...because home doesn't happen overnight.
11.20.15 / Liked & Linked

everett & cheetah

Can we agree that parenting is hard? I graduated first in my class in high school and college (that means absolutely nothing in real life, btw) and nothing has required more from me than being a parent. It is emotionally, financially, intellectually and physically taxing. We don’t watch the news in our house but I do listen to NPR in the car and my kids hear snippets of reports. With everything that is going on in the world and being covered by the media, my kids have questions. Questions that are incredibly difficult, even impossible, for me to answer. And this week they all came flooding out.

Everett asked, “Mom, why do bad guys want to kill people? And how is it a good idea to bomb anybody? I mean, if you kill a bad guy but blow up a school too, how is that okay? And even if you kill only the bad guy, don’t you feel bad about killing somebody?” He’s seven. SEVEN.

Part of me applauded his insight and conscientiousness. I want my kids to question everything. I want them to be empathetic. The other part of me was horrified that his innocence is being tainted by the gravity of real world problems. I didn’t know what to say. I told him his questions were good ones and that I didn’t have the answers. I told him he will likely have more questions that can’t be answered but he should ask them anyway. I told him that I love him. Later, he helped me make a donation to the International Federation of Red Cross.

Are you having similar experiences with your children? How are you handling them?

A few (lighter) things…

*When kids take things literally. (This is so, SO Everett.)

*Room is one of my favorite fiction reads of all time. I’m curious to see how the movie compares to the book. So far, it’s getting great reviews.

*Cozy rooms for weekend lazing.

*I’ve often thought our counter stools would look great with leather tops. They do!icon

modern majestic

modern majestic 2

*When the weather turns colder, I fall down the real estate rabbit hole. It’s my weakness. I’d live here.

*Sweet potato  & sausage soup is on heavy rotation around here these days.

*One woman’s mission to scatter joy through art, living and giving is now a self-titled brand. And it’s even more inspiring when you know it was an entrepreneurial choice Kathy made with tenacity shortly after divorcing and become a single parent. I’m happy to be participating in the Kathy Davis #CreateaLifeYouLove campaign along with several other bloggers. It’s fun to see the variety of beliefs, interests and special someones held dear to everyone’s hearts. Follow @KathyDavisBrand to see more.

I hope your weekend is full of kindness and sharing. xx

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Realestate.co.nz



We also have npr on in the car sometimes and I never realized my kids were paying any attention until my four year old asked me if “the bad guys were going to shoot us?” It’s so hard to know what to say, without scaring them more or flat out lying. I just don’t know


I thought there was something oddly familiar about that house (the sky & trees particularly) & it’s right around the corner from us! And yes, I can confirm that Christchurch is a great place to live, despite the earthquakes. Especially as there’s SO many commercial & residential re-builds going on. Lots to see and love. Inspiring times!


So true- parenting is hard!! We had a four year old in our preschool ask about the Paris events and the teacher said, ” yes, someone out there is hurting people”. But YOU are safe here. She just reassured this child that she was safe and made sure she didn’t have other questions about what she saw on the news. I have three children also and I can’t help but think- what kind of world are they going to be living in when they are adults? We always try to be as honest as possible…..


Oh man – mine isn’t old enough to start asking questions yet, but that has to be so difficult! I think how you handled it is perfect…just be honest and try to let them share in doing something positive. It’s such a touch situation to navigate.


I’ve got nothing in the parenting department but I do think your answers (or lack of answers) is a beautiful way to respond. Because there really aren’t answers….

Those stools are amazing, and possibly DIY-able??


My boys (6 &7) are asking the same questions, although we might be on the other side of the isle (getting the snippets from Fox News rather)… ;) but no matter where we land with our own convictions, we can all agree it is very hard. We just remind our boys that they should love their enemies and pray for them. We have a saying in our house that “God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves” and we remind them that even though horrible things are happening to innocent people, good things can come out of it…for instance, creating a compassionate heart inside a sweet little boy that moves him to donate his time and money to people he has never met. What a good thing!

My children are older 10 and 15, and since we just moved back to the states from Germany they understand the attacks in a more personal way, rather than as some far off place that means nothing to them (we spent last Christmas in Paris.) Their friends are still in Germany and are witnessing changes that effect their daily lives, so they understand more than I’d wish them to know. The questions are hard, I don’t know how to rationalize them to myself much less my children. I often ask myself “Why can’t people can’t be nice to one another?” Form horrific incidents like the Paris attacks right down to people being rude in the check out line. I can’t always explain why people are horrible but I can show them how to be kind in little ways like your families Red Cross donations. In the end it will hopefully make them kinder adults, hopefully in a kinder world.

On a lighter note…. Room sounds like a great read. Have you read Bird Box? After reading the synopsis of Room I thought it may be a read you’d like.


I can’t imagine how difficult those question must be coming for kids. They are hard enough to understand as an adult. My husband and I don’t have children yet but we would like to. I was talking with my mom about how scary this world is lately. She asked if we were still considering having kids with all the dangers in the world. It is scary but we’ve always wanted kids and changing that plan feels like giving into the terrorists by letting their actions affect our lives.


I would tell mine that there are bad people in the world that have to be stopped but enforce the safety of home and school. (former elementary teacher)


We’ve been watching the news with our kids (8 & 11) their whole life. I don’t think they should be sheltered from the realities of what life is like in other parts of the world. The only event for which we turned off the news was Sandy Hook.


When it comes to answering the hard questions (or any question) I think 100% honesty is the best policy. You don’t have to be blunt or graphic and scare them with your explanation, but you should try your best to tell them how the world really is.


My kids are in the 30’s, I remember talking about Oklahoma City bombing with my son and it was such a hard conversation.

On another note, the soup looks fantastic and it’s going to get tried after gorging ourselves on Thanksgiving.


I found this article to be interesting in my thinking about how kids see and question the events in Paris and how to frame and talk to my own kids. http://www.cbc.ca/radio/day6/episode-260-questions-from-kids-about-paris-arming-saudi-arabia-hating-ronda-rousey-and-more-1.3326250/questions-from-kids-on-the-paris-attacks-1.3327935


Parenting makes me want to pull out my hair some days. And then there are days that remind me that this is my most precious treasure.
My oldest is 5, almost 6. He is starting to ask more detailed questions on things he never used to pay attention too. To be honest, I am scared that I will say the wrong thing when he asks heavier questions like your son did. It is hard, when you remember that you are forming their personalities/traits for the rest of their lives. But if we come from a place of understanding and love, I believe we will say what they need to hear.


I haven’t read Bird Box… but it’s on my wish list now! Thanks!!


I have zip code envy! ;)


My oldest is turning 6 next month and she already has some questions that are tough to answer. I always want to be truthful with her but sometimes it seems better to tell her a white lie, and try to protect her from some of the not so great parts of this world.


We lost you for a while. I was being redirected to Godaddy.com.

Got a little worried. Can’t live without House Tweaking!


Your conversation with Everette reminds me of this video:

Parenting is hard but it sounds like you’re doing a great job :)


Dana, I totally get that sinking feeling. My kids are 11 and 8 and it’s hard to shield them. When awful things come on the news (we often have the Today Show on in the mornings) I’ll start yelling LA LA LA LA LA as I run for the remote! Like you, I want my kids to hold on to the purity they were born with. They came home from school saying, “Why are people saying pray for Paris?” I just said some bad guys want to start a war – and left it at that. I think you’re doing the right thing.


I work for the IFRC and am a long-time follower of the blog. Thank you for your support. I’m no parenting expert, but I think any time you turn a horrible situation into a lesson in empathy, you’re doing it right. Keep it up.

Well, the events that are occurring are definitely scary… and YES! Parenting is a hard responsibility – but so worth the effort! :)
Of course, when it comes to addressing disasters & acts of terrorism there is a huge pendulum of ways people address it… in my experience, I don’t think it’s healthy, or even possible, to fully shield our kids from the bad things that happen, no matter how badly we wish we could. I have always thought it best to be as honest as possible, but with age-appropriate explanations – not just glossing over the negative/scary event (or being an ostrich about it, ha-ha).
That is what my parents always did with me and it is what I strive to do (she’s 8) as well… then your kids know that they can always come to YOU and trust that you will always do your best to help them understand things & be comforted as well… instead of being bamboozled by fear mongering tabloids or overly gullible/ignorant in the face of reality…
But no doubt, it is a scary time that we live in and we never know what to expect on a daily basis, no matter what our age! In the face of their (often surprisingly perceptive questions) it’s never wrong to tell them we’re not sure how best to explain it, but that we will think about their question, do some research, and get back to them to do our best to address their questions & concerns…
I don’t mean to be super-religious here, but I do want to offer something that is helpful & comforting for any parent to use with their kids (I love it). The book can be downloaded for free; if you do check it out, I was thinking you’d appreciate chapters 19 (Is It Right to Fight?) & 25 (Can Those Who Do Bad Things Change?) – because of the child-oriented way that violence, and how we should view it, is addressed. {Here’s the link: http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/Learn-From-the-Great-Teacher/#?insight%5Bsearch_id%5D=79e2bc4e-4946-40ec-9b89-082b47295921&insight%5Bsearch_result_index%5D=0 }
Ok, I’ll stop now – ha-ha :) Hugs to you & your kids <3


I actually dumb down the answers to the very basics and tell it to my kids. There is no point in avoiding what they ask and its better to clarify all their questions rather than avoiding them. Seems like you are doing a good job too. keep it up.


Ugh, I know!! So many tech issues over here lately. I apologize. I will never understand why little blogs gets hacked. So silly!!!!


Thanks for the link to the soup. Made it today–added leek and butternut–and it is a total hit. It will be in my rotation too! ;)


Being a parent is, without a doubt, the hardest thing ever. My kids are younger than yours, but with the oldest in kindergarten this year, the questions are happening! They are getting harder to answer. I try to remember that questioning things is good, and I hope it never stops, even if I don’t have the answers. Love the way you handled this. You’re a good mama. :) Btw, made the soup – it was delicious! Even our picky 3 yo ate it!

Oh yes.. Children sure can throw some curveballs your way. One moment you’re eating your breakfast and the next you’re choking down your orange juice, trying to somehow answer their questions about Santa Claus, the birth of babies, etc. In my experience I’ve always tried to be open and honest with my children, but I also strive to be prepared and made up my answers for the most common awkward questions in advance. It is always better to know what words to use beforehand.


As a woman of color I have experienced painful situations in which I’ve been forced to give my kids (and now grandson) the honest truth about bigotry, judgment and forms of hatred. It’s tough. But I need them to be aware, for their own safety. The best thing I’ve come up with is to have the words of Nelson Mandela present and encourage them to memorize this quote
:”No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I also read a quote by Mr. Rogers who suggested to the kids to look around in scary situations and focus on all the different people who are helping.

I know I’m late to the post but I couldn’t pass this up. Love your site Dana!


Parenting is hard but it sounds like you’re doing an awesome job. Love your blog.