Tuesday, June 02, 2020

In These Times

ALL Lives Matter.

I am not a racist.

The pigmentation in my skin does not make me one.

I am a human, as are you and all the others of various pigmentations around this globe.


Not a color in a crayon box. Not a race. Not a racist.

I am not blind to what is happening. It breaks my heart.

But I am not going to erase years of progress with the single act of a terrible human being – and all the acts of the cowards who merely videoed that act instead of stopping it.

The media has declared me a racist because I am “white.”

The media wants to divide us and make us angry and make us activists. Us versus them. They want me to believe deep in my heart I am racist merely because I was born “privileged” and “white.” (I'm merely the latter.) But saying that implies that there aren’t any people of other “colors” who are born into privilege? Isn’t that racist to imply that couldn’t happen based on the fact that they’re not white?

I’ve seen a lot of African Americans who are very well off – some are even quite wealthy. They’ve earned it. They’re privileged and so are their children. They are more than worthy of what they have. Many of the people I attended college with who are other ethnicities are well-educated and earning way more than me.

Does this make them “white” now? Since only “white” people can be privileged?

I am not racist deep in my heart. I love people. Just people. I don’t care what they look like, who they are, what their ancestry is. I might disagree with their actions or attitudes, but that’s not who they are as a person, and their pigmentation does not affect that.

I am not a slave owner. 

I am not and will not be mean to a person based on their “coloring.” 

I do not believe in paying people more or less than what their skills and talents are worth, especially not based on their race.

Despite what the media wants us to believe, we have made great strides against racism. Look around. It is a fair to say that the world has a plethora of "people of different pigmentations" working, living, and educating together. There are still places that have issues, but those are neighborhood issues. (See Chicago and Memorial Day Weekend.) The wrong acts of one person do not equal the sum of the rest of the population’s beliefs.

Go home. Gather your family. Pray for peace. Love your neighbor MORE than yourself. And stop telling me who I am. 

God made you and me who we are. And only He knows our hearts. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Thoughts on Mother's Day

My kids are always asking me if I loved them more when they were little.

I love looking at their photos and talking about how sweet they were and sharing memories of funny or poignant moments with them.

I remember first teeth and them learning to walk and the way they marveled at just about anything new and exciting. They loved being outside and had a cute way of pronouncing things. I loved watching them learn to read and write and draw. I loved making things with them and celebrating countless birthdays, half-birthdays, and holidays with them. Easter eggs and Christmas visits to New York to see the Macy's Santa with the deli breath. "Picnics in the Park" on the Eve of Christmas Eve. Early morning trips to Chincoteague in the summer and the fall and the beginning of a brand new year. Singing children's songs and then '80s songs at the tops of our lungs. Knowing all the words to the Veggie Tales, especially the end theme song from QWERTY.

Career goals: Fashion designer, hotel designer/owner, architect, marine biologist, inventor.

I remember how earnest they were about certain things and how they tried very hard to understand a complex grown-up world with the simple mind of a child. How they tried to share their thoughts on politics or movie stars or books they read.

It's as though now they see that child as someone else instead of a younger and smaller version of themselves.

How could I love that child any more than I love the grown (or growing) version I see at present?

Perhaps the past really is a foreign country...and those little people in the photos and memories are merely the residents, long gone as the years progress.

No, dear children, I couldn't possibly love that little-person version of you more than I love you now...for you are that little person now a bit bigger. And I love that bigger person even more today than I did yesterday.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

If I Take the Time

A memory:

When Ethan was five years old, he gave me a crumpled napkin that I assumed he wanted me to throw away.

I laughed and told him to throw it out.

He insisted that I open it that it was "a gift," he said.

I did and saw this inside.

"It's my love!" he said with a big smile.

And afterwards I realized that I nearly missed it in my haste to toss out what I thought was trash.

Sometimes we need to slowdown and enjoy these precious moments.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

At Home in the City

My brain is ruminating...and so I must ramble a bit...


I have always enjoyed exploring the world.

I grew up moving around to different towns in different states, so my family spent a lot of time getting to know new places.

Because of that, being a tourist is easy in one of my favorite cities.

There are the usual places to see -- the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, the Subway, the World Trade Center.

But my favorite way to see and feel and know the city is to find a coffee shop early in the morning, sit at a table in the window, and watch the world go by. It may seem a strange way to "sightsee," and yet it gives me a chance to see the heart of the city, what makes it truly beat: a mom walking her children to school; a businessman scurrying by, coffee in one hand, a briefcase in the other; teenage girls engrossed in their music and texts, laughing together as they walk to their classes; an older couple stumbling along hand-in-hand; a gaggle of schoolchildren scattering behind two harried teachers on their way to a museum; and more.

And if I sit long enough, I'll see the process repeated in reverse, each person on his or her way home, thinking about the happenings and memories of the day, each a protagonist in his or her own story.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Book Review: Jocelyn's Box of Socks

I am a huge lover of children's books. It's no secret. I've been collecting them since I was a teenager. Working for Highlights for Children and Boyds Mills Press was a dream come true. Me surrounded by kids' books? Game on.

So recently I noticed that the wife of a friend (from long ago) had a children's book coming out this month, and I approached her about reviewing it on here. I think it's quite an honor to promote a fellow writer, and I plan to make these reviews a regular part of my blog.

Without further ado...

Jocelyn's Box of Socks
Written by Kristen L. Jackson
Illustrated by Tino Santanach

From the first look, Jocelyn's Box of Socks is full of cheer. The cover is bright and pink, and the illustrations are fun and cartoon-like.

To me, it was all kinds of happy before I even opened the cover.

The beauty of children's books is their appeal to multiple audiences. A good book in this genre will offer an engaging story for children with enough substance for teachers/parents/grandparents/librarians to be able to use it for teaching a lesson or discussing a value or something similar. No preaching. Many kids learn best from mimicking what they see/hear demonstrated around them. It gives them a "this is what to do" kind of lesson without just saying "don't do this."

In Jocelyn's Box of Socks, we learn from the very beginning (even in the title) that the main character, Jocelyn, loves socks. She "loves all kinds of socks -- except boring, dull, plain old ordinary, all-white socks." The reader finds out she wears them in all seasons and with all kinds of shoes. She wears them because they make her feel happy.

Then one day, Jocelyn receives a box of socks from her grandparents. Since they know that she loves socks of all kinds, they send her a box of socks with different smiley emojis on them. Each pair is a different smiley emotion. Jocelyn is instantly in love and, after (unsuccessfully) trying to wear them all, she has to decide how to choose which ones to wear. She makes the decision to wear the socks that match her mood, starting with the happy faces. After a series of events in which she has to continually change her socks to match her current mood, she feels confused and frustrated as to what to do. She consults her brother with her quandary, and he suggests that she just wear the socks that she wants to, no matter what mood she feels. She loves this idea and even sees that she can mix and match her socks no matter what her mood because wearing socks makes her happy.

The book has a lot of positives beyond the story and pictures. The underlying theme of talking about emotions and how they can change is a gift to teachers, especially of younger kids who may not be able to verbalize about feelings just yet. The cadence and repetition of the kinds of socks Jocelyn likes furthers the fun and encourages kids to join in.

All in all, Jocelyn's Box of Socks is a fun and bouncy book that opens discussions about how we all have emotions -- big and small, good and bad — and they can change quickly. A bonus classroom guide is included in the back with discussion questions and activity suggestions.

Release date is May 28.


Monday, May 06, 2019

Monday Musings

Well, it's been awhile, huh?

I know. I know. I promised I would try to do better...but, in fact, I feel like I've done worse.

It's been a busy decade or so. Changing from a mommy of two to a mom of three threw me completely out of whack. There's so much more to do and say and buy...and wash. Some weeks I just give up and sit around eating bon bons while watching soap operas...

Ha! If only.

So where have I been? Here...there...everywhere...but mostly just home -- or at least nearby. Working, momming, driving, wifeing...

My little kids turned into the "big kids." (Who knew that would happen??) They're both in college now...in the midst of finals week and preparations for next steps.

My little baby -- who is anything but little...and a baby -- is now 10 going on 75. (No, seriously. Some days I feel like he's aging quicker than I am.) He's in 6th grade this year...and very nearly finished.

I just cannot believe we're at this point in the year.

I'll probably do some kind of recaps, trying to summarize what's been happening in the past millennium gadzillion too many 10 years or so. But I'll also continue to post about new stuff about what's happening now. Because there's lots of good stuff coming up this month, especially. [Hums "Pomp and Circumstance." and "God Save the Queen" to herself.] And life doesn’t ever stop long enough for me to catch up.

We've said happy hellos to lots of new friends...and sad goodbyes to too many old friends. We’ve moved from phase to phase, trying to adapt along the way. There’s no parental instruction book. Well, not one written specifically for your kid or mine...or anyone else’s, for that matter.


Nearly halfway through it. Nearly another new decade.

Musing merrily on a Monday. It's what I used to do...every week...it's what I want to do again.

So for now, I'll keep this short and (hopefully?) sweet.


Until the next time!

Friday, May 03, 2019

Friday Fun — and Frogs

I have always been a fan of frogs. I got a large stuffed frog toy named Flippo for Christmas when I as five. He was my best friend and confidante and helped me immensely through the many moves my family made in the years that followed.

So I’m using this blog post to promote a fantastical frog book.

Check it out and enjoy!!

Adorable and fun frog book by a favorite author and poet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Who Me?

My brain is ruminating. 

The dictionary says to ruminate is “to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly.“ 

The news media would like us to worry about all of our leaders and what they are saying/doing/thinking/supporting. It’s a “he said/she said” battle of epic proportions. 

The fact of the matter is that none of the politicians lives with us. Not one of us — unless we are related to them — has daily contact with ANY of them. Our only contact is through what we see, read, and hear. 

Like everyone else, I find it extremely difficult to separate myself from all that is happening. I feel like I need to know. But what does that do to me and my family and friends? How does it affect those who have direct contact with me?

So I got to thinking...who is responsible for fueling all the hateful speech that is going around? Me. And who is responsible for preventing/changing hate speech and thoughts? Me again. 

It isn’t our president or the media or any other politician or movie star or athlete or singer or anybody at all. 

If each of us — myself included — spreads love and fairness and grace and civility, it WILL happen. It’s contagious.

No one needs to “kick anyone” who goes low. 

As I learned several years ago — and continue to learn — grace and love ALWAYS win. 

Let’s try it. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year, Old Reflections -- 2017

My favorite thing to buy at the beginning of each year was the Life magazine "Year in Pictures." My parents had a few from over the years, and I loved looking through them at the moments in time that were captured through the photojournalist's lens.

Here's to looking back at 2017 through our pictures. So many photos (whittled down from 1,000s to a mere 400 or so)...and so many smiles -- many, many more than the last few years.

God is good to us! He has carried us through quite a lot in the past few years, especially. And being able to recap the year through photos is always a joy. Seeing memories forgotten already...truly priceless.

In an age of constantly changing technology, what are your favorite ways to keep memories alive year to year?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you'll buy your pint cup!
and surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there's a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o' thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Nah-tivity Nonsense

I am constantly irritated amused amazed by the stuff I read on the Internet. That it only really started in the form we now know nearly 20 years ago and people have taken to it -- and complaining on it -- without reservation...is, like, wow!

We have a generation of people, some call the Millennials. I see them more as the Baby Boomers 2.0. They seem to complain about, er, um, question everything.

I came across a photo the other day about a nativity set someone had at her house.

She brought up the idea that white entitlement or privilege was prevalent in Christmas stuff, that her nativity scene figurines were blond and that made them from Ohio (not sure how many blonds live in Ohio, but idle grass...) She claims that they are miscolored because Jesus was Jewish...and this is apparently a #christmasfail.

Three people agreed with her -- with vehemence. One even complained how she'd been on a quest for a "non-blond" more "culturally accurate" set. She promised to get two, if she found one.


First of all, none of us was there. There are no photos, pictures, drawing, paintings of Jesus and his parents at that time period. Why couldn't they be blond? What is that "white privilege" or "entitlement"? Blond people exist today. Who's to say they weren't the coloring of the first people and the rest changed pigmentation as people moved away from the Garden area? No one knows what color came first. And who really cares? At the end of the day, we are all people with different pigmentation. That's it. No colors. Just people.

I know. I know. Spoken like a true white person.


Second of all, the person in question is white. Or, as I prefer to say, Caucasian. What gives? Why is she "white bashing" when that's her own background? It seems to me that a person who bashes her own skin tone is just trying to be part of the crowd, beating the tired drum of the liberals of our country. She has no credibility.

Thump. Thump. Sigh.

And third of all, who cares? I know I already added that to my "first of all," but it bears repeating. I am white and my family is white. Not one of us is blond, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a nativity set that is blond...and white...and in a wooden building -- eek! -- (because they apparently used a cave). The idea is that a nativity scene -- with a little baby Jesus -- points us to the true meaning of the holiday. Does it really matter if he's black, white, brown, green with polka dots? Not really. It's something we bring out once-a-year for about a month or so. We add it to the other decorations and gaze at it occasionally. We don't worship it. We don't think it's the be-all-to-end-all. It's just part of the scenery.

And if having a more culturally appropriate set is important to your family because culturally you are different, then kudos to you. But if you're white and your set is white, enjoy it for what it is: a small reminder that Christmas is a gift, a blessing, a privilege in itself -- not another time to complain and jump on the liberal millennial band wagon.

Your whiteness precludes you from that.

Let's just be people. Together. Celebrating. Worshiping. Without reservation.

That's Heaven.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Just Breathe...

Okay, in an effort to breathe new life -- or maybe just some life -- back into my lovable blog, I began to think again about posts. That's what it's all about: Thinking about blogging...and thinking in blog posts.

Seems odd, right?

Early on, when I was blogging nearly daily, the trend had not really caught on with anybody, except us "cool kids."

But then Twitter happened. And blogging seemed to be a lot more work because why write an entire post about something when you can summarize it in 140 characters. And once you start thinking in 140-character bursts, well, you basically rewire your brain.

Am I right?

Not necessarily.

I enjoyed Twitter for about a minute or two. (It was an odd world. Odder now than then.)

Then Facebook happened. I resisted at first. It seemed another odd and silly place. But, as anyone who has ever watched even one episode of Star Trek knows, resistance is futile.

Facebook is the killer of blogdom. I'm convinced of that. It should be a helpful aid or another platform whereby you can share your blog...

But it's not.

It's easy.

It's addictive.

And so my brain began to think in longer-than-140-characters moments, but still shorter-than-actual-blogpost moments.

Yet, I've stumbled on and tried to continue my blog. I love doing it. It's such a great way to keep myself writing daily (or thereabouts) and an even better way to clear some of the "clutter" in my noggin.

So, today, this very morning, my brain thought up a post. I thought again in a blog post. And I was exhilarated and decided to sit down immediately and write it out. But I had to write this explanation first, which may have taken my brainpower and time briefly.


Still in all, here I am breathing some new life into my old friend.

Friday, August 18, 2017

In Times Like These...

I love words. 

I love the way they fall together to create sentences, forming stories or poems or songs. I love to hear the jingle of the letters’ sounds together – sometimes making onomatopoeia. I loved teaching my children how to read and process the sounds together to make words. I loved sharing my favorite words with them: saunter, facetious, whimsical.

But words don’t define me. I am not a collection of static letters or sounds. That’s when words lose their meaning.

I am a living, breathing, ever-changing human. I am not what people call me, either in race or religion or creed. My beliefs are my own, not formed by a stereotype or what I am told they are or should be. They are mine. And the basic core of my soul stays the same, but my thoughts are fluid as I observe and grow and process all that is around me.

When we allow our televisions and newspapers and online sources to tell us what to believe about who we are and what we are, it’s time to UNPLUG. When we listen and believe only what we are told, we have given up the power of words. We have allowed fear to own us.

So many people are complaining about the violence we hear and read about…constantly…the “ugliness” that is our world. I didn’t see it personally. I only read about it. What if it wasn’t as bad as described? What if “catastrophic” was an exaggeration of the events…made to cause fear and panic and anxiety in me? Catastrophic has always existed…and recent events are nothing new. And, yet, losing one person is always tragic to me. Losing three…even more so. Those people have their own people, who knew and loved and cherished them. And now they are without them. That makes me incredibly sad.

But fearful?

Instead of concentrating on what’s happening and being afraid, what if we looked around us at the world we can actually see? Look at the multitudes of flowers all around us, full of color and blooming in the final weeks of summertime. Listen to the giggles we hear from children running on a playground, enjoying their freedom and the innocence of just being. Watch a family or group of friends laugh, enjoying a dinner together.

Why can’t we grab hold of these truths? 


They are real and happening right now. 

Why can’t we let go of what the media wants us to hear, to believe, to own. Realize that we may not have “gotten our way” in the election, but then neither did half the country in the last two elections…and we all made it through just fine. What if we accept what is and have faith that goodness exists and that we’ll all be okay…goodness is in children, in furry animals, in chocolate, in a drive through farmland, in a walk through a city, in the rising and setting of the sun. What if we believed in the good of mankind again – in those we know and see and love around us? What if we “agree to disagree” and go back to making cookies for each other or sharing ice cream cones or game nights or movies together? What if we ONLY try to make the small sphere we live in a better place for our children to live and grow up in, refuse to do anything else or read anything else or fear anymore?

What else can we do? Really?

For better or worse, this is the world we live in. We only see and feel and hear a small sphere of it, a mere sliver of all that is out there. Why not concentrate on that for a change, count our blessings and realize that, yes, we are sinful, but through God’s mercy, we are good? We are safe. We are alive. And we are free.

Then our words will be meaningful again. Because their power will be ours – not the media’s or government’s. Just ours.

It starts with a simple phrase: I love you, my friend. Not because we are the same, but because we are different.

I am NOT "white" or "conservative" or "hateful" or "mean." I am just Susie.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


My parents always taught us to look at both sides of something. Sometimes that meant playing the "devil's advocate," but it was still an important lesson. Things aren't always one-sided, even if we want -- or hope for -- them to be.

This was an important tool to have in my toolbox when I became a reporter. It's easy to want to make the narrative fit the issue. But is the narrative truth...or at the very least, the whole truth? How much braver to look at an issue and face that it might be different than we wanted -- or hoped.

No one is perfect. Everyone has some skeletons in his/her closet.

A diamond has multiple sides, and the sun hits each side differently, causing a different amount of sparkle and shine and light. Just the same, people have different ways of seeing the world -- or even an event.

None is wrong...just different.

Maybe when we finally realize and grasp this, the world will become a better place?


Monday, January 30, 2017


Today was a HUGE day for our family -- for Stuart, specifically.

Today is the day that Stuart became an American!

It was something I had said I would never force him to do when we first married. It had to be something he wanted. I didn't mind paying for a Green Card every 10 years.

But Stuart said he wanted to do it, to "belong." And he wanted to vote, to have a voice behind the taxes he pays. He said he would only do it when he could say the Oath and mean it.

And that day had come.

It was a beautiful -- if cold -- day! And we were all so excited and nervous as we headed into Philadelphia. And we were SO proud of him!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year!!

Happiest of Happy New Years! We are SO glad that it's 2017!

To say that 2016 was not our family's favorite-most year does not adequately cover it. But to say that God carried us and strengthened us and kept us going through it is an absolute blessing and truth!

Between Emily's extended illness and emergency appendectomy and my breast cancer and Stuart starting back to college and still traveling...and the boys being hungry ALL the time...and medical bills that are drowning us...

But through it all, God was there...and still is. We know that He who controls the universe hasn't forgotten us.

A recap in photos of 2016...and see? We were even smiling.

2016: Year in Pictures

Monday, August 01, 2016

A Funny Little Thing Called...Life

There's a thing to understand about life...and that thing is that life is not always understandable.

Curve balls can be -- and often are -- thrown at any moment, without warning. We may think that we have everything all planned out and moving along like our favorite movie's storyline....but it doesn't always work that way. (Wouldn't you love to have an umpire shout about the "next batter"?)

And then there's the comparison trap. We look around at friends, neighbors, movie stars/singers, and even strangers and think that they have it all together. They're so much more successful than us. Their lives are moving along swimmingly, like our favorite movie's storyline. So why aren't ours?

Because those people don't exist.

Hang on a moment. They don't exist?


Stay with me.

They don't exist -- not in the realm of our own true reality. They don't live with us, right? We can't look into their houses or apartments or work spaces, like a little child playing with a dollhouse, right?

And while, in truth, their reality is exactly the same as ours, filled with curve balls that throw them off course and create bubbles of confusion, frustration, and envy, they aren't here.

Of course, in realness they are. They are every bit as real as you and me. If they came to visit, they would eat and drink and talk and laugh the same as we do.

But when they're not with us? Who knows. Maybe they're just cardboard cutouts made to keep us in comparison confusion, virtual reality to look like they're there. They aren't living with us. They are people we hear about on the news or read stories from on Facebook...so how do we really know? And why do we really need to know?

Like the Schrodinger's cat experiment, they might be there...they might not. And in the spirit of getting on with our own lives, who cares?

I'm not saying we shouldn't care for or about each other -- that's another blog post (and probably one that I've already blogged about lots in the past). I'm saying we shouldn't care about what each of us is or isn't doing.

Because, if you think about it, everyone is struggling in his or her own way. Everyone feels down at some point. Not everything is "great" in a person's life, just because he or she has money, a good job, a seemingly fantastic spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend, sweet, obedient, and talented children or pets.

We're so focused on others and how they are doing in their lives that we forget our own lives.We need to leave behind the "what ifs" and "if onlys" and get to what is.

Enjoy your own job. Have fun with your own kids or pets, Love your own significant other. Worry about your own finances and feel blessed with what you have.

And when you have a curve ball thrown at you? Pray. And, in doing so, remember to pray for others who also face curve balls.

In the big scheme of things, everything else is just fluff.


What are your thoughts? How do we get off the comparison train that seems to derail us in life?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Decadent Decade

Has it really been 10 years since I posted my first blog post on here?

10. Whole. Years. ???


That's so amazing. When I started, I thought that blogging was more of a vanity thing. Like journaling for the world to see. Then I realized it was a good way to keep track of stuff -- happenings, memories, accomplishments, milestones.

And, while I haven't been able to stay completely faithful in writing on here, I have enjoyed it. It's fun to muse and remember and ruminate on the stuff bouncing around my head.

And it's even more fun to go back and reread the happenings of the past 10 years, memories I might have forgotten without this little blog-thing.

So here's to -- hopefully -- 10 more years?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Issues of the Day

Recently, I was reading a few reviews about some middle-grade books that are new on the market. The reviewers raved about how EVERYone should read these books...and how they wished they'd been around when they were young...and how it would have "helped" them through some tough issues they'd faced. The books in question were about the death of a parent.


The popular notion at the moment is to write stories for middle school kids about tough issues facing them. We want them to be prepared and know how to face and handle complex issues...some of which we're not even comfortable facing or handling. BUT, they will know how.


Because they read about a girl in a book who faced that very same issue and saw how she handled it -- nevermind that the issue might be one some kids will never face or have to handle. Let's stress them out some more. Because, after all, if they don't know how to handle every issue that might come their way, they'll flounder.

What if they never even knew about certain issues? Would it really hurt them?

I write all of this tongue-in-cheek, of course.

I'm reminded of something we were taught in our prenatal parenting sessions. "Dress the baby for the weather, not based on what you're feeling."

So you, as an adult, think a story about a boy facing the death of his mother and learning how to deal with it and let go is a good thing. Because you're an adult and know how to handle such things. And a kid, of 9, 10, 11, should be able to handle it, too? How can you (with adult eyes) truly see it through the eyes of young person again?

We are doing our kids a disservice when we give them issues that are way too old and mature and complex for them to really need to think about. What happened to reading for entertainment? For pleasure? For a nice story about a nice family in a nice setting with happy thoughts?

Sure, life is definitely not always nice, but don't we all inherently know that without having to be reminded in books and television shows and movies?

Middle-grade readers read alone. They sit in their room or on the bus or in the library or on a blanket in the grass and read...and they take in all they are reading...alone. Those thoughts and ideas swirl around in their heads. They try to make sense of them. They try to handle the complex ideas of divorce and death and sex and relationships -- way before they need to -- alone. Certainly, some kids will chat with their parents about their reading materials. (Or, worse, with friends who are also just as uncertain.)

But, com'on, let's be honest. How many of us adults really take the proper amount of time to talk "lit" with our kids, to philosophy and mull over and exchange thoughts about what's being read, what the author might have meant, what the subject is about? How many have time? How many want to take time?

We're all too busy. And, heck, if the kids are reading, that's a good thing, right?


Reading for pleasure is an awesome thing. I'm a huge lover (and collector...see this post) of all things books. I worked for a publishing house, and I'm currently a newspaper correspondent. I love stories! I love the idea of reading and teaching it and teaching the love of it.

But what if the materials are unnecessarily too complex and stressful for our kids? What if we take a step back and say, "I love this book and what it's talking about...now...when I get it...knowing what I know at this moment."

What if ideas and concepts that are too big for our kids are putting unneeded worries and stress in their lives? What if they don't always need to know about certain problems until (and unless) they actually face them? What if we save such materials for then? So they know they're not alone...instead of making them worry "what if"s all the time?

When I was 10, my parents gave me a book of stories about kids and their struggles. One of the stories dealt with a girl whose parents divorced. I hadn't really heard much about divorce. I knew that my mom's parents (my grandparents) had divorced, but it didn't occur to me that someone my age could have divorced parents. The girl had to live a few days at a time at each parent's house, trying to figure out which to love each time. I worried myself sick over that story. I thought my parents would divorce, and I would be forced to choose, and that sickened my heart. Why did I really need to read that? So I'd be prepared? My parents will be married 55 years this June...it really wasn't an issue I needed to read about at 10. I would have learned in the years that followed more about divorce and kids having to spend their time split between their parents' homes...but I would have been more mature and less likely to fret so much.

Let's try to remember that children are young for such a short amount of time. There's no need to rush them into reading about the "issues" of the day. Let's let them stay innocent. And why not? We all know that time and life will change that.

Until then, keep these newer middle-grade books away and bring them out for the kids who need them...when they need them.


What do you think? Is this an issue you faced as a child? What books do you remember reading that you felt too young for? 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

15 Sweet Valentines

For some Valentine's Day is just another Hallmark occasion...a time to buy the clich├ęd cards and chocolates and express the stereotypical sayings about love.

For me, it's another occasion to praise God for the precious Valentine He gave me in 2001.

Happiest 15th Birthday
to our fantastically funny and gorgeously handsome son,
Edward Stuart!!

Friday, January 01, 2016

A Year in Review: 2015

In past years, I've gone through my photos and posted a photo or two from each month to try to remember what went on throughout the year. This year, I decided to choose photos and do a Flipagram with them.

Here for your viewing pleasure:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

EIGHTEEN Years of Emily

Happiest 18th Birthday to the best-ever birthday gift and blessing that I've ever received!!!!

*   *   *

Doesn't God give the best gifts?

I guess, considering I was in labor for most of my birthday (she arrived after lunch), I gave myself God's gift to me. *wink-grin*

No regrets.

No sadness.

Just pure joy!!

So many people tease us about sharing a birthday...saying that Emily "took" my special day. I stare at them and think: Seriously?

As if any of us doesn't share our special day with somebody else. There are only 365 days in a year, 365 different chances to be born on a different day. Emily and I were born on the SAME day. If we believe we are preordained to be born at a certain point in time (and we do), then before I was born God had already decided Emily's birthday, too. It just hadn't happened yet.

And really. How cool is that???

*   *   *

So on this, OUR special day -- yours and mine -- I celebrate YOU, sweet girl!

No regrets ever.

No sadness ever.

Pure joy always!!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Seventeen Years of Emily -- Part 2

It's the night before our oldest child's 18th birthday...and she's not home. It's the first time in her whole life that she won't wake up in her own bed for her special day.

To be honest, it's a little odd...and a little sad.

But sad doesn't mean it's not right. She's in college, after all.

Part of living at college is being away from home, even during those special moments you've always celebrated at home.

I remember the first birthday I woke up in a different place... I was also a freshman at college, though I'd taken two years off to live in England with my parents. I turned 20.

I felt it was probably one of the most depressing parts of "growing up." Being alone on your birthday? Well, alone in a dorm is a little different than actually being alone. Although, I felt I might as well be alone to start with...no one really recognized that it was my birthday. Of course, I had my 21st birthday and my 22nd birthday...and my 23rd birthday at college, too. But by then I was more used to it...and had a few friends to celebrate it with.

I celebrated my 24th birthday in Honesdale, Pa., during my employment with Highlights for Children. Actually, that year is a bit of a blur since Stuart had a horrible accident that month and ended up in the hospital for nearly three weeks, and I had to go represent HFC's book side, Boyds Mills Press, at library book conferences in Harrisburg, Williamsburg, and Syracuse.

By my 25th birthday, I worked for the Reading Eagle and had to take off for my birthday. It was a company rule. You had to take a personal day for your birthday and one for your work anniversary, unless you were married and then it was your wedding anniversary.

That was the year "Birthday Adventures" were born. It wasn't elaborate or even very memorable, but I remember doing something different that year, like taking a bubble bath and getting a bunch of library books...and just relaxing.

I know that Emily will be a little bit sad to be away from home on her actual birthday. We'll head over to steal her away from campus later in the day after her classes. But she's growing up and spreading her wings and experiencing life in a whole new way.

And it may not necessary feel good...but it's right.

Sleep well, sweet girl. We are dreaming of you always.