Kansas City

From the hills of North Carolina, our little family headed to Kansas City to visit The HALO Foundation, an organization we partner with in Uganda.  We were hosted well in America's heartland.  We were shown around town and welcomed on our host's farm where Leo delighted in the animals.  This small farm is home to an exceptional organization that mentors teenage boys from the inner city by engaging them in agriculture.  Check out Boys Grow.

A quick search for what else to do in Kansas City led us to a little-known abandoned train tunnel, which we tracked down, trekked to, and explored.  We picked up a couple of ticks from that adventure, but it was still worth it.

One home for another

Home has become a loosely defined term for me in the last several years as I spend time between Uganda and Indiana. Any time I leave one place, I say I'm going home to the other. I know there will be much I'll miss while I'm gone, but I also know I'm able to be present at the home where I'm headed. There is always a give and take when I have 2 families, 2 communities, and 2 lives on different sides of the world.

Today we leave Indiana to re-enter our lives in Uganda. In the early days of Leo's life I sat with him by the pond where I spent so many childhood summers and whispered to him that he could always call this place home, no matter where our family lives. Indiana has always given me roots and I hope it gives my son the same sense of belonging.

This time it is particularly hard to tear myself away and say goodbye. I've spent a few months here, the longest period of time since high school. l brought my son into the world here and received an outpouring of love and support from my family and community. It's been a time of healing in many ways and the thought of leaving lets me know I'm going on with my life, this time as a mother, and I step into it all feeling a little shaky and unsure of myself.

But my in-laws and friends anxiously await our arrival at our other home in Uganda and I know we will receive an equal amount of love and support from that community. Although goodbyes and transitions are never easy, I'm beyond grateful we have 2 homes immersed in 2 loving communities to embrace us and delight with us in this new addition to our family. 

Here are some scenes around my Indiana  home.

Waiting on Nature, in Nature

A couple of days ago, I lamented to Eric about how bored I am as we await the arrival of Toto.  I had taken a few guilt-filled days binge watching episodes of Scandal and wanted to find better ways to fill my time.  I then read my own blog post when I announced my pregnancy and laughed at how, at that time, I deeply desired "solitude and easiness of life," which I now have in abundance.  This time, I'm complaining that I just want something to DO.

Dad helped us discover the Douglas Preserve in Hamilton, Indiana, just a few miles from home, and it has been a God-send.  We have been there 3 times in the past week and it's become my favorite way to pass the time, to get my butt moving, and to enjoy the coming forth of Spring.  The baby will come when Nature calls it forth and until then, I'll be waiting and walking and communing with so many forms of life in this place, as much as I can.

When I found out I was pregnant, I happened to be reading a fantastic book, When the Heart Waits, by Sue Monk Kidd, which I should revisit.

Also, due dates are a lie.  Do yourself and any pregnant woman a favor and ignore them.

A local gem: Gene Stratton-Porter

For someone who...
...craves nature
...devours books
...loves photography
...believes in the power of women
...wants to uplift the local,

it was exciting to re-stumble upon the life of an incredible woman, Gene Stratton-Porter, when investigating local sites around my home in Indiana.  I felt a connection with this woman just after reading about her online, so I knew I wanted to visit her cabin as soon as the weather warmed up.

Sure enough, April 1st, which happened to be the day her cabin at Wildflower Woods opened for tours, turned out to be the most beautiful day of the year so far.  Eric and I ventured over to this historical site to learn more about the woman who...
...studied nature with a passion and worked to conserve the wild
...wrote several popular novels and turned many of them into movies
...photographed the world around her
...broke limiting gender stereotypes and became wildly successful
...made her career in northeast Indiana.


After sitting in the sun and watching the many birds flit among the trees around this site at Sylvan Lake, we took a tour of Gene-Stratton Porter's cabin and grounds, all of which she designed herself and purchased with her own earnings - certainly an accomplishment during a time when her husband had to write to the bank, telling them she had his permission to own land.

We learned that this spunky woman would put on her pants (quite the act of rebellion) and spend all day in nature, often with only her camera and notebook.  With no zoom lens at her disposal, she would sit in a branch for hours near the nest of a bluebird until it got used to her and carefully snap a close-up.

Gene Stratton-Porter wrote 12 novels in her lifetime, many which still inspire today's writers and readers.  Weaving compelling stories and characters together with nature and the environment, her style reminds me much of Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favorite contemporary novelists.  In fact, J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, listed GSP as one of her best inspirations.

Her true love, however, was writing nature studies.  Knowing that her novels were much more popular and lucrative than nature studies, she eventually made a deal with her publisher to let her write one study for every novel, and so she completed 9, in addition to other poetry and essays.

Her novels became so popular that Hollywood wanted to turn many of them into movies, but Gene couldn't stand the thought of her stories being misrepresented, so she moved out to Hollywood herself and became one of the first women owners of a movie production company.  Her most popular book, A Girl of the Limberlost, has now been turned into a movie 4 times.


It's funny how we are often unaware of the places of interest in our own area.  I vaguely remembered this place from a time I came with my sister's Girl Scout troop when I was very young, but I had never thought of visiting since then.  I am so glad we made the effort to explore the cabin, grounds, and life of Gene Stratton-Porter.  I walked away with a book tucked under my arm that I can't wait to read and a whole lot of inspiration from this creative, confident, inspiring woman.


Are there any sites in your area that you may have overlooked, but just might love visiting?

Quilts: Textiles from home

I'm usually enthralled by the different textiles I find around the world.  Whether it's mudcloth from Mali, block stamped scarves from India, or woven rugs from Jordan, I love bringing these textiles into my life, learning how they are traditionally made, and running my hands over their surfaces.

And sometimes, it takes going around the world to appreciate the culture and traditions that you grew up with at home!

The people of Midwest America have been quilting since the pioneer days, and my family in Indiana has carried on this textile tradition.  Growing up, my grandma always had a quilting project in progress.  She made a quilt for each of her 13 grandchildren and, by the time she left us, there were enough quilts for us to all take another to save for when we got married.  Her quilts are still found throughout our home and our cabin.  I even made enough room in my suitcase to bring one to Uganda, to make my life there feel just a bit more home-y.

The tradition continues, as my mother makes each of her grandchildren a quilt when they came into this world.  At my baby shower last week, she gifted the baby its own patchwork blanket made of green and brown fabric pieces she chose, cut, and sewed together, each with intention and love, I'm sure.

My grandmother had a sign hanging in her kitchen, made my by aunt.  It read,
"Our family's like a patchwork quilt
with kindness gently sewn.
Each piece is an original
with beauty all its own."

The first quilt my grandmother gave me when I was 8 years old.

Mom, sewing a quilt for my niece, Leann

Mom's quilt for the new baby