{SQT} Link-toberfest Don’t Stop!

Thanks to everyone who joined up with Link-toberfest last week! But I’m partying like Ke$ha, and this Quick Takes extravaganza is still blowing up! (In a non-hazardous, Fire Safety Awareness Month type way.) First a couple tidbits about my week because I do have a life outside this blog (even though the kids are sick to death of me saying Link-toberfest.)

seven quick takes friday 2

1.Teddy is 5! A child that came into this world six weeks early at under four pounds has turned into a true force to be reckoned with in our home. It could have something to do with all the horsepower. He keeps me on my toes at all times, if only as an act of self preservation.

A photo posted by Kelly Mantoan (@kellymantoan) on


2. On Wednesday I blogged about my monthly goals, and admitted how doing so doesn’t actually help me meet said goals. I mentioned starting an accountability group and got a few favorable responses. Therefore, I’m going to set up a ‘TAtL Accountability Saloon’ group on Facebook…and yes I mean saloon because that sounds more fun than a salon. Comment or email me (kellymantoan at gmail dot com) if you’re interested in joining and I’ll add you. Even if there’s only a handful of us, I think a group dedicated to setting and accomplishing realistic goals (bring your baggage with you) will be a game changer for me.

3. This weeks Link-toberfest BONUS question is “How many Seven Quick Takes have you posted?” Assuming I’ve always correctly added my posts to my SQT category, today’s post is #131 which is also the atomic number of iodine. (Remember bloggers, earn an extra entry by giving your answer in the comments below, or letting me know you answered the question in your Takes this week.)

4. And why should you care about earning extra entries? PRIZES! I’ve got so many great ladies donating prizes I wanted to make sure to feature them all. Be sure to click through and check out their fabulous shops and blogs! These multi-talented ladies make me feel like a total slacker! Plus, several are offering discounts to TATL Link-toberfest bloggers and readers! (Remember, Christmas is only 11 weeks away…but who’s counting? I had to ask Siri.)  

Blogger Prize Pack 1

Blogger Prize Pack #1

The Best Laid Plans Planner by moi.

A Budget Binder Printable Pack from Beth Anne at Beth Anne’s Best

A Patriotic pattern from Jen at Faith and Fabric Design

Rosary Roses from Annie at Annery at Home and Annery’s Handmade

Through the Year with Mary, by Karen Edmisten

A free printable from Elise at In Endless Song and With Joy Calligraphy


Blogger Prize Pack 2

Blogger Prize Pack #2

Your choice of a necklace OR a copy of 30 Days to Calm from Jenna of Call Her Happy the blog, and on Etsy

A FREE Basic blog consultation with Bonnie from A Knotted Life. Bonnie will offer $5 off a blog consultation this month if you mention I sent you her way.

Don’t You Forget About Me by Erin Cupp

2016 downloadable pdf Catholic Through the Year Planner from Martina Kreitzer of Catholic Sistas

$20 Store Credit for Lilla Rose hair accessories from Lilla Rose Independent Consultant Mandi at A Blog About Miscarriage

Two unframed prints from Katrina at Cedars and Tiny Flowers and Hatch Prints. Katrina is giving 15% off through October with code 7QUICKTAKES .


Reader Prize Pack 1

Reader Prize Pack #1

Rosaries Aren’t Just For Teething

Advent pattern from Jen at Faith and Fabric Designs

One print OR necklace from Rakhi of The Pitter Patter Diaries and Rakstar Designs. Rahki is giving 25% off $15 or more with code SQTSQUEE (That was totally her idea.)

A child’s bedroom banner from Nell of Whole Parenting Family and Whole Parenting Goods. Nell will give you 20% off through Nov. 29th with code KELLYROCKS20 (Seriously, these codes are the best.)

Teaching in Your Tiara, signed, by Rebecca Frech of Shoved To Them


Reader Prize Pack 2

Reader Prize Pack #2 The Little Oratory by Leila Lawler of Like Mother, Like Daughter

Head and Heart by Katie Warner of Catholic Katie and Celebrate the Feasts

A Pocket Rosary from Allison of The Cath Sisters and Rosaries by Allison

A Hi-Res Printable File OR Custom designed printable by Kendra of Catholic All Year

Word by Word by Sarah Reinhard of Snoring Scholar


5. Last week I featured the original ten bloggers still plugging away and two of them, plus Jen herself, came over and linked up for old times sake! Many other bloggers linked to their first Quick Takes post, or wrote about how their lives have changed in the years since they started joining Seven Quick Takes. It was so neat to read all the reflections.

Sarah at Snoring Scholar

Jessica at Homemaking Through the Church Year

Jen at JenniferFulwiler.com

6. We also had some brand new bloggers join for the very first time including Sarah at Catholic Again and Mary at Wilmatrimony. (If it was your first time linking up and I somehow missed you, let me know!)

7. Jess at Cathofeminism also gets a shout out because her post about seven times the Blessed Mother just couldn’t. even. was hilarious.

rainbows are rad


Now you know the drill, write it down and link it up! Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of LINK-TOBERFEST!

The Fine Print: Link up your blog for an entry. Link up a Seven Quick Takes post every week between now and October 23 for up to four chances. Readers, leave a comment for an entry. Leave comments here every Friday between now and October 23 for up to four chances. Bloggers, for a bonus entry, answer the featured question in your takes each week, and leave a comment here so I know. Readers, for a bonus entry, Tweet me @kellymantoan with your favorite Takes of the week, up to four times between now and October 29th. Winners will be selected at random and announced in the October 30th Quick Takes.

Trying to Keep My {monthly goals}

I’m going to come right out and say, this is the last goals post; at least for monthly goals. On one hand, I need outside accountability, but on the other blogging every week about my goals was too much, while blogging once a month about them isn’t enough.

So at this point, I’m not sure how to proceed. Perhaps an accountability group would be better suited to my needs. I’d love to create one for any readers who want to join me, but I’d also be open to joining an existing group with a few familiar faces. Let me know if you’re interested, have any leads or suggestions.

Goals in bold, notes following. (Or maybe I should be honest and say, long exasperated vent coming. Proceed with caution.)

Establish good (but not stressful) daily and weekly routines for myself and family. This includes blogging three times a week and remembering to comment, email and share more socially on a regular basis. I seriously have no idea where September went. All I do remember saying to my husband at some point after my birthday (9/26) was that once we get into October we are focusing on school and not going anywhere.

I think it’s a combination of things, a big one being that Teddy has not slept well since our Midwest trip (and he didn’t sleep too well on it either.) He usually doesn’t seem much worse for the wear, however Tony and I are exhausted. I’m in bed until the last minute every morning and asleep or non-functioning by 9:30 p.m. most nights.

Even now that we’re into October, and we are focusing on school and not going anywhere, my days are a blur. It is very hard to feel like I’ve accomplished anything outside the absolute bare minimum. I thought we’d made progress on the home health care front but after several weeks of great correspondence, it’s been a month with no reply and only a voice-mail box to great us on the other end.

Honestly, I just want the ablity to afford help on our own, without some government program. I’d like an extra set of hands without red tape, sitting on hold, or exposing all our personal financial records to someone’s scrutiny. I don’t want to become reliant on something that could at any point change or disappear. I think that’s why I’m not harassing these people on the phone non-stop. Because one, I do have multiple other things I can be doing and two, because I keep holding out hope that somehow through other channels we’ll be able to manage on our own. (And before anyone even thinks it; not a fundraiser. That is not a steady source of income. As quickly as you raise money, a home nurse or health aide will eat through it. And a huge sum of money sitting in a bank account can sometimes hurt a child’s eligibility for programs.)

Another admission; I guess I’d hoped by now that if I made more progress with speaking or a book I could help pay for some help myself. I love blogging and writing, and I’d love to spend much more time doing both in, hopefully, profitable ways. But it’s a vicious circle because it’s hard to make time or find the energy to write without help already in place.

All in all, 2015 has been a tough year for me. Certainly, my life still has much joy, but the boys’ care has noticeably increased (along with their weight), homeschooling is more time intensive and draining, stress from Tony’s job uncertainty spilled into our family life and although it’s probably whining to say so, I desperately want to move. I think I’m willing to gnaw my right arm off for a ranch house right now thanks to the three or more trips we make up and down the stairs at night to roll over one of the little boys. If it was just one of these things in a year, maybe I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed. My word of the year is ‘gratitude’ so I’ve been really trying to see the good in everything but often forgetting as I’m often caught up in the chaos. 

I do think there is a light at the tunnel. We will get help, and that will make a big difference in many ways. Plus, I do believe a move could be in the foreseeable future. I just need to keep moving forward, finding the joy, be grateful for all the wonderful things right in front of my face, venting online when needed (are you seriously still reading?) and offering the rest up.

Stop comparing myself to other people who seem to get everything done all the time. Given my fatigue, my inability to meet personal and family goals and, I guess a somewhat self-defeating attitude on finding help, it’s no surprise I still feel woefully inadequate compared to many women. Thankfully, I did get to confession recently and I feel that helped. Sacramental grace FTW!

Work three hours on the book proposal. No. But I did speak with, and pick the brain of a close friend/ mentor about writing a book (and speaking) and the advice has helped shift my focus to what I could (or should) be doing in my limited time.  

Demand kids finalize their Halloween costume selections and gather supplies. Done, though I only have one costume completed. Guess I need to get busy on the rest before I host a party on the 31st.

New goals? I’m not sure how to proceed. Perhaps:

Don’t die. Drink wine. Hug the kids more. Pray.

I could make that a life motto. How’s your fall shaping up? If you’re already prepping for Christmas, I don’t think I want to hear about it.


Why I Keep Homeschooling Even When It Sucks

why i keep homeschooling

Based on the post title, you can probably guess about the type of day I had; trouble with our old desktop and older laptop, everyone having a crisis at the exact. same. time., tears, screaming and I repeated the same set of instructions at least 4,598 times. It was the type of day were I pulled my husband into the kitchen and unloaded a tirade of complaints, fears, worries and multiple four letter words.

And today wasn’t an anomaly or a fluke. I’ve experienced many days like it through out my years of homeschooling. Occasionally, I will lose a whole week to anger and frustration, usually throwing my hands up in exasperation by Wednesday and barely finishing the bare minimum in assignments by Friday.

To those of you who do not homeschool, I’m sure you’re either confused as to why I continue to put myself and my family through this experience or nodding in silent satisfaction at knowing you’ve made the right decision by avoiding homeschooling like the plague. You may even mutter under your breath, “Why doesn’t she just put them in school?!?”

I’d reply, “Because there is no perfect method of education.” Everyone has bad days, and I’ve learned I’d rather take the worst homeschooling days than the worst public school days. The bad homeschooling days that seem so unimaginable to you, are as familiar to me as the struggles you face on a regular basis as a school parent. (There’s no shortage of bloggers sharing private/public school struggles to counter my homeschooling tell-alls.)

Obviously I believe that homeschooling is the best method of education  That’s why I devote so much time and effort into it. But if you’ve decided that public school or private school is the best method of education I’m guessing you devote a whole lot of time and energy into it too, though in different ways.

Maybe you uniform shop, attend school functions, PTA meetings, sit in pickup lines or sit next to your child for hours to help with endless math homework. When it all gets to be too much and you need to vent, you probably don’t want me to quip “Why don’t you just homeschool?!?” You’ve chosen what you feel is the best educational method for your family and you’re willing to take the bad with the good.

Even if the situation had gotten bad enough and you found yourself considering homeschooling (as many homeschoolers have considered their local private schools in moments of desperation) when the dust settles, often we find the solution is not a radical departure from our established path, but a new outlook or small change that can minimize or eliminate a tough situation.

We are our children’s primary educators- period. No child will have successful academic career (however you may define it) without a caring, involved parent, or parents. We may turn over some of our responsibility to schools, tutors, online classes, etc. but we are the determining factor in how prepared our children are for adulthood and the world at large.

I choose homeschooling because I don’t want to outsource my role as primary educator to a school for 180 days out of the year. That means I spend a lot of time with my kids, I willingly sacrifice the neatness of my house, my hobbies and sometimes my sanity. It means I’m going to have bad days as a teacher, as a mom, and as a homemaker, but I’m okay with that. My husband is okay with that. Because the payoffs are huge. The benefits are so immense to our family and my children’s spiritual, emotional, physical and mental growth. Homeschooling is a huge investment, but one that has paid us back exponentially  I can honestly say that, even after a horrible, no good, very bad day.

My question to you now is, are you getting the return on your investment? Can you sit down, at the end of the day with a glass of wine, rant at length to your husband or a friend, and still say “But I still believe homeschooling / my children’s school is the best option.” ?

If your homeschool experience is the opposite of mine: you do so reluctantly, with anger, regret and can see no positive return, something needs to change. If your child(ren) is/are enrolled in school, are you happy with their growth? Do you take the bad days in stride knowing that the school you’ve charged with the care of your child is doing it’s best? Or is sending your child to school causing problems for your child or your family?

All parents should reevaluate year by year their chosen educational method. We should never accept things as they are because they’ve always been that way, and proceed blindly ahead. We don’t always need to radically change course, but, sometimes we do. We won’t realize it though, if we don’t stop and pray for guidance.

Today sucked. But tomorrow, I’ll do it again and for many more weeks this year knowing my whole school year will far from suck. If I compared my school to the stock market, I’d admit that today we took a hit, but tomorrow, I expect things to rise again. What about you? Where is your year headed? Are you dealing primarily with a bull or bear market?

{SQT} Link-toberfest!

On October 2, 2008 my friend and blogger Jennifer Fulwiler hit ‘Publish’ on the very first Seven Quick Takes post at her blog Conversion Diary. A few weeks later on November 14, 2008 she made it a link up for all the cool blogging cats to join.

In honor of SEVEN years of continuous SEVEN Quick Takes, we’re going to party like it’s 2008 all month!

seven quick takes friday 2

Enjoy this sweet playlist as you read along!

1.Forty bloggers linked up with Jen on that Friday so many years ago. Back in the days before iPads, Pinterest and Instagram, it’s amazing that so many people could pull themselves away from ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ long enough to write. I clicked through the whole list and found that while ten bloggers where still writing, the remainder of blogs had gone dormant, were no longer available or had been acquired by an Indonesian company selling cheap imports (exports?? I can’t be sure since I don’t read Indonesian.)

2. I only recognized a few of the bloggers, and none had linked up to Quick Takes in recent history (but I don’t hold it against them.)

Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Sarah at Snoring Scholar

Catherine at A Spirited Mind

Elizabeth Esther

Melanie at A Wine Dark Sea

Jessica at Homemaking Through the Church Year

Melanie at Springs of Joy Homeschooling

The Duchy of Burgundy Carrots

Angela at Three Plus Two

Teri at I May Be Overthinking This

Stop by! Tell ’em hi and thank them for being the hipsters of Seven Quick Takes.

3. My first Quick Takes post was on March 3, 2012, and was titled ‘Bullets to Balls‘. I’d only been blogging a week and when my stats jumped into the double digits, I got really excited. Jen herself had tweeted my post! It’s amazing she even found it since I didn’t actually link up. For some reason, I didn’t officially join until my April 13th post. Thank goodness I understand InLinkz better now.

4. As a new blogger, the Seven Quick Takes link up was how I found and made friends. Everybody, and I mean everybody, linked up on Fridays. If you scroll through my blogroll, most of the blogs listed I found through Quick Takes. Today, the Quick Takes link up is how I discover new bloggers and catch up with my favorites. Quick Take bloggers are their own community; a great and supportive one at that.

5.  So let’s celebrate everyone and everything that make Quick Takes so great!!! Today kicks off Link-toberfest! (You can thank my husband for the catchy name.) Every Friday this month will feature Quick Take bloggers old and new, favorite Quick Take posts and a huge giveaway for bloggers and readers! I have four collections of prizes; two for bloggers and two for readers. They contain all sorts of great items from fellow bloggers (Quick Takers!) and crafters!

Books! The Best Laid Plans Planner, Rosaries Aren’t Just for Teething, The Little Oratory, Teaching in Your Tiara, Head and Heart, Catholic Through the Year 2016 Calendar, Don’t You Forget About Me, Through the Year With Mary

Art! from Rakstar Designs, Hatch Prints, Catholic All Year, and With Joy Calligraphy

And more! Blogging Consultation, a child’s bedroom banner, a pocket rosary, Rosary Roses, Budget Binder Printable Pack, a Faith and Fabric Design pattern, Call Her Happy necklace or book, and a Lila Rose hair accessory.

6. THE FINE PRINT!! This is how it will work; link up your blog for an entry. Link up a Seven Quick Takes post every week between now and October 23 for up to four chances. Readers, leave a comment for an entry. Leave comments here every Friday between now and October 23 for up to four chances. Bloggers, for a bonus entry, answer the featured question in your takes each week, and leave a comment here so I know. Readers, for a bonus entry, Tweet me @kellymantoan with your favorite Takes of the week, up to four times between now and October 29th. Winners will be selected at random and announced in the October 30th Quick Takes.

The featured questions for each week are:

Oct.2-8 When did you post your first Seven Quick Takes? Be sure to include a link!

Oct. 9-15 How many Seven Quick Takes posts have you written?

Oct. 16-22 Who is your favorite blogger that you discovered through Seven Quick Takes?

Oct. 23-29 What was your favorite, or most popular, Seven Quick Takes post?

7. Now go forth and link up! And click through! And comment! Encourage all your blogging friends to get back into the Quick Takes habit, if just for one month. (Never underestimate peer pressure!) I’m going to work extra hard to read as many posts as possible and comment more frequently. Find a post or blog you really enjoy? Be sure to share it! Follow me on Facebook and Twitter to learn my favorite reads throughout Link-toberfest. It’s going to be the Catholic blog-o-sphere’s biggest party, just in time to stave off Papal visit withdrawal!

You know the drill! Link up below and be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Seven Quick Takes… and of course, the awesomeness of the Link-toberfest!

#popeinphilly Spending my Birthday With the Supreme Pontiff

My apologies to anyone who wanted a timely article on my time in Philly for the Papal visit. Another reminder as to why I love blogging vs. working for a “real” media outlet; I set the deadlines.

 To answer the question at the forefront of your minds, yes, I did see the Pope. But now, to backtrack to 7 a.m. Saturday morning (my 37th birthday) when the day’s journey began on an empty train in Atlantic City.

Yes, EMPTY save for me and two other riders in my car. I believe a handful of other folks were scattered amongst the other cars, but leaving at dawn was definitely a smart move on my part.

I arrived at 30th St. Station in Philly after 8 a.m. and started walking towards the “secure area” where the morning Mass, Papal parade and Festival of Families was to take place. The Pope also spoke at Independence Hall, but that event was only open to ticket holders, and press with a specific event credential so I didn’t bother heading into Old City at all.

Philly bistro pope menu

I took this picture because of the last line. HA!

I had no trouble getting through security, the first time. However, once inside the secure area it was very difficult to get around. Crossing the street was sometimes impossible. As I made my way to the press center at the Convention Center I had to leave the secure area. At the press center I watched the Pope’s plane land and I became a puddle of tears as I watched him stop his car, get out and kiss a boy in a wheelchair with Cerebral Palsy who was at the airport. SOB-BING.

I texted back and forth with other friends on the ground and quickly realized that it was not likely I was going to run into any of them. Having never been to an event of this magnitude I completely underestimated the size of the crowds and the ease to which I would move through them to find people. I had worn nice bright colors, but without a flare gun, I doubt I could’ve located anyone once I hit the parkway.

From the press center, I went back through security a second time (taking a little longer: crowds were getting bigger) and went over to the Basilica to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Pope as he left Mass. I had to settle for a spot on the side of the church, and from there I chatted with a man originally from Iraq who is now a deacon in Detroit. We talked about ISIS and he told me how the Church where he is from is completely gone and wiped out. We discussed refugees and other current events before he moved further in the crowd with his family.

I enjoyed several moments like this through out my day; just casual conversations with Catholics from all over the country, and globe, that really put into perspective how large and truely universal our Church is. But yet, this ephiphany was gained through numerous small, intimate moments that also reveal the power of God working through each and every member at any given time.

After Mass, the Pope actually sneaked out a back door and drove to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, much to the surprise of the crowd and the media who had their cameras firmly fixed on the front of the church. I did get a glimpse of the police commissioner and the mayor (whose hybrid car battery was dead) but that was hardly what I’d been standing around for.

I walked over to Love Park for some over priced lunch, a quick Periscope update and I ultimately purchased a CD of Catholic electronic music from the ‘Priests of the Beat.’ I mean, how could I not???

Then I decided to give myself plenty of time to get back to the Convention Center where I was supposed to chat with Jennifer Fulwiler on her radio show at 3 p.m. And good thing I did because since my first walk from the Center in the a.m. more streets had been closed to pedestrians crossing and i was forced to walk five blocks out of my way to get across the street. I arrived soaked with sweat, but with time to cool off and check social media which was now reporting lines of up to three hours long to make it through security check points. I knew the return trip would not be easy and without a special media pass to the Festival of Families I couldn’t take the media shuttle and bypass the security lines.

I jumped on the air after a break and chatted for a segment with Jen, and Father Kevin Gabriel Gillen OP on Pope Radio about my experiences at the World Meeting, the Pope’s continuing message about the importance of life at all stages and my joy at seeing his efforts to frequently bring attention to the sick and handicap that come out to see him.

I always get nervous on the radio, but I don’t think I said ‘uh’ too many times. After one more potty break, I checked my map and headed out to a far security checkpoint leading into the ticketed area of the Parkway for the Festival of Families.Although I didn’t have a media pass to the Festival, a good friend in the Philly diocese did snag me a ticket so my goal was to work my way up as close as I could to the stage.

Many, many blocks and a 7-11 stop later, I arrived at a security checkpoint with a short line! It was a Papal visit miracle! I got through and while all the seats against the fencing were taken, I snagged a spot against a tree with a view of a jumbo screen, the stage and parade route. I relaxed and settled in for a long wait as Andrea Bocelli warmed up on the concert stage. He sounded great, even during a sound check.

After a bit, I noticed a middle-aged man leaning precariously against a water bottle refill station right next to me. I quickly stepped over and caught him just as he prepared to pass out. I motioned for someone nearby to bring over a police office while I asked the man if he was alright. Before I knew what was happening, a priest in a long black cassock with hood came over and was yelling at the man in my arms.


Needless to say, the man sat in a chair and I quietly backed away wondering what kind of order this priest was from. Seemed like one of the ‘flipping table in the temple’ variety. As the police gathered around and called in a medical team I heard George insist he was fine and that he wasn’t going anywhere; he was going to see the Pope! I quickly learned that the priest was actually George’s brother, who had tried to persuade George to rest several times on their walk to the festival site with no success.

The medics didn’t believe George was having a heart issue or stroke but advised his brother to keep an eye on him. As George drank water and started feeling better, both men came over, thanked me and we made small talk.

Fast forward 30 minutes later when I see George looking woozy by the water refill station again with no one else around to catch him. Thankfully, he had the sense to find a chair and sit down and as his brother made his way back to where George sat, he gave me this look like “Seriously???” And all I could say was, “I don’t want to catch him again!”

Performances began around 6:30 p.m., with no indication that the Pope-mobile would be coming by any time soon. The wind picked up, temperatures dropped and I refreshed social media about a million times to whittle away the minutes.

Finally on the opposite side of the parkway, a loud cheer erupted as flashing lights indicated the Pope had arrived! Illuminated on all sides, the Pope-mobile took off south down the parkway and we wanted for him to circle around and pass us.

Originally, I thought my spot would give me a good view, however, once children were hoisted on shoulders and cameras raised, I realized I might not see much at all so I moved forward in the hopes to get a better view. Several times people started cheering only to discover it wasn’t the Pope-mobile yet. (If you were trying to follow me on Periscope, you’d notice the two false alarm broadcasts.) Finally, the it was the real deal and the Pope-mobile passed by! It was hard to see him, and he went by very fast. There was no stopping and kissing babies by this point. (Some people have all the luck!) I watched him pass and recorded it on my phone at arms length above my head, but the evenings darkness rendered any image a blurry white blob. But no matter! It’s the view you get when you don’t camp out for 10 hours and I was satisfied.


That white blurry blob is our Pope!

Once he took the stage I realized the vantage point I had secured, while allowing me a view of the center of the stage, did not give me a clear view of the right side where the Pope was actually sitting. I was also at a bad spot to pick up sound from the speakers, so I couldn’t understand most of what Marky Mark was saying. After 12 hours, I was feeling done and desperately wanted to spend the remainder of my time in Philly with friends, sharing drinks and celebrating my birthday. Thankfully, my birthday wish came true and by 8:30, I was sitting at a bar on Broad St., sharing laughs and drinks while watching the Pope on TV. It was a great way to end my day…..right up until 11:30 p.m. when I realized I had to catch a train out of Philly before midnight. Cue quick good byes and hurried walking across the city as I raced to 30th St. Station in the hopes of catching my train.

I was successful and within only a few minutes of sitting down in another empty train, I was on my way back to Atlantic City. Tired, slightly tipsy and with a growing blister on my foot, but oh so happy!

So too many words later, that’s my day in a nutshell….a very, very large nutshell. If I think of anything else, I’ll probably come back and add it in as I plan on having this one post be a journal entry of my day.

For more pictures and lots of short video clips, visit me on Instagram. 

For more reflections on the Pope’s visit, visit These Walls for ‘A Walk in Words with Pope Francis.’ 

*Name changed.