I just got our tickets in the mail for my husband and I go to the Benedictine monastery Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon for their Art and Wine Festival on June 26! We’ll be staying at their retreat house for a few days for a retreat/vacation to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday. Check out some of the pictures of this place — it’s gorgeous! Anyone else planning to be there?
We’re using old frequent flyer miles to get up there, and the retreat house’s daily rate is cheaper than a lot of hotels — and it includes three meals a day. It’s so nice to be able to do a vacation that’s exciting, spiritually fulfilling and doesn’t cost a small fortune.
One of the reasons we chose Mt. Angel is so that I can finally meet my long-lost cousin, Br. Claude Lane. I posted about it back in 2007, but the short version of the story is this:
A couple months before my husband and I were going to enter the Catholic Church, a relative from my dad’s side of the family told me I was related to a Benedictine monk. I was shocked: that side of my family, all Baptist and Methodist country folks who have been in Texas forever, is the last place I would ever expect to encounter a monk! (“We thought it was very exotic to have a Catholic in the family, ” my relative commented in her initial email.) It turns out that he and my dad’s cousins had been in close touch for a long time, but I’d just never heard about him. So our June trip will be not only a vacation, but a mini family reunion as well! You can read about Br. Claude’s amazing work as an iconographer here.
The other day my mom was watching the kids, and when I came home my five-year-old son announced that she had given him some money for cleaning up. I ooh-ed and ahh-ed at what a big boy he was, and asked him how much money Grammy gave him. I expected him to proudly produce a couple of shiny dimes, but instead he whipped out five dollar bills! In typical grandmother fashion, my mom thought it was not extravagant at all. I pointed out that $5 for ten minutes of work (cleaning up his own mess, I might add) comes out to $30 per hour, which is the equivalent of $62, 000 a year. I keep telling her that if we’re going to be paying the big bucks, we should at least stir up some competition for the job to make sure we get the best candidate:
Title: Living Room Cleaner
Duties: Throw toys all over living room, then return them to toy basket while dancing to peppy clean-up song
Experience required: None
Salary: $62, 000/year
I’m turning in my resume today.
A friend of some friends of ours is currently out on the Mercy Ship, a hospital ship that sails around and provides free medical care to the poorest of the poor. I’ve been riveted by the stories she’s been sharing on her blog. What an amazing organization!
I haven’t done an update about the book in a while, so here’s the latest:
- I work on it almost every day, but I continue to be shocked by how long it’s taking.
- It’s taking such a long time because I’m trying to make it a fun read, something that even someone who didn’t have a particular interest in Christianity or conversion would enjoy.
- I’m so glad I scrapped that first draft. I’ve learned an enormous amount about what it takes to write a quality book over the past year. This new version is more like a second book than a second draft of what I originally wrote.
- Going from essay-writing to narrative-book-writing is like going from juggling two balls to ten. It’s the same basic skill set, but requires practice and patience to get it right.
I had a little “Jen moment” where I blurted out a commitment to my agent that I’d have this draft done by June. Unfortunately, at the rate I’m going, September would be a much more reasonable estimate. Late September. I’m not exactly sure how the word “June” worked its way into my email, or how I’m going to come anywhere close to hitting that deadline. Should be interesting!
The other day I sent out a video of my son playing t-ball in the back yard. My mother-in-law, Yaya, called to ask who that man was who was narrating it. Umm, it was me. The exchange made me reflect on whether or not I think I have a man-voice. I decided that I don’t think I do (you can hear me in #2 here), but I may end up huffing helium before my next radio interview, just to be safe.
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