Some updates, and five amazing books to make you feel better about your crazy life

We’re home! The baby is doing very well, my health is great, and the kids are thrilled to have a baby in the house again.

It’s been a little crazy though (by “a little” I mean “A LOT”). I’ve spent the past few days pondering whether it’s having six kids under nine or just having two under two that’s making everything feel so overwhelming. I’m thinking it’s the latter. I’d developed a dangerous overconfidence since we had a newborn as recently as summer 2011. “This’ll be no sweat. I have this baby thing down!” I declared to myself repeatedly, wondering why the big neon sign that said HUBRIS ALERT!!!! would suddenly start blinking over my head.

As it turns out, though I have had a baby somewhat recently, it has been four long years since I’ve had two under two — more than enough time for my self-preservation instincts to dull my memories of the special kind of craziness that brings. Combine that with the fact that said almost-two-year-old has been nicknamed “Decibel” by her pediatrician, “The Pistol,” by her grandmothers, and “The Texas Tornado” by a visiting friend, and let’s just say that the next time a stranger in the grocery store smiles and makes a “you have your hands full” comment, I am probably going to grab her by the collar, get in her face and scream, “WOMAN, YOU HAVE NO IDEA.”

To wit:

Somewhere in this mess is MY SIGNED BOOK CONTRACT. That’s right: the deal is final, I am thrilled and honored to be working with this publisher, whom I have always admired…and the contract, which is the culmination of five years of toil, is lost in the most cluttered four square feet in the universe, a.k.a. my center island. I’d been planning to sign it with a glass of champagne in one hand, special commemorative pen in the other, smiling for the multiple pictures I was going to force Joe to take of the momentous event, but instead I dashed out a scribble roughly resembling my signature while I was on my way out the door to the NICU; I don’t even remember which night it was last week. I’m going to announce all the details soon, so maybe I can break out some bubbly for that.

Speaking of books:

As I bounce along this rocky road of health recovery and adjusting to having 50 or six or however many kids there are in this house now, I continue to find books to be a huge stress reliever. In particular, I love true stories of people who have gone on wild adventures and lived to tell about it. Maybe it’s because I am the least outdoorsy person in the world, but any time I read of people staying strong while being tested to their physical limits, it always fills me with amazement at the indomitability of the human spirit…and makes me really, really, really glad to be sitting in my house, no matter what kind of craziness happens to be playing out in my own life at the time. For those of you who could use a little escapism right now, here are a few books I recommend for this purpose:

Five gripping true adventures that will make you feel super happy that you’re sitting on your couch

BOOK: Shadow Divers
WILL MAKE YOU SAY: “At least my scuba gear did not just get tangled on exploded electrical wires while I’m deep inside a shipwreck 220 feet under water with one minute of air left!”
SUMMARY: This was my most recent read, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s the story of two deep sea wreck divers who discover a mystery U-boat off the coast of New Jersey, and learn about life and themselves as they devote their lives to discovering the identity of the ship and its crew.

BOOK: Endurance (the one by Alfred Lansing)
WILL MAKE YOU SAY: “At least I’m not using ice shards for toilet paper!”
SUMMARY: This is in the top five books I’ve ever read, and is probably the most inspiring of all the titles on the list. You’ll find yourself staying up way too late reading this incredible story of how Ernest Shackleton and his crew survived an Antarctic shipwreck.

BOOK: Adrift
WILL MAKE YOU SAY: “At least I’m not lying on a small inflatable boat in the middle of the Atlantic with the awareness that a shark could come up out of the abyss and devour me at any moment!”
SUMMARY: This is the book that made me realize that my will to live is not very strong. I would have rolled over and died after about the third of the endless setbacks that Steven Callahan faced in his 76 days at sea after his boat sunk in the Atlantic Ocean.

BOOK: In the Heart of the Sea
WILL MAKE YOU SAY: “At least I’m not in the dead center of the Pacific Ocean with an an extremely angry and vengeful 50-ton whale charging my boat!”
SUMMARY: A page-turning look at the early 19th-century whaling industry and the personalities of the ill-fated whaleship, Essex. The story has darker undertones than something like Endurance, but it’s a fascinating examination of themes like being a hunter vs. becoming the hunted, and the tragic extremes people will go to to survive. Will make you loath to mess with whales, too.

BOOK: Skeletons in the Zahara
WILL MAKE YOU SAY: “At least I’m not drinking camel urine!”
SUMMARY: The harrowing story of shipwrecked Americans who were enslaved by nomadic tribes in the Sahara desert. Like In the Heart of the Sea, the experiences of these sailors touch on the darker side of humanity at times, but the book remains a jaw-dropping tale of survival. You’ll never feel so thankful for a glass of water.

* * *

This post would not be complete without noting that the way I got time to write it was to allow the kids to raid the mega-jumbo box of individually packaged Cheetos, Doritos, and other junk chips that I presciently picked up before the baby’s birth. I told them that they each could have two bags: one as an entree, one as a side dish. At one point my 20-month-old accidentally dumped hers on the floor and kept eating (I will say that the floor had been swept recently. I think.) Anyway, as I was polishing up the post, I looked back to see my children eating Doritos with a side of Sun Chips for lunch…off the floor. New lows at the Fulwiler house!

Thanks again for all your prayers and support. I should be back to regular blogging, as long as I keep buying those bags of chips.

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  1. Susan says

    Awesome reading choices. I’ve read a couple, but now have added two more to my ever expanding list! The Lansing account of Shackleton is my all time favorite. Shackleton’s leadership during that voyage is inspiring. In fact, Harvard Business School has used that voyage as one of its business models. :-)

    On the same lines as your list, here’s a recommendation from me:

    “Mutiny on the Globe: The Fatal Voyage of Samuel Comstock” by Thomas Heffernan

    The amazon link is here:

    Deep in the Heart of SE Texas

  2. says

    Joseph is positively yummy! 2 under 2 is only temporary. I had 5 under 6 at one point.
    If you want a true story with a little lighter tone, try “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” by Farley Mowat. It will make you say “I need to move to Saschatchewan and get a dog. Actually, I probably don’t.” He’s got a side book great for reading out to kids called “Owls in the Family” because they did, in fact, have two great horned owls as pets.

  3. Mama Turtle says

    Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer – true story, and great reading :)

    Baby Joseph is adorable, congratulations! And 2 under 2 is exhausting, isn’t it?!

  4. says

    Oh goodness, that last paragraph is hilarious! I absolutely turn a blind eye to the mayhem sometimes when it means getting some time to myself… Amd even if the floor isn’t clean, they’re building up their immune systems!

    We’ve been making a lot of play dough “hedgehogs” lately – jab a bunch of toothpicks into a lump of dough and then taking them all out. Buys me 10 minutes any time, although none of my 4 are older than 4, so it might not work for the older crowd!

    So glad you’re all home and healthy :)

  5. Anne says

    Hi, Jennifer! Such gladness I felt when I saw this post pop up in my FB feed. It is nice to hear of your family’s joy for Joseph, reading your humor, and that you are both feeling well. :) Love the sign on your sweet baby’s chair. Congratulations, again on your baby AND the signed contract!

  6. says

    Glad to hear you are back and that the kids are doing well! Congrats on the book deal, pop open that bubbly and take all the crazy pictures that Joe will let you take! That is such fantastic news!

  7. says

    Loved Endurance! Excellent book. Might I suggested Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Contoversial Season? I liked Into Thin Air too. Congrats on the baby and the homecoming!

  8. says

    Thank you for the book recommendations and the witty way you describe them. I’m inclined to imitate it with a post recommending five blogs with the tagline “Blog Will Make You Say.” For Conversion Diary it would be, “Blog will make you say: Wow, her life is full of life!”

  9. says

    Glad to hear that you and the baby are both home and doing well, Jen! Blessings to you as you adjust to a new season of wonder (and chaos). 😉

  10. says

    I don’t quite know what to make of the fact that ALL of the books you recommended have something to do with ships and disasters thereupon, but I’m sure it must mean something…

  11. seekup says

    Can I add this (not book) Documentary to your list of real life experiences that will pull the “thank the lord for my life and situation right now” out of you? Its on Netflix. A 23 yr old kid who was “BORN” in a North Korean concentration camp escapes. Unbelievable testimony. I will pray intensely for North Korea everyday now.

    We watched it the other night, I have NOT been able to stop being grateful for our lives.
    Camp 14: Total Control Zone
    interviews and footage of a North Korean re-education camp, director Marc Wiese paints a shocking portrait of inhumanity as he chronicles the harrowing story of Shin Dong-huyk, who was born inside the camp but escaped at age 23.

    Micaela Swift

  12. Theresa Haggerty says

    So happy to hear that the baby and the family are fine! Love your posts, they make me laugh. My favorite book when the kids were little was Shirley Jackson’s “Life Among the Savages”, seemed an apt title for my life at the time.

  13. says

    So glad you’re all home. LOVE the “I ❤ Joseph” sign. And may St. Anthony give you help finding your contract. Congratulations!

  14. says

    New low for the Fulwilers? Day in the life for the Engstroms! I realize it’s time to start meal prep when I notice the 11mo eating lint, mud, dried PlayDo, and bits of cheese crackers off the floor. It’s also, obviously, time to sweep but seriously – I JUST did that 20 minutes ago!!!

  15. Stephanie says

    It is 2 under 2.

    I, too, had a certain hubris after my #3 was born. I floated through that year (and all of my memories surrounding it) with euphoria. Then #4 was born when #3 was 20 months old (and the other two were 4 and 5) and I remembered how HARD it is to have a baby anda toddler.

    Good luck …

  16. LPatter says

    Congrats on everything!!! Welcome back!

    (You were missed)

    I love the photo – coffee front & center, of course – and when your dinner is a little bland just remember it’s probably because you were salting it with the egg-timer, conveniently stationed next to the pepper! :)

    (I have piles like this and I only have 2 children, spaced almost 3 years apart!)

    God bless you & your family, Jen!

  17. says

    So Jen, as I sit here at my kitchen table reading/writing this, I’m home sick with allergies and my wife is here taking care of me. She’s sitting right next to me on her computer. Needless to say, she made me take a break from writing this comment to feed me a leftover piece of chicken quesadilla from last night’s dinner. Congrats on bringing the little guy home, and I can’t wait until the book is finally out. Thanks for the entertainment. Keep it coming, sister. It is very much appreciated.

    Tino. :)

  18. says

    Oh, it IS the two under two thing. Because one to two is the hazing stage of parenthood. I have never had a not-yet-two-year-old that I didn’t consider blow-darting just a smidge.
    But the good news is that two years old is SO MUCH BETTER! So you only have to hold on for…um…four…more…
    Sorry. Smacking my own self on your behalf now.

  19. Julie says

    Congratulations on all counts! Baby, good health, book contract — all wonderful news! May the rest of 2013 seem waaaaayyy easy in comparison to its first few months.

  20. says

    4 sea-themed books and one set in the desert to remind you we need water…

    Congrats on the baby! We can related to the hectically-blessed life, we have one 11 year old and one 3.5 week old!

  21. Joanna says

    Congratulations on the new baby and may God keep you through the next few crazy months! (I had 2 under 2 last year…and we’ll have 2 under 2 this year in June. I remember how hard it is…and really needed the reminder how hard it will be again because I, too, was getting a bit lulled into complacency that it’s not going to be *that* bad. Yes, I’m sure it will.)

  22. says

    NoooooOOOOoooOOO!!!! I am about to have THREE under two. You are supposed to tell me it will all be just FINE!!! (sigh)

    Thanks for the book suggestions! My husband will dig a couple of these!

  23. Abigail Benjamin says

    You are funny!

    I think losing the signed book contract five years in the making until a pile of family mess is the sign of a life well lived. My new golden standard!

    Hug handsome little Joe for me.

  24. says

    You are the. best. ever. and I love you to pieces even though I have never met you!!!! 😀 I LOVE how you find these hilarious things in life and put them into words!!

  25. Wendy Lister says

    So many good things – congratulations. Glad to hear the little guy is home safe and sound. Thanks for the book recommendations.

  26. says

    What a great post! What a beautiful baby! Congratulations again! My conclusion can only be that the more children you have, the better posts one can write. Though I must be an exception.
    Thanks so much for taking the time for this. I need good recommendations too – I can’t be reading religious books all the time!

  27. says

    Praying for you, your family, and new baby has been an honor. You have put your faith on the line and have lived it! I so admire you – you remind me of my mother as I am the oldest of 9 children. Best wishes and good health to everyone!

  28. says

    Yay for healthy baby and momma!

    But what I really need to know is – What was the first cocktail you drank postpartum????

  29. says

    So very glad you AND Joseph are home! Your outlook at all this just cracks me up. I so wish I had a sense of humor! What’s up with all the shipwreck reading? Don’t take a cruise anytime soon!

  30. says

    So glad that you and baby are home, and it is good to hear your humorous take on life once again. Your books remind me of the show “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” on Animal Planet. I really enjoy it and it really makes no sense that I do when I get easily stressed at the peril of others. Thanks for the book suggestions, and I will have to be sure to pick one up!

  31. says

    Congrats on being home and the book! I appreciate new book recommendations I love Endurance!

    HAving just spent the last 4 hours dealing with Toddler Tantrums… I think your Texas Tornado sounds a lot like our little crazy..

  32. says

    so much good news. I’m glad that sweet baby is home. (we had the rock and play sleeper with Elsie and I loved it.) (I learned how to rock it in my sleep.) (Yes, that’s totally possible–we mothers can reach out and rock things while sleeping.)

    and yes, I’m so glad I’m not drinking any kind of pee. now that’s perspective.

  33. Theresa says

    Congratulations! I’m a lurker and want you to know I’m right there with you with six under eight. And two under two. It is terrible! But I’m glad I’m doing it! I just swept up leftover sun chip debris off my bathroom floor last night. Big families of littles must think alike. Lol!

  34. MoniCa says

    You lifted up my day. This blog is to funny and real. So happy your little one is home. The Fulwiler house is complete once again with a beautiful addition.

    God Bless you and Joe and may He grant all of your family needs.

  35. Anne says

    Congratulations! I admire your faith and your sense of humor, and really enjoy your blog. Following on the ocean adeventure/peril theme you might enjoy Kon-Tiki (movie version coming out soon too) or Into the Deep, an account of shark attacks in the early 1900s..yikes! The book about the Essex was terrifying and Inloved it..will check out your recommendatons! Thanks

  36. Donna says

    Close to Shore (Shark Attacks) and Isaac’s Storm (Galveston Hurricane)–two of the best adventure novels ever, set in the early 20th century! And Under a Flaming Sky and Firestorm at Peshtigo–about the same great disaster. I love this genre, because as you say, it makes able to say, “At least I’m not…..being eaten by a shark, in the middle of a fire, drowning in a flood, etc.”

    So glad to hear you and the little baby are doing well….take all the help you can get and rest! Thank you so much for your blog. I love it and really enjoyed your reality series.
    In Christ,
    Donna in Athens, Georgia

  37. Donna says

    Oh, Unbroken–Yes! and the Krakauer book–amazing. And if you love dogs, you’ll love Merle’s Door.

    OK–I’m done now. :)

  38. says

    Floor food just comes with a bit of extra flavor, right? 😉 So happy that you are home and your sweet little man is settling in well! Here’s hoping you can find some time to rest soon.

  39. Lynne says

    I’m so happy that you and your baby are home and well and I’ll pray for your peace in dealing with the crew.

    I’m selfishly thrilled that you shared all these titles, and after taking your recommendation and reading Endurance, I leaped at all of these. You might enjoy Twenty Years Before the Mast. I read it about the same times as Endurance, and I found it odd that I was enjoying sea literature. But considering the books you list here, maybe it would be to your taste as well.

    God bless you all.

  40. Catherine says

    So happy that both you and Joseph are healthy and well!
    Our lowest low in the food on the floor department just may have been when one kid spilled orange pop on the floor and two kids dove to the floor and started licking it! I can’t believe that I just wrote that on a public blog! Embarrassing!

  41. says

    Jen, so glad to see you and baby Joseph home safe and sound. He’s a beautiful baby. And you are a beautiful mom, inside and out.

    I am still struggling mightily to get through the days without my husband. I still cannot believe he is gone. His was a beautiful soul. He felt he never got to do anything great but he did, he did. He made 15 years of my life wonderful, left behind a family that grieves for him every minute of every day because of all he did, and was someone who touches so many lives with his gentle nature. Gentle, kind, sweet and brave.

    Sorry for the outtake there. Anyhow, treasure your loves ones every day, for none are promised tomorrow.

  42. Joy @ Caspara says

    Love this post! I am so glad to hear that everyone seems to be doing well, and a signed book contract?! Woohoooooo!!!
    I also love knowing that I will almost definitely wake up tomorrow and not have to use ice shards for toilet paper! These sound like great books! :-)

  43. Bonnie says

    So, what IS the reason every one of the books you recommended is about disasters related to the sea? Hmmmm. Well, I’m no shrink, so I can’t opine about that. But I will say I love these kinds of human survival stories too, I think because I doubt I could ever be as brave, smart, resilient and resourceful as these people always seem to be. I’d just panic and start crying and probably would be dead in no time. Not these folks. They always hope and look for a way out of the mess. But anyway, glad to hear you’re past the crises. God bless you and your family and your precious baby boy. He’s a keeper!

  44. says

    I read the other day about a study that found that mothers with six or more children are five times LESS likely to commit suicide than women without children. The scientists concluded it was because they had such strong connection to others. OTOH, it could just be that they’re far too busy!

    God bless you, and all of yours, especially Joseph.

  45. says

    I LOVE YOU for telling us about the chips for entree and side item!!! You rock, Mama! Let ’em eat chips off the floor! :) Hee hee!

    Here’s to happy days and restful nights ahead.

  46. tlzita says

    You have got to get a sling or something and start wearing your babies. That is how I got through 4 under 3.5 and 3 under 2. One on your front, one on your back, and playing with the bigger kids. Or until it gets too hot, strap the littles ones into a stroller where they can’t get away and go for a nice, long, walk.

  47. Amy says

    Despite you chaos, you always make me laugh.. I had 4 kids 5 and under, and I can totally relate to the myriad of people saying “You have your hands full!” and wanting to do JUST WHAT YOU SAID! You have NO idea..;) Of course, after several years, and the craziness wears off, you think .. I can do that again..;) Good for you! Joseph is adorable! Of course, I’m expecting number 5 now (memories ARE short, aren’t they? ;), and was wondering what you have him laying in? I want one of those! Whatever it is..;)

    God bless, and looking forward to your NEW BOOK! How you’ll find the time.. God only knows..;)

  48. says

    Congratulations and Deo Gratias! So happy for you to be healthy and have that precious little guy at home!
    (And though we haven’t bought boxed cereal for at least a decade my grown kids still remember the Lucky Charm suppers. This too shall pass! Carry on!)

  49. says

    Your #5 sounds like my #5 but mine’s a boy who I lovingly call “destructo-tot” and “vehicular homicide on two legs” :)

  50. Peg says

    So happy for you and welcome home and back to blogging (when you have time) where you inspire us with your warmth and honesty!

  51. says

    Congratulations to you! What an exciting time filled with chaos… :) As a mom of 2 who are 2 and under, the older of which sounds like the long lost twin of your 2 year old, I think you’re brilliant! If we are graced with more children, I hope I will remember to feed the older ones at all. :)

  52. Sir Robert says

    Love the picture of little Joseph asleep…complete with a backwards “J” on his card.

  53. Denise says

    Yay! for being home! Joseph is so adorable. I hope your health and your sanity are strong. :) I love the way you inspire and keep it real, all at the same time.

    As I zipped over to our library website to check out your recs, I saw that there is a sequel to Shadow Divers. Something involving the Titanic. Have you also read that one?

    Blessings to you and your whole family!

  54. Susan says

    Jennifer, reading your blog has the same affect on me as the books you listed. At least I’m not trying to keep 6 tiny children alive, happy, safe, fed and dressed. You are a survivor and your endurance might eclipse some of those folks you read about. God bless your beautiful family and especially baby Joseph! Pax Christi.

  55. katherine says

    Joseph is beautiful.I have been laughing half the morning over the entree/side dish line. I can comiserate because I used to be a chef designing 5 course meals paired to wine, and I quit to have kids. Now 6 kids later my entrees/side dishes at times are only slightly better so I have fallen much lower than your “new low” if you consider where I started.

  56. John says

    I’m noticing a pattern in the book list, perhaps a disturbing fascination with shipwrecks and ocean disasters? :-)

  57. Carolyn A says

    That pile of stuff with your book contract – I have piles like that all over the house. And I have two under two, too. Coincidence? I think not. Blessings to your family!

  58. Christine says

    Jen, so glad to hear you are feeling better and baby is healthy also. He is a keeper.
    I like that your two yr old has spunk. Life would be so boring without spunky people..or kids.

    love all the book suggestions. I have found reading non-fiction books about people and their survival stories inspirational.

  59. Lorelei says

    Try “Alive” by Piers Paul Read (it’s been out a while). It’s a true story about a Chilean rugby (or was it soccer?) team who’s airplane crashed in the Andes mountains.
    Bonus: they said the rosary every day!
    I’m going to look for some of your book recommendations as I try to survive the last six weeks of pregnancy while contemplating having three under four, and two of them under two!

  60. says

    Congratulations!!! To Joseph doing well, your improved health, and of course the book contract! I would have loved to see a picture of you signing it with a champagne glass in hand because you deserve it so much, but compared to a visit in the NICU it’s really not that important.
    I agree with all the others, it’s probably the 2 under 2 thing, but hang in there! My prayers are with you!

  61. Elizabethe says

    Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You’re back!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Baby and you are in my prayers all the time.

    I must be a bad person or something because when I hear about those kinds of stories I always think, well those people were stupid to have gotten themselves into that situation! There’s no one forcing you to climb my Everest or go deep sea diving. Just don’t do it!

    And OMG congratulations book deal!

  62. Marlena says

    Long time reader, first time commenter, wanting to say that I can’t wait to read your book!

    Also, can’t wait to try some of your book choices. Recently located from large East coast city to bush Alaska as a newlywed 40-year-old, and have been trying to awaken some latent frontier spirit by reading tales of adventure. There are all kinds of them written about early Alaskans, in case you’re interested, but I highly recommend Two in the Far North, the true story of an Alaskan-born girl who married an early wildlife researcher and spends her honeymoon dogsledding across the tundra, chasing caribou. You might particularly like the part where she takes her first baby on a boating expedition (small skiff not a houseboat); the baby lives in a small crate at her feet for weeks and they spend much of the trip swathed in netting against the hordes of mosquitos on the river.

  63. Christine says

    We must have similar reading tastes, I’ve read all those books. A suggestion for you: Mawson’s Will. Similar vein and just gripping. Congrats on having Joseph home!

  64. says

    So glad you’re home and doing well, despite all the craziness! The book is such wonderful news and I can’t wait to read it. Many prayers for your sanity mama (even though I think you become more of my hero by the moment haha)

  65. Jena says

    I would also suggest Unbroken and also Life of Pi. They both go under the “lost at sea” category, Unbroken being non-fiction and an incredible and well-written story, and Life of Pi being fiction. However (even though it’s become pretty mainstream), Life of Pi adds a little bit of deep faith allegory in the story. At least worth watching the movie!

  66. Jane m says

    Joseph is truly an adorable looking child; I think it is the shape of his head.

    I loved Shadowdivers and have noticed over the last ten years that John Chatterton turns up in many places doing incredible underwater things (like welding on the Brooklyn bridge).

    My father read Shackleton after twenty years suffering with Parkinson’s disease and loved it. He felt it gave him some extra courage since he wasn’t in a small boat 800 miles from land, etc.

    can’T wait for your book….
    Jane M

  67. Amber says

    Wow, well done, mazel tov and congratulations on new baby and book! Thank you for book recommendations, prayers for sleep and many graces.

  68. Patty says

    I am so happy baby Joseph is home and you are all doing well! I had two under two for four months but it really depends on the kids’ temperaments. My toddler was very easy-going. Just wait…it gets crazier as they get older and are more involved in outside activities. Taking babies and toddlers to older siblings’ games and other events is sometimes a wild ride and always a balancing act.

  69. Ana says

    One of the best books nonfiction I have read is “Left to Tell” by Immaculée Ilibagiza and also maybe you have heard of this one Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson Happy Reading!

  70. shwell says

    I didn’t read all the replies so excuse me if these have been mentioned already.
    Lunches – you are brave, BUT, I recently bought a $3 sushi bbok for new ideas. In it is has planty of pictures of bowls of sushi ingrediants served in multiple new ways but without all the rolling up – could work for you, just needs rice. It is called Chirashi Sushi in my book.

    seeing as you are on a shipwreck theme you should also read
    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex [Paperback]
    Nathaniel Philbrick
    THe true story that inspired Moby Dick

    The Captain’s Best Mate: The Journal of Mary Chipman Lawrence on the Whaler Addison, 1856-1860 [Paperback
    She only has one kid, but they live on a whaleboat…….

    Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea: The History and Discovery of the World’s Richest Shipwreck [Paperback]
    Gary Kinder

    Three great books, and Thanks for the reccommendation, I am going to get the Shadow Divers for my husband. He is a Professional Diver so it should be right up his alley

    oh, if you like WWII books, this is also good
    The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II [Paperback]
    Gregory A. Freeman

    So pleased for you all that you are under one roof again.
    Nothing like a little time away to make the kids realise how much they miss you.
    Keep up the good work!!!!!!

    • shwell says

      oops, I see you just read the Essex book, I didn’t recognise the name

      and I just re-read your final paragraph
      when I was in the hospital the day after my last delivery, my other kids were talking to me on the phone and put it down on the floor next to them and started to eat goldfish crackers and raisins off the floor. They thought they had hung up but I heard the whole thing, I didn’t know whether to laugh or weep.

  71. Jess says

    Reminds me of that great saying, applicable to almost every domestic disaster; “Worse things have happened at sea.”

  72. Sarah says

    Along similar lines . . .

    Blind Descent; The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth

    “At least I’m not spending weeks hallucinating in total darkness while peeing in a ziploc bag”


    “At least I’m not using shards of my wrecked plane to slice off pieces of my friends”

    The Right Stuff

    “At least I’m not ‘burned beyond recognition'”

    Also recommended: Into Thin Air and Miracle on the Andes

  73. Marita Tierney says

    I loved Shadow Divers and in the Heart of the Sea! Have you read Unbroken by Hillenbrand? It’s an inspiring story of track star Louis Zamperini who ran in the Berlin Olympics, fought in WWII, got shot down in the Pacific, was captured by the Japanese and thrown in the most abysmal prison camps. he was tortured and tormented by a cruel Japanese prison guard. After years of captivity, the camp is liberated, Louis gets back home but his journey is just beginning. This is a compelling read.

    Another story of the triumph of the human spirit is Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides. this is rescue mission of the survivors of the Bataan Death March. It is hard to read at times and makes one wonder just how much degradation can a body take. It will make you appreciate the small crosses God sends to us to bear!

    God bless you and your beautiful family! My daughter and her husband and little ones are relocating to Austin, Tx. In early June. Maybe you’ll bump into each other at church!