Last Day of School!

It’s the last day of school, and I hope that means I regain a few hours (minutes??) of time for writing during the day over the next few months. These Takes are late, and short, but hopefully things improve in the coming weeks.

This week had some nice, hot days which meant we could finally try out our new pool (affiliate link). It’s a step above an inflatable kiddie pool, but not so big we need a permit, ladder, or huge pump. It’s just big enough for a few of us to cool off in at a time. This is why we didn’t do all those other fun end of the year activities. Nobody, including me, minded.

“Push me into Fulton!” “Push me into Teddy!” x100 Guess who needs a nap the most after this?

The younger two and I finished watching Julius Caesar, and also watched Disney’s Peter Pan after finishing up the original on audio book. We finished up our literature books, and got a fresh round of “fun” books at the library. I even got a massage to celebrate the conclusion of another year. (A practice I highly recommend.) Admittedly, my high schoolers have a few things to finish for me, but thankfully, completing those assignments is on them and I don’t mind waiting a bit. I still have lots of grading to catch up on, and transcripts to update, but that can get put on the back burner for a little while longer. Most school districts around here are wrapping up next week so I’m technically ahead of the game…at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I have lot of unrealistic plans for how I want to spend my summer. Cleaning out and reorganizing some parts of the house, writing more for the blog and Accepting the Gift, hopefully I make it to round 3 of the OSV Challenge and get to work on that, and of course I’ll need a week or so to plan school for next year. Eleven weeks of summer break hardly seems like enough time.

One other new addition is a ceiling mounted Hoyer lift system in Fulton and Teddy’s bedroom. It makes lifting and transferring them a million time easier. Fulton’s nurses are just as giddy as I am. Right now, there’s a lot of novelty for the boys to sit in the Hoyer sling and move all over the room, including into their brother’s bed or wheelchair, or glide through the room and while trying to kick their legs into someone. There will also be much less swearing on my part as I no longer need to struggle with the manual Hoyer lift. We’re still keeping it in the garage since I assume this new lift will eventually break like everything else we rely on, which will result in lots of swearing from me, but until then, we’re all on a Hoyer honeymoon high.

Here’s Fulton threatening to lay down in Teddy’s bed. Teddy is threatening to squish Fulton by raising the head and foot of his bed. I’m glad we have new things to argue about.

That’s all for this week!! Thanks as always for your patience. The link up is open all week, so feel free to drop in a late post yourself at anytime. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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{SQT} Highs And A Low

Starting with the most important update: we lost our third level insurance appeal. The outside agency agreed with the insurance company’s decision to reduce our hours from 12 to 10.

I believe there is another level of appeal I could go for that involves courtrooms and judges, but, based on the explanation letter from the outside agency, I don’t believe the outcome would be any different. And frankly, I’m not willing to invest any more hours into the process right now. If Fulton gets sick and requires hospitalization, or becomes weaker, I’ll be able to make the case for more hours. If they try to cut him down even further in a few months, (becaue he’s SO HEALTHY) I will need to go through this all again, at which point I will probably go as far as I can with appeals but for now, I’m just DONE.

So I’m focusing on the end of school and having as much fun with it as I can. I got a free trial to and we’re going to work on a family tree with a focus on finding family members who served in the military. We’ll see how far back we can go before my trial ends. We did a zoo trip last Friday (The reptile house was reopened!!), and I’ll try to throw another field trip in next week. Plus, we’re finishing up Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar so that’s another movie to watch. Lots of stabbing, death, and battles so, it’s a clear favorite.

We got to watch them feed the giraffes. Be happy I spared you a photo of the turtle who was “giving another turtle a piggy back ride” in the reptile house.

I don’t think I’ve ever done a year-end homeschooling review post before, and I don’t plan to start now, but I did want to share a few things I really liked this year. Some are new, and some are old favorites that continue to work in our homeschool.

On Monday we attended a small Memorial Day service at our town’s veteran’s park. It was nice, well attended, and the weather cooperated beautifully following several days of cold, rainy temperatures. It was the 100 year anniversay of our town’s WWI memorial which was dedicated on May 30, 1921. The WWI theme inspired me to show the kids Peter Jackson’s WWI documentary They Shall Not Grow Old that evening. The movies uses footage from the Great War updated with color, background noises, and corrected speed, overlaid with veteran narration recorded in the mid-20th century. It was really good, though Teddy wanted more details about everything and Fulton could’ve used less dead bodies. In that vein, I don’t think the CGI enhanced maggots and fly sounds were necessary, but I do think it’s important for the kids to see the ugly side of war and not just read about exciting battles and the like.

Most of you know my first real book Better Thank Okay: Finding Joy As A Special Needs Parent is coming out this fall, but if you’ve been here any amount of time, you know I’ve created and contributed to several smaller works over the years. One of the most popular, is Rosaries Aren’t Just For Teething:Reflections on Mary By Mothers which features popular Catholic mom bloggers sharing their thoughts on all the mysteries of the rosary. Editor Michele Chronister has re-released this title with all profits for the next few months going to the Archbishop Robert J Carlson Adoption Fund. You can support the fundraiser by purchasing through Amazon, or if you’d like a signed copy, I still have a few first editions I can send out. Visit my shop if you’d like one. If you’re looking to get into a rosary habit, but are struggling and feeling overwhelmed, you’ll really appreciate, and hopefully even be motivated by, those of use who lean on the rosary and Mary’s example even in the craziest, or hardest, of times.

Also, my new profile picture. Everyone in my house had different feelings about how it turned out, but it’s been growing on me. I’m pretty pleased with it. Maybe my best Fiverr purchase ever.

I believe that covers the highlights and the one really big low light. How was your week? Write it down then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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{SQT} I Would Tell You In Person

Let’s recap another typical May week for posterity. Amy Welborn shared a great post recently on the type of information we share online, and her litmus test for what is worthy of sharing struck a chord with me. Therefore, you can rest assured that all the details of this post (which I write partially in order to remember the highlights of our family life) is all information I would bore you with in a real life conversation. I think blogs have the advantage of incorporating GIFs which I would love to throw into real life conversations. Instead I typically resort to flailing hands and full body contortions demonstrating my favorite GIFs, which is just makes everyone uncomfortable.

ANYWAY- We played well-visit catch up this week. Fulton and Teddy needed camp health forms filled out, and everyone in the house needs to have had a check up in the last year as part of our foster application. Edie and Byron hadn’t seen the primary since 2019 and thankfully I was able to get them both in quickly. When everyone was little, I had to drag everyone to all the appointments. Now, I purposely scheduled everyone’s for a separate time. (I could do Fulton and Teddy at the same time, but between me, the nurse, and two powerchairs, it’s just easier, and less crowded to make two visits, especially since the office is right down the street.) I guess I prefer making multiple trips vs wrangling multiple little children, but it does eat up a lot of time since waiting is always involved. But at least its done for another year!

In a fit of worry induced insomnia which turned into anger that I couldn’t sleep, I woke up at 4 a.m. on Monday and finished my OSV Challenge application, and then, still fired up, went for a run of all things. There was lots of walking involved too, but between the intense intellectual and physical exertion I was exhausted (and useless) the rest of the day. The cause of my worry? Some small fault in one of my children that irks me. But, as is my habit, every time I butt heads with my kids over something I wind up beating myself up. What did I do, or not do, that has caused my child to act this way? And I think of all the things I could’ve done differently in the past, or how I can try to fix everything immediately. I can’t be alone in this mindset can I? I wonder if it stems from society’s obsession with people blaming their faults on their parents. Every cliched shrink scene in a TV show or movie starts with the doctor asking the person, “What was your relationship with your mother like?”. However, the natural result of this mindset is that if your problems were caused by your mom or dad, your children’s problems are your fault. If we are allowed to lay all our anxieties, fears, broken dreams and failures at our parents’ footsteps, then every failure your child makes can be tied directly back to you. Perhaps that’s also why some parents go to such lengths to ignore or make excuses for their children’s behavior. If you don’t acknowledge the problem, you can’t be held responsible for it.

I don’t really agree with this. I see how my parents strengths and weaknesses shaped me as a person, but I take ownership of my actions good and bad. I hope my kids do the same, but yet, I can’t seem to stop feeling like their futures are all riding solely on my efforts. The feeling has intensified as they’ve gotten older and I realize my time to influence them is growing shorter. This is one of those parenting struggles that comes with having a house full of young adults vs little kids. It kind of sneaks up on you, and then it hits you between the eyes at 3 a.m. when you’re worrying about whether or not to let your child live their life or say something about it. (And for the record, it’s nothing major like drugs or something. No one is on the fast track to jail or hell. It just feels like a bigger deal than it is at 3 a.m.)

Here in South Jersey there’s this awesome learning resource place that works like a library, but they basically have the inventory of a Lakeshore Learning Store. Anyone can borrow, and while I’ve known about it for years, I finally got a membership and started borrowing supplies. ITS FANTASTIC. Its newer location is only 35 minutes from our house (vs the previous 45+) and it’s helped bring a little more fun into these last few homeschool weeks. Plus, they have a great selection of books that many local libraries probably wouldn’t carry. I borrowed one on dyslexia that I’m loving so much I ordered my own copy. And Fulton and Teddy have enjoyed the influx of new games into our routine. (We’re currently enjoying a game called ‘Chunks’ that’s thankfully not about throwing up, but word building. Highly recommended.) I have no idea how to find a similar center in your area, but ours is grant funded and housed at a local university. Started to “support the education of students with disabilities, helping them to succeed and to achieve in the least restrictive environment.” its services are obviously geared towards helping teachers, but I’m so grateful they’re open to all parents as well.

We spent more time in Ocean City visiting with family. I splurged on a new sweatshirt and sweatpants. I say splurge because boardwalk prices at the beginning of the season are YIKES! but, for the last several years as my old OC sweatshirt started falling apart, I kept saying, “Oh, I’ll just pick something up when we’re down in the off season and it’s cheaper.” But then I can never find something I like, or the store with the best selection is closed on the day we’re down. So finally I just picked out what I wanted and got it. Tony said there was money in the clothing budget, so I didn’t need to feel guilty and if I only buy a new sweatshirt every five + years, it’s a pretty good investment anyway. (And if there’s one thing 2020 taught me was the importance of comfy loungewear.) So that made me very happy, though in hindsight, I’m sure I’ll regret purchasing both items in white. I jokingly said I should just go home and dump something on it so I don’t get mad when it ultimately gets stained. There’s also always the option to tie dye it in a couple years if the stains get totally out of control, which is very likely. (My old sweatshirt is brown and that was a real lifesaver on many an occasion.)

And now I’m questioning my judgement in conversation topics…on that note. I’ll wrap it up. Next week starts June and then the real summer fun starts and goes NONSTOP until September. Can’t wait.

So link up below and be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!!

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{SQT} Filling In the Margins Of May

Thank you for your patience with my Takes, or lack there of. I’ve gotten out of the habit of jotting down ideas for Takes during the week as they hit me, so lately when I reach Thursday night, I’m wracking my brain for ideas. Our days follow a pretty set routine at this point, but with plenty of last minute appointments / unforeseen tasks eating up the margins. Now that I’ve got two weeks to pull ideas from, I should be set for a true SEVEN Quick Takes post.

For example, after fighting and winning the right to keep 12 hours of nursing care for Fulton only six months ago. I am back at it, trying to convince the insurance company that Fulton still needs 12 hours of nursing care. I just learned they upheld their decision after my first round appeal, so onto round two we go. Their rationale for trying to reduce our hours again? Fulton’s been healthy, and not had any ER visits in the last year, so he probably doesn’t need all those nursing hours.

My husband took a day off work recently and we all went to the beach. Teddy and Fulton were disappointed we wouldn’t let them get in the water, but otherwise it was a great day – even relaxing in some ways! I especially enjoyed wandering the jetty and checking out the tide pools (which the lifeguards won’t let you do during the summer).

And although Ocean City is using hawks to keep sea gulls from attacking people on the boardwalk, the birds are as brazen as ever on the beach and once they realized we were eating pizza and fries they almost took a couple slices right from our hands. But we saw dolphins! And ate ice creams! And played at the arcade! So no complaints.

We didn’t have a new beach chair for this trip, but it did help us decide to NOT purchase another Mobi-Chair (the one size fits all chair is the best in the water but not the most comfortable for long term sitting) and we’re not going to try to modify an existing medical stroller (also not comfortable/ supportive enough as the boys have gotten bigger). It’s helped us narrow our choices and I look forward to sharing what we decide on later in the summer.

In super happy exciting news THE BOYS ARE GOING TO SUMMER CAMP!!!

This is despite the fact that MDA cancelled all their camps for the second summer in a row. It took some hunting (many other camps are also closed, running only day camps, or are too danged expensive) but I found a camp in Florida that will except both boys. So not only do Fulton and Teddy get to go to camp, but Tony and I have rented an AirBnB and will get a vacation in Florida for ourselves. Obviously, to make this work requires a long drive, but a week of respite was something I desperately wanted to make work. If you remember, two years ago, Fulton got sick at camp and had to come home after only a few days, and then wound up in the hospital. Last year of course there was no camp. As much as I’d like to say, “It’s okay, I’m fine waiting another year for camp.” I was pretty upset about it (probably more so than Fulton and Teddy honestly). Thankfully, this camp is affordable, as is our rental. It means no large family vacation this summer but the older three are pretty excited about a week of freedom too. (And it still allows us to sock a good bit away for next year’s vacation.) Once we reach the end of the school year, I think Teddy is going to have me make a “Days Until Florida” count down board again. As an added bonus, we’ll get to revisit Give Kids the World Village before coming home, and we’re staying at the iconic South of the Border on the way to and from Florida.

When I’m not filling out insurance or camp paperwork, I’m working on my application for the second round of the OSV Challenge. My online apostolate, Accepting the Gift, was one of the 160 or so (I think?) entries accepted into the second round out of close to 600 submissions! It’s been really hard trying to grow Accepting the Gift, given my time constraints and those of my voluteers (all special needs parents), but this challenge is helping me really outline my goals and will hopefully connect me with other people who can help me learn how to turn my online idea into a well-known and valuable resource for Catholic special needs parents around the country (and maybe someday the world!). Your prayer of support are always appreciated.

Oh yes, and the foster care process moves forward as well. We did our homestudy interviews (four hours worth!) and we’re tying up lose ends (vaccines for the cats, getting well visits for the few kids I forgot about-whoops!) and making a few changes to the house; mostly related to child-proofing. At this point, given all the delays related to COVID, I still think our first placement is still a few months away, but it’s getting closer! I think we’re all excited to welcome a new child into our home.

Lastly, a couple promos. I gave a talk yesterday as part of this event:

You can still join, enjoy the rest of the talks, and purchase access to my talk if you so desire. It’s three days designed to uplift and inspire, and this organization host regular events so if you like it, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy future conferences as well.

Also the Ultimate Homemaker’s Bundle is live until Monday, May 24. You know the drill. Lots of great resources, low price. I always benefit from each bundle; as usual, you won’t be disappointed. Click to learn more and purchase before time runs out.

Now it’s your turn! What is eating up all your free time???? Write it down then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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{SQT} May Goodness

Happy May! Who else is ready for school to be over?!? Who else is counting down the days???

Our godson received his First Holy Communion on Saturday. We snapped some pictures outside afterwards and celebrated with dinner at Applebee’s.

It’s nice that even though our children have already all passed this milestone, we can still help celebrate in a special way with our godchildren. Our goddaughter will make her First Holy Communion in five years and when I think about how old all my kids will be by then…

Monday I decided to bag school and take the younger three for a hike in the woods, a library trip, a drive through lunch, and finally we watched a bunch more of Kenneth Branagh’s FOUR HOUR long version of Hamlet. We’re still not done watching it, but thankfully it’s a wonderful production. Since there was some educational discussion amidst everything, I’m counting it as at least a half day.

I wanted to hit the beach on Tuesday, but ultimately I decided against it. Ultimately, I wanted to relax on the beach but Tony could only come with if we went in the evening – and rain was forecasted. And trying to get everyone on the beach has hit a new hurdle now that Teddy needs his own mood of beach transportation. I’m not sure if we want to get a whole second beach chair like Fulton has, if we want to try to modify one of our medical stroller with balloon wheels, or I’m sort of toying with the idea of modifying an old powerchair into a motorized beach chair. Currently, we’ve tried squeezing him on the beach chair with Fulton, or dragging him across the sand in a medical stroller – neither of which is easy or works well. Anyway, I really didn’t know how I would be able to get everyone on the beach and keep them entertained in a way that would be relaxing for me, so I decided against it. I’m hoping that in the next week or so, Tony can take a half day and we can enjoy the beach all together before the crowds rush in. It’s made me really appreciate all the times I took the kids to the beach when it was easy for me. I have ZERO regrets for all the previous last minute field trips to visit “salt water ecosystems”.

I found a throw blanket of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the clearance section of Walmart for $3 on Wednesday.

It goes great in the living room next to our Mary shrine. I’d never set up a special Marian altar just for May before but, I like to think of us as over the top Catholics so, what was I waiting for?? Thankfully, Addie and Edie were able to maximize the holiness by adding *almost* every statute of Mary they both own.

Speaking of Mary, don’t forget my 31 Days of Mary posts (all 18 of them!) and the Ten Virtues of Mary series (all of which are linked to in my post).

How was your week? Write down some Takes then link them up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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Seven Funny Posts You Forgot About

No new Takes from me this week. Enjoy these archive posts you probably missed.

Link up your fresh hot Takes below, or create your own archival list for new readers. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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Good Books For Teens They’ll Actually Read

I got my second COVID shot on Wednesday, and I was feeling all:

But then on Thursday I felt pretty blah from the shot (nothing extreme or unexpected) and arguably did not feel very invincible. But one day of discomfort is better than the alternative, and hopefully I’ll be able to try licking wild animals or eating pizza off the ground very soon.

Who needs some teen books suggestions?? Uh, only ME all the time. The kids are like me, in that they’re never satisfied with all the books we have in our library. They need new and exciting books on the regular. So I was very excited when Leslea Wahl reached out from to share Treasures: Visible and Invisible a new compilation of eight St. Patrick’s inspired stories from some of the website’s authors.

It’s a great introduction to multiple authors and their writing styles and includes a mix of historical, contemporary, and dystopian fiction. Find one story you really like, and explore that author’s other titles on the website. There’s so many great books, and if you’re not sure what your kids might like, they have themed book packs. Plus there’s book clubs and audiobooks– pretty much anything for all the older kids in your house who will otherwise just sit around and read manga or comics. Addie is a fan of Corinna Turner’s I Am Margaret, and was pleased to see a selection from her in Treasures. If you have some teens looking for some good reads, leave a comment below saying “I NEED BOOKS FOR MY TEENS!” and I’ll select a random winner to get a free copy of Treasures. (Open to continental US readers only-sorry!) Now closed!

Short post this week so I can make up on missed sleep! You can fill in the gaps by sharing some of your favorite teen reads in the comments below, or in your own post which you can link up below! (More of my favorite book recommendations here.) Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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{SQT} Drinks, Movies, and Dissections

Happy Friday! Time for some Takes.

On Sunday Tony and I finally tried the new distillery in town. Like everything else, we could walk to it. We enjoy supporting local businesses, and were prepared to force down some pretty raw stuff, but thankfully it was all really good. They’re specializing in fruit liquors, many of which were a bit too sweet for us, but their wheat whiskey was surprisingly good, so we bought a bottle to have on hand. Their strawberry liquor was also good and I think will make a great base for a special Nativity of St. John the Baptist cocktail.

On Sunday night, Teddy’s hospital bed broke while he was sitting up in bed, and the head of the bed was in an upright position. Tony couldn’t lower it for sleeping. He moved him to the futon in the living room for the night and we were unable to lower the bed on Monday, so I started looking around online for a new hospital bed. Facebook, and our town, came to the rescue again when I put a call out in a local giveaway group asking for a hospital bed. I even offered to pay a fair price. Within a couple hours, someone who lived only a couple blocks away offered us an electric hospital bed for free. We picked it up Tuesday evening and it’s nicer than Teddy’s old bed and has a fancy air mattress designed to prevent pressure sores. Teddy loves being readjusted on the bed and allowing the mattress to adjust to his new position. Plus the buttons are easy to push so he can sit himself up now. As a bonus, a metal scrapper took the old hospital bed frame off our front yard within an hour so we didn’t need to worry about storing it until the next bulk trash pick up day. A feel good story all around!!!

Ever since Byron was cleared to drive after his last orthopedic appointment, I’ve been letting him drive to his physical therapy appointments. It’s been my first time behind the wheel with him and it’s been interesting to compare how he and Addie handle learning to drive. Namely, Byron laughs when he’s nervous, which caught me completely off guard as I was trying to direct him through a turn. Thankfully, his other habit is driving the speed limit or slower. But overall he’s doing fine with everything and thankfully it’s not Lent so I can always pour myself a drink or eat something sweet when we get home safe and sound.

On Wednesday I thought, for some odd reason, I would enjoy watching One Child Nation while I prepared dinner. The movie documents the fallout from China’s one child policy on various family members of the filmmaker and others in the country, as well as how the policy played a part in the country’s international adoption practices. It was fascinating to see how prolific the propaganda promoting the policy was through the country; billboards, songs, plays, operas, kids shows- all geared to convince people to adopt the one child policy and to gain their support in punishing those who failed to sterilize or tried to hide a pregnancy. I was especially moved by the testimony of a midwife who couldn’t remember every baby she delivered, but she knew exactly how many abortions she performed because felt they were wrong and she would need to answer for each of them one day. Now she only works with infertile couples in the hopes of bringing more children into the world, to make up for those she killed. I highly recommend viewing the movie (just maybe not while cooking dinner), with the warning that there are images of dead babies shown. (And FYI, I found that several of the negative reviews on Amazon were from Chinese people questioning the filmmaker’s motives and trying to justify the policy.)

One movie I did share with the kids this week was the 1994 action classic Speed. (Go watch the trailer- you know you want to!!!) As I told my kids numerous times leading up to family movie night, “I love this movie! It was my favorite when it came out! I owned it on VHS!!!” And everyone did enjoy watching it, plus, I didn’t need to remember to rewind it afterwards.

Lastly, who else has kids dying to dissect dead animals? Just me?

After ordering some science supplies for Addie one year, I started getting a catalogue from a science company that sells dissection kits and a wide variety of “specimens”. Fulton somehow got ahold of the catalogue, saw all the specimens, inquired as to their purpose and has been asking about dissection ever since. We’ve watched some dissections on YouTube, and while I’m not opposed to dissecting animals, I’m also confident that if I tried to do it, I would mutilate everything and wind up smelling like formaldehyde for days afterwards.

Enter paper dissection models!!! All the guts! All the science! None of the weird smells and risk of ruptured intestines!

And now I know how to tell the difference between boy sharks and girls sharks!!

Although the accompanying lessons are geared towards older students, I thought just having the completed model would be satisfactory for now. I bought the shark and squid models since we’re studying marine biology, and I finally completed the shark model this week. It’s SO COOL. The boys are being low key in their response but I love it and if I didn’t already have a beast of the year for 2021, paper dissected shark would be it. Definitely requires the assembly skills of a teen or adult, but highly recommended if you have traumatic high school biology memories you don’t wish to dredge up while teaching your own children.

How was your week? Write down all those memories and link them up below! Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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{SQT} Food, Movies, and Books

Happy Easter Friday! Enjoy some meat! 

We had a beautiful Easter Sunday. The kids woke up and immediately gorged themselves on candy (and maybe I did too). We attended Mass, came home and ate some appetizers including the amazing crab rangoon dip from Aldi’s (definently snag some if you see it). We wound up with a 10 lb leg of lamb -our largest ever, because we waited until the last minute to order from the butcher and I guess that’s all they had left. We ate at 5 p.m., after calls with the grandparents, and one of Addie’s friends joined us. Then we watched the seasonally appropriate Godzilla vs King Kong. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there’s a resurrection moment in there, plus an overall message of good defeating evil so, #theologicalwin. We took an intermission to enjoy Tony’s homemade ricotta pie and cannoli.

Just ignore Teddy’s face. He’s not choking to death and this is the best photo of the bunch.

Full menu:

  • lamb with brandy infused gravy
  • mashed potatoes
  • oven roasted green beans with mushrooms
  • creamed corn casserole
  • Arancini de Riso ( a traditional Sicilian rice ball that we bought at the local Italian market to try)
  • spring greens salad with apples, pecans, cranberries and homemade dressing
  • three fruit salad
  • fresh bread

Monday I took a meal to a family who’s infant son finally came home from the hospital after many months. I always overthink taking a meal to a family. Like, I cannot miss any of the food groups (unless they’re vegans or something) and at least one item needs to be homemade. I feed these people better than my own kids most times. I cooked up some homemade cream of tomato soup and cheese quesadillas, plus I threw in a bagged salad mix, fresh fruit, and some of Tony’s cannoli. It sounded kid friendly at the time!!! But I was second guessing myself the whole time I was cooking it. What are your favorite meals to make and take? I need some ideas for when I’m clueless and people need a hot meal. (And say some prayers for my friends as they and their son still have a long road ahead of them.)

I finished watching Schitt’s Creek and resumed watching whatever Wes Anderson movie happens to be free on prime. We’ve all watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs, but on my own I’ve watched Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’m currently on The Darjeeling Limited.

I really like Anderson’s story telling and visual aesthetic. So often I feel like I’d rather just read a book, or that while a movie may be entertaining, it’s not really telling a compelling story. But with Anderson’s films, I feel like something would be lost in reading the same story, or watching the movies under someone else’s direction. The movies also leave me thinking about them long after, if just to try to understand their weird or cringe-y scenes. If my book, or blog, ever get turned into a movie, I think it deserves a Wes Anderson treatment. I want Bill Murray to play me, but maybe that’s asking too much. 

Teddy convinced me to check out Cardboard Box Engineering from the library on our last visit, even though I knew it would inevitably place a new project on my to-do list. I’d succeeded in putting off creating something during our Easter break, but finally caved yesterday and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he and Fulton selected an easy to construct paddle boat. But then I discovered we didn’t have any of the proper cartons that the craft required so Teddy’s second choice was a complicated replica of a Skee Ball game. I’m a fan of Skee Ball on the Ocean City boardwalk, where I can still play it for just 10 cents. Not so much a fan of constructing it out of cardboard dug from the bottom of my garage’s recycling bin. It turned out pretty good, but Teddy was quick to point out all the things that didn’t quite work, like how if you throw the marble really hard into the 50 point hole, it rolls down the 10 point chute. While I’m reassured by the fact that Teddy will make a great supervisor one day, I’d like someone to please hug me and tell me I did a good job. 

Here’s Teddy being disappointed in me.

I’m reading Anne Bogel (of Modern Mrs. Darcy)’s book Reading People. It’s all about personality quizzes and gaining insight into ourselves and I’m eating it up and yes children, you’re all taking a bunch of quizzes when I’m done!!! We’re no longer going by our Hogwarts houses!!!

For my full thoughts on the book, sign up for my newsletter which goes out first thing next Monday morning. 

That’s all from me! How was your week? Write it down then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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Good Friday Takes

Yes, I redesigned the blog again. I was looking at some other “author” websites and realized I wanted something a bit more “I’m a real author.” and less “I blog in my bathrobe with a cup of cold coffee when I should be educating my kids.” Getting a professional headshot is still on the to-do list, so please enjoy Kelly’s headshot circa 2017.

My popular Facebook post from last Sunday in case you missed it:

And if you missed my post on Monday, don’t forget to watch Byron, Byron’s friend Leo, Fulton, and Teddy’s submission in the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. Pretty sure they’re not going to take best picture, but if we spread enough awareness, maybe there’ll be a prize in it for them after all! Too bad there’s not a prize for best looking guy in a top hat.

Monday we assembled a spice cross from Dumb Ox Publications. I learned the difference between a spice and an herb (herbs come from the leafy part of the plant and can be used fresh or dried, while spices come from seeds, bark, etc. and are always dried), so I’m counting that as a school day and taking another day off at the end of the year.

I spoke with a marketing guru from my publisher on Tuesday about planning for my book’s release this fall. I told him we needed to talk ASAP because I would need lots of time to do whatever was demanded of me. Surprisingly enough, flying me all over the country to promote my book is NOT part of my publisher’s job. Humpf. I’m still looking for an excuse to travel so hit me up with your favorite Catholic or independent bookstores. I already have my heart set on creating a cool tour poster and t-shirt and meeting all my fans like I’m a member of Fleetwood Mac or something.

Like this, but for a Catholic mommy blogger, so minus the sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

I got my first COVID shot on Wednesday. I’m eligible because I have some underlying health issues, not because I’m a caregiver to two medically fragile kids. (I’m clarifying that because a lot of people I know assumed parents like Tony and I were in the top tier of eligible people, but that’s not the case in most states.) No one else in our house is eligible yet, but hopefully soon. I wrote a post about what it’s been like for special needs families in quarantine for Accepting the Gift. It was a follow up to a post I wrote last April when many people thought things would be returning to normal with the approaching warm weather. I solicited answers from special needs parents via Facebook and Instagram and shared them in my post. If you’re a special needs parent who’d like to share their experiences, please leave a comment on the original post.

We dyed eggs yesterday. I HATE the mess of dying eggs but since I want my kids to have happy memories of dying eggs, every year I turn our dining room into a disaster and try not to yell too much. This year I invested in some egg wraps which I’d seen mentioned across the Catholic blogosphere. I put a few on some wooden eggs I spray painted gold, while some more went on the hardboiled eggs. I don’t really decorate for Easter, but I liked the religious themed wraps and those based on traditional pysanky designs (which I have yet to attempt because it combines all the mess of regular egg dying with hot wax).

In 2019, I did a series of art posts on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Each contained several paintings depicting the day’s events, and Sunday’s post also contained St. John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily, which I love to read every year. If you want some great art to meditate on during the next few days, clickety click.

Also- this Easter makes 20 years since I joined the Roman Catholic Church. WOOT! You can read about my conversion story HERE and a few years back I did a post sharing other well known Catholic bloggers’ conversion stories.

Not much else to report. My spring break so far has been taken up with crafts, cleaning, and taking Byron to 2,394,129 appointments for his elbow, which is doing much better but still requires more care and maintenance than an orchid.

Sending prayers and wishes to you all for a Happy Easter this weekend. Link up your posts below, and remember to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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Special Needs Families in Quarantine: One Year Later

As many states open up and do away with mask mandates, special needs families are trying to find a safe way to get back to normal. Struggling with a lack of in-person therapies and services, many families have seen their children reject or not benefit from the online options offered. The isolation of quarantine has affected the mental health of the general population, but special needs families are contending with the regression of behaviors and skills in their children due to a change in routine and lack of services, plus the lack of outside help and respite.

While some families are ready to place their children back in school or in out patient therapy, parents of medically fragile children must still consider the risk of COVID, and the inconsistent precautions taken from location to location. Regulations put in place to stop the spread of COVID have made routine and emergency medical visits even more complicated and stressful, and for children who needed to undergo surgery in the last year, families have struggled with keeping one parent bedside, while juggling the demands of home life with little or no outside assistance. Vaccines are currently only approved for those 16 or 18 and older, and in many states, unless a parent themselves is at risk or works in a specific industry they are not eligible for the vaccine simply because they are a caregiver of a special needs child, regardless of the child’s risk factors.

It has been a long year, and for many of us, the future is still uncertain. We are navigating uncharted territory, where every outing or social interaction is questioned. We will eventually come out on the other side, but it will take longer for us then our non-special needs friends, and we will be different than we were a year ago. I asked special needs parents on Facebook and Instagram how their family life has changed for better or worse, during quarantine.

Read more at Accepting the Gift.

Byron, Fulton, and Teddy’s Film Debut

Look out Hollywood! Byron, Fulton, and Teddy (and their friend Leo) have made a film for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge (EDFC). I’m not saying it’s an Oscar contender, but don’t be surprised if it becomes the first in a long line of blockbuster classics. ….but maybe I’m biased.

Last year we first learned about the EDFC right before quarantine started. They postponed the challenge, and unfortunately, we missed the announcement when it was rescheduled to August 2020. This year, the boys didn’t want to miss out. Thankfully, Byron and Leo have the patience of saints and dealt with the loud, creative demands (or “enthusiasm”) of Teddy with grace. They spent a rushed couple days trying to film and edit their sci-fi thriller and the result is hilarious…although not always intentionally.

There are five prizes being awarded: best film, best director, best editor, best actor, and best awareness campaign. I’m not so sure how we’ll fair in those first four categories, but I’m telling everyone we know to like, comment, and share ‘The UFO’ so we have a shot at winning the awareness campaign award. We have between now and Monday, April 5th to try to garner the most online support.

So visit the film on YouTube and Facebook and give the guys some love! (Just be sure to comment and like on the original post. I think there’s where they’re getting their “official” count from. Thank you!)