Family Coach. Mom. Teacher. Lover of Life.

Archive for the ‘love’ Category

What is Space Camp like for a unique kid? Awesome!

Our sweet daughter just returned from Space Camp. In fact, she went 30 years after my husband went to there in 1986.

Fiona, 2016 and her dad, 1986

Fiona, 2016 and her dad, 1986. She was so excited to recreate these images!


It is always somewhat of a risk, both financially and emotionally, to send a child with special needs off to camp. I’m happy to say, this was a big hit! In fact, it was so good I wanted to share, and she agreed to let me share, this entry from her blog about how she felt there:

As I write this I lay in my bed my 4 roommates fast asleep around me and I am so happy I’m bursting at the seams. This week at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama has been the best week I have had in my entire life. Our team Isidis of 14, 16 if you include the Crew Trainers, is a family after this short time. Even with people from India, Denmark, Norway, Egypt, and the USA we found home in Huntsville.

The camp has been everything I dreamed it would be and more. The food was banging, the adults in charge were kind and understanding and felt like your friend, and on top of that we got to do the coolest things next to actually going into space. In the first of 3 mission simulations I was paycom, a position that boils down to the hole control room of the ISS. It was amazing. I had to help the crew on the ISS solve anomalies that ranged from waist water leaks to failures in the CO2 pumps. The second mission I was pilot of a orbiter called Enterprise. It was amazing. Me and my commander flew a spaceship whilst 2 EVA offices did space walks out side our windows.

On our 3rd final, longest, most ambitious, and most fun mission I went to Mars. It is without a doubt the most fun I have ever had. I was EDT2 I was in charge with my EDT1 of getting the computer systems on the Mars base up and running. Simple right? I would have been if it was not for our Crew Trainers medical anomalies witch ranged from the muteness of our commander to the drug addict botanist to me thinking I was the president (dictator) of Mars to a person on the Mars moon have who lost both of their hands to hypothermia. 

Not only did we do these amazing missions with amazingly inventive detours. When you sign up for the camp you choose a track Mission Specialist (MS) or Pilot (PLT) (I was PLT but wanted MS it’s a story for another day) depending on witch one you get to do one of 2 amazing trainings. For MS they went scuba diving in the indoor tank. And PLT we went to Aviation Challenge (another camp that is linked to Space Camp) and learned about survival training we took a tour of the numerous planes and other aircraft and then did multiple flight simulations.

We did so so many other things such as engineer a rocket, build a Mars rover, and decontaminate water form Mars. I don’t think I could ever fit everything we did into a post but really this week has been so amazing I could never put it into words.


To hear that the “adults in charge were kind and understanding and felt like your friend” was all I needed. But there is more; a super nice kids sent her a text (or social media message, probably) thanking her for being so awesome, and giving her credit for the success of the team. Did I mention her team won the spirit award? So much positivity! I love it. It is so nice to know that there are places that do youth development right. Thanks, Space Camp, for making a kid that rarely feels great and included feel great and included!


Fiona-Dad SC -22

Dad, 1986 and Fiona 2016

Huntsville, Dad with girls.

Huntsville, Dad with girls.

That smile says it all!

That smile says it all!

What is Sexual Identity and what should we do with it?

What is sexual identity? I’m so glad you asked because I just received a PDF of the short article I wrote for the The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Family Studies. Sexual identity, according to yours truly, “can be defined as a label that helps signify to others who a person is as a sexual being and includes the perceptions, goals, beliefs, and values one has in regard to his/her sexual self.” (p. 1). Sexual identity is a multidimensional construct; it is not just gay or straight. It involves many factors such as gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual attraction, sexual behaviors, and even fantasies & desires. Sexual identity exploration is 100% normal and is an expected aspect of human development.

Understanding sexual identity is pretty important in today’s political climate. Youth is a time of identity exploration, and for many, that includes sexual identity exploration. The issue of sexual identify is often the difference between inclusion and exclusion. Many youth that identify as a sexual minority, which includes orientations such as lesbian, gay, bi, pan, etc., experience exclusion. They are bullied, made fun of, and have laws passed that exclude their protection from such negative behaviors. These youth are four-times more likely to attempt suicide than there straight peers. That is why I can’t help but worry about how sexual minority youth might be feeling about North Carolina’s new law, HB2, a law that limits protections for LGBTQ+ populations. The tone of this law is exclusive, and I know that youth that are exploring their sexual identity are negatively impacted by what they are hearing and seeing.

Understanding sexual identity is a first step, but as adults in the lives of youth, we have an obligation to teach inclusion and kindness. In many ways, this can be a matter of life and death. Parents and caregivers are the number 1 most important protective factor for youth. When the adults closest to these youth love and protect them, their chances of success are greatly improved. All adults can play a part in building inclusive environments that are accepting and supportive. In fact, these environments are essential if we want to promote mental and physical health of our future. Not just for sexual minority youth, but for all youth.

If you would like to learn more or read the article in full, check it out here: wbefs073


Allen, K. (2016). Sexual identity. In C. Shehan (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Family Studies. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Love is a piece of cake. Love is a biscuit recipe at the State Fair

I have many perks to my job, one of which is getting to be a judge for the cookies, cakes, breads, and candies submitted to the North Carolina state fair. I love this job! One, I get to eat cake. Oh how I love cake. Two, I get to judge with my husband. How I love getting paid to spend the day with him, eating cake.

This year, my dear colleague that supervises the judging was ill, so I got to sit in her place. While I didn’t get to eat cake with my dear husband (my stepson took that role for me—see the image below), I did get to meet many more amazing people that come to Raleigh to judge.



One of the people I met this year was a lovely lady that had been judging for over 20 years, and she had stories to share! She told me about the most memorable time she judged biscuits. Biscuits are a big thing in North Carolina, and people take them very seriously when they submit them to the fair. But one particular year, there were several entries of biscuits that were, well….she said they were beyond bad (bless their heart). They were so hard the plastic knife broke trying to cut them. There were clumps of ingredients that hadn’t been mixed well and overall, it just seemed that the biscuits should not be in the competition. The whole room got in on the joke-those notorious biscuits got a lot of attention and laughter that year.

After the judging had ended, the supervisor came over and told my new friend that the biscuits had been entered by a grieving widow whose wife had entered her biscuits in the fair every year that they had been married. For decades, she had won blue ribbons. For a lifetime, her biscuits had been the source of great pride and precious family moments. To honor his wife’s memory, he had taken out her recipe card and for the first time, he made her biscuits and entered them in the state fair competition. He was mourning the loss of his life-long sweetheart, and showing love for his wife by entering her biscuits one last time.

Of course there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when she first learned about the biscuit origin, and there were a few tears dropped when I heard the story. What a wonderful reminder of why we judge foods at the state fair; of why we take time to create and share a meal with our families and friends. What a lovely reminder of why food is so important-food connects us to those we love. Most importantly, what an important reminder of what love looks like. Next year I get to return to my role of judging cake with my husband, and I plan to think of this lovely couple as I eat biscuits. I will also take a moment and cherish that special time with him.