Colleen and Kailey

Colleen and KaileyWait.  Can this be  true.  It’s been over a year since I introduced you to another “Little Girls Then and When.”

I met Colleen and Kailey through my photojournaling with the Marengo-Union Times.  They agreed to share a little with you and me.

Colleen is 33 years old. He single mom raised her and her two sister in a western suburb of Chicago. Colleen knows, more than most, how important it is to be a strong mother.

Colleen loves being a Stay-at-home Mom.  She even home-schools her 5 kids. Kailey is her only daughter. Colleen sons are 13, 6, 4, and 2 years old. She says the scariest thing about raising a daughter is whether she’ll find a good husband and be happy.
When she was a little girl, Colleen dreamed of being a veterinarian.  She loved Friday nights, because that was Pizza Night. Colleen describes Kailey as outstanding:  “She’s very intelligent and independent.”

Kailey is 11 years old and in the 7th grade. Besides baking (she’s a State Fair Superior Ribbon winner,) Kailey gets involved in a lot of different things. She loves animals: she raises chickens, and she volunteers at “Hooves to Heal,” an organization that helps people with disabilities through interaction with horses.  Kailey is a seamstress, a photographer, and an archer.  She loves science and history. Her favorite color is purple and her favorite number is 24. “I just like those two numbers together,” she told me, without an ounce of hesitation.

When she’s a grown woman Kailey plans to be therapist. Her oldest brother has Down’s Syndrome; his therapist inspires Kailey’s career goals.

Kailey says she’s more like her Mom than anyone else.  She thinks she looks like her mom.  What do you think?






Sick and Tired of Torture Cures

The following is a re-write of some memories I published about five years ago.  A young mother confessed she stewed about whether she should get her two kids vaccinated. She told me this story convinced her to get the vaccinations.  I hope I change a few more minds today.


When I was a little girl, I got sick a lot:  headaches, colds & flu, chicken pox, measles, mumps, lots of upset stomachs.  Of course, just about anything, except headaches went through the whole family.   Looking back,  I’m sure even the headaches more than likely spread to at least one other person.


I could almost always think of something clever and make a grown up chuckle a bit. I was a pretty smart little girl.

I was almost always itchy.  Sometimes Mom taped Popsicle sticks to the inside of my arms, to keep me from scratching.  Julie and Johnnie were all itchy, too, because of allergies.  Dr. Regan didn’t believe in allergies, when I was little,  he said I just had  Noxzema and a runny nose and just needed my tonsils out.  That’s why Mom sewed pockets on all my clothes; before I left the house, she said, “Do you have your Kleenex?”  I never left home without a pocket full of Kleenex, each one folded in quarters.

One time I got super sick over at Uncle Frank’s house.  When I breathed in, I was sure my insides looked the same as when somebody sucked in instead of blowing out on a balloon.  I just layed down in the way-back of the station wagon, all the way home, no talking or singing, just trying to breathe tiny breaths, so it would hurt less.  Mom took me to see Dr. Regan.

“See,” she said.  “This is the way she gets sometimes.  I think she has asthma.”   Mom had the same look on her face when she was thumping her finger on a newspaper showing Dad something in the Sunday newspaper.  Dr. Regan Continue reading

Camille and Melissa and Grace

IMG_4421I met these wonderful women when I interviewed Camille for the Marengo Union Times.  She harnessed her harrowing experiences as young teen to create her own anti-bullying campaign, “Cam’s Care to Be Different.”  While doing that interview, I got a chance to talk to the other remarkable women in the family.

IMG_4425Melissa is 48 years old and a Stay at Home Mom from the time her first daughter, Grace, was born. She “runs around and does things for the kids.”  She also enjoys gardening, especially flowers.  Melissa is the first-born in a family of eight!  She has 4 brothers and 3 sisters.  She’s a cradle Catholic who no longer goes to church as often as she thinks she should. Her family was very involved in the church when she was growing up, but then her mom started going to a Lutheran church. She found it less strict and perhaps a little more flexible.

Melissa has three children of her own: two girls and one boy.  She thinks the scariest thing about raising girls, and maybe the most important, is teaching them to be strong. It’s important for them to know how to stand up for themselves and what they believe in. “Girls can be vicious and particularly vicious in groups.”  Melissa wants her daughters to listen to their inner voice, not others’ opinions.

She was not particularly close with her own mom so she learned to be closer to her own kids, and tell them that she loves them. Every single day.  When she was a little girl, Melissa wanted to be an only child. All of her siblings are fairly close together in age. She wanted more attention from her mom.  If she were an only child, she wouldn’t have to share.  Plus, there would be money for the things she wanted. Now that she’s grown, she wouldn’t change it.  No one is closer to you than your siblings.

IMG_4424Camille is 15 almost 16.  She love reading and writing.  She writes all the time.  She even wrote the superintendent a three, single-spaced pages letter. But that’s not all she does.  Camille likes shopping and she loves her puppy, Frenchie. Oh and she loves Math.  She’s good at numbers and logical things. She agrees with me, Math is just another language; a language of logic.  Her  favorite color?  Purple because it’s right there between pink and blue.  Her favorite number is 21 because that’s her birthday number.

When Camille is a grown woman she wants to be independent and successful. Well, in my opinion, she already is that. Geesh, I can’t imagine speaking to a student body of 1400 in strange school about the toll bullying had on my life.  That takes guts Camille, and poise.  Camille thinks she’s more like her mom than her Dad because she is loving and caring, putting everyone before herself.  Not that her father doesn’t care, but he’s more hardworking, and he like things logical and definitive.

IMG_4426Grace  is 18 years old and starts school at the University of Mississippi.  She plans to study Business or Criminal Law.  She was a Cheerleader since she was a wee girl.  She’s a flyer, so she gets thrown around a lot.   She sad and happy that she’s leaving cheerleading behind her freshman year in college.  She didn’t make the team.  There’s always next year.  Besides, there’s so much to do at college. Grace plans to  join a sorority.

Grace’s favorite color is pink, just because she likes it and her favorite number is 2.  She  picked that number early:  Dad’s birthday is 22, and Mom’s is 2.  Maybe that’s why.  When Grace is a grown a woman she “want to be successful and happy.” Grace says she used to be more like her mom, but now she’smore like her dad because she is organized and can’t be late.

Grace was the first person to ask Camille to help end some minor bullying and back-stabbing among her high school cheerleader friends.  That’s how Camille’s confidence began to grow and that’s when she began to understand that she really can make a difference.

To learn more about Camille’s Dare to be different campaign, here’s a few sites you can visit:

The Black Tortoise

Cam’s Dare to Be Different Camille’s Facebook Page