Wednesday, May 28, 2014

what we're reading wednesday: the no. 1 ladies' detective agency

I just finished The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The story centers around Precious Ramotswe, a take-charge woman in Botswana who decides to open a detective agency and become a private investigator. She has no experience, but she has confidence that her determination, sharp mind, and insight into human nature will see her through-- and so they do!

The book is written in a unique, rather charming style which is reminiscent of verbal storytelling. There are tangents that veer off the narrative path, parenthetical explanations, and commentary like "for as everyone knows..." or "of course, there is only one thing that could..."

I highly recommend it, if you haven't read it! It's not a young adult novel, but I think older teenagers would enjoy it. There are, as a warning, a few references to marital infidelity and violence (including murder), and one rape scene which, while not explicit at all, is pretty obvious as to what is going on. But they're minor parts of the book-- most of the it is focused on Mma Ramotswe's cleverness. (Mma and Rra are the female and male honorifics in Setswana, respectively.) I'm definitely planning on reading more in the series!

Linking up at Housewifespice! (Or I will, once the linkup exists.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

pediatrician psa: the brat diet

Have you ever heard of the BRAT diet? It's a bland, low-fiber diet intended to be fed to children when they have diarrhea or other GI upset. BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast.

Here's the thing, though (which even some doctors aren't aware of): the BRAT diet is no longer recommended. It's not that those foods are bad for kids with gastroenteritis, it's that eating only those foods is an unnecessary limitation on nutrition. In most cases, kids with diarrhea will do just fine eating a regular normal diet as tolerated. Babies should continue their regular breast milk or formula (NOT diluted, which can cause dangerous electrolyte imbalances).

There are a few caveats, though:

- Avoid liquids high in simple sugars (soda, juice, jello, etc) because they tend to make diarrhea worse-- the sugar pulls more water into the intestines.

- Avoid very greasy foods, because they can alter the time it takes for the body to move food through the GI tract.

- Sometimes, kids with GI illnesses can become temporarily "lactose intolerant"-- basically, because their intestines are irritated, they have trouble absorbing lactose. The lactose then stays in the intestines and (just like the simple sugars mentioned above) makes diarrhea worse, and can also make kids gassy and bloated. Most kids with diarrhea do just fine with continued dairy intake, but it's something to talk to your child's doctor about.

If the child doesn't feel like eating much when they're sick, that's okay. The most important thing is that they keep drinking. If the diarrhea is mild, they can generally drink whatever they usually drink and they'll be fine. If the diarrhea is more severe, though, they're losing a lot of electrolytes through their intestines, so it's important to replace those electrolytes to avoid imbalances. The best thing to drink in that case is an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte or Enfalyte (or an off-brand version). It's not recommended to mix your own homemade electrolyte solution unless you've been instructed to do so by your child's doctor.

Patients' parents often ask me if it's okay if their child drinks sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade instead (they do taste better than Pedialyte). Well, that kind of depends. The reason those drinks taste better than Pedialyte is because they're pretty high in sugar, which (as mentioned above) can worsen diarrhea. Also, the electrolytes in Gatorade are designed to replace the ones you lose in sweat, not the ones you lose in diarrhea, so they don't have as much sodium or potassium. But if your child's diarrhea is mild, it's probably okay to drink Gatorade. It's somewhat better than juice or soda.

Electrolyte Composition (based on what I could Google):
Per liter, Pedialyte has:
45mEq sodium, 20mEq potassium, 25gm sugar
Per liter, Gatorade has:
19mEq sodium, 3.25mEq potassium, 58gm sugar
Per liter, apple juice has:
1.3mEq sodium, 27mEq potassium, 100gm sugar

I also get asked about drinking plain water. Again-- if the diarrhea is mild, your child is eating, and they're not especially dehydrated, then water is great. But if the diarrhea is severe or your child is dehydrated, then drinking plain water can lead to dangerous electrolyte imbalances. These cases are when it's most important to drink an oral rehydration solution (and to make an appointment with the doctor!). This is especially true for babies-- if they're refusing formula or breast milk, or if you want to add extra hydration, it's NOT okay to give them plain water. Babies have immature kidneys which aren't as good at balancing the body's electrolytes and water, so babies are especially prone to severe electrolyte imbalances. It IS okay to give babies an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte.

For more information, see: Diarrhea Diarrhea

For more detailed, clinician-directed information, see:
The Management of Acute Diarrhea in Children
Practice Parameter: The Management of Acute Gastroenteritis in Young Children

(Legal disclaimer: This information is intended only to provide general information and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis, or treatment by your child's doctor. I am a real pediatrician, but I'm not your pediatrician.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

answer me this: imagine your own embarrassing photo edition

1. Beach or Mountains? Where would you rather be? 

Beach. More relaxing-- especially the beaches here on Guam, which are often empty and have grass and trees ten feet from the water, as opposed to beaches in the States, which too often consist of hordes of people on vast expanses of burning hot sand. 

2. Which is more fun, Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Christmas Eve is more reverent-feeling, but Christmas morning is more fun. So exciting! Such huge irrepressible smiles! So much wrapping paper and laughter! Of course, my opinion is largely due to my Christmas experiences growing up-- we always went to the candlelight church service on Christmas Eve, and opened presents on Christmas morning.

3. What's the most embarrassing childhood outfit you remember wearing?

Oh my gosh, I know exactly the outfit to tell you about. I was about ten, and it was a white, cotton, collared shorts-jumpsuit covered with-- this is the kicker-- huge polka dots in primary colors. If only I had a picture to show you. The best part, though, is that I actually loved that jumpsuit. It was my favorite outfit; I didn't think it was embarrassing at all. It's only now that I look back and cringe. I'm sure it looked awesome with my scrunchies and enormous round gold wire-rimmed glasses.

Picture this jumpsuit (the one on the left):

In this fabric:

On this child (yes that is me):

4. Your house is quiet, you don't have to do any work (housework included). What do you do?

Um... read, duh. And also, eat baked goods without having to share.

5. What movie do you want to watch when you're feeling under the weather?

Pride and Prejudice. Preferably the BBC miniseries with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, but I like the Keira Knightley movie too.

6. Did you have an American Girl doll when you were little? If so, which one?

Sadly, no. But it wasn't for lack of wishing and poring over the American Girl catalogues. I mean, how awesome would it be to have the EXACT SAME NIGHTGOWN (complete with frilly cap) as your Felicity doll?

Okay, now click over to Catholic All Year to join Kendra for the linkup!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

birthday gift alternatives

Everyone who has kids knows: kids accumulate way too much stuff.

When Faith had her first-ever party for her third birthday this year, I wanted to try to find a way to stem the influx of toys. After searching around on the internet, we decided to do a book exchange-- each child brought a wrapped, age-appropriate, new-or-nearly-new book, they were exchanged at the party, and each child got to go home with a book. Everyone was happy (including us).

Recently (with Josie's first birthday looming on the horizon) I've been using Ye Olde Google to look into the subject a bit more. It seems that the "no-gift birthday party" is actually quite a hot-button, controversial topic. Lots of parents love it-- it minimizes the clutter, it's a "lesson" against materialism/greediness, it's less expensive for the guests. The naysayers' objections typically follow one of these lines of reasoning:

1. "Gifts are just part of children's birthday parties. If you don't want gifts, don't have a party."
2. "I'm offended that you don't want the gift my child and I would choose."
3. "I went to one of those no-gift parties once. I didn't bring a gift, just like the invitation said-- but everyone else brought one, and I felt like a jackass."
4. "People like bringing gifts for the birthday child. It's fun."

My answers would be as follows:
1. That's plain ridiculous. Why can't a birthday party be about the child feeling special on their birthday and blowing out candles and having fun with their friends?
2. I'm sure the gift you would pick out would be lovely. But say a child invites their whole class to the party. Does a first-grader really need 20 new toys, on top of what they receive from their family? That's just crazypants. It's a matter of limiting sheer quantity.
3. That's a pretty reasonable objection. I would hope that if a family was hosting a no-gift party and someone does bring a gift, they would thank that person graciously ("thank you" is the only appropriate response to receiving a present, after all) but not make a big deal out of it, to avoid making the rule-followers uncomfortable-- aka, not have a gift-displaying table or a gift-opening ceremony.
4. Also not an unreasonable objection. Parties should be fun for everyone, including (obviously) the guests.

So to take objections #3 and #4 into account, here's what I've come up with as a middle ground-- alternatives to gifts (to avoid accumulating vast quantities of toys) without simply saying "no gifts please" (to avoid making guests feel uncomfortable). The ideas I found fall into several loose categories.

Charitable Giving
- Ask guests to bring, in lieu of gifts for the child, items to donate to your (or your child's) charity of choice-- be it the local animal shelter, the hospital NICU or children's ward, a blanket drive, a food pantry, military care packages, etc. Kids attending the party can have fun picking out a dog toy or whatever, parents don't have to worry about showing up empty-handed, the birthday child can feel good about bringing all the loot to the donation center, and everyone learns something about selflessness/generosity.
- Ask guests to bring, in lieu of gifts, $5 (or some other small, defined amount) to donate to XYZ charity. Have a donation box set up (the birthday child could decorate it beforehand!) with a slot in the top for guests to put in their donation.

Gift Exchange
Every guest brings a gift, but instead of giving them all to the birthday child, they're exchanged among the party guests and everyone goes home with one. (This can be in lieu of a loot bag, too!) It might be a good idea for the host parents be prepared with a couple extras in case a guest forgets to bring a gift to exchange, to avoid embarrassment on the part of the forgetful child.
Your guests could exchange:
- Toys (make sure to specify gender-neutral if your party is co-ed-- and specify an upper price limit)
- Books (specify new, used, or either)
- Cookies
- A specific type of toy or goody, like hair accessories, matchbox cars, nail polish, whatever floats your boat

Bring Something For The Party Itself (this will also be an activity for the party!)
Some ideas to ask guests to bring:
- a plain ceramic mug to decorate at the party (via the Sharpie method) & take home
- a T-shirt to decorate at the party (either with tie-dye or fabric paint) & take home
- their favorite cupcake decorations to share, and everyone decorates their own cupcake
- their favorite ice cream topping to share, and everyone has ice cream sundaes
- a small picture frame to decorate (you can take a picture of all the partygoers as a group, print them off, and insert them in the frames before they leave)
- a seedling to plant (host parents can provide small flowerpots which the kids can decorate & take home)
- stickers or other decorations to decorate a Happy Birthday sign for the party
- a bag of their favorite candy to fill the party piñata
- a cookie cutter (kids then make cookies at the party-- you can either exchange the cutters or they can be small gifts for the birthday child, especially if you have a kid who likes to bake cookies!)
- princess-y decorations (plastic jewels, sequins, feathers, etc) to share, and everyone decorates paper princess crowns
- matchbox cars to race at the party-- this would be especially cool if you set up an elaborate track beforehand! (they can either keep their own cars they brought, or you can exchange the cars, or they can be small gifts for the birthday child)
- a specific craft supply (e.g. bring a paper towel tube to make kaleidoscopes or decorate "telescopes" or whatever, a single sock to make sock puppets, a teacup or small pretty container to make candles-- anything at all!)
- a container of bubbles-- and have lots of bubble-related activities planned!

Bring Something Small and Specific
Each guest brings a gift for the birthday child, but you specifically ask them to bring something you wouldn't mind your kid having 20 of!
Some ideas to ask guests to bring:
- a favorite childhood book (this might be especially nice for a very young child, to start building his/her personal library)
- a seedling to plant in a small plot at your house, as a "friendship garden" for the birthday child
- a small contribution to a collection your child has-- stickers, embroidery floss or beads if you have a crafty child, play dough or accessories, bubbles, matchbox cars, cool pens/pencils, hair accessories, Pokemon cards (do kids still play Pokemon? whatever they're into these days), etc.
- bring an old/homemade/inexpensive hat, scarf, piece of costume jewelry, etc. for your child's dress-up collection

Memory-Making or Intangible Gifts
- a decorated scrapbook page for a "birthday book" for your child
- a picture of the guest holding a "happy birthday" sign-- would make a fun collage!
- if you're crafty: a fabric square the guest decorated beforehand (you can give them a square of the right size once they RSVP, or even included in the invitation)-- and stitch them into a small quilt or pillow afterward
- "bring" their child's favorite joke-- they can be assembled into a joke book at the party, either as a gift for the birthday child, or as favors for the guests to take home
- "bring" a talent to share, and have a talent show at the party!

With any of these options, your intentions should (obviously) be made very clear in the invitation. Some suggestions I saw were:
"No gifts needed, your presence is your present! Instead..."
"_____ has plenty of toys already, but s/he'd love it if..."
"In lieu of gifts, we'll be having a ____ exchange! Please bring a...."
Some even suggested saying, "Any gifts will be donated to _______."

And of course, if anyone does bring a gift, accept it graciously with a "Thank you so much!"

Hope these ideas were helpful! Anyone have any other suggestions?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

seven quick takes friday-- er, saturday: ed. 21

1. I found the most awesome website for free printables.  I love printables, because, um... free decor!  Check out some of these:
So cute, right?

2. This article is amazing: On call. It perfectly describes being on call as a pediatric resident. Read it!!

3. Check it out-- there's a new meteor shower (the Camelopardalids-- yes, that's the real name) tonight that will be visible over North America. Wish I could see it.

4. My geeky, pun-loving self giggled at this:

5. This little exchange happened a few days ago:

Faith: (holding out an empty spoon) "Daddy, want some baby food?"
Jack: "Sure!" (pretends to eat it)
Faith: (watches with poorly disguised malicious delight)
Jack: "Mmm, yum! All done!"
Faith: "Ha! It was POOP!"

6. Have you ever heard of putting peanut butter on a bee sting? One of my patients was coated in peanut butter by his school nurse after he stumbled on an angry hive. I'd never heard of it, but apparently it's a thing. Apparently you can put a bunch of different stuff on a bee sting, if you're so inclined. (I'd recommend cold compresses, but whatever floats your boat!)

7. I'm seriously considering chopping my hair off. Like, really short. Like, long-pixie-cut short. Kinda like these:

What do you think? Cute, right? Am I crazy? Would I regret it? Would I hate it? Would I love it? Can I pull it off?

Head over to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

my (slightly more than) one-pot wonder

I recently discovered this recipe and made it for the first time this week. And let me tell you, it was SUPER yummy. Also, though it does technically use 2 pans + crockpot, it was really easy. So it qualifies for the linkup in SPIRIT.

I adapted it very slightly from here. And also used their photo.

Slow-Cooker Italian Sausage Soup

2 pounds Italian sausage (we used mild, but feel free to increase the spice factor to your taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons of pre-minced garlic from the jar)
2 small onions, chopped
2 (16 oz) cans diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
2 (14.5 oz) cans beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 zucchini, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (16 oz) package pasta of your choice (to add later) - we used tricolor rotini

In a large skillet or pot, cook the sausage over medium heat until brown, breaking it up with your spoon as it cooks. 

Once it's brown, if you like, you can remove it from the pan and drain it on paper towels, drain most (but not all) of the fat from the pan, and return the sausage to the pan. (I skipped this step.)

Add the garlic and onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened & translucent but not browned. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, broth, basil, oregano, and parsley, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. 

Transfer to the slow cooker. Add the parsley and green pepper and stir it all together. Cook on low for 4-6 hours (though I suspect you could let it cook all day-- soups are pretty hard to overcook).

Right before dinner, cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta, add to the soup in your slow cooker, and stir. Taste it and add salt and pepper if you want to. (We didn't. The sausage made it so flavorful that it was delicious as-is.)


I did all the work (chopping, browning, etc) the night before and put the filled crock in the fridge. Then in the morning all I had to do was let the crock sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so-- because you don't want to put a cold crock on the heat, it'll crack (no, I don't speak from experience)-- before putting it in the cooker and starting it. Woohoo! Dinner finished (except for the pasta part) by 8am!

I haven't tried this, but I suspect that the non-pasta ingredients would freeze reasonably well, so that this meal could be prepared beforehand to make your life even easier.


Before Josie was born, we were about to graduate residency and move to Guam at the same time, so I was kind of in a freaking-out mode which manifested itself as preparing ALL THE MEALS. (I think it was my nesting instinct diverted away from preparing the house, since I couldn't do that because: international move.) So when I stumbled upon this website, all I could say was YES PLEASE:

I didn't do quite fifty, and I didn't do it all in one day, but I did make around thirty meals over the course of a couple weekends. All the ones I tried from her website were quite good. I also made Bolognese spaghetti sauce and green chili chicken enchiladas, both of which freeze well.  

AND, do you know about flash-freezing baked goods? It's my favorite thing. You can have fresh-baked cookies or muffins or rolls, whenever you want, without doing all the work every time. (If you do muffins, I suggest using paper muffin cups, because otherwise the frozen uncooked muffins are super hard to get out of the tins so you can transfer them to a ziplock freezer bag. Yes, I do speak from experience here.)

Linking up with Housewifespice for her brand-new One-Pot Wonder linkup, running until June 22!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

pediatrician psa: top 5 foods parents think are healthy for kids but aren't

1. Juice. The juice companies have got us all fooled. Their commercials would have us believe juice is packed with nutrition and is "part of this balanced breakfast!" At worst, juice is little more than corn syrup and water with added flavoring-- basically, uncarbonated soda. (I'm looking at you, CapriSun and SunnyD.) At best, 100% juice may provide some vitamins, but it also provides lots of mostly empty calories that don't fill kids up-- they'd be better off eating fruit and drinking water. Because juice provides all the sugar of fruit but none of the fiber, it tends to cause watery bowel movements (contributing to a phenomenon known as "toddler's diarrhea").

2. Fruit snacks. See above-- same song, different verse. Sticky fruit snacks have the added benefit of getting stuck in kids' teeth and causing cavities. Give them berries instead (or dried fruit -- but see below).

3. Granola bars. These seem like they should be SUPER HEALTHY-- and okay, they're probably better than chips or cookies. But they have a LOT of added sugar, often in corn syrup form. And many granola bars have even more sticky-sweet extras in the form of chocolate chips, M&Ms, or even marshmallows. See also: trail mix.

4. Cereal. Sure, whole grain cereal with skim milk and no added sugar is pretty healthy. But switch it to a sugar-coated, refined-flour cereal (with marshmallows!) and it turns into junk food.

5. Dried fruit. Okay, this is actually healthy in most circumstances-- dried fruit is full of iron and fiber and other good things. But for kids who are overweight, dried fruit can be a hidden danger, because it's a more calorically-dense version of its fresh fruit counterpart. Think about it this way: no one would sit down and eat five plums, but you could easily eat five prunes. Twenty grapes would be a reasonably filling snack, while twenty raisins wouldn't be much more than a mouthful. Keep in mind, too, that some dried fruits (like banana chips) are coated in added sugar. (Also, most dried fruit tends to be quite sticky, which isn't so good for the teeth, just like fruit snacks.)

Check out the AAP's list of healthy snacks for kids!

(Legal disclaimer: This information is intended only to provide general information and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis, or treatment by your child's doctor. I am a real pediatrician, but I'm not your pediatrician.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

answer me this

I don't (yet) follow Kendra of Catholic All Year, but when I saw her weekly linkup over at Carrots for Michaelmas, I decided to join in!

1. What's the scariest thing that's ever been in your yard?

Hmmm... how 'bout a crew of movers, loading up all our earthly belongings into sea crates, which we wouldn't see again for the next 2 months until they arrived on the other side of the world?

2. Beards. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up for my dad, who's sported a beard for my entire life. Thumbs down for my husband, because... beards make me think of my dad.
My parents at my wedding reception, December 2008.
3. If stuff breaks, can you fix it?

Probably. I'm reasonably handy. My awesome dad (pictured above with his awesome beard) taught me well. I don't know how to do electrical-type repairs, but most other stuff I could likely figure out.

4. What was your first car?

Well, the first car I drove regularly was a white 1999 Plymouth Neon, but I didn't technically own it (my parents did). The first car I owned was a blue 2005 Toyota Echo.

This one isn't mine, but it looked just like this.
5. How often do you eat out?

Every couple of weeks. We used to eat out a lot more (well, by "eat out" I mean "get takeout") when we were in residency and both working 70-80 hours a week. Getting home at 7pm after working for 12-13 hours (every day) doesn't lend itself to culinary inspiration.

6. Why is your hair like that?

Basically because I'm kind of lazy about it. It's wavy and kind of coarse and very thick, so it's kind of a pain to "do" anything with it. I periodically let it grow long, then chop it off above my shoulders after 6-12 months, and repeat. Every few days I wash it and scrunch in gel and let it air-dry. Usually I wear it in a ponytail, because, as I said: lazy. I don't dye it, and don't plan to, even though I have a few-- gulp-- gray hairs now. (Partly because I don't have a burning desire to look younger than I am, and partly because-- can you guess?-- lazy!!) READY FOR THE EXCITEMENT??

Short (this is usually the only length at which I regularly wear it "down")
Shoulder-length (pulled half-back with a clip or hair claw)
Long (pulled back in a ponytail)
Long (pulled up in a messy bun)
Those are basically my only 4 hairstyles. Super creative and stylish, amiright?

Head over to Carrots For Michaelmas (this week) to see more Answers!

Friday, May 16, 2014

seven quick takes friday - ed. 20

1. Yesterday morning I walked into the living room to see Jack hanging up the phone with a funny look on his face. "That was HM3," he said. "He says there's an active shooter at the hospital. He said it's not a drill." We both immediately grabbed the nearest internet-connected devices to try to find out more information-- but there was nothing. Texted communications with Jack's colleagues seemed to point out that this was real, but we still felt more puzzled than anything else. After about an hour, Jack got the all-clear-- there wasn't a shooter after all, it was nothing.

Later that day I read this article and started laughing out loud: Naval Hospital on Lockdown over Miscommunication. Apparently as part of the pre-demolition routine before knocking down the old hospital (adjacent to the new one), the workers were wandering around firing air guns at pigeons who'd taken up residence in the building, and they had neglected to notify anyone that they were doing so.

I still laugh every time I think about it. It's just so very Guam. Military lockdowns + locals shooting at pigeons + lack of official notification of anything.

2. Scary stuff: Ohio Measles Outbreak Largest in USA Since 1996. Make sure you and your kids are vaccinated!

3. My mom sent this picture to me. She knows me so well.

Stand-uppy functionality is vital.

4. Maybe Faith and I will color Easter eggs this weekend. I've realized this is an unforeseen but awesome benefit of Catholicism-- procrastination is rewarded. After all, it's still Easter, you guys!

5. I stumbled onto this on Pinterest, watched the video, and was immediately charmed and motivated to buy said placemats and try this out myself. What do you think? Crazy and ridiculous? Or adorable and totally doable?

6. I made the Pioneer Woman's "The Best Coffee Cake Ever" this week and you should too. If you love streusel topping and buttery-soft cakes, it will live up to its name. We've been eating it over the course of the week since Sunday, keeping it covered (but not completely air-tight) and it hasn't gone stale, either, not even a little.

Yum. (This is the PW's photo, not mine.)

7. I'm going to go ahead and cheat, and use my seventh take to link you back to Jen.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

what we're reading wednesday: something other than god

(Okay, it's early Thursday morning for me, but I wrote this post yesterday.)

I'm sure most people reading this post have already read or started Something Other Than God by Jen Fulwiler, so I don't need to provide a synopsis. I really, really enjoyed it (*cough*readitin24hours*cough*) and was actually brought to tears more than once. A few things about it really struck me:

1. I thought she did a phenomenal job of really giving us a look inside the head of an intelligent atheist. Reading the early chapters, I really felt like I was truly seeing things from that worldview, not just looking at it from the outside. That's a pretty remarkable thing, especially for someone who's never not believed in God.

2. The final chapters made me excited to be a Catholic convert again. There was a recent post by Katrina at The Crescat talking about the glow and enthusiasm of the new convert, and how that enthusiasm can fade a bit over time. She points out that the excitement often transforms into a deeper familiarity, which isn't a bad thing... but I think the periodic renewal of that excitement is very valuable, too. We're rational beings, but we're also emotional. Knowing the True and striving for the Good are great things, but it's also great to thrill to the Beautiful. And this book helped me find that thrill again. 

3. I was really struck by the passage where Jennifer comments on how much easier it is to strive to be good after reading about the lives of the saints, rather than reading about theology/philosophy/morality in theory only. I don't know why this never occurred to me before, but when I read that paragraph, it hit me like a thunderbolt. I suspect it's also an excellent remedy for those feelings of superiority and holier-than-thou smugness that can creep in when you're not looking-- there's nothing like looking straight at undiluted goodness and bravery to serve as a healthy slice of humble pie. Of course the life of Christ is the ultimate story of goodness and bravery, but we've heard it so often that, sadly, it can sometimes lose its shock value. Fortunately, the Church is just brimming with holy people to read about, each one gloriously unique and bringing a fresh perspective to holiness. 

4. I would, in a second, recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about Catholicism-- especially if they're skeptical about it. As is pointed out in the passage where Jen and Joe are reading the blog comments from Steve G., the only thing that really distinguishes Catholicism from Protestantism is the belief in the authority of the Church (if you believe in that authority, everything else follows naturally), and this book explains that so well. (I loved the analogy to the Supreme Court and the Constitution.) I'm seriously considering giving a copy to my Evangelical parents because it's such a great, clear explanation. I think my dad, especially, would like it.

Now I just need to nag Jack to finish it, because I'm so anxious to have someone to discuss it with!

Linking up with Jessica at Housewifespice

Friday, May 9, 2014

the sotg margarita

Since almost no one reads this blog, and CERTAINLY NO PLAGIARISTS, I feel pretty safe in posting my submission for the SOTG drink-inventing competition. ;o)

The SOTG Margarita
In honor of Texas, Mexican restaurants, and the color scheme of the book cover.
(I bet you didn't even notice these pictures aren't identical.)

margarita salt (or kosher salt, or flaky sea salt)
zest from 1/2 an orange
1 oz gold tequila
1 oz Hpnotiq OR blue curaçao (I am 100% certain that blue curaçao would make it more authentic, margarita-wise, but the Navy Exchange didn't carry it, and it's the biggest liquor store on the island. So mine is made with Hpnotiq, which was the only blue liqueur they had. Sad. It still tasted good, though.)
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
orange wedge, for garnish

Combine the orange zest with the margarita salt, and spread out on a plate. Rub the rim of a margarita glass with an orange wedge, then dip in the zest/salt mixture to coat the rim. Combine the tequila, Hpnotiq/curaçao, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake until blended. Place a few ice cubes in the prepared margarita glass, then strain the drink into the glass. Add orange wedge and enjoy!