be (uniquely) you | Prince Edward Island

It’s a clear blue sky kind of day and we are headed due North. New Brunswick is in my rearview mirror and Prince Edward Island lay before us. As I cross over the 8 mile long Confederation Bridge, I have images of my literary friends Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe waiting to welcome me to their island.

‘RED’DY AND WAITING

While my fictional welcoming committee is absent, it takes very little time before I begin to see Prince Edward Island from the same wondrous perspective as Anne Shirley did. The countryside is dressed in a sybaritic* garment of green. Peeking out beneath her petticoat is a strikingly red undergarment. At once I remember Anne’s affable* question to Matthew, “And what does make the roads red?” Continue reading “be (uniquely) you | Prince Edward Island”

How does travel affect you? An interview with author Caroline Starr Rose

If I could travel the United States reading good books and comparing what I see before me with the pages in my hands, I’d be a lucky lady.

Hi. My name is Heather and I’m a really lucky lady.

Two weeks ago our family ventured to the eastern edge of North Carolina. We explored the Outer Banks with abandon and adoration. Among our adventures, we learned about the Lost Colony of Roanoke. I was intrigued to uncover a piece of our Nation’s past that is often historically hidden.

It turns out I am not the only one who has found fascination within this dormant mystery. Author Caroline Starr Rose was so stirred by this same story that she set out to write her own ending. Her book Blue Birds explores what happens when cultures clash with mistrust and fear begins to dominate decisions. Reaching deeper, she develops the idea of what it means to be loyal and how far friendship can go before everything is tested. Both my daughter Ashlyn (11) and I consumed this fast moving historical fiction novel in the span of a week. The ending includes an intriguing twist and became a good conversation starter between the two of us.

I wanted to know more about Caroline’s personal story. Visiting her website, I discovered that she has had some really amazing travel adventures. Curious to know how her travels have influenced her writing, I began asking questions. Caroline graciously agreed to not only answer my burning questions, but to share them with you! I hope you enjoy my candid conversation with this truly gifted author. Continue reading “How does travel affect you? An interview with author Caroline Starr Rose”

Giveaway: Wright On Time RV roadschooling 4 book collection

Last month I completed my project to curate a book list of over 300 children’s chapter books organized by the state they take place in. I wanted to create a resource that we could use as we traveled across the US allowing us to choose books to compliment the places we were visiting. (By the way, if you haven’t gotten your copy of this book list, simply subscribe to my blog email list and I’ll send you your own copy lickity split).

While researching books for my state book list, I came across something that I got really excited about. Someone had written a series of books about an RVing, roadschooling family who travels the USA!

A RV, ROADSCHOOLING BOOK SERIES?!

Each book in the Wright on Time series takes the family to a different state each with a new educational adventure. The series (which currently covers 6 different states) is tied together with a fun sci-fi mystery. I couldn’t believe how perfect this was for my booklist. Not only were they a great fit, but these were the first books I’ve ever come across that are written about a full-time RVing family! Even if you are not traveling in an RV, I believe your kids would enjoy learning from a family who does.

ABOUT THE WRIGHT ON TIME BOOK SERIES

writeontimeI contacted Lisa Cottrell-Bentley, the author of the Wright on Time series and told her how excited I was to find her books. Together, we decided to offer you a chance to win her Wright on Time book collection (of books 1-4) in either the Audible format which contain 5 hours and 47 minutes of listening time or the Kindle versions of books 1-4. Curious about what the first four books focus on?

  • Book 1: Wright on Time: Arizona the family explores caves and learns about minerals and bats.*
  • Book 2: Wright on Time: Utah the family goes on a dinosaur dig.*
  • Book 3: Wright on Time: Wyoming the family explores various alternative energies.
  • Book 4: Wright on Time: South Dakota the family goes to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and also learns about how newspapers are made.

Before offering this giveaway to you, Lisa gifted my family this audio collection so that we could preview it first. Each of my kids (ages 13, 10, 7 and 5) found the series to be both entertaining as well as engaging. In their own words:

Tanner (5): “I liked the books, really I did.”
Quinten (7): “Once I got into them I really wanted to hear more. Now I want to hear the next books in the series.”
Ashlyn (10): “I thought it was really fun to hear a story about another family that travels in an RV. It was neat to hear them have some of the same kind of things happen to them as we have. Each book taught me something new too.”
Hunter (13): “I really enjoyed the books. I liked how each story progressed and built on the previous one.”

*You might find it useful to know that the books did not endorse a particular age of the earth. There was no mention of “millions of years” or “evolution.”

HOW YOU CAN WIN THE WRIGHT ON TIME BOOK SERIES

Below you have multiple options to enter to win this 4 book series by Lisa Cottrell-Bentley. The Rafflecopter form will offer you several ways to enter. You can sign in using your facebook login or with your name and email. It is necessary for us to have your email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose.

The winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email within 48 hours with your prize details. The Wright On Time book series (books 1-4) will be sent via Audible or Amazon Kindle (according to the winner’s preference). The giveaway begins on December 17 and ends December 21, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

the question you are afraid to ask: my stillbirth story

What happens when death visits and you have no one to talk to about your loss? How I discovered my tribe and found a voice in the void.

Whether its facing toddler tantrums or travel woes, potty training or panic attacks, it feels good to know we are not alone. Talking with others who are or have walked a similar road of celebration or sorrow is comforting, if not simply confirming, that we are not slipping silently into insanity. However, certain topics are by default easier to talk about than others. Menopause for instance is a conversation I have not dug into with anyone just yet. To be honest, that future period of my life (or lack thereof if you know what I mean wink-wink) is still very hazy. Stillbirth is another not-so-common topic of discussion. The unfortunate consequence is that grieving can be a confusing and lonely place to find yourself.

my stillbirth story begins
Our family the morning that Sawyer was born

Eight years ago, when our third child (Sawyer) died three weeks before his due date, I faced a mountain of unknowns. What was it like to deliver a dead baby? Does one have a memorial service in a situation like this? How do we explain his death to our children (who were 5 and 3 at the time)?  After delivery should our kids be allowed to hold their baby brother or be sheltered from seeing him? Should I change plans and deliver him in a hospital or continue with the home birth as planned? Should we induce or wait until my body went naturally into labor? Should we bury or cremate his body? Would my body still produce breast milk? How long would it be until my mind could conceive a single thing that was not somehow tangled in thought to my son? Would the pain ever go away? Was it normal to want to get pregnant again so soon? The questions seemed as endless as the grief. I’d never known anyone to face this kind of loss to whom I could go to and ask questions. Or so I thought. . .

According to the Centers for Disease Control website,

In the United States, a miscarriage usually refers to a fetal loss less than 20 weeks after a woman becomes pregnant, and a stillbirth refers to a loss 20 or more weeks after a woman becomes pregnant.

Stillbirth is further classified as either early, late, or term.

An early stillbirth is a fetal death occurring between 20 and 27 completed weeks of pregnancy.
A late stillbirth occurs between 28 and 36 completed pregnancy weeks.
A term stillbirth occurs between 37 or more completed pregnancy weeks.

Occurrence

Stillbirth effects about 1% of all pregnancies, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.1 That is about the same number of babies that die during the first year of life and it is more than 10 times as many deaths as the number that occur from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

As it turns out, that 1% segment of the population was much larger than I realized and as I began to write about my stillbirth story on my blog, I began to connect with women who knew the road I was walking because they had traveled it themselves. I also began meeting others who had bravely walked alongside those women. Together we were stronger, braver and had more purpose than we did alone. Many of these women were willing to share a part of their stillbirth or infant loss story in my recent book, “Finding Joy in the Mourning: A Mother’s Journey through Grief to Hope & Healing“.  They openly answered questions such as:

  • After your loss, what were your feelings toward having another child?
  • Is it helpful for you when people bring up your loss or would you rather avoid discussing it?
  • Are you comfortable if/when others ask about the details of what happened (how/why your child died)? Would you rather people ask or just leave that question alone?
  • What would be most meaningful to you for friends or family members to do to remember your child’s birthday or anniversary of their death?
  • How have your relationships with other people changed because of your experience?
  • How have your beliefs about God and the world changed or deepened through your experience? Have you dealt with anger toward God?
  • Which “comforting phrase(s)” or comments were most hurtful to you (i.e. what should people avoid saying)?
  • Were there any gifts given to you or your family after your loss that stood out as most meaningful? Why?
  • Looking back, what do you wish your friends and family would have known that might have helped them to support you better?
  • And many more. . .

Isn’t it beautiful to think of the combined consensus of support that can await those who have a tribe of understanding hearts surrounding them? I want that. I want that for myself and I want that for you. Be it parenting, marriage, lifestyle choices (living in an RV anyone?) or grieving, we all need “our people”.

August 7th at 6 PST/9 ET I had the opportunity and privilege to speak to my new tribe of fellow full-time RV traveling families about losing Sawyer and the book that followed on the Roadschool Moms radio show. I chatted live with co-hosts Kimberly and Mary Beth and you can still listen to the recorded podcast here if you prefer iTunes or here if you would rather just listen to it via their website page.

Lastly, if you or someone you know is grief-stricken, I’d consider it an honor if you would share my book with them. I’d love to have the opportunity to keep them company on their own journey of sorrow and, Lord willing, bring them some glimpses of hope and healing.

*This post contains affiliate links.

the hardest thing I have ever written: my stillbirth story

When I was six I decided I wanted to write a book.

I became fixated on the idea and began by copying other authors’ works in preparation for my own childhood manifesto. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein was painstakingly transcribed word for word into my notebook and I dreamed up stories of my own to tell the world. I filled out an application for the Institute of Children’s Literature and waited anxiously for their reply. When their rejection letter came, I couldn’t understand the reasoning of their denial. I was “too young” they said.  Who better to write children’s books than a child?

I never imagined the story of my book would be stillbirth, grief, hope and healing.

Years passed and I tucked my writing dream into an inner pocket of my heart. From time to time I would pull it out and stroke it gently through journaling and later blogging. Then an event happened that was bigger than I had ever faced. My 3rd pregnancy train wrecked in the 37th week and my son Sawyer was stillborn. This grief required something new of me; something raw and deep and painful that demanded to be dealt with. I pulled out my electronic notebook and began to write. This time the story was my own. The words, the thoughts, the emotions were mine. I wasn’t writing to make a book, I was writing to examine my heart of grief from angle that I could understand it better. There was a lot to process and 200+ pages later I had finally flushed out the topic of loss to a degree that I could lay down the notebook and prayerfully reflect. In doing so, the Lord prompted me to share my stillbirth story to show others what the process of loss can look like when we are sustained by our Savior. Continue reading “the hardest thing I have ever written: my stillbirth story”