A road trip, spiders, childhood heroes, and what Bergers cookies have to do with Basilica trivia


It’s 7 Quick Takes Friday, and the boys and I are off on a road trip!

One of my favorite nieces is turning 7, and we are off to her birthday party. We never miss it.


First, she and I are both third children. And, based on my research, third children love their birthdays and expect everyone else to love them too.

Second, we only see “the cousins” every few months because they live about four hours away, and this birthday hits at a good time for a visit. John has some projects to do, so we’re leaving him home, but we will have a fantastic reunion when we get back.

Third, what better way to let the boys snack their way through four states? We have a box of Cheez-its, some cookies, fruit snacks, and a few juice boxes. We are unstoppable! (At least we hope we are.)


Has anyone invented a juice box that is spill-proof?

No matter which kind we buy, whether it’s a box or a bag, name brand or generic, whether it has a thin straw or a thick one, we still manage to spill the juice all over the place. And by “we,” I don’t mean just the children. Some of them I can’t even figure out.

There’s either a real opportunity for someone to make a better product in this market, or I’m completely inept.


Yesterday as we were getting ready to head out the door, Leo announced, “I’m Jesus!” He stretched out his arms like Jesus on the cross. I wasn’t surprised because they are learning the Stations of the Cross at school.

Daniel lit up and said, “OK, I’m Matt Bown!” And he started pretending to throw a train switch.

We all have our heroes.

What’s that? You don’t know who Matt Bown is? Well, then you haven’t watched Extreme Trains, a show that doesn’t seem to have lasted long except on the DVD we own. Matt Bown is the host and he rides trains and talks about how cool they are.

Matt Bown on our TV

Daniel thinks he is amazing. He is always telling me it’s “edumacational,” and that may be. But sometimes I think I’d like something with a bit less edumacation and a bit more of a story.

“Would you like to go ride that train?” I asked him one day.

“Yes,” he said. “I want to see Matt Bown!”

“Well, he might not be on that train the day we go.”

“Mama!” he said. “Matt Bown is not dead!”

Well, I’m glad to hear that. But I still can’t promise he’ll be available to go riding with a 4-year-old train fan.


One of the boys had a question about spiders the other day, and instead of reaching for the iPad, we went to the World Book encyclopedia.

It was such fun to see the boys reading about spiders and looking at the pictures.

Afterward, they both became venomous spiders and crawled around the house. There’s just something about how you can interact with an encyclopedia.


During the Gospel at Mass last weekend, I was struck by the story of the woman at the well. That one line, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep” has stayed with me all week.

How often do I have doubts and wonder how something can happen, forgetting to trust that God doesn’t need a bucket to bring about a miracle? I found myself thinking of how we became parents when so many times along our journey, I thought it would never happen. But God had a different idea, and a better one.

The miracle for us last weekend was that both our sons fell asleep during the first reading and slept through Mass. It was the most peaceful Sunday Mass I’ve attended in a while. Is there anything more beautiful than a child sleeping through Mass? I felt so very blessed to have my child in my arms as I listened to the Gospel.


I love this video, which is directed toward a mother who has just learned she is expecting a child who has Down syndrome. I can’t watch it without tearing up, especially when the children’s mothers appear toward the end.


Did you see that the box of seeds President Obama gave to Pope Francis yesterday was made of wood from the Baltimore Basilica? The White House mentioned that it was one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the country, and that took me aback because I always believed the Basilica was not one of the oldest, but the oldest.

Photo by Shane at Apple Tree Studios

As it turns out, after some friendly debates today and a bit of Internet research, I learn that the Basilica was America’s first cathedral, but that there are older Catholic cathedrals in the U.S. that opened in areas that were not yet part of the United States.

My oldest sister, the one we are on our way to visit, was arguing with me a bit until I said, “I have two boxes of Bergers cookies in the car that will only be delivered to someone who acknowledges that Baltimore has the oldest cathedral in the U.S.”

Never has an argument ended so abruptly. I’d better make sure those cookies are packed.

Read more quick takes at Jen’s Conversion Diary.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.