Gorilla Parenting… (and our obsession with social media debates)

Last week, like so many others, I learned from social media most people are parenting experts… gorilla experts… or experts at parenting gorillas.


My 6th grader learned about Harambe and the 3 year old boy who fell into his enclosure, during one of her classes. Her brilliant teacher used the situation as a teaching moment, to set off discussion and debate. They watched a video, dialogued and shared opinions, and analyzed different angles of the situation, as all thoughtful 6th graders do.

That afternoon, she came home and we began to discuss. I had also watched a brief video of Harambe with the toddler. Our discussion continued and I reminded my kids… one version, one person, one angle never tells the whole story. Her main question was the thoughtful and reasonable question many have had – could Harambe have been tranquilized instead of killed? Was there a better way the situation could have been handled?

So. I gave my kids a few thoughtful ideas. A few of my briefly-perfect-parent / turned briefly-gorilla-expert opinions…

As a genuine disclaimer, I haven’t spent any time with gorillas at zoos, or in the wild recently… I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I do imagine, as many believe – gorillas display behavior, much like humans… we can not be sure what they will do when they are agitated or people are yelling around them? OR if they are shot by a tranquilizer… there is no guarantee they might not react uncontrollably and possibly freak out!?

The tranquilizer could have agitated Harambe – and when I am agitated I usually lose my mind. I don’t have a lot of patience when people are yelling around me, and I don’t think I’d handle stress any better if I had a been shot with a tranquilizer.

I have parented 3 monkeys for 12 years… When my kids are fighting they can lose their ability to act rationally within seconds. One minute they’ll be playing as best friends and the next minute, they lose their minds and start hitting one other.

It has been nearly 2 weeks since the death of Harambe and in my mind, one question is still ringing — Why did this story cause such national outrage and reaction? As with many questions, there are deeper questions to be answered…

Does your Cincinnati Zoo membership still have value …?  

And then there are the “What if?” questions… these cause the cycle of debate to go around and around…

What if… The parents were hoping their kid fell into the gorilla enclosure for attention. That’s sick, but okay. The parents need to talk to Jesus about that and find attention in healthier ways…

What if… The boy died or been seriously injured at the hands of Harambe? The zoo likely would have put Harambe to sleep.

What if… The zoo shot Harambe out to simply avoid being sued by the little boys parents?

What if… The zoo has had it out for Harambe and they were just waiting for their opportunity to take him out. Yep. That’s probably it.

What if… The zoo WANTED to kill one of their animals, which attracts VISITORS to their ZOO in order to see and make MONEY. Yes. This makes sense to me.

What if… Many are upset because they loathe zoos to begin with? They are not my favoirite spot to drag my kids to either, but my kids love animals. So as a loving parent, I buy the obligatory-yearly zoo membership.

Or. What if… the outcome would have been a Daniel in the Lions den turned ‘Toddler in the Gorilla enclosure’ miracle. That would have been amazing!



But these “What Ifs” don’t change anything. They keep us in the cycle of social media debate – myself included!

While it is a wonderful and marvelous world where we can share opinions and feelings on everything from gorillas, to parenting, to boycotting zoos and boycotting parents… accidents happen everyday. Decisions we make everyday as perfect parents and perfect gorilla experts affect those around us. We have to live with these decisions.

The ideal outcome would have been all lives saved. This goes back to the VALUE of LIFE ~ Human vs Animal life… The debate is now which LIFE has more value? #silverbacklivesmatter #toddlerlivesmatter…  the debate is now over these two and which life matters more. All life is valuable. Although it is sad Harambe was killed in this situation, a national debate was not needed. There are many other lives needing our protection and our attention, and many other unjust situations occurring right now across our nation, we could be spending time fighting for.

So while some are crying “Justice for Harambe!” or “Justice for better parenting!”, we are distracted by the debate. Let me know when your child falls into a gorilla pit because you weren’t watching or they were being curious. Let me know how that goes while you “wait and see” what might happen. Hopefully ALL lives are spared. Until then – peace out. Let’s let Jack Hannah -and the other zoo experts can handle the “little kids falling into Gorilla enclosure situations”.

Yes. RIP Harambe. Also. RIP our opinions… our inability to control… RIP our social media cycles of debate and distraction. There is a real world in need of our undivided attention. 




Homeschooling 101


School field trip to Astoria, OR! I’m such an awesome Homeschool Mom!


School on the deck… with the chickens…


Salem LOVES science! Project caterpillar —> butterfly


Playing UNO ~ and learning math with her dolls 🙂

For the past year, I have been a Homeschool Mom –or HM, when I don’t feel like typing out the entire word– to our 3 amazing kids. This may sound cliche, but it has truly been a journey. We have homeschooled thru their 5th grade, 2nd grade and preK years… I think… At least I think they’ve graduated to 6th, 3rd and Kinder. I think they’ve learned all they need to know as 5th grade, 2nd grade and preschoolers. I think they’ll remember all I taught them. I think they’ll do well in school this year. I think they’ll graduate high school… eventually, right?

Reflecting on a year of a homeschool, it has been the best year and the most difficult year for our family. Our homeschool experience this year was shaped by the challenging and beautiful, mountain and valley, and joy-filled and tear-filled moments, simultaneously. If there is one piece of homeschooling wisdom I can share with you from my experience a HM this year, which absolutely encapsulates my feelings beautifully… it is this…..

My favorite part of homeschooling is the home part. My least favorite part is the school part.


Kids teaching each other and their animals 🙂


Our table – always full of school books and food.


Reading time 🙂

A year ago we moved from Ohio to Oregon. Before we moved, we made the decision to homeschool, mostly based on the fact that we’re crazy. Also, the timing of our move, our unknown housing situation and limited school options contributed to our decision. But I was willing and ready for this school adventure. Friends in Ohio encouraged us in our first homeschool endeavor. They gave me books, websites, helpful suggestions. Still. I had so much anxiety and apprehension.

Once we landed in Oregon, new friends cheered me on – telling me lies, “You’ll be a great HM! You CAN do this! Give yourself grace, you just moved ACROSS THE FLIPPIN’ COUNTRY!” I felt better when they would give me these pep talks. For a few minutes at least.

It was super stressful moving and homeschooling. I gained 20 lbs — 5 lbs before we moved, stressing over selling our house in Ohio, 5 lbs living with our parents and moving again into our rental, aaaand 10 lbs homeschooling. 


Still. I remained encouraged knowing I had great friends near me, and across the country in Ohio, and across the world in India who were also homeschooling….. aaaaand I had a little moto I would tell myself to laugh thru day sometimes….. “Homeschooling, Unschooling, We don’t know what the heck we’re doing.”

As challenging as homeschooling was for ME – the HM, the kids did a fantastic job!! They did their best with the tools they had, and amidst the transition they were walking thru with the stress of moving to a new state, new friends, new church… leaving behind their old house, old friends, old church. And I could not be more proud of them. So, this year we may not have learned everything we needed to know, but there is one thing I know for certain…..

The kids are going —> B A C K TO S C H O O L !!! <— 09.08.15

Have you homeschooled? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear from you! Please share and follow our journey! In Him, Leslie 🙂

Happy Mothers Day – this is what my kids think of me…

Happy (now belated) Mothers Day – this is what my kids think of me.


I’m always late. I’m even posting this blog later than planned – the day after Mothers Day – when no. one. cares. about their Mothers or Mothers Day blogs anymore.

I’m always fussing about their earwax and toenails. Ewww… Well, it’s what we moms do. Dirty ears and jagged toenails are a pet peeve of mine.

I’m always smelling the butt of their jeans. Are they wearable for another day? Oh, is this TMI? Sorry, you don’t have to read any further.

I’m always asking them to keep their rooms clean, when mine looks like the laundry piles went to war with my shoes and paperwork. :-/

I’m always eating their random leftovers… the tiny pieces of whatever we ate for dinner… I can’t stand to throw away even a bite of food.

I always cringe when I hear the sound of them opening the “craft cabinet”. Oh. You want to make mommy another glittery gooey scribbling? …and you want to paint me 10,000 pictures of robots? …and you want to pull out all the beads to create another necklace to give to all your preschool friends? That is so precious. I’m not proud of this – but I’m anticipating the mess which will inevitably be strewn all over the kitchen table at precisely dinner time. I know, I know, I should relax.

I’m always grumpy when my girls ask to paint their nails… The mess. The smell. The impatience of my 4 year old whining, waiting for her nails to dry. I know, I know, I need to relax and let ’em do whatever they want.


Sigh… I know, I’m not that bad of a mom.

When I rammed my knee into the bedroom doorframe, a few unmentionable words slipped out thru gritted teeth. I could feel the anger rising up within me. Selah witnessed the whole debacle. “Mommy, are you okay?… I feel bad about you.” At the sound of her sweet words, I began to calm down and then felt Soleil slip her arms around my waist. Tears welled up in my eyes. “Sorry I’m a bad example sometimes.” Soleil replied, “It’s okay mommy – we just ignore the things you don’t do well.”

Best. Answer. Ever. I love my honest children. They are a truly gift from God. 

What do children honestly think of their mothers, anyway?
 I interviewed my kids, along with the projects they made for me school. The combined answers they came up with touched my heart and made me laugh. I realized I’m a pretty predictable person and my kids know me so well.


I will now share with you what my kids truly think of me. I know – you can’t wait to read the rest of this story! These are their combined answers 🙂 …

Selah thinks I’m 15 years old. Thank you very much. Salem asked, “Mommy, how old are you in real life”? Soleil without skipping a beat answers, “She’s 35!” Well guys, I hate to break it to ya, I’m actually 37. . . “You are?!” [Gasp]

Mommy likes to take pictures on her phone… Mommy likes to Worship. Yes. and Yes!

The best thing mom cooks is… Everything. and Brownies. Yep, I’m a good cook. But I suck at making chocolate chip cookies, so the brownies suffice.

Her favorite food is…  probably brownies. Biscuits. Indian food. Yep, these are all true. I love food.

Her favorite store is… the girls unanimously answered – Trader Joe’s. Salem said 5 Bean. Truth from the mouths of babes.

She is really good at… Singing. Cooking. Cuddling. Awe… yep, I’m pretty good at all those things 🙂

If I could give mommy a gift… I would give you a 5 Bean gift card. Holla!!!

Mommy is… funny. She likes when I tell her jokes. She is always entertaining us with song and dance. Yes, this is true. I think I’m the funniest person on earth and I’m constantly cracking myself up.

My favorite thing to do with Mommy is… Go to the park. Swing together. Go bike riding. Cuddle. Yes Yes and Yes!

I love Mommy because… she gives me smooth kisses. I’m not sure what Selah meant by ‘smooth kisses’ but it was adorable, nonetheless. I love to kiss my kids whether they like it or not. 


I love my kids. Sure, they drive me up the wall and make me want to run out of the house sometimes… but I wouldn’t stay gone for long. I’d miss them too much.

I hope all you MOMs out there were shown love by your kids this Mothers Day… and I pray it continues for a lifetime.

Thanks for joining us on this journey. Feel free to share our story 🙂 In Him, Leslie


Seeing without Pictures

These are my random thoughts from Tuesday, March 4th ~ read at your own risk.

It is 1am. I have recently consumed a pot of coffee and several tablespoons of sugar biscuits in the form of monkey bread, so there is no telling what might funnel out of my mind and onto the keyboard. I should probably go to bed, because in approximately 8 hours, 10 women and their children will walk up my front steps, knock on my front door and enter my home. How do I know this? Am I physic? No. I have Bible study at my house tomorrow… err… today.

Alas, I am not going to bed yet. I am writing what you are now reading. This was the only time for me to write. Earlier today, I opened up my trusty ol’ Mac. Apple. Tosh. laptop. We’ve been in each others lives for 10 years now… we’ve shared many memories, stories and photos. It’s been a good relationship overall, but today my Mac failed me. The screen was black. I was growing anxious. I really wanted to write this morning… About my thoughts from Monday, because my Tuesday thoughts hadn’t happened yet… So I re-started, I tried, I prayed, I cried… and darkness. The screen was still black. I knew this day was coming. The dinosaur Macbook was going to expire sooner or later.

I stared at a black screen. Wishing, hoping, praying it would come back to life. Panicking over the memories stored on its hard drive, I grew increasingly frustrated as the moments ticked by. I only care about my photos. Nothing else on the laptop matters. We talked with the Apple store and there is a good chance they can recover the data. There’s still hope. Yet I was past the point of recovering from my anxiety. I was so caught up in recovering the past. I must have my photos, to preserve the memories! My mind swirled with thoughts of frustration and anxiety. There was nothing I could do to change the black screen. I was wasting time fretting, worrying over saving the past, while ignoring the memories to be made right in front of me.

My youngest daughter was playing happily in our living room, while her brother and sister were in school, and I was internally freaking out, sitting a few feet from her. What’s wrong with this picture?! Me. I was missing a myriad of moments to be cherished with her. I was missing her hugs. her questions. her stories. her laughter. her toothless smile. My heart was convicted. The cloud of anguish over (possibly – hopefully not) losing our family photos lifted. The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to close the black screen and let. it. go.

So I did. We played and talked and ate lunch together. We created memories. I didn’t need to take a picture to be saved on my phone, transferred to my laptop, or uploaded onto social media. My heart preserved the moment. 

I really really really -did I say really- hope our photos will be recovered. I love taking pictures. I love looking at old photos. The kids and I love looking at pictures from when ‘they were babies’. They are still -and always will- be my babies. Everyday I have to hold them is a gift. I don’t want to miss these gifts, because I am staring at a screen.

There are still future stories I hope to capture in photos to be saved and shared. In the meantime, I am coming out from behind the dark screen, into the light, where I can see. I can see without pictures. My children before me. My husband beside me. My friends around me. My life ahead of me. I see. And I really need to go to bed now, so I can see the women who are coming to my house for Bible study in the morning. After they leave, I will definitely be taking a nap. Amen.

the mom who *wishes* for snow days

Hey there.

I’m the mom who wished (and prayed) for 1 (or 2 – even better!) more snow days.

Yes. It’s true.

Christmas break went by way too fast and I wasn’t ready for school to begin.

Then, much to my surprise (and happiness!) an Polar Vortex Arctic Blast or something visited us folks here in Ohio 🙂 Yipee! The kids were able to stay home 2 extra days 🙂 On Wednesday, they went back to school.

Weren’t you ready (over joyed, even?) for them to return to school?

Nope. I was still wishing for one -or 2- more…

Just a few days ago we returned from 2000 miles of travel on the open road marked by dirt, asphalt, rocks flying and gritty gas stations lined along the highway, littered with beer billboards and porn shops. Road trips are never dull, when you’re in a race you didn’t know you were in with impatient cars in the next lane over – oh W O W buddy – you can flash your headlights signaling I’m in-your-way because I’m only going 2 miles over the 75 mph speed limit to let me know you can drive 3miles faster than me. You are profoundly talented! I didn’t realize we were racing.

While all that racing was happening around us, we had a sick boy puking the entire 18 hours from Oklahoma to home. He was puking , I was driving, Adam was sermonizing (putting the finishing touches on his sermon while trying to assist our sick son). We pulled in to our driveway at 4am in good shape, safe and sound. Only to return to our dogs little present she left all over our daughters bedroom floor. Sure. We’ll stay up a few more hours to clean that up, shuffle the kids beds around, get them back to sleep and zzzz…. It was interesting.

So yes. we’ve had plenty of family time, but it still wasn’t enough. It never is. On the open road I was struck (again) with the fact that it is never enough (like wishing time would stand still) never enough. We only have a short time with our kids -as kids- parenting, fully engaged in their young lives overwhelming them with our deepest love and listening ears.

Wednesday they went back to school and I didn’t get my *wish* of 1 -or 2- more snow days. Salem was convinced he would be going in to 2nd grade. <no, you have to finish first grade, first :)>. His teacher kept saying “See you next year!” before the Christmas break, so he thought that meant he was moving up to 2nd grade.

Don’t grow up too fast, buddy…

Life goes too fast. There will be others speeding past you, flashing their lights at you, challenging you to go with the faster flow, or get out of the way.

Slow down. Hold the moments. Keep *wishing* for more snow days.

In Him, Leslie

***I recently posted this on my blog http://www.halfwrittenrecords.com The kids have had several more snow days  & school delays since writing this. My *wish* has come true again… and again!