A mercy

Stop that!  You’ll break your neck.

Don’t jump that way, you’ll kill yourself!

If you fall and break your neck, I’ll never speak to you again! (we Hanna kids grew up with that one)

Be careful, you don’t want to hurt anyone, including you!

How many times a day do I call out these half-hearted warnings and more to the Mikey boy?  A dozen? Two dozen times?  It feels like every other minute he’s climbing something, jumping off of something, trying a new swing technique, or busy in a tree perfecting his fort.  I don’t know why I even bother telling him to be careful.

The husband can attest (with a shake of the head) to how fearless I am with these children.  It’s not that I don’t worry and that I don’t want them to be safe.  I just know that ultimately it is out of my hands.  I worry and I do my best to protect them from the many bumps and broken bones in life, but I am not in control.  I trust that God is holding my sweet children in his hand.  I trust that their guardian angels are surrounding them.  I trust that even when something bad does happen, the Lord in his mercy is in control.  I don’t have to be in control.  If you asked me to my face why I don’t worry, I think I’d shrug and look flustered and say something self-deprecating, but thinking deeply about it, I just know it’s not up to me.  His eye on the sparrow, lilies of the field, etc.

So when the Mikey came running up telling me he itched! His arm burns! Look at it!  I didn’t panic.

Are you kidding me?  I TOTALLY panicked.

It began innocently enough.  We met dear friends at a park for some day-before school fun.  We ate lunch, Shannon and I exchanging exasperated stories of the shenanigans of our respective progeny.  Then the boy came running up, saying something about being stung and it hurt!  He was stung on the wrist and the head.  A wasp, we think.  We removed the stinger, I rubbed my icy cold Coke on it (seriously?  with these medical skills I should be a doctor), and after he stopped crying I sent him on his way to play.

A bit later as we began a hike through the Dunes the Mikey came running back, a terrible angry rash swelling his arm.  In the time it took me to look at his arm, meet Shannon’s eyes and comment that we should get some Benadryl, his face had broken out and he was frantically clawing at his head.


I thank God for a reaction that was not severe enough to affect his breathing.  I thank God for a good and steady friend who knew how to get me to the closest Urgent Care.  I thank God for that same friend who calmly took care of all our other kids while I rushed the boy in to the doctor.  I thank God the husband was at work close by so he could be with us in a very short time.  Thank God.

We’ve now joined the ranks of Epi-pen carriers.  We’ve joined the “allergic to stinging insects” gang along with my sister and some of her kids.  We wear leather vests with fringe and big ugly wasps on the back… The Mikey has found a great way to wiggle out of compost duties.  “But Mom, there are wasps out there….”  Sometimes he gets out of it.  Sometimes I roll my eyes and sigh. Every day I continue to call out half hearted warnings.

Always I thank God.


Latest reading pet peeves

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Sometimes our greatest parenting failures and successes are not ours at all.  I was reading a book on mothering and found myself incredibly annoyed with the endless reminders, not only in that particular book but in so many parenting books, that our children’s words and actions are directly linked to their parents’ (usually Mom’s).  While I do believe that the language I use and the attitudes I have very much influence my children, I just feel like Moms need a break.  Stop telling me that every single moment of my day is the make or break moment in my child’s life.  Yes, I am his first teacher and it is a great responsibility, but maybe my child is just in a bad mood and doesn’t want to be taught that day. Maybe another child is naturally pliant and sweet.  Maybe boys will bounce off the walls no matter how often they are exposed to proper indoor behavior. Maybe no matter how kind my words, one of them possesses a unique talent for verbal assault.  Maybe, just maybe they are individual human beings possessing their own attitudes, likes, and dislikes.  I can take their human-ness as a defeat and drop myself into the pit of mother-guilt, or I can continue to model what I believe as best I can and pray, Lord have Mercy…, for the rest of it.  Please stop telling me it’s all my fault, dear authors.  My children are human and in as much need of Grace and Love as I am.  It’s really not all my fault.

2013-07-10 19.11.46Being an MK is not all that bad.  Months ago I read two different blog posts written from missionary parents to their children. I don’t remember the particular blogs.  I had fallen down a rabbit hole of links, and just now spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to recreate that hole for your reading pleasure, but alas.  The gist of these posts was that parents (missionaries) felt they need to apologize to their children (missionary kids i.e. MKs) for the life they were forcing upon said children.  Letters of apology for making their MKs the odd ones out, for taking them far from family, friends, and everything they know, to live in a foreign land.  Apologies for new languages, unknown cultures, and strange food.

As an MK, I could not agree with the tone of these posts.  I have never once in my life regretted being an MK.  Were there hard things?  Yes.  Were there new languages and unknown cultures?  Every time we visited the U.S. there were!  I think what the non-MK parent doesn’t understand is that the life of an MK is the only thing their children know.  How can an MK wish for a life “back home” in the States if it is not in fact their home?

We had more than our fair share of good byes, we were far from family, every time we visited the U.S. we were the strange ones, we had to eat all kinds of strange foods at church potlucks (where were the tacos? the rajas con queso? why was “taco salad” considered Mexican? Key lime pie? Blech).  Traveling as much as an MK does is exhausting.  We drove thousands and thousands of miles during my childhood.  Of course within those miles are side trips to beaches, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Alamo, various favorite restaurants (Po’ Boys, Matehuala with its mini golf and breakfast fruit plates, tacos arabes, fresh seafood on the beach) and landmarks along the way.  I learned how to sleep comfortably in any type of moving vehicle.  We stayed in strange houses and places. We were guests at farms and ranches, large houses and small, places by lakes and places with their own pools.  We were the odd ones out, often on display, yet the people staring at us, loved us intensely often before they even met us.

Being an MK means I not only have blood relatives, but I have extended family. Sure, I grew up far from aunts and uncles, but most of my relatives are really really strange (not you, of course!)  I grew up with an enormous family of fellow MKs and their parents. I have so many missionary aunts and uncles they are hard to list.  I grew up with countless Mexican family members.  Because of my parents’ choice to go to the mission field I can go almost anywhere in the world today and find someone who knows the Hanna family.  A “Six Degrees of Kenneth Hanna” if you will.

I grew up secure in the knowledge that even though we said many tearful good byes they would someday be followed by a very joyful hello.  There are many people I may never see again in this life, but I will be happily reunited with them at the end. We will reunite in heaven and laugh at the hard. We’ll reminisce all those MK stories that only make sense to us.

So take heart, parents of MKs.  Life is hard.  Anywhere you live life is hard.  You are giving your MKs an enormous gift.  The gift of flexibility, taste for adventure and exotic things, and the gift of the family of God in all its foreign beauty.

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I guess I don’t have another point.  Captain America.


I spent the weekend wondering who this person is who calls himself my Uncle Ed.  I say this every time we visit, but I’m gonna say it again.  NOT the Uncle I grew up with.  We arrived at Ed and Betty’s house in Michigan and we weren’t there five minutes before he was taking the kids to the pantry for a surprise.  Behold:

2013-05-25 16.17.59“No wonder we call you the pickle Grandpa!”, exclaimed Mikey.  It was a weekend of delights as far as the kids were concerned.  Aunt Betty stuffed them with hot dogs and squirted whipped cream on their sausages.  When I was little, you ate what was put in front of you, and there was no 5 gallon tub of pickles  or fruit snacks waiting in the wings for dessert.

When I was little, Uncle Ed went to bed at 8 o’clock and so did the rest of the house if they knew what was good for them.  When I was little, if you breathed too loudly in the basement he would be stomping down the stairs to growl at you for making so much noise.  This weekend?  We were up late watching movies (he still went to bed early, he just didn’t care what happened in the basement) and the children watched episode after episode of Pinky and The Brain.

When I was little you did what you were told and were glad you didn’t get a thumping to go with it.  Now?  Uncle Ed pays the boys five dollars to pick up pinecones in the front yard. He paid the girls too!  He also paid them to pick up the spilled coffee beans on the kitchen floor.  Wha….?

When I was little you played outside or QUIETLY in the basement.  Now?  Anything goes.

2013-05-25 19.29.26Whiplash I tell you.

Uncle Ed is my Dad’s oldest brother and much like the rest of us misses him terribly.  So every time one of the kids called Ed “grandpa” his eyes would water.  Every time we told a story about childhood, or remembered days gone by, his eyes would water.  Ed told me how he and Dad would coon a watermelon each and sit up on a hill and watch the Acme drive-in movie.  Without paying.  Even though movies were sinful.  Then he wiped away the tear sliding down his cheek.

I don’t know where old Uncle Ed went, but I’m really happy we have new Uncle Ed in his place.



Thank you

September 7, 2010 003Between the Livo and the Hanna family all the branches of the military are, or have been, served.  We even have a living WAVE.

Thank you to those living and lost.


Why del is the worst*

He frequently runs up to the older kids excitedly telling them we’re going to the park/beach/swimming, only to laugh like a maniac when they come to me and find out he was “just teasing”

He told Mikey, “Open your mouth and close your eyes and you will get a big surprise… it’s cookie dough!” When Mikey obeyed, Del popped in a piece of onion.

Lately I wake up with him not so much sleeping next to me as sleeping perpendicular to me. His head or feet pushing into my stomach because apparently I take up too much space. In my own bed.

He uses the words “teeny tiny” for everything. As in: I would like a teeny tiny walk. OR Just a teeny tiny bath please. AND Mama, can your teeny tiny boy sit on your lap?

I bought him his own tomato at the market and he thanked me for being so “gemerous”. If that’s all it takes…

He loves to play rough. He loves playing monster, wrestling and getting knocked down. He always comes back for more. His favorite game with the husband is called Listen Punk. In this game the husband picks Del up by the shirt collar and presses him against the wall, shaking him around, all the while growling in Del’s face to “Listen Punk, I’ve had enough of you. I’m gonna…..” You get the picture. Del busts a gut laughing every single time.

His favorite method for teasing his sisters? Mooning them. When they complain and I get after him he responds, “But Mama, I wasn’t touching anything! …..and besides, it was just a teeny tiny butt…”

He asked to dictate a letter to Josie, which I thought was an awfully sweet idea. Until I read it.

:: Dear Josie,

You are a stinkybrain and you smell.

From, Mikey ::



*according to his sisters – but you know we mean awesomest




Heard at our house (maybe a bit too much Doctor Who version)

Me, teasing Mikey….

Mikey: Oi!  Shut it!

Me: Mikey! Is that how you talk to your Mama?

Mikey: You know… just like Donna Noble says… ?


Del and Mikey chose Mexico as their country for the home school geography fair.  We read books about it and found out how enormous Mexico City is.  When we looked at the map, Deli was quite impressed at how small Mexico City seems.

Del: It’s just like the Tardis!  Itty Bitty on the map, but huuuuuuuuge when you’re in it!


Josie: Max says that Rango is not a movie for children because it has the “H” word in it a bunch.  I say if he means “hoedown” than he’s wrong.



in a nutshell

Josie:  I think I might be a hobo when I grow up.

Me: Why?

Josie: Oh, you know.  Travel, walk around and see the sights, meet new people, no work to go to…

Elia (exasperatedly ticking off on her fingers): Josie.  You cannot be a hobo.  What about money?  Shelter? Work? Food? You have to do what you are supposed to do!

*That right there folks is the difference between these two girls*

I’m Ten!

This girl.  A whole ten.  I know I’ve said this before but we could not imagine our life without the Elia.  At the yearly check-ups the Doctor asked Del, “So who’s the nicest person in your family?”  Del cut his eyes to me because he knew he was supposed to say Mama is the nicest person, but Del thought honesty was the best policy when dealing with doctors, so he answered, “Elia.  Because she takes care of me…  she helps us when we have cuts…  she puts band-aids on me… she reads to me… so yeah, she’s the nicest.”

P1020320He’s right.

I’m not even going to pretend to be offended, because she is by far the nicest of us all.  The band-aids part is so true, too!  Often times I don’t even know kids are hurt until the wound is all healed up!  “Oh, Elia took care of me…” is the answer I’m given when I ask about a lot of things in this house.

P1020367She came downstairs on her birthday morning, gave me a big hug, said, “I’m ten! Can I make us tea?”  She’s ten!

The Great Aunt Becky box arrived on the day with awesome presents and ten whole dollars and the shorts she always dreamed of wearing.  (I wish Aunt Becky gave me a dollar for every year of my life…  ahem, 36 in June Aunt Becky)  She received the traditional Abuela 10 year old birthday gift – a scrapbook of her first year of life.  We love looking at that book with all the chubby little thighs and curly hair and adorable first-child outfits.  I love telling her the memories behind the pictures.  Thank you Abuela.  She’s ten!

IMG_5384She was walking to the library with the Papi and when he asked her why so chipper she responded, “I’m ten!”

IMG_5392Life is good when you hit the double digits.