7 Quick Takes



I saw something this week I still can hardly believe happened. There are a number of homeless men begging at various intersections around the mall right now, and on the way home from picking Alex up from piano lessons, I gave a dollar to one of them. We were a good distance back from the light, and the man had to walk to get to us. He said the standard “God bless you, ma’am,” and headed back to his spot. As Alex and I started talking about the whole what-is-the-appropriate-response-to-the-homeless issue, I noticed the woman in the car in front of us giving me a hateful look in her rearview mirror. Weird, I thought, but whatever. Then the light changed, and as she pulled forward past the homeless man, I saw a peach pit fly out of her window and smack into the curb below him, spattering juice and nastiness.

Around the corner and up a long block, at the other end of the mall stood another man begging. The light was green, and as she sailed past him, I didn’t see her action, only him turning to shout after her with a raised fist. Maybe she flipped him off, I don’t know. I just couldn’t believe anyone would react that way. It was unsettling, especially after the reflections on poverty I’d shared that very morning.


After that kind of a start, it feels abrupt to transition to anything else. So I’ll just do it, I guess. We’ve entered formal discussions with the Catholic school about Julianna–had a meeting with the principal yesterday to begin discerning whether it’s possible to move her over from the public school next year. I love Julianna’s school and teachers and staff, but this business of multiple calendars, parent organizations, fundraisers and so on is brutal. It spreads me too thin. I’m basically an uninvolved parent at both schools. We have to figure out many things: 1–can a teacher and classmates substitute for a para, because she won’t have one at Catholic school. 2–what kind of therapy services will the public schools will still provide her if she’s not on site, and is it enough? 3–what sort of schedule will it follow, and will that be just as brutal on me, since I’ll be responsible for transporting her?


Anyway, one of the things the speech  therapist has been working on with her is final consonants. The other day she called, “Bah-ee, moh-ka!” I turned, puzzled, because that wasn’t something I’d heard out of her before. Mommy, mocha? She doesn’t even know what mocha is, does she? She was holding her glass up. Oh, milk!


Speaking of speech-related development, Michael is a stubborn cuss. He won’t sign. Stinker.


Alex has been driving us crazy. In the past few weeks, he’s forgotten to take his homework to school, forgotten to bring his homework home, lost a library book, lost a COAT…and it routinely takes him half an hour to get from his room into the shower, and forty-five minutes (no, Dad, I am NOT exaggerating) to sweep the floor under the table after dinner. He’s off in some la-la land of imagination all the time, which is incredibly endearing, except when it increases my workload. The library book was simply the last straw. I took away his entertainment privileges for two weeks and told him he’s going to be doing a LOT of chores to pay for the book. Because you see, he had to go pull money from the bank to pay for the coat, and we can’t keep raiding his savings forever.


Weight loss has stopped being easy. I seem to have hit my first plateau. I’ve been under calorie budget for four days, sometimes significantly so, and yet the weight is stubbornly not changing. I dropped a nursing and took away some of the calories I’d added in, but it hasn’t helped. Neither did going to Jazzercise two days in a row. I’m not sure how to proceed. :/


This is Our ParishA few weeks ago, I stumbled across this book, which I acquired secondhand sometime in my childhood, and gave it to Alex, who wrinkled his nose and eyed it suspiciously. But I told him I’d loved the stories when I was a kid, and asked him to read a few pages and give it a try. Honestly, I thought he wouldn’t bite, but he humored me and then began gobbling up stories. These stories are set in a clearly pre-V2 time frame, but when I was a kid, the difference in their clothing and what the priests and sisters wore didn’t even register. I mean, I noticed, but it didn’t occur to me that there was anything particularly weird about it. Kids accept so much more than adults, who try to make an issue of EV.ER.Y.THING.

Bonus: St. Lucy buns, anyone? (Yesterday’s Advent activity.)

Santa, St. Lucy 028

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday

20 thoughts on “7 Quick Takes

  1. Your story about the homeless man is so sad. I always teach my boys that everyone has a story, and sometimes giving means doing so in good faith. Are we cheated sometimes? Maybe, but does that matter?

    And about dieting … ick. Anyway, sometimes when you go too low with the calories your body’s metabolism slows down as a self defense mechanism. Up your calories with low fat foods — keep the fire stoked, if you will — and see if that helps.

  2. I’m no scientist, but I second the thought that your body can go into a “starvation mode” of preserving calories when it doesn’t have enough. I’d actually suggest good fats, like nuts, avocados, or fish, to up your calorie intake and increase your energy in a healthy way.

    I’ll say a prayer for the homeless in your town, for the woman you encountered, and for all of the school decisions for your kids!

    By the way, Kathleen, I just read your page on a holistic, critical approach to literature as a Christian–as a former English major and the wife of an English teacher, I wanted to tell you how much your views align with ours. Way to go with being not afraid, yet still framing everything with virtue and truth =)

  3. #6, Weight, body image, is a huge struggle for me. The other day I threw away my scale:)
    It could be as simple as too much salt. It could be bread too. I try to focus on being healthy in terms of my blood test #s.

  4. The story of the woman in the car and the two begging men is extremely sad, but not surprising. I have “This is Our Parish,” (and This is Our Family etc) because we used these books in homeschooling. My boys, even eight or so years ago, could not get into the stories and the old-fashioned illustrations. I would have to sit with them and read together. However, I thoroughly enjoyed them and they reminded me of the books I used growing up.

  5. Have to laugh at #4, the speech therapist keeps trying to get him to verbalize ‘thank you’ and he just keeps signing and then looking at her like ‘done, now what’.

    Hope Alex’s head comes out of the clouds soon for you.

  6. Ann

    Re #6: a few visits with a good nutritionist or dietician can be life changing, and well worth the cost. Mine helped me lose 116 pounds without ever counting a calorie, and friends I’ve sent to her are having remarkable success as well.

  7. Have you tried sitting on an exercise ball while working at the computer or doing other sit-down activities? I started doing it more to improve muscle tone than to lose weight, but it is supposed to burn a few calories too. I did notice the caloric drain when I was pregnant this past spring (I miscarried at 7 weeks) and needed every calorie–sitting on the ball made me crazy-hungry faster than sitting in a chair! Anyway, it’s particularly good for those “core muscles” in the upper abdomen that get all stretched-out by pregnancy; if your tummy is more toned, you may feel and look slimmer even if your weight is the same.

    I once saw a man at a bus stop react to a homeless man politely asking him for change by throwing a handful of coins into the street and sneering, “Work for it!” Jerk. I can understand deciding not to give money to someone if you’re skeptical about their genuine need, but there’s no need to be rude! I’ll pray for the peach-pit woman, for healing of whatever injury makes her so hostile to those who ask for help.

    • You know, I have an exercise ball. I think I would enjoy that. I have to consider carefully, however, before pulling that sucker out of the closet and putting it on the first floor, with all the electronics and the Christmas tree. There are so many things that could happen with a scheme like that, with an EXTREMELY active, mischievous baby in the house….

  8. #1 is really sad. I wonder what people tell themselves to make it OK to treat anyone like that.
    Alex – i had 2 boys. They go through that from time to time. How old is he? 12 is really a fun age. 🙂
    Those St Lucy buns look good!

  9. Therese Sander

    Kate, I second Stephanie’s suggestion. Try the nuts, avocado, and fish. And yes, GIVE UP THE BREAD!! I go up every time I spluge on bread.


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