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I miss my grandpa.

Background story:  My grandpa Clarence passed away last October.  He was a man of few words, was amazing when it came to woodworking, along with my grandma, raised 8 children, was a faithful member of the Catholic Church and in his younger years, made a living by farming near Wheatland.  He was the first closely related family member that I have ever lost.

All of the granddaughters singing

His prayer service and funeral were the most touching and beautiful that I have ever been to (and I have been to far too many).  Each and every detail was so thoughtfully planned out…from his obituary to the flowers.  Although I can’t pinpoint one thing that stood out above the rest, one detail I found to be truly unique and moving was that all of his granddaughters sang all of the music at his celebration of life.  We picked out the songs and sang some of his favorites.  We practiced as much as we could in the short amount of time we had.  We cried while we sang.  I can only speak for myself, but it was the perfect way for me to honor my grandpa.  He had a full blown choir singing just for him.  I heard from many that attended that we sounded like angels.  (thank you)

Grandpa’s Masterpiece: His wife, All of the children and their spouses, all of the grandchildren plus spouses (minus one) and all of the great-grandchildren (minus one)

The point is:  There are so many joyous events taking place within the extended family with my sister and cousin pregnant and another cousin planning a wedding, I just think about all that he’s missed already and all that is yet to come and it just literally breaks my heart.  I can’t help but feel helplessly upset about it.  It’s not that his life was cut short, because he was 91 when he passed away, it’s just that life keeps going for everyone else and that’s hard for me to think about.  I KNOW he is in Heaven, sitting in a recliner with his feet up, a good book in his hands and he is watching over us and enjoying every minute of it…I just wish he were here doing that instead.

Grandma & Grandpa


GREAT STRIDES is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest and most successful national fundraising event. This year, I’m walking in the GREAT STRIDES walk at the Blow Away Cystic Fibrosis 2012 Great Strides walk on May 5th, 2012 in Fargo, ND.  Please help me meet my personal fundraising goal of $150 by sponsoring me. Your generous gift will be used efficiently and effectively, as nearly 90 cents of every dollar of revenue raised is available for investment in vital CF programs to support research, care and education.

It’s hard for me to believe it’s been so long, but 18 years ago, my friend, Samantha Smith’s life ended at the innocent age of 10, because of CF.  I am doing this in memory of Sami as she deserved a much longer life to live.  She is pictured at the end of this post.  Please help me give that to other CF sufferers.

Making a donation is easy and secure! Just click this “Click to Donate” button to go to make a donation that will be credited to my team. Any amount you can donate is greatly appreciated!

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a devastating genetic disease that affects tens of thousands of children and young adults in the United States. Research and care supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is making a huge difference in extending the quality of life for those with CF. However, we continue to lose precious lives to CF every day. That’s why your help is needed now more than ever to ensure that a cure is found sooner – rather than later.  To learn more about CF and the CF Foundation, visit

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those with CF! Thank you for supporting the mission of the CF Foundation and GREAT STRIDES!

lowered my ears!!!


The older I get, the more attention I pay to the inner workings of life, dare I say the things that go on ‘behind the scenes’.  It’s completely bizarre how the smallest things can lead to a major life event…or how something we worry will be disastrous turns out to be nothing at all.

This leads me to think of two things…

The first is the wise words of Miss Marilyn Monroe’s, “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they go right. You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart, so that better things can fall together.”

I often think of this when I reminisce on my and my husbands relationship.  For both of us, past relationships fell apart so we could fall together.  Something beyond our control was taking place; the universe was aligning and it was all so we could spend the rest of our lives together.

First, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.  Everything.  I also believe that there is something good that comes out of every bad situation.  Hard to imagine, I know, but that is what experience has proven to me over the past 28 years.
‘The Adjustment Bureau’, a 2011 major motion picture is the other that comes to mind.

Still shot from the Adjustment Bureau

“Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us?  Matt Damon stars in the thriller The Adjustment Bureau as a man who glimpses the future Fate has planned for him and realizes he wants something else.  To get it, he must pursue the only woman he’s ever loved across, under and through the streets of modern-day New York.

On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris (Damon) meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt)—a woman like none he’s ever known.  But just as he realizes he’s falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart.

David learns he is up against the agents of Fate itself—the men of The Adjustment Bureau—who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together.  In the face of overwhelming odds, he must either let her go and accept a predetermined path…or risk everything to defy Fate and be with her.”

I watched this movie with my husband a few months ago and it really spoke to me.  At the end of the day, how much do we really control in our own lives?  Sure, we make choices and decisions, but what happens after that is typically out of our control.  We say or do things we wish we could take back…but inevitably, when we hurt someone it’s never the same.  Oddly enough, it’s supposed to happen that way though, because failure is the best way to learn and if that means going through something now so we can succeed in the future, then that’s what we’ll do.

So, at the end of the day, I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing and I am okay with that.  We don’t become stronger if we don’t go through the crappy stuff, right?

Be the person YOU think you should be, say the things YOU find appropriate, be humble and be true.   Keep your integrity and trust your gut.  Thanks for reading 🙂

Leg warmers for chairs!? Why not?

Made from organic cotton and bamboo

Found these lovely little things in ‘Country Living’ magazine.  They directed me to….and just arrived from South Africa!!


bucket list

Ok, think BIG.   I am finding it difficult to dream big as it feels so unrealistic.  On this adventure called life, I find myself not really knowing all there is to know about me.  Time to connect with my inner being.  What do you want to do before you die?

I believe everyone is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive.
– Benjamin E. Mays

In no particular order…..

  1. Go zip lining.
  2. Be married to my husband until our dying day.
  3. Visit Ireland.
  4. Be a good mom.  A patient mom.  A loving mom.
  5. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  6. Never lose my creativeness.
  7. Significantly help someone in need.
  8. Learn to play the guitar.
  9. Touch the ocean waters.
  10. Get more tattoos.
  11. Get fit.
  12. Learn contemporary dance.
  13. Go ice fishing.
  14. Visit the New England area during the fall.
  15. Design every aspect of my dream home…and build it.
  16. Go horseback riding on a beach.
  17. Go to the Bahamas.
  18. Join Mike & Frank and be an American Picker.
  19. Take a train somewhere…anywhere.
  20. Leave something behind for people to remember me by.
  21. Live near the mountains.
  22. Go muskie fishing.
  23. Find my inner peace.
  24. Own a real photography camera and learn how to use it.
  25. Learn to crochet or knit.
  26. Be a voice and an advocate for children who have Autism and related hardships.
  27. Ride in a helicopter.
  28. Visit the Grand Canyon.
  29. Own my very own bow and go bow hunting.
  30. Live to see the day the cures are discovered for Cancer and Cystic Fibrosis.
  31. Pass away before my children and their children do.
  32. Work for a non-profit.

Alright….I think I am satisfied with my list!  It literally took me hours to complete this and every item has significant meaning to me.  Should be fun crossing things off as I live my life. 🙂

Now it’s your turn.  What do you want to do before you die?  Let me know!

my 2011 milestones

2011 has certainly proven to be a year full of change, big events and challenges.  It’s time to look back at milestones that have taken place and move on to the next…

  • January 26th marked my one year anniversary of being cigarette FREE.  I thought that was a huge accomplishment, and now I’m coming up on my 2nd year anniversary and can hardly believe I did it!!  Not to mention I quit cold turkey!
  • March 3rd Paityn turned 10 years old.  She’s growing up so fast….I am NOT ready for a teenager yet!!
  • A drastic and unwelcomed change in my life came this spring when Pepsi Americas merged with PepsiCo and Pepsi Bottling Group to become Pepsi Beverages Company.  Everything changed.  My position was eliminated and so began the grieving process.  I know that sounds lame, but seriously, I loved my job and had an amazing boss.  I just need to remember my motto….Everything happens for a reason.
  • Quick mention of the flooding we endured this spring.  Luckily for us, an earthen dike was strategically placed between our house and the Maple River after the Flood of ’97.  We did, however have about a 10 foot snow drift in our backyard that took it’s sweet freaking time to melt.   Here’s a shot of the water from our back porch…

    Hayden and TJ walking on the dike

  • At the end of May, I did something I had waited years for.  Simply put, it’s just for me.  🙂

    Tattoo #4!

  • June 7 – Happy thirty-something birthday, TJ 🙂  I am always saying he’s an old man but he’s really not.  He’s just older than ME!  🙂
  • July 3 – Happy 1 year wedding anniversary!!  All I can say is that my husband and I have grown so much over the past four years and I can’t wait to celebrate our anniversary every year until the day I die.
  • TJ and I spent several days in the western parts of South Dakota and North Dakota for our Honeymoon in July.  We had an amazing time and treasured the relaxing time together!!
  • When it came to music, this summer ROCKED.  Sara Bareilles performed at the Fargo Theatre and I scored pretty awesome tickets for myself, my sister, Mallory and my dear friend, Tessa.  Miss Bareilles was amazing.  Quirky funny.  The personal setting was perfect.  (insert happy sigh)

    Sara Bareilles

    Miranda Lambert @ WeFest

    Then came WeFest in August where I was able to enjoy some amazing music (Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Sugarland) with one of my favorite people…my handsome hubby 🙂  Concert going is not exactly his forte, but he appreciates my passion for music and knows I wouldn’t go unless he came with me!  Always remember; Happy Wife, Happy Life.  (hee hee)  Then, Brandi Carlile came back for round 2 at the Fargo Theatre (she performed there last year).  I could watch and listen to her live all day.  She is one of the few artists out there that is actually better in person than recorded because of the raw emotion she portrays.  It amazes me to no end how incredibly talented she is.  And the BEST part?!?!?  I actually talked to her (if that’s what you want to call it) and got her autograph!!!  EEEKKK!! Needless to say, at this point, I had seen most of my favorite artist in one summer but I had one more to go!  Sheryl Crow…..she has been a longtime favorite of mine.  I have grown up listening to her music and singing her songs during karaoke and I just knew I couldn’t miss her!  She performed at Bluestem and although it rained and don’t even get me started on the mosquitoes or heat….it was great.

  • We welcomed a new furry, four-legged member to our family this summer.  Benelli is a yorkie poo that came to us from a home where he was neglected and abused.  He has made a complete turn-around since living with us and he has been the perfect addition to our family.  We lovingly nick-named him ‘Smelly Benelli’. 🙂
  • October was rough.  It was the first time that I lost someone close in my family.  I’ll never forget October 14th for as long as I live.  Grandpa Clarence…you are greatly missed.
  • On November 22, my little dude turned 7 years old!!!
  • December 22 – my birthday.  I will now always share a birthday with a very special baby girl that I never got to meet.
  • One area in my life that has grown tremendously this year has been friendship.  I love my girls and I thank you for being at my side and loving me back!
  • And I can’t forget how that today is 12/29 and there is NO SNOW on the ground.  (Although I literally JUST heard on the radio we can expect to get 2″-4″ tonight?!?  ha.)  I have heard this was the first brown Christmas we have had since 1957.  Wow.

The main reason I wrote this particular blog entry is because all I have been thinking these last few days is I just want this year to be over….there have been too many deaths and that’s all I have been able to focus on…so I wanted to remind myself that overall, it has been a good year with a few “hiccups”…to put it lightly.

There is a saying that I will share with you that has helped get me through the dark times…

I hope that you have had a great 2011 and that 2012 brings you great health, happiness and more love than your heart knows what to do with.

’til death do us part

Details of the Wedding of TJ & Kelsey

July 3, 2010

Duluth, MN

My great grandmother's broach

Glensheen Historic Estates

Wish tree

that’s so PINteresting!

It’s become an obsession….I bring it up in daily conversation….Those closest to me get tired of hearing about it until they discover it and then they FINALLY realize how wonderful the world of Pinterest is.  The creative Kelsey that has been in missing for years now is back and it feels amazing.  I wish I had known about this before I had gotten married!!  But since I didn’t, I have created a pin board for weddings for friends and family…just of ideas that I think are beautiful and wish I would have thought of!

Anywho, there are so many crafty projects on my to-do list that I figured I better get started!!  Below are a couple of my very first etching projects.  I should thank my husband again and again for giving me a Cricut for Christmas a few years back because without it, I would not be able to make beautiful etched projects!

This was my test etch and it turned out great!

Etched 'enjoy' onto my banana bread dish













This next one I saw and just fell in love with, so I sent my husband on a mission when he went thrifting to find an old, rusty rake and …. taa daa!!  He passed with flying colors 🙂

Old rake turned necklace holder - genius!

Hayden turned 7 this year and I wanted to do something special to his room to make it feel more like a big boy room…first off, I have had the idea of high gloss paint against flat paint for years and just never thought up a design I really liked…until Pinterest came along 🙂  So first I started by taping off the area for the high gloss paint.  Initially I was going to do the chevron design floor to ceiling, but after working on taping for a solid hour or so, I decided one would be enough 🙂  He noticed right away when he walked into his room that there were ‘mountains’ on his wall.  He loves it.  Also, a big shout out to my dear friend, Patty, for your help with painting!!

Hello Chevron! Hayden's wall, high gloss sheen...

Eggshell vs. High Gloss, same color, chevron design.


Something I had really been looking forward to this year was wrapping all the gifts to put under the tree…I tend to like them to match, or at least coordinate and when I saw a similar idea on Pinterest, I knew I could pull it off and I am so glad I spent the time on it, especially when I know it will soon be in the garbage!!  Ha!  I purchased a roll of craft paper (or shipping paper) from Wal-Mart for less than $5.00 and used scrap book paper that I already had.  The most time consuming part was cutting all of the letters out, making them into stickers (I use this wonderful lil thing!!) and then carefully placing them on the package.


Hope you have enjoyed seeing my creations….next step is utilizing Pinterest to create a craft space in my home.  Lord knows I need ideas for the small space I have been granted by the hubby 🙂

Happy Pinning!!

learning as we go…

Hayden John

Every parent wants only the best for their child, or at least that’s how it should be.  No parent ever wants to hear that their child is different or disabled or anything other than just plain normal.  As we all know, life is not perfect and as a parent, when a curve ball gets thrown our way it can make for a difficult adjustment.

I’ve always known that one day we would find out that Hayden was hanging out somewhere in the autistic world.  A mother’s intuition should always be followed.  For years now he has displayed signs but never so obvious that anyone else even noticed, with the exception of me.  The truth came out while in Kindergarten and his wonderful teacher, Mrs. Wolden took notice to Hayden.  She spoke with his dad and I at conferences near the end of the school year and said that he had little confidence in himself and had been struggling in certain areas and thought perhaps he had ADD.  We decided to have the school counselor spend some time with Hayden to find out if she saw the signs and she agreed with his teacher.  From there we needed a medical opinion, so we scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician, Dr. Jones-Dees @ Essentia Health.  She wasn’t convinced of him having ADD and after a few questions, threw out the ‘D’ word…depression.  My heart sank because I never want my children to mentally suffer like that.  I just wasn’t convinced that that’s what we were dealing with so she referred us to a psychologist to get another professional’s take on this.

School ended and summer was in full swing when we were finally able to meet with Dr. Willert; finally we were going to get to the bottom of this.  He asked Hayden’s dad and I several questions pertaining to when he was born to present day and watched Hayden while he played with the toys in the office.  At the end of the consult, I asked him to be very honest with me and tell me what he truly thought was going on and although he wanted more time to give an accurate diagnosis, he suggested PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) and anxiety.  Per, PDD refers to a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination.  Children with these conditions often are confused in their thinking and generally have problems understanding the world around them.   They also have difficulty in areas of social and emotional development, including:

  • Developing relationships with other people, including their parents and children their own age.
  • Communicating with other people.
  • Having unusual behaviors and interests.

Conditions that are considered PDD are Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS) (This category is used to refer to children who have significant problems with communication and play, and some difficulty interacting with others, but are too social to be considered autistic.) among other, more rare conditions.

After doing much online research and witnessing the signs myself, I completely agree with Dr. Willert on his diagnosis.  We had been visiting his office weekly, at first and then switched to every other week and slowly have cut back on visits but we will be starting again more regularly after the first of the year.  My motto through all of this has been, I want Hayden to be as happy and as healthy as he can possibly be and if there is anything I can do to help him, I will.  Honestly, it’s a relief to finally have an answer…to better understand how his beautiful mind works and to better understand why he does some of the things he does.  For example, when Hayden doesn’t get his way or sometimes, for no apparent reason, he will completely shut down.  During this time, most likely, he will not speak, make eye contact or even move and you do not touch or talk to him as this only seems to make it worse.  It’s something that is beyond frustrating and I have longed to understand it, and now I do.   I cannot recall a single moment in the past 7 years where he has melted in the middle of the aisle in a grocery store, kicking and screaming for not getting something he wants.  I always took this as he is just a really good kid (which he totally is) but now I know that it’s just the way he is wired.  His brain simply works different than ours…he has no control over it.

Recently I’ve learned that he is struggling in school and this broke my heart.  School is hard enough the way it is but on top of that to add a learning/mental disability….well, that just plain sucks.  I spoke with Hayden about his grades and really tried to ingrain that he must try his very hardest and do the best he can do every day in school.  Then I met with his teacher, Mrs. Oien to get a better grasp at what was going on.  First, I must say, she is an awesome gal…full of life and truly loves teaching.  She speaks so highly of Hayden and it’s obvious that he has captured a special place in her heart.  We conversed about his struggles and about PDD and how it affects my son.  We came up with some great ideas to help make school a little less challenging and I left feeling 100% better about the situation.

Hayden is very high functioning on the spectrum and most people would never know anything is going on with him.  He has shown me over the years how caring and genuine of an individual he is and he warms my heart every single day.  I am so proud of him and so proud to be his mom.  He is constantly reminding me to enjoy the little things in life and he doesn’t leave my side whenever I am going through something upsetting.  He amazes me…literally, I am in awe of my child.  I am so blessed that this extraordinary little person is my son.

Although I feel like I am now babbling, this is something I could go on and on about but I’ll wrap it up….I share this story not to exploit my son or to put a public label on him, I share this in case there is a parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle out there who kinda, maybe, sorta thinks that there is just something slightly ‘off’ with their child.   Trust your gut…ask questions.  Perhaps it’s nothing, but maybe, just maybe there is something going on and the earlier you can help this child, the better.