7 Quick Takes Friday: Mother Of The Year, Books, and Birthdays


Story Time!!!

Last Friday evening, Christopher came into the house with swollen eyes.  He muttered something about Mary hitting him, which invited a rollicking and "effective" lecture from me about the

Importance Of Keeping Our Hands To Ourselves.

There was  a lot of hand waving and my voice may have been raised and I was sure everyone understood my message because only a few of them nodded off.

But funny thing, the next morning, Christopher's eyes were even


swollen and he looked as if

he'd been in a bar room brawl.

It was then I realized no one actually hit him (thereby rendering my lecture completely unnecessary), but that he actually was having an allergic reaction.

Yet another parenting win for the books, folks. 

There were many cell phone picks to family members asking if they had a clue why he looked so puffy.

When he woke up Sunday morning with slits where his brown eyes used to be, I hightailed it to the After Hours clinic.  We made it there by 8 am and when the doctor walked into the room, her first question was,

"Did you put your face in the poison sumac?"

I looked at her blankly.

"What's poison sumac?" I said.

"It's worse than poison ivy and as bad as poison oak.  And he needs a round of steroids."

She dosed him up and we were on our happy way.

2.  But It Gets Better!

We eked into the 10:30 Mass after waiting at the clinic for over two hours and we made it through Mass, though Toph was still very puffy and even a bit groggy from the mega dose of Benadryl the doc gave him. 

When Mass was over, we exited the pew and I don't know what happened, but as I was gabbing with a few of my lady friends off to the side, when I heard Christopher scream and then there was a delayed pause and then on cue...loud, very loud crying.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw John walk past me quickly, hissing for me to follow him and then I noticed the trail of blood down Topher's face and all over John's white shirt.

He's always taking one for the team, that John Duggan.

Appartently, Toph ran out of the pew, tripped and cut open his very swollen eyes.

The gash was large enough to warrant some stitches but I was


going back to sit in a waiting room.

So I did what all pushy mothers do, I bulldozed my way over to our doctor friend and asked him his medical opinion.

He gave me very specific, complicated instructions involving super gluing the wound shut, which I totally jumped on, and Boom. 

We escaped a trip to the ER.

Thank you, Doctor Woo.  You're my new best friend.

A few hours after the 'roids and with his new busted eye.  I'm a big fan of drugs.  He's gonna have a scar from that cut, though.

3.  But wait, there's still more!  

A few days later, I asked Topher to run outside and water my mums.  This has been a chore I'd been having him complete on the daily for the last week.

"I can't" he said.

I stopped washing dishes, turned around,  put my hands on my hips, and in my best mother voice said,

"You go outside

right now

and water those mums!"

"I can't," he said again.

Now I was getting mad, reved up, as they say.  

This kid doesn't know who he's messing with

, I thought.

But then he started crying.  A Lot.  He was hiccuping and trying to talk and the water works were in overdrive.

"What is the problem, Christopher?" I said, when I realized he was seriously upset.



4.  Well, we're back in the swing of things.  We've been plugging away slowly at school for the past two weeks and...

it hasn't been awful. 

Granted, I did have a few learning curves in the first week, but I've learned a lot from my previous homeschooling years and I'm implementing what I know, so there's that.

It also helps that the kids are attending school a full two days a week.  They get to see their friends and interact with beloved teachers and they love it.  We do school work on the three other days they're home and while it's crazy chaotic, it's working for now.

I did take the obligatory first day of school photo and

every time

I look at it, I can't believe I have four school aged children.  

Not to sound dramatic, but I never thought this would happen. 

It seems like I've been in baby and toddler mode for so long that I was starting to believe I would forever exist with a nine month old on my hip and a toddler tugging at my pant leg. 

But that's not going to be true forever...it's not even true right now.  (I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!)

Topher started Kindergarten! 


, people!

And he's so cute in that uniform, I can't stand it.

 So everyone is back at school two days a week and I'm at home with these two to keep me company:

5.  We've had two birthdays in the last week and I now have a brand new four year old gracing my halls:

Oh my gosh, this kid is such a handful.  My dad likes to remind me I'm in for it when she's a teenager.

And a brand new eight year old.  

With a heart as big as they come


6.  Last week I thought I would be cute and clever and post this picture on Instagram with a caption that read:  It's only 12:30 pm and dinner is ready!   (or something like that...)

Of course that was an official invitation from fate to strike my kitchen to smithereens.  

I went upstairs, forgot to turn off the stove, and burned the entire cast iron pot of Mexican casserole.

My lovely friends, Janet and Danny, sent me this


preseasoned cast iron pot (y'all it's authentic) after they visited us this summer and in the short amount of time I've had it, I've already managed to char the bottom of it so badly, I need to re-season the stupid thing!

Just call me Martha.

Still, to prove I'm not a total failure on the domestic front,  Mary Bernadette and I did make these for her classmates:

Cute little suckers, ain't they?

I should tell you that the extra effort was made only as a compromise.  Mary asked to invite all her classmates to our house for a party.  When I broke out into a cold sweat, she conceded and took my cupcake offer.  

She was happy and so was I.

7.  I haven't done a post on books recently but I've been plowing through a few of them lately.  

Here are a few recent favorites I'm pondering--

I just started Flannery O'Connor's

The Habit of Being

, which is a collection of her personal letters, and I love it.

O'Connor is quirky, sarcastic (without being overly critical or negative), and


 "Last summer I went to Connecticut to visit the Fitzgeralds and smuggled three live ducks over Eastern Airlines for their children, but I have been inactive criminally since then."

And this:

“My mamma and I have interesting literary discussions like the following which took place over some Modern Library books that I had just ordered:
SHE: “Mobby Dick. I’ve always heard about that.”
ME: “Mow-by Dick.”
SHE: “Mow-by Dick. The Idiot. You would get something called Idiot. What’s it about?”
ME: “An idiot.” 

Also, she didn't take herself too seriously.

"Harcourt sent my book to Evelyn Waugh and his comment was: “If this is really the unaided work of a young lady, it is a remarkable product.” My mother was vastly insulted. She put the emphasis on if and lady. Does he suppose you’re not a lady? she says.”

And this:

"One of my Atlanta cousins informed me that she had written a book review on Wise Blood for her class (9th grade).  Why? said I.  Because, said she, I had to write one on some book the Sister wouldn't read.  I asked her what she said about it.  She said she said her cousin wrote the book and then she said everything that was on the jacket."

O'Connor suffered with the debilitating disease of Lupus, from which she died at the young age of 39, and she was an ardent creative and hello?  A Catholic. 

Overall, her letters make for a very interesting and delightful read.

I'm also digesting Pope Francis's

The Church of Mercy

, a collection of his homilies from the first year of his pontificate.

I loved JP and Benedict, don't get me wrong, but Pope Francis is


pope.  I know people have all kinds of "concerns" about him, but...



While I am not a theologian, I do think Pope Francis is the Holy Spirit's response to the radical traditionalists in the Church today who tend to be overly rigid and closed off.  Pope Francis does not encourage the Christian to live closed off.  Case in Point:

"While we Christians are enclosed in our groups, our movements, in our little worlds, we remain closed, and the same thing happens to us that happens to anything closed: when a room is closed, it begins to get dank.  If a person is closed up in that room, he or she becomes ill.  Whenever Christians are enclosed in their groups, parishes, and movements, they take ill.  If a Christians goes to the streets, or to the outskirts, he or she may risk the same thing that can happen to anyone out there: an accident....I would prefer a thousand times over a bruised Church to an ill Church! A Church a catechist with the courage to risk going out, and not a catechist who is studious, who knows everything but is always closed--such a person is not well."

The fact is, the longer I'm a Catholic, I find that what Francis is talking about--this tendency for Christians to inculcate ourselves in our comfortable little Catholic cliques-- is the norm, not the rarity. 

Anyway, the book is also challenging me, which is always a good thing because I'm an American and I like to be comfortable and feel good about myself and have everyone else feel good about me, too.  Sadly, comfort and self-esteem, and the good thoughts of others aren't going to get me to heaven.

Too bad, huh? 

I just finished reading Vinita Hampton Wright's

The Art Of Spiritual Writing

, which was very good.  I particularly liked her insight that just because something was spiritually significant to a writer personally, it might not necessary be spiritually insightful for the reader. I also liked the chapter that outlined the difference between personal and public writing. 

Wright says,

"Public writing takes the concrete details of a single, personal experiecne to generate a discussion of the more universal experience readers will relate to.
This aspect of writing takes a lot of nuance, because the writer is using personal details but they are carefully selected ones.  The end result is that they don't point so much toward the writer's experience as they evoke in the reader's mind their own experiences that fall into the same category.  To write more universally is not to write in more general terms.  Here is where in the world of essays, the truly skilled writers shine above the rest of us.  They manage to choose just the right details.  They unfold personal experience in such a way that the reader feels as if her own life is being described."

One spiritual writer who does this well--selecting the perfect detail to illustrate a larger theme--is Ann Voskamp. 

8.  And that's it.  

Have a terrific Friday and be sure to stop by Jenn's for more quick takes.  

Photos care of a friend

These photos care of Meaghan