7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 47)

August 21, 2009 | 51 comments

— 1 —

My house is a crazy place these days. Baby Joy is almost six months old and isn’t the sleepy newborn she used to be, and we’ve started potty training my three-year-old daughter, which means that my house is all chaos, all the time. This morning, for example, I was soothing the baby down for her nap when my three toddlers got into the pantry and scattered food everywhere. While I was cleaning that up my three-year-old had an accident on the floor. While I was cleaning that up my four-year-old son got noisy and woke up the baby. When I came back downstairs with the baby I saw that my two-year-old daughter had a messy diaper (though I did note that it COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE). While I was changing her diaper the baby started crying. I picked up the baby and went to check on my three-year-old and saw that she’d tried to go potty by herself, which involved taking all the toilet paper off of the roll and stuffing it into the toilet. And this was all within a span of about four minutes.

Things actually went very smoothly when baby Joy was a newborn, but now I am experiencing that chaos that I anticipated would come with having so many little ones. We’re having a lot of fun, but it sure is a wild ride.

— 2 —

Have I told you lately how much I love my steam cleaner?

This is what the water looked like after cleaning only the living room. Eeeeeew!

— 3 —

My husband and I anticipated that these would be a crazy few months — we always find the six-month period between when a baby is four to ten months old to be fun but particularly challenging in terms of the work involved — so we’re in what we call Bare Minimum Mode, where we cut out everything but the very essential tasks of life to keep everyone sane and happy. This means:

  • We’re stretching our budget temporarily to get more babysitting help than we could afford on a permanent basis.
  • I cook only about six different dinners, all of which are super easy, can be prepared ahead of time and I know how to make from memory. We eat the same meals over and over again, but it’s worth it to save my sanity!
  • I don’t worry about how much TV the kids watch.
  • I used to try to get together with friends during the day at least once a week, but now it’s more like once or twice a month since that requires so much energy.
  • As anyone who’s emailed me knows, I only reply to the most urgent emails (and sometimes I can’t even get to those!)
  • All non-urgent household projects like scrapbooking, closet cleanouts, decluttering, garage organization, etc. are on hold.
  • I’m turning down almost all requests for work (e.g. articles, websites, etc.)
  • I don’t do anything that would interfere with the kids’ nap/quiet time — I really need that break each day.

Basically, the only things I am doing right now other than daily chaos management are going to the grocery store, paying bills and blogging (I kept blogging on the list because it’s such a great source of energy for me). In a few months we’ll re-evaluate and re-incorporate a lot of the things we’ve cut out, but right now it’s a real life saver to be in Bare Minimum Mode!

— 4 —

Speaking of making life easier, the hand you see holding the steam cleaner water in #2 is not mine. We’ve been having a friend’s lovely teenage daughters come over every now and then to help me with some household projects that I can’t get to right now such as organizing baby clothes by size, removing some of the crayon murals from the walls and, of course, steam cleaning. It is the very definition of “win-win.” Their rates are much cheaper than a professional housekeepers would be, they’re happy to have the work to help them save up for some trips they’d like to go on, and I’m thrilled to get this stuff done.

— 5 —

Someone told me today that this is the 60th straight day of 100+ degree temperatures here in central Texas. And I think I can count on my hands the number of times it has rained this year (one result of that being that locals are finding all sorts of crazy stuff in what used to be our lake). If any of you folks who live in my area see a woman rolling around in puddles and yelling “THANK YOU GOD!!!” the first time we have a cool, rainy day this fall, it’s probably me.

— 6 —

It’s been a while since I’ve read any great works of fiction, but I think I recall that in Victorian-era literature you sometimes see full last names omitted, like in Jane Eyre when Mr. Brocklehurst refers to a book with an account of “the awfully sudden death of Martha G—–.” This question probably belies my ignorance on the subject of literature, but why do they do that?

— 7 —

Those ominous whining sounds I hear from upstairs would seem to indicate that nap/quiet time is drawing to a close, so that’s it for this week. 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. Blair’s Blessings
2. Megan@Blueberry Scone
3. Genny @ MyCup2Yours
4. Gae
5. Anna @ Annalogue
6. Denise@Fullnest
7. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
8. It Feels Like Chaos
9. Sarah’s Gluten Free Quick Takes
10. Paul A. Nelson
11. Sarah Reinhard @ just another day of Catholic pondering
12. Venite
13. carrien (she laughs at the days)
14. sarah haliwell
15. Lerin @ Beautiful Chaos
16. DebbieQ@stophershesknitting
17. Erin@Seven Little Australians Plus One
18. Tami @ The Next Step
19. Pharmgirl @ Adventures in Pharm Land
20. NCSue
21. Elise
22. Mary@HopeEchoes
23. Sarah @This Heavenly Life
24. Tracy@The Secret of Living
25. Rebecca
26. BecomeWhatYouAre
27. Mandy
28. Diane
29. Kim@talklesssaymore
30. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings
31. ThatMarriedCouple
32. Katherine @ The Domestic Church
33. Marie, Two Ways of Renouncing the Devil
34. MommyMonkey
35. amy @ ego sum via
36. Amanda
37. Nadja
38. Christine the Soccer Mom
39. The Dragon’s Den
40. Lenae
41. Missy
42. Trena @ The Third Prayer
43. Chelsea @ Roots & Rings
44. Judy
45. Amanda @ The Mom Job.net
46. Box Full of Blessings
47. Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker
48. Joy@ joy in the morning
49. Maggie
50. Fencing Bear at Prayer
51. Jamie
52. Barbara C.@Box of Chocolates
53. Renee@crazyacres
54. Amy @ From the Desk of Mom
55. Kara @ Home…With Purpose
56. Kaycee @ World on Fire
57. Mrs. Bubbles
58. Kelly @ Love Well
59. Udubalum Mama
60. Emily a.k.a. Smoochagator
61. Michelle
62. Leighann Marquiss
63. Jaclyn
64. Angelawd: the writer gets the last word
65. Deanna@Notlukewarm
66. Elena @My Domestic church
67. Kate @ La Vita Bella
68. Home improvement edition @ Lyrlem Ipsum
69. MamaT @ The Summa Mamas
70. Sara@Coffee Randoms
71. Sarah
72. Erin @ Sky Blue Pink Roses
73. JoAnna @ A Star of Hope
74. Emerging Mummy
75. Tina @ Multiple Mom T
76. M.T.
77. A Broader Mark
78. Jenny @ Conscientious Confusion
79. Melodie @ The Me You Can’t See
80. kim
81. Cheryl @ My Thoughtful Spot
82. Catherine @ To Mark Time
83. the luxurious life of anna
84. Missus Wookie
85. Karen @ Flash Light
86. Dymphna @ the Well
87. Cheryl
88. Gillian @ Life of a Photographer

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

photo by Hamed Parham


  1. Megan@Blueberry Scones

    I'm sorry – I totally goofed and accidentally posted last week's quick takes first! My second one is the recent one.

    The water from the steam cleaner makes me nervous what MY carpet would look like. And yeah for rain!

  2. Genny

    Good for you for getting someone to help with the basic chores. Sometimes, that can be essential to maintaining sanity…:) Your six month old sounds sweet…that is such a precious age!

  3. Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    I think it's really good that you guys recognize those times where you just need to do the bare minimum, and embrace it. It's better to do that than to kill yourself trying to do it all.

    Hope you don't get too tired of the same six meals though. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Then again, there are times where it seems like we eat a whole lot more sandwiches than normal. LOL

  4. elizabeth

    Really, I am not meaning to lecture – but I pour my water (from mopping – wah, I can't get parts for my discontinued steamer!) down the toliet…that way you're not getting all that yuck on/in your sink or down your drain. Happy Friday!

  5. bronzedshoe

    WOW. MAJOR PROPS. You are so heroic!

  6. Lerin

    I had our fourth baby in May, and I am inspired by your Bare Minimum mode. I'm going to have to find my own, because we have whole days are like your #1 description too!

  7. Tami Boesiger

    I would have done well to follow your advice when my kids were little and not expect so much out of myself. You are a wise woman, Jennifer.

  8. expat


    Don't worry about eating the same things over and over.

    You're too young to remember, but in the "old days" — the 50's and early 60's — that's how it was always done.

    Each day of the week was designated with the same meal; Monday was meatloaf, Tuesday was chicken, etc.
    So, everybody knew what going to be for dinner depending on the day of the week. Much less stress on everyone. In fact, there was a lot of comfort in the ritual of the"sameness."

    I don't know where this crazy idea came from that one has to eat something different all the time.

    If cooking is your art and you have the time, more power to you. But for those whose time and energy is limited, simplicity is really the only way to go.

    Believe me, for the millions of us who grew up eating meatloaf every Monday night, it didn't do us any harm at all! In fact, it is the stuff of very pleasant memories.

  9. This Heavenly Life

    I've ALWAYS wondered about #6. I'm hoping you get some good answers here!

  10. becomewhatyouare

    Since I also live in CenTex, I had to laugh about the rolling in the mud puddle. I GET IT! My 7 quick takes also mentions how much we need rain.

    My widget says it's supposed to rain up here today… but we chose not to water the lawn last night, so it probably won't.

  11. Courtney

    #6 is even more common in French literature, and it drove me crazy when attempting to read "Les Miserables", because every single place name was represented that way. It's a conceit that lets the author refer to real people and places that their readers would know, without actually "naming names." Like if I were to write, "They went on vacation to the D—- amusement park in O—-." Whether this was a legal thing, or just another manifestation of 19th-century modesty, though, I don't know.

  12. Amy

    All I can think of after reading this post is, "Calgon, take me away!"

  13. That Married Couple

    You are my hero, juggling all those babies and not being afraid to do whatever it takes to make it all work!

  14. twowaysofrenouncingthedevil

    Say hi to Mr. Toad for me.

  15. Pamela

    Wow…I think you're me, but Texan, and also way hotter.

    I have a teenager come to clean my house too. I would adopt her if her parents signed off, and would even move one of my kids to the basement for her.

    But not really.

    Hope you're having a good day.

  16. Elizabeth

    I have six kids (11,9,7,5,3,1). I think I am in Bare Minimum mode all the time ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for #6, I am as curious as you about the real answer. I always thought it was to save ink.

  17. Amanda @ The Mom Job

    My steam cleaner Got Broken. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now I feel like my carpets are extra dirty from seeing that water… ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

  18. ~ Judy ~

    YAY for teenage helpers!!!
    And bless you with your little ones!
    (I would think that you were peeking in my windows as your description of the events in your home sound amazingly similar to those here!!!)
    Thanks for hosting this meme when you are so busy with blessings!!!

  19. Christine

    We all have those days. I remember all 3 kids screaming at one time. The baby was hungry, the three yr old needed help in the bathroom and the 5yr old got bit by a spider.

    You will have those days. Really have a light heart and do not fret too much. Hard days make us tougher for the really really really hard days.

    Blessings to you Jen.

  20. Barbara C.

    I totally hear you on the 6-10 month period being the hardest. They're awake more but they still can't entertain themselves much, so they want you to hold them at ALL TIMES. This is the period where a sling comes in really handy.

    Hooray for Bare Minimum Mode!!

  21. Kara

    What a week! I sympathize on the noisiness and chaos…with 4 kids and 3 dogs the noise & chaos level around here gets a little out of hand sometimes too. I've got a 4 month old who is getting more and more active too so I'm right with you there also. Ick on the steam cleaner! We just had ours professionally cleaned a couple of months ago but I think they already need it again, LOL!

  22. Kaycee

    Haha, I'm on bare minimum mode now and the baby isn't even here yet. You're doing great!

  23. Anonymous

    Have you ever considered grocery delivery? It'd make your life way easier and the delivery rates are usually very reasonable (under $15, often under $10). I imagine it's hard to take four young kids to the supermarket.

  24. Angela Williams Duea

    Sounds like your plan to de-stress and streamline is really working for you! You have some great ideas I think I may try. I've given up making beds and a few other tasks, too. It must be so much harder with 4 little ones!

  25. Roxane B. Salonen

    Well, Jen, if it's any indication of where I'm at, I haven't had time to post "quick" takes for two weeks now. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I always enjoy reading them. Just have to comment on the sacredness of naptime. These days I go weeks sometimes without taking a nap, but in past years with little ones, naptime was indeed sacred and critical to my emotional well-being. Wishing you many restful afternoons to get through the rest of your days. Motherhood is not for wimps (a friend of mine always says this and I always quote her because it's so true).

  26. Elena

    I was where you are about ten years ago. And now I am in the car with my 16-year-old student driver!! LOL!! and now the chaos of the early years doesn't look so bad!!

  27. Kate

    # 67 was a goof – linked to me main URL – # 68 is my post. Please forgive my scattered mind and delete the wayward link.

    Thanks so much for hosting, I really enjoy these every week!

  28. Debbie

    60th day of 100+ heat! That reminds me why I moved back north after graduating from Baylor. Of course, our cooler temps here in the north also brings 120+ inches of snow some years so I guess it evens out.

    And #3 is just perfect

  29. Carrie B.

    if you have the time and help and space for it, freezer cooking has really made our life SO much less hectic! my husband is a youth pastor and we only have two kids, but our life is very hectic and we need to minimize the chaos constantly. so, once a month, I get with a couple of friends and we make about 20 meals that we can freeze and use throughout the month (some of them are large and we can use twice). So everyday, we have something different to eat, but it's already prepared and meal time is not stressful. It's WONDERFUL. And, it's nice because I have a TON of fun cooking with my friends. You can google freezer cooking or OAMC (once a month cooking) and get all kinds of ideas and tips. =)

  30. M. T.

    I've never commented before, but since I did your 7 quick takes for the first time today I thought I would. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am really loving your blog — especially most recently your post about stopping and smelling the roses.
    I am the mother of 2 kids (soon to be 3!) 3 and under, and so I identify with you and laugh with you at the beauty and trials of being a mother. Thank you!

  31. Tami Boesiger

    Um, it doesn't really matter to me, but I think vol. 47 of your Quick Takes is missing. I kept wondering how I got off from you, thinking you were some kind of super over achiever (well, in all honesty, it didn't take a missing number to make me think that), until I looked back and noticed you had no vol. 47!

    Have a great weekend, Jennifer.

  32. Linda

    We must live fairly close to one another because this drought is getting me down too. I promise to be out there rolling around in puddles and dancing in the rain when it finally comes.
    It will rain again, won't it?

  33. abroadermark

    I think we might be getting your share of rain and cooler temps up here in central Oklahoma. But we've definitely been in your shoes before, so I know how it feels. C'mon Fall!

  34. J

    This is my first Quick Takes Friday post…thanks!

  35. Christian H


    I always assumed omitting the last night was either a legal concern or (which I prefer to think) to do with verisimilitude. If you put an actual name, you'd date the work, but if you put in a blank starting with a G, then the reader could always wonder if the narrator is refering to some Mrs. G local to them, or some Park O local to them. It makes it more real. We generally think of novels as strictly fictional, happening in fictional time and space, but that wasn't always the case.

    Or might have to do with Victorian modesty codes. But this is all just guesswork. Sorry.

    And you can have some of our rain. All of it, if you want.

  36. angela michelle

    So wise to go into bare minimum mode when needed. Too often I try to power through and keep doing it all–which kind of makes eveyone unhappy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  37. Catherine

    It's great to read about other moms being realistic and asking for help! I'm glad you're making things work.

  38. Anna

    I always wondered if 'He took the train to G–' was because the author didn't want people heckling him about getting the details wrong about a real place, and didn't want readers focusing on the name of a place that wasn't central to the story. A similar sort of logic might apply to people, but I don't really know. I've always wondered.

  39. Dymphna

    We have been very blessed here in PA with unseasonably cool temperatures. Sadly, that hasn't helped me get done what I should have this summer. I pray for TX to have some relief!

  40. Cheryl

    A day late, but I really did mean to do it on time!

    I totally understand "survival mode" – the worry only about essentials. Do what you need to do!

    And I can't wait for the fall temps either (of course, I like fall anyhow)!

  41. Kingdom Mama

    Oh, I hear ya! And we are almost there with our Baby Bear!

    I LOVE your bare minimum mode.

  42. Starrball

    I linked up. Re 5 this has been the summer for rain here, I feel like I could count the sunny days on 1 hand – but it would probably be more accurate to say on my fingers and toes.

  43. Lana

    #1: this sounds very familiar…I guess we moms can only laugh, move on, and thank God for more opportunities to burn those pregnancy calories. ๐Ÿ™‚
    #6: I've always thought it was to avoid situations like those that make it necessary for tv shows to preface the show with that disclaimer about how no impersonation was intended, it's all meant to be fiction, blah blah.
    I like Christine H's theory, though, and I too am just guessing…

  44. ~ Judy ~

    YIKES! I'm just wondering what part of PA Dymphna is from…I'm in PA too and we have been, sweltering, crackling, dry-rotting HOT!!! I'd like to visit your end of the state for a few!

  45. Elizabeth K.

    Re:#6–It was to do with verisimilitude, as another reader said. So you'll read, "—-shire," for example, in a Jane Austen book, so the reader could imagine she's writing about a locale they know well, perhaps their own.

  46. ~ Judy ~

    My brother just recently retired from a 40+ year career teaching both American/Brit/ Lit. He tells me that this was done by 19th century writers during the Napoleonic wars in order to protect identity (or prevent suspicion of such).

  47. Erin K.

    Bare minimum mode – I love that. I recently started thinking about how there are times of the year when I am less (or more) motivated than others. Instead of trying to "fix" this and be the most motivated all the time, maybe God is telling me to go with the flow and allow myself times to be less motivated or allow life to move at a little slower pace. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  48. Kathy

    I can SO relate to the one about rain (#5?). I spent part of a navy deployment in the Persian Gulf. Lots of haze from the sand in the air, skies were usually tan, miserably hot, and no rain. Not even a cloud.

    Within an hour of getting through the straits on our way out of the Gulf, we saw blue sky and fluffy white clouds for the first time in months. We were so excited, we called the Captain out to the bridge to see it. He was so excited, he announced the event to the entire ship, and people flooded up to the flight deck to see it.

    My husband's ship left the Gulf on a previous deployment and ran into a rainstorm the next day: general happy cavorting around the decks ensued.

  49. Dorian Speed

    Jennifer, here I thought you and I were simpatico, and then I read that you not only own, but utilize, a STEAM CLEANER.


    How do you run a steam cleaner with children in the house? Does it suck the water out of the carpet so it's not wet? We've only used one a couple of times, and we rented it at the grocery. We had to leave the house for several hours while the carpets dried.

    Here I was so happy with my new vacuum and my ghetto Swiffer.

  50. monica_divineoffice.org

    I think is great that you have a system in place that works. I believe is the only way to manege a house full of toddlers. Go for you and Good Luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liturgy of the Hours


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