You can tell it's been a week

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dinner of champions.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My dad shared this picture on Facebook today:

The man in the back row, third from the left, is my Grandpa. He's my dad's dad. His real name was Ed. That is a really good grandpa name.

Grandpa died in May of 1998, 16 years ago this month. He died when I was 13. I didn't realize it till the other day, but for several years now he's been dead longer than I knew him. When I realized that it made me really sad.

I didn't see my Grandpa too often because he lived a few hours away, but I really loved him. I loved him because he was my Grandpa, of course, but I also liked him because he was nice. He gave really good hugs. He liked to sing songs, I really remember him singing Love in the Afternoon. I have no idea what song that is or what the other words are, but I remember him singing that line a lot. He also had a really good laugh. Sometimes if I close my eyes and listen really hard I can still hear it. He loved the Mountaineers. He was really good at golf and showed me how to hit golf balls on his farm. I still can't do it. But he could hit them really far.

He died really suddenly. He had knee replacement surgery and was fine. Then he had a pulmonary embolism and he was dead. Just like that. I know God was really watching out for our family because Grandpa and my grandmother, Leannah, had come to Huntington for my brother's first communion. I had been out of town most of the weekend on a dance trip, but I returned in time on Sunday to spend about an hour with him. The last thing he ever said to me was I love you, and I'm so glad that I know that.

Although it's been a very long time since he was alive, I still think about him pretty often and wonder what things would be like if he was still here. I still miss him. And if I think about it too hard it's almost like I just made him up and he was never real. Does that ever happen to you? You think about something so hard that it kind of just hurts your brain? I'm also really lucky because I had 13 years with him. My sister Emma was only 3 when he died, so she doesn't remember him at all.

I'm really glad my dad shared that picture because remembering Grandpa makes me smile. I haven't thought about him for this long or this deeply in a while. And I know I'll see him again one day.

Show Some Skin

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A lot of times when West Virginia makes national news, it's not a good thing. But the other day, the great state of West Virginia made national news for something awesome.

On UrbanSpoon, an unidentified patron of the restaurant Atomic Grill in Morgantown, W.Va., (which has since been deleted) requested that the servers "show more skin." Restaurant owner Daniel McCawley was offended.

"It was brutish. I was upset. I’m a father of a 12-year-old girl, and I’ve got five sisters," McCawley told ABC News. "The way that women are treated is pretty personal as far as I’m concerned."

So, in response, for the entirety of Memorial Day Weekend, the restaurant is offering a potato skin special for $7 and donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services. Talk about making something AWESOME out of a stupid situation.

My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, etc. live in Morgantown. I was planning to visit this weekend anyways, but after I heard about this event I was even more glad I planned to visit. Last night, my sisters Erin and Emma, my cousin Rebecca and her husband Danny and my sister's friend Alex went to dinner at Atomic Grill. We, of course, ordered the potato skins. Two orders in fact! We also got a massive pile of other delish food and beer.

Air high five Atomic Grill. Way to be awesome.

A 5 or an 8.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I live in a not-crappy apartment in the middle of Southside Huntington, West Virginia. Not a bustling metropolis by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not the country by any means. It is nice, two bedrooms, my landlord is super ... but it is a garage apartment.

And living here is sometimes like living in a game of Jumanji where someone is always rolling a 5 or an 8.

You know what I'm sayin'?

Exhibit A:

The mice.

I know. This is gross. I do get mice from time to time, and it's gross. This was probably the goriest scene ever though. I had been out to dinner with my BFF(+e ... is that what the kids say?) Melissa and some other friends and I came home to this sight. I probably just stood there for a good five minutes like ... WHAT. Is this my real life? I am pretty sure I texted this photo to Melissa and said "Everyone else went home to their husband and family. I went home to this." Point made.

Exhibit B:


Okay, so you can't actually see an animal in this photo, but PRAISE GOD FOR THAT. You may remember the raccoons that lived in my ceiling for a good part of the late fall/early winter. The noises they would make ... YIKES. This was definitely the worst when it almost knocked an entire ceiling tile down. The next day, having to work but not having access to rabbit daycare, I had to leave Snicks home alone as per usual. I decided, however, that instead of his usual free run of the house, I'd shut him in the back bedroom for the day, just in case the raccoon got in. Because there is only one outcome to MegaSnicks vs. GiantRaccoon and it isn't MegaSnicks. After having locked Snicks in a room and gone to work, I promptly spent the rest of the day worrying that instead of locking the raccoon out, I had inadvertently turned the back bedroom into the arena from the Hunger Games and, as previously mentioned, Snicks is the tribute that dies at the cornucopia. (Bless his heart.)

Exhibit C:


These vines from the outside of my house are now encroaching on the inside. At least they are polite enough to use the front door.

Exhibit D:

Wood borers.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME is all I have to say. I first saw one of these delightful fellas about a year ago. I had gotten takeout from Fazolis and was sitting on the couch eating dinner when all of a sudden one of these shot out of the ceiling and started flying around the room. I was obviously like WHAT IN THE HELL. So I'm telling Snicks to run for his life and grabbing a magazine and trying to find where it'd stop to give it a smack. This happened three times last summer, and so far has happened twice this summer. I do understand (because I can read Wikipedia) that they don't sting, but dude -- there is no way I am humanely catching one of these and getting it outside. No way. As an aside, Snicks never went running, let alone for his life, but he jumps 10 feet when I sneeze. Figures. Incidentally, I cannot eat or even see a Fazolis without being like "remember that time I was eating Fazolis and that thing flew out of the ceiling?"

So, if anyone wants to come stay in Hotel Jumanji, you are more than welcome. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. Or something.

I Used Thomas Jefferson's Bathroom.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How do I say this delicately ... I can hold it for a long, long time. Seriously. You know what I mean. I go to the bathroom twice a day on average. I don't know, I can't explain it. It's just always been that way.

Which is why what I'm about to tell you is (extra) funny.

Several years ago, my parents took us on a spring break trip to Monticello. Somehow I got the idea -- and to this day I have no idea how I thought this up -- that I really wanted to go to the bathroom at Monticello so I could tell people I went to the bathroom at Thomas Jefferson's house.

I know. I have no idea.

But I couldn't stop at Thomas Jefferson. I also went at Montpelier so I could tell people I went at James Madison's house. I'm pretty sure I went at the Vatican so I could tell people ... well, you know.

Do you know where I randomly had no success at all? Monaco.

There was nowhere to go at Grace Kelly's house. So that one has definitely alluded me.

I don't know, man. There's just something about saying "I got to use Thomas Jefferson's bathroom" that is just pretty nifty. To people like me. Who are wackos.

So I don't actually think about this on a daily basis (promise) but I was reminded of it today when my mom posted this on my Facebook wall. It's called "23 Places You Absolutely Must Poop Before You Die." My family knows me.

Well okay then! A new challenge. Accepted.

Miso- What?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Several years ago I was flying in a small prop plane from Brussels, Belgium to Pisa, Italy with a, unbeknownst to me, sinus infection. I can truly say that I have never felt pain like I did that day. All of a sudden I heard POP POP, and then it felt like my teeth were falling out. I was involuntarily crying and then my ears were clogged for about three days.


Needless to say, my hearing has never been the same since. For several years I said I couldn't hear things, then my dad asked a question that really clarified the situation. I have to have the TV up loud not because I can't hear the people talking, I hear there is noise, but because I can't differentiate their words. It all sounds like a big glob of talking, like the teacher on the Peanuts.

I say all that to say, I am also incredibly sensitive to sounds. I don't know when it started, but for years I have been affected by sounds. The sound of someone chewing gum with their mouth open, someone biting their nails, someone clicking their computer mouse incessantly or someone breathing loud has annoyed the living hell out of me. I mean ANNOYED. I don't know how to describe it other than to say it's like my body actually hurts when I hear the clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick of someone's mouse. I don't care if we're watching a movie or what, that sound makes my body hurt. There was this girl in my class this semester that chewed gum with her mouth open like she'd never seen gum before, and it was so distracting. Like I sat in class with my hand on my ear so it would help mitigate the noise.

I always thought this was because I had a short fuse because I'm uptight and easily annoyed. While it might be true that I'm uptight, my sister Erin posted this on my Facebook wall the other day:

Could it be?! Could this be an actual thing?

I looked it up on the internet, and low and behold:

Misophonia, literally "hatred of sound", is a neurological disorder in which negative experiences (anger, flight, hatred, disgust) are triggered by specific sounds. The sounds can be loud or soft. The disorder comprises a unique set of symptoms, most likely attributable to neurological causes unrelated to hearing-system dysfunction. It can be described as an immediate and extremely negative emotional response accompanied by an automatic physiological flight response to identifiable auditory, visual, and olfactory stimuli. The disorder disrupts daily living and can have a significant impact on social interactions. People who have misophonia are most commonly angered, and even enraged, by common ambient sounds, such as other people clipping their nails, brushing teeth, chewing crushed ice, eating, slurping, drinking, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, typing on a keyboard, whistling or coughing; saying certain consonants; or repetitive sounds.

Homie, this is me. It's ME. Like I said before, my body actually HURTS when someone bites their nails in my presence. It's like everything else fades into the background and that noise is magnified by 1000000000. 

I asked Erin, "Can anything be done about this?!" and she says, "Yes. Therapy." So you're saying there's not a magic pill? 

So if you're near me and you're chewing your gum or biting your nails and thinking nothing of it, but I'm glaring at you, it's because you are literally AFFECTING MY CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM.

Just so you know. 

The Better Part of Me

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My sister Erin posted this on my Facebook page today and said it made her think of me and Story:

That's pretty much all there is to say, huh? To love someone is to love all of them -- the good parts and the bad parts -- but see more of the good parts. Love is to remind someone of all their good, their magic, when they are having a hard time and have forgotten.

I'll never forget what my friend Ashley said once when I was going through a hard time and didn't think I could do something. She said, "You can. And if you can't, you have friends who will be strong for you."

That's love.

There is a song by Incubus called Dig that has lyrics that go with this theme. And they remind me of my sister Erin.

We all have something that digs at us
At least we dig each other
So when weakness turns my ego up
I know you'll count on the me from yesterday
If I turn into another
Dig me up from under what is covering
The better part of me 
Sing this song
Remind me that we'll always have each other

Do you see magic in the people you love and remind them of it when they forget? Because sometimes, I'm sorry to admit, I don't see the magic in the people I love. I am too busy being annoyed because they ask a stupid question or fail to reply to my email. And do you know who that is helping?

No one.

There are some days when I'm starving for someone to say something nice or comforting or inspirational to me. But the best thing to do in that case, I think, is to say something nice or comforting or inspirational to someone else. You don't have to know the perfect thing to say. Just think of what you'd like someone to say to you and say it to someone else.

I'm Not Much on Rear Window Ethics

Monday, May 12, 2014

Two Fridays ago Story, her parents and I went to see Rear Window at Cinema Under the Stars, which is this great event that happens the first Friday of the month May through September where our town shows a movie outside. Now, I could write this whole post about my love of Rear Window, Grace Kelly and every Hitchcock film ever made, but that's not what this is about.

There is a scene in the movie where Jimmy Stewart is asleep in his wheelchair facing his (rear) window, and it is raining outside. One of those perfect mid-summer rains. When it's so hot even the rain is warm, but it's the only thing cooling off the air even just a little bit. I told Story that anytime it rains in the summer, that's what I think about. And clearly this was before air conditioning was a thing, so it was hot, hot, hot in Jimmy Stewart's apartment:

Kind of like my apartment:

Now I love summer, and I have even said that the first person I hear complaining about the heat after the horrible winter we had is GOING TO GET IT. But guys, I feel like I have the right to say my apartment is HOT. In fact, as you just saw, it is 81 degrees hot. Oh, and I took that picture around 9:30 p.m. today.

My landlord comes every May-ish and puts in two window units in my apartment, one in the living room and one in my bedroom. They are enough to ensure the apartment is mostly cool and livable in the hot summer months. But he has not been over to do it yet this year, so we wait. My biggest concern is Snickers N. Lafferre (N for Napoleon). I'm afraid I'm going to come home to a pile of ash where he has combusted. Heat is bad for rabbits and I keep feeling his ears and they are pretty hot. He doesn't seem lethargic though, so that's good. We have two rooms with ceiling fans, which are always on, and we also have one box fan that I carry around to whatever room we're in. I have also added a third water station for him, so now there's pretty much no room in the house he can enter without a source of water. I also keep putting those cold pack things you use to keep lunches cold in his water to hopefully keep it colder longer ... possibly preventing it from boiling.

That water looks happy. Also, I am about 100% sure that face belongs to my mom.

Getting some air on himself, although now I read that drafts are bad for rabbits. I CANNOT WIN. 
 In a great display of coincidence, my biography of Jimmy Stewart is in the background of this photo. (At least you know I'm not lying about being a fan! OMG FAN! Get it? Ugh I love puns.) 

And this has now gone full, albeit super hot, circle.

You asked for something dramatically different. You got it.

Now excuse me while I go towel off. From breaking a sweat taking a drink of water.

4 Years. 30 Credits. 1 Degree.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

About this time four years ago, I had just made the decision to apply to graduate school. I had moved back to my hometown about seven months prior and had not been able to find a full-time career-type job. I was working at Macy's to make money, but I decided that I needed to do something to propel my life forward. I talked to my parents and decided to apply for graduate school at Marshall University to pursue a Master of Arts in Journalism. As my mom said, "You're going to be 30 in four years whether you pursue this degree or not." Great point.

One evening I submitted my online application and signed up to take the GRE, in hopes of an August 2010 start date. The very next morning (and I mean THE VERY NEXT) I heard from the Huntington Museum of Art (where my friend Margaret Mary is the director) inviting me to come in to interview for a position, and I began working at HMA two weeks later. 

I decided to also continue to pursue graduate school because I HAD PAID $40 TO APPLY GOSH DARN IT and also paid for the GRE. :) Anna Lafferre is not trying to waste $40, just saying. :) I knew that I couldn't work full-time (and teach ballet) and go to school full-time also, so I decided I'd go part-time. I was able to sign up for six credits, or two classes, that first semester because one of them was online. I walked into my classroom at Marshall University one Monday night in August, after my sister Erin had had to tell me where to find my building and where to park. (What can I say? Shepherd was a smaller campus!) I hadn't been to school in four years. I had no idea what to expect, and, honestly, I was pretty much in tears walking out that first night because I didn't think I could do it. But, I kept going because, well, you know, $40. 

After that first semester of six credits, I took three credits the following spring, then three that summer. The subsequent years I took three credits - or one class - in the fall and in the spring. Slowly but surely, all of the people I knew graduated and moved on because it is a two-year, 30-credit program. But I kept going. One class at a time. History, Theory, Research Methods, PR Campaigns, Magazine Writing. One class a semester. 

For four years. Four years for 30 credits. 

My graduating class! Me, Laura, Lee and Cindy. Also, I'm just now noticing it looks like I'm giving a thumbs up. I'm not. I was holding my phone and name tag in my hand.
And today was my graduation day. 

After four years of working full-time (and for the past two years, two full-time jobs) and going to school I was finally able to walk across the stage and accept my diploma (well, the representative of my diploma, no idea when the real one is coming) while my mom and dad watched. I actually hadn't been planning to walk at graduation since my family has been to a LOT of graduations over the years, but on Monday night when I found out I passed my comprehensive exam and would be graduating, I decided I really wanted to. Even though I had missed the deadline, my parents encouraged me to find out if it might still be possible for me to walk at commencement, and I found out they would let me. 

Laura, me and Cindy after we officially graduated! 
I got my cap and gown and hood (most expensive outfit I ever purchased!) on Monday at lunchtime, and today was the big day. My sisters live out of town, one of my brothers was out of town and my other brother had to work (he's a paramedic), so it ended up being only my parents were able to come. I was very glad to have them there, although it was odd to look up and see only two Lafferres and not six! 

After the event, we took a few photos (sadly, the ones of my dad and me and my mom and me are on my dad's phone and currently not in my possession) and then we wandered around an antique shop for a few minutes before we had dinner at a super nice restaurant, Savannah's, with my friend Sarah. I received my promised gnocchi and bread pudding, and it was wonderful.

Me and my professor, Dr. Rabe.

What a great day!

I honestly still can't believe it's over. 

I suppose the life lesson here is ... you can do it. As cliche as it sounds, if you have a dream and wanting to go back to school is part of that, you can do it. It might take you longer than everyone else, and you might be older than everyone else, but you can do it.

As I said on Facebook the other day, this incredibly generous gift from Sarah just dethroned whatever it was that was my nicest possession until this time. 

Also, like my dear friends told me, it's okay to be proud of yourself. It's okay to want to celebrate your accomplishment because you worked hard. 

Especially if that thing was #56 on your list of things to do before you die. And you finally -- finally -- got to cross it off. 

I have so many people to thank that helped me so much, but more than anyone I need to thank my mom and dad. Without them, I couldn't have paid for school or even thought that I'd be able to do it, especially when I was exhausted and still had a 15 page paper to write or really thought I had failed my comprehensive exams. They also rearranged their weekends with about five days notice to sit through (yet another) graduation and took pictures and took me to the world's nicest dinner. They even bought me a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Because they are the world's best parents. 

I really love this card.

And, finally, a shout out to God, to whom I said many, many, many, many prayers and also to the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen and St. Joseph of Cupertino, both of whom I asked for prayers of intercession.

This post is one in a series on Turning Thirty. 


Friday, May 9, 2014

What I did two days ago. What I wore to work yesterday. My student ID number. What I went into the other room to get.

What do all these things have in common? They're all things I cannot remember.

Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold. Buddy, Suzi and Marnie Barrett. Myriah and Gabby Perkins. Jamie Newton. Amanda and Max Delaney. Charlotte Johanssen. Jenny Prezzioso. Shea, Jackie and Archie Rodowsky. Adam, Byron, Jordan, Vanessa, Nicky, Margo and Claire Pike. Becca Ramsey.

What do all these things have in common? They are all things I can remember and have remembered for at least 20 years.

The names of all the clients of the Baby-Sitters Club.

The post title?

Their phone number. For meetings. Which I remembered in about .000006 seconds. Without looking it up. Meetings were held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30 until 6 p.m.

I recalled the other day that the first time I ever heard the word "decorum" was in a Baby-Sitters Club book. In fact, it was Kristy's Great Idea. She had to write an essay on it for school because she lacked it.

No wonder I have no room in my brain for literally anything else.

Moms and Stuff.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tonight my mom and I went to the Mother Daughter Banquet tonight at our church. We used to do this all the time when I was little, but between not living here for many years, and always teaching dance on Thursday nights, I hadn't been in a long time. I'm so glad we went! We shared a table with some lovely people, the dinner was really delicious and it was nice to spend some time with my mom.

Shorty or giant? You judge.
In fact, lately, I have sort of experienced what it's like to be an only child. Please understand, I am the oldest of five kids, and there are 10 years in between me and my youngest sister. Apparently I was an only child for about two years in the mid-80s but I do not recall that special time! My sisters don't live in this town anymore, and my brothers work jobs with bizarre hours, so lately a lot of things have just been me, Luke and Kathy. We go to church the three of us every Sunday, we had brunch together after Easter mass and they will be the only two present at my graduation this Saturday. Guys, it's so bizarre. My life has been so far from that of an only child I have no perspective at all. But I guess this is what it's like? You, your mom and your dad? HOW DOES ALL THIS ATTENTION WORK?! Colleen? Story? Advice?

All the moms and daughters in their cute hats!

Oh I also won these flowers as a door prize! My mom accepted them on my behalf. Haha. I was in the kitchen chatting with my friend Lisa who was manning the kitchen and saw my mom carrying these flowers back to our table as I was walking back. I was like oh man! Mom! I missed taking a photo of you winning that prize! And she was like YOU won this prize! Haha.

My friend Sarah popped by this evening after the event and saw these flowers on my chair. As I told her that I had won them tonight, she was like "Yeah I knew you had to have gotten them today ... because they're still alive." HAHA. Yep.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas I know!

Einstein's Dreams. Also, Anna's.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Like most people, I had to read novels assigned to me in high school English classes. And, like a LOT of people I bet, I had to read some REALLY boring books. I'm sure this will make me sound like a ding dong or uncultured or like someone who doesn't understand good writing or whatever, but some of those books were just BO-RING. (Last of the Mohicans, I'm looking at you. My mom actually had to threaten me to read that book one summer before school started again. And I love to read. For any young readers, the book is NOTHING like the movie, so don't even think about it.)

Although there were some assigned books that I will never read again, there were also several good ones. One that I think about a lot that I had never heard of before it was assigned (nor heard of since) was called Einstein's Dreams. I don't think I was expecting much from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised when I found it interesting and engaging.

To be honest, I don't remember everything that it is about, but there is one particular chapter that has stayed with me since 11th grade. (So, for a LONG time!) The gist of this chapter is, say a person goes into a room to practice playing the violin for three hours. In those three hours, that person would, in the course of playing his or her violin, think about a million different things. Thousands of thoughts would go through his or her head ... what am I having for dinner? Is my mother going to survive her illness? Do you think a peach tree would grow in my backyard? Just a million different thoughts going in and out of one's head. But (and this is where it gets good) if someone asked that person what they did that afternoon, they'd reply that they practiced the violin.

So even though that person spent hours thinking about all sorts of things, in his or her permanent memory, he or she spent a few hours practicing the violin today.

Isn't that so interesting to think about? I've always thought so. (Obviously, since I've been thinking about this since I was 16 and I'm almost 30. Thank you Ms. Ray!)

I think about this concept from time to time. I thought about it today, actually, on my way to dance from work. If anyone asked what I did today between 4:15 and 4:35 p.m. I'd say I drove from work in East Huntington to dance in Downtown Huntington. And although that is true, that is not the complete truth. Because I found myself, in that time, thinking about how I really don't like it when cars park near stop signs. Because if you're stopping at the other stop sign in the 2- or 3- or 4-way stop, you can never quite tell if that is a person at the stop sign who needs to go before you or a parked car. Confusing. I also thought about how old the earth is. Like billions of years. I can't even fathom what billions of years is. And how did we get from there to where we are today? And who can even count a billion years let along multi-billion years? And what is also mystifying is the Trinity. Like it's one God, but three things, but in one. So it's one God, but also God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. So one thing, but also three things, but one thing.

So there you go. There is a little taste of what it's like to live in Anna's mind. So the next time I tell you I spent Saturday reading a book or driving to the mall, you'll know, in reality, that it looks a bit more like this.

Jen ... When's Your Next Book Coming Out?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

On this blog I've frequently made reference to this great blog I read called Conversion Diary. (It's also on my Blogrollin' list.) It's written by a woman named Jennifer Fulwiler, who converted to Catholicism after a lifetime of atheism. As a lifetime Catholic myself, I am so fascinated by people's conversion stories and often think converts make the best Catholics!

Jennifer's conversion story is particularly interesting to me for several reasons. First, I have no idea what it would be like to grow up atheist and have absolutely no faith at all. Also, both she and her husband went on their faith journey and converted together, which seems pretty remarkable to me. Jennifer is an outstanding writer and has also become a pretty great Catholic apologist also. I learn so much from reading her blog.

I've been reading her blog since around 2008 and have been a loyal reader since that time. Over the years Jen has shared bits and pieces of her conversion story and her life, all of which are super interesting. As I mentioned, she's a great writer, so her stories are often compelling, funny and really make you think.

Since about the time I started reading her blog, she's been working on a book about her conversion story. Loyal readers will know that Jen went through many drafts of her book, and it was a very long process (to put it VERY mildly!). I, like many people I'm sure, was practically counting the minutes until Jennifer would announce that she had finished her book and it was on its way to being published. Luckily, this past December 2013 it was finally announced that we could pre-order the book, which I did that very day. Happily for me, the book finally (FINALLY) arrived at my doorstep this past week. It's called Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It.

I am not exaggerating when I say it is awesome! As I mentioned I knew several details from reading her blog over the years, but having the whole story here in one book is fascinating. I made the mistake of starting the book at bedtime the other night and, after about 75 pages, had to pry the thing out of my own hands so I could get some sleep before work! Happily, I had a free day yesterday which I spent finishing the book in one sitting. My only complaint with her work is that it isn't longer! I could have read another 248 pages!

The book is incredibly funny. (Please do not get me started on the part where she recalls when her then-boyfriend Joe mentioned he was a Christian. Jen writes, "I tried to tell myself that he meant it in a medieval way, like to indicate he was a non-Muslim citizen of Christendom ..." Laugh out loud!) It is also very honest (she recalls an incident where she mocked Christ as a child), gut-wrenching (she's diagnosed with DVT during her pregnancy), hopeful (her medicine that previously had a $900 co-pay suddenly one month has only a $30 one ... but when she returns the next month it's $900 again and they have no record of the $30 transaction) and really such a blessing to read.

Anyways, the last thing you need is me recalling every detail since I'm about .0003 seconds away from re-typing the whole thing for you. Whether you're a Catholic, non-Catholic, questioning your faith or have no faith at all, you must must must read this for yourself. You can get it on Amazon, and it is worth the entire $17.46 you're going to pay for it. Frankly, I would have paid $18.46 to tell you the truth! :) I guarantee that you will close the book still wanting more, and when you do, don't forget that there is more at

Jen ... when's your next book coming out?

Hey Blog, Lookin' Good!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


I haven't posted since Good Friday, so I hope you had a very happy Easter. If you follow me on Facebook then you know I haven't posted in a couple of weeks because ...



So ... here it is! How do you like it? I REALLY like it. I love the pink/gold/green theme and the new banner and the wonderful sidebar headers!


Clearly I do not have myself to thank. So I should probably tell you whose fault this is! Haha.

It's my friend Miranda Tucci's. Here's what so nice -- Facebook gets a bad rap for a lot of things, and those things are mostly warranted. (What people choose to (over)share ... don't get me started.) At any rate, one of the tangibly awesome things about Facebook is when you can connect with an old friend you haven't seen in years. Miranda and I went to high school together but went separate ways after graduation, and now she lives in Hawaii. But I am friends with her on Facebook and have seen what she's up to over the years. She started her own blog a few years back, and I love blogs, so I read it. Sort of like a creeper. And it's a great blog!

And I also knew Miranda was a good blog designer, but then a few months ago she really started up her business again. She actually started doing that about the same time I was deciding I really wanted to make something of my blog. So I talked to Miranda about renovating mine. I am so lucky and happy she agreed!

If you want an awesome blog to read, check out hers at Our Nesting Place. And if you're considering a blog design, check out her website Lil' Birdie Design Shop. You will not be sorry you did!

Thank you Miranda!!!!!!!!
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