I don't have an official list for reading, mostly because it's hard to pry books out of our girls' hands. Reading and being read to is the pinnacle of pleasure at our house, so I don't worry much about being on any sort of schedule. I usually let our history studies and the girls' interests guide the book list for the year. Hooray for libraries!
I feel that I should express some Catholic homeschool guilt over my two and a half year old going to preschool in the mornings, but I'm just too busy getting EVERYTHING done. I was in the throes of guilt weeks before she even started, and I still miss her cute little face on weekday mornings, but holy smokes did we make a great decision. First of all, she is really loving it. When I pick her up, she is in a fabulous mood, she chatters happily about all the fun things she did during the day, and she tells anyone who will listen that she is big and goes to "pwe-school." Second, our homeschool day is nothing short of delightful. Hit me up again in February, but I have to honestly say that we are able to focus so much more and finish our day so much more quickly than last year. The girls aren't constantly vying for attention, I'm not perpetually guilt-ridden, and they each get very focused, quality attention from me during the day. I'm so relieved! Third grade is off to such a great start at our house. I mentioned some new additions, but overall, I felt so good about last year, that we stuck with the majority of our curricula.
For language arts, we are continuing with Writing with Ease (this year we'll cover level three) and First Language Lessons (also level three). Writing with Ease seems to be mostly like the first two levels: more reading selections, comprehension questions, and summaries, as well as writing practice. The third First Language Lessons book is quite a bit larger than the first two. This year, the book introduces diagramming sentences (which, English nerd that I am, I just love!) I can't wait to introduce Ellie to one of my favorite apps, SenGram, to help reinforce the diagramming lessons she learned in FLL. We will also be continuing with Memoria Press for her cursive practice. Ellie completed books one and two of their New American Cursive last year, and it was one of her favorite parts of homeschool. This year, I've selected MP's Copybook Cursive: Hymns and Prayers which is all in Latin. I'm hoping to help supplement her CCM co-op Latin studies with this writing practice. I've decided to try a new vocabulary book this year. Last year we worked from the Vocabulary Workshop (Purple) book, for which I have a nostalgic fondness since I used them through middle and high school. I thought it was a solid program, but when I saw Vocabulary from Classical Roots, I was rather charmed by the idea of Ellie learning vocabulary with a focus on Latin and Greek roots, since that will help her derive meanings from many words that she may discover as she continues with more and more complex literature. I'm not sure what to expect, but I have high hopes.
Please try to control your chortling when I add just one more piece to our language arts plans (is it so terribly obvious that I have a BA in English?) Last year, we started How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. Ellie and I both loved it, but part way through the year, I realized that I had quite simply assigned us far more than we could ever complete in a year. There just weren't enough hours in the day. This year, with a better idea of our time and abilities, I'm bringing Shakespeare back. I truly recommend this book for people who love Shakespeare, or people who fear Shakespeare but would like to learn to love him, and also for those who enjoy having their children memorize literature. One of Ellie's greatest joys is reciting poetry, and she has embraced the latest Shakespearean lines with delight. Several times a day, I will hear her rattling off Oberon's speech from A Midsummer Night's Dream just for the enjoyment of it.
I don't have an official list for reading, mostly because it's hard to pry books out of our girls' hands. Reading and being read to is the pinnacle of pleasure at our house, so I don't worry much about being on any sort of schedule. I usually let our history studies and the girls' interests guide the book list for the year. Hooray for libraries!
We will also be continuing with the same history curriculum. This year we will be studying from the third Story of the World and learning about Early Modern Times. Again I have purchased the text and the activity book, which contains coloring sheets, map work, various fun projects, and an extensive reading recommendation list for every chapter. We both enjoyed the narrative style of the history lessons in the text, and I'm glad that map work is included in the activity book. While some of the activity projects take some preparation and not a little time to complete, there are many truly fun options and we have enjoyed a lot of laughter while attempting them. I decided to go one further this year and purchase the SotW test book. Before now, I simply wrote up my own quizzes over the information or relied on the questions from the activity book to verbally check for comprehension. This year I wanted to start practicing testing skills and I also wanted to save myself from reinventing the wheel as far as test creation goes. This is one of the textbooks that I had to hide after it arrived on our doorstep this summer, because Ellie was champing at the bit to disappear into her room and devour the entire thing before July was out. We are both looking forward to another fun year of history.
I already briefly mentioned the curriculum switch I made over the summer for math. We were using Horizon Math, which started well, but by winter, I simply had to mention the words "flash cards" and the tears started flowing. We began to supplement with Life of Fred. She loved these books so much that I started making a chapter of Life of Fred the reward for completing her lessons that day in Horizon. While I like Life of Fred and highly recommend the books, especially for kids who don't have an innate love of math, I was not comfortable making these our sole curriculum. Thankfully, I talked to a friend who homeschools her five children and happens to be rather a math whiz. She had such great things to say about RightStart Math, and such solid examples of its superiority to the usual "drill and kill" methods that are out there, I returned home and purchased an entire starter kit that very night. Ellie began with the transitional book over the summer, and just loves it. She actually asks to do math first and tries to wheedle extra lessons most days. Between the multitude of manipulatives which truly explain the mathematical concepts, instead of insisting basic memorization of facts, and the abundance of card games which also reinforce the information, we are both honestly enjoying math time... a phrase I never thought would pass my lips, even before Ellie became flash-card-phobic.
Science has been my nemesis throughout our past year of homeschooling. Not that I dislike science. Not at all! I started my college career as a pre-veterinary major. Later, I went through the majority of nursing school in my BSN program (before succumbing to my deep love of literature and having to start a whole new liberal arts degree plan from scratch). I love science, which might be why I am so incredibly picky and having such a difficult time finding a curriculum I can stand. We went through several different textbooks last year, and I ended up just cobbling together odds and ends from library books, educational documentaries, and science projects. This year, we're going to try something new. I can't even remember who recommended REAL Science Odyssey to me, but I remember being swayed by her enthusiasm and it had great reviews on Amazon. What more can I ask for at this point? I'm really hoping that THIS will be the curriculum with which it is worth staying. Fingers crossed. I'll keep y'all updated.
Finally, we'll be continuing our catechesis at home. I'm looking forward to next year when Claire will be old enough to start Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, because our parish has such a great program and I'm hoping to have both girls in a program at the church, but until then I plan to continue as we've been at home. We'll branch out from the basics of our beautiful Illustrated Catechism, the Friendly Defenders cards, and our weekly Magnifikid! booklets. And as always, we will continue to draw from our veritable library of saint stories, both picture books and chapter books.
It should be a fantastic year of learning and fun! I can't wait to see all that the girls will be accomplishing this year and all that I will be learning right along with them!
Contains some affiliate links. Thank you for the support!
I spoke a bit about our academic plans for the Blondie Bear, but there are also some changes for our Li'l E (and ME!) Last year, we were members of a local Catholic homeschool group, which got us access to a constantly updating email list and a calendar of events: we joined them for a few local field trips and some playdates with our closest neighborhood group, but other than that we were pretty much on our own.
Over the summer, I’ve been doing a bit of planning, purchasing, and even studying to get ready for our second year of homeschool. I’m feeling so excited because on one level I know what to expect, and on another level I feel like I’ve added some improvements that are going to make for an even better year.
At the end of last school year, another mama I knew through our Little Flowers Club heard that we had looked at a large, daily homeschool co-op near downtown. I told her about our experience and what an impressive set up they had, but how it just wasn't the right fit for us (financially or academically) at the moment. She invited us to join a co-op, which she had coordinated, that meets for a day every other week and follows the Classically Catholic Memory (CCM) curriculum. We talked a bit, and I looked through the curriculum. After discussing things with my husband, we decided that it sounded like exactly what we wanted. Claire will play hooky from preschool on those days and enjoy a day with her co-op cohorts, Ellie will be with her age group, and I will get to teach the ten year olds and up in my own little class! I’m so excited to be teaching a group again! Ellie absolutely loves memory work, so I know that this curriculum will be right up her alley. Mostly this will just be an enjoyable way to share some fellowship and additional learning fun, because we will otherwise be doing a completely different course of study from the CCM work, mostly a continuation of what we did last year.
Last month, I had the opportunity to meet up once a week with some other mamas to do a DVD workshop by Adam and Missy Andrews from the Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW), called Teaching the Classics: A Socratic Method for Literary Education. I was fascinated because it presented a clear cut way to study character, plot, theme, and literary devices in a very similar manner to how I taught my college students for so many years. The difference is, you are starting from the very earliest readers and using books such as Peter Rabbit or A Bargain for Frances to train up their minds in literary analysis from the beginning, instead of waiting for middle school or high school to discuss these important concepts! I enjoyed the seminars and found Adam Andrews very engaging (my first thought was, “This guy must’ve watched ‘Dead Poets Society’... a LOT!”), the examples he gave seemed clear enough for even a non-literature-fanatic to follow, and they had an entire section of leading, Socratic question examples in the back of the printed syllabus. I enjoyed seeing so many techniques with which I was already very familiar being used on children’s classics. I can’t wait to implement these ideas into our year!
Next, I offered to meet up with our Little Flowers organizer to help plan the year. She and I sat down with notebooks and the Wreath Three guides while our kids played all around us. We took a couple of hours to plan out an amazing (if I do say so myself) year. Last year, each mother led one session, but as we worked through the details, we decided that this year (for the sake of continuity), she and I would take on the leadership roles for every session. I’m pretty excited for what we have planned for the girls, and so thrilled that we will be adding medal projects into our work for the year! The first meeting of the month will be organized around a particular saint and virtue, and the second meeting of the month will be a service project that pairs with the lessons we learned in the first meeting. I can hardly wait to get started!
Finally, I may have mentioned that we made a curriculum switch in math over the summer. RightStart Math included an entire book of Transitional math to get us up to speed with their particular teaching style before jumping in at Ellie’s current level. For the past month or two, we have been working through those lessons, and Ellie has fallen in love with the abacus work and the wealth of card games that reinforce each idea. I have fallen in love with having math time free from drama and tears. I think we are both ready to get to work on Level C this fall, which is a huge change from the math attitudes of last year.
I’m so excited to implement these changes and this weave this new knowledge into our second year of homeschooling. I hope that my girls, the Little Flowers, and my new co-op students will really benefit and have a year full of fun as we test the waters of our latest adventures.
Next week Ellie and I begin our second year of homeschool, and Claire will be starting her first year of preschool. I know. I’m crying already. Except when I remember that I can’t even talk to Ellie without the little bear physically placing herself in between us and attempting to grab my face so that I only look at her. Or how she talks over anyone in the family who is attempting to have a conversation with someone not her. Or how she would really like to be moving, moving, moving every single moment of the day (and insists that I participate), and my skill set just does not include teaching math from across the yard while at a full sprint. I also think about how great a big sister Ellie is and how often she puts aside her own wants in order to keep peace with her sister. My big girl deserves some one-on-one attention this fall.
In my vast experience of having any given number of children (nope), I’ve have this completely unsubstantiated, barely considered theory with a sample group of exactly one, that goes like this: Two is so very much a difficult number. With two children, they are in DIRECT competition ALL the time. They don’t look at things as, “I’m focused on Kid A (you’re welcome, Radiohead fans) right now, so ALL THE REST of you are in the same boat, go amuse yourselves,” but rather “I am focused on your sister, and therefore you are on your own, yes completely alone in the world, kid. Godspeed.” And all this not to say “Woe is me,” because by golly I waited loooooong and impatiently to finally have my miraculous, amazing, dearly desired second. There are hundreds of thousands of ways in which I could sing you the song of my love for the family I was given. I wouldn't change a thing, but I like to remind myself that a mama who knows her limitations is a mama who will survive the school year. And y’all: mama’s got limitations.
Our family is no stranger to this little preschool. Ellie went through four years of preschool there, and we still keep up with many of the teachers. We love this place. The number of classes and their sizes are very small, and the teaching philosophy and school mission are straight from a page in my educator’s heart. The teachers are lovely and kind and worked wonders with Ellie, who was painfully shy and still wasn’t speaking at two years old. Sharing part of her day with them, she blossomed. You would never know that our continuously chattering, social butterfly had ever been anything else. So, while I’m nervous and my heart aches a bit, I know that Claire is going to have such a great time. I know that she will be loved. And I also know that I will get to keep (what’s left of) my sanity and Ellie will be getting the academic attention that she needs and deserves in the mornings.
I felt anxious about ‘fessing up to the other homeschool mamas that I was going to be dropping my littlest off to a (gasp!) school in the mornings, but I feel confident that this is the right choice at the right time for our family. Homeschooling was never about closing doors for us. It wasn’t an “anti-educational-establishment” choice; it was simply an “open-to-all-options” choice. Homeschooling is what is best for our oldest right now. Maybe some day it won’t be. Maybe she’ll want a bigger challenge than I can provide, or maybe at some point we won’t be working together in a way that is most conducive to her learning. Last year Ellie’s education was best served through homeschool, and Claire’s development was best nurtured by staying home with us and working on little art projects and reading books during and in between her big sister’s lessons. This year the best option for Ellie is to home school and the best option for Claire is to go to preschool in the mornings.
Next year, maybe they will both be educated at home, or perhaps neither at home. Instead of trying to fit one mold or the other, instead of trying to justify myself to the public school moms or the homeschooling moms or even my own constantly critical brain, I’m trying to embrace the primary reason we made a change last year: We want to consider all options and make the best choice for our family; and not just the family as a whole, but for each individual in our family. Last year, I really felt that we did that, and this year I feel happy and confident that we are doing the same. I’m so excited to embark on another nine months of academic adventures!
This is the final post about my experiences at Edel.
You may want to start with Part One: I Try to Back Out
and Part Two: I Learn to Chill Out
A Sleepless Night
I was so happy that Rebecca insisted I throw on PJs and join the ladies downstairs for a game of the absolutely scandalous and completely hilarious Cards Against Humanity. I was hoping a smaller group, less formality, and a couch to snuggle into would help me settle down and connect less self-consciously with these new friends. And it did. I was able to relax while laughing along with Rebecca, Rachael, Leticia, and all the rest as this crazy crowd of Catholic mamas read the most ridiculous things imaginable off of black and white cards while unsuspecting hotel guests walked past. Part way through the game, I started really feeling the effects of being keyed up by anxiety most of the night. I excused myself from that fun group of ladies, and returned to my room.
The key lock clicked green and I walked in to find my husband was waiting up for me. Suddenly in a safe space, alone with my best friend in all the world, this nervous little introvert hit her wall going 80. All the anxiety that had built up, the lack of calories, the energy it took to do something so out of the ordinary for me as walking around attempting to make small talk for hours. I was utterly spent. I stepped into a hot shower as Eric called room service, hoping that I would eat something. I sat on the bed picking at a turkey sandwich, but eventually replaced the silver lid and pushed the tray away.
My heart was so full of gratitude for all of the kindness and for all of the amazing women whom I had wanted to meet and those whom I didn’t even know that I’d needed to meet, but my body was a different story. I curled up in a tight ball and pulled the covers over me as Eric turned off the lights. I needed dark silence. I needed healing sleep. If you’ve followed me at all, then you know I suffer from severe insomnia. I have a new medication now that really helps, but the effects last a long time and make it really hard for me to get up before it has the chance to wear off. I was afraid that if I took it so late, I would oversleep and miss the next days events, or at least the breakfast plans I had made with Crystal for the next day.
I had barely finished wrapping my quiet cocoon around me when my body started to react to the overstimulation of the evening. I began to shake uncontrollably. The miserable, involuntary shivering of low blood sugar or shock. Eric put a hand on me, to reassure me he was there. I tried to pray, but I kept losing my place. I tried to breathe slowly in and out, but my mind was racing so fast that I became aware of holding my breath time and again. I finally reached for my phone and began scrolling through photos of my beautiful girls, but nothing helped. I was shaking like a chihuahua in a thunderstorm until around 5:30 when my body gave up in sheer exhaustion. I awoke from sleep with a gasp at 6:30, nausea roiling through my knotted belly, and tried in vain to fall back asleep for another hour before admitting defeat.
Edel Officially Begins
I showered and soothed myself by painting my nails a new shade to go with my dress that night. After admitting to Crystal that I wasn’t up for the drive to my favorite breakfast tacos joint, Juan in a Million, we settled on heading to the lobby for something simpler and hopefully easier on my stomach. I managed a cinnamon roll and some tea, and chatted happily with the charming ladies that came and went from our little circle of chairs in the lobby. I felt better with that touch of sugar and caffeine in my belly, and more ready for a new day of Edel, even if on one hour of sleep.
Excited women arrived at the top of the main staircase as noon approached. At registration, we all reached for markers and glittered stickers to create a name tag, then claimed our amazing swag bags, and blind drew a saint’s medal from the container in Cari’s hands. The moment I saw the Divine Mercy imprinted in that oval of silver, my heart warmed in my chest. My best friend, whom we lost nine months ago that Sunday, had talked passionately and often with me about the Divine Mercy, had given me a deep love of the devotion, and to have that little disk of silver warming in my hand, made me feel watched over, loved. I felt calmer and more confident. I was looking forward to the day of talks (not a little bit because I knew it meant I wasn’t expected to do any talking myself). I tied the medal on with a light blue ribbon and let it hang low over my heart.
Soon I was distracted by all of the multicolored and sparkling vendor tables. I wandered alone for quite some time, admiring the beautiful jewelry, art, and (one more sample of the raspberry??) chocolates. Though I planned specifically to not get anything for myself, the passionate shopper in me soon whispered, “But the GIRLS would LOVE this!” I ended up buying a cute pink chaplet bracelet for my youngest and a beautiful rainbow glass rosary for my oldest from BC Inspirations. Purchases made, I chatted with those who walked up out of the swirling crowd. So many amazing women. I can’t possibly list them all. Keri with whom I spent ages sitting sharing similar stories and listening to her talk passionately and intelligently on such a wide range of interesting topics. Olivia who continuously drew me out of myself and kept me laughing with the gift of her beautiful personality and amazing wit. I found something new and treasured in each conversation I shared that day. As the shopping frenzy wound down, everyone trickled into the conference room and found seats. Having the chance to hug a wall, be a bit invisible and insulated, and watch the endless stream of hilarious “Edel widowers” blowing up the Twitters pretty much made my morning.
Jenny introduced all of the speakers with her beautiful doll baby (seriously, did y’all SEE those eyes and that thick thatch of hair??) wrapped securely against her heart. Beautiful Hallie welcoming us with her special warmth and spirit-inspired message: “It is good that you are here.” She spoke straight to my heart, as I’m sure those words soared directly and personally to each and every heart present. Marion, in her gentle musical voice, wove the tale of a community where women were cherished and families supported, throwing into stark relief the separated, isolated experience that so many of us shared with her during the first years of motherhood (and in some cases right through to the present). My eyes welled with tears as she echoed the pain I kept deeply hidden in my lonely, bruised heart. I gave an embarrassed glance around to see if anyone had noticed my (as I fiercely and unkindly thought to myself) “drama,” and immediately relaxed as I saw the red rimmed eyes of so many others in that room. “You are not the only one,” a voice whispered in my heart. “You are not alone.” And for the first time, I was actually starting to believe it.
Haley bounced up next with her beautiful personality and completely infectious mile-wide smile. I was familiar with a bit of her story from reading the liturgical cookbook that she and her husband Daniel created together, but hearing her tell it… Whew! She gave so many of us the opportunity to laugh out the butterflies, but then brought us right back to the heart of things while reflecting with words the indescribably deep love in our own mother-hearts as she choked back a sob explaining how incredibly much she realized that she desired her surprise pregnancy.
Haley was someone I had come into the weekend particularly wanting to meet. I sensed a kinship between her family and mine (especially between our beardy, horticulturally-inclined husbands), but after being sidetracked several times, I had lost my nerve during the cocktail party to walk up to her. The amazing way in which she shared herself with us changed that. Something in my heart shoved me out of my seat and straight up to the front of the room to thank her for her talk. She was utterly charming and had me responding to her questions and stories with a big grin on my face. I would have regretted not making that connection, however brief, and I’m so thankful for whatever nudge sent me in her direction.
End of the Night
When the afternoon had wrapped up, I headed to Andrea and Blair’s room. Because Crystal and I had checked out after a single night’s stay, they graciously invited us into their space to get ready for dinner that night. I had a lovely time chatting with Blair and watching her adorable Katie play on the bed. When Andrea returned from her run, we all began pulling on fancy dresses and painting on make up. There was an excited sense of anticipation for the dinner that night as we all giggled that we were getting ready for “Mom Prom.” I was feeling so accepted in this little room with these kind and funny ladies that I hardly noticed the exhaustion creeping up on me. When I had put the final touches on my lipstick and was waiting on the others, my leg began to tremble as I sat on the bed, a familiar and unwelcome sign that my anxiety was creeping in. Only a single hour of sleep the night before and hardly any food the entire weekend was definitely compounding the problem.
We queued into the food line with the rest, and I remember chatting with several ladies in line, but my nerves were taking control again and I was having a very hard time focusing on the conversations. I walked back to the table where I met the wonderful women of Table 7. We chatted a bit, and I concentrated on getting bites of the delicious fajita meat into my nervous belly, hoping the protein would help several problems at once. I glanced up and saw Jen at the edge of the stage, her mouth set and face intensely focused on the finish line for this amazing weekend that she and Hallie selflessly created for all of us who so needed it. She stepped up to take the mic and the room went still.
“Let’s just admit,” she told us frankly, "that our job is HARD.” I think every head in the room nodded in solidarity. As she continued her speech, my trembling hand went to my mouth to try and control the sob that I could feel welling up in my throat. She spoke strongly and fervently, moving her eyes from one woman to another. I felt deeply that she wanted every person in that room to know that she was SEEN. Her eyes moved to our table and she said, “I, too, have laid awake all night, worried that I was not good enough; Unsure of how I could get out of bed in the morning and do it all again.” And, y’all, I physically felt something inside me break. I made a strangled noise that felt as if it echoed through that silently rapt ballroom, but I was too moved to be ashamed. “These women,” I thought. “They understand. They have collapsed to their knees in their own Dark Nights. We are not alone. I am NOT alone.”
And End of the Road
I have never been so desperately grateful for someone’s words. I’m am forever thankful that my body (and the probably unfathomable amounts of spiritual help it required) brought me through the weekend, so I could experience everything up to that moment. In fact, I firmly believe that something carried me through exactly as far as I needed to go. Though I got to experience Kelly’s indescribably awesome rendition of FloRida, and managed to laugh my way into the photo booth once with Crystal, my body was done.
The exhaustion, the inability to eat, the intense anxiety (and more positive, but also deep emotions) of the weekend finally overwhelmed me. I can follow the final deterioration through the few photographs of me as the night continued. My eyes slowly move from smiling tiredly to an almost fearful exhaustion. I escaped to the cool quiet of the bathroom several times, thinking that I could recharge enough to power through the fun part of the evening.
I know that I met more people in person whom I had only known through blogs, including Arwen, with whom I’m crazily connected (and she’s so much better at this lineage than I am, but thankfully, I get to type it slowly instead of verbalize it) Ready? My little sister’s husband is best friends with the husband of her younger sister. Follow? Ha! And I ran into Haley again during one of my recharging ventures (Thanks for indulging my insane request for a bathroom selfie, Haley. That wild wallpaper was too good to pass up!) In any case, I so much wanted to have more time to talk with all of these phenomenal ladies.
I was fighting hard against the collapse. As I stood in the glowing ballroom finally getting a chance to talk to the irrepressible Rachael, my eyes started to blur. The noise and heat of the room, the crush of all the people snatched the air out of me. I suddenly realized that I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I knew this feeling too well. The thing that I had been afraid of since arriving: a panic attack. “No, no, no. Not now in front of all these people,” I begged my traitorous body. The room tilted drunkenly (And, yes, I promise it was the room, unless there was something else in my iced tea at dinner-- the only thing I had managed to drink that night). I interrupted Rachael with a touch on her arm and croaked, “I have to get some water.” She kindly pointed me to a table outside the doors.
My heart was pounding in my ears as I reached the table, and I somehow realized that if I didn’t sit down, I was going to fall down. I passed by the water and headed straight for the bathroom where I sat down and put my head on my knees trying to breathe. My eyes stung with embarrassed and angry tears. I was furious with my own weaknesses and my own limitations. The bathroom was quiet and cool and as room ceased to spin my heart rate finally slowed. When I was thinking more clearly, I push back at the voice of nagging disappointment in my head. This was not what defined my weekend, and it did not define ME.
I remained for a bit longer, speaking gently to myself (that alone, told me what a profound effect the weekend had upon my head and heart), and then stood shakily. Just as I was walking out, Crystal walked towards me with a look of concern on her face. I explained sheepishly what had happened, and she kindly expressed her own readiness to leave. She stayed by my side as I weakly went to thank Hallie and Jen for the amazing weekend.
Despite the previous half hour, while thanking those two incomparable women, I realized that I didn’t want to say goodbye. I ached to stay just a little longer in this safe, supportive place, but a deeper part of me glowed at the thought of what lay beyond this transformative weekend. I longed for the ordered quiet of my own home, the warm weight of my own children, the strong support of my husband’s hug. It was time to take all of the love and wisdom that each beautiful woman had shared with me and to pour these gifts back into my own life, over my own family.
I arrived Friday in a state of anxious fear, and perhaps it looks like I left the same way, but the truth is, I was changed utterly by every single one of you. You looked at me, and I learned to see what you saw. I hope that each of you knows the unique beauty and strength that I saw in every gaze I was blessed to meet. I came home to the same challenges, the same frustrations, the same all-too-human failings in myself and others, but now I finally see that this is not meaningless, fruitless work; I am building cathedrals, and I am not doing it alone.
This is the second of three posts about my Edel experience.
You may want to start with part one wherein I try to back out,
and please come back later in the week for part three wherein I almost pass out.
I sailed through the door of our hotel room announcing half in a daze, “I met people. I talked to people. I even met an author that I love. I didn’t know she’d be here.” (Hi, Rebecca! You’re amazing!) Eric sat on the bed with a bemused smile on his lips as I talked on and on and on about my little adventure and the women I had met, how kind and funny they all were. “So no one bites?” he teased gently.
We headed out to find some dinner before the cocktail party, but just the mention of food made my stomach twist into painful knots. We headed to the nearby Royal Blue Grocery, that I normally love. Despite the fact that the only food I had eaten that day had been a few pieces of toast with brie and apricot over lunch, I could only manage to pick up a tiny pastry. I forced myself to eat half then threw the rest away.
When we returned to the hotel with little time for me to prepare, we walked to a line for the elevators which snaked all the way down the hall to the check-in desk. My anxiety spiked. I hate to be late for things. I was so mortified by late arrivals, that in college if I arrived mere moments after the classroom door had closed and the professor had begun to speak, I would turn around and leave. The thought of walking in and having all those eyes turned on me made me feel physically ill. Thankfully, a hotel employee walked up to my Eric (clearly because he looked so beardy, strapping, and capable of intense cardio) and told him how to find the stairwell on the second floor. We took the lobby stairs by twos, walked down the hall, and quickly turned the corner where I pulled up short. I froze with my mouth open, because right in front of me were our beloved hostesses: Jen and Hallie.
It would be hard for me to explain what Hallie means to me. Though we had yet to meet in person, she has given me so much encouragement with my writing, not just affirmation, but tangible help and advice in expanding my options for putting writing out there. She has been so selfless and kind, and I’ve felt since we first “met” online that I had (however unworthily) met a true friend and kindred spirit. She was even more beautiful, kind, and indescribably gracious in person. In her hug I felt the deep glow of being reunited with the dearest of friends. Jen, too, has reached out in ways that left me nearly speechless with gratitude. Here was this incredibly busy woman: author, blogger, heck- even reality show star, taking the time to reach out, to affirm, to respond. While I admire her in those roles, they are not what truly draws me. It is her personality, her intense intelligence, her passion for sharing her story in order to truly help others and further the faith. I respect her so immensely and am thankful for her kind welcome.
As I rounded the corner, the eyes of these two amazing women, registered recognition. I walked forward (probably with my mouth still hanging open) and drew up short in front of them, but they immediately reached out and pulled me the rest of the way into enormous hugs. Hallie also hugged Eric and effused, “I feel like I already know you.” Later he would remark on her kindness, warmth and how immediately welcomed and accepted he felt-- Amen, husband of mine! We shared just a few moments of conversation, as all of us were rushing back to get ready for the evening, but it put a warmth back in my shivering heart. I wasn’t an impostor. I wasn’t a tag along. These women, who meant so much to me, were glad I was here.
After bounding up nine stories in the stairwell, my heart was racing, and not just from the exertion. I couldn’t stop thinking about an evening of small talk (at which I am hopelessly incompetent) in a huge group of strangers. In the hotel bathroom, I dumped the contents of my makeup bag on the counter. I was anxious to at least look put together on the outside. Suddenly, I saw a little prayer card that I had stashed into the bag like a security blanket at the last moment. “Oh, Mother!” I prayed fearfully. ”Please, please, PLEASE get me through this... And if at all possible, without completely humiliating myself.” The last thing I did was put on some uncharacteristically red lipstick and wind the ribbons of my crazy shoes up my legs tucking flowers in as I went. I entered the bedroom and my husband jumped up enthusiastically: “You look amazing! Let’s get a picture!” I smiled as he snapped a few shots, but my head was swimming with visions of standing awkwardly alone in a room full of amazing, talent women, whom I so wanted to know. Eric wrapped me in a hug, and I clung to him far longer than necessary before tucking my card key into a matching clutch and heading to the elevators.
When I walked into the cocktail room, a few ladies had already arrived. I started to the center of the room where most people had congregated. Without realizing it, I walked straight towards the first familiar faces I saw, Cari Donaldson and Kathryn Whitaker. I awkwardly interrupted their conversation and lamely blurted, “I recognized y’all," and then lost all capability for speech. Thankfully, they are a lot more socially refined than I am, and immediately greeted me and kindly included me in their conversation. Honestly, I’m not sure what we even talked about, because my inner critic was yelling at me so loudly about jumping in the deep end and being, well, kind of a TOTAL freak. Then Cari exclaimed, “LOOK at your SHOES! Has Heather seen you?? She’s a judge. Stay here!”
The next thing I knew I was nearly knocked off my feet by an enormous bear hug. Y’all have to know Heather as a brilliant writer and hilarious artist from Mama Knows, Honeychild, but I hope that each and every one of you experiences a Heather hug at some point in your life. That hug soothed a little of my fear and dialed back the volume of my critic, long enough for me to realize: This Texas girl could use a beer! As I headed towards the savior slinging Shiners, a gentleman’s voice asked, “Can I take a picture of your shoes?” Startled, I spun around and came face to face with Jen’s amazing uncle. He was the official Edel photographer and is such a delightful soul that I couldn’t help smiling every time I ran into him (plus, he gallantly rescued one of the flower bouquets that escaped from my ensemble during the night!) I did find my long-necked bottle, and a much of the rest of the night is a blur.
There were so. many. amazing. women. None of my fears of standing awkwardly alone even stood a chance of coming true. I relaxed, not completely, but more so than I have ever felt while in a crowd. I smiled happily through many conversations that started, “Are you Cate? Like, the “dainty” one?” A couple of people even came up to tell me that they liked my blog and enjoyed my “voice.” Honest to goodness, I barely managed a breathless “Thank you SO much.” My mind just couldn’t keep up: “I have a voice? Someone other than my sister reads my blog??”
To every single woman I had the pleasure of talking to that first night: Y’all are all amazing. It was such a thrill to talk to each and every one of you. It was like a dream to chat with so many bloggers whom I admire so incredibly much and so many women who enjoy other means of expressing their love for their faith and their family. I chastised myself later for not saying enough, not asking enough questions, not being as witty and delightful as everyone I met. Even when I am enjoying things, my anxiety can really put the whammy on me and give me The Dumb. Thank you so much for being patient and kind.
Just as the crowd, the heat, and my own nerves were starting to really take their toll, I stepped outside the doors with a newly made friend to take advantage of that lovely AC which was set to “meat locker” for the Texas summer. I spent a lot of time talking to Jenny, who had come as a vendor for Holy Heroes. “Holy what now?” Clearly, I was totally out of the Catholic mama loop, because every woman that walked up and heard the name, started singing the praises of their Glory Stories, a collection of saint stories on CD. I was so impressed with how many ladies were just enamored by these stories, so I resolved to be first in line at Jenny’s table the following afternoon.
My sweet friend Crystal arrived around the time that my introversion was starting wear me out, and I found so much solace in her presence. Crystal was the one person I had known “IRL” (as the cool kids say) before the conference. She had reached out to me and included me into her circle of friends at a time when I had absolutely no Catholic homeschool mamas in my life. I can never thank her enough. It was good to sit (my feet were KILLING me in those crazy shoes!) and catch up with her. In the process, I met several more delightful women, and before I knew it, Heather and Kelly were on the mic and ready to announce winners of the shoe contest.
To my utter amazement, the second name called was… “Dainty Cate!” I simultaneous laughed at being called by my “interweb handle” and quaked at the idea of walking through the crowd to stand in front of everyone. I think I was just one molecular reaction away from literally sinking into the floor through sheer force of will. But I was so happy and surprised, because everyone’s shoes were so astounding, hilarious, and (in some GLORIOUS cases) garishly over the top. There were SO MANY of y’all for whom I would have cast my vote if given half a chance. I was truly humbled to stand before such wonderful women with one arm around Kelly and one arm around Jen. (Hopefully, my trembling wasn’t too distracting.) By some providence, one of the prizes was a basket filled with the entire Glory Stories collection! After the recommendations of SO MANY women that night who clearly knew what’s what when furthering their children’s love of faith, it was of course the one I chose (much to my children’s delight when I returned home).
As the party wrapped up, I walked slowly down the main staircase to the lobby, feeling like I was in some amazing movie, as my husband sat waiting for me at the bar. Walking amongst the tables, a group of college aged girls stared openly at my feet and snickered loudly, but for once in my sensitive life, it didn’t phase me in the slightest, I just smiled bigger at the thought of these ridiculous shoes. I was filled with the love and acceptance of women whom I had both long admired or even just met. I was not alone against the world. I had a tribe.
The entire week leading up to Edel I tried to think of reasons that I couldn't go, ways that I could gracefully back out. I was petrified. I am (like so many of you, I have discovered) an introvert. But it goes beyond that: I have some pretty intense social anxiety. Crowds give me the vapors. I realize as I type that, I always try to joke about it, but in fact, it's far from funny. I've had panic attacks, gotten incredibly sick, and socially stumbled all over myself in ways that just confirmed to me that large groups are the Worst Things Ever, or more exactly, confirmed to me that I am the Worst Thing Ever.
I love people, I really do. My friends are so dear to me, and honestly when I get to know people, I like to have crazy, silly, even rowdy fun (as long as I'm allowed to head back into a dark, quiet space at the end of it all and regroup for a while). As the week progressed, I dropped subtle hints into a conversation with my husband. He stopped what he was doing, looked me right in the eye, and said: "You are going to this. You need this. And you will regret it if you don't. You will be there if I need to drag you through the doors myself." He KNOWS me and is kind of the greatest is what I'm trying to say here.
So, as planned, my wonderful mother-in-law arrived Thursday night, so that on Friday my husband and I could head off to the Omni for a mini-get away. As we drove down, I insisted on stopping at the Michael's craft store for a few supplies, deciding last minute to up my game for the Crazy Shoe Contest that night (okay, maybe dragging my feet a little bit as well). We arrived downtown and shared a delicious lunch at a new (to us) spot. I settled on a little appetizer of brie with apricots served with crisp toast, because my stomach was roiling with anxiety. As I nibbled and we talked and laughed more and more frequently, I began to relax and we started to enjoy being tourists without kids in tow in our own city. After lunch, we checked into the Omni and headed straight to the room. Sitting on the clean, crisp bed in a silent room over looking the steeple of St. David's Episcopal, I could feel the remaining tension drain away. "We should've booked a second night," we said simultaneously, and laughed more.
Eric started setting up his laptop, as he had planned to work most of Friday and while I attending the happy hour that night. I plugged in my brand new glue gun and began ripping up fake flowers as I created some wacky kicks to complement my very first ModCloth purchase! When I finished, I looked up to see Eric deeply involved with work on the computer, and I made a decision that was so far removed from my normal self, it could only have been the work of the Spirit: I was going to go explore and maybe... meet people?
Even Eric seemed surprised, but he kissed me good-bye, wished me fun, and his nose went straight back into the laptop. I rode the elevator down and decided that first I would scout out the various rooms where we'd be gathering for talks and events. As I passed through the lobby, I noticed a group of women gathered in chairs that looked like they were probably part of Edel. I passed by shyly and wandered up the main staircase to map out the locations of the rooms in my head. (I'm a fiend for feeling prepared and in control, especially when I'm nervous).
It didn't take long to find the rooms, then I had no excuse... I walked slowly back to the the top of the stairs like a woman going to her doom. At the first step, I looked out over the lobby and towards that group of ladies who were chatting and laughing as if already fast friends, and then... turned immediately around and opted to sit down in the yellow velvet chair against the wall. I sat there feeling foolish and frustrated with myself. I aggressively thought pep talks at myself. Eventually, I stood up and began to make my way down the steps, slowly, almost gingerly. I glanced towards the group again as I made it to the ground floor, and then... made a beeline for the little hotel gift shop in the opposite direction. As I browsed through the Texas trinkets my mind yelled furious things at me. I paused in front of a stack of flasks with Davy Crockett's famous quote: "You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas" emblazoned on the front, and wondered if I could convince the bartender to fill it if I bought one. Then with a deep breath, I walked back through the lobby with my eyes fixed firmly on the sanctuary of the glass elevators.
A cheerful buzz of conversation came from the group of ladies that I had noticed, and as I glanced over, one of them caught my eye and smiled. I changed direction and walked forward, asking shyly, "Are y'all with Eddle? Um... Adelle? Um... the conference?" They were. Introductions were shared, and I began to relax as I listened to their stories of coming to be at the Omni for this much anticipated weekend. I forgot to be self-conscious and afraid of embarrassing myself. The woman who first caught my eye, Sue, later walked up with two iced teas and offered one to me (we had recently discussed our love of tea and disdain of sweeteners). I reached out for the gift with surprise and such deep thankfulness. It had been quite a long time since someone had gone out of their way to do me a kindness. With that first cold sip, I decided that maybe this was going to be a pretty good weekend after all.
It's amazing what one friendly smile can do. I resolved then and there that my greatest goal at this conference was to be more like Sue. Even though I was incredibly nervous, I was going to try my best to catch some eyes and give people a welcoming smile. I wanted to pass on that gift that I so deeply needed. Sue, I don't know if you realize what a HUGE difference you made at Edel. YOU were my first tangible welcome into this group of women. A complete stranger, now a friend. Thank you.
This is the first post about my experience at Edel wherein I try to back out.
Also read Part Two: how I learned to chill out.
And later this week Part Three on how I very nearly passed out!
We finally attained internet access again! It was two weeks of extremely spotty service and then none at all. When they finally got a technician out, I couldn't believe it, but lightning struck twice. Literally. A year or two ago, lightning struck our house! It blew out our dryer, our stove, my Eric's entire recording studio. It was a terrible mess that took many long phone calls with insurance and repairmen. This time it turns out that either the box in our front yard or perhaps the yard itself was struck, and it went through the cables going to the modem. When the tech pulled the co-axial cables, he ended up cutting them and showing Eric that they were burnt black and seared solid, there was NO bend in them. Oops! No wonder our internet wasn't working. So, who knows a good lightning rod company? Cheese and rice! It's enough to make a girl wonder who she's angering up there!
With great excitement, I pulled open my laptop to make use of our restored internet, and it immediately hung… with every single application that I attempted to use or to close. Bah! I checked things as best I could with it limping along the way it was, but finally gave up and put it in the hands of my much more tech capable husband. He attempted to back it all up to an external hard drive before getting to work. Not once, nor twice, but three times the back up failed and resulted in a most ominous grey screen of death. Eventually, the techno-fates smiled and it backed up, rebooted, and seems to at least putting in a valiant effort to work properly.
I was always one of those kids who couldn't stand. Could. Not. STAND to be told no. If I was told I couldn't, I wanted to. If I was told under no uncertain terms not to do something, figuring out how to make it happen consumed my every waking thought. What I'm trying to say here (other than my mother will have a very short stay in purgatory-- you're welcome, Mom!) is that when our internet connection decided to flicker from spotty to near black out and then my blasted laptop when from questionable to consumptive, all I wanted to do was blog. And blog. AND BLOG.
I always have an idea or two floating around in my head (along with enough random and obscure facts to dominating Trivial Pursuit or winning free pints at a pub quiz). I read so many books for which I keep thinking I'll write reviews (but then another 5 or 6 books seem to be singing their siren song into my ears); or I want to write a whole series on organic foods and clean eating (but get distracted creating new dishes in the kitchen); or I wonder if I might parlay my education as a certified personal trainer and fitness junky into some posts (but then I realized that I have a few brief months before all my continuing education credits are due to keep my certification current, and need to put my nose in the book to prep for the tests). Ach! Maybe this is all just a big “Boo-hoo-hoo, I'm getting no writing done, because I'm busy LIVING and DOING all the things I love and keep thinking I'll write about. Woe is me!”
But again, there is just really something about being told no that not only gets my goat, but straight up bbq's itself some cabrito. For a while I did nothing but shove books aside, slack on new recipe creation, procrastinate my CPT studies, and bemoan my lack of internet connection. There wasn't even the option to slip away for some quiet time at a wifi hotspot, because my poor hubs is working 12 hour days and coming home to work some more. So, instead, I'm just started typing up a storm on NeoOffice, which I forgot that I even had on this laptop (because I usually write everything via Google docs or directly to the blog publisher both of which shockingly require a direct line to the interwebs), and then remembered that I have Scrivener (which I’ve woefully neglected). I was just filling byte upon byte with frustrated stream of consciousness. It wasn’t pretty, but at least I was writing! Then the dang laptop tried to give up the ghost, and I realized how terribly spoiled I’d become. While my typing fingers can neeeearly keep up with my runaway brain, my penmanship most definitely can not, so attempting to capture it all in what used to be my favorite manner (ink and paper), simply ended in frustration.
I’m delighted to have internet connection and laptop both functioning at the same time (for now), but I can’t decide if this was all some odd way of reordering my priorities. Once I finished pouting and harrumphing, I found myself living life more fully and letting go of the guilt of not turning every experience into a blog posting. It’s not that I was doing that to begin with, not even close, but I was certainly chastising myself thoroughly for NOT parlaying every interesting moment into a post. It’s been kind of nice to just live things without the pressure of translation for transmission. Something I plan to spend time considering further. Or shove right on out of mind and clog up my blog feed with half-baked posts. Either way something interesting should result,
I started that fancy new treatment a few weeks ago (and have seen no change, but that's another story). Soon after I completed the first round of treatment, my insurance company sent a letter saying that these injections were considered a "specialty medication" and I should enroll for the Specialty Pharmacy Program.
I already knew that this medication couldn't just be picked up at your local Target. It has to be shipped. When I put the medication into the system it showed only three "preferred pharmacies", none of which were the one I was currently using. Thinking of the hassle of calling my very busy doctor and having him get a whole new prescription to a completely different pharmacy and send in the paper work to the insurance, I decided to see if I would really benefit from making the switch. I like to save money, even a few bucks. I also think my time is worth money (and so is other people's), so I wanted to know that making a switch would really be worth the effort. After calling the insurance company and being transferred to their specialty pharmacy services and spelling the name of the medication three times, the conversation continued as follows:
Her: So this is a powder.
Me: No, it's an injection.
Her: No, it shows in the computer that it is a powder.
Me: Okay, it's a powder before I reconstitute it with liquid and then inject it using a syringe.
Her: I have it pulled up right here on our computers and it shows that it is only a powder, it doesn't come in an injectable form.
Me: I have it pulled up on YOUR website and it says-- "Given as: INJECTION"
Her: That must be incorrect on the public website.
Me: That's disappointing to hear, because I have already used this medication five times and every time I injected it with the syringes that were also shipped by the pharmacy.
Her: I don't think that's right.
Me: Oooookay. Anyway, my actual question was about the Specialty Pharmacy Program. What is the benefit of using it?
Her: Well, it sends it to one of our preferred pharmacies, and they will ship it directly to you.
Me: Yes, but what is the savings? What is my copay for doing that?
Her: Well, let's put it in... Oh, it's a Tier Three medication, which means that if you go through our preferred pharmacy, then you only pay a $300 co-pay.
Me: *choking and strangling noises* Excuse me?
Her: Just 300 dollars!
Me: I'm paying 50.
Her: No, you can't get it for the $50 co-pay. It's a Tier Three.
Me: No. I'm saying: I've already ordered it before, and I get it for $50 dollars.
Her: That's a mistake. Let me look it up... Oh, you were delivered a COMPOUND drug. That means there is more than one medication in it.
Me: Well, it's my medication plus B12 vitamin, I mean, if you want to call a vitamin a medication.
Her: Well, that's why.
Me: That's why what?
Her: You're not getting the pure medication. If you go through our program then you will get the correct medication and only pay $300.
Me: But I AM getting the correct medication PLUS B12 and I'm ONLY paying $50.
Her: Well, if you don't want to take advantage of your insurance benefits...
Me: I... Um. I'm sorry. Do I HAVE to use my insurance for this?
Her: Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of your benefits?
Me: BECAUSE I'M ONLY PAYING 50 DOLLARS.
Her: Well, that is up to you.
Y'all my mouth is still hanging open catching flies. I am at a complete loss here. But not a loss of money, because apparently I'm too foolish to take advantage of my insurance "benefits".
Between the books which I received as birthday gifts and the ones I bought with gift cards, I wound up with a sizable new stack neighboring the five book stack that I've been slowly and concurrently working through. One book in particular, which was given to me by a friend who is an active proponent of enticing me to dust of my once well-used passport, has been particularly intriguing. Though I am only half way through, it is definitely doing its part to further the cause. I've been devouring each essay like fine food: slowly and with relish*.
*((Not that you should put relish on fine food. Or any food. Gross. Sweet pickles make me shudder. But ANYWAY...))
The Conde Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys is a collection of previously published travel essays from past contributors to the magazine over several decades. Each chapter is paired with an additional chapter containing travel advice or interesting facts about the particular destination. I was so excited to dive into places that I knew I wanted to revisit, or to which I've dreamed of introducing my husband, (Bonjour, France! Je parle de vous!), but I have been blindsided by the pieces and places that have truly spoken to my heart as I read. Greece so full of my twin delights: history and architecture, would probably be an easy sell to most reading Patricia Storace's grand descriptions, but I was merely struck by the clarity that a visit here would be an introvert's nightmare. While her additional essay on Provence left my usually francophilic heart cold, I was greatly surprised to find myself longing to travel to Ethiopia, a land to which I'd hardly given a second thought.
Pico Iyer's description of Lalibela, "one of the secret, undiscovered wonders of the world," drew me amongst the ancient churches and underground passageways, past the warlord Aidid and the Ethiopian Orthodox worshipers. I was briefly dissuaded from my interest when the author, after a harrowing jeep ride in a country with a macho love of playing chicken, questioned a young nurse about the car accident statistics and received the nonchalant answer: "Usually it is bullet wounds. But that, too, not so often. Usually the people here shoot to kill, not wound. So we let them just go ahead with it." However, I was quickly drawn back by descriptions of women "in brilliantly colored robes, swirled like saris around their bodies, green and violet and pink [walking] with a stately grace across the desolation of the desert... the tribal girls with yellow-chalked faces, and others with rolling white eyes; Oromo women with red dots around their eyes, and men with lips of foaming green."
Iyer explains the deep reverence in which the Orthodox hold the Old Testament and how Christianity here has evolved in a vacuum, rendering it neither Coptic nor Western. His descriptions of the Orthodox Church culminate on Christmas Eve, when gaunt, white-robed figured in hoods swirled ragged and barefoot in and around the Cathedral, some bearing candles, the deacons waving and beating upon sistrums. Their moving shadows, dark and ephemeral, appeared on the walls, produced by dozens of candles which were placed around the building and statuary, and chanting cries and ululations filled the air all around.
Iyer admits, "I am no Christian, but Christianity made sense to me in Ethiopia-- and many things as basic as hope and dignity, necessity and faith... Everything revved up and complicated fell away, and I was left in Ethiopia with the small, forgotten soul of the whole thing: thanksgiving amid hardship and songs of glorious praise."
So, I'll just put that on the bucket list, then, shall I? I can hardly wait to complete the book and see what other surprises I will find. My "one day" travel list has been written in stone for at least a decade. I love knowing that there is still more in the world to discover and about which to dream.
Know what happens when your medical protocol involves self-injecting pregnancy hormones?
You have feelings. Lots and lots and LOTS of feelings.
Things make you cry: like a well-played cello suite. Or, you know, a particularly lovely cheese knife.
Things make you feel delicate: like existing.
And the crummy thing is, you aren't getting the fun part. No excited anticipation about expanding your family. No joyful news to share. Because there is nothing there. Just a crazy amount of hormones. And not regular pregnancy hormones, where, sure they may be doubling every 48 hours, but you start from scratch and build slowly. Your body at least has the opportunity to try and adjust. This is basically just taking a cement truck and dumping ice cold feels into your body til you're over your head in pure reactions!
Like I didn't have enough feelings.
In better news, I just finished this round. A full week of poky fun. Which means that soon we'll know if this really is going to help and whether it's worth the stabbiness and crying over the color of my table cloth.
If you would?
Pray for efficacious treatment.
Pray for a quick reduction in all the feels.
Pray for my poor husband. ;)