Raise your hand if you need a BREAK

February 5, 2014 | 44 comments

Do you want to hear about my morning? About the moment when the kids woke up the baby just after I finally got him to go to sleep? About how I think my eyes might have actually popped out of my head while steam exploded from my ears like a cartoon character when my attempts to outsource lunch duty ended up with a Rice Crispy apocalypse on my table?

Would you like to hear about the “I hate my life!!!!!” voicemail I left Joe that was, as usual, followed by another voicemail five minutes later where I explained that I don’t actually hate my life but I do really, really need a break from listening to crying babies and toddlers?

What? Nobody cares about my whining? Okay. How about this then:

Instead, I’ll tell you all the details of this conference that Hallie and I are putting together, and anyone who has recently had a day anything like mine can plan on telling me all about it over a margarita or a glass of lemonade when we meet up in Austin this summer.

Sound good? Here it goes:

As you may recall, we got a thunder-and-lightning-style call to host a conference a few months ago, and we spontaneously booked a venue. That venue fell through, which we now understand to be God saying: NOT FABULOUS ENOUGH. Because when we went searching for another venue, there was only one door that opened — and it flung open widely, with a neon sign demanding that we go through it. And that door was the venue of the beautiful Omni Hotel in downtown Austin.


Hallie and I are thrilled to tell you that our event is called The Edel Gathering. It is named in honor of Venerable Edel Quinn (named pronounced like “Adelle”) who was known as much for her love of fun as for her holiness.

It will be hosted at the Omni Downtown.

It will take place the weekend of July 25 – 26, 2014.

And we really want you to be there.

I’m thrilled to announce that our speakers will be:

Haley Stewart: Haley is the author of Feast!: Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year, and writes about everything from urban homesteading to natural family planning at her popular blog, Carrots for Michaelmas.

Marion Fernandez-Cueto: Marion is an award-winning journalist, brilliant writer, and masters candidate at the University of St. Thomas. She’s a convert to Catholicism who grew up in a religious community similar to the Amish, and is full of wisdom about what it means to have a strong faith throughout life’s ups and downs (this article she wrote in 2010 is one of my all-time favorites).

Jenny Uebbing: Jenny will be acting as Master of Ceremonies. She’s the content editor for Heroic Media News and a columnist for Catholic News Agency and Catholic Exchange. She writes the insightful and often hilarious blog Mama Needs Coffee. (Fun fact: the title of my book is based on a quote that I originally found on Jenny’s old blog.)

Hallie and I will also be giving talks. Right now my current plan is to get up in front of the mic, handcuff myself to the podium, and announce that I am living at this hotel for a month and the Omni can’t make me leave. It’s still in the works though — I’m open to suggestions for additional subject matter.

A shot from my tour of the Omni. Look at all that SILENCE!

A shot from my tour of the Omni. Look at all that SILENCE!

“You can stop there, because a conference couldn’t be any more amazing than that! It just can’t!” you say. Oh, yes, it can.

We have formed an official Edel 2014 Support Team, and that team includes these luminaries:

They will be in charge of…we’re not sure yet. Right now they’re advising us on important matters like now not to have a lame event. Other possible areas of specialty could include:

Calah: Responsible for starting The Wave during dinner.

Dwija: Loudly says, “I’m going to buy ten copies of Jen’s new book — who’s with me?!” every few minutes.

Cari: Performance of a chapter from Pope Awesome as a one-woman musical.

Ana: Receives giant trophy made of chocolate for traveling while 30 million weeks pregnant.

Brianna: In charge of complaining to the Omni if the wine has not been properly decanted.

Grace: Live demonstration of how to write a blog post with three children jumping on your laptop (we’ll hire child actors for this one).

(I think I just officially proved the “no bad ideas in brainstorming” rule false.)

This will be a weekend-long extravaganza, with a party on Friday, a daytime event on Saturday, and a Saturday dinner and reception that goes well into the evening. It will involve Tex-Mex and gourmet coffee and wine and freshly baked pastries and inspiring talks and a chance to meet a bunch of other women whose lives are just as crazy as yours.

Tickets will cost $225 and will go on sale Wednesday, February 12. You can get all the details at the official Edel Gathering website.

We know that it will involve sacrifices from your whole family for you to be able to attend. It will mean stretching both time and financial resources for you to be able to do this. We completely get that, and are in the same position ourselves. That is why we have a laser focus on creating an event that will build you up, that you’ll walk away from feeling refreshed and inspired. We want you to walk back through the door of your house filled with joy and energy to share with your entire family.

Hallie and I carefully created this event to be exactly what we need in our lives right now. We pray that it will be exactly what you need too.



  1. Carolyn Svellinger

    Gaaaah! I’m so excited– what a great round up of speakers and teamsters!! I will feel like the biggest Catholic blogger loser if I can’t make it, and the prospect isn’t so bright already, so I already feel loserly. Oh I’ll be praying for it to be God’s most urgent will for as many of us ladies as possible to get to attend. How amazing it would be to meet everyone!

  2. Kendra

    This looks amazing Jen. What a lineup!

  3. Julie

    How exciting! Now – deep breath – time for me (and many others, I’m sure) to figure out whether I can really makes this work. With a 3-month-old. But, I just said ‘yes’ to my mother-in-law moving in with us. So the hubby should now be WAY favorably-disposed to giving me a break, right?

  4. Jeni

    May be purchasing a ticket to this instead of paying my utilities this month. JUST kidding. I’ll figure something out haha.

    Oh man I am just thrilled about this event! In addition to your support team, you should totally have a prayer team just praying for everyone and the event up until and during it. Praying 🙂

    <3 jeni

  5. Amanda

    Oh man, I’m afraid this is way out of my league in both coolness and price. Looks like I’ll be partying it up elsewhere. Any other poor people wanna join me in good old rural P-A? Note: we don’t have scorpions… 😉

    • Amelia @ One Catholic Mama

      I’m up for rural PA!!!

      This is way out of my league, pricewise (and coolness wise too), but I think it’s an awesome idea and I actually got me thinking if I could maybe, maybe,maybe possibly set something similar up on a smaller (much expensive) scale on the east coast.

  6. Sarah

    Aaaaahhhhhhh! I want to go!
    ……. Ques: am I allowed to bring my <1 yo, just because I anticipate he will still be nursing then? 🙁

    • dweej

      Sarah, of COURSE you can bring your baby! I will have a 6 week old very much literally attached to my torso and I’m (pretending) to actually help out with the event. What would a Catholic mom gathering be if a third of us weren’t pregnant and another third toting wee ones?

      • Jill

        What if they’re slightly bigger than wee but still nursing?? 🙂 None of mine have ever had bottles and I wouldn’t want my boobs to explode….

  7. Brittany

    WOW! Looks so cool!!!! WHY am I just discovering this little huddle of Catholic bloggers now?!?! You gals are awesome. Wishing you the best with this getaway weekend/conference 🙂

  8. Maura

    Thank you so much for putting this together! I am going to save up and try to come – and I will suggest this to many of my friends who also follow a lot of the wonderful bloggers you mentioned.

    God bless you in your preparation!

  9. Danielle

    Wow–what a lineup. How amazing it is when you let God work through you! 🙂 wishing I could join so many of my favorite bloggin’ Catholic mamas for this marvelous weekend.

    I have to say that my favorite part of this post is the stroller in the hotel room. That is so real life… Best of luck as you and the other lovely ladies work your magic to gift a great weekend away!

  10. Michelle @ Endless Strength

    So…the cost covers admission to the event, correct? So getting a room/lodging is separate?

    (sorry, not trying to be dense, just trying to see if it is at all possible that I could go)

    • Jill

      Yes. Yes. I need to know this as well. Is omni giving a special rate? Are there rooms blocked out?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Correct! Rooms are separate, although we’re working on a special rate at the Omni, and you don’t have to stay there – there are hotels with cheaper rates nearby.

  11. Francine

    I know that this question might overwhelm you, since you’re still in the crazy planning stages, but is there any way that there will be more of these in future years? Short of a miracle, I won’t be able to attend this one, and I would love nothing more than to know that I might get a future chance!

    • Lisa

      I second her question!

    • Molly

      If so can I go ahead and throw out that Edel 2015 be in Chicago for us Northerners? =)

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      We can’t make any guarantees, but we’re definitely open to future events in different locations! We’d love to have you join us!

      • Mary Creger

        Maybe you should consider either Charleston or Myrtle Beach SC! And are old doddering Catholic grandmas allowed to come?

  12. Kara

    Oh how I wish I could go! Sounds amazing!

  13. Shannon

    Question: is this a conference for bloggers are just for any Catholic mama who needs. Break and a glass of wine?

    PS I love, love, love that babies are welcome!

    • Shannon

      Wow. The iPhone typos in that one. Clearly I need a break and a glass of wine.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      For anyone! You definitely don’t have to be a blogger or even a blog reader to attend. 🙂

  14. Jess@Cathofeminism

    Roller coaster! I was so excited for months, and then bummed to hear price, then in the clouds when the Husband said I should go or I’ll regret it. I hope to see you in Austin!

  15. Casey @ My Love Is Too Little

    Wow! This looks so great, and so many of my favorite bloggers are involved! I’m not a mother, but I am considering attending anyway, because I desperately need an opportunity to socialize with awesome women. Plus, I can actually get to Austin without having to fly, which is a mega-bonus.

  16. Elisa

    Ahh…stroller in the pic! Noooo! Haha, jk. 😉

    I wish I could come!! If I wasn’t living up in way north MN and had just moved here last year and am having a baby in May…if I was still in the Hood down there, I would so splurge & come. =( It will be awesome. Sigh. Oh well, I will just have to be content to read your summaries about it. Praying for everyone who is able to attend!

  17. Sparki77

    Pleeeeease set up a Google Hangout or something so those of us who don’t have $225 + transportation $$ can at least lock ourselves in closets and eavesdrop.

  18. Jen

    Ahhh, I so want to go! But this year may not be my year since I am due to have a baby on July 24….I’ll probably have him a week before that, but it will most likely be a C-section. Not sure if traveling 8 hours is such a good idea for recovery purposes. Sigh.

    Love that y’all are putting this on though! It’s so needed!

  19. Tania @ Larger Family Life

    Baby #13 (yes, thirteen) is due to be delivered in two weeks. I have nothing ready. We will then have 10 children under the age of 11. I am stressed out, HUGE, uncomfortable, tired and now typing at 5am because well, who needs sleep anyway? Does anyone know about your morning? Yep, I feel it! Would love to attend in July. Unfortunately, I’m over the pond. I wish you all the very best of luck with it though x

  20. Lindsay Boever

    Thank you for organizing such a wonderful event. I sure hope to be there! God bless You.

  21. Julia Motekaitis

    And more and more God shows me reasons why He uprooted me and re-planted me in Texas. Miracle number one, my husband. Edel Gathering definitely makes the top ten! 🙂 This is our anniversary wknd so I may have to figure out how to dress my hubby up like a Catholic Women’s blogger so he can attend too…because that wouldn’t be weird at all, right? 🙂

    Thank you for making this happen. What an answer to prayers uttered secretly in hearts across the country! 🙂

  22. Collen Duggan

    This looks like a lovely event. I’m discerning attendance! If you ever need help with an East Coast event, I’m your event planner…errr, gal. Prayers for a wonderful gathering!

  23. Emily D.

    If we’re not moms and not married….can we still come? I would love to….but I’m not a mom and not married. I can start the wave, though! And host karaoke!

    • Stefanie

      I have the same question! 🙂

  24. Lynne

    I was having doubts about being able to swing the cost…and that’s when I naively thought $225 included the beautiful, silent hotel room {I don’t get out much}. I suppose I’m still open–God can do miracles!–but am thinking maybe I can volunteer to be part of your prayer support team…meaning, the people that can’t be there irl, but are willing to pray that all of you have the most fabulous, uplifting weekend ever humanly imagined!

  25. JQ Tomanek

    Now if we can get Dan and Joe to setup a man’s weekend on a South Texas hunting expedition.

  26. Susan

    I would love to come, but it’s only possible if I may bring a guest, as in my newborn baby…literally he/she will be a one month. How do you all feel about that??

    • Bonnie

      Susan, nursing babies are WELCOME! I hope you come so I can meet you!

  27. Patty

    Since the event is limited to 150 attendees, would it be possible to “live stream” the talks, for the benefit of those unable to attend?

  28. Mary

    Question: Will there be priests at this conference? Will there be Mass offered each day?
    And if I don’t blog that much but am a total blog lurker, can I still come?

  29. Virginia

    Is this mostly for homeschooling mothers? How would a public school mom fit? I’d hate to come and be the lone public school Mom.

  30. Aimee

    Sounds wonderful, but even with saving and scrimping out of my price range :(. May God bless your planning!

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