{SQT} Big City Travels With My Biggest Boy

After spending the day, carefully guiding my son through the wilds of NYC there’s nothing I’d rather do than sit down and hammer out some Quick Takes especially for y’all!


1. Quick Takes logos are still coming in, so I’ve decided to extend the deadline.  We’ll be off next week for Christmas, so I’ll begin a new year of Seven Quick Takes with a  logo debut and a tap dance routine, which will have nothing to do with each other but certainly is an enticement to return January 2nd, am I right? I might also finally announce the winner of that lip synch contest I held in August.

2. Last year, I took Addie to New York City for her 11th birthday, thus establishing a new family tradition that when you turn 11, you visit NYC. Although Byron’s birthday was in October, today (I’m writing on Thursday) was the first chance we could go that my sister, who lives in the city, was off work. The goal of the trip was to visit the Lego Store, the Mac store and FAO Schwartz. We also rode in a taxi and the subway, walked Central Park, and avoided eye contact with that shirtless guy talking to himself. When Addie visited NYC, she very quickly decided she loved the city and wanted to move there, i.e. downtown Manhattan, and wondered if we could find a nice handicap accessible house in the area. Today, Byron made it very clear at dinner that while he enjoyed the visit he didn’t want to live in the city because of “all the weird people.” I don’t know if that means I’ve done a good job or a bad job at homeschool socialization.



3. On the drive North, I knew I needed to carefully broach the subject of Santa with Byron. I didn’t think he still believed in Santa, but I wanted to make sure and get a sense of his feelings about the matter. He admitted to no longer believing in Santa, and yet understanding that St. Nicolas is a real saint in heaven who existed as a real man on Earth. He was actually hesitant to tell me, like I would be upset if he no longer believed. We had a nice chat about the subject in general during which Byron added, “I never believed in the tooth fairy; first, because fairies aren’t real and second, because anyone who wants a tooth instead of a quarter is a sucker.”

4. It was interesting to me that as we moved through Penn Station and across the busy streets, Byron would try to grab at my hand, but wouldn’t want to hold my hand. It was obvious he didn’t want to lose me in the crowd, yet he obviously felt to old to hold his mother’s hand. It’s a sort of small example of how that age of 11 really is for him. Trying to find his own way, yet needing me within easy reach, just to know I’m still there. I could insert some sentimental show tune about growing up and becoming a man to bring this take to a dramatic climax, but I know nothing about show tunes and can get myself choked up just fine without one thankyouverymuch.

5.  I always make a stop in St. Patrick’s Cathedral when I’m in the area and I noticed that despite all the renovation work, they made room for a large nativity off a side entrance. It’s beautiful but I was surprised to see a Golden Retriever sitting next to a shepard. I don’t know about you, but my nativity set didn’t come with a Golden Retriever. Is this a thing now?



6. On our trip through the Apple Store, I snapped a group selfie using Photo Booth on a display Mac Book. My sister then got the brilliant idea to set it as the computer’s background. I’m not sure how long it lasted, but I hope our crazy faces helped sell some on-the-fence consumer about the merits of a Mac.



7. Earlier this week, before I was spreading desktop graffiti, I recorded a podcast with two of my favorite online people; Christy from Fountains of Home and Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas.  Their podcast is aptly called “Fountains of Carrots” and at some point in the coming weeks, it will feature me talking with a PA Dutch accent. It’s a nice way of saying I sound like my mom and grandmother. We discuss my book, the magic machine that gives me time to blog and I confuse Charlotte and Charleston (I forsee this being an ongoing problem because now I always second guess myself.) Hopefully I can figure it out before July. See, this is why my planner is called ‘The Best Laid Plans’. It is CUSTOM MADE for people who just. cannot. get themselves together, like me.

Thanks to everyone who stepped away from their family’s Clark Griswold outdoor decorating bonanza and linked up last week! If you’ve finished all your shopping, card mailing and set the ceramic Golden Retriever next to the manger, be sure to link up your takes below! I can’t wait to read ‘em!

Remember to use the url of your post, not your blog and to include a link back to this post. Click around and visit everyone yourself! Leave a carol in the combox to make it extra festive! 

{SQT} New Logos, Christmas Shopping and Cutting All Ties With My Commercial Cameo

Welcome back friends, it’s starting to feel more like home isn’t it? Maybe if you take off your shoes, loosen your belt buckle and prop up your feet…now, that’s better isn’t it?


1. Obviously, some things need to be updated. Princess Royal Rabbit, a.k.a. Christine, has got the ball rolling, but I know that less than two weeks before Christmas, you’re just looking for an excuse to take on some new project right? How about a Seven Quick Takes Logo contest? I’m partial to clean modern lines, manticores and the Handwriting Without Tears font (because it’s nice to have one thing no one cries about.) But you’re free to create a logo in any style you want so long as it clearly states “Seven Quick Take Friday, hosted at This Ain’t the Lyceum”.  Design a logo and email it to me at kellymantoan(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll feature my favorite designs next week. C’mon! You’re not too busy to make this an end of year art final for your middle schooler!

2. I haven’t started shopping for many…most…people on my Christmas list. We’re finishing up school this week, and then I plan to get cracking on it. If you’re a last-minute shopper like me, you may assume bestowing handmade items you don’t make yourself upon your loved ones just ain’t happening. Never fear! I was going to compile a whole list of great Etsy shops still shipping items for Christmas, but thankfully Simcha has already done that. Phew! And don’t forget, Etsy gift cards! Or if your favorite seller isn’t on Etsy, see if they offer gift certificates, preferably ones that can be emailed on December 23rd.

My friend Hilarie can ship up to the 20th if you’re willing to pay for expedited shipping. And why wouldn’t you; look how cute this guy is!! When I hear foxes barking in our yard at night, they never sound this cute.

3. If you don’t want to go the handmade route, and are say, searching for a six-year-old boy with severely limited fine motor skills yet full command of an iPad, may I suggest the following? It’s a Nerf gun you control from your smart phone or tablet!!!! (You might need two so you can fight back. Or just eye protection for the rest of the family.)

4. Awhile back on the blog, I mentioned that I was “socially awkward and unable to shut up.” Someone commented that they needed that on a t-shirt. On a whim, I designed the shirt in Zazzle and forgot about it. Don’t you know it’s sold a few copies this month?? Somebody, maybe you, might be getting my socially awkward shirt for Christmas! Maybe just in time for that New Year’s party you’ll drink too much at!  It’s almost as exciting as selling my planner, but thankfully, I make more than 77 cents on each planner sale.

5. At some point during my recent blog hiatus I was nominated for the funniest homeschooling blog over at The Homeschool Post. Go vote! My self-esteem is still recovering from getting the shaft in this year’s Sheenazing Awards. If you don’t know why I’m the funniest homeschooling blogger around, please, please don’t ask my kids, just scan my archives at the top.

6. One of the totally hilarious things I did with my kids yesterday was watch “Hollow Crown, Henry V” staring Loki. It’s combines history with literature and allowed me to stay in my bathrobe far into the lunch hour. The older kids really enjoyed it and have asked to watch the entire series. The younger kids were beyond bummed once they realized Thor was not making an appearance. Nordic mythology > Shakespeare

7. When I was in Austin last July for Edel ’14 I got to visit with a cousin whom I hadn’t seen in more than a decade. We had a great visit and Thursday night, as we prepared to go out, he mentioned a house party in north Austin that we could attend where a friend of his was filming a commercial for a vodka distillery. After hitting a local bar, we went to the house party where the filming was taking place. I got to meet the actor, did a taste test of the vodka, signed a waiver in case I appeared in the background of the commercial, and made a bunch of new friends. They all seemed skeptical that I could really have all that much fun at a Catholic women’s retreat, and invited me out the next night, but I insisted that I probably would be busy. Fast forward to last night when I remembered that party and wondered what ever happened to that commercial. Turns out it became a bit of a controversy for the Austin based vodka company Deep Eddy. I don’t have an opinion on the matter, except to say that I’m disappointed I can no longer brag about being at a house party where a commercial was filmed, because this whole thing was “the most sexiest and predatory ad” in like, the history of the world, or something.  For better or worse, I have no family in Charleston, so I assume I will be able to stay out of trouble during the entirety of Edel ’15.


At the infamous house party, there was this painting hanging over a fireplace mantle that also featured a light sabre. Of course, I needed a picture.

Now it’s your turn to share the takes of your week. Link up below for a smooth, never bitter taste. I discovered lots of new favorite bloggers last week and I can’t wait to read everyone’s posts this time around as well.

Just make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL, and include a link back here. I’m still me and not Jennifer Fulwiler. 

Why ‘The Best Laid Plans’ Kicks Your Planner’s Butt

You know I’ve created a planner, and maybe you’re thinking, “Kelly, why should I spend money on your planner when I can just download some free printables from this other site, or purchase something at Target?” Maybe you even have a planner you love, and aren’t in the market for a new one. Today’s post is for you!

First and foremost, my planner contains a 250 to 300 word entry for each week, written to make you laugh or reflect, usually both. So it’s like you’re getting a book in addition to your planner purchase. Even if you’ve been reading the blog for a long time the majority of the entries (70%!) are brand new, and almost all end with a question to prompt your own writing, if you’re so inclined. This is what really sets my planner apart from others on the market; you’re getting a heavy dose of ME every week. So even if you don’t need a planner, if you enjoy my writing, purchase the download and read it on your Kindle at your leisure.

Me as a luchador. I'm either the coolest or the most embarrassing mom ever.

Imagine this, as a planner entry, comin’ atcha every week!

Now, setting aside the weekly entries  what’s so great about ‘The Best Laid Plans’ vs any other planner? I think it’s space and flexibility. I know it’s impossible to create a planner that will appeal to everyone, but I think I’ve done a good job of creating a planner that can meet a variety of needs. I know because I have to coordinate a crap-load of stuff every week and this layout is what finally worked for me. Let me show you what I mean.

I use it as a blog planner. If I’m on top of my game, I plan out posts on the monthly layout pages. In the side column, I jot down monthly goals; big picture items. On the weekly spread, I write down smaller action items and make a note on the days I’d like to post. Sometimes life gets in the way, but I’m still at least able to keep track of when and what I want to post. I store blog post ideas in a separate Evernote notebook.

the best laid plans planner monthly

All the Quick Takes highlighted so I don’t let you down. Goals, blog to-do, and check out that quote!

I use to it keep track of my schedule and to do list.


I can also use it to mark down feast days and liturgical seasons, and take note of special meals and activities. You could write down meals for everyday of the week, plus a grocery list too.

close up on the feast

I also use it as a homeschool planner, however, I probably write out less formal lesson plans than many moms I know. Each child has an assignment notebook and I keep simple weekly notes in my planner. I select topics we study as a family, but the kids just move through any workbook chronologically. I stopped writing down page numbers and chapters a long time ago since we constantly had to slow down or speed up depending on the needs of specific child. However, here I show how you could use it as a more traditional homeschool planner, two ways.


Here I wrote in each child’s daily assignments, with weekly subjects highlighted in the ‘to do’ segment.


Here I used one block to list all the assignments for one child. For this format, and the one pictured just above, I would use the monthly pages to keep track of all upcoming events.

I found keeping separate daily and homeschool planners meant I was frequently only looking at one planner at a time and forgetting something I wrote in the other. I need ALL THE INFORMATION in front of me at all times, otherwise we wind up with $36 in library fines. If separate planners work fine for you, please buy two of my book for best results.

There’s lots of other planners out there with special tabbed sections or pages for keeping track of water consumption, exercise, personal goals, long term life goals and a host of other related topics. I don’t see why you can’t keep track of all that in ‘The Best Laid Plans’. Do you really need me to design a special “How did you express gratitude today?” section accented with flowers??? The graph background is conducive to creating boxes and checklists or even using a modified bullet journal system. And if you want to flesh out your life goals, just use the blank pages in the back. You can even write in the words, ‘Life Goals’ really pretty and add some glitter puff paint if you want. (If you choose the pdf download, you’re still free to add in all those other free printables you find across the internet. I won’t mind.)


ALL. THE. FREE. SPACE. And look! It lays flat like a boss!

Plus, I know some ladies enjoy decorating their planners. My planner is blank enough, that if you crave washi tape boarders, matching tabs and embossed stamps to track the number of bites you’ve taken in a meal, there’s space. I allowed my kids to demonstrate the versatility.


Who needs space to write anything down? Just make it pretty!

Even if you decide you hate my planner, it’s a great sticker/ coloring book and found poetry generator.


I’ve even created a board on Pinterest (of course I have) to showcase the multiple ways women customize their planners. Take a look at some of the popular ‘holy crap we can organize your whole life in our binder’ systems, and I think you’ll find ‘The Best Laid Plans’ to be a great bargain, if not more honest than anyone else.

Follow Kelly’s board Decorate Your Planner on Pinterest.

Are you convinced yet? Remember time is running out to order in time for Christmas delivery. Although, I’ve got you covered if you wait until the last minute.

If you purchase a planner, and customize the pages, share them on social media using the hashtag, #thebestlaidplansplanner. Tag me, @kellymantoan on Instagram or Twitter. Or send me a pic via email, kellymantoan(at)gmail(dot)com.

If you use a weekly entry as a blog prompt, send me the link to your post. I’d love to read it and share it with my readers! (And if you find a typo in my planner, you can let me know about that too.)

Beginning January 1st, I’ll start sharing your creations!

You Don’t Have to Be Alone Anymore! catholicmatch(maker) is Here!

Facing the holidays alone? Wondering why everyone else around you seems to have found that special someone? You’ve tried hanging at bars, going on blind dates, making an account on every online dating site and still nothing. Don’t give up! There is still hope!
Welcome to Catholic Match(maker). We go beyond the detailed questionnaires and provide a comprehensive dating service that will fast track you on the way to marriage!

matchmaker button
Our matchmakers pour over each applicants file, intimately studying their strong points and downfalls before arranging a match.


Let’s give a listen to how this truly modern and faith focused dating, …. uh, ministry takes place!

“Tony here looks like a nice boy and it says he went to a good Catholic high school and ran track. It may have taken him six years to get his bachelors but he’s got a good job in the city. Plus he owns his own car! I think he’d be perfect for this gal Margaret.”

“No, look at his hair and he didn’t even shave for this picture! What is with the hair on these young people? I mean his chest is bald and he’s got a horrible five o’clock shadow! It’s not natural. Margaret deserves this fine fella Joseph here! Look at him, he’s a carpenter just like his namesake and says he attends St. Basil’s. I haven’t known a bad kid to come out of that parish.”

“Well, then you have selective memory loss! What about that Polish kid that tried to kiss my Nancy with tongue on the first date! St. Basil’s is all bad news.”

“If you didn’t stalk Nancy’s Facebook feed you never would have known about that anyway. And as I recall, she wasn’t complaining. ”

“It’s not stalking! It’s research to help her find a husband and I think you misunderstood the tone of her status. She’s in the rosary guild and guides the girl’s youth retreat. Frankly, I think she’d be better off in a convent.”

“Well, she terminated her account with us so things must be going well with the St. Basil’s boy.”

“I can’t believe that! She’s got no sense like her mother. I’m going to say a novena and light a candle for her.”

“Now what about Tony or Margaret? Can we make a match here for either one of them?”

“Margaret skirts are too short, her blouses too low-cut and her slacks are too tight. Our Blessed Mother weeps every time she leaves the house.”

“Gladys for pete’s sake, no one calls them “slacks” anymore. Margaret dresses like all the young ladies nowadays. She’s a good girl at heart. She calls her mother everyday and sings in the choir. Let’s pair Margaret up with Ryan and Tony up with Mary Ann.”

“I agree. We should introduce them all at the pot luck on Sunday. I’m bringing meatballs. Everyone loves meatballs. I’ll introduce them over the meatballs.”

“Everyone loves your meatballs except Father. Why not bring your sponge cake?”

“I think Tony and Mary Ann would have the better looking kids, and there’s no way Margaret could stand up to Tony’s mother. I’m going to bring my sherbert punch for the kids and I’ll slip a little brandy in Tony’s mother’s glass so she’ll be on her best behavior. Then Gladys you talk to her at the altar society meeting next Saturday morning. We can get her on board I’m sure of it. Do you remember what happened last time she set Tony up with someone?”
(The room erupts into laughter and Gladys starts hacking uncontrollably.)


Email today with the names and information of yourself or a loved one who you’d like to see meet a nice girl or good boy! Membership is donation based and is excepted in the form of Christian Brother’s Brandy, Kohl’s cash, donations to the St. Rose of Lima Altar Society, or a gift certificate to that nice restaurant downtown with the very good and reasonable early bird specials. Admittance to any future weddings and receptions is also requested. With a success rate higher than anything else we’ve looked into, you’d be foolish not to try! Hurry while there’s still time to meet that special Midnight Mass date!

{SQT} Head Exploding From All the Awesomeness

Reunited and it feel so good! Oh, I’ve missed you all; my readers, my Facebook friends, my followers on Instagram and  Twitter. It is like coming out of the desert to face a table laid with a bounty of gossip, current affairs, friendly banter, perfectly filtered pictures and spam. For almost two weeks I was forced to make decisions without crowd sourcing and communicate via email. EMAIL! Like it’s 2002 or something.

And what is that I hear? Could it be the sound of millions of jaws across the Catholic blogosphere hitting the floor as I take over Seven Quick Takes? We really tried to ease y’all into it to lessen the shock. Don’t worry, you can still visit Jen on the weekends and every other Tuesday, plus alternate holidays.

Please, don’t think of me as the evil stepmother. I know I can’t live up to the Jennifer Fulwiler; and I don’t want you to call me mini-Jen…unless you want to, in which case I guess it’s okay. Honestly, I tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted and when J-Ful (I can call her that because we’re tight) asks you to do something, you query your Facebook friends and then say yes!

I want to be friends, and I think if we both put in a little effort, we might really learn to like one another. Now let’s get things started with a rambling list of all the things I’ve been doing since I couldn’t be on social media!!!  (C’mon, you said you’d try.)


At some point a few months back, as I reflected on my New Year’s resolutions, I realized I’d probably never get a book written this year. I couldn’t sit and write fiction and frankly, unless a publisher approached me and said, “Hey, write a book about THIS!” I really couldn’t think where to start. AND THEN, I just decided to create the perfect planner for myself, write a weekly entry for all 52 weeks and, viola, BOOK! A real book, not like any of the other books I pretended to write.

Tony came up with the name, ‘The Best Laid Plans’ and it’s 70 percent new material, with the remainder coming from that first year of blogging when I had four subscribers. It’s perfect for the person who wants to feel more organized without having to actually make any life changes. You can purchase a printed copy or download and print as many as you want. 8.5″x 11″ printed planners are $16 and pdf downloads are $8 until December 31st. But due to shipping times, you need to order by December 11th for the best Christmas delivery rates. Order by December 19th if you feel like paying someone from Lulu.com to ride out to your house on a moped, in a Santa suit. (Seriously, overnight fees are ridiculous.) Obviously, this won’t be the last you’ll hear about “The Best Laid Plans” but at least I won’t tease you about it for five years before delivering something, right??!?!  Totally kidding Mrs. Fulwiler.

the best laid plans

Click on the cover to check out a 15 page sample on Lulu.com!

2. My working title was actually “The Plan” but that sounded too John Grisham. “This is the plan and you’re going to follow it or die an unfortunate and untimely death.” I was describing my style to Addie and she came up with “Fun-spirational”. While I didn’t use that as my title, I’m pretty sure if I use that term to start a line of fertility monitors, I’d hit solid gold.

3. I was sad to not be able to share all of Byron’s comic prowess within minutes of it taking place. Notable antics included his impersonation of Sam Smith (which resembles the air being let out of a tire, vocally and physically) and his attempt to answer his math questions in all Roman numerals. I blame this on the stockpile of Calvin and Hobbes and Foxtrot comics at my parents house that he spent three days re-reading over Thanksgiving.

4. I was checking the statistics on one of my ad networks (because even without Facebook I can find ways to distract myself) and I noticed a graphic at the bottom that listed my blogs “audience.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 7.42.40 PMAccording to this, a lot of young, affluent, yet not college educated,  childless white men are reading my blog. Hi guys! Any of you shopping for a sister, fiance or mom in need of a planner?

5. Re-reading, and realizing that all the things I jotted down in the last couple weeks to share really weren’t that interesting after all. My whole online social life is a sham.

6. I rediscovered this song recently and much happy, awkward dancing has commenced.T-shirt spinning? Perhaps.

7. Hey, I wrote a book! Howsabout a giveaway!?! One copy of my new planner “The Best Laid Plans” in your choice of either a pdf download or printed copy is up for grabs! And just in time for Christmas!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  And now it’s time to join the party and link up below, just as you’ll be doing every Friday from here forwards. We’ll settle into new routines and establish new insider jokes and lingo. Just because you’ve been hanging at Jen’s since November 14, 2008 when she hosted her first Quick Takes link up using something called “Mr. Linky’s Magical Widgets” (kids, cover your eyes!) doesn’t mean we can’t make this relationship work. I can’t wait to use up all my new free time reading your posts!! Just make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL, and include a link back here… not Conversion Diary, but here. I’m Kelly, not Jen. You’re here now, and it’s okay. 

I Already Miss Your Immediate Feedback and Interaction

Greetings readers! Just a quick post to let you know I’m going on a blog hiatus until Friday December 5th, when I’ll be back for Quick Takes with a big announcement and reveal! I guess I should say hopefully back with big news…lots of emphasis on hopefully. I mean, I’ll be back either way, but I don’t want to turn up empty handed thats for sure. I’ve got a book in the works and I’ll need all my few free minutes to finish it up by my ridiculously unrealistic, yet self-imposed deadline. The fact that I’m even mentioning it now and taking such drastic steps as deactivating my Facebook account (sob) for the same time frame is what’s pushing me towards that finish line. (I’ve also preemptively apologized to my husband and kids for being downright awful and not showering.)

Feel free to leave your words of support or discouragement in the comments, or email me with any big exciting news. And if you want to send a prayer to St. Francis de Sales or SOG Dorothy Day on my behalf, I’d greatly appreciate it! Thank you!


{SQT} It’s All About the Takes, And Edel

I’m the host so nice she booked me twice! (Totally not even a condition of the rider either.)

Welcome back readers for another addition of everyone begrudgingly linking up at my blog for Seven Quick Takes! Yay me!

1. I love Quick Takes, even though mine are rarely ever quick and typically not a subject that needs broken into seven distinct pieces. But Jen’s cool with that, and I was pleased to see last week that while clicking around many other bloggers also loosely followed the Quick Takes protocol. If I ever hosted a weekly link up, my Type A would flare up and I’d have so many unreasonable demands within a couple weeks only a few determined bloggers would be left. And they would be my best friends…and we would take over the world. Mwahahahaha…….

2. When I started blogging, the Quick Takes link up was the main way I discovered other bloggers. My first Quick Takes was in March of 2012 and was my first “viral” post at like, 150 views, all because Jen tweeted it…and because it mentioned Truck Nutz. (FYI: You will not find them next to Planters in the snack food aisle.) For months, the majority of my posts were written for link ups, with Quick Takes being the highest priority on my list. Weekend plans consisted of whatever obligatory family outing or ritual and me catching up on other bloggers’ posts. I’d gotten out of the habit and was so surprised/ pleased when I scrolled through the links recently to find many awesome new blogs and old favorites I’d somehow never added to my Feedly still at it,  cranking out the goodness. It’s a pretty sweet community.

3. I can pretty much thank Quick Takes for helping me find some of my favorite bloggers, and now friends. Like Jen KM who is always one of the first people to link up. I was like, how does she keep doing that? And then I realized Quick Takes went live at midnight EST, and all the West Coast bloggers were at a huge advantage over us tired East folk types. Now that I’m hosting, I stay up really late with a glass of something strong,  listening to my crazy playlist and type out the magic while trying to converse with folks on Twitter and Facebook. At least until my husband reminds me that he’s going to bed and I need to get to bed so I can be a suitable mother in the morning. Thankfully, I’ve taught my kids how to make a mean bowl of instant oatmeal while I sip coffee and growl.

4. And just in case you wondered what that playlist sounded like. (I didn’t even realize I was such a Lil Jon fan until I listened to this for the 2,394 time. Also, I listen to the videos, not watch them so, yeah, just…don’t have your kids around.)

5. I also recommend checking out last week’s #16 linker Domestic Vocation who had the best pharmacy visit EVER. It was #1 in my heart, for a perfectly legitimate reason.

6. My sixth take < #4 linker Super Swell Times . She interviewed her husband and I died. I love when bloggy ladies get their husbands involved.

I feel like if we have Edel, our husbands should have a weekend of their own where they can all commiserate about the discomfort of conversing with parish members who are all avid readers of their wives’ blogs and the heart-break of discovering photos of their underwear clad kids online. Dan Lord and Joe Fulwiler, my husband’s down with a pub crawl any time you guys want to organize.

7.  Lastly, I know you’re all wondering, “Kelly, will you just be yammering on about Edel related topics for the next eight months?!”

Yes. Yes, I will.

In trying to narrow down topics for my talk I’m considering the following:

  • why Catholic womanhood is different from being a female chimpanzee
  • how raising my children in the faith has taught me more about love and hand sanitizer
  • what makes a strong Catholic women? patience, humility, caffeine and a bathroom with a locking door
  • building cathedrals, one snotty tissue left on the floor right next to the trash can at a time

Any other ideas for me?

Why I continue to jot speaking notes on the back cover of my child’s math workbook be sure swing back to ME, NO WHERE ELSE, JUST STAY RIGHT HERE and read the rest of the the lovely takers. I might just stay up all night reading your posts….because instant oatmeal.


My Papal Birthday Present

The Pope is coming to Philly for the World Meeting of Families in 2015! And I don’t mean to have any sway or insider knowledge, but, my birthday is September 26th and the Holy Father is expected to be here from Sept. 25 until the 27th. Coincidence? I think not. 

Obviously, this means I’m going to be having the biggest, baddest (and I mean that in a holy way) birthday party with a few thousand of my closest Catholic friends on the Ben Franklin Parkway. I’m lining up a few port-o-pots and a shuttle service for our backyard after party.

I figured I should officially invite Pope Francis to my party, and welcome him to the Philly, South Jersey, SE PA area. And also give him a heads up that Jesus was just arrested in our neck of the woods, so he needs to maybe bring some Swiss Guards with him, just in case.

Your holiness, Pope Francis,

My name is Kelly Mantoan and my family and I are some of the millions of people excited to learn about your upcoming visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in 2015. (You might remember me from such previous correspondences as “#freeFultonSheen @pontifex.”)

We are a family of seven; Anthony, my husband and our five children Adeline, Byron, Edith, Fulton and Theodore. Our Catholic faith is integral to our daily living and the cornerstone to our home education program.

family beach photo

Since you will be in town over my, and my oldest daughter’s, birthdays, we wanted to invite you back to our house for the ultimate after-party following your Saturday appearance. We will be stocking up on local foods and beverages (Tastykakes, Turkey Hill ice cream, cheese steaks, soft pretzels and Wawa hoagies) and providing security in the form of our 23 pound dog to ensure a good time is had by all. We’re also only a short drive to the beach, so if you want to make a side trip to Atlantic City or the more family friendly Ocean City, you can borrow our EZ Pass to zip through the tolls.

A few things to consider while visiting the city of brotherly love:
The Parking Commission will have no mercy, even on the Popemobile. You might find it easier to navigate around the Art Museum on a Segway. Just hold on to that zucchetto!
Saint John Neumann, a great American saint, founder of the Catholic School system and 40 hours devotion is interned at the National Shrine of St. John Neumann in the lower church of St. Peter the Apostle Church in North East Philly. He’s sort of a big deal.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is located in University City. It is one of the best hospitals in the country, if not the world, and consequently it’s walls are filled with some of the sickest children from across the globe. If you can make even a quick drive down Civic Center Boulevard  many of them will be able to look out their windows and see you. Having passed 13 long days in there with my son a few years back, I know how exciting a Papal envoy drive by (or visit??) would be for those families.
Also ironically, Jesus was recently arrested in LOVE park, so the authorities might not take to kindly to you ice skating or discussing your love of the Gospel. Enter at your own risk.

However, Philly Jesus is hoping to snag an epic selfie with you and catch a bite on South Street, which might be a safer meeting ground if you’re interested in a face to face.
You could also catch an American football game or baseball game while you’re in town. You might hear rumors about some of the fans, but I’m sure they’ll all be on their best behavior. It’s not soccer after all.

While driving through the city, why not try a playlist of local musicians like Will Smith, Patti LaBelle, Chubby Checker, Boys II Men, Billie Holiday and The Roots?

And despite New Jersey being the most densely populated state in the USA, you can still find plenty of produce being grown here in the Garden State. Try to get your hands on some Hammonton Blueberries, Jersey Peaches and apples before you leave the area. (Much of the produce is being tended and picked by Spanish speaking migrant workers who are filling the parishes in the Camden, NJ diocese.)

So, when you get a chance, drop me a line (or tweet at me, @kellymantoan) and let me know if I can expect papal representation at the un-official World Meeting of Families South Jersey birthday happy hour(s). I will fly in plenty of Malbec just in case Yards or Flying Fish in not your thing.

With warmest regards and prayers,

Kelly Mantoan

{SQT} My Seven Reasonable Demands

Welcome Conversion Diary readers to the latest episode of Seven Quick Takes. I’m honored to be hosting this week as Jen continues her reign of airwave domination.
If you’re not a regular reader in these parts, please excuse the lack of scorpion references and feminine cowboy hats. Rest assured that Jen would not trust me with such weighty responsibilities if she wasn’t sure I was up to the task…or getting desperate in her final hours.
But seriously folks (is this mic on?) I know Jen trusts me because she and Hallie have asked me to speak at Edel ’15. My attendance last year was due to lots of “special arrangements” on my part, but it paid off for Jen and Hallie because my impressive shoe judging became the talk of the event (plus I rapped and stuff.) Wanting to build on that momentum, they asked me to speak, and of course I enthusiastically agreed…once they both signed, initialed and faxed back my speaking rider.
Sure, I don’t have much* speaking experience right now, but I know Edel, and the subsequent Sirius XM exposure is going to blow the roof off this mother and I need to be prepared. So visitors, event organizers, long time readers and confused Google searchers, I present seven terms from my 38 page rider. (Take note ladies.)

1. Kelly must be met at the airport by a horse-drawn carriage, because she’s sensitive to her carbon footprint. A cooler containing five ice-cold glass bottles of Coca-Cola, NO MORE AND NO LESS must be placed in the seat closest to the setting sun. No competitive soda products may be in the vicinity of the carriage, lest Kelly accidentally snap a selfie near it. The coachman, and footman, are not permitted to start conversations with Kelly, unless to tell her how much air travel agrees with her complexion.

Actually I prefer my coachman in knickers, but I will wave this requirement if there is actually a fast food restaurant inside my carriage.


2. Kelly’s hotel room must be a king suite at a five-star hotel with only natural fiber carpets and bed sheets hand-woven from albino alpacas. Kelly will have her bathrobe overnighted in advance of her arrival and she expects it to be laid on the bed, seductively, waiting for her when she walks in. Kelly also requires a karaoke machine and fair-trade banana suit en suite. ***None of the artwork in the room can be from the Abstract Expressionist era as it causes intestinal distress.***

3. Kelly demands breakfast ( a pitcher of mimosa, gluten-free toast with Polaner’s All Fruit Spread in Strawberry, and one raw egg white)  to be delivered to her room by her hosts Jen and Hallie. Kelly expects them to sit and watch her eat while asking for nothing in return.

4. Kelly requires one pony ride from Jenny within 12 hours of her arrival.

5. When Kelly speaks she is to be announced to the first 18 measures of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’. Four controlled blasts of pyrotechnics are to be released upon her arrival at the podium.** At the conclusion of her talk, Kelly will walk off stage to Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions’ and confetti canons. ONLY BLUE AND WHITE CONFETTI IS TO BE USED. Please make sure the mic is of the highest quality and can withstand being dropped, enthusiastically waved around and licked.

LED outline is only required for arena events.

6. Kelly requires a sedia gestatoria to transport her around the venue with two attendees on hand at all times to fan her with flabella. And if you don’t know what she’s talking about, Kelly already can’t. handle. it.


7.  Kelly needs to retire to her room promptly at 9:30 p.m. in order to soak in a tub filled with the tears of her enemies (which will be provided under cover of darkness at a location to be determined.)

(*No experience, except for that public speaking course in college. **For the record, I wave the pyrotechnics requirement for smaller venues and only ask for “sparklers to be waved with FEELING.” )

So, if you’re in the market for a Catholic mom speaker, I like to think I make a pretty compelling case for hiring me. (I mean, Rachel Balducci just has a TV show. Ppffffpt.) Let me work your patience muscle!  

Confused? Typing an angry email to Jen as we speak? Please. We both know it’s too late to take back that Goodreads vote.  Keep calm and link on.

I look forward to reading everyone’s posts!