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what’s better than santa?

we took the girls (and the dogs…because we are THOSE people) this weekend to have their pictures taken with santa claus.  it was hilarious, and i will post pictures as soon as i have them.  as we were waiting to preview our pictures, a nice lady came in with her giant golden retriever (duncan).  i should mention that we were at a pet store to have our santa pictures taken.  they have the best santa in town, and they let you bring your kids, animals, and whatever else you can think of.  in fact, a couple of years ago someone brought their chicken to have its picture taken with the man in red.  anyway, back to duncan.  duncan’s mom asked if she could leave him with us while she got her other dogs.  of course, the girls were thrilled with the idea of getting to watch duncan.  after two trips to her car to get her other dogs, this is what ensued…


2012-12-08 14.35.12 2012-12-08 14.35.15so…the only thing better than santa?  PUPPIES!



isn’t it funny how certain dates just kind of sneak up on you?  you can be sitting at your desk, having a normal morning, when all of the sudden that tiny little reminder jumps off the computer screen and smacks you square on the forehead.  well, today is one of those days.

december is always a month of contradictions for me, especially now that i have leslie and lucy.  on one hand, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  the lights, the decorations, and the promise of hope that comes with celebrating the birth of jesus.  plus, the wonder of the season that comes with giving and receiving gifts, spending time with family, and that jolly red elf in the red suit.  it is more fun than i ever could have imagined to experience all of that through the eyes of my two daughters.  but, december is also full of reminders of those who aren’t with us anymore.  twenty-one years ago (it seems impossible that it’s been that long), on the 22nd of this month, my mom passed away.  and it was messy and awful and so, so sad.

and then there’s today.  seven years ago today, on the 7th, the best man i ever knew (sorry, michael) died suddenly on his way to work.  i can still remember what i was wearing, the words my principal spoke when she told me, and michael’s face when he picked me up to drive me to the hospital.  that day, and all of its details, still feel like it could have been yesterday.

so, today i will take a little time to reflect on pa’s life and how incredibly blessed i am to have spent almost 26 years of mine with him.  if you had the pleasure of knowing him, i’m sure you will agree that it was a life worthy of much celebration.  he was so instrumental in me becoming who i am today, and for that i will forever be grateful.  i know that he’s watching over us, and i love that my girls frequently talk about pa even though they never knew him.


where does the time go?

holy cow!  it seems like just yesterday that i was sharing the sad news about tag, but nearly 2 months have passed!  a lot has happened in those months, and unfortunately, i don’t have pictures of most of it…they are still residing on our camera.  apparently, hooking the camera to the computer, uploading pictures to iPhoto, and then to wordpress takes more effort than one would initially suspect when also trying to work a full-time job, keep a house (sort of) clean, make meals, AND take care of two sweet girls and a husband.  so we will eventually get to the pictures.  but for now, you will have to settle for words.  and there are lots of them.


we did have a funeral for tag, which involved choosing the perfect spot for him (in the back yard near the grapevines…tag loved grapes!), coloring pictures of our family so he wouldn’t forget us in dog heaven, each of us telling our favorite tag story, and lots of tears.  but it was nice…closure, i guess.  we still miss him terribly, and probably always will, but he is in dog heaven and that is awesome.  also, one of my co-workers gave the girls this book.  it is amazing, and they love it.  also?  my co-workers are cooler than yours.

also, we have a new member of our family.  michael’s younger brother got married, which was awesome, and his wife also happens to be awesome.  we were all in the wedding, and i am so brain dead these days that i can’t remember if i already shared pictures from that.  of course, those pictures are on a different computer right now, but here is a link to the video preview if you’re interested.  notice the two cuter-than-cute flower girls.  welcome to the forston family, lindsay!

somewhere in the blur that is the last 2 months, leslie started kindergarten.  KINDERGARTEN!  that is beyond huge.  also?  how is she old enough for this kindergarten business already?  it makes my heart hurt a little bit to think about it too much.  she, of course, loves it and will definitely be ready to leave home and go away to college next week.  my little independent one. (lucky for me, lucy will probably live in our basement until she is 30.)  on her first day, leslie got in the car and proclaimed, “”  and so far that is still her opinion, although i secretly wish she would say, “kindergarten is okay.  but being at home with you, mommy?  THAT was awesome.”  sigh.

one funny story from her first day…we walked to school in the morning (i had taken the day off work because, well, i was pretty sure i would need a day to sob uncontrollably as the realization that my girl was in kindergarten took hold) and then i picked her up in the car that afternoon.  did i bother to tell her that i would pick her up IN THE CAR after school?  nope.  shouldn’t she just automatically know that?  of course not!  so, my big girl tried her best to convince everyone that she was a walker.  she would walk home.  it was totally fine.  mommy?  no, she didn’t need mommy to walk her home.  it was just down the street!  come on people, i’m FIVE now!  i can totally do this!  thankfully, the teachers knew that she was a car rider in the afternoon.  (turns out having your good friend and junior prom date working at the school is kind of handy…thanks, mr. davis!)  so, i arrive in the car lane to pick her up, mr. davis goes to get her, and he tells her, “leslie, you are a car rider in the afternoons.”  her smiling face turns to a panicked one and she says, “but mr. davis!  i don’t know how to DRIVE A CAR yet!”  not yet, leslie…but someday.  and i’m sure it will be well before this mommy is ready for it.

bear with me…i’m almost caught up.

my girls have been so amazingly fortunate to have known all of their great grandmothers.  three of them are in lexington, and the girls get to see them more than most kids get to see their grandparents.  unfortunately, michael’s grandmother had some health problems that led to her having to have both of her legs amputated in may.  at the age of 89.  most women would have given up, but granny actually didn’t seem to mind not having her legs.  her life went right along, she had visitors, played bingo, made bracelets, and celebrated her 90th birthday on july 3rd.  sadly, she contracted pneumonia a few weeks ago and just wasn’t able to recover.  last thursday, granny passed away.  michael lived with her for a couple of years when he was in PT school, so they were fairly close.  plus, he was the only grandchild still in lexington, and he has granny’s only great-grandchildren.  we visited her frequently, though in hindsight we should have visited more.  granny loved my girls, and if that were her only legacy, it would be a remarkable one.  but it’s not.  she was the kind of woman who, even when she was in the icu struggling for breath, wanted to know how we were doing.  i will remember lots of things about granny…like the way she used to make handwritten signs to hang on the door whenever someone was coming to visit.  she would use paper from a yellow legal pad and write a big welcome in multi-colored pen.  and when michael was accepted to PT school at UK she made him a big yellow sign saying congratulations.  granny loved to celebrate.  the other thing i will remember is the first time she came to meet leslie.  we were still in the hospital…leslie was less than 24 hours old.  granny was unable to walk due to a knee replacement gone wrong, so she was in a wheelchair.  when michael’s mom brought her into the room, her face lit up when she laid eyes on leslie: her first great-grandbaby.  as she was holding her, she looked at me and said, “kara, i want you to know something.  and i want you to remember it and tell leslie when she’s old enough to understand it.  i put pantyhose on to come and meet my first great-granddaughter.”  we laughed, but it is the perfect illustration of how granny loved.  can you imagine putting pantyhose on, at the age of 85, when you were unable to even stand up?  i can’t get pantyhose on without an embarrassing struggle right now!  i think back on how much effort went into granny getting those pantyhose on, and i am astounded.  and i am grateful that granny is in a place now where there are no pantyhose, where she has been reunited with her husband and her siblings, where her body is whole again and her legs work, and where she is able to watch over her family.  leslie and lucy have had a hard time with it…they loved their granny just as much as she loved them, and this is the first time they’ve been old enough to understand a family member’s death.  they still pray for granny every night, and they take comfort in knowing that granny is in heaven.  they’ve even had a few conversations about how big her angel wings are!

wow.  what a sad note to end on.  we’ll have to lighten the mood a little bit.  with a puppy!  meet penelope, the soon-to-be newest member of our family.  there will never be a replacement for tag, but we are all looking forward to a sweet, snuggly puppy.  she is 4 weeks old in this picture, and we will pick her up on lucy’s birthday.


probably not the post you were expecting after the wedding and vacation.  you probably were looking forward to pictures of the two most beautiful flower girls that ever have been, and i will get to that eventually.  but right now?  right now i have some sad news, so bear with me.

we came home on saturday night.  it was a day full of driving, and when we walked through the door at 9:00pm we were e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d.  kayla had stayed at our house, caring for the small zoo that we’ve started, and she called friday evening to say that tag was acting funny.  if you’ve ever met tag, you know that he has always  been a little odd.  but kayla said that he was having trouble walking and that he kept bobbing his head up and down.  weird.  but it was friday, and the vet’s office was already closed.  so we told her to watch him.  keep an eye on him.  and call us if anything changed or got worse.  we worried, but not too much.  so…back to saturday night.  exhausted, remember?  and tag ran to greet us.  he seemed normal for about 2.5 seconds, and then his back legs collapsed, and he didn’t try to get back up.  and his head bobbed a little bit.  so we sat with him, and loved him, and told him that it would be okay…that we would take him to the vet on monday, because the animal emergency room?  so, so, so expensive.

bags were unpacked, children were put to bed, and finally we climbed in bed around midnight.  and then tag started scrambling like he was trying to get up and couldn’t.  michael tried to help him, and tag peed all over the floor.  so michael cleaned it up, and we went back to sleep.  and then it started again…the scrambling.  michael tried to help him again, he repeated the peeing all over the place, and we decided that tag was having a seizure.  michael looked at me and said, “we need to take him.  now.”  and i knew just from the look in his eyes that he was scared.  that this couldn’t wait until monday morning.  so we went.  in our pajamas.  with tag wrapped in a towel and unable to stand on his own.

the vet examined tag, they gave us an estimate, we paid a deposit, and they sent us home so that they could run their tests and take their x-rays.  back at home, we ate breakfast, took showers, and started some laundry.  the vet called and said that tag’s blood sugar was 35.  bingo!  we had discovered the cause of the seizures.  but then there was bad news.  the cause of his low blood sugar was most likely a pancreatic tumor.  as it turns out, removing a tumor on a dog’s pancreas is not an easy task.  it requires a specialist.  also?  pancreatic tumors are almost always cancerous, so after removing it you’re looking at chemo and a long recovery.  if there is recovery to be had.  and probably there’s not.

so, we talked to the girls and asked if they wanted to go say goodbye to tag.  they both said yes, so off we went.  michael talked to the vet when we got there, and told her what our decision was.  she said we could have a few minutes with tag alone, so we brought the girls in and waited.  a tech wheeled him in on a little doggy gurney, and leslie immediately burst into tears.  lucy sobbed.  michael and i cried.  and we all stroked his sweet face and told him how much we loved him.  that he was a good boy, and that we were so, so sorry we couldn’t make him better.  and then the vet poked her head in and asked if we were ready.  are you ever ready for that?  we were as ready as we were ever going to be, so she came in.  the girls had decided they wanted to stay, so we all stood around him and talked to him while he went to doggy heaven.

so our house is a sad place to be right now.  it is too quiet.  we miss his barking and the way he would flop down on the floor in the most dramatic way.  we miss his awful breath.  and you know what?  i even miss finding clumps of his hair all over the floor.


life has been so busy lately, and there seems to not be an end in sight.  last weekend we had our board of directors in town for a meeting, so work was crazy getting all the last minute details in place and being present for the meeting.  i put the girls to bed on wednesday night, and then didn’t see them again until saturday afternoon.  lots of late  nights and early mornings = tired mommy.  but michael finally got to meet most of the board members on saturday night, which was nice.  at least now when he hears their names he can picture their faces, too.  we had a board/staff dinner at village host pizza.  if you’ve not tried it yet, shame on you!  the pizza is delicious, the salad bar is amazing, and the appetizers?  let’s just say it’s hard to go wrong with fried pickles on the menu.  it was a casual, laid back kind of evening, which gave everyone a chance to mingle and get to know each other a little better.  one great thing about this job is that our board and our staff genuinely enjoy spending time together.  not many board presidents would pose for a picture like the one below.  (please ignore the bizarre yellow tint of the picture and my very sleepy, mostly closed eyes.)

it’s always a relief when the board meetings are over.  planning them isn’t really difficult, but there’s lots of stress involved, and i’m kind of a control freak, so i tend to have a hard time giving over the reins and letting someone else actually execute all the plans i’ve made.  i mean, if malone’s would have just let ME prepare dinner…  🙂

tomorrow we leave for virginia.  michael’s little brother is getting married on sunday, and we’re all in the wedding.  leslie and lucy are beyond excited about their roles as flower girls.  i promise to take lots of pictures (or have somebody else take the pictures since it might be inappropriate for the bridesmaid to take pictures of her adorable daughters coming down the aisle).  after the wedding we get to spend a night with bridget and brian, which i’m so looking forward to.  then it’s off to south carolina for some time with michael’s sister and the ocean.  a fun way to spend a vacation, full of so many people i love!




the video!

well, the video is technically finished, but because i’m not a youtube genius it cropped most of leslie’s head out of the entire thing.  if you ARE a youtube genius and know what i did wrong, please feel free to share some wisdom with me.  otherwise, enjoy watching leslie’s torso, and i’ll try to do better next year.

and notice the finale dance…leslie jumped around with all her friends while lucy stood still “as a piece of corn,” (according to leslie).  funny how different my two beautiful girls’ personalities are!

as promised…

PICTURES!  had you given up on me?  no?  thanks.  here they are…preschool graduation and dance recital and horseback riding…oh my!

class of 2011…one graduation down, at least 5 more to go.

they both danced their little hearts out, and this mommy is so, so proud of them.

this is chickie.  leslie rode her.  how is she old enough to be riding horses?

lucy isn’t old enough to ride a horse (thank goodness!), but she was happy to watch her big sister, and she kindly obliged my crazy picture-taking.

who’s the baddest 2-year-old?  lucy.  (ps – do not wear black dress pants and a long-sleeved shirt to a horseback riding lesson on a day when the temperature is close to 100 degrees…you will sweat and be miserable.  you’re welcome.)

dance recital video to come…