The Kindness of Ravens

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists…it is real…it is possible…it’s yours.” – Ayn Rand Ravens circled overhead as I rested on a tree stump outside […]

Needing a Prescription to Lead a “Normal” Life

Sitting at the kitchen island finishing homework, she catches me off guard with her concern. “Are you okay, Mom?” I ignore the question at first, hoping she doesn’t see me hide the white paper bag of antidepressants my husband brought home from the grocery store pharmacy on the top shelf of the pantry. But she persists. “Mom, seriously, what’s wrong?” She studies my flat affect more than the algebra textbook open in front of her. […]

Everyone Needs Compassion

“They’re not that different from us,” I whisper to my middle child, the girl on my lap whose ponytail’s tickling my nose. But she’s not so sure, so I introduce her to Lena, who likes art and wears a bright beaded necklace she handcrafted herself, and Ruth, who loves her tabby cat and can’t wait for Christmas. The band starts to play, and soon everyone is on their feet. But my girl, she sits close to […]

A Walk Among Wildflowers

We head out this morning, a day my daughter and I are supposed to spend together, in a hurry. I’m late for my hair appointment, and we don’t have time for that chai tea I promised her. She doesn’t complain or insist, though I wouldn’t blame her if she did; instead she reads quietly in the backseat while I speed toward the salon. It’s raining today, and I secretly balk at the idea of spending […]

Empty Places

We skip Sunday school and head south, seeking somewhere to explore, and after bellies full of flapjacks, we find it at Indian Echo Caverns. This limestone cave, hidden along the Swatara creek, is a geological wonder, a gem of a place to a nature-loving, home-schooling family like us The man leading our expedition says it was first used by the Susquehannock Indians as a refuge from bad weather and later discovered by French fur trappers […]

A Birthday in Spring

He was born at the perfect time, but his sisters might disagree. They had a gymnastics recital that night, and when the contractions started it was only fifteen minutes before show time. So his dad and I skipped the recital and rushed to the hospital, leaving his sisters in the care of good friends and a reliable video camera. He was born a week late, too, after several days of record-breaking heat in April. All of my maternity clothes were fit for winter, and I […]

His Mother’s Name Was: Reflections from a Family Vacation

A few weeks ago we took a family vacation to Washington, D.C. It’s a trip we promised our youngest daughter for her ninth birthday, and because my old college roommate works as a Legislative Director in Congress, we surprised her with a private tour of the United States Capitol. “Dear Federal Government,” I joked on Facebook the day before we left, the day the recent government shutdown ended, “Thank you for reopening just in time […]