Archive | November, 2011

The Almost-Not Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel Olivia Newport

“Would you like to ride the Ferris wheel with Eden?” “Sure.” I looked up at the contraption. As far as Ferris wheels go, this one was not so daunting. This was a children’s park, after all. My friend had invited me to go with her to the North Pole outside of Colorado Springs. Her daughter’s […]

Advent: Pregnant and Waiting

Bird in storm Olivia Newport

The days before Christmas too often whisk by us with hardly a moment for contemplation. The commercial season muddles the spiritual season, and before we have had a chance to sort through the difference, the season is half gone. Once again it is too late to hang the Advent calendar or light the candles on […]

Mama Says #8

Mama Says #8

It was some mundane household chore, I’m pretty sure. Not climbing a mountain. Not writing a bestseller. Not getting on “American Idol.” Just the normal stuff we all do. It might have been giving the dog a bath. But sometimes that’s the stuff that bogs us down. Feeling her accomplishment, Mom said, “I finally stopped […]

Can You Smell the Dressing?

Thanksgiving Olivia Newport

Today I’m offering up a Thanksgiving post written by my sister-in-law a couple of years ago. I was the missing sibling the year she wrote, but as you read this year, I am whizzing across several states on I-80 for a gathering of what we hope will be all seven siblings and my mom–along with […]

What Did Victorian Servants Do?

Candycane napkin Olivia Newport

When I was in my early twenties, I lived with and worked for a wealthy family for a few months. They seemed wealthy to me, anyway. After all, they had live-in help—ME. I folded the family’s laundry in particular ways, vacuumed the white carpet in a system that made the nap stand up straight—without showing […]

Mama Says #7

Mama Says #7

Mom nudged the dog off her lap and stood up. It was that time every evening when she would leave the living room and go get comfortable in the bedroom with a book, a lifelong habit. She said, “I have to go read about Amish people.” In other words, she was reading the draft of […]

Taking Care of Your Baby—Then and Now

Olivia Newport baby robins

While I was researching for The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, I found an amazing book from the time period. The Care and Feeding of Children: A Catechism for the Use of Mothers and Children’s Nurses was published in 1894, perfect for my needs. (But I can’t tell you more than that without having to put […]

Life on the Spectrum

NASCAR car Olivia Newport

Robby’s feet left the ground. The little guy balanced himself over the front edge of a cavernous toy box and dug through the contents. I remember his blue corduroy overalls as his head went lower and his feet went higher. But I remember what he said even more clearly. “Hey! I see something down there. […]

Mama Says #6

Mama Says #6

The television was on and I wasn’t paying much attention. A human interest story came on, the sort that newscasters use to end a depressing report on a lighter note. A couple in their nineties got married, and it was the first time for the bride. Mom said, “See! She used to be a nun […]

Museum of Wonder and Curiosity

Olivia Newport Museum of Science and Industry

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago tucked under an east-west runway of O’Hare. School field trips invariably involved the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. On any given school day, hordes of kids from all over Chicagoland rotated through exhibits. And the cafeteria, where we ate the lunches we carried from home […]