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About Carrie Willard

Carrie Willard lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, two young sons, and two ridiculous dogs. She is a recovering lawyer, clergy spouse, clergy kid, food and cooking aficionada, musical theater junkie, anxious mess, redeemed sinner, and blogger at curessa.wordpress.com. Her family attends Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston.

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Author Archive
    
    The Tempest of Ancestry.com

    The Tempest of Ancestry.com

    I can talk to just about anyone about just about anything. Gallbladder surgery. Grandchildren’s precociousness. Train schedules. Weather patterns. But, I do have one achilles’ heel: ancestry narratives. As soon as someone starts talking about their third great-grandfather’s cousin twice removed, and how that person fought in the battle of Waterloo, my eyes glaze over and I start to sniff out the exit. I just … can’t.

    I think this reluctance started when we lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, where everybody seems to have some colonial something-or-other, and I was just known as the gross Yankee that married the bachelor priest. (The…

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    Riding Shotgun: On Being the Clergy-Adjacent

    Riding Shotgun: On Being the Clergy-Adjacent

    I was hauling a giant luggage container, the kind that attaches to a car roof, across my driveway with the woman who bought it from me on craigslist. It wasn’t heavy, but it was awkward and large, and we were having a bit of a hard time maneuvering it. It was dark outside, and we couldn’t really see what we were doing.

    “Oh my god, this is like hauling a dead body by dark of night.”

    I said it, and then I immediately wished I hadn’t said it. “I’m sorry—I shouldn’t have said that. It’s just that my husband is clergy, and…

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    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the Motherhood Cure

    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the Motherhood Cure

    I’ve recently started reading the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books to my 6-year-old. I picked them up because I remembered reading them when I was in elementary school, and because we could all use a little bit of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle in our lives. If you’re not familiar with the books, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle was created in the 1940s by Betty MacDonald. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives in an upside-down house, she might have pirate treasure buried in her back yard, and she loves children. She soon acquires a reputation in the neighborhood for being able to “cure” common childhood “ailments”: not flu…

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    The Law of Minimalism and the Idolatry of Sparking Joy

    The Law of Minimalism and the Idolatry of Sparking Joy

    In the fall of 2014, I had just completed a cross-country move after a cross-city move with my husband and two small children. After those moves, we got a puppy, which destroyed anything that didn’t make it through those first moves, and we also said goodbye to diapers and pacifiers in that same year. We were feeling pretty great about lightening our load. We were lean — svelte even — in the hoarding possessions department. And so, that same fall, when Marie Kondo published “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” I politely ignored…

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    Cringe-Watching Catastrophe

    Cringe-Watching Catastrophe

    For the last few weeks at bedtime, my youngest son has requested that I read him a story out of a book called “Farmyard Tales.” These are innocuous little stories of Apple Tree Farm, and the family who lives there. They are sweet and lovely, and also criminally boring. They are perfect bedtime stories for a tired little kid, though, and I send him off to dreamland with pleasant little stories about goats and pigs and their little farmyard antics galloping through his head.

    By contrast, my husband and I then go downstairs to our living room to fold piles of…

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    Mama Holy's Handbag

    Mama Holy’s Handbag

    The New York Times recently published an article about the physiological and psychological changes that happen to women when they become mothers. This reminded me of a conversation I had with my son when he was in preschool about irreversible change, when he was learning about tadpoles and caterpillars. “When you became a mommy,” he said, “that was a metamorphosis.” He was trying out a new vocabulary word on me, and also stating the truth.

    This Sunday will mark my tenth Mother’s Day as a mother. I sometimes feel like I know less now than I did in 2008, but I’ve at…

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    And the Rough Places Plain

    And the Rough Places Plain

    I’m not unfamiliar with the general decay of the human body. My dad was a priest and a hospice chaplain, and my family didn’t shy away from having elderly or sick relatives stay with us as they reached the end of their lives. I was born with only two grandparents, my mother’s parents having died when she was a girl. I was named for an aunt who died about a month before I was born. She died in the church parking lot after volunteering there one morning. By the time I was a teenager, I was on a first-name basis with all…

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    And of Thine Own Have We Given Thee

    And of Thine Own Have We Given Thee

    Recently, the Facebook page for my Wisconsin hometown’s history has exploded with photos. There are 19th century photos of the town, including charming photos of tree-lined streets and horse-drawn carriages, and also the town’s darker history, including an “Indian School,” where Native American children were taken to assimilate to white culture after being removed from their families. There are photos of the library, and the Main Street, and school board meetings. There are fierce debates about a potato cheese soup recipe that my dad brought into the town’s restaurant community. The debate, believe it or not, centers around whether the…

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    Hallelujah Anyway: Anne Lamott's Latest on Rediscovering Mercy

    Hallelujah Anyway: Anne Lamott’s Latest on Rediscovering Mercy

    I have loved Anne Lamott since I read her first memoir, Traveling Mercies, when I was in law school. In a world where I was, quite literally, surrounded by law, I heard grace in her words, and it was the drink I didn’t even know I was thirsty for. Later, Lamott’s Operating Instructions, her memoir about her son’s first year, prepared me for motherhood in a way that all of the What to Expect books failed to do.

    Naturally, I wanted to share my enthusiasm for my favorite lay theologian with my friends, some of whom scoffed at Lamott’s personal history: how could they…

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    What Once Was Lost

    What Once Was Lost

    I have two older sisters who both grew up to be teachers. They are about ten years older than I am, and we lived in a very rural part of Wisconsin, and there was no cable or internet at our house. In other words, we had a lot of time on our hands, and my sisters used that time to teach me how to read and write and do math. And so, by the time I got to kindergarten, I could read fairly proficiently, while other children were still picking out the letters in their names.

    When I complained to my…

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    The Mother I Was Going To Be

    The Mother I Was Going To Be

    Parenting is full of “I never thought I’d have to do/say/clean that” moments.

    “Don’t touch your brother’s pee.”

    “Please don’t put that necklace on the dog.”

    “How did these fingerprints get there?”

    I was not going to be the mom that made a separate meal for her kids. I cook delicious food! And it’s kid-friendly! They can eat what we eat, or go to bed hungry!

    And then I had a kid who would not, could not eat, and woke us up all night long because he was hungry. And so, with torture like that, I surrendered, and my white flag was in the shape of…

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    Not Another Sports-and-Jesus Analogy

    Not Another Sports-and-Jesus Analogy

    I was born in Wisconsin, as was my dad, and his dad, which means that we are Green Bay Packers fans. Cheeseheads. We bleed green and gold. Our hearts belong to St. Vincent and Lambeau Field. Our loyalty is defined by our history and our sense of place. 

    Unlike my dad and his dad and most of the rest of my family, I don’t understand football. I’ve tried. I went to a Big Ten school and attended all of the home football games, but honestly, that was mostly to see my friends in the marching band. (I’m not making…

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