7 Quick Takes Friday (Bologna, Legos, a saint for the year, horses, trains, and screen time)

— 1 —
How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? When I worked for the daily newspaper in Lebanon, Pa., the town lowered a giant Lebanon bologna in the center of town. I never actually witnessed it myself, but I remember thinking it would be fun to pick a different town every New Year’s and watch a different object go up or down.
This year I ran across this video, mentioning 38 items dropped to celebrate the New Year.
So now I know, and I don’t need to hit 38 towns in 38 years—which would be quite a task, especially since I’d have to be able to stay up until midnight.
— 2 —
Who designates the age range to put on a Lego set? The “9-12” range on Leo’s new Star Wars tie fighter set is humiliating to those of us who find those Lego instruction booklets mystifying.
Leo, on the other hand, sat down with the set he got for Christmas and pieced it together himself, only asking for help a few times to press specific pieces together. And I have a feeling he did that just to make me feel included.
A day or two after the tie fighter was built, Daniel knocked part of it off.
“Be careful!” I said. “That took your brother three days to build!”
Leo was quick to correct me.
“No, Mama,” he said. “It only took me two days.”
Well, let’s just say it would take me more than three days to put back together.
— 3 —
Have you made a New Year’s resolution? I am trying to have a better sense of perspective, considering what really matters, what matters a little, and what doesn’t matter at all. I’ll let you know how it goes.
The closest I have come to doing anything different for the New Year was selecting a patron saint for the year through the Saint’s Name Generator Jen is offering on her blog. I was surprised and happy to be matched with Louis IX, who is patron of parenthood and hairdressers, among other things. I am looking forward to learning more about him this year.
I had actually just taken this photo of a painting of him in the back of Baltimore’s Basilica at the end of November, right after the memorial Mass for our nephew, Georgie.
I apologize for not knowing the name of the artist. I’ll have to check next time I’m there and let you know next week, unless one of my readers beats me to it.
— 4 —

During a visit to the Maryland Science Center the other day, Daniel and I came across a computer in the dinosaur section. He looked at the screen and said, “Look! It’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People!”
I’m wondering whether he thought they looked like leprechauns or the banshee. At the time I was working so hard on keeping a straight face that I didn’t ask.
— 5 —

The other day I told the boys they were getting too much “screen time.” It was only later that night that Leo came to me and said, “But Mama, what is a screen?”
We had a long talk about screens and ran through the house finding them. We talked about screens in the windows and screens in the doors and screens on iPads and on TVs and on computers.
It took me much longer to explain screen time than it takes me to lose a game of Temple Run. But now we’re all on the same page—or screen.
— 6 —
Have I mentioned that John and his father love trains? I’m not sure whether our sons love them quite as much as their father and paternal grandfather, but they certainly enjoy them together, especially at Christmas.
I am finding that this year the boys are old enough to understand instructions about not spilling the coal or waiting to press that button or learning how to run the train in reverse. They had a great time running the trains with Baba and Poppy this week.
I hope they will always find something to enjoy together.
— 7 —
Last week the boys and I were treated to a trip to Merryland Farm in Hydes, Md., to meet a horse who is partially owned by friends of ours. John had planned to join us, but he was feeling under the weather. I was a little concerned about taking the boys without John’s help. I was imagining that we might have this kind of a moment:
The boys and I couldn’t wait to go see the horses. And it was a sunny, crisp winter day—just perfect for our outing with our good friend. So off we went.
It turned out to be an absolutely wonderful day. The boys loved the horses. They loved the stables. They loved cheering for the horse ridden by the jockey with the red cap, no matter which horse he was riding.
The boys even found the courage to pet the sweetest lab you can imagine. I don’t believe either of them had touched a dog before, so it was great to see.
We brought Daniel’s binoculars, a Christmas gift from us, and that gave the brothers something to take turns with as we watched the horses run. In fact, they used the binoculars everywhere.
There were a few moments when I was afraid we weren’t showing the greatest decorum—such as when it occurred to the boys that they could yell “Giddy-up” at the horses—but overall they were the enthusiastic 4-year-old and 6-year-old boys you might imagine.
The next morning Daniel said, “Mama, can we go to the horse farm again today?” So we may have a horse fan on our hands—and maybe even two.
It was only after we got home that I realized that when we celebrate Chinese New Year in a few weeks, we’ll begin the Year of the Horse. Our boys will be primed for the celebration.
I hope your new year is off to a great beginning!
Read more quick takes at Jen’s Conversion Diary.

Catholic Review

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