Monday, September 30, 2013

What I Wore Sunday (Volume It's Been a Long Time!)

Well hello!

Once again, it's been days since I checked in here at what I used to think of as a daily blog.  But I've been in South Bend, IN, and the house we rented for the football game weekend didn't have any WiFi (what?!).  I know I'm a day late and a dollar short here, but I thought I'd link up with the fine ladies over at Fine Linen and Purple on this Monday morning, something I haven't done in a dog's age.

In spite of the lack of Internets, our house was perfect--comfortable, well-appointed, and ideally located within walking distance of the Notre Dame campus...and also within walking distance of a favorite watering hole frequented by the Notre Dame 21-and-over crowd called the Linebacker...and somehow my husband's youngest brother (#8 in his family of 8 siblings) talked the two of us old fogeys into accompanying him to said bar on Friday night, along with another one of my husband's younger brothers.  We were there until the barkeeps turned the lights on at 3:00 a.m. and told us it was time to go already, standing in the middle of a crush of people who were for the most part a good three decades younger than we were, on the stickiest floor my shoes had ever come in contact with, singing along to "Sweet Caroline" and "Oh What a Night" like a bunch of crazy kids.  The youngest in our little string of four Pearls that night was 43.   We should have known better, but we didn't.

I texted our son, a 20-year-old junior at ND, from the Linebacker to tell him where we were, and he was quite amused.

So now, at the age of 55, I can say I went out and closed down a bar--something I never even did when I was a college student and it wouldn't have seemed so ridiculous.   And because of that, by Sunday I was still wearing thee biggest bags under my eyes that I've had in a long time (and that's saying something!).

For Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, I wore a black denim skirt I found at Goodwill for $2.99, along with an Audrey & Grace short-sleeved cardigan (with Pearl buttons, of course) and some silver Nine West flats, both of which I acquired on a shopping trip to TJ Maxx with my baby sister a couple of months ago.

Just before Mass, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to meet and chat with Katrina and her adorable little boy while they fed the ducks at the lake across from the Basilica (which I know from her blog is a routine Sunday activity).  Katrina was absolutely charming (and she was wearing the beautiful glow of a young mother who is expecting her second child next month), even more so in person than on her blog.  After following Cedars and Tiny Flowers for so long, I felt as if I knew her.  What I learned on Sunday is that she was introduced to her husband, who played rugby at ND, by a young man whose father played rugby with my husband back in the day.  What a small Notre Dame world it is!  So I was wearing a big smile on Sunday along with my eye bags, because I really was quite tickled to meet this lovely young woman in person.
My husband and I had planned to catch a flight back home sometime on Sunday, but we found out that our son's inter-hall football team was playing against our nephew's team that afternoon, and we decided to stay an extra day so that we could watch the cousins' teams battle it out.  Our son, whose defense position is DE, was determined to sack his sophomore cousin, the QB for the opposition, before all was said and done.  He got burned once when he missed a big tackle on a QB keeper, but ended up getting the big sack he was hoping for before the game ended in a 0-0 tie.  So on Sunday our son wore green and his cousin wore gold--and they're still as tight post-game as they ever were.

The boys with their SMC cousin, who cheered for both sides.
Needless to say, we saw much better football on Sunday than we did the day before at the debacle against Oklahoma.  I really don't want to say much more about it than that.  It was too ugly for words.   Pretty much every Notre Dame fan alive was walking around with an "agony of defeat" expression on his or her face in the aftermath of that disaster--that look, that's what they wore Sunday.  But seeing our boy put on a helmet and football pads for the first time since he ended his senior season in high school three years ago was very exciting, and it helped to take the sting out a little.  My husband and I wore nothing but smiles during and after that experience.

Okay, one last tidbit about things that were worn on Sunday: check out these ND-themed sneakers my husband wore (or at least tried on at the campus bookstore before purchasing them).
These Chuck Taylor-esque beauties are a brand new item, on sale at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore for the very first time this weekend.  They're made by a brand new company called Row One--and what's really exciting for us is that Row One is the brainchild of one of my husband's ND roommates.  This Class of 1980 alum has ten NCAA teams on his roster so far, and that number will grow with time to include many more.  So be on the look-out for these awesome kicks, sports fans!

Okay, folks--that's all she (and they!) wrote  wore.  Now head on over to FLAP, if you haven't done so already.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Barbeque, Bugs, a Busy Baby--and a Brand New Blog!

I know I haven't been around these parts too much lately.  But I'm still a blogger...I mean I'm pretty sure I am; it's just that I'm also an accidental jet-setter who's been to Memphis and Denver since we last talked, and now I'm here in Colorado Springs with the three cutest wee lasses west of the Mississippi (my granddaughters--and I know you might think there's some bias involved in that statement, but believe me there is not).

My husband and I didn't PLAN to go to Memphis on Sunday, but flights out of Boston to every single city that would provide us with a connecting flight to our final destination were seriously overbooked (as in, even paying passengers were getting bumped off of them).  It was a grim reminder that when flying stand-by, there are no guarantees that you'll get where you want to go, when you want to go.  But being able to take trips to see our granddaughters without paying for the airfare is such a marvelous privilege--and a job perk that I know lots of people would give their eye teeth for--that I hate to complain about the inconveniences we sometimes encounter (although I just did that, I guess).

Anyway, on Sunday there was only one flight out of Dodge that had plenty of seats on it, and that was to Memphis; and as it turned out, a flight from there to Denver the next day was wide open, too.  From Denver, we could rent a car and make it to Colorado Springs by dinnertime.  Okay then, we decided--Memphis here we come!
The best thing about our quick visit to Elvis's hometown was the lunch we had at the airport before our flight on Monday.  We decided to partake of the local cuisine and stopped in at a branch of Jim Neely's Interstate Barbeque for some sandwiches--pulled pork for my husband and turkey for me--and I've got to tell you, it was out of this world.  The barbeque sauce was so delicious (I could practically drink it straight up, no lie) that we asked if they sold it and sure enough they did, so we came away with one bottle--along with a brochure for ordering cases of bottles to have delivered to our house way back east.  Turns out we'd just stumbled upon a famous Memphis eatery--a Memphis tradition since 1980, in fact--that was named by People Magazine as the #2 place to eat barbeque in the whole US of A.  Maybe our unplanned detour to Memphis wasn't such a bad deal after all, we thought.

Since arriving in CO Springs on Monday night, we've been hanging out with a trio of cute little buggers.  Here are twins Bonny Babe and Cutie Pie, dressed up in their ladybug and bumblebee Halloween costumes, watching a little video about...hmmm, what do you know?  Bugs.
Those costumes, which their mommy picked up Wednesday morning at a huge consignment sale that she went to with the baby while Papa and Grammy stayed behind with the twins, are going to get a lot of use, it seems.  They are apparently the perfect attire for eating breakfast as well as watching nature shows.

The twins, now almost 28 months old, are incredibly bright--talking in complex sentences and using four-syllable words, singing songs, reciting their storybooks verbatim, and asking endless questions.  They pronounce "TH" as "B," so when they hear a strange sound they'll ask, "What's bat moise?"  They pronounce "N" as "M," so when they drop something they'll say, "Oh, mo."  Papa and I hope they never learn how to pronounce those sounds properly.  We could listen to them chatter in their inimitable style all day long.
Their younger sister Little Gal has become a very, very busy little bee.  She's 7 months old now and doing the Army crawl all over the place.  She's a petite one--only 14 pounds--but incredibly strong for her size.  She pretty much cranks out endless push-ups during tummy time and seems to like hanging out in the "upward dog" position, making it look effortless.  She's also the happiest baby I've ever seen--it takes almost nothing to make her smile and laugh.
Time sure flies when you're surrounded by all this cuteness.  It seems like we just arrived, and already we're getting ready to leave.  We will be flying out of here tomorrow morning, bright and early, headed for a football weekend at the University of Notre Dame (permanent home of the Fighting Irish as well as temporary home of our own baby boy, who's a junior there).
Before I sign off, I just wanted to let you know the latest buzz in the Pearl household: my second oldest son just started a blog of his own.  (He joked that he's in the family biz now, since both his mom and his older brother's wife are bloggers.)   My darling boy is a 28-year-old high school math teacher, a young man who cares deeply about faith and family, and a funny guy who's always been a great storyteller.  If you'd like to check out his brand new baby, Pearl's Musings, I think you'll enjoy it.
Hopefully, I'll be checking in with you again from beautiful South Bend, IN.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Another Saturday Morning Re-run

If you frequent this blog much, you know that every now and then on Saturday mornings, I like to go the lazy simple route and give you re-runs of old blog posts.  The one I chose for today is a favorite of mine--because I just LOVE the subject matter.  It was written way back when this blog was but a wee babe, not even three months old yet.  I'm sure not many people saw it when I first posted it, because two years ago I didn't have the enormous readership that I have now (LOL, ROTFL, etc.).

Have a great weekend!  And hopefully this testosterone-filled post will get you in the mood for watching college football (because what else would you possibly want to do on a Saturday?).


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Band of Brothers

I hijacked the title for this post from the 2001 HBO ten-part mini-series of the same name. That "Band of Brothers" was about the experiences of E Company, or "Easy Company" (part of the 101st Airborne Division), during WWII. "Band of Brothers" was a fantastic mini-series and I highly recommend it; however, this post has nothing to do with war stories, other than the tussling and scrapping of little boys. I just thought it made a great title for today's ruminations about my five tight-knit sons.

A number of years ago, a woman whose son played on the high school football team with several of our boys told me that he'd said to her, "The Pearls are so lucky to have all those brothers! They probably never get bored." In this particular boy's house, it was just he and an older sister. I remember being flooded with warmth and happiness when I heard that comment. My husband and I had always thought that our sons had a unique and special situation: they lived in a world where everyone was interested in the same things, played on sports teams together, and even shared mutual friends from school. I remember thinking that it didn't matter if we weren't the richest people in the world, materially speaking; we had given our boys the greatest gift they could ever get, and that was each other. We used to tell them that they were rich in brothers!

Well, a few nights ago, the same sort of thing happened again. It was downright deja-vu-ish. My youngest son had a buddy from school over, and we were hanging out in our "sports room" (also still known as the "new room," even though it was finished off years ago). Whenever our boys' friends come into this room, they spend a lot of time looking all around: at the many framed pictures of the brothers playing football, basketball, and lacrosse; at the line-up of the five brothers' high school football jerseys that are tacked up on the wall, oldest to youngest; at the row of five varsity letters that hang in order in a line over the coat rack; at the tributes to the various sports teams the brothers follow (Notre Dame and the Red Sox very obviously among them). This boy's eyes were wandering around the room, soaking it all in. And then suddenly he said to my son, "It must have been fun growing up with five brothers."  And my son replied simply, "It was. It was awesome." This friend of his was another boy who had only one older sister. I guess boys who have no brothers always think about how cool it would be if they did (and the same could be said for girls who have no sisters, I'm sure).

I hope my boys will always look back fondly on growing up in a band of brothers. Now that they're men--now that the bickering over video games, fighting over whose turn it is to ride shotgun, and all that sort of childhood nonsense is long past--they truly are the best of friends. What a blessing they are, and have always been, to their father and me! As I mentioned in a previous post, some young mothers used to look at me with horror-filled expressions when they found out that I had only sons (gasp!), and they'd say, "God bless you!" I could never think of a good comeback on the spot; but after the fact, I would realize that what I should have always said in response was this: "He already has!"

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bloggers and Painters: Making the World a More Beautiful Place

I started off this morning procrastinating, reading a few new posts by other bloggers I enjoy instead of getting to work on a post of my own.  I read this post by Grace over at Camp Patton, which is always a hoot.  That girl is the funniest.  Then I read this post by Jenny over at Mama Needs Coffee, which is equal parts hilarious and profound, depending on the day.  And then I read this post by Kendra over at Catholic All Year, where every new installment is so interesting and well-written...and then I thought I might be in the wrong business here, because I just don't think I've got the blogging chops those gals have.  And maybe, I decided, I wouldn't blog today after all.

But I'm not going to let you off that easy.  Sorry.  (I do this for my husband, if for no one else.  He's on his way back from the Emerald Isle right now, and at some point in his travels today--after he lands in NYC, perhaps, or when he's on the NY-to-Boston shuttle, or before he gets in the car to drive the rest of the way home--he's going to check in and see if I've got a new post up, and I don't want a repeat of this, however sweet it was.)

So I considered linking up for 7 Quick Takes Friday over at Conversion Diary, because that's always fun.  But after reading the 7QTF posts by the super-bloggers (above), I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I don't know if I have one interesting thing to pass along, let alone seven!

But I do have some exciting travels to look forward to.  In two days, my husband and I are flying out west to spend almost a week with our oldest son and his family.  I can hardly wait to see my three itty-bitty granddaughters again--it's been two months since our last visit, and I'm beginning to have withdrawal symptoms.  They're growing up on us: the twins are over two already, and Little Gal is crawling now!

Being a mother has been the joy of my life.  But I don't know if I can put into words the way I feel when the twins say "Grammy."  It comes out "Grah-mee," with the emphasis on the second syllable, and it's the most beautiful name I can imagine hearing.  When we were Skype-ing the other day, they said my name several times and I was on a cloud.  (And hey--when you're on Skype, you actually are in "The Cloud," right?  Whatever that is--some sort of Big Brother-style, all-seeing entity, I fear!)

For a grandmother who doesn't live near her precious little ones, Skype has been a true godsend (make that Godsend).  Papa and I get to not only see the girls, but to interact with them.  "Go get the big purple and pink balls," we'll say to the twins, and they'll run off to find them.  "Where's Pooh?" we'll ask, and one of them will go off-screen for a moment and return to proudly show us their tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff. "Can you jump?" we'll say, because nothing is funnier than watching a two-year-old trying to jump as high as she can.  Skype is the next best thing to being there and playing with them in person, and I don't know what we'd do without it.

In my Internet travels recently, I came across some lovely vintage artwork by a favorite artist of mine, Jesse Willcox Smith (who has been the subject of several of my blog posts in the past).  They reminded me so much of my little sweeties that it made me more anxious than ever to get on that plane on Sunday (and wow, those are words I never ever ever thought I'd hear myself say, after so many years of avoiding air travel like the plague).

For instance, the little reader in this painting could be one of my twin granddaughters...if only her hair was much, much thinner and shaped a little more like a mullet.  Grammy's girls love love love looking at books.
Here's another sweet image that absolutely spoke to me, of a pair of enthusiastic little bookworms.  I hope someday my granddaughters have a window seat reading nook like this one (I wouldn't mind one of my own!)

And here's one more sweet lass with her nose in a book (and there's that same cozy little nook again!), and this one's hair-do looks a little more familiar.
Jesse Willcox Smith's endearing portraits of children showed them doing a variety of activities, not just reading.  Here's another beautiful painting, of a bonny bonneted little babe stopping to smell the flowers.  She so reminds me of my granddaughters, if only because of the rosy roundness of her cheeks.
Looking at all of this endearing artwork makes me want to get out my neglected art supplies, to try to capture even a fraction of the incredible beauty in my granddaughters' little faces.  But then I see the amazing talent showcased in these paintings by Jesse Willcox Smith...and I stand in awe of her, the same way that I stand in awe of the talented writers whose blogs I read every day.  And just as I procrastinate sometimes when it comes to blogging, I do the same when it comes to painting.  I may eventually dust off my paints and brushes and get to work; but in the meantime, I'll simply appreciate beauty wherever I find it.

Have a beautiful weekend, filled with fun-to-read blogs, or husbands who miss you when you're not there, or interesting travels, or adorable little children, or engrossing books read in cozy nooks, or sweet-smelling flowers...or whatever else makes you happy!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Smile, and the World Smiles with You!

I'm off to the dentist this morning, to start the process of having a temporary phony tooth made (one that I can wear to my son's December wedding, as the permanent implant will not be ready in time for that), because this is what I look like these days:

 (Only not nearly as pretty as the lovely Duchess, whose face, figure, hair, and wardrobe I would take in a New York minute.  And in my case, the gaping hole is on the top, not the bottom.  But otherwise, this is about right.)

Because my smile makes me so self-conscious, this is how I've been rolling lately:

And I really hope I don't end up like THIS!! 

So that's my big news for today: I have a dentist's appointment.  Aren't you glad you stopped by?

Oh, wait a minute, I do have something worthwhile to report after all!  My very soon-to-be newest daughter-in-law is celebrating her birthday today.  She has the most gorgeous smile, and I'd take her teeth in a New York minute!

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!  Keep on smilin' and showing off  those Pearl-y whites!  ;)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What We're Reading Wednesday: All the Blue of Heaven (with a Review)

It wasn't until Finding Grace was published that I realized how important it is for authors to have reviews of their work posted by readers--whether on Amazon, on Goodreads, or on readers' personal blogs.  My novel, a labor of love that I'd dreamed of writing since I was a schoolgirl, was released a little over a year ago by a small Catholic publishing house called Bezalel Books--which is doing wonderful work, but is hardly a household name; yet even the larger houses rarely have big budgets for marketing and promoting their authors' works, so the burden of that responsibility falls mostly on the shoulders of the authors themselves.  (Ironic, too, because most of us bookish types are much happier quietly typing away on a laptop rather then standing before a group of people and saying, "Gee, you really should read my novel!")
Over the past year, I have had some incredible on-line conversations with a whole bunch of amazing Catholic writers--some of whom I'd heard of before, some of whom were new to me.  Getting to know them, and being on the receiving end of their encouragement and support, was truly one of the best off-shoots of having my book published.  When I got to meet several of them in the flesh at the Catholic Writers Guild conference held in early August in NJ, that was extremely special.
Catholic writers are fighting a cultural war, trying to spread the Faith through their words, and they need the support of their fellow soldiers in the trenches (not to put too dramatic a spin on it).  Most of the authors I've been fortunate enough to meet, whether on-line or in person, are more than willing to put in a good word for one of their fellow "evangelizers," knowing what a difficult task it can be to get good Christian literature into the hands of those who might be inspired or edified by it.  As blogger and writer Sarah Reinhard explained to me, after I thanked her for posting a positive review on my book's Amazon page, "Well, I'm an author, too.  I'm all about helping the peeps.  :)"

I want to help my peeps as well, so I've started writing book reviews for  I've also written a few for Amazon, and just last night I set up a Goodreads account.  One of the books I've recently read and reviewed for these sites is Virginia Carmichael's All the Blue of Heaven.  (I mentioned I'd started it in this previous WWRW post.)   I thought I'd share the review with you today, while linking up with Jessica for an installment of

Just me with my nose in a book.  What's new?

Carmichael is a good writer.  In this work of Christian romance fiction, her characters are well-developed and their conversations sound like real ones.  I like the "will they end up together, or won't they?" tension she created between the heroine and her love interest.  My only beef with the book was that it was rather poorly edited, but otherwise I really did enjoy it.  Here's a link to my Goodreads review of All the Blue of Heaven.  (The same one will appear on and Amazon..)

Now head on over to Housewifespice to see what Jessica and her peeps are reading this Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Here's Another Reason Why I Love My Husband

Remember this awesome blog activity that originated with Kaitlin over at More Like Mary, More Like Me?
My Bragging Series

In this day and age, when men are often portrayed as clueless buffoons and women sometimes act like champions in the sport of man-bashing, I love this whole idea of randomly blogging about how wonderful my main man is.

Have you got a second?  Because this isn't going to take much longer than that.

I was going to take the day off from blogging.  But my airline pilot husband just returned from a trip to Shannon, Ireland (bearing Irish-made chocolates from the duty free shop--which I love him for, but that's not what I wanted to tell you about right now), and he hadn't been home more than ten minutes when he asked, "No blog today?"

That guy is my most faithful follower, even when he's home and we're together.  But when he's on the road, away from home and missing me (missing US!), he looks forward to reading my silly little "String of Pearls" posts every day.  I think when he does, he feels like I'm talking to him.  And that makes him happy.  When he goes to this site and nothing new has been posted, the disappointment throws his day off, just a wee tad.

"No blog today?"  Awww...he's just the sweetest thing.  And that's why I love him.
I think I'll keep him for another 33 years.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Just When I Thought I Was One of the Cool Kids...

Yesterday our second oldest son, who is living with us for the 2013-2014 school year and commuting an hour to work every day (where he teaches high school math at a large public school, coaches varsity football, and generally helps to shape young minds), told my husband and me that Facebook is no longer considered cool with high school and college kids.

Just when I thought I'd finally become one of the cool kids...Hold the [smart]pone!  Facebook is on the outs?  What?!

Our son proceeded to give us a little tutorial on the history of the Book of Faces, and it was enlightening.  Apparently, the website was originally created for college students only, as a way to carry on intra- and inter-campus communication with peers; and back in its early days, you could not set up a FB account unless you had an e-mail address that was recognized as coming from an institution of higher education.  Before FB, there was My Space, which was open to everybody and his brother (and mother and grandmother...although I certainly never knew the first thing about it); but the idea with FB was to create a social network that was just for the young, hip, college crowd.

But then FB had to be opened up, because all the first users of the network were going to graduate and become workplace adults--and once that happened, the floodgates just flew wide open and everyone was able to get an account.

Nowadays all the hipster moms and dads (ahem) are scrolling their FB news feeds, looking for pictures of their offspring to "like" (and leave corny, hashtag-filled comments about---#you'rethefunniestandbestlookingkidonfacebook  #amidoingthisright?).

Hashtags: explain, please.  (But I digress.)
One of my sisters teaches computer to grade school students, and she passed on some alarming info about the whole Facebook phenomenon.  You're not supposed to be able to get an account until you're at least 13, I believe.  But she had students as young as 8 who were active FB-ers.  When she asked them about it, they admitted that their mothers had lied about their ages in order to set up their accounts for them.  So obviously, people of all ages have infiltrated a social network that was never meant for them

Anyway, apparently the FB world has gotten so clogged-up with undesirables that the youngsters are turning to other forms of social media to do their thang. Now, they're into Twitter and Instagram and Vine and Snap Chat.

Twitter?  No, thank you.  I already blog almost daily (and sometimes I'm not quite sure why); I don't think anyone would be interested in hourly updates on my navel-gazing.

Instagram?  Wouldn't e-mailing photo attachments to your loved ones serve the same purpose (is there something I'm not getting about this new social media phenom?)?

Vine?  This has something to do with videos.  I don't understand what it's all about (but it sounds like something that could get an immature videographer into a heap of trouble).

Snap Chat?  This one definitely sounds scary, and I would hazard a guess that it's being abused on a regular basis.  Basically, you can send a photo to someone's phone or computer or whatever, and it only stays there for a short amount of time and then "disappears" (although I don't believe anything that goes out into cyberspace or The Cloud or whatever you call it ever truly disappears, does it?).  I can only think of one reason this was invented...and it's not good.

For many years I utterly and absolutely refused to jump on the Facebook bandwagon...and then I finally did.  I'm an old dog who doesn't learn new tricks very easily, so I felt like I'd taken a huge leap into the modern high-tech world when I set up my account (and I still feel that way).  Now, however, it seems that FB is about to go the way of My Space--not to mention dial-up Internet service, phone calls from a land line, and hand-written letters.   But I'm done, folks.  No new tricks!  No new forms of social media for me, I mean it.

...Except LinkedIn, which I just joined.  But that's it, scout's honor.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Connecting with New "Friends" on LinkedIn

I am blogging today, for the very first time, from my new laptop (which my husband gave me for my birthday back in July, and which I finally got the courage to try out over the weekend!  Yes, it's been sitting in a box for almost two months!).

It's a whole new world for me with this little gizmo, which has a relatively small 11" screen and is a sort of cross between an iPad and a PC (meaning pretty much everything can be done using the touch screen, just like on my iPhone--but I can still use an old-school Windows screen, a keypad, and a mouse if I want, which keeps me in my comfort zone).  Just a few months ago, this here old lady finally figured out how to cut and paste in Word (I know--pathetic!  I spent almost five years writing a novel and didn't know how to use this function!), and now I have to re-learn the process on my new computer.  Wish me luck!

What I love about my new blogging machine is that it's so compact and light, and it's going to be so much more portable during my travels.  I am a frequent flyer these days, and lugging a full-size, two ton laptop all over the place has been a bit of a pain (but I've been willing to put up with the inconvenience up 'til now, because adding a new blog post almost every day for the enjoyment of my three or four loyal readers is of utmost importance to me!).

I know most of you out there in the blogosphere are a lot younger than I am and a lot less in awe of the latest technological advances.  But wow, I'm telling you--you should see my new laptop!  Actually, here...let me show it to you.
Look at my new baby on the left.  Isn't it an adorable little thing?
Okay, moving on now.  In August, I attended a Catholic Writers Guild conference, and during a talk on marketing (which I hoped would help me figure out how to get the word out about my Catholic YA novel, Finding Grace), I learned that LinkedIn was an underused tool and could be very valuable.  So I recently opened a LinkedIn account.  Yes, that's right: this 55-year-old grandmother who has never had a job outside the home--except as a substitute teacher, but that was way back before my oldest son was born in 1983!--is now linked in with all these professionals who are movers and shakers in the world of writing, publishing, and many different sorts of pro-life and other Catholic enterprises.  And with artists, too. 

I got connected, through some mutual contacts, with a painter named Nellie Edwards.  This is what she uses as her LinkedIn profile picture. 
Hold on a second, I thought when the connection between us had been made.  I've seen this beautiful painting before!  I've actually blogged about it before (and you can read that post here).

What a small, small world we inhabit, am I right?  You just gotta love the Internets!

I wrote an e-mail to Nellie asking her if she was indeed the artist who'd created this lovely image of Our Lady, and she sent me back the most thoughtful and wonderful response telling me that she was, and explaining just how she'd been inspired to paint it.  A woman whose artwork I'd admired from afar is now my eFriend--how amazing is that?  I'm really starting to see the beauty of LinkedIn.

If you haven't discovered this great networking tool, you might want to check it out.  You never know whom you'll run into!

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday: My First in Forever

How do I do this again?  It's been a while!  I guess I'll start with the meme and go from there.

I love it when my Internet life and my real life intersect.

Last night, I met one of my favorite young bloggers--Kate, from Something Ivory.  She and her hubby, who currently live in the deep South, were up North for a family wedding and were able to make time for a visit with my second oldest son and me.  If you haven't discovered Kate's beautiful blog yet (even though I've mentioned it to you several times on this here blog of mine), you should really head on over there.  It's absolutely terrific--uplifting, inspirational, interesting, and full of Grace Kelly-esque charm.

Kate happens to be the wife of son #2's dearest friend from his days at Notre Dame.  Even so, last night is the first time we gals ever met, and I found her to be as delightful a real person as she is a blogger!

Her smart-alecky husband (the Frick to my son's Frack) started out our enjoyable dinner at a small Chinese restaurant in downtown Portsmouth, NH with this challenge: "So...who's going to be the first one to blog about this?"

You know, Kate, I've been surrounded by a pack of highly competitive males for many years now, and winning is important around here.  I haven't seen a new blog post from you come across my feed yet this morning, so I can only surmise that I beat you to the punch. Winner!  (I know you have a busy weekend planned, with wedding festivities and all...but still: winner!)

I said, "Shut up."  And no one washed my mouth out with soap.

Okay, I told you my son's college friend was a bit of a scamp.  At one point during our meal last night, he made some teasing comment and I forgot for a moment that I wasn't dealing with one of my own scamps, and here's what I said: "Shut up!" But not in a mean way--not in a way that would have gotten me a mouthful of Ivory soap and a trip to my room for the night when I was a kid.  Not in a way that would have gotten my sons into similar trouble if they'd ever had the audacity to say that to either their parents or each other when they were growing up in our house.  I said it in a cute way (if there is such a thing); I said it in jest; I said it in a way that reads more like "You're funny and I like you"--or at least I hope that's how the poor guy took it.

I would never in a million years have said those words to my boys when they were young, but I occasionally say them now (especially to son #2, who is a big-time tease and gets a huge kick out of having me say it to him).  My boy assured his buddy that the fact that I'd said it to him means he's now made the cut.  It means he's like family.

Okay, I just read over what I've written so far for Take #2, and I'm a bit ashamed.

I'm a nice person.  Really, I am.  And if we ever meet and get to talking, I promise I will never tell you to shut up.

Teasing is my boys' love language.

If you don't have a sense of humor and you can't take a little good-natured teasing, you're not going to survive around here.  Teasing is the love language of my sons.  They all speak it and they all understand it. It's never meant to be hurtful (even the word "loser," when translated in context, can be meant as a term of endearment).  They have all grown up to be very kind and caring men, but they do love to crack wise.

My boys spent their teen years teasing each other regularly and laughing often.  I've heard that dry, sarcastic humor is a hallmark of the Northeast, where we've always lived; whether that's true or not, it was certainly true of this particular Northeastern household.  While my boys have always been extremely close--teammates, roommates, and the best of friends--they have ribbed each other tirelessly.

This gives me a good segue into Take #4.

My youngest son finally felt like "one of the guys" when my older sons began to tease him like they teased each other.

Our first four sons came along in a tight-knit pack.  There are exactly four years and three months between the arrival of son #1 and the birth of son #4.  Then five whole years went by before we were blessed with son #5, our baby.

One great thing about having a baby come into our testosterone-filled house at that point was that it brought out a sweetness, a nurturing quality, in our older boys that might not have happened otherwise.  They were unfailingly patient, protective, and kind in their dealings with their youngest brother.  And as part of this tendency to treat him differently than they treated each other, they didn't tease him for fear that he would take what they said the wrong way and his feelings would be hurt.

At the end of my youngest son's freshman year of high school, when I was cleaning out his backpack and loose leaf binders to decide what I should keep and what I should toss, I found a hand-written sheet with a simple journal entry he'd written months earlier in his honors English class.  He'd been asked to answer this question: "When did you feel like you stopped being a child?  How did you know?"  Here, in his own writing, is the response.
This is so precious to me!  And there you have it: teasing, the language of love.

Life finds a way!

I feel like Ian Malcolm in "Jurassic Park" with that statement.  But truly, I was reminded of this the other day.

I have the very brownest of thumbs, but every summer I optimistically plant geraniums and/or impatiens in my big pots out in front of the house and try valiantly to keep them alive (with mixed results).  But we've been away from home more than ever this summer (often for weeks at a time), now that most of our chicks have flown far from the nest and we must travel all over the place to see them.  So I figured I'd have even worse luck than usual, and--please don't judge me!--I decided to plant fake flowers in the pots this year instead of real ones.  From the street, you can't even tell they're not the real deal, I swear.  And they need no attention, which is exactly the kind of plant life I like best.

Last week, I was weeding the pots (because even though the flowers in there are phony, the weeds that have taken up residence beside them are very real indeed, and they are flourishing!), and what do you think I saw?  Some real red geraniums poking up through my pink and white poseys posers.

I really don't know how this happened!  All I can figure is that when I pulled all the decaying dregs of last year's geraniums out of the pots, after they'd been stored in the garage all winter, some little vestige of life must have remained in the potting soil and by some miracle, took root and produced new flowers.  And geraniums aren't even perennials, are they?

Amazing!  Life found a way--with no help whatsoever from the worst gardener who ever lived.

I recently gave my house a mini face-lift.

We have lived in our home for almost 23 years.  When we bought it, it was nearly completed but had been sitting for several years in foreclosure, because the builder had gone bankrupt.  We were the first people to live in it, and although many things were finished (the bathroom floors and vanities, the kitchen counter tops and cabinets, the hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, front hall, and up the stairs), we were able to make some choices before we moved in. We had the whole upstairs carpeted, and at the last minute, the carpet guys asked if we wanted them to put a runner up the stairs as well. Sure, we thought; with four active boys (at the time), that might come in handy for softening falls and keeping the noise level down.

The carpet up the stairs served us well in its time; but I'd been noticing lately that it was getting very worn and stained, and I thought it might be time to rip it up and expose the lovely oak I knew was underneath.

It's frightening what you find when you rip up a carpet--a carpet that you've been vacuuming religiously for over 20 years.
Yes, that's a pile of sand and dirt.  And it's probably been there for years and years.  Holy shnikeys!  But this is what the stairs look like now.

I could probably use a mini face-lift, too, at my age; but I'll have to settle for simply eating healthier.

I've never been one to eat the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (you know, the number of servings on the healthy eating food pyramid).  But my second oldest son has started "juicing," and it's gotten me motivated to do the same.  He has this great machine that takes whole chunks of fruits and veggies (with the skins, seeds, cores, and stems on them!) and grinds and squeezes them into juice in a matter of seconds. Some of the combinations my son comes up with (most of them) taste pretty nasty to me.  Let's just say I'm not yet a huge fan of kale.

But I concocted my own recipe for breakfast yesterday and it was absolutely delicious:

1 large carrot
1 whole lemon
1 whole Granny Smith apple
about 8-10 strawberries
3 big slices of watermelon

I could drink this juice every morning.  In fact, I just might do that.
But I'm not going to stop having my dark chocolate chaser (because with all those antioxidants, that's a health food, too).

Now head on over to Jen's for more.  I'm on my way now!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Some Good Press for Finding Grace on

Yesterday, the following article appeared on the popular website Perhaps it will introduce Finding Grace to some new potential readers!  Like the "Little Engine That Could," I keep chugging along, trying to market and promote my humble little book; and even though it seems like the ride I'm on is uphill all the way, when I get help from people like well-known author and CatholicMom founder Lisa Hendey, I am filled with hope!  ("I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...")

Finding Grace: Catholic Arts & Letters Award Finalist

By - Posted on

Congratulations to our friend and fellow Catholic author Laura Pearl on her recent award recognition. Definitely check out Finding Grace for the young readers in your family! LMH
Finding Grace
Finding Grace

Catholic mom—and author—Laura H. Pearl recently attended the Catholic Writers Guild conference held in Somerset, NJ, where the winners of the Guild’s annual literature awards were announced at a breakfast hosted by the Catholic Marketing Network.  Pearl’s debut novel Finding Grace, published by Bezalel Books in 2012, was a finalist for the 2013 Catholic Arts & Letter Award (CALA) for best fiction in the children’s/young adult category.

Pearl experienced many firsts at the CWG conference, including connecting in person with other Catholic authors she’s long admired and attending a Mass celebrated by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.  To top off the excitement, she was interviewed about her book by Doug Keck, host of EWTN’s “Bookmark.”

Back on November 18, 2012, not long after its publication, Finding Grace was featured here on in an article titled “Finding Grace: A Novel to Inspire Young People”.  Since then it has earned the CWG’s Seal of Approval and been recognized as a CALA contender.  It’s been an exciting year!

Finding Grace can be found at Bezalel and on  And you can visit Laura at her blog, “String of Pearls”.

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2013 Lisa Hendey


Do you like reading about fun, close-knit, Irish Catholic families?  Are you interested in the lives of the saints and the teachings of our beautiful Catholic Faith?  Do you yearn for a work of fiction that includes a "will they or won't they?" love story that is deeply satisfying, but where none of the romantic scenes take place in a bedroom?  Do you know an impressionable young (or even not so young) reader who might enjoy and benefit from such a book?  If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might want to consider Finding Grace.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Life is Beautiful

I know that this life on earth, the one that begins and ends in about a heartbeat, is not the one we're supposed to be concerned with--that the only important thing about the life we lead here in this world is how well it will prepare us to meet God and begin our true lives with Him in the next, the lives that are without end.  And I know how imperfect planet earth is: all you have to do is watch one episode of the evening news and you'll see that there is no such thing as paradise down here in the earthly world.

But life is beautiful, too--achingly, poignantly beautiful.  And just when you think there is no good left on our beleaguered planet, when you wonder how your children (and their children, and their children) will ever be able to navigate the path to their eternal home with God, surrounded as they are by the world's evil and Godlessness, misery and get a glimpse of Heaven.

I live for such moments.  And one of my sons gave it to me a couple of days ago.

Our second oldest son is living in an "apartment" in our basement right now.  A high school math teacher and coach, he moved in just before the start of the school year and plans to stay until next summer.  With his rent about to increase significantly and a new car to pay for, he was feeling a bit financially strapped; we offered to give him a way to save, by temporarily moving back in with dear old mom and dad, and he took us up on our offer.  I don't have to tell you how great it is to have one of my chicks back in the nest, even for a little while.  He has an hour-long commute to work early each morning, and with football practices and games that run well into the evening, we often don't see him again until 8:00 or 9:00 at night (and sometimes later).  But we see him a lot more than we did when he was living in an apartment an hour away from here.  And this is a treat, because when it comes to our sons, we'll take any precious moments we can get with them--wherever we can, whenever we can.

Anyway, I've probably mentioned before that for many years, we said a family Rosary every day with our boys.  The practice dropped off when the older ones got into high school and got bogged down with sports and homework, and it became increasingly harder to get them all together at one time. But son #2 has decided that he wants to start praying a Rosary on his daily commute to work.  His dad was in Ireland on a trip the other day, and he had one special request: he wanted the old man to bring back a Rosary from the Olde Sod, one with beads made of Connemara marble.

That's the glimpse of Heaven I was alluding to: in a world where Faith is lost on a daily basis and Catholic parents bemoan the fact that their grown children no longer attend Mass, our son's Faith remains intact--in fact, his dearest wish is to have a new Rosary to use on his daily commute.  I feel like I'm on a cloud, I'm so happy about this.

I was not able to relay my son's request for an Irish-made Rosary when my husband was on his last trip, because our usual FaceTime call didn't happen (something about an epic afternoon nap and a groggy lady who forgot to bring her iPhone back downstairs with her when she regained consciousness).  But he's off to Shannon again today, and hopefully he'll be able to fulfill this beautiful wish for our son.

Life is short.  So I think we need to savor moments like these when they happen.  I think we need to break out the good china for no reason at all, simply because it's beautiful.
(BTW, How do you like my "new" English-made transferware cup and saucer?  I got three sets yesterday at Goodwill, for $1.99 apiece.  And I'm using one today, because even drinking your morning coffee ought to be a beautiful experience!)
And obviously, we need to pray lots of Rosaries.

God bless you and yours, today and always.  Siochain!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Recycled Post about My Boys

I'm feeling overwhelmingly exhausted right now, after three straight weeks of traveling hither and yon by planes, trains, and automobiles (okay that's a lie--no trains were involved), so today I'm going to use a handy lazy blogger's trick and recycle an old post about one of my all-time favorite subjects: my boys.

This is how they looked when my baby (now just four months away from being old enough to walk into a bar and purchase an alcoholic beverage) had not even celebrated his first birthday yet.

One thing I just love about these snapshots is how my oldest son, unprompted, is holding the hand of his baby brother in both.  Even way back then, he was honing his nurturing skills.  He always worried about his younger brothers and was quite protective of them. Today, that sweet big brother is the father of three wee girls of his own: identical twins Bonny Babe and Cutie Pie, who are now two years and three months old; and petite Little Gal, who is just about the same age as as our youngest was when I sat my gang down on the couch for this 1993 photo shoot.

Wait a minute...I was just going to re-post something, and here I am in the process of writing an honest-to-goodness, brand-new blog entry.  So I'll end here, and  if you're interested you can check out a re-run of a post that's near and dear to my heart--and it must have struck a chord because it got a whopping 14 comments (28 if you count my replies), which on this little old blog of mine is record-setting.  Just click on the link and enjoy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Showered with Love

A couple of weeks ago, my sister-in-law and her girls threw a wedding shower for my soon-to-be new daughter-in-law, who will be marrying son #3 in December.  It was a Pearl family affair, all blue and silver and lovely (and I blogged about it here, in case you didn't see that post yet).
Even the punch was blue (a delectable mixture of champagne, blueberry Italian ice, and blueberries).
And my contribution to the festivities was this cake, which I baked a couple of days ahead of time in the future husband's bachelor pad kitchen.
This past weekend, there was a second shower for my boy's girl, this time thrown by her darling young single friends who live on the outskirts of D.C.  When it rains, it pours--and love has just been pouring down on the head of this well-loved bride-to-be!  Her mother and future mother-in-law were both able to attend, which was a special treat for us moms, and the party was held in the home of one of her friends--the sweetest, most adorable cottage-type abode at the end of a cul-de-sac on a quiet, tree-lined street.  It's a cozy haven with a Pottery Barny (is that a word?) feel to it, filled with all kinds of Pinterest-worthy little touches.

The set-up was delightful.

The activities were creative.
And the food was delish.
The future bride approved of the menu.
Oh, and there were gifts, too!
All in all, the affair was not too shabby.  (Actually, I would call it the epitome of shabby chic!)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shy AND Introverted...a Killer Combo!

I've found myself wishing way too much lately that I had a more wowzer personality, that I could regale a crowd with a humorous or fascinating story (instead of hurrying through everything I say for fear of losing my audience's interest entirely), that I was the type of individual others thought of as a fun and zany addition to any social event, that I wasn't so shy.  I am usually the quiet one in the corner, listening with rapt attention to the captivating extroverts in the room. I am the one who thinks curling up with a good book can sometimes be more enjoyable than going to a big party.  I am the one who begins to stutter and see spots before my eyes when I realize that more than one person is listening to what I'm saying (a public speaker I am NOT!).

I often tell my husband that I think I come off better in writing than I do in person.  I can put just what I'd like to say down on paper--but if you ask me to look you in the eye and say it, right there on the spot without a chance to collect my thoughts, I sometimes crumble.  Give me a pen and paper a typewriter a laptop, and I'm golden, though.  I saw this Flannery O'Connor quote on "Catholic All Year" today, and it sums up my weird God-given personality to a T.  (Kendra Tierney, forgive me for lifting this image right off your blog and planting it on mine.)
"What is wrong with me?" I often think.  "How in the world do people come up with all that stellar small talk that makes them so much fun to be around?"  And worst of all, I sometimes wonder, "Why didn't God make me like those extroverts I admire so?"  (You don't have to tell me that that this is a weakness and a flaw in my character, and that I should be ashamed of myself for questioning God; whenever I realize I'm doing it, I am appropriately contrite.)

Accepting who you are, and how God made you, is not as easy as it seems like it should be. Even knowing that the world would be a boring and frustrating place if we were all created exactly alike doesn't always take away that wish to be more like this one or that one or so-and-so.  Humility is a wonderful virtue--but without a healthy sort of self-love, we cannot properly love others.  So I just ate up this YouTube video that my soon-to-be (wonderfully extroverted!) daughter-in-law showed me a couple of weeks ago.  It's a talk by Susan Cain, a self-proclaimed introvert who wrote a book about the positive aspects of "introversion." It's about 20 minutes long, but well worth the time.  After watching it, I was reminded that there are lots of others out there like me--and even though we don't make the most noise, the world needs what we have to offer, too.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Make that what I'll be reading Thursday. (Potato, po-tah-to.)  I'm not reading anything today, because I've got a lot of housework and packing to do before I get up well before the crack of dawn tomorrow morning and head off to the airport.  I'm flying down to VA again to attend another wedding shower for my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, who is marrying my #3 son in December.

While I'm very excited about going to the shower and seeing the kids, I'm feeling a little bit apprehensive about the flights.  I've made great strides in my efforts to conquer my lifelong fear of flying, and had convinced myself that I was basically "cured"; but the last time I flew down to VA (just a couple of weeks ago), I was feeling the old nervousness again.  Even on the best of days, I need a good book to take my mind off the fact that I'm WAY UP HIGH IN THE SKY, RIDING IN A GIGANTIC TUBE OF METAL. And I'm feeling a tad nervous already about tomorrow, so I'm planning to bring along a brand new book that I haven't even cracked open yet and know nothing about.  Hopefully, it will be so engrossing that we'll be landing before I realize we've even taken off.

So I'm joining Jessica today for the Wednesday link-up, but I'm sharing the title of the book I'm hoping will help me get through my trip tomorrow.
I just love that vintage graphic.  It makes me want to participate, so fortunately I love to read.

Okay, here's what I'm going to pack in my carry-on bag (not the coffee, silly--just the book):

The author of this novel (who also goes by the pen name Mary Jane Hathaway) was kind enough to send me a requested copy of her novel All the Blue of Heaven so that I could review it for  I chose to read and review this book because it is categorized as a romance novel, which is a genre I normally avoid.  I don't enjoy Danielle Steele-style fiction; I read one of that author's books years and years ago and swore I'd never make the same mistake again.  Even as a silly head-in-the-clouds teenager, I couldn't stomach Harlequin romances.  But I thought it might be good to read something that is a bit of a departure for me, just to keep things interesting--and I have a feeling that this book might surprise me. Carmichael's novel is actually a Catholic romance, and I can't help but believe that therefore it will be different (and oodles better) than the mainstream ones with Fabio on the cover and way too much heavy breathing on the inside. When I finish, I'll let you know what I think.

Now head on over to Jessica's to see what the rest of the gang is reading.