7 Quick Takes… Monday? (Vol. 33) – A Mash-Up of Weddings, (Not) Delightful Baby Phases, and a Possibly Rabid Fox

Yes, I realize that 7 Quick Takes are supposed to be a Friday thing. And that it’s been months and months since I’ve linked up to 7QT (Hi Kelly! It’s my first time linking up with you!) But hey, my morning sickness is beginning to fade so I am blogging. That’s good enough for me.

Seven Quick Takes Friday


Other than the sobbing child who attempted to chase us down the driveway as we pulled out (stab me in the heart, why don’t you?), last last weekend’s wedding/anniversary festivities went really well.

On Saturday we jumped from (1) a formal wedding at a gorgeous gothic-style downtown church to (2) a more casual outdoor wedding at a country club just outside the city, then (3) back downtown for a waterfront reception on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Whew!

Both weddings were lovely, both brides beautiful, both families happy. We were able to visit with both sides of my family, we enjoyed a delicious meal, great views, and even a special dance for our anniversary. I call that a win!

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On Sunday we celebrated my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary with almost every member of my mom’s side of the family. With relatives having flown in from San Diego, St. Louis, and Chicago, I believe we hit over 60 people, missing only my Uncle’s family in Maine.

As one of my aunts put it, “So glad to be sharing the 60th celebration with these two in the same way we grew up – a casual picnic, surrounded by kids & adults alike running around catching frogs & lightning bugs, playing games, singing & dancing. Always someone passing a baby or toddler to another to enjoy, & simply catching up with the everyday events as the generations grow!”

She’s right – the anniversary party was very ‘us’ – a potluck meal, lots of talking and laughing, lawn games, group pictures, kids running around in packs, even random wildlife. Granddad kept saying that we shouldn’t have made such a fuss, but I think we made just the right kind of fuss.

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I’m enjoying reading the recap posts from those who attended this year’s Edel Gathering. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I very much regret that I wasn’t able to hear Rachel Balducci’s talk, watch Jen Fulwiler record her radio show, witness Rachael Escandon’s craaaazy shoes, visit the beautiful city of Charleston, and hang out with so very, very many wonderful women. But I don’t at all regret missing out on the extreme humidity or (worse yet) the hotel’s plumbing problems. Not. at. all.


Here’s something I never thought I’d be glad to hear: “Jude spit on me!”

My poor little three-year-old was suffering a stomach bug last week. The other morning, once he finally seemed settled and the baby had gone down for his nap, I grabbed a quick shower. I’d given firm instructions to my oldest to run to get me if the baby started screaming or the three-year-old needed my help. So imagine the panic that set in when I heard a shriek shortly after I’d gotten out of the shower: “Mommy!… mumble, mumble… MOMMY!… indiscernible shouting (during which I imagined vomit sprayed over half my family room)… Mommy!… Jude spit on me!”

Aaah…. What a relief! I’ll take a brotherly spat over vomit clean-up any day.


And here’s something I never thought I’d have to say: “If you see a fox, I want you to run as fast as you can back to the house!”

My mother-in-law returned from her hair appointment the other day to tell us that her hairdresser had recently had a terrifying experience right in front of our house. The woman was walking up the street when she saw a skinny, mangy-looking fox run out of the woods. And it chased her! She started running, but it kept chasing her, and she was seriously frightened for her safety until some Jeep pulled up and placed itself between her and the fox. The fox attacked the Jeep’s tires and the woman ran to safety.

So that’s just great, isn’t it?

(And what a quick-thinking, amazingly helpful person that Jeep’s driver was!)

It looks like we have a very sick, possibly rabid fox in our neighborhood. I didn’t let the boys go outside to play (well, the one wasn’t feeling up to it anyway) for a few days, but I finally let them out with that warning. I can’t keep them indoors forever, can I?


We’re officially in the phase where I walk into the kitchen to find the baby standing on the table. I hate this phase.

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When it comes to caring for small children, workloads are a funny thing, aren’t they?

In some ways it doesn’t take that much more effort to care for three than it does for one – you’re already cooking the meals and doing the laundry and running the errands, so what’s a bit more? At any rate, my first child was much harder to work around than my three now are together. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight. He wanted me to be engaged with him during each of his waking moments. They have each other to play with, so they come to me for mommy things: comfort, nourishment, arbitration. They go to their brothers for entertainment.

But on the other hand, caring for three sometimes seems exponentially harder than caring for one. For instance, in the last two weeks, my two older boys attended swim lessons together while the baby and I participated in a little Mommy and Me swim class. (It seemed like the best way to keep him from screaming for the duration of the boys’ lessons.) It was great: the boys loved their lessons, I could watch their progress from the other side of the pool, and the baby was sometimes kinda sorta happy to be in the water. But it was so exhausting.

Getting everybody up and fed and dressed and out of the house each morning… keeping up with the pool bag and the towels and swimsuits… crouching on the pool deck to pull off boys’ shoes and shirts and hand them their “gobbles” (definitely my favorite preschool mispronunciation)… then rushing over to the other side of the pool to pull off my own cover-up and wrestle the baby into his swim diaper and suit… wrangling everybody into a changing room afterward… managing four rounds of showers and drying off and dressing…


The last two days of lessons, the three-year-old was in the middle of his stomach bug, so my husband went into work late so our oldest could still finish his lessons. The baby was left home too, for convenience’ sake. And it was so much easier! Taking one child to swim lessons is about 100 times easier than taking three and being in one of the classes yourself. I seriously felt like waving my (empty!) arms around to demonstrate just how freeeee I felt.

Next year’s kindergarten/preschool combo? I’m coming for you!

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As I mentioned above, my morning sickness seems to be fading away. Thank the Lord! I still have it for much of the day, but the intensity is decreasing and I’m actually starting to have some short windows in which I don’t feel sick at all. And I have some energy – what an amazing feeling!

So I think the time is right for a little jump-start to my blogging efforts. Partly inspired by the 7 drawings in 7 days Heather is just finishing up (they’re great! check them out!), I thought I’d commit to 7 posts in 7 days.

But, needing to not get too ahead of myself, these posts are going to be pretty simple. Every day I run across news articles or blog posts or radio segments that make me want to answer them aloud with my own take on the situation. So that’s what I’m going to do. For each of the next seven days, I’ll take a recent item (by someone much more original than myself) and I’ll comment on it. That’s it, but that’s something!

I hope to ‘see’ you back here this week for my itty bitty baby steps back to regular blogging. And I hope you’ll go check out the other Quick Takes over at Kelly’s. (For those of my readers who don’t regularly follow Quick Takes, 7QT used to be hosted by Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary, but now it’s hosted by Kelly Mantoan of This Ain’t the Lyceum.) Have a great week!


Here’s to Another Fifty-Four

Today is my sixth wedding anniversary and I’m not at all prepared: I have no card, no gift, and haven’t given any thought to how we might celebrate, except for some vague idea that we’ll go out to dinner once my morning sickness is over.

Rather than focusing on our own marriage this evening, Brennan and I will be celebrating the marriage of my cousin Zachary to his bride Susan and my cousin Jenny to her groom Colin. At pretty much the same time. (Yes – we’ll be running from one wedding to the other. We’ll hit the first wedding, then the second, than back to the reception of the first.)

Tomorrow, we’ll again gather together with much of our family to celebrate my grandparents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary.

It’s a marriage kind of weekend.

So I’m thinking about us – me and Brennan – and where we are today. I’m thinking about where we were on our own wedding day and how far we’ve come. I’m wondering where the coming years will take us.

And I’m just so grateful.

Our wedding day passed in a swirl of images and activity: skirts hiked high over brick sidewalks, our flower girl walking barefoot up the aisle, him waiting at the end of it for me, sailboats on the water, a broad dance floor under a white tent, the cake we never got to eat, hugs and good wishes, and just us – finally alone.

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Photo credit: Gordon Eisner

Our lives were so open and uncertain. Exciting, but uncertain.

Part of me wishes that we’d done the newlywed thing a little longer – gone on a few more trips, had a few more romantic dinners, enjoyed the (relative) freedom of being childless. But we were eager to have children. And thank goodness, children came easily: We welcomed our first a few weeks before our first anniversary. Our second came along 15 months later, and our third 30 months after that. Six years into our marriage, we’re now expecting our fourth.

I wouldn’t trade it – them, these years of worry and work – for the world. And I know Brennan feels the same.

Today we’re tired, we’re worn thin, we have to step over random objects (yesterday it was an empty milk jug on the family room floor) to get from point A to point B, but what an abundance of life we have in our home.

We get to watch our boys run and climb and jump and work together to catch “crocagators” and “pteranodonosauruses.” We get to hear them roar and shriek and tell long, long stories. I get to watch Brennan hold the big boys captive in his arms and my baby snuggle on his daddy’s chest. I get to see the way he teaches them, guides them, loves them. I get to hear him reading to them before bed and saying Grace with them before meals.

Our boys are getting older, more competent and independent. We’re entering the years in which we’ll teach them about the world and slowly back off as they learn to navigate it. Ten years from now, we might remember these small-child years as if through a fog. Thirty, forty years from now, our roles as parents will be altogether different.

Fifty-four years from now, when (God willing) we’ll celebrate our own sixtieth wedding anniversary, where will we be? What will we have gone through? How will we have weathered the challenges of our life together?

All I know is that despite the hard work and sleepless nights of caring for three small children and gestating a fourth, my life with Brennan is happier and fuller now than it was when we were newlyweds. That despite the fun we might have had on a few more childless trips and dates, nothing has built up our marriage like working alongside each other, making those difficult decisions together, and exchanging smiling glances as we watch our delightful, unruly brood roll around on the floor.

I can only hope that another 54 years of shared work, sacrifice, and small joys will add up to more love than I can imagine.

Grandmom and Granddad, congratulations on all you’ve accomplished together. Thank you for being such terrific parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Thank you especially for showing all of us such a beautiful example of marriage.

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Zachary and Susan, Jenny and Colin, congratulations on entering into your own marriages! I pray that six years from today, you look at each other with more love and commitment than you do this evening. I hope you’ll recognize the gift of having to work for and with each other and that someday you’ll receive the immeasurable blessing and joy of children.

Brennan, thank you for all you have been and done in the past six years. I love you and I’m so glad that you’re the one I get to walk (and stumble, and run) through life with. Here’s to another 54!

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How We Met

Grace of Camp Patton has been telling the story of how she met her husband and decided to turn it into a little “how we met” link-up. (So go check them out!) I have entirely too little time to be doing this right now, but…

Today is my wedding anniversary, and I did post this little piece yesterday in honor of my husband, and (it being just past midnight) I have just been drinking this glass of wine, and my husband did walk in with these lovely roses a few hours ago…


So, all the stars seem to be aligned. I can’t resist. Now is the time for me to write about how Brennan and I met. (In a quickish amount of time, hopefully.)

To put it most simply (and I already mentioned this in my earlier piece), we met on eHarmony. Brennan and I had both been single for quite a long time. He (as always) was very pragmatic in his decision to join – it was just no big deal. I, on the other hand, had anguished over whether to try eHarmony or something like it. I just couldn’t imagine having to tell my family that I’d met someone online. The horror.

Eventually, though, I got over myself and decided to give it a shot. (To give credit where it’s due, I only got over myself when a friend of mine, someone whom I admired, became engaged to a really wonderful man she’d met on eHarmony. Kathleen, I’m looking at you. Thank you.)

By this time, I was in my late twenties and I had almost always been single. I’d had a couple of very quick, not very meaningful relationships looong before and another that went on (and off) for a couple of years, but was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. More recently, I’d had a couple of guy friends who were maybe-more-than-friends (maybe?) but nothing ever seemed to progress. So I didn’t exactly have high hopes for this internet thing.

But, whaddy’a know? In the slew of guys I was matched with when I opened my account, there was this one who mentioned something about bees. Everybody else was saying how they liked to keep in shape or hang out with friends – one guy even went on and on about how much he loved his iPhone. But the bees… I was intrigued. We progressed through the million-and-one eHarmony steps (me waiting with baited breath each morning to see the response that would be waiting), until we finally spoke on the phone. And he was so nice and talking to him was so easy… it wasn’t long before we set our first date.

Brennan and I decided on the county fair – a fun place to walk around and see some sights; public enough for me to run away if I needed to. (I can be quite practical too, you know.) I did warn him, though: “The fair would be fun, but we’re liable to run into some of my family there. If you have a problem with that, we can go somewhere else.” But he didn’t – not at all. And it’s a good thing, because we did indeed run into some of my family – my great-uncle, a couple of my aunts, a few of my cousins… I think we hit ten of them in all.

But Brennan was such a great sport about it! And we had so much to talk about. It was easy and comfortable… and I was so happy. He was too; later he told me that he knew that very evening that I was the one for him. (Blush.)

Within the next couple of weeks, we went out a few more times, including one impromptu and very cozy weeknight date at a coffeehouse concert in my little city. The next day Brennan left for a family wedding back in his home state of Minnesota. Oh, how I missed him. I was trying not to call and bug him, but when I found out that I had the opportunity to go to a big, fancy dinner through my work – and I could bring a date – I had to call to see if he wanted to join me. He did – no question. When we went to said big, fancy dinner a couple of weeks later, Brennan introduced himself to our fellow guests as my boyfriend. It was hard for me to hide my excitement.

I won’t go on in any more detail. The basics are that a year later, we were engaged. Nine months after that, we were married. Eleven months later, we had our first child. After another fifteen months, we had our second. The time has FLOWN.

And today – exactly four years since we were married and just shy of six years since our first date – I am still amazed by how quickly my life changed. In June of 2007 I was 28 years old, long single, and (though yes, I was still hoping and trying to meet “the one”) just starting to come to terms with the idea that I might never marry. By August, my future husband knew that I was “the one” for him. Soon after, I knew it too.

The whole thing happened so easily and naturally and comfortably. (I think I might have typed the words “easy” or “easily” 13 times so far in this post.) After years of angsting over the whole business of meeting my hypothetical future husband, all of a sudden everything just fell into place. Like it was no big deal. How. Amazing. And what a blessing.

So… that is my own story. But maybe I can be so bold as to suggest that it might hold a little glimmer of hope for some of the long-single ladies out there. I’m not going to tell you “Don’t worry; it will happen.” (Because I hated when people told me that: They didn’t know what the heck would or wouldn’t happen in my life.) But I will tell you that you just never know. Whatever your life ends up looking like later, it will most definitely be different from how it looks right now. You just never know; change could happen soon. And it could happen quickly.

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Five Favorites (Vol. 2): Anniversary Edition


Linking up with Hallie for this week’s Five Favorites! Be sure to check out the rest!

(Updated to add that I’m also linking this post to Jenna’s “I Pray I Don’t Forget: What I Love About My Husband” at A Mama Collective. Check out those stories too!)

Tomorrow we’ll celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s Five Favorites to my excellent husband, Brennan. So here’s some background on our relationship, Five of my Favorite things about B, and some of my favorite photos from our wedding. (Randomly placed and more than five, because I needed to break up the looong intro in #1.)

— 1 —

Brennan is interested in things – so many things.

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In passing, this may seem pretty inconsequential: “Umm, big deal, Julie. Everybody’s interested in something. Even lots of somethings.” So let me back up for a minute and give you a little background on what lead up to our relationship. It should give more meaning to this and some of the other Favorites. Or maybe I just like to provide more information than anyone could possibly care about. One of the two.

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Anyway, I was single for what felt like a looong time before I met Brennan. And I mean single single, not dating-but-not-yet-married “single.” Other than three very brief relationships in my early twenties, I was alone and lonely, day-dreaming of my ideal man. (Does that sound a little pathetic? Sorry. It was what it was.) Toward the end of my twenties I had the blessed insight that I needed to adjust my outlook on single life and my approach to maybe/hopefully finding the man with whom I could share a future. All-in-all, it’s a longer topic for another day. But the pertinent part is that I refined the list of qualities I hoped to find in my future husband. I realized that, most of all, I wanted to find a man who was good and kind, moral, responsible, hardworking – and interested in the world around him. I knew that I could never marry a man who didn’t have those values. And I figured that if my husband had an interest in the world, a hunger to learn and do, then our life together would be an open horizon – something to be explored.

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We walked to the church, which was super fun,
except for how worried I was about the hem of my dress.

When I met Brennan, everything fell into place very quickly. Good? Kind? Moral? Responsible? Hardworking? Check, check, check, check… and check. But the clincher was really that he was interested in so many things. He caught my eye on eHarmony (yep, that’s how we met) because he said he loved bees.

Bees? Who loves bees? My beekeeper of a hubby, that’s who. A few years before, Brennan had gotten to talking with a co-worker who kept bees as a hobby. B thought it was interesting, so he started to read up on it. He read and read and researched… and the next thing he knew, he was putting together hive boxes and picking up packages of buzzing bees from unhappy postal workers.

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We gave out little jars of Brennan’s honey as favors.

Brennan has done the same thing with other hobbies: skiing, target shooting, cooking, home improvement, etc. On the house front, he’s taught himself how to do all sorts of useful things: woodworking, plumbing, mechanics, painting, even pest control. Brennan identifies something he wants to know how to do and he just figures it out. There doesn’t seem to be a “What if?” with Brennan – just a “How?”

Likewise, Brennan has cultivated his interests in history, architecture, and politics by reading and reading and reading… The man loves the internet. And good nonfiction. And audio books that he can soak up on his commute to and from work.

Brennan didn’t grow up doing any of the above; he wasn’t influenced by beekeeper or carpenter or plumber or historian or architect or politician parents. He just happened upon something (many things) that interested him, he had an open mind, and he decided to pursue the new activities and ideas. With gusto. I love that. I can’t wait to see what will be inspiring my husband in ten or twenty years.

— 2 —

Brennan gets stuff done.

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Just as I love how Brennan is active in pursuing his many interests, I also love that he takes the initiative to just go ahead and do what needs to be done – even if it’s tedious or unpleasant. Me? I’m the procrastinating type. The type who avoids the things I find intimidating or disagreeable. But, big or small, Brennan does what needs to be done. Hours upon hours of schoolwork while also working full time? He does it. Paying the bills, going to the doctor, cleaning the bathroom? He does it. Doing preventative maintenance on our very old house? He does it. And not just that – he does it well, without a fuss, and with very few complaints. What a great example to set for our boys. (And, er… for me too.)

— 3 —

Brennan is a loving father and a patient teacher to our boys.

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On one of our first dates, Brennan and I visited an arboretum. Walking through the trees, Brennan spotted an insect hovering near some leaves. Very gently, he pointed it out to me, studied it a bit, and explained what it was doing. In that moment I thought to myself, “Wow. What a wonderful father he’ll be.” And he is. Brennan had very little experience with children before our boys were born, but he jumped in with both feet – doing all kinds of tedious tasks, showering the boys with hugs and kisses, playing all their wild games, teaching them about the world around them, and showing them great patience and a powerful love.

— 4 —

Brennan is a kind and supportive husband.

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This cake tasted so good that our guests gobbled it up before we could even get pieces ourselves!

I love staying home with my boys, but I am a social person by nature and I need to be around other adults. I need some mental stimulation and I need a bit of a break from the constant demands that come with having two very active young boys. I also need to feel like I’m giving something to my community. Brennan understands this, he supports me in my efforts to do things outside of the home, and he has never once complained about it. And it’s no small thing on his part: I serve on the board of a historic home an hour away from our house and I sing in our church’s choir. Both require my presence at times that necessitate B leaving work early. Sometimes hours early, meaning he has to make up those lost hours on another day. But Brennan says that if I really want to do something, I should do it.

— 5 —

Brennan has high standards.

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Gotta love the tiny spectators.

Brennan has high standards about lots of things – work, behavior, food, coffee and chocolate, goods and services that we buy – but let me feel flattered for a minute that he also had high standards when it came to finding the person he wanted to marry. When he was doing the eHarmony thing, going out on first date after first date, Brennan’s buddies at work started to give him a hard time. They’d joke about how he rarely made it to a second date. “What’s wrong with her this time?” was their standard question. One friend told him “everyone settles.” But my Brennan? He answered, “Not me.” He shared my conviction that it was better to be single than to be with the wrong person.

Perhaps this last Favorite sounds a bit self-gratifying. Certainly I’m glad that my husband didn’t “settle” for me. But more than that, I admire a person who will hold out and work hard for what he or she really wants. Too often these days, people expect instant gratification – in relationships, in their homes and careers, in their spare time. But Brennan couldn’t be farther from that. To achieve the kind of life he wants, Brennan works hard, he makes smart decisions, he sacrifices, and he is patient. He sets high standards for himself and he keeps to them.

I am so thankful that this man came into my life. I am grateful for all his hard work and careful planning. I am glad to have his love and his good company. I feel blessed to be building a life with him. Happy anniversary, Brennan. I love you.

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All photos are credited to Gordon Eisner.

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 2)

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

— 1 —

When I started this blog (a whole 12 days ago) to take the place of some fantasy of time-spent-in-a-bar-or-coffee-shop-talking-about-interesting-things, I knew that it was going to be challenging to find time to write. (Not as challenging as all that fantasy time away from the house, mind you.)

But, c’mon.

I think I did pretty darned well that first week (six posts!), but this week has been pathetic. And what’s really getting to me is that I haven’t even been overly busy. It would be one thing if I could chalk up my lack of writing opportunities to a bunch of outings or something. But I’ve (mostly) been home! Doing dishes and other boring stuff! It’s just that every time I sit down to write, somebody climbs up into my lap, or has to go pee-pee, or pelts me with questions, or hauls in his toys to play right next to me. Because I am never, ever so interesting as when I am looking at a computer.

(Yes, yes I know that it’s wonderful that they want to be near me, and little children need their mommies, and these years go so fast, and blah, blah, blah… But mommies need breaks, too. This one needs just a little bit of quiet every day, to think and refresh, and feel like I’ve done something productive that won’t be destroyed in the next few hours.)

— 2 —

On a more hopeful note, see this little set-up here? Water table, boys wearing nothing but t-shirts and diapers, BABY GATE to keep said boys out of the fish pond in the background… This is my Hope For The Summer. Really, I’m depending on it way more than I should be. My plan is to stick the boys in here (frequently) and enjoy all sorts of little luxuries while they’re occupied with the water fun: planning interesting new meals, cooking without someone sitting on my feet, folding laundry on the same day it’s washed, gardening, walking some laps around the house, blogging… It’s going to be wonderful. Right? RIGHT?!?

Boy at water table

— 3 —

Sorry if I’m sounding a tad desperate here. It’s just that (as indicated in #1), we’ve had one of those weeks. On Wednesday things were so rough that half-way through I gathered my boys into my lap, wrapped my arms around them, and said, “Let’s make this a better day, boys.” And my (big) little stinker answered that no, he wanted to make the day worse. As in, “Da worst day ever!”

And then he proceeded to give it a good shot. So when my husband came home that evening (blissfully, at an actually very decent hour), I told him I needed to get out of the house for a while. And I did something I hadn’t done in over a year: I went for a walk by myself. I won’t deny that I was inspired, in part, by this post from the marvelous Simcha Fisher.

Field at Evening

Beautiful view, isn’t it? This was the beginning of my walk. I love when I catch the evening light at just the right moment, when the fields and woods have a golden quality to them. And I particularly love it at this time of year, when the temperature is comfortable and the air smells like honeysuckle.

I love most things about a walk, really, it’s just that I almost never make time for them anymore. One summer when I was in college, I took an hour-long walk every evening when I got home from work. That one, simple activity helped me lose 20 pounds and get into the best shape of my life. It also helped to clear my mind and feed my soul. (I did a lot of praying while I walked.) I could use more than a little of all those things in my life right now. Weight loss? More strength? Better health? Clearer mind? Fruitful prayer? Yes, please!

But how am I supposed to fit this into my schedule of morning-to-night childcare responsibilities? My hubby usually doesn’t get home from work until dusk. And the double stroller thing is hard to do when you live in a place with super narrow sidewalks and some seriously steep, hilly streets. Can someone please send me a sweet neighbor girl to babysit a few times a week?

— 4 —

We seem to be in a season of entertaining and weddings. Last night we hosted a small dinner party (so I guess my assessment of our busy-ness this week was a tad understated in #1), two weeks ago we hosted a larger one, a week from now we’ll host the after-party for our weekend-long family reunion, and a couple of weeks after that we’ll host a teenage friend/distant relative from Germany for a few weeks. (More on that one later.) Last weekend we had my aunt’s wedding and two weeks from now we have my uncle’s. Oh, and we also have our little guy’s THIRD birthday party in the mix for June and a family trip to Minnesota in July. I’m not complaining. I enjoy being with people and I love that my husband and I are creating a hospitable home. All the activity delights me at the same time as it makes my head spin.

— 5 —

I would love to get to the point in my time-management skills (I actually have been improving in this area) where I have a few moments before guests arrive to take pictures of the set-up. I love beautiful dishes and linens and I usually make time to display everything nicely. But inevitably, I’m still preparing food (or, ahem, getting myself ready) as guests arrived. Someday I’ll get there.

— 6 —

Speaking of getting ready, lately I’ve been listening to a lovely radio show while I get ready for mass on Sunday mornings. It’s On Being, which, as its website describes, is envisioned as “a program that would draw out the intellectual and spiritual content of religion that should nourish our common life, but that is often obscured precisely when religion enters the news.”

[W]hat we cover as “conversation about religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas” drives towards ancient, animating questions at the heart of the great traditions and beyond them: What does it mean to be human? What matters in a life? What matters in a death? How to love? How to be of service to each other and to the world? We explore these questions in all the variety, richness, and complexity with which they find expression in contemporary lives. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.

It’s really a beautiful program. I don’t always agree with their interview subjects, but that’s kind of the point of exposing oneself to new ideas, isn’t it? Learning about someone else’s perspective, taking to heart the parts that you recognize as truth, and using the rest to exercise, if you will, your own thought process on the subject.

The tone of the program, if not always the subject matter, reminds me of a Washington Post series of the same name. (Here’s a link, but there doesn’t seem to be any content on the site right now.) It was a series of short videos of individuals who talked about their lives and explored being… whoever they were. I recall a video of a stay-at-home dad and his baby boy, a mother and her son with Down’s Syndrome, a young nun, and oh, lots and lots more. After the interview you’d find out what quality the individuals were representing: On being joyful, On being special, etc. I loved almost every single segment I saw. They were powerful, moving, thought-provoking – all sorts of good things. I wish they were still up so you could see them too!

— 7 —

To close, let me bring it back to the domestic realities that dominated this post with the following beautiful shot:

Messy kitchen

Yes, the post-dinner party dishes. You know what I’ll be doing today! Oh, and I forgot to put the wine away last night. Sigh… While I’m dealing with all that (not to mention the two toddlers who woke up THREE to FOUR hours earlier than usual!), you go check out the other Quick Takes over at Jen’s. I promise you it will be waaaay more fun than what I’ve got going on.

Sunday Best

Grace of the always-worth-visiting Camp Patton is trying a new link-up today called “Sunday Best.” The idea is to blog on your “Sunday Best” clothes and/or your children’s “Sunday Best” (or far from best) behavior at church. I’m in!

(By the way, to any mom friends who haven’t yet checked out Camp Patton – do! Go! Right now! Grace’s tales of life with her three under three are like a visit from a good friend who knows JUST what you’re going through. And who arrives at your house bearing your favorite cocktail.)

Anyway, I’m not going to post a photo of the outfit I wore to mass today. Because (1) I have a head of frizz in this humid summer weather, (2) I’m sunburned and exhausted-looking after the wedding we attended yesterday, and (3) I’m one of those self-conscious moms who (almost) never takes pictures of herself. Yep, that’s me. I admit it.

I will, however, get up the courage to (cringe) post a photo of the boys and me from yesterday’s wedding, because it’s such a good representation of the mass behavior I can typically expect from them:

Me and the boys at wedding
The almost-three-year-old is usually very well-behaved in mass. (At home? That can be a very different story. But in mass, thankfully, I can normally count on an ‘A’ performance.) The 20-month-old usually does pretty well through the homily, but around the consecration (perfectly timed, I know) he turns into something like the above and the hubby rushes him out.

Today everybody was tired from the wedding, so you can imagine how we did. Big brother kept up a constant stream of low-level noise – lots of whispering and climbing and sound effects and jiggling like a plastic bag filled with Jello – and he responded Not One Little Bit to my corrections. He gets a ‘C’ – saved only by virtue of keeping it all to “low-level.” Little brother pulled off a pretty typical performance, so I guess he gets a ‘C’ too. Even though he successfully brought out the giggles in the people sitting behind us by repeatedly dripping his milk onto the pew and then wiping it up with a napkin, saying “messsh, messsh.”

On a much nicer note, I have to mention that our parish held a Eucharistic procession through town directly after mass, in honor of Corpus Christi. It was the first such thing I’ve participated in. Years ago when I was studying in Germany, the little Bavarian town I was living in hosted a HUGE Corpus Christi procession, complete with hundreds of people wearing lederhosen and dirndls. And I MISSED it! I had signed up for a day trip to Neuschwanstein, not realizing that (1) it was scheduled for Corpus Christi and (2) that meant that the town would be overtaken by processing Catholics. A dear friend photographed it for me because she knew I’d love it, but missing the procession remains my greatest regret of what was otherwise a fantastic summer. Our participation in this morning’s (1000x much) smaller procession lifted my spirits and went a tiny way toward removing my regret at missing the Prien am Chiemsee version.

To end, let me just share a picture of my dapper little guy as ring bearer yesterday. (Congratulations, Tom and Aunt Grace!) The little sign he’s wearing (which you can see better in the first picture) reads “ring security.”

Ring Bearer

And here’s one of the littlest guy. We borrowed a friend’s toddler tuxedo so he could be just like his big brother, but, um… something got lost in the shuffle. Good thing he’s cute enough to pull off any look!

Funny Tuxedo

So head on over to Grace and check out the rest!