Happily, Ever After

Once upon a time, I believed in happily ever after—not only in favorite movies and books—but also in my real life. Along the way, I learned that eternity is my only shot at happily ever after.

Others tried to tell me earlier, but I was too idealistic.

One afternoon after class, a favorite professor took me and two other students into his office. He pointed to a wall hanging. My memory of that image is blurry, but his words are still clear.

The road never gets easier. There are only fewer people traveling with you.

Dr. Smith meant our careers, but I learned his words applied to more.

As newlyweds, my husband and I met with our pastor to say goodbye before we moved. After small talk, he said,

There’s only one thing I want to say. Each challenge is preparation for the next challenge. You never arrive in this life.

Bad news? Not really. Along the way, I learned that realism is needed to prepare and persevere.           

My most discouraging hikes were the ones where I was deceived about the distance, the difficulty, or both. Now I read trail descriptions more carefully.

Preparing for your next challenge?

Book Recommendations, Family

Reading to Readers Part 2

The evidence has become so overwhelming that social scientists consider reading aloud one of the most important indicators of a child’s prospects in life.

The Enchanted Hour*

Our family received knowledge, pleasure, common memories, and enhanced relationships from our years of reading aloud and listening to audio books. (See here.) Along the way I learned that we also received something else—changed brains.*

What were those changes? New neural connections in the brain, reinforced neural connections, and optimal patterns of brain development.

What were the results of those changes? The increase of social skills, attention span, language, and imagination to name a few.

The Enchanted Hour ‘s compilation of research—some of which I had read elsewhere or experienced with my sons—has compelled me to continue advocating reading aloud for all ages.

Reading aloud really is a kind of magic elixir.

The Enchanted Hour*

What are you advocating?

*The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon.

Books, Memories, Parenting

Reading to Readers

When my boys were beginning readers, a mom with children in college expressed a regret.

I wish I had continued reading aloud to my children, even when they were in high school.

Marilyn Rockett, Author of Homeschooling at the Speed of Life

I loved reading to my boys, so it was easy to take Marilyn’s regret to heart that day. During the middle school and high school years, we read together although audio books sometimes were a read-aloud substitute.

I read aloud for the love of sharing my favorite books with my favorite people. I didn’t fully realize we were receiving a heritage of common memories.

This past year, my youngest son called with details of a scene and asked if I remembered the book from fifteen years ago. Of course, I did. How could I forget the memoir Belles on Their Toes by Gilbreth and Carey? I was not surprised that I remembered the last book I read aloud to the entire family, but I was surprised that he did.

It turns out my sons remember even more about our books—not only their plots but where we were at the time they listened.

Any favorite read-aloud memories?


Come With Me

Many times, I cheat when I watch competitive events. I watch replays so I don’t have to worry about the outcome. I can’t handle adrenaline anymore.

My favorite 2020 Olympic moment to rewatch is the second and third-place battles in the men’s marathon. Seconds before second place is claimed, third-place Dutch racer Nageeye closes in on second-place opponent Cherono. Nageeye immediately turns to fourth-place Belgium training mate Abdi and says,

Come with me.

Nageeye follows his command with hand gestures. Abdi hesitates. Nageeye keeps turning back and gesturing to Abdi until both sprint past Cherono. The friends claim silver and bronze. One commentator said it was as if Nageeye willed Abdi over the finish line.

What good is a podium spot at the Olympics if your friend isn’t standing with you?

Nageeye and Abdi came to mind as I read Olympian marathoner Deena Kastor’s memoirs. She said, “Come with me,” as she encouraged teammates during training or competitors during competitions.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17 (ESV)

Art, Book Recommendations, Memories

World Letter Writing Day #2

Because today is World Letter Writing Day, it seems appropriate to share my favorite published letters. (See here)

From October 1951 to May 1952, Juan and Rie Munoz taught native children on an Alaskan Island in the Bering Sea. Their main contact with the outside world was by radio. They received one airdrop and one visit by an icebreaker. Even knowing that their letters could not be mailed until their service ended, they wrote over forty to their families.

These letters and accompanying photographs were discovered in 2005 and compiled by their son. Like the letters of my family, The King Island Journal contains the mundane: bathing, tanning hides, making clothes, gathering food, cooking, and, especially, their dogs’ and students’ antics. Also like my family, their mundane is both revealing and entertaining.

My current kitchen posters

Rie Munoz settled in Juneau and is best known for her artwork depicting native life in Alaska. I love both Alaska and art, and my search for an Alaskan artist led to what I consider an even greater treasure—letters.

Rie Munoz’s watercolors, (See here for more)

My husband enjoyed reading John and Abigail Adams’ correspondence. Any favorite published letters?