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One More Time, Just For Fun

When I decided to take a few weeks’ break in January, I didn’t expect to be gone this long. But a lot of things have happened that kept me away.

One of those things was my youngest daughter getting her learner’s permit. In Maryland, you can get that at 15 years and nine months old. You keep that for nine months, drive 60 hours with a licensed driver, and get your license at 16 ½.

John took Dara to get her learner’s permit. Among the required documents, I sent her birth certificate, which was issued by the state of Maryland, has a state seal on it and is dated. To obtain that certificate fifteen years ago, I had to …

It Doesn’t Matter Who Wins

Presidential elections in the United States. Vector illustration with the American flag on the background of chalkboards

Presidential elections in the United States. Vector illustration with the American flag on the background of chalkboards

In a little over two weeks, election day will be upon us. Many of us dread it. Some are still unsure of our vote.

We have an awful choice next month. One one side we have an arrogant pig of a man who may or may not protect my rights as a Christian while disrespecting me as a woman, and my children and friends as people of color and people not born here. On the other we have an equally arrogant woman, a proven liar, an elitist, and sworn to ensure Christians “change their deep-seated religious views.”

One thing I have come to believe: It doesn’t matter who wins.

Yes, many practical things will depend upon who will be sitting in that office come January. But on November 9, as well as on …

Buy Her Bag, Not Her Body

Buy her Bag, Not her Body

I wanted to share some photos from the Do A Little Good shopping day last weekend. There were so many wonderful products, all supporting survivors of trafficking, enabling families to escape debt bondage and poverty, and creating sustainable businesses so women and families aren’t dependent on charity.

There were myriad purses and satchels, gorgeous jewelry, cute children’s clothing, and scarves galore. Premium grade, shade grown, organic Ethiopian coffees. Handmade ornaments. Kits for kids to knits hats out of hand-made yarn from Rwanda. T-shirts.  Skirts.

If you don’t live around here, please visit some of these fantastic vendors online. What better way to celebrate the Christmas season than by giving life, real life, to someone who is finally experiencing freedom? And just by buying a gift for a loved one.

Instead of giving your money to a big box store or corporate machine, give it to a woman in Uganda, or …

One in Six – We Can Change That Number

Ally Project

Our family often goes to lunch after church on Sunday, but this week we will staying after service and buying slices of pizza for $2 each. We’ll probably eat standing up and chatting with others around us, and all there will be to drink will be water.

Sound appetizing?

The reason is every three months or so the children host a “Pizza-4-Water” Sunday. We buy the pizzas for $5 each, and the profit goes to the “Ally Project,” started by a 14-year-old who decided to raise money to build a well in Burkina Faso, West Africa.

Ally Schrader was on a 30-hour fast at a youth retreat in early 2012 when she learned that children in Burkina Faso, already malnourished, must carry buckets of dirty water long distances home to their families to drink. For her upcoming birthday, instead of presents Ally asked for donations that would go to a …

Father Knows Best

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, so like everyone else I was thinking of our freedom, our country, our privileges.

naturalization certificateAs you know, my three adopted kids came from Kazakhstan. Buggy had to apply for her citizenship after we brought her home in April 1999. It was a formality—they had to grant it, but we still had to fill out the paperwork and pay several hundred dollars to receive a Certificate of Naturalization signed by then-President Clinton. When it came, we took her downtown and snapped her picture with the capitol in the background. It was right around July 4.

When Bear and Bubba came home in late November 2001, the law had changed and they were automatically citizens when we touched American soil. But we still had to pay to get the certificates if we wanted proof of citizenship, which, just a few months post 9/11, I definitely did.…

The Funniest Names I Ever Heard

About a year ago, in the car, Emma mentioned that she had mispronounced a classmate’s name that morning and the girl had become quite angry. I responded that I was surprised she was not more forgiving. “After all, in this area there are so many unusual names. It’s not like everyone is named Bill or Sally.”

Suddenly, from the back seat, Dara burst into laughter. I asked why, but all she did was laugh more. This went on for days. Finally she said, “Bill and Sally. Those are the funniest names I’ve ever heard.”

OK, I’ll give her Sally. That’s not a common name any more. But Bill? I told her it was a nickname for William. She didn’t buy it. “William is a fine name,” she countered. “We have a William in our class.”

“Well, what do you call him?”

“William. Sometimes Will.” I think she had trouble with …

Just Who Do You Belong To?

Dennis and Emma

Living in a multicultural family leads to some funny moments. While John and I were both gone this weekend—a rare occurrence—Emma had to drive down and play chauffeur. Early Saturday morning, she took MC an hour away to a softball doubleheader. A few hours later, she and her boyfriend, who is first-generation Vietnamese, dropped JT off at a TKD demo, went back to pick up MC, then back to get JT, where MC begged Dennis to go with her to find JT. “You know where you dropped him off.” “Yeah,” he said, “but then it will look like two Asians are stealing a little white boy.”

At school last week, DK turned in the check for PE uniforms. Her teacher wondered why it was for two, in different sizes. She said one was for her brother. He asked how old her brother was, and she said,”Four weeks …

Circle of Friends?


My daughter started college this week. Last week was orientation. One day they gathered the 435 freshmen, arranged them in a circle, and drilled into them that this was their new “community.” A “diversity expert” asked them quite personal questions and they were to step inside the circle if the questions were true for them. Questions like, “Were you abused as a child,” “Are your parents divorced,” “Do you live/have you lived in poverty?” etc. I think the point was that although they are different, they share experiences and can bond with and rely on each other. He told them they weren’t required to answer, but if they didn’t, they should examine why they didn’t feel comfortable sharing with their new community. (My daughter said she wanted to say, “Um, because I just met you?”)

You can possibly force people to be friendly, but you cannot force people to be …

What Happened to Kindness?

When a city of powerful people loses power, and is basically powerless to do anything about it, it’s not pretty.

If a natural mega-disaster ever hits the greater Washington DC area, it will not be the event itself that destroys the city. It will be the lack of kindness, compassion and basic care for one another that does it.

Angry JohnnyThe derecho winds that hit last weekend showed the selfishness of most of us. Hurricane-force winds struck without warning, causing major damage. Our Maryland county was hit the hardest. Hundreds of intersections without stoplights should have been treated as 4-way stops. Some I am sure were, but I arrived at many to see 4 or 5 cars going after the one in front of them, too busy or important or just plain selfish to wait their turn. I saw this day after day.

Grocery stores, ones that were open, were raided …

Highway to Heaven

Cambodian Buddist temple

Photo by Edwin Remsberg, Courtesy of the Maryland State Arts Council.

It took me a little longer to pick up my mom and get to church last Sunday. Between her house and the church is a Cambodian Buddhist Temple, one of the largest outside Cambodia, I’m told. Last Sunday marked Cambodian New Year, and literally hundreds of cars were parked in the temple complex, the lot next to it, and up and down New Hampshire Avenue. They had hired crossing guards to direct traffic, and to occasionally stop it to allow pedestrians to safely cross the street and enter the temple.

New Hampshire Avenue is known across the country as the “Highway to Heaven.” At last count, in a ten-mile stretch there were over 30 different places of worship. There are tiny house churches and mega churches. There’s a synagogue, a Hindu temple, and Unitarian church, to name a few. …