Feb 042010

Every New Years Eve, after we watch the ball drop, we grab our babies, pots, spoons, and fatigues and fall into marching order in front of Stephanie and Keith’s house.

I know, it’s a really confusing sentence.

You might just have to watch. Here’s the first half of our 2009 march, and here’s the second half.

(Adrianne, start watching the first one about 2 minutes in or you’ll start to feel sick because the camera does that shaky thing you hate.)

Also, since the troops aren’t visible in the video…here they are.

Our 2009 promotions, Bill (William Football) and Sister.

Here’s Frankie handing out our “poppers.” This has been his job since he was three years old. He’s really good at it. Nobody could do it better.

This is Uncle Keith, bossing us all around. This is a duty he shares with Bubba and it’s one they each take equally seriously.

Traditions are so important. We learn early as parents that there isn’t much we can control for our children. They long for constancy, for dependability from life…but it doesn’t exist. Pain will happen, surprises will abound.

Our family has suffered some irretrievable losses recently. A few years ago we lost part of the heart of our family…Uncle Frank. Each of us would give anything to take the pain of his loss away from Judy, Caren, Frankie, and Ali. We’re desperate to make them believe again that the world is a safe place. To give them their protector, their magic maker, their childhood back. And to make sure that no other cousin faces the pain they’ve suffered. But we can’t. Loss will come. You know what we can do, though?

We can march.

Monkees- we need to start some of our own traditions.

Love you all.


Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Feb 022010

As promised, today I’d like to introduce you to the first best friends Sister and I ever had, our cousins.

Meet Lindsay, who always looks like she just stepped out of a magazine. Her beauty is so dramatic that it almost feels like an act of aggression. She lives in Arizona and I’m pretty sure she runs the place. She and her b-fri Jonathan have hearts as big as their bar tabs. Just like her parents do, Lindsay takes special care of the littlest ones in our family. She makes them gifts and plays with them when no one else is watching. I always notice and appreciate her for that. My kids do, too. Children are good judges of character, and they’ll tell you that Lindsay is their favorite. This could be because Lindsay makes them practice saying “Lindsay is my favorite” over and over, but for whatever reason, they love her. I do, too.

Here is Allison. Allison stepped into a few big dreams this year. Her life love, Troy, who is definitely a Monkee at heart, asked her to marry him several months ago. They are planning their wedding, with the help of their little girl, Audrey. Allison and Audrey are living proof that biology is not necessary to motherhood. Allison has stepped into her role as a mother to Audrey with as much excitement and ease as I put on my yoga pants each day. It’s a miracle, really, their little family. They are going to take good care of each other, and I’m grateful. Thank you, Troy. We really like you. Although apparently not enough to take a picture of you. Sorry, buddy.

Meet Bill William Football. This is what he used to make us call him when he was little. Now he’s big, and kind and hilarious and a super star in our family. Bill is the younger brother of Lindsay and Allison. When he was smaller, Bill used to have an imaginary friend named Jake, whom Bill made us acknowledge and feed and play with. Now he has a realer, much more attractive friend named Erin. If you meet Erin, you will be tempted to put her in your pocket so you can pull her out when you get sad. Bill and Erin are both studying to be elementary school teachers. I feel happy for the world about that.

This is Lauren, our resident genius, with her boyfriend, Justin. Lauren takes after our grandfather and is studying to be a surgeon. She’s in podiatry school right now and while examining a cadaver, she identified a previously undiscovered condition, and she won awards for an article she published about it. Every once in awhile Lauren sends Sister and me doctory essays to “edit,” and we spend ten minutes trying to read all the six syllable words and then we give up and send it back with a smiley face and a GREAT JOB! So we feel partly responsible for Lauren’s medical success.

Sister and I used to call Kathleen, the best we’ve got. No offense to the rest of the cousins, but you know it’s true. Kathleen is smart and kind and has always been wise and mature far beyond her years. Which is why none of us really understood much of what she was talking about for a long while. But now we do, and she makes us so proud. If we had to send a representative of ourselves somewhere, we’d send Kat. Kathleen is interning with a non-profit this summer and I would vote her most likely to change the world.

Here is Sister and Colleen. Colleen is our baby, although she’ll probably be annoyed that I described her that way. Colleen is SASSY. She likes dancing and fashion and cheerleading … and just when you think you’ve got her pegged in a nice little high school category, you catch a glimpse of her report card on the fridge and notice that she has a 4.3 GPA and is taking classes like AP genetics. So I don’t know. That girl is something. Lauren, Kathleen, and Colleen are sisters, and best friends. Their mama raised them right.

Here is Christine, the only cousin I might describe as quiet. Which really just means that she is not constantly screaming, like the rest of us. She is elegant, that Christine. Actually she’s the only one of us whom I’d even consider describing as elegant. Christine is studying to be a pharmacist and I imagine she looks really hot in that white coat. I also imagine that being raised in our family encouraged her belief that prescription drugs can be very, very important. She is a good listener, which is hard to be in our family because of the unbelievable din. Christine is a gentle, bright soul.

Natalia is a singer and really, besides Lindsay, the only one of us who can really dance. Her mother and father are both career dancers, and they passed on their genius and gracefulness to Natalia. Natalia is a little fancier than the rest of us. Even her name is a little fancier. And she has the best laugh, for sure. I love trying to make Natalia laugh. She and her sweet and very tall husband, Chris, are expecting their first child in a few months. So our party next year will be plus one. We just found out that our plus one will be a little boy. Joy.

This is Frankie with his classy, beautiful girlfriend. I don’t know where to start with him. Frankie’s the biggest cousin, with the biggest heart. When Frankie sees me and his face lights up and he picks me up a little off the floor and keeps hugging me longer than he has to, it always makes me tear up. Frankie makes everyone feel special, like each of us is his favorite. Just like his daddy used to do. Frankie is just like his daddy, who is another post all together. I’ll get to Uncle Frank when I can figure out how to do justice to someone whose personality was larger than words

Here is Ali –the spiciest one we’ve got. If you’d like to know where Ali got her spice, please see this post about her mom, Judy. Ali is a hair stylist, so she always looks this cool. That’s her b-fri Josh. If you ever come visit us in Ohio, you’re gonna want to find a seat next to Ali so you can be sure to hear everything she says. You won’t be disappointed. Ali never disappoints.

And finally, here is my Caren. This picture was taken after Sister asked us to show her our “best sides” for a picture. I grew up a little bit in awe of Caren. A lot in awe, I guess. She was my brave pioneer, always experiencing life a few steps ahead of me. When we were little we spent hours in my grandma’s attic making up dances, and then held the whole family hostage watching us perform. I remember once performing “Like a Virgin” for all the aunts and uncles and my grandma and grandpa. That had to be a little awkward, but I don’t remember anybody letting on. As we got older, Caren taught me how to do my hair and make-up and even took me to high school with her once to teach me how to walk the halls and talk to boys. I never learned to do either one without terror, but she tried. Now we both have babies and husbands and we’re learning how to navigate those waters together, too. I wish everyone had a Caren of their very own. If you don’t, you can share mine, because she comments here almost everyday which fills my heart to bursting.

This is how every Kishman New Year’s Eve party ends. I know, weird, right? I’ll explain tomorrow.

Thank you for meeting my family. Wow, it means a whole lot to me.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest

Feb 022010

Have I mentioned yet that my husband is a model? He works for a few different agencies and does lots of print work and now that you know, you will probably notice him around here and there.

Craig never tells anyone about his modeling career. He is very shy about it. His friends tease him a lot and so do mine. My extended family is merciless, especially my Uncle Keith, whom you will be introduced to later in the week. Perhaps a better wife would be sensitive to her husband and refrain from writing about things that embarrass him. But it seems to me that there are many acceptable reasons for embarrassment, and being incredibly good looking just doesn’t make the cut. So sorry, Husband. Please consider this post to be an opportunity for character building. Sort of like your marriage to me.

I had a very dramatic pregnancy with Chase. In addition to the whole immaculate conception thing, which was REALLY hard for me to explain to skeptical people over and over…our doctor found a bright spot on Chase’s heart and a cyst in his brain at our first sonogram. These two markers, along with some other factors, led the doctors to believe that Chase had an increased risk for many serious health issues. We had appointments with specialists every week, and we researched and prayed and worried. It was quite a stressful roller coaster for two kids trying to get to know each other. It was like marriage boot camp. Craig and I learned early and fast how to depend on one another, and how to be dependable. We learned that in a marriage, you never crumble at the same time. You wait your turn. And we learned that when it gets really dark you just pretend you can see, or you sit quietly and hold hands until the light returns. It always does, eventually. During that time Craig and I learned that we could do hard things. It turned out to be a hell of a way to start a marriage, actually.

When I was seven months pregnant with Chase, he stopped moving completely. He didn’t move for 24 hours. I was teaching at the time, and during my lunch break I ate a candy bar and lay down, sure that the blast of sugar would get him going. It didn’t. I became terrified and called the doctor, who told me to get myself to her office right away. I called Craig, but he was in a meeting and didn’t answer his phone. I drove to the doctor’s office by myself, and sat in the waiting room and cried. I thought for sure that the doctor would tell me Chase was gone. I wanted Craig really, really bad. I prayed “help help help help.”

The doctor called me back to the examining room and asked me to change into a robe. She laid me down on the table and strapped the monitor around my belly. She told me that she would need to monitor Chase for several minutes and then she’d come back and meet with me. She asked if I’d like a magazine to keep my mind occupied and I said yes, please. But I didn’t really want a magazine. I still just wanted Craig really, really bad.

The doctor handed me a magazine and patted my head which made me both comforted and afraid. Then she left the room. I opened up the magazine with very shaky hands, and this is what I saw.

That’s Craig. That’s my HUSBAND. POSING as a STROLLER VALET.

In an ad that he’d done a decade before, and that neither of us had ever seen.

And here’s what I felt God say to my heart in that cold room all by my lonesome.

Look, sister, it’s ok. Craig will be pushing a real stroller soon and your son will be inside it. And no, Craig won’t be wearing that ridiculous vest, promise. But stop with the Immaculate Conception story, honey. Nobody’s buying it.

Craig busted through the exam room door while I was still staring at his picture in the magazine. He had listened to my phone message and talked to the doctor. He appeared to be completely terrified.

As Craig grabbed my hand, I looked up at him, smiled, and told him not to worry… everything’s going to be all right, I said.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest