All Over the Place (7 Quick Takes, Vol. 44)

Guys, I am so rusty. I swear, in the however-many-months I wasn’t writing, my brain calcified or something. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to do this – how to sit at the computer for an extended period of time, stringing words together in a way that will convey coherent thoughts.

So bear with me?

I think whatever writing I do here for a while is likely to be all over the place. Like, right now the things I most want to write about include (1) the Republicans’ new immigration bill (blech), (2) privilege and poverty, and (3) my noise-cancelling headphones, which are probably the best thing to happen to me this year.

Except for New Baby Girl, of course. (Can I insert heart emoji into a blog post?)

Anyway, Quick Takes. They seem to be about my speed at the present moment. Here we go:

7 Quick Takes - hosted at This Aint the Lyceum


I’m always trying to get organized, so me trying isn’t exactly newsworthy. But me making some actual progress is! Lately we’ve gone through a ton of clothes and household items and donated them to a local thrift store. I’ve tackled our dining room and our disaster of a bedroom. I’ve folded piles of laundry so old they’d begun to feel like permanent fixtures. I’ve gone through papers and toys and boxes and dishes. I’ve been filling in my new Blessed is She planner (which is beautiful!) with months’ worth of doctor’s appointments, meetings, and school holidays.


I still have so much to do. I’m not done with all the scheduling and all the many tasks that the scheduling reminds me to take care of. I want to get the kids’ bedroom stuff organized so we can move them around. And I want to get last year’s school papers cleared out before this year’s start coming in. Still, progress is progress!


But don’t let me fool you. These days I’m driving around with a bottle of Windex in my front seat because I keep forgetting to ask my husband to refill my van’s wiper fluid. I am on. the. ball.


Last Sunday I took the following pic of my kiddos after Mass:

These Walls - All Over the Place 7QT44 - 1

I do believe it might be my favorite in a long, long time.


I’m helping to organize my 20th high school reunion this fall. Twentieth, you guys. Twen.ti.eth.


We’re going on a vacation! It’s only for four days (travel included) and it’s not to anywhere very far away, but I am so, so excited. We haven’t been on a family vacation in four whole years (meaning only two of our kids have ever been on a vacation before, and those two probably have no memory of it). And this will be our first vacation to somewhere other than Minnesota or Indiana (i.e. places where we were visiting family.)

We’re going to be staying in a hotel! And eating out! And doing touristy stuff! I know that we’ll be exhausted and that packing/traveling/sightseeing with the kids will be a hassle, but I’m still thrilled. We homebodies are getting awaaay!

These Walls - All Over the Place 7QT44 - 2

(Not the moment we told them. We actually haven’t told them yet, so if you see us in person soon, don’t you tell them either!)

Oh, I should have told you where we’re going: Williamsburg, Virginia. We’re going to visit Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown (where I have some neat family history), and we’re going to swim in the hotel pool.

We homebodies are easily entertained.


If you’re a Catholic lady heading to the Edel Gathering in Austin this weekend, I hope you have an amazing time. I was fortunate enough to attend the first Edel Gathering, and it was incredible.

Here’s a post I wrote in the run-up to the second Edel Gathering (which I could not attend). All those hopes for those ladies back then – I’m hoping them for you today. Enjoy!


Please keep baby Edith, Rosie Hill’s daughter, in your prayers today. She’s undergoing surgery this morning to remove some masses from her lungs. May her surgery and recovery all proceed smoothly, and may her family be comforted in this stressful time.


Have a great weekend, and be sure to hop on over to Kelly’s for the rest of this week’s Quick Takes!

These Walls - All Over the Place 7QT44

Little Scientists And Cheerful Mischief: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 32)

It’s a gray and gloomy day in these parts. (I wish I’d made it to the orchard for apples – talk about perfect baking weather.) And we’re closing out yet another week of gloomy news. See this piece if you’re in the mood for a cry. And don’t miss this one for a valuable lesson:

Every moment of your life has meaning, and your suffering is not in vain. You have a right to be here. Every moment of the life you have been given is a gift, and nobody has the right to take it from you.

Not even you.

So (sniff, sniff) I thought I’d wrap up the week with a bit of cheer, courtesy of my boys whom I love so very much, even when they spend half the day fussing and sobbing.


7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!


After our two failed attempts at celebrating our newly-minted three-year-old’s birthday last week, this past Saturday we went to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, where we succeeded! We’re falling into a little pattern of hosting a birthday party for our child one year, then doing a fun day trip as a family on the following birthday. And so on and so forth. This year our four-year-old got a party and our three-year-old got a day trip. Next year we’ll switch.

So anyway, last weekend we did the Science Center and it was perfect. My parents met us there, but very few other people seemed to have had the same idea, so we just about had the place to ourselves. The birthday boy’s favorite game to play these days is “mooseum,” so he was thrilled to get to go to one in real life. He kept talking about how excited he was to see the dinosaurs that came alive at night and the animals that stampede down the stairs.


Lack of living exhibits notwithstanding, he and his big brother especially loved the dinosaurs. We had to visit that section of the Science Center twice. They also enjoyed the kids’ room, the weather exhibit (including an actual mini tornado you could stick your hand into!), and the electricity exhibit. (Which Grandpa, a DIY’er and electronics buff, probably enjoyed more than the average visitor.)











We saw an IMAX movie (Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D) which I, personally, would have enjoyed much more if it had been in plain ol’ 2D. I think the boys would agree: they both took off their 3D glasses a few minutes in. The birthday boy then promptly fell asleep on Grandma’s lap. His big brother lasted almost all the way through the movie, until he needed to hit the can.

Birthday Boy was a little more antsy a few hours later when we attended the Planetarium presentation (Black Holes: Journey Into The Unknown). But his big brother enjoyed it and the baby, to everyone’s surprise, loved it. He laughed and squealed and had a grand old time. Who knows, maybe we have a future astronomer on our hands?



After a good six hours at the Science Center (I know – we were pushing it), we walked to the other side of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor so that Brennan, the boys, and I could grab some dinner. Mom and Dad headed home and left us to our own exhausted devices.


Aren’t they cute?

We really just barely made it through the meal: the baby screamed for the first few minutes (before falling asleep on my chest) and the four-year-old was teetering right on the edge of a meltdown the whole time. But we did it. We all ate and it was delicious.

T-Rex's like pizza.

T-Rex loves pizza.

We kept it together in no small part because of Brennan, who spent half the meal entertaining the boys with crayon drawings on their placemats. The birthday boy kept requesting pictures of dinosaurs eating one another. Perfect.





As we ate, and then later as we pulled out of the parking garage, we got a couple of quotes from the boys that wrapped up the day beautifully:

Brennan: “What was your favorite part of visiting the Science Center today?”
4yo: “Seeing Gwanpa.”
Brennan: “Seeing Grandpa?”
4yo: “Yeah, and Gwanma too.”


Brennan: “Boys, say bye to the science museum!”
3yo: “Bye science mooseum! I miss you!”
4yo: “Bye science museum! I hope we see you and your dinosaurs again soon!”



Moving on…

I feel like as our three-year-old becomes more verbal, we’re getting a clearer and clearer picture of his personality. And it is something else.

For one thing, he’s been using the word “baby” as an expletive. Any time he’s the least bit unhappy or feeling aggressive or confrontational, he spits out “Baby!” with a grimace on his little face. And because he’s figured out that it bothers his brother to no end, we keep hearing a little voice throwing out “Baby!” at random times, followed by his brother’s wail, “He said ‘baby’ to me!


The other day while driving in the car, the little guy was mad at his older brother for having done something to him. What? I have no idea. But he made it very clear just how mad he was:

“Dat wee [that tree] is mad at you and dat wee is mad at you and dat wee is mad at you… And dat sign is mad at you and dat caw is mad at you and diss caw is mad at you and AW DA DINGS is mad at you!

Yesterday while driving again, we were playing “I Spy.” Every time the boys found what I was spying, he claimed to eat it.

Me: “I spy a red sign…”
Him: (GULP) “I ate it!”
Me: “I spy a big, white truck…”
Him: (GULP) “I ate it!”



When we were waiting at the pediatrician’s office last week (because of my oldest son’s ear infection), I entertained the boys by reading one of the books provided in the office.

It was old and a little dirty and raggedy, but I quickly fell in love with it. The thing was hilarious. It (Our Animal Friends At Maple Hill Farm, by Alice and Martin Provensen) listed all the animals on a farm, with the funniest, most unexpected descriptions for a children’s book:


IBN RAFFERTY is chasing Ichabod.

CHAOS is chasing Ichabod.

They don’t mean anything by it. It’s just that everybody chases ICHABOD.

Everybody except COMANCHE, who likes Ichabod, and LUCKY, who is fat, lazy, and good-natured and thinks only about eating.

Ibn is sly. Chaos is grumpy. Lucky eats too much. Comanche runs away and Ichabod chews up fences. Oh, well, no horse is perfect, but they are fun to know.


THE SHEEP are silly. They are so silly the geese can hardly be blamed for wanting to pinch them. Still, there’s something sweet about sheep even if they aren’t clever.


GOOD NEIGHBORS are valuable and well-loved. These dogs are good neighbors. They do valuable things…

Other dogs are foolish dogs who do useless, foolish things. These dogs aren’t around any more.

This dog chased cars and was run over. His name was CANNY.

This dog bit people. Now she lives in a kennel. Her name is BISCUIT.

This dog killed sheep and had to be put away (as the saying goes). His name was ARGOS.

This dog snapped at children and wet on beds. He is not around any more either. His name was SWEENEY.

This dog ran away from home and went to live with someone else. No one can remember his name.

HA! Having become a parent in 2010, I’ve become used to sickly-sweet, uber-PC children’s books. You might think ill of me for saying so, but what a breath of fresh air this one was!

I was nearly giddy about it, which made the pediatrician look at me a little warily. I thought of making the office an offer for the book on the spot, but I didn’t want to push my luck. So I emailed myself the book’s title and looked it up on Amazon when I got home.

Triumph! It’s still in print, and only something like $8 to boot. (Wait – right now it’s only $6.08! Get one for yourself!)



Guess who is already SIX MONTHS OLD? Isn’t that crazy? I think time flies faster with every child we have. It seems like he should still be a newborn.



I’ve got to close with the best grocery store pics I’ve snagged yet:


Wait. You need a close-up.


Isn’t that beautiful? And ridiculous? My boys do have an uncanny knack for falling asleep anywhere (and they have fallen asleep in the car cart before) but this… this was brilliant! Not only did it make for a peaceful shopping experience, but it elicited chuckles from shoppers throughout the store.

You never know how you can brighten someone’s day, do you?

Happy weekend, everyone! Be sure to stop over to Jen’s to check out all the other Quick Takers!