Annie, ready to BOO!
Annie, ready to BOO!

Something about this time of year lends itself to skulking in the shadows and making mischief. And I come from a long line of folks who do their best work at night.

We like things that go bump in the night. We like mystery and intrigue and we like to surprise and be surprised.

So the first time we got Boo’d, I knew this was a tradition we were going to make all our own.

If your neighborhood doesn’t Boo, fear not. You can get the party started.

All you have to do is this: get a bucket (or two or three or five); fill it with candies and fun treats from the dollar section at Target or your favorite dollar store. It doesn’t have to be much. I spent $20 and did five buckets. Michael’s has plastic jack-o-lantern buckets for $1.04.

Go to this website and print out the sign and the instructions: Place them in the bucket. Then put on your running shoes, wait for darkness and sneak up to your friend’s and neighbor’s doors, drop the basket, ring the doorbell for all it’s worth and run for your life.

Over the last five years, we have perfected our Boo’ing. While some people ring and run, we are a ring and hide family, piled up behind bushes and cars (and Sunday night, the very skinny Edison power box in the front yard) to listen as people discover our buckets. Then we sneak back down the street or to the car, giggling with glee.

You can see why we don’t just do one. It’s too much stinking fun.

Our hope is that our Boo-ees become Boo-ers, and spread the mischievous love. Sometimes we get Boo’d back and sometimes we don’t. But I am proud to tell you that my kids don’t care. For them, the fun is in the Boo-ing!

Logistics: The instructions tell the Boo-ee that they’ve been tagged and invite them to Boo someone else. They hang the “We’ve been boo’d!” sign in their front window so they don’t get boo’d again. Then they assemble their own basket(s) and pass it on. I’ve heard of neighborhoods where this spreads like wildfire. But even if it doesn’t, I guarantee that you will bring some loving fun into the nights of your boo-ees.

PS: We were boo-ed by Amy and her girls in return. Except they came in the daylight and got caught by my girls and my dogs before they got to the front door. We all ended up laughing in the front yard while Gabe provided a quick seminar on proper boo-ing technique.



For Meg


If you follow us on Facebook, you know we have been praying for Meg, a friend of Amy’s who was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with her second daughter. Just a few, too short weeks ago, she found out that her cancer was back, stage 4, aggressive.

Elle is 5. Baby Cora is four months. Sam is their daddy.

I don’t know Meg. But I know Amy and Amy’s heart was broken at this news. That was enough for me and Dana. We rallied the prayers for Meg. My good friend Steffani called on her homeschool prayer chain and the big guns at our church.

The disease moved quickly. Yesterday, Amy called to say the end was near.  We asked for help to pray Meg Home. Two hours later, she was gone, leaving her suffering and her fear behind her.

But also her young husband and her two little girls, one old enough to feel this pain and the other too young to remember anything.

It makes me really, really mad. It hits very close to home for me, for Dana, for Amy. It’s hard to know what to do.

We can rage at the heavens. We can curl into ourselves, or push the story away from us and those we love. We can turn from the suffering of strangers, sad but relieved that it was someone else.


We can pray. We can witness. Not in a train wreck kind of way, but we can take a moment to acknowledge the grief that Meg’s family is feeling right now.

We can donate in Meg’s name to places dedicated to conquering this bullshit disease. We can honor those we have lost and those who have survived.

We can remember that suffering is a universal condition. We can do today what we want strangers to do when it is our turn.

Tonight, I am going to lift up Meg’s family in prayers for comfort.

I’m going to lift up Amy and her sister Ashley and their family in prayers for peace.

I’m going to lift up my own anger and give it to God. He knows what to do with it.

I am going to give thanks for the women and men who showed up in prayer for a stranger.

It’s the least I can do for a sister mama gone too soon.

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do ~ Dana


A good friend of mine texted me last week to me know that her father passed away. He had been sick for a long time and over the course of his illness, she and I had many conversations about this process of losing a parent to cancer. When I told another friend the news, she said to me, “Oh, she’s lucky to have you. You must have known just what to say.” But the truth is, I didn’t. I don’t.

Having lost my father just over a year ago, I definitely know what NOT to say. I’ll give you the top three: 1. “Don’t worry. It gets better with time.” Here’s the thing: no it doesn’t. I’ll never have a daddy again. There is nothing better about that. Ever. It felt so dismissive when people told me this, as if in just 6 months I would just be over it all. 2. “I know exactly how you feel.” I understand the sentiment behind this one, but truthfully, no one knows exactly how you feel. Everyone’s relationship with their father is very different. Some people are close with their father, some aren’t. Some carry around anger and resentment. Some have tremendous guilt or regrets. I know how I feel, but that doesn’t mean that any one else feels the same way. 3. “Just be happy that you have your daughters.” This one bugs me because it ignores the gray areas in life. The happiness that I have in my daughters is unrelated to the sadness that I still feel about losing my dad. Absolute joy and gut-wrenching grief CAN actually exist together, thank goodness.

But what TO say, then? I don’t know what to say to my sweet friend because I know that there was nothing that anyone could have said to comfort me. Every sentence I thought of saying to her seemed so empty and superficial compared to the hurt that I could hear in her voice. So I hugged her, and told her how sorry I was. And I meant it.

Then I did for her what so many did for me and my family when we were in the midst of hospice and funeral planning: I brought food. During those horrible days, I cannot even remember who brought what, but our friends descended on my parents’ house, bringing homemade cookies, BBQ’ed chicken and hamburgers, chicken salad from Costco, croissants… it was a cornucopia of goodness that made our lives so much easier. There was so much to be done, especially when we brought my dad home, that we absolutely did not have time to cook, and there were only so many meals that we could stomach from the local fast food joint. I remember just crying after one of my mom’s friends from church literally brought us boxes of food. Their gifts of food nourished our bodies and our souls. It was just one less thing that we had to worry about.

The recipe I made for her is a simple, but delicious pasta dish that travels well and can just be microwaved or heated on the stove. I threw in a green salad, some Italian bread from a local bakery, and a bottle of wine, packed it all up in a Trader Joe’s bag, and sat with her in her father’s house. I’m including the recipe here. It’s a staple in our home, especially in the fall and winter. Try it for your family, and try it for a friend in need. Win-win.

Pasta e Fagioli


3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, quartered, then halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
3 ½ cups chicken stock – 2 14 oz cans or homemade (click here for our recipe)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 ½ tsp dried basil
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 15 oz can cannelloni beans (or white beans)
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
½ lb ditalini pasta (or elbow macaroni, cellentani, or other curved pasta)


1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Stir in garlic and cook until tender. Reduce heat, and stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, water, broth, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, beans, and Parmesan. Simmer 40 minutes.

2. Add pasta and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Serve with extra Parmesan for garnish.

Above It All

There’s this song on the radio by For King and Country called “Fix My Eyes”. It’s been around for bit, but you know when you’re driving along and you hear a familiar song in a new way?

That’s what happened here. I finally tuned in to the words of the chorus:

Love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on You

Can someone make a cool wooden sign out of these words? They pretty much sum up the life of a Christian, and I’d like to hang it over my kids’ beds so they can internalize it, especially that second line.

The words have been kicking around in my head for a few weeks, mostly in relation to current events, an election season heating up and some things that have appeared on my Facebook feed.

Listen, this whole public social media thing is dangerous, and about to get more so as we head into election season. Come October 1, I will make a Facebook announcement that my feed has been designated a “conscientious objector”: Purposefully inflammatory and disrespectful posts discouraged for the duration.

Not because I don’t respect everyone’s right to think what they want, but because I don’t want to feel baited, angry, bullied. I don’t want to respond in kind, with snark and sarcasm. I don’t want us all to be wondering why we’re friends in the first place.

In our current political system, there is no blameless vote. Especially if we are Christians, when we cast a vote—either red or blue—then we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater somewhere along the line.

That’s a truth that requires humility. Not anger, accusations, bullying, hatred.

So how can we live the next few months in a way that preserves our faith, our rights and our relationships?

I think the boys from For King and Country have it right. Be brave. Compromise. Connect. Stand tall above it all.

It’s a fun song. Play it loud.


90 Days and Counting!

My friend Paula is pregnant for the first time. Paula and I have been friends for 20 years. We played volleyball together in high school, then taught and lived together for ten years until I married Shea.
This Spring, her husband Jimmy, who is a National Park Service Ranger, got transferred far away. They moved in her first trimester. New place, new home, no job for Paula. The baby was a surprise in the fact that she thought that ship had sailed, and she worried about being able to get a teaching job with a November due date.
When I talked to her in May, she didn’t sound great. She was lonely, stressed about the job search and trying to process all these tremendous life changes. Who can blame her? So the Committee decided someone needed to go see her.
Because that’s how we do.
It was a toss up for Lisa and me: we both wanted to see Paula pregnant, and we both wanted to meet sweet baby girl when she gets here. In the end, I came now, and she will go later. We pinkie-promised to take lots of pictures.
And off I went to see my pregnant friend.
In Maui.
Did I forget to mention they moved to Maui?
Maui is one of my favorite places in the whole world. Paula and I went to Maui in the summer of 2002 to reward ourselves for making the jump to public school. We had a blast. When I met Shea a year later, and found out he grew up on Maui, it felt like a sign from God that he was for me.
But this trip was not about Maui. If Paula and Jimmy had moved to South Dakota, I’d still be going to visit her, even though I have no real desire to see South Dakota. She’s my friend and she’s having a baby! So the Maui part is neither here nor there, beyond the fact that we got a beachfront condo for the weekend.
The point was to get things ready. There’s no Babies R Us on Maui. Or Target. There’s a Walmart, but Paula feels the same way I do about Walmart, so that’s out. And Paula and Jimmy are super low-key folks. A lot of people don’t even know she’s pregnant. If she was closer, she might have let us throw a baby shower. Maybe. Probably not. She is just not a big fuss kind of gal.
But a baby requires equipment. And equipment requires shopping, which is not Paula’s favorite thing. And help wading through the crap that the baby industry tells new mamas that they need.
Like a wipes warmer. I could have just set $30 on fire for the good that thing did anyone.
The first thing we did was throw a wi-fi baby shower. I came armed with love and gifts cards, and we bought a mattress, swing, bath and the two cutest towels you ever did see.
Then we rolled through the baby section and reloaded her registry, which shocked her into silence when it reminded her that she has 90 days to go! I am happy to report that while there is plenty of pink out there for baby girls, there’s also a ton of fun blue, green and melon. And car mirrors have come a long way. The one she picked has flashing lights, plays music and even comes with a remote control so mom can reset while driving.
Paula is feeling better and looks great. She got a teaching job where she is facing down the challenges of being a haole. She and Jimmy are super excited to meet their baby. And you heard it here first: Jimmy doesn’t stand a chance when Miss Thing gets here. He loves himself some Paula, and when Mini-Paula shows up, he’s going over the edge. No doubt.
In other news, Paula took me to see Oprah’s Maui estate, which is right down the road from them. It looked kinda nice:
This is the main house on the Winfrey compound. There were at least five smaller (and by smaller, I mean normal) houses too. #itsgoodtobeoprah
This is the main house on the Winfrey compound. There were at least five smaller (and by smaller, I mean normal) houses too. #itsgoodtobeoprah
And Maui? Maui’s doing all right. Not that I noticed:
These flowers smell heavenly.
These flowers smell heavenly.
The view from our beach.
The view from our beach.


Towards Kihei.
Towards Kihei.