Book Review: Storing Up Trouble by Jen Turano

This will be a pretty quick review – no small talk before I jump right in. This is mostly because I finished this title last night and want to share my thoughts “fresh.”

Bethany House approved my NetGalley request for Jen Turano’s upcoming novel, Storing Up Trouble. It’s the third installment in the American Heiresses series, but can very easily be read as a standalone. (I know this because I’ve not read the previous titles but most definitely will be adding them to my to-be-read list!)

A Delightful Whirlwind of Enjoyment

Turano is known for her humour and inspirational stories and this title does not disappoint on that front. If it were a person, I’d describe it as that loud, sweet, somewhat chaotic friend that brings liveliness and occasional puzzlement in every encounter. It’s a delightful whirlwind of enjoyment!

With a blend of adventure, snicker-inducing scenarios and dialogue, danger, oddball characters, and sweet romance this book is a fast-paced get-ready-for-a-ride work of art. It also manages to romp through the very pivotal history of suffrage and worker’s rights in North America in a delicate balance of important facts and quirky situations.

As it is inspirational fiction, faith and purpose play a foundational role in the overall story. It is a clean, sassy, sweet work of historical romance. Overall, I can do nothing but recommend this title. My only complaint is that I binged my way through it and now I feel a little lonely.

Published by Bethany House. Publication Date: May 5, 2020

My thanks for the complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: The Forgotten Home Childby Genevieve Graham

There are so many things I love about The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham. If I had a Must-Read in 2020 list, this would be the second title on it. (The first place holder hasn’t been reviewed yet because it doesn’t publish until late summer, but it is worthy of first place.) Maybe I need a Must-Read Fiction in 2020 list and this could go straight to the very top. It was that good by my recommendation.

Emotionally Moving

First thing I love about this one? The genre. Historical fiction will always hold a special place in my reader’s heart. Always. This novel is based on factual history, but the plot and characters are make-believe. It’s the type of historical fiction that made me do some very light research because I had no idea this had happened (and it left me feeling bereft and heartbroken on behalf of the children who left their homes, and even more so for those who were mistreated in what should have been a better life.)

Two, I love this title because it showcases an important piece of Canadian history, is set in Canada (and the UK), with recognizable destinations and landscapes and was written by a Canadian author. Score for familiarity.

Three, I loved the voice of this writer so much. It was so easy to read, engaging and emotional. I read some early feedback from others that felt certain aspects were sugarcoated – there are some mature, graphic situations (not graphic in actual content, graphic in theme). The author chooses to gloss over them (i.e. rape was not called rape) but I took the liberty of assuming this had more to do with keeping with the era than the author choosing to belittle such horrible events. She paints a highly illustrative struggle of the children in their new situations and also casts a fair light on the flaws in what should have been an excellent program. On the flip side, there is a balance in acknowledging that not all the children ended up in abusive positions and their lives were better for it.

This novel addresses chasms between classes, the heartbreak of stigma, the darkness of an era not far behind us. It’s presented in the retelling by a nonagenerian who has kept her history a secret until a fateful occurence sparks some questions from her family.

Overall, I found The Forgotten Home Child to be one of my all-time favourite reads. It was emotionally moving and enlightening. I am in awe of the resilience of the characters and saddened by this aspect of our history. It hits shelves on March 3rd so make a preorder or on publication day pick up a copy for yourself and let me know if you agree or disagree with my take.

I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this title courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Simon & Schuster Canada

Grace in Chaos

Today was Sunday and our family makes a point of attending a local church service. Only half of us made it today… and that’s okay. We are involved in a lot of the aspects of the services and programs and have found places to serve – our church family and our community. Sundays don’t always go down smoothly.

Today I was frazzled. Some problem solving needed to happen with 5 minutes to service time, us running later than I would like, and me having to tell a number of people “no” or “not now.” (Those phrases always leave a layer of guilt. I’m working on that.) I was running on little sleep and that smile on my face wasn’t always genuine. In typical “us” fashion, we were rocking the whole “hot mess” type of thing.

My role in the service today was as service host. Welcoming people to our service. Praying for the congregation. Announcements and so forth. I was shaking (tiredness) and flustered (because, life.) I was honest and transparent and held it together and muddled through.

After service people approached me to say that different points of my role touched them. I don’t say this as a point of pride or in looking for assurances. I say it because even in our messes, when we’re hanging on by a thread, we can make a difference. Our words, our actions can impact someone’s day for bad or good… we can feel like we’ve made mistakes and we’re muddling through, but someone else sees grace and sincerity.

If I needed the reminder that even in my vulnerability and imperfection others can be touched, than someone out there may need that reminder too. You are more than your mess. You are more than the muddle. You have something that may speak to someone else’s soul, in the midst of your own every day chaos… and that is beautiful!

With Heavy Heart…

My grandfather passed away unexpectedly and peacefully this morning at the age of 86. A mason by trade, yesterday he was still laying blocks with the assistance of a grandson. To say that none of us saw this coming would be an incredible understatement. When my mom called with the news, I responded with “No.” Short, simple. No. He cannot be gone. It was inconceivable.

My family gathered at my grandparents’ home to mourn, to laugh, to honour a man of great morals and faith, to support my grandmother, and find solace in each others’ company.

I’m not a hugger. I have a huge personal bubble. When you get the family together, boundaries seem to disappear. I believe there are 80 of us once all the great-grandchildren are counted. I’m the oldest grandchild. The first grandaughter. I have first cousins younger than my children. Hugs were important today. Tears mattered, too.

It’s not been an easy summer for our family. There’s been loss and bad news and now another loss. There’s also been hope and growth and new additions. Life is like that. There’s good. There’s bad. Through it all you stand. Sometimes you crawl. Sometimes you come to a complete stop and can do nothing but kneel. Often you’re carried by the support of others who care.

We sang a hymn in church on Sunday. It made me think of Pake (grandfather.) I was going to send him a message on Facebook to let him know. He used to digitally “stalk” the family at large and knew everything going on in each of our lives through what we shared. I wish I had sent that message. I wish I had told him that the thought of him made me smile in the middle of a church service.

Instead, I think our last interaction involved him calling me trouble and charging Kevin to make sure I stayed out of it. It was all said in humour and love. He was cheeky and sarcastic and loud and stubborn and wonderful. He had a twinkle in his eye and a smirk that makes me think that if I’m trouble, I came by it honestly. His smile could light up a room.

Once when I was a teenager, I did groceries with my mom. We bumped into Pake shopping in his klompen. His booming voice could be heard across the store. Imagine my dismay as he took me by the arm to the back of the store where he introduced me to a store clerk that he knew and said I didn’t have a boyfriend. There is a mountain of memories of his larger-than-life antics.

I wish I could feel his hands on my upper arms, squeezing as we say our goodbyes, as he has one last word of “wisdom” to share before we drive home. I wish my boys could sit with him having a gentle conversation about life. I wish I had more conversations about his life in Friesland. I wish.

Time has run out and wishes are useless. I mentioned as we drove home that every part of me feels heavy – my eyes, my head, my body, my heart. So while it may be cliche, make the phone call, send the message, ask the questions. Cherish the small things – one day they’ll be the warm memories that fill your heart.

Pake, you will absolutely be missed. Squeezing into the basement for family gatherings will not be the same. You’ve made an incredible impact on many lives. I’ll always think of you when we sing “How Great Thou Art.” Your voice will echo in my head as I hear you bellowing with a sweet and confident devotion, Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art…”

Meal Plan Monday

I haven’t posted a meal plan in awhile… mostly because I haven’t meal planned in awhile. The summer tends to be more low key. I’m still not feeling as well as I’d like and some days I sleep through meal prep time a d we tend to grab food at one of our favourite local haunts. We’ve had a loss on the family, a new baby arrived, a very special birthday (mine!) and life has just been hard.

With back to school on the horizon and the need to budget (because no meal plan = more money spent on good), I decided to whip up a plan this week. Some days are busier than others – I’m attending a First Aid course tomorrow and Wednesday… and we still have some back to school errands to run, anniversary party for my in-laws and maybe we’ll squeeze in that last summer beach trip. Hopefully this plan will help with taming some of the chaos.

Tonight, we’re using up some new potatoes and the discounted ground pork I found at the grocery store this afternoon to enjoy some loaded tex-mex wedges. I managed to add tomatoes and spinach to the meat so we’ll be getting our fair share of colour, plus we’re topping with red pepper and green onion. I also have a million cucumbers in the fridge so I’ll probably slice one to eat on the side.

Here’s our menu at a glance:

  • Loaded wedges
  • French dip sandwiches
  • Breakfast for dinner (probably omelettes)
  • Enchiladas
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Hamburger casserole (like Hamburger Helper but a little bit healthier)

Lots of comfort food and a few that I can use the Crock-Pot for. I think we’ll be well fed this week.

Meal Plan Monday: Non-Edition

I’m skipping meal planning for the early part of this week as we use up the fridge/freezer/pantry items on hand. Nothing to share menu-wise. Instead I’ll remind you to plan time and things that nurture your spirit and feed your soul this week. I’ll also remind you to look for opportunities to feed others – with encouragement, with love, with kindness (food is a great thing too if they contain any of the above ingredients.)

Happy Monday!

Dining Wins Steps From SickKids

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… one of the reasons I don’t mind heading to SickKids is because of the dining options within easy walking distance. Some of the visits are so rushed that we don’t have time to eat before we head home again, or the boys are exhausted after their appointments. Other times we have to convince the kids that they really don’t want Swiss Chalet or Pizza Pizza. As they’re getting older, it’s getting easier to explore. A highlight of heading into any city that isn’t home is successfully finding a tasty place to chow down.

Our overnight trips obviously lend a little more flexibility to the experience. As long as the oldest is finished eating by 9:30pm he is good to go. This visit, we headed down Yonge Street and decided to pop into Fran’s Restaurant after it being recommended multiple times and because someone wanted a hearty breakfast for dinner. I now understand why it’s a Toronto institution. The food was tasty in a diner-classic comfort food way. No photos because my phone died, but the homefries were amazing and Kevin’s orange chicken was a flavor explosion. Kaleb cleaned his overly large breakfast off his plate.

This morning the kid had to skip breakfast, so us grown ups just grabbed Tim’s in SickKids. Meh. That’s all I have to say. In our defense we were in a time crunch and it was right where we walked in to the hospital en route to our appointment.

Once we finished for the day, the kid was hungry… but he’s also unadventurous and didn’t want to walk far. We popped into a delicious little burger joint that had amazing topping options and specialty selections. Their poutine was delicious!

Poutine – Jerk chicken, curds, gravy, and jerk mayo

Jackson’s Burger is just down the block from SickKids, steps from the Chelsea Hotel on Elm. Kev and I split the Effin’ Poutine (hey, I don’t name them) featuring jerk chicken and a Triple Threat burger. Not huge patties, but incredibly tasty with locally sourced ingredients.

Triple Threat burger with Kaleb’s Nutella Heaven in the background

Next we burnt off a few calories and grab some coffee before getting into the car. The few blocks and trips through the halls of SickKids logged in over 2.5 miles of walking!

Kev has some fabulous clients who treat him like family with coffee shops in multiple locations “downtown.” (I really don’t know all the different districts and neighborhoods!)

We pop into Mos Mos for amazing coffees and baked goods when we’re in the area. Coincidentally, today was the soft opening of their newest location at Bay and Elm, just a short block from Sick Kids. (I said on Instagram that it was across the street, but I was confused… it’s close though!) While I’ve never had a bad drink from Mos Mos, the White Lao Latte – served hot or iced – is my absolute fave – I enjoy it even more than my treat-time frappuccinos! (What is the secret???)

Finally, we needed a car snack. (In actuality Kev just couldn’t pass up Jamaican patties.) We popped intol Patties Express and grabbed a spicy beef and spicy chicken to take on the road. Perfect handy snack for sitting in traffic on the DVP.

We had plans to grab a cheesecake from Uncle Tetsu’s, but a phone call from the school during our appointment prevented any detours. Shout out to my mom who drove home this morning and back to our place again to pick up the one who wasn’t feeling well. (That’s more than 2 hours of driving – two trips in 4 hours, folks – what would we do without Omas?) We’re saving Japanese cheesecake for the next trip and will have to pick up one for her as well!

What are your favourite city dining spots? Do you have a go-to destination or like to try something different each time? Are you a T.O. local? What must-trys are within walking distance of SickKids or the Chelsea hotel? Recommendations are welcome and wanted! Share away!

Eco-Crushin’

I am the first to admit that we are not the eco-friendliest family on the planet.  Convenience will often win in the battle against conscience.  I’m notoriously bad at remembering my reusable straws.  My kids still grab paper towel way more often than a rag or napkin.  Guilt aside, we have made little changes to improve our footprints.  This is a (very) short list of some of the eco-happy products that I’m crushing on – they were small swaps that hopefully have an impact for the greater good.

1.  Beeswax Wraps {sub for plastic wrap}

A friend first told me about these a few years ago and I was reluctant to get on board.  Last year, I finally bit the bullet and invested in a sample pack from Mind Your Bees Wraps, based in Hamilton.  Her patterns were pretty (it shouldn’t make a difference, but I’m vain, okay?!)  I fell in love. 

At a vendor event I help organize every November, we invited an even more local maker, The Tacky Bee, who also uses salvaged materials as her wrap base – even better!  I bought a few of her sample packs as well and gifted many of them away.


From Mind Your Bees Wraps

In my recent basement purge, I found some cotton fabrics I will never use for sewing (because sewing is not one of my skill sets.) We’ll be stopping at our honey producing friends in Cookstown this weekend, Dickey Bee Honey, to pick up some beeswax and I have grand plans to make my own set – I need a bigger one for casserole dishes and the like.   There are a ton of tutorials available online if you want to attempt to DIY.   These are an easy swap for saran and I found half a grapefruit lost to the No Man’s Land at the back of the fridge the other day – it had to have been in there a few weeks and was as juicy and delicious as the day it went it.  Even J has started to reach for the wraps when he’s helping in the kitchen.

Easy to clean without harsh chemicals, no plastic waste, biodegradable when it’s life-cycle is done, and pretty enough to Insta… why wouldn’t you make the switch?

Shop Local:  Mind Your BeesThe Tacky Bee, Dickey Bee Honey

2.  Cloth Menstrual Pads {sub for tampons and/or disposable pads and pantyliners}

Women have been padding their panties with strips of cloth since the age of dinosaurs.  Our grandmas and great-grandmas are all familiar with bulky, eco-friendly options for dealing with Aunt Flo when she shows up with a vengeance.   Disposable pads were created back in the 1880s, but the industry grew by leaps and bounds in the 1980s – much to the sorrow of our landfills – and our bodies.

There are many alternatives to disposable pads and (oft-bemoaned) tampons.  My first switch to a planet-happy solution was actually a cup – and I hated it. I didn’t make any more leaps until someone suggested I might have less feminine issues if I trashed the synthetic disposables.  I found some organic, natural, biodegradable options on Well.ca and they were fine.  I didn’t love them, but yes, my period was a bit happier.


5 Small Pads from HannahPad

Finally, I bit the bullet and invested in a set of reusable cloth pads from HannahPad.  Once I got over the ick-factor, I loved them.  I mean… women have been doing this for centuries, but these are so comfortable and better for the planet.   (I mean, as comfortable as having to wear any kind of pad, amiright?)

I also found a local supplier at a vendor event who sews her own.  Garden of Eden is a Canadian company (yay!) with cute print options and her pads (and nursing pads) are very well constructed.  She’s also very comfortable with discussing periods with total strangers.

I’ve been thrilled with both suppliers.  During each cycle, after use I rinse the pads and then soak until wash day.  I use some probiotic soap to help with stubborn stains, and then just wash as usual.  The dryer is not recommended, but I buck convention and throw them in for convenience sake.  For panty liners, I just wash with my usual laundry. 

It’s a big upfront cost if you’re comparing it to a single cycle supply of pads or tampons – think about investing in one or two at a time – and make sure your happy with the brand you’re using!

Shop Local:  Garden of Eden Reusables, HannahPad

3.  Mesh Produce Bags {Sub for plastic produce bags}

I have an endless supply of reusable shopping totes.  It’s a little ridiculous.  I could probably hand them out to people in line at the grocery store and still have enough bags left for my own haul.   My problem is that I forget to bring them, but I feel guilty using plastic, so I end up buying more.  I’m hanging my head in shame.     The workaround to this is to empty them and leave them by my keys or shoes or purse… and store them in the car for next time around. 

I have some favourite bags.  I bought them online years ago when this was starting to be strongly encouraged.  They’re foldable to tuck into your purse,  they’re lightweight, they wash amazing, and they are so amazingly strong.   If I could find more of this particular brand, I would donate all the rest and use them forever.

So I’ve cultivated a good shopping habit… but the produce department bothered me.   I found some President’s Choice mesh bags inexpensively on Amazon and as long as I remember to tuck them away (or not away as the case may be), I’m golden for picking the plumpest produce and not having to pay for extra weight.  These are so light and much like their above-mentioned cousins, easy to wash.  Super convenient without another plastic bag to worry about.   Even better, more and more makers are providing local options to source your own!   If you’re anywhere near me, Fresh Off The Line has some cute ones!  Now if only we could regularly find cucumber not surrounded in shrink wrap…

Shop Local:  Fresh Off the Line

What are the little substitutes you’ve embraced that make your home a little more eco-friendly?  We’ve also subbed harsh scented candles (i.e. BBW) for locally made, naturally fragranced ones.  We reuse. We recycle.  I shop second hand first, especially for the boys.  Are you crushing on any earth-friendly, eco-happy changes or products?  Feel free to share!

Almost thirteen…

We are embarking on the next phase in our parenting journey… our oldest son is thirteen years old tomorrow!  At 6:09 a.m. on October 13, 2005, we welcomed our ridiculously large child into our arms – we could almost say his enormous size was indicative of how much our hearts expanded in love.  At 38 weeks, measuring 11lbs, 7oz weight, 24.8 inches in length, and a head circumference of 14.9 inches, we were grateful for a c-section (post delivery.)

 Kaleb’s delivery story began with an unexpected visit to the Labour & Delivery ward after a sudden drop in blood sugar and extreme nausea in Mom the day before his birth.  This was one of the warning signs we were asked to watch for in our high risk pregnancy towards the end of term.   Tests were ordered, I was examined, and we proceeded with our scheduled BPP.  Fortunately, our actual Ob-Gyn was on call that day and he stuck around for much longer than most doctors would to ensure he was on hand to make decisions for our care.  Shortly after our first battery of tests, it was decided we would induce to reduce risks for Kaleb.

I happily proceeded throughout the day with mild, yet regular contractions.  We sat in the early labour stage for a very long time.  We moved from early labour to active labour… and waited… and waited…and waited.  Contractions grew crazy intense, but I wasn’t dilating like I should have.  I kept being told “you’ll be pushing soon!” and after every exam they’d announce with surprise that although my contractions were strong, frequent, and long, my cervix wasn’t cooperating.    I was miserable overnight and still have regrets over some of the comments I made to people!    Just around the 6am mark (after 19 hours in hospital) a nurse checked in, our doctor was called urgently, and suddenly I was being rushed out of the room without any real knowledge about what was going on.   (Apparently I was heading to the OR for emergency C-section.)  Kaleb, while responsive during most of labour, was suddenly in distress and they were concerned as his heart rate was dropping during contractions rather than elevating as they should have.   The kid gave us a scare!

Fortunately, medical intervention and our amazing care team ensured a healthy delivery and we were blessed with amazing after care as well.  I will admit that I do not remember most of his first hours of life due to the effects of the anesthetic and pain meds.  I have funny snapshots, but no clear memories.  (Someone grabbing my breast, my parents crying, laughter in the recovery room, ceiling lights, and being transferred from a ward unit to a private suite. (Worth the upgrade!)

This child of ours was a fighter from the beginning.  A little stubborn.  Incredibly adorable.   Smiles that could melt your heart.   In thirteen years, not much has changed.  He’s still a fighter (not in a bad way, but if he is faced with an obstacle, he’s determined.) He’s still stubborn.  You will not change his mind once it’s been made up.   He’s adorable (but don’t tell him that!)  His smiles still melt my heart (they’re a little further apart these days, but the genuine ones can light up a room!)

His laughter as a little guy would bubble up and overflow.  He was mischievous.  He talked with funny little mispronunciations.  He was a monkey – climbing on, and up, and over everything.  He was intelligent (and still is!)  He never took to sports. He never took to books.

Today, his personality has changed but I have glimpses of the little boy he used to be and can see shadows of the man he’ll become.  He’s strong and silent.  He’s kindhearted and sincere.  He’s logical and sensible.  He’s a thinker.  He likes control and routine. He likes things to be right and doesn’t like to make mistakes.  He’s happier at home than out and about.  He can argue like there’s a reward for it.  He can bicker ’til I want to pull out my hair.  He has a few close friends, but is friendly with everyone. He doesn’t feel the need to be popular. He will not be pushed around (thank goodness!) but he’s respectful even in his differences of opinions (with everyone but family, at least.)  He skates by in school, but maintains As & Bs.  He’s well on the way to being a successful, amazing adult.

As he goes through his teenage years there are things I want him to know – shared below in no particular order..

1) We are your parents first.  We are your friends second.  Those positions many times will overlap, but often our decisions as parents will make it seem like we’re not friends.  We want what’s best for you, even when it seems like we’re being difficult.

2) We are always here to listen.  You may not like our initial response, but I pray that we learn to temper our conversations with wisdom and grace.  I pray that you come to us with problems big and small.  I pray that even in the midst of mistakes, you know that we are here for you.

3) Remember your manners.  Hormones might make you moody.  Life can be tough. You still have a responsibility to treat people with kindness and respect.  Please and thank you go a long way.  Open doors for people.  Offer a hand when someone is struggling.  Take your hat off in restaurants and in church. Answer questions politely.

4) Be kind.  Don’t judge.  You don’t know what anyone else is going through and you cannot control other people’s words or actions.  You can control how you handle a situation.  Don’t gossip.  Don’t lie. Don’t speak out of turn.  Don’t bully.  Look for ways to offer a hand or brighten someone’s day.  Even when you disagree with someone, let kindness be your model.

5) Pray.   Pray with gratefulness when you’re happy.  Pray for strength when things are rough.  Pray for wisdom as you tackle life.  Pray for friends who will lift you up and encourage you. Pray for mercy when you make mistakes.  Pray for opportunities to share God’s love.

6) Choose your friends wisely.  You are the company you keep.  If your friends are always getting into trouble, you probably will too.  It’s harder to stand up for your convictions if everyone around you is doing the opposite.  Be friendly to everyone, but remember that you don’t need to be best friends with everyone you meet.  Guard your heart, but be loving.  Be the friend that you want your friends to be.

7) Learn some Scriptures.  Cling to them.  There are verses to help you through every single thing you face.   Feeling overwhelmed?  Find a verse for that.  Feeling lonely? Find a verse for that.  Fighting anger? Find a verse for that.  Feeling worried? Find a verse for that.  Meditate on them. Let them be a foundation for every day life.

8) Get off the computer.  Seriously.  Don’t let technology consume you.  Get outside.  Read a book. Go for a walk. Lie in the sun.  Play a boardgame.  Throw a ball for the dog.  Go fishing.  Talk to people in person.  Use technology as a tool, as an escape, but DO NOT let it be everything.

9) Be generous.
  Share.  Share your time.  Share your smiles.  Share your lunch.  If you have more and you can help, just do it.   Don’t be selfish.

10) Be wise.  Save your money.  Spend it carefully.  Think before you act.  Think before you speak.  Listen.  Learn.  Weigh your decisions. Stand for your beliefs.  Don’t be talked into a situation that makes you uncomfortable.  Avoid situations that can be used against you.  Protect yourself.

Enjoy the next few years, honey.  As you transition from boy-child to adulthood, I know that things won’t always be easy. I know that a lot of changes will happen over the next few years.  Regardless of what your teenage years look like, know that we love you!  You are our sunshine on a cloudy day.

The Next Generation

Today I was part of a group that directs fundraising dollars towards different community projects.  Three organizations are nominated, presented to the group, and then we vote and the majority vote receives the fund.  Three times a year we gather to make a difference.  This is community. It’s laughter. It’s tears. It’s support in so many ways. Our local youth drop in program (a program I also happen to have been a part of since its inception) was the fortunate recipient of tonight’s generosity.

I am part of a community that understands the next generation is our future.  That understands the generation needs a reason to hope.  The next generation needs to know they are worth the investment.  So we give our time.  We give our money.  We give our attention.  We feed the body.  We encourage the soul. We build the future. One life at a time.

So many times we forget about the untapped potential and amazing gift that has been given to us in our children and young people.  We see the negatives. We see the immaturity. We see the difficulties and differences from our generation.

But I am thankful.  Thankful that I can spend time with a group of kids that will be our future teachers, lawyers, farmers, and neighbors.  I am thankful that I can learn something from the next generation if I but take the time to listen. I am thankful that my community knows that the next generation is important and valuable and worthy of investment.