7 Quick Takes about a special vintage dress, a hiphop wedding, and that moment when all your cards are declined at Wal Mart

— 1 —

I’m back! I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’ve been savoring my real life. I spend my mornings gazing out the window, prayerfully watching the morning sun filter through the clouds as I sip my coffee. In the afternoons, I bake healthful goodies with the kids before we do crafts related to the Scriptures we heard at daily Mass.

Ha, ha. I’m kidding, of course.

The reality is that having my book release and the Edel Gathering so close together made my to-do list snowball. Then I took a 10-day vacation with three of the youngest kids, and the snowball flew off a cliff and into a seething pit of lava. That analogy made no sense. But the point is that I’ve had to cut out every non-essential thing (and a few kind-of-essential things) to get back on top of my life enough so that I can begin the homeschool year with the annual delusions about how everything is going to run like a well-oiled machine this semester.

(Also, I’ve been working on a big new project and will have an announcement sometime in the next few weeks.)

— 2 —


The North Carolina trip was great. When I say “it was great,” I am, of course, glossing over all the moments when I shook my fist at the heavens and solemnly announced that I would never, ever travel with a baby again. What I mean by that statement is that it did not actually kill me, and it was great to see my family.

We started by attending my cousin Melissa’s wedding in Raleigh, then drove four hours with my aunt and uncle to their mountain home in Black Mountain, stayed there for the week, then returned to Raleigh for my cousin Jason’s wedding the next weekend.

During the trip to the mountains, my aunt and I happened to find one of my late grandmother’s dresses from the 1950s. (For those of you who read Something Other than God, this is the grandmother I talk about in the book.) It was absolutely gorgeous, made with a quality that you can rarely find these days. I tried it on on a lark. To my delight (and very much to my surprise), it fit perfectly!

I ended up wearing it to my cousin Jason’s wedding.


When my cousin saw me, we both started crying. It was so meaningful to have our deceased grandmother represented that way for his wedding.

— 3 —

IMPORTANT TRAVEL LESSON #1: Sometimes when you travel, your bank will allow you to make a few charges at your destination before their fraud detectors go off.

IMPORTANT TRAVEL LESSON #2: When their fraud detectors go off, they will freeze all the debit cards that you hold at that institution.

IMPORTANT TRAVEL LESSON #3: If you have a credit card that you keep around “in case of emergency,” and you don’t take it with you when you travel, you might end up standing in a checkout lane at Wal Mart and grinding your teeth in anger is you picture it safely tucked away in your office drawer at home.

IMPORTANT TRAVEL LESSON #4: When you have asked your aunt to take you to Wal Mart, and you pack the cart full of goodies, groceries, and supplies for her house as a way to thank her for letting you stay there, it is awkward when you have to ask her to pay.

IMPORTANT TRAVEL LESSON #5: When you’re at Wal Mart and you try and re-try every card in your wallet and they are all inexplicably declined, a long line will pile up behind you. When you turn to the crowd and announce, “I have no idea what’s going on! It must be because I’m from out of town!” they’ll all give you a look like, Mmmm-hmm. Heard that one before.

Ask me how I know this.

— 4 —

My cousin whose wedding I mentioned in #2 is a hip-hop DJ, and his reception was everything you’d imagine it could be:

The groomsmen wore black suits with Chuck Taylors. There was breakdancing. There were breakdancing dance battles. There were old-school boom boxes filled with flowers. There was an amazing DJ who served up all the great beats. And, in a move that seemed too wonderful to be true, there were forties of Old English served in brown paper bags.



Pouring out a little OE for your fallen homies:
the Communion of Saints in action

— 5 —

The best moment of the reception? When a young man in a wheelchair took the floor in the middle of the dance battle, and showed everyone how it’s done.


— 6 —

7qt271-critical-mass-don-bishopSince so many of you had wonderfully kind things to say about my dad’s novel, The Last Mission, which is based on his experience has a Special Forces HALO and demolitions instructor during the Vietnam era, I wanted you to know that he’s put out a sequel! It’s called Critical Mass, and it’s just as fast-paced and full of fascinating, true-to-life details as the last one. If you like Tom Clancy-type books, I think you’ll love these.

— 7 —

Trying to avoid getting overcommitted this Fall? Have an ominous feeling that you’re going to fail (again)? Welcome to my world, kindred spirit. Maybe this advice will help us.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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  1. says

    Love that dress. And envious of not being at that wedding both from description and pictures. And I think you may have to make a second home in Raleigh after this many trips in one year ;). I grew up there and turned out all right.

  2. says

    My 7 quick comments on each of your 7 Quick Takes:
    1. So glad you are “back” and so glad you didn’t make crafts all day everyday with your kids to make us mommas look worse 🙂
    2. That dress is beautiful on you and what a treasure!
    3. I hope no one snapped a photo with their phone of you who was standing in line behind you at Wal-Mart and plasterit on social media. Maybe they didn’t do this, unless you had some crazy outfit on, then they would have 🙂
    4 and 5. That wedding looks as fun as you say it was! Glad you had a blast!
    6. I’ll have to check out your Dad’s books.
    7. With my 5 homeschooled kids I am so NOT overcommitted in the Fall that I not only have time to do EVERY stinkin’ Pinterest project on my boards with my kids, but I also have the time to make those goodies and crafts that goes with every daily scripture reading from Mass and every Saint for the day. So there! 🙂 Ha!Ha! The reality is our Fall schedule is packed with homeschooling, soccer, gymnastics, cross country running, etc., etc., etc. 🙂 and only by God’s grace am I able to continue to do His work at home as best as I can with or without liturgical crafts 🙂

  3. Justine says

    That caption under the photo of you holding the baby in one hand and the forty in the other. GOD can’t stop laughing!!!

  4. Becky D. says

    The debit card declined at Walmart happened to me too. It’s weird that Walmart sets them off out of state. Thankfully we keep two different bank checking accounts with debit cards. We had a call for our 2nd adoption. It’s referred as a stork drop as in no notice our son was already born waiting a 1000 miles away for us to come. We spent two crazy days faxing paperwork one day driving 1000 miles with our 5 yr old and 2 days getting our baby out of NICU. I then went and did a BIG shopping trip at Walmart to stock the condo where we would be for at least a week waiting for clearance to go home. Our 5 yr old was with me and she hit her meltdown stage in the checkout it was well deserved but I was beyond frazzled. I still don’t know what made me just calmly swipe another card. Same thing too we used the other one for gas etc all the way across country before they denied it.

  5. says

    That is a gorgeous dress. I wore the same wedding dress both my mother and grandmother wore, and it was a really meaningful thing for me. We still have it preserved, just in case one of my daughers wants to wear it.

  6. says

    That dress is amazing! I’d date it mid-1940s, actually, going by the lines and details. The skirt doesn’t have the sweep of the post-New Look Dior fashions that dominated the 1950s (at least in America), and the structured shoulders and rhinestone buttons all say later war years to me.

    What a great piece of family and fashion history! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a teensy bit jealous. 🙂

  7. says

    #4 happened to me in Rome. Thankfully, my husband’s card worked. Though since it had the same number I’m not sure why? It’s terrible,isn’t it. And I told them we’d be away. Who knows the ways of banks?

  8. says

    I LOVE your grandmother’s dress! It’s so beautiful and fits you like it was made for you.

    I too haven’t been blogging much this summer, though for much lesser reasons. IT was nice to take the break though, even if I hadn’t actually intended on it. Glad you had a good time in North Carolina!

  9. says

    The Dress!!! I know everyone keeps saying it, but wow, such a treasure. And I was flying with my 15-month-old at the same time you were. I was thinking of you and how you had 2 others in tow!

  10. Tori says

    Ugh, I hate the Walmart card machines. Half the time they don’t read my card right anyway. Just Walmart, I don’t have this problem with any other store. Get with it, Walmart!

  11. Lynne says

    Jennifer, I’ve missed you! I’ve been noticing in a vague way that you weren’t coming to my inbox. Just today I actually wondered if bloggers ever secretly remove readers from their mailing list. And then there you were! You have such a gift of phrasing things, so that I go away laughing every time. LOVE the dress, LOVE the wedding description, LOVE everything about you that reminds me that I’m normal and life is funny.

  12. says

    You look absolutely stone cold amazing in that dress…and omg brown bagged 40s at the reception?! I want to go back in time and make better choices for our wedding!

  13. says

    I actually believed that first paragraph until you burst the bubble. I think that I read too many ‘perfect mother’ ( cough) blogs 🙂

  14. Lurker says

    Big new project? Announcement? Are you pregnant? You must be pregnant. Jen’s pregnant you guys!

  15. says

    1. I’m glad your trip was nice. I lived in the Raleigh/Durham area (okay, I lived in DURHAM) for five years just before I got married, and we loved it there (even though our house got shot up). Yay North Carolina.

    2. I love that dress on you. How amazing.

    3. I’m excited that your dad has another book coming out! I really liked his first one, so I’ll have to check this one out too.

    4. That wedding reception sounds awesome! 40s of OE. . . Reminds me of my adolescence in Detroit 🙂 Sadly, I’m not even kidding!!

  16. says

    Yay for you being back! Praying for your new year with schooling the kiddos! The wedding looked like so much fun and you looked gorgeous in that dress. I imagine that would have been so special to have that representation! And, another yay for announcements! Can’t wait!

  17. says

    That is a gorgeous dress! And the fact that it waas your grandmother’s mkes it even more special. Wow, what a great find and it looks like that wedding was so much fun! The guy in the wheelchair looked like he was such a sport. Congratulations on your book release! That’s pretty amazing!

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