7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 46)

August 14, 2009 | 41 comments

— 1 —

As a new convert, I didn’t realize that there were different types of religious retreats. I figured that they all pretty much involved sitting in a silent monastery and reading the Bible by candlelight while hooded monks chanted the Psalms in the background. Or something. As it turns out, there are a variety of different types of retreats; some involve silence and rest, others don’t. Christ Renews His Parish is the latter.

I signed up for the CRHP retreat because I was so mentally and physically exhausted that I thought I was going to collapse; at first I was very, very worried when I arrived at the retreat center last weekend to find that it was actually a high-energy retreat with lots of activity and socializing. It turned out to be a great experience, however, because the other women there were wonderful, the organizers did a fantastic job, and I think I was able to be more open to God because I was just too tired to put up my usual defenses. I’m really glad I went…now I just need to figure out when I’m going to get some rest.

— 2 —

I want to apologize to all the grammar people who read my site. I occasionally get emails from kind readers who alert me to grammatical errors in my posts, and they often include personal testimonies about how much it pains them to come across bad grammar, which makes me feel awful.

So I’m going to totally apologize for all those split infinitives, the poor use of commas; and the utter ineptitude with the semicolon. And I especially ask that each person who values proper grammar extend their forgiveness for my nonchalance about using misusing plural pronouns as singular. Please bear with me as I learn to write good!

(I hope it’s clear that I’m kidding — love you guys!)

— 3 —

As a blogger and web designer/developer, I’m often asked for recommendations about good designers for blogs. I recently stumbled across Judith Shakes Designs and was really impressed with her work. The websites she’s done are as usable as they are beautiful, she works with a variety of blogging platforms, and the prices she lists are very reasonable for the quality of work.

I’ve never worked with her, she doesn’t know me from Adam, and I’m receiving no compensation for saying this — I just wanted to throw out my opinion in case anyone is looking for a good designer but doesn’t know where to start.

— 4 —

I already mentioned this on Twitter, but I keep feeling guilty about the fact that I don’t get much done during the time my babysitter is here each week. I’ve decided that the problem is that I need to rethink my to-do list. I’m going to start including stuff like:

  • Find three new people to follow on Twitter
  • Leave encouraging comments on five blog posts
  • Post update to Twitter about not getting anything done
  • Let out long, overwhelmed sigh
  • Drink cup of coffee
  • Call friend to complain about number of unanswered emails in inbox
  • Write blog post

I think that that should cure those nagging feelings of unproductiveness once and for all!

— 5 —

I am not sure if my world has ever been so rocked as it was a couple weeks ago when I looked at the title of Veronica Mitchell’s blog and saw that it read Toddled Dredge. I have been reading her site regularly for years — years! — I mean, reading at least weekly since back in 2006 when she had that awesome series on Advent (y’all remember that? man, that was good) — and up until about two weeks ago I thought the title of the site was Toddler Dredge.

I have thought about this extensively and have decided that it was always Toddler Dredge and that Veronica changed it sometime within the past few weeks. If anyone tries to tell me otherwise I will become convinced that I am the victim of a vast internet-wide conspiracy and will energetically shake my fist at the computer as I cry, “That sneaky Veronica Mitchell and her internet minions can’t fool me! I KNOW WHAT I SAW!”

— 6 —

My two middle daughters (ages three and two) have been at Yaya‘s house for a couple days. It’s been interesting to have only a four-year-old and a five-month-old. In some ways it’s so much easier, but in some ways it’s harder since my four-year-old doesn’t have anyone to play with. I didn’t realize how much they all play together until two of them weren’t here!

Also, it reinforces to me the truth that happy families come in all sizes. I see how nice it is to have less chaos and more time for my son and the baby when it’s only the two of them (more like the way I grew up as an only child), but I’m also looking forward to when the girls get back tomorrow because the house has so much more life and energy when they’re around. I’m having trouble putting it into words, but I guess I’ve just been thinking a lot about how there are advantages and disadvantages to having both big and small families, and there really is no “right” number of children to have.

— 7 —

“Omit needless words.”
– E.B. White

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. Anna @ Annalogue
2. Kathy @ The Political Housewyf
3. Megan@Blueberry Scone
4. It Feels Like Chaos
5. Darwin’s Man-takes
6. Scarlett
7. Sarah Reinhard @ just another day of Catholic pondering
8. Matching Moonheads
9. Venite
10. Elisa @ blissfulE
11. Paul A. Nelson
12. Erin@Seven Little Australians Plus One
13. Debbie@stophershesknitting
14. Therese (Aussie Coffee Shop)
15. Pharmgirl @ Adventures in Pharm Land
16. Tami @ The Next Step
17. K @ Home In View
18. Mary @ Passionate Perseverance
19. Emily
20. Living with Three Hobbits and a Giant
21. BecomeWhatYouAre
22. Missus Wookie
23. Rebecca
24. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life
25. TwoSquareMeals
26. Anne
27. Linda-One Voice
28. Tina @ Multiple Mom T
29. Nadja
30. Sara @ AShowerOfRoses
31. Mandy
32. NCSue
33. diane@ginosko
34. Dymphna
35. Steph @ My Country Haven
36. amy@rich interior world
37. Judy
38. kim
39. Karen @ Flash Light
40. Lori @ Busy With Blessings
41. Lenae
42. Marie, Two Ways of Renouncing the Devil
43. sarah@ fumbling toward grace
44. Joy@ joy in the morning
45. Leigh-ann@Life’s Amazing
46. Chelsea @ Roots & Rings
47. Sister Lynn @ Day by Day
48. Barbara C.@Box of Chocolates
49. Dawn @ Sufficient for Today
50. Emily a.k.a. Smoochagator
51. Milehimama (Mama Says)
52. Mozi Esme
53. Amy F
54. Fencing Bear at Prayer
55. Dakotapam
56. Kim
57. Katherine @ The Domestic Church
58. Udubalum Mama
59. Erin @ Coming Out Catholic
60. Tracy @ pursuingjoy
61. majellamom
62. Koala Bear Writer
63. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
64. Emily
65. JoAnna @ A Star of Hope
66. Mrs. Bubbles
67. Salome Ellen
68. Annie
69. Mary@HopeEchoes
70. Kim @ Love Letter to My Kids
71. Lindsey
72. Jen @ The Short Years
73. Karin Katherine @ Mommy Matters
74. Catherine @ Adventures in Domesticity
75. annies home –
76. Elena @My Domestic church
77. Christian H @ The Thinking Grounds
78. Serena@The Hermit of the Southern March
79. Melodie @ The Me You Can’t See
80. Dorian Speed
81. Carolyn
82. Gillian @ Life of a Photographer
83. Amy @ From the Desk of Mom
84. Carly at The Tree
85. Elizabeth@Frabjous Days

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.


  1. It Feels Like Chaos

    I love your #4 and am going to revamp my to-do list as well!

  2. Anna

    Heh, I've been trying to get my blog first on the link list for a couple weeks now… finally succeeded. πŸ™‚

  3. Sarah

    I just went on a CRHP retreat recently and was hoping for the same thing. I am also an introvert and was looking for the exits within the first few minutes. But it was great and I have to say after 3 weekly meetings afterward the retreat, I think this is really something that I need. I know that there's not a lot you can talk about, but I hope the rest of the experience is good for both of us!

  4. Kingdom Mama

    Toddled??? No, it was definitely "Toddler". Right?!

  5. Aussie Therese

    Your post about your daughters being away reminded me of a time my husband and I took our 5th child away for a weekend.

    We left the other 4 children with friends and I realized just how much these 4 entertained Tom. He suddenly became a very demanding baby that needed lots and lots of attention.

    Thanks so much for hosting the quick 7. My quick 7 is my 1000th post so a small milestone for me.

  6. Tami Boesiger

    Having one kid gone changes the dynamics of the house. I wrote on something similar about taking my kids out in pairs.

    Have a great weekend, Jen.

  7. Emily

    Thanks for another week of great posts! As for the grammar, well, I've always considered it more of an art than anything else. What *are* the rules about semicolons anyway?

  8. Veronica Mitchell

    The "rule" against splitting infinitives is a Victorian attempt to make English sound more like Greek. It is linguistic posturing, and is unnatural in English. Split infinitives all you like; any real linguist would tell you so.

    And the Toddler Dredge thing – I noticed it the first time you wrote it, but dismissed it as a typo. And then you linked to me so often by that name that it became one of those things where it would have embarrassed you too much to correct you. It could happen to anybody. Don't let it bother you. The first three years of college, my advisor called me "Sandy," so I'm used to such things.

  9. Linda

    Love the to do list! I'll check out the site designer. Thanks for hosting.

  10. Amy

    Jennifer, look at what you wrote. First this:

    now I just need to figure out when I'm going to get some rest.

    then this:

    but I keep feeling guilty about the fact that I don't get much done during the time my babysitter is here each week. I've decided that the problem is that I need to rethink my to-do list. I'm going to start including stuff like:
    Find three new people to follow on TwitterLeave encouraging comments on five blog posts
    Post update to Twitter about not getting anything doneLet out long, overwhelmed sighDrink cup of coffee
    Call friend to complain about number of unanswered emails in inboxWrite blog post
    I think that that should cure those nagging feelings of unproductiveness once and for all!

    First off, you are productive. You have a wildly successful blog. You are writing a book. You are a mother to several young children, a homemaker, and a wife. So just give yourself a break with the whole productivity thing.


    Hello? When are you going to get some rest? When you have a babysitter there! Resting your body and mind so you can be fresh and centered and present in your life is way more important than a to-do list. You feeling guilty for not doing more only feeds into the whole stereotype of Catholic guilt, so consider resting your way of helping to break stereotypes;-)

  11. Dawn Farias

    Thanks for the link to the blog designer. I just barely opened up a blog design shop myself and am always looking for inspiration. Her designs are nice.

    I've found that's true, too, about not knowing how much the kids play together until a few of them are missing.

    Happy Friday!

  12. ~ Judy ~

    HA HA…"learn to write good"…FUNNY!

    BTW, all great writers have stinky grammar and can't spell worth a lick…that's what editors are for.OOPS…HARK! Didst thou just end a sentence with a preposition?!? Pray thee call upon thy Grammar Police now!" :: SMILE::

  13. Josephene

    I wish I could fly over and give you a helping hand! I think you're an amazing person and I know I'm not the only mother here who's been inspired by you and your writing.
    Take it easy. Sometimes God wills that you rest your body and mind, even at home. πŸ™‚

  14. NC Sue

    Hi Jennifer, and fellow bloggers.

    I wanted to let you know about McLinky, a free serv ice for bloggers. I've used it for a photo caption contest and found it worked really well. The developer of the program is testing out a new application, a blog hop, and I'm helping him out by testing it on my site. (A few other bloggers are also doing so.)

    Please help us check it out and let him know of any problems you notice, either in the way the application works or in the ease of understanding the instructions. If you don't want to contact him directly, you can email me at acts17verse28@bigstgring.com.

    We appreciate your help!

  15. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Sarah –

    Glad to hear I'm not the only one who had that experience! πŸ™‚

    Veronica –

    You totally should have corrected me! I really need to work on attention to detail. I used to link to a blogging friend all the time as "Literary Chic" and she finally emailed me to tell me that it's "Literacy Chic." Although there's this one blogger who's referred to my site as Conversation Diary multiple times and I never did correct him. πŸ™‚

    Amy –

    Hello? When are you going to get some rest? Resting your body and mind so you can be fresh and centered and present in your life is way more important than a to-do list.

    Thanks for your encouragement! Unfortunately it's a little more complicated than that. The stuff on my to-do list is actually pretty important (e.g. paying bills, dealing with an erroneous insurance claim, reconciling bank statements, etc.) and I really do need to get it done.

    Also, my babysitter doesn't feel up to watching all four kids while I'm completely off duty, so I need to help her out here and there as I work — i.e. babysitter time isn't a time when I even have the option to go take a nap or go off by myself somewhere.

    Thanks for the comments, everyone!

  16. Dymphna

    What I am amazed at this week: It is only 9:37 and you already have 34 people on Mr. Linky. Wow. Apparently, you have to post just after midnight to be among the first.

  17. Amy


    That makes sense that you can't rest with the babysitter there if she's not comfortable running the show. And I totally agree that there are some things that simply must be done–I would never encourage anyone to neglect obligations. I was mainly referring to your resolution to add more to your to-do list, more, that, while all positive things, aren't necessarily necessary and seem like they might add to your overwhelmed feeling. But I guess if you're not resting, anyway…

    Just remember, they will grow up, and it will get easier. Eventually πŸ˜‰

  18. Amy

    Just ignore my last comment. I re-read the post and see the humor in your to-do list now. Duh. Maybe I need to start drinking coffee!

  19. el-e-e

    Ha! Love #7. That's why I'm not posting today. πŸ™‚ Happy weekend!

  20. Marie

    Thanks again.
    Cut takes this week.

  21. That Married Couple

    I actually am a linguist (or do I have to wait to get my doctorate this May for it to be official?), and Veronica is absolutely right.

    Real linguists focus on language description (describing what people actually do; rules are based on the data), while grammar mavens focus on language prescription (telling people what they should do; rules are based on what a few stodgy Latin-obsessed fellows from the 1800s preferred). Personally, I revel in splitting infinitives and using "they" in the singular. In real life, no one really says "he or she" every time.

    All that said, I do have to confess that I try to be prescriptively correct in my writing. Old habits die hard.

  22. Fencing Bear

    Don't worry about those split infinitives: they are a creation (and obsession) of those who did not (and do not) understand the way English actually works. Language Log has lots of great posts on these and other (mistaken) grammatical obsessions. Just search on "split infinitives." The pieces on the follies of Strunk & White are particularly good.

  23. Laura @ Our House Of Joyful Noise

    About Take #1, made me think….
    Have you ever heard of, or have been on, a Cursillo weekend?
    I have always been Catholic….and personally always thought the Catholic faith was SUPPOSED to be boring and methodical, right into my adulthood. I went to mass on Sundays all of my life, just because that's just what we do! (Not that I think YOU think any of these things…just sharing something here : ).
    Then I went on a Cursillo weekend, and that changed all of that for me. It gave my Catholicism the kick in the pants it truly needed. I turned in a new direction. I looked back and felt so ignorant about my own faith. I sure love it now, and GET it. Not boring afterall.
    Having converted (but likely knowing even more than me….you certainly seem more spiritually mature than I am, to me)…I was just wondering if you knew anything about THAT retreat.

  24. monica_divineoffice.org

    I think a full house is a dream for me, I love kids, I want kids but am I capable to handle 4 or 5 running around? So let me say that I admire your strength and courage and force to do it all, to be a career woman, a mom, a wife… God bless!

    Liturgy of the Hours

  25. Anna


    Those of us in the Pacific time zone get an unfair advantage… when it's midnight in Jen's central time zone, it's only 10pm here, which is an easier time to be up and posting at. πŸ™‚

  26. Salome Ellen

    As long as you avoid horribly misplaced apostrophes (nacho's, flower's — both seen on store signs) you're OK with me.

  27. Kim

    Love #7!! It took me a long time to think of my own #7 this week–I like yours better! πŸ™‚
    Also on #4…in my experience you are totally on the right track. Be sure to include "load and unload dishwasher," "move laundry from washer to dryer," and "take a shower."

  28. shopannies

    I am so glad that you were able to enjoy the get together that allowed you to get closer to God and I am sure that your girls had lots of fun visiting yaya as well

  29. Serena

    This is my first time joining in 7 Quick Takes, though I always enjoy yours.

    #2–I am terrible at grammar and punctuation. I'm sure I make a few of my readers weep.


  30. Dorian Speed

    In no random order:

    I have decided that my to-do list for any given day can just be "Keep children alive" and anything else is gravy. I was going to make it "Keep living things in household alive" but then there's the sugar ants and the fish that keep dying.

    I wondered what you'd think of CRHP given your need for "introvert time." I'm very glad you enjoyed it. My husband went on one and really benefitted from the friends he made there. I have never been; ACTS retreats are the big thing here, so I might try one when the baby weans.

    I also think that getting anything done while you are in the house with the babysitter requires tremendous discipline.

    I really wish we'd been able to come to the Kidsave event.

    As I wrote in my post, I am going to outsource my introspection to you, because you do it better.

  31. Gillian

    I appreciated your humor this week πŸ™‚ I know how you feel with feeling like you're not getting anything done…

  32. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience


    "Omit needless words."


    Love to you, Jen….

  33. ~ Judy ~

    Hope you don't mind me adding a quick thought here. It's in regards to the comment from Monica, who wrote that she wonders if she is capable of having 4 or 5 little ones running around:
    I just wanted to say, that as a mother of ten…one thing that God has shown me through the years is this: You receive the graces needed for each child WITH each new child…in other words…when you have one…of course…you are not capable of two….until He sends the second one…for WITH the baby that He sends come the GRACES needed to care for him/her.
    You don't have the capabilities to have 4 or 5 (or 10) running around until you HAVE 4 or 5 (or 10)!!!
    PEACE TO YOU ALL! P.S. But remember…He DOES ALWAYS send those graces…He never forsakes us and gives more babies than we can handle…HE PROVIDES πŸ™‚

  34. Rosemary

    About Cursillo, and other groups patterned after it: I don't want to be negative, but a few cautions are necessary. Those who have undergone any recent major life stresses or changes, as well as those having any mental health challenges, are specifically not recommended for such a weekend by the Cursillo groups themselves.

    Unfortunately not all local groups obey these rules, and ask the hard questions of potential candidates; and people are sometimes recruited who might be harmed by the very intense experience. That is why I feel the need to say this. The weekends are shrouded in secrecy, which prevents people from fully knowing what they are getting into.

    Some of you may know of Carol Bonomo, author of "The Abbey Up the Hill: A Year in the Life of a Monastic Day-Tripper." She also attended a Cursillo weekend. Her experience was much like mine.



  35. Elizabeth@Frabjous Days

    Love the to-do list!

  36. Anonymous

    It's refreshing to hear a shred of honesty from a Catholic blogger abou the potential negatives of a large family, and a bit frustrating to hear, again, that tired old saying that God sends you sufficient grace with each child, blah blah blah. It's great that you feel you've received sufficient grace to parent a large family, Judy, but that's not how things work for many, many people. I have an extended family touched by the tragedy of two parents with mental illness trying to rear a brood of nine children, all because of the church teaching against birth control. Feel free to make any religious or intellectual argument you want in favor of this teaching, but please be honest. There is a price! It does not always turn out like a hallmark card. I think this really needs to be understood as a part of the fullness of the teaching against artificial birth control.

  37. ~ Judy ~

    Thank you for your comment…but I am a bit shocked at your assumption that just because I believe in God's Grace, means that my life in raising a large family has been, as you state, "a Hallmark card"…
    In fact, many many people (including myself and my own family) endure and persevere through MUCH grave trial and suffering whilst clinging to Christ and His promise to provide…
    I never said that it was EASY or without suffering…I only said that HE PROVIDES NEEDED GRACES …which HE DOES…WITHOUT FAIL…that does not mean that He does not allow us to suffer…but that He is there to help us THROUGH the suffering…my own family TOO knows the devastation of mental illness…so please do not assume, when you do not know anything about me…that I think life is a "Hallmark Card"…Perhaps especially BECAUSE we have gravely suffered in more than one area…my husband and I are able to SEE THE INFINITE GRACE AND MERCY OF GOD that He provides for those who TRUST IN HIM…this is especially true in the area of being open to new life…but thank you for including me in your discussion and thank God for allowing us to learn from each other! Peace to you all!

  38. ~ Judy ~

    Jennifer thanks for allowing us to exchange ideas on this post!
    The thoughts of the anonymous commenter have moved my heart to write more of my thoughts on the topic he/she raised. If you or your readers are interested, I have entered a small post about that on my blog at http://benmakesten.blogspot.com/
    My visits here to Conversion Diary always leave me uplifted, encouraged, and inspired! Thank You Jennifer!

  39. Ginkgo100

    Oh Judy, you cut me to the quick! I aspire to be a great (or at least good) writer, and I actually have good spellling skills. Then again, I also aspire to be an editor, so perhaps I am a special case.

    In writing, grammar is a tool, not a rule. It always bothers me when I see people say they get "mad" when they see bad grammar. A good editor should wince, but not get mad; otherwise you risk changing the writer's style too much!

    The "rules" of English grammar are the consensus of scholars who appoint themselves to the task, since our tongue doesn't have an official ruling body (like French has). A few centuries ago, some of those scholars got the peculiar idea that English should conform to the rules of French and Latin grammar. Thus the proscriptions against split infinitives and stranded prepositions. I disagree with both of these rules; English infinitives are two words because that's how English is, and English is also one of the few Indo-European languages in which it is perfectly acceptable to strand prepositions (and always has been).

    Consider these two sentences:

    I expect only to work.
    I expect to only work.

    Do they mean exactly the same thing? I don't think they do.

    As for stranded prepositions, read this phrase I recently came across in a popular science book:

    "… [different] evidence told different stories about from which animals whales evolved."


    Rarely have I seen anyone abuse the English language so disastrously to avoid a stranded preposition. This is the stuff with which editors just cannot put. What would have been wrong with

    "… [different] evidence told different stories about which animals whales evolved from."

    I am on the side of "The Married Couple," who apparently is actually a single person. (Makes the comments about using "they" instead of "he/she" ironic!) Well, mostly; written English is, I think, a different language from spoken English.

  40. Ginkgo100

    Oh, I meant to comment about #7 too. Those were the words I used to open an article I wrote, entitled Ten Words You Should Cut From Your Paper. (Actually, the title was, ironically, much longer; but the nature of online publishing means putting lots of keywords in titles.) You might enjoy reading it, Jen, although I don't think your writing style needs help!

  41. ~ Judy ~

    Ginko100 ~ THANKS for that GREAT comment! Truly, it was so delightfully written that it made my day! Incidentally, I personally would write,

    " different stories told about the animals from which whales evolved".

    Do I fail? ::SMILE::
    Has anyone read the book, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves?"


  1. “When God Locks Doors” | blindly.totally.only - [...] by this turn of events. In addition to being exhausted after Rita’s visit, an unexpectedly high-energy retreat and all…
  2. When God locks doors | Conversion Diary - […] by this turn of events. In addition to being exhausted after Rita’s visit, an unexpectedly high-energy retreat and all…

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