It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -Mother Teresa

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

History: What I Didn't Understand

This past year, the girls and I have visited the Manzanar National Historic Site, which was a Japanese "relocation center" in California.

In Missouri, we studied about slavery and segregation at the George Washington Carver National Monument.

We also spent some time at The Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Arizona, which is the the oldest operating trading post on the Navajo Nation. There we learned about the Native American "relocation" and other injustices.

Most recently, we visited the CANDLES Holocaust Museum in Indiana where we had a Q & A time with a Romanian Holocaust survivor who was part of the horrific "Mengele Twins" experiments in Auschwitz.

In each of those places, we were able to put a literal face to historical events. We heard and we saw another view.

The combination of homeschooling and internationally adopting has completely changed the way I view history. I am only sorry that it took me so long. This is just one of the examples of how the history we studied in school may not have shared multicultural views of an event.

This post was inspired by this article: 

Another place we have yet to take the girls is the Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago. They try to introduce the horrors of the Holodomor, which is the genocide of 10 million people under Stalin's Rule. (Another piece of modern history not often shared or studied.)  

Where have you been or what have you read that has changed your view of history? 

Monday, May 1, 2017

What I Read in April

This year I have set a goal to read 75 books.

These are the books that I have read so far this year:

You can read my reviews and ratings of all the book on my goodreads account.

The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood
Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway
Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance  *Book Club 2
1984 by George Orwell  *Book Club 1
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Duel in the Wilderness by Karin Clafford Farley  *School

Uppity Women of Ancient Times by Vicki Leon
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Zip It by Karen Ehman *Online Book Group
If I Stay by Gale Foreman
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, 
Two Rabbits, and A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

Yankee Doodle Boy: A Young Soldier's Adventure in the American Revolution Told by Himself by Joseph Plumb Martin (Edited by George F. Scheer) *School

Book that I enjoyed most this month:
Brown Girl Dreaming

Book that still has me thinking about it:
Hillbilly Elegy and Brown Girl Dreaming. (I think everyone should read them close together!) 

Book that I would discuss with my kids:
Brown Girl Dreaming and of course, the school ones. 

Book that I will never read again:
1984 and Green Hills of Africa (Glad I read both but once was enough.) 

Book that I gave up on and didn't finish: 
Modern Romance

Book that I will read again someday:
Brown Girl Dreaming

Have you read any of these books?
What did you think? 

What did you read in April?
What do you recommend? 

Friday, March 31, 2017

What I Read in March

This year I have set a goal to read 75 books.

These are the books that I have read in January and February.

As always, you can read my ratings and reviews on

In March I read these books: 

Lost Among the Birds by Neil Hayward
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

The Spelling List and Word Study Resource Book by Mary Jo Fresch and Aileen Wheaton
College-Prep Homeschooling: Your Complete Guide to Homeschooling Through High School by David P. Byers
The Homeschooling Book of Lists by Michael and Mary Leppert

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
Understanding Johnny Tremaine by Elizabeth Weiss Vollstadt *School

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
For the Love by Jen Hatmaker  *Book Club 2
In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg
The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza  *Book Club
I Hate Everyone Except You by Clinton Kelly

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Book I enjoyed most this month: 
And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
The Magnolia Story

Book that still has me thinking about it:
For the Love
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Book that I would discuss with my kids:
For the Love
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Understanding Johnny Tremaine  (of course!)

Book that I will never read again:
The Girl in the Ice
Lost Among the Birds

Book that I have up on and didn't finish: 
Me & Earl & the Dying Girl

Book that I have previously read: 
None but I have read Johnny Tremaine that is why I just read the discussion guide instead.

Book that I will read again someday: 
The Old Man and the Sea
For the Love
And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

Book that required an entire box of kleenex: 
And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

Have you read any of these books?I'd love to hear what you thought! 

What did you read in March? Anything you would recommend? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Individual Fun Goal - Laura

Last week, I met one of my Individual Fun Goals!

I blogged a For Real Post about my trip that you can read by clicking HERE.

Otherwise I spent the time breaking in new booties that retaliated with a vengeance, ate delicious,  fattening foods, viewed beautiful art, socialized with Michael's co-workers, mastered the metra system, read books, watched Beauty and the Beast, was overwhelmed by the International Housewares Show,  and laid around relaxing.

Obviously it was marvelous!

Some of the places I visited included:
Do-Rite Donuts
Eggy's Diner - ALWAYS worth the wait. Order the Breakfast Poutine. Do it.
Pizano's Pizza
M Burger 
Shake Shake
Billy Goat Tavern 
Blick Art
Art Institue 
International Housewares Show (the real reason we were there...not to just eat as it appears)

Yeah, we ate at three different cheeseburger places because it is on the list of foods that most of our kids don't enjoy. And yes, we ate a lot of food. Did I mention it was marvelous???

Friday, March 17, 2017

For Real - Chicago Trip Edition

For Real - It is 9:45 on a weekday morning and I am in a hotel room bed drinking coffee and eating doughnuts from the second highest-rated shop in Chicago. (It is only a block away so it is automatically my #1 rated.) it feels ridiculously luxurious.

For Real - I love being in nature. I love the sound your shoes make on the paths while you crunch your way from the tent to the cinder-block and cement public restroom just as dawn and my bladder awakens. YET, last night and today I have my ninth floor windows open so I can easily hearing the honking horns, rumbling "L", the sirens, and the woosh of tires in the puddles of melting snow. I couldn't get used to these sounds and I wouldn't want to live this way but I am enjoying them. 

For Real - Due to the way we traveled, packing space was limited. My husband was a little dismayed when he saw how many books and magazines I packed anyway. (Tucking them under my clothes on my side of the suitcase. ) 

For Real - I love the Art Institute even though it is always uncomfortably hot. The people watching is just as pleasurable as the art. The wonder of seeing something in person that you studied in a book is always going to be there for me. 

For Real - I don't know how to respond to the beggars and homeless on the corners and in doorways. I feel helpless. I feel guilty. I feel shocked. 

For Real - The older I get and the more I travel, the more I am ashamed that I only speak one language. I barely know how much I am missing because of this deficiency. 

For Real - I had to do some of the things my husband usually takes care of because he was out of town before me. It was humbling to "walk in his shoes". I have a new appreciation for all that he does for us without us asking nor expressing our appreciation. 

For Real - I miss my kids and wish I could share some of my experiences with them. Sending a picture via text isn't the same. I hope they understand how much I love them and view them as interesting people. I look forward to the future when I can move to a place of deeper friendship and less parent/teacher. 

For Real - My 8th grade history teacher (Coach Sinclair) sat idly by at a kitchen table while I chased down an escaped flopping fish who was squirting blood from its headless body. My friends grandmother shielded the cheesecake with her body. I was responsible for clean up. Yeah...I'm not sure what I ate, drank, or saw yesterday that created that dream! 

For Real - I had a little over an hour for lunch with one of my oldest friends. We can go deep quickly even with months between visits. I'm so thankful for her in so many ways. One of the most important being that she is so much like one of my daughters. Because of our years of friendship over so many seasons of life, I have been able to understand how and why my daughter is feeling and behaving like she does. They cry the same way and for many of the same reasons. Even though decades, race, and language separate them, I see Erica in Stacey. I see Stacey in Erica. 

For Real: I set goals of what I would accomplish on this trip even though I said I would be flexible. But I feel like I'm not cheating because I didn't actually write out a list. 

For Real - I'm so happy to be away from our puppy. I'm not a puppy person. When someone says they want a puppy, I think they must be hugely negligent. I try to keep this unpopular and rude thought in my head but sometimes it slips out my mouth. People are offended. My opinion remains unchanged. It's slightly uncomfortable. Life goes on. 

For Real - I gave up soda (that is pop or coke to some of you) for Lent. Not a big deal at home but for some reason, when I travel, I really want soda. Especially with breakfast. I haven't figured any of this out. 

For Real - It is time for us to buy a new mattress. I really think that Michael should consider letting us get two full-size beds instead of the queen-size we have now. This once was a joke after we ends up in a hotel room in Vienna that had two single beds. But last night we each fell asleep reading in a different bed. We both slept great. I laid (Alone) in bed this morning enjoying being near my husband but not too near my husband thinking of ways we could make this work in our current master bedroom. I shouldn't have brought it up this morning. I probably should not have immediately followed that up by sharing the dream I mentioned earlier. He isn't really a morning person and had yet to have his coffee, so I may try again later 

For Real - I rode the metra for the first time by myself yesterday. I felt like a grown up. I felt capable. I also felt like I was exposed to a lot of germs. 

What is something For Real about you?