Posts Tagged ‘Seven Quick Takes’


Store brand cereal names.   When I was little, manufacturers of generic food didn’t bother trying to snare the thrifty shopper by putting grinning strawberries or wacky breakfast raccoons on the box — it was just a white box with black letters, stating the legal nomenclature of the grain product you were about to consume.

Today, however, they try and make it sound like it’s some kind of close cousin to the Real Thing, without infringing on any copyrights. Some of them just try to sound like the brand name, like Tasteeo-s instead of Cheerios.  Then some of them are just kind of disconcertingly descriptive:   Crispy Hexagons, Corn Spheres.  But some of them . . . some of them are just a cereal mystery, and they make me laugh.  And the greatest of these is Confruity Crisp.


Renita Jablonski from the radio show Marketplace.  I realize this makes me an eleven-year-old boy, but ever time I hear her name, my brain giggles like Beavis and Butthead.  See, cuz, it kinda sounds like Heywood . . . oh, never mind.


My three-year-old daughter says “who” when she means “what.”  I occasionally correct her, but it’s just too much fun to see her come into the kitchen, wrinkle her nose and say, “Who’s that smell?”  It’s your supper, that’s who.


The Howard Dean scream.  It just never gets old.


Sometimes, when my husband is changing a diaper, he puts the clean diaper on his head, and then pretends he can’t find it. Gets me every time.


That scene in 30 Rock where all the guys are sleeping on the couches, and one of them takes a bite of his sandwich in his sleep.  I can’t believe they’re still making that show!  It’s so funny, it should have been canceled by now (we’re up to season 4 on Netflix).


Well, in keeping with the way things have been going around here lately, I hate this post and couldn’t finish it, but couldn’t do anything else until it was done.  I guess I should be grateful to have six things that make me laugh, but instead I was just hung up on how bummed I was that I put my beer on the back of the couch for a second, only to discover that the back of the couch wasn’t up against the wall after all, and so that was the end of my beer.  I hate that couch so much, I’m glad it got beer spilled all down the back and on its stupid confruity little skirt ruffle; but still, I had to clean up the beer.  It was a Corona, too!  Oh, anyway, so while I was looking for a towel, my husband said that fart jokes always make me laugh.  I don’t think this is strictly true, but on the other hand, we’ve been together for a while now, so I guess he would know.

Okay, okay, wait.  It does make me laugh when someone says “poot” instead of “fart.”  Poot!  That’s not even a word.

Oh, boy.  Well, check out our lovely hostess Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes, and find out how the normals are doing it.

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In our recent discussion about the dubious heroism of Columbus, Lincoln, and Joel Hodgson (well, somebody should have said Joel), The Jerk did his job as peacemaker, and poured soothing oils on the stormy waters of our dialogue by bringing up the subject of fluoridation.

For readers who are not familiar with The Jerk, he is this guy who writes for my blog, and he is a jerk.  What’s the matter, The Jerk — sick and tired of having a friendly chat with strangers online about vaccines, maybe, or circumcision?

I had actually completely forgotten that people get upset about fluoride.  But now that I remember, I can’t stop thinking about Dr. Strangelove, and how I wish my kids were old enough to watch it.

It got me to thinking about other movies that I’d like to show my kids, and which I think they would mostly enjoy — but there’s just a few scenes in there (or maybe more than a few) that make these movies out of the question for another couple of years.  Here’s the rest of the list:



I’m halfway afraid that they won’t be terrified by this movie.  And that they won’t recognize the perfect story arc.  And that they won’t get the big deal about this scene:


Blazing Saddles

I campaign for this one regularly, and my husband always nixes it with this simple argument:  “Simmy, it’s one long d**k joke!”  Humph.  If I had known he was such a prude, I never would have — oh, never mind.

Well, it turns out he actually said that about


Young Frankenstein, another of my favorites.

Super dooper!  I don’t mean to lean too heavily on Mel Brooks, but I do feel that my children are only living partial lives until they understand what we mean by “Nice hopping.”


For a change of pace, how about Unbreakable?

This is one of my favorite movies of the decade — it’s so much more than a comic book movie.   Where Watchmen seethes with ludicrous self-importance, Unbreakable tells a plain and strange story of good and evil.  I wish people would give this movie a second look–it’s so delicately, movingly, and thrillingly done, and is full of hidden symbols.


Oh, wait, here we go: The Mummy

Here is the movie for which the word “awesome” was invented.  I can’t quite get myself to use this word in public yet, but I have to admit, this movie is indisputably awesome.

Besides being terrifying and genuinely funny, this is one of the very few action movies with an appealing heroine (and impeccable casting in general).  I didn’t realize how good Rachel Weisz is as Evy until we saw part 3 (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), which, among its many grave problems, had a different actress in the role – and it really wasn’t worth watching.


And of course my children’s cultural education won’t be complete until they see Army of Darkness

Everything’s cool!  I said the words.  I did!

Well, what’s on your list of cinematic genius that you’re dying to bequeath to the next generation?  Leave your list in the comment box, or do your own Seven Quick Takes (doesn’t have to be movies — most people just list seven random tidbits, which I find much harder than making a list), and leave a link to yours at Conversion Diary, where Jen hosts lists of links every Friday.  Don’t forget to link back to Jen if you do your own Seven Quick Takes.

Happy Friday!

(Cross-posted at the poor The Anchoress, who probably hoped for more than, “Ha ha, here’s my favorite fart scene!”)

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Don’t worry, it’s not another scholarly fisk of the cultural significance of Billy Jean.  I’m talking about the county fair!  The fair!  Who doesn’t love the fair?

If you’re taking your kids to the fair for the first time, you are going to hate it.
It will be, second only to the birth itself, the most miserable, sticky, disappointing, and ludicrously expensive day of your life as parents.  You will go home wondering why you just paid hundreds of dollars to make your kids this dirty and unhappy.
Also, you’re fairly sure you had eight children when you left the house, and now you only have six.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.  We kept trying and failing to have fun at the fair, and eventually we worked out some guidelines.  And this year, it finally happened:  we actually had a good time! All of us, even the wimp, the show-off,  the escape artist, the malcontent, the spoilsport, the worrier, and everyone.
Well, the baby actually hated it, but she kind of hates everything right now.
So here is how we managed:

Start saving money last year.  I’m serious — this is an expensive day.  You have to just accept that it costs what it costs, and there is really no point in making the effort if you’re not going to go whole hog.  Be prepared to shell out for admission (and possibly parking), ride tickets or passes, food, souvenirs, and possibly for special rides or shows — plus emergency cash for something unexpected, like bug spray or a bail bond.
And do some research.  There are usually a few cheaper days and a few expensive days, so work out exactly how much it will cost to do everything you want to do.   I recommend going on an unlimited pass or bracelet day.  We tried individual tickets, and it was not only more expensive, but made us very anxious, because we had to pace ourselves and conserve tickets.

Check the weather report! A wonderful day can be ruined by  clothes that are too hot or too cold.  Once we went on a rainy day, and lost a whole hour off our unlimited ride time.  And once we went on such a hot day, everyone just wanted to sit on a bench and suck down lemonade.  Which we could have done at home for much cheaper, with slightly less of that nauseating barnyard smell.
Bring sunblock and lots and lots of drinks.  The screaming, walking around, and the general excitement will make your kids even thirstier than they normally would be after a day outdoors.  There will be drinks for sale, but they will be EXPENSIVE.   Have I mentioned this?  It’s not because I’m a cheapskate; it’s because I don’t want you to have to tell a weeping 7-year-old girl, “I know I said you could ride the pony, but Mama spent her last $6 on your fourth lemonade!”

Make sure your kids know what to do if they get lost.    We tell them to first yell and yell (in case the rest of the family is right around the corner) and then they can go to a policeman,  someone behind a counter, or someone who looks like a nice mother, and say, “I’m lost – can you help me find my parents?”
Make sure your kids know their parents’ actual names (a surprising number assume Daddy’s name is “Daddy”), and what their parents are wearing (my daughter once described me as “the one with the haircut”). Dress your kids in distinctive clothing and write down descriptions of everyone (“black sweatpants, a Jack Kemp T-shirt, and a homemade haircut”) in case you need other people to help you find them, and are too flustered to remember what they look like.
The earlier in the day you go, the smaller the crowds will be.  Know which kids are likely to bolt or wander away, and give them a special lecture beforehand.  (We didn’t need one of these until kid #7 could walk, and then we needed it desperately.)

Plan for variety, especially if you need to stretch your money.  Do something thrilling, then something where you sit down, then something where you wander around, then a snack, then something for the older kids, then something for the younger kids, etc.  Save something primo for last, so when it’s almost time to go, you can say, “Okay, the fair is over . . . but not before we do such-and-such!”  Makes your exit much happier.
Bring the roomiest stroller you have.  The fair is completely exhausting for little ones, so kids who’ve outgrown the stroller might need a ride.  Also, it’s helpful to have somewhere to stash all those drinks.

In order to make the effort and expense worthwhile, you will want to be there for several hours  — which means you will be there during a meal time.  I recommend packing a picnic for the meal, and spending your money on snacks, instead.  Kids don’t appreciate an $8 steak sub, but they will always remember getting a cloud of cotton candy or a caramel apple with rainbow sprinkles.
What we do is arrive at lunch time, but then go on rides right away before eating.  The kids would have been too excited to eat at first, and would have just pecked at the meal, and then begged for snacks later.  After a few rides, they were happy to take a break for sandwiches and chips.

Succumb to the stickiness.  Your kids will be just disgusting by the end of the day:  sweaty, sugary, dusty, and, yes, possibly throw-uppy (although that never happened to us, miraculously).  It’s a good idea to have them wear clothes you don’t care about. Be smart about timing:  they can ride the Neck Snapper, but not right after eating one of Doody’s Famous Fried Pickles.
Bring a change of clothes for the youngest kids, and plastic bags.  Trust me on this.  Sooner or later, you will be stuck holding something that desperately needs to be wrapped up in a plastic bag.

Discuss expectations ahead of time.   Before you even enter the grounds, let them know what they will be doing, and what they will not — and stick to it.  How many rides can they expect to go on?   Will you be playing games, buying a meal, buying snacks, buying balloons, buying toys, riding the pony, seeing a show, seeing the animals?   Especially if you have lots of kids with various desires, just winging it will lead to someone feeling disappointed.  (We skip the games of chance altogether, and just let them pick out a souvenir.  Not as exciting, but cheaper, and less heartache.)
My husband and I discuss our expectations, too:  we remind each other that our #1 goal is to give the kids a super fun day, and that we will both try our hardest to be patient and generous, and do our best to give the kids what they want (within reason).  A day of fun is no time to teach lessons. It’s okay to be over-indulgent once in a while, as long as you’re doing a good job on most other days.
Also, this may sound silly, but unless you’re getting home late at night, it’s a good idea to have some mild treat waiting for them at home — lollipops or a special movie.  Kids are tricky, especially if they’ve been looking forward to something for weeks– and now it’s over.  You will expect them to be grateful and satisfied, but they will likely feel exhausted, let down, and cranky.
So go easy on them.  Tomorrow, you can go back to the old routine, but it’s nice to do whatever you need to do to keep things pleasant today.  And once the kiddies are in bed, you can have a nice little drink and put your feet up.
And for goodness’ sake, take better pictures than I did.  Never before have so many knees, ears, and backs of heads been captured for posterity.
Oh, before I forget:  check out the other 7 Quick Takes hosted by Jen at  Conversion Diary, and leave a link of your own!  Or, wait, it’s actually at Betty Beguiles this week, I forgot!

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It’s so linky around here today, I can hardly stand it!   I’m doing Seven Quick Takes with Jen from Conversion Diary, and responding to a rare tagging from The Anchoress.

She lists her five favorite Catholic devotions, and she wants to know what mine (and yours) are.

Now, I’m in kind of a spot here.

On one hand, the last six months or so have seen me practicing Catholic devotions in the same way as my three-year-old has been practicing personal hygiene:  whining and screaming and making things so miserable for everyone that, more often than not, we just skip it and walk away disgusted.

On the other hand, whatever Lizzie wants, Lizzie gets.

Just to make things harder on myself, I’m going to list seven, not five, so I can do Seven Quick Takes.  Maybe the extra two will count as doing mortification.  That’s a devotional, right?

Seven Favorite Catholic Devotions



I think of novenas as spritual interventions — not “We pray for divine intervention,” but like:  “Well, do you think it might help if we held an intervention?”  A nine-step program, if you will.  You don’t set these things up for everyday problems.  Nobody enjoys it, and we’d all rather be somewhere else, but if this doesn’t work, then nothing will.  I kind of imagine the Holy Spirit slumping resignedly in a folding chair, drinking tepid coffee and willing at least to hear us out.



It’s been a long, long time.  I’ve made dozens of resolves to sign up again, but I keep putting it off.  But when we were going, my husband and I signed up as a couple, and each went on alternate weeks.  Just two hours a month each, but it Made A Difference.

Sometimes when you go into the chapel, you feel wonderful.  You feel like you’re coming home from a long and miserable trip, when everyone missed you terribly and is so glad to see you.

And sometimes you feel like a bored, itchy hypocrite who has no business taking up space in this weird, demanding religion.  But I heard someone compare Adoration to standing in the sun:  you may not notice it happening, but it will surely change you.


Scriptural Rosary

This is not so much a favorite devotion as an inescapable one.  It’s kind of like taking your vitamins:  it’s so easy, and it couldn’t hurt, so you might as well just do it every night.  Gulp.

My kids enjoy it (we only do one decade a night) because eventually they will get to lead us in praying The Ascension.  The little rats read “‘Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,'” and then they deliberately pause before continuing with “Hail Mary . . .” so they can make one or two inattentive people think we’re up to the Glory Be already.  They also like to trap house guests that way.  Isn’t that nice?  They’re wonderful children.


The Chaplet of Transition in Labor

When I’m in labor, I offer up the pain for people who suffer infertility.  That sounds a lot more pious than it really is.  Really, the only good thing about delivering babies is that, for once, you have something truly horrible to offer up–but, unlike other sacrifices, such as fasting or doing good works, you can’t get out of it.  So you might as well try and get something out of it (besides the baby, I mean).  Also “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world” is nice and rhythmic, and helps you breathe steadily.


ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, שהכל נהיה בדברו.‏

Ha ha, got you there!  When I was little, we used to say the Hebrew blessing before meals (later, I found out it was Hebrew with a Brooklyn accent), and then we’d say it in English:  “Blessed art Thou, o Lord our God, King of the universe, by Whose word all things exist.”  It has such a wonderful rhythm of certainty at the end:  “By Whose word All.  Things.  Exist.”  I don’t know how to read Hebrew (although I did once advise someone on whether or not her mezuzah was upside down, so I know that much), but here is a transliteration of the prayer: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha‑olam, she‑hakol nih’ye bidvaro; and here is  someone saying it.

There are actually several different prayers before meals, depending on what kind of food you will be eating.  This may very well be technically the wrong prayer to use every day, but, you know, there’s a New Covenant and all.  You’re covered.


Palming it Off On Someone Else

I thought it was hilarious when Mark Shea recently explained that he started posting prayer requests on his blog

largely because I feel inept as an intercessory pray-er, and so had a hope that maybe somebody out there in the audience might have the charism I lack when it comes to having a clue how to pray. I thought I was being very clever fobbing this off on others; but, of course, what I stupidly failed to foresee was that this would inevitably result in lots more prayer requests for everything under the sun. I continue to post them, along with my fumbling two cents in the courts of the Almighty, advising Him on how to proceed. I haven’t the slightest clue whether my prayers do a lick of good for the person making the prayer request. But I figure that if I mix my prayers in with others who are closer to the Throne, then maybe they’ll get lost in the pack and I will look like I know what I’m doing.

I’m lazy enough to pass along a prayer request before actually praying about it myself, but scrupulous enough to feel bad about it; so generally, the act of making it public is enough to help me to remember to say at least a quickie prayer myself.  Whereas if I only realize I should be praying for something, I’m all too prone to mistaking “I should pray about this” for actually praying.  Maybe God, in his generosity, accepts even good intentions as prayer, but I’m not counting on it.


Act of Contrition

I love the Church so much.  She knows that we’re so lame, so stupid, so weak and lazy that not only do we have to be required to go to confession once a year, but we  need help figuring out how to say “I’m sorry.”  Isn’t it great to have those words?  They say it all — everything you’re thinking, and everything you ought to be thinking — and it feels so good to say them.

O my god, I am truly sorry for having offended Thee.  I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

Whew. I mean, Amen.

Oh, wait!  Here’s a bonus one.


A Strange Child’s Prayer

When my oldest daughter was about four, she wrote a prayer of her own.   She understood the gerneral lingo, if nothing else.  I wish I could find the baby book for this General Act of Praying, but the ended with:  “Holy, holy, holy.  Isn’t it holy?”


Okay, so now I’m tagging Hallie from Betty Beguiles, Megan from  Sorta Crunchy, Lisa from Sweet Family Times, Kristen from St. Monica’s Bridge, and Becca from The Hollow.

And don’t forget to check out Conversion Diary for other Seven Quick Takes, and link up if you’re doing your own!

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Many mothers of big families are at a loss for words when strangers make personal comments about their family size.  Other women are able to use their conspicuous presence in public as a chance to witness to the joy of this lifestyle.   Still others see it as an opportunity to ditch one or two of the slower kids in the crowd.

No matter which description fits you, there will come a day when you are urging an unruly string of children down the narrow hall of the hospital, where you are late for an appointment to have the blood of several of them painfully tested for something you know perfectly well they don’t have.   Some of them will be licking the walls, one will be wailing about losing her vending machine puppy in the parking lot, and two will merely be going silently boneless.

It is at moments like these when some sweaty bozo in an AC/DC T-shirt will appear, plaster himself comically to the wall to let you pass, and remark, “Haw haw haw, looks like someone don’t have a TV!”

(photo source)

So the following guide is for you, mom.  If one of your damn wiener kids hasn’t shoved a fig newton into the printer, feel free to make a copy, laminate it, and keep it in your ludicrously enormous purse.  It will help you respond to people who see your presence as a challenge, when really all you want to do is mail a letter, buy some diapers and few pregnancy tests, or pay the librarian for the books you ruined this week, and go home.

7 Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions About Your Big Family


Boy, you’ve got your hands full, don’t you?

Congratulations!  As the ten billionth person to make this clever remark, you are a winner!  As your prize, please accept this delicious baby.


Don’t you know what causes that?

Yes, it’s brought on by being in the presence of morons.  Every time I leave the house, I feel the urge to rush home to my husband and, for the sake of future generations, try to outnumber people like you.  Whoopee!


Are those all your kids?

Quiet, you fool, my husband’s listening!


How many kids do you have, anyway?

I dunno.    [I don’t know if it qualifies as snappy, but it’s often true, and it shuts people up.]


You’re stopping now, right?

Of course!  Lots of people have eight kids.   Eight kids is nothing.  Of course, our van is longer than most people’s driveways.  We own two milch cows just to supplement breakfast.  And with the money from our Additional Child Tax Credit, we bought a Learjet.  That’s life with eight kids.

But to consider having nine kids?  That would be cuh-razy.


[This next one is for kids who are members of big families.  It’s a direct quote from lunch recess at Disnard Elementary School, and partially explains why no one liked me in sixth grade.]

Hey, huh huh huh, you have seven brothers and sisters?  Boy, huh huh huh, your parents must really like to dooo it!

Yeah, boy, I guess that proves they had sex eight times.  And you’re an only child, so I guess your parents just don’t love each other very much.  Ha ha!  Now, who wants to be my lunch buddy?


Don’t you have a TV?

If you think TV is better than sex, then you are doing it wrong.


So long until Monday, folks! Don’t forget to check out Conversion Diary for links to everyone else’s Seven Quick Takes.  And don’t forget the most basic rule of appearing in public with lots of children:  it’s everyone else’s job to get out of your way.

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So, Jen from Conversion Diary designed this nice little 7 Quick Takes  system for us bloggers.  It bumps up your traffic, it automatically gives your post a semi-professional look, with the nifty graphic and all:

And above all, it’s easy.   For once, you don’t have to come up with a unifying theme.  You can just babble about seven random things that occur to you — seven orphaned ideas which never quite grew up into anything, but which you aren’t quite ready to discard.  You can tell about a book you just read, or you can complain about the heat.  You can put a picture of the gross thing that fell out of the car seat when you finally got around to adjusting the straps, once you finally stopped lying to yourself about how 18-month-old children are probably happily reminded of the womb when they’re folded in half like a sweaty empanada.  And before you know it, your post is all done.

Easy, right?  Just write seven things, quick.  What could be simpler?

But that’s just too disorderly for me.  Now, looking at my house, you’d never think, “Here at last is someone who loves order.  Yes yes, this is someone who cannot bear chaos,  and who labors long and hard to institute structure and harmony into her personal life.”  Okay, so if you’re talking about my living room, then, no.  I’m just happy when all four feet of the couch on resting on the floor simultaneously, or when the drips of unidentifiable goo are dry, and not still visibly oozing down the walls.

So that’s my house.  But when it comes to writing, I’m like the chickens in Chicken Run:  I’M ORGANIZED.  I don’t feel right unless my writing has some kind of unifying theme (although I reckon I sometimes do a great job of keeping that theme a secret).  So every Friday, I ruin a perfectly good opportunity to be random, and I choose a topic for my 7 Quick Takes.  So far, I’ve chosen The Outdoors, Hope This Helps and Toys.

Well, Friday kind of snuck up on me this week.  So today, just to give you a little window into Life with Meeeee (so you can join the Facebook group “A Million Strong to Let Simcha’s Husband Out of Purgatory Sooner”), I present:

7 Ideas That I Decided Weren’t Good Enough for 7 Quick Takes


7 Refreshing Summer Drinks

It would be easy to pick seven drinks I like:  lime rickey, cheap beer, slightly more expensive beer with a lime in it, white russian, whiskey sour, gin and tonic, and another gin and tonic.  But who cares?  What would be interesting would be a list of seven things that are likely to happen if I have more than two margaritas, but my spiritual director and my probation officer both advised me against dwelling on that kind of thing.


7 Rules of Etiquette for the Adoration Chapel

Ehhh, this is just too sticky, especially since I haven’t been in over a year.   Other than the time that wall-eyed crazy lady squatted herself down in front of the altar and started to rummage through the basket of prayer intentions, alternately shrugging, raising her eyebrows, and giggling as she read, and I told her to cut it out — I’m really out of my depth in this one.  I think I could come up with seven things, but no one comes out looking good.  Better leave it alone.


7 Stupid Things We Almost Named Our Children

This one hits the sweet spot for me, because I love making fun of things, but I wouldn’t feel bad, because it was my own past self that I would be mocking.  But then I’m guaranteed to offend some readers who actually did go with “Beryl Cornelia Moselle,” and they have the patron saint to back it up.  I try and minimize the in-huff-leaving that goes on around here, so this one is out.


7 Bugs That Temporarily Ruined My Life

I can, and have, gone on at length about how I’m the onnnnnnnly person in the world who’s had to do a bunch of extra laundry to get rid of fleas or lice or whatever.  And then there was that one time we got a mysterious moth infestation, and had to throw out all our food right when we had a $17-a-week grocery budget for six people.   There were so many moths in the living room, it looked like the tracking needed to be adjusted.  (For my youthful friends, that’s a VCR reference.  Ask your dad.)  The low point was when I opened up a tiny bottle of cream of tartar, and found it thoroughly infested with larvae.   Really?  Really, moths — you had to eat my effing cream of tartar?

But this one is no good, because many of my readers live in terrifying, tropical lands with enormous, venemous, year-round bugs, the likes of which I never saw even in my worst nightmares.  They will scoff at my little mishap with the scary old lady bug, and tearfully recount how their third and fourth children were both carried off in the flying, carnivorous earwig invasion of Ought-Three, and how insult was added to injury when said children’s funerals were interrupted by  historically unprecedented swarms of acid-squirting butterflies who become enraged by the color black.   So, that’s out.


I Hate My Hair

Can I just say that seven times?

No?  Then on to . . .


7 Embarrassing Things I Have Called Poison Control About

It turns out that it’s not really a big deal if your stupid kid eats two raw pork chops, nine ounces of glitter, or, sigh, super glue.  It is, on the other hand, kind of a problem if you have to call about these things all in the same day.  At this point, before you get around to listing the other four toxic things your child also ate while you were busy checking your blog stats, I would recommend changing your name.  Perhaps to “Mother of the Year.”


7 Ways to Get Rid of Old Palm Branches

Palm branches are from Palm Sunday, which was back in March.  So why, if you got the palm branches four months ago, would you still be talking about– . . . ohhhh.  Still hanging around, looking holy, neglected, and semi-blasphemous, aren’t they?  And not only are they too brittle now to be woven into a lovely cross, or too scattered to be stored  away for burning into ashes for Ash Wednesday, you haven’t done any of those things with any palm branches from previous years, either, have you?  Whenever you move out of a house, you clean out everything except the palm branches, don’t you?  When your van breaks down and has to be towed to the junk yard, you clear out all the CD’s and melted Jolly Ranchers and leaky pens, but you pretend to forget about all those sun-baked palm branches on the dashboard, don’t you?  When you’re cleaning out under the couch and you find a palm branch on which someone has written “liht saber” in marker, you suddenly get all jesuitical and contrive an elaborate theory about blessed items losing their sacred significance once they no longer full resemble their original form, don’t you?

Maybe I should change this one to “7 Stupid Things You’re Going To Hell For.”


Well, have a nice weekend, everyone.  I intend to do at least seven things this weekend, and the unifying theme will be gin.

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Today for 7 Quick Takes, hosted by Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary, I’m sharing what we’ve learned from years of research in the field of toy-buying.  If you want to do your own seven quick takes, add your link to the list at Jen’s website, and don’t forget to link back to Jen on your blog.

7 Quick Takes:  Toy With Me edition

From the beginning of April to the middle of July, five of our eight kids have birthdays.   I think we spend more money on spring and summer birthdays  than we do on groceries for the whole year.  Any rational person with eight children would try and scale down birthday expectations, right?  And I know many of you will say, “Oh, we’re trying our best to raise our little Wyatt in a non-materialistic way, so for his birthday, we just put a soy candle in his organic kefir, and let him use the pillow that night.   If he remembers to say ‘thank you’ for the kefir.”

I don’t know what to say.  For some reason, it’s turned out that we’re trying to raise materialistic kids who expect to be treated like supreme galactic emperors on their birthdays (or, if their birthday falls on a day which is not convenient for a party, they expect that treatment on their actual birthday and on their party day).

Besides the cake, the candy, the party favors, the balloons and streamers, the games, the snacks, the craft, and the birthday throne, there are, of course, the presents.  So I thought I would share with you seven presents that we really like (and which the kids seem to like, too!).  Because I’m lazy,  most of the links are to  Amazon, but you can often find a better price if you hunt around a bit.

1.  The glitter ball.  It’s a bouncy ball filled with water and glitter.  Everyone loves it.  It’s beautiful,  it’s low-tech and non-batterified, it’s satisfyingly heavy, and it bounces well.  Use it as a prop in a play (the Princess and the Frog), use it as a way to soothe and mesmerize an overheated toddler, or just use it as, you know, a ball.  It comes in different sizes, but I recommend the jumbo one.  For all ages.  About $11

2.  Tribot.  This one is the opposite of the glitter ball:  it’s expensive and complicated and slightly obnoxious — but it’s also cute and appealing, and was pronounced the Christmas present that induced the most sibling jealousy, 2009.  It’s a red, remote-controlled, interactive robot that has motion sensors, so it skirts around obstacles on the floor; and if it falls over, it yells, “Master!  Master!  Suddenly my floor has turned into a WALL!”  It also has a funny alarm system, it lights up, it wiggles its eyebrows, it makes jokes — I don’t know, it’s just an appealing toy.  Absolutely perfect for a seven-year-old boy, but the rest of the family likes it, too.  Oh, and it has a fascinating wheels-within-wheels system of transport, so it is extremely maneuverable.  About $40

3.  Skwish.  So many baby toys are exciting and attractive, but they are hard for the baby to grasp, or they roll or tumble away too easily.  This one is super-easy to grasp, and it doesn’t get very far if the baby drops it.  Just a nice, bright, pleasant toy with lots of possibilities.  About $12

4. B. Toys FunKeys.  Babies love car keys, but I guess they have lead or something in them?  So you give them toy keys, instead,  but babies can tell they’re just plastic.  Plastic keys clatter, rather than jingle, and aren’t heavy and cold like real keys.  So these particular toys keys are actually made of steel, without being sharp or dangerous, and our baby is crazy about them.  They come attached to a holder with buttons for making car-related noises (mercifully muted in volume), plus a little light.  They come in a slightly irritating  “behold what a fabulously unique company we are” package, but that’s not so bad.  About $10

5.  Krazy Kar.  We haven’t actually bought one of these for our kids — it’s $75!  I had one when I was little, though, and I think I spent three entire summers inside this thing.    You crank the wheels with hand pegs, and make it go wherever you want, including in circles (the wheels move independently, like oars on a rowboat).  It’s hard to describe why it was so much fun — much more fun than a pedal car or a Big Wheel.  I just remember feeling secret and powerful as I sat in the little seat between those two big, yellow wheels, and smelling that smell of plastic that’s been sitting in the sun, and feeling the static electricity crackle in my hair.  It made a wonderful rumbling noise as it barreled across the grass.

6.  Snorta! A non-board game with funny little animal figurines.  Okay, so we lost the pieces and can’t play anymore, but it was fun while it lasted.  You turn over cards, and have to rush to be the first one to make the animal noise of the other person’s animal.   It’s a reasonably simple, entertaining game that isn’t too excruciating for adults (and it’s fairly easy to let younger kids be your “partner,” if they’re too little to hold their own, or if they’re the type who have slow reflexes and burst into tears when everyone else is faster.  If.)  About $18

7.  Care Bears Magical Care-a-Lot Castle.  This well-crafted, educational little wonderland

Ha ha, just kidding!  Only one of our kids really got interested in the Care Bears, and I think the Halloween costume I made, at her insistence,

cured her of that infatuation.  The rest of our kids had no trouble discerning that the whole Care Bear franchise is one of the most stunningly crappy aspects of modern day America, and should be taken out and shot.

And now I have to go and plan one more birthday, and then we will be off the hook until the end of September!  My daughter, who will be turning three, has requested a “wonky tonky.”  We think this means “walkie-talkie,” but we are not sure–she might actually want a wonky tonky.  I hope I can find one on sale.

See you on Monday!

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