My Favorite Catholic Books – From Conversion and Beyond

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. It keeps expanding, and I keep putting it off. Recently, Kelly has published some posts on this subject (part 1 and part 2), and the other day a friend texted me asking for recommendations on this very topic. Plus, Lent starts next week, which means I’m especially thinking about and wanting to talk about great, spiritually-stimulating reading. So I think this is just the right time to finally put my thoughts together and write a post about my favorite Catholic books.

I love books. I love Catholicism. I especially love books that help me understand and/or practice Catholicism better. I’m sharing some of my favorites here.

These first four are the books that I found especially helpful at the very beginning of my conversion process:

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis – This isn’t a specifically Catholic book, but it was the very first Christian book I read when I first started thinking that maybe I wasn’t an atheist. When I began reading it, I thought God was probably real, but didn’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God. This book helped me see otherwise.

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom – Again, not a specifically Catholic book, and not necessarily written as a spiritual book either, but the simple and profound faith of the people in this book was so inspiring and powerful, I couldn’t help but be moved toward belief.

Rome Sweet Home, by Scott and Kimberly Hahn – Scott Hahn was an anti-Catholic, Presbyterian minister, his wife Kimberly is a Protestant minister’s daughter. This book lays out all the reasons they both eventually came to see the truth and beauty of Catholicism and to convert. Once I started to believe in the basic tenets of Christianity in general, this book helped me to understand the Catholic faith in particular and to realize that I wanted to become Catholic.

150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know, by Patrick Madrid – It seems like a common criticism of Catholicism is that it isn’t very Biblically based. This book shows that in fact it is, pointing out specific scripture passages to support things like the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and the Catholic emphasis on faith and works as the means to salvation, not just faith alone.


After I got the basics of Christianity and Catholicism, I started really delving into understanding the Faith more and deepening my spiritual life. More favorites from the past (almost) three years:

A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do In the Liturgy by Edward Sri – This book is fantastic. I learned so much about the Biblical basis of everything we do during the Mass, what everything means and why we do it. For anyone who ever feels lost or unsure what the point is, or even just wants to feel more connected to what is happening during Mass, it’s a must read.

My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir, by Colleen Carroll Campbell – This book helped me learn about how the saint are present and active in our lives and can lead and inspire us. I’ve read this book twice and gotten so much out of it both times.

Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, by Therese de Lisieux – A beautiful story of an imperfect soul striving for sainthood and finding it with her “little way.” I love the stories of her struggles to be unselfish and to show her love of God by doing little things every day.

33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration, by Fr. Michael Gaitley – This is a guided retreat book. It has short readings for each of 33 days, focused on consecrating oneself to Jesus through His Blessed Mother. It is so rich in insights about Mary’s role in leading us closer to her Son. I have read this book three times and gotten more out of it each time. The first time, I read the book. The second time, I read the book and completed the retreat companion workbook that goes with it. The third time, just recently, I got together a group of people at my parish and led a group in doing the retreat together, with the book, workbook, and DVD series by Fr. Gaitley. Each time, it was an enlightening experience.

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, by Jason Evert – Looking at the life and teachings of Saint John Paul the Great by examining the things he loved the most: young people, human love, the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, and the Cross, is a profound way to understand him and his amazing life and mission, as well as these beautiful elements of our Faith. This book moved me in so many ways, and made me really wish that I had been Catholic when he was the pope.

The Real Story: Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible, by Edward Sri and Curtis Martin – These authors bring the Bible together in such a way that it becomes one startlingly clear, cohesive story of God’s perfect plan for salvation. It’s a short and very easy-to-read book that left me feeling like so much I had read and thought I understood suddenly made so much more sense.

The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today, by Timothy M. Gallagher – I had heard of the examen prayer a few times, and really wanted to learn how to do it. My parish offered a few opportunities to learn about it through classes, but I wasn’t able to attend them. I asked my husband to get this book for me for Christmas, and I am so happy I did. I love this method of prayer and have been practicing it daily since completing the book. The book clearly teaches how to do it and why this powerful prayer is beneficial. It is a wonderful way to turn ones focus toward recognizing God’s will and trying to pay attention to and follow the stirrings in our heart that are God’s promptings throughout each day.

I’m always looking for new books to read to help me grow my Catholic knowledge and faith. If you have any must-reads in this area, please share them in the comments! AND, Kelly is hosting a link up with lots of others’ favorites as well, so check out those posts for even more wonderful books, just in time for some Lenten reading.

Working on Forgiveness

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about anger and forgiveness, love and selfishness, holding grudges and letting go. For several years, but in the past several months in particular, I have been trying to figure out how to deal with it when some people are doing wrong toward others that I love (and to a lesser degree toward me). I’ve tried to be the peacemaker, I’ve tried to talk sense and reason,  I’ve tried to simply be kind and hope that things will get better. Lately I’ve been feeling like it has all been for nothing.

And I’ve been pissed. Oh man, I’ve had some serious righteous anger going on over here. Roiling, gut-wrenching, at-times-preventing-me-from-sleep anger. I loathe the feeling of impotent rage – when someone is doing something so obviously, hurtfully, terribly wrong, and there’s nothing I can do about it. And I’m not going to go into detail in this post about what the others’ hurtful behaviors have been, because this post isn’t really about them. It’s about me and how I am trying to figure out how to respond to it.

So here I sit. Struggling with my own glaring imperfections that make it difficult for me to let go of anger, and I think about how I want to be. A few years ago, I probably would have just let myself stew in this sense of righteousness. I probably would have been mad and stayed mad and liked it, in a miserable sort of way.

But now I know that I don’t want to be that way. I don’t want it for myself, and I don’t want to set a bad example for my kids.


So every time I get to thinking angry thoughts about being hurt and having my loved ones hurt, I try to turn my thoughts toward forgiveness and love. Usually I fail pretty miserably, but I keep trying. And here’s why:

When I’m focused on being angry at someone else for being selfish and mean and unforgiving and hurtful, I’m not remembering the grace and mercy of God. Instead, I need to focus on what Jesus taught us about how to treat others. He said to forgive “seventy times seven times,” to “turn the other cheek,” to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

He also said, “Pick up your cross and follow me.” This is one of my crosses to bear. And as such, if I let it be, it’s a way for me to grow, and become more faithful, more loving, more forgiving.

And really, part of the reason I’m writing this is to remind myself of these things. Because it’s so easy to forget, and to go right back to relishing that angry voice in my head, to thinking, “how dare they?” and rehearsing would-be conversations in my head in which I really tell them off.

So I’m trying. At least a few times a day I’m reminding myself to be forgiving, to work on feeling love toward others, even when they have hurt me. I’m offering up my frustration and sorrow. I’m going to confession and admitting my anger. I’m praying for those who are doing wrong, who are hurting me and my loved ones, and for all of us to find it in our hearts to be forgiving.

And I’m doing all of this very, very imperfectly and with a lot of struggle. I wish it was easy for me. But then it wouldn’t be such an opportunity for change and growth.

2015’s Top 10

It’s mid-January, and I’m just now getting around to looking back at the most popular posts from 2015. I always think it’s fun to see what posts were read the most. As usual, my most popular post ever –  9 Reasons I’m Not a Feminist (And Maybe You Aren’t Either), which I wrote in January 2013, got the most clicks this year (with around three times as many as the most popular post that I actually wrote this year). This is one I keep thinking I’m going to revisit with a new post (because the first one wasn’t very well-written), and I never do. I think perhaps 2016 needs to be the year…

Anyway, of the posts I wrote in 2015, here are the top 10:

10. A Sacramental Blessing – Thoughts on What Was Missing From My Marriage  – This is one of my favorites from the last year. A favorite memory and a favorite post.

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9. Home At Last – The Move and a Few Kitchen Photos – The post I wrote after we finally moved into our new house. I love my kitchen.


8. Seven of My Favorite Things About Edel – A quick takes post with a few of the highlights of my trip to the Edel Gathering with Super Friend this summer.

7. The Kindergarten Birthday Party Dilemma – It was kind of fun for me to go back and reread this one, since I didn’t really remember deliberating about this issue as much as I did. Of course it all came rushing back when I read the post. The birthday party turned out to be just fine. This year Miss has asked to have her birthday party in Iowa with her cousins again, like we used to do for her, so that’s an easy choice this time.

6. Thoughts on Pre-ultrasound Worry and a Gender Reveal – Everyone always wants to read the gender reveal posts :)


5. Teaching Girls to Respect Themselves is Not Shaming Them – This one is actually another of my favorite posts from the year, on a topic I feel very strongly about.

4. An Adventure in Chicago – I’m kind of surprised that this one was so popular. We had a fantastic trip, but this post was mostly just for myself to commemorate it and for my family to see some fun photos of our adventures. It’s not one I would expect many others to be interested in. But, cool.


3. Ditching the Cover Up at the Pool – Another post near to my heart, and pretty difficult to post because it includes a photo of me in my bathing suit.

2. A Little Secret… – The post announcing this pregnancy, including my thoughts about how this one feels different, after struggling to get pregnant, after loss, after conversion.


1. On Abortion – I Used to Look Away Too – It’s hard for me to think about, and to write about, the pro-choice attitudes I used to have. The shame and embarrassment resulting from my previous way of thinking about the issue leads me to cringe a little bit that this post was read so much. But I am also very grateful for all the clicks it got, for the same reason.

So, those are the top ten of the year according to what others liked, or at least clicked, the most. Some of my favorites are in there too, especially #10, #6, #5, #2, and #1, but a few of the others that I liked the best didn’t make the cut, like On Becoming a Runner. Again. Thoughts on Community From an Introvert, “Evangelize” is Not a Four-Letter WordMy Kids Went to Vacation Bible School and It Made Me Cry, and On Humility (or Lack Thereof).

I guess those are my top 10.

What was your favorite?

Thoughts on Pre-ultrasound Worry, and a Gender Reveal

When I first found out I was pregnant with this baby, I was, of course ecstatic, but I was also nervous. Having lost two babies between my girls and this baby, I was somewhat worried from the very start.

But I also decided very early on, that I did not want to experience the miracle of this pregnancy in a constant state of fear. I knew that I wanted to feel joy and wonder at the life of this little one, even if my pregnancy was again short lived and I didn’t get to see my baby on this earth.

With a few exceptions, my husband and I did not tell people that I was pregnant until I got through the first trimester, but I also did not try to hide it at all. Since I had lost so much weight right before getting pregnant, and I started showing very early, I knew that most people had figured it out. Some people asked me, and I enjoyed admitting it. We told our girls shortly after the very first ultrasound showed that baby was looking good.


I wanted to celebrate however much time we would get with this baby.

But I’m almost 40. I’ve lost two babies.  There has still been worry. The four-week wait time between OB appointments when I’d get to hear that little heart beat have seemed interminable.

I have tried to give it all to God. Having faith has helped a great deal to keep my anxiety at bay, and whenever I would start to feel afraid, I would return to my go to: “Jesus, I trust in You.” Never fails.

And getting to the point of being able to feel the baby moving has helped a ton too.

Yesterday, we had the Big Ultrasound. Everyone, of course, asked if we were going to find out the baby’s gender and expressed excitement over finding out whether we are having a boy or a girl. And every time the subject would come up, I would think to myself, “But we have to see other important stuff first. Gender is great, but I need to know our baby is healthy.”


Finding out the gender was the side show for me this time.

But not for the baby! Literally, the very first clear image that came up when the tech placed the ultrasound thingy on my belly was a very obvious shot in which the baby was announcing that he is all BOY.

My husband called out right away, “It’s a boy!” And I nearly burst into tears. I kind of knew it was a boy, because this pregnancy has been different in many ways from my pregnancies with my girls. But to have it confirmed, in such a fun way, was an amazing moment. I will never forget it.


(On the way home, we stopped and got a few onesies as our way to reveal the gender to the girls)

And happily, the rest of the ultrasound (during which I felt like I was often holding my breath) looked wonderful too. Our little guy looks healthy and strong, and I breathed a big sigh of relief and sent up many prayers of thanksgiving when it was all done.

A boy. I’m absolutely thrilled… and slightly terrified. It’s a whole new world.

The girls are very excited to be having a baby brother. Miss has been praying for a baby brother for many months, and she is certain this is a direct answer to her prayers.


The two older girls began working on “baby books” for their brother right away, including drawings of our family with him in utero, drawings of him being born, and even drawings of him and his wife and three kids when he grows up (pictures of Lass’s drawings in that order):




They’ve got things all planned out for him it seems.

I’m getting used to saying things like “My son” and “Your brother.” It’s kind of surreal, and absolutely wonderful.

We’re having a boy!!

2015 Recap in 12 Photos

2015 was a year filled with joy and change. It had ups and downs, but mostly really wonderful ups. Here’s a quick recap of the year in one photo for each month (and BTW, it’s really hard to choose just one pic per month!):


My husband and I had our marriage sacramentally blessed in the Catholic Church. It was one of the most memorable and beautiful experiences of the year, made extra special because our girls and closest friends were there to celebrate with us.

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Miss turned six and Lass got glasses.



Lass turned three, I turned 39, we had lots of fun celebrating feast days, and we learned a lot through our observation of Lent. I cleaned out this closet (below) and many other baby and maternity items. It was a painful process to give almost all of it away, but it felt like the right thing to do.



We did lots of work on our house to get it ready to sell. We went to visit my parents in Kentucky right after Easter and had a wonderful visit.



Miss broke her arm and lost her first tooth. Miss and Lass started soccer. My husband and I ran the Dam to Dam, a half marathon in Des Moines. We took a big “field trip” to Chicago and visited the Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo.



Miss had her last day of school away from home. We put our house on the market. We wrapped up our homeschool year and hit the road. We went to band practice in Iowa and visited the amazing Grotto of the Redemption. And we took a great vacation to the farm, our only one of the year because of the construction that started there around the time of our trip.



I made the decision to not send Miss back to school away from home for the 2015-2016 school year. It was a huge relief (for both of us I think). Super Friend and I went to the Edel Gathering. My family spent lots of time at the pool and started a new weekly tradition of heading straight to the pool after 9am Mass.



We traveled to Iowa for a family wedding, at which my husband and I and several of his family members performed in the band for the reception. Lass turned five. The girls got adorable haircuts. We started gearing up for our homeschool year, but managed to squeeze every last bit out of summer first.



Miss started first grade, Lass started kindergarten, and Sis started preschool. We hit the ground running with lots of field trips, including a big trip to Louisville, where my Mom met us and spent two days there with us. While we were there, I found out I was pregnant.



We moved!!!



We said goodbye to our old house for good and finally closed on its sale. We took a fun trip to Iowa to visit with cousins and so my husband could butcher our hog.



We celebrated my husband’s birthday by baking him a cake and keeping our tradition of having the girls choose gifts for him at the dollar store. We tried to celebrate Christmas and the special liturgical days of the Church in every way we could. The girls screamed “WOW!” every time we drove past a house with even the slightest bit of Christmas lights decorating it. It was a great holiday season.

Overall, 2015 was a pretty fantastic year. I kind of loved 2015. Even the parts that were kind of a pain (like getting our house ready to sell, and having it on the market, and dealing with the people who bought it for many months before the closing finally happened) were ultimately for good, as they helped us get to this amazing place where we are now.

I’m happily anticipating what 2016 has in store for us. And on that note, I’m going to add one more favorite photo, just because I can’t not include this one:


I’m linking this post up with others who are doing 2015 recaps with monthly photos at Revolution of Love. Check it out.

Happy New Year!

Families – Holy and Otherwise

I have had family on my mind a lot lately. Family relationships, family blessings, family conflicts…

I have been thinking about how truly blessed I am to have been given this amazing little family I get to share life with every day.

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And I’m so thankful for the many people I get to count as members of my family.


^Miss drew these pictures, wrapped them, and gave them to me on Christmas. The top one is our family, the bottom one is my family of origin, my Mom, Dad, brother, and me.

At the same time, I’ve been thinking about how family ties can be strained, stressed, or broken. I’ve had these damaged relationships on my mind a lot lately. I have been praying for those dealing with difficult family relationships, particularly at Christmas, a special family time of year. It breaks my heart to know people who struggle in this way.

Bringing these thoughts and prayers even more into focus, today the Catholic Church observed the feast of the Holy Family — the perfect example of family life. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph provide for us the quintessential model of how we should try to be in our own families. They were kind, loving, charitable, and always focused on how God wanted them to live, rather than on their own plans or selfish desires.


I try my hardest to be this way with all those I love, and I mess it up in various ways every single day. But today’s focus on the Holy Family reminded me that I have help with my efforts. It’s not just me, all on my own, trying to figure this out. I have a model. And I have the ability to pray for the intercession of the Holy Family and for the grace of God to help me live up to this example in my own life.

I also have Mass, and the sacraments, and the Bible.

And the Mass readings for today were especially moving and relevant to my reflections on family relationships of late. The second reading in particular (which in its entirety was Colossians 3:12-21) was beautiful and just perfect for a day focused on family. Here’s the first part of it:

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.

This. Right here is what family life is all about. I want this in myself and in my family. I want this for all families. For all relationships. For all human interactions.

I feel like I might need to print this out and carry it around in my pocket. Maybe we all do.

I know not all family conflicts can be fixed simply by remembering that God has called us to be kind and humble, to forgive and love each other. But it sure is a place to start.

I pray daily for my family. I’ll be praying for yours too.

Enjoying the Work More Than the Break

Saturday night, my husband and I went out for a nice dinner, just the two of us. It had been quite a while since we had done so. It felt like a much deserved break from all of the work we had been doing on Friday and Saturday, cutting and grinding meat from the elk he got hunting in September and the hog he butchered a few weeks ago, to get it ready for packaging into sausage.

Heading into the weekend, I had really been looking forward to an evening out with my husband. And I had really been dreading all the work of helping him process the meat. It was a given that I would help him, but I was not looking forward to it, and I figured it would just be something to offer up.

The funny thing is, as much as I had been looking forward to dinner as a break from all the work we were doing (and we did have a nice time), I actually had more fun with my husband when we were working together. I enjoyed the work more than the break!

On Friday we spent a lot of time out on our screened porch cutting meat into pieces small enough to be fed through the meat grinder. It doesn’t sound like a terribly enjoyable task, but it was actually a lot of fun. We had music playing, and we laughed and talked as we worked.

Saturday, he ground the meat and we got the whole family involved with packaging it. We had around 60 pounds of elk meat to grind and package, along with pork that had been made into about 60 pounds of brats, 40 pounds of chorizo, and 30 pounds of Italian sausage. I feel like I spent the whole day repeatedly washing the grinder and the stuffer and the huge plastic meat bins.


But the family was working together to get it done, and it was so much fun. The girls marked all the bags, kept the tape ready to seal the bags, and stacked the filled packages neatly into the bins for taking to the freezer (in fancy dress up, even).


The girls worked with us on the brats yesterday too, and I just loved seeing how proud they were to be able to help.



Sometimes the things that bring me joy and help me to feel fulfilled aren’t the things I expect. The best part of my weekend wasn’t the fancy dinner with my husband on Saturday night. It was the companionship that came from working hard with him on something worthwhile. It was the feeling of being a team and being happy to support him. It was the joy of watching my girls get so excited about being able to contribute. These are the real stuff of marriage and family.


After all the work was done, my husband fired our pizza oven for the first time, and we had a pizza party and family movie night.




It was an extremely exhausting, and thoroughly enjoyable, weekend.

Trying on Some New Traditions, Also Known As Liturgical Baby Steps

I love this time of year.

I always have, but since becoming Catholic, it’s even more wonderful. It’s become more packed with meaning and different ways to celebrate. I’m a lover of tradition, and we’ve begun bringing in some new traditions to our family to celebrate many of the feast days that are so abundant during Advent.

There are some old traditions that I haven’t let go of, even though many will say that a true observance of Advent means that we should. We still put up our Christmas tree and decorate it fully on the day after Thanksgiving.


Since becoming Catholic, I’ve discovered that lot of people don’t decorate their Christmas tree or do much, if any, actual Christmas celebrating until Christmas day, and then they celebrate for the 12 days after Christmas. I think that’s fantastic, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to implement that in my family, and I don’t think I really even want to.

I think that’s okay.




I do try to emphasize the waiting aspect of Advent with my kids. We have an Advent Wreath. We do a Jesse Tree, thanks to Kendra and these ornaments (I did a version of Method B, printed the images provided onto printable and ironable fabric, and then ironed them onto felt – no sewing!). We open different Christmas books during each day of Advent, that I’ve wrapped in purple or pink paper, depending on the week. We put out our shoes for the feast of St. Nicholas.

These are things that I’ve gradually added in. This is only my third religious Christmas, so I’m trying to take baby steps. I’m learning what works for us and what doesn’t. I can do an Advent wreath. I can do a Jesse tree. I can’t not decorate my Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. It’s a family tradition that I love too much. Maybe some year, we’ll decide to move back the day we do it, but that’s not this year.


This year I’m trying to add in a few new traditions. Tuesday was the Feast (or Solemnity??) of the Immaculate Conception. The girls enjoyed providing a little bit of decoration by rounding up all the Mary statues and holy cards from around the house.


Front and center was Miss’s Immaculate Conception peg doll that she specifically requested for her birthday a couple of years ago. She was pretty excited to put that out there.

I decided to implement a new Immaculate Conception tradition of eating an all-white dinner, since the Immaculate Conception emphasizes Mary’s purity and preservation from sin. White = pure… so, dinner:


This dinner was a last minute decision, so I chose things that I could make with minimal effort. Cheese ravioli in butter, roasted cauliflower, and poached fish. The result was okay. The fish was supposed to be halibut poached in olive oil, but I couldn’t get halibut at my grocery store so I had to settle for cod. Then I burned the heck out of my olive oil and had to start over again with vegetable oil. Cod poached in vegetable oil. It was about as tasty as it sounds. BUT, the rest of the food was good and the girls really got into the reason we were eating white food, which is the whole point, obviously. And of course we had vanilla ice cream topped with white chocolate chips afterward. Over all, I’d say this is a tradition we can continue. Next year I’ll plan ahead a bit and chose a better recipe for white food though.

Yesterday we celebrated St. Juan Diego’s feast day. This one was pretty easy to do, because our parish had a “Mary Party,” with our associate pastor in attendance as Juan Diego himself.


The kids played games and made a craft and they absolutely loved it.


Saturday is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I’m making quesadillas for dinner, and maybe we’ll do some sort of craft. We’ll read a book about her that the girls will open that morning.

Sunday is St. Lucy’s feast day. This one always seems like it has so much potential for fun celebrating, but I just can’t bring myself to make saffron buns from scratch. Maybe I’ll try at least making cinnamon rolls the way Lacy suggests in this post as something different and special to mark the day. I can probably even manage to craft St. Lucy crowns with my girls or something.

You can see I really plan this stuff in advance.

I think the point for me is that I’m trying to gradually add in more activities that acknowledge the beauty of all our Church has for us to celebrate this season, hoping that these things will become traditions for us and that my girls will look forward to them each year. I try to do this all year long, but this season is special because there’s so much potential.

If we don’t make funny-shaped cinnamon rolls or paper candle crowns on Sunday, I’m not going to beat myself up. We have a book about St. Lucy and I’ll print out a coloring page and call it good. I don’t want observance and celebration of the liturgical stuff to be stressful for me or for them.

Baby steps, right?

Rat Poison and a Trip to See Santa (7QT)

If you are a pet owner and are ever so unfortunate as to see chewed open, and empty, mouse poison bait boxes at the opening to your garage right when you have just gotten your children into the car for a promised and eagerly anticipated trip to see Santa, have no fear. Here is your step-by-step guide for how to handle such a situation:


These dogs are awesome, but they chew everything.

  1. Go ahead and let your kids get in their car seats. Put Christmas movies on their car DVD players. Don’t tell them about the possible deadly poisoning of their beloved pets yet. This will keep them contained and un-hysterical while you proceed to dealing with potential poisoning.
  2. Call your vet. Get a little freaked out when they tell you that knowing the type of poison and its active ingredient is essential for correct treatment of your dogs (because of course you don’t know this information). Get a little more freaked out when they tell you that you have to induce vomiting in your dogs, as you imagine the horror of sticking your finger down poor dogs’ throats… Get relieved a little bit when they tell you that you just have to give them peroxide.
  3. Get bottle of peroxide. Thank God that you have peroxide. Wander around for a few minutes trying to find something that will work well for administering peroxide to dogs. Thank God again when one of the men at your house working on your kitchen backsplash (who overheard your conversation with the vet) mentions that he had to do the same thing with his dog and that it worked well to put the peroxide in ice cream.
  4. Put leashes on your dogs and take them outside with bottle of peroxide and a spoon. Realize you need bowls and ice cream. Start to take the dogs back inside to mix up a concoction for them. Answer questions of your now-starting-to-get-a-little-impatient children with a (mostly) cheerful, “Please be patient girls. Mom just has to take care of something with the puppies before we can go.” Get bowls and ice cream and mix the prescribed amount of peroxide into each. Take dogs outside on leashes again with bowls of peroxide-laced ice cream. Feel a little guilty as the dogs eagerly lap up the ice cream. Walk around with them until the desired result starts happening. Smile and nod at the roofing guys working on your house when they look at you like you’re nuts as you’re holding your retching dogs on leashes.
  5. When the purging is completed, go inside again and put dogs into their kennel (just in case they aren’t quite done vomiting). Go back out to put in a new movie for youngest daughter who has informed you that she needs a new DVD (Christmas movies are so short!). Realize that her DVD player has stopped working. Bite the inside of your cheek to keep from swearing. Try to fix DVD player and fail. Continue to resist the urge to swear. Again plead with children to be patient as you go back inside and call exterminator who placed the bait boxes in your garage many months ago. Thank God again that he answers his phone and provides the information you need.
  6. Call vet’s office with the active ingredient of the poison. Wait for receptionist to speak to vet. When she says the vet is with a patient and will have to call you back, use the time to Google the probable course of action and go out and address the DVD situation. Explain to children that you might have to postpone the visit to Santa because the dogs ate some mouse poison and you will probably have to take them to the vet. Deal (mostly) calmly with the wails and protests and cries of “Are the dogs going to be okay???”
  7. When the vet’s office calls back and tells you you will have to bring the dogs in to be weighed so they can get some medication, put them back on leashes, load them in the car, drive 25 minutes to the vet’s office, get said medication, drive 25 minutes home, leave kids in car, take dogs inside, give them medication, and go back out to car to take kids to see Santa, even though it is now over two hours after your intended time for leaving to do so. Offer up the fact that your kids (and you) will again be skipping nap/quiet time (for the fourth time that week). Take a snack out for kids since it’s now lunch time and you have a 30 minute drive to the mall. Relish the cheers that come from your back seat when you tell the kids they’ll be going to see Santa after all. Thank God that your dogs will be okay. Then enjoy the heck out of the rest of your day.


I’m linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes Friday. Even though it’s Saturday.


A Little Secret…

Well, now it’s officially out there – my little secret that hasn’t really been much of a secret because I’ve only halfheartedly been keeping it one. Anyone who has seen me in person in the past two months is well aware of it, but I made it “Facebook official” this morning, so I’m happy and excited to finally write about it here as well.


^^ This was me at approximately 4 weeks pregnant, so clearly this “secret” hasn’t really been very secret.

Baby #4 is due to arrive sometime in late May or early June. My actual due date is May 31st, but none of my girls paid any attention to that and were always late, so I’m anticipating a June birthday for this little one.


^^ 13 weeks ^^

I feel really at a loss for how to adequately express the joy and gratitude I feel about this baby. Of course, I’ve been overjoyed each time I’ve been pregnant with one of my girls. Obviously. But this time it’s just sort of different.

This time it’s a little more intense, because it took so long to get here. After two and a half years of doctor’s appointments, and injections, and procedures, and many negative pregnancy tests, and two miscarriages… this feels a little miraculous.

Add to that the fact that I now have an understanding of and appreciation for the hand of God in creating this new life (which I didn’t have with my girls since I had all of them before my conversion), and it’s all just really amazing, and I don’t know how to explain the overwhelming emotions I have about all of it very well.

Here’s one way to illustrate it a bit:

We told the girls about their sibling about a month ago, after I had my first doctor’s appointment and ultrasound. The ultrasound tech happened to print out three pictures of the baby that all looked just about the same, so we gave each of the girls one of the printouts and asked them if they knew what it was. They made a few random guesses, and then one of them said, “Is that me in Momma’s tummy?” “Nooo,” I said. “That’s someone in my tummy, but not you.”

The dawning realization that was flickering across Miss’s face as she began to understand, and then the pure joy on all of their faces when we confirmed for them that they were holding pictures of their sibling was absolutely priceless.


They’re pretty excited.

They tell everyone we see, from their gym teachers, to the pastoral associate at our parish, to the grocery store checkout lady. They are constantly hugging and talking to my belly. Miss has checked out books from the library about how babies develop in utero. It’s all quite adorable, and I’m soaking it up.

I’m trying to savor all of it, even the exhaustion, lower back pain (already!), weird cravings (anything with eggs, especially sandwiches with eggs over easy and sausage/egg/cheese biscuits, McDonald’s french fries, and Indian food, all different from the cravings I had with the girls if you’re wondering), and other pregnancy symptoms.

Joyous. Amazing. Miraculous.

I think that sums it up.


P.S. Thank you all so much for the wonderful outpouring of love and support we have received with this new blessing. I appreciate every hug, smile, and kind word from each one of you.