personal project \ six people twelve times \12.10

December 2010.


Guess what? I made it through an entire year of a project.

I say that with some disbelief. Okay, not some. A lot. A lot of disbelief. I know most of you understand. Most of us are typical creative types with a lot of good intentions and a lot of half finished projects lying around. Lots of ideas, very little follow through.

So I am pretty happy about this. Happy I have this record of our life. Happy to have inspired some of you to do the same.

I also have the support from the other five Whitneys (four really, but Mckenna says no to everything) to keep up with this project into 2011. The images came easy – it was the words that were hard for me at times. I am not sure if the words will continue in the same fashion, but I will have to see how it all plays out.

Thank you for being here this year, and for inspiring me to keep going.

In December, if you can believe it, the pox on our house CONTINUED. Oh yes it did. Our downstairs toilet had cracked and because we were unaware, it slowly leaked onto our wood floor. It must have been happening for months when we discovered the rotten wood behind the toilet. We had to have the floor in the bathroom replaced, and the toilet repaired. We all took turns with some pesky health problems that dampened a lot of our plans.

Jeff turned one of our problems into a surprise. I came home one day from running errands to find a brand new dishwasher had been installed while I was out. He had even put a red bow on it! An even bigger gift than the new dishwasher was not having to research or purchase it on my own time. He handled everything and it was exactly what I needed. That was when things started to turn around.

Because of everything that happened over the last few months, I wasn’t as prepared for Christmas. Mentally or in any other way. I decided that Bernard wasn’t going to be able to happen this year. I had to give myself a break somewhere. But oh, that was such a hard decision. I had made preparations but I didn’t have the energy to deal with it. We were still shopping the day before Christmas Eve, which is so totally not how I like to do things. We managed, even in a rush, to bring some meaning to Christmas Eve. Shane and Rachel came over and we made a steak and lobster feast, then stayed up late wrapping and playing Santa. I love that tradition, and I am so grateful to them for wanting to do it with us. I love love LOVE filling the stockings and deciding which things will be popping out of the top for them to see when they race downstairs, and what will be all the way down in the toe. Love designing how the presents will lay under the tree. Love that last moment before heading up to bed, when Jeff and I sit in cahoots and look at all that work, all that preparation, all that sweetness under the sparkly tree.

Christmas morning came bright and early as it always does. It was quiet and special, with Perry Como and Bing Crosby on the record player. A cup of hot milky coffee in my hands. Among other things, the boys got a new TV for their room, for video gaming. Mckenna got a new iPod and a footsie pajama that is pink polka dotted like Uniqua. Anna got cowboy boots and toys. Jeff and I have wanted to start a garden in the backyard and he had a bunch of supplies under the tree for me, including a compost bin. I love Christmas morning – I love the settling down of the hustle and bustle. We spent the rest of the day visiting family and at the end of the evening drove home in the rain. I felt like I was in a warm cocoon in my car. I didn’t really want to reach our destination and get the sleepy kids into bed. It would mean it was all over, for good. But we did and it was, and the next day we cleaned up.

On New Years Eve, when we took the above photos, we had some friends over. I made red and green enchiladas and Roquamole. Jeff created a shot list – his six drinks of the night. They included a buttery nipple, a scooby snack, a duck fart, a surfer on acid, a kamikaze, a screaming orgasm, and a 4th of July. Every hour from 6pm to midnight, the brave (or stupid) of us met in the kitchen for the “Shot Of The Hour”. Mckenna laughed every time someone said duck fart. If you say it to her today, she will still laugh. Brett and Billie brought the materials to tie dye, and we spent the 10 o clock hour at the kitchen table with the kids, rubber banding and mixing. We all made it to midnight and it was the first time the kids stayed up. The next morning I woke up to a mess and my first thought was that I was grateful to have it. My heart felt so full. It was just lovely to have everyone over. You know you had fun when you leave a mess behind.

This morning Jeff and I seemed to wake up needing to talk. We were lying in bed, legs intertwined, trying to keep our feet warm. We started talking about life. About what changes we wanted to make. Where we wanted to take our family, our health, our business, our time. We talked about how hard this year was for us, and how different it was from 2009. In 2009 we made huge leaps of progression. It was the year I began to understand where my depression came from, and what to do about it. It was the year we changed our focus as a family, back to each other. To being content. We each lost 40 pounds and I started my journey with making healthy food. We felt power in making those changes. We gained self respect. In 2009 our attitudes completely shifted and we grew as a family.

Looking back on 2010, it seems like a bit of a disappointment. Instead of progressing, we were really just holding on. Treading water. And in some ways regressing. We never let go of the rope completely, but a few times it was really close. I gained back 20 pounds of the forty that I lost, and have struggled to try and get back to where I was. In fact, I am still struggling. I look at the jeans that WERE falling off me – the jeans I can’t even button now – and I hate myself for getting here again. I know what I need to do to be successful at weight loss, but this year I just couldn’t do it.

Mckenna. Everything changed with her this year. She went from being a mentally and emotionally disabled child to a mentally and emotionally disabled teenager. This is a whole new ballgame. Her behavior isn’t “cute” anymore. It was easier when she was little. Her delays and lack of development still kind of fit in for her age and size. She was just a toddler for many many years. Now, she still acts like a toddler but has the body and the hormones of a 14 year old girl. There isn’t any more hiding from it, in my hopes and dreams. Now it just IS. Now, it is just very very real. The things I hoped might happen aren’t going to happen. I have had to make a lot of concessions this year. I have had to let a lot of my hopes and dreams for her die this year.

I guess this is me choosing to live my life based in reality instead of fantasy. I see reality now, I can’t really hide from it no matter how hard I try. No matter how much I want to.

But this year reality kicked my ass.

I am glad that I didn’t gain back all forty pounds. I am glad that I have my family and we are all alive and healthy. I am glad that although our home seemed to be falling apart, we have one. I am glad that we didn’t let go of the rope entirely and give up.

Most of all, I am glad for another chance.

I am going to take it.



Join the Conversation


  1. thank YOU for the inspiration this year.

    I am totally worried about my own son hitting the teenage years as a kid with autism. worried.

    and thanks for being truthful about your weightloss. me. too.

    and we started our own family x12 project last night! excited!

  2. What can I say? I save your posts for when I have a few moments, when I can really concentrate… then I sit down and read and read. I know it’ll be good, like it always is. It’ll make me feel good and also make me want to do better. You have SO MUCH depth and I love hearing your thoughts.

  3. totally doing this project this year for my family!
    thanks for inspiring! I was going to do it last year, but didn’t notice it til feb. so I didn’t do it! (little too into being perfectionist ugh)>>>>but I already have 2 family shots this month YAY! thank you tara! for being you, inspiring, being REAL and open and honest!!!
    I have tried for the past 9 years to lose the same 30lbs. I lose 20 and gain it back,lose it and gain it back…I will not diet ever again, but try to just do lifestyle change.
    so sorry for all you go through with miss mckenna…I wish I lived there to come help you out because I think I would just LOVE HER!!!
    you are doing a great job and I am so proud of you as a mom!
    keep on!

  4. Tara, I love all of your posts, but these ones I find myself especially savoring. I even find myself looking forward to them A LOT. Like today, when I noticed in my Google Reader that you had a new “six people twelve times” post, I went straight for the post with a big, huge well of anticipation and delight.

    I’m sad for the ways this year was hard for you. You have a way of expressing yourself that communicates the sadness but also the hope. The way you hold your family in your heart inspires me.


  5. I’m a little late on commenting, but it’s because I wanted to re-read your post after it sank in for a day or so. All you need is right here: “I am glad that I have my family and we are all alive and healthy. I am glad that although our home seemed to be falling apart, we have one. I am glad that we didn’t let go of the rope entirely and give up.” And then, just be (your motto). Just be. Just be there for your family, BE with them. It’s hard sometimes, and that’s life, but when I take a step back and look at why things are or where I’m at, it always comes back to my family, the ones I love most, the ones I live with. That’s the why. That’s what’s important. Just being there with them living life together, soaking it all up. Much love, girl. Keep that head up, you’re doing just fine :)

  6. T, I’ve come out of lurking to leave a comment. Keep on keepin’ on. I agree that 2010 was a rough one, and not just for you. We all have so much to be grateful for, and you are always reminding me of that! Family is a treasure! A silly little quote: (from Kung Fu Panda :o) Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery… and today is a gift! That’s why it is called the “PRESENT”!! Here’s to a great 2011.

  7. i never ever comment on blogs, but after reading this, wanted to say, THANK YOU!! Thank you for keeping it real. So many times I feel everyone glosses over everything because they don’t want you to see anything bad. and then, in turn, I end up feeling like I’m the only one with day to day worries. Your family is beautiful, you are beautiful, and life is beautiful. Thank you for helping us all to see that.

  8. I am so grateful that I found you this year. You seem to put into words things that I have thought or done that I am often afraid to write or say myself. You make me feel better about me because I realize that I am not alone. Your images and your words inspire me. I check your site often to see what is new and feel a sense of joy when I see an new post. You bring sunshine and warmth to the cold and dreary Minnesota winter days. Thanks you for putting yourself out there. Thank you for your creativity. Thank you for your message.

  9. Wow…just wow! I am so glad that you were so honest in putting your feelings out there. I am guilty of only putting the “fun and positive” things on my blog. We are also a fam of 6…I am totally going to copy your idea of 6 people 12 times this year. I have only a handful of pics of myself…thanks for giving me the courage to actually be IN a pic!

  10. I read this a few days ago and had to really absorb it before I could comment. I think my hardest times are when I actually grow the most. Even when it feels like I’m just keeping my head above water and can’t begin to process anything, even then. Once I emerge, there is a new richness that flows. That is my wish for you. That and an end to the pox (which by the way has hit my house now lol – dishwasher, dryer, bathtub. . . all in 3 days ouch) and a 2011 where joy is easy.

    Thank you for sharing YOU.
    xo ~ Kathleen
    p.s. You will have new hopes and dreams for McKenna!!!

  11. Tara,
    I can’t begin to tell you how much your story, your truth, your life told online has meant to me this year.

    Our 2010 was full of joy with a new baby, but full of heaviness in seeing more of my little man’s (he’s 4) social development be robbed from him. He’s one smart cookie who’s been living with Autism. We finally have our years of questioning and thoughts validated….though it comes with such an evil word…autism. It makes your body cringe like it does when you hear nails scratching on a chalkboard.

    But our guy is special and we are on the right track now. He’s high functioning, and full of joy. My eyes are still wearing their ever hopeful glasses, but I thank you deeply for reminding me that I may have to let some of my dreams go for him. I’s gut wrenching, but it’s something I may have to face.

    Everyone tells us that he will built something great, cure a disease, or become a stunt man. :) Either way, I love him more deeply than I ever thought possible for someone to love another.

    I just thank you for paving the way in my heart for the truth. That I must be realistic, but I must hope, I must not get lost in the future but enjoy what’s right before my eyes today.

    Thank you Tara.

  12. Tara,
    Please know that even though I don’t know you, I have been so blessed and inspired by your courage. Keep your head up and stay as strong as you are now. There is a God who is working all these things together for your good even though you don’t see it now. I admire you for holding on and being so strong for your family. I will be praying for you and your family, that 2011 brings you hope and a life full of joy. :) “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:7

  13. As always, beautifully written Tara! You truly continue to be an inspiration to me……your words, ahhhh, I will read and take in as long as you have them out there for sharing!! Here’s to a favorable 2011 to you and your fam’! xxo

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