Forty Ways Not To Lose Summer

Elizabeth Foss posted Forty Ways To Keep Summer From Slipping Away last week and I loved reading her summer goals.  For the last week or so, I've thought about how I want our summer to look, so I decided to follow her lead and write out my own Summer goals for our family and me. 

1.  Even though I can sleep in because school is out, I'll continue to rise at 5:00 am for my coffee and prayer time.  This really is the best time of my day.  A friend asked me recently how I get up so early and I told her not to be too impressed.  I'm wired for early mornings.  In college, when everyone arrived to the library for late night study sessions, I was usually packing my things to go home.  I'd much rather get up at 3 am than stay up until 3 am.  It's weird, I know.

2.  Continue to write every morning from 6 to 7 am.  Work on being detached when I'm interrupted by needy children.

3.  Continue to exercise three to four times a week.  Vary the routine with both exercise DVDs, walking, and running.  Involve the kids as much as possible.  (Side note:  I just started the Jillian Michael's videos.  Wow.)

4.  Read good books.  Our great books club is slated to read The Aeneid this Summer and I have to confess, I'm not at all excited about it.  I realize how uneducated that is to admit, but it's true.  I'm going to have to supplement my reading list with some other books I really want to tackle to keep myself motivated.

5.  Have the kids keep a list of all their Summer reading.  Maybe create a friendly competition and offer a date night with mom and dad to the winner?

6.  Take pictures with either my real camera or my iPhone everyday. 

7.  Take the kids to the swimming pool or the lake at least once a week or more.

8.  Prepare dinner on the grill as much as I can.

9.  Host several outdoor family movie nights.  (We hosted one last summer and invited our friends and it was so much fun.)

10.   Read a few picture books to my little kids everyday.

11.  Institute thirty minutes of required reading everyday.

12.  Blow bubbles and color with sidewalk chalk.

13.  Take a long weekend trip to Florida with my girlfriends.

14.  Teach an iPhone photography class to elementary and middle school students.

15.  Persevere on that writing project.  Don't listen to negative Nellies (also known as my thoughts).  Keep going.  Have confidence.

16.  Blog more.

17.  Hire a babysitter every week and leave the house for five hours by myself.  (This one I've already planned and organized and I'm so happy about it.)

18.  Help my kids make their summer bucket lists.  Try to help them fulfill their goals.

19.  Plan one on one dates with one of my six children once a week.

20.  Ensure everyone hits Confession at least once every two weeks.

21.  Invite kids over to my house and let them play in the hose.

22.  Try not to complain about my messy house.  Try not to get angry about it, either.

23.  Keep most of our time unstructured.

24.  Help John plan a weekend away for himself with one of his college friends.  Don't complain about his impending absence in the few days before he goes.

25.  Plan at least one date night a month and surprise John.

26.  Take the kids to baseball games.

27.  Build a fire and make s'mores outside.

28.  Take the kids berry and peach picking.

29.  Make fruit pies.

30.  Eat watermelon outside.

31.  Plan play dates with my girlfriends.  Let the kids run around like wild minions and come home dirty and worn out.

32.  Make art with my girls.

33.  Let the kids sleep in their tents outside.

34.  Make a day trip to the beach.

35.  Sit in the sun.

36. Go over the finer points of the birds and the bees with Patrick and Meaghan.  I'm not looking forward to this one, but it's necessary.  The older kids--all of a sudden--are in a new season.  WHAT THE HECK???

37.  Take the kids swimming and Deedo's and Papa's pool.

38.  Visit with my sister the Sister.

39.  Hire a swim instructor that will actually teach Christopher and Camille how to swim.  The swim instructor doesn't have to be "nice" but he or she must be effective. The last two years of swim lessons have been a waste.

40.  Go easy on myself.  Relax my standards.  Chill out.  Remind myself everyday the kids are going to be fine.

Anything I'm forgetting?  Share your ideas with me!  I'm all over it!

7 Quick Takes: The Summer Edition


I always have the notion that summer will bring a relaxed schedule and lots of downtime. I'll get to write and read and lay by the pool, I think with great anticipation and delight.  Time!  I'll have all that extra time!  I love the lazy, hazy days of summer!

And then Summer happens and what it looks like is oh! so! different! from what I envision.

What Summer actually looks like for Colleen Duggan:  

--Feed my 5 children by 7:30 am and doing a quick clean up of the simple breakfast provided (cereal bowls and juice cups in dishwasher, fruit put away)

--Dress them in appropriate pool attire (Where is your swim suit?   Where are the 10,000 towels?    Did anyone bring them in from the van last night?  Why do they smell like mold--were they under your bed again?  Where are your goggles/swim cap and team suit?  Continue accordingly until van is out of the driveway.)

--Pack snack/lunches and drinks for the day because swimming makes for ravenous children.  (Water bottles?  Check.  Sandwiches?  Check.  Fruit?  Check.  Pretzels?  Check.

Entire contents of pantry?  Check, check, and check.)

For the last couple weeks, our departure time is 8:30 am every morn so we can get Topher to his 9 am swim lesson. 

As I drive to the pool, I often think, I can't wait to lounge while my 5 offspring splish and splash in the water.  Maybe I'll even read my book while Topher and Camille play in the kiddie pool.  Oh, I love lazy days at the pool!

And then I get to the pool, unload the 5 million pounds of pool supplies we need, cart the bags and children onto the pool deck and what actually happens at the pool is oh! so! different! from what I envision.

What Actually Happens During Our Morning "Jaunts" To The Pool:

--During swim practice, Christopher and Camille whine incessantly about their hunger/thirst pangs and beg me for food.

(I'm hungry, Mom.  Mooooooooooom, I want a juice box!  Mooooooooom, NOW!!!!)

--Christopher and Camille fight incessantly over the swim caps and googles hidden at the bottom of the pool bag.

("It's not yours Camille, it's Patrick's.  Give it to MEEEEEEEEE!"  At some point, this verbal warfare dissolves into a physical one and I'm forced to hoist my growing belly over to the two children battling.  It doesn't cause a scene at all.)

--Christopher and Camille beg incessantly (and loudly!) to use the restroom because don't I know they have to poop and pee? (No, but everyone thanks you for letting them know.)

--Christopher and Camille touch incessantly every single germ infested orifice of the public restrooms while they relieve themselves.

--I look longingly at all the skinny and perfectly tanned moms reading novels and casually providing cold tuna sandwiches on rye to their happy offspring engaged in summertime fun.

By the time we get home, I'm exhausted, I have no energy to pound out blog posts, let alone book chapters, and I could care less about reading my current novel.

All I want is a cool bath, a snack, my bed, and not to be bothered for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, the people who live here are serial eaters and expect dinner.

Every night.



Some of you might be wondering, why do it?  Why not just stay home?

Well, I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment. Plus, I can't get anything done at home anyway.  Camille and Christopher follow me around like two attached shadows which makes performing the simplest tasks difficult --cooking, cleaning, writing, and pretty much everything else--impossible.  As soon as I get on a roll, I'm interrupted and I get frustrated, so it's easier to spend our days at the pool where at least half of my family (the 3 older kids) are happy.

Plus, my tolerance level for the repeated "I'm bored" mantras from my offspring is low. Very low.  In my experience, it's waaaaaay hard for kids to be bored at the pool.

But if you want to know the real reason we hit the pool everyday?

Swimming wears my kids out.  When they come home, they have physically exerted themselves in such a way they don't have the energy to fight or whine or tell me how bored they are.   My kids are like walking, mute zombies afterwards and it's great.


I officially registered to attend the Catholic Writer's Conference in August. John is going to come with me and work while I listen to all the fabulous talks.  Anyone else going?  Let me know so I can be sure to say hello! My book proposal and sample chapters are on hold because they are far from being done, but I'm going anyway.


This is totally random admission, but you might as well know it.  I have a problem with these:

I haven't been able to drink my morning coffee at all this pregnancy.  For some reason, a regular cup of Joe doesn't appeal to me, but I miss my morning ritual and the social aspects of coffee drinking.

I rectified this problem after sampling the the Iced Coffee from Dunkin Donuts, which goes down like honeydew vine water.

Hi, my name is Colleen and I'm addicted to Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee.


Patrick went to Rocket Camp this week.  My mom came and picked him up and he's been staying

with his grandparents since Sunday.  I thought he was going to internally combust from excitement overload.

This is how he looked the first night after we dropped him off.

At a diet-friendly restaurant with his Deedoe

"I've really been looking forward to the peace and quiet," he told my mom.

I'm not sure if was the peace and quiet he was looking forward to or the way my parents operate on the "Patrick, your wish is my command" principle.

I suspect it's the latter.

The boy has spent the week making rockets and discussing Newton's Laws Of Motions and his 9-year-old world is officially complete.


Everything was going swimmingly until my dad took Murphy, the family dog, for a walk. Patrick went with his grandfather and they had barely gone up the road when a large dog darted out into the road, knocked Patrick over, and bit him on his torso.

Now might be a good time to mention,  my mother is highly overprotective of her grandchildren and when she found out what happened, she marched herself right up to the neighbor's door and demanded to see the dog's vaccination paperwork.

No such luck.

She then called Animal Control who informed her she needed to take Patrick immediately to the hospital because a unprovoked dog who bites is highly suspect.  Animal Control promised to send someone from Animal Control over to the owner's house in order to quarantine the dog.

After the Colonel (aka Grandpa) and my mother decided they would have no qualms about using the Colonel's gun (the Colonel is a staunch believer in his amendment right, people) to shoot the "rabid" dog, they rushed Patrick to the ER.

Patrick is fine and the doctor's decided to forgo the shots until after the dog's quarantine is over, but if the truth be told, I'm afraid for that dog.

Neither the Colonel or Deedo will have any problem putting a cap in that aggressive dog's ass.


Need a good summer recipe?  Try this:

Cherry Glazed Pan Seared Chicken Breast

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

1 lb fresh cherries (pitted)

2 tbsp honey (pantry)

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Serrano pepper (or jalapeno) seeded and minced

1/8 cup of minced onion

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp canola or light olive oil

1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To remove the pits from the cherries simply lay them on a cutting board and press them with the side of a large knife until they split. Remove the pits and place the cherries along with the honey, vinegar, pepper, and onion in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Allow it to simmer and reduce for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large oven safe pan over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place the breasts into the pan to sear on one side for 5 minutes before turning and transferring the pan to the oven to finish cooking for approximately 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Pour the glaze over the chicken and set the oven to broil and allow the sauce to cook for 2 minutes. Be careful not to let it burn all broilers cook at different temperatures.

Serve with roasted sweet corn and brown rice.


Aunt Meaghan, Aunt Rara and Uncle Ted are coming to visit next week, so posting will be light around here.

Go see Jen for more Quick Takers.