Thursday, June 23, 2016

Recent Reading

It's nothing if not eclectic:

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling 

I like Mindy Kaling. She just makes me laugh out loud and I will always love her for her many contributions to The Office. I liked this one, though I think I liked her first book even better. (I mentioned that one here.) It's lightweight and fun, though whenever I finish a Mindy Kaling book, I find myself sighing, "I hope you find the right guy soon, Mindy. He's out there for you. Don't give up." It's the mom in me, I guess, or the Mrs. Bennett? Deep down, I think Mindy is sort of an old-fashioned girl in a new fashioned world, and I want her to enjoy the old-fashioned charm of marriage-for-a-lifetime.

Brene Brown's The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage 

This one is actually an audio course that pulls from Brown's books and her whole body of work. I've been listening to it when I walk the dog, therefore, if you were to observe my dog-walking lately you'd see me smiling, nodding knowingly, laughing out loud, knitting my brow in concern, or biting my lip as I ponder a cogent point. Before my conversion, when I was still lost, but fighting my way into an authentic life, I considered going back to school to become a psychologist. Brown's work covers many of the things that continue to fascinate and resonate with me: vulnerability, shame, empathy, gratitude, wholehearted living and striving for authenticity. In summary: I really look forward to my morning walks with Brene these days.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 

Just started this one.

It's the book I pick up when I have a few minutes here and there, so I'm not very far into it yet. I am, however, intrigued, about those missing ten years....

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller, Jr. 

It's been on my to-read list for about 30 years and I'm finally getting around to it. I'm 1/3 of the way in and though it's rich in insight, the ending of Part One was a huge punch in the gut.

"The whole thing's a punch in the gut," said my friend, Jack, when I saw him yesterday. (He was the one who first recommended it to me some 30 years ago.) A punch worth enduring, though, I gather.

I will forge on, and keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fountains of Carrots Podcast: Chatting with Christy and Haley

Haley Stewart and Christy Isinger's Fountains of Carrots podcast is one of my favorites. Haley (Carrots for Michaelmas) and Christy (Fountains of Home) keep me company on a regular basis when I'm cleaning my house, transforming odious chores into something I actually look forward to. I love the variety of guests and topics, and the fact that they relish TV talk.

In Episode 48, we talked about my latest book, You Can Share the Faith, and lots of other things: sharing Christ through relationships, the difference between proselytizing and evangelizing, examples of evangelization gone awry, conversion stories, sticky family situations, and the part that popular culture can play in the life of a person of faith. It was delightful, and I was honored to be the first return guest of the podcast.

So, if you've got some housecleaning to do, or just need to sit down with a cup of coffee and some chatty friends, you can have a listen here.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Song by Gregory Orr

Father’s Song
Gregory Orr

Yesterday, against admonishment,
my daughter balanced on the couch back,
fell and cut her mouth.

Because I saw it happen I knew
she was not hurt, and yet

(Read the whole thing here, at

Happy Father's Day, Atticus! 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Poetry Friday: Some Glad Morning

Photo thanks to Free Images

Speaks for itself. 

Some Glad Morning
by Joyce Sutphen

One day, something very old
happened again. The green
came back to the branches,
settling like leafy birds
on the highest twigs;
the ground broke open
as dark as coffee beans.

(Read the whole thing here, at The Writer's Almanac.)


The Poetry Friday round up is at Carol's Corner

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bits and Pieces of Our Days: The Facebook Edition

Because I know that not everyone is on Facebook:

June 11 at 7:47pm ·
I'm late to every party but I'm glad the Hamilton party's still going on 'cause I just arrived. Hey, Betsy, I'm holding your cd ransom. Are you young, scrappy, and hungry enough to fight me for it?

P.S. This wasn't on the FB post, but Betsy, who got me hooked, directed me to 21 Steps to Becoming Obsessed With Hamilton.  I don't think I'm obsessed, though. It's just a little addiction.

Updated to note: My family corrects me: I am obsessed.


June 3 at 9:18pm ·
People often say things like, "Just you wait," regarding the teen years. Tonight, my 13 yr. old took the dog out, and came in saying, "Mom! You have to come see the sunset! I couldn't stop taking pictures!" Yes...just wait. You, too, will have lovely moments with some of the most wonderful people in your life...your teens.


May 31 at 10:34am ·
Anne-with-an-e: "What are you reading?"
Me: "A blog post about planners, and about how your temperament fits into what kind of planner you are."
Anne-with-an-e (pauses, then laughs): "That's really dorky." **
Me: "I know. That's why I love it."
Anne-with-an-e: "Where'd you find it?"
Me: "Jen sent the link. It's a homeschooling blog."
Anne-with-an-e: "Of course."
Attention, fellow dorky planners: the post is at Wildflowers and Marbles.

** This is a compliment, by the way. :) :)


May 27 at 12:19am ·
We're finally watching Poldark, which Atticus teases should be called, "Poldark and Handsome."


May 20 at 8:39am ·
Watched Ramin Karimloo's Phantom last night w/ my girls. We were a sloppy bunch at the end.


May 15 ·
Intriguing article about Christopher Hitchens, and a mention of my Deathbed Conversions book in this New York Times piece:

Christopher Hitchens Was Shaky in his Atheism, New Book Suggests

A new book says the impious author of “God Is Not Great” might have been exploring faith before he died in 2011. Mr. Hitchens’s secular friends disagree. Mark Oppenheimer

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bits and Pieces of Our -- No, My -- Days

Where have I been? 

What an insightful question.

I used to blog, right? And then, my children suddenly grew up, my youngest became a teenager, and I mostly clammed up about my girls because they were no longer kid-quote-fodder for my blog (other than sharing the occasional witticism.) There's plenty to ponder about raising teenagers and living with young college women, but not plenty to blog about. It's their life, not mine.


I haven't blogged much about homeschooling, other than books Ramona and I read together, because I keep thinking, "Do I have anything left to say about homeschooling? Haven't I already told everyone it's about Reading Aloud and Talking!? Isn't it all there in the archives?" Maybe, maybe not. I toy with the idea of a book about homeschooling. Not sure.


Then there's what I call Facebook-Creep. What I used to always, always post on the blog feels more like a quick FB post, so I throw it over there. Then I think, "What about the people who aren't on Facebook? Who don't want to deal with its ridiculous, wonky algorithm? Who don't want a social media platform deciding for them what's a 'top story'?" And I think, "Hmmm. I should blog more."


Then I think, "There are so many blogs, and so many who do it so well: homeschool blogging, read-aloud blogging, parenting blogging, bookish blogging. Am I just tired of blogging? Do I even remember how to blog about anything other than Poetry Friday? Not that there's anything wrong with that...."


Then I take a nap.


I will never stop writing. One of the reasons my blogging has decreased is that other writing--and the necessary promotion of that writing, i.e., my books, by way of radio interviews, etc.--has increased. I guess I'm just in one of those regular, "What am I doing?" phases that I go through.


Have been doing lots of radio interviews lately, to talk about You Can Share the Faith. Lots of good, thought provoking conversations about what it does and doesn't mean to evangelize, and about how what flows out of us is rooted in our own, ongoing conversion. It's always fascinating to me to hear people's reactions to this book. I think the cover, the font, the cups of tea, indicate something a little lighter, but I've been told that once people dig in to the book, they find the content to be much more serious than they'd anticipated. If you've read it and we haven't talked, I'd love to hear your take on that.


Coming up: I recorded a Fountains of Carrots podcast with Christy Isinger and Haley Stewart and, as always, enjoyed it immensely. They told me I'm their first return guest. Huzzah! An honor. And of course, it was a lot of fun to talk to them. I'll pass on the link when the podcast is released.


Hey, I think this is a blog post! I'll try to come up with another one. Before the next Poetry Friday.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Poetry Friday: Barbara Crooker, In the Middle

This poem leapt at me this morning. Oddly and justly, only yesterday I looked at the clock on our fireplace mantle, a clock that belonged to my grandfather, and it was 9:20 a.m. I thought, "Oh, I need to wind that. I so often forget...." 

Perfect and poignant, then, for this day, this season, for the elusive hours of our lives. 

In the Middle
by Barbara Crooker

of a life that's as complicated as everyone else's,
struggling for balance, juggling time.
The mantle clock that was my grandfather's
has stopped at 9:20; we haven't had time
to get it repaired. The brass pendulum is still,

(Read the rest here, at The Writer's Almanac.)


Friday, May 20, 2016

Poetry Friday: Spring and Today

Photo thanks to FreeImages.

Because it's spring. 
Because Atticus will soon be home for the summer. 
(I can almost taste his cooking.)
Because we are all in need of a break. 
Because Billy Collins is Billy Collins. 

by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,

(Read the whole thing here, at the Poetry Foundation.)


Margaret has the round up at Reflections on the Teche.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thanks, Our Sunday Visitor -- a 34% discount on You Can Share the Faith, and Discussion Questions for Parishes/Book Clubs

Monday's webinar with Our Sunday Visitor went beautifully, thanks to Tracy Stewart (on whom I have officially bestowed the title, "Webinar Master Extraordinaire" with the subtitle, "I can get Karen to use her webcam correctly!") The webinar can still be viewed at this link, if you'd like to see what we talked about. 

And, Our Sunday Visitor is kindly extending to my blog readers the 34% discount they offered to registrants. 

Just go here, to the OSV shop, and at checkout enter the code YCSTF34
(Code expires May 27th.) 

Another thing I'm excited about is that OSV has put together a great set of discussion questions for parishes and book clubs. Just go to You Can Share the Faith at OSV and scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you'll find a link to download the free discussion questions

I literally teared up (heart on your sleeve much, Edmisten?) when a registrant let Tracy know that they'd chosen You Can Share the Faith for their parish's discipleship group/book club, saying, "It's a great resource for what we would like to see in our parish." Thank you!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Catching Up: Moving, and Grads, and Webinars, Oh, My!

I've been absent from the blog for all the usual reasons (life, life, and life), plus a few new ones, just to keep things interesting:

  • We've been helping my parents get settled in at a picturesque retirement community. They are now only about two hours away from us (instead of fourteen) and we are thrilled. Over the last week, my sister, her husband, my daughters, and I helped my mother sift through many (not all...we're not done yet) of her hundreds and hundreds of books. My sister and I each hauled three boxes of books home because you know how much empty bookshelf space I have: 

This is what my living room looked like after the last used book sale we hit. Then we went to another used book sale. I didn't take another picture. 

  • Betsy Ray graduated this weekend from the community college she's been attending. She wants to be an elementary school teacher, so she'll continue next fall at a state college not far from here. College-for-Edmistens, so far, seems to have taken the same shape as Homeschooling-for-Edmistens: piece it together in the way that works best, as economically as possible, keeping goals in mind, while not being afraid to shift gears if something isn't working. Classes in the fall, for both Anne and Betsy, will involve commuting to the state college, taking a class at the community college (Betsy can get one class at a better time/price there), and a couple of online classes at a third college (Anne is dipping into a possible new major, which kind of thrills me because it involves English.) Basically, this means we are dealing with three different schools. The FAFSA is so much fun

  • On a completely different note, Ramona's latest favorite website is Creativebug. We sketch, we paint, we play, repeat. 

  • To sum up: I'm still alive, in case you wondered. 

Friday, May 06, 2016

Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson

It's been far too long since I shared anything from my beloved Emily Dickinson. 

Here's hoping your life is full of the thing with feathers. 

Photo credit: Stephanie Berghaeuser,

Hope is the thing with feathers 
Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


The round up this week is at Poetry for Children.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Poetry Friday: 10 Facts About Poets Laureate

Photo credit: Matt Willmann

As National Poetry Month draws to a close, I'm sharing 10 Facts About Poets Laureate. They're all interesting, but here's a fun little factoid:
In olden times in England, the Laureate’s salary used to include an allotment of wine...The UK revived the tradition in 1972, and their poet laureate receives a barrel of sherry. 
The current U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, was just appointed to a second term.

Here's a list of all past Poets Laureate.

And here are a few more facts.

And while National Poetry Month is wrapping up, Poetry Friday will always be a part of the blog with the shockingly clever title.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Books We've Read This School Year

The end of the school year is in sight, and I'm looking over booklists, which always starts me looking ahead to next year's booklists. Ah, the joys of reading!

Here are some of the things we've read this year (though I know I'm forgetting things):

Ramona, or Ramona/Me/Read-alouds:  

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 
A Wrinkle in Time
The 24 Days Before Christmas 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever 
The Phantom Tollbooth 
A Mouse Called Wolf 
Sea of Monsters
The Titan's Curse 
Battle of the Labyrinth
The Last Olympian
The Pushcart War 
Shadow of the Bear 
The Striped Ships 
Extra Credit 
Ballet Shoes 
Ramona and Her Father (reread) 
Baby Island
Three Times Lucky 
Wednesdays in the Tower 
Sister of the Bride 
The Charlotte Years (rereads) 
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey 
Anne of the Island 
Betsy in Spite of Herself (reread)
Betsy Was a Junior (reread) 
William Shakespeare's Star Wars 
The Little Prince 
Return to Gone Away

Some of my reads this school year: 

The Martian
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlante
The Lake House, Kate Morton 
Witch Hunter (my daughter's 2015 NaNoWriMo novel)
A Jane Austen Time Travel Story (her 2014 NaNoWriMo)
The Pretend Wife 
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry 
A Man Called Ove 
Betsy Was a Junior
In This House of Brede, Rumer Godden  
Yes, Please 
Bossy Pants
Little Men
Driving Hungry 
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys 

What have you been reading?


* Ramona and I have been sloppy with our book logs this year! Inexcusable for bookworms! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Poetry Friday: Quintessential Collins

This poem encompasses everything I love about Billy Collins. This is Collins at his most Collinsesque -- witty and self-deprecating while simultaneously offering us exquisitely expressed images as if they were a bouquet of wildflowers, and finishing off with a truth that any lover of words can embrace and affirm. Enjoy!

Memorizing “The Sun Rising” by John Donne
by Billy Collins

Every reader loves the way he tells off
the sun, shouting busy old fool
into the English skies even though they
were likely cloudy on that seventeenth-century morning.

(Read the whole thing here, at the Poetry Foundation.)


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sharing Some Reviews of You Can Share the Faith

I'm extremely grateful for the following thoughtful, thorough, and lovely reviews of You Can Share the Faith:

Julie Davis has written one.

Matt Nelson, at Reasonable Catholic, has one, too.

And Mike Aquilina shared one at Amazon.

Thanks so much!

And Friday morning at 8:15 (Central Time), I'll be on Teresa Tomeo's Catholic Connection to talk about the book.