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7 Quick Takes Friday – the literary edition

It’s been a while since I had time to do this, but the teething baby is quiet and my to-do list is temporarily under control, so here’s my version of the Quick Takes via Conversion Diary.

This week is a list of the books on my shelf waiting for me to read…lately I have really been into swapping websites, like and  For free or a small fee (, you can exchange books and DVD’s with other members, you pay the shipping.  It’s based on demand- so some of the obscure Catholic books I want I may never get from there, but it’s a nice option when the library doesn’t have what I want.  I highly recommend book swapping, especially if you are a frugal bibliophile like me!

1 –15 Days of Prayer with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton by Betty Ann McNeil. I hear that a lot of people pick a special book or books for reading during Lent, so this year I saved this one.  Haven’t started it yet, of course…but there are 3 weeks left, right?  🙂  Mother Seton is the patron saint I chose when I went through RCIA 2 years ago.

2 – Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane. This is supposed to be an astronaut’s version of a tell-all biography.  I got interested in it after reading some quotes from Mike Mullane when I read Packing for Mars by Mary Roach.  If you like science and sarcasm, check out her books!

3 – Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon. I recently got really, really into Gabaldon’s books when Amazon had the first book in her Outlander series free for the Kindle (*shakes fist at Amazon*).  Thought I would read this offshoot series while waiting for the next one in the FIRST series I got hooked on…this might not be good for my spare time.

4 – Simple Wishes by Lisa Dale. I discovered this author in my college alumni magazine – we have the same alma mater, obviously.  Can’t wait to read it and support my fellow McDaniel alum!

5 – The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. This one is for my book club.  Recommended by a friend who read it for her book club.  Hopefully it’s not one of those “all the book clubs are reading this but it’s really a bad book, but wildly popular because book clubs just keep following each other like sheep” book.

6 – Black Elk Speaks by Nicholas Black Elk. Read this in college, seem to remember liking it (as a kid I was fascinated by Native American culture), and heard recently that he converted to Catholicism at some point…so I thought it was worth a re-read out of curiosity.

7 – Star Trek: Deep Space Nice Section 31: Abyss by David Weddle and Jeffrey Lang. This is my (not so secret, anymore) weakness- Star Trek and Star Wars novels.  I devour them like candy.  Have been waiting a long time to get my hands on this one!   🙂


10 Facts About Me and My Better Half

Inspired by Betty Beguiles!

1 – We met online and I almost didn’t return his interest because he looked so *angry* in his profile photo.  Later, he said, “I thought I looked great! That was my sexy face.”

2 – We got engaged after dating for only 11 months, but we were “older” (31) so there was no time to waste!  🙂

3 – He is the reason I am Catholic now. And all he did was say, “Would you like to go to Mass with me?”

4 – We like almost all the same foods.  And he (claims to) love everything I cook.

5 – We both enjoy making fun of silly movies, mostly from the 80’s of course.  (a recent example: Red Dawn.  Patrick Swayze + Jennifer Grey, communists, guerrilla warfare, high school kids.  Strange and mesmerizing, and really cheesy to boot!)

6 -We got engaged while we were Christmas tree shopping.

7 -We had a honeymoon baby, or close enough anyway.  😀  She arrived a mere 10 months after our wedding and has been the best thing we’ve ever done.

8 -On our second date, we discovered that we both want to live on a farm someday. (I grew up on one, and he grew up near his grandpa’s.)

9 -He watches the baby in the mornings on those days when I *really* need it, without being asked.  And I get to sleep in.  Bliss.

10 – Our song is “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters.  Love it!

Reflection on Motherhood

I don’t have time to comment on this thoroughly now, but…I just read this blog post ( on a blog that I have just recently started reading, and thought it was worth some reflection on my part. When I get around to it!

book review: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage

Well, I have been married for less than a year so it remains to be seen how my husband and I will weather most of the issues in this book- but I did find it to be informative and give lots of helpful ideas about how to communicate, figure out what you want from your marriage, and work that out with your spouse.

I like the format- it is divided into chapters, each dealing with certain issues like money, time, and in-laws.  At the end of each chapter is a scripture reading and some questions for reflection.  The book is written in a casual, easy to read manner.

We had an excellent Pre-Cana preparation, but I know that not all couples do, and I think this book would be great for them. I think it may also work as a good “refresher” for us a couple years down the road.  Overall, I highly recommend the book.

*Note: This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage.  The book was made available free in exchange for an honest review.

7 Quick Takes Friday- February 19

I really don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t discovered this blog meme (I think that’s the right term?), because otherwise I would never remember to update my own blog.  Please don’t prove me wrong by looking to see when my last 7QT was, though.  🙂  As always, this brought to you by/the brainchild of Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

1 – I was sad that I moved away from my home state in the Mid-Atlantic last year, even though I only moved a day’s drive into the upper South.  Mostly sad because I would miss the snow (and of course my family and friends).  Well, I didn’t have to worry because this year, my new home got record amounts of snow (10″ in one storm, PLUS snow for TWO weekends in a row!).  Not to mention, I had the good fortune to miss the “Snowpacolypse” that my old home was subjected to.  Best of both worlds!

2 – That being said, I am ready for spring. Perhaps because I know as soon as spring gets here, my baby will too (or should!) since I am due at the end of April.  My husband and I are REALLY excited and all we can talk about is baby stuff.  I hear that will get old eventually, but right now it’s so fun.

3 – Speaking of baby things, since I am mostly at home these days because my part-time work has been in a slow mode, I spend a lot of time online checking out information, etc. Now, being a former scientist and teacher, I tend to take almost everything I read online with a large grain of salt, but I thought I would share a couple websites I have found useful.  First, as far as the sites that send you weekly updates about your baby’s development in which they compare your unborn child to a fruit or vegetable (it’s cute until they get to “kumquat” and “rutabaga”, then you know it’s gone too far)- I like BabyCenter and Parents.

4 – I am also a voracious reader, and have read 3 pregnancy books cover-to-cover so far, as well as numerous others.  My favorite pregnancy book is You: Having a Baby by Dr. Oz.  It’s the newest and most scientific one I could find, and has a great sense of humor.  I also liked What to Expect When You’re Expecting, though the format is kind of random and not for everyone.  The other one that I just found “OK” is Your Pregnancy Week by Week.  It’s a little dry, and the information is divided up into weeks (duh) which means that you only get little bits at a time.  I like more information at once, so this wasn’t my favorite.

5 – Hubby and I have gotten a few new toys recently.  Carseat and stroller for the baby.  We ended up with this one, by the way.  A long, drawn-out decision because the travel system I originally registered for (recommended by Consumer Reports, my new best friend these days) looks like it’s being phased out and is nearly impossible to find.  Plus, I have done some reading recently suggesting that children do better when they are facing their parents in the stroller- they get more interaction, obviously.  So we decided to give it a shot, even though it’s so new it doesn’t have many reviews.

We also got a new digital camera, after much research.  We ended up with this one.  It’s really cool- I like the photo quality and that it’s got an animation on the front screen that supposedly makes it easier to get photos of babies actually looking *at* the camera.  That remains to be seen, in our case.  Hubby likes the touch screen, and we both like the LCD on the front that makes it really easy to take self-portraits since we are the type of people too shy to ask someone to take our picture.

6 – BIRDS!  Everywhere!  I don’t know if it’s the state where live, or the specific neighborhood, but we have WAY too many birds.  I know some of it is due to our pond, and I have complained about the ducks and geese before.  Of course, it doesn’t help that my new neighbor feeds the ducks, or that *my own husband* nearly caused a waterfowl riot when he fed an entire glazed donut to one duck, who was then set upon by a large number of other ducks and gulls, and who was too small to carry off the donut in the first place, poor thing.  (The environmental police are showing up any minute to revoke my environmental-science-teacher/aquarium-volunteer/recycler/caring-about-the-environment-in-general card, I am sure.)

Anyway, the point is, we also have mourning doves, pigeons, and crows- typical for the suburbs, I think.  As I was typing this entry, a gang of 3 pigeons landed on the railing to my deck, strutting around like they owned the place.  And then inspected my deck for the next 10 minutes.  Why?  There’s no food.  Can they see me in here?  I’m not eating or anything.  Just typing.  WHAT DO THEY WANT??  (I did try to take a pic with the fancy new camera, but they did not cooperate.)

7 – Lent has begun, and I am really excited.  Which seems odd, since Lent is the season of sacrifice and all that.  But it’s also a good period for reflection and rejuvenation, and at the end of it, our baby’s arrival will be imminent!  So I am definitely looking forward to it this year.  Check out this happy/cheesy song about the season that I found on Faith and Family Live.

book review: The Mass: A Guided Tour, by Thomas Richstatter O.F.M., S.T.D.

It took me the better part of 2 months to get through this book because of a busy schedule, but it was worth it.

It wasn’t what I expected- I was really thinking it would be a how-to guide for the mass, similar to Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper, which I also enjoyed.  As a new Catholic, I am always looking for more information about *why* we do what we do, even though I had a great RCIA class, and of course if I had not felt that I understood the Mass on a basic level, I would not have joined the church…Anyway, the structure of this book focused on the Eucharist- as it should, since that is at the center of the Mass.  It was more of a “behind the scenes” history of why we celebrate the Eucharist and how it relates to the major celebrations of the church liturgical year- Christmas and Easter.

The book was very informative and well-written, particularly for lay people like myself.  One caution is that, I think you need a pretty good familiarity with the order of the Mass to follow this book- if I had read it during my RCIA days I don’t think it would have had the same impact that it did today.

Speaking of impact, this book did what I imagine all authors want their works to do- it made me think, and it actually made me change something about my life.  Before reading this book, I always hesitated to take the Precious Blood in addition to the Host during communion.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times I did- two. Once at my confirmation, and another at my wedding. I kept rationalizing, “I don’t want to share germs with people, it’s gross, and I don’t need it anyway because the church says I can get all the same benefits in one species.”  While the latter part is true, the author makes a simple point that really changed my outlook.  Since we should look at the Eucharist as not only a sacrifice but a meal, would you go to someone’s house for dinner and only eat, not drink?

This simple question changed my outlook and now I regularly receive both species if they are offered, with no qualms on my part.  A neat experience for me, and it really meshes with the theme of another favorite ministry of mine, Grace Before Meals, the brainchild of a local priest in my former diocese, Fr. Leo Patalinghug.

So, the upshot of all this rambling is that a) I liked the book, and hope you check it out if you’re interested, but b) don’t expect it to be a step-by-step Mass guidebook.

*Note: This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Mass: A Guided Tour.  The book was made available free in exchange for an honest review.