7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 118)

February 25, 2011 | 97 comments

— 1 —

I can’t believe that Lent is just around the corner. It’s interesting how some years I’ve felt drawn to make a lot of serious changes in my life during this time, then other years (like this one) I think I should just keep it simple so I don’t get overwhelmed. Either way, Lent always tends to be a period of great spiritual growth for me, so I’m looking forward to it. If you’re not familiar with this season, Marcel has an updated “all about Lent” post over at his blog. Great stuff.

— 2 —

Over at the National Catholic Register, I’ve been getting a surprising number of comments about my bio. A lot of folks have offered the constructive criticism about the part that says that my family “currently includes four young children (with one on the way).” Some people say that it sends the wrong message that I didn’t include the baby on the way in my kid count. It’s made me realize that stating the number of children you have can be a surprisingly tricky issue. If you’ve just found out you’re pregnant and aren’t ready to announce it, should you go ahead and include that child in the number? If you’ve lost children to miscarriage, while of course you include them as members of your family, do you add them in when people ask how many kids you have?

Since the common parlance is to list the number of kids you have interacted with and actively taken care of, I had said “four (with one on the way)” to avoid confusion. But maybe it sends the wrong message. What do you think? Should I change the bio?

— 3 —

I can’t stop talking about Evernote. I discovered it via this post by speaker / writer / executive Michael Hyatt, and my life will henceforth be categorized as “before Evernote” and “after Evernote.” This is the most useful software I have ever seen. Basically, it’s a simple system for organizing ideas. You create a note for each new idea, and can organize them by creating “notebooks” and adding tags to each note. It also has a browser plugin so that you can easily capture ideas you have while surfing the web. If you write, blog, or do anything else that involves keeping a list of ideas, you must have this software. (And it’s free!)

— 4 —

Before I say what I’m about to say next, I want to state for the record that I admire and respect Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss). His contributions to the world of children’s literature were inestimable, and I am sure that his lovely books will continue to delight children and adults alike for generations to come. But. Umm. Do you come across certain books of his where you feel like he was just phoning it in?

Because I am a deeply cynical person who is obviously in need of prayers, whenever I read One Fish, Two Fish to my kids, I always imagine Mr. Geisel calling his agent and saying, “Write this down: ‘At our house we, umm, open cans. We have to open many cans. And that is why we have a — heck with it — Zans.'” He rattles off a few more lines, and calls it a day after creating the word “Yop” to rhyme with “hop.” Then he tells the agent to have the massive royalty checks directly deposited to his bank account.

UPDATE: Well, I’m wrong, turns out he worked very hard on One Fish, Two Fish as I discovered in this interesting article called 10 things you didn’t know about Dr. Seuss.

— 5 —

My husband and I are still making our way through all the episodes of Jeeves & Wooster. One of the many things I love about it is that I recognize my cultural roots in these English characters. Many of their mannerisms and habits remind me of the way my grandfather does things, even though his ancestors have been in America for as far back as we can trace.

It reminds me of a fascinating book I once bought called Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, which talks about how there were four distinct migrations by four different British socioeconomic groups, and how you can still see their influences in American culture today. Unfortunately I did not check the page count before purchasing the book, and at 972 pages I haven’t quite been able to get through it. But the subject is really fascinating, and I hope I can learn more about it one of these days.

— 6 —

Here is something inspiring to start your weekend. It’s a talk by a young seminarian named Philip Johnson who has an inoperable brain tumor.

Seminarian Philip Johnson from Deacon Watkins on Vimeo.

His insights about the meaning of life and what cancer has taught him are amazing. God bless him. (And you can follow his journey at his personal blog here.)

— 7 —

I’m going to spend this weekend relaxing (to the extent that that’s possible around here, anyway) since I’ll be traveling to Illinois for the Behold Conference next weekend. What are you up to?


Below is a 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.


  1. caitie rose

    I think it’s always good to “round up” when speaking about the number of children you have. So you have four and one on the way? Go with an even eight! πŸ™‚ LOL

  2. Courageous Grace

    I agree about the Dr. Seuss thing.

    As for the number of kids, it doesn’t matter to me either way. IMO people who complain about your choosing to include your unborn child as the “one on the way” have way too much time on their hands πŸ˜‰

    When I interact physically with people and am asked how many children I have, I usually say “Two. One of them is 3 and running around like a rabid monkey, the other is still baking” and point to my belly ^_~

    • Elizabeth

      Agree, Re: too much time on their hands. I absolutely see where they’re coming from, however, everyone reading your bio knows you’re pro-life. They know you’re including the baby in utero as a member of your family, you just haven’t met him or her on the outside yet.

      If your bio was on a secular website, I would more easily agree with their complaints because that would be an opportunity to witness to the secular world.

      • Christian H

        I agree, except to say that it shouldn’t be a problem in ANY context (which says a lot coming from someone as genre-obsessed as I am). It is very specific; it can create no confusion about the number and location of your children.

        • magdala

          Saying a person is on the way doesn’t make them less of a person.

  3. Jessica Snell

    I appreciate your observation about how the rigor of Lent seems to vary from year to year. I’ve found it’s especially different years I’m pregnant or breastfeeding. But you’re right, it’s always good.

  4. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I think the way you’re referring to the number of children is the easiest to parse. When people say “I have X children” and include miscarriages in X, it’s easy for the people who read the bio to make upsetting comments without meaning to.

    I’m spending this weekend on catch-up on college work after a nasty cold, but I’d appreciate the help of any readers here while I figure out how to prepare for Lent.

  5. Kassie @ Secret Vatican Spy

    Oh my goodness. . .the Jeeves and Wooster series looks fantastic. Nay, nay, I tell thee. Homework, thy name is. . .is. . .procrastination. Sigh.

    I suppose if the wording in your biography is all people have to complain about, you’re doing something right, lady. πŸ˜‰ I think the wording is just fine, for what it’s worth.

  6. Tami

    As someone who has lost a child to miscarriage, has four children out of the belly and one in the belly, when someone asks me how many children I have I usually just simply say “four with one on the way” (assuming at the time I’m telling the pregnancy). I just feel like it’s an incredibly personal thing, especially the miscarriage issues, and I’m allowed to communicate the general details of my life to you any way I want without having to feel guilty about it, like I don’t value my children. I’ve seen people that always communicate the number of children they have in heaven along with those on this earth when asked, and I admire that, but for me, that’s just a level of intimacy I’m not comfortable with in general conversation.

    • Catherine

      I completely agree with you Tami. I’ve heard people be critical of Michelle Duggar for not including her miscarriage in her number of children (as in, the show should be called “20 and Counting” not “19 and Counting”). Come on people!
      Not everyone wants to put their whole life story out there every time someone asks how many kids they have. I know several women my mother’s age who have had school age or adult children pass away. When asked how many children they have, they all just say the number of children that are still living. No one accuses them of not valuing or loving their deceased children! Why should a miscarriage be any different? The parents should have the choice whether or not to tell others.

      • Elizabeth

        I agree with this wholeheartedly. We have 4 living children and lost a baby at 9 days old. I have to be willing to share a lot of information if I include our 4th baby (the one we lost) in general conversation. Generally, people will not leave “our baby died” as is. It’s as if they want more details, which sometimes I am more willing to share than other times. When I was pregnant with #5, this was much trickier, because I wasn’t comfortable saying “This is our fourth.” I usually just avoided the question at all costs. If I couldn’t, I usually said 5th baby and then ended up feeling violated having to share details.

    • caitie rose

      You summed it up perfectly, Tami!!

  7. JoAnna

    I always say I have three kids on earth and two in heaven (although in certain contexts I’ll just say I have three kids — I don’t necessarily feel the need to talk about my miscarriages to complete strangers).

    My perception is that when someone says they have X amount of kids, X = kids who have been born. So, IMO, you’re fine saying you have four kids and one on the way.

  8. Jackie

    I think the way you say your kids is fine. It’s not like you’re just saying “4 and I’m pregnant.” Saying 5 would confuse people. It’s okay to go with the culturally accepted way of informing people of your # of children in this case!

  9. La Gallina

    I always find myself confused and not sure what to say when people add their children lost to miscarriage to their total number of kids.

    I also find myself surprised at the pregnancy checkups to realize that I have been pregnant 9 times. (With 6 now outside the womb, 1 still cooking and, yes, 2 miscarriages)

  10. Denise

    Re: How many kids you have. Oh, goodness. The things we find to nitpick about. I respect what the NCR commenters are saying, but you are hardly dealing a crushing blow to the pro-life movement by following standard conventions. Do what you are comfortable sharing, which will probably change from situation to situation, particularly if you are not ready to discuss any miscarriages or a current pregnancy with just anyone.

    Re: Dr. Seuss. I also respect him and the quality of goofy fun that he introduced, but frankly am SO over him; there are even points in some of his books with which I really disagree. (What the heck, Cat in the Hat – children shouldn’t tell their parents that a weirdo and his friends were in the house?) There are many, many unbelievably high-quality children’s books out there that combine great storytelling and incredible illustrations. (Just check out books with lists like Honey for a Child’s Heart, or the Five in a Row curriculum.)

  11. Leila

    Now you’ve totally made me want to try Evernote, but I still have a phobia of new technology! I am going to trust you and take the plunge. Tomorrow.

    I say it this way: “I have X kids and one on the way!” Why this is controversial is beyond me. I get that we don’t want to inadvertently deny the unborn child’s humanity, but we also have a colloquial way of saying things. We said it that way even when we were a pro-life nation, right?

    Okay, it’s late. Why am I always up so late? I need to do that whole “natural light” thing you did. But then when would I have time to blog? Sigh…

  12. Sue

    I’m with Leila on the how many kids question thing. I suppose to avoid any misunderstanding you could say something like, “I have five kids, four I tuck in every night, and one still tucked away on the inside.” Or… whatever. :o)

  13. Erin


    The answer to this is really a context issue. ie. at the Obstetricians I would say “expecting baby no. 10” (lost one to miscarriage)

    However for something like I book jacket I would say, “Expecting baby 5” or “4 children, expecting another” or something similar.

    btw, I just raved about Evernote on my post, came over to link and noticed you had found it too:) Great minds;)

  14. Ciska @ This Journey of my Life

    I’ve never understood the whole Dr. Suess rage in the States. I had never heard of him until a few years ago and when I checked some of his books out in the library, I was very disappointed. Really, what’s it all about? I’ve read so many wonderful books that deserve so much more attention.

  15. Therese

    We haven’t read a lot of Dr. Suess here in our house. They were really popular when I was a child and we had just about all of them. I haven’t ever thought about getting them for my children before. I think those that they have read have been from our local library.

    This week my Quick 7 is post number 1400 for me.

  16. Sharon

    I grew up with Dr. Seuss, and we read lots of Dr. Seuss books when the kids were small. Our oldest son had “Dr. Seuss’ ABC” memorized by the time he was two. He used to run around the house recitig the book at the top of his lungs. (He’s much more normal now, lol).

    #2, hmmm… How about “Five, including one in the oven?” (That’s what my mom used to say when someone was pregnant–she’s got one cooking in the oven. Or “Five with one still in the womb.” I dunno. I think the way you’ve worded it is just fine. πŸ™‚

  17. Maria

    I’m a long time reader, but this is my first time participating.

    And let me just say that I need Lent, love Lent, and look forward to it each year:)

  18. Kathleen@so much to say

    #2–I think people are too quick to criticize. Tell people @ your family in whatever way you think works best.

    #5–My family is German, German, German, with a hint of Irish/French, and German. I thought we didn’t have any of those deeply-held cultural things the way my husband’s Italian family did, until I realized that this characteristic expression of annoyance that we say all the time–it sounds like “Awk!” is actually the German “Ach!” That was a revelation. πŸ™‚

    Oh, and I’m another Lent geek. I’m writing a book on it this year, to go with my Advent book.

  19. Michelle

    1. Maybe I’m weird…but I’ve been doing some sort of ho-hum in my heart/brain as I wait for this ever-lasting late Lent and Easter! I saw Easter displays out at the Pharmacy yesterday and I thought…Wow, they sure are going to have those out for a looooong time!
    2. I also say that I have four (with one on the way). It just makes it easier for most people to understand that means you are pregnant with your 5th. When I talk about baby with others, I often refer to gestational age…and it’s very clear to those who know me that my baby is very much a person to me even though I describe him/her as “on the way”
    3.Thanks for the tip on Evernote! I need to check it out!
    4. I have had THE SAME thoughts about One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish! That is one of my 2-year-old’s faves right now and when I read it, I wonder…I’ll have to check out the article you link.
    6. When I have some time later, I will definitely check out the video!
    7. Good luck…if Chicago got any of the snow we got…well, probably won’t change much since it’s CHICAGO! πŸ™‚ As for us, we’re off school for yet another snow day. *sigh*

  20. Pam

    Great post! Evernote looks especially intriguing… I’m frustrated by my current system of 1) keeping twenty windows open and 2) starting dozens of posts and leaving them in draft form. Hopefully Evernote will help me organize my wandering mind…

    • Roz

      I’ve used Evernote for a long time. Good for ideas, but it’s also my recipe box, secure post-it note for login passwords, holder of frequent flyer numbers and my family’s social security numbers and inoculation records, etc. etc. (Hint: I’ve found a tag called “Important Info” very helpful.)

      They’d have to pry Evernote from my cold dead harddrive.

  21. Jamie Shover

    I think it is perfectly normal to say you have 4 and one on the way and to overthink it is wasted energy. πŸ˜‰

  22. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    Thanks to you, I have rekindled my interest in Jeeves and Wooster. I was able to find it on VHS at our local library and am now sharing it with my husband, who thins it’s quite funny too.

    I really enjoyed your article yesterday on saying yes, which lead me to your earlier article about saying no. I felt both posts were written especially for ME.

    As for the weekend, I have made a new resolution to really try and mke Sunday a day of worship, rest and relaxation. We will see how that goes with a busy three and five year old in the house.

    As for this weekend, I have made a new resolution

  23. Mary

    I was only able to “have” one child and lost an early pregnancy of a much wanted 2nd baby. I used to say the baby in Heaven thing, but found myself having an introductory conversation with people about the most painful time in my life, so now I just say one and share about that other one after we get to know each other better.

  24. MemeGRL

    FWIW, I like the clarity of the answer you gave on the children. And I agree–people quibbling have too much time on their hands.
    Share what you are ok sharing.

  25. Liesl

    I’m going to a Catholic leadership conference, going to hear George Weigel speak, and helping out with a pancake breakfast to raise money for our spring break trip with the Newman Center… so not too much time for relaxing! Hope you enjoy relaxing!

  26. elizabethe

    re: dr. suess.

    I felt like I had been given a revelation when I figured out what Dr. Seuss is for. It’s not really for read alouds. The made up words follow phonetic conventions and so give children a chance to practice sounding out words that they can’t possible already know by sight. Once I realized this, I stopped reading the nonsense rhyme books and early reader books of Dr. Seuss to my two kids (except cat in the hat, which my 4 year old already loves) and I will use them as books he can practice reading with in a year or two when he starts.

    • Denise

      Yep, elizabethe, I was going to say the same thing. The value of being able to recognize parts of a word–like the -op in “hop,” and apply it to another word, making “yop,” is crucial in early reading.

      At least, that’s my nerdy reading teacher response.

    • Simcha Fisher

      Yes, exactly. I always enjoyed the silliness of Dr. Seuss, but didn’t appreciate the brilliance until I used “one fish, two fish” to teach an illiterate adult to read. It is meticulous organized by phonetic rule, without being dull. I have tried making up sentences to demonstrate phonetic skills, and that just hammered home what a gift Dr. Seuss had!

  27. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

    One Fish Two Fish is the first book we bought for Dudette. We picked it up at the airport and took it to Armenia with us when we picked her up. It will always have a place in my heart. From what I’ve read, all Dr. Seuss’ books are designed to help kids learn how to read. Don’t know why, they are.

  28. Wendy from Zoom

    IMHO, “one on the way” is the perfect description. You are acknowledging not only that child exists as a real child, but that he or she is “on the way” to your arms. Perfect!

  29. maresi

    I might say that I “have four children and another on the way.” But seriously, that’s pretty picky of people to dissect that statement in your bio.

  30. Linda Wightman

    Number of kids: The key to remember is that you do not owe all the details of your life to everyone. As someone else has said, context is important. I wrestled for quite a while with this issue: My first grandchild died two days after his birth. He was clearly born, clearly here and interacted with. Even those who says miscarriages aren’t “really” the loss of a child would have to agree that he would be counted in the number of my grandchildren. But I finally realized that to include him in the count, while appropriate in some contexts (and certainly in my heart!), only makes what was intended to be a casual inquiry into an awkward conversation. My answer to the question varies between 5 and 8 (so far), depending on the asker.

    But the most important question is, what are YOU comfortable with? No one in the world has the right to make you feel guilty for sharing or not sharing the more personal details of your life.

  31. Tiffani

    I think mentioning the children running around your house and the one you’re currently growing is perfectly normal. Some people have a lot of time on their hands to become offended that you won’t offer them intimate miscarriage, or other, information. I love your blog, Jennifer, and the fact that you have the time to share anything with anyone impresses me. You’re honest, encouraging, and you make me feel pride at being a Catholic mother:)

    Pax Christi and thanks for the software recommendation!!:)

  32. Anne

    I’m so delighted you’re hooked on Wodehouse. After you’ve exhausted Jeeves I recommend everything Blandings as just as wonderful and also Cocktail Times and everything else really. I shouldn’t really talk, though, because I basically don’t read anything else and That’s Very Bad. Maybe for lent I’ll try and read something, anything else.

  33. Julia at LotsaLaundry

    I delegated the reading of Dr Seuss to my husband, who loves the guy. Me, I glaze. Though I do enjoy the creative wordplay Dr. Seuss inspired in my kids. They are all adept rhymers, and coupled with a large repertoire of musicals this has made for many hysterical impromptu adaptations of lyrics. My eldest recently made a parody of Lady Gaga’s “Caught in a Bad Romance” called “Caught in Modern Song” that began, “One note, maybe two/Not much else to do…Now repeat it all/Drives me up the wall…”

    But the Superman-themed Guys & Dolls my husband wrote was my favorite. It included the classic song by Lex Luthor,”Luck be a lady tonight/I’ve got the kyptonite”. See the places you’ll go with Dr. Seuss? Have fun!

  34. Melanie

    I think it is all about what you are comfortable with when it comes to sharing the nubmer of children in your family. When I’ve been pregnant, I’ve always shared that child as on the way. Like many commenters, I am surprised you are hearing about it too!

    Most folks I know who have lost children who were pre-born or suffered illness or accident during childhood acknowledge their child personally but don’t share in casual conversation. And some do as a way of evangelizing and honoring their child. To me, it’s all about where we are called.

    Thanks for sharing the video. I watched the first few minutes and look forward to getting back to it. He is SO right, it is hard to grow up as a Catholic in the south.

    We are preparing our taxes this weekend! I hope you enjoy some relaxation.

  35. Charlotte (Matilda)

    Nit picky! I agree that context matters. For a bio (even for a Catholic online publication) you have to follow general convention assuming that a considerable number of readers might not be Catholic and would be confused. If you said you have 5 children and then they later announce that our new blogger Jennifer F. had a baby, people would think that now you have 6 and might be confused. We we say to a casual observer or acquaintance how many children we have, that typically means how many we have here in our external care right now. It is totally acceptable to say “one on the way” referring to the fact that this one has only to be cared for internally right now. And I also speak as someone who has suffered the loss of miscarriage. I might post on my personal blog that we have two born into Heaven, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing that joy and heartache by announcing it to every stranger I meet on the street (virtual or real).

  36. Christy

    I think that anyone who spends a lot of time worrying in comments about how you present your number of children has wayyyy to much time on their hands. To be honest, people like that drive me nuts. I think since they’re your kids, and you’re trying hard to be honest, whatever you decide is fine. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the Evernote suggestion – I’m on the way to check it out now!

    Have a nice weekend!! Have fun relaxing!! πŸ™‚

    • Christy

      And I totally meant the comments on your bio, not the comments on here! (*facepalm*)

  37. Nichole@40daysof

    I was reading One Fish Two Fish to my nieces a couple of weeks ago and had the exact same thought as you. That book seems not up to par with so many others. I will try to read your Dr. Seuss link when I have time. I am interested to know what it says, since my husband and I were making smart aleck remarks about aging and possible drug use (when no children were around). πŸ™‚

  38. cindykay

    You DID include all your children in the count in your bio: four plus one is five. I don’t see the critics’ problem.

  39. Christine

    4 kids and one on the way was just fine. I think people can get their undies in a bunch about anything. Dont change it.

  40. Catholic Bibliophagist

    Actually, I love One Fish, Two Fish. I memorized it when I was a teen. But it was only after reading it numberless times to toddlers that I began to discover deep and esoteric meanings in it. Okay, I’m joking here, but only slightly. Though many people do see an inherent pro-life message in Horton Hears a Who. (“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”)

    The Dr. Seuss book I hate, hate, hate is “The Lorax,” his heavy handed, pro-ecology fable.

    As for your bio, I think it is perfectly acceptable to refer to having four children and one on the way. It’s the normal, colloquial way to say that you have four born children and one unborn one. You can’t get any more prolife than that. (Those critical commenters need to get a life!”)

    P.S. Seriously, don’t feel obliged to read aloud books that you dislike just because other people like them. I made it a policy to only read aloud books I loved to my kids. Because I feel that if the parent doesn’t enjoy it, he won’t be able to convincingly convey how much fun reading is to his kids.

  41. Debbie

    1. LOVE Aggie Catholics’ Lenten posts! Thanks for the reminder and link πŸ™‚
    2. People need to get over themselves. I guess you could say that technically a “child” is a stage of development/growth AFTER being born. Maybe commenters want you to mention any fetuses, embryos, zygotes, etc. (insert snarky expression here πŸ™‚ that are developing…
    3. Sounds like the software might be easier to work with than all of my MS Office “notes” that I have!
    4. I always thought Dr. Seuss illustrations were creepy and the books less than interesting when I was little. Still do!
    5. I’ve started reading P. G. Wodehouse after the Jeeves’ series was mentioned at your blog several weeks ago. Have started with a compilation of short stories “The Man with Two Left Feet” which has the first story where Jeeves is introduced. Wodehouse wrote charming stories and so far my favorite from this collection is “At Geisenheimers” which you can read online here: http://www.daily-pulp.com/literature/at-geisenheimers/
    6. Such an inspirational young man. Love how so many in his family have returned to their faith. As someone living with a dx of cancer (albeit with a good prognosis), I really enjoyed his perspective on death and the assumed length of our lives here on earth.
    7. Enjoy!

  42. Jamie Jo

    4 children out of the womb…1 child in the womb…would be kind of funny, no one can argue that one, can they?

    That’s really kind of funny if you think about it, people, even like minded pro life people can find reasons to disagree and argue.

    I think leave it. It’s how MOST people would have written it.

  43. Jamie Jo

    Oh, yeah, I’m joining in later….after I post!

  44. Lisa Schmidt

    Hi Jen,

    I find nothing questionable about your profile and am surprised you’ve received so much feedback about it. It is a very personal situation that needs to be handled in the manner you feel most called.

    Joel and I have experienced two miscarriages, and we generally don’t include those babies in the count unless the situation allows for the opportunity to discuss. However, I do find myself wanting to include the two in our count especially around our prolife, NFP-practicing friends. And only for selfish reasons–I don’t want them to think we aren’t open to life (Joel’s 41, I’m nearing 35, our only daughter is 2 1/2…hurry it up, right?!). That’s rather inward. If sharing our story glorifies God rather than for some selfish reason, I am open to including the two other babies in my count.

  45. Jeanne G. @knowledgehungry

    I think that your biography is Fine. Some people will analyze anything, and accuse you for it. Don’t worry about it.
    My husband and I are always getting asked how many children we have. We always say “None yet.” I don’t want to say we don’t have kids outright, because not only do we want them badly, but we don’t want to come across as being “those people” who don’t want children. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about what people think either…

  46. Donna

    I, too, am looking forward to Lent in a way that I have not done in the past. I think it’s going to be an opportunity for great spiritual growth.

  47. Kara

    I don’t know your answer to your kid count question. I think one on the way is fine. It’s really hard to state it otherwise without being super confusing.

    I didn’t even watch the video but for some reason it made me cry. I’ll blame pregnancy hormones.

    I can’t wait for lent. I’m giving up my laptop and will only check email and Facebook on my phone. I look forward to getting my prayer life back in order, and reading some books I want to read πŸ™‚ Lent is my favorite. I’m still not very good at it, though. lol The last couple months have been super hard on me, though, and I need it.

    I’m not doing a Quick Takes this week. I don’t have the ambition or the lack of anger to handle even simple blogging. πŸ™‚

  48. Carrie

    I’ve been walking around the kitchen giggling about your question about – “but do you ever feel like sometimes Dr. Suess was just phoning it in?” That makes me lol. I definitely feel that way about The Teeth Book or The Tooth Book or whatever it’s called. I hate reading that book; it’s so annoying. πŸ™‚

  49. Julie @ The Corner With A View

    Wow, that seems extremely silly for people to comment on. You said how many kids you have by saying four plus one on the way! I have dear professor-friends who lost their daughter, so they say they have six kids, but five living. I think your bio is fine. πŸ™‚

    I love Albion’s Seed! Finish it.

  50. Kristina

    I would state your kid count just the way you do. I mean it’s not like you say “4 kids and a fetus in my womb”, you say “one on the way” meaning…one child on the way to the world. It doesn’t disqualify your high esteem for the fully human child growing in your womb, it just states the current state of being of that child…so that when people see you in person they don’t say “Oh wait, where is your 5th?” ect. And for the miscarriage thing, I think that’s mostly a more intimate topic to share about…and though you hold in your heart the # of children you have, and you may feel the need to share about that in certain siutations, I do not think you deny the humanity or existence of those children by not including them in your blog profile kid count. I mean…that’s personal…I have a friend who has had MANY miscarriages…but it’s private…so I don’t think she goes around saying she has 15 kids. She says, “these are my 3 kids” and if it gets to serious, intimate conversation or a moment for her to witness her story, she will then share how many children she has in heaven, the children she’s lost to miscarriage.

  51. Tracy

    Why does it cause problems? You included the baby – as one on the way. You’re not talking about expecting a baby elephant, are you? I think it’s lovely the way you expressed it.

    If it means that I am not expressing my pro-life stance every time that I simply answer “I have three children”, instead of saying I have three living children and at least 9 babies in heaven (that I know of for sure!) – well, then I don’t care. It’s my history, I live with it every day of my life, and I certainly think about them often. I look forward to meeting each of them some day. They are my babies, even if I lost them before I could hold them. (all before 10 weeks)

    But I am not a mother of 12 here in my life now. Day by day, I am the mother to three incredibly wonderful blessings. I am full of joy to be their mother – and it certainly would be hard on me to have to explain why I don’t have more of them with me now every time I’m asked that question.

    I guess I have strong feelings about the miscarriage part. I don’t care if someone else feels strongly about mentioning their children in heaven, but I will not feel like I’m wrong not to mention them to everyone who asks about my children in passing or in polite conversation. I share if I feel it’s appropriate, and with anyone I know who is dealing with miscarriage, but that’s my decision.

  52. Kate

    I have a similar issue with kid-counting.. only from another perspective. In addition to my two younger sisters (one of whom is adopted), I have 2 living half-sisters, 1 living half-brother who I barely know, 1 half-brother who died many years ago, and a brother who was stillborn when I was 6 yrs old. It’s complicated answering the “how many siblings do you have” question… My response depends on my relationship with the asker.

  53. Katie @ Wellness Mama

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with how you stated your number of children, and I agree, it is rather funny that it has caused such a strong reaction. It is certainly a personal decision how and when to include unborn children or miscarriages in that count!
    I have one friend though who lost a child when she was only a few days old, and she still includes her daughter when asked how many children she has. It usually starts a painful conversion when she says she has four, but there are only three with her, but she said that if she doesn’t remember and acknowledge her daughter’s life, who will? Tough situation, but I see the point!

  54. Mel

    Thanks for the link to Evernote!! Awesome.

  55. Judy

    Oh my…what a great bunch of Quick Takes…thank you!
    I LOVE the small feature on Dr. Seuss! Glad to have this cleared up.
    I look forward to coming back this evening and watching the video about this young seminarian.
    You and I have the same #7 in our lists today!
    And, finally…I do not thing you should change your BIO, nor do I feel you presented a mixed or negative message, therein.
    When you write that you HAVE 4 “young children”…that means (to me, as a reader, at least) that you currently HAVE 4 people in your family who happen, at this moment in time, to be “young children”…as in…NOT infants, NOT in the womb…NOT teens…NOT married and on their own. Further…to add that you also have “one on the way”…implies that A) You are expecting a baby and B) By God’s grace, that baby will ALSO one day reach “young children-hood” and be counted among your other “young children”. Similarly, if you had written, “We have 4 kids, with one on the way”…that too, clarifies that you have 4 children outside the womb and 1 inside the womb…one does not negate the other…by saying one is “on the way” it does NOT mean that you are not counting it as a “child” of yours…it merely means what it states…that this one, particular child, is still in the womb! Ugh…please excuse me, as I seem to have gone on a bit of a ramble about this…but sometimes, I get a tad-bit irked when people try to “read something” into text that isn’t there. It would not make sense for you to write, “We have 5 children”…for THAT clearly implies that you HAVE (as in: are currently raising, caring for, and parenting-outside-the-womb) FIVE children. You are doing that with FOUR of your children…but are AWAITING the physical-presence-outside-the-womb of the other one! SHEEESH!

  56. Judy

    Figured I’d better come back and say that I appreciate constructive criticism and I hope that my comment was not ill-taken by anyone. It was meant in good spirits. I also wanted to mention that when asked how many children I “have”…I answer “10”. I do not usually mention the ones we’ve miscarried.
    Strangely, however, when asked how many siblings I have…I always seem to answer” one sister, and five brothers, but only four are living”. As I pondered your questions in your post today, I found myself wondering why I seem to mention and draw the distinction with my deceased brother…but not with babies who have gone home to the Lord in-utero. Interesting.

    • 'Becca

      Judy, I think the difference is that a question about your siblings is in part a question about your childhood experience: You grew up with one sister and five brothers. A question about your children is in part a question about how many children you’re raising, and while the ones who miscarried are indeed “real people” in your mind, they never were among the children you were raising.

      I have noticed this difference in comparing the responses to, “Do you have siblings?” of a friend whose siblings died before she was born, and a friend who grew up with one brother who then died as an adult. The first one says she’s an only child (unless there is some reason to mention the brothers) because that was her childhood experience, but the other says, “I had a younger brother.”

  57. Mandi

    I don’t understand how so many of you don’t like D. Seuss – I’m not pregnant yet and I already have a Dr. Seuss nursery all planned out! I used “The Butter Battle Book” to teach about the Cold War to my high schoolers when I was student teaching! (And Seuss’ political cartoons, but they were obviously tailor-made of the social studies classroom). When I find out I’m pregnant, one of the first things we’ll buy is the complete Dr. Seuss collection!

    As to how many children you have, I really appreciate that you wrote it that way. I would be very confused if a pregnant woman said she had five kids, because I would assume the baby in the belly was number six.

    I am looking forward to trying Evernote! I am very scatterbrained so a place for me to record notes is much desired!

  58. Anna

    Counting kids CAN be complicated. I have a 21-year-old stepdaughter and five kids (age 5 mo to 8 years) by my husband. If I’m asked how many kids I have, I’ll probably just say “five”. But if my husband’s with me, and HE answers the question “How many kids do you have?”, there’s a fair chance he’ll say “six”. I wonder how many people we’ve confused.

  59. Ann

    Your bio is perfect the way it is worded. I’ve miscarried 5 children, have one on the way, and no live births yet. I can’t imagine answering that question with a simple “6.” It’s just a wee bit more complicated than that. So, in my opinion, your wording is perfect!

  60. NoraB

    The number of kids thing is sometimes awkward. I guess I tailor that to the circumstances around the encounter.Honestly, I have sometimes said “2” – when in a public place and know I’ll never see the person again and I just don’t feel like fielding Amish questions. I’ll usually say “8” and then I’m ready for the ?’s that usually follow, no prob. If I was ever in a situation involving women who have lost babies, maybe, maybe, I’d say the number of pregnancies I’ve had, but for me, that’s a big number and a burdensome one – for the poor person just asking an innocent question. You don’t have anything to prove. My vote is – whatever answer pops in your head and feels natural in the given circumstances.

    PS sorry for leaving 2 links -an old one and the new one.I’m pretty green at this!

  61. Jordana

    When giving my child count, I don’t include my miscarriage and when I’m pregnant I count the way you do — X children and one on the way. For the miscarriage, it isn’t that I want to ignore the little person, but it also is totally weird (and sad) to talk about for me. Not something I want to have to explain every time either.

  62. Wsquared

    God bless you, Jen! …speaking of which, if you’re interested in things English, you should read Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, if you haven’t yet.

    Yes, there’s a glorious Brit-TV production, too, from the early 1980s (Jeremy Irons!). The more recent movie version doesn’t really compare, and even tweaks the story in ways that I didn’t like. But the book is glorious.

    It will definitely speak to your love of the Catholic faith and also to your love for things English. …and Waugh was a convert, too. πŸ™‚

    Happy Friday!

  63. Kelly

    Sorry my seven takes were cut short today. πŸ™ If you get a chance to read them, I would ask for your prayers for my daughter. Thanks!

  64. C@LivingfortheLord2011

    Sorry I did not post my whole name correctly…toddler crawling up on my lap to nurse to sleep distracted me…

    I think the way you describe your children on your bio is just fine….

    my dear sis-in-lsw has 4 living children and at least 10 miscarriages…

    it would seem a bit inaccurate were she to list herself as a “mother of 14” – although we all know that is what she will be in heaven!!

  65. Mama M

    Your bio is just fine!

    We don’t find out the sex of our children until they are born – I actually had someone tell me that that this is not prolife. A prolife person finds out the sex of their baby and names the child as soon as possible. This says to the world that you acknowledge that the baby you are carrying is a real person.

    People really need to find something bigger to worry about.

    • Mary S

      Not finding out the gender isn’t pro-life? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard lol. I can’t even believe someone told you that.

      Setting aside the fact that what matters is what is in one’s heart, you could make the argument that not finding out the gender demonstrates the recognition that the baby WAS a baby from conception, and that naming it doesn’t suddenly turn it into a baby. (I’m reaching here, because honestly, there’s no pro-life or pro-abortion about it lol)

      We don’t find out the gender either, for practical reasons. We want lots of kids + we’re not super duper rich. Not finding out the gender = people (and we) are forced to buy gender neutral things, that work for all future kids as well.

  66. Lee

    What’s next? Do prolife people need to start celebrating Conception Day instead of a child’s birthday?

    Happy Conception Day! Can you imagine?

  67. Rebecca @ The Road Home

    I think your profile is just fine πŸ™‚ – while baby on the way is equally as alive as other kiddos, s/he is not out in the world just yet!

    Have a great weekend.

  68. Nancy

    Seriously, people need to be a little less quick to take offense. You clearly referred to your still-on-the-inside child (hmm . . . sounds like she’s in prison when I type it that way) as your child, not as a potential human or something.

    RE: Dr. Suess — we’ve gotten a couple nasty surprises, including the executioner character in one book (The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, perhaps?). That was a little freaky. But I love Horton, The Cat in the Hat, and a few others.

  69. Grace

    I love Lee’s take on #2…celebrating conception day instead of birthday! Couldn’t agree more!!

    Thanks for the tip on Evernote!

    Always love reading your takes..and your blog!!

  70. Barbara

    I understand the reasoning behind the sentiment. And indeed, I was very careful when I visited my Catholic in-laws who have children to state that my then three month old had been alive for a year, not three months, when I was talking to them about babies.

    That said I think some people might be being just a little oversensitive about what “terms” are being used. Lets not be the pro-life equivalent of feminists who get uptight about gender inclusive pronouns and PC language cops who demand proper “unoffensive” phrases such as “developmentally challenged”. Terms like “on the way” are not offensive nor do they imply some secondary sinister or dehumanizing meaning other than what is commonly understood by the phrase. I have a baby on the way, = I’m pregnant. The phrase doesn’t imply anything about your attitude to babies. It’s a factual statement with no value judgment attached.

    If it’s a choice between clarity and precision in language, clarity wins hands down.

  71. angela michelle

    Children who are born are not the same as those who are not yet born or who miscarried. So it’s appropriate to mention them in separate categories. Also less confusing. Which doesn’t mean the unborn children aren’t real. Also, it’s okay to treat miscarriages as something private–not to be mentioned in bios for widespread distribution.

  72. carrien (she laughs at the days)

    I ran into #2 the other day when my MIL was mentioning how many grandchildren she has and I was mentally adding trying to figure out who I was forgetting. She counts the child I miscarried in 2009 in the number of grandchildren she has. I don’t.

    To me it has to do with the phrasing. I don’t HAVE 5 children. I have 4. I lost one. I don’t actually HAVE the baby on the way. I am expecting to have. When I HAVE children they are here, I can reach out and touch them. I HAD others, but they are no longer here. To say different is to confuse. And I don’t feel like saying all the time “I have 4 and I was expecting to have one more once but no longer.”

    It’s not because that child I lost was never really a person or my child, just reflecting the truth that the current number is different.

    Am I making any sense?

  73. Jay

    I think the children thing is silly too. Is saying you are pregnant with your fifth baby in you bio a compromise or that controversial too. It is too confusing to me.

  74. Nina

    No, Sweetie. I think you got it right.

    It would really confuse people if I included my miscarriages in the number when I say how many kids I have, but I know people who do….and honestly: I’m STILL confused when I try to remember how many children they have. πŸ™‚

    Also, when I’m pregnant, I kind of joke around about it and say “….and one half…” as in “I have 8 1/2 kids”, but only after I get half-way through the pregnancy. Especially as you get older, you don’t take anything for granted. I have had too many friends who have had second trimester losses, sadly.

    I think you’re fine. Isn’t it interesting how much more intense the commenting gets, and how seriously we take ourselves at the OFFICIAL BIGTIME Catholic sites as opposed to personal blogs? I can only speak for myself. πŸ˜‰ Ha. It probably gets a slightly different readership—-but that’s good. Diversify! More people will get to hear your voice.

    Go rent Megamind. We’re watching it all weekend and trying to just mellow out. Take care of yourself, Mama.

  75. Marie

    RE: # children. I think they’re way over-analyzing this. But if you want a formulation that might satisfy them, perhaps “am awaiting the birth of my 5th child”

    RE: Dr. Seuss. Whenever I read _Green_Eggs_and_Ham, I really wish I had a recording of Lt. Whorf reading it to Alexander.
    Also: Living Books has CD-ROMS of _Green_Eggs_and_Ham, The_Cat_in_the_Hat, and _ABC_Book. Option of read to me, or let me click on things during the story. Great way to find time to cook dinner. I don’t remember if they’re Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, but either way, ABC_Book runs upside down in XP and above until you mess with some obscure setting. My daughter used to have turn magnet letters and alphabet books upside down to recognize the letters until I imported a friend from out-of-state to get the program running properly.

  76. syd

    Your bio is fine! Some people really need to find something else actually worth complaining about.

  77. Amy

    I agree about Dr Seuss–some of his books are great, and some (Cat in the Hat) I have never liked.

    Evernote sounds great. I remember watching my husband scroll through pages and pages of notes on his PhD and wonder if something like that would have saved a lot of time and energy. And I might have to look into it for myself (not that I am doing a PhD or anything, just for general usage!)

  78. starrball

    Re #2:

    “Since the common parlance is to list the number of kids you have interacted with and actively taken care of, I had said β€œfour (with one on the way)” to avoid confusion.”

    Exactly. I have occasionally come across people doing it another way, but it always seems odd. If you wrote 5 with one on the way I would think you’re family consisted of 6 kids…

    It’s pretty clear to say, I am a mother of 2 kids, with one on the way and one angel in heaven (all of which is currently true for me, besides the one on the way).

  79. starrball

    My comment from yesterday seems to have disappeared…

    More on the children,
    You don’t really have the baby, before they come into the world, they’re really in God’s hands, not yours.

  80. Brandi

    I agree with everyone that you can describe your number of children however you see fit. People have too much time on their hands.

    But my simplest answer is usually to pat my belly and say “this one is number ___”. no room for confusion either way. but i guess that doesn’t work as well in print….

  81. Sarah Oldham

    I knew of the Jeeves and Wooster show before, but when you mentioned the author P.G. Wodehouse, I thought, “I ought to read that lot.” I picked up the compilation of all the Jeeves and Wooster stories in one volume at the library recently . . . what an enjoyable read! Thanks for the suggestion!

  82. Mary

    I love what you said about Lent. I can’t decide if I need to make big changes or stick with the little things. Maybe a book by St. Therese will be a good idea!!

    I honestly think the reason people have even said anything about your bio is because the prolife argument SO OFTEN becomes more about semantics and vocabulary than anything else. Big picture is that it doesn’t change your point of view, your argument, or who you are, so it shouldn’t matter. But sometimes we all get obsessive over the little things. I’d let it roll. (I also totally agree with Maria! ^^^)

  83. Sue Elvis

    I am a few days behind everyone – I just discovered your blog! Everything has already probably been said about the number of children. But I will add a few words anyway. I have 7 living children, one child who died as a baby and I had 7 miscarriages. Usually I say I have 8 children because the baby who died feels like a real part of the family. His presence is felt although he is no longer here with us. On my blog I have described my children as 8 (or 15) because I blog about grief and I want to make connections with others who have suffered the loss of children. I sometimes feel guilty I haven’t named my miscarried children or mention them very often. Do I not feel they are important? Of course I do! I think am going to be unexpectedly overwhelmed when I meet these children in Heaven.

  84. Kerri B.

    Re: Lent: I’m torn this year about what to do. I am looking forward to it, but I’m also on bedrest and not sure what kind of sacrifice I can possibly make in my already limited position. I’m thinking of making it a point to add more prayer time (a daily Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Morning prayer, haven’t decided).

    Re: the # of children: I agree with all the previous commenters: people have way too much time on their hands to be criticising soemthing so minor. I wouldn’t worry about it. It is a personal question. I answer that question depending on the context of where I am, whether a conversation is appropriate at the time, and who I am talking to. In the context of other Catholics, pro-lifers, etc. I will say that I have three in heaven and two on the way (expecting twins). But at other times if I don’t know the person well, I’ll just tell them I am expecting twins and leave it at that. It was hardest for me when I had been married for almost three years, my DH and I got married in our mid-thirties and we still had no living children and weren’t yet expecting this time. I felt guilty saying we had no children, so I’ve slowly gotten more and more comfortable referring to my little ones in heaven, but it still depends on context. And everyone is different, I would never criticise anyone for keeping information about any miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death to themselves rather than share it publicly.

    Re: the video of the young seminarian: what an inspiring story. My DH has a cousin also in her 20s and suffering an inoperable brain tumor/cancer. Such a scary thing. Thanks for sharing the video!

  85. Jackie L.

    Thank you so much for the info about Evernote! I love it! If you need to make bibliographies, you might look into Zotero, which is kind of like itunes for bibliographies: zotero.com

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