Archive for the ‘7 Quick Takes’ category

7 Quick Takes (v. 81): St. Meinrad

May 24, 2014


1.  Last weekend I had the privilege of joining my best friend Kelly at St. Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary in southern Indiana.  I took a few pictures of my time there, but I was too busy experiencing life there to spend a lot of time documenting it.  The location is absolutely gorgeous, and the architecture and art work are amazing.  I strongly encourage you to check out their photo gallery and their Art and Architecture page.

2.  Kelly and I were roomates for two years in college.  Fifteen years after graduation, we were roommates again.  We had to stop ourselves from chitchatting in the darkness all night, just like in the old days.  Instead of going to sleep to the sound of blaring train horns passing our dorm window all night, we got to listen to the monastery bells ringing every fifteen minutes.

3.  I really wish that I could have had one more day at St. Meinrad (and not just to have one more day away from the kids).  I really felt like I didn’t get to do half of the things I would have liked to do.  I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time walking the grounds, especially the woods.  I would have liked to have more time to sit in prayer and meditation and introspection and exploration.  And it is just so beautiful and peaceful there.

4.  One thing that really struck me about my time at St. Meinrad was the spirit of everyone who was there.  There were the monks and the employees of the archabbey.  There were the professors and the lay graduate students.  There were the deacons-in-training on retreat and the other visitors.  Everyone just had this spirit of peace and kindness and respect and humor.  It was like a little taste of heaven.

5.  I spent way too much money between the campus book store and the gift shop.  I also picked up a few used books from the library for a dollar a piece.  I probably spent close to two hours in the huge gift shop debating which wall decorations I wanted to purchase as I prepare to paint and rearrange the whole house and set up a prayer corner.  There’s nothing like a Catholic book store for getting my full Catholic nerd on.

6.  I also had the opportunity to sit in on Kelly’s graduate course about the Apostolic Fathers.  I LOVED it!!  I probably would have gone to every class meeting that weekend if there weren’t other things that I wanted to see and do during my stay.  As a result, I am seriously looking into online programs for getting my M.A. in Theology.  I’m still in a huge period of prayer and discernment for the future, and I feel like a window may have just opened for me.

7.  Yesterday was my 37th birthday.  I felt like the trip to St. Meinrad with Kelly was like an early birthday present.  For the first time in a long time, I am very excited about the prospects of the future. I don’t care that I am approaching forty.  You know the saying “Life begins at 40”?  For me it feels like “Life begins at 37!”  God bless!!

7 Quick Takes (v. 80)

September 6, 2013


1.  For the past week I’ve been eagerly checking updates on my best friend’s blog as she and her family are in China adopting the newest member of their family, Leo.  I’ve learned so much as I’ve followed her progress on this journey for the past year.  I started to tear up as I saw the first pictures of her and her husband holding their little boy for the first time.

2.  This is the end of week 3 of our homeschooling semester and “real” school for my oldest.  I think the kids are starting to settle into the new routines and work loads, but there were some transition issues and resistance at first.  We have had to tweak a few things.  For instance, I ditched “Fun Read Aloud” time in Piper’s 2nd grade schedule because it was apparent that it was not really going to be “fun” for either of us.  (Plus we were already doing a certain amount of Read Aloud in other subjects.)  I put an extra day of Geography in its place since both Piper and Katie (kindergarten) seem to enjoy learning how to draw a world map from memory.

3.  Cassidy (13 months) finally seems to be on a sleeping schedule.  Hallelujah!!  This means that most nights I actually get to go to sleep by 11:30 at the latest.  Those 7 am alarms on school days aren’t quite as rough.  And some days I even get to lay down with her for about 45 minutes at nap time.  She is also not nursing quite as much, so I don’t find myself tied down for as many hours of the day.  I actually find myself with time to do things like clean the bathroom or sweep the floor on a regular basis.  I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the baby tunnel.

4.  Cassidy is hitting a fun age, though.  She is walking, and she climbs worse than the other four combined.  You can tell she understands way more than she express, but she does find ways to get across what she wants.  Lately she likes to bring me the nursing pillow whenever she is hungry.  She loves her sisters, constantly reaching out to squeeze them around the neck.  And they are always looking out for her.  She’s also turned into quite the Daddy’s girl.

5.  Sabrina has definitely showing signs of the Psychotic Threes, but she so far she doesn’t seem to have them as bad as her next oldest sister did (famous last words).  I don’t know if it’s her temperament or because she sleeps better, or maybe it’s just taken me to the fourth child to figure out how to handle it better (picking battles, making sure they get a lot of sleep).

6.  On good days we’ve been finishing our school work by 11:00.  Other than dealing with lunch, this usually leaves me with almost two hours of “free time” while the kids eat and play.  I’m not used to having a big open space where I am not being pulled in ten different directions.  I have to be careful not to get sucked into wasting too much time on the computer and remember that there are 5000 chores around the house that have barely been addressed in the past year of craziness.  I think I am just still in shock at not being over-whelmed and exhausted all day every day.

7.  I think Bailey (5th grade) is over-all glad to be back in school.  She’s on the school volleyball team this year, and that has been an adventure in itself.  There was a three-day pre-season tournament which made all of us parents feel like we had just survived a fraternity hazing ritual.  The fifth grade work load hasn’t been has challenging as I expected, but I had forgotten how much “introductory” time is wasted in regular schools just as part of the system.  I’m waiting another month to see how things get going before I have Bailey start a supplementary French program at home (her language of choice).

7 Quick Takes (v. 79)

May 17, 2013


1.  Monday night I went to an R&B Soul Line Dancing class through my local parks district.  I used to go country line dancing in my late teens and early 20’s, so I thought this would be a lot of fun.  And it was!!  It was a little bit different vibe than when I used to go dancing at the country bar; back then I would have to watch the dance for a few minutes from the sidelines and just jump in.  It was different to have an instructor actually teaching me the different steps before we added in the music.  I can’t go every week, but I might try to make it back to the class at least once a month.

2.  I’m almost finished with the Novena of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (recommended by our host, Jen).  This is my first novena, and it was probably a good fit for me because I’ve been giving the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit a lot of thought in the past year.  I remember when I was 19 that I told my dad that I wasn’t sure if I even believed in the Holy Spirit; I shudder to think over how ignorant I was based courtesy of some of the terrible catechesis I received in Catholic school.  Multiple times since then that I have experienced the workings of the Holy Spirit in my life, and I crave to experience the clarity and assurance that comes with it more often in my life.

3.  It’s been five weeks since my roller skating accident.  I find myself wearing my arm brace less and less; my wrist is less sore and I can do fine motor functions without pain anymore.  I still have to careful about bearing significant weight on that wrist or in that hand  (i.e. milk jugs).  The bigger issue is actually my elbow.  I still can’t fully extend my left arm without it being stiff, and I’m most likely to still get a jarring pain if I forget and reach for something with my left arm.  I figure that I’ll give everything another week to let everything heal up more (the doctor projected six weeks to get it mostly back to normal), and then I’ll try a little home physical therapy (some gentle stretching and weigh bearing exercises).

4.  Usually around May is when all of the television shows start finishing up their seasons, and I am always relieved when this time comes.   Between Saturday and Sunday night I had six shows recorded on the DVR (Dr. Who, Call the Midwives, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Mr. Selfridge, and Survivor), and two of them were 2 or more hours long.  I enjoy watching television, but at the same time I start to get a little “TV-ed” out.

5.  So far I’ve gone jogging three times.  I borrowed a few running books from the library, because ever since the roller skating incident I’ve been really worried about injuries.  The whole thing at the rink was just a wake-up call that I am not as young as I used to be.  That same fall 15 years ago probably wouldn’t have been as bad as it is now.  It never even occurred to me that I should have been wear wrist guards.  While the running program I am using is gentle, I still didn’t want to risk injuring myself out of ignorance.  I have found a few tips for proper stretching, and so far any soreness has not lasted more than about 24 hours.

6.  One running book recommended keeping an exercise log, so I whipped one up for myself on Excel.  (I adapted one of my homeschool scheduling sheets.)  The days that I walk/jog have a little more variation thanks to notes about the weather.  Right now the Wii Fit days are pretty basic:  a few yoga poses, the ball game in the balance section, and step aerobics.  But I can see where it will be nice to have a record of what I am accomplishing.

7.  These are the first things I put on my “To Do” List everyday:  breakfast, school, vitamins, Novena, exercise, read to the kids.  If I can do these 5 things every day, everything else seems to take care of itself.

7 Quick Takes (v. 78)

April 5, 2013

7_quick_takes1.  I know that it’s been ages since I have put up a blog post.  I’ve just been really busy.  Many times I have wrote posts in my head or even started to type a post up, only to be distracted by 5 million other things.  So, I am going to try to crank out a really quick Quick Takes to update you on what’s going on with the us.

2.  Bailey (10) has spring break next week, and then about 8 weeks left in the school year.  While I am looking forward to not having to get up at 7:00 every morning and preparing packed lunches, I wonder how she’ll adjust to being stuck at home all summer long.  As she wants a break from school, I can tell that she is starting to get apprehensive.

3.  I’m hoping to finally take Piper (7) for her first confession tonight, but it seems like every time I plan to do it someone gets the stomach flu or something.  Then next week she has to take her test with the director of religious education to show she’s ready for her First Holy Eucharist this summer.  Then Piper and I can continue to argue about the fact that I refuse to buy her an $80 dress that she would only wear once when already have the one Bailey wore.

4.  Katie (4 1/2) has her first teeball practice on Tuesday.  Basically we will have teeball three days each week for the next three months.  This was something she totally asked to do, so I hope she has a lot of fun.  She’s been getting even more excited since she learned that she gets to walk in a parade, receive freeze pops after every game, and that her coach shares her name.  Go Cougars!

5.  I’ve started calling Sabrina (2 1/2) “Little Miss Sunshine”.  She is just always so positive about everything.  I swear that after hearing what a horrible, mean, fun-ruining mother I am from all the other kids, it’s nice to have one who always says “Thank you” and tells me “You’re the best!”

6.  Cassidy decided to celebrate her 8-month milestone on Monday by cutting a tooth, learning to crawl in short bursts, and moving herself into a sitting position.  She’s enjoying her new abilities, but this means I have be more vigilant about choking hazards again.

7.  I have found myself on the Dinner Dance fundraising committee at Bailey’s school.  I have to go to meetings and help with things, and I have absolutely no clue what I am doing.  I learned quickly not to volunteer for any extra duties outside of the meeting; I just don’t have the time or energy.  I just show up, do what I’m told, keep my mouth shut, and try not to fall asleep when I actually get to sit still in one spot for two hours.

*Prayers for Jen @ Conversion Diary for a fast and safe delivery of her new baby boy in the upcoming days.

7 Quick Takes (v. 77): Merry Christmas!!

December 28, 2012

1.  We had a really nice Christmas.  It’s funny how (thanks to Bailey going to school) my body has become conditioned to wake up at seven every morning now.  I woke up just before Bailey and Piper came in ready to go downstairs.  Thankfully everyone was in a good mood all day despite the early wake up time.

2.  It’s been funny to see which presents have become the biggest hits.  Bailey (10), as rxpected, loves her iPod Touch; it probably means more because she had to pay for half of its total cost.  Piper (7) and Katie (4) have been playing with their new Monster High dolls together a lot; they’ve even been sharing so Sabrina (2) can join in.  But the thing that Katie was most excited about was her Annoying Orange plush that “talks”, and Piper loves the Monster High Fashion Sketch Portfolio from us along with the special twist-up crayons from Santa.  Cassidy (4 1/2 months) seems to be enjoying her new infant play gym, too.

3.  My husband and I even gave each other presents this year.  I surprised him with a gift card for his favorite local sports memorabilia shop, and he got me some puzzle books, DVDs of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2, a Chewbacca mug with cocoa, and a Doctor Who t-shirt featuring Van Gogh’s “lost” painting of the TARDIS exploding.

4.  Speaking of Doctor Who, I LOVED the Christmas special and the new companion.  Clara seems like a real match for the Doctor, and I can’t wait to learn her secret.  I am curious what River Song will think of her, though, since Clara and the Doctor have an obvious chemistry.  I hope they don’t cut River Song out completely just yet; they should give her the courtesy of filming her last night with the Doctor at the opera before she goes to the library.  But the special was really good, with so many quotable lines.  I can’t wait for the regular season to resume!

5.  Once Christmas Day passed, I began the Herculean effort of trying to get Katie (4) to start wearing her new glasses.  I’m trying to get her to wear them for a little bit each day, with the amount of time slowly increasing.  The doctor said that it was not imperative that she wear them all day everyday, just as much as we can get her to agree.  While she doesn’t love the idea of wearing glasses, Katie does love the cute case that came with them.

Katie’s Glasses Case

6.  My husband and I have been relishing a week without ten tons of appointments.  Our lives had become so hectic with doctors appointments, basketball practices, school stuff, and Christmas preparations that we barely had time to breathe.  We’re glad to get a small respite before things speed up again.

7.  One thing we introduced to our house for the first time this Christmas is Legos.  I loved Legos as a kid, but they are pretty much choking hazards waiting to happen in this house.  But then I started checking out the Duplos and realized that those would be safe enough.  The added bonus is that this is one thing that I can play with the kids without being bored to death.  It’s what we call a win-win situation!


7 Quick Takes (v. 76)

December 7, 2012

1.  I have 15 minutes until Katie’s gymnastics class is over.  So, we’ll see if I can knock out 7 Quick Takes before I have to pack up my laptop and my baby and get ready to go home.  When the kids are in their classes is sometimes the only quiet “free” time that I get some weeks.

2.  Basketball season started this past week for Bailey.  This year she is on a team with 8 of her new school mates (her league allows you to put in a bid for a specific team/coach.)  They had the annual skills clinic last Saturday, and since then we’ve had two practices.  It’s just one more string binding us to the school and the parish as we get to know these families better.

3.  Bailey’s school had a big celebration for the feast of St. Nicholas yesterday.  They went Mass and had a special concert from the school band.  They set out their shoes in the hallway and received oranges and chocolate coins.  A few parents from each class made hot cocoa and cookies for a special after Mass treat.  And one of the priests from our sister parish came in dressed as St. Nicholas.  Maybe next year I should try to do a little something for the kids at home.

4.  We were going to watch the VeggieTales story about St. Nicholas yesterday as part of our homeschool, but it didn’t quite workout.  We had a little glitch with our DirectTV installation that knocked out our WiFi connection, which means I couldn’t use the Netflix on our television.  It’s still in the queue, so we’ll just have to watch it another time.

5.  I’ve done some of my Christmas shopping online, but this afternoon I’m going to try to run out to get another load of stuff.  Of course this year, I have to get a few extra things for the teachers at school.  And I want to get a little something for our parish priests; they do so much for us.  I’ll probably get them some restaurant gift cards; I know that at least one of our priests takes his mother out to lunch every week on his day off.

6.  I have been loving Relevant Radio when I’m in the car.  Twice I’ve caught phone interviews with some great Catholic bloggers (Jen Fulwhiler and Dan Lord).  There’s so much humor and good information and love of the Lord.  It’s a nice break from all of the chaos in my life when I get a chance to listen to it.

7.  Well, my time is up.  Katie and her classmates are getting their stamps.  It’s off to home to do Piper’s schoolwork.  Then I’ll take off to treat myself to some lunch and then do some Christmas shopping (and grocery shopping).  It’s been such a hectic week it will be nice to have a little quiet time, just me and Cassidy.

7 Quick Takes (v. 75)

October 12, 2012

1.  Bailey (9) has been in school for five days now.  Even though she acts like school is no big deal, I think she is really enjoying it.  I don’t think that she is enjoying the schoolwork, but I think she is enjoying the busy-ness of school.  She has no time to be bored, and she comes home physically and mentally exhausted.  I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot of blog posts in the future that address our abrupt transition from homeschooling her.

2.  I’ve been getting a lot better about avoiding political discussions on Facebook, which was especially difficult after last night’s vice presidential debate.  I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with that stress.  I think I’ve also learned a little humilty; I don’t need to educate everyone about everything.  And sometimes quiet evangelization is better than loud evangelization.

3.  I recently discovered Relevant Radio.  Now I put it on in the car whenever I am out and about.  I love the discussions of the faith and how there are prayer breaks.  I find it much more relaxing than listening to secular music, especially most modern secular music.  Yes, I’m getting old and crotchety like that.

4.  A few weeks ago I was taught how to make rosaries.  I bought a beginner’s kit that includes all of the materials to make 50 rosaries.  I have my kit hidden in my closet, so the kids won’t get into it or pester me to help (especially since it is full of choking hazards for the little ones).  But sometimes when I take up a load of laundry to put away I take few minutes to string together a decade.

I think what I like best about it is the feeling that I will be contributing something positive to the world outside of my house.  So much of my life revolves around my family and my home.  While I know that’s the way it should be, the fact is that you don’t find out just how well you did as a parent until your kids are grown.  And housework is never-ending; there are always laundry and dishes to be washed.  It’s like living inside an infinity symbol.  But each rosary I make has a beginning and an end and will leave my house and go out into the world relatively quickly.

5.  Sometimes I am just in awe of social media.  For instance, it allows people to wait with baited breath when a “friend” announces the start of labor for pictures of the newborn baby.  You can suffer and triumph along with all of the people all over the world who have shaped your life in some way:  childhood classmates,  current friends, and even celebrities.

And in the past two weeks I’ve learned of the deaths of two different people within hours of their passing.  Each was the parent of a former classmate and member of my parish back in Kentucky; while I knew neither very well, I remember their faces as threads of my childhood memories.  Despite all of the things that seem so wrong with our era, it also has some very amazing and positive things, too.

6.  I recently discovered the author Kate Morton.  I saw her book The House at Riverton recommended for fans of Downton Abbey.  I’m now on my third books of hers.  The books usually flip around to different time periods from the early 1900’s to the 2000’s and follow the story of a family and a secret about that family.  It’s kind of like a mystery to be solved, and there’s always a twist or two.  I would rate them PG-13 due to adult themes (fornication, adultery, murder), but there is nothing nasty in the books at all (at least the ones that I’ve read so far).   My mother-in-law has become a fan, too, so I pass on each book to her as soon as I’m finished.  I really can’t recommend the stories enough.

7.  Well, I need to go finish my grocery list.  With the added expense of private school (and all of the little hidden costs of school), I’m trying to reign in our food budget by getting back in the habit of cooking dinner at home every night.  This requires a lot more planning.  But since Bailey started going to school I can tell a big increase in my “free time” and energy levels.  For the first time since Cassidy was born 10 weeks ago, I don’t feel quite so over-whelmed.  I think that we made the right decision for Bailey, for me, and for our entire family at this time in our lives.