Skip to content

The Summer Bucket List 2016

June 30, 2016

It’s officially summer around these parts. Sophie’s been out of school about a week now. It was definitely a bittersweet, milestone last day of school. We said goodbye to the school community I’ve come to love over the last three years. I feel so fortunate Sophie had such a great start to her elementary school learning. And in August, she’ll be starting a third grade at a new school in Indiana.

2nd grade

Now that school is out, we’re checking off items on the 2016 Summer Bucket List!

We’ve been making these summer lists since 2010 and I love doing it. I hope we continue to make these lists as she grows older (although I’m sure the items will change).

Although we do plenty of lounging around and Sophie will attend a few weeks of camp, the Summer List gives us fun things to do during the weeks she’s out of school. This year’s list includes a few San Diego experiences we haven’t had before, as well as a few Indiana items.

Here’s what’s in store for this year:

summer bucket list 2016

If you’re looking for some Summer List inspiration, here’s what we’ve done in the past:

Do you make a summer bucket list? What are your summer plans?

Author Jolina Petersheim Talks About Her Latest Novel, “The Alliance”

June 27, 2016

I’m so excited to welcome back one of my favorite writers, Jolina Petersheim, as she celebrates the release of her third (that’s right, THIRD!) novel, The Alliance. I loved her two previous books, The Outcast and The Midwife; and let me tell you: The Alliance does not disappoint! Here’s the novel’s description:

The AllianceWhen Leora Ebersole sees the small plane crash in her Old Order Mennonite community, she has no idea it’s a foreshadowing of things to come. When the young pilot, Moses Hughes, regains consciousness, they realize his instruments were destroyed by the same power outage that killed the electricity at the community store, where Englischers are stranded with dead cell phones and cars that won’t start.

Moses offers a sobering theory, but no one can know how drastically life is about to change. With the only self-sustaining food supply in the region, the Pacifist community is forced to forge an alliance with the handful of stranded Englischers in an effort to protect not only the food but their very lives.

In the weeks that follow, Leora, Moses, and the community will be tested as never before, requiring them to make decisions they never thought possible. Whom will they help and whom will they turn away? When the community receives news of a new threat, everyone must decide how far they’re willing to go to protect their beliefs and way of life.

So without further ado, Jolina is here to answer a few questions about The Alliance!

1. Tell us how how you came up with the idea for this apocalyptic novel.
I guess you could say I had a slightly different childhood. When I was six and my brother ten, our family stood in a field on the camp where my parents were caretakers, and my parents told us that this was where we would meet if we were separated when the world “blew up.” From this field, our family would travel by foot to our friends’ elaborate, fairytale home and live in the blue room hidden behind their bookshelves. My parents in no way meant to instill fear in us. Now that I’m a parent, I see that they were trying to assuage their own fears by coming up with a disaster-recovery plan. But I was born with an overactive imagination, and therefore this plan planted in me the seed of fear–and, subsequently, a driving need to control my environment.

2. Would you say you were from a very apocalyptically-minded family?
Very. This mindset is generational, it seems, for my grandfather—who grew up in immense poverty during the Great Depression — was very “end of the world” as well. I breathed fear all my life and am only now, at 29, learning to live by faith. This story is an extension of my own personal journey.

3. Tell me more about this journey?
When my eldest was 6-months-old, an unnerving exchange with a logger caused my fear to deepen its roots and for me to ask myself whether I would ever use lethal force to protect myself and my family. I believed I would, even though, growing up, I sensed that my own father would adhere to his Mennonite (pacifist) heritage if placed in such a situation. This is very similar to what the Mennonites in The Alliance are faced with when a cataclysmic event causes society to break down around the community and begin closing in.

4. Leora Ebersole, one of your two narrators in The Alliance, has a driving need to control her environment, even after society crumbles around her, because if she controls her environment, she believes she will be able to keep her family safe. Is this something you’ve also experienced?
Unfortunately, yes (or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you look at it). With every one of my books, God’s been faithful to allow me to experience some portion of whatever topic I’m addressing. The Alliance has been no exception. My family and I moved from Tennessee to Wisconsin shortly before I finished the rough draft.

Eight weeks later, my husband went in for a CAT scan, which revealed a tumor near his brainstem. He had surgery the next morning, and all through that night next to his hospital bed, I feared for my family. I feared for our two young daughters — our firstborn was two and a half and our second was four months old at the time. I feared that I would be a widow, living on a grid-tie solar-powered farm six hundred miles away from our immediate families.

Thanks, Jolina! Congrats on your third novel and I’m so glad your family is healthy and safe!

Other Posts You May Like:

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Alliance to review for this blog post.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse books that I am proud to recommend to others.

Packing a House, Enjoying the Moments and Making New Memories

June 22, 2016

The last several weeks have been spent going through my entire house — deciding what stays and what goes — in preparation for our upcoming move to Indiana. I’ve been sorting, purging and filling the trash can with fervor each week. The recycle bin is overflowing, and I’m as excited for the weekly garbage day as a trash truck-obsessed toddler. I’ve already filled the trucks of three charitable organizations with items to give away, and Sophie and I sold three crates of used books.

I like the purging process. I’ve always been a collector of memories, and prefer not to keep stuff for the sake of having things. I don’t keep every tote bag I’m given. Most holiday cards are recycled after displayed, and excess wrapping paper is donated.

But occasionally, I’ll receive a unique memento from an event I attended or a place that resonated with me. And when that happens, I place the item upon my bookshelf to remind myself of the experience from which it came.

share a coke

Last May, Sophie and I attended Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration. One of the mementos I received was a vintage Coca-Cola bottle with the words Disneyland 60 printed on it. The bottle has been displayed on my bookshelf for the past year. Every few weeks, Sophie would ask me when I’m going to drink the Coke, to which I’d respond that it wouldn’t be consumed. It would be a collector’s item that stayed on the shelf.

Last week, however, when I was in the midst of sorting through memories in my office, I saw that bottle of Coke differently. I remembered a quote from Erma Bombeck that has always guided me with respect to what I should keep and use.

If I had my life to live over … I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. — Erma Bombeck

When I read those words several years ago, I started burning the 3-wick candles I was only using for display.

I suddenly realized that bottle of Coke had become the rose candle. Other than looking at it, what joy was it bringing me on the shelf? So I grabbed the bottle and told Sophie that this weekend, she was going to try her first Coke. And it would be from this bottle. She could hardly wait.

After cleaning out the garage that Saturday afternoon, I removed the bottle of Coke from the refrigerator, popped off the soda top with the bottle opener, and we both took turns sipping the cold soda from the Disneyland 60 Coke bottle.

We were, quite literally, the definition of #ShareaCoke.

I’ve never tasted a more delicious Coke than in those moments.

And now instead of staring at the object on my bookshelf, I have this special memory (and photo) of the time Sophie and I enjoyed the Disneyland 60 Coke together, as we packed up our belongings to make new memories on our journey ahead.

NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post. Neither Disneyland nor Coca-Cola paid me a dime to write these words. But I am grateful they gave me that bottle of Coke!

Other Posts You May Like:
















Monday Musings ~ June 20

June 20, 2016

Happy Monday! We’re well into the month of June and I’ve been consumed with work, end of Sophie’s school activities (TWO. MORE. DAYS OF SCHOOL!), and sorting/purging/packing our house in preparation for the move to Indiana.

bonfire poolside

1. Speaking of sorting, going through everything in my own office was tough. It was harder than any other part of my house. I felt as if my entire past was inside those four office walls. So many journals; notebooks filled with poetry I wrote when I was young; diaries that go from high school to college years; boxes of photographs; cards from former colleagues and friends; all my paper planners. There are portfolios filled with newspaper clippings when I wrote for the San Diego State University Daily Aztec college newspaper, and so many writing and marketing pieces from my first job at KPBS.

I’m not sure if sad is the word to describe how I felt when sorting through all these memories tucked inside file folders and binders. Maybe emotional or nostalgic are better words? It was a strange feeling seeing my past in that room, and me now going through and sorting or purging parts of it. Either way, it’s a daunting task to look back at 40 years of one’s life.

2. So when I’m not busy preparing for my move, I’ve been distracting myself in the world of Netflix. This article about the types of TV shows we’re most likely to binge watch is spot on. I finished season two of “Bloodline” – good, but I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. The big win of late was “Bates Motel.” Not since “The Killing” has a series captivated me so much. The writing, characters and psychological story are all so fascinating! Now I need to find a new show to indulge in since “OITNB” is just not my cup of tea. Suggestions are welcome!

3. I’m planning to write more now that I finished teaching for the quarter and Sophie is out of school. I have so many ideas for blog posts, and a new novel idea I’m really excited about. I feel like my creative juices are flowing and I want to get the words and ideas out of my head and onto paper.

4. And speaking of writing, this post detailing what a 1970s mom blog would sound like is hilarious!

That’s all I’ve got for today. So what’s going on in your life?

Other Posts You May Like:

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

June 8, 2016

In the fall of 1992, I was a senior in high school and the nation was consumed with a presidential election unlike any before. This was the year that featured an established sitting president (George H.W. Bush), a rogue third-party  candidate (H. Ross Perot), and a young Baby Boomer named Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary.

I was 17-years-old and the world had an excitement in the air. People felt hopeful; like we were on the verge of a new beginning. The Clintons – with Bill playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show – was like nothing out of politics before.

I watched the Clinton and Gore families triumphantly dance on stage to Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” at the Democratic National Convention. These people were young, I thought. They were my parents’ age, and their kids were my age. Even today, 24 years later, that feeling of anything is possible runs through me every time I hear “Don’t Stop” on the radio.

Later that summer, my friend and I found the local Clinton-Gore volunteer office and eagerly signed up to do any task they needed help accomplishing. Whether it was calling prospective voters, counting out yard signs for distribution or stuffing mailing envelopes, I couldn’t wait to be a part of American history and do my part to elect the nation’s president.

I proudly displayed my Clinton-Gore bumper sticker on my school binder and bulletin board. I watched the election results on the television that November night and cheered triumphantly when Clinton was declared the winner. And I couldn’t believe my eyes when I received an invitation to one of the inaugural balls as a thank you for my volunteer services (sadly, I wasn’t able to attend).

VOTE written on wooden cubes on the USA flag

Yesterday I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton in the California primary election. Sophie and I walked down to our local polling place so she can see votes being cast and we picked up my “I Voted” sticker. We talked about voting as an important right, and one we should never take for granted.

In her speech last night, Clinton talked about how our nation has reached a milestone. For the first time in our history, a woman is the major party’s nominee. Whether you’re “with her” or not, it’s hard not to acknowledge this is a historic time in the United States. As a woman, I am particularly proud to witness this shattering of the ultimate glass ceiling (Clinton’s words, not mine).

While I don’t have the same optimism I had in 1992, I am humbled to see this milestone in my lifetime. And I’m excited my daughter will grow up in a country where being president of the United States is a realistic goal for a girl.

NOTE: I wrote this post to share a significant memory, and how it relates to my feelings about today’s presidential election and the future. I didn’t write this to seek a debate on my political choices. If you decide to stop reading my blog or unfriend me on Facebook because I voted for Hillary, that’s certainly your choice to do.

Other Posts You May Like:

%d bloggers like this: