Saturday Morning Sneak-Peek

I shouldn’t be up right now.

I should still be sleeping, soaking up those last few minutes of sustenance before what is sure to be a busy day. I should be trying to hit the six-hour mark of sleep after a late night of birthday party preparations.

Instead, our (almost four-year-old) birthday boy appeared at the side of our bed. He’d had a nightmare. Up he went to be nestled in between us, sniffling and wiggling and keeping me awake.

Or my mind did that. Too much on the to-do list today: bake a cake, fill goody bags, make some chili, clean up the remaining messes, vacuum, build a dinosaur.

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Yes, I drew this free-hand. Yes, the Internet helped.

(What? Isn’t that a standard part of any worthy to-do list?)

I’ve been running a little ragged this week – or rather, my mind has. I’ve mostly been home, but I’ve been absorbed in party prep, the Pope’s visit to the U.S., my region’s effort to celebrate and reflect on it, and other mentally-draining chatter in the blogging world. It’s really been pretty exhausting.

So I should be sleeping right now.

Instead I sit here at my laptop, a bowl of cereal before me, tapping out a few words. I want to say hello and welcome to the new readers I picked up this week. I want to tell my existing readers that I’m here and alive and very much missing writing to you. And I want to say to my mom that no, I didn’t get very much sleep last night, but I swear it’s not my fault.

So I’ll take the opportunity to point you to the fruits of my labor this week – a compilation of writings on Pope Francis’ U.S. visit to the Mid-Atlantic. Members of my regional blogging group have attended or are attending nearly every one of his public events during his visit, and over a dozen of us are writing on it, whether we’ve been able to see Pope Francis in-person or not. We’ve a load of great post so far (22 posts from eleven bloggers), and I’d like to take a moment to highlight a few of them.

A Walk In Words With Pope Francis

From Abigail Benjamin:

“I almost stopped my 8 year old kid from buying a souvenir Vatican flag because we had already brought a large Vatican flag from home to wave during the parade. As the Mom of many children, my default answer to any child’s impromptu spending request is usually “Let’s not buy it now.” Somehow outside the security gate of the Papal Parade, I hesitated before saying no. My hesitation was enough time for my 8 year old daughter to offer to spend her own allowance money to buy a flag. Then my husband to suggested adding another $5 from his wallet so that her younger siblings could share in the joy. If I had a metaphor for that impact of the Papal Parade, it’s that we came to the Parade with a one large family flag to wave for the Pope and we left with 5 of my children waving individual flags inside their heart for our Pope.”

From Rita Buettner:

“I had the opportunity to attend the Pope’s Mass on Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C., with 25,000 of my closest friends. If you were there too, I’m so very happy for you! If you weren’t, I wish you could have been, and I wish we could have crowded together against the barricade as we waited for the Popemobile to pass. For now, I thought I’d reflect on how the experience has made me think about the beauty and richness of our faith.”

From Brigid Hogan:

“I was lucky enough to see Pope Francis twice this week. On Tuesday, I was part of the relatively small delegation that greeted his first steps in the US at Andrews Air Force Base. On Thursday, I stood shoulder to shoulder with thousands, watching him address Congress and bowing our heads as he blessed the crowd – especially the children. On this week’s Catholic Stuff podcast, cohost Fr. Michael O’Laughlin said: “Expect good things… Whenever the Pope comes, amazing things result.” I’m not expecting Congress to heed the warnings and instructions the Pope gave them. I don’t expect them to even realize how excoriating his remarks are to the priorities both parties have set for our nation . . . But already this week, I have witnessed people side by side, joyful in their faith, renewed in mercy and vigor. I have seen Facebook posts honoring him . . . from people who haven’t considered themselves part of the Church for years.”

From Erin McCole Cupp:

“I wasn’t sure I had much to say about the World Meeting of Families . . . Nothing helpful to others.  Nothing that would be anything but navel-gazing.  Seriously, have you seen my navel?  No?  Then give the good Lord a nice, big “Thank You.” Then this morning, someone on Facebook asked a friend, “What’s so great about Wawa?” Hold the popephone. I may live on the border of Sheetz country these days, but I spent the bulk of my first thirty years under the warm glow of that golden rectangle emblazoned with the sleek silhouette of a Canada goose. You mean to tell me there are people who don’t know what’s so great about Wawa?  That is when I realized that I have something to say about next week’s events, something important, even something unique.  I may have left Philly and its suburbs, but Philly and its suburbs certainly never left me.  I, dear reader, have been called.  I have a mission. I have, my friends, found my WMOF blogging voice.  And thus I bring you… Seven Things You Need to Know About Popeadelphia: Your incredibly unofficial guide to the 2015 World Meeting of Families”

From Abbey Davis Dupuy:

“My hands are full, people say-
busy slicing grapes in half
strategically placing Band-aids
peeling the pink crayon to make it last a bit longer
busy steadying a wobbly bike
rebraiding flyaway hair
washing wiggly feet.

His hands were full, too-
busy breaking bread (somehow stretched to plenty)
busy drawing in the dirt
touching ears, heads, foreheads
busy not casting stones
grasping a hand and pulling it back to life
flipping over tables when necessary
washing reluctant feet.

I examine my hands and wish they were more like His-
less afraid to touch a stranger
more willing to reach across a fence or a language barrier
less concerned with my own comfort.

They’re full, yes, but they’re lacking.
I could always hold a little more.”

I hope you’ll stop over there to check out all the contributions. How lucky we are to have such talent in our region!

And on my way out, one more sneak peek of my little guy’s “Night at the Museum” birthday party later today:

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Yes – we’re in for a good time.

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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!