Another good book

We just read “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman.

I asked J if she had a favorite character. She said yes, the Grandma because she encouraged her granddaughter.

I love that reason! And, I hope to be that encourager for J and the other children in my life.

May we all help the little ones around us know how amazing they are.

In case you’re wondering about the story… Grace loves stories, she spends her time reading them, listening to them, and acting them out.

Her teacher announced they’ll be doing the play “Peter Pan”and Grace wants to be Peter (along with several other students). Since so many want the same role, they’ll have auditions the next week. Her classmates take turns telling Grace why she can’t be Peter.

When she gets home her mother and grandmother ask why she’s sad, she tells them about what the other kids said. They assure her those kids don’t know what they’re talking about. Grace practices over the weekend and wins the part of Peter. She does a great job in the play, confirming that if she puts her mind to something she can do it.

It’s so cool to see characters overcome adversity and succeed. I love reading these stories with my kiddo. It’s reinforcing for her that others don’t get to tell us what we can it can’t do, and it’s reminding her to build others up instead of tear them down.


Book recommendation: I am Rosa Parks

book cover "I am Rosa Parks"

We’ve been reading lots of books lately, and many of them have been good. But, this one seemed worth writing about.

It’s a bit lengthy, but totally kept our kindergartner’s attention the whole time.

I felt like it did a great job introducing Rosa Parks and some of the issues of her time in a way that was understandable to a child living over 60 years later.

I don’t think our kiddo caught me tearing up as I read, but I did. I can’t believe that so many years later we’re still dealing with racial injustice. That makes me sad and mad all at the same time. And, while I don’t have a solution for all that, I think that continuing to educate myself and my kiddo is a step in the right direction. Seeing her get mad at the characters that are putting Rosa down is encouraging. Knowing that she’s embracing the idea that we’re all deserving of respect and good treatment is a good feeling. I’m excited to see who else we’ll read about as we continue to learn more about our history.

I’m thankful for our library system that had this book available and I’m looking forward to reading others in this series.

Always listening

We’re watching a movie “Hamilton One Shot to Broadway” through Hoopla this afternoon and Joanna just said:

“I want to put a crush on Hamilton and marry him”

I asked how she knows that word, where did she learn “crush”? She said: Phil.

This morning during his sermon, Phil mentioned a girl he had a crush on as a teenager and that he tried to get paint on her hair to get her attention. Though she was coloring a picture, and seemed very focused on her coloring project, Joanna not only heard what he said, but also learned a new word, and understood what it meant enough to use it later. Amazing!

So, then I asked why does she have a crush on him and she said:

“Because he’s nice and he fought for this land. He fought for where we live. I love it.”

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, she says that painting her hair will not win her affection. When it’s time (years, and years from now), the way to work out the marrying bit is simply to ask, not to try juvenile attention-getting tactics.

Best part of the day

I am so thankful I get to witness these moments!

We’re reading “Missy Piggle Wiggle and the Won’t Walk the Dog Cure”.

It’s book 2 in the series and tonight’s section has Joanna giggling quite frequently.

All 3 of us look forward to getting to read Missy each night, and it’s disappointing when we run out of time and don’t get to read it.

It’s pretty cool to see how much Joanna remembers from the previous reading. There are times she knows more than I do about what has already happened to the characters 🙂

A new chapter


This “back room” of our house has been many things in our time here. It started as a guest room, then became storage, then became an office when Morgan had a remote job and needed a place to work, then housed 2 exchange students, then storage, then storage and a place for family to sleep (on their own air mattresses), and now…a classroom!

Yes, classroom. For many reasons we’ve decided to switch things up and focus on home education instead of public school starting next month (which is really next week)!

Yes, we’re excited! Yes, we (at the least the adults) are a little scared. And, yes, we believe this is the absolute right choice for us for right now.

Doing homeschool is not something I ever imagined I’d be doing. But, for us, for right now, it is the obvious right choice. While we’re still figuring out some of the components we’re pretty excited about “Five in a Row”, a highly recommended curriculum.

Joanna wants to share that “this is a great place to be and I love homeschooling even though we didn’t even start it  yet.” And she’s kinda enjoying calling me “Miss Teacher” when she wants to do school.

So, if you’ve been on this journey before and have any experiences you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them. What worked well for you? What would you absolutely do again? What would you leave out? Just anything that you think would be helpful to someone starting this path.

22 in 12 days

Last week a friend and I were able to volunteer with the YWCA’s Santa Store. It was a good day. In addition to the fun of helping people wrap up and select presents we had a bit of time to visit with some of the staff members.

While it was really encouraging to hear about the good work they are doing, the way their services are available at crucial times, it was also really discouraging to hear a recent stat. Already this month, by December 12th they had served 22 survivors of sexual assault. Yes, you read that right, 22 hospital visits in 12 days.

Back in 2010 when I started volunteering with Threads of Compassion OKC they served an average of 30 people a month. That seemed like a lot. But, to hear that number has increased so significantly sure hurts.

15 years ago I sat with a group of other survivors and listened as we each shared a bit about how we were doing at that time. I remember looking around at others who were like me trying to process their traumatic event and find a way to not feel crazy. It hit me then that I sure wished we did a better job of teaching people not to hurt others. Instead of all of us having to learn how to move forward, it just made sense to teach everyone from a very young age to be respectful of others and to not hurt each other. I know that’s a simplistic view, but really, if each parent, teacher, and other adult that interacts with kiddos intentionally focused on respect and boundaries, if we’d all teach that “no means no” no matter what preceded it, then fewer people would need to do the hard work of healing from assault. Because, there’d be fewer assaults.

So, here I sat 15 years later with tears starting to run down my face as I thought of all that faced these 22 brave survivors that have started a journey to healing. And, I remembered that moment years ago looking around a room of strong women and thinking “why don’t we teach the guys not to do this?”

So, I guess that’s my Christmas wish this year, that each of us will look out for those around us, that we’ll teach our sons and daughters to love one another, that we’ll model and teach respect, that we’ll start in simple ways like when we’re tickling a toddler who laughs out a “stop” we’ll stop. Instead of teaching self-defense to our girls, let’s teach all the kiddos to keep their hands (and other parts) to themselves. Let’s listen to one another and teach each other what respect looks like from the very early days. Let’s let consent be real in every situation and stop the violence. We can do it together.

Choosing to Celebrate

December 7th.

This date is memorable for many people for various reasons. Several days ago our kindergartner noticed that it’s a special day because she saw words printed on the calendar. She asked what is special about 7 this month.

Ahh, that may not be a tough question for most. Of course, the answer for many is “it’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day” -at least that’s what the calendar says. One of my high school friends was born today, and has since passed away -so for her family, including her kiddos it’s probably a bittersweet day. But, for me it’s the anniversary of the day my mom died in 1986.

Having such a tough thing happen during the “holiday season” had lasting effects. When it happened I had no idea that for years, actually decades, I’d struggle to enjoy the Christmas celebrations that flow starting after Thanksgiving. Wherever I was in the world others were decorating, gifting, singing, celebrating and I was often just trying to hold it together, to be present without tears. It just wasn’t a celebration time.

But, thankfully one year I took time to deal with all that (I wrote about it here if you’re curious) and some amazing healing happened. I’m SO glad I did that hard work before I had a kiddo of my own. She’s growing up enjoying the beauty of the season, and that is so cool to watch.

We’re off to a slow start this year. A quickly planned trip to Indy followed by WordCamp US in Nashville got us back in town late on the 4th, so we have some more decorating to do. But, we’re taking our time, thought it’s tempting to knock it out alone while Morgan’s at work and Joanna’s at school, doing it together as a family is what makes it special. I love opening the box of ornaments and remembering together where they came from, or when we made them. We got to open 5 days of our Lego Friends Advent Calendar at once. That would have been cool, except our eager 6 year old had opened it and switched around the bags of Lego, which meant the pictures didn’t match the pieces on 4 of the first 5 days. So, I spent some time yesterday watching a video someone had posted of opening the whole thing and getting it straightened out. Yay for youtube!

This summer our LST mission trip took us to Natal Brazil. We had a great experience there, but I still get teary thinking about one night. We had dinner with some of the church members and Joanna really connected with one of the ladies. Marisa loved on Joanna, she giggled with her, gave her gifts, hugged her, planned shopping trips, and played together,  they just really connected. As we left the restaurant to get in the car I walked behind the 2 of them and started bawling as I saw them holding hands and joyfully almost skipping along. They were having a blast. And, while I was so glad Joanna was experiencing that I was grieving that she doesn’t get that experience with my mom, that she isn’t here to be grandma, and that means my kiddo is missing out on some potentially really cool moments. So, yes, I am thankful that she does have special moments with great people, and she does have some chances to see Nana out in California, or when they visit, it’s just tough at times that she’s short one grandparent.

So, instead of dwelling on what are missing out on, I choose to celebrate! I ask Morgan to bring the tree down from the attic and the boxes of decorations in from the garage. We get out the Christmas coasters and special glasses. We move things off the mantle to set up a Nativity set (I love that this has become Joanna’s favorite part). We put the ornaments on our front yard tree that were placed by a mystery friend years ago. We’ll make some treats and share them with friends. I crochet ornaments to share, and help Joanna make some to share. We are using this special season to find ways to spread around a little joy, and I’m so glad for it.

I have some dear friends and family members who have lost loved ones this year and are facing their first holiday season without a parent or other family member. And, for them I’m hoping that in spite of the inevitable sadness that will come from that hole in the celebrations that they will be able to find some joy too and will be able to remember the special times with their loved ones.

We all know that tomorrow isn’t promised, and so I hope that today, and each day we’ll choose to do good and love one another well, as that can make such a huge difference.

As I mentioned, we’re a bit behind this year, but here’s a start to our home decorations:

Enjoying a playground

We spent the night in The Shrine Hotel at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. We’ve stayed here several times before when traveling between Oklahoma and Indiana.

Our early riser was ready to go at 6, but waited somewhat patiently till 8 to go play after breakfast. She and I played while Morgan finished walking up and showering.

It’s a really neat playground. She loved starting the day with some play time.

It’s not a fancy hotel, but the price is good, people are friendly, and there’s a big, neat playground.

Also, from November 17 – December 31 this year they have the Way of Lights. It’s a really cool Christmas light display that includes showing the story of Jesus’ birth. Being able to drive through it was a highlight of the trip. It makes staying here totally worth it.

Morgan and I had been here before and were surprised to find the lights. It was cool to surprise Joanna with them this year. She enjoyed them as much as we hoped she would.

Amazing scent?

We just stopped at Rib Crib to pick up some dinner. Morgan ran in to pick up our order. As we were leaving the parking lot Joanna asked “what is that amazing scent?”

Meat, dear girl, that scent is meat.

The bag contained pulled pork, sausage, and brisket. I will admit I agree, it does smell quite good.

This was one of those “we must be doing something right” moments.

Finishing on Friday

These items are all “done”, but they’re not finished.

See all those strings? They all need woven into the work. That’s my least favorite part.

I’ve steadily been crocheting but not weaving in and ended up with this pile of things that are all almost finished.

Tonight I’m watching the World Series and working on finishing these things.

One is a gift to be given out tomorrow, I think I’ll work on that first 🙂

And, it’s far from finished, but we’ve made progress on our online store. You can check it out at