Off to Hawaii — ALOHA!

Newlyweds Nate and Meg are half way through their first married year, but at this point their adventures must go on hold until September.

Engaged... 7.19.17Our firstborn, Nelson, will be getting married to his true love, Ann Sophie, on August 26. They live and work in Kona, Hawaii, where the wedding will occur, and tomorrow I board a plane, headed their way.



Door County, 2016.After that it’ll be a drive to Iowa to spend time with Emerald and her parents.

Before I leave, though, let’s find out how things are going in Champaign as 2 young adults and 2 very young doggies learn to live together.




Newlywed Love (#67)

June 4-5, 1970

Our first night as parents-to-puppies didn’t go very well. Although we took Toby 2 and the Baron outside right before we went to bed, by morning there were pee-pee and poo-poo spots everywhere. Neither of us had ever personally trained a dog and were astounded at how much our little charges could “go.”

Puppies making messesWhen I left for record-keeping day at school, Nate had his work cut out for him at home. But we couldn’t be mad at our precious pooches. It had been our fault for assuming they could last 8 hours without “making.” Somehow we’d have to solve the problem of servicing them and also getting some sleep.

My school day was a breeze – no students, just lots of paper work, followed by a faculty luncheon given by the district Parent Teacher Association. It was fun to socialize with Linda, Judy, and many other teachers, lots of whom we’d never met.

Cannon School.I got to shake hands with the principal at my new school, Mr. Atkinson. The Cannon School across town where I would be teaching kindergarten was four times the size of little McKinley, but that was OK with me.

When I got home, Nate had been out to buy enough plastic to cover the area rugs in our living and dining rooms and had been getting a workout running up and down the stairs with our little darlings every 15 minutes.

Puppies nappingHe reported good progress and was confident they’d catch on soon. He had also made a decision about night times. “We’ll take them out as late as we can and then shut our bedroom door as usual. Whatever messes they make after that will just be the cost of a good night’s sleep for us. I’ll clean everything up.”

I couldn’t argue with that!

As Linda, Judy, and I made our last drive to Danville together, it was bittersweet. We’d had a happy year sharing as newlyweds, building friendships we hoped would last. And though Judy and Bill were headed for New York, Linda and I promised we’d get together during the summer.

The last morning with my 1st graders was spent partying — cupcakes, candy, and special badges I’d made for each of them, highlighting their best character qualities. It was one last chance to build them up before they slipped out of my life.

When the bell rang at noon, each one gave me a warm hug, telling me how much they would miss me – and I reciprocated. I sincerely hoped, as I waved them off, that they’d been properly prepared for 2nd grade.

EnamoredNate drove to Danville to join us for the McKinley teachers’ bar-b-q at Principal Scarce’s house, and he brought Toby 2 and the Baron with him. The whole world loves puppies, and our little guys didn’t disappoint, providing non-stop entertainment throughout the afternoon. Mr. Scarce’s two young boys were especially enamored (right).

After long goodbyes and well-wishes, Nate and I were off on a 10 day vacation with our tiny pets – first to a Nyman family reunion, followed by several days with Nate’s parents and brother in their home. After that it would be on to Wilmette to join my family.

What we didn’t know was that when we returned to Champaign, we would be short one doggie…

“Look at God; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him.” (Psalm 34:5, The Message)

Newlywed Love (#64)

May 26, 1970

With only 7 days of the school year left for me and even fewer for Nate, we were anxious to leap into summer. I would be student teaching and attending summer school. Nate would be working full time (we hoped), though we didn’t know at what.

SchoolroomAs I began emptying my classroom a little each day, thoughts of teaching kindergarten in the fall were front-and-center in my mind. I was confident I could teach them well and, thanks to my 1st grade year, now had a thorough knowledge of what we were shooting for.

My mind filled with happy scenes of marching around the room in a rhythm band and singing songs at the start of each day.

Linda and Judy, my carpool buddies, wouldn’t be commuting to Danville anymore, so the long drive would be a solitary one for me, come fall. But I could play music and sing along, a different kind of enjoyment.

As I cleaned out my classroom desk, I also thought of Principal Scarce having lost 3 of his 7 teachers simultaneously. He didn’t seem to hold any ill will toward us and invited us all to his home for a bar-b-q on the last day of school, June 5th.

As for Nate, he was burrowing in on the books for another round of grueling finals, hoping to find a summer job that might let his brain rest a little. He had his eye on construction work, maybe holding a stop-and-go sign or sweeping up debris.

An ad in the local paper sounded promising. Young men would show up to a local parking lot early each morning to sign up for road construction crews. When their names were called, they’d be assigned to a specific project and then trained at the site. The pay was good, and the work was physical. And I thought of another advantage: a nice sun tan.

As we planned our summer we were excited about something else, too – getting a dog! One of my students had a mama-dog who’d given birth to 8 puppies about a month earlier. She had begged me to come to her house to see them, and I had, taking Linda and Judy along on our way back to Champaign.

The old Toby.In 10 seconds I’d fallen in love with a puppy who was a dead-ringer for Toby, our family’s dog as we were growing up (left).

The minute I saw this miniature look-alike I was committed to him and couldn’t wait to introduce him to Nate.

“Not till after finals,” he said, though he did share my enthusiasm. “It’ll be perfect timing to train him, too, with summer weather and all.” We hadn’t discussed who would be making those frequent potty-trips outside, up and down to the 3rd floor, but we knew having a new Toby was going to be great fun.

The new TobyOur little guy would be ready to come home with us the week school ended, when he’d be 6 weeks old – and there would be no charge. This was going to be the best summer ever, as we became a family of three.

“You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.” (Psalm 36:6)

Newlywed Love (#63)

May 22, 1970


These days Nate and I were so worn out that after school we often found ourselves sprawled on the living room floor or the couch — hoping to catch 40 winks before dinner.


One late afternoon I was so tired I slept straight through till morning.


The cause of all this fatigue was our frequent late nights with friends. Often we’d share dinners that began at 10:00 PM and continued into the wee hours. But the exhaustion was probably a result of tension, too, as we worried about the big shifts coming when summer arrived — followed by more unknowns in the fall.

One day when I got home from work, Nate met me at the door with a long white envelope that had just arrived. “From the Board of Ed,” he said. “I think your wait is over.” I was wide awake in an instant and tore it open.

“I hope it’s good news,” he said.

The envelope contained several pages and presented a good-news-bad-news scenario. The good news was very good: I’d been hired to teach kindergarten at the school on the other side of Danville. We were both relieved and thrilled!

The bad news was that there were conditions attached.

First, I’d have to attend summer school in a continuing effort toward teacher certification. This would be afternoon classes and seminars, 5 days a week for 8 weeks.

My student teacher in ChicagoSecond, I’d have to do 8 weeks of student teaching, also in the summer, since I’d never done it. This seemed silly, since I’d actually had a student teacher under me when I taught in Chicago. (right)

The student teaching would be done in a Danville 2nd grade, another curriculum learning curve for me, each morning of summer school.

As all of this sunk in, Nate and I thought of a third and fourth negative. I wouldn’t be able to get a summer job. And rather than me earning money, we’d have to pay out for tuition.

The letter was clear, though. If I wanted a teaching job in Danville, any teaching job, those were the terms. Apparently I’d slipped under the radar in being hired to teach the 1st grade class I was just finishing up. No one had mentioned summer school, student teaching, or classes back then.

“So…” Nate said. “What do you think?”

I thought about my Chicago friends with provisional teaching status who’d told me they were all being let go now. Had I stayed there, I’d be out of a job. That seemed to elevate Danville’s offer, and once again I realized that teaching without certification was a privilege.

“I think I’ll take it,” I said. “Besides, teaching kindergarten kids again sounds really great.”

And so God had answered our prayers. The wait was over, I had been given what I’d asked for, and we were exceedingly grateful. We even felt some of that exhaustion slipping away.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8)