THAT bad]. Here are a few shots of life with Miss Blythe in the past month:

Day one. Still at the hospital. 

Ready to go home! 
We were both very excited to get her home and find our "new normal" as a family of three. This was a BEAUTIFUL day and a sunny ride I will never forget! 

First day home. Still can't believe I had such a tiny baby! 

She was born during March Madness :) This stocking cap was one of Brent's Christmas presents; he also got a matching one. 

"Kelsey, I want to get in the crib with baby Blyfe." Okay. Caroline was so SO good with her. 

Ellie also loved her, of course, but we had to keep them a little further apart as Ellie hasn't mastered "gentleness" yet. 


One of Brent's favorite pictures. 

Becoming much more alert of world around her. 

My birthday present! :) 

Just a quick stop for snuggles from Papa. 

These two have lots of serious conversations. 

Her first track meet [at which Torri broke a school record!]

Love this. Getting measured and added to the wall at Grandma and Grandpa's! 

Getting some cheeks! :) 

In the front pack, getting ready to help me vacuum. 

Another daddy/daughter chat. 

Her first day in jeans :) 


letters from students

While I was out on maternity leave [I guess technically I still am-- I will be returning for the last week of zoo- I mean school- next week], my sub did a fantastic job with my students. Fantastic. And she remembered the notes that her sub had had her students leave her when she had her first daughter, so she paid it forward. My students all took a little time to write Blythe a letter about her mom, and then later she also had them write me letters with their advice on parenting! As always, I want to document this, so here are a few snippets: 

Dear Blythe:

-Your mom taught me how to write poetry and stories. I used to hate writing but she taught me how to love it. I lover her class and enjoy coming to it everyday. Welcome to the world!

- Your mom is one of the best teachers I know. She is a fair and nice person, as I'm sure you will figure out sooner or later.

- She has some pretty cheesy jokes, but they are so bad you just have to laugh. You are blessed to have Mrs. I. as a mom. 

- If she is as nice to you as she was to us, you will definitely love her a lot!

- She loves what she does and is passionate about it. 

- Your mom is a very nice lady. She is funny and kind and a great teacher. You will be in great hands as you grow up. 

- Your mom is one of the best people you will ever meet. She makes the classroom so much fun. She will make you read "To Kill a Mockingbird" before you are 2, probably. You will love her as a mom. 

- She's a great teacher, and a friend too. She makes me smile every time I see her. 

- Your mom is a very good teacher and has a lot of activities instead of just boring lessons sitting in a chair. Did you know you probably about got the name Scout, from "To Kill a Mockingbird"? And I'm sure you will hear some jokes from her, make sure you laugh cause she thinks they're funny. Haha. Just Kidding. Your mom is the best. 

- She keeps things very clean. 

- Your mom is… wow, amazing! I love her to death. She is understanding, kind, and pretty! I look up to her every day. I hope someday  will be half of the amazing mom as yours will be [and is]. Blythe, I can't wait to see you. I know you are so pretty like your mom. Good luck in softball. Mr. Blythe is fantastic.  P.S. Your dad is very good on the guitar. It's so good to listen to him in church. 

- Your mom is one of the nicest teachers/people I have ever known. She cares about everyone and I have never really seen her in a bad mood. She can always put people in a good mood and make them feel good about themselves. 

- Your mom was a great teacher and I learned a lot from her. My poetry, and actually all of my writing, has gotten a lot better. I loved having your mom as a teacher because she was really funny and made class fun. 

-I believe she's shown me how to inspire and make students smile. With the help of your mom, I've decided to be a teacher some day! 

- Your mom is such a wonderful woman! For the two years that I've known her, she has always been an added ray of sunshine to my day! I know that she will be a good mother who will love you very much. All the things that she does will be because the loves you, so don't think anything by that. 

- Your mom knows how to listen. You should trust her. She will always be there for you no matter what. 

- Your mom is an amazing woman . She is so fun and really sweet. I don't think she will put up with much, but you're truly lucky. You're going to have a wonderful life. 

- Your mom is my favorite teacher [not kidding]. She never judges and has trouble getting angry. I would have loved to have had her next year, but eh, you happened. Oh well? Nah, I'm glad you were born. 

- I hope she is as good a mother as a teacher. 

- I hope you like novels because you'll be reading "TO Kill a Mockingbird" when you're 7 years old. I also hope you don't like dogs, because you're not getting one. You will have a wonderful childhood with Mrs. I. as a mother. 

- You are one lucky girl. I have no doubt your mama will teach you so much. I'm sad I don't get her next year, but you deserve her time. I bet you'll grow up to be just as great as your mom and dad.

- Your mom taught me lots of things this year. Besides teaching me the difference between a simile and a metaphor, she taught me lots of life lessons. She taught me to give everyone a chance, no matter who they are. She also taught me how to bunt correctly in softball. 

- She will always be able to bring you up when you are sad. She is very loving, so I know you will always be loved with the biggest heart. 

- Your mom is one of the coolest teachers I've had. She understands what it is like to be a teenager. 

-Your mom was a very good teacher. She encouraged her students to think outside the box and be creative. 

- You should never question her authority.

- Your mom is a wonderful woman. She's always happy and cheerful no matter what. If you didn't know, she'd terrible at acting mad, so you'll know when she really is. If you haven't already noticed, she is a beautiful woman that can always cheer you up when you're down. She's a good teacher, at English anyway, but I probably wouldn't trust her with subjects like math. Yikes. 

- Even for the people who don't like reading and writing, she makes it fun for everyone. 

-I have never met someone with so much patience. She would do anything to help anyone. 
Dear Mrs. I: [Parenting advice]

- I feel like my mother and I's relationship has been much better and stronger when she trusts me and isn't jumping down my throat about every little thing.

- As a parent you need to discipline Blythe if she does something bad. Also you need to love her and give her a lot of attention. 

- I think you'll do just fine. You will have a good start about dealing with kids because you're a teacher- so you kind of have already been a parent. 

- Don't always be so serious and have fun. Let her cook with you and do the stuff you do. 

- As a parent, never tell your child that you are their "friend." It's okay to ask her what's wrong, but if she says she wants to be along, leave her alone. She'll come around. 

-Treat her like you treat your students. 

- Just be yourself and Blythe will love you.  Wait until she is at least 4 to make her read "To Kill a Mockingbird." 

- Don't forget how it was to be a kid or a teenager. 

-Be fair and just. Show her compassion, but don't spoil her too much.

- You should listen to what your child's side of the story is if something goes wrong. 

-You should always accept your kid for what they are. And don't give into them no matter how many tricks they play because it will help them in the long run. Also, feed her good food and a healthy died so she will grow up good and be athletic and strong. 

- As a parent be yourself, or at least be the way you are in class.

- Make sure you make it comfortable to talk to you about awkward things. I always am able to tell or talk to my mom about anything and it helps. 

- It's easier in the long run to not spoil kids and make them mind. 

- You already know the boys will be chasing that little cutie so just lock her up! :) 

- When she gets in trouble, always look at her view. Always encourage her to be her best and to never give up. Expect a lot of good things because we all know she is going to be successful at anything and everything. Be ready to catch her if she falls. Enjoy the little things and never give up on her. When she gets a booboo in sports, tell her to rub a lil' dirt on it like my dad did to me. 

- You should give her responsibilities when she gets older. You should probably not ground Blythe by taking her phone because it's torture! 

- Always trust your child. To know my parents trust me is a great thing, so make sure you trust Blythe. 

- Don't spoil her because then she'll grow up and only know how to take and not give. 

- Make sure she is done doing her business when you change her diaper, that way you don't get any on you!

- When she won't stop crying, just take a deep breath and comfort her.

- Be calm when you get in a fight. Yelling just makes teens more mad and we don't listen. Also if you do get in an argument, apologize or talk it out before she goes to bed. 

- I don't really know what to tell you because I'm not a parent, so just be awesome. 

- Try to encourage her to be whatever she wants to be. Let her know that she's important and special, just the way she is. Let her be free to try things and be herself. 

- Accept that there will come times in life when you are wrong, and Blythe is right-- there may not be many, but they'll be there. 

-As a parent, you should listen to your children. If they need to talk, stop and talk with them. If they just need someone to listen to them, be there. 

- Never let your kid play with fire. 

I had to end with that one :) 

My students are the best. Seriously. 



April 14th was my birthday. My 26th birthday to be exact. I was a little preoccupied with my darling little present at the time. Brent treated me right though, as he always has on my little day, with a surprise trip to the movies and a beautiful and unique "mother's" necklace with Blythe's name and birthday. We then rounded out the evening in style with taco salad and ICE CREAM cake and family and Caroline telling us the Easter the story [she only derailed once when she forgot that Jesus went to the garden to pray, and instead said he went to his house with his friends and "they watched movies and played with toys…" the rest she recited beautifully though-- brilliant, that child].

It was truly a wonderful day.

However, turning 26 seemed like a big number to me. I think it's because on surveys and everything else you are forced to fill out and groups you are asked to join etc the age categories are always 25 and below and everything above that is a combination of numbers that somehow say, "Sorry chickee, you have to for real grow up now." So 26 seemed like a big number. And possibly because I have a child now, … but I think mainly the survey thing. :)

That being said, I realize I have learned so much since I turned 20, which seems like a lifetime ago. At 20 I was still in college, still figuring out if I needed to change the radio station I listened to based on who got in the car with me, still denying that I had hips and couldn't wear certain fashion trends, and still eating greasy food at 2 AM. I've learned a lot since then. Some of the following are examples:

- I've learned in the past six years that friendships are worth holding onto. Friendships can be rare and hard and hard, but they are always worth the investment. I've learned that investments in friendships sometimes means sharing dinner, sometimes means packing boxes and helping with a move [despite the fact that the move is breaking your heart], and it sometimes means having the hard conversation. Sometimes it means laughter for no reason, and sometimes it means knowing to bring kleenexes-- but friendships are worth holding onto.

-I have learned that keeping things clean and organized is much easier than stressing yourself out about where things are and then facing that inevitable nightmare of a weekend when you have to clean EVERYTHING.

- I've also learned in the past six years that moving can be very, very difficult, but given time also very, very rewarding. Packing up 21 years of your life and trusting your new husband to move you 10 hours away from everything you've ever known is very scary business. You may cry everyday, several times a day and wonder if you will ever have friends or feel at home or know where the post office is.I've learned though that the only way to succeed in a move is to put yourself out there, to find out where the post office is by getting lost a few times, to talk to strangers until they become friends, and to trust that your husband has your best interests in mind. I've learned that after 2 years that strange place will be so difficult to leave and you'll surprise yourself by crying again when you move away. But trusting that God is in control of the moves is key… change is never easy, but you serve an unchanging God.

- I've learned that marriage is wonderful. There are times that it is a little tricky, and there are times that making dinner feels more like an obligation than a joy, and there are times that you'll want to punch a wall so you don't punch your spouse. But there are also times when he will make you laugh when you desperately want to cry, and there are times when he'll hold you and you'll forget how mad you were, and there are times that you'll see how beautiful you really are just because of the way he looks at you. But mostly there are times when you realize, good or bad, that it is worth it all to have your best friend by your side every morning when you wake up and face the day.

- I've learned that I still hate what cell phones have done to our society.

- I've learned that having a baby is the biggest, best, hardest, most beautiful thing a woman may ever do in her life. I've learned, in just mere weeks, what it means to love through exhaustion and what it means to trust God with your child when you're too weary. And I've learned that it is all worth it, everything, when your child turns and smiles just because she heard your voice.

- In the past six years I have learned that a person, no matter what age, will always need their family. You will still want your mom when you are sick, and your dad when something breaks, and your sister when you just need someone to understand without saying anything.

- And in the past six years I have learned to be passionate about what I love. To not apologize for being good at something. And the thank the Lord every day for his many, many blessings.

I wonder what I'll have learned by my next birthday?


[another] open letter to my students

Ever since my first year of teaching [which feels like a lifetime ago], I have made it a tradition to write my students an end of the year letter. They receive this the last week of school and then also get to watch an embarrassing home video of me "teaching" when I was six. This letter usually has sounded something like this : CLICK HERE : and for my LA II students it still will. However, my LA III students have been with me two years now, and theirs ended up sounding a little different. Here is your sneak peek…they won't get this until next week.
Dear LA III students of 2011-2012 school year: 
I truly cannot believe that my time with your class is over. Two years ago when I first met you guys I had no idea what was in store. That first day of school we looked at each other, you wondered if my jokes could get any more lame [later realizing, of course, that they could], and I wondered what you all would be like. I had never had the experience of having a class for two years in a row, and to be honest I was a little concerned I wouldn’t like you and that it would be a long two years. Luckily for me, you guys proved to be completely wonderful, and I’m sad that year two with you is wrapping up. 
Your class has seen me through quite a bit: you saw me figure out how to be a high school teacher, since I had only ever taught middle school before; you saw me get to teach my favorite book for the first time ever, and I apologize for my crazy amount of enthusiasm about that; you saw me figure out how to teach AND balance a coaching schedule, and though I loved softball and basketball that was a crazy busy year; you also saw me grow very pregnant, and I never imagined you guys would be so excited for me. And obviously, since we’ve spent so many days and hours and weeks together, you’ve also seen my everyday things such as crabbiness, tiredness, and my i-need-some-coffee-ness. I apologize for the days I lacked patience, and I thank you for giving me grace in those moments I may have snapped at you. 
More than you getting to know me though, I have gotten to know you as well. I appreciated your honesty in your writing and projects, and for always trusting me with your stories. I appreciated your sense of humor, and for your ability to make me laugh even on bad days. I appreciated when you’d correct mistakes I made, because it helped keep me humble. I appreciated you always doing the work I asked you to do. I don’t think I ever once had to throw a temper tantrum to get someone to do their work, and that means a lot to a teacher [yes, I did have to wake a few of you up, but that’s to be expected every once in awhile, right? Am I right Mich, Trent, Ryan, Avery, Luke, Dakota, Julian, Zeph, Allie, Taylor...wow, this list could keep going ;)]. 
 Thank you for trusting me to be your teacher; for trusting that what I had to share and say mattered. Thank you for allowing me to respect you, and for respecting me in return. Even though I don’t think any of you ever learned where the rulers were [for crying out loud, they are in the door of the tan cart!!!], you all made my day, every day, for the past two years. 
I was thinking about my time with all of you one day when I was driving-- I know that sounds really weird, but it’s true-- and one of my favorite songs came on. I’m sure you guys have never heard it, as you have learned by the music I played for Writers Notebook we have very different tastes in music, but it put into words perfectly my thoughts about my time with you all. It’s by an artist called Sara Groves [who actually used to be an English teacher!], and it’s called “I Saw What I Saw.” I want to leave you with a few of the lyrics, as every time I hear them I will think of the past two years I spent with your class:
I saw what I saw and I can’t forget it
I heard what I heard and I can’t go back
I know what I know and I can’t deny it
We’ve done what we’ve done and we can’t erase it
We are what we are and it’s more than enough
I say what I say with no hesitation
I do what I do with deep conviction
Your pain has changed me
your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I am afraid of
and what I know of love
Please know that deciding to stay home to raise my daughter, Blythe, was a tough decision; it was a tough decision because every time I thought about it, I saw all your faces. However, I will still be around if you ever need me. And you better believe I’ll be at your graduation to see you ALL walk across that stage. And just like the song lyrics  say your dreams have inspired me, your hopes have ignited something in me, and you have shown me courage in how you have handled and dealt with so many things. You have truly taught me these past two years. And your faces will always be a memory of mine. Please don’t forget what it felt like to write and be heard. Please don’t be afraid of telling YOUR story.
THANK YOU for the past two years. As you finish high school and go out into this big world of ours, please show others the YOU that I got to see. I will always remember you. Stay in touch! 
Mrs. I