7 Quick Takes 2014, vol. 7:


I think this is going to be a short one, since I’ve been working so hard all week on our Reversal Story, plus I already got my post in for the day. This is all about making my goals, baby.

1. Goals. I realized on Wednesday that one of the major goals I set for myself this year with regards to blogging was to finally publish our Vasectomy Reversal Story. Since I started this 7 posts in 7 days challenge, and since those posts were already begun… well, I just kind of stumbled into really doing it and then AFTER the fact realized I had met a major goal. Why can’t all goals be met like that? With the chance to look up and say, “Wow! I had no idea I had gotten so much accomplished!” That is just not a feelings that happens very often. I think I need to make Jay take me out to dinner!

2. Motivation. One of my goals has been to just get this 7 Quick Takes posted every week just to get myself blogging again. I knew it was a source of fairly wimpy and unoriginal writing, but it was something. So I figured it was a good place to start. Then today I saw this: If You’re Not Good Enough, Just Do This One Thing Over and Over and Over… and Over Again. Ira Glass talks about how when you are trying to learn to do something well, but are frustrated with what you produce, it’s because you have taste and know what really is a good thing. But you have to do things badly for a while, sometimes a very long while before you can become good at them. If you quit when you are still producing not-so-great stuff, then you never will get to greatness. So I need to keep writing, keep producing. Even when no one is reading. I like to write and that is why I am doing it. While it feels like I am spinning my wheels here in a 7 Quick Takes, I am practicing. Maybe one day I will gain some traction and produce something really good. Until then, I have to be willing to produce sub-par stuff. Now that I can do!

3. Gluten. So I’ve completely fallen off the gluten free wagon. Molly is still gluten free (per doctor’s orders) and Jay is still mostly doing it. But I’ve just lost all motivation right now. Dude, I had Kraft Mac and Cheese for lunch and it was so very delicious, I can’t even tell you! The bloating, however… sigh.

4. So next week Lent starts. I am neither nursing nor pregnant this year, so that means I have to do Lent like a grown up with all the fasting and stuff. How penitential. I’m not really looking forward to it, except for maybe fish sandwiches… Since I’m failing at the gluten thing, I might as well, right? Lent at our house is always  penitential just in the amount of Church activities and singing and stuff. I work with the RCIA at our parish, so there is extra stuff there. Jay sings, so he is adding in some Tuesdays and Fridays to the usual Sundays and Wednesdays. When other people plan events in Lent it always takes me a while to calm down and stop calling them crazy in my head and remember that not everyone’s schedule gets turned on its head due to liturgical seasons.

5. Would it be crazy? to make a list of books I’d like to read in a certain time? Yes. Yes it would. See, I’m just letting that goal I met go all to my head and make me think I can just be all in control of stuff like that. Right now the extent of my reading is about 3 pages per night in The Two Towers, which I have read no less than ten times and I love but I still just can’t concentrate on for long enough.

6. Baseball! Spring baseball is about to begin. Because what better time to add in multiple other weekly events than Lent? On the other hand, it is enforced time out of the house. That is a good thing, since I would never leave my own home or take my kids anywhere if I had the choice. So I will just grit my teeth and remind myself that it is for the Greater Good.

7. I’m almost there! I’m almost through the 7 posts in 7 days and I’m almost through with this post. In reading other peoples 7 in 7 I have discovered a whole new set of fun link ups that I will be trying out just to keep myself typing madly away. One baby step at a time.

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 6: Book Sales and Grocery Stores



I’m sitting on my bed listening to two kids destroy the bathroom just a few feet away. This is not conducive to writing. Splash scream, scream splash. I had better go handle this before it gets any further out of hand…

Ok, crisis averted.

1. Update. I threw my temper tantrum last week and described all this things that went wrong in a week. Miscarriage, croup with asthma complications, stomach virus, adult child crisis, lice, and a broken dryer. This week has been much better in that no new giant problems were added. But the previous thorns, being what they are, have still been a lot to deal with this week. My asthma child is now on four different varieties of steroid, and antibiotic and two allergy medicines just to keep her breathing. Thankfully we seem to be finally doing better, for now, and last night was the first night when she didn’t need a breathing treatment in the middle of the night in quite a while.

We replaced the broken dryer and upgraded my washing machine to the biggest one we can find. I can’t tell you what a relief this is. The  loads I can do are SO HUGE now, I may even change sheets on a regular basis.

Which is good, because we still have to make sure that the buggies don’t come back. We’re still doing regular head checks – both time consuming and back breaking.

The miscarriage stuff will get its own post in due time. But for now, it is still consuming time and energy.

2. Knitting. I retaught myself to knit, you know, in my spare time, from YouTube. My mom taught me years ago, so it wasn’t too hard to pick up again. The little baby blanket I’m making is kind of a wreck. It’s full of places where the stitches are too tight or too loose, but I figure I’m building muscle memory and will get better as I go. I’d just like to point out that it is much easier to knit when the kids are not jumping on the couch next to me.

3. Meal Planning. I am in such a rut with meal planning. The recent stomach flu left me with no appetite for tacos ever, ever again. And there are times that I just want to say, “No food allergies allowed in this house!” And then, in my special little imagination, the food allergies just scurry away. I just want to be able to pick up any old recipe and throw it together. No gluten, no eggs. That brought me down to a quarter of the dinners I can make and now I am sick of all the things on that list. Mostly it would be helpful if I would just go grocery shopping, like real, full store, grocery shopping. Nah, I’m not that desperate yet. I’m sure a quick trip to the store for milk and cereal will tide us over just a little longer.

4. Book Sale! My Husband and I actually did something fun this weekend. We went to the VNSA Book Sale. Oh my goodness. I have never seen so many books in my life! I wish I had taken a picture. We brought a rolling cart and we filled it all the way up. We even found a whole bunch of really beautiful hardbound classic books for our daughter who loves those. Big rolling cart full =$68. Most of the books we got were $2 or less. Now I have to figure out where to put them. Our bookshelf is full to bursting, and that is AFTER I removed a box full of books just the other day.

5. Little details of life. We moved the treadmill into our room, so I can get a walk in even when there is no way to leave the kids or take them with me. Taking them along always becomes a farce as far as exercise goes. One kid wants to take a bike so another cries that they should get to ride their scooter, but the bike has a flat tire and now there is a fight over the scooter. Then a tiny one wants to ride a tricycle and then we are moving at a snail’s pace. It’s great family time and all, except for the fighting, but when the reason I was trying to go for a walk was to get some exercise, it just defeats the purpose.

6. Speaking of exercise, I’m trying to get my butt in gear and get back into the 10K step habit. I got 4 days in a row and then the wind kicked the pollen up (I think every plant in Phoenix is blooming!) and my sinuses filled up with goop. So tonight I will probably just go to bed early.

7. My husband is awesome. He has been wrangling the homework, pajamas and medicines so I could write this. What he doesn’t know is that I’m going to toss my hat in for the 7 posts in 7 days ride this coming week. Wheee! When will I find the time? I guess I will have to not do something, like go to the grocery store.

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 5: In Which I Throw a Temper Tantrum


My husband and I have a sort of unspoken policy that we don’t give excuses. When the field trip money gets turned in late, when we have to turn down a position at church or school where we are desperately needed, when we have to back out of a commitment we have made – we don’t give an explanation for it, we just apologize as best we can and move on. Sure, people get angry or hurt feelings, but it’s better than the alternative which is that they just flat out don’t believe us. What we have found is that if we tell people what is really going on in our lives, they think we are making it up. It seriously sounds like we are just really bad liars who come up with a list of excuses in an effort to sound plausible. You know, it’s the kind of thing you see scam artists do all the time, they give too many details. We used to give details. But we either got people who stopped believing anything we said or people who constantly looked on us with pity. We became somewhat of a joke in the parish office for a while, because people could always count on a good bit of crisis drama coming from our household. It’s not like we were calling them about it either… they just knew. So we just stopped complaining.

But this week. This week just takes the cake. It’s actually a little longer than the previous seven days, but not by much, so I’m counting it all. And I will enumerate my list of crappy things. This is one of those weeks when I stand in awe of just how bad a week (or so) can be. I almost uttered the dreaded phrase, you know the one, it begins with “What else…” but I stopped myself because I really just do not want to know.

I know that I have a lot of things to be thankful for. Trust me, they are very much on my mind right now. And I know that there are many, many people who have it much worse than I do, but today I will officially submit my entry in the “My Day Sucks Worse Than Yours” contest.

1. I am not pregnant any more. I told the whole story of my miscarriage here, so I won’t recount it for you now. But this is how we began the week: with heartbreak. The physical part is done, but there is still a lot of road ahead of us to travel on this one. We have to get the baby back to the doctors office, call the cemetery, go to vital records and I don’t know what else before our little one can be laid to rest. It feels very overwhelming, and I want it to all be over. I have this terrible fear that when I give that little vial full of stuff that I think is my baby, the doctor will tell me it is just a clot and I missed catching the baby at all and it just went down the toilet. All I can do now is wait.

I promise, while the rest of this list is bad stuff, none of it is as sad as the above paragraph. I just had to get the worst over first.

2. Croup. The little ones have been hit with varying severity with croup or a virus vaguely resembling it. Most of them came through it with just a lot of snot, fever, and horrible sounding cough, but my little asthma girl didn’t fare so well. We’ve had multiple nights of waking her every four hours for a breathing treatment, steamy showers, and time outside at night. This is the first time I have seen her truly panicked that she couldn’t get enough air, and that was very scary. To add insult to injury, she had been doing so well that just last week, her allergist gave us a plan for weaning off of the inhaled steroids that she gets every day. She has to have had no oral steroids for 2 years to be considered beyond the need for daily preventative meds. We had made it to one and a half years. Now we are back at day one.

Midnight Breathing Treatment

3. Stomach Virus. Now you are starting to think I am making things up, admit it. Just wait. When your 19 year old can only sit and cry in between her vomiting, you know its a bad one. The nine year old was next, with a single episode of vomiting – scrambled eggs, in the car. Next to fall victim was my 11 year old daughter, who threw up with such force that she broke blood vessels in her face. I was next, with the two year old close on my heels. Two year olds throw up on everything. Oh my heavens, this virus was brutal. I don’t think I slept at all for a full 24 hours. The vomiting was bad, but the headache and body aches were much, much worse.

Among the small blessings found during those days were a cancelled G.I. doctor appointment and rescheduled jury duty. Molly had a long awaited specialist appointment on Tuesday, the very day I was very sick. There was no way I could take her, so I figured we would just have to call and take the hit of whatever fee they give same day cancellations. But they called us first, and told us her doctor was out sick and would have to reschedule. I was also supposed to have jury duty the following day, but they accepted my excuse and just gave me a different day. Whew, two bullets dodged! Thanks to God for having mercy on us!

4. Adult Child Problems. Because this child is an adult, I don’t feel like I can share their business, let me just say that this is a severe, ongoing, and worrisome problem or set of problems one of my kids is having. Please pray for this child.

5. Lice. One of my kids keeps popping up with lice. I have been doing All The Things to deal with it, but they just keep coming back. I do not have the time to spend two hours a night going through heads and changing sheets. Lice combs don’t work on her, her hair is baby fine and combs don’t catch anything, it has to all be done by hand, removing nits with fingernails. One. At. A. Time.  The other kids don’t have them ( I check regularly!), and she is currently clean as a whistle, but this morning I found one on my head. and I’m just all squicked out and overwhelmed because…

6. My dryer is broken. Again. My house is still buried in puked on towels, blankets, and clothes. I need to be able to dry everything on hot to kill all the bugs, AND MY FREAKING DRYER IS BROKEN. I quit. I Quit. I QUIT.

I officially give up on this dryer which needs to be fixed about every three months now. I’m buying a new one. This particular dryer is sent by the devil himself and breaks every time we are sick. EVERY. TIME.

7. I don’t have anything else to add to this list. THANK YOU JESUS! Our cars are working, my husband has a job, we have electricity and running hot and cold water, I have a stove and two crock pots and a microwave and a dishwasher. We do not have any life threatening health problems, we have family and friends who love us and can put up with a little temper tantrum every now and then. We have our Church and the ability to go to mass and receive Jesus without threat. And so very much more. This terrible “week” will be over at some point and life will go back to “normal”.

We will be okay. I know that. We know how to laugh at a week like this, because we have to! There is some funny stuff here, even when our hearts are heavy and we need a break.

But darn if I didn’t want to rattle off this list to a certain teacher who got crabby about a delayed field trip payment.

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 4: Not Cleaning all the Things


1. In my recent venting post about Goals, I whined about how I feel a little paralyzed and afraid of how to make progress right now. This is such a frustrating place to be. This January has offered up a whole bunch of helps that are right up my alley. Hands Free Mama (Which I got in real live paperback because getting on my kindle just seemed too ironic), Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, The Mind Organization for Moms program (for free!)…  The temptation is so great right now to revamp everything, organize all the things! Clean all the things!

responsibility12(alternate)I just want to DO STUFF! But right now I have to rest.  It is really hard to put rest into my day. I know that sounds kind of silly, but it is true. If I want to get rest, that means that I have to feed the littles a real lunch at a logical time (a little before noon in our case) and not just let them graze all day. Then I have to intentionally walk away from the mess in the kitchen (which is not as hard as it might seem) and herd the littles into the bedroom (which is MUCH harder than it seems) changing a diaper and getting a drink and then settling them down and – resting, perchance to sleep?  But my whole morning is now structured around getting that lunch-and-nap timing just right. This is HARD! Dare I say, maybe this is discipline-building.  Yes, I am definitely increasing my self control by having a daily nap.

2. My body is doing this pregnancy thing okay so far this time. This baby the size of a sweet pea makes me look like I have a baby the size of a cantelope. But who’s counting? I have my yoga pants, I have like 2 or 3 shirts that are long enough. I have slippers and pony tail holders, so I’m good for now. I refuse to wear maternity clothes until I have my ultrasound on the 14th of February. Stretch, yoga pants, stretch!

3. I caved in a let myself reread The Lord of The Rings again. I felt guilty about ignoring all the new books I have on my list but it’s been a couple years, and I just missed the books so much, like an old friend. We re-bought (after ruining our last two copies) the movies with an amazon gift card we got for Christmas, so I have been watching them while I fold laundry. But as much as I love the movies, I still love the books more. The pace is so much different. In the movies the pace is harried, exciting, and breathless. But in the books you get a feel for the plodding slowness and exhaustion of the long journey, and I can relate to that so much more. (Kind of like my blog title here!) Last night as I was finishing up the part about Tom Bombadil, I thought about how Frodo has a lot of little pauses, little happy endings in the middle of his story. And I realized that I have those in my own life – little closings of chapters, rescues from troubles, time to catch my breath – but they are never The End.  But those little endings are so important. They help me rest and prepare to move on to the next thing. You miss that part in the movies.

4. As I spiral into morning sickness/exhaustion (which I am counting as a good thing, just inconvenient) I am trying a new spin on the Motivated Moms idea. I have the weekly page and printed it up and posted it on the bulletin board. That way everyone knows what needs to be done. Kids get to put their name down by what they do.  This plan is only in its beginning stages, so I can’t promise you it will work, but I think it has potential since it has space for daily items and weekly/seasonal things too.

Also, one thing we have done is that each big kid has one main chore that is theirs alone – Posy has the bathrooms, Ben has the dinner dishes, James mops, Tessa is usually the one to clean the living room, Max has to empty the dishwasher before school (which isn’t a big job, but you’d think it was from his moaning about it.)

5. Because it’s been a while, my favorite big family song:

6. Sometimes I can fall into feeling sorry for myself, especially when it comes to all the things I can’t do because we have this beautiful, amazing family that I wouldn’t trade for anything at all. But I really do have my moments when that whole dying to self thing just gets a little, well… old. But then I found this verse, which may be completely out of context, but I’ve been too lazy to check because it just speaks so generously to my heart right now and I don’t care if it is out of context:

Isaiah 43:4 Because you are precious in my eyes and honored and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.

It is just what I need to feel a tremendous hug from God and to look around and see, I traded myself for this – for all these little people… I got so much in return for my measly, pouty sacrifice! And then I feel a little less whiny and more thankful. It just helps my attitude.

7. I am loving going through the Psalms right now. I’m up to number 19. I feel so much more normal seeing David’s mercurial mood changes. And I love how even in his darkest times, he turns to God at the end of the Psalm, placing his trust again and again.


7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 3: Outed by the Bishop, Yummy Lunch, Ripping up Tracks


1. We began the week with a bang. We had planned to reveal our new pregnancy pretty quickly, but Sunday caught us by surprise. The bishop was saying mass at our parish, and since it was the Sunday before the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, he had all the expectant parents stand at the end of mass for a blessing.

What were we supposed to do? There I was, being climbed on by both Gus and Molly, right at the front of the church. I wasn’t sure at first if I had even heard correctly. Then it crossed my mind to not stand up.

I glanced at the choir and my brother in law, who sings right next to my husband, was about to fall out of his chair laughing. So I stood up.

Jay came down from the choir area to stand next to me – I was so thankful! And while our wonderful bishop prayed over us, we could hear the gasps and whispers behind us.

I don’t think I can ever top a public announcement like that; being publicly outed by the bishop!


2.  I had all these great ideas for this post, but they mostly happen when I’m driving. Then as soon as I get out of the car my brain flushes and all those thoughts are gone off to Narnia with the missing socks.


3. Yoga pants. That was fast, and I suppose a good sign, but within days of finding out I was pregnant, I had to make the move into yoga pants. It’s not even that my tummy is bigger. I put my jeans on and checked! But I just can’t stand to have anything constricting it at all.  I tried wearing jeans but all I could think about was how long it would be until I could take them off so I’m in yoga pants full time now. Yay?


4. We introduced Gus (age 2) to Star Wars yesterday. AS soon as it began he ran up to the screen and yelled “Space ships!!!” He would wander away any time there was dialogue, but he loved all the robots and shooting and “SWORDS!!! Like mine!!!”


5. I dropped the kids off at school this morning and was about 10 minutes  away when Lily’s (Kindergarten) teacher called and informed me that she forgot her lunch. I’m a little ashamed of the internal temper tantrum I threw, especially since I was in the middle of a rosary. My brain froze up and I couldn’t think of what on earth I was supposed to do about this situation. I explained to her teacher that we live 30 minutes from school, so running home and back was really not an option.

She calmly suggested that I stop somewhere close-by and pick up something for her and bring it to the school.


I’ve done this before, why didn’t my brain work?

I realized that, while I know some of my friends who can change direction easily. I am not that kind of person. I know people who operate like a little bunny rabbit hopping across the field darting this way and that as obstacles arise in their way. I operate more like a freight train. A change of directions means that I have to come to a full stop, rip up the track I’ve laid, lay down new track, and then get the train moving again. I’m not sure why I lock in this way, but I am trying to be more flexible.


6.  i just had one of these yesterday:

000811Amy’s Gluten Free Broccoli and Cheddar Bake, and oh my, it was SO good! I have missed mac and cheese so much since going gluten free and this tasted like the real thing, plus broccoli. I need to get my hands on more of these!


7.  We have another weekend ahead of garage clean out. Our garage gets a little overwhelmed at least a couple times a year and starts to look like people just throw things out there and shut the door before the stuff can run back in… but that’s pretty much what we all do. If I have to take anyone out there I explain that this is where our house threw up. It’s a huge project is what I’m saying. So if you don’t hear from me again, send a search party or to into the garage.


7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 2



My first writing goal this year was to publish a 7 Quick Takes post weekly through March. Except I missed week two. Bummer. But it was a crazy weekend so lets just move on and skip it. No sense in trying to come up with 14 for this week…

1. Boys Choir Sweepstakes is in full swing and this is a new thing for us. We are called upon by the boys choir to choose sites to go and collect donations and sell the sweepstakes tickets. On Friday last week, we had or first experience with selling. It was exciting to see little Max in action. He just jumped right into it, going up to strangers and giving his little schpiel.  Most of the donations we collect go directly to pay for his tuition and summer camp (and eventually tours as well, which can be very expensive!) But it was stressful. We had three sites last weekend in the middle of an otherwise busy weekend. We hit Monday feeling like we had all been through the whole week already.  If you would like to help Max, you can go to this website.



2. I mentioned in my last quick takes that I am trying to get a handle on my device time (which is also a reason I missed last week’s Quick Takes) and live a more hands free, available to my family life, and it seems that God heard the call loud and clear. I’m losing control of a couple of my afternoons during the week, and being forced into handed the opportunity to play outside with my kids. Here’s how a thing like this happens. Max (3rd grade) has to go for tutoring after school twice a week. So I emailed Lily’s (Kindergarten) teacher to ask if she could also stay for tutoring/hang out in the classroom/whatever and was given a polite but firm “Heck no!” Since returning home is not an option (we live half and hour away from school) I will be staying on the campus with Lily (and Gus and Molly) for those hours of tutoring. I was originally spitting mad when I got the email from the teacher. But I decided to just use this time to be with my kids. It was my plan to increase that, after all. This plan should work great at least until we have a rainy day and have to spend an hour in the car with these little hooligans just being stir crazy. But today? It is 75 degrees and sunny. And this is what the campus looks like.


3. These quick takes aren’t very quick, are they?

4. My competitive streak is showing up. I’ve been watching my friends totals on the fitbit, and I’m just really not happy being in the middle of the list. I MUST do better. (It would also probably help with the weight loss thing too.) But sometimes it is just not convenient to drag my butt out the door and go around my dull, dreary neighborhood again. Seriously, Arizona neighborhoods are just so full of beige it is disgusting. So I have decided to try to get my hot little hands on a treadmill. That will also come in handy during the summer, when I really only go outside to either get into the pool or into and air conditioned car.

5. I’m doing well on my year in pictures project! I’ve only missed one day so far! And a lit of days have more than one picture. Earlier this morning I went through my posts from 2011, when I tried the project. It certainly wasn’t an every day event that year, but what was there was such a nice remembrance to look through.

6. Tales of Fatigue – I mentioned this problem last time (#6). I seem to be coming out of this episode of fatigue. It reached its peak right around Christmas, and this episode lasted two months. But I have managed to exercise twice this week and it didm’ wipe me out. I’m not falling asleep again by ten in the morning. So hopefully whatever this is, is backing off for now. I am going to try to keep tabs on my energy levels and work hard to not over exert myself or tire myself too badly. I have been being more careful to just rest a while every day. Minecraft is helpful with that. Or reading if I try to act like a real grown up.

7. Potty training began today. Since I’m feeling better, and Gus has gone potty on cue several times now, I am going to take the next step and increase his “potty opportunities” by setting a timer for two hours after he has either a wet diaper or pees in the potty. I will adjust the time as I figure out his pattern a little better.

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 1



Yes, yes, it’s been a while. What else is new? I’m really good at making promises and starting series that never finish, but one of my goals this year is to get back into blogging by doing 7 Quick takes each week through March. Let’s see if I can do it!

1. Best Christmas Present! And my new tool for blogging. Jay got me a pretty one of these:



Yes it is an older, refurbished Mac, but we got it speeded up and ready to go and I have an AMAZING pink skin for it zooming towards me as we speak. I have fantasies of sneaking of to Starbucks or the library to do some uninterrupted blogging or other writing one of these days.

2. But that means I need to buckle down and get control of my device-time. I’ve been reading at both Hands Free Mama and Orange Rhino and I need to be a better, more present parent this year (and forever after…). So if you have been trying to call me and haven’t gotten through, try the home phone. I’m leaving my cell phone in my purse or put away more often these days.

3.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not so tempted to go and hide, to play some stupid game on my phone to just tune out the world for a while. I still am tempted, and I still give in. Triple Town and Dots are my current faves. They calm down my introverted mind and let it just idle for a bit. I don’t think that is wrong, I just think I need to work on how much it happened. And I probably need to find some other ways to chill for a bit.

4. Like Spirograph! We got one for Max for Christmas and I have to say it’s my favorite toy. Not his, unfortunately. But it is more difficult than I remembered. A couple times we have just plopped down at the table and played with the colors and shapes for a while. It’s so zen… when you aren’t stuck with one of the bent wheels that makes you mess up every 5 seconds. Ah, the problems of a fallen world. I bet Adam and Eve didn’t have that problem.


5. Paisley (oldest daughter) got a promotion! She will be counter manager for Chanel cosmetics in a week or so. I am so excited for her, she deserves the upgrade in her career and, well, I can’t wait to get some of the makeup!!!

6. I’m tired. I have been posting my journey to better health on my Mommy’s Diet blog, and I’ve made some progress. But I’m still just so stinking tired all the time. Doctors look at me like I’m crazy if I tell them that. They say, “Well, you have 9 kids, what do you expect?” or “You’re just getting older.” But I still think something is not quite right. I’ll keep looking for the answers.

7. 2013 was not a bad year. It had some bad moments in it, and switching schools or the kids was kind of hard – both in the time management and the emotional aspects of it. But this is the first year in a while when I didn’t feel like heaving a huge sigh of relief that it was over. That is a pretty good feeling, I have to say. I hope 2014 will be at least as good!

7 Quick Takes – Mass Behavior

This week I am going to focus on surviving mass with our little people.  Specifically those 5 and under.  Theoretically, those over 5 should only need gentle reminders to be good if you have been working with them through their lives to sit still and quiet during mass.  But some kids might take a bit longer…

People often tell me that I just got lucky and miraculously gave birth to quiet children.  This could not be further from the truth at all.  My children are natural musical and LOUD.  When people call my house they often ask me if there is a party going on.  No, it’s just normal life – and it tries to occur in mass as well.

So I work my butt off to teach my children how to behave in mass.  This means that any attention that I am able to pay in mass is an unexpected treat and that I normally use up any and all graces I would receive from attending mass before I ever leave it.

These tips and tricks will mostly fall into two categories: Closing the Crying Hole and Distraction.

1. Closing the Crying Hole Part 1: Drink
I breastfeed in mass.  Yes, I do.  I am discreet about it and you will probably see less of my breast than many of the women in the church on any given summer Sunday.  I figure it is far less distracting to anyone else than what my child would do if they were not currently nursing.  This offers the extra bonus of said child possibly falling asleep.  The other bonus is that, unlike sippy cups, it can’t be thrown on the floor (no matter how hard the child might try) and make a loud bang.  Some time after the age of 1 however, I try to transition to a sippy of water during mass.  And sometime between ages 2 and 3 I try to phase that out as well.

2. Closing the Crying Hole Part 2: Food
Another hotly debated topic – I decide this one on a case by case, kid by kid basis.  My current 2 year old couldn’t be trusted on any level to not throw things on the floor, so she doesn’t get anything.  In the past though, we have done small things like cheerios.  The trick is, mom hold the container and hands the child ONE AT A TIME.  We remove any trace of food from the church when we leave.

3. Distraction Part 1: Massage
With the child sitting in your lap or close beside you, hold their hand and trace around their fingers and the creases on their palms with feathery strokes.  My kids love this!

4. Distraction Part 2: Whispered Prayers
Whispering prayers into their ears or talking about parts of the mass or the church building are very helpful and even work to distract young babies… at least for a minute or two.  Although it can result in an exchange like this one:
Tessa (8) was doing her part to whisper to Lily and keep her quiet during the consecration. Tessa turned to Lily (2) and said, “That is Jesus’s blood.”  Lily said, “JESUS’S BUTT? That’s not Jesus’s butt!  It’s Jesus’s BLOOD!”

So whisper clearly.

5. Distraction Part 3: Drawing
Magna-doodle.  Enough said.

6. Distraction Part 4: Quiet Toys
Throw any toy that you might bring to mass with you on the floor.  Throw it on the table.  If it is any louder than a light tap, it stays home or in the car.  Although the above mentioned Magna-doodle breaks this rule, it is usually only used with kids who are old enough to know that throwing a toy is a Capital Offense.

7. Jumping Ship:
Sometimes you have tried everything and tried more as well and Kid is just not going to settle down.  If you have to make an exit, try not to make it rewarding to the child.  Leaving mass and letting Kid run around in the back of the church only teaches them how to get back there more often.  No, if kid has to be taken out, they get to sit in your lap, heavily restrained.  It’s no fun for anyone, most especially the parent.  But it is effective.

I’m not one to disregard kid noises, but a peep or a whisper or even a short lived cry are not reasons to leave.  There is going to be a low level of ruckuss in any pew with a family with small children.  For our family, it is only repeated misbehavior or a child who has bumped their head on the pew or something that gets us to make a run for it. (Hurt children do not get restrained, by the way.  I have to add this because one of my children manages to hurt themselves on a pew more often than one might expect.)

My kids aren’t perfect, but we seldom have to leave mass, and I have plenty of little old ladies who love to sit by my kids too.

All of this is only going to work if you are talking to your child early and often about what is expected from them, what mass is about.  And a little prayer to their guardian angel doesn’t hurt either.

7 Quick Takes

This is my first 7 Quick Takes.  I feel like one of those people on the radio who feel the need to start out with, “Longtime listener, first time caller…” and I guess that is actually what I am doing.

Diving in:

1. Bible Funnies

I was reading John 1 this week and came across a passage that made me laugh out loud.  It is a long chapter, and I was reading it as a prelude to a devotional that my moms group is doing this summer.  So I was just kind of going through it quickly.  I’ve read it all before and felt pretty familiar with it.  But then I got to verse 45 (and following):

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”  Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

I can almost hear Jesus saying, “Really, you were impressed by THAT?  Oh man, just WAIT and see what I have in store for you!”  And maybe even thinking to himself, “This guy is going to be easy!”  Maybe I was just getting punchy at the time, but I laughed anyway.  I just think that Jesus must have enjoyed at least a little bit when people were really impressed. (Provided, of course, that they eventually got the true point of His wonders and miracles.)

2. Watership Down

This Summer I am reading Watership Down for the first time.  I have always loved the movie, and wanted to read the book, so here I am, 2/3rd of the way through.  I watched the movie again, during this reading. Um, I think I have had my fill of the movie.  But I am loving the book, and one of the things that I love about it is that Hazel is so perfectly my husband.  He is a faithful leader, not by brute force but by sheer will to do the right thing and responsibility for those around him.  It has made me love both the story and my husband even more.

My kids loved the movie, but seeing my disgust at it are clamoring to have me read them the book next.  But considering we have already spent 2 months and are not even halfway through Black Beauty, we’ll see if we can tackle Watership.  I’m afraid I don’t have the same follow through for reading books aloud as I used to.

3. McDonalds

I have a confession to make.

I love McDonalds.
No matter how many food documentaries I watch or books about nutrition I read, (and I do read a lot of them!) I still love McDonalds.  Their food make be fake and poison for my body, but it sure is yummy.  And the Sweet Tea… ooooohh!  I realize it is lightly tea flavored sugar water.  Really, I do.  But it is so good.  And they have the best playlands too.

4. Yawn

My schedule is so messed up due to summer.  I have been staying up at least 3 hours past my school year bed time and it is not a pretty picture when I need to get up in the morning.  It is so nice not to have to be out the door with six kids at 7am, but I still have 3 kids who get up at the crack of dawn.  And I really am enjoying my time at night, even if I am just watching reruns while folding laundry.  Right now it just means that I don’t have to jump straight from bed to a shower and breakfast.  Soon though.  Just a couple more weeks and we will be back to the school year in earnest and I need to get my body to start switching back.  Which should I start first – going to bed earlier or getting up earllier?

5. The Plan

As a mom, I have tried so many different plans for getting my house in order: Managers of Their Homes, Flylady, Motivated Moms, and other random plans found in magazine articles.  Somehow though, none of the plans work for me.  Could it be my eight kids making things harder?  Maybe.  But for me to follow an exterior plan like that, I find I would be working 14 hours a day to keep my house clean.  The end result is only a little cleaner than if I’m not doing all that and stressing.  So right now it boils down to just needing to do whatever needs to be done next.  In my effort to bring my kitchen up a step though, I am filling the sink with soapy water as I make my breakfast.  The dishes don’t usually get washed until the water is fully cold, but at least they have been soaking for a while.  And then they usually get done before dinner.  Now if I could just get the dinner dishes done before breakfast…

6. Of Raptors and Ringwraiths

My 8 month old has found her voice.  She has always been a loud crier, even as a newborn she could cry loud enough to be heard across the house without a baby monitor.  But her cry has lately taken a turn for the worse.  She is most likely to use it immediately upon waking, on being put down, when we try to give her solids in the high chair (food on the floor is completely fair game), when the wind changes, when the lights are turned off, when the lights are turned on, when there is air in the room… you get the idea.  There is no “fuss” setting on this child.  She goes straight from happy as a clam to Oh My the World is ENDING!  I have heard a LOT of crying in my time.  She is a Zero-to-sixty crier.  One moment she is calm, the next moment she belts out this blood curdling, ear piercing, Oh-God-make-it-stop wail.  Her cry sounds a lot like a home fire alarm, alternated with Ringwraith screeching, she throws in the raptor sounds just to keep things interesting.

7.  Happy Anniversary to Us!

This past week we celebrated out 20th wedding anniversary.  We got married so young, but still that was 20 years ago.  It’s hard to believe I have been doing anything for 20 years.  But parenting and being married are now in that category.  When I look back at how clueless we were when we started out, I can tell you that it is absolutely by the Grace of God that we have made it this far and have the marriage we have today.  We have stumbled along, making many mistakes along the way, and mostly loving the whole process.  I would never have dared to hope to have a husband as amazing as Jay is.  But here we are, 20 years later.  I hope the next 20 years is as great!  (Although I would certainly accept a 20 years with less drama, I’m not holding my breath for it.)

So there you have it, a relatively disjointed 7 Quick takes.  Maybe next week I can pull it together a little more.  My whole goal this week was to get my blog writing juices flowing again, so I can get this blog up off the ground and work a little harder on my Family Blog as well.  Now, go check out the originator of 7 quick takes at Conversion Diary!