Category Archives: Holidays and other fun times

He is risen …



…He is truly risen!

Happy Easter!

One of the only things that I’ll miss “Downton Abbey” for



I had to wait a night to watch “Downton Abbey” this week, but it was for a good cause.  Scott and I were living our own little English historical drama, all without leaving the Bay Area.

We left the boys with my parents (I love you guys!) and stayed here, at the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach.


We’ve been here before, and we love it.  If you want a rustic little inn that makes you feel like you’re in a Daphne DuMaurier novel, this is your place.  Everywhere you look, there is something quaint and intriguing to catch your eye.


There is an English pub downstairs, and a dining room with a massive fireplace and wood paneling and delicious food.


Best of all, it’s a five-minute walk to the beach.



And you can hike up the hills for a great view.


There is nothing like getting out of your normal routine to get refreshed, to get a new perspective.  And looking at the ocean does that, too.

Best of all, I got to spend quality time with my guy.  We not only started conversations, we finished them.  When you are a parent, that is huge.

Of course, we talked about the kids a lot.  And it was so great to see them again tonight, to hug them and hear about their adventures with Grandma and Grandpa.  We all had a terrific weekend (though I’d say my folks could use another one after watching the guys for thirty hours straight).

And when we got home, we caught up on “Downton.” What a season!  I’m loving it.  Love how Mary may be reconsidering Tony (I like the other guy sooo much  better), and how Lady Violet has had a romantic intrigue in her past, and how Edith may be edging closer to telling the truth to her family (just let it all out, girl!).  Good stuff.

What is making you happy this week?  (And if it’s “Downton,” what did you think of this last episode?).

The Magi and their little friend



I can take no credit for this one.  My eight-year-old put the Elf on the Shelf on the camel; I just took the picture.

But it works, doesn’t it?   Happy Epiphany!

Great Thanksgiving books for kids

Christmas books for kids are easy to find. But Thanksgiving books?  Not so much.  In the area of children’s literature — as in so many things — Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick.

But in our family library, we have two Thanksgiving books that help get all of us – myself included — into a proper holiday frame of mind.


Thanksgiving is Here! by Diane Goode is a pretty simple, almost plotless picture book. Grandma and Grandpa host Thanksgiving for a huge, sprawling family, whose members arrive with frequent ringing of the doorbell and throw themselves right into the joyous celebration.  They help with the cooking, move the furniture, push tables and mismatched chairs together, clean up afterward, take a post-meal walk, and just generally enjoy each other’s company.

But even though the story is basic, the book is wonderfully compelling.  There’s a nice rhythm to the words, and Goode’s drawings are fabulous.  Each family member has so much personality, and the pictures of the family activities manage to capture the cheerful chaos of a huge family gathering.   My kids love this book, and I do too, because it reminds me of why I adore Thanksgiving: it’s a holiday that is all about loved ones gathering together around a table and enjoying each other’s company.  You don’t need more than that in life, really, and this gem of a book is a colorful reminder.


Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin is a classic from my era (written in 1971).   It’s about Maggie and her grandmother, who live in a house on the edge of a cranberry bog in New England.  Grandmother has a top-secret famous recipe for cranberry bread hidden behind the fireplace, and the plot starts to spin when they have two guests come over for Thanksgiving and one of them just might be trying to find and steal it (the cad!).

I won’t give away spoilers, but let’s just say that it’s a sweet story about not jumping to conclusions, and about not judging a book by its cover.  There’s a little theme of forgiveness at the end, too, which is nice.  And the illustrations are so colorful and charming, with that unique early ’70s picture book aesthetic. They are evocative, too; the drawings of the house by the bog always make me feel Thanksgiving-y and oddly nostalgic, even though this California girl would not know a cranberry bog if she fell headfirst into one.   It’s a darling book, and it even has a recipe for cranberry bread on the back cover … a nice touch.

Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving titles to share?  Please do!

Modern women and Mary: Win a copy of “Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God”

Once upon a time, I wanted to know what young adult women thought about Mary.  (Mary as in Mother-of-God Mary.)  So I wrote an article about it.

Then, with the encouragement of an editor (who is herself named Mary!), I wrote a whole book about it.



The process of writing it was eye-opening.  I talked to women from their twenties to their nineties, and heard their stories about who Mary is to them.  Those stories were poignant, affirming, at times raw, but always moving.  I came away with a deeper understanding of how much this young girl of Galilee keeps on inspiring women, even two thousand years later.   The whole experience proved that there’s so much power when women share their experiences of faith.

And since today is the day when Catholics have traditionally celebrated Mary’s birthday, it seemed like a terrific time to keep the sharing going.  So in honor of the day, I’m giving away a copy of Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God to a lucky recipient!  

How do you enter?  All you need to do is leave a comment in the comment section below.  You don’t even have to say anything deep or clever (seriously, who can pull off deep or clever on a Monday?).   A simple “I’d love to enter!”  is all it takes.  Entries will remain open until Friday, September 12th, then I’ll randomly choose a winner.

So please add a comment, tell a friend, and –while you’re at it — spend a minute or two reflecting on your own experiences of Mary.  Maybe you could send her a little “Happy Birthday” while you’re at it.   (It would probably make her son very happy, don’t you think?)