Let’s get Henry a dog!


Henry is the son of my friend Kendra. He was diagnosed with autism a few years ago and we’re trying to raise the funds to get him an autism-awareness dog that can be trained to find Henry if he’s missing (a huge risk with autistic kids, especially ones like Daniel and Henry who are non-verbal) and can sense if he’s overwhelmed/overstimulated so his people can get him to a place where he can get back to calm. This post is going to stay stuck at the top of my blog until further notice.

7 Quick Takes: Me Running My Mouth Again…

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Can we say “duh”? News flash: Measles Vaccine Still Doesn’t Cause Autism. The paper on this is here. I will be writing more about this in order to explain the scientific bases of all of this in the next week or so.

Until then… VACCINATE YOUR FREAKING KIDS!!!! And for those who claim a selective/delayed vaccine schedule is a good thing, your argument has been proven invalid in this study.

— 2 —

Wonderful concert. I was blessed to be able to hear the Claremont Chamber Choir sing tonight at the Drinkward Recital Hall at Harvey Mudd College. One of the basses was conducting it as part of his studies toward a DMA in Conducting. It was interesting to watch Dr. Charles Kamm (the actual director) sing because he was so expressive and looked like he was having a lovely time.

Seriously, one of the positives of my living situation is that I have free concerts in the community that are of serious quality. Tonight’s concert was a collection of madrigals and folk music from around the world and it was heavenly.

— 3 —

Rachel Held Evans’ most recent book. I finished Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans today and I highly recommend it to anyone wondering why Millenials are leaving the faith in droves as well to those who have left the faith and might be slightly amenable. Rachel’s sister Amanda is a singer/songwriter and she composed a few songs based on the sacraments framing the book. Everyone who pre-ordered the book received a download code for the album and I found them to be positively fabulous.

Another person created seven pictures of birds based on things they read in the book. I think my favorite one is for “Communion” and involves hummingbirds drinking around a flower.

— 4 —

A thank you. I was at Target with Daniel this afternoon and decided to have him put stuff on the belt to practice good behavior while shopping. The woman in front of us watched for a bit and complimented him on how he was doing. She then looked up at me and said, “You’re a good mother.”

I honestly don’t think she realized how much I needed to hear that after Daniel had a rather public tantrum on Sunday.

— 5 —

On the subject of kids and cats… I saw this online a few days ago and had to share. It’s a tongue-in-cheek list of reasons that kids should never have cats. It’s amusing to say the least.

— 6 —

Love. I’ve missed two Sundays due to fibro-related fatigue so Bible study on Wednesday was one of my chances to connect to church. I ended up sitting next to one of our founding members M who is 94 and reminds me so much of my grandma. Our priest was passing around pictures she took while walking the Camino de Santiago last year and M had just gotten shots in her eyes so she couldn’t see them. I spent much of Bible study taking her hand and pointing out various things in the pictures for her. When Bible study ended, she gave me a hug and told me she loved me.

No lie, it brought me to tears at that point and remembering it brings me to tears now because she reminds me so much of my grandma who I thankfully got to see a few months ago (for the first time in 4 1/2 years) but who I miss dreadfully. (She’s in Washington and I’m in southern California.)

— 7 —

Weekly trash-talking regarding baseball. I do believe my boys (the Giants) done swept my husband’s boys (the Dodgers). And wait… don’t I recall Jon saying that he’d get a pedicure in Giants’ colors if they swept like that? To the nail place we go!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

The Simple Woman’s Daybook: April 19, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY April 19, 2015

Outside my window… dark. I didn’t get online until I was putting Daniel to bed and I opened my laptop to do my lectionary reading for today. (I missed church due to a fibro flare.)

I am thinking… about something that happened to me today and wondering if there will be any ripples because of it.

I am thankful… to have gotten through today and to have emptied 5 boxes from the storage of the many sitting in the living room.

In the kitchen… nothing at the moment. I’ll probably do some cooking ahead in the next few days.

I am wearing… green shirt and capri sweats.

I am praying for… a call for Jon, vocal skills for Daniel, and a bunch of special intentions.

I am going… to have lots of stops tomorrow morning for errands.

I am wondering… how people can claim to believe in scientific research and and then reject it based on the word of someone who knows nothing about the subject whatsoever. (Food Babe fans and anti-vaxers, I’m talking to you.)

One of my favorite Neil DeGrasse Tyson quotes.

I am reading… Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans. Y’all need to go get your hands on a copy of this book if you have anything to do with people in your church who were born after 1980.

I am hoping… for decent sleep tonight and that tomorrow goes well for me.

I am looking forward to… Bible study on Wednesday with my wonderful church ladies.

I am hearing… various YouTube videos.

Crocheting… the edging on a blanket for a wedding shower, still working on Daniel’s big boy blankie, and crochet a stuffie for a friend.

Around the house… silence.

A favorite quote for today… “I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled in party politics and power. Millenials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff — biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice — but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.” — Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church

One of my favorite things… a quiet and solitary place at the end of the day. I’m an introvert, after all.

A few plans for the rest of the week: errands, Bible study/date night/choir on Wednesday, and a couple other things.

Post Script…

Lora Lee asked for the recipe for my orzo with pesto. Here it is:

1 block pesto (it’s about 1/2 cup to 1 cup for the size my mom uses)
1 16 oz. box of orzo
1 jar pitted kalamata olives (I used a 12 oz. jar from Trader Joe’s.)
1 4-8 oz. container crumbled feta cheese (I used Athenos brand.)
1 bag sundried tomatoes (I used a 3 oz. one from Trader Joe’s.)
1 cup toasted pine nuts (Again, I used an 8 oz. bag from my BFF Trader Joe’s.)

Prepare orzo according to directions on package (boil water, cook for 8-10 minutes, drain). If your pesto isn’t thawed yet (overnight in the refrigerator works the best), stick it in the microwave for 5 minutes on defrost. If you didn’t get pre-toasted pine nuts, you can stick them on a baking sheet and toast in a 300F oven for 3 minutes, watching to make sure they don’t start burning. Drain brine from jar of olives. Once every thing is prepared/toasted/chopped/pitted (if you didn’t get a jar of pitted olives), put everything in a large mixing bowl and mix together. You can use a wooden spoon but my favorite method is to mix it with my freshly-washed hands.

It works well at both room temperature and cold. Refrigerate leftovers… if there are any.

Hosted by The Simple Woman.

7 Quick Takes: Books, Funeral Fun, and One Last Adventure for Elizabeth

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Oh. Em. Gee. Rachel Held Evans’ new book!!!!! I mentioned the publication of said book in my Favorites a few days ago. I finally finished what I was reading and started it today. Let’s just say that I would publish some of my favorite quotes from it on this blog… but that would involve typing the entire book verbatim. I recommend that y’all go acquire a copy of it, especially those who are having conniptions over your kids “leaving the Church”.

— 2 —

Love. I helped out with a funeral at church on Wednesday and it was fun. (I know… how can a funeral be fun?) It reinforced the awesomeness of the community of which I am part and the part that pulled on my heartstrings the most were when members of the Wednesday morning Bible study saw me and gave me hugs, calling me their “sweet girl” and one of them telling me how much I enrich her life. (One of them is 94 and reminds me so much of my grandma that it almost brings me to tears when I get hugs from her.) Considering I’ve known most of them for only 3 1/2 months (as most of them attend the 8:00 service while I’m part of the choir at the 10:00 service), this is really sweet of them.

— 3 —

Kitchen cheat sheets. I saw this on Facebook and bookmarked it to share in my Quick Takes because it was pretty amazing and something I would totally laminate and use for myself. I’m almost tempted to laminate them and make a book with them for Jon’s cousin who is getting married this summer — they’re that good.

— 4 —

Going back to Rachel’s book… This article was linked and I think it would be something good for my mainline Christian friends to read — it’s about how to welcome disenfranchised evangelicals to your church.

— 5 —

Moved almost to tears. I was catching up on podcasts yesterday and was listening to some things that Frederica Mathewes-Green (one of my favorite authors) had to say. (She’s an Antiochian Orthodox priest’s wife — a *real* khouria unlike my poseur self.) One of the podcast episodes I heard was the Nativity Paraklesis done at her parish in Maryland. It was hauntingly beautiful — very foreign sounding musical settings to my decidedly western ears but just stunning in such a way that it almost brought me to tears in the middle of Starbux. You can listen to it here.

— 6 —

One last adventure for Elizabeth. I first found Elizabeth Dehority through Ginny’s blog a few years ago so I was tickled to see that Ginny and her family made it to Elizabeth’s funeral. Go read about it! Do it now!

— 7 —

Instead of a tattoo. Instead of getting a tattoo for my 35th birthday this year, I’ll be walking a 5K to raise money and awareness for the Preeclampsia Foundation. Details are here.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

#FiveFaves: Miscellanea (XXXI)



Rachel’s new book. Rachel Held Evans’ new book, Searching for Sunday, just came out. I’m trying to finish my current murder mystery (which is amazing) so I can read it! You can get it here or here.


APL Cat Lady. She used to have a Facebook page called “Sticky and Co.” about her kitties. She adopted some black kitties with asthma and then started fostering kitties for the Ashtabula County Animal Protection League, focusing specifically on black kitties. When we were trying to find homes for my boys and Freya, she made some beautiful signs for them and she was really wonderful to me when Edda disappeared and when Cullen died. Her Facebook page is here.


This story. When my grandfather was in his last days and living at a nursing home in Washington, Mom brought me out on the train to visit him. He was missing their cat Emily so we found him a stuffed cat to have so he could pet it. We asked him the name of his cat and he replied, “Grendel”. Given how far gone his mind was, it was a flicker of his normal sense of humor and we were joking about how the stuffed cat liked to eat “Great Danes”. It’s been 9 years since he passed away and I still miss him dreadfully.


Being a regular layperson. I’m going to help with a funeral at church this morning and I’m seriously looking forward to being just an extra set of hands instead of “Pastor Jon’s wife”. Don’t get me wrong -I do enjoy being pseudo-clergy most of the time – but it’s kind of nice to just be “Jen” on occasion.


Having my taxes done a month early. It’s nice not to have any pressure this week.

Go love up Jenna and the others.

The Simple Woman’s Daybook: April 13, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY April 13, 2015

Outside my window… sunny and in the 70’s.

I am thinking… about what Daniel and I will be doing this afternoon when he gets home from school.

I am thankful… that my taxes have been done for a month. I just wish my refund would show up.

In the kitchen… orzo with pesto, pine nuts, kalamata olives, and feta.

I am wearing… my Run for the Little Flowers shirt and black capris.

I am praying for… a call for Jon, relief from my fibro flare (I am so sick of the pain!), and some special intentions.

I am going… on errands with Daniel and my mother-in-law in a little bit.

I am wondering… about God’s timing on some things in my life.

I am reading… Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews. I finished Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke and read/finished Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews and Miss Julia Lays Down the Law by Ann B. Ross.

I am hoping… to start reading the new Rachel Held Evans book when it comes out tomorrow. I have my NOOK all charged for it!

I am looking forward to… seeing my brother, sister-in-law, and parents in May for my birthday weekend.

I am hearing… games on Daniel’s Leap Pad.

Crocheting… Daniel’s big boy blankie and a baby shower gift for a friend. The fibro flare has put a crimp in my schedule so I’m behind on all of it.

Around the house… robots cleaning, Jon bringing boxes over from the storage unit, and my father-in-law working on a paper.

A favorite quote for today… “I’ve got a pissy Gabon to my back… I’ve got a rambunctious king (cobra) at my feet. Hey! You are a toad today!” — ViperKeeper from this video (Trigger warning: SNAKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!):

One of my favorite things… Daniel cuddling with Jon.

A few plans for the rest of the week: dealing with our storage unit, helping with a funeral on Wednesday, and honestly whatever else comes up.

Hosted by The Simple Woman.

7 Quick Takes: Easter Feast, Fibromyalgia Mimicking Ebola, and Preeclampsia News

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Could I have Ebola? I was going through the new patient paperwork that my doctor sent me and there was a screening sheet for Ebola. I was going through the symptoms and comparing them to the fibromyalgia flare that I’m dealing with. The scary thing: all I’m missing is the fever, vomiting, and hemorrhaging of blood. Everything else matches up perfectly. I can rule it out because I haven’t spent any time in West Africa recently nor do I spend time with anyone who has.

— 2 —

The “Science Babe” takes on the “Food Babe”. As one who has serious eye-rolling episodes over some of the stupidty in people going gluten-free (who are not, in fact, suffering from celiac disease or a wheat allergy), I had to laugh at this article on Gawker in which a chemist takes on the Food Babe. I remember her complete stupidity about the ingredients of a pumpkin spice latté from $tarbux and her arguments on toxicity of ingredients remind me of the idiots who claim that every ingredient in vaccines is a toxin in any dosage. (I’ve taken organic chemistry — I know my stuff and the claims of the anti-vax people are complete lunacy.) Pretty much ANYTHING in a high enough dosage is toxic, including water. I also am rolling my eyes at the fact that her crusade started when she was told that sometimes you just get appendicitis for no good reason — apparently, her doctor failed to tell her that her appendix is a vestigial organ left over from when our bodies had to process large amounts of cellulose.

Apologize to the nice tree.

To be fair, I’m not criticizing people who have a legit problem with gluten — I’m part of the ethnic group in which celiac disease is frequently found (I’m Irish-American and we have a pretty sizeable incidence of it) and I have friends who have severe food allergies that cause them to have to avoid anything involved with wheat. The people I am going after are the ones who are doing the gluten-free thing because it’s trendy or they read about the idea in some book written by a homeopathic quack. Every nutritionist and dietitian I’ve worked with in the last two years has had some rant on the subject.

— 3 —

Jimmy Kimmel on the anti-vax movement. My mom had me watch this when I was home over Daniel’s Spring Break. Best line ever: “Hey, remember that time you had polio? No… you don’t because your parents got you f-ing vaccinated!”

In all seriousness, Mom told me about her memories of classmates who are deaf because of measles or who almost died as a result. Of the (many) people over 55 in my life and whose blogs I read, I’ve only had one person say that they have no memory of problems with all those diseases against which we vaccinate. In fact, almost everyone over the age of 55 is completely flummoxed that we even have this problem with people not vaccinating their kids. As someone with a compromised immune system and who has a kid with one, it’s actually a slap in the face for me that people are so selfish as to not do something that could prevent me or Daniel or my father-in-law (cancer) from getting sick.

— 4 —

Interesting article on preeclampsia. One of the chicas in the HELLP Syndrome Survivor group on Facebook posted a link to this article in The New Yorker and I recommend it. Given my experience with Daniel 6 years ago, I’m all in favor of research on the origins of preeclampsia and methods of treat it.

— 5 —

Speaking of preeclampsia… I’m participating in the Promise Walk virtually this year because there isn’t one near me. I’ll be doing it for my 35th birthday in May instead of getting a tattoo like I’d been planning to do for 5 years. For details, click here.

— 6 —

Spare some prayers for Fulton. Fulton, the son of our Quick Takes hostess Kelly, is in the hospital with respiratory issues. Everything Kelly mentions is something that I’ve dealt with in the last 6 years with Daniel so I feel completely qualified to ask you to PRAY HARD for both Fulton and Kelly. (It’s hard on the mama to have their kid sick and also to live at the hospital for an extended period of time.)

— 7 —

Easter. We had 20+ people here for Easter and it was lovely. As Daniel’s birthday was the 7th, we combined the family feast with a party for him and my parents came down for it. It was wonderful to see them again (even though I’d spent 5 days of the previous week with them) and they got to see some of my life down here. Daniel was very much into his presents and showed well, which is always a relief for us as parents of a child with autism. (Autistic kids tend to not bond with people.) We also had a boatload of leftovers so I’m getting a little sick of ham though I have had no problem with finishing off the tiramisu or the caramel machiatto cheesecake. 😉

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.