by Ilinap on February 8, 2017

We’ve been in some state of mourning since November 9. No joke. The DeVos confirmation about put us all over the proverbial edge. The tough part in all this has been the effect on my children. They saw us campaign and canvass for much of last year. Our candidate lost. They saw us write and call our senators, literally daily, about cabinet nominations and campaign donations. They even wrote letters themselves to share the their positive public school experiences with elected representatives. And despite it all, DeVos was confirmed. The boys are disheartened and are having trouble seeing the value in being an engaged citizen. They’ve seen us do all the right things to no avail. At least we can tell them we were on the right side of history. We can tell them we did not sit idly by. We can tell them we used our voices.

And so with the confirmation of DeVos, my 11-year old son wrote a thank you letter to his teachers. It was one act of resistance that he knew would make a difference.

Kids today…


Dear Teachers,

I am writing to you to tell you how much I appreciate you guys. To all my science teachers, you helped me make my school’s Science Olympiad team. To all my math teachers, you helped drive me to do great in math, and now I do 6+/7+. To every teacher who taught me ELA, now I am an avid reader and a better writer. Lastly, to all the teachers who taught me social studies, I am now taking a global conflicts class. To ALL my teachers, thank you for being great and inspiring me to do great things.

Your student,


Teachers. Making America great one kid at a time.

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Everyday Can Be MLK Day

by Ilinap on January 16, 2017

It’s wonderful to have a national day of service to reflect on the indelible mark Martin Luther King, Jr. left on this country. It’s especially healing to honor him now, in this volatile climate brimming with racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and fear mongering. We need the reminder to be particularly aware now. Gone is the time for reflection. Upon us is the time for action.

There are ways big and small to carry a bit of MLK Day within you every day. It’s simple, really.

Be kind.

Speak up.

Do something.

Think of others.

This doesn’t take signing up for organized volunteer opportunities or committing (which really means over committing) your time. Rake a neighbor’s yard, bring someone dinner, bring coffee to the police station or fire house, send funny postcards to nurses working on the oncology floor, write a note to a teacher, thank your Congressional representatives for something you applaud (Imagine how much negative mail they get. I bet they would be thrilled to hear someone cheering them on.), clean up trash along a nature trail (Just today we walked the family dog 2 miles around a local lake and cleaned up four large garbage bags of trash!).

Living with honor doesn’t mean grand sweeps of nobility. Taking action doesn’t mean a hunger strike. Having character costs nothing but is the true measure of riches.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

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10 Simple Ways to Make 2017 Shine

December 31, 2016

Tweet I’m having chocolate for breakfast. This should tell you all you need to know about 2016. I’ve pretty much been eating my feelings, especially since November 9. Friends and family have been gifting us sausages from a small, organic butcher in Wisconsin, cheese (also from Wisconsin, natch), and chocolate. I wish I were the […]

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Have a Heart (of Haiti) This Holiday Season

December 19, 2016

Tweet I never imagined some of my favorite Christmas ornaments would come from Haiti. Truth be told, when I was there in October I loaded up on ornaments for gifts, but now I can’t bear to part with them. The metal work is gorgeous, and I am especially enamored with those pieces since I met […]

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What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

December 12, 2016

Tweet For many years when I looked in the mirror, I saw mostly discomfort, awkwardness, and low self-esteem. I didn’t see beauty and I never felt attractive. I felt jumbled on definitions of internal and external beauty. I focused on my scars, my vampire teeth and overbite, and my unibrow. Nothing positive stared back at […]

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Be A Boss (With a Little Help From the Forte Foundation)

November 28, 2016

Tweet I  once had a boss who sent a taxi to her daughter’s elementary school to pick her up when the nurse called saying she was sick. The little girl was ten, just a year younger than my youngest son is now. I was fresh out of college at the time and recall thinking to […]

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Thanksgiving Wishes Redux

November 22, 2016

Tweet I wrote this post originally in 2010. That was six years ago. It resonates still. I’m sharing my Thanksgiving wishes again with a deep sense of sadness in my heart. The world has indeed more or less gone mad.   More loving, less loathing. More helping, less hindering. More giggles, less gloom. More humility, less […]

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Children’s Reactions to a Trump Presidency

November 9, 2016

Tweet  I have never cried at election results. Scratch that. I cried when Obama won in 2008. But those were tears of joy. Last night I cried tears of shame, fear, dread. This isn’t my America. And then I wondered…what will I tell my sons? This election season was a new brand of toxic. I have […]

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Hillary Clinton to Hold Final Midnight Rally in Raleigh

November 7, 2016

Tweet Tonight is Election Eve. In my house the elves are all aflutter trying to get out the vote. The House of Dirt and Noise takes elections very seriously. It’s an especially heated and insane year since we are in a swing state. There’s been a hefty dose of vitriol too, but I’ve done my […]

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Haiti – First Impressions

October 27, 2016

There is a rhythm of Haiti that belies the stereotypical Caribbean steel drum beat. The cadence of a constant hum, a tap tap tap of metal artisans crafting discarded metal drums into fine art, the hammering of nails into corrugated metal that is a constant rhythmic reminder of Hurricane Matthew’s destruction. There are car horns […]

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