Monday, June 30, 2014

Grandma and Grandpa Camp

It's hard to believe that my girl is grown up enough to spend a week on her own without us. Of course, she was in very good hands with Dan's parents. They sent her to a fabulous day camp sponsored by the Norfolk Arts Council. She spent half of her time with creativity and design, and half of her time honing her (already amazing) creative writing skills.

We were able to Skype every day (sometimes twice). And while she missed her little sister terribly (it was mutual), it was a very sweet reunion at the end of the week.

Summer Reading

I'm so excited that Dayna is old enough to read some great books. At the end of the year, we bought the "getting ready for 5th grade" set of books from her Scholastic book order. Looking over the titles, I thought she would enjoy these books more than the 4th grade books. There were a few that were unfamiliar to me, but we've had a lot of fun plowing through these books in different ways.

Island of the Blue Dolphins
We listened to this as an audiobook in the car while Dayna read along in the backseat. I thought I had read this as a child, but don't remember it at all. We both enjoyed the book. I'd say we liked it, but didn't love it.

One Crazy Summer

This book was unfamiliar to me. It was about three sisters who travel to visit their absent mom in Oakland, California. The year is 1968, and racial tensions were flying. This gave a matter-of-fact representation of the Black Panthers - really neither pro nor con. It didn't address riots, but spoke of other things the Panthers did during those days (like feeding breakfast to kids, offering summer programs, etc.) What was nice about the book was opening dialogue with Dayna about what life was like then. We've encouraged her to ask her grandparents a lot of questions. I read this one aloud to Dayna while she listened. We really liked this book.

Dayna read (inhaled, actually) this one on her own. I plan to read it soon. She LOVED this book. Dayna has developed a new compassion for kids who process the world differently, and this book was right up her alley. From the reviews I've read, it is somewhat similar to the book "Summer of the Swans" which I read at her age.

Tuck Everlasting

I'm reading this one aloud to Dayna. She seems to be enjoying it. We're about 2/3 of the way through right now. I'm looking forward to going through the book club questions with her at the end of the book.


Hands down favorite book of the summer! We listened to this one as an audiobook while Dayna read along. Dan insisted that we not listen to it without him. We sailed through this book in just a few days and celebrated with a family movie night last Friday. This has always been one of my favorites, and it was so exciting to see Dayna's reaction as the story unfolded.

Still to come:

We plan to get through the rest of the books on vacation, either by reading along with an audiobook, as a readaloud, or by reading simultaneously and discussing.

Bridge to Terabithia 

I plan to spend a lot of time discussing this one with Dayna, especially after losing a friend this spring.

My Side of the Mountain

Esperanza Rising


Sand in the City

For the second year in a row, there was a lot of rain during Nebraska Children's Home Society's annual Sand in the City fundraiser. So we had a quick walk through to see all the sculptures. Unfortunately, the rain was taking its toll, and a lot of the sculptures were starting to collapse in places.

Hopefully next year we can stay longer and let the kids play.

Everyone huddled under one canopy

2014 Jazz in June

Not a lot of pictures this year, but for the 17th year in a row, we made it to Jazz in June. We love the free concert, great music, people watching, and spending time with friends. The girls love blowing bubbles, drawing on the sidewalk, and having a picnic. This year, they added a great activity for school age kids - a scavenger hunt at the Sheldon Art Museum. It was a different hunt each week with 6 clues in and around the museum. In all the years I've lived here, I can't believe I've never been inside before.

Kids Bowl Free 2014 Edition

Once again, we're spending some quality time at the bowling alley in the summer, thanks to the Kids Bowl Free program. This year, it's fun watching Annie really get into the action.

Oh my, this air blower is fun!

Is he reaching for the camera, or looking longingly at his wife?

One Pan Pasta

I saw this recipe floating around Facebook yesterday. I wouldn't say I'm the queen of Pinterest fails, but I certainly have had my share.

But since the whole family absolutely inhaled this meal, I would say it was a Pinterest success. These pictures are actually mine - not lifted from the website!


During (in all its bubbly goodness)

After - this didn't last long
I think next time we'll be adding grilled chicken or seared scallops. Yum!

Like a Good Neighbor

Have you ever been so incredibly excited for someone, but you're not quite sure why? Maybe you know that something really big is waiting for them, but you don't know what it is yet? You know that God has really big plans and is going to do some amazing things? And these are people you just think the world of...salt of the earth kind of people. You can't wait to hear just what is going to happen for them.

We've got neighbors like that. Unfortunately, with all of our excitement for them comes this:

Enjoying our last week together. I'm going to miss those afternoon tea breaks and random "I made extra bread for dinner, here, have a loaf!" surprises. Going to miss the smiles on some sweet girls' faces. I'm a better person because of each member of this family, and I can't wait to see what God has in store.

And when they land in their new home on the East coast, I pray their next neighbors love them just as much as we do!

Storms a-Brewing

It's been a big year for severe weather again. I never really knew what that entailed before I moved here. But for my friends out West who don't regularly experience severe weather, here's a little lesson:

An amazing pair of twin tornadoes touched down just out of Stanton a couple of weeks ago. (Stanton is where my late aunt lived for years and years.)

Unfortunately, two lives were lost in these storms, and countless others were injured. 75% of the town of Pilger was completely destroyed. We drove past Pilger 6 days after the storms. It was sobering to see - with all the "excitement" of severe weather, it's still a grim reminder just how powerful these storms can be. Even with the best of forecasting and warning equipment.

So we pray for the people of Pilger. We continue to monitor the weather and make smart choices here. And every time we head for shelter, I'm reminded that God is very big, and whatever happens will not be a surprise to Him.

Princess Picnic

What little girl doesn't dream of having a princess picnic while fixing lawnmowers?


The world lost an amazing woman this past weekend. And I honestly don't know that I have ever been happier to hear of someone's passing. That may sound callous, but when I heard that Ali took her last breath, I was filled with rejoicing on her behalf.

I first met Ali as a brand-new baby teacher. She was a bright spot in a very difficult situation. She was always kind and helpful. We waited with anticipation that year as she was expecting her first child. A little girl who would be named Hannah. Five days before Hannah's expected birth, she died. It was devastating. A lot of questions were asked, and ultimately, it was determined that Hannah wasn't receiving enough oxygen. To Ali's great surprise, it was because a huge tumor was growing in her throat.

So a week that should have been filled with excitement was filled with grief over the loss of Hannah and a huge "what now" with the diagnosis of aggressive cancer.

That summer, Ali spent a large amount of time in Boston seeing specialists. Somewhere along the line, her boyfriend left her. I can't even begin to imagine how I would have responded to all of that happening in my life. It was truly like watching a modern-day Job story unfold.

Sometime after this, I lost track of Ali, beyond the occasional FB posts. But what I did know was that she found God. She developed an unshakeable faith and continued to face life with kindness and courage, touching and changing others the way she changed me.

A few years back, her cancer returned. With a vengeance. I know she has been in hospice for awhile. I saw a photo of her last week. She was so gaunt and looked so ill - yet her face continued to beam with joy.

So on Saturday, as she took her final breath, I know she was welcomed into her Savior's arms. She heard Him proclaim "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" And fifteen years later, she held that precious little girl in her arms.