7 Quick Takes, Lying on my back with my head in a cabinet

— 1 —

One more day till spring break.  One kid has a fever, and two are complaining that their stomachs hurt.  This does not bode well for our “vacation”.  Not that we’re going anywhere, but I’d like to do something other than nurse sick kids all week.  Please pray that the amazing Lear immune system kicks in and everyone gets/stays healthy.

— 2 —

The Dude unknowingly paid me a lovely compliment recently.  In sharing with me how he would describe me to a priest that he was looking forward to meeting, he said, “You might know my mom.  She’s kind of tall [what?!], with brown hair, green eyes… and she’s freakishly Christian.”  I said, “Dude, did you just describe me as freakishly Christian?” to which he replied, “Yeah, mom.  You’re like Jimmy John’s.  They’re freakishly fast.  You’re freakishly Christian.”

A mom could be a lot of “freakish” things to her ten year old son.  Freakishly Christian?  OK.  I’ll take it.

— 3 —

Now, this might lead some of you to wonder as to the spiritual life of my dear son. I’m trying, folks.  ‘Nuff said.

— 4 —

My Catholic birthday was Wednesday!  I had great fun telling Bonita that I’m only one year older than her… in the faith that is.  Boo and I usually attend Mass on Wednesdays because that’s when the big kids go with school.  It wasn’t easy getting there this week, but we made it, although we arrived a few minutes late.  I’m so glad we did.  There was something incredibly special about receiving the Eucharist, reflecting on the fact that it was nine years ago to the day that I first received this precious gift, and feeling incredibly grateful for having been called into the Church.  I guess I’ve never knowingly attended Mass on my Catholic birthday before, but you’d better believe I’ll never miss it again.

— 5 —

The same day happens to be my patron saint’s feast day.  My RCIA class was never encouraged to choose a patron saint, so I found mine a few years later, when I was struggling in my Arbonne business and seeking support.  I Googled “patron saint for business women” and discovered St. Margaret Clitherow.  At the time, the similarities between my life seemed quite remarkable – and, no, not because of the second sentence of the link referenced above. 🙂  She was a convert, whose husband did not convert in her lifetime (Ray at this time showed no signs of conversion).  She had three children, two boys and a girl, as did I at the time.  And she was a business woman, helping her husband in his business.  In addition to these similarities, I hoped that, if ever I were presented with persecution such as she underwent, I would respond in the same manner.  And thus, I took St. Margaret Clitherow as my patron saint.  It wasn’t until later that I realized her feast day and my Catholic birthday were one and the same.  The actual day of her death – March 25th – also happens to be a notable day in our family; the day Bear finally came home from the NICU.



— 6 —

With the housing market going crazy, and our neighbors having sold their house four days after they put in on the market, we are in a frenzy to get the house ready for sale.  For the first time in my life, I painted a room all by myself.  And I put up the new shower curtain rod and towel hooks.  OK, OK, this may seem silly to you do-it-yourselfers out there, but this was a major accomplishment for me.  It left me feeling empowered that, just because I’m a woman with four kids, doesn’t mean I can’t tackle a project and get ‘er done.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture before the kids made their usual mess in the bathroom and Boo screwed up the aesthetic anyways by peeing on her white towel so now a pink one is hanging in her place.  Maybe next week I’ll get that picture up for you. 😉

— 7 —

Since I don’t have the aforementioned pic, I’ll grace you with another, less flattering one.  In fact, this may be one of the most unflattering pictures ever taken of me.  OK, probably not, especially since the illusion of a possible six pack under the IU shirt does exist (trust me, it’s only an illusion).  Since my dear husband posted it all over Facebook, I might as well share it here as well.  Take note of the absolute glee with which I appear to do plumbing work, with a huge smile and arms uplifted as if to say, “GOOOOOOO, Pipes!”.  It’s like I’m the plumbing cheerleader or something.  Instead of pompoms, I hold a wrench, and in lieu of a cute little cheer costume, I don elegant safety goggles.  I don’t jump up and down and do acrobatics, though.  My work is done lying on my back (People! That is not where I was going!) with my head stuck in a cabinet.

From there we could go off on all sorts of tangents, so I’d best end this post.  Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment so I know you stopped by!

fixing the sink cropped



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Don’t Read This Post if You Don’t Need a Miracle

I’m seriously nearly giddy that it’s March 24th.  Because tomorrow is March 25th.  And you know what March 25th is, right?


OK, OK, I do get moderately excited about any Marian feast, but I’m especially excited because I finally get to start praying the Impossible Novena again.

What’s the Impossible Novena, you ask?  Well, I learned about it a year ago from my friend Katie over at Noise in the Neighborhood.  In fact, she beat me to the punch and posted about it again earlier this evening.

Here’s the 4-1-1:  It’s a nine month novena.

Yes, you heard me.  Not nine days.  Not nine weeks.  Nine months.  ‘Cause that’s how long it took for baby Jesus to be born, ya dig?

And since His birth was miraculous, and there are three Persons in the Trinity, you choose three big, seemingly impossible, miracles for which you would like to pray.

Of the three miracles for which I prayed last year, two of them were answered in a tangible way.  The third was difficult to quantify, but I do believe that it was answered as well.

But the most amazing part – to me – of praying this novena was the extreme graces that I received – which I was not requesting, but I was oh-so-happy to accept.  I truly believe that it was because of the Impossible Novena that I became a regular adorer, which led to my consecration to Jesus through Mary, which created a domino effect of personal growth in this still sadly far-too-many-beads-short soul.

So, you start on the Feast of the Annunciation, and end Christmas day.  However, contrary to what you might think, it was never a chore to pray this, but rather something that I looked forward to every day.  I have a terrible habit of putting my novena prayers off until just before bed, which leads to many missed days, but with this prayer, over the course of nine months, I missed only a small handful of days.

I was sad when Christmas came and the novena was over.  I even thought of just continuing on with it, but realized that sometimes yearning for good can be a very healthy experience.

And so I’ve been yearning for this prayer for three long months.  And tomorrow, I get to pray it again.

Will you join me?

The text of the novena can be found here.

Carl Heinrich Bloch - The Annunciation

The Annunciation by Carl Heinrich Bloch
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


And while we’re here, allow me to throw out what a “coincidence” it is that the Hobby Lobby trial for Religious Freedom is occurring on this particular feast.  Ha!  Please join me in prayer and fasting!





Seven Quick Takes… with SUBSTANCE!

It’s been an introspective week for me, so I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a few weeks: offer a little SUBSTANCE in my quick takes!

— 1 —

First, though, I have to share a special moment of happiness with you.  As I was sitting here, waiting (somewhat) patiently for my very slow computer to process, I watched two salesmen approach my front door.  And then I watched them walk away.  Pure joy.  Created by a simple “no soliciting” sign.

— 2 —

The other day, an acquaintance accidentally told me something about another acquaintance which I had been blissfully unaware of, but which is apparently common knowledge.  If I were saintly and immune to the pull of gossip, I might have said, “Wow, that’s awful.  Please don’t tell me anything more.  I’ll pray for them.”  However, being human – and me – I said, “Well, you might as well tell me because I could just Google it anyways.”  And I learned information that no one really needs to know about another person.  Terrible, awful, horrid information.  Leave you feeling sick for the rest of the day information.  As I prayed the Rosary that night, and the nasty information intruded upon my meditation, I was reminded of a thought I often have when considering the crown of thorns.  The hands that wove that crown must have been as badly battered by the thorns as was the head upon which it was placed.  Perhaps even more so.  And that’s what gossip does to us.  Not only does the thorny crown of gossip injure the person of whom we speak, it also injures the person who weaves it in the first place.

— 3 —

Lots of thoughts have come out of my Rosaries this week, and here’s another one.  While we know that the news of Christ’s conception is among the most joyous in all of history (second only to the Resurrection), the moment that Mary heard those words, she is sure to have experienced a wide array of emotions.  She was faced with the possibility of being an unwed mother, in a world that believed such a woman should be stoned to death.  Certainly, while she must have felt great joy at the news, she must also have experienced fear, worry, embarrassment, and more.  For, while she was conceived without sin, and remained sinless, she was, nonetheless, human, and those are innately human emotions.  So, what did Mary do in this time of what many would have called “trouble”?  Well, first, obviously, she gave herself over completely to God… “I am the handmaid of the Lord.”  and then, instead of wallowing in fear and worry like most of us would do, she walked four days to go to her cousin Elizabeth, spread the joy of Christ’s coming (and John’s too!) and serve her elderly cousin.  Indeed, one might say that when life gave Mary lemons (ok, we know it wasn’t lemons, but bear with me here), Mary didn’t just make lemonade.  She made lemonade, and walked for miles upon miles to bring lemonade to a person in need.  And so should we.

— 4 —

This afternoon found me throwing the ball with Dude, and wondering: how on earth does a woman who has a rampant fear of flying spherical objects wind up with a mitt on one hand and a ball smacking into it, as her son coaches her on throwing techniques and catching angles?  But that’s what we moms do, isn’t it?  We overcome fears, embarrassments, and insecurities to do what makes our kids happy.  And we discover that maybe, just maybe, we can have a little fun in the process.

— 5 —

I received a new book this week that I’m pretty thrilled with.  Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day tells the story of how a scared little bunny became the Easter Bunny through an encounter in a cave with a very special man.  What a fantastic way to finally make some Christian sense of an otherwise non-sensical character, and remind our children of the real reason for Easter.  I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the little hopper, and this book has tipped the scales much more heavily towards love.
(This is an affiliate link.  Thanks for your support!)

— 6 —

I’ve gotten out of the habit of praying Evening Prayer lately, but last night felt strongly led to do so.  I knew immediately that the Spirit was at work.  The Psalm was Psalm 16 and the words “You are my God.  My happiness lies in you alone” resonated strongly with me.  No human can give us happiness.  And no human can make us unhappy.  If our trust, love and hope lie in God; if our very beings are centered entirely around Him, than we can have happiness, no matter the trials we may be facing in the world.

“The lot marked out for me is my delight”…  We all have crosses to bear, but we are meant to find joy in their weight, knowing that we become more like Christ in doing so.

“And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety.  For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay.”

— 7 —

Finally, when I meditate on Christ Carrying the Cross, and I think of Simon the Cyrene, I often think of how I can be a “Simon” to others, and help a friend or neighbor to bear their cross.  This week, it struck me that I have a few of my own Simons, and I am eternally grateful to them.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Inertia, Greasy Hair, Dirty Toilets, and Little Substance

— 1 —

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I probably shouldn’t be writing this post.  I haven’t cleaned my toilets for going on two weeks.  The vacuum cleaner is sitting out in the living room, having been dragged out of the closet on Monday, swept one to two rooms each day, but never actually finished the task.  Boo is being entertained by the Kindle.  I haven’t washed my hair since Monday and haven’t even brushed my teeth yet this morning.  So, I’m gonna make this quick.

— 2 —

The problem is this:  Blogging is like any other activity.  The laws of physics apply.  A body at motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  When I go for a long period of time without blogging, it only gets harder to put my fingers back to the keys.  Kind of like when you haven’t talked to a friend in a long time.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what to talk about, because when you haven’t talked for months, what’s actually important enough to bring up first?  And you draw a blank.  Blogging’s the same, and I haven’t blogged for two weeks now.

— 3 —

So I know I have to blog, or it may be another two weeks.  Not that this would be a huge blight upon the world, but I am happier and more fulfilled when I blog regularly, so it would be a blight upon me.  My “cop out” is to write a 7QT post, which I can totally cheat on and write about almost nothing.  As you can see I’m doing here.

— 4 —

But now I’ve run out of totally insubstantial stuff to blather away about, so I’d better get to some substance.  Did I mention that I haven’t washed my hair since Monday?  Ewwww.  Don’t worry.  I have showered every day.  Except today, but I’m getting there.  Just as soon as I finish this blog post.

— 5 —

Did I ever tell you about the time my mom attempted to teach me and my sister about the birds and the bees?  Oh, sorry.  That’s really a blog post of it’s own.  I’ll write that later.  It’s hilarious, with all respect, love, and honor to my blushing mother.

— 6 —

Ok, substance.  Substance. Substance.  Oh, I know!  My goat cheese ball recipe!  I’ve been meaning to put this on the blog for ages.  Here goes:

Steph’s Semi-Famous Goat Cheese Ball

6 oz goat cheese (aka God’s gift to mankind)
1-2 cloves of crushed garlic to taste (garlic being God’s gift to goat cheese)
Generous pinch of freshly crushed rosemary
Sea salt to taste


Combine ingredients in a bowl and form into a ball
Roll in crushed pecans if you’ve got ’em.
Serve with Triscuits (or Aldi’s knockoff, which are just as good, for a fraction of the cost) and apples, thinly sliced.  Yes, I said apples.  Just try it.  It’s amazing.


— 7 —

I’ll end with a few pictures.  Bonita decided last week that she was tired of struggling to brush her hair.  Thursday afternoon, she informed me that I was perfectly capable of cutting it.  Even being as frugal as I am, I, nonetheless, attempted to encourage her to allow a professional to do it.  She insisted, saying, “It’s just hair.  It’ll grow back.”  I admire that attitude, and thus decided to give it a go.  I cut off a good six inches, probably more, and it took quite a long time, since I kept realizing that I had cut too much off the left, so I needed to cut more off the right.  Then, I cut too much off the right, and needed to cut more off the left, and so on and so forth.  You get the picture. Ultimately, I think the results were surprisingly-not-in-desperate-need-of-a-trip-to-the-salon-to-fix-my-mistakes.

20140307-100120.jpg 20140307-100104.jpg

And here’s my beautiful girl, ready for her First Communion pictures:



Thanks for putting up with my blathering, and supporting my effort to get this blogging body back into motion!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!