Seven Quick Takes: An update

Joining Kelly and all the cool kids at Seven Quick Takes this week. It’s been awhile. Glad to be back!


We cozied up the house for autumn the other day and I am so glad we did, especially now that the sun won’t ever come out again, or so it seems. I love the warm colors of fall, the candles, the feast days in October, the sweater/leggings/boots weather. I love it all. I also love how the kids appreciate the change of seasons in our home. The girls and I had so much fun getting the boxes of fall things out of storage and placing all our fallish things around the house. They were begging to put the Halloween decorations out as well, but I told them I’m won’t be ready for orange and black until about halfway through October — just something else to look forward to!

cozy autumn collage SMAM-2-

Gosh, do I love Pope Francis. I could not get enough of the coverage! I don’t think I’ve watched that many Papal Masses on TV in such a short time span in my life! And I enjoyed every second of it. We recently got rid of cable to save money and so we were limited to local stations for his visit to DC and then CNN and EWTN live streaming on our desk top and lap top. It was definitely an adjustment for me. I got a little frustrated at times with the limitations, but we rolled with it. In fact, on the Saturday night Festival of Families in Philly, we had our own little festival! It was a gorgeous fall evening, so we had dinner on the back porch with the laptop hooked up to a portable speaker so we could listen to the coverage. Then, after we put our two year old to bed, we lit the fire pit out on the driveway, ate s’mores, and watched the coverage in Philly. It was so much fun! I hope the kids remember this experience for years to come. After the children were all snug in their beds, The Hubs and I sat watching Pope Francis’s impromptu address to families at the end of the festival. We held hands and just kept smiling, looking at each other and saying, “Wow.” We also promised each other that we would print out his inspiring words and read them once a week to remind ourselves of what we are about here in this crazy family thing we do everyday. In case you missed it…

papal visit SMAM

Some of you who’ve been reading my blog for awhile or know my family may get tired of me saying this, but it’s worth repeating just to bring some perspective. Smarty Pants was born in October of 2004, Dimples in June of 2006, Bright Eyes in February of 2008, and, when the oldest was just five years old and in pre-Kindergarten, Social Butterfly was born in January of 2010, our Snowmageddon baby. As a mom, it was a huge deal to have our fifth baby a whole three and a half years later. And now that Little One is two years and three months old, well, I’m feeling good. This season is so enjoyable. The big kids just keep getting bigger and more independent and Little One is still our littlest one at the age of two. I’ll take it! Since we’re open to life, this could change any month now, and probably soon since I’m getting so cocky about it. God’s Will be done!

still little one SMAM-4-

Up until twelve days ago, I have never really had to watch any of my children suffer. A week ago Sunday, our nine year old daughter Dimples had a reaction to poison ivy all over her face. On Saturday, Dimples, Little One, and I walked through a small cleared path through the woods to the soccer fields to watch Bright Eyes play. We sat on a blanket in the grass by the trees to stay out of the heat. As we were walking on the path to go back to our car at the end of the game, I was looking down at my feet and saw some poison ivy. It was one of those, “Oh! Poison Ivy!” moments. Nothing you can do about it. There it is. The next day, we attended the Bluemont Country Fair where Dimples pointed out some redness under her right eye. I didn’t think about the poison ivy from the day before. I just put some calamine lotion on it and she ran off to play. The next morning at 4am, The Hubs and I were woken up by a puffy and swollen-faced Dimples, in tears over the discomfort and itchiness. That was the beginning of three terrible days followed by four or five more days of nursing her back to health. It was just awful. She missed a whole week of school, and the two of us lost a whole lot of sleep. There were moments between doses of medication to ease the itching when I felt so helpless, unable to give her more of anything because it was too soon, wondering how on earth I could make her feel better. Then, the resurrection: Dimples was able to attend her class’s field trip (at school- A troop comes all the way from Camp Flintlock in North Carolina each year) affectionately called “Colonial Day.” She dressed up in the darling costume we borrowed from a friend (who purchased it on Etsy last year), packed her lunch in her little basket, and had a wonderful, wonderful time. The next day, she went to school for a regular day and felt a little self-conscious about the redness and swelling still on her face. Then, Wednesday morning, she woke up and had horrible swelling and redness. It was a moment as a parent I will not soon forget. I understood that she didn’t want to go to school, but I also knew that she had to go and push through, knowing that she has a school with loving teachers and a class of kind children. I said things like, “It’s gonna be okay. It is going to go away. This is not permanent.” I took her to school a little late and when she got home it was, “I’m so glad I went to school today. Everyone was so nice to me.” Growing pains – for daughter and mother.

colonial day SMAM

I started posting my menu plans each week on Sundays about a month ago. I skipped this week because, well, see #4. But you know, it’s been really enjoyable for me. Does anyone want me to make it into a link-up? Please email me or make a comment giving me your blog address and we’ll convo. Good? Good. Click on the “COOKING” menu above to see the four menus I’ve posted so far along with reviews from the previous week’s meals.

smam Whatcha Got Cookin' new series IG graphic

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Therese, The Little Flower. I have a special love for this saint, precisely because I am not little, so each year I pray a novena to her leading up to her feast (I’ve only received a rose as an answer to said novena once and I’ve prayed it every year since 1996). She’s been a friend to me in so many different ways over the years, so I see her feast day as a chance to celebrate all that I have learned from her as I try to encourage a friendship with her among my children. So, this year, we had an epic dinner on her feast day. Chicken a l’Orange (so easy and so, so, so yummy), Potatoes au Gratin (to die for, I tell you, and so very easy! Mine didn’t pop out of the muffin tin, but it was such a delicious dish, it didn’t make a difference), a simple salad with a typical French dressing (dijon mustard, olive oil, and vinegar), roasted brocolli and cauliflower, a baguette, some French wine, and cream puffs from the freezer section for dessert. It was divine and everyone ate heartily. All I could do was picture my dear college friends sitting around the table, but I have a feeling we’ll all have to wait for our heavenly banquet to enjoy a feast all together — and in that case it will be with all the Saints and our Sweet Lord. Until then, I’ll enjoy my husband and children at our dining room table just fine, thank you.

St. Therese Feast Day Dinner collage SMAM-7-

My first Seven Quick Takes: March 28, 2014, Trying my hand at “7 Quick Takes”

I really didn’t know what on earth I was doing, and I was incredibly intimidated by the whole Link-up to a big time blog like Conversion Diary, but as with most things in life, I needed some practice. Once I got the hang of it, I really started to enjoy it. I go through stages where I know they’re happening each and every Friday, and I really should take part, and then Friday rolls around and I’m all, “It’s the weekend! Must get everything done before the kids get home from school!” Thanks for the reminder that 7QT’s is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to other bloggers and meet some new ones too, Kelly! No doubt, the chance to win free and really great stuff is also motivating! See you here next week!

seven-quick-takes-friday-This Ain't the Lyceum

Novena to the Little Flower, Day 9!

St. Therese Shower of Roses SMAM
Novena to the Little Flower, the final day!

Happy, happy feast to all my Household Sisters and to all my friends named Therese and Theresa! And to every one of us who calls St. Therese our spiritual friend, happy feast. May she shower roses from heaven on all of us today!

Printables for the Feast of St. Therese, October 1st

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face! Over the past eight days I have been posting the novena prayers to the Little Flower, and creating some printables for you! Happy Feast from me to you, dear reader! Right click, save, and print any of these images you choose. I am going to print out a bunch of these as 4×6 inch prayer cards to place around our table for a special Feast Day dinner. I think I might also mail a couple to some friends who share my love for St. Therese. Social Butterfly’s class’s patron saint is the Little Flower, so I think I’ll print out a couple of these for her teachers too. Another idea would be to laminate one of them to use as a book mark or to put up in the kitchen by the sink as a reminder to be little each day (not an easy task, but so important for us moms who pour ourselves out for our children)! Whatever you decide to do with these printables, I hope they bring you inspiration to follow in the footsteps of the humble and little St. Therese of Lisieux.

my vocation is love SMAM
small sacrifice St. T SMAM
prayer and sacrifice St. T SMAM
I have always wanted to become a saint St. T SMAM
true charity St. T
laundry St. T SMAM
Happy Feast Day!

Novena to St. Therese, Day 8

laundry St. T SMAM
Novena to the Little Flower, Day 8

Novena to the Little Flower, Day 7

true charity St. T
St. Therese Novena, Day 7

What if we took a break from extra-curricular activities for a season or a year?

Recently, I posted the following thought on Facebook:

“I wonder what would happen if we just took a year off from signing our kids up for extra-curricular activities. Would we miss them? Would our children miss them? Or would we all enjoy the break from all the crazy?”

There are now twenty comments in response to my question given by various moms who apparently are feeling the same way. A couple are home schoolers who feel a need for activities for their children to get them out of the house and to give them interaction with other kids. Another home schooler only signs her kids up for activities during the summer, keeping the school year simple with lessons during the day and time to just be during the afternoon and evening hours. One mom with older children shared that looking back maybe she shouldn’t have started the kids in activities when they were so young. She shared that now that her high school aged children have practice after school and the transportation to sporting events is provided by the school, so the days of getting them to and from practices and events are over. Another mom expressed her frustration for the need to stay in an activity like gymnastics in order to advance to the next level. I have thought about this with Irish Dance as well. If we took a year off, then Dimples would not necessarily advance with her classmates the next year. That would be difficult for her. Then again, I took a year off from dance and I jumped right back in the next fall where I left off. Taking that year off was so difficult for me. I’ll never forget the sadness I felt watching my class from the seats dancing in the recital. Oh did it hurt! But looking back, it made me appreciate dance and my love for it even more. So perhaps that was a good thing.

Finances, work schedules, school schedules, and the crosses that come our way sometimes play a roll in our decision making process. I do agree whole-heartedly with the statement one mom shared on our little Facebook discussion: “Stop the glorification of busy.” It’s all about our attitudes and approach, isn’t it? If we are signing our kids up for all sorts of activities, paying for them, driving hither and yon, spending too much time away from home and each other, what are we communicating to them? How are we enriching their lives if all we’re doing is spending time in the car? There are so many questions to ask ourselves and our spouses.

  • What is the motivation and intention behind why we are putting our children in activities?
  • What end result do we hope for the child to achieve?
  • What are they capable of achieving and are our goals for them or their goals for themselves realistic?
  • How much of a financial burden is a particular activity putting on the family budget?
  • How much stress or enjoyment is the activity causing the child, parent, and/or family at large?
  • Are we enrolling our children in the activity in order to fulfill a dream of our own?
  • At what age should we allow a child to start participating in extra curricular activities?
  • How much time are we willing and able to commit to these activities?

As a couple, our goal is to afford the children the opportunity to learn skills that team sports and dance classes can teach. However, I am not about to allow the area of the country in which we are raising our children dictate what is necessary or good. This is not easy, especially because of the pressure that we feel as parents to give our children every opportunity that presents itself to be active and essentially to learn. In the end, as parents, what we value most is time together as a family, because the fact is, when we and our children look back on their childhood, I suspect that the memories that we will all hold most dear will be of the time we spent together, experiencing all our beautiful world has to offer. I’m thinking now of playing on the beach, traveling to visit family, playing in the creek at our favorite park, parish picnics and fire pits with s’mores in the back yard, and on and on. Sure, we will all remember the joy of playing and watching sporting events and watching Irish Dance performances, and I think it’s important for each child to have an activity that they call their own, and skills that they hone and are proud of. In fact, I think it’s the time away from family, especially one that has siblings so close in age, that makes it easier to spend so much time together. I think time outside the home and away from parents and siblings is healthy and balanced, and it can also help the child appreciate their family more, and don’t we all want that for our children? The questions remain: How much time? and When?

I guess what I’m realizing now that we’ve had children in activities for about five years is that there is no hurry to be busy. It will come soon enough. Each family has to approach activities for their children as they see fit. For us, sitting down as a couple and discussing how we want to keep the glorification of busy at bay has worked really well. We say no a lot and we explain why to our kids. If we took a break from extra-curricular activities for a season or an entire year, I think perhaps we might find that we’re happy people without all the running around. Maybe we would see that we had been glorifying busy after all. I’m not sure.

I really enjoyed reading all of the other mom’s comments on Facebook and I hope if they’re reading this post they will add some thoughts in the comment box as well. There is no one way to approach activities for our children. Families aren’t one size fits all. I definitely find the perspective of other moms valuable, especially the wisdom of those who have approached this issue differently, and I hope you do too. As you’ve probably figured out by reading my blog, I like a schedule and believe our kids thrive in a routine so please pitch in with ideas about how you’ve made the chaos work for your family’s schedules and routines. It gives me perspective and sometimes helps me to identify things we could be doing differently as well as the things we are doing well.

stop the glorification of busy PINTEREST


Novena to the Little Flower, Day 6

I have always wanted to become a saint St. T SMAM
St. Therese Novena, Day 6

Novena to the Little Flower, Day 5

prayer and sacrifice St. T SMAM
Novena to St. Therese, Day 5

Novena to the Little Flower: Day 4

small sacrifice St. T SMAM

The Saints and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland

Novena Prayer: Day 4

Novena to the Little Flower: Day 3

Today’s novena prayers, Day 3