Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through Fifty Historic Treasures is now available for pre-sale!

In 1977 Kenner got a wee bit delayed in making the first-ever Star Wars action figures so they created a brilliant plan to sell the toys at Christmas that year, even though the toys wouldn’t be ready until the following February. They sold an empty box with a certificate for the toys. In similar fashion, my book about toys is undergoing the finishing touches in the publication process and won’t be ready until May. HOWEVER, thanks to the internet, you can pre-purchase a copy of my book for yourself or your favorite pals for Christmas this year with the promise of having it shipped straight to your house once it finally comes out next spring. Doesn’t that sound like a good plan? You can order it now on Amazon, through Rowman and Littlefield’s own website, Barnes and Noble, BooksAMillion, or even through the Japanese bookseller Kinokuniya, and the Brazilian bookstore Livaria Cultura! Merry Christmas, everyone!


The Book Manuscript is Finished

It took 15 months, and hundreds and hundreds of hours of work but I finally finished the first full submission of my book manuscript. Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through Fifty Historic Treasures is undergoing the editorial review process. Over the next few months we will be walking through the next stages: editing the manuscript according to the feedback my reviewers give me, then copy editing, indexing, and proofing.  No word yet on a publication date, but as soon as I know more I’ll post it here.

Art-O-Mat Part II

Remember that time in October 2013 when I first saw an Art-O-Mat machine while I was at SHA in Indianapolis? Today, almost five year to the day, we have our own Art-O-Mat Machine here in my town. My editor from Springs Magazine gave me an assignment to visit our Art-O-Mat, buy a piece of art, and write a story about the experience. Story to follow in the magazine next month. In the meantime, here’s a picture of our local version of the art-vending machine and the linocut by Mona Wu that I purchased from it for only $5.

Exploring The History of American Childhood Through 50 Historic Treasures

Hiya blog readers! (All 2 of you!) I have two exciting announcements to make.

1)I am under contract to write a book for a new series through AASLH entitled “Exploring the History of American Childhood Through 50 Historic Treasures!”  I also just received a research grant through The Strong Museum.

2) I have a new website for History Joy Consulting. Check it out at http://www.historyjoyconsulting.com


Donald Trump and Pickett’s Charge

It’s been a while dear little blog. Here’s a brief glance at the adventures that I had at the Conference on Faith and History this weekend, which included meeting Sarah McCammon from NPR. From John Fea’s blog “The Way of Improvement Leads Home”

the way of improvement leads home


While I was at Regent College in Virginia Beach this weekend for the biennial meeting of the Conference on Faith and History I attended a Donald Trump rally. (More on this in a future post).  After the rally I talked with Sarah McCammon, a reporter for National Public Radio, about Trump’s visit to Gettysburg earlier in the day.

Listen here:


A little backstory.  When I met Sarah in the “press pen” at the rally I was with my friends and fellow historians Susan Fletcher and Jay Green.  Sarah was eager to talk to Susan for a future story she is doing on women and evangelicals.  Stay tuned for that story.  Susan did a great job speaking about her identity as an evangelical woman and her distaste for Donald Trump.

Following the interview Sarah and Susan (and Sarah’s young son) chatted a bit more and really hit if…

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An explanation for my absence and a new venture

Oh hello, 2016. For the one person that follows me on WordPress, here’s an explanation for my 10 month blogging hiatus followed a big announcement.

I’ve been sick with a Mystery Illness that hasn’t yet fully been explained. After 9 months of specialists, stress tests,  imaging studies, an ER visit and overnight hospital stay, and a spinal tap (yes – a spinal tap!!!) I’m still trying to recover from 2015. I didn’t write anything after April because there really wasn’t anything to write about except for lots of doctors visits, being forced to miss AASLH, and generally being an unhappy camper.


In the midst of all of that, however, I’ve started a new business. I’m very happy to announce the launch of History Joy, a history consulting company. History Joy specializes in private archives, oral histories, autobiography, book publishing, and the establishment of archival repositories. You can check out my website at http://www.historyjoyconsulting.com  and follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HistoryJoyConsulting/

I’m anticipating moving all of my history blogging to my company website, and keeping this site for some personal blogging.

Un-April Fool’s

I have been doing a lot of thinking about how my life is a little bit different this year than it was last year on this day.

Things that are true today that would have been April Fool’s jokes in this day last year:
1) I am traveling to Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore this summer! A year ago I never would have dreamed there would be an opportunity to do this so I am very excited!

2) Today my first journalist- style article went to print on the Colorado Collective. Check out my article on Stitch Studio here in the 80903 and then visit the store to sign up for one of their amazing sewing classes: http://www.colorado-collective.com/stories/2015/3/31/stitch-studio

3)I am intending to become an entrepreneur and open my own business by the year’s end. Stay tuned for details but be thinking about historical consulting, oral history interviews, and archivaly-stable time capsules. Over the past year I have discovered that there is a severe lack of job opportunities for historians where I live so I am going to create my own opportunities!


Chinese Teahouse: The People of February

IMG_4049Happy March! After a snowy and dark February I am delighted with our Colorado Bluebird Day that we are having today. To continue my regular monthly updates for my 100 People in 100 Days project, here are my musings on some of the people that I met in February:

Number of new people met in February 2015: 65


How I met them: On the first day of the month I met a woman named Beth at church, who was waiting for her daughter to finish up a marathon. A few days later I chatted up a guy at a bar named Gideon, who was in town from Denver and who works as a high school principal. I also met people at a new boot camp that I’ve been trying out, at a local gathering of my artist-friends, a Valentines’ party, and a meeting about City for Champions. Towards the end of the month I spoke at a docent-appreciation lunch at work and met some of our new tour guides. This project makes me mindful of the new people filtering in and out of my life under normal daily circumstances such as these.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the last two years of flooding have exacerbated some issues with my poor tiny house. I’ve had several people out to give me bids on what to do. The first company that looked at things in January told me that I would need to pier my house into the bedrock to the tune of $15,000. After I picked myself up off of the floor, I decided to get a second opinion and met a guy named Craig who specializes in historic preservation. He came over and gave me some very reassuring and sensible advice: take care of the water issues and patch up the cracks. We’re going to grade the front of the lot to move water away from the foundation and epoxy the cracks. Through this experience I also met a structural engineer named Steve who came over with his laser level and confirmed that course of action. A structural engineer and a contractor: two people I didn’t know to hope not to meet. All in all, though, I think they are good guys and even though I’m frustrated with the circumstances I met them under I’m thankful for them.

On the weekend of our Snowpocolypse (which didn’t materialize as powerfully as predicted), I attended an orientation session for my cross-cultural trip to Southeast Asia. While I was annoyed to be working on a weekend, it was a very fruitful occasion for meeting new people: at least 19 new faces.

Most Interesting Person: On the last day of February, two friends and I walked to a new Chinese teahouse in our neighborhood. It was a surprising experience! Jars filled with teas and herbs lined the walls, and the young female owner told us about all of them. We thought that she would give us a cup of tea and leave us to enjoy it on our own, but instead she sat down with us and served us the entire time. We watched in amazement as she warmed our tiny cups, gracefully pouring water onto her wooden tea box. To our surprise, she made herself the focus of the conversation and she told us quite a lot about herself. Her name is Tanya and she’s a young immigrant from China. She opened her tea house a year ago. She had such a sad, wistful expression on her face when she asked how my friends and I know each other. She told us that she misses her girlfriends in China, and that on a Saturday there they would spend all day shopping. After she expressed how homesick she was, she moved on to some very strong thoughts on all kinds of matters. She hates Milan, Italy. She hates Denver too, but does like Colorado Springs. (This is my opinion on the essence of both cities too). She thinks we’re all too busy in America. She also told us about how she learned about strippers through a neighboring store that sells “stripper shoes,” and innocently asked us, “It’s normal in America for people to not wear clothes, right?” We quickly corrected her. Anyway, homesick Tanya needs some friends.

I think a lot about building intentional relationships: deeply investing in people’s lives, minds, and souls. As a good INFJ I think it’s pretty natural for me to see straight through to a person’s inner being and care about them. For the last several years I have tried hard to build these kinds of friendships with the people close to me, but this project makes me realize that I need to be intentional with the new people coming into my life as well. In church yesterday we heard one of our local young business owners talking about strategically building friendships with the people that we meet around town. He and his business partner have built a wonderful gathering space for the community and they are deeply investing in the lives of their staff members and in the lives of their customers. I started my 100 People in 100 Days project last year because I had just endured a bitter season of loss and simply needed to add some extra people into my social circle, and to have a challenge to pull me out of a dark place. Four hundred and twenty three days later, I am thinking about what it would mean intentionally invest in Tanya’s life in order to care for her inner self.