Chronicles of Kyle

Humble Husband * Fond Father * Enthusiastic Educator * Lover of Life

Category: Family Friday

A Message to My Daughters


Greetings! I hope this day finds you well. Family Friday was super busy, so I did not get to write like I had planned until now. To read last week’s family Friday, CLICK HERE. Today I wanted to take a moment to share something that has so much truth and pulls at my heart strings every time I read it. There is no way I could give a message to my daughters that is stated anymore eloquently than this. I ran across this on Pinterest, and I just had to share. If you have daughters, save this so that you can look back on it as well. I have shared it below:

A Message to My Daughter

A Message to My Daughter 4

A Message to My Daughter 4

A Message to My Daughter

This is a message to my daughters that I hope they can always remember. Have a great day!

The Importance of Child Health Screenings

Today I come to you with a Family Friday post–a time in which Leah and I reflect back on all things about our family from the past and present. Today I write about something that sort of came as a shock to our family at the beginning of the school year. I share this to simply raise awareness about the importance of child health screenings and just capture the event by writing about it.

Leah and I are educators, and with Dori entering third grade, Holly starting preschool, and Kylea being in daycare, there are so many things to prepare to ensure that the start of another year is a success. It is never a sense of dread but more about excitement for what a new school year will hold, not only from an educator standpoint, but from our children’s point-of-view as well.

School supplies–CHECK!

Social Security Cards–CHECK!

Birth Certificates–CHECK!


Hearing Exams–CHECK!


…AND lastly vision exams.

UGH!  Is all of this really necessary???

At least we were FINALLY at the final thing on the list, and we would be ready to tackle yet another school year.

Holly, our “little middle”,  waited quietly with Leah in the optometrist room to receive her eye screening. The first thing the nurse asked her to do was to cover her left eye and identify the pictures. Very quickly Holly zoomed through the pics, one by one, proud that she was able to identify each one.

This was just another formality. Soon all this will be behind us.

The Importance of Child Health Screenings

Then came the left eye. She started with the largest pic at the very top. Holly was nervous, hesitant, uncertain. She took a guess, but she got the picture wrong. As a parent, you want to help your child so much. You just want to blurt out sail boat. SAIL BOAT! 3D images were next.  After several more errors with identifying various images, the nurse told Leah that Holly had some vision problems, especially in her left eye.

The doctor came in and told us that Holly had 20/40 vision in her right eye and 20/200 in her left eye, which was deemed legally blind. As parents, several emotions came over us but mainly shock, sadness, and guilt. The doctors told us that she had Astigmatism in both eyes and that her left eye had Amblyopia (lazy eye).  The good news was that the doctors caught it at an early age, so it would be treatable and could become better over time by using modifications. We instantly realized the importance of child health screenings.

What was the course of action?

  1. Glasses with gradual prescription change until she could reach her full strength prescription.
  2. Eye patch therapy, not all the time, but at times where she is particularly focused in on something.
  3. Possibly a prescription of a certain type of drops.
  4. Surgery when she is of age.

This was a lot of information to process at the beginning of a new school year, but we reassured each other that this was only a hiccup in life that we would get through and that one day her vision would be much improved.

How on earth could we miss this???

More than likely she had this condition from birth and over time she adapted to a point that it was difficult for us to detect. Sadly, it became the norm for Holly and she never complained. :'(  She has always loved life and we had no idea

Were there any subtle hints?

Now that we know her diagnosis, when we look back on past pics, her eyes looked somewhat strained. The pics below were before:

The Importance of Child Health Screenings

Eye strain as preschooler

kid eye health screening

The picture below is a present picture of my little Holly after her first year of school/ PreK with her prescription. I see such a considerable difference with much less squinting.

The Importance of Child Health Screenings

Below is a picture of a notebook Leah bought Holly for her school supplies at the beginning of the year.  A few days ago Holly looked down at the front of the notebook with astonishment. We asked her what was wrong.

She said, “When I started school, the front of the notebook just looked white, but now I can see all of these colorful lights on it! 🙂

Colorful Lights Notebook


I share all of this with you to raise awareness about the importance of child health screenings. For more information on screenings that are offered CLICK HERE.  Screenings may seem like a hassle, and one may think that his kid could never be the one with deficiencies until the doctor is sitting down, breaking the news.  I am so thankful for the doctors who found this problem and that it will hopefully improve with time.

At her last appointment, her vision in her worst eye had improved to 20/40, and the doctor did not see any reason to increase her prescription at this point. Had this deficiency not been addressed, it would have undoubtedly affected her successful school year she had at Russell Springs Elementary School and Busy Bees Academy.

Below is such great improvement in writing her name from first of the year to the end of the year. She had awesome teachers this year and I am certain that better vision also helped in her learning process.

Child Health Screenings

I am happy she can finally see the colorful lights on the front of her notebook. 🙂



Good Will Mother

When I was a kid, there were years we did not have a lot of extra money. Funds were tight. My parents were hard workers, but as many know, farming is an unpredictable business.

Weather could take a toll on earnings.

A blight might destroy a crop.

The price could go rock bottom.

Farmers are at the mercy of a lot of different variables. However, one constant during times of adversity was the simple fact that Mom and Dad always provided for us kids. We always had nice shoes and outfits, even if they were secondhand. We always had enough food. While the money was little, the love was much. That is what I will always appreciate about my parents and the quality that I always hope to carry myself and also instill in my daughters. A few years back I wrote this poem and shared it with my mother, as it captures one of her many great qualities…

Good Will Mother

I have a Goodwill mother
Who can shop like none other.

Shepherd Shop, consignment, & Goodwill,
She has always had a knack at finding a good deal.

From shirts, pants, caps,and shoes
To trinkets, toys, and items slightly used.

All of this stuff she finds for a discount.
She digs and searches to pay a lesser amount.

But this poem is not about all of her thrift.
It’s about her wanting to give others a gift.

Christmas, back-to-school, and birthdays.
She has clothed her children in stylish ways.

Friends and family get unique presents all the time.
Although, some things only cost a dime.

Granted it doesn’t cost very much
It’s just a simple gesture, a kind touch.

I value her thoughtfulness each day,
Her selflessness she offers along the way.

I appreciate all her lessons,
And how she has left so many positive impressions.

I have a good will mother…I hope she is aware.
Because she gives many people unconditional care.

Thanks, Mom

If your parents or guardians are still alive today, take the time to compliment them.

Tell them good morning.

Thank them for what they have helped you with throughout life.

If they are not living, let them live on through your good example.

It is the least we can do for all they have done for us. 🙂

We have all looked at others with a critical eye when someone might do things differently than we see it in our minds. The truth is sometimes we are so far removed from the experience that we can’t grasp another person’s struggle or idiosyncrasies. We become self-proclaimed experts. We have a canvas in our heads of all this colorful, yet fictional, set of principles we feel would be ideal. The problem is those “principles” are not the reality of life. Becoming a father gave me a perspective shift, and it was a truly humbling gift for me.

Once I had this epiphany, I wrote this poem that captures my perspective shift.


I always said, “That will never be me…
A father who lets his children run wild and free.”

I always said, “I will never let that happen!
If my kid disobeys, he will get a smackin’.”

I always said, “I don’t get it…
How a child is allowed to pull hair, hit and spit.”

I always said, “I will never touch…
germs, poop, vomit, and such.”

I always said, “I will take time for myself…
time to exercise for my health.”

I always said, “From by strong point of view, I won’t depart…
And allow stickers, crayon marks, and tacky art.”

However, time changes all things,
Especially when your own child is what the future brings.

Now things are much more real.
I am more appreciative of my kids’ strong will.

Now I see the beauty in those big bright eyes
I hear less of the smart mouth I once despised.

Now, if my kid retaliates in an unmannerly way,
I wonder what the other kid did first or had to say.

Now I have no shame in bodily function,
I investigate, dissect, smell, and suction.

Now I don’t care about the weight I lift or how far I can run.
I would rather spend time at home and have some family fun.

Now stickers on paper and crayons strewn…
Are used to make a masterpiece that is displayed and shown.

So never say never or that you won’t budge
Because one day you could be in the situation of the ones you judge.

There might be a different scenario for you that was a great awakening. Regardless, always keep an open mind and never say NEVER. 😉

A Tribute to Grandpa

A Tribute to Grandpa…

Grandpa when he was young.

Most of you knew him as Joe Ballou but I called him Grandpa.

Grandpa would watch the sun come up in the McDonald’s parking lot or at Green River Bait Shop to have breakfast and talk with friends and fellow farmers.

Those who knew Grandpa knew that he was never at a loss for words. He was always willing to give his opinion. If people really wanted to get him going they could simply mention a couple of things.

1.) Barack Obama

2.) CNN

There is a country song that comes to mind when I think of Grandpa…”You’ve gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

Regardless of political affiliation, we can all appreciate the fact that Grandpa was solid on the ground in which he stood.

Grandpa also thrived in the field. Hay, corn, peppers, tobacco, and cattle. Farmwork was his happy place, but times were not always easy for farmers, so Grandpa became frugal and was a money saver.

I am sure Dad and Mark can attest to this by how many canned green beans they ate as children.

My brother, Darren, and I played basketball. Grandpa and Grandma never missed a game. If I were to walk into a gym now, I could visualize Grandma and Grandpa at the top of the bleachers sharing a bag of popcorn and one bottle of coke.

His frugality and thrift is something that I have come to admire over time because it provided his family security when farming income was unpredictable.

Lastly, Grandpa was of the dying breed that was ok with rolling up his sleeves and sweating for his family. As a young man, he was one of the first farmers around who had a hay baler and he took advantage of that market to provide for his family.

Morning and night he would walk the farm over counting his cattle to make sure they were accounted for. Most of us today ride an ATV to do that job.

Grandpa’s work ethic, frugal habits, and commitment to his beliefs are all great qualities I will take with me the rest of my life.

In closing, Grandpa’s mind and kidneys might have failed in his final days, but his love never failed for my grandmother. It is my hope that Grandpa and Grandma are now reunited and that they are sharing that one bag of popcorn and one bottle of coke in heaven. And I hope they are both happy with what they see.

Persistence: A Tiny Statement, A Huge Message

Sometimes things become heavy on your heart, and you just need to express them through writing, so that they can be kept forever. Words are fleeting, but writing helps capture special moments. At church something had come over me. I had connected with the sermons. The pastor’s words had been touching my heart more than ever before. Blessings had rained down on me. I considered the lost souls out there. Those who lacked good people in their lives. For many, a church family might be non-existent. I began to think about my past and defining moments that lit my passion and made me want to further my Christian faith. There is one particular instance that comes to mind when I think about my values and personal faith.

My grandmother, Corrine Ballou, holds a special place in my heart. She lived right down the road from my parents’ house, and I would see her on a daily basis. She would always welcome me with a warm embrace, and would force feed me even when I told her I was not hungry. We would play board games, hunt night crawlers in the back yard for fishing trips, pop popcorn and watch Friday night sitcoms on ABC, and did many random things that made it “Grandma and Grandpa’s house”. This was a special place during my childhood and like my second home.

A Grim Memory

Grandma was also a faithful woman. When the church doors were open, she was there serving the church. No task was too little or too large. She would make her famous broccoli casserole for luncheons, she led discussions during Christian homemaker meetings, she would even tidy the church before services on Sundays and Wednesdays. Many times she would encourage me to go with her. During bible school she asked if I wanted to go. During revivals she wanted me to tag along. I would always turn her down because I had other plans that seemed more important. She always had such patience with me even when I told her no. However, her persistence never stopped, as she continued to extend the invitation.

I will never forget the day that was a turning point in my life. I was taking an exit exam to become a teacher and was under so much stress. The 4-hour test had me completely exhausted. I longed for a break from all the studying and classes. As I picked up my cell phone, I noticed several missed calls from my mom. I knew something had to be wrong, so I returned the call.

Mom answered and I could tell she had been crying. She told me that she had some bad news. Grandma had pulled into my parents’ driveway, and when my mom went out to greet her, she discovered my grandmother stretched lifeless over the steering wheel. All Grandma could say was that she was in so much pain, she was dying, and she needed help. Mom immediately called the ambulance, and she was on her way to the hospital. When I hung up the phone, I began to sob. The lady who was a picture of health was now staring death right in the face. This could not be right; it seemed an injustice to me and something that I questioned so much.

I arrived at home a few minutes later. Mom was waiting for me at my house. She said that Grandma’s organs were shutting down. Although grandmother had fought a hard battle, her body had succumbed to the pain. We needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible. Mom left to go get an overnight bag, and I just collapsed on the couch. Leah, my wife, came over and hugged me. She told me she was sorry and that we would get through this together. However, I was numb and in utter disbelief of such a rapid chain of events.

Faithful christian. Gentle soul. Persistent encourager. I couldn’t believe this beautiful lady, my second mother, could possibly be gone in a short amount of time.

A few hours later we arrived at the hospital. The doctors told us that my grandmother had pancreatitis. Toxins and poisons had overtaken her body. As a result, her body was giving up. It just could not handle all that had happened in such a short period of time. We were all allowed to go back to see her. When I entered the room, Grandma was unrecognizable. Her body was severely swollen from fluids. Tubes ran out her body from every angle. I approached the bed, not knowing exactly what to say. I held her hand and in a trembling voice I said, “Hey, Grandma. It’s Kyle.”

Four Simple Words

Surprisingly, she weakly opened her eyes and squeezed my hand. She tried to speak but could only make a gurgling sound. She kept pointing for a purse and making motions with her hands. Leah picked up the purse she was pointing toward, and we finally realized that she wanted a pen and paper. She gripped the pen in her hand with fingers swollen double their original size. You could already tell weakness had set in, as it was all she could do to write one short statement. She handed me the paper, and then proceeded to rest. The statement was in broken, cursive handwriting. I wanted so bad to read it, but I just couldn’t make out the words. She was trying to tell me something important.

I knew the first word read “Always” and the last word started with a “c”.

My uncle guessed that it read, “Always continue to coach.”

The rest of my family tried to decipher the statement but no one really had any idea. All of my family’s guesses did not seem significant enough to me.

Persistence Pays Off

A few days later, Grandma gave up her fight, and I know she is now in a better place. Never does a day go by that I do not think about the wonderful person she was, and I continued to think about what the statement actually said. And it was not until a few years later that God sent me a sign. I was in church one day and the pastor talked about the importance of encouraging others to go to church. I thought about how true this was and thought back to how my grandmother had encouraged me. That same day I got the statement back out and read it and examined it closely. Tears filled my eyes, and in that point in time, I realized that Grandma’s statement read, “Always stay in church.”

Grandma’s persistent encouragement in my early years had stuck with me more than I would ever know.

Yes, I turned her down many times to attend church. I thought I had better things to do.

Although, I never went with her, that Christian value was instilled in me. It created a ripple effect in my soul and I knew it was important.

I am far from perfect, but as an adult, I now know the importance of going to church and hearing the word. I know how important it is to get my family involved in church and be persistent in my efforts. Because Grandma showed me the importance of faith at an early age, I was able to decipher the statement that I had so much trouble reading before. Her wisdom and character had made a full circle and came back to help me interpret her statement. Grandma’s tiny statement was ultimately a huge message in my life and who I am as a human being, and it shows that persistence does, in fact, pay off.

In conclusion, appreciate the ones closest to you and persistently offer someone encouragement to attend church. A small deed may not affect the person instantly, but over time it has a lasting impact.

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