Seven Quick Takes Friday

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#1. A first word. Well…let’s call it a proto-word. For a chromosomally-gifted 2 3/4-year-old, that is a big deal! We were reading Jeanne Cotter’s Child of the Moon. For weeks, I’ve been trying to get her say “mmm” while pointing to the moon. She’s a very stubborn little lady; she knows exactly what I want, but she likes to stare at me and see how long she can play it out before I give up. But that night, she was feeling lovey, and when I pointed to the moon and touched her lips, she said, “Mmm.” And on the next page. “Julianna, what is that? Is that moon? Say ‘mmm.’” And she said: “Mmm!”

#2. It’s a whole lot harder than I thought. My book with Liguori, which is now going by the title Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family, will offer Jesse Tree scriptures simplified for preschoolers and elementary schoolers. I’ve spent two weeks trying to accomplish this seemingly simple task, which has turned out to be ridiculously frustrating! Being a mother, I want them to be short and accessible enough for kids to follow. Being a liturgist, I would like to avoid dumbing them down. For some strange reason, those two don’t mix well. Can you imagine? 😉

#3. Mr. Bug Loves Bugs. When Alex was a baby, we named him “Mr. Bug.” (Long story.) These days, he’s growing into his abandoned nickname quite nicely. Blissfully ignorant of time and distance, every Asiatic ladybug he sees is the same one he befriended three weeks ago. “Look, there’s my friend again! I told you she was hiding in Julianna’s room!” He lets them crawl on him; he talks to them; he coos at them. Christian and I try to hide our revulsion and encourage him to be a little boy. And this week, we’ve added a russet-and-black caterpillar to the menagerie. It eats lettuce. Christian and I are trying, without success, to convince him to release it into the wild. I don’t want to think about his reaction when the poor thing’s life span runs its course!

#4. Monday harvest. It’s a late harvest this year, hampered by rain, rain, and more rain. With the return of the sun this week, my parents are tearing through corn and bean fields as fast as equipment will allow. On Monday, the kids and I went to the farm. I told Mom and Dad not to do anything to accommodate us; we would work around them. So we went straight out to the field without stopping by home; we brought our own lunch and ate on a blanket beside the road; and Alex rode with Grandpa while I sat in the car with napping kids, watching my mom ferry the grain cart from the field to the truck parked near the highway. That still wasn’t fast enough for my dad. Before Mom even got the tractor back the field, much less across it to where Dad was working, he had the auger extended on the combine—a not-so-subtle hint to Mom to come over and let him unload on the move. I can say from experience that this is much harder than it looks. My hat is off to all those who manage it.

#5. On Tuesday, we went to the world’s largest Burger King Play Place. Last winter I took the kids every week or two, but we quit going shortly before Nicholas was born. Naturally, I didn’t go up while I was pregnant, so when I took Julianna up in the matrix this week, it was my first time, too. All I can say is, I understand now why the boys came down drenched in sweat!

#6. Wednesday was a solo bike ride on the Katy Trail. Two weeks ago, when the colors were peaking, I had neither child care nor good weather. But in this silence, devoid of rustling and falling leaves, there is an altogether different kind of peace. Now the cedars come into their own; now the half dozen crickets that remain in the swamp of Diana Bend play a lullaby instead of a grand chorus. Now I hear the purity of the wind, unobstructed by leaves and grasses. Now the old telegraph poles reappear from the mounds of twiggy ivy that overtake sapling and monolith and towering limestone bluff. And from the shelter of my cave thirty feet above the trail, I can rest, and that is what is most important.

#7. And this, our fall craft project. I just couldn’t stand the thought of letting all that beauty fade, so we saved the leaves and put them on display:

Yes, honey, I finally got them off the kitchen counter!