I won’t be sending packets to my students.

Let me preface this by saying that I am passionate about education. I enjoy being a student, and I love being a teacher. Of all of the things that I joke about in life, my job as a teacher is taken very seriously.  Also, I love my students. LOVE THEM. Would-bring-them-all-home-with-me-without-calling-my-husband-first kind of love. 

Right now, I can’t sleep at night. I have this turmoil built up inside of me that physically hurts. If you are a teacher who can say with 100% certainty that you are not worried about any of your students or their ability to do learning from a distance, then you are blessed and this isn’t about you. I am not that lucky. I didn’t really feel like going out and gathering numbers but just knowing what I know, I have to assume that there aren’t many teachers out there who can say with 100% certainty that their students are just as fine at home as they would be at school. 

You have to love the zealousness of teachers across the nation right now. Admire it. Be inspired by it! Governors across the country said, “We are going to close the schools.” And teachers said, “Have no fear! We have never done anything like this and no one has any idea what they are doing, but we got this!” But, why? I haven’t heard any direction from Dept. of Ed on the national or state level which is why every single school has been left to navigate this on their own. There is no consistency between schools.  The ENTIRE country is in the same exact boat, so how can anyone possibly expect us to be held to the same standard of teaching and expectation of time as if school was in session?  Teachers are just supposed to naturally sacrifice themselves in a time of crisis? Do we really feel like we have to validate the paycheck that badly? Asking our families to adjust to us doing our jobs from home has been one wild experience for me, personally. Requiring teachers to report to their buildings during regular contract hours is ridiculous and kind of defeats the purpose of closing the school buildings. As far as I know, teachers are not immune to COVID. (Would be cool though, huh? Add that to our tool belt of superpowers!) Now, I am not saying we sit around and do nothing and treat this like a vacation.  But lesson plans? Standards? Taking grades? It shouldn’t even be part of the discussion right now. 

One little word. Equity. I can not even touch on any other topic without coming face to face with that word. Packets, online discussions, chats, phone calls, videos, all the bells and whistles… doesn’t matter. Nothing that you do outside of your classroom can be considered equitable. You can not require work to be sent back for grades and you can not expect new learning to take place. At best, you can hope that our students simply retain the things they have already learned. Distance learning in this specific situation is not an equal opportunity for every single one of our students. No one signed up for this and no one was prepared for it. (Also, side note, I am not a scientist but are we sure sending packets back and forth is really the smartest idea??) 

Again, if you log in to your computer  every day and hold discussions with 100% of your students every day and 100% of your students are completing every worksheet of busy work that you are sending home and doing their absolute best effort every time, then I am really REALLY happy for you. But, who is going to fight for that kid that doesn’t have a sharpened pencil or the kid who’s packet got ruined by little sister or brother that they are babysitting during mom’s 12 hour shift? Who is going to stand up for that kid who doesn’t have electricity,  let alone internet access? What about the kids who live in unsafe homes? There is no comfort and routine in a living situation like that. No one is sitting next to them explaining directions or helping them when they get stuck. How can we expect those kids to be worried about a packet of worksheets? They don’t even know about those online class meetings, because they don’t have a phone and neither does anyone else in the home. You know who fights for students in those situations? No one. Except teachers. Where are you? 

No complaint is valid without a suggestion for a solution right?  Let’s focus on our high school seniors first. Let’s put all of our manpower into getting those young people their credits so that they don’t have to spend the rest of their life a semester behind and trying to play catch up. Give them hotspots, devices, personal tutor, whatever it takes. They are only a couple months short of their diploma.  Everyone else on down to kindergarten will be fine. THEY WILL BE FINE! We were about two months from completing the school year and while there was still a lot to be done, we can feel good about getting through the MAJORITY of the school year. No need to panic and no need to have kids doing hours of school work at home. Am I suggesting that teachers do absolutely nothing? Of course not! First of all, not go to the school building where you could potentially become infected or infect others!  Continue reaching out to as many students and families as possible as often as possible. They need to hear from us. If they ask for work for their student, send it. If they ask how they can help their child, offer advice and resources. You know your students best, so keep meeting their needs the best you can doing what you are comfortable doing.  Communication and compassion is what is going to get us through this. We could also spend this time preparing for what we will be up against when we come back because that is the work that is actually going to matter!  Every teacher will go back in the fall knowing that they will have some ground to make up and we will do like we always do and meet our kids where they are. Bottom line, we will all be just fine, and we will adapt like always. 

I am blessed to teach in a student-centered district that isn’t requiring anything outlandish, so really I could just sit down and shut up and not worry about it. But so many teachers and students that I love have unreasonable expectations strapped to their backs right now. Do what you feel you have to do to appease your administrator, but please stop stressing yourself out over something that really doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things and fight for those students that need you!   This is scary. People are sick and dying. I am not worried about standards and actually teaching right now. I am worried about my fellow teachers, my students, and their families as humans! I hope they are safe and warm and being loved. The best thing that I can wish for is to see all of my students again and to see their smiling faces because their families are still intact. 

Stay home with your loved ones!




Happy New Year! Hello, 2020!

Well, nothing like last minute to get this digital, no addresses, stamps, or envelopes involved, holiday letter out to all of my friends and family! One of my favorite childhood memories of Christmas time was helping my mom write our Christmas letter each year. Like the rockstar mom she is, she always had the cutest rhyming poem and the cutest pictures to match. ❤  I can’t even touch that. But, I also remember getting to open all of the letters and cards from friends and families and getting to read about all the things my cousins and distant friends had been up to. Now, we have instant daily updates thanks to social media and letters are becoming a little less popular. So, I guess this is my attempt at keeping a little of the past connected to the present/future.

Allison celebrated her first birthday in January, which means we are coming up on birthday #2 very soon! It is hard to believe my baby is going to be 2. She is the B.O.S.S. She talks in sentences and even though people always comment on how tiny she is, she can out-sass anyone in this house. She does have a sweet streak however and she knows the perfect times to use it. She amazes us every day with how smart and innovative she is. She started going to Early Headstart in Batesland in August. She knows her colors and can count to ten. She is still nursing 297395 times a day because she is very stubborn, but it also gives me a little reason to sit and enjoy her being little. We are looking forward to seeing how much bossing her older sisters can take in 2020.

Abbigail turned three in May and she continues to be our soft hearted sweetie. Even though her little sister tends to run the show, Abbi    is always a good sport and remains sweet to her baby sister. Abbigail started going to Head Start in September. Her classroom is in my school, so I get the privilege of walking her to school every morning. She still cries every morning when I drop her off and I am pretty sure she only does it to make think she is missing me because every day after school she runs up to me and yells, “Today was the best day ever!” She really loves her teacher and friends. Because we are normal, biased parents we obviously think our kid if pretty smart. Abbi    can identify many letters, counts to 20, writes her name, colors in the lines, loves to sing and dance and can carry on a conversation for like 60 seconds. She is a really fun kid who’s hugs can seriously turn your whole day around.

Little Miss E has been with us for half of the year, so she has more than earned her spot in our letter. She is in the first grade and has the best teacher of all time. She loves going to school and she says her favorite part of her day is math and recess. She has made lots of friends and she almost always has a smile on her face. I look forward to the times that I see her in the hallways because I am always greeted with a big hug and an “I love you, mommy”. Nothing gets me through the day quite like that. She is an awesome helper at home and she enjoys playing barbies and games with Abbi    and Allison. She is really looking forward to the warmer weather so that she can ride the new bike she got from Santa.  She fits right in with us and we are blessed to have her here.

Tasha finished her spring semester at Vermillion and decided to take a little break from the college scene until she finds the right fit for higher education. She is currently living in Martin with her boyfriend Cody and she works at the hospital as a receptionist. She is hoping to start online courses to work towards a degree in the new year. We are proud of her for working hard and not giving up on her goals. It is also nice to know she is close by. We haven’t gotten together nearly enough, but we have met at the bowling alley where Ray has lost a bet or two! HA!

Livia is still in Sioux Falls and after a couple program changes she is officially pursuing the dental assistant program at Lake Area Tech. She moved home for a couple months during the summer to save up some money before moving into a new apartment. It was really nice to have her home, even though she worked over 40 hours every week. She bought a new-to-her car about the time school started. She has three jobs in Sioux Falls, so she is very busy and we don’t hear from her too often. I don’t know how she does it all, but she is an incredibly hard worker and we are very proud of her for that.

Ray spent 2019 working for his father-in-law doing lots of “fun” things and dedicating his spare time to the fire department. They had a pretty decent hay crop this year and Ray spent the majority of his summer in the hay field. They just finished corn harvest a few days before Christmas and we all rejoiced in that! January 2019 he was awarded Firefighter of the Year and just recently he was voted in as first assistant chief. I am very proud of his efforts. Ray loves to give to those in need and being a part of the fire department has been a great outlet for him to be helpful. He is also keeping up with 6 women, so if you see the guy he probably needs a drink.

As for me, well, I was promoted to Dr. Chaos Coordinator in June and have been busy fulfilling those duties. Jokes! But I do feel as if every moment of my day is very full. I am in my fourth year of teaching 2nd grade at Batesland School and I still love my school and job very much. I will graduate with my Masters of Education in Reading in May. I have really enjoyed all the learning, but I will be relieved to have the classes behind me and ready to have the time back. Once again, I organized and accompanied the school Christmas concert. I was also persuaded to start a middle school choir. I am certainly not a world class musician, but I have really enjoyed helping students grow their love and knowledge of music even in the simplest ways. Going forward into 2020, I am hoping the rest of the school year goes smoothly and possibly looking into something new for the fall. We will see! 🙂

We traveled to Salt Lake City to watch my sister graduate, we moved, we visited many friends and family, continued to foster youth, spent every weekend at our pumpkin patch, and got a dog. 2019, not the most eventful year ever, but we all had a birthday to celebrate and that is something we can thank the good Lord for.

Thank you for being our friends and part of our family through another year. We pray for the health and happiness for all of you in 2020.


Our Brains are Broken… The ON switch is Stuck

It’s 11 PM on a Friday night and I have just spent the last hour having an in-depth rave about curriculum and instructional strategies with my co-teacher. I couldn’t help but poke fun at our awesome nerdness. That is when it dawned on me how incredibly special it is to have “a person” in the world of teaching.

I have been blessed with “many a people” over the last few years and honestly, truly, positively this job could not be done without them. To find someone who shares your passion and love for the students and their learning is a treasure. I feel like I am describing a marriage, but I guess in some ways it is kind of like that. Us against the world.

I always joke about how I force Amanda be my friend. That might have been true at first, but I think I have started to grow on her. She showed me the ways of teaching primary and I have showed her the ways of… well, probably just dirty mindedness and bad jokes. But all jokes aside, we push each other to the be the best people we can be for our students because we believe with all of our guts that they deserve it. I have never had any other professional career so I can’t speak for anything other than teaching, but let me tell ya.. the pressure of teaching can mess with your head and unfortunately there can be life sucking negativity death traps all around you. I saw this meme the other day that said: Good News: We teachers can bond with each other over the fact that we are all on the same boat. Bad News: That boat is the Titanic. Oh My Goodness, Friends! I snort-laughed! But, I guess you can either get your life vest on and get your booty in the life boat or you can try your luck at the floating door thing, but make sure you have yourself a co-teacher that will scoot over and share!

This time of the year is tough. For some, it comes with a certain amount of negativity and the days drag on. For others, it comes with excitement thinking about next year already. And for all, it comes with exhaustion! You can guess that I am exhausted and yet already excited for next year. Relax, I have already been to the shrink. I am certified crazy. I am just thankful that I don’t have to be alone.

Thanks for three wonderful years, friend! Can’t wait for more to come! (See, its like a marriage,LOL!)

Great Faces
Look at those Great Faces! Also note those tired ones! 

See ya never, 2018!

Season’s Greetings my friends and family! This is our 2018 Christmas Card & Letter, late and digital. Did I lose track of time or am I going green? You shall never know! 2018 was a fast, busy, and exciting year for this family and God’s blessings were truly abundant.

We started out 2018 with a perfect little blessing, Allison Eloisse. She graced us on January 30th. Twenty days later we found ourselves on a plane headed to Sanford Children’s in Sioux Falls. Through the power of prayer and amazing doctors, our tiny little baby was able to beat RSV and pneumonia. Ever since, it has been smooth sailing and lots of smiles and laughs with this little peanut! We are coming up on birthday number 1 and we are reminded daily how boring life would be without this wild “nugget” (as we lovingly call her).


Abbigail is 2 years old and she is still our little sunshine girl. She is the soft and tender hearted sister that Allison is already picking on! Abbi still loves cows, but she also likes dinosaurs and playing with her dolls. She loves to be a little mommy and boss Allison around. She really enjoyed swimming and playing outside in the summer. We are hoping to do more of that in 2019, now that baby sister is a little bigger.  She completely potty trained herself in November. She is really becoming independent; sitting and coloring or playing by herself for longer periods of time. She loves to visit MiMi’s house and she enjoys having Nana and Papa coming to visit our house. She is hoping 2019 brings pre-school or head start and she REALLY wants to ride the school bus. Poor thing isn’t going to like being a teacher’s daughter, she may not ever get to ride the bus!


Tasha’s big 2018 event was graduating high school in May. She is currently a student at USD in Vermillion. She is still undecided in her career choice, but she is doing very well. She managed 17 credits, a part time job, and earned a 4.0 for the fall semester. Mom misses her help and company terribly. Tasha makes it home often, there is a young man that she started dating over the summer and she comes back to visit. Even though she spends much of her time with him while she is home, we are thankful for the time we get to spend with her. She will return to USD for the spring semester and fingers crossed, will have a degree choice in mind before summer.


Livia had some big changes in 2018. She finished up the spring semester at USD in May and then spent a big portion of her summer with her biological mom in Washington. She moved to Sioux Falls in August and is currently pursuing her degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at Southeast Tech. She works three jobs and maintains a 3.0 GPA. She isn’t able to come home much because of her demanding schedule, so we really appreciate having her here when she is able. Abbi and Allison adore their oldest sister, and we are all really proud of her.

Ray and I are, well, as you can imagine living it up as parents. Ray stays busy with work and loves being with his babies in the evenings. He was able to visit Livia at least once this fall while he was working on the eastern side of the state. He is still dedicated to the fire department and goes hunting and shooting as much as he can. I gave up coaching in 2018 and it was the best thing for my family and my health. We have a good handle on my heart issues and have really been focused on my overall health inside and out. I decided to start working towards my Masters degree in August, and that takes up all of my “spare time”. I am still teaching 2nd grade at Batesland School and absolutely loving it. In November, I volunteered myself to direct and accompany the Christmas concert because we do not have a music teacher. I gave up all of my prep time for 3 weeks to work with all of the students and it was so worth it! I forgot how much I missed music in my life. At the beginning of the school year, I decided that my goal for the year would be to make this is the best school year yet and so far it is. My students have already achieved their yearly growth goal and we are only half way through! I could not be more proud of my students and the learning community that we have built.

Even though we have been really busy being parents and people, Ray and I have managed to get away a couple times this year to tend to our relationship. We always enjoy our time away, but miss the babies terribly in a matter of a few hours. Can’t wait to get away, but then miss them as soon as we leave the driveway. That’s normal, right!? I think the biggest thing we have learned this year, is to let go of what we can not control. From sickness to toddlers to teens, there is so much that we have had to learn. So we will just keep loving and teaching our girls everything that we can.

We hope that all of our friends and family are full of joy and peace entering the year 2019. We pray for God’s blessings to continue for all of you. May 2019 be the best one yet!


‘Cuz you’re a heartbreaker, dream maker…

It has been a little over a week since 2/5 of my heart was punted across the river to the east. I am starting to adjust to this new life of just “littles”, and I have to admit that I am missing my “bigs” terribly. I have been Livia-less for a little over a year now, so my heart has become accustomed to such. I miss her of course and I have more than once contemplated showing up on her doorstep to have a sleepover already, but the newness of being Tasha-less is stinging a bit right now.

15 months ago I received a voicemail that would begin a 3 day explosion of frustration, turmoil, and emotion. “If you want her, come get her.” (Don’t curb alert your children.) To see the panic, longing, and desperation on Livia’s face gave us no option to second guess. Even though taking on another teenager wasn’t exactly on our wishlist,  we love Livia so much that we knew that we would do whatever it took to get her reunited with her biological sister and best friend.

Over the course of 15 months, our simple little family has gone through some very emotional and challenging times. Last spring I agreed to be the cheer coach at my old high school. This was before we knew we would be adding 2 more permanent members of the family. By the time we knew I was expecting another baby, it wouldn’t have been fair to back out on that prior commitment even though I knew how hard it was going to be on me. To my surprise, Tasha joined my cheer team for the football season. She started her cheerleading career with me when she was a freshman before moving to the big school and up into the big leagues of competitive cheerleading, and then she ended in the little leagues again with me. In fact, it was cheerleading that started our bond 4.5 years ago and it was special to have it come full circle in a way. Since Allison was born in the middle of basketball season, Tasha wasn’t cheering, and Allison decided to keep things interesting until March, the coaching chapter of my life just kind of ended abruptly. Tasha is one of the few people who knows exactly how passionate I am about cheering, about innovating new ideas,  and about revamping school spirit and energy. She got to be my listening ear as I talked myself through some hard and sad conversations about what I feel was a failed attempt at something in my home town.

Tasha was with me the day that I found out Allison had cysts on her brain. I had invited Tasha to go with me during my anatomy scan with Allison. She would get to be the first person in our family to know whether we were having a baby boy or girl. I will never forget how disappointed Tasha was when the technician said GIRL! She was so mad!! She wanted a brother and she gave me the silent treatment for the next 20 minutes as if I had something to do with it. Cracked me up! After the ultrasound we were waiting for the doctor and as soon as she came in I could tell something was up. She explained to me that the technician had found some spots on the baby’s brain that were most likely cysts. She also explained that these cysts are often nothing, but that they can also be linked to trisomy 18. We would not know for sure until we did another ultrasound in 4 weeks. Even though it was a good possibility that the cysts would be gone in a few weeks, it is our natural instinct to worry. Tasha quit pouting about the gender and quickly acted to turn the solemn mood around. Thank goodness I had invited her because there would have been a lot less dancing and laughing on the way home without her.  Multiple times over the following few weeks she would find me deep in thought and I wouldn’t have to say anything before she was assuring me that everything would be fine.

The first three months after Allison was born were tough. I was adjusting to two babies at home, worrying about my classroom from home, our attempt at keeping their biological brother united in our home failed dramatically, Allison gave us the scare of our lives, and then we discovered my heart condition.  It was a lot of emotional turmoil shoved into just a few months. Tasha was just “cool” through it all. She never wavered in her loyalty and she never took advantage of the situations. In fact, she was sure to always be around just when I needed her to be. Countless times she would take Abbi downstairs to play when she knew I needed a break or to rest and she kept the house together when I physically couldn’t.

Tasha is a human teenager and of course there were a few times that shone brightly, but thats part of what makes raising teenagers fun and interesting. Like Livia, she had to “start over” at the beginning of her senior year in a small and unforgiving town. She overcame a number of challenges throughout the year very gracefully. She never let her disadvantages get the best of her. She continued to work hard, remain at the top of her class academically, and gained some much needed confidence. Liv would disagree that she lacked confidence, so before she calls me out on that I better clarify… She gained the confidence of a young woman, replacing that of a junior high kid. HA! Sorry, Tasha, its true.

Tasha is drop dead gorgeous on the inside and out. Her witty sense of humor keeps us laughing constantly. She is the only kid that can keep up with Ray in humorous banter. We tease her about being “heartless” because she isn’t snuggly like Liv and she can be a bit of a heartbreaker. I sang this song to her a time or two.  Truthfully, she is one of the kindest girls I have ever known. Her thoughtfulness is proven time and time again to everyone in our home, but one of my favorite examples would be how sweet and kind she was to two foster children that we had in our home this summer. They were 7 &5 and absolutely adored Tasha. Even though there were times that she was annoyed, she never let it show and she gave those children comfort that they needed.

Trauma affects all people differently. I have worked with enough youth and young adults to know that these girls’ story could be very different right now. Even though it makes me a special kind of angry that others could just toss her out of their lives like the daily trash, I am very glad that the stars aligned perfectly to bring her to us.

Every day this past week I have looked anxiously for the little red bomber in the driveway and when it isn’t there my first instinct is to issue the ever so famous, “Where you at?” text from mom. Then I remember that she isn’t here because she is out there owning her world; a world that exists because of her own determination to prove her success and a refusal to back down.

Two and a half years ago, our Liv literally showed up on our steps.15 months ago, my husband and I were feeling so unsure of whether we could handle any more teenagers.  These things don’t “just happen”. I can’t begin to tell you how often people dotingly tell us, “You are such good people for doing this” or “You guys are Saints.”  But, these two girls have been just as good for us as we have been for them. Thank you God for blessing us with not one, but two, beautiful souls that we had no idea were missing from our lives.

Just wait until Allison can play, too!

Dear Third Grade Teacher,

Tomorrow is the last day of school with our students. While we are all looking forward to that much anticipated peace and quiet, I can’t help but feel my heart sink. Tomorrow is the day that I hand over a precious gift to you.

Two years ago I was packing up my middle school classroom into a moving trailer. I had tears streaming down my face, my arms full of middle school students, and swore I would never love any students as much as I did those ones. I was scared of what my “teacher future” looked like. First grade? I student taught in Kindergarten, but still, small people scared me a little.

I didn’t know a whole lot about first grade since I had spent the first three years of my career in a middle school hallway. I felt like I was in a whole new world with picture books, big print, and little chairs. I was so nervous on that first day I could have puked and then only three of them showed up! I could not believe it! What do you do with 3 students on the first day? I think the most students I had that first week was 5, and I thought “Wow, this is going to be a breeze!” But then Labor Day weekend passed and my full roster was present and accounted for. Turns out, first grade and middle school students are a lot alike- talk constantly, a little smelly, can’t or won’t read the directions, and have tiny bladders.

At the end of the 2016-17 school year I learned that I would be teaching 2nd grade in 2017-18. Both first grade classes would be combined and I was looping with my kiddos. I was instantly excited! How awesome to be able to “hit the ground running” in the fall! That is exactly what we did, too! Now that we are at the end of our 2nd grade year and our 2nd year together it is fun to reflect on how close we have gotten. In two years as their teacher they learned how to read, how to add and subtract all the way up to 3- digit numbers, almost all of them can do at least 100 math facts in 5 minutes, and they know how to put their thoughts into writing. I know all about their grandmas and aunties, how many dogs they have, and what size shoe they wear and soon you will know these things, too.

They are bossy and talk non-stop, but they are also very sweet and funny. Watch out for the quiet ones, they need some guidance in navigating through the bold personalities of the room. When these 18 beautiful souls come to you in August, don’t be afraid to push them to the limits because they want to learn and they want to be here. They work hard even when things are difficult and they love to dance it out when things are easy. They can easily be bribed with extra recess or lunch with the teacher.

If there are dark days in your life when you just want to leave your house in the morning and keep on driving or a time when you are questioning your teaching career, don’t worry, these kiddos will keep you on a path of lightness.

Prepare yourself to be challenged in the best ways possible. Prepare to ask them to stop talking 13 dozen times a day. Prepare to laugh your guts out and get lots of hugs. Prepare to fall in love 18 times over.

So when you see me across the hall tomorrow with tears rolling down my face it is because I am gifting you something that is very near to my heart and something I have worked very hard on. I am excited for you to open it in August and I pray that you find as much joy in them as I have.


2nd Grade Teacher


Quality vs. Quantity & Inspirations

Sunday Ramblings….

Quality vs. Quantity

Recently, during a graduation ceremony that I was attending, the keynote speaker was speaking about keys to success in life. I was drifting in and out between the speech and my own thoughts. It wasn’t until today that something the speaker said filtered through my subconscious jungle.  ~Surround yourself with people of quality, not quantity.~

surround yourself with better people

It is so easy to get smothered in the negativity of some people, and if you are like me you have your own negative fortress to tackle every morning. I have terrible anxiety, especially social anxiety, and I would focus on whether or not “this person” or “that person” was my friend or if they liked me; I worried about how I looked and talked.  Instead of thinking about whether or not someone was actually good for me, I would worry about whether they accepted me or not. Shamefully it was not until after Allison was born that I realized that this is just not a healthy way to live!I feel embarrassed sharing these thoughts because isn’t this what we tell our kids all the time? To not worry about what other people think and just worry about our own happiness? For me, that advice is so much easier given than taken. After Allison was sick and I had my own health scare I finally decided enough is enough, no more worrying about what other people think.  With four kids and a family and friends that love and care for me, it is time to start focusing on quality people. Not only surrounding myself with quality people, but also spending quality time even if it is difficult at times.  Who says resolutions are only for the new year? I am ready to be a better person today than I was yesterday!


So while I was dying a slow and painful death during my run last evening, I was trying to direct my thoughts to something happy. Because I am a nerd and enjoy distracting myself, I will occasionally ask myself interview questions to get my mind elsewhere.


Who inspires you?

This really got me thinking because lately I have leaning pretty heavily on my mom. She is so totally my rock. She is so smart and strong and has the best ideas to solve all of my problems. A day ago, her and her co teacher posted some really touching thoughts about their school year that is now over. I know they have had a tough year. My mom says this has been her toughest in 30 years and that is saying something! But reading those thoughts about how much they love their students, even though it was hard, was really inspiring. Her co teacher is young like me and  as someone who was ready to give up and throw in the teaching towel just a couple years ago, I really needed to read that emotion of a young and passionate teacher.

This led me to think about a few other people who have been inspiring me to be that better person that I so want to be. So, social media is basically the only social life I have and I scroll through facebook, instagram, snapchat several times throughout my day. (its my only addiction now since I gave up soda 🙂 ) There is this girl who is about my age who has been sharing her weight loss experience with the facebook world. Her posts always make me feel so positive! I have struggled with my weight all of my adult life and I have been working on it pretty consistently for the past 3 years despite being pregnant twice.  Even though I have made great progress and I am really proud of myself, I have yet to be brave enough to share it with the public. Maybe some people don’t think it needs to be broadcasted, but I for one know how hard it is. I might never be brave enough to flash some before and after pictures with anyone but my closest friends but, on the days when I get discouraged I think about this young lady and it reminds me that this is hard work and that it doesn’t happen overnight. Speaking of brave, I have a friend who used to be one of my best friends growing up and holy moly is she brave! She recently moved her tiny family back west and then decided to go back to graduate school even though it meant that she would have to go back into school mode – long study hours and travel away from home.  I could not even imagine how she feels some days, but I have mad respect for any one who makes a sacrifice to better themselves and reach their goals. And what an incredible example she is setting for her little girl?! I bet she grows up wanting to be a doctor just like mommy! So how does that inspire me? Well, I have been playing around with the idea of getting my masters degree now that the two big girls are going to be away at college and I am NOT having any babies for a while. I am starting to feel like I am ready to hit the books and keep on learning! Certainly I have been influenced by many, many people and I could go on and on about each one of them, but there is something really special about the people who don’t even know they are inspiring you.

Somehow this all ties in together. I don’t know what any of these ladies think of me or what they consider me in the rankings of friends, but I really don’t care. (Except my mom, I know she loves me.)  I think that the bit about surrounding yourself with people of quality doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be best friends, hip to hip, with that quality. I think that just being in that presence and reflecting in their thoughts and positivity is what counts. Stay positive, because you just never know who is standing by needing their own light rekindled.


My Sunshine Girl is 2!

Highlights of Abbigail’s 2nd year!

What better place to start than with the celebration of birthday #1!? Look how little!


She got a new big sister, Tasha! She adores her and much to Livia’s dismay, she said “Tasha” right away!

Swimming and fishing were two of Abbi’s favorite summer time activities.

She was the flower girl in two weddings!

Papa and Unc are a couple of her favorite guys.

Cows, Cows, Cows! Abbi loves cows!

Loves her Mimi! Pumpkin Patch, Sledding, Dying Eggs, and all things silly with those two! ❤ When Mimi pulls into our driveway Abbi runs to get her shoes and if we drive past Boomdock’s Abbi will cry for the next 7 miles!

Christmas #2! She got to meet Santa! …kinda 🙂 She slept through the whole thing!


Cheerleading Stuff with Mom

Through MANY fortunate (and some not so fortunate), Abbi got to spend LOTS of time with Nana and Papa in the last 365 days. Her and Cousin Dean are going to be best friends!

She loves her sissy, Liv!

Her new baby sister arrived in January! She LOVES her and is always trying to hold her and kiss her.


It feels like year #2 flew faster than any year before! Abbi is my sunshine girl. She makes me laugh continuously, she melts me with her sweetness and frustrates the hell out of me with her stubbornness. She loves her family and she keeps us all on our toes. She enjoys going to daycare every day with Kasey and all of her friends.

We are preparing for cake and ice cream on Saturday afternoon and Watiki on Sunday! Message me for details if you would like to join us!

Hello, Paul Harvey! Nice to meet you!

I didn’t actually meet Paul Harvey. Mostly because he is dead, but also because he isn’t a cardiologist.

So, How’s Mom?

Probably my most dreaded question when talking to people lately. Most conversations go, “Ohh! Allison is so cute and tiny! But, look at those cheeks! She must be a good eater. How are you doing, momma?” And I either just laugh and say “Doin’ good.” or I go into a full blown monologue about how I am actually doing.

While I was pregnant with Allison I kept getting these weird moments throughout the day where I would feel my heart go kind of funky and I would get a little light headed and sometimes feel hot and sweaty. I brought it up to my OB several times, especially the last few appointments because it was getting to where I would feel it very strongly and much more often. But every time I said something it got brushed off and chalked up to some kind of weird pregnancy thing. I can respect that since being pregnant does do some weird things to you. Some nurses thought it could maybe just be anxiety, to which I have to laugh because I have anxiety since I was 9. Trust me, this is not anxiety or panic. Even though it kept getting brushed to the side, I couldn’t help but keep thinking something isn’t right.

Laying on the operating table, preparing to be sliced open for my baby and the anesthesiologist  says, “Woah, whats wrong with your heart?!”

Seriously? I don’t know! I have been asking the doctors for months!! I wanted to scream. My heart was out of control, just doing its own thing. Everyone in the OR was joking that I must drink 5 energy drinks or pots of coffee a day. Nope! I have never drank an energy drink in my life and I don’t drink coffee. Needless to say, I wasn’t having much fun with their jokes. My OB ordered an EKG after my c-section, but nothing came of that. I decided to wait a couple weeks post partum before looking into it further just in case it really was just something strangely related to pregnancy.

A couple weeks into post partum recovery and I was still having episodes, but then this happened: Allison vs. RSV 

When we got back from Sioux Falls, I made myself an appointment with my primary provider right away. We visited about everything that had led us to that point and she then ordered me a Holter monitor to wear for 7 days. I didn’t have that monitor on for 24 hours before the cardiology team in Rapid City was calling me.  Dr.: “LeeVi, how are you feeling?”  Me (super confused!!): “I’m good. Why do you ask???” Dr.:”Well, about 10 minutes ago your heart rate was over 200 and we think you need to go to your ER for monitoring.” Me(laughing): “Ok, but I am just sitting in a chair, holding my baby.” Dr.:”Yeah that is even more concerning. We need you to go to the ER as soon as you can.” At this point I am borderline annoyed because I am just thinking about having to load both babies up and take them to town to sit in the ER where I won’t be able to hold them or control them because I will be hooked up to a bunch of stuff and just the mere thought of all of that was about to give me a heart attack. Pun intended.  I also didn’t want to actually have a heart attack so I made a couple phone calls and made it work.

The nurses and doctor in the ER were really great and worked really hard to get my arrhythmia captured on the EKG so that my cardiologist would have something to look at. My heart rate was just fine while I sitting there. Hardly even half of 200. I was prescribed something to keep my heart rate under control, but at a really small dose to start because I also have very LOW blood pressure. No one wanted me passing out every time I stood up. Go figure. Two days later, exact repeat! Why me?  I do not have time for ER, or monitors, or a heart attack! My prescription was upped and we had an echo scheduled.

Our first appointment at the cardiologist office and I could not stop laughing. I was surrounded by old people! Like really old… Thankfully we discovered that my heart is structurally sound.  I was diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.  Cool. Except not really. Obviously lots of people have afib, its not really that rare. But when you aren’t even 30 and looking at a lifetime of medication, its a crappy feeling.


Right now, my course of treatment is just medication to keep everything under control. I did go back to the cardiologist recently to wear the monitor for another 48 hours (all was good with medication). I felt like a celebrity. All the nurses knew me as that 28 year old who they thought was having a heart attack. I had Tasha and Allison with me. Tasha had the same reaction that I did while we were there. She couldn’t stop giggling about all the old people! Good grief. I am not a cool mom.

Somewhere in between all of Allison’s stuff and all of my stuff, my six weeks of maternity leave expired. We hadn’t even hardly gotten to know each other yet! My doctor wanted me to take 6 more weeks so that I could have time to actually recover and actually bond with my baby. My additional leave was granted.

So, now what?

Taking an additional 6 weeks of leave felt like a really terrible ultimatum. Take 6 weeks and you are betraying your students, don’t take 6 weeks and you are betraying your baby and your body. Anyone who knows me knows that I would easily sacrifice my body for my students, but my baby? I had to draw the line somewhere. I do not regret having more time with my baby. I am headed back to work on Monday and I am a hot mess of excitement and nerves. All of my next doctors appointments will have to wait until summer because good gravy I can not afford to take leave without pay due to my sky rocketing day care bill!

As for the hours outside of Monday-Friday, 7-4? Survive. Two under two has been the biggest challenge of my parenting career so far. My family has proven to me time and time again that they will not and can not live without me. So, survival is my only option at this point!

I am so going to miss kissing this sweet face any time I want to during the day!



Just in case you missed it…

It has been two months since Allison made her spectacular entrance into this world. It is hard to believe how much has happened to our family in just that short amount of time. So, grab some popcorn or grab your phone and sneak into the bathroom for a good “poop” and catch up on our crazy life.

What’s in a name?

Allison Eloisse. She wasn’t planned necessarily, but we did plan for a repeat cesarean birth on January 30th at 7:00 AM and for once in my life something went according to plan. The only part of the process that I would have changed would have been to not have a rookie doing my spinal. A ginormous needle poking me several times and literally digging into the bones of my spine wasn’t enjoyable and my back still has stabbing pain, but I got my sweet, angel baby out of the deal so, I will live with it.

When they pulled Allison from my body she was screaming the most blood curdling scream I have every heard from a teeny baby. I was beginning to think that everyone in the room wanted to put her back in! But when they placed her on my chest and I started to talk to her, she immediately quieted down and snuggled in while they put my body parts back. I looked at Ray and said, “She looks just like Abbi!” ❤

We had quite a bit of trouble getting pregnant with Abbigail so, in my mind I wanted to make sure that we honored our mothers in her name just in case she was the only girl we ever had. But then our little unplanned miracle arrived on scene. Ray and I both love the idea of having a name that means something or is family oriented in a way.  My Grandma Alice has been one of the sweetest influences on my life. She has taught me how to work hard,how to cook without measuring, and to roll with the punches of life with humor and grace. She is also not my biological Grandma, but I have never known the difference and that is the kind of love and acceptance that I want my baby girl to grow up knowing and emulating. This is where the name Allison comes from.  Eloisse… I can not begin to tell you how many comments we got on her middle name while we were in the hospital (the first AND second time). Not sure if its because people think its cool or because people thinks its a weird and old name but allow me to explain. I have two other grandma’s, Carolyn Lois and Sheila Louise, two of the strongest women I have ever known.  Also, my sister Megan’s middle name is Loisse. So, Allison got her very own variation of those middle names. Eloisse.

Bright Eyed Beauty! Newborn pictures. Hard to believe what she looked like just a few days later. 

RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus or…

the scariest thing that I never imagined would nearly take my baby from us or land us in the PICU of Sanford Children’s for 10 days.


I knew my baby was sick. We took her to the ER on a Monday and they confirmed that she had RSV. Her stats were good, her oxygen levels were fine, she was just sleepy and a little congested. Monday evening went okay, my sister Megan (the family nurse) was home for the week and so she came spent the night with me to make sure all was well. Tuesday morning, Allison seemed almost back to normal. She was hungry, awake and alert, and breathing fine. As Tuesday went on Allison seemed to get lethargic and congested again. Her breathing also started to seem labored. We took her back in on Wednesday morning. Her oxygen levels were bouncing between 60-70%. There was hours of pokes and XRays and tests before it was decided that Allison would be flown to Sanford Children’s in Sioux Falls. When the flight team arrived, they could not get Allison’s breathing stable enough for the trip. They were not confident that she would keep breathing all the way there. So,Allison was intubated and off we went!  Ray took Abbigail south to Kimball, NE so that she could stay with my grandparents. We were not sure how long we would be gone. Then, Ray turned around and made the long trek to Sioux Falls to be with us.  When Ray got to the hospital, I met him at the door to Allison’s room. I was not sure how Ray was going to handle seeing his baby like that. The last time he had seen her, she was snoozing in my arms while we waited for the flight crew. No tubes, IVs, or wires. Allison was heavily sedated and almost seemed lifeless. I almost remember feeling Ray’s heart sink as I was standing next to him.  I look back at the pictures of her in that bed and my heart hits my butt every time.  The doctors said that she would get worse before she got better and they were right. Her little body was fighting three different viruses and also pneumonia. Every doctor that we came in contact with would say “She’s a fighter, not many babies would make their way back from all of this.” They told us that should would be on the ventilator for at least 10 days and then probably spend the next 3 days after that on oxygen and then another couple days on the regular peds floors. Well wouldn’t you know that little stinker must have decided she was going to kick some ass because about day 6 she started to make some wild improvements! She was breathing over the ventilator and they eventually shut it off and she was breathing on her own. Her pneumonia was also starting to heal. She would wake up and look at us for long periods of time. Day 7/8 (hospitals don’t really run on days, more like one hour at a time) the breathing tube came out and the ventilator went bye bye!! 🙂 She spent the rest of that day flying through all of the respiratory tests and only needed a little oxygen. We were moved to the pediatric floor and stayed there for a couple more days before FINALLY getting the green light to come home!

Going home! Can you believe she weighed her birth weight on this day? She lost so much weight! 


When you go through deep waters…

Those two weeks in Sioux Falls were very surreal and I am really terrible at articulating the emotions of the experience. There are huge chunks of time that I have no recollection of because the days just seemed to roll together. However, I remember the first night very clearly. It was about 5:00 in the morning and we had just gotten checked into our room. We were both so exhausted after staying up for nearly 48 very stressful hours. I flopped onto the bed and Ray laid next to me. We hadn’t looked at each other all evening/morning for fear of making each other cry. I felt Ray bury his face into my back and he said, “I just want to know if we are going to take our baby home with us.”  Hearing that out loud made my guts hurt. Up to that moment, of course, no doctor could promise us anything. Looking back at how amazing her recovery was, it is hard to imagine those couple of days where her future was uncertain. And then the guilt sets in as to how could I let my baby get so sick that she could possibly die? I couldn’t sleep for more than about 30 minutes at a time for the first three days because EVERY time I closed my eyes all I could hear was Allison crying. Guilt. That guilt punched me in the face every minute that I was in that hospital and it continues to sneak a right hook in every now and then.

We kept some weird hours during those days. Hospitals don’t do days, they do hours. It wasn’t strange to be at the hospital from 8 AM to 3AM and then go to our room for a few hours and then be back to the hospital at 8 AM again for rounds. There wasn’t really a need for us to be there that much but we couldn’t sleep anyways and we had no where else to be so we might as well be with our baby.  On day 3 or 4, when things were starting to turn around slightly, I remember going back to our room for a bit to take a shower and I was so overwhelmed that I collapsed to my knees in the shower and wept. I prayed to God prayers of thankfulness for giving Allison to us and letting us keep her here with us on Earth and also prayers to continue to heal her. It really is a overwhelmingly humble thing to be so thankful for what you have, but to also ask for continued help.

I have no doubt in my mind that Allison made the recovery that she did because of prayer. We had a CONSTANT outpour of people texting, calling, messaging, etc. who were praying for us and with us. I would find myself often overcome with emotions just knowing how many people were praying for us. Allison was baptized in the hospital by a pastor from our sister WELS Lutheran church in Sioux Falls. My father, Carey, connected us with Celebrate Church in Sioux Falls. They were phenomenal. They came and visited or called and prayed with us almost every day while we were there. They also brought us dinner a couple of times in the form of Pizza Ranch gift cards. We even took in a service while we were there. Even though there was so much uncertainty and wondering going on around us, I felt so loved and surrounded by God.  My friend Madison sent this graphic to me at the beginning of this little adventure and I went back to it many times. Absolutely so true.


Thank You

There is no way to express it that would do it justice. If you prayed for us, thought of us, messaged us, called us, liked our updates on facebook, you name it… We love you and we are so thankful for you. Admittedly, there had been times before this that I felt like I was drifting away from friends and becoming buried in the depths of “life”.  I had no idea how many amazing people are in our lives. It is unfortunate that it took such an event to remind me, but I will not forget it and an excellent reminder to be that person for others.

I don’t want to get started on shoutouts because I  am terrified of making anyone feel as if their thoughtfulness was not appreciated. But I am also afraid of not giving some credit where credit is due. Carey, my father, did everything in his power to do everything he could for us  while we were in Sioux Falls. He helped Ray get there on that first night, traveling together because he knew how tired and worried Ray must have been. He drove numerous times back and forth between Chamberlain and Sioux Falls to visit us. He connected us with all the right people to get us things that we needed. He even brought Allison and I half way home when we were released. I know he was doing all of these things while also working his regular “more than full time hours” job. Barb, Carey’s girlfriend, was the first familiar face that I saw when we landed in Sioux Falls. AND she brought me something to eat. FREAKING HERO! She took us out to eat at least once or twice and gave us a place to get away from the hospital for a couple hours. My sister, Megan was there with us every day. She works at Sanford and so she learned the tunnels from her floor to Children’s and she gave up her lunch break several nights to come see Allison. All Star Aunt Status! Our oldest daughter Livia came to visit a couple of times. She had only met Allison one time before all of this happened. Seeing her cry on the first night she was there was one of the hardest things I have had to see. I wanted to comfort her and cry along with her at the same time. My best friend McKayla also visited and gave us some much needed laughter and hugs. My brother even made an appearance during state wrestling. My mom and Paul, even though they couldn’t be with us, were so supportive and my mom let me cry through several text messages and gave me the kind of comfort that I needed. Ray’s Aunt Nicole was also a huge help to us navigating the inner workings of Pine Ridge Hospital and we could not have done it without her help. She also came to visit and it was so nice to see someone from Ray’s side of the family step up and come through for him.

But, if we are really going to talk about who needs to win the lottery and a private cruise, and an island getaway and three billion dollars, it has to be Grandma and Grandpa Story. These are two very incredible people. They are MY grandparents, so Abbigail’s great grandparents. She spent TWO WEEKS with them. How many of you can imagine spending two weeks with your great grandparents? I can’t. I couldn’t have when I was two years old either. They are the most special people in my life. We missed Abbi so much and there were a lot of times when we needed her sunshine but she was exactly where she needed to be. She was happy, warm, fed, and safe. We did not have to worry one tiny bit about where she was resting her head while we were with Allison. What an absolute relief that was. There is no money amount to put on that feeling. I am truly blessed to have those golden people.

To be continued…

I had originally planned to get you all the way caught up. Can you believe there is more to this saga?? If you have made it this far you are surely bored of my ramblings! I will work on the rest of this story. (Read that in a Paul Harvey voice)

As I wrap this up, I do want to add that the care that we received at both hospitals was amazing. Sanford Children’s takes so much of the worry away because you know that your baby is in the best place possible. I have heard plenty of criticism of Pine Ridge Hospital in the past, but in our experience they did absolutely everything they could for us. The nurses and doctors devoted their entire attention to us while we were there and they helped Allison get the help she needed. I have an even deeper respect and love for the medical profession and I continue to pray for all of those people that give so much to others.


God is good. ALL. THE. TIME.

Don’t forget it.