{SQT} Let’s be Friends!

seven quick takes friday 2

Here I am two months into hosting this here link up and I just realized we weren’t formally introduced. Sure, some of you go way back to my bloggy cotillion, but since the Quick Takes torch passed, there’s been a lot of new people around here, and I figured it was about time for a refresher of who I am, and what exactly it is that I do around here. (I do have an ‘About’ page [‘Aboot’ if you’re Canadian] but, it kind of sucks. Thanks to everyone that hasn’t pointed that out.) And old timers stick around, I’ll try to throw you a bone of new info about yours truly occasionally.


1. My name is Kelly Mantoan. I’ve been happily married to my high school sweetheart Tony for 13 years. (I asked him to the senior prom.) We have five children; Adeline (Addie)  12, Byron 11, Edith (Edie) 9, Fulton 6, and Theodore (Teddy) 4. We live in New Jersey where I stay at home and attempt to educate the older four while my husband does things with computers to pay the bills. We live on an acre of land with a cat, dog and some chickens. We host epic parties.

teddy meeting the chick

2012, Teddy wondering WTH is up with this chicken. 

2. My two youngest sons have a neuromuscular disorder known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It is genetic. Tony and I are both missing a specific gene, therefore, there is a 1 in 4 chance of a child of ours having SMA.  All the voluntary muscle movement of Fulton and Teddy is affected, and subsequently both are very weak and require assistance to do everything, thus the powerchairs. It is a degenerative disease. Fulton is weaker than Teddy and requires things like breathing assistance at night and a g-tube while Teddy does not. We are not an SMA family but a family that happens to include SMA. If you don’t think we’re normal, I hope it’s because of my selfies and not because of the wheelchairs. Still gotta question? Click the SMA page at the top or email me.

iPad, stuffed monkey, Goldfish crackers and a dragon style nebulizer mask= on the road to recovery.

December 2012, What the common cold does to a kid with SMA.


3. I am gluten-free. Although I am a beer lover at heart, I am restricted to hard cider, wine and liquor (and the occasional expensive GF beer, most of which are lousy.) I gave up gluten right before starting this blog and to my dismay it alleviated a bunch of symptoms I was having. However, I am not officially diagnosed with Celiac disease. BONUS: We recently took Teddy off dairy so we are “one of those families” that is oh so fun to have over for dinner.

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Gluten. free. …and perfect for gift giving.

4. I love the beach, specifically Ocean City, NJ. Between the months of March and December, I make numerous “field trips” and vacations to the shore. I finally just decided to redesign my whole blog around a beach theme even though this is supposedly a homeschooling blog. Some day my husband will do so many awesome things with computers we will live at the beach! But until then, science will have to include multiple tide pool trips…to study ecology of course.

addie surfing

Addie surfing, 2012. Photo courtesy Tony, while I’m lying on the beach trying to catch my breath from attempting at surfing.



It’s never too cold on the sand.

5. I started ‘This Ain’t the Lyceum’ on Feb. 21, 2012. Teddy had finally started sleeping through the night, I was done with our local parish dinner theater production and I needed something to do in those extra ten minutes at night when I wasn’t exhausted so I started a blog. I’d had a blog in the past (2006-2008?), but it’d outgrown it’s purpose so I started fresh with a new url and a name my husband created. I stayed fairly anonymous at first then gradually started opening up. By November 2012 I got an iPod touch and my ridiculous pictures became a regular feature. I’ve redesigned the blog five times….because I’m nuts and I have a husband who understands HTML.

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Who remembers this header?

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The very short lived banner that paled in comparison to my headshot.

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This one stuck around for awhile until I realized, “I don’t write about books all that much…especially pretty books.”

6. I’m originally from Lancaster County, PA and I love things like red beet eggs, chicken and waffles and scrapple. (No, just kidding I hate the smell of scrapple.) My whole extended family (minus my cool sister) still lives in Lancaster and when we all get together, my PA Dutch accent is pretty hard-core. For two years, my husband and I lived in Lancaster and ran a Bed and Breakfast ( in addition to me raising two little children at home and he commuting to NJ). That business didn’t work out, and we found ourselves in NJ on what was to be a temporary layover. Nine years later, here we still are, surrounded by a great community of friends.

7. I’m a Catholic convert, and not because my cradle Catholic husband forced me to! I was raised Methodist and by my teenage years, I didn’t really know what I believed (although I read a book on Wicca and I was pretty sure I didn’t believe in any of that.) Cue my husband, then boyfriend, who was knowledgable in his faith and patiently answered all my questions. By college, I knew I wanted to convert, even when Tony and I, sob, broke up for a bit; but I waited until I’d graduated and moved out to start the RCIA process. I joined the Church the Easter before we married in 2001 and I’ve only grown to love Her more in that time. We currently attend an Extraordinary Form church in the Camden diocese. I love the Latin Mass and our family fully celebrates the liturgical year with all the bonfires, paper crafts and incense that’s allowed!

Now that you know more than you wanted about me, why not share some mundane details about your life?! Link up below with the url of your #7QT blog post! I can’t wait to learn more!

My Kitchen Rules: 23 Tips for Insane Eating

Yesterday, Emily at The Catholic Table posted a thoughtful piece entitled  ‘Kitchen Rules; 23 Tips for Sane Eating’. Much of it sounded like good ol’ common sense, and frankly, quite boring. I mean, if you like predictability, routine and proper digestion I guess you’d fawn all over it. But not me! I love adventure, excitement, and the occasional TUMS and lower GI inflammation! If you like walking on the culinary wild side, perhaps you’ll prefer to follow my Kitchen Rules, guaranteed to always leave you guessing and with only a slightly chalky after-taste in your mouth.

Ready to go on an adventure????

1. Believe all advertising. How do you know it’s not magically delicious?
2.Shamrock Shakes may make the baby’s diaper green but that’s just part of the luck of the Irish.
3.Believe that the FDA and the USDA has our best interests at heart.
4.If it tastes good, all the happy dancing you do burns off all the calories.
5.Just let your kid eat all the damn macaroni and cheese he wants.
6.If I can’t buy it at my neighborhood chain grocery store, it can’t be that good.
7.Gardening is hard work and your kids still won’t eat their veggies. Just give them a multivitamin. It’s the same thing. Those things just “grow” in laboratories rather than God’s green Earth.
8.If Red #40 is so horrible, why is it in all the best drinks? Part of childhood, or your mid-thirties, is having a temporary Kool Aid mustache.
9.Why does everyone want to read “banned books” but if a food is banned by say, all of Europe, all these health nuts get their panties in a bunch and won’t touch it? Where’s your sense of adventure now?
10.Family meal time in a car counts, and if you go through the drive thru, who’s gonna know if one of those Happy Meals is for you? My Little Pony toys?! SQEEEEEEEE!
11.If they won’t try one bite of the vegetables, start cutting locks off their favorite dolls hair, or casually toss pieces of a Lego mini-figure into a fire.
12. Always eat when you’re stressed because then you can focus on the guilt of eating rather than the actual problem which you probably can’t fix anyway.
13.Break bread with friends frequently; those long loaves of french bread you can get at a bakery are perfect for practicing karate chops.
14.Always loudly announce your allergies at the last-minute, then snub any food that you can’t eat. It means you’re special.
15.If you eat until you throw up, remember how many cookies, gallons of ice cream, candy bars, etc you had, then just eat one less next time.
16.If you can’t read an ingredient, it just means you’re stupid. Work on your English skills until ‘Diosodium Guanylate’ just rolls off the tongue.
17.It’s a scientific fact that your body has a RESTING metabolic rate, meaning even as you’re sitting on the couch, your body is still burning some calories. Every movement in addition to that, is bonus. Always reward your extra exertion with ice cream.
18.If you’re not sure if you’re hungry, eat anyway, cause you don’t want to be hungry later.
19.You can totally encourage your children to eat healthy while you subsist on pizza rolls.
20.How you consume alcohol will determine your children’s view on alcohol, enjoy responsibly, but that being said, shouldn’t they learn to mix a Tom Collins from you (or for you) rather than some seedy college friend?
21.What are all the celebrities eating these days? Don’t be a loser; find out and eat it!
22. St. John the Baptist ate locusts. You’re a horrible Catholic if you don’t eat one yourself at some point.
23.Never, ever, listen to your gut. That’s how you wound up with hives that one time and lost in a bad part of town on another occasion. Follow your nose, it always knows, and you can’t go wrong with Fruit Loops…ever.

Arbp. Sheen Inspires Me to be Sheenazing

Funniest Blog

Click to see all the winners over at A Knotted Life!

WOW. I’m feeling all the happy feels right now! Certainly, I’d keep this blog up and running even without popular approval, but it’s great to know so many people are laughing right along with me when I post about fashion, planners and emails. Thank you readers!

Humor isn’t just funny photos and ridiculous situations. Humor is essential to surviving everyday life. It is how I choose to see my situation and rise above it rather than let it pull me down. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, whom these awards are named after, saw the importance in humor as well. His smile and wit helped bring people closer to God. His jokes captivated a nation of people and allowed him to preach the truth on primetime television. He is a great inspiration to me, and his popularity even today is a lasting testament to the power of humor in doing God’s work.

“Humor is not just the comic, it is the ability to see through things. We say a person has a sense of humor if he can see through things. We say a person doesn’t have a sense of humor if he can’t see through things, he’s too thick.” …

“When Our blessed Lord came to this Earth, He had the divine sense of humor. There was nothing in this world He ever took seriously, except the salvation of a soul.”

 (The whole video is really worth watching.) 

Readers, here’s to another year of laughs, and hopefully, simultaneously, doing God’s work. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, pray for us!

{SQT} Unsuccessful Storage and the Joys of Powerchair Ownership

The long grey days of January are here, and while I’m thankful that temperatures are out of the teens (for now) I’m stock piling pudding just in case we’re stuck inside for days on end. I’ve felt immense pressure to write ALL THE FUNNY THINGS, and take ALL THE RIDICULOUS PHOTOS, but frankly, school and personal hygiene had to happen at some point this week, so onto all the slightly ha-ha takes of quickery.  (Send in the minstrel now!)

seven quick takes friday 2


1. I planned to write about my “original” homeschool room storage ideas based on some of the ridiculous homeschool rooms that appear in my Pinterest feed. You know, milk crates vs Crate and Barrel, Craigslist vs Ikea and allowing my books and children’s work to collect in various piles vs anything else. But it became less funny and more of a nagging sense of inadequacy. Once I started wondering how hard it would be to stencil inspiring words over the dirty finger prints I knew I needed to just let. it. go.

homeschool storage solutions

Clockwise from top left: Thank you Fresh Direct for delivering these ‘In’ boxes; We’re practicing our knot tying skills by attempting to repair the school chairs; My books aren’t organized by color, don’t look at them!! ; Toss the rest in those drawers! Who needs to find the art supplies??

2. Since getting her Kindle, Addie is better about emailing friends and family. Like most tweens or, anyone with a smartphone who should know better, she loves using emoticons. She’ll even send me messages when I’m out that are 80% smilies, hand gestures, animal faces and 18% text. (2% punctuation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) While she always uses correct spelling and correct grammar, I told her she should layoff the emoticons, just a bit. To encourage her I started “talking with emoticons”. “Hey Addie, how’s that book you’re reading? Smiley face, thumbs up, lady dancing? I was thinking about chicken for dinner: puking face, cute puppy face, glass of wine?” It’s worked enough to make reading her texts less like deciphering hieroglyphs. (I almost shot a video of me doing this because I was cracking myself up but everyone else was just all thumbs down, bored face, pile of poop.)

3. Byron’s Creeper mask made its way downstairs much to the delight of Fulton. Despite having to readjust his headrest and the difficulty of seeing out of it, Fulton drove around hissing while Teddy repeatedly yelled at him to blow up. While I love seeing them playing together, this is why every corner of my house is smashed up. Even less successful was Fulton’s attempt at completing his reading lesson with the mask on, “No! We’re done with the sssssssss sound!”

4. In other fun wheelchair related news, Teddy’s wheelchair battery went caput while we were out running errands which meant I had to disengage his chair’s motors and manually push him in the house. This is the first time we’ve allowed this to happen so I was shocked to discover, upon pushing his chair, that it weighs a whole heck of a lot more than Fulton’s powerchair. So, on a ramp covered with wet slush, I attempted to push his 250+ pound chair into the house. If you listen to Addie’s retelling of this story, she’ll say I said some….choice… words, which I’m positive I didn’t utter out loud. I did manage to get the chair into the house and hooked up to the charger, and then I died. But no one wanted to help me and hook me up with some wine. With little effort I could easily create an entire workout around caring for the boys and their chairs. Not a lot of ab work mind you, but you’ll have arms and toes of steel for sure.

5. You’ve all been so great about book recommendations; maybe you could also recommend some great mixed drinks / cocktails? We got a cocktail shaker and some bar stuff(?) for Christmas and I’d love to try it out but I’ve never mixed drinks (except that one time) and I’m totally overwhelmed with all the drink websites out there. What alcohols do we need to have on hand? I can pair wine, but where can I learn to pair cocktails with food? Thank you in advance for helping me become the coolest book club host ever. 

6. Just in case you were wondering how that iPad gun I recommended worked out. (Vintage Crossbows and Catapults not required.)

7. We watched EWTN’s coverage of the March for Life on Thursday. My older kids are starting to understand more about abortion and the sad reality that less than perfect children, just like their brothers, are often aborted. The statistic was given that for every ten unborn babies found with some sort of disability, eight or nine are aborted. That means that my sons represent the ten or twenty percent of disabled babies that survive their time in the womb. There are at least 16 to 18 children NOT HERE because their parents learned said child might be disabled. A radiologist spoke about how babies with something as treatable as a cleft palate are aborted. In a society with the greatest medical advancements mankind has ever seen, capable of providing excellent care and quality of life, we are choosing to eliminate these special children rather than allow them to enrich our society. Parents, you don’t even know what you are throwing away. (I mean, did you see the above videos??) BE NOT AFRAID. 

How was your week? Type it out and link it up below! Be sure to use the url of your post, and not your blog’s url. I look forward to reading all your Takes!


An Unfortunate Leaked Email

Friends, readers and fellow bloggers, it is with a heavy heart that I must try to explain the content of a private email that was somehow leaked to the Catholic media. I decided before Eye of the Tiber could release their own story, I would try to clarify come “misgivings” those in blogosphere have expressed at my well meaning and perfectly legit email. Below are some screen shots with the necessary clarification

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I know many of us haven’t set foot inside a real salon (Cost Cutters does NOT count) since the birth of our first child, but hopefully, we’re all in agreement that this is not how the Catholic blogosphere should be viewed by the world right? I mean, I guess if your husband enjoys you looking like David Bowie, you have to obey his headship but, for the rest of us I didn’t feel like my requests were so out there in regards to hair.

And in matters of faith, I wasn’t being literal.




And of course I can’t forcibly pin a mantilla to your head. But I can warn you about the dangers of your gorgeous David Bowie locks sending tons of weak men into hell. So, you know, think it over.

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Perfectly groomed and shaped with no plucking or pencil. Aren’t the benefits obvious?

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Seriously, when is the last time you saw Stephanie Nielson posting unflattering pictures? And she has swings in. her. dining. room. What’s you excuse for that disaster you call a living space? Dig the Pledge out from under the sink (no, back there next to the old mouse traps!) for just this week and be sure to share some pictures of your home in a tidy state (before you forget how it looks)!

In conclusion, I regret nothing! GO VOTE!