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Magical Meatballs 

For meatballs a Super Hero would love…

My dear nephews (my best friend’s sons) came over for their very first aunt-nephew sleep over.  Man, did we have a BLAST!  We got out all of my childhood toys from the 80’s and they enjoyed checking them out. She-ra, My Little Ponies and my marble mazes were the favorites.

Soon, Rowan announced that he was hungry for MEATBALLS!  I had purchased some ground beef on the way home to make spaghetti with meat sauce.  It was time to switch gears, so I got my favorite super heroes in on the job.

Ingredients:
1 pound ground grass-fed ground beef

4 ounces dried bread crumbs

4 large eggs

4 ounces whole milk

6 ounces grated Romano

3 ounces chopped onion

2 ounces finely diced fresh garlic

2 ounces finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 ounces finely chopped fresh basil leaves

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in large bowl.

Roll meatballs loosely about the size of a golf ball and place on baking sheet. Place into preheated oven for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Enjoy!

 

I think Rowan approves

Good to the last slurp

Even super heroes get tired at the end of a long day

Memory Monday : MDI Marathon

This coming week marks 1 year from my very first marathon.  It’s hard to believe how fast the time has gone!  My marathon journey was not pretty and not easy and yet, if someone was to ask my about my accomplishments that I am most proud of up to this point in my life, my marathon finish would make the list.

I wasn’t a runner before.  I actually ran my first marathon less than a year after my first 5K.  I had dabbled with Couch 25K apps, but as soon as the running length time pushed me out of my comfort zone, I ceased.  Let me tell you, running a marathon requires much more than a 20 minute run!

Looking back, I probably didn’t prepare like I should have.  I certainly put in the time, but not the ideal amount.  My schedule didn’t do me any favors.  As a teacher with the summer free I envisioned my summer filled with training runs and post-run Epsom salt baths.  What I didn’t factor in was teacher summer school, the restaurant being short-staffed and packing my week full of early shifts and landing my job as a pastry chef for a local distillery.  My running took a hit and my running plan often was slighted.

I remember sitting at a local restaurant table with two of my dear friends the night before a long training run, mascara tears rolling down my cheeks, and feeling super emotional about my running inferiority.  I pinned lots of ‘Run YOUR own race, not someone else’s’ quotes and visual images, but I just couldn’t manifest those inspirational words in my own life.

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But there I was, one very cold morning in Bar Harbor, getting ready to run one of the most beautiful places and most scenic races ever.  My fingers shaked as my friend helped me pin my bib.  I stripped off my thermal pull over and handed it to her just as the gun went off.

My dear friends had recorded messages that were then converted to MP3 format for me to listen to during my race.  They were interspersed with my shuffle of selected songs and would pop up with random frequency throughout the run.  I had not listened to them prior and it was such a wonderful treat to hear all of the collection of personalities come with me.  Some of them were funny, some were heart felt, all were encouraging and helped me place one foot in front of another.

At one point I was starting to become tired and emotional.  The two girls I had used as my pacers were only doing the relay and were long done.  I had fallen into my usual tricks of fast-slow running rhythms.  I saw a hill ahead and knew it was going to take some pushing.  Then, at the top of the hill, I saw a familiar figure:  My dad.  I began to cry as I approached his big, proud smile as he aimed the camera my way.  I ran and gave him a hug and then turned to the left and continued on my journey.  It was just what I needed at that point.

The finish line is great and a relief and has an inexplicable finality to it.  It’s the realization of an accomplished goal, but it has this ‘wow! It’s over now” to it too.  My family and friends gathered around me and hugged me and showered me with praise and congratulatory hugs and pats.  I should have returned the favor for all of the waiting they did on me.  Their entire day was wrapped up in me running.

When I returned from Maine, I had this new strength and power.  I had accomplished something that a small percentage of the planet ever did.  I wanted to run right up to strangers and say, “Guess what I just did!” but that doesn’t work if you’re over the age of 5 so I moved through my day to day with a quiet knowing.  It was a sharp contrast to some of my other feelings surrounding this feat.

It wasn’t like I got in some motorized vehicle or hopped on a bike, yet some part of me believes I cheated or short-cutted in some way.  Believe me.  I did not.  I physically moved my body all of those 26.2 miles.  I have the days of soreness after to prove it!

To this day if someone remarks on my marathon accomplishment I still sometimes think inside my head, “well, you didn’t REALLY do it.  You walked portions.  You took a long time to reach the finish line”.  But my friend Brittany reminds me of the truth – I did it.  It wasn’t Boston qualifying time, it wasn’t glorious and it didn’t change the trajectory of my or anyone else’s life, but I did it.

Please enjoy some pictures from my favorite place..

Say it Sunday

Again, with the election coming, I have another political kid quote!  And get this, it’s….

Important information that you won’t find covered by the media!!!

Student: “If Donald Trump becomes president, he’ll take all our ice cream away for 4 years!!”

#kidquotes

This post in no way endorses any candidate😉

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3 Things Thursday

  1. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

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I read this book a few years ago, but still love it.  It’s excellent and it caused me to jump on the Brene Brown band wagon and become a fan girl.  It’s an easy read, but it gets to your heart.  Check out this great manifesto from the book:

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And look at this (I’ve used this in so many areas of my life personally and professionally)

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  1. These earrings from Magnolia Market

I’ve admired these on Joanna Gaines, and now I can wear them too!  I don’t wear them to school (often) as they are on the bigger side, but are light weight.  They are available in both silver and gold (I MAY own both).

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Magnolia Market Earrings Here

  1. Morning Walks


My morning walks have become precious time.  I decided to begin waking up earlier this school year to make time for these quiet moments.  I used to go on these walks before, but sometimes they’d be significantly shorter or I would hustle about and show up for work later than I should and frazzled.  This earlier wake-up time is perfect.  I often use this time to speak and listen to God.  It’s WONDERFUL time and just what I need.  Even though I’m waking up earlier, it’s so refreshing and I feel more grounded and rested and prepared for the day when I do this.  It’s funny how that happens.

Don’t forget to comment with YOUR favorite things!

Sara

Wear It Wednesday! (Picture Day Edition)

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I just began school and I’m already exhausted.  I feel like I have no creative energy to put together a cute outfit.  What’s with me.  Sometimes I use my clothing as my creative expression when I’m not spending as much time creating in the kitchen or for the stage.   I go through these phases a couple of times a year and what woman has not cried, “I have nothing to wear” with a closet bar that is bending under the weight of her packed-in garments?

So I’ll try to spice it up with some of my hits and misses in clothing and fashion.  If I give you an idea or you find something you like because of it, great!

 

So this week we have picture day.  Everyone feels enormous pressure when it comes to picture day.   Parents must wake up at 5 AM to ensure that all skirts are fluffy and full, hair is gelled and ties are perfectly knotted.  We teachers have to look professional and efficient and kind and compassionate all at once. My goal is to have some young child look back at their year book years from now (when did elementary students start getting year books?) and see my picture and said, “Miss Hackman….she’s even more beautiful than I remembered”.  #dreambig

So what in the world did I wear to accomplish this feat?

An old stand by.  An outfit that I turn to all the time.  It’s comfortable, yet looks put together.  I sometimes have to think and make sure that I didn’t wear this outfit 2 days ago when I pull it out of my closet.  I probably wear it as often as is socially acceptable.


A shirt in a pretty, flattering color.  Let’s be honest folks, nobody knows if you’re wearing a fancy dress or lacy skirt; all people see is your shoulders and upper chest.  A shirt in a color that is ‘your color’ is your best bet.  Don’t forget to wear sleeves.  No sleeveless tops, no capped sleeves.  Trust me on this.  You can have the sculpted arms of Jillian Michaels, and you will instantly gain 10 lbs. of fat in your upper arms.

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Similar Emerald Green Top Here

I wore a nice, comfortable pair of black pants and comfortable, pointy toed black flats.  In the winter I’ll often wear this pants with tall boots, but since boot weather isn’t here yet, I’m enjoying these:

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Adorable Comfortable Pointy Toed Flats Here   

Comfortable Basic Black Pants Here

 

A scarf gives, what some fashion experts call, ‘visual interest’.  For me, it just makes my lazy outfits look put together, which I think is basically the same thing.  Basic shirt, plain ol’ pants, scarf and POP!  I’m sophisticated (and partially French).

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Similar Leopard Print Scarf Here

Pretty, understated jewelry.  Unfortunately, my Stella & Dot earrings are discontinued, but I love these

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Earrings Here

Nobody can see my favorite leopard belt that I wrote about here because tucked in shirts are the enemy of fluffy bellies, but it’s cute and it’s there, pulling me together.  It’s on sale, so snatch it up girls!

Here is another outfit I wore recently.  I love color and am not afraid to have bright, bold pieces that make my outfits appear more interesting, at least in my eyes.

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Similar white jeans (I’m stretching the antiquated Labor day rule and wearing them as long as I can!)  here

These jeans are great.  I get so annoyed with white jeans that are cheaply thin or clingy in all of he wrong places.  I also get frustrated when you can see the white pockets through the jeans.  Ladies, have we learned NOTHING from nude undergarments?

The coral top was sent to me by StitchFix, but you can see if this is to your liking

Similar cardigan here

Necklaces Stella & Dot Rebel Pendant in Rose Gold

Unfortunately, my ‘Eat Well Travel Often’ charm necklace is sold out, but you can find a similar Etsy creation here

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Earrings Stella & Dot Bungalow Hoops

My really comfortable flats that I wrote about Here and can be purchased here

My sunglasses are on sale! Check them out here!

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Please, please, please share some of your favorite outfits with me so I have more ideas to put together!

Sara

Memory Monday

The Most Dramatic Party Ever

That time that I had a Bachelorette viewing party….

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You have to let people know that they are attending THE MOST DRAMATIC PARTY EVER! #bacheloretteviewingparty

 

I am a Bachelor/Bachelorette viewer.  There, I said it.  I’ve come clean, it’s out in the open, I’m out.  I have some girl friends that also enjoy this weekly guilty pleasure.  My friend Becky sells Stella & Dot and thought that we’d combine it to make it a Bachelorette/Jewelry party.  I had so much fun going over the deep end with this theme.  Please enjoy!

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Not pictured, but I had the remaining men’s bios all up my stair case so those that don’t watch could check it out and pick their ‘team’ (my friend Brittany is an adamant non-bachelor watcher).  I also had each person fill out a slip saying who they thought would go all the way and who they thought would go home that evening.

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Chad has to protein up, so do our party guests

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The guests enjoyed these blueberry Stud-Muffins

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Have a bottle of rose chilled and ready to serve

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Chad’s sweet potato bar included a variety of toppings such as bacon, broccoli, cheese, Greek yogurt, salsa, scallions, peppers, black beans…. or you could go Chad-Style and just gnaw at one like an apple

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Play BINGO (or Jo-Jo in this case) with your guests and mark things off when someone says or does something listed.

What are your guilty pleasure shows?  Share them with me in the comments below!

Say It Sunday

For your Say It Sunday quote, I’ll go a little political, because who can’t get enough of the presidential election? #pleasesomeoneunderstandmysarcasm

I’ll give you one from mini-field day.

The 4th graders were helping the younger children play the various outdoor activities.  One of my students was struggling slightly on what his role was.  A little big-brown-eyed girl handed him her field day Bingo card expectantly.  He was supposed to take it and mark that she had completed that station, but instead he looked up at me with questioning blue eyes.

“You could mark the spot with an X, a star, a smile face,” I explained.

“Okay,” he said excitedly, “I’ll draw Ronald Reagan!” and proceeded to fill in the Bingo spot with a distinguished man in an 80’s suit…

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3 Things Thursday

So today is Thursday, the day that I tell you 3 things that I enjoy.  But do you know what I DO NOT enjoy?  Worms in my corn from my farm share.  I grew up in the country and I have read enough natural food books to know that this is a sign of ‘little to no pesticides’ and ‘natural living, or just plain ‘nature’, but YUCK!  All I know is that I’m supposed to eat that corn and that big green ol’ worm is chomping away and doing Lord know what else on that cob. #nothanks #imdonecomplainingnowthanksforlistening

  1.  Herbed Butter

While we’re talking about corn, let’s talk about herbed butter.  This is a super simple way to dress up your corn, bread, steak – anything you’re serving.  It’s easy, but a great presentation.  Here’s what you do:

Take an unsalted stick of butter, whip it in an electric mixer

Add any spice combinations you’d like (see some of my favorites below)

(optional) press into molds and put it in the freezer.  It’ll be solid and look super pretty.

Leftovers can be easily stored in the freezer for the next time!

Favorite Combinations (add salt to make flavor pop):

Garlic Basil

Cinnamon Honey

Jalapeno, lime, cilantro

Indian Spiced (I can’t remember all of what I put in this one, but I think turmeric, curry, garam masala)

Bonus – If you aren’t doing butter, you can use coconut oil or any dairy alternative!  Ghee works well if you’re okay with that!

 

2. This darling leopard belt

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Leopard is a neutral.  Say it with me, girls!  And leopard is so big right now.  It’s the perfect accent; a great way to gussy up your otherwise blah solid print outfits.  Throw in a leopard accessory for visual interest and all of a sudden your posh and polished.

I saw this belt in The Limited recently, but knew a good sale was coming my way, so I held off, and now it’s here.  Patience proved to be a virtue and you can snag this little ditty for 40% off!  Get it here

3.  Late summer nights hanging out in my lower-patio.

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Lower-Patio time = happy me!

 

I have found that my favorite place to unwind is outside in my lower patio.  My deck above me provides the perfect shade and I have some great furniture that I have been known to fall asleep on.  I grab a book and just chill.  I don’t do it often, but it feels like pure luxury.  I hope you find a way to unwind that makes you feel relaxed and balanced, your tank full and your heart happy.

Please comment below with some of your favorites.  I want to discover new things.  I’ll give you (and your blog) credit!

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A Story of Abuse in a Faith Community and My Path to Healing and Forgiveness

A Story of Abuse in a Faith Community and My Path to Healing and Forgiveness

A lot has been made in recent years of different pastors being removed from their positions of authority due to abusing their authority or abusing their parishioners in one way or another.  It’s different than most, but this is my story.

Most of my posts (when I do post) are about food, but lately I’ve decided to include more variety.  This one is by far my most unique and vulnerable sharing…

This weekend an every day, normal conversation lead to a painful memory of a time that I thought I had moved beyond…and I had in many ways, but sometimes the scars from the past can get scratched a bit and remind us where a wound once was.  As I share these various, loosely connected thoughts, I’ll allow you come to your own conclusion;  no wrap up, no 3 points, no packaged take-aways – all with the hope that this is beneficial for someone reading.  Allow my words to individually speak to you as they should.

Imagine me with my legs curled up underneath me, cup of hot tea in hand as I sit perched on my soft white sofa.  The (excessive) throw pillows are all on the floor around us to make room for a heart-to-heart couch conversation.  You say something that sparks a memory and I think back, long ago, to a place where I have some of the best and worst memories, to a time when I was still figuring out who I was and the world seemed somewhat simpler and yet complicated all at the same time….

I worked and volunteered at a local camp growing up.  My mother volunteered as a counselor and craft lady and I quickly became an awkward teenager junior counselor/program assistant.  I relished it and it was there that I realized that I had a talent for working with children.  Not just any children, but ‘The Challenges’ that make you want to pull your hair out and, in some cases, adopt them out of their current situations all at once.  When I turned 17 or 18 I got to be a full-grown counselor with my own cabin of little girls.  I loved spending time there and looked forward to volunteering for a few weeks every summer.  I have some lifelong friendships that I made, tested, and strengthened on those beautiful wooded grounds.  I poured my heart and soul into the work and it was there that I decided to become a teacher.

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This is Melinda as a teenager, several years after she was the youngest 8 year old in my first cabin.  Now she is grown and I had the privilege of attending her wedding 5 years ago.

During my sophomore year in college a great offer was made to me:  All summer long Assistant to the Camp Director (the title later morphed into Program’s Manager).  I got to spend my whole summer in a place I loved, serving children and working under a woman that I deeply admired.  Eventually I was in charge of the planning of the various activities and games that the kids enjoyed.  It was great.  It was hard work.  The hours were long, the pay was dismal, but it wasn’t about that; I loved my work.  It truly was a labor of love.

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There were some late night shenanigans about to go down and I was ‘on watch’.

Every now and then, I’d catch wind of the dark side of this camp, but I was so shielded from it and didn’t have to face ‘The Board’ since they rarely made any appearance at the camp.  It was tough on others though and I saw ever so slight glimpses of soul-weariness on their faces as they bounded on with the tasks of making a summer camp run properly.

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This is me doing cabin role-call at the morning flag poll.  I had lost my voice so someone is speaking for me through the walkie-talkie :)  Some weeks the kids would come up with an original song to serenade me with when I called their cabin number.

My second year on all-summer-staff some changes were made to the staff directly above me.  I continued on under new leadership, sad to see some of my favorites go, but hopeful for what the change might mean.  I was blindly optimistic.  Quickly I learned that my one boss, let’s call him No. 1, had no camp experience and was relying on his time from his military years.  I am not sure what his rank was, but I imagine he must have had spent some time being yelled at by drill sergeants and appeared to be super excited to have his shot in a position of authority.  His coworker, let’s call him No.2, under No.1, but above me, looked at this man as an incompetent mis-hire, but confessed to schmoozing him to make the team work.  No. 2 had a fiery temper, but knew who to use it on (i.e. not the board members or any parents of campers – hired staff was fair game) and was ready to wield his control.  The entrance of these men into the camp and into my life turned my happy place into a nightmarish hell.

To me, and to several onlookers, it appeared that I could do nothing right.  I was, on some occasions, spoken to about my lack of modesty in my dress (one time I was wearing khakis and a button down shirt).  To clarify, I have a body like a woman.  I have curves where woman have curves.  My one co-worker joked that this is what the men found so offensive and thought that my only option was to wear a burka (I did not).  I was told to wait on and ultimately wasn’t given promised supplies I needed for my job or given resources to get those supplies for activities (and so in order to do my job, those 12 hours off were often spent with my mother going to various stores, spending our family’s money for said purchases).  I was berated for answering the phone, for not answering the phone, for dressing too nice (it made me “look like I wasn’t working”) for being too close to my other summer staff coworkers, for not being close enough to others, for things I did not do (see story below**)  I was even told that I had lost my ‘sparkle’ (something some of us still laugh about today).  Really to list it all would be too much for me to emotionally go through or for you to hear, but it was bad.  Really bad.

Sometimes others would witness the coal-raking, other times, I alone was the witness to my castigation.  Often times I could count on a gentle hand on my back or a ‘I’m so sorry’ and ‘I’m here for you’.   I had a band of brothers one summer that constantly looked out for me and checked in on me to ensure I was okay.   I wasn’t the only one that endured what happened, but my staff position gave me the best seat in the house for it.  I DO think that some of it had to do with the fact that I was a woman.  No doubt about it.  Despite what I endured, it must have been nothing compared to one of my co-workers.  He took his own life that summer. I still don’t know the full story surrounding that, but it is my firm belief that if different staff had been in those positions of authority, he would still be alive.

I was not faultless or perfect and did not handle the adversity like I probably should have in most cases.  I could have been more gracious in some instances, I could have been bolder and less passive in others.  I made some choices then that I would definitely change now.  I have the hindsight, maturity and life experience to know that I could have done better.  My guess (and hope) is that some of the offenders probably feel the same way about some of their actions.

Years down the road I am still intrigued that my well-intentioned mother was totally okay for me to live and work under these conditions and yet, traveling to Indonesia to live with my best friend’s missionary aunt and uncle was just too far and too dangerous.  My mother was concerned about my physical safety, but didn’t fully know to be wary of my emotional or spiritual safety while I worked under these emotional-abusers.  Like a glutton for punishment, I came back until my ‘position was eliminated’ at the camp.

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Don’t be like me.  If you experience this or any type of abuse, get help and get out.  I know that’s so much easier said than done.  If you see it happening, do what you can to stop it.  Do not allow a person in authority to feel comfortable and welcomed treating people or holding power in this way.  Our communities will only change if this kind of behavior is simply not tolerated.

You might read this and wonder what my faith looks like now.  Did I leave The Church?  Am I still a believer?  I am very happy to say that I am still a believer and a member of a local church.  God in his graciousness surrounded me with loving, godly men just when I needed them. In addition to those camp brothers, when I returned to college, I worked under a remarkable man in my campus ministry.  He built me up when I arrived to our team retreat crying, broken, and insecure.  He was medicine to my soul and he and his wife are a very important part of my faith story.  He took risks on me as a leader.  I sometimes came up with outside-of-the-box ideas,  and he’d encourage me to go for it, not knowing what the outcome would be.  To him and his wife, and his coworker that spent countless hours teaching me what it meant to let go, I will be eternally grateful.

After college my best friend’s aunt and uncle took me in for a summer and allowed me to work together on their camp programming in Indonesia.  I learned so much from her and garnered so many fantastic ideas.   I was essentially her shadow, going where she went, doing what she did, always learning.  He welcomed me as part of their family and provided for me in numerous ways during my stay.  They were patient and generous with me.  I have fantastic memories from that time and from the people that I met while there. A piece of my heart is reserved specifically for Indonesia and for that family in particular.

The thing is, God isn’t like people.  God doesn’t wield His power in the way that insecure humans do.  My God doesn’t look like the man screaming a 20-something year old girl in a camp office.  My God looks like Jesus, speaking kindly and gently to the woman at the well.  He is Jesus writing in the sand while the religious men drop their rocks and walk away from the woman who was caught in the act of adultery.  My God looks like the camp brothers that heard I was crying and said, ‘Why you frontin’?’ when I greeted them with a smile after being yelled at.

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I have to make the choice to forgive – every day.  Sometimes, years down the road, you’ll realize that you need to lay the hurt and anger and betrayal all down again when a memory sparks something deep inside of you.  It’s then that you make the choice to forgive all over.  Forgiveness is rarely a one-time act.  Forgiving doesn’t mean that what was done was, is, or ever will be okay.  On the contrary, forgiving acknowledges that something wrong was done, brokenness occurred, and something needs to be restored.  Forgiveness is your first step to restoration.

I pray that you never feel any type of abuse, specifically the kind that comes from a faith community, or someone in authority over you professionally or theologically speaking.   I pray that you have people that will catch your tears and build you up and make you strong and bold in the best possible ways.  I pray that you have wonderful memories of places you hold close to your heart and times that you laugh so hard it hurts until someone has to say ‘Camp Face’ and you hold it as long as you can until someone busts out in laughter all over again.  But mostly, I pray for grace and love and peace and forgiveness, for they are the foundations of our faith.

 

And, as promised……

**The Story of the missing golf cart

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I have to share this one ridiculous thing that happened.  One day 2 of my coworkers and I spotted some blackberries on the trail.  We asked permission from No. 2 and took the golf-cart to surprise our coworkers with some fresh berries for that evening’s staff bedtime snack.  When we returned, we tried to be stealth-sneaky but were met with disapproving glances and warnings of ‘you’re in big trouble’.  It appears that somehow No. 1 was told that we took the golf cart on a 20 mile trip – yes you read that correctly, TWENTY MILES in a GOLF CART -to a local fruit farm without permission.  No. 2 NEVER SAID A THING to clarify or offer vindication and allowed this to be believed, never correcting it to say what we were really doing or that we had his permission to do take the golf cart!  He actually denied all knowledge, sat in on the scolding…and had the biggest bowl of berries that night (ummmmm….I think I might still be a little bitter about that.  Time to go deal with that, but I’m sure if I called my two coworkers and even began to mention it, we’d all bust out in raucous laughter about how silly it all was).

 

Say It Sunday!

Kids say funny things and since I’m surrounded by children, I bring you my new weekly series, ‘Say it Sunday!’

My first story comes from my best friend’s boys, who I refer to as my nephews….

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Carter (6) and Rowan (5) were playing hide-and-seek at their grandparents house.  Their grandfather went upstairs to hide and Carter and Rowan were on the hunt.  Then, they approached the stairs and froze with fear.  The upstairs was scary and there are sure to be creepy, crawly monsters up there.  And then Carter spoke, “Rowan, remember how we should be brave?”

“Yeah,” replied an apprehensive Rowan.

“Okay, then you be brave and go first”

hahaha!