Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear


This is not a very death-defying photo, but most of the real hijinks happen, almost by definition, out of my line of sight.

(NB: This is one I listened to as an audiobook so I couldn’t mark it up or copy down passages quickly enough. So quotations here were either hunted down online or are from excerpts and interviews that jive with the book.)

This fall as I slowly set out on running again after a long pregnancy/physical therapy hiatus, I listened avidly to Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of FearI found the book by turns mesmerizing, validating, challenging. In an NPR interview this summer, author Kim Brooks argues:

“We read, in the news or on social media, about children who have been kidnapped, raped and killed, about children forgotten for hours in broiling cars. We do not think about the statistical probabilities or compare the likelihood of such events with far more present dangers, like increasing rates of childhood diabetes or depression. Statistically speaking, according to the writer Warwick Cairns, you would have to leave a child alone in a public place for 750,000 years before he would be snatched by a stranger. Statistically speaking, a child is far more likely to be killed in a car on the way to a store than waiting in one that is parked. But we have decided such reasoning is beside the point.”

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The Readiness Is All

Ready. Except for the mess.

Last November, we took Roo to church for the first time — a Saturday vigil Mass almost exactly one week after she’d been born. I was worn out from her baptism that morning and, you know, having a week-old smallish newborn, but somehow I received the grace to actually pay attention to the homily — not always a given at this season of life!Read More »

Bad Catholic Book Club (Good Catholics Welcome)

So, I’ve mentioned it on Instagram, but this semester I’m running a book club for college students I’d tentatively called the Bad Catholic Book Club. Thing is, it would seem college kids find this term scandalous — that it implies that they, in fact, are bad Catholics. (But we all are, right?!) So Haley suggested the title Christ-Haunted Novelist Book Club, and while some students now suspect we only read spooky stories, we’ve stuck with that less scandalous name.

But let’s talk about scandal, especially in our reading lives.Read More »

What Shall We Do For a Ring?

“O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.
—”The Owl and the Pussycat,” Edward Lear
A few weeks ago, I took my courage firmly in two hands and made J baked steak in the Instant Pot, overcoming my own apathy for the dish along with my fear of the Instant Pot. The task, which involves dredging raw meat in flour, is pretty gross, so naturally I took off my rings.

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Commonplace Book, 55

I’m finally learning how to French braid! Like a real girl!!

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • Do you, dear reader, find yourself possessed of the calm conviction, “This is how I die” every time you endeavor to hack up a butternut squash? This trick doesn’t work for every recipe — because cubed roasted squash is really freaking good — but sometimes you can just roast the behemoth whole and cube it later. See instructions here.

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Each Friday, I go around our largeish co op goggling at all the families as we frantically scurry from one side of campus to another. No one else seems struck in the same way, by the children I know on sight as belonging to one mom or another, by the four sisters who match like matroyshka dolls, by the large and small packs making their way across the crowded hall, streaming half-dried art projects and unrolling lunch bags.

I am struck, mostly, by how much context this kind of environment provides. Read More »

Lorelei Gilmore and Adulthood

Lauren Graham.jpg
First season Lorelei

I would have to dive deeper into the fandom than I feel entirely comfortable with, but I think it’s safe to say that now, at 32, I’m close to Lorelei Gilmore’s age in the Gilmore Girls pilot — maybe even older if Rory is 15 at the start of season one, but let’s not get into the nitty gritty.

What’s certain and relevant here is that when I first watched the show I was young enough to identify with Rory and now I’m old enough to be a peer of Lorelei’s and that’s pretty weird.

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Commonplace Book, 54

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

Also on the recent menu

What I’m fixing:

  • In the continuing vein of mediocre cake skills, what do you do when you tear up a cake all to hell trying to get it out of the pan? If you’re me, and not cutesy enough for cake pops, you crumble it up further, throw it in a fancy wedding-gift dish with instant pudding and Heath bar bits, and call it trifle. BECAUSE IT TRIFLED WITH YOU, FIRST.Read More »