I missed Jen’s Quick Takes yesterday, but I’m going to indulge in some tardy randomness.

  • Madeline makes her big stage debut later today as Narrator 1 in a gripping performance of The Enormous Turnip. I tried to convince the grandparents that they really didn’t need to drive an hour to see her on the stage for four pages worth of script (font size at least 14), but they insisted. She is the first grandchild on both sides, after all.
  • In a few weeks, 3-year-old Rachel has her first ballet recital. Again, I told the parents they shouldn’t feel guilty about staying at home rather than seeing her smile, randomly wave her arms, and walk on her tippy-toes (or perhaps freeze in the blinding stage light), but they’re coming. She’s the second grandchild on both sides, after all. I feel sorry for my poor younger brother who’s getting married in May because I’m afraid we’ll have recitaled-played-and-soccer-gamed out the grandparents by the time he starts filling his nest.
  • Blog migration stinks. Remind me to never ever launch a new blog during Lent when I’m supposed to be ripening the fruit of detachment. Madeline shared some very sage advice when she noticed me barring my teeth at the computer screen earlier in the week, “Mommy, it’s just a website.” Amen.
  • I can’t believe Lent is almost over. I wish I could say I’ve had an amazing journey and feel closer than ever to Christ, but then I’d have something else to confess. Let’s just say this hasn’t been the greatest Lenten journey and ranks right up there with one of the worst. (Fortunately, God takes all that is bad and makes it good, including sorry me and my broken Lenten resolutions).
  • At 5 months, I’ve just started experiencing some discomfort nursing while pregnant. Sometimes it feels like my nipples are on fire. They burn, people. The pain doesn’t occur when I’m nursing Mary Elizabeth who possesses super-sucking strength that would put a Dyson to shame but shortly after I’ve finished. She has started nursing a little less each week. I don’t offer unless she asks (or unless I’m really desperate to keep her from trying to kill herself or to pacify screeching and/or plaintive crying).
  • We’re planning a family vacation to the beach, and I’d love to incorporate some homeschooling activities/lessons into our trip. Any suggestions, resources, books, and/or links? A big perk of homeschooling is to be able to make anywhere your classroom, and I’m looking forward to squeezing in a little science and nature study into our vacation.
  • It’s been HOT here in the South. So hot we’ve already whipped out the swimsuits, sprinkler, and water balloons. There’s nothing like the smiles that good, old-fashioned fun brings!



7 Quick Takes: The Hodge Podge Edition

It’s been a slow blogging month. It’s not that I’m in a writing rut. I’m replete with ideas, but I really just haven’t felt like diverting my limited energy stores to fleshing out meaningful posts. Every day I jot down thoughts here and there in journals, but nothing seems to go beyond the embryonic stage. I’m also in the editing process for my book, and it feels a bit like repeatedly severing my limbs; it’s been a more painful process than I expected.

Thank goodness for Jen’s QTs. I have a good excuse to just put a bunch of random thoughts out there.

So here’s my mental hodge podge for today. Enjoy (or not).


It’s official. After much waffling, I’ve decided to definitely attend the Faith & Family Mom’s Day Away on April 2nd. My flight is booked, so there’s no turning back now. This feels like an incredible luxury. I have not gone a solo trip just for me since I’ve been married. The girls will be with their daddy for part of the time and then with my capable parents, and I know they’ll all be having so much fun they’ll barely miss me. Mary Elizabeth will be a few days shy of her second birthday when the event arrives, but I suspect she’ll still be nursing. I’m not too concerned though. I’ll throw a manual pump in my purse, and I suspect she’ll pick up right where she left of upon my return. Actually, I made my first big separation from her back in December, and she did great. Within minutes of our reunion, however, she was asking for “mama milk.” 

The event is in the Boston area, and I’d love to meet any of my readers who might live nearby and will be attending as well as those who are making the big trip as I am in order to refresh their souls. I’m super excited because it looks like I’ll meet some longtime e-friends like HallieMelanie (and her new baby due this month!), Dorian, Jen, and more. Dorian is more in the know than I am and has a list of some of the people planning on attending. It looks like I’ll get to see Rachel Balducci again, too – and not on our Southern turf either! (Anyone have a Mafia name for me, by the way? How can I compete with Rachel The Hair Balducci and Pat The Voice Gohn?)

Anyone else planning on being there?


My 22-month-old’s leg is healing well (despite muddled me putting her boot on the wrong leg yesterday), and she’s completely back to her spunky self. In fact, she’s figured out how to remove the boot, so I’m constantly putting it back on her. She’s also now sporting a nice abrasion below her nose. This happened under a babysitter’s watch, so I’m freed from any responsibility whatsoever. Poor Rachel endured an injury this week as well. She tripped and fell and her mouth hit a decorative table and she scraped her gum up so badly, it looked like bone was poking through. An emergency trip to the pediatric dentist diagnosed her with a bad gum injury. I’ve been praying to my girls’ guardian angels with increased fervor lately.


6-year-old Madeline: Puff the Magic Dragon [the song] really breaks my heart.

3-year-old Rae: Why?

Madeline: Just because. It’s really hard to explain.

My kids say funny things all of the time, but the seriousness of my daughter when she said this struck me as hilarious. But I do get it: Certain songs really move me, too. Maybe I’ll share a list of some of them next week.


Today the older girls and I are taking Gaba (my mom) to the Baron York Tea Room. We’re so excited for the all-girls’ outing even if it’s sleeting again in Georgia. Madeline and Rae have been planning what they’re going to wear for weeks (pretty, smocked dresses that were Christmas gifts from my parents), and we’ve been practicing our best manners during our tea time at home. Stay tuned for a report on the girls’ day out!


Homeschooling is going. I’m not about to say it’s going well or badly. It’s just going right now, and I have to be satisfied with that. Last summer I created an elaborate grid that outlined all the reading and topics and lessons we’d cover daily. Then I made a second grid to cover each month that included themes and saints related to the liturgical year. It was very pretty on paper (oh how I love charts! I’m a serious geek) and quite ambitious of me to be so organized, but it was also terribly unrealistic. 

Needless to say, we have not stuck to that beautiful chart much at all, but we have learned a thing or two. Sometimes I worry more about Rachel than her big sister who’s the only school age one. Is she getting lost in the shuffle? What is she learning? Then the other day she was playing pretend with a boat zooming around. “

“Where are you headed?” I asked.

“To Mesopotamia,” she said.

Okay, so she’s learning by osmosis.

We’re always read lots of books, which makes me happy. I’d much prefer to read a book aloud to my children than to have to engage in imaginary play where I don’t talk right or do things right. Do any of your kids have elaborate imaginary congresses that legislate laws you’re always breaking?

We’ve had afternoon teas where we’ve discussed saints and practiced our manners. On Wednesday, we had a Candlemas tea. When I was reading about the Presentation from my all-time favorite children’s bible, Rae blurted out, “When Mary saw Jesus on the cross, she said, ‘Oh my poor son, right?'” Only three years young, but she gets the sword piercing the heart thing. 

So I guess my kids are learning – even the smallest ones. 

I’ve been happy with our slower pace. So have my children. The feelings of burnout had started to sneak up on me, and Madeline seemed to be balking at more formal work, too. For all of its challenges, the flexibility to adjust our schedule and rhythm is such a blessing of homeschooling.



All that said, my 6-year-old loves math and sees number crunching as a fun, so I’d really like to find some good math websites out there where she could continue to master her addition and subtraction facts while feeling like she was indulging in a game. Any suggestions? I’m not sure where to begin.


The same day I published this post, David Mills published an excellent piece on the antidote to being an anxious parent.

An excerpt: “I didn’t pay much attention when John Paul II was elected, nor to his first sermon as pope, but some years later when I first came across his declaration “Be not afraid,” I thought it a pretty lame declaration with which to start one’s work. It seemed to me a platitude like “brush between meals” and “eat more fiber,” not a call to arms. Yeah, sure, whatever, I thought. Biblical slogans are a dime a dozen.

But I was still young then and had not seen how many ways the world has to make you afraid. Just have children and a world of imagined and unimaginable horrors will present itself to you, and minor inconveniences or hurts will appear to be losses from which your child will never recover, and every decision and choice one that can lead as easily to misery as to success. Oddly enough, affluence does not necessarily make you feel more secure, but usually just multiplies the reasons you can find to be afraid and increases the triviality of the results you fear.

I had not seen how hopes quickly become fears, and how the deepest hopes become the worst fears, and how the fallen heart can manufacture reasons to be afraid even from blessings, like education. You might believe, sincerely, when your child is eight or ten that the only education you want for him is one that will teach him what he needs to know about literature and art and history, which can be provided at any number of schools, including the cheap and unknown ones.”

Do read all of it, especially the last paragraph. Be not afraid, my friends. Be not afraid!

Have a good weekend!  Jen, thanks for hosting!

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Quick Takes: I’m So Lazy I’m Just Going to Use Others’ Words Edition

I can’t even remember the last time I popped in to participate in Jen’s Quick Takes, but this seemed like a good way to kick off the first Friday of 2011. Since we are engaged in full Christmas detox and working to get our children back on track after several weeks of sweet binges, late bedtimes, and an out of whack routine, I’m coming up short on words, so I’ve decided to share a few quotes that have recently given me pause (or made me laugh). Enjoy!

*UPDATE: Please keep Jen in your prayers. From her friend, Hallie: “Jen’s been having regular pain in her legs for a while now. Since her clotting disorder puts her at an increased risk for DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) [a, her doctor thought it would be best for her to head to the hospital for an emergency ultrasound of her legs this evening.” In case you were unaware, Jen is pregnant, and pregnancy increases her risk for blood clots. You can read more about her clotting disorder here, and Jen, as she’s able, will be providing updates on Twitter.

“The word ‘epiphany’ means ‘to show forth.’ Epiphanies, both large and small, tend to be private events – yet events with great significance for the public. Trying to share the details with another of an epiphany is fraught with complications. The words are never quite right, and even the most sympathetic listener cannot fully bridge the gap between description and what is was like being there. Most of us keep our personal experiences of the Holy to ourselves. Who would believe it? And who would really understand?
The irony is that epiphanies are made for sharing, [emphasis mine] even as they are impossible to communicate fully.…
 Unlike the poor shepherds, the Magi had to travel a long road; they had to face adversity to reach their goal. It was anything but a romantic, sentimental pilgrimage that we often see in our manger scenes! The experience of the magi reminds us that all who make the tedious journey to the truth will finally encounter it and be changed in the process. They can never go back to a ‘business as usual’ way of life. When we meet Christ and see who he really is, we will never be the same – and only then can we hope to begin to share in his mission.…”

-Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
, 2010 Solemnity of the Epiphany

(HT: Appleseeds)

This made me feel better about sharing my own rambling epiphany recently, which came across as a tad corny when I re-read it but which was true and from the heart. (That sounds corny, too, but, again, it’s true.)


“Authenticity, as the concept was presented [in a self-help book], ended up looking a whole lot like navel-gazing selfishness. But at the time, as viewed through this woman’s lens, it seemed I’d given up far too much of myself for my family. The premise of this woman’s argument was that the key to self-fulfillment–and a low body fat percentage–was my being more me-oriented. Of course, in order for me to be me-oriented, everyone else had to be oriented towards me, as well–an idea which if I thought it could work out I might still be entertaining.

Where did all this self-absorbed navel-gazing leave my husband, Dan? Well, that wasn’t my concern, really. I had a void to fill and a dress to fit into. But as I demanded that things change he (already hugely selfless) was left to pick up the slack. The author in question’s prescription of focusing a laser beam on my own desires (and let’s not kid ourselves–that’s what they were: desires) was crowding out even my husband’s most basic needs. (And if that didn’t make him want to run for the hills, I assure you my many soliloquies about a return to authenticity did.)”
This an excerpt from a must-read post over at Betty Beguiles.


My newly turned 6-year-old, Madeline: It’s not a real elf, you know. [Said to a friend who is telling her about her Elf on the Shelf.]

Friend: Yes, he is. He does magic.

Madeline: When?

Friend: When I’m sleeping.

Madeline: How do you know he does it if you’re asleep?

Friend: Because.

Madeline: Where did you get this elf?

Friend: From the store.

Madeline: Do you really think a real elf can be bought in a store?

Poor friend does not reply.

Madeline: Here’s what you need to do to see if he’s really real. Look at his ears. See if the skin on his ear matches his face. When I sat on Santa’s lap this year, I knew her elf wasn’t real because her ear skin didn’t match her face skin.

That’s my girl – crushing the dreams of little children everywhere. I mean, honestly, I thought she had one more year until the age of reason.


It's a Book“I’ll charge it up when it’s done.”

“You don’t have to. It’s a book, jackass.”
-From It’s a Book

Bibliophile that I am, I’m somewhat surprisingly and very well-pleased with my new Kindle, but I’ll always be loyal to good, old-fashioned books. I thoroughly enjoyed this clever and hilarious picture book our retired librarian neighbor gave us for Christmas. In the story, a donkey (the jackass) is fascinated by his friend’s book and asks questions like, “Can you blog with it?” “Does it need a password?” “How do you scroll down?” It’s a Book is a delightful reminder that there’s nothing quite like the real thing and that despite its dearth of whistles and bells, a good book has the power to allure, to enlighten, to engage, and to entertain – batteries not included or necessary!


“Enjoy that beautiful creature that is your child. Appreciate their wonder and awe, delight with them in their achievements, and be amazed at their thirst for knowing the world. Watch a movie together, push them on a swing, and savor the time that they are young. And when you tuck them in at night (maybe in their own bed!) tell them you love them.”
-From a helpful post on attachment parenting with older children

Personally, I predict I will spend the year falling down and getting up, with (I hope) a bit of progress due entirely to the grace of God. By year’s end 2011, I expect to be still disappointing most people, including myself.
My New Year’s wish is that my readers have a living and lasting encounter with Jesus Christ that leaves them forever changed.”
-An excerpt from Mark Shea’s conversational and honest predictions and wishes for 2011.
Read the rest of the Inside Catholic staff’s predictions and wishes for 2011.

I loved the way books looked, loved the way books smelled, loved that books made me forget. My favorites were The Diary of Anne Frank, The Yearling, Uncle Tom’s Cabin: tales of grotesque cruelty and unbearable loss. That was precisely why I liked them. Even back then I understood the real purpose of literature. I didn’t want to hear that people lived happily ever after. I wanted to know that other people suffered, too.”
-From Heather King’s Parched
Perhaps this helps to explain my recent obsession with memoirs such as Parched. Reading here’s-my-raw-and-bleeding-hemorrhaging-heart-books like this makes my life seem mighty peachy.

Have a good weekend! Jen, thanks for hosting!

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