7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 39)

June 26, 2009 | 43 comments

— 1 —

I cannot believe that our Kidsave child “Rita” arrives Thursday! I also found out that the children’s chaperone from Colombia will rotate houses while she’s here, and she’ll be staying with us first, so she’ll be coming home with us from the airport on Thursday as well. (For those of you doing the math, that will make eight people in a three-bedroom house.)

I need tips from those of you who are domestically skilled: What is a nice welcome gift I could get for both Rita and the chaperone? I’d like to get a little special something to start out their trip on a nice note — preferably not too expensive and easy to pack for their return trip. Any ideas?

— 2 —

Baby Joy is finally getting baptized tomorrow! I’m so excited. Hopefully it will not be the flaming disaster that my son’s baptism was a couple years ago. One the plus side, I’m still holding out hope of America’s Funniest Home Videos riches.

— 3 —

This Tuesday is the last day to vote in the Catholic New Media Awards. If you’d like to vote, click here to create an account (it takes about two seconds — they only ask for a valid email account). Then you can click here to vote. I always discover a bunch of great new blogs every time I look through the nominees list.

— 4 —

Last week I told you guys that this picture was taken on my favorite vacation ever, and asked you to guess where it is, promising I’d give the answer this week. Nobody got the right answer! And now, the moment of truth…

This picture was taken in…

Texas! A lot of people don’t realize that the Rocky Mountains extend down into Texas, Guadalupe Peak reaching 8, 750 feet (2, 667 meters). This picture was taken somewhere near Big Bend National Park.

We actually took this vacation to west Texas for our honeymoon. It was the best trip I could have imagined. It was a nine-hour drive (on open roads at high speeds) to get out there from the central part of the state, and is literally the middle of nowhere. All the towns had that eerie end-of-the-earth vibe where you feel instant camaraderie with anyone you encounter, and mixed in with the locals you’d meet people from places like Phoenix and San Francisco, passing through on cross-country trips.

Some of the towns really live up to the name “ghost towns, ” the “ghost” part coming not only from the vanished people but from that keen awareness of your own vulnerability to larger forces that you feel when you’re hours and hours away from the nearest Wal-Mart, and the only light at night comes from the stars. If anyone’s looking for a really unique trip, I highly recommend taking the same route we did, spending a couple weeks visiting places like Marfa, Lajitas the McDonald Observatory and Terlinguas. It’s an ethereal, beautiful part of the world.

— 5 —

So I found out as part of my guest post for Rachelle Gardner that it’s OK if I say who my agent is. For some reason I thought that my literary agent and I had an unspoken understanding that it would be best if I denied all association with him, hopefully saving him from comments from respected colleagues like, “That woman you represent wrote about scorpions on her blog again today. She’s quite adept with the caps lock key. You must be very proud.”

Anyway, in case anyone’s interested, I’m represented by Ted Weinstein Literary Management.

— 6 —

Speaking of my tendency to write about stinging insects, here’s a Yaya story from this weekend: Shortly after we arrived, I was on her back porch with the kids and looked up to see a thriving wasps’ nest right above my head. Under normal circumstances I would tell you that it’s important to control your phobias so as not to impart your own irrational fears to your kids. However, when I looked up to see 100 (OK, maybe eight) wasps buzzing around their nest about a foot away from my head, my reaction was something along the lines of “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! NOW! NOW! BEFORE THE WASPS ATTACK US! THEY’RE GOING TO STING US!!! AAAAH!!! IT’S SO TERRIBLE!!!!!”

I had just dragged all the kids to safety out in the yard when Yaya walked outside, holding some scissors she’d gone inside to get. I shrieked a warning at her just as she walked under the nest. She looked up, shrugged, and knocked the wasps’ nest down with the handle of the scissors. The nest fell right next to her feet, angry wasps darting all around her, and she took a moment to wipe off the scissors with her shirt before strolling off.

And you guys thought I was kidding when I said that she’s nonchalant about being stung by scorpions in bed!

— 7 —

This morning I’m excited to be grabbing coffee with “momtrepreneur, ” podcaster and Faith and Family blogger Lisa Hendey while she’s in the area for the new media celebration.

(FYI: Unless I bring my laptop and occasionally interrupt our conversation with “You mind if I blog a little bit?”, I probably won’t approve comments until I’m back at the house. And trust me, based on a couple of monitor-meltingly appalling remarks people have tried to slip in lately, y’all do NOT want me to turn off comment moderation.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Below is a Mr. Linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.

I look forward to reading your posts!

1. It Feels Like Chaos
2. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
3. DarwinCatholic
4. Catherine @ To Mark Time
5. AllHisBenefits
6. Elisa @ blissfulE
7. Venite
8. Enbrethiliel
9. NCSue
10. Laura
11. Beth @ A Mom’s Life
12. Aubrey
13. Pharmgirl @ Adventures in Pharm Land
14. Debbie
15. Sarah Reinhard (Moms as Super Heroes)
16. Laura L.
17. Nadja
18. Jen
19. Megan
20. Trena @ The Third Prayer
21. Tina @ Multiple Mom T
22. violingirl
23. Tami @ The Next Step
24. Rebecca
25. Heather
26. Sarah @This Heavenlylife
27. MamaT @ The Summa Mamas
28. Annemarie
29. Not Strictly Spiritual
30. Ingrid Airam
31. Mary
32. Hannah @ Mulberry Spot
33. Christine the Soccer Mom
34. Kristine@The Fire Within
35. Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side
36. Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker
37. Jamie
38. carrien (she laughs at the days)
39. Milehimama (Mama Says)
40. Molly
41. Jen @ The Short Years
42. Joy @ joy in the morning
43. Emily
44. Kathryn @ The Bookworm
45. Amanda @ The Mom Job
46. Charlotte @GTH
47. mom.huebert
48. Mrs. Bubbles
49. Steph @ My Country Haven
50. Elise@anything goes
51. Ann from NC
52. Lindsey
53. Amy @ From the Desk of Mom
54. Amanda
55. Aimee @ The Mother Load
56. Laughing Lioness
57. Emily G
58. CourageousGrace
59. Deedee
60. Erin @ Coming Out Catholic
61. angela michelle
62. Catherine @ Adventures in Domesticity
63. Theresa
64. Donella @ Converting to Catholicism
65. Shelley
66. Virginia Mom
67. Kathleen @the responsible one
68. MommyMonkey
69. Therese
70. Peace Garden Mama
71. JoAnna @ A Star of Hope
72. Finding Grace Within
73. Erin@Seven Little Australians Plus One
74. Nicole @ As Many As We’re Given
75. Manda @ inside dog
76. Julie Stiles Mills

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.


  1. It Feels Like Chaos

    It is so wonderful that you are hosting for KidSave! What an inspiration to the rest of us to reach out to orphans in the way God commands us to!

  2. allhisbenefits

    Hi, Jennifer! Just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your blog for the past year or more. Today I am joining in your quick takes for the first time. Blessings~

  3. blissful_e

    I'm probably out of my depth here, since I would not put "domestically skilled" on my resume. However, I have traveled internationally, and I think an arrival gift that is either consumed quickly or is small will be best appreciated.

    In the consumed quickly category, you could pick up some local food that you think most people might enjoy, or at least enjoy trying. Chocolate is easy, pick'n'mix candy, caramel popcorn, sweetened nuts, or homemade cookies are other nice ways of saying "welcome!"

    Another idea is a travel-size luxury, like a lavender sachet keychain (Etsy seller Inklore has some here http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=26998490) for the chaperone.

    For Rita, she might appreciate an I Spy game? It's small, so will be easy for her to travel with. Etsy seller thosegreathousewomen has an array of choices: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=25786891

    I think it's terrific you're opening your heart and your home in this way!

  4. Carrien

    Er, where's Mr. Linky?

    My post is here.

    A nice welcome gift might just be toiletries, shampoos, and soap. They would use it before they went home, but it might be very welcome. Soap and shampoo are expensive commodities in an orphanage, and a scented gift pack type type would be special.

    Hope the baptism goes well.

  5. NC Sue

    1. The wall-to-wall coverage about Michael Jackson reminds me once again of our voracious appetite for the sensational or glittery.

    2. Speaking of which… the governor of South Carolina… what was he THINKING? Not only does he have a family – and children – to face, but to have worked so hard and long to battle yourself to his position and then throw it away like that?

    3. Here in North Carolina, in a well-developed part of the state, we've noticed a huge increase in deer sightings, even during the day, there have been recent sightings of a bear a few miles away, and there have been alerts about rabid foxes in a park in our city. Has wildlife been going rather wild in your area, too?

    4. I may be joining some friends for a cruise in January – my first. I think I need to fast for the next 6 months or I'll be stuck with wearing a mu mu on the beach. Do they still make those things?

    5. A beauty salon in Raleigh NC which serves mixed drinks to its customers has been advertising "Cut, Color, Cocktails" on billboards. An officer with Alcohol Law Enforcement has forced them to cover up the word "cocktails" on the grounds that this particular word is "illegal" in North Carolina. (See http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/5429080/.) Who knew? Guess I'd better watch my language!

    That's all for today. Thanks, Jennifer, for hosting this! Hope to see you at "my place", http://acts17verse28.blogspot.com/, now and then!

  6. Laura

    Sorry, no ideas for you, as I am also horrible at coming up with things like that!

    Have a blessed baptismal day!

    God Bless.

  7. Anonymous

    In terms of gifts, I might suggest a two-part gift. When they get there, something that has the name of your town or state on it. Since this is a child, maybe a t-shirt she can wear here and when she goes back home. The chaperone can get a matching shirt (Airports and Walmart often has place-related shirts that aren't expensive).

    The first part is presenting the gift and taking a picture with your family the first night (is they are cheap, maybe everyone can wear the same t-shirt for a good group shot).

    Next, you keep taking photos while she is here (and maybe lending her an older digital camera or disposable camera to take her own photos). Prior to the last day, print out the pictures and put them in a small album or two (these are .99 at my local pharmacy) and give her that to take back with her, including the shot with the t-shirt. This gives her 1) a ready made memento and something to share about her trip when she gets home.

    This is what my husband does for his nieces when they come to visit us.

  8. Monnie

    Those vacation pictures are gorgeous! Big Bend National Park was one of my Dad's favorite spots to camp growing up as a boy scout in Texas. Many fond memories for him, so I've heard quite a bit about it. 🙂

  9. Pharmgirl

    #1: For Rita, do you know what kind of toys she likes? Maybe get her a toy, or if you know what size clothing she wears, a new shirt.

    For the chaperone… hmm… I'm assuming the chaperone is literate in Spanish at least, so maybe a book in Spanish? Or failing that, one about the area where you live but with a lot of nice pictures.

    #2: The story about your son's baptism is hilarious!

    #4: Whoa! Who'd 'a thunk it?

  10. Sarah Reinhard

    Sorry for that "Moms as Super Heroes" thing going on…although I guess it's just annoying when people click through and don't see it…

    In any event, ONE OF THESE DAYS, I'll learn to change the title.

    Trying not to feel envy that you are meeting dear Lisa. 🙂 Enjoy!

  11. Tami Boesiger

    I love your Yaya stories. She sounds like a hoot! Happy Friday!

  12. Rosita

    For a gift, I would suggest for the girl, something for her hair. If you could get a barrette or such that is hand made by a local artisan…it is small, relatively inexpensive, and useful. It is what I always ask for when friends or family ask what they can bring back for me from a trip. For the chaperone, I am not as sure, but a local food specialty is a good idea.

  13. Rebecca

    My husband and I have been wanting to go to west Texas for YEARS. I especially want to go now when I see that the state extreme low temps are in Marfa with readings like 60!!

  14. MamaT

    Yay for West Texas!!!!

    I'm from Abilene (and grew up there and Midland) and love that wild, empty west.

    My uncle, who was from McCamey (a spot in the road) moved with his children to Tennessee after my aunt died. When we visited, we asked him, "Uncle Bill, how do you like living in such a different place? All these trees, the snow, and hills?"

    A true West Texan, he sighed and said, "Well, it's pretty and all that, but you can't SEE anything around here. Too much in the way."

    We laughed, but it's true. As much as I like the trees and green things, nothing speaks peace to my soul like the wild emptiness of West Texas with a turquoise bowl of a sky from horizon to horizon.

    Even if there are scorpions.

  15. Mary DeTurris Poust

    Great post, as usual. I love the photos of west Texas. I have always regretted that I did not make the time to drive out there during the combined nine years I lived in Austin.

  16. ingridairam

    Congratulations in advance with the baptism. That the Lord may bless her.

  17. Mary

    Thaks for hosting. I stepped on wasps once and I am a believer in the running away theory. I wonder if a welcome gift might be a pretty hanky or hand towel? Hope the Baptism is sedate and blessed!

  18. Jay Anderson

    Beautiful photos! I grew up and spent most of my life in Texas, yet have never made it out to Big Bend. Now that I have kids of my own, I look forward to experiencing it some day for the first time with them (when they're older … maybe in about 5 years).

  19. Leslie

    A good welcome gift could be some nice lotions, purse-size perfumes, and a few chocolates. It's nice to wrap them in some pretty netting and ribbon and place the gifts on the beds the guests will be sleeping in.

  20. Rebecca

    I love your pics of your road trip – we drove across country (from WV to Los Angeles) and I was in awe of the changes of things we saw as we drove.

    When we drove home, we went via I-70 and the difference in the 2 routes, was also amazing!

    Hope you had an enjoyable coffee break!

  21. Anonymous

    I think it would be a nice welcome gift for Rita if you let her pick out new bedding for her bed (assuming you can afford that). It will really make her feel quite special and more at home to have something she picked out herself.

    It also would be nice to meet her at the airport with some bright flowers (I think you mentioned she's a preteen, so she's probably too old for a teddy bear). I'd get the chaperone flowers too, and tuck in a gift card for a store like Target or Walmart. People always need to buy some supplies when they arrive for a long trip.

  22. Amanda @ The Mom Job

    Those are AMAZING pictures! I guess I never really realized that the mountains came that far down into Texas either.

    Alot of people don't realize how much of the Appalachian Mountains come through Birmingham (the city itself sits in a "bowl", surrounded by mountains).

    And CONGRATS again on your KidSave hosting!

  23. Emily

    I'd suggest that you make a toiletry kit for each of your guests, with a toothbrush, mini toothpaste, pretty-smelly soaps & lotions. Maybe even a hairbrush and barrettes for Rita? And any other stuff she'll need on a daily basis that she might have forgotten to pack. Depending on how old she is, she might enjoy an inexpensive stuffed animal to keep her company at night.

  24. Melanie B

    I'm curious how you manage sleeping arrangements for 4 kids in a 3 bedroom when you bring in two guests. Partly because we're about to have my mom come and stay for several weeks. That will be 4 adults and 3 kids in a 3 bedroom house.

    Congratulations to baby Joy!

    I love driving through west Texas. One of my earliest memories is camping in Big Bend (and stepping on a prickly pear!) Some friends and I took a west Texas road trip right after graduating from college, what a great trip it was. My mom's dad was from Marfa, so maybe it's in my blood.

  25. Elizabeth

    The photo album ide is great…you might also consider a nice small journal/sketchbook, a nice pen and colored pencils. It could give them both a way to remeber the trip and is easy to pack.
    Congrats on the upcoming Baptism. I love Christening Day… 🙂

  26. Jen

    Big Bend! And here I was thinking Peru!! You've been there, too, haven't you? We thoroughly enjoyed our week long primitive camping up in the Chisos mountains (in the middle of Big Bend NP). And I would NEVER have guessed it was going to be that breathtaking driving the endless miles through the desert to get there! We were there for the July 4th weekend (2002?) and though it was scorching down in the desert, it was so pleasant up in the mountains! Definitely a must see.

  27. Jen

    Oh, and I loved the idea of giving "Rita" her own camera to record her experiences & helping her assemble her own album before returning home – priceless, really (and inexpensive actually, especially if you have an extra camera lying around). My album from my study abroad is my most prized posession from that time.

  28. Lisa

    I cannot wait to hear how your experience with KidSave goes. We are going to their informational meeting in New Hampshire next month for summer '10.

  29. Courageous Grace

    Hi Jen,

    I did my own Quick Takes for the first time today. Love your blog and Congratulations on Joy's baptism (in advance)!

  30. angela michelle

    I just did my first-ever 7 quick takes to get out some things that I'm disorganized to blog about properly. Thanks for the idea and the invite!

    I'm excited to hear about your KidSave visitor!

  31. Catherine

    I love your blog and have been reading for awhile. You are very likely going to love your time with your KidSave child. Several years ago, our family participated in a program where we took in a young man from Western Sahara (actually from Algeria – but he is Saharawi) for eight weeks. He spoke almost no English, but did speak a little Spanish. The time was crazy, wonderful, amazing, and exhausting!! It wasn't always easy because he was old enough to test our limits (particularly with English curse words), but it was a truly worthwhile experience. Not only was it good for the boy, but it was good for our kids to learn to share their home and to share Jesus. I pray your experience is as wonderful as ours (and if it is even half as good, you'll be thrilled)!

  32. Theresa

    Just did my first 7 "quick" takes.

    I admit to calling you "the scorpion blogger" for easy identification to my husband 🙂

  33. Donella

    Congrats on your daughter's baptism tomorrow. Hope it goes smoothly.

  34. Shelley

    Hi! Thanks for your advice over on Rachelle's blog. I've removed all but my 3 blogs. I know you had said to have the main one linked, but I am involved in all three of these (the other ones were groups I was in). I guess I could also, when signing my name to a post, leave the name of whatever blog I want them to visit. If I want them to go to my writing blog, then I could write "Ink Scrawls" below my name…that might be a way to help them know which blog to go to…

    Anyway, I've taken part in your Seven Quick Takes and left my link on your Mr. Linky!

  35. Lesley-Anne Evans

    It's always fun to make something together and then send the finished product home with your guest… whether that be tie-dyed t-shirts, or a small scrapbook, or something in the food department, the memory will be in how you created it together rather than being about what you give. I'm sure you have all sorts of craft ideas from your kids…
    Hope your first days together are very special, and that your child senses how you have longed for her to be with you.


  36. Kathleen

    Congratulations on the baptism!

  37. Laura

    Congrats on the baptism. I would go with typical food for the chaperone and the scrapbook for the girl (and maybe a bracelet or something like that)

  38. knit_tgz

    Hm, aren't scorpions arachnids (not insects?).


    the local geek 😉

  39. Jane

    teddy bear.

  40. celina from canada

    as a gift idea…a small photo album….maybe a usa one..??? start it off with pics of the house and your family…and you can add to it,while they are with you…they can add post cards as well…a buck for the album,,…plus what 10c a print digitally? you can also add a personal note about how your are waiting anxiously for them…

  41. Pam Elmore

    Jennifer, thank you for your post on Rachelle's blog — and for the reference to that blog — very helpful!

    I'm sorry you're getting comments that are "monitor-meltingly appalling"! I'm amazed at the rudeness people can exhibit from the anonymity of their computer. On the plus side, I guess it means you've touched a nerve… perhaps God is at work there.

  42. Rosita

    I was reading over the comments and I saw several people suggested some nice toiletries as a gift idea. I would strongly caution against that. I know my husband – he is from a developing country – would get really upset by people's assumption that there was no soap in his country, or by comments that people in ___ (fill in the name of a developing country) smell bad. I am not saying that is what people here are suggesting, but it could be taken as that.

  43. Anonymous

    I have 6-year-old and 8-year old girls, and I like the suggestions of giving her a disposable camera and an "I Spy" book — both should cross any language and cultural barriers.


  1. 7 Quick Takes #15 – - [...] Jen @ Conversion Diary for more quick takes [...]

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