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How I met my husband, sickness in the house, brownies, family time, my cousin Sheila, and more (7 Quick Takes)


Before I met John, I wasn’t really looking to meet anyone. I was just trying to remind myself that there were guys out there who were nice and normal. And my mom—who was the last person on earth to get an answering machine and microwave—kept telling me I should try this StRaphael.Net website.

So, I signed up. And this profile popped up in my feed. He did the same job I did—media relations for a college in Maryland.

“It’s just a networking opportunity,” I told myself, reaching out to him for the first time. But it quickly became conversations about used bookstores and flea marketing and faith and family. And a month later we met for our first date—Mass and dinner.

When I pulled up at the church, I saw a white pickup truck and wondered if it was his. A man’s arm was leaning on the open window frame, and I saw a cigarette in hand. And I panicked.

Had we talked about smoking? Could I date a smoker?

But the man in the truck drove away. And John arrived. And he was kind and handsome and a fascinating conversationalist and…well…we just knew. He was mine, and I was his, and the future was ours to enjoy together.

I shared our story today on Instagram, where people are sharing their stories of how they met under #fridayintroductionslovestory. They’re so much fun to read. And there will be more every Friday.


Our boys have the flu, and I am wondering whether John and I will end up with it, too. We were all vaccinated, but here we are, nonetheless. I have a feeling I am doomed, but we will see what happens. I’ve turned my family’s health for the week over to St. Rita, patron of the impossible. She’s a powerful intercessor.

Meanwhile, my friend Katie offered to bring us popsicles from the store today, and I accepted. She brought us two full bags of popsicles, Gatorade, Jello, berries, and even iced coffee for the grownups. I am in awe of her thoughtfulness.


Being home with sick children, I suddenly realized we had no chocolate in the house. I don’t understand how this is possible since there was so much chocolate in those Christmas stockings. But it is February, and we seem to be clean out of chocolate candy.

I thought I always had an emergency box of brownie mix, but I couldn’t find it. So, I made brownies from scratch. I used a recipe for these seriously fudgy brownies that my sister Treasa had shared with me from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

They are amazing. I wish I could share them with you, but I’m pretty sure no one wants to come anywhere near our house right now. Admire the photo for now, and maybe I can make them for you another time.


If you’re more into savory than sweet, you might be curious about this Kraft mac and cheese powder. I am not a huge Kraft mac and cheese fan, but I almost want to order some. Why am I so curious?


We met fellow China-adoption friends for our annual Chinese New Year lunch last weekend, and it was wonderful. We got stuck in terrible traffic on the way, though, and we were more than an hour late arriving at the restaurant.

Luckily, because they are fantastic people, they didn’t seem to hold our lateness against us. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and fascinating conversation. We have two boys, and our friends have three—including two from China—and the boys have a paper airplane building contest every year. They also play a few games on their phones, but I love that making paper airplanes is a signature feature of the lunch.

Come to think of it, I met my friend Amy online too, back when we were waiting to adopt for the first time.


My mother’s side of the family gets together once a year on Super Bowl Eve. This year my cousins Sheila and Brendan and my Uncle Brian were the ones who organized our family gathering.

We met at a country club, which meant there was a kids’ room where the children could play while a teenager supervised them. John and I got to chat and eat dinner and split some tiramisu for dessert, and we just went now and then to check on our boys, who were having a fabulous time. It was like being on a date but without having to pay a sitter.

And I got to see cousins and aunts and uncles I don’t see often enough, including Sheila (pictured) who lives just a few miles from me. We all had so much fun that we are talking about getting together more than once a year—such a novel concept.

So maybe you’ll see Sheila in my quick takes again sometime soon.


I got caught in the rain at school pick-up the other day, and a mother I had never seen before invited me to share her umbrella. Such a simple gesture, but it was so very kind.

WARNING: If you are my niece Elise or my sister Maureen and you want to be surprised with what we sent you in the mail, you should stop reading right now. Everyone else, please feel free to continue.


The other day I noticed that my friend Jaime posted to Instagram a rat-themed Valentine’s Day card she had created. I reached out to her immediately to tell her I needed one to send to Elise’s family.

She dropped it in my mailbox, and it’s exquisite. It’s even more wonderful than I thought it would be. I quickly wrote a Valentine’s Day poem inside and we slipped it into the mail. I can’t wait for my rat enthusiast relatives to open our card during this beautiful Year of the Rat.

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum, and have a great weekend!