Louisville and Grandma – 7QT

We took a road trip/extended field trip to Louisville for a long weekend. We left Saturday (right after I hosted a Blessed Brunch!) and came home Tuesday. I lived in Louisville for four years in graduate school (1998-2002), and it’s a city that I just love. I’ve been back with my kids a couple of times in order to get together with old friends from school. This time we just went for the fun of the trip and to meet up with my mom, who only lives three hours from Louisville.

We had so much fun when we went to Chicago in the spring, I knew I wanted to take another road trip with the girls, and after I read Haley’s post about their stop in Louisville, I realized it would be the perfect getaway for us while my husband was gone elk hunting this week.

It was fantastic. Here are the highlights:


We stayed downtown, so we walked everywhere. The girls get so excited about seeing statues and street art. They had a few interesting questions about the golden three-story “David” statue on Main Street. They thought this artsy bike rack was pretty cool too.


Anyone know who this guy is supposed to be?



I went to Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption.


Fancy Mass at a cathedral was a first for me. There was even a choir loft and a huge pipe organ and the choir wore robes and everything! It was the perfect way to spend my Sunday morning.


The weather was perfect. We walked to a nearby park on Sunday afternoon, where the girls made some new friends and overcame some fears to climb to the highest heights of the play structure.


While walking back to the hotel, we came across this random arrangement of bird sculptures:




On our way to the park, we had noticed a bunch of little girls all decked out in princess costumes walking around. We stopped for lunch in a little pizzeria, and my mom asked someone what the occasion was (she’s not an introvert like me). Turns out, “Disney On Ice” was happening that day at the arena right next door to our hotel. The people we saw were one their way to the 1:00 show, but I got on my phone and managed to snag tickets for the 5:00 show! We even got great seats.



I think the girls really enjoyed it, and it was such a fun, spontaneous addition to our trip.


The Kentucky Science Center is amazing. We could have gone there all day every day for a whole week and still not have been able to see and do everything. A few of the favorites:






They also had an actual mummy on display, which my girls (and I) were fascinated by. So. Cool.


Besides the science center, I think the very favorite thing for my girls (maybe THE favorite?) was running in the fountains we saw around town. Supposedly they were trying to “dodge” the water.




Twice they got completely drenched playing in these fountains. We didn’t make it to the splash pad park, but they didn’t even seem to care.


Of course, the best part was doing it all with my mom. The girls have so much fun with Grandma, and it was wonderful to spend some good quality time with her.



It was a looong drive by myself with the girls, but I’m so glad we made the trip. I have many great memories from when I lived in Louisville, but it’s so much better to go back and make new memories with my girls and my mom.

Check out Kelly’s post at This Ain’t the Lyceum for a summary of her day at the World Meeting of Families and for more Quick Takes!


Praying for Our Nation, 14 Years Later

Today during school, I taught my girls about 9/11 for the first time.

Our lesson started quite naturally after we said the Pledge of Allegiance. Lass asked if the Pledge is a prayer.

“No,” I said. “It’s something we say in the USA to show that we love and are loyal to our country. We say it to show that we believe our country is the best place to live and that we will take care of it.”

That provided a fairly natural segue into our discussion of the events of September 11, 14 years ago.

I told them about the twin towers and how incredibly tall they were. I showed them pictures. We talked about the airplanes and the men who made them hit the buildings. I told them about the Pentagon and the people who fought back on the fourth plane to keep it from hitting another building.


I was pretty nervous about having this conversation with them. I didn’t want to scare them. But I thought they were old enough for a basic description of the events of 9/11. I wanted them to begin to understand patriotism. I wanted them to see that people sometimes do evil things, but that good and God are still more powerful.

I’m glad I talked about it with them. They didn’t seem scared. They were very curious about the men who had taken over the planes. They wanted to know why they did it. We talked about how some people can do very terrible things if they let hate take over their hearts, and that that’s what those men did. They hated our country, and so they did something horrifying. We talked about how we should pray for them and for people like them.

As we were having this conversation, I was dismayed to find that my conviction faltered a little bit on some of my patriotic comments. I felt a little false even. My love for our great nation is still deep and strong and true, but right now I really don’t like Her very much sometimes. I hate to type this, but I feel like my own patriotism has waned of late.

I’m shocked and saddened and angered by so many things I see going on in our country. Things like how people don’t seem to care one bit about Planned Parenthood selling baby parts and that our president hasn’t even watched the videos showing evidence of it. Things like people being sued and losing their businesses and even being jailed for following their beliefs.

I get this sense of impotent rage, alternating with helplessness, because I feel like so many things are wrong here in our country, but I don’t feel like I can do anything about it.

Today, when I talked with my girls about 9/11, I wrapped up our conversation with the story of St. Paul’s Chapel. I just learned about this church today. I told my girls about its rich history and the fact that it is right next to where the towers stood, and yet when they fell, not even one window of the chapel was broken. I told them about how it was used as a place for rescue and recovery workers to rest and find some comfort during the hours and days following the tragedy.

We talked about how God must have protected that Church, and how He is so much stronger than any bad things people do.

I ended by telling the girls that, even though those men attacked our country and did something that hurt us very much, we were not broken or ruined by it, and in fact we came together to help and serve each other even more after that happened.

During the course of the lesson with my girls, and in my reflections on it and my own feelings afterwards, I managed to realize that no matter what laws are made, no matter what trash is spewed all over Facebook and TV, no matter how things may seem to be wrong in this country, it is still the country that I love, and I would not want to live anywhere else.

On this date 14 years ago, our nation came together in such a remarkable way. The attack on our country only served to make us stronger and to reinforce within our hearts what our we stand for. The men who flew those planes that day hated us, and they hated the religious beliefs that the majority in our country hold. It seems this is not very different from some of the issues we are facing today, except now we are attacking each other.

I told my girls that we can pray for the men who hurt our nation fourteen years ago and others like them. We will also be praying for a return to American strength and unity, for an end to divisiveness and hatefulness and persecution of those who think or act or believe differently than we do.

Let us never forget 9/11.

The First Week – A Homeschool High

I promise I will go back to blogging about stuff other than homeschooling very soon, but this week, it has pretty much been all-homeschool-all-the-time in my brain, so I’m needing to tell everyone how we did. Ready?


Ahem. We crushed it.

The week was fantastic.

The curriculum was very easy to follow and implement.

The girls loved the workbox system.


They are crazy about the Star Wars workbooks that I work into their workboxes in between their “real” work.

(When proofreading, I realized how many times I used the word “work” in that ^^ sentence. I started to edit, but then decided I enjoy the fact that it is used four times in there, with four different meanings. I’m leaving it.)

We did a science experiment.

We did an art project.



I let my kids use Sharpies, and we all made it out unscathed (including our clothes and furniture).


We learned about Mother Teresa (her feast day is tomorrow).

Miss developed an intense interest in Japan.

We read and discussed the Gospel for this Sunday, as well as most of them from the Mass readings for the week.

We memorized a Bible verse (Psalm 1:1). They did much better at this than I did. Even Sis has it down.

It was so fun.

We even named our little school after our patron saints. I had the idea the night before our first day that I was going to ask the girls to choose a patron saint for our school for the year. I worried a bit that introducing this might be a big disaster. I suspected they would fight over which saint we should choose. To my surprise, they came to an agreement almost immediately. When I first asked whom we should choose, Sis said, “Saint Joseph.” Miss said, “That’s exactly what I was just going to say!” Lass said, “Mary.” I said, “How about the Holy Family?” They said, “Yeah!”

So we are now Holy Family Academy.

I’m kind of feeling like Super Homeschool Mom. I’m having an “I need a cape” moment (these are few and far between, so I’m making the most of it).


Of course, it wasn’t perfect, by any stretch. There were a few tense moments. Even a few tears, because Lass has a hard time understanding that she isn’t supposed to do things perfectly when she is learning them, like cutting an oval shape. I repeated many times things like: “You don’t have to be perfect, you’re just learning,” and “It takes practice to get good at new skills,” and “In our school it’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how we learn.” And so on and so on. She still had a meltdown over the fact that her ovals were a bit angular.


I also need to streamline my process for prepping the next day’s work in the evenings and filling the girls’ workboxes. I think I spent at least an hour each night doing this, and that’s just not sustainable. I’m working on making it smoother, doing some of the prep work for the next day as the girls are finishing up their current day activities, and finding other ways to be more efficient. I’m hoping this will get faster as I get more familiar with the curriculum and once we are in a more user-friendly space after we move.

And speaking of user-friendly spaces, I learned that, although I really like having individual desks for the girls, I also like having the big table in the middle to use when we’re doing work together at the start of the day and when we do experiments and art projects. So we’ll probably be making room for the big table in our school room (we inherited a new dining room table from my in-laws).


So much packed into the first week.

Do you want to know my favorite part about the whole thing? I could watch my girls growing closer to each other through our work together and their helping each other.


I know that sounds crazy after just one week, but I swear they’re kinder to and closer to each other today than they were last Friday. They’re complimenting each other, they’re helping each other, they’re playing Star Wars together so nicely!

I’m feeling more connected with them too.

The house is a mess and my meal planning has gone to heck, but today it all feels so worth it.

First Day of School – Our Homeschool Plan

Today is the first day of school! I am really excited for this year, and so are my kids. Here’s what we have planned:

I am doing Sonlight first grade for Miss (Core B). I am always drawn to a literature-based rather than textbook/workbook-based curriculum, and that’s what I love about Sonlight. So far I’ve had to spend quite a bit of time organizing and figuring out my plan for exactly how to implement it, but I suspect that’s because I’ve added a bunch of stuff to it and decided to try to use workboxes for much of our school assignments.

Basically, I’ve come up with a plan in which we all do our religion, calendar, history, poetry, art appreciation, and reading for science together, first thing. Then the girls will go to their desks and start going through their workboxes. I have all of Miss’s math, phonics, spelling, handwriting, and worksheet questions in her workbox drawers, along with a few other fun activities (Hot Dots, Star Wars readers and workbooks, saints activity pages, etc.).


The girls will be instructed to go through their boxes one drawer at a time, starting at the top. They can’t open drawers further down until they finish the one they’re on. When they finish each drawer, they move the magnet on the bar from the left to the right and go to the next one. I think (hope!) they will find this fun and make the school day more exciting and interesting for them.


I think this will work really well for Miss, because she can read the instructions I write down for her in each drawer. I suspect it will be a little bit harder, especially at first, to get Lass and Sis going with this system, but I’ll give it a try anyway. At least at first, they have fewer drawers filled, so we’ll see how it goes.

After they get through their workboxes, I’ll read the day’s read aloud to them over lunch (our first one for the year is Charlotte’s Web). And that will be it, except they have extracurriculars some days in the afternoons (piano, gym, choir, art).

For Miss, the additions I chose to the Sonlight core (history, language arts, religion, science) are Horizons Math and Handwriting Without Tears. I’m already planning to switch her handwriting book though, to Writing Our Catholic Faith, which I just discovered yesterday and absolutely love! I’m also going to supplement her reading work by continuing with her All About Reading Level 2 (AAR) curriculum that we didn’t finish last year. The level of the readers that come with the first grade package from Sonlight is far too easy. I’m going to have her read them anyway, because they go along with her spelling words, but she can do the whole week of Sonlight readers in one day, and the rest of the week I’ll fill in with lessons from AAR.


I have added a specifically Catholic Faith and Life series to supplement the religion portion of Sonlight, and we’ll be doing lots of reading about saints and feast days. I also got Miss a Good News planner so we can learn about the coming Sunday’s Mass readings and she can keep track of her activities each week. We’ll be using Art Masterpieces: A Liturgical Collection for art appreciation and a DVD art course done by some nuns, which ties art with our Catholic faith and history (I can’t find the link for this anymore).

And that’s about it for Miss in 1st grade.

I’ve decided to start Lass in Kindergarten. She’ll do all the Sonlight curriculum with her sister (as will Sis) for the start of her day, and then her workboxes will have some math worksheets from Seton’s Math K for Young Catholics, some BOB books, her AAR Level 1 curriculum (which she will bring to me to do with her), Writing Our Catholic Faith for handwriting, and other fun activities similar to those in Miss’s boxes. She’ll also be using her sister’s first grade readers, which are more in line with her reading level than Miss’s.

Sis will be doing the pre-reading level of AAR (if I can ever find it in one of the boxes I packed away!) a few coloring pages, and various other fun activities.

I’ve got to go put some first-day-of-school cinnamon rolls in the oven and wake up my kids. Wish me luck!

Homeschool and Changes and Sacrifice

We are on the verge of beginning another school year at home, and this one feels like it is coming at me with many, many changes. I’m finding this both exciting and uncomfortable at the same time. I have hemmed and hawed about what day to pick to actually start school, and have finally decided on next Monday as the official first day, with a few small activities this week to get into the swing of things. We even took our first field trip today.



It’s been a little tricky getting things ready to start, because one big change is that we will eventually be in a new school room, and for the time being we are in a state of transition. Our new home was supposed to be finished around now, but is now not going to be done until October. Our old school room got all packed and put away when we put our house on the market, so I’m pulling out a lot of things from storage, and I’m having a hard time finding stuff, because when I packed it away I thought I would just be getting everything out in our new house around now, and not needing to find specific things in poorly marked boxes.


Since we’re going to be changing things around a lot when we move, I decided to go ahead and make a shift from an obviously preschool-like homeschool room to a room that will grow with us. This means individual desks for each of the girls (the little table we were using just wasn’t cutting it anymore), a bigger, free-standing white board, and workbox tray carts (which still haven’t been put together because the company sent me the wrong size). For right now, everything is being crammed into our former-school-room-turned-back-to-dining-room-and-now-partial-homeschool-room-again room.


I’m excited about the new way our school will be set up, if not completely happy with it’s current configuration.

The other big change is that Miss isn’t going to be going part time to our local Catholic school anymore. I love that we tried the hybrid homeschool model (I think Michele, who is trying it this year, coined the term), but it just wasn’t going to work for us this year.

There were many things I liked about having Miss in a regular school last year, and some things I didn’t. The main reasons we aren’t doing it again this year are that 1) having Miss at another school part time was disrupting the flow of my homeschool schedule; 2) it’s going to be a bit too far to drive after we move; and 3) she really didn’t want to go again. She said that regular school “takes too long,” which makes sense since we can get all of our homeschool work done for the day in a couple of hours, versus her being at school all day.

And in the same way that having Miss at school for one full day a week was disrupting our homeschool schedule, so were a few other things that I have had to move around or cut out. We aren’t doing any out-of-the-home lessons in the morning anymore. Piano got moved to the afternoon, and we will be starting a homeschool gym class two days a week at the YMCA and have homeschool choir and art classes once per week with some local families as well, all in the afternoon. This is hard for me, because I’ve always counted on having some time in the afternoons to get things done while the girls were resting and/or napping. Sis is going to be missing her nap more often, and I will be missing it too.

But the hardest thing about this change is that I have had to give up my bi-weekly Monday morning Catholic Bible study with my friends. It has been such a great experience for learning and building community with some wonderful ladies, but it just doesn’t fit with our plans this year. I probably could have made it work, but I feel pretty strongly that I want to get the girls into a routine of Monday through Thursday school time in the mornings. Fridays will be for some school things and extra projects, for field trips, or for a make-up day if we take a field trip or have something else during the week. In order to be consistent with this schedule, the Bible study had to go.


But while I’ve had to give up this one social activity, I’m trying to add in some others. Knowing that we won’t have any outside-the-home school this year, I’ve really been trying to establish relationships with other homeschooling families so that my girls can develop friendships with kids they will be able to see frequently. I am excited for their gym, choir, and art classes to start so they can begin forging new friendships and building on the ones we have already begun with some new families.

I know I need to do this, and it’s fun and exciting to meet new people (as uncomfortable as it can be for my introverted self to take the first step). But it’s hard to know that they won’t be able to see their old friends, who all go to school full time, quite as often. We can’t do weekly morning play dates with Super Friend’s kids anymore, for example. Her two oldest are in school every day now, and my family needs the school time in the mornings.


I feel kind of sad and anxious about these kinds of changes. I remember reading a blog post once in which the author claimed that homeschool moms have to give up their friendships with their non-homeschooling mom friends, because that’s what you have to do to put your children’s home education first. I don’t agree with this. At all. And I have no intention of blowing off my friendships or those that my girls have with kids who go to school. We will find other times to get together. But it still feels a little lonely to know that the easy days of morning coffee play dates with friends are over (at least until next summer).

So that’s where I am right now – on the verge of diving into a new year, excited and fearful about all the changes this will bring for us, and hopeful that I will be able to balance all the things to teach my children well with consistency, help them to develop new friendships, and manage to keep our old friendships going strong.


My Kids Went to Vacation Bible School, and It Made Me Cry

Last week was VBS at our parish. I have wanted to send Miss to it for the past two summers, but it always coincided with a week that we were out of town. This year, we decided to stay home, and Lass was old enough to go too, so both of my older girls attended.


Our parish really goes all out and does a wonderful job with the program. The kids made crafts and played games, all while learning Bible verses and stories, and about the love of God. My girls just loved it, and I was so happy they got to attend.

Each day when I dropped them off, and again when I picked them up, the whole group of kids and volunteers sang a song together in the church. The message of the song: “My God is powerful. He stands invincible. I will hold on to Him. Through God I will overcome. He’s the rock that will never move.”


Most days at drop off and pick up I got to see the kids do the song together (complete with arm motions throughout), and I was surprised to find that I couldn’t help but get choked up as I watched them sing. Every time, my eyes welled with tears, and I just stood there feeling all the feels and hoping that the tears wouldn’t spill over and make me look really foolish.

It seems like kind of a weird thing to get all emotional over, right? But as I watched all the kids get so excited over this song and it’s message, I felt this overwhelming joy that my children have this community and this Faith to grow up with.

Sometimes it’s still hard for  to believe that we even go to church, that we are even Catholic at all. I think back to where I was three years ago, on my unbelief and scorn for all things Christian, and I marvel at where we are now. I get overwhelmed with gratitude for what we have that we almost didn’t: Faith. Prayer. Community. Church.

And it’s in small moments, like those in the back of the church at the start and end of each VBS day, that I realize how powerful God really is. That He could take someone like me, a diehard atheist, and transform me into a true believer, a weekly-Mass-attending, pope-loving, confession-going, Jesus-freak Catholic, is nothing short of a miracle.


The kids performed the song in the front of the church at the end of Mass yesterday. I got all teary-eyed again, and then nearly dissolved into full-on sobs when the recessional hymn was “As For Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord.”

Yes we will. And I am so incredibly grateful for it.

Getting Ready for School – 7QT

I’m having mixed feelings about the fact that it’s nearly the end of August. I can’t believe summer is almost over and I’m sad to see it go, but I’m also really excited about our curriculum this year and eager to get started on the school year. And I’m looking forward to fall, which is my favorite season and would be the best thing ever in my opinion, except that it’s always followed by winter.

Anyway, I’ll do a post next week about our plans for the school year, but here’s what we’ve been doing lately to get ready for it.

1. Reviewing curriculum.

Since our house was on the market, I have kept all of my homeschool stuff packed away, and I just recently got everything out. The girls went out to play in the rain the other day, so I set myself up with my huge binder of stuff and started figuring out what I’m supposed to do with it. Probably a good idea.



2. Getting supplies.

Since we homeschool, we don’t have big lists of things to get for the school year, but with back-to-school stuff on sale right now, we went ahead and got some fresh crayons and notebooks. Everyone loves fresh crayons. And back-to-school is always a good time to stock up on new socks and undies too.


3. Getting haircuts.

I guess I just like to make a bit of a production about starting school again, even though we’re doing it in our dining room. So I took the girls to get them back-to-school haircuts. They posed for a before picture:


And here’s the after:


They really wanted me to take an “after” photo of them facing the wall too:


4. Trying to check out a homeschool gym class.


There is a local homeschool group that meets on Wednesdays at a nearby park for gym. I have never taken the girls because it’s right in the middle of nap time. But now that Sis is the only one who naps regularly, and I’m trying to decide what we’re going to do for gym class this year, I wanted to take them to check it out last week.


I had the time wrong at first, so we were there an hour and a half early. Then when we the correct time finally rolled around and still no one was there, I called the woman in charge, who told me it had been cancelled that day. She said it was on for this week, but then we had an inspection scheduled for our house on Thursday, and Wednesday afternoon came and went with me completely forgetting to take them. Sooo, next week.

5. Putting stuff together.

When our house is done (hopefully in October) we will have a new school room. I decided I did not like having one table for all the girls to use for their work, so I got them individual desks that need to be put together. I also got a new standing white board and some craft organizing trays for workboxes. I haven’t actually started putting anything together yet, but I did get one desk out of the box, only to put it right back in when I learned of the inspection happening this week. It will happen before we start school.

6. Enjoying the last few days of summer.




Most of my girls’ friends will be starting back to Catholic school on Tuesday, so we’re trying to enjoy as much of the last few days of summer, especially with them, as we can.


7. Preparing myself mentally.


Not actually with beer, though that’s nice too (and doesn’t that picture just look like a little slice of happiness for a summer day?)

I’m trying to think through what my objectives are for the year. Obviously there’s the curriculum part, and my goals for each girl and what I want her to learn and accomplish. But I’ve also been working on really preparing myself to be more peaceful and have more fun in school this year. We started out great last year, but after a while things sort of started to drag on some days. We had a few awful moments when I got stubborn about just. getting. the lesson. done. instead of remembering that the happiness and growth and love of learning in my children is far more important than any lesson or curriculum or specific skill being taught.

This year I will remember that the most important thing for me to do every day is to help my children to find wonder and joy in learning, and to help them learn to learn. Beyond that, everything else is gravy.

I hope that you’re still enjoying the last few days of summer! I’m linking this one up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday. Head over there to see more!


Ditching the Cover-Up at the Pool

Early this summer, one of the first times I took my girls swimming for the season, my oldest daughter said, while pulling down her bathing suit shirt as if to cover her rear end: “Oh my gosh, I’m so embarrassed!”

A few weeks later during a week of summer camp, my middle daughter asked me, “Mama, am I fat?” Then she started to cry.

Both of these scenarios shocked and confused me and broke my heart. I truly don’t  know why one of my daughters would express embarrassment about her body while another would voice concern to me that she is fat. I’m pretty vigilant about not sharing my own body image issues with my girls. I don’t talk about my weight (or theirs) with or in front of them, and I never criticize my own appearance in front of them.

I have lost 40 pounds since January, but I have done it without mentioning weight loss or calorie counting in their presence. I don’t think they’ve even noticed a change in my appearance.

And yet, somehow my girls went from this innocent place where “fat” was just a word to describe something, to a place where the idea of being fat is embarrassing to them or makes them cry. I can’t help but feel physically sick just thinking about it.

I feel like I’m doing something wrong, like I’m failing them.

Then, a few minutes later, I feel like I’m not doing anything wrong, and there’s just nothing I can do to completely block the “fat messages” of our society from invading their innocence.

I’m not sure which is worse.


Why do I get so freaked out about this?

Because I remember being a tween/adolescent girl and feeling like I was fat and how much I hated feeling that way.

Because I remember some of my friends in high school taking diet pills and/or binging and purging (either by vomiting or using laxatives).

Because when I was a psychologist, I worked with people with eating disorders and body image issues. It’s so hard to help people who have lived most of their lives thinking they are ugly and/or fat.

Because even though I’m almost 40 years old and I just lost around 40 pounds, I still struggle sometimes with being accepting of my weight or appearance.

Right now, I weigh roughly what I did when I got married.


Unfortunately, my body looks drastically different. Back then, pretty much everything was where it was supposed to be and was fairly sleek and smooth and toned.

After three children in three years, “sleek, smooth, and toned” are not the right descriptors for me. Saggy, dimpled, and deflated are more accurate.

Fortunately, I have come a long way from my adolescent self, and the truth is that I usually don’t really mind these bodily changes of motherhood too much, as it’s a very small price to pay for the three precious daughters I’ve been blessed with (I’d happily gain 50+ pounds of “baby weight” all over again given the chance). When I’m dressed in regular clothes, I even feel pretty good, actually.

But when I’m a little less covered, like at the pool for example, I struggle.

In summers past, I have always just worn a big loose, flowy cover up over my bathing suit. But this year, in the moment when I heard my oldest daughter say, “I’m so embarrassed,” and I responded, “Honey, you have nothing to be embarrassed about when wearing a bathing suit,” I decided that my days in a cover up at the pool were over**.

This summer, even when I’m not in or near the pool, I’m not throwing on a cover up or wrapping myself in a towel anymore. This was uncomfortable at first, but after the first trip to the pool, I just don’t even pack the cover up anymore, and now it’s no big deal.

Except when I’m noticing how my thighs spread unattractively when I sit down to eat lunch, or when I feel the jiggle-jiggle as I walk around the deck of the pool, or when I notice that even with a midriff covering, somewhat loosely fitting top on my bathing suit, I still can’t hide my permanently pooched-out belly.


Yeah. Except for those times.

I wish this wasn’t an issue for me, but sometimes it just is. However, I’m going to continue to do everything I can to make sure it won’t be for my girls.

This weekend we’re having a pool party with some friends for Lass’s fifth birthday. I’ll be strolling around the pool in just my suit. I’ll feel self conscious, but hopefully I won’t show it. Sometimes it really is helpful to just “Fake it ’til you make it.”


**I’d like to quickly add that this post is not about shaming anyone who chooses to wear a cover over her suit, or suggesting that moms wearing bathing suit cover-ups cause their daughters to have poor body image. It’s just one small way for me to battle back at the anti-fat culture.

On Humility (or Lack Thereof)

Last Thursday, we had our beginning-of-the-year, meet-the-new-members Little Flowers Girls’ Club Picnic. During the picnic, Miss was going to be getting her final badges to finish up her Wreath I. Lass was getting “sashed” in the Sashing Ceremony as a new member. We were all excited for the start of the new Little Flowers year.

To back up a little bit, Miss was one of the original members of our Little Flowers group (some of my friends and I started it together last year). At the beginning, all of the girls got sashes, since that was the only thing available from the website for wearing/displaying badges at that time. I lost my love of the sash pretty quickly, as it wasn’t terribly sturdy, and it always seemed awkward for the girls to wear. Then I accidentally got some glue stain on Miss’s when I was trying to use stitching glue to adhere her patches (don’t try this, it doesn’t work).

So when we started this new year, I was excited to see that there are now adorable vests available on the Little Flowers website. I immediately thought that all the Flowers in our group should switch to these, but no one else really wanted to go that far, so it was decided that each girl could decide whether to get a sash or vest for the upcoming year.

I decided to get a vest for Lass, and to go ahead and get one for Miss too, since her sash was a little messed up from the glue incident. I didn’t ask the girls what they wanted. I just got them what I wanted. I showed them the vests last week, and when they said, “Mom, I want a sash,” I “convinced” them that the vest was better, and that was that.

The night before the picnic, I stayed up late, taking Miss’s patches off her old sash and sewing hers and Lass’s onto the adorable vests.


Adorable, yes?

I was so excited for them to wake up the next morning and see their vests. I just knew they would love them.

You can see where this is going, right?

In the morning, I proudly showed the girls their vests. They both threw fits and said they wanted sashes. They wouldn’t even put the vests on. I got all fired up by righteous anger and I-stayed-up-late-sewing-this-for-you hurt feelings.

I yelled.

They cried.

I fumed.

They cried some more.

I was awful. It was ugly.

As I type this, I have no idea why I didn’t realize that this would happen. When I told the story to my husband, he said several times, “Well, you could have seen that coming,” and “You knew that was going to happen.” But I didn’t. I can only explain my complete idiocy on this issue as an excess of stubborn pride.

Somehow, that morning I managed to realize what a jerk I was being and how stupid it was for me to just decide to get them something different than what they were expecting without even asking them. How unfair it was for me to not listen when days before they had told me that they wanted sashes.

I tried in vain to think of what I could do to fix the situation. I wanted to address with the girls how their response to the vests I gave them was not really the right way to go (we generally try to discourage wailing and complaining when someone gives us something or does something nice for us), but mostly I wanted to figure out a way to fix my wrong in the situation. I knew there was no way I could get them sashes by that evening’s picnic. I felt horrible. I was near tears, and I sent up some desperate prayers for help and guidance on how to fix the mess that I had made.

When I am at my ugliest, the best thing to do is pray.

And then text Super Friend.

I sent her a text about my misery, because we were getting together with her and her kids later that morning, and I wasn’t sure we’d be very good company. I had absolutely no expectation that she would be able to help me. I just wanted to tell someone how awful I felt, and at the time I was still kind of mad about my girls’ responses to the vests, so I was looking for a little bit of sympathy too.

A short while later, Super Friend called me. She asked me if I had thrown away Miss’s gluey sash. I told her I hadn’t. She then said that she had managed to find an extra sash at her house and asked if I wanted it. She had an extra sash!

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. Matthew 7:7

I couldn’t even answer her over the lump in my throat. There was a long pause as I struggled to speak. Finally, I just started bawling, “Yes please!!!”

The guilt and relief and gratitude for an answered prayer just overwhelmed me.

I spent all of my girls’ rest time that afternoon taking off the patches I had so carefully sewn on the night before and re-sewing them to the sashes. I gouged my finger with a needle. I offered up that time of sewing for my girls.



May I always remember these sashes when my pride and selfishness get in the way of mothering my girls the way I want to.

A Wedding, Some Zoos, and Lots of Summer Fun – 7QT

Summer is flying by, and between getting our house ready for showings, picking out things for the new house, and practicing music for a wedding reception we performed in, I have hardly blogged at all (not that I haven’t wanted to!). Here’s a quick little catch up post of our summer happenings. I’ll apologize in advance for the lack of photo quality. I’ve been leaving my big camera at home, sometimes because I don’t want to carry it, but usually because I forget it (it’s tucked away as part of my showing-ready minimalism). So the following are all phone photos. Sorry!


The wedding.

My husband’s cousin got married last weekend. My girls haven’t been to a wedding in several years (and don’t remember the ones they have been to), so they were extremely excited.


We had lots of wedding dress up and role-playing around here in preparation.

The wedding was lovely and I was excited to get to spend a little bit of time at the farm where my Father-in-law grew up and my husband spend many happy hours of his childhood. The house was built by my husband’s great grandfather (who dug the basement with horses!). I was happy that my girls got to see and experience it a little bit.





The reception.

I was so privileged to get to participate in the band that performed for the reception. (I’ve posted about the band before. It’s primarily made up of my husband, one of his brothers, two of his cousins, and a friend. I just sing some songs and play some tambourine.)

The bride is the sister of two of the band members, and she and her husband took a chance and let us play the music for their reception. We aren’t a professional band, and in fact only had about two hours of practice time with the whole band together. But everyone spent so much time practicing at home individually, we sounded pretty darned good.


It was a blast. The music and dancing and family time were perfect. And most importantly, I think the bride and groom were pleased.







The hospitality.

I have to mention the hospitality of my husband’s cousin and his wife. We traveled to their small town in Iowa twice this summer, once for a band practice, and once for the wedding. Both times, they let us stay with them in their house, fed us, and made us completely comfortable and welcome. It’s so amazing to visit someone and feel like they are truly happy and not put out in the least with having you in their home. Ben’s cousin’s wife took care of everything for us. She watched my kids while I practiced with the band. And she did it all with a genuine smile. I was inspired to do a better job of this myself when people visit us.


The zoo (#1).

Moving on to other summer things, we went to a small local zoo last week with Super Friend and four of her five children. It was a little dirtier and more weedy than I remember it being in years past (to the point that we could barely see a couple of the animals through the tall weeds), but the kids still loved it.




The highlight of the day occurred when we were walking out to the car. We ran into a zoo employee, who was bringing one of their newest residents in through the front entrance. She let the girls pet their nine-week-old baby tiger!



The pool.

We joined the pool again this year, and have been spending a good amount of time there.


It’s our new go-to family activity after Mass on Sundays. We have it nearly to ourselves for a few hours before other people get around to making it to the pool.


We get in and swim with the girls for a little while, and then relax for some mom and dad time while they splash around in the shallow area. Summer at its finest.


The Dirty Weird Zoo.

Just yesterday, we took our annual trip to the DWZ. It’s still dirty and weird. And unfortunately this year they didn’t allow us to take bags of bread for the kids to feed to the animals while we walked around. That was always the big selling point of the place for me. My kids enjoyed feeding bread to the animals so much, I was able to overlook the dirtiness. This year I wondered if it was worth it without that fun experience for them.



Surprisingly, they didn’t seem too disappointed about not having the bread to give. I think I was more bummed out about it than they were.




They still made great memories with great friends.




The other stuff.

We’ll be trying to soak up the rest of our short summer here before we officially start our school. So far, it’s been fun and fast.





I hope you’re enjoying your summer too!

Check out more quick takes at This Ain’t the Lyceum.