7 Quick Takes about man-voice, last-minute travel, and recording your own audiobook in a bad accent

February 27, 2014 | 53 comments

— 1 —

Wait! Before you say that I didn’t do a Thursday post (because I know that nobody has anything better to do than to police my blog carnival participation), I want to note for the record that I published this at 11:59 PM on Thursday — so 7 Quick Takes Friday is my Thursday post.

I’ll do another one today for my Friday update, so I need an easy post idea. Maybe I’ll just publish the admin password to my blog, so that next time I announce that I’m going to do seven posts in seven days, one of you can kindly log in and write an update telling the internet that I’m being delusional again and everyone needs to ignore me.

— 2 —

I still can’t believe I leave for Chicago Sunday night. Last-minute cross-country travel is not something I do a whole lot of these days — and if you read my post from Wednesday you understand why — so it’s exciting, a little daunting, and very surreal that I just found out about this trip only a week before it’s going to happen.

I’ve known for a while that I would be recording the audiobook for the book next week. Ignatius is partnering with the wonderful folks at Lighthouse, the same company that produced my conversion story talk, and the plan was that they would send an engineer down to set up a makeshift recording studio here in Austin. But then the guys at Lighthouse had the last-minute idea that we could also get it done by having me fly out to their studio in Chicago, and I could give another talk while I’m there.

I didn’t think I could do it, since weekday travel is normally impossible for me (especially during tax season), but the stars aligned for us to make it work. Or, to be more accurate, the stars aligned in such a way that it seems like it will work. There’s always the possibility that I’ll return home to see Joe, my mom, and mother-in-law chasing half-naked children around the yard behind a smoldering crater where our house once was.

— 3 —

It’s exciting but mildly daunting to imagine reading my entire book aloud. What if I come across passages and don’t like the way they’re written? I guess it wouldn’t be very professional to add asides like, “Ignore everything I just said — I think there was a child sitting on my head while I wrote that.”

Also, I need an accent. Lisa-Jo is doing an audiobook for Surprised by Motherhood, and I can’t even describe how fantastic this thing is going to be. Her book is a beautifully-written memoir that is steeped in the exotic culture of her home in South Africa, and she has this lyrical accent that sounds like a more clear and refined British accent, so her audiobook is going to take the manuscript to a whole new level.

Meanwhile, all I have is flat American diction and man-voice. This definitely calls for an accent. A gentle, Dan-Rather-esque hint of Texas twang would do, but I feel like full-blown Downton Abbey English would add class to the reading. I’ve never tried to speak like that before, but now is probably a good time to start. I’m sure everyone at Ignatius and Lighthouse would think it was fine if I sat down to read my book and suddenly sounded like Lady Mary Crawley’s drunk half-American cousin.

— 4 —

Okay, maybe I don’t completely have man-voice. I got paranoid about that a few years ago when we were watching some old videos of my son’s first birthday party. As I listened to the audio I thought, “What was James Earl Jones doing there and why was he being so bossy?!” Turns out, the voice was mine. I would later find out that the recording was messed up, but not before I tried to put my supposed man-voice to good use.

Shortly after the video incident, I had to make a call about a bank account that was in Joe’s name. I realized while I was on hold that I had not been added to the account. Remembering what I’d heard on the birthday party footage, I thought I’d give it a shot and say I was Joe Fulwiler. The account manager answered the phone, and I lowered my voice as deeply as possible and intoned, “HI. HOW ARE YOU TODAY? I AM CALLING ABOUT MY ACCOUNT.” Immediately I knew it was ridiculous. It didn’t work at all. I didn’t sound like a man, just an extremely weird woman.

When the manager asked whom she was speaking to, the right choice would have been to hang up and never do business with that bank again to save face. Unfortunately, I panicked. I gave man-voice one more shot as I said, “THIS IS…” but then I abandoned the whole thing in mid-sentence and switched back to my normal voice to say, “This is Jennifer.” There was a long pause, and the conversation that ensued was possibly the most awkward customer service call that has ever taken place in the history of time.

— 5 —

Thanks again to all the folks who commented on the post where I asked non-Catholics to introduce themselves — and if you didn’t see the responses, check them out when you have a second. I didn’t realize that many people of other backgrounds were readers, but I’m delighted to have you all here. Welcome!

— 6 —


A friend of Joe’s got one of these pre-fab studios to use as an external home office, and says he loves it. They’re not cheap…but they’re cheaper than getting a bigger house or adding an addition. Something like that wouldn’t be in the budget right now, but we’re considering as a future home improvement option.

I know that a lot of us have lots of people crammed into small living quarters, so I thought I’d see if anyone has any experience with getting one of these — or any other tips for adding space when you can’t afford a bigger house. Any thoughts?

— 7 —

If you’re looking for a thought-provoking read to start your weekend, check out Allison Vesterfelt’s post where she suggests that having drama in our lives is a good thing. She points out that we were made for drama — we’re sons and daughters of the ultimate Storyteller, after all — and that when we don’t have positive drama going on in our lives, we tend to create negative drama. It’s one of those posts that’s stuck with me for days after reading it.

Happy weekend, everyone!



  1. Hevel

    Those littlw pre-fab additions have been life savers for us as our family grew rapidly and we needed space. Actually we had two little sheds decorated into home school “classrooms” for our yard. They work really well for our independent learners.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Oh my gosh. I hadn’t even thought of it as a possible homeschool classroom. Now I really want one!

      • Dorian Speed

        Can they be air-conditioned? I guess via a window unit? This looks like an amazing idea until I think about being inside a small, un-air-conditioned room in Texas…ever, basically.

        • Hevel

          We have a standing unit for one of them, that cools, heats and de-humidifies the air. It iworks great for the humid and hot Israeli summers and relatively mild winters. The other one just has a fan, my kids from the South don’t seem to be bothered by the heat, but hate AC.

    • Cristina

      My in-laws put a shed in their backyard too to give them some extra guest space. It came with two windows built in and they had electricity run down from the house. I was skeptical at first but it looked pretty cute and the grandkids loved sleeping in the “guest house”. Of course ‘working in the shed out back’ is not quite as chic as your prefab studio option. You might be okay as long as you make sure to keep calling it your ‘studio’ and definitely keep the potted plants, they’ll really class it up 🙂

  2. Nichole

    Takes 3 and 4 caused me an inordinate amount of laughter. You do not have a man-voice! I’ve seen your reality show so I know.

    I thought you might do the Thursday night “7 Quick Takes Friday” trick for the 7 post challenge. That’s totally what I did!

    But now, big problem. What am I going to do for tomorrow’s post?

  3. Eva

    EVERYONE hates the sound of their voice. Seriously, why do we hate it so much? I never knew that there was a certain way that I ‘should’ sound until I released that it. needed. to. change.

    Then there’s the phone voice that we put on, of course. Its hard to speak to someone in ‘Officialdom’ when you have a pack of children yelling ‘WHY DO YOU SOUND WEIRD ON THE PHONE, MUMMY??’.

    • Will

      I think it’s because it’s unnatural for us to hear it. Prior to Edison, it just didn’t happen.

      #4: You should have thrown in a fake cough. “HELLO THIS IS Jennifer…” and played it off like you had a cold. Worth a try.

      • Will

        Hmm. I fouled that up. I meant to write: “HELLO THIS IS *cough* *cough* Jennifer…” and played it off like you had a cold. Worth a try.

  4. Beth Anne

    You could post a Five Minute Friday later 🙂 that is probably what I’ll use for my Saturday or Sunday post. I def. like that little office.

  5. Rebekka

    Build a half-floor about 1/3 of the room height down from the ceiling. Sleep on the half-floor (loft?), live underneath it. Or put it a little higher and use for storage. Works especially well in kids rooms (especially if the adults are tall and not in the market for repetitive skull injuries). Have seen some crazy stuff in tiny old apartments here in Copenhagen, where you can easily have a two-parent, two-kid family in an apartment consisting of tiny kitchen, tiny living room, tiny bedroom, and a bathroom so small you literally have to straddle the toilet while taking a shower.

  6. Seth

    I’m reading this at my desk in Munich, Germany while I should be working. I just about spit out my coffee when I read the James Earl Jones line. Hilarious!

  7. Chalayn

    This may be the first time I’ve posted on here, which is a shame because I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. :/

    Anyway, I’d like my first comment to be witty and funny and eye catching but I do not think anything I think of right now could top your number 4. Haha! So good.

  8. Maggie

    My Son’s Percussion has something like that in his back yard for his studio. His is more of a double. We are in Cincinnati, so it is heated and Air Conditioned. All of his instruments fit with just enough room to turn around.

  9. Amy

    Oh my, that man voice thing just cracked me right up. I actually do kind of have man voice (I used to even get teased for it sometimes as a kid), but it never occurred to me to try to pretend to be my husband on the phone… considering your (hilarious to me) experience, maybe I won’t try it. I do make a pretty good Prince Charming, though 🙂

  10. Rosie

    I sound like a 7-year-old girl in recordings – maybe we can combine voices and split the difference? That’s how life works, right? Always nice when telemarketers ask for your mommy when you answer the phone…

    • Kendra

      Me too Rosie!

      I like to just say “No, but thank you for asking.” And hang up. Because it’s TRUE.

  11. TheresaEH

    I think your kids would turn those prefab rooms into a playhouse 😉

  12. Kathleen Basi

    I have a dream of having a work studio in the back yard–something very open to the air, or that can be opened up to be open to the air, since, let’s be honest, there are more unpleasant days than pleasant ones in mid-Missouri.

  13. Mary Wilkerson

    So, we decided to ‘finish’ our basement this year. I don’t know if you guys have basements down there, I think most of the south does not. BUT, us finishing our basement has added enough space that I think we will be able to stay in this house until we die, if we wanted to. Unless we have more than 8 children…then ‘we’d have to move. Our house is just under 1100 square feet and so far I’ve got all boys, so the basement is gonna be a game changer.

  14. Lindsay M

    For a quick friday post, I’ve really been wondering what your top 10 favorite books are!

  15. Adam

    We live in a 3 bedroom house with two boys (16 mo and 4 yr old) and we recently moved our room into the smallest room in the house and changed the master bedroom into the nursery/play room were all of the toys stay (for the most part).

    It’s helped us contain the toys and it also freed up our living room since that’s where we previously stored a lot of the toys.

    The other bedroom for our oldest son pretty much only has a bed in it plus a few other toys that he likes to keep in there. God willing if we have more children the plan is to have a baby in the nursery and just keep loading the other kids into the other bedroom, ha.

  16. Roxane B. Salonen

    I can vouch for you, Jennifer. You do not have a man voice but a lovely, sultry-type woman voice. It would be a good radio voice, even. You are going to do a fabulous job! I do hope you’ll add in your random thoughts. That would be fun. Though…yeah, maybe not in the contract? 😉

  17. Natalie

    Pack your warm clothes; here in Chicago it is FREEZING COLD. For example, right now it’s 11 degrees but it feels like a balmy -7.

  18. Caren MacMurchy

    The drama delight theme Allison V. writes about is featured on my blog as well. Every authentic God-breathed human need and attribute is counterfeited by the usurper. For example, the God-given desire to give ourselves in devotion and service to another is often played out in sexual exploits.

    Allison’s wise post accurately points out that humankind was created to join the Divine Drama of Kingdom Life. Absent that cooperative enterprise, we find ourselves flopping around for some dramatic cause to sink our teeth into, sometimes settling for the Faux Drama Counterfeit.
    My thoughts on the subject are here:

  19. Meghan

    Sole searching mom just wrote about her school space in a transformed shed today! So cool and great idea for more space.

  20. Adrie @ A Little Wife's Happy Life

    Bahaha #4! I can just imagine the look on the lady’s face! Hilarious!

    I know that I would end up rewriting things if I read my own writing out loud. It would be all, “Wait, no, I don’t like that. What I meant to say is …” I would leave that in the recording, too! Authenticity.

    One of my co-workers has a hubby who works from home- they have a boat house (they live on the lake) and the top half was converted into his office. I tried to convince her that I needed to live there. It didn’t go over very well.

    I second the warm clothes! Bring a scarf and mittens, for sure, along with your warmest coat, and maybe three million layers of sweaters…

  21. Anna

    #4 is hilarious!
    Have you seen Quentin Tarantino’s “Four Rooms”? (Worst date movie ever, but that’s another story.) Because #2 reminded me of the bit where the parents come back when the doorman guy has been babysitting and the room is on fire and the guy has a dead body by the ankle and the kids are in various states of disarray. The dad takes in the scene and asks “Did they misbehave?” I thought at the time that I’d had babysitting jobs that went about exactly like that, and there are certainly days where my husband gets home and I’m pretty sure that that’s his impression of his little household. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAKPzL6uNOg (but nsfkids.)

  22. Jennifer H

    I could have totally been out of the loop (b/c that’s the kind of week I’ve been having) BUT where in Chicago are you speaking??? Welcome to the frigid tundra!

  23. jeni

    “Meanwhile, all I have is flat American diction and man-voice.” –Jennifer Fulwiler

    I am SO excited to meet you. 😉

    Hey what’s with everyone having all these way awesome audio books lately. I guess I actually do need to look into audiobook subscriptions maybe. Then I really would have zero excuse to get in all these great books!

    I worked for a long time with a family friend who would get mistaken for a woman on the phone. I’d feel so terrible for him–he’d be talking, talking, talking and we’d hear him interrupt the conversation randomly and go, “No I’m a man… *pause* that’s ok. No that’s ok. No really. I don’t know why.”


    Anyway enjoy your trip! Prayers all goes well and there are no smoldering anything left behind.

    <3 jeni

  24. Betsy

    I hate to be the one to say it (unless it’s already been said) but that awesome little prefab studio, if put in your backyard, seems like it would be a wonderful haven for the world’s most colorful centipedes and undead scorpions. Just saying…

  25. Heidi

    Oh my gosh, I want a tiny house! It would be so easy to keep clean.

  26. Lynne

    “There’s always the possibility that I’ll return home to see Joe, my mom, and mother-in-law chasing half-naked children around the yard behind a smoldering crater where our house once was.” –In which case, film it and bring back the reality tv show.

    “I’m sure everyone at Ignatius and Lighthouse would think it was fine if I sat down to read my book and suddenly sounded like Lady Mary Crawley’s drunk half-American cousin.” –Go for it. But having heard your voice on TV/radio, I must admit that James Earl Jones never crossed my mind. Rest assured, your voice is normal and pleasant. [But as an aside, while British accents are charming, especially in a child, we have a VHS copy of The Little Princess in which the main character sounds like a Texas child faking a British accent. Are there really not enough little British children around to fill those roles?]

    “There was a long pause, and the conversation that ensued was possibly the most awkward customer service call that has ever taken place in the history of time.” –absolute LOL!! I confess to having done the same thing before, for the same reason. I figure, who are they to question my gender based on the pitch of my voice? Johnny Weir wouldn’t stand for it, and neither will I.

    I have a secret love of these tiny houses, and only wish I had money and reason to get one. http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/ The little prefeb one is cuuuuuuuuute!

  27. Bonnie

    As to #2 – Oh Jennifer – I’m in Chicago and it is COLD here! No, it’s not just COLD, it’s CCCCOOOOLLLLDDDD! You are gonna need a very warm coat, a very warm coat under that, a very warm sweater, a very warm shirt, a very warm thermal shirt under that, a pair of leggings for over your long underwear, and under your pants; a hat, gloves and a scarf. Did I mention it’s cold here? Think Antarctica. No, seriously; think Antarctica. And it’s gonna snow on Sunday. so, boots.

    As to #5 – I think that little outdoor pre-fab work space is so cute — and so will your little girls, who will probably turn it into their own play cottage and doll house, that is, when your son hasn’t decided it’s a fort or clubhouse and chases them out. You may as well face it, any dreams you have of actually finding a quiet space around your house where you can put two thoughts together in a rational sequence is hopeless until your last kid turns 18. Ah, but we can dream. 🙂

  28. Emily @ Em's Estuary

    Have a great time in Chicago!
    Bundle up!


  29. Tess

    You’re coming to Chicago?! Where will you be speaking and when? Hoping to come out and see you!

  30. nancyo

    Would a post about what you/your kids are going to do for Lent be a quick one?

  31. Gina

    You know, Charles Dickens had an external home office that was something like that. (It was a little assemble-it-yourself Swiss chalet that someone gave him.) And look how well that turned out. 🙂

  32. Emily B

    I love the studio office! I bet the kids love it too. . .and completely take it over. . .and leave the whole house to you and Joe!

  33. Kelly

    I also reached critical mass on Thursday night. I lumped APAD 4 and 5 onto my 7 quick takes. lotta numbers…

  34. Bonnie

    Are you by any chance going to the Behold Conference in East Peoria this Sunday (March 1)?

  35. dweej

    Oh my gosh. I just laughed so hard at #4 that tears were welling up in my eyes. Then I made my husband AND my daughter read it. And then we were all laughing, like boneless, no muscle tone, falling onto the couch laughing. The. Best.

  36. Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    I’ll be praying that your trip goes smoothly from beginning to end. I’d like to remind you of something our pastor tells us frequently: God gave you that voice, so you should give it right back to Him. Your faith, experience, writing, and yes, even your unique accent and voice are gifts from the Lord He intends for you to share. I’m not usually one to listen to books (rather than read them), but I think I’ll make an exception in your case if the audiobook version will be coming out soon and do both with your book.

  37. Lisa Schmidt

    Jen, I heard you on Fr. Jonathan’s radio show. Your voice is lovely as is. Don’t fret one bit! Good job on the show, btw.

  38. Claire

    Hi Jen! Trying to link up, and doing a shoddy job. Too bad I didn’t find your template (so nice of you!) til after I struggled with my own format. Anyway, its my first time. ill do better after I have my twelve year old help me 😉
    happy Friday!

  39. Nicole

    Take 4 had me laughing so hard. I read it to my husband and mentioned it was probably recorded. Possibly being used for training…or a good laugh. You’re awesome!

  40. Mary

    You are delusional, but hundreds of us went along with 7 in 7. What does that tell you? Maybe don’t think about that one too hard.

  41. Adam Introvert

    #4: In a pinch you could have told the account manager: “(Luke) I am your father!” or “This is C-N-N!”

  42. Allison H.

    I just realized that I’m supposed to be linking every single post and not going back to your original introduction. Oh well. Looks like I’m not participating but I am! I am!

  43. Monica

    Thank you for linking to Allison Vestrfelt’s blog.

  44. Michelle

    I love that external office. Its so beautiful. Wish I can have one like that for me but I’m always on the road.


  45. Melody

    Number four made me giggle. I would so do that!! Just got caught up reading your 7 Posts in 7 Days. Great way to spend a day :).

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