10 Things I Want My Kids to Remember at School

waiting for bus

As a former teacher turned parent, I thought I would share some ideas we emphasize with our boys related to school. I could make a list of 100, but these are some of the ones I find myself repeating often.

  1. Be kind to everyone, but not everyone will be kind to you.
  2. You will hear things (bad things) you should not repeat. Just because other kids think it is okay to say something, doesn’t mean you should, too.
  3. That kid who struggles in math, reading, or spelling? Don’t think less of him or her. We all have our struggles, but it is especially hard for kids who struggle with school work, because everybody knows about it. Try to help them. Be patient. Be an encourager.
  4. If you do well, don’t brag. It’s good to be proud of yourself, but it is not okay to make others feel bad because of your success.
  5. It is never okay to use your fists to solve a problem, but it is always okay to defend yourself. Even if the child who tries to hurt you has special circumstances, you must protect yourself. It is never acceptable for someone to physically harm you.
  6. Show respect to all grown-ups from the custodian to the principal. Everyone who works in the school does hard work. Appreciate that work. Follow their directions.
  7. If a grown-up makes you uncomfortable, be sure to tell mom or dad. Maybe their words are unkind or their actions make you feel funny. Always let us know so we can help you.
  8. The kid that the other kids tease? Well, you be their defender. Stick up for them and remind your friends with your words to keep mean thoughts to themselves. Find ways to make him or her feel good.
  9. And the bully? Remember they are probably fighting a hard battle. Maybe they are mistreated at home or something in their life has made them very sad. Maybe they act out to make up for things they can’t do. Do your best to be gentle with them. When they do things that hurt your feelings, use your words to tell them how it makes you feel. Be sure to tell your teacher or your parents if things don’t get better.
  10. Do your best. We don’t care whether your grades are perfect so long as we know that you have given 100% effort. Sometimes even the best effort doesn’t earn an A.

What are some things you emphasize with your kids? I’d love to hear!



Just One More Hill




Not too long ago, I learned firsthand there is an art to encouragement.

And I discovered something slightly disturbing about myself. In order to feel motivated, I need to expect the future to be worse than what it will likely be.

When Jason and I took our trip to Prince Edward Island this summer, one of our activities was a bike ride through the PEI National Park. We rented bikes at the Kindred Spirits Inn, our home for a few days,  and I took off with high hopes.



Now, let me explain something. Imagination can be a dangerous thing. I had read the Anne books and watched the movies. My idea of a bike ride on PEI was a leisurely jaunt through a quaint little town. First of all, Anne lived in Avonlea and L.M. Montgomery made up that town. Although Green Gables exists in the real world, the sweet little village where Anne often visited the post office does not.

Anne never looked like she had even broken a sweat when anyone encountered her on her bike. Compare that to the near raging lunatic I became grunting and groaning trying to make it up the hills along our seaside route. I thought my lungs were going to burst. I was determined to make it to our destination of a restaurant at the end of the first half of our journey.

The words Jason used to encourage me are debatable. His strategy on the way there was to tell me it wasn’t that much further. I swear he said, “Only one more hill,” approximately four times, but he insists that wasn’t the case. The trip felt neverending. He also kept trying to have a conversation with me, with hopes of distracting me, but it only served to aggravate me more. Bless him.


Of course, the other thing you have to understand is that my husband once did a half Ironman. He hadn’t biked a lot before we went on the trip, but his physical ability FAR exceeds mine. His idea of “not so bad” is a bit skewed compared to mine.

Jason is brilliant, though. On the way back, he figured out a better strategy. He stopped talking to me, first of all. Secondly,  I have no concept of distance, so he made me believe we had way further to go than what we did. At one point along the journey he asked me how far I thought we had gone. “Possibly halfway?” he inquired. I agreed.

The truth was, we were nearly back to where we needed to turn to get to the main highway. Hallelujah! Angels were singing in my mind when we got to the intersection.

Why am I like that? I don’t know, but the second method he used worked way better for me.

Normally, when I get in a pool I do it slowly. I hate cold water. When we got back to our inn, I went straight to the pool, took off my outer clothing to reveal my swimsuit and jumped in that glorious water. And some time in the hot tub eased my aching muscles. I felt like I had accomplished something extraordinary, yet my experience was sadly disappointing compared to the bike ride down red dirt roads I had envisioned with birds chirping and music playing. However, beauty remains.


How does all of this pertain to you? If you have a spouse, child, or other person in your life you are having a hard time motivating, maybe you aren’t speaking the right language. Also, conflict can often happen as a result of unrealized expectations. If you find yourself getting angry over something, evaluate your expectations. Maybe they need to change. Or maybe like me, your attitude does. Just looking at these beautiful pictures makes me kick myself for being a bear at the time. Memories definitely make the heart grow fonder!

The bike ride didn’t turn out as I envisioned, but I’m still glad I did it. We can always learn more about ourselves. And thanks to my amazing husband for his patience with a difficult wife. I made a wise choice with that guy!


To Die or Not to Die

IMG_0915_edited-1I slammed on the brakes as I detected motion out of the corner of my eye. My heart beat rapidly as I watched a deer cross my path and head into the woods on the opposite side of the street. Luckily, we both survived the scenario relatively unscathed aside from my sure spike in blood pressure.

I instinctively turned my head to see if any other creatures of the like followed. One lone deer stood in the distance riveted to its place. If deer thought in English, I feel with certainty it would have been thinking, “Holy Moses. Why in the world did he chance that? What an idiot.”

We are all created so differently. Even animals possess unique personalities that cause them to behave in different ways. Some of us seek adventure, others prefer the comfort of the familiar. One person’s joy can be another person’s pain.

Have you followed the story of Brittany Maynard? This young 29 year old woman was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor. She moved to the state of Oregon where they have the Death with Dignity Act which enables terminally ill individuals to terminate their own lives through the use of medication. On Nov. 1st, Brittany chose to end her life by taking a lethal pill in order to spare her husband and mother the pain of watching her suffer a long and difficult death, and spare herself the agony of a failing body.

Interestingly, I found out about Brittany’s story from Ann Voskamp’s blog when she had a guest post by another blogger who wrote an open letter to Brittany. The author, Kara Tippetts, writes at Mundane Faithfulness. Kara is a mother of four in her thirties who also is dying of cancer. Her story started with an aggressive form of breast cancer, first thought taken care of, only to have the cancer spread to other parts of her body. Kara has chosen palliative care and trusts her doctors and nurses to gently and kindly see her through the dying process. While waiting for my mom to recover from her breast cancer surgery, I read Kara’s book The Hardest Peace. I highly recommend it, by the way. It is a truly poignant and heart wrenching memoir.

Two women. A story that intersects. Two choices.

I hesitate to express an opinion or cast judgment. Objectively, I can see the reasons both women have made very different choices.

First, I will say, though, that I feel like the Oregon act is somehow misnamed. To call it Death with Dignity insinuates that those who choose a natural death somehow lose dignity. Having stood beside my dad who passed away from complications with Parkinson’s I would say his death was anything but undignified. Yes, he may have progressively lost more and more functions of his body and been unable to care for himself, but he faced his last breath with fortitude, courage, and even hope. I think loss of true dignity is a choice.

Secondly, as an individual who has been a part of a difficult dying process, I understand the feeling of wanting to rescue your loved one from pain and discomfort. I so wanted to be able to fix things or make it easier for my dad. However, and I have no doubt this is not the experience for all, looking back there is something about those final days that are precious to me. My compassion grew. My respect for my dad grew. My life will forever be transformed as a result of walking through that valley. The shadow of death holds new meaning, but so do the comfort of the rod and staff as we read about in the 23rd Psalm. It is a humble privilege to serve those you love in their darkest moments.

I cannot accurately express my respect and appreciation for those working in palliative care. They were supportive, caring, understanding, and most importantly available. Without hospice, I don’t know what my dad’s last days would have been like.

It may be possible to cheat death in some places, but I wonder in what ways we may cheat ourselves or those we love in the process.

So, whether you are like the deer willing to make it across the road into the forest against poor odds, or you quietly wait in the background full of caution, realize your life has infinite value. All of our days are numbered. Let’s do our best to appreciate the today we have been given.