School days, backup cameras, fun homework, and our brush with Dog Man fame (7 Quick Takes)


As I was walking our boys toward the school entrance yesterday morning, Leo ran on ahead to get inside. Daniel stayed back with me, but when we were still a distance from the school, he said, “Can you walk back to the car now?”

So I let him go on ahead without me and kept an eye on him as I walked slowly the other way. He turned and waved to me right before he went inside.

He’s growing up, but he’s still my little boy.


When we bought our minivan, I couldn’t figure out what the deal was with these backup cameras. That was a little more than a year ago. This week when it stopped working—along with the radio—I could barely remember how to drive without it.

How do I adjust so quickly to new technology? And why haven’t I spent a day on YouTube figuring out how to fix a fuse in our van?

The truth is that as much as I miss the backup camera, what I really miss is the radio—even though I’ve mostly been listening to the same CD of Bible camp songs since mid-June.


While I was working the catapult station at our parish’s faith formation celebration last Sunday, Leo went to a food sculpture table and built a robot named Robbie.

I took pictures of it before we left since clearly Robbie wasn’t going to survive the ride home. But his creator was determined. He made sure I held Robbie carefully on my lap, and he asked us to drive slowly the whole way home.

We didn’t drive that slowly, but Robbie made it home, and he’s still with us almost a week later.

So…now what? Will he still be standing on my kitchen table at Thanksgiving?


I usually dislike homework, but I do love that our fourth grader has to read a book of his choice for 20 minutes every night. And our second grader gets a list of writing prompts and picks three to write each week. This week he wrote about friendship. It’s so beautiful to me to view friendship through the eyes of a child.

My favorite assignment, though, was when Daniel could fill a paper bag with up to five items to share with the class to describe himself. He chose a caboose, a football ticket, a ride ticket from Funland at Rehoboth Beach, and a baseball.


After Mass last week our priest blessed backpack tags for the children. He prayed for them to make friends and be good friends to others. He prayed for them to learn and to be focused when they are distracted and for a wonderful school year. I was overcome with the beauty of it and how appropriate the prayers were for the beginning of our school year, which—I have to say—seems to be going really well.

I was very worried about switching schools. I was worried for our boys, of course, but I also knew it would be a transition for our whole family. And it has been. But there have been some unexpected wonderful discoveries about this change that I never saw coming.


This week I shared a photo of our boys reading the new Dog Man book on Instagram, and the author, Dav Pilkey, clicked like. The boys were really excited that a famous author had seen them reading his book. If you haven’t read the Dog Man books, this might not be as amazing to you. But I am a Dog Man reader, and the books are incredibly entertaining. I also didn’t know until recently that Dav Pilkey has ADHD and dyslexia and speaks about that experience.


What are your plans for the weekend? We’ll be on the soccer field for most of Saturday, but both our boys are playing on the same field, so it’s like a Buettner Boy Double Header. I’ll take it.

Bring on the sunshine and what we hope will be perfect fall weather for a game!

And maybe, just maybe, we can squeeze in another model rocket launch?

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum, and enjoy a beautiful weekend!

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.