A staycation, surprise wedding invitation, board games, renting Legos, and a magnificent gift (7 Quick Takes Friday)


I’m taking a week off of work to enjoy some time at home with Leo and Daniel. We’ll probably go on some day trips and do some local exploring, but mainly I want to sit on the deck and read while they play in the yard.

I want to grocery shop when no one else is shopping and then have more than 30 minutes to cook dinner.

Maybe we’ll even do some baking.

Or maybe we’ll just run around throwing water balloons at one another. It’s our week to spend however we’d like. John couldn’t take the time off of work, but he will hear all about the excitement every evening.

Maybe we’ll even luck out and have an ice cream truck stop by again while we’re home. The boys were so excited when one came down our very own street the other night.

I can’t wait to see what fun we have this week.

And yes, we will be having fun and not doing formal education because even an expert I interviewed last week at work said so.


Of course, maybe instead of a staycation I should be considering retirement. When I was picking up a few groceries earlier this week, the cashier said, “Are you a senior?”

It took me a moment to realize she was offering me a senior citizen discount.

Now, I will happily accept any discount, but I’m not going to lie. I couldn’t think of any way to answer her question honestly and still save money. So I just said, “No,” and then paid full price.

It’s not the first time it has happened to me in that store, and it makes me feel rather old.


I took Daniel to get his hair cut, and our social 4-year-old who loves everyone took a liking to the lady who cut his hair.

After we paid at the cash register, we turned toward the door, and he called out to her, “Bye, Chicken Cheese Head!”

I could have tried to explain to her that he uses silly nicknames as terms of endearment.

I could have pretended it was a line from a TV show.

I could have handed him his orange flute and he could have given a shrill performance as we marched dramatically out of the shop.

But I decided there was no way to improve our exit. We just walked–maybe a little faster than necessary–toward the door.

Then Daniel played his flute in the car.


John and I are going to a wedding tomorrow! It’s especially fun because my sister is a bridesmaid in the wedding, and the bride called to invite us a couple weeks ago when she realized they had a couple extra seats.

I don’t care whether we’re on the Z list for invitees. I’m so excited to go! The bride and groom–and the bride’s mom–stopped by to deliver the invitation to our house in person. It was such fun to see them just a few days before the wedding.

A whole evening out! Imagine!

And there’s nothing like going to a wedding where you have absolutely no responsibility other than to enjoy yourself and talk to interesting people. (Not that family weddings aren’t an absolute joy, dear siblings who might be reading this. But you have to admit there’s a pleasure in just attending and not being the going-away-outfit-picker-upper or the floral arranger or a vocalist or even a limo driver, fun as that was. But I digress.)

When we told the boys we were going, Daniel said, “But I LOVE weddings!” And he does.

For our sons every wedding is like Aunt Treasa and Uncle George’s wedding. You should see the boys’ stuffed animals reenacting this dance:

Leo’s stuffed Cat in the Hat is almost as graceful as Uncle George.


Every once in a while John pulls out one of his favorite board games from his childhood, Which Witch. Because it’s not always out, it’s really special when we get to play it.

At 6 ½, Leo is getting even more competitive in his game playing, which will work just fine in this family. John and I used to play board games even before we became parents, so it’s fun that Leo and Daniel are starting to enjoy them.

I’d try to explain the rules of this game to you, but Leo was trying so hard to win that he was flipping cards over for me, and I got a bit lost. I do know that sometimes you get to drop a metal ball down the chimney and we all hold our breath to see where it will fall.

Very exciting.

What’s your favorite board game? Mine is Scrabble, but we’ll have to wait on that one if we’re going to require that words be real words.


Have I mentioned how much I love Pley? It used to be called Pleygo, and it’s the Lego equivalent of Netflix. You pay a monthly fee, fill up your wish list, and Lego sets come to your house as fast as you can do them and send them back.

On Wednesday night Leo received a Ghost Train set, and yesterday he took it to Grandma’s house to build the train.

Photo by Grandpa

It’s awesome. It’s creepy and fun. It glows in the dark. And it runs on the Lego train tracks we just happen to own.

But the best thing about it? After he plays with it for a couple days, I’ll convince him to send it back and wait for the next set. And I will never see the Ghost Train again. Not that I don’t love the Ghost Train. It’s wonderful. But imagine that, sending back toys when you’re finished playing with them.

Maybe we should start a whole toy exchange. Would you like an orange plastic flute?


John’s parents came to visit us last weekend, and they brought me a present. I was so surprised because usually the gifts are for the children.

Then I saw it.

Isn’t it wonderful? My theory has always been that people should give each other lovely items such as paper plates, which you know will be used and then gone without a trace. But this! A roll of paper towels dressed as a lady, containing all useful items. It even has a poem.

Think of the possibilities! You could make her into a bride. You could also shape a paper towel roll like something else–a rocket ship perhaps or a present or a big crayon for a teacher.

Oddly I am only finding one like her on Pinterest. I was sure this genre would have taken off.

Find more quick takes and Jen’s Conversion Diary.

And did you hear Jen is coming to Washington, D.C., in September? Have you read her book yet? 

Catholic Review

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