7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 48)

August 28, 2009 | 63 comments

— 1 —

For those of you with that “attention to detail” thing I’ve heard so much about, this is the correct volume 48 of 7 Quick Takes. Last week Tami Boesiger pointed out that I skipped 47.

— 2 —

How was my day on Wednesday? Glad you asked. Allow me to answer you with a photo:

It’s a picture of what I saw when I came downstairs at one particularly rough patch of the afternoon: A doll, lying face-down in a puddle of urine on the couch. My first thought? “I know how she feels.”

— 3 —

“Why was there a puddle of urine on your couch?!” you ask with a horrified look on your face. Potty training. Each of my children seems to find new and more creative ways to make potty training difficult. The problem with my son was that he reacted as if our bathroom contained the TOILET O’ DOOM, the most loathsome, fearsome object in the whole universe that one must avoid the same way one avoids rattlesnakes and downed power lines. I believe at some point I wished in God’s general direction that I could have a child who was a little more laid back about the whole potty thing.

And now I have my three-year-old daughter, who is perfectly happy to sit on the potty…or not. She’s also perfectly happy to just go in her pants. She doesn’t even tell me when she’s had accidents; I’ll see her playing cheerfully with a puddle at her feet (or, in the case of the above photo, on the couch). I know that I should be putting her on the potty at regular intervals, but with all the chaos around here I always forget, and, long story short, we end up with dolls face-down in urine on the couch. It is this sort of thing that makes me wonder if I missed a call to the cloistered consecrated religious life.

— 4 —

For some reason I just can’t get over the fact that Linus Torvalds has a family blog. I guess I’d always pictured him as residing on Mount Olympus, occasionally handing down code from his throne upon the clouds. To read about him taking his kids to summer camp and having neighbor kids hang out at his house just blows my mind.

My poor husband has been subjected to more than a few emails from me musing about what life might be like at the Torvalds house. Projecting my own personality onto Mr. Torvalds, I picture the neighborhood kid making a random comment about playing solitaire on Windows prompting Torvalds to recollect loudly, “Yes, that reminds me of the time I was WRITING MY OWN OPERATING SYSTEM…” And I imagine any know-it-all attitude from his kids being met with, “Well, gee, I only WROTE THE LINUX KERNEL, so what do I know?”

Oh, man, if I were his neighbor I would drop his name so often it wouldn’t even be funny. I would seek out nerd parties to go to just so I could wow people with my stories of watching Mr. Torvalds (noting with a conspicuous chuckle that he insists that we call him “Linus”) wash his car and mow his grass.

If I had a different kind of blog, I would have already written five posts about this. At least.

— 5 —

I am amazed at how much value it adds to our lives to have cut-up fresh fruit handy — the cut-up, ready-to-eat part being critical. My husband left a big bowl of diced cantaloupe out yesterday, and the kids and I snacked on it all day long. It felt good to fill up on something so healthy, and it kept the kids from begging for junk food.

— 6 —

I need you guys to help me articulate something that I’ve been pondering since I talked about rewriting my book yesterday afternoon: Why is a book so much different than an essay? Why is a book harder to write? I’ve had a surprisingly hard time articulating exactly why a book is not just a long essay. Obviously the two are very different, and not just in length, but I’ve been having trouble explaining it in detail. Any help would be appreciated!

— 7 —

Want to read something creepy/interesting? This Wall Street Journal article about “third-man phenomenon” gave me chills. (For anyone worried about getting too much done today, there’s all sorts of other interesting stuff like that to distract you over at my links blog.)

Below is a Mr. Linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.

I look forward to reading your posts!

1. Genny @ MyCup2Yours
2. It Feels Like Chaos
3. Megan@Blueberry Scone
4. Roxane @ Peace Garden Mama
5. Scarlett
6. Sarah Reinhard (Sabbatical Lessons)
7. Venite
8. Lisa (Are We There Yet?)
9. Trena @ The Third Prayer
10. The Keeping Time
11. becomewhatyouare
12. DebbieQ@stophershesknitting
13. Dymphna @ the Well
14. Tami @ The Next Step
15. Pharmgirl @ Adventures in Pharm Land
16. Mary@HopeEchoes
17. Sarah @This Heavenly Life
18. Valerie in Brazil
19. Katherine @ The Domestic Church
20. Veronica @ Written on your heart
21. NCSue
22. Brandilicious
23. Goodness Gracious Abiding
24. Sara @ AShowerOfRoses
25. Nadja
26. Carolyn in Cambodia.
27. Anne @ Undercurrent
28. Jaclyn
29. el-e-e
30. The Cynical Christian
31. Kacie @ Papua Girl in Dallas
32. Amanda
33. Erika @ effulgence
34. Gill-Life of a Photographer
35. Rebecca
36. Fr. Christian Mathis
37. Barbara C.@Box of Chocolates
38. Erin @ Sky Blue Pink Roses
39. CheekyPinkGirl – with GIVEAWAY!
40. Marie, Two Ways of Renouncing the Devil
41. Elena
42. Deanna@Notlukewarm
43. Jordana@Curmudgeonry
44. Amanda @ The Mom Job
45. Chelsea @ Roots & RIngs
46. Joy @ joy in the morning
47. Udubalum Mama
48. Jamie @ Light & Momentary
49. Erin @ Well Red
50. Fencing Bear at Prayer
51. Renee@crazyacres
52. Brendan
53. Paul A. Nelson
54. Kim@talklesssaymore
55. ThatMarriedCouple
56. Diane
57. Anna @ Annalogue
58. JoAnna @ A Star of Hope
59. Elena @My Domestic church
60. Tracy@The Secret of Living
61. Emily
62. Melanie @ The Wine Dark Sea
63. Serena
64. Transitus Tiber
65. suburbancorrespondent
66. Pam @ It’s Time for More Coffee
67. Karen @ Flash Light
68. Laughing Lioness
69. Christian H @ The Thinking Grounds
70. Melodie @ The Me You Can’t See
71. Amy @ From the Desk of Mom
72. Chief Family Officer
73. TwoSquareMeals
74. K @ Home In View
75. Sturgmom
76. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
77. Cheryl @ My Thoughtful Spot
78. Living with Three Hobbits and a Giant
79. Betty Beguiles
80. Judy
81. Lisa Sweet

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.


  1. Genny

    I'm sorry about your couch, and I'm sorry I laughed when I read that! It's just that I've been there. Potty training is full of adventures.

    I agree about the fresh-cut fruit! So easy, and it's something the kids always like.

    I'll have to check out your links blog! Have a great weekend.

  2. Roxane B. Salonen

    Jennifer, the doll had me LOL, and I'm in a public place at which hefty LOL could cause some serious issues. I love how you are so polished and yet, at the end of the day, so REAL. I think we can ALL relate to that poor doll. Haven't we all had days when we feel like we're face down in a pile of poop or urine? Just to reassure you: all five of my children are now out of diapers, youngest one is 4. It DOES happen! Promise. Now, the problem is keeping the little boys from letting loose with their "watering hoses" all over the neighborhood. ** sigh ** Hang in there. Oh, and btw, I mentioned you on my blog today. I hope that's okay. Have a nice weekend!

  3. blog nerd

    The difference between a book and an essay is that a book requires a much more complex structure. If it is a nonfiction book you have to build your argument or story, one chapter at a time, and it is very difficult not to write the whole book at once.

    For me, I can write for an hour or so and then go back and realize that what I have actually just written is the domain of a completely different chapter entirely, and sometimes, it's not even a chapter I had originally planned on.

    It takes much more organization and planning. And you have to be able to think in terms of the whole and the part at the same time.

    At least that's my experience of it.

  4. Trena

    My sister got me an Edible Arrangement of Fruit (instead of flowers) this week. I am loving the fresh cut fruit. So yummy!

  5. Dymphna

    Very interesting "third man" article. Perhaps a guardian angel?

  6. Tami Boesiger

    Whew, now I feel better. I'm on the same number as you. Sorry if I seemed too anal.

    Your doll picture was hysterical! FUNNY!

    I hope your weekend is better than your Wednesday. Hang in there, friend.

  7. V

    Sorry that your kids have trouble potty traning. I'm not looking forward to it.
    I checked out the blog: Becoming What You Are.
    She code named her kids, its brilliant.
    She also asked for Catholic one liners, I could use some of those too. Maybe you can write a post on that!!!

  8. Shannon

    Hi! Long time reader, first time commenter – and first time 7 player.

    Great to play along this week!! Love your writing!!


  9. Emily

    Oh my! That potty training picture is classic!

  10. Bill

    Jen –
    As a Catholic stay-at-home dad, I have to say I love your blog. It's given me a lot of food for thought, both spiritually and parenting-wise.

    On the potty thing – with four little ones, you may have already thought of this, but it worked for us. Regular intervals are a good thing. We set the alarm clock function on our cell phones to go off every half hour (increasing as things got better). If you have a fun ringtone, so much the better – ours was "When the Saints Go Marchin' In."


  11. Amy

    I used to hear how much easier it was to potty train girls, but that was definitely not the case in our house; it didn't bother my daughter a bit to sit in her own stink. Kind of made me wish I had done that infant toilet training when she was younger that I had read about (has anyone actuallydone that, or is it just some internetty urban myth?)

    Not doing 7 quick takes this time. I don't feel right doing it if I don't read everyone else's, and, my goodness, you had like, 80-something last week! But I will read a few at random this week.

  12. Elizabeth

    Thanks for the link blog…now I'll really be able to waste time!

    So sorry about the pee. Potty training is rough. I waited till Snorkie was PAST ready…he was almost four, but it took three changes of clothes and basically one day 🙂

    In Re: the third man…notice they have NO CLUE that WE ALL have a Guardian Angel??? Too bad they didn't interview any Catholics on that one. OF COURSE we are all accompanied…everywhere! The "evolutionary" garbage just drives me nuts.
    Blessings, E

  13. el-e-e

    Ha! Your #7! In direct opposition to my goals of getting things done today. Must. Resist. Until after bedtime!!

  14. babyyahyah

    the article is annoying in that it typically tries to find scientific explanations other than God or something like gaurdian angels. My father was a hunter and often he had "someone" come up in the middle of absoluetly nowhere in freezing temps and point (without talking) to go in certain directions where he could find a deer. then the "man" would leave.

    My dh is all into ppl like Linus and comptuer stuff too. We used to live in CA and I wouldn't be surprised of he's met him (I'll have to ask). He has met a lot of those ppl out there in the internet world.

  15. Daniel Cox

    Potty training…13 years later and it still gives me the shivers. (brrrrrrr!) I'm praying for ya.

    As for the essay versus book question:

    A book is like building a house. Lay the foundation, raise the stud walls, build the roof, lay the plumbing, add the drywall and wiring, finish the interior, etc.

    An essay is like building a house too — with legos.

  16. Rebecca

    #2 — Actually your couch looks remarkably clean given that you have four kids. Our couch is so bad I won't even sit on it without an afghan.

    #4 — intrigues me. My husband might be amused by this too. (We're a linux household. Math people.)

    Have a great weekend!

  17. Fr. Christian Mathis

    Sorry for your daughter's doll, and for mom who has to find a way to clean up the couch!

  18. Marian

    I'm sorry, but I laughed at your skid row dolly picture. I know how she feels, too!

    I know that every kid and every family is SO different and that there is never any one way to do things like potty training "right." And I offer the following in that spirit =). When I began training my 4, I read a little "3-day potty training" primer written by an extended relative who has 16 children. 'Figured she might know a thing or two. I never did it in 3 days, but many of her insights were invaluable and effective, and worked for 4 very different kids. Nothing novel or revolutionary, but I'll offer here an overview, which I perfectly understand if you skip!

    One huge thing was that POTTY has to be the constant focus, so that potty/their bladder makes its way into their little consciousness as a relevant thing. No matter what else you do, keep a constant running commentary and awareness campaign of Potty Talk going. "Are you dry? Feel your underwear. Is it DRY? Way to go! Keep it dry! Does you feel like you might have some pee pee coming? We always have the potty right here when you need to sit down and check. Still dry? Good! Feel it. Do you have to go potty? Are you dry?…" Ad nauseum, and I mean that literally. =) Keep a little potty right in the middle of the action in the house (preferably not on carpet!!), and have the PT Kid only wear underwear on the bottom, no pants. If remotely possible– and it just isn't always– take at least a couple of days to be miserably housebound, and actually do the on the potty at regular intervals thing. Finally, and this is so important, matter-of fact gentle sadness for accidents, but you have to FLIP OUT for every little success– calling Grandma, having a Peepee Parade (oh, yes)–the whole 9 yards!

    We did do m&m's or skittles for successes, too. But that's a judgement call. It helped a lot, but there does come a time when the m&m gravy train has to stop. "WHAT? You expect me to go now for nothing??" Cruel, cruel world.

    May your day be miraculously puddle-free and/or grace-filled enough to cover an ocean of pee. (How's that for a blessing?)Hang in there!

  19. Barbara C.

    Just remember that urine is sterile. It's got me through many a tough day and night-time diaper leak.

    Although, with my second daughter I kind of alternated the potty training. I would try to actively get her to go for a few days, and then put her back in diapers/pull-ups for a few weeks but ask her occasionally if she wanted to go with me, and then back in panties for a few days. Once I felt that she understood the concept, I realized that she would do it when she was ready. On Christmas night, she decided she was ready and she's been dry ever since. (This wasn't exactly something I planned, but something that started out as a sanity saver.)

    They will eventually get potty trained. It just may take longer for some than others. My oldest was about 4, and I wonder if it's because I worked too hard with her. She's always been stubborn. And you wonder sometimes if the child is getting trained or the parent.

  20. Monica

    1) I did not know that Linus Torvalds had a family blog. That is too funny; I know what you mean about not seeing him really as a family man, but just this uber-genius programming super nerd (I use nerd as a compliment!). Anyway, thanks for mentioning it; can't wait to show it to my husband!

    2) Potty-training. Uck. Our 3 yr old son also views the potty as the 'potty of doom' – at least for going #2. He's fine peeing in the toilet (loves to stand up and do it), but he *will not* sit down on it. It's been months now and he still waits to poop in his diaper (which we have him in for naps and bedtime).

  21. Elena

    Thanks, Jen. Love the doll-urine shot.

  22. Marie

    Skid row dolly, that's funny. And marketable?

    Growing up, my sister had a firm flush and run policy, so I sympathize with your son.

    I've decided I'm not training my third, either to sleep alone or to use the pot. I'll put a diaper on her until I don't, and sleep with her until I don't, honestly, planning out that stuff is not how I want to spend my life anymore. Call it the organic approach. It will result in many puddles, I'm sure.

    The book — sometimes it's just preference. Whenever I write something (different level, of course) my "style" is more to throw out a bunch of things and have fun with the idea that the reader can see the thread running through. You can do this with a book (instead of a collection of essays, e.g.), but it's harder. Sometimes I've seen books use an "uncover a corner and start exploring" approach or an onion layer approach that mimics the effect. But generally I think books tend to be top down propositions.

  23. Amanda @ The Mom Job

    Why is fresh cut-up-by-someone-other-than-yourself fruit so dang expensive? It's actually LESS mass than what you'd purchase otherwise!

  24. Lucy

    That article reminds of this story I once heard, where these three guys were thrown into a fiery furnace or something and then this other guy appeared. And none of them were hurt. Or something. ;p

    Seriously, I don't find the "third-man" thing weird at all. We are never alone. There are angels. Those who have passed from death to life eternal walk among us all the time. I think it's only our western culture that believes that there is a clearly defined line between the material and spiritual worlds that must never be crossed. The Bible mentions entertaining angels without knowing it. There is much going on around us, if we only had the eyes to see it.

    And I'm sorry about the puddle on your couch. And yes I laughed, because you kinda have to, don't you? Otherwise it's just so sad. 🙂 When my preschooler did similar things, I declared defeat and put it off for another six months. Then he got it right away. Good luck!

  25. MemeGRL

    A huge saving grace for me in all aspects of parenting has been a watch with a beeper. It has three alarms on it, which are set to child #1 pickup time, child #2 pickup time (or more accurately, time I need to leave the house to be on time for pickup time), and naptime. (If Mommy says it, the feeling seems to be "we can negotiate." But it's hard to talk to a beeper.)
    AND it has a countdown timer, which I was setting for every 45 minutes, then 60, then 90, etc., when we were potty training.
    It's a Timex from Target and cost less than $30 (probably less than $20) but has been an absolute gift for the time management/chaos management challenged mommy.
    Hope that helps! You've probably thought of this yourself already but maybe someone out there can use the tip.

  26. lyrl

    @Amy – I think the "infant potty training" is more commonly called "elimination communication" since it's just as much about training the parents as it is the infant. I've never seen anyone rely on it 100%, but there are many women on the Ovusoft message boards who use it to reduce the number of diapers they go through.

  27. SuccessfulCatholic.com

    "Why is a book harder to write?"

    Because of the added freedom, I think. You're not restricted to a single page or two on a single topic. Instead, you have to constantly balance what needs more attention and what needs less.

    Do you outline your book? I think this can sometimes be helpful with nonfiction in that it allows you to think of it not as a book, but as a series of essays that flow together nicely.

  28. Bryan

    Books are different because they are more formal.

    In a book you have a more ambiguous audience. You have to write to everyone who might read it instead of just the people you know.

    A lot of blog essays are written as responses to other people's arguments as well. You can pull their arguments in very easily, while books try to address the broader issue rather than a single article. They still might pull in articles, but if they do, they should pull in 10 or 20 instead of just 1.

    In keeping with the last point, books need to be complete, or at least try to be. A blog post can leave off and come back later with clear thinking about how to proceed because it got good responses. A book needs to come back later with clear thinking but without ever receiving the feedback it needs.

    Maybe you can simplify some of those with some creative hybridization?

    Just looking at the first article on Linus' blog is making me LOL. OCD issues and changing compile settings to beat handwritten assembly…

  29. Chelsea

    The doll in the pee made me laugh so hard. I don't have kids yet so stories like this are a good warning!!

  30. Diana

    When I was potty training my kids I'd set the timer on our stove with a very annoying buzzer and it would remind me that it was time for a potty break for the little ones.
    Blessings, Diana

  31. Emily

    Toilet o'doom! Ha! Loved that!

  32. Jane D.

    We also used a timer to potty train my oldest. When the timer went off we rushed to the nearest potty and sat. Then I read him a story and gave him a box of juice, a very special treat at the time. When he was a little better at it we made a point of using the bathrooms in all the places we usually go. You have been pregnant, be honest. You know where ALL the potties are in your area.
    For my second child, I had to PROVE that they did not make diapers in a larger size. Then he was finally willing to do the work and pay attention. Until then, nothing worked at all. He is now really good at math and science.
    Oldest girl was willing to be bribed with princess big girl underwear. If she peed in it she had to take it out to the washing machine. If she pooped in it we threw it out.
    Our youngest girl was also of the PROVE it camp until her best friend could do it. Then she learned very fast.
    Do be sure to write down (privately) as many funny stories and comments of the whole process as you can. Some are only funny now but a few will be funny forever.

  33. Suburban Correspondent

    My third child was one of those who would pee and go on happily playing in sodden clothes with a puddle at his feet (and he was over 3 and a half at the time). He's 12 now and perfectly fine. I think he was trained by age 4, but really it's all a blur at this point.

    Oh, and do yourself a favor and buy some Ektorp couches from IKEA – removable, washable slipcovers!

  34. Suburban Correspondent

    Books are different because (are you ready?) they are longer. You need to hold the person's attention longer, which means you need more variation in tone and content than you do in essays, I'm thinking.

  35. mrsdarwin

    I love the Linus Torvalds take. You're always on fire with your spiritual writings, but this was a enjoyable throwback to some of your quirky earlier stuff — funny and loose and more personal. Let's have more Linus and rap musings!

  36. Dakotapam

    Oh, I had a trainer like that once too, the good news is that all of mine are trianed, the bad news is I'm having another babe in January and will have to begin again!

  37. Linda Maggioncalda

    Hi Jen,

    I was wondering if you might have any suggestions for a book I could give to my 19 year old niece who has turned her back on God. Her brother died of a brain tumor last year and my niece now says, "God doesn't do anything and I have no use for him." She is studying social work and is drawn to the poor, the outcast, and the forgotten. Her mother asked her why she was going in to this helping profession since she doesn't believe in God. My niece answered that she was helping these people because God doesn't do anything.
    I'm not sure if she doesn't believe in Him or she just thinks that that he doesn't do anything! BTW she was raised Catholic but no longer goes to mass. I am sorry for the long comment but I would appreciate a book recommendation if you have time.

  38. Loretta S.

    "It is this sort of thing that makes me wonder if I missed a call to the cloistered consecrated religious life." – loved it!!

  39. Kim from Canada

    Some days your the puddle and some days your the doll. You made me laugh!

    You also have place the temptation to follow links for most of the night!

    Thanks for a good start to the weekend.

  40. Jennifer G.

    I needed that! I have tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard! Not only are you so inspiring with your insight, you're hilarious too! I love love love your blog!

  41. Christian H

    In an essay, each word and sentence must convey exactly what you mean; this is often an abstract concept.

    In a novel, every word and sentence must evoke what you mean, with beauty, humour, and wisdom. It doesn't have to articulate the abstract so specifically, but it must imply the abstract far more completely.

    There's one difference… but the best essays of course do both, and good novels must sometimes do both, too.

  42. Kathleen

    Speaking of writing books and living up to expectations, you might enjoy this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert at TED.

    EG also went back to the drawing board, they say, and scrapped the draft that preceded her current book. The talk is also interesting as a "secular" attempt to define what we know as the Holy Spirit.

  43. TwoSquareMeals

    Ah, potty training, my least favorite part of parenting. If it weren't for my husband, our oldest two might still be in diapers. I just hate the thought of starting the process!

    My post is one long political rant this time. Just my mood.

  44. Claire

    you really posted your quick takes at 12:00am? not 12:01? or 12:07? very impressive.

    #3: I live two blocks away from the Missionaries of Charity and I see them regularly. They are so calm and peaceful and their home is so…quiet! I feel a little twinge of envy sometimes when I think that their lifestyle involves no potty training whatsoever.

  45. Lana

    #7: I think it is interesting that some who have left comments have been annoyed with the "Third Man" article for looking for a scientific explanation–as if that is absurd. If this were a biochemical response, and a result of evolutionary adaptation, that would not necessarily discount a supernatural origin. I mean: if our "programming" means that we humans exhibit various survival instincts or strategies, that would make plenty of theological sense and line up with other physical (or spiritual) processes that we Catholics already recognize as part of God's design.

  46. Elizabeth Mahlou

    Loved the doll. It would be funny if it were not so sadly real! Been there! Glad I am not there now!

  47. Charity

    There is something magnificently cathartic about seeing a puddle of pee on SOMEONE ELSE'S furniture. Thank you for providing this service.

    This afternoon I was so relieved to see my almost 3 yr old decide to make a deposit in the appropriate location, that I actually let myself relax. Much to my chagrin, my loosened reigns let my brain dilly dally. The bubble of joy I so blithely rode upon was rudely dashed when I made to return his undergarments, only to find I had NOT WIPED. I almost wish I had taken a picture of the trail he left behind during his brief playtime pre-pantsing. Then I could return the favor.

    I, too, know how she feels.

  48. Camellia

    I'm really enjoying your blog and your links. I did write a post on that Wall Street Journal article on the Third Man Factor right after it came out. Those connections intrigue me.

  49. Anonymous

    Hi. This is for Linda. I'm so sorry for your loss. My 2-year-old grandson died of a brain tumor (pontine glioma) this past spring and it is so hard to comprehend at times. I can't put into concrete words why Tyler's illness and death brought me closer to God rather than driving me away. I just know it did. My firm belief is that the Catholic doctrine of Communion of Saints helped me deal … during his last day on earth I was begging intercession from my own grandmother and rellies in heaven, and Tyler's passing was amazing, a numinous blessing … and now I know, to my bones, that Tyler is my own intercessor in Heaven.

    That may be pertinent. Ask the intercession of your niece's brother.


  50. Meredith

    I was thinking of the book question as I drifted off to sleep last night.

    Most essays are neatly wrapped at the end with a conclusion or a question. You are particularly good at this part, Jen. It makes it a pleasure to reach the insight at the bottom of the screen.

    A good memoir, to me, is more than a collection of essays. It is first and foremost a story that builds, chapter by chapter. Although there may be recurrent themes that close each segment, the drama is reserved for the larger plot. What keeps you from putting the book down when you finish a chapter?

    You can't wait to find out how it ends.

  51. jennifer t


  52. Linda Maggioncalda

    Hi, This for Rosemary,

    Rosemary, I am so sorry for the loss of your grandson. How beautiful that he is your intercessor in heaven.

    My nephew died at age 19 or gliamatosis cerebri. He too, had a beautiful, grace-filled death.Your suggestion struck me as just right. I will ask his intercession.

    Thank you so much for your response.

  53. Pam Elmore

    I'm reading Lauren Winner's "Girl Meets God," and she wrote each chapter almost like a series of essays strung together with a common theme. I don't know if it was intentional, but I really like the technique.

  54. Rachel H. Evans

    You are such a natural when it comes to writing, Jen. I can't imagine that your manuscript would need a complete re-write! I'd definitely run it by your agent or an editor first. A fresh pair of eyes is always a good thing!

    I've noticed that my level of discouragement regarding my manuscript is directly proportional to the number of hours I have been awake. For example, between breakfast and lunch, it's good. Between lunch and dinner, it's tolerable. After dinner, it's an embarrassment to all who know me.

    What I'm trying to say is that, at some point, it becomes almost impossible to approach your manuscript objectively, even when you've let time go by. I've found that when I'm tired or distracted or jealous of other writers, I take it out on my poor manuscript.

    A memoir is much more than a big essay because: 1) it's so personal, 2) you have to hold your readers' attention for a lot longer, 3) if you stick to your original outline, you've probably done something wrong…which means you spend a lot of time re-organizing.

    I'm so glad that you've taken on this project, Jen, especially amidst the many things you have going on in your life. (The picture of the doll says it all!)

    I'm cheering for you!

    Feel free to contact me any time.

  55. Ouiz

    I'm sorry, but that picture is classic!!!

    And I have to say, when I first started looking at homeschooling, one of the books said, "Relax! If you can potty train your child, you can homeschool!" And I thought, "I am so doomed. My kid is over 3.5 yrs old, and he's still in diapers!"

    But, we made it and here we are!

    OK, I gotta throw in my two cents' worth here, knowing full well that (a) it wasn't asked for and (b) every family is different.I've got 7 kids, and 6 are potty trained. This is what worked FOR US.

    I never did the timer thing, or spent my day taking them to the toilet or asking them if they had to go. I'm not that organized, and it would be more than my little befuddled brain could take to make sure I asked consistently through the day if they had to go! *grin*

    It came down to them being dry consistently through the night, and being able to understand and get themselves dressed and get themselves on the toilet/potty seat. That usually meant 3-3.5 years (yeah, we do it late here!).

    I gave them a two-week warning with instructions on how the whole bathroom thing worked, and then on the assigned day, I took away the diapers and told them that they were responsible for running to the bathroom if they needed to go. If they had an accident, they had to take their wet pants off by themselves.

    All were stunned… none thought Mommy was serious… and all thought it was completely disgusting to peel wet clothes off themselves, and did not particularly enjoy having to wipe up wet spots on the floor… or taking all the wet stuff to the laundry room.

    I never yelled, never lost my temper, and never embarassed them. They got lots of praise when they did it right, and I was there with them in the bathroom whenever they had to change.

    All were potty trained in just a few days.

    This is only to say what worked for us. I can't say how #7 will respond to this system… only time will tell! (Do you suppose God is laughing at me already?)

  56. Jolyn

    "In the meantime, we have facebook."

    That ending line totally kept it from being creepy. Too funny.

  57. monica_divineoffice.org

    I know this is no laughing matter but your doll picture, face down in urine is… extremely funny and very descriptive. No better picture for the nightmare of potty training you are facing. Be brave, better times will come!

    Liturgy of the Hours

  58. Anonymous

    Why is book-writing not like writing a long essay?

    I've found that the longer the written work, the harder something is. You've got threads to weave into a huge Persian rug rather than a hook mat that you might put in your kitchen. Effort increases as the length does.

    Now, for me, novels are easier to conceptualize and even write than short stories. But they also take so much more work for me.

    It's a matter of filling up so much space with that many words, all of which need to have a point and purpose.

    An essay, on the other hand, makes one point, and all you need are a few arguments to make the point. However, a ten-page essay is harder than a five-page essay. And so on.

  59. Rina

    I am SO GLAD to hear about your potty training difficulties (sorry, but it's true!) We're having the same kinds of troubles and I was seriously starting to think that I'm a horrible mother and the only one who is having this trouble. Reading your post gave me a good laugh and a heaving sigh of relief. Thank you for being so transparent!!!

  60. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Rosemary and Linda –

    I am so very sorry for your losses. As for books for your niece, Linda, I might recommend something by/about Dorothy Day or Thomas Merton. If she wants a light read (something you could recommend because it's a "fun read" so it doesn't seem like you're pushing religion on her), I recommend My Life With the Saints — it's sweet, funny, well-written, light and yet also has an emphasis on serving the poor.

    I know there were a few other comments I wanted to reply to but now I'm out of time. Thank you, everyone!

  61. Barbara

    Re: the doll. Wow! I've had days like that.

    As for the book thing, I am going through the same thing trying to write a thesis. The larger size of the task makes it seem like trying to eat an elephant from tail to trunk. I think the suggestion of breaking it down is a good one, focus on one chapter at a time as if it were an essay on its own.

  62. Linda Maggioncalda

    Hi Jen,

    Thank you so much for your reply and your book recommendations.

    God Bless You!


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