Bear Lake: Discovered by trappers in 1819. Discovered by us in 2012.

 

A client asked Justin to come to Bear Lake to photograph her family at the cabin where she’s come every summer of her life. He was happy to go, of course, and we decided to make a quick family trip out of it. We booked a little cabin at the KOA and off we went, without much expectation.

It turned out to be the perfect end-of-summer overnighter. After driving all the way to San Diego to play at the beach in July, I was thrilled to find that another pretty awesome beach is just three hours from my house. Who knew? We played at the north shore, in Idaho. Idaho, of all places, with this beautiful sandy beach and warm shallow water? I was amazed and beyond delighted.

To top it all off, we stayed in this darling little cabin at the KOA (and as luck would have it, we were right next to the bathrooms). This cabin was a perfect answer to my since-childhood obsession with anything small and cozy. It was really just a room with our own little roof, double bed and bunks, but it was so private and tiny, and had a porch swing. I actually clapped my hands in delight. The Bear Lake KOA also boasts free miniature golf which our boys loved, a playground, a swimming pool and bike rentals. Fun, fun, fun.

As an added bonus, Justin’s clients were the nicest people and we became fast friends. Turns out they own a skydiving business near Seattle. What a cool way to make a living. Ok, actually I think it’s terrifying. But really cool for them.

Summer Afternoon

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

― Henry James

ABC News Calls Up the Hackworths

We kicked off a marvelous 4th of July by showing up to prime parade real estate right when the parade started, thanks to Heather’s sister’s family who had camped out all night long and generously shared their space with us.

I picked up a plastic flag and noticed it said, “Made in China.” I pointed out that irony to Justin, who took a picture on his phone and tweeted about it. A friend of his retweeted it and by the end of the parade he had an email from ABC asking if they could use the photo on World News Tonight. A few minutes later he got an email asking if he had time for a phone interview. After that, they were asking if we had any other photos from the parade. They asked the right guy. So Justin had a little chat with ABC news, and you can hear him and see more photos at the link below. Our favorite part is when David Muir says, “So we called up the Hackworths.” Just wait. It will be your favorite part, too.

See the video here: Made in America: Where Are Our Flags Produced? | Video – ABC News.

In the hours between the parade and our debut on the national news, we had a fantastic day, spending some great time at the lake with some of our favorite people on earth. Highlights included kayaking, and seeing our once water-shy boys splash unabashedly. Plus there was the sun, sand, and some delicious potato salad.

 

Children Who Prefer Challenge

I heard an interview with education expert Alfie Kohn recently and he said a lot of really great things, but one that has really stuck with me is this:

So the more interested we are in kids who love learning, prefer challenge, and want to think deeply, the less we have to be grading them and the more we have to think about other ways to assess the classroom.

You can read or listen to more about the context of that comment about grading in his conversation with host Jim Fleming about testing, education reform, grades and what real learning looks like. I highly recommend it. But it’s those three indicators that I’ve really been thinking about.

Kids who love learning, prefer challenge, and want to think deeply. That’s a succinct way to describe–better than I could have– what I’d love for our kids. It’s changed the way I think and talk about challenges with them, realizing that I want them to be the kind of people who go after challenges because they prefer them. Exciting.

A couple of other gems from the transcript:

What predicts to excellence is interest, and thus the best schools are those where their question everyday as educators is, ‘How do we help kids to become more enthusiastic about playing with words and numbers and ideas?’ Sadly that concept is conspicuously missing from any discussion about school reform, as the concept is talked about today.
…The students who are trying to get a good grade…tend to become less interested in whatever it is they are doing.  Every study on that topic has found that result.  Students are less excited about reading, about math… if they are trying to do it for a grade.

Drawing on the Walls

Justin happened to have a big piece of seamless–heavy paper used for backdrops in photos–sitting around the house. We taped it to the wall outside for some photographs of the boys, and then we drew all over it. I couldn’t believe how much fun our boys had doing this. You would have thought we were actually letting them draw on the walls. They loved it, and cooked up other plans to have it out when guests come over. It’s actually a great idea. Until then, we have this cool family mural to enjoy.

Our Top 5 Read Aloud Chapter Books (so far …)

The transition from picture books to chapter books was so exciting for me. I love picture books, but I was really excited to expose our boys to longer stories, too. Here are five chapter books we have  thoroughly enjoyed.

1. Charlotte’s Web by the great E.B. White

A friend whose boys were all grown up told me this was the first chapter book she read to her kids. “They’re not too young,” she assured me, when I asked if she thought my boys would get it. They were probably 2 and 4, and she was right. They loved it, and were adequately grossed out by that rotten egg of Templeton’s.

2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

E resisted reading this book, maybe because of the witch in the title. That might have scared him off at first, but when I started reading, he couldn’t stay away. Both boys were drawn into the story, the magical world, the universal pull of good versus evil. Some of my best childhood reading memories are wrapped up in this book, which I first heard when my next door neighbors’ mother read it out loud to us on their back steps on a summer afternoon. I can still hear her emphatically read Aslan’s line, “And, whatever happens, never forget to clean your sword.” Probably I’ve been looking forward to reading it to my own kids since that very moment.

3. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

We loved the movie and finally checked out the book last year. I was surprised to find that the plot (at least in the first book of the series) is really nothing like the movie, except for the fact that Hiccup is a bit of a misfit. But it’s action-packed and funny and had our whole family hooked, worried, and laughing. There’s nothing I love to hear more than the desperate plea, “Mom, just one more chapter!” and that happened plenty as we read How to Train Your Dragon. When I did finally stop for the night, I always peeked ahead just to make sure Hiccup was going to be all right.

4. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

It was an absolute pleasure and proud parenting moment to introduce E and M to James Henry Trotter. Again, I wondered if they would understand all of the dialogue, but when E chucked at a bit of the grasshopper’s clever British dialogue, I was reminded to stop underestimating our children. I was also very pleased.

5. The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin

One of my best memories in all of parenting is sitting on the couch sandwiched between my two boys reading this book while they both laugh their heads off. This is a quick and easy read, and thoroughly entertaining. I think Doreen Cronin is really, really smart–writing clever, funny books for kids is hard work!–and I love her even more for giving me this reading memory with our boys.

From Slow Food to Slow Reading

Image: A Young Girl Reading, Fragonard

Why hasn’t a hip alliance emerged that’s concerned about what happens to our intellectual health, our country, and, yes, our happiness when we consume empty-calorie entertainment?
Maura Kelly for The Atlantic

I love this plea for reading literature, and the smart parallel that author Maura Kelly draws between caring about what we read as much as caring about what we eat. When I shared this on Facebook, one of my college professors remarked that very few people would be willing to slow down enough to read the article, and I totally get that. We’re in the habit of reading quickly online.

But if you care about reading, and literature (and humanity in general, the article suggests), slow down for a minute to find out how reading literature can make us smarter, better friends, and happier people. Fer real.

And then go get that Classic Literature list from the library.

Literature doesn’t just make us smarter, however; it makes us us, shaping our consciences and our identities.
-Maura Kelly for The Atlantic

A Good Grief Benefit Concert

Four years ago, my childhood friend Molly called me and I remember exactly where I stood because I was struck by the emotion in her voice, the warning that something was wrong before she could tell me what it was. Her daughter Lucy had choked on a tiny piece of apple and had been flown to Primary Children’s Medical Center. She was being treated, but the outlook was inconclusive. Molly asked for my prayers, asked me to let other friends know. I remember sending an email, “Urgent prayers needed for Molly’s Lucy” and writing updates over the next few days to far away friends. We were all stopped short by the sudden precariousness of life, especially our children’s. But hope seemed like the only choice, recovery the only real possibility I considered. Anything else was unthinkable.

But sweet Lucy passed away, unbelievably. And Molly and her husband Vic were consumed with grief. Their Lucy, their light, had gone out.  Molly bravely shared her grief on their family blog and found support through connecting with other families who had recently lost their little ones. And then ever-remarkable Molly created an online community where people could share and learn from each other at a AGoodGrief.com. And she proved her beautiful spirit again by establishing a foundation that helps pay for headstones for families of children who have passed away.

Last Thursday, Molly hosted the second annual A Good Grief benefit concert, featuring amazing musicians who sang their hearts out for a good, good cause. Next year, you need to come. You really do.

Miss Molly herself, blowing us all away.

Lea Cabrera, with some serious singing power.

The charming and sensitive Charley Jenkins.

Jessie Funk sings with spunk.

Photos by Justin Hackworth.

 

The Trouble with Chickens Makes My Dream Come True

The first thing E said when he got home from school, before he’d even gotten into the house, was, “Mom, where’s The Trouble with Chickens?” That morning he had asked me to meet him outside after school with the book in hand. Notice his beloved scooter flung carelessly aside, his backpack still on. His head bent to the book!

You can bet I ran inside for the camera. This is a day I’ve been waiting for, when a good book is more important to my son than anything else. There have been many, many, many such days in my own life, but I was almost ready to accept that our oldest might be a ‘reluctant reader.’ He’s only 8, but the love of reading hadn’t seemed to really stick for him. After the initial excitement of being able to piece together words, he hadn’t been very interested in reading, and still far preferred being read to than reading on his own.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid made a dent in his resistance. Then the Geronimo Stilton books chipped away some more. But the prize winning book, the glory of intermediate fiction is Doreen Cronin’s The Trouble with Chickens, a great mystery written in a clever noir style. Oh man, it’s funny. And will forever hold a special place in my heart for being the book that E had to get his hands on first thing after school.

General Conference at Our House

As usual, general conference left me feeling hopeful and inspired, but this year’s dose of hope and inspiration was particularly strong. Maybe conference was different this time. Maybe I am different. Either way, I felt something more. I hadn’t really articulated it until last night when Justin and I were talking. “I just had this feeling,” I said, not sure how to describe it. And then suddenly, succinctly, the words were there. “I had this feeling that I can access more power in my life.” And I felt so affirmed when he said, “That’s exactly how I felt, too.”