7 quick takes: “Cutting Corners” Edition

A few years ago, I declared that my new motto was “Praise God and cut corners.”  Pretty good, eh?  Although these days I’m only managing about a 50% success rate (guess which half).

My poor husband has been working long, long hours as he covers a murder trial, and we have four kids at home, three in one school, and one in another, and I somehow scheduled four doctor’s visits, two dentist and one orthodontist visit, and two parent-teacher meetings this week.   And I scored a writing gig from a -gasp- secular website!

Whine, whine, whine.  Don’t hate me, mothers who hold down full-time jobs, or military wives.  I am just not used to being this busy!  I’m spending three hours or more in the car every day, and the other things that I Absolutely Have To Do just get crammed in during the brief visits we  make to our actual house.

So it’s either make a lifestyle change involving a plane ticket to the Yucatan Peninsula and a forged death certificate . . . or cut corners.  Here’s how:

1.  Gotta read to the kids? Children’s books are horribly repetitious.  Yeah, yeah, it’s good for their brain development, it makes them feel secure, whatever.  Just cut out all that dead wood, and you get to the end a lot faster.  Try this:

“Would you eat them
in a box?
Would you eat them
with a fox?”


In the dark?
Here in the dark!
Would you, could you, in the dark?”


2.  Gotta feed them? Try making all the meals at once.  At lunch time, try to be also cooking supper, baking a treat for the classroom, toasting some granola for the upcoming hike, and packing tomorrow’s lunches, while making a shopping list of high-protein breakfast foods to alleviate that “Your child weeps her way through math every day” problem.  By the time you’re ready to dish up, the kids will be so disoriented, they won’t even realize that you’ve weaned them down to two meals a day.

3.  Gotta teach some school? Take a leaf from the educational fad of my childhood:  it’s called “spiral education” and it means you only actually have to teach them something every three years or so.  The rest of it is “enrichment through incremental exposure,” which is educatorese for “endless reveiw.”   Like this:  “Look, everyone, a cloud!  You remember clouds!  Who can tell me about clouds?”  They’re certainly not learning anything, but this type of conversation will give them that same nervous, alert feeling that signals True Education.

4.  Gotta get some time alone with your husband? Try the “surprise reward” strategy:  “You know, I’ve been watching you, and you guys did SUCH A GOOD JOB with that, that thing you were doing today that Daddy and I think you deserve a movie.  A nice, lo-o-o-ong movie.”

5.  Gotta write? Try this handy phrase:  “Several of my readers have requested [or would, if I asked them to] a re-run of a very popular post from a few years ago, so here it is.”

6.  Gotta pray? Remember that God is very, very smart, and can figure out what you mean by, “Hello!  The thing!  And all.  Would You?  I need!  Amen.”

7.  Gotta finish seven quick takes? New rule:  six is the new seven.

Conversion Diary!  Linky! List!  Skip pic!  Done.



  1. Thank you for cutting corners this morning! I still need to make lunches, help one kid study for a science test and get them all on the bus by 8:00, and I wouldn’t have had time for a big long blog post. But I would have taken the time to read it anyway. Go figure! You’re just so darn entertaining! : )

  2. You wrote like a Fr. H. homily! How’d you know what I needed to hear today (again)? Thanks, and I’ll be using variations of your shortcuts for the busy day ahead, mixed with lots of laughter 😉

  3. Or there’s the super duper quick version, which should probably be saved for true emergencies:

    “Do you like green eggs and ham?”

  4. Amen sister on the Green Eggs and the crying at my math problem. It’s hard when things are like that. My sympathies. I also suggest paper plates for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack or whatever is served, cake for dinner on the second to last night to celebrate the end of a long dry spell and asking others to pray for you when it’s hard.

  5. This is hilarious. I like the idea of all food preparation at the same time.
    The nervous, alert feeling of True Education, this will keep me smiling today.

    My corner-cutting today was going to be swishing the downstairs toilet so it looks clean, before my mother-in-law stopped by, and of course used the dirty nasty bathroom. But I forgot. Lofty goals.

    • “that same nervous, alert feeling that signals True Education”

      Love that line too! Looking back I think my parents often used #4.

  6. Unfortunately, my husband and I discovered recently that #4 does not work for our 17-month-old. What’s wrong with a kid who doesn’t get glued to the TV?

  7. I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago when And Sometimes Tea linked to your post on not homeschooling.

    You are fantastic. I like:
    -your sass. Weaned to two meals? Sounds like the time my parents tried to use an “all you can eat” buffet to mean “No, seriously, this is all you’re going to eat today. We’re on vacation and it’s expensive enough to have one hotel room for eight people.”
    -your self-acceptance. I haven’t seen any self-inflicted guilt tripping, and that’s a relief. You seem at peace with the imperfections that are inherent in life, and you don’t blame them on anyone, and least of all not on your kids.
    -your courage. I liked how fiercely you stood up for Catholic women (and others) in the pants post. I too have felt the pull of the Religious Homesteaders movement and you helped me feel 100% okay with ignoring them.

    Thanks for making my day!

  8. Fun post.

    I make the bigger ones read to the little one. Everyone gets something educational out of it… I’m sure of it…. really….

    Oh! and two words on food ‘Scrambled Eggs’

  9. This was brilliant – thanks for a great start to the day!

    I hope I can make it through my next “Green Eggs and Ham” without dissolving into giggles. Ah well, my kids think I’m odd anyway…

  10. I’m bad about editing as I read. My kids are mystified when Grandma, or some other patient person, actually reads the whole thing. The story is magically longer. My least favorite book is “Red Fish, Blue Fish.” I skip several pages at a time

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