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 (#57)


April 30, 1970

While I waited to hear from the Danville School Board, I decided to get Mom’s sewing machine out of the closet. The plan was to work on something productive each evening, while Nate studied…. rather than just sit and stew.

Back in 7th grade I’d taken a sewing class (compulsory for girls) and learned the basics. The end-product that year was a colorful apron for Mom that tied around the waist.

MeasuringNot much sewing had happened after that, until my friend Lynn began teaching me more. She’d really taken to sewing, and I admired her custom-made skirts, vests, jumpers, and dresses.

Once Nate and I got married, our stripped apartment was desperate for a home-y touch, so I borrowed Mom’s machine and made several sets of curtains for the bare windows. A couple of tablecloths with matching napkins were easy, too — because they were all made with straight lines.

Wanting a challenge, I decided to tackle a cover for the round hassock Mom and Dad had donated. It was brown, and our color scheme (if it could be called that) was anything but. The living room was gold with red accents, dining room mostly green, kitchen orange with yellow. The bedroom was gold, the bathroom black and white.

Using extra red material from the living room curtains, my sewing technique for the hassock was to stretch fabric over the top and cut a circle bigger than that. Then I put the hassock on its side and rolled it once-around, cutting the material accordingly.

Lynn had taught me how to put piping in the middle of a seam, so I added black piping to the red material. When my measurement turned out to be too short, I cut it in half, tried again, and put more piping between the halves to disguise my error.

Hassock and floor pillow

Nate applauded the result — careful not to inspect for mistakes – and encouraged me to sew more. I covered a big floor pillow to match the hassock, adding tassels at the corners and a button in the middle.

That was followed by a bed skirt with matching bed pillow, and 3 table runners.

Still, my seam-work was mostly straight lines. That’s when I attempted to make a dress. Lynn suggested I use a simple pattern put out by a company called… “Simplicity.”

I chose kiwi green fabric and got to work. Because I wanted a floor-length dress but nothing fancy, I chose a new-fangled material called “Perma-Press.” Supposedly it could be washed and would never need ironing .

Green dressMy piping skills transferred nicely to a little lace, and Lynn taught me how to pleat the front through long distance phone instruction. A few buttons finished it off.

Best of all, the sewing occupied my thoughts for many days – keeping them off the Danville teaching job.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7)

Newlywed Love (#55)

April 22, 1970

Good friendsNate and I spent many evenings with our friends Cathy and John, sharing dinners, coffee times late at night, and Saturday morning breakfasts.

Cathy loved to cook, and I was better at baking. So she’d make a casserole or other one-dish dinner, and I’d supply dessert. Nate was happy to make strong coffee, and these simple meals were the catalyst for some memorable times.

We never ran out of things to talk about, and often the topic was theology. Neither Cathy nor John had much interest in church, but they were always ready to chat about the Bible in what amounted to thought-provoking discussions. All 4 of us loved the friendly debates.

Not a day went by that we didn’t check in with each other. But there was one special call I was eagerly awaiting – the one announcing their cat Jeanette was in labor.

Then one Wednesday it came.

Nate was at the law library when I picked up the phone and Cathy said, “Come right over! Jeanette’s having her babies, and the first one has just been born!”

An invitationI dashed off a note for Nate, climbed in our noxious Mustang for the short drive, and walked into Cathy’s living room in time to see kitten #2 arrive. Jeanette didn’t mind us gawking at her as she labored, seemingly without pain. We marveled at how her mid-section balled up in a contraction, but not once did she whimper or meow.

“Apparently animals have it easier than humans,” I said.

We watched baby #3 emerge, and as with the others, Jeanette licked it with such vigor she literally flipped it over and over. The kitten didn’t mind at all.

Though their eyes were closed, each one belly-crawled straight to their mama’s mid-section where warm milk was waiting. This same three-step process happened with all of them: birth, bath, and chow.

Kitten #4 completed the family, and once they were all nestled together with a sleepy Jeanette, Cathy, John, and I celebrated with Diet Rite Colas.

New baby.Nate, who chose to study rather than observe the birthing process, had warned me about bonding with the kitties. “You probably shouldn’t give them names or anything like that,” he had said. After all, he was a dog person, and we’d already agreed our first choice for a pet would be a puppy.

When I got home, he stopped working long enough to listen attentively to my blow-by-blow account of the evening. “It was amazing!” I said. “And those kittens are sooo adorable! You’ll just have to get over to see them.”

“And,” I added, “all 4 of them are going to need good homes.”

“The life of every living thing is in [the Lord’s] hand.” (Job 12:10)