Exciting find: MonkeyPod Tree

Did you ever read Go dog go?


I am sure you have. One of those beginner reader classics,
and one of my personal favorites as a lil’ tyke.
But for sixteen years I thought this was amazing, beautiful,
and utterly silly. A figment of some genius’s imagination:

And then I met this:

It is a monkeypod tree. And the moment I met it I realized that you could have a pretty stupendous dog party right on top. Mom and I have now have officially ( okay,  not so officially ) changed the name to monkey-party-tree. And I’m still waiting for a the day when I can have a picnic right on top.

Hawaii does have some things I shall miss.

Hawaii: another perspective.

(Here is a long pushed off update. There is so much to say I am almost scared to begin. But I might as well just start writing and see where I go. Excuse the mess, as I try to paste my thoughts together and explain to you about a summer that changed my life.)

I am sitting at my koa wood desk looking out onto the wild frontier. A slight breeze runs through the house, making the constant humidity just bearable. A banana tree blocks my view of the yard, but I know in front of me lie a plethora of fantasical shubberies – almost Dr. Suessian plants and animals that only a masterful creator could of contrived. I am on a british colony in the middle of africa.

What? You don’t want to play imaginary games?
Okay. Actually I’m in Hilo, Hawaii. It is Hawaii for real people. No sparkly beaches and million dollar resorts here – gotta go to the other side of the island for that. Here dogs run loose along gravel roads and people are just about two times friendlier. Here the perpetual forecast is sunny with a chance of drizzle. Here people eat spam and mochi and smile. I am seeing Hawaiian life, the real kind.

It has been quite an amazing experience. And yet I can’t say Hawaii has been all that my sunny beach and sipping from coconut dreams expected. On the one hand we have been to some extraordinary beaches, and I did sip coconut water straight from the coconut with a straw ( Thanks to my aunt. She is cool – more on that later). I have realized that although it is different, although it is unique, and although it is beautiful – it is not my idea of paradise.

Here people have come from all over the world to escape their past problems, decisions, and mistakes. It is a very culturally diverse place – which makes it fun ( and delicious). There is unbelievable foliage growing everywhere and impressive volcanoes to explore just a few miles away. And yet I have a confession, one I never thought I would ever have to make. A secret that only my little blog audience can know:

I miss home.

I never ever thought I would say this. Me – the girl who has longed to get out all her life. I miss the familiar trees. I miss the sweet transition between seasons. I miss the vicious summer storms and awful heat that helps you appreciate those days that are perfect. Most of all I miss the people – I think about them all the time and yet a six hour time difference has me feeling rather isolated.

Sometimes I go to the Lord and complain – then kind of laugh at myself. You are having a temper tantrum because your mad about being stuck in Hawaii? Yeah – I’m pathetic. While I am here I want to appreciate everything. I want to see what there is to see, learn what there is to learn, and explore environments I will (probably and hopefully) never be exposed to again in my entire life. This is a surreal place, and I am thankful for this oppurtunity. Wherever we are we learn to make the best of it – and believe me taking a hike across a former lava lake is a lot more fun than staying back to revel in misery. I am having a good time – still…

Hawaii is nice, but home is home.

( and the good thing is that I have finally crossed off one of my too-many future vacation/honeymoon/college education spots. Proud of me?)

Confessions of a failing Salmon.

 Nope – I’m not just another average country teenage girl with a fancy camera.
I am different.
At least my camera isn’t fancy.

But when the light was reflecting in the window I couldn’t help trying my hand at the artsy with my cheap-o point&shoot. So here goes – the girl who promises to go against the tide, who despises the overrated and takes shame in participating in the main stream. Failing at the artsy:

May have to turn your head to the right a bit to enjoy this one. Obviously I was too lazy to figure out how to rotate it – and my moohoomoo computer wasn’t helping either.

But what did I decide? I only have one life to live and I’m not going to waste it doing stupid things in the name of #YOLO. I am not going to be one of those people who spends an hour behind the computer screen everyday drooling over their fantasies. ( okay so I am one of those people right now – but I’m learning, growing, maturing – I will change…) I am gonna be one of those people who goes out there and does life. The kind of person who posts pictures on pinterest and doesn’t spend all day repinning.

This one courtesy older sister Sarah:

The 1st review, a confession, and a revelation.

( In case your confused. I recently signed up to participate in the classic’s club. Learn more about it by clicking on the top bar. I am extremely excited about it. I hope you don’t mind me posting  reviews here. You may skip if you like; I suggest you don’t. First review – here goes nothing… )

Original manuscript with illustrations by her sister Cassandra.

The History of England – Jane Austen

I have a confession:
I am a teenage girl. I am a christian teenage girl. I am a christian teenage girl who loves literature.
I’ve never really liked Jane Austen Novels.


Don’t kill me.

At least let me explain first.

Her work has much merit – I  admit, but I never really understood the hype. Her stories can be interesting, her characters solid (Mr. Knightley = YES!) and her writing good – no doubt. However, I find her prose a bit stuffy and the attention to needless details annoying. [ i.e. the lengthy portion of Emma describing the arrangements for a small ball that doesn’t end up happening anyway. ] I may be prejudiced, simply by the fact that I’ve never been one for romance novels. Romance in novels is fine. Novels entirely devoted to  fictional character marrying other fictional characters and how much money they gained, not so much.

Still, I admire Jane Austen – she was well educated, strong, and out of pace with her society’s expectations. She is one of many historical figures I would love to have met. When I found out that she wrote a history of England when she was my age – I couldn’t help but be interested.

Now I have another confession: I am a history geek.

Jane Austen’s The History of England begins as follows:

The history of England 
from the reign of
Henry the IV 
to the death of 
to Charles the I

By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian.

N.B There will be very few Dates in this History

Sound promising? I thought so.
And it only get’s better from there.
A young Jane Austen full of wit and hilarity
completely ridicules the most popular history
texts of her day by shying a way from their
obsession with the objective to quote sources
such as Shakespeare’s plays, a popular novel,
and her own opinion.
She writes in the style of a haughty history
text but fills it with her own personal opinions,
outrageous misstatements, and horrid puns.

To see one of the most popular novelist’s in history
in a young and untamed shape, was extremely interesting.
The added bonus was seeing a famous 18th century opinion
on one of my favorite topics – English history.
I walked away still chuckling with laughter and feeling
a much higher respect for this famous authoress.
Her adolescent and unpolished talents reveal a
young intellectual bubbling with wild opinions,
wit, and cynicism. It made me realize something I had
heard before: Jane Austen hadn’t just written long romances,
her novels were satires. Admittedly a tamed version.
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
I am sure this realization will make for a much more understandable,
a much more enjoyable, and a much more informed reading of
future Austen novels. I am actually looking forward to diving
into the last two Austen’s I have yet to tackle – Persuasion and
Northanger Abbey.

I will never regret reading the tiny history.
I laughed and I learned and would gladly do it again.
I recommend it for anyone who loves Austen or history or both.
Knowing the true facts greatly helped me to understand her silly statements,
but I do not think that is necessary to at least partially enjoy this little volume.
So unloose your seriousness and break out your funny bone.
Enjoy Austen in her unbroken state – fresh, young, and extremely funny.
As far as I can say – Austen at her best!

Reread? Yes. Probably tomorrow in fact.

Guess my favorite pass time? Elementary!

  This summer I have been searching for a mystery; On my beach vacation, in the books I read and even in my back yard. Yes it sounds rather juvenile – but it is completely and (almost) embarrassingly true. My scientific deducing skills are improving. Obviously, I read to much Sherlock Holmes. In fact this summer I read the entire first two volumes. But who knows, it may come in handy some day. I may save the universe or my stolen laffy taffy – either way it is worth it… right? Oh and one of my guilty pleasures? Doing silly online personality tests that mean absolutely nothing. The verdict:
I am Dr. Watson or Irene Adler 

Yay! You’re Dr. John Watson. You’re a sensitive, caring, gentle, tenacious person. You are devoted to your friends and would go the extra mile for them. You can also be a bit cavalier in love, but devoted to your partner. You’re the trusty right bower that people look to when they need someone. Yay for you


You are Irene Adler! ( Sherlock Holmes most famous nemesis ) You are a trouble magnet! You are also pretty smart because you’ve outsmarted Sherlock a few times. Your also talented.

I am feeling pretty happy about all that. 
There is nothing more charming then loyal country doctor or more endearing then a female super-villain. 

The best part about SUMMER.

Summer is a time to slow down and watch the scenery. A time to get all that stuff done that you need to do but never had time for. A time to do things “just cause.” A time for adventures and driving into the sunset. Summer is a time to breath. Which is slightly ironic since the air is so humid that after standing outside for a minute or two you feel absolutely incapable of inhaling.
Do you know what I love about summer? More then the opportunities to do things your interested in, not because they will help you or save the universe, just because you can do them and will. More then the extra time for lying in bed thirty minutes longer in the morning without an ounce of guilt. More then the fact that at 8:30 in the evening the sky is still blue and the sun still shines.
I love summer storms. Thunder storms. The flamboyant lightening, deafening thunder, and delightful deluges.
Maybe I missed my calling – I should be a storm chaser when I grow up.

This is a storm chaser. My first car… maybe?

Born in California, raised in the south – when the rain comes harder then ever, the thunder roars and lightening brightens the sky – I remember once again why I am so glad to call North Carolina home.
People move to Southern California for the weather? Where it is 65 degrees and smoggy almost every day? The place I lived and visited for years without knowing that there are mountains surrounding it?
“Oh but the weather is perfect all the time. There are no bad days.”
Yes, there are no bad days, but neither are there good days. N.C. has bad days – very very hot, very very cold or very very wet. But when a good day comes it is on a level incomparable with the average everyday humdrum of Orange county.
Who wants good days when you can have superb days? And how can you even appreciate 65F if you never experience 105?
I love my town. I would gladly chase storms.

Just another to-do to add to the already to long ‘dream’ list.
Future summer dream list:
( aka – those crazy things I’ll do in college )

Jump into the sky with a parachute
Rollerblade down the Brooklyn Bridge
Jog down the golden gate
Pet a buffalo
Solve a mystery
Write a novel
Meet with someone for lunch at grand central station
travel solo
go to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night to see stars
sleep in the back of a pickup truck ( filled with blankets, pillows and other comfy cargo)
Apprentice myself in a movie catering business or taco truck
Learn another language fluently
Work as a nanny in another country
Work on a cruise ship
Archaeological dig

Summer is the time to make dreams come true.

Upon turning 16… ( yes, more serious stuff)


What a number. With all the cultural ties and connotations it brings, you really have to believe that it will make you different. Let’s admit it – we’ve all run to the mirror every birthday morning to see how we’ve grown. ( What… I’m the only one that still does that?… awkward). You know that sinking feeling when you see yourself and can only say:

“Yup, that’s me. The same mess as yesterday.”
“Sixteen is different” I told myself as I woke up on my birthday yesterday. Sixteen is the kind of different a mirror just cannot convey. It was the feeling of it. The first birthday that really felt like a new beginning. Yes, the mirror never tells lies, not even white lies, not even as a favor for a birthday girl. They were all there, the same dreaded pimples in the same conspicuous places, the same shallow blue eyes and too-chubby-nose, the same bed-headed monster that greets me every morning. But the difference was that yesterday morning for the first time, I was sixteen. It wasn’t so much about an age or a day, it was about a decision.

An adolescent is a person who is developing spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It is the kind of person I would rather not be – but here I am. On my journey to figure out who I want to be, and who I am ( two very different people indeed), I have felt many times like I might as well give up. I will never be the person I have always wanted to be. I will never be as thin as my older sister or as elegant as my younger. I will never be as talented as my best friend or as loving as my mother. Does that mean I have to break down and give in?

As a sixteen year old I can say today what I will probably be crying over tomorrow: I am who I am until I am different. I am not a lovely person – but for some unfathomable reason the Lord chose me for his plan. He called me, saved me, and is shepherding me into his family. I cannot give up in myself, because that would be to doubt God’s power to work in me. I know He can do anything, and even though I can’t imagine it, I can’t reason with it, I have to believe that he will fully gain me for the plan he has for my life. I believe in God, not in myself.

Such a wonderful realization! I hope it will stick. You never know with these hormones… One day everything is handy dandy and the next the haze returns and you grope along, swimming in your own tears of selfishness. I say I don’t like being an adolescent, and this is true – but on the other hand the pure roller coaster of emotions can be interesting and even amusing when you look backwards at it. This is my story – may it grow upwards from here.

Sweet Sixteen Prayer:

             “Lord I thank you for the sixteen years of life you have granted me. Thank you to for caring for me every moment of every day, and always being there. Thank you for my family and friends, they put the “sweet” in sweet sixteen and I thank you for each and every one of them. Thank you for the environments and situations you put me in, the good ones and the bad ones. I pray that I wouldn’t waste a single moment, but would take every opportunity to get to know you more. You are my life. Thank you for loving me first and choosing me so that I could love you and choose you. What a privilege it is to give my life to you! I consecrate my sixteenth year to you, because nothing else in the whole universe can satisfy me anymore. ” 

Sometimes I need the supplement.

A Necessary Introduction.

I don’t like introductions. I don’t like talking about me, me me. I’m really not worth talking about. Alas, here I am practicing my writing through a new adventure – sharing my thoughts and lessons learned with you. I wish heartily that I already knew you, that we could jump into posting rambles and alluding to hilarious insiders – but every story has a beginning, and although it may not be the highlight, it is a very necessary element:

That is me in the midst of my favorite hobby: dreaming.
            My name is Susanna M. Olson*, and my parents biggest mistake was buying a beautiful world map and framing it smack dab in the middle of our living room. Throughout those oh so important shaping years of childhood I could not help but stare at that map every time I trotted down the stairs from my bedroom. Sometimes when there was nothing better to do I would close in on it and realize the depth of of my tininess as compared to the glorious globe. Somewhere between the wonder and disbelief in so big a world – I decided I would visit every continent, even antarctica, someday.
I do interestingly embarrassing things.

Here I am, a high school girl. I call myself an eccentric, but am more of the typical adolescent then I would care to admit. A girl who is excited about life and writing about it too. A girl who’s dreams of traveling that marvelous map, come second to my direction and ultimate goal: to be a normal Christian living life through, by, and in my wonderful God and bestest friend.
So this is me, a journey. If you care to join my on my path to gaining Christ and (hopefully) traveling the world at the same time I welcome you for the ride. I’ve never been outside of America,**  but  am known to grab random books about Mozambique or Tanzania and read them through in my spare time. I take every chance I can to meet people from different countries and learn some of their language. One of my favorite “Travel Training” experiences is choosing a country and spending at least two weeks studying it, and then cooking a four to five course meal filled with traditional foods cooked as traditionally as possible.***

My London Fund box

Even though I’ve dreamed so long ( and will continue to dream, don’t you worry about that) about traveling to foreign places someday. I realize that the most important journey, the longest one, the one full of the most cherishing memories and scariest adventures – has already started. That is the journey called life, and as a traveler in training I am learning to enjoy every moment of it.

So if you’d like to find out what life as a middle child in a homeschooling family of seven can be like,
read the ramblings of a teenage girl who likes to contemplate everything,
and watch how I train myself for my impending adventures abroad,
most of all if your curious to find out wether or not my dreams do come true – keep on reading.
And I’ll keep writing because this story is impending and of all the readers I find myself the most curious to find out how it ends…

Shall we pass the end of the sidewalk and venture into an unknown future?

* M could stand for mischief, or marvel, or Marieanne. I prefer not to reveal my middle name which I have kept since six grade as my very top secret identity.
** Okay, so I went to Canada when I was a baby. But that doesn’t count, because it was Canada, and I was a baby!