7 Quick Takes about spicy ebooks, awesome Twitter bios, getting foot-jacked (and other reasons why it’s not “going by so fast”)

May 23, 2014 | 23 comments

— 1 —

We survived end-of-year awards season!

My five-year-old daughter had her pre-K graduation today, which was our final awards-type event for May. This one was particularly meaningful because she is our fourth child to go through this Mother’s Day Out program. As I paced the back of the church with the fussy baby, I remembered when she was the fussy I was walking around during my oldest child’s graduation.

This is where I’m supposed to wonder where the time has gone, and make wistful remarks about how quickly they grow up.

Sorry. Wrong blog.

I did have a brief moment of surprise that my fourth child is now a real big kid, but then the baby tried to yank my necklace off, and when I stopped him he resorted to pulling my hair, then he arched his back and screamed to be put down, and screamed even louder when I dared to put him down, and resumed hitting me when I picked him back up.

I glanced over at another baby who had dozed off on his grandmother’s shoulder, which made me wonder anew why other kids react to being tired by sleeping and mine react by hitting and yelling. As the baby accidentally pinched that super-sensitive spot on the back of my upper arm as he squirmed to get down so that he could scream about being put down again, I assure you that the very furthest thought from my mind was that this is all going by so fast.

— 2 —

Speaking of things that make every day feel like it is its own 10, 000-year epoch, my crazy two-year-old has decided that getting foot rides is one of her favorite things in the world.


In and of itself, this is cute.

The problem is that she’s like a car-jacker: she often decides that she’s getting a ride, whether you’re up for it or not. I’ll be walking through the living room and suddenly I get foot-jacked. If I have something big in my hands — like, say, a wiggling baby whose recent diaper disaster I’m trying to contain — I don’t even see her coming. I just feel an explosion of weight and pressure on my foot, and hear her shout with aggressive joy, “FOOT WIDE!!!!” This is stated not like a spontaneous expression of fun, but like an order from a dictator.

Yesterday morning, this situation and the one I described in #1 collided with other household chaos. The end result was that I had one child attached to my foot, another pulling my hair while screaming from overtiredness in my arms, and I had to lurch through the living room with the screaming kid-barnacles to survey the damage in the kitchen from a full bowl of Cheerios and milk that had been knocked on the floor.

Not going by so fast.

— 3 —

The big news of the week is that my friend Hallie Lord did something crazy: she published an ebook about, umm, marital intimacy — specifically, about how couples can spice things up in that department!

A few years ago, she wrote a post offering tips for wives who felt that that area of their marriages needed some improvement. The response was overwhelming.
Her email inbox and social media accounts were flooded with notes from women who said that they desperately needed those kinds of specific, practical suggestions. The post continues to be her most popular each week as thousands of new people find it from Google, and she still hears from many women who say that it’s exactly what they needed.

And thus was an ebook born.

The book is called Spice Up Your Marriage: A 28-Day Adventure, and it’s available as an ebook for $2.99 on Amazon. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get the free Kindle app and read the book on your smartphone!)

Each short chapter gives the reader a suggestion for something to do to spice up her marriage that day, and she can choose from Mild, Medium, and Hot options. Hallie has six young kids, so her suggestions are naturally tailored to people in crazy seasons of life who are short on energy and time.

I told Hallie that I thought this was a real ministry, and then I laughed because some of her suggestions are quite, well, spicy. But I do think it is. I have been at countless gatherings of women where this subject came up, and people complained that they couldn’t find any books that offered specific tips that weren’t demeaning or smutty. Hallie has done women a huge favor with this one. I predict it’s going to be a big hit.

— 4 —

I just love a well-crafted Twitter bio. I’m endlessly impressed and delighted when people can convey their personalities in just a few words. Some examples from the Best of Twitter Bios folder that I now keep on Evernote:

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Hit me with any great ones you come across. I’m building a collection, which I will one day use for a course titled Everything You Need to Know About Writing You Can Learn From These Twitter Bios.

— 5 —

Remember how I mentioned that I was reading Shogun back in February? I’m still at it. It’s becoming more of a lifestyle than a current read. Granted, it’s a gazillion pages long, but part of the problem is that I don’t want it to end! I’ve stopped thinking of it like “I’m reading Shogun, ” and instead think of it like, “I go visit feudal Japan every night and hang out with people whose problems are much, much bigger than mine.” I’m nearing the end, and now I’m stalling. Finishing it will feel like I’ve lost my passport to go visit that time and place each night — which I suppose is the ultimate sign of a good read.

— 6 —

I’ll be at the San Antonio Catholic Homeschool conference on June 6, speaking and signing books (and probably wearing an I {HEART} NYC t-shirt and looking very tired). My talk will be about pursuing your creative passions while putting your family first. Come join us if you’re in the area!

— 7 —

Last weekend we did a belated Mother’s Day brunch, hosted by my dad and my 100-year-old grandfather. They cooked all the food for me, my mom, Joe, Yaya, and all the kids, and my grandfather whipped up a from-scratch chocolate cheesecake. They also set the table beautifully, with flowers and cards for each mom.


Aren’t they the best?

P.S. I just now realized that this is Memorial Day weekend. Happy Memorial Day! And God bless all the men and women who have died serving our country, and all those who currently serve.



  1. Lesley

    There is a whole series of books by the same author, try Tai Pan, and Noble House, my hubbie and I read the together when we were just married and both loved them, there are more, but can’t remember the names now (its been a long time)

  2. Kathleen Basi

    #s 1 and 2 would have my crying with laughter in certain hormonal phases of the cycle. Today I just chuckle and say to myself: “Self, this is a post to share on FB with a note about why it’s NOT GOING SO FAST.” 🙂

  3. Lynne

    Kid barnacles: that should be added to the urban dictionary or wikipedia. Both.

    You have a way of exactly expressing those moments of my life which make me want to run away screaming, except your version makes me laugh. How is that?

    For those of us that don’t have ereaders OR tech phones (the horror!), is a mimeographed copy available by mail? Because I’d pay real money for that book. What I really want to know is this: does Hallie address the complete lack of “want to”? Because that’s what I’ve been fighting with for years. It’s very discouraging, as you might imagine. 🙁

  4. TheresaEH

    Dear Jens dad and grandfather. That mothers day brunch table and menu is 20 shades of awesome!!!!!!

    • Mary Beth

      It sure is!!

  5. Smoochagator

    I love the Twitter bios

    • Smoochagator

      Ummmmmm and I totally pressed enter before I meant to! I also think the Mother’s Day brunch your Dad and grandpa hosted sounds like the sweetest, most loving thing pretty much ever. I know your mom and Yaya do a lot to help out your family so I’m really glad they got to have a special day, too.

      Totally gonna buy Hallie’s book right now!

  6. Caroline Starr Rose

    Shogun! Shogun! Shogun!!!!!

    I finally read this last summer during a super-long car trip. Only took two weeks (super-long car trip, remember?). I was LIVING that book. Loved it so much.

    On a similar note, have you ever read Silence by Shusako Endo? It’s about a Portuguese missionary in Japan in the 17th century and has probably impacted me more than any other book.

  7. Kelsey S

    Hi Jen,
    I’m new to your blog. And I’m a fellow redheaded Catholic sooo we’re basically cousins–kind of. Especially since I’m from The South, too. Only we don’t have scorpions where I live (Praise God!). Glad you converted and represent the faith so lovingly and humorously. Keep it up, sista!
    -Kelsey S.

  8. Alinea

    I used to organize the book department of a thrift store, and copies of Shogun were constantly being donated. I took this to mean that it wasn’t very good, and everyone was trying to get rid of it, but it sounds like I was wrong!

  9. Mabel

    I literally (not figuratively) laughed out loud at #1 and #2. Thank you for making the insanity funny!

  10. Gina

    If gazillion-page novels do it for you, might I suggest Little Dorrit, Bleak House, or Our Mutual Friend as your next read? 🙂

    Unless they have to be set in Japan, that is!

  11. Melissa

    I read and loved Shogun back in the day when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa and would get to the capital where the country’s only bookstore was located three times a year. My main criteria for a good book back then was that it had to be at least 500 pages long so it would take a decent amount of time to read. James Clavell’s other books were very good too, so you might want to try them. Another author to try is James Michener. He writes long epics, stretching across many generations and thousands of years. My favorite is The Source, which is about the Holy Land from the Stone Age up through the current state of Israel While not 100% perfect in terms of historical accuracy, it is a great read, and tells a great story of the Holy Land.

  12. Sarah Beth

    Jen, I am prouder than I can say about your book and its launch, but I am also glad to read a post about your ordinary life again. Hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way. 🙂 keep it coming – you inspire and challenge us, your readers. God bless!

  13. Michelle @ Endless Strength

    I love your first two takes. Ah, the season of life we are in — so awesome, so exhausting!! My fourth enters Kindergarten in the fall, too. I feel rather nostalgic about the whole thing. I only have one more to go — please do not allow your crazy 2-year-old to show my crazy 2-year-old about foot rides. We already have plenty of stumbling going on around that one…he’s crazy! And if he knew he could latch on to a foot any old time he wanted? Yikes! 🙂

  14. Calah

    Gaaaah Hallie’s ebook! Buying. Buying. Cannot wait to read! I also love those Twitter bios, and you are a much better mom than I am. My response to the “foot ride” phase is to be like, “no way, get off my foot. Do I look like Daddy?”

  15. abby hummel


    This isn’t a Twitter Bio, but I am gorging myself on the First Things archives and thought you’d appreciate this little article: http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/05/life-is-full-of-failure-bio-blurbs-should-be-too

    One of the “related articles” that populated on the sidebar from my browser was titled, “Is Foreskin Man Anti-Semitic?” A big part of me wants to read it, but I feel that is the sort of headline that should be a warning about wasting too much time clicking around aimlessly online.

    (Currently an unemployed stay-home dog owner. Has not blogged or finished anything on the third-trimester to-do list in over a week.)

  16. Amanda

    I know all the priests pictured in that top twitter bio!!! They are from our diocese and Fr Jadyn is from our town. Love them all! What a small world. 🙂

  17. Lauren

    I was really excited to pick up a copy of the book today, but really, really disappointed that you’d legitimize Tucker Max by giving him space to endorse it.

  18. JeryNorton

    Such an adorable baby girl! My niece used to do that to me too, until she grew bigger and nobody could carry her anymore with just one leg. So much for hitching rides. What a creative and personal blog. The twitter blog made me laugh. Thanks for that, Jen! Keep up the good work.

  19. Lynne

    Ahem, it is after 7:00 a.m. on May 26. WHAT is going on here?!? You cannot deny your public, madame! 🙂

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Who could have known that this Monday would be Memorial Day?! 🙂

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