Friday, January 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 41


Thanks for all the wonderful comments on my last post! It's your words of encouragement that keep me blogging. I don't write about life issues as often as I would like, and knowing that these stories have touched you all reminds me how important it is to speak up for the defenseless. Katie asked why stories like Chrisin's aren't being told, and I often wonder the same thing. I first stumbled across Christin's story on Christina Dunigan's blog, Real Choice. Each day, Christina posts stories about real women who have died at the hands of abortionists. She includes links to each one so readers can read more about them if they wish. I don't read every post (if I did I think it would depress me), but Christin's story really touched my heart. Roe v. Wade MUST be overturned. Abortion MUST be stopped.

And about the Obama administration's recent mandate for ALL employers to cover contraception and sterilization in their insurance plans, including Catholic institutions...that one was a complete jaw-dropper. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we have a President and HHS secretary who are, well, tyrants. You WILL do as we say or else. We don't care if you have religious objections. We're in charge and we make the rules so screw you. More on that later when I'm thinking more clearly.


You may or may not know this, but I have a second blog, Cooking Nick's Books. It's a food blog, based (mostly) on the bestselling novels by Nicholas Sparks. I've been neglecting that one lately (I tend to go back and forth, posting a lot on one blog and ignoring the other; recently I've been focusing more on this one), but the other day I updated it with some recipes and photos of some of the yummy delights we prepared on New Year's Eve (also Nicholas Sparks' birthday). I'd love for you to check it out! (I have three followers there, and eight through Networked Blogs, including myself. I'd love to have more...) My next post on that blog will be the lamb chop dinner I made that was, if I may say so, restaurant worthy. You don't want to miss that one. Tell your friends!


The landscaping project is finally done!

(The plants will grow bigger, of course!)

(Can you see Moe peeking at me?)

This week, they put the finishing touches on, like river rock by the steps to control the erosion, and a little natural stone wall by the lake.


I made a rather long list of New Year's resolutions this year. I am hoping to keep most if not all of them, and I want to try and to focus on certain ones every month, develop those good habits gradually so that by the end of the year I'll have accomplished most--or at least some--of those goals. In January, I've been focusing on my spiritual habits; for me this seems to be the easiest one to fulfill--getting up earlier, praying more, going to Mass more, etc. On most weekdays, I've been setting my alarm for 4:30 am(!)--on the weekends I get up only slightly later since the dog doesn't let me sleep in anyway--and spending more time in prayer and even taking the time to journal a little bit. (Although, much of that prayer is in front of my computer and with my phone in my hand--I need to move away from using technology to help me pray back to a good old-fashioned quiet corner, a Bible, and a Rosary.) I'm finding that my journaling (mostly typing my thoughts into a Word document--I do have a notebook for journaling too but I don't use it much) is giving me ideas for this blog. I have gone to some extra Masses this month, including for the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, which was a nice way to end the Christmas season. I went to confession early in January, and I hope to go once a month--which means I'll need to go sometime this week. I had hoped to read more--one spiritual and one secular book per month--and I have not met that goal, although I have been doing a little bit more reading.

In February I'm hoping to focus on my physical health--specifically to develop a consistent exercise routine--and more consistent housecleaning. We've started with a new system for doing household chores, and I'm hoping in February to really get into getting chores done so we can always be proud to open the door to people and not have to say, "sorry about the mess..." And Lent starts in February. I'm planning on giving up social networking, especially Twitter and Facebook. We'll see how that goes. I might pop in on Sundays to read a few blogs and check my Facebook news feed...and I might still tweet the daily updates from 40 Days for Life...maybe I'll temporarily delete the Twitter app from my iPad.


As a catechist, I'm supposed to make sure the kids memorize certain traditional Catholic prayers. Each year, they are given a booklet of prayers and ideally, they say these prayers regularly at home with their families, and a volunteer at church tests their knowledge of them by hearing the students recite them. (They are also expected to learn the ten commandments and the seven sacraments in second grade; and in third grade, the Rosary--all the mysteries, prayers, and the structure of the prayer.) For the last couple of years I haven't had a teaching assistant or a "prayer aide", so it's left up to me to assess the kids. I don't have time in class to test each child individually, so often I will give them a written fill-in-the-blank test. I gave them the Ten Commandments test last week, and laughed so hard reading some of them my children thought I was losing it:

"You shall not witness your neighbor's wife."

"You shall not hate your neighbor's wife."

"You shall not commit Murdery."

"You shall not covet your neighbor's husband."

"You shall not dare."

And my favorite: "Honor your mom and your dad."

I can tell that boy honors his.


I have some mixed feelings about requiring kids to memorize traditional prayers. As a convert, I have grown to love them, and certainly we need to encourage our children to learn them and pray them regularly, but sometimes I wonder if we might put too much pressure on some kids to memorize them. One year when I was an assistant catechist, it was my job to test the kids. One little girl was really struggling to learn them, and I knew that her parents spoke little English and that they went to Mass regularly. I asked the religious education director at the time if perhaps someone who was fluent in Spanish might be able to test her, because I suspected she did know some of those prayers--in Spanish. I was told that the kids needed to learn them in English, because that's the language we speak here. (That director has retired--she was and is a wonderful lady and I am in no way trying to criticize her; I honestly don't know if that was her rule, or the pastor's, or the diocese's, but I must admit I was a little disappointed for that little girl's sake.) I remember years ago in my pre-blogging, pre-social networking days having a conversation on a discussion forum with a woman who left the Catholic church because her sister, who had Down Syndrome, was denied confirmation because she hadn't memorized all the prayers. I responded to that as best I could, trying to assure her that the decision to deny confirmation to her sister was a bad one made my an unwise pastor, and that I think--I hope--most church leaders would show compassion and allow her sister to be confirmed, assuming she at least had a basic understanding of the Catholic faith and the love of Christ for her.

When I was growing up, my Sunday School teachers at my Baptist church used to encourage us to memorize certain Bible verses and passages, but I honestly don't think we were ever required to learn them. Perhaps this is why I'm not always so strict as a Catechist about memorizing the Hail Mary or the Act of Contrition or the Guardian Angel Prayer. If we pray them often enough, the kids will learn them. And some parents won't teach them the prayers whether it's on the report card or not.

What do you think, readers? How important is it, really, for the kids to memorize prayers in CCD? Should certain prayers be required before receiving First Communion, for example? Thoughts?


Last week I got an email from a writer for our diocesan newspaper. She explained that she was working on an article about moms in our diocese who have blogs, and she stumbled across mine and noticed pictures of my own church and wondered if she could call me. I emailed her my number and a link to Ginny's blog, Small Things (because Ginny has the best blog EVER--and I know many would agree, why else would she have over a thousand followers?), and said sure, but it makes me nervous! She did call me and we chatted for a little while (and then Ginny emailed me to give me a friendly scolding for calling out her blog--tee hee!), and to make a long story short, the article will hopefully be printed in next week's edition. I'm kind of excited and nervous about it at the same time; there are many people in my parish who know me but don't know I blog--and they read the diocesan paper. EEK!

I'll post a link to that article when it comes out.

Be sure to visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Friday, January 20, 2012

7 Takes, 7 Choices, The 2012 Edition

Sunday, Janurary 22, is the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, that legalized abortion in the United States. Once again, (click here to read my post from last year) the prolife activist Jill Stanek is encouraging bloggers, in response to NARAL's "Blog For Choice Day" campaign, to ask our prochoice friends: "What exactly do you mean by 'choice?' "


Once upon a time there was a girl named Christin Gilbert. She was a beautiful girl, full of smiles and laughter; and she had Down Syndrome. One day when Christin was nineteen years old, an evil man decided to have his way with her, and she became pregnant. We don't know why Christin's mother and father decided that her baby must not be born. Perhaps they perceived that Christin was frightened of having a baby. Perhaps they felt embarrassed and ashamed. Or perhaps the child would be born with Down's, like their daughter. Whatever the case, they took Christin on a road trip to Kansas, to a place called Women's Health Care Services. There were two nice doctors there named Dr. Tiller and Dr. Carhart who promised to take good care of Christin. It will take us a couple of days to kill your grandchild and make your daughter unpregnant, they said, so why don't you check into this nice hotel down the street and make yourselves at home? So they gave Christin some "medicine" and told her mother and father to call them in the morning.

Christin became sick; very sick indeed. Even though Christin was vomiting and bleeding heavily and passing out, her parents decided not to take her to the hospital; instead they trusted the nice doctor who told them Christin would be just fine. When Christin became unconscious and stopped breathing at the abortion clinic, Dr. Carhart and his minions--oh, sorry...nurses--shuffled Christin's parents into another room (we'll take care of her, don't you worry, it's all under control, nothing to see here), called 911, told the dispatchers a vague story about a patient who needed to go to the hospital, and asked them to please tell the ambulance driver not to turn on the lights or the siren. There is no need to make a big fuss over this.

Three days after her first visit to the clinic, Christin died of systemic organ failure. She had been bleeding from every orifice in her body.

Read the horrific details of Christin's death from a safe, legal abortion, and then tell me: Is this what you mean by "choice?"


Today in Corpus Christi, Texas, there is a fourteen-year-old girl who is pregnant. She lives (correction: used to live) with her grandmother and two of her cousins. Grandma & Co. want this girl to have an abortion, but she wants to give birth to her child. They made an appointment for her at an abortion mill, and when the young mother refused to go, they slapped her around and threatened her to get her to change her mind. She got a temporary restraining order against her oh-so-loving family, and has filed a lawsuit to try to prevent them from forcing her to kill her unborn baby.

These kinds of things are happening every day, all over these United States. Parents, family members, boyfriends, husbands, all telling their loved ones: Abort or else; you don't have a choice.

Is this what you mean by "choice?"

(CNN reports that the girl's case has now been "resolved." I would assume this means she will carry her baby to term. Let's keep this girl, her family, and her baby in our prayers!)


Last Friday, Planned Parenthood posted this on their official Twitter page:

RT [re-tweet] if you think being #prochoice is #sexy!

Telling, that. Go ahead, kids, have at it. Have as much sex as you want with whoever you want, with as many people as you want. The more the better. More sex, more unplanned pregnancies, more abortions, more money in our pockets. (Woo-Hoo!)

At least we know what Planned Parenthood means by "choice," now, don't we?


How cute is this little boy?

His name is Noah, and his parents couldn't be prouder of him. He is one of only ten percent of children with Down Syndrome to make it out of the womb alive. The other 90 percent are aborted, and we all--not just their parents--are deprived of the chance to know and love them.

When you say "choice," do you mean Noah? Or Ryan, or Melissa, or Matt? Would the world be a better place if they had been killed?

Noah's dad has a fabulous blog, where he shares adorable videos and photos, and the joys and challenges of raising a Down Syndrome baby. Check it out! (Warning: Extremely addictive!)


Thanks to the courageous efforts of people like Abby Johnson and Lila Rose, we are learning more and more about Planned Parenthood and their diabolical motives. Not long ago, Abby exposed a secret that Planned Parenthood has been guarding since 1969--a little one-page document they put out called the Jaffe Memo. Our friends at Planned Parenthood came up with a list of brilliant ideas they thought might take care of a little problem called "overpopulation." Some of their "Proposed Measures to Reduce U.S. Fertility" include (emphasis mine):

"Social Constraints," like "Restructure Family...alter image of ideal family size." "Encourage increased homosexuality." "Fertility Agents in Water Supply."

"Economic Deterrents," such as "Tax married more than single." "Reduce/Eliminate paid maternity leave or benefits." "Require women to work and provide few child care facilities." "Limit/eliminate public financed medical care, scholarships, housing loans, and subsidies to families with more than N children."

"Social Controls:" (This may be the scariest section) "Compulsory abortion for out-of-wedlock pregnancies." "Compulsory sterilization of all who have two children except for a few who would be allowed three." "Confine childbearing to only a limited number of adults."

And do these sound familiar?

"Abortion and sterilization on demand." "Allow certain contraceptives to be distributed non-medically." "Make contraception truly available to all."

There are just too many people cluttering this Earth of ours, and Planned Parenthood is willing to destroy humanity by any means necessary. (Don't believe me? See for yourself.)

Is this what you mean by "choice?"


There is an abortion facility in Richmond, Virginia called "A Capital Women's Health Clinic." They have a nice pretty website, with pictures of flowers and smiling women on every page. They use words like "caring," "safe," "confidential," and "dedicated to the health care of women."

"Great News! Low income women can now receive funding for abortion...Give us a call..." (We fight poverty by aborting the poor!)

On one page, you're given descriptions of the gentle and caring abortion services they provide, like how they use a vacuum to "empty the contents of your uterus" and things like that. They also tell you about the safe and convenient RU-486 abortion pills they hand out. Check out this wise piece of advice: "You should not choose the pill if you live with a loved one who doesn't know you are doing the abortion by pill. The symptoms you will have at home will not be ones you can hide."

In other words, if your parents don't know you're pregnant, don't have a medical abortion because they'll find out.

Would you want your daughter to have an abortion without your knowledge? Is that what you mean by "choice?"


I've saved the best for last.

LaSondra knows what Planned Parenthood means by "choice." Bravo to her for speaking the truth.


To all of you who will be participating in the March for Life on Monday, as well as the many marches for the unborn across the United States in the next few days, my prayers are with you. I'm unable to attend this year, but I'll be recording the footage of the Washington, DC March and the San Francisco Walk for Life, and cheering you on from home.

Safe travels to all, and thank you for standing up for the preciousness of life.

(And be sure to visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!)

Monday, January 16, 2012


When we woke up this morning, we found ice on our little lake, for the first time this winter. (Can you see our new patio? They're almost finished with our landscaping project. I can't wait to share more pictures of that.)

To celebrate the Martin Luther King holiday, we took a day trip to Washington, D.C. First we visited the Air and Space Museum.

We played with their Google Earth display in one of the space exhibits.

Can you tell which one is me?

Did I ever tell you where we were when the infamous Earthquake of 2011 hit? We were in the car on our way to the boys' music lessons. We didn't even know there had been an earthquake until we arrived at the church where the lessons were held and noticed that the teacher, Mr. D, was nowhere to be found; and there were little bits of plaster scattered all over the chairs and the floor. Soon Mr. D came back and told us he was canceling our lessons because he didn't know if the building was safe. During the earthquake he thought the church was going to fall on top of him, it was that bad. We were clueless.

It cracked the Washington Monument, and we didn't even feel it.

The World War II Memorial was quite moving.

Each gold star represents 100 United States servicemen who died in World War II.

We took lots of pictures here.

Not quite the view Martin Luther King had that day he gave his "I Have A Dream" speech.

Curly is "planking," as you can see...

This fat little squirrel at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was begging people for food. He looked like plenty of tourists have been feeding him.

One week from today, Lord willing, this place will be packed with thousands of people, all to stand up for the rights of the unborn.

And one year from today? Might we be preparing to swear in our next President of the United States, Rick Santorum? (I have a dream...)

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Epiphany Sunday!

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

Matthew 2: 1-12

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The 7 Quick Takes That Wasn't

1. I really wanted to publish a 7 Quick Takes post tonight. I have all kinds of thoughts in various word documents on my computer, waiting for me to organize and compile them into a summary of seven ways that technology has enhanced my spiritual life in one way or another. I want to tell you about certain apps I have on my phone and my iPad, some I use all the time, and some that I want to learn how to make better use of. I want to tell you about some websites with fancy interactive prayers and scriptural Rosaries. I want to share some of the Catholic books that I've downloaded and read on my iPad Kindle app. And I want to ponder the question, am I relying on technology too much, and is it really bringing me closer to God? And how I miss the days when I would just sit quietly with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and a Rosary.

Instead I'm giving you a few random takes about other various things and hope that post will materialize between now and next Friday.

2. I'm actually kind of excited about my New Year's Resolutions, even though I've made way too many. Last year I made only one: To go on a gluten free diet sometime during 2011. Right before the beginning of Lent, I took the plunge and I've never looked back. (Well, maybe I have looked back just a little: all the times I've opened a gluten free beer for myself and a Fat Tire for Larry, wishing I could have one of those instead; making chocolate-chip cookies for everyone else, and wishing I could have just one; when the server in a restaurant brings out steaming hot bread, and darn it, I wish I could have some...) I've also decided that if I'm going to keep any of my resolutions, I'd better not push myself to try and implement all of them at once. Like that exercising 20 minutes thee-times-a-day thing? Hasn't happened yet.

3. I went to confession last night. I'm hoping--it isn't really a New Year's Resolution, but almost--to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often--once a month, ideally. I'm thinking maybe on the Wednesday before First Friday...we'll see if I can keep that one. For the first time I took my phone into the confessional with me, with my list of sins I generated with the help of the confession app. In the confessional I told Father I was trying out the app for the first time and I'm not sure if I liked it or not. Young Twenty-something Father B laughed and said he prefers the manual version, but if I wanted to use the app that was fine with him.

My take on the confession app: I have it on both my iPad and my Android phone. It's a great tool for my examination of conscience, but I think I'd have to agree with Father: I'd rather write down my sins and bring that with me rather than trying to fumble with my mobile device.

I wrote this in my journal last week:

After receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I feel more grateful to God for His gift of forgiveness, and I'm overwhelmed at how much He loves me even though I don't deserve it. I'm kinder to everyone around me.

Boy, is that the truth! Each time I go I feel just a little bit closer to Christ. I didn't want to leave the church afterward; I just wanted to sit with Jesus. And I have been kinder to everyone today, I think, including myself.

4. I wanted, in my 7 Quick Takes Post That Wasn't, tell you about my new efforts with a prayer journal and how I'm using technology (Microsoft Word and the Internet) to do that as well. A few thoughts I wrote--er, typed--down last week:

Do people know I'm a follower of Christ? They hear me talk the talk and say nice words but what do they see? Too often they don't see much of anything, I fear.

What star guides me toward the Lord? My family. My gift? My willingness to do whatever I need to in order to help them on their journey toward Him, so that they will reach Heaven.

Jesus is the Bread of Life. My Sunday School teachers used to tell me that I received the Bread of Life by reading the Bible. I know it's more than that, of course, but those times when I used to read the Bible every day (or nearly) I felt closer to God and much more at peace.

And this:

Years ago when I rationed coffee to myself (and only drank wine on the weekends, and exercised regularly) I used to pray, "Hey, Mary, I'm tired and I still have a lot to do before retiring. Could I get some extra energy to get through the rest of the day, like a second wind? Thanks." It always worked.

This week I've been saying this prayer almost every evening. And it does work, just like before.

5. Guess What!

It's still Christmas!

Happy Epiphany, and have a wonderful weekend!
And please visit Jennifer's Conversion Diary blog for more Quick Takes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ramblings and Resolutions

The weather has been so warm this week that Moe decided to make a "mud man" since he won't be making any snowmen in the near future. It's expected to turn colder in the next couple of days; I know it's wishful thinking to hope for some snow. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. For me, Christmas break was just the right balance between celebration and relaxation, and now I'm ready to get back into our normal hectic routine.

I don't usually make New Years' Resolutions, because I'm not very good at keeping them. I was looking the other day at my very first post, and the resolutions I listed there. I actually kept some of them, at least for a while. I started writing out some new ones for this year, and my list kept getting longer and longer. I probably made too many:

Exercise 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week, minimum.

Expect more chores from kids. And maybe call that housecleaning lady.

Read 2 books a month: One spiritual and one fluff.

MAKE time for prayer EVERY DAY, even if it's only five minutes. Maybe ten.

Put Jesus first, others second, myself third.

A relatively nonspecific career-related resolution, basically telling myself to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life--and do it already.

Quit sleeping in on the weekends.

Go to at least one additional Mass every month, besides Sundays. Holy Days of Obligation don't count. Or maybe they do. Baby steps.

Limit my online time and stick with it. This includes Twitter, blogging, Facebook...Spend some of that time reading a BOOK. Spend my time online carefully. This may mean less blogging. Get over it.

Invite people to my house more often. This includes priests, friends I don't get to see as often as I'd like, people I don't want to lose touch with. And relatives.

Support my favorite charities actively and consistently. Make a plan and stick with it.

Don't rely on Facebook to keep in touch with people I love. Pick up the phone and call them. Make time to visit them.

Plant a garden. (This is the one I'm least likely to keep, but there it is.)

(Hah! I've gone and done it. This is Moe. He took advantage of the warm weather to feed the goose and the ducks.)

I woke up this morning with some nagging thoughts about how I spend my time, and whether or not I should spend less time blogging or just quit altogether. Just this past year, between my two blogs, I put up 92 posts. If I spend an average of two hours on each one (let's be realistic, shall we?), that's 184 hours I spent here, and 184 hours that I wasn't doing laundry, cleaning, reading, exercising, or just having a conversation with someone in my life.

Sometime late yesterday afternoon I decided to put together a post for Cooking Nick's Books. I figured Christmas vacation was almost over and we're having leftovers anyway, so I sat down and started writing and going through pictures. Right around 6:30, I asked, "Is anyone hungry?" We had eaten a late lunch, and I figured we'd have a light supper. My husband said, "Not really, but I will be." OK, I thought, I'll sit here for a few more minutes and then go heat up the chili from the other night. Suddenly I heard my husband say, "Are we going to eat?" I looked down at the little clock at the bottom of my computer screen and realized an hour had passed. Moe said, "Mom, you were sitting at your computer for like three hours." Now, I had spent some time printing out work for my Religious Education class and browsing Catholic education sites for ideas I could use (and I adamantly pointed out this fact) but I wondered, Is this really how I need to be spending my time? Granted, my husband was watching a football game I wasn't the least bit interested in, and Moe was working on some homework, and the other boys were playing their new video games they got for Christmas, but still.... And then after dinner I wanted to finish the post while the boys headed into the living room to watch an episode of Star Trek. Joe asked me if I wanted to join them, and I declined.

So this morning as I tossed and turned in bed trying in vain to go back to sleep, I was thinking, maybe I should seriously just quit this fruitless endeavor and spend those hours doing something more tangible. I asked God to help me figure out a way to either a) use my love of blogging to enhance my relationship with Him, bring others closer to Him--and to genuinely touch the lives of others (including friends, loved ones, and strangers); or b). give me a sign, a thumbs up ("Keep it up!") or a thumbs down ("It's time to move on.")

On my last post, I received five comments. Five! That may be a record. Usually I get none. Which is OK, because I'm not looking for recognition, but when people say nice things about what I've posted it gives me the encouragement I need to keep going. Just listen to Gardenia's comment:

"Sharon, that is indeed a beautiful olive wood carving. you have a thoughtful husband I can tell! I love Mary so much and will be checking out your posts on the Blessed Mother. Happy Blessed New Year! "

Every time I seriously consider quitting my blogging habit (I wonder if it's an addiction, kind of like people getting addicted to video games or gambling?) I get a message like this. People do read my posts and enjoy them. Does this mean God wants me to keep blogging? Maybe, but I also know that I do need to spend more time nurturing my relationships with friends and family ("face-to-face people") and doing more tangible and practical things, too. (As for my other blog, Cooking Nick's Books-- that's a whole other dilemma. I don't want to quit that one, but am I spending too much time with it? Dear Lord, send me a sign...)

Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to sharing many more musings, memories, and photos with you in 2012, and to reading many more of yours, too!
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