7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 58)

November 13, 2009 | 95 comments

— 1 —

I switched my main calendar to Google Calendar, and I love it. It’s easy to add events, simple to view other calendars (like friends’ calendars, Catholic feast day calendars, etc.), and you can set up email reminders for events. Also, I have it set as my home page on my browser so that every time I get online it forces me to look at my calendar. It’s really helped me stay on top of everything!

— 2 —

On Tuesday we went to the inaugural banquet for the Austin Coalition for Life. It was a lot of fun. One of the coolest parts was that I got to chat with Abby Johnson, the Planned Parenthood director and 2008 employee of the year who recently had a change of heart and left her position. Some pictures:

With Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood director
With Carolyn, a 40 Days for Life sidewalk counselor and leadership team member
With Kim Speirs of Majella Society, Joe Geisler of Theology on Tap, and Joe’s friend Brandi
— 3 —

I found another great two-meal combo:

  1. We get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and use the meat as a main course with veggies, or we add it into rice and beans or tacos.


  • Then I use the leftover meat and bones to make a delicious homemade chicken soup per the simple instructions in the first comment here — and it makes enough for a couple of dinners.


It’s easy, cheap, healthy and delicious!

— 4 —

My mother-in-law Yaya swears up and down that potty training used to be easier. She says that it seems like most kids in the 1960s and ’70s were out of diapers by age two-and-a-half, and that potty training wasn’t the epic battle it is today. It’s hard for me to imagine that that could be true, especially as I have yet another three-year-old who is completely resistant to potty training, but I’ve heard other people of her generation make this claim as well. Anyone have any thoughts on that? Could that possibly be true, and, if so, why?

— 5 —

I am determined to make the Christmas season less stressful this year. To be honest, I did not really enjoy Advent and Christmas as much as I could have last year because I was so overwhelmed and stressed out. Some things I’m doing differently this year are:

  1. In November, having a serious sit-down talk with my husband where we decide what we can really afford to spend on presents (rather than doing the disastrous “guesstimating what I’m spending as I go along” method I usually use).


  • Using cash to buy presents to help keep us on budget (if I must buy something online I’ll re-deposit the cash to cover it).
  • Making a list of what I’m going to get for whom now instead of waiting until the last minute.
  • Cutting out “little extras” that seem like a good idea but always end up overwhelming me (e.g. baking decorative cookies for friends and family, hosting a Christmas party, etc.) I hope to re-incorporate these things in future years, but, as I’ve learned, keeping your sanity in this phase of life is all about ruthless prioritization.


Anyone else have good tips for making the holiday season less stressful?

— 6 —

Even though I’m still holding out on getting a Facebook account, I’ve developed a ridiculous sort of “poor man’s Facebook” where a friend of mine calls and reads me notable status updates. Embarrassingly, for about 30 minutes last Saturday night I just listened as she read me writer Simcha Fischer‘s status updates from the past week. I was laughing so hard that I contemplated getting a Facebook account under a fake name just to follow Simcha. But, knowing me, it would turn in to this horribly awkward situation where Simcha and I end up chatting back and forth and becoming friends under my fake name and then it comes out that it’s me and that I was using this alias only to follow her and restraining orders get involved and…yeah. Terrible idea.

— 7 —

Some people have asked me how the book rewrite is going. Unfortunately, I’m making very little progress right now since I’m so busy just keeping things in basic order here at the house — and with the holidays coming up, I doubt I’ll be making up for lost time any time soon. It’s frustrating to have this cool opportunity and not be able to act on it as quickly as I want to, but it’s a good (if a little painful) exercise in trusting God.

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. Genny – Casts, Cats, and Making a Difference
2. Tami @ The Next Step
3. Fr. Christian Mathis
4. Gae
5. It Feels Like Chaos
6. Kathy @ Political Housewyf
7. Enbrethiliel @ Shredded Cheddar
8. Kathryn (Bookworm)
9. Mary @ Passionate Perseverance
10. Sarah Reinhard
11. DebbieQ @ stophershesknitting
12. Elizabeth Mahlou
13. Cheryl (My Thoughtful Spot)
14. Mary @ Hope Echoes
15. Lindsay@MySymphony
16. EV
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18. becomewhatyouare
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20. TwoSquareMeals
21. leah @ abundant life
22. Jill
23. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life
24. Janet @ Domestic Bliss
25. Happy Geek
26. (just) Lenae
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30. Elena @My Domestic church
31. Karen @ Flash Light
32. Sarah & SoJo Blog
33. ThatMarriedCouple
34. Trena @ The Third Prayer
35. ChrisV
36. Jaime @ UndertheFigTree
37. Chelsea @ Roots & Rings
38. AbFabGeek
39. Sarah Johnson
40. Dawn @ Letters To My Children
41. Holly @ Hollison Journey
42. violingirl
43. Annemarie
44. Mrs Bubbles
45. Joy in the Journey
46. Jordana @ Curmudgeonry
47. Judy@A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings
48. Deanna@Notlukewarm
49. Kim @talklesssaymore
50. Sarah @ Fumbling Toward Grace
51. Missus Wookie
52. Kacy @ Meandering Home
53. erin@a new song
54. majellamom
55. Lisa@Dear Mary
56. Ranee @ Arabian Knits (Giveaway)
57. udubalum mama
58. el-e-e @ hello, self
59. Becky @Beck’s Three
60. Christine the Soccer Mom
61. Kim @ Love Letter to my Kids
62. Dakotapam
63. Joy@ joy in the morning
64. Transitus Tiber
65. Salome Ellen
66. Julia@ Blessed Obscurity
67. kim @ baby yahyah
68. Very Sleepy People
69. Christina@Mrs. Broccoli Guy
70. Theresa @ Off Topic
71. JoAnna @ A Star of Hope
72. Therese@Musings of a Mom
73. Therese@Musings of a Mom
74. Emily
75. Katherine @ The Domestic Church
76. Emily @My Song of Joy
77. Papua Girl in Dallas
78. Aubrey @ Laughing All the Way
79. Nicole @ As Many As We’re Given
80. Anna @ Annalogue
81. Marie, Two Ways of Renouncing the Devil
82. dashoff
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84. nadja@patch o’ dirt farm
85. NCSue
86. Miriel @ seeking Solomon
87. Jennifer Frey
88. KC
89. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
90. Jen @ The Short Years
91. Kathleen@So Much To Say, So Litle Time
92. Natatomic
93. Gillian @ Life of a Photographer
94. Krysta

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  1. Genny

    Great pictures, Jennifer! And I love that you are determined to make the holidays less stressful. Sounds like a great idea.

    I'm also in the middle of a book re-write, so I can relate. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy Friday!

    Genny @ MyCup2Yours

  2. Fr. Christian Mathis

    I like the Christmas ideas Jennifer!

  3. Flexo

    Anyone else have good tips for making the [Christmas] holiday season less stressful?

    I don't know about less stressful, but as for things to do — what does a mother and family do when waiting for the arrival of that "bundle of joy and love"?

  4. Melanie B

    re #4 My guess is it has to do with cloth diapers vs disposables. Disposables are too good at making the child feel dry by removing the moisture from the surface. I'm guessing the wet mess of cloth diapers is a much bigger motivator for both the child and the parent to hurry the process along sooner.

  5. The Bookworm

    I think Yaya is right – but in the 60s it was more potty conditioning than potty training, often starting very young. My mother used to hold us over a potty after feeds from just a few weeks old. I was potty trained by 18 months and my brother not much later, because we had been conditioned into an eat / potty reflex. With labour intensive terry nappies, the time spent holding a baby over a potty was worth it.

  6. Tami Boesiger

    I wonder if potty training is harder these days because of the the use of disposable diapers instead cloth. Kids knew what it felt like to get wet in those cloth ones.

    I need to follow your advice and plan AHEAD for Christmas. It's one of my least favorite times of the year–too much stress! Then I have guilt because it's supposed to be joyous. Bleh.

  7. Kerry

    You may think this is a crass take on gift giving.

    Last year we were right in the middle of an adoption with plans to travel any minute in December or January (we ended up traveling the 1st of Feb). Instead of stressing myself out entirely, we decided to give the kids CASH for Christmas (and gift cards to other family members). The day after christmas we all went out and shopped together. It was SO Much Fun! We "spent" exactly what we planned and everyone got exactly what they wanted. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I don't think we'll do it every year, but it worked well during a very stressful time.

    This year we are giving ourselves a family gift of a trip to the Smithsonian rather than gifts. The kids will still get gifts from grandparents and St. Nicholas (on Dec 6th). They are very excited!

    Cash for Christmas has worked really well for us, too.

  8. Anonymous

    Two words: Epiphany party.

    I find this the best antidote to Christmas entertaining. People are too overwhelmed before Christmas to have a decent get together, even people who WANT to celebrate Christmas outside of the secular trappings.

    We've had great Epiphany parties, but the important part is making it low key. We typically do an open house with simple appetizers (and an emphasis on vegetables and healthier food) and drinks. People drop in, chill, enjoy and then leave. I like putting a 2-3 hour window on the invitation. You couls also do it as a potluck.

    Epiphany party=sanity in my house.

  9. Lindsay

    Surely it was easier in years past because we have survived to adulthood as fairly independent potty goers–something I'm not 100% sure will be the case for my 3 year old. Your quick take from some time ago with the doll in the puddle of pea? Well, I could heartily sympathize (and laugh, I laughed a lot).

    I think I might have to find Simcha on Facebook since she isn't blogging. Once every six months on Inside Catholic is hardly sufficient. I think of her every time I see one of those silly Coexist bumper stickers–she had a great post about those.

  10. Rachael

    Hi! I just found your blog, and I happened to see #4…and I do have a theory for ya! Back in the day (as my son always says), they didn't have sippy cups. They didn't walk around all day sipping on their juice or milk….they were only given fluids at snack and mealtimes. I think that it's great that our children nowadays stay hydrated, but I think that has a lot to do with why kids today don't potty train as quickly. They drink so much and they pee all day long…that's a lot of work for a little one!

    I also think that cloth diapers made a big difference. Back then almost all children were in cloth diapers, and they could feel the icky sensation of being wet or dirty. Disposable diapers absorb most of the mess, so it's not very uncomfortable for them.

    Just my thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚ BTW, love the blog, and I will now be following!

  11. TwoSquareMeals

    My mother-in-law says the same thing about potty training. But she was sort of militant about it and used the potty training in a day method. For what it's worth, my mom says my brother hid behind the chair and went in his pants until well after age 3, so maybe it is just a parenting style thing and not a generational thing.

  12. Laura

    In regards to the potty training, I have heard that today's diapers are just so much more comfortable for the baby. The older cloth diapers that used to be used would be a little uncomfortable when they got wet or soiled. With the fabrics and materials now used the child is kept dry and comfortable so there isn't as much incentive to be potty trained.

  13. Sandy C.

    On the potty training, just a guess? When most children were in cloth diapers, they felt their pottying more quickly and more uncomfortably than do children in highly absorbable disposables? So,the children were more aware of the effects of going in their pants and more motivated to avoid that feeling? Just a thought, but maybe I've read it somewhere and forgotten it.

  14. TL.

    ahahah LOL at the facebook account. I deleted my facebook account a year ago or so, but then I was on a board about NFP with people I really liked. SO here is my dirty little secret: I created a fake account, with an obviously fake name (two famous writers names) and I joined the group again, just so I can follow up one those three or four girls who were so supportive of me. 2 of them are pregnant now ๐Ÿ™‚ Honestly I did use that account only 3 times in a year. I don't really miss facebook otherwise.

  15. Marit

    # 4: cotton diapers versus the diapers we have today… I think that is what makes all the difference. If a child is comfy in his/her dry diaper, then why bother getting potty trained? I'm sure there's no better incentive for getting potty trained than a soggy piece of material placed between your legs.

  16. Jill

    I'm with you on the efforts to make Christmas less stressful! This is the first time in 5 yrs that I've actually lived in the same state as my family, so I hope the holidays will be easier. Though I suspect that might not be the case! :-/

  17. SursumCorda

    I'm with Yaya on the potty training. I blame it on paper diapers, the decline in family size, and listening to professionals rather than to our parents.

    I'm sure you've heard about the Elimination Communication folks — infant potty training — and no doubt dismissed them in horror at the thought of what a home of diaperless children would look like. But they make the point that other societies even today cannot understand why American children are so slow to learn something so simple. Babies want to stay clean, but diapers, especially the disposable ones, deprive them of awareness and feedback.

    More, however, is due to our lowered expectations. When families were large, parents of necessity expected better behavior of their children — including potty training. I don't need to tell you what it's like having so many children in diapers!

    I was part of the transition generation. There was a definite shift in the prevailing wisdom about potty training. Doctors told us that early potty training was a myth, that it merely trained the parents, that it would traumatize our children for life. Granted, with that shift came the blessed understanding that some children simply aren't physically capable until a later age, which made life much more bearable for those who were still wetting the bed after age three. (I remember a Dear Abby column — or Ann Landers, I forget which — in which she maintained strongly that bedwetting after that age was due to serious psychological problems! So glad that day is past.) But what was forgotten was that most children could be potty trained much earlier. So people stopped trying.

    A swimming instructor told me that it is much easier to teach a baby to swim than a three-year-old, because for a baby it's still natural, but the older child has developed fears — and a strong will. I suspect much the same is true of potty training.

  18. happygeek

    My mom too said that potty training was quite easy, so I stole her method and did not find it an ordeal at all.
    However, I did not train my older child till he was 3.5 and verbal. (THere was a language delay.)
    Made all the difference in the world as I had started when he was pre-verbal and it it was a nightmare. So I stopped and waited till I thought he could handle it.

    When my kids were really small and colicky I didn't even put up a Christmas tree. They don't seem to suffer any lingering damage and the stress was greatly minimized.

  19. Julie Culshaw

    Re potty training. The difference? disposable diapers. Kids don't feel wet in them, so it doesn't matter as much to be rid of the diaper.
    And moms used to be washing dozens of diapers, often drying them on the line, it was a lot of work. So the impetus to train was much greater.

  20. Jodi

    To answer your potty training question: cloth diapers. My three CDed kids were potty-trained at the latest by 2 years, 3 months and it took less than a week (although, of course, we still had the occasional accident). I think there's scientific research behind my anecdotal experience. The reason for the earlier potty training is the "feedback" kids get in cloth diapers, i.e. they feel the wetness and begin to learn bladder control to avoid that wet, soggy feeling.

  21. Rachael

    Also, I was wondering how I can get your image of "7 quick takes friday" to put on my blog. I have a link back to your blog, but I can't figure out how to use the image, or if you would even allow me to. I am new to blogging, so please bear with me! Thanks!

  22. Katie

    Facebook is great, get over it and give in!

  23. Suburban Correspondent

    I don't understand the toilet-training thing either, but Ya-ya is correct. And in Europe (or Russia at least), old ladies will publicly berate you if they see your 3-year-old waddling around in diapers. They don't even have the larger sizes available there.

  24. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    This has surely been commented upon a dozen times already, but cloth diapers let them feel when they're wet. Though I used pocket diapers with fleece inside and the little one could hardly tell when she tinkled. And didn't seem to terribly mind being dirty.

    But, with some "talking up" big girl pnties (can't type that word out – it's just not in me), she woke up one day from her nap about six weeks ago and wanted to wear pnties and that was it. There were accidents – thankfully always standing up, as thoughts of the doll face down in the puddle from your blog danced in my head.

  25. Anonymous

    I've heard that about kids and potty training from several sources / older ladies. My understanding is that our wonderful disposable diapers 'wick away' all moisture so effectively that kids rarely feel wet. In cloth diapers they felt wet and uncomfortable and were all too glad to potty train.

    Sounds like a racket, right? Make the disposables so good that everyone switches, and then make them so good that people are still buying them for 4 and 5 year olds instead of potty training at 2. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    ~ Kristine

  26. Francesca

    Re: potty training–

    My mom swears the same thing, and I think it's in part because diapers now are so darn effective. My 3 yo is like yours- no interest in training at all- and what's his incentive? The gel in his disposable diapers wicks away the moisture so well that he doesn't feel like he's sitting in a puddle of pee. He's perfectly comfortable.

    I'm afraid I'll have to do what I did with his older siblings: go cold turkey one day, deal with the mess for a few days, and then it's over.

  27. Anne

    There's probably a way to get a facebook account and just set your privacy settings very high (ie. profile not visible in searches) so you can use it for only the limited uses that you want to. Then you won't have to go under a fake name. But be careful, it's addictive!

  28. KimP

    I'm no expert on the potty training thing, but I've heard that one reason why its harder today is that diapers are just so much better than they were say, 40 years ago. Diapers today are so absorbant, so fabulous, that the kid isn't even uncomfortable in a dirty diaper. With the old diapers, especially the cloth ones, eventually the child notices that wet, uncomfortable feeling. At least that is what I have heard. I was toilet trained by my grandmother when my mother was in the hospital having my brother – I was two years, two months old – and I remember it. She used gum drops. Every time I went, I got a gum drop. I got it.

    My brother, however, being a boy, took a bit longer and was way more resistant to this procedure!

  29. Rosita

    Actually I think it was easier to potty train 30+ years ago. Cloth diapers and old disposable diapers let the babies feel when they were wet. Now, the technology is so good that children don't feel when they are wet, so they aren't uncomfortable in diapers. Thus, they have no incentive to potty train. And they aren't able to relate the wet feeling to going to the bathroom, which helps them learn their bodies cues.

    I have found some good ideas on http://www.adventconspiracy.org/ refocusing during the Christmas season.

  30. beckygiggles

    I think the answer to #4 is cloth diapers. The diapers we use today as so absorbent and comfy, they don't want out of them. Can you blame them?

  31. Joe Magarac

    We did something three years ago that made Christmas gift-buying incredibly easy. We got budget software called YNAB which forces you to set a budget for every month. We use it to put $100 into a Christmas fund each month, so that we have $1200 to spend when Christmas buying season rolls around. My wife then creates a spreadsheet that lists each friend or relative who's getting a gift (and how much money that gift can cost) and also sets aside money for general expenses like cards, decorations, food and liquor if we're hosting her family's Christmas Eve extravaganza, etc. The spreadsheet and YNAB work together to make sure that we come in on time and under budget. It's a huge improvement over our prior holiday seasons, as we are usually done buying and wrapping presents by 12.15 and can relax and enjoy the reason for the season after that.

  32. That Married Couple

    Don't get a facebook account. You will be completely sucked in and never finish your book!

  33. Stephanie

    I've heard the potty training thing, too. I think a lot of it is the diapers. We have disposables (which weren't around in the 50s), and they're a lot better and cheaper than the ones in the 80s. I think once you wait until the child is a certain age (say 2 1/2-3), they're more stubborn. We also are on the go more which means less time at home to devote to potty training. When you're all over creation, it's easier to just have the diapers than worry about potty breaks every 15 minutes.
    That's just my opinion though.

  34. BettySue

    Yes potty training used to be easier. They started in the "window of opurtunity" between 18 and 24 months. Waiting later than that lets the child get in the habit of diaper dumping and makes it a power issue instead of just a part of hygene. It really is better to do it earlier. (Now I need to go start my 24 month old, sigh. Thank you for reminding me.)

  35. Rebekka

    Re: potty training. I've heard this too and I believe it. I think it has to do with people using disposable diapers now vs. cloth back in the day. Disposable diapers are more absorbent so the child doesn't feel wet, and awareness of what's going on is a big step. I know someone who tried for ages to potty train her daughter, but without success until she gave her daughter underpants on under the diapers, and suddenly her daughter could notice when she peed. A few days and voila, no diapers.

  36. JMB

    To simplify Christmas? First, Santa doesn't wrap presents! Secondly, I bailed on the photo Christmas card after one child nearly implailed themselves on a tripod at a photo store. That was a few years ago and as much as I enjoy receiving cards from my friends and family, I don't send any out any more and I'm ok with that. Besides, everyone knows what my kids look like now thanks to Facebook:)

  37. Babs

    A thought on potty training: I had my children in the late 1970s into the '80s. When I was training my children, my mom advised me to put regular underwear on them – not the "training" pants I had. She said they felt too much like a diaper to a child. I got regular underwear for the girls, and character underwear for my son, and the whole matter was taken care of in a day or two. There were a few accidents and that was it. They were all around three when we did this. Other moms did it a year or more earlier than I did.

  38. chandy

    My mom also insists that potty training is harder now than it was a generation ago. Our theory is that the diapers kids wear now are so nice and effective that they are almost TOO comfortable. A wet diaper actually feels pretty dry to the touch, so there isn't that discomfort to prompt them to use the potty.

  39. Sue

    I don't have kids, and thus have not had to deal with potty-training myself yet, but I've heard theories that improvements in diaper technology make for less incentive to use the potty… i.e., if you're pretty comfortable either way, why switch? I'm inclined to believe it – the difference in comfort between modern diapers and the cloth diaper/rubber pants combo I and my siblings wore is probably stark!

  40. MemeGRL

    The family baby books we have would indicate that my husband and his four sisters, and I over in my house, were all trained by age 3. The theory goes: cloth diapers=less comfortable=more incentive to train.
    Our nursery school teacher has her own theory: too much stress and other "stuff" going on for kids. My now four year old is in the midst of Potty Regression #3, and I am despairing. When I called school to let them know, she said that in 20 years of doing this, she's never seen more four and five (!!!) year olds still struggling with the potty.
    Good luck to you in the trenches. And thanks for the Google Calendar nudge. The school district here is on it, with about 19 choices (by school, by grade, district wide, band, sports, etc.) and I'm intrigued but haven't made the leap!

  41. Amber

    About the potty training – I don't know about the 60s & 70s (except for myself, who was perfect at everything at an earlier age than everyone else), but I did work in the 1-2 year old room in a preschool for 2 years in the early 90s. It was a rule that kids couldn't go on to the 2-3 room until they had been potty trained, and me & my assistant did it, every day, with 12 kids, who all did indeed get it on or before when they hit 2. Don't know what we did that particularly worked, though. We just made everyone go in, one at a time, at scheduled times (they could go other times if they needed to, they just HAD to go at these times, even if they just there for a few minutes.) Socialization probably had something to do with it, too. When one kid got it, I think it made others want to get it, too.

  42. Kelly

    I read in one potty training book that something like 90% of all babies were potty trained at 18 months in the 1950's. I promptly called up my Aunt who had four children in the 1950's and asked her if it was true. She replied that it was.

    I asked her to tell me how she did it. Her reply? "I don't know. I had a career, you know. The baby sitter potty trained them all."

    Personally, I think switching from cloth diapers made a bit difference. Also, in the Babywhisperer Solves All Your Problems, the author mentions a method where you sort of gradually introduce the potty at around 9-12 months which is pretty low stress and I think would lead to an earlier finishing time.

  43. Elizabeth

    Cloth Diapers….my mother had us all out of diapers by 18 months…so I am told. The wonder of super absorbent, comfy disposables makes kids "not so interrested"…would YOU be?
    I let my kids set the tone and don't worry about it…none of them will leave for college with diapers or a binkie! Snorkie was almost FOUR years old, but trained himself in DAYS. No muss, no fuss.
    It was when HE got uncomfortable that he was ready. I have never really been tempted to do the cloth diaper thing although I know some who do…they swear by it.
    As per holidays this year…I'm with you. We are due for #4 sometime in the next 2 weeks…I am NOT sweating Thanksgiving AT ALL…sending Hubby to Boston Market whether I am at home or hospital ๐Ÿ™‚
    Blessings for a peaceful Season!

  44. Lana

    #4: I have heard some speculate that the disposable diapers industry has really transformed potty training. As a result, we parents [are encouraged to] potty train late, and we can fall back on diapers/pull ups fairly easily, and confuse our children in the process.

  45. Christine the Soccer Mom

    Re: Potty Training

    I have heard this, too. My grandmother (and my Dad, too) swears up and down that as soon as a kid could walk, she would start potty training them. Up from bed as soon as they are awake and dropped on the toilet, both in the morning and after naps.

    I could not imagine this whatsoever.

    My older daughter was not interested in the least in being potty trained, and we finally decided that she'd GET potty trained after her sister was born and she turned three. Yup. Three. The other one was BEGGING to be trained at 2 1/2, but we were getting ready to move, and I was not in the mood at the time, so we waited until we were in our home here in Virginia.

    With the older one, we learned that Pull Ups are (pardon my French) for suckas. They are glorified diapers that delay the whole process. So we invested in a dozen pairs of thick cotton undies and a pack of rubber pants to go over them (and save my sanity). Big Girl stopped peeing in her new undies within a week. Within another week, no more BMs in them, either. But, man, she was stubborn…I had to set timers all day to prompt her to try because if it was MY idea, it was not worth doing. (She is now 11 and hasn't changed much there. Pray for her…and me!)

    I heard someone say that we just need to relax sometimes. Some kids (and esp. boys) aren't ready as soon, and none of them will likely go to Kindergarten with diapers.

  46. the momma

    not having potty-trained in the 60's & 70's, I can't say for sure – but I suspect is has to do with the diapers.
    In the 'old days' the little tykes felt the uncomfortable wetness, which gave them some incentive to go on the potty. Now – even cloth-diapered babies, with the help of wicking fabrics & all that, stay dry-feeling.

    I mean, really, what's better? Having to go potty over a big water filled hole – or – going wherever and whenever you please & letting someone else clean up the mess??

  47. Anonymous

    Different people define "potty-trained" differently. For mother-in-law, my husband was "trained" once she had him in underwear. For a year or two afterward she had to watch the clock and sit him on the potty every so often, and keep him always in the same room with her so she she could see when he squatted and made faces and whisk him off to the potty on time.

    For me, "trained" is when the only part of going potty I'm involved in is changing rolls of toilet-paper and washing no more than 8 pair of underwear a week. Everything else is under the child's control – no reminders, no cleanups, etc.

    You can see why my children were twice my husband's age when they were "trained". The fact that she had to hand wash the diapers and line dry them (stretch them on the top of the TV in winter) while I can afford disposables certainly affected how much time and energy each of us was willing to devote to having a child in underwear vs. diapers.

  48. ~ Judy ~

    Thanks for hosting!
    GREAT LIST…love the chicken tips!
    Perhaps you'd like to do what a friend of mine does for Advent…in order to keep a "slower and more focused" pace…her family carries out this tradition:

    Week 1: Put up Tree and ONLY the tree
    Week 2: Add lights to the tree
    Week 3: Add ornaments
    Week 4: Add the tree topping (star or angel or whatever)

    This little custom, my friend's family claims helps them to really ponder and anticipate the coming of the Savior from week to week for they are not rushed and look forward to each week's addition to this Christmas centerpiece.

    Just an idea!

    God bless you in the Advent Season ahead!

  49. Rebecca

    I love Google calendar! That is all.

  50. Lindsay


    Sorry, but in the sea of responses, I felt the need to shout, lol.

    I've cloth diapered from day one. I've used regular underwear. My boys will happily sit and play in a puddle of pee all day if I let them. Potty training may be the death of me. I think I might try the suggestion of starting early with #3 though. He's about that age (14 months).

  51. Barbara C.

    I'm sure the diaper thing is true, but I want to offer one other suggestion—spanking. From stories I've heard from friends and relatives in the "good old days", some parents weren't above spanking children for messing in their pants. Maybe since spanking is much less prevalent…

  52. erin blakley

    I hope to meet Abby Johnson someday! I'm so glad you were able to.

  53. 'Becca

    Adding to the chorus of people saying #4 is a matter of cloth vs. disposable diapers, I also recall that you've said your daughter doesn't seem to notice when she pees no matter what she is wearing. Probably you missed a critical period for her awareness (all the more reason to START NOW with your 2-year-old!!!) but what you can do now is minimize the mess NOT with superabsorbent Pullups but with a waterproof cover over underpants. I recommend Dappi nylon covers, which are only about $3 each and easy to clean. Click my name for more about them and some toilet-training tips.

  54. el-e-e

    LOVE Google cal. Yay! Good idea making it your homepage.

  55. Kate J in MN

    For potty training, I think you have a wonderful advantage in having closely-spaced siblings. Once the first one gets it, they will follow like dominoes, in my experience (mom of 8). My 3rd (a boy, no less, after 2 girls) required zero effort on my part – he just decided to start "going" on the toilet one day! An "open-door" policy, at least in the beginning, was essential.
    Further down the line, I did have one younger boy "get it" b/f his 1-yr-older brother, who then quickly followed suit.

  56. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    OK, OK, I have a question for all y'all who are talking about how cloth diapers/underwear make things easier: What if your child couldn't care less about being in wet underwear?>

    I've had my three-year-old in panties (regular panties, not the special thick kind) for weeks now and she'd happily play all day after an accident. What on earth does a parent do about that?! Any help would be appreciated!

    And Rachael –

    Also, I was wondering how I can get your image of "7 quick takes friday" to put on my blog.

    I think the easiest thing to do is to right-click on the logo, save it to your computer, and then add it to your post the way you'd add other pictures from your computer. Sorry I don't have any shortcut copy and paste code up yet! I just haven't had a chance to get to it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  57. Bill Walsh

    It's the diapers. Research by diaper companies shows the better the diaper, the longer kids tend to wear them. So, you're trading off mess for quicker potty training. Hard call.

  58. Dakotapam

    We use Google Calendar as well. As a matter of fact, everyone in our household old enough to use email has learned to put their events on the Google calendar. WE feel much more organized!

    This Advent and Christmas I am being forced to simplify. With twin girls due in mid January, I'm already on modified bedrest. The good news is the Christmas cards will get out. The bad news is…no one is getting cute homemade gifts from me…and no one expects it!

    As for the potty training. I think moms of the pst were better trained than the kids. I've used cloth and disposables and have found very little difference in potty training time…all my boys trained at around 3 years old…except my one freaky kid who trained himself at 2…but he is just different!

  59. Kingdom Mama

    Just stopped by to say that I love you! I hope you are having a wonderful day!!:)

  60. Joanne

    My 22 month old is in cloth diapers and she could not give a *hang* if they are wet or dirty.

    I am 41 and my siblings and I were all trained by 2, with the except of the youngest, who was 3 and who wore — dun dun — disposable diapers! My guess is that my mom didn't have as much time to train him, with three older kids.

  61. Kylie

    I agree with the cloth diaper thing, but I think it goes one step farther than just not feeling the wetness. When wearing cloth a baby is generally changed right after each elimination so the child and the parent have a good sense of when and how often the child goes. Therefore, going to use the potty in the beginning doesn't seem like more of a hassle to either party. Also, in my limited experience (and watching friends) earlier is easier. They are much more compliant and less in the "DO IT MYSELF/MY WAY" mindset.

  62. Annie

    I read somewhere (I can't find the article but if you google 'potty training in Europe' you can find a lot of similar stuff) that children in Europe are almost always potty trained between 18 and 24 months. The idea is that their will are not fully developed at that point and they are more likely to listen to you. I was completely potty trained at about 16 months because my 2.5 year old sister was being potty trained then and I wanted to do what she was doing. My mom said that she just put a children's potty in the bathroom and let us start using it when we wanted, and soon we were using it all the time, no accidents.

  63. Therese

    Potty training is so frustrating. My 4 year old just did it after months of saying no, he woke up one day and never looked back! That was almost a month ago!

  64. babyyahyah

    potty training was easier then as they started earlier I think than we do. and yes I do think most were out of diapers by 18 months or so back then or earlier it seemed. but don't worry my boys are/were horrible at potty training and have/ had no desire to stay dry ever.

  65. Serena

    Well, I was going to comment on the potty training thing, but I see everything that I was going to say has been well covered!

    And you've convinced me to try Google Calendar.

  66. Elisa

    I had my first child bpotty trained by 18 months. Then we moved at 24 months and it took him 3 months to be potty trained again. My 16 month old goes pee in the potty when we set him down and poopy every now and then. My philosophy, the earlier you start, the better. I've just always put my kids on the potty (little baby bjorn) and said sssss and they'd go =)

  67. Elisa

    Oh yeah…should have mentioned I use cloth too. Always thought the wet feeling motivates a kiddo to be out of diapers =)

  68. Anna

    Tell Simcha Fischer to put all her FB updates on twitter. Problem solved. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  69. Vicki R.

    Re cloth vs. sposies – while there may be some truth that the child "feels" different in cloth, it certainly wasn't true for my 1st kid. He was in cloth from about 6 mths to 24 mths & at 3 1/2, he's still not fully potty-trained. Cloth had zero impact on him in that regards. I think p.ting was done earlier more for mom's reasons – cloth was a pain back then – lots of extra work for moms, who for the most part stayed home. They had a lot to do, typically had more than 1 or 2 kids to raise & to have a child in cloth older than 2 meant more clean-up work for them.

    Also, families schedules were MUCH different than they are today. Lots more time spent in the home, with regular routines / chores. I think it's more difficult to train kids by 2 yrs of age because of how busy our schedules are – kind of like naptimes. Much more difficult to establish healthy sleep patterns when we're constantly on the go.

    Of my mom-friends, girls can still pretty easily be trained by 2, 2.5 in comparison to boys, regardless of when things are started & personality types. Plus, most moms aren't as "harsh" in the p.ting methods – making kids stay on the potty until there's a result sort of thing. Which is good that there are better ways to make that happen for the kid.

    Without the distraction of the Internet, emails, a zillion activities you can involve yourself & your children in, all made for simpler home. Better? Maybe in some ways, maybe not. Just different. And that's my take. ๐Ÿ™‚

  70. Duggan Family

    Jennifer, I really enjoy your blog, especially your insights into the living our faith daily. Beautiful!

    I just posted on my own blog all my stresses related to Christmas–as I also have four children under the age of five. I realized when I read your list–I left out gift buying as an additional stressor–duh!(the money thing is also stressful though we do have a Christmas fund that comes out of our check each month so we know exactly what we have to spend in December)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!



  71. Kim

    1. Yep, it's the cloth diapers. Also our expectations–we don't even start until after age 2, when around 18 mos is the easiest. I'm on #5 who is almost 20 mos and I've never mastered the early thing yet! We always seem to be moving right at potty training time, and/or I'm pregnant so I put it off.

    2. Love the chicken idea! I've been doing the same thing–really, rotisserie and then chicken soup, just last week. So easy and good!

    3. I posted this week about Facebook also. It's just so…I don't know…addictive! It is amazing to me how that dang Evil One gets at me over one temptation (too much blogging), then I catch on and stop, then another thing (too much food), then I catch on and stop, then another thing (Facebook), and so on…I guess that's what it's all about, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

    4. Love your blog, you are awesome, I'm from Austin also (now in WI though). God bless, Jen!

    –Kim @ love letter to my kids

  72. TRS

    I don't have kids – but I do recall potty training my nephew when I was teenager – and I think many of these comments are right regarding the difference between landfill emassing commercial diapers, and heavy, wet, cloth diapers.

    Put a cloth diaper on your kids' butt every day and I'll bet he'll be using the toilet by the end of the week.
    also, make a big production about pinning the old fashion diaper on – and off, make it take a good five minutes – stick him with the pin a few times – he'll be so frustrated he'll switch to big boy undies in no time!!

    Plus… read John Rosemond on potty training. You can get it done in 3 days. Just put your 3 year old (my God, that would have been an embarrassment in the old days!!!) in cotton underwear and let him soil himself. He'll figure it out.

  73. Theresa

    I hate to be a killjoy but using a false name is a violation of Facebook's terms of service that you agree to follow. I bet this is a place where I won't be attacked for expressing my belief that that is a moral issue! Right?

  74. nicole

    My MIL had both her sons potty-trained by 2 1/2 or so. She loaned me the book she used. I think our attitude about training has changed. Also, at least for you and I, our kids are much closer in age. I can't spend an entire day camped out in the bathroom waiting for my child to recognize the urge to go. I would like my kids to learn at an early age, but it is not worth the stress of trying before they are ready. Good luck!

  75. Monica

    I have a resistant 3-year-old, too. She's going to be 4 in March, and she's still not fully trained. Sigh.

    BUT! I have a 13-month-old who's almost completely potty trained! That's because, when his older sister proved so difficult to train (my oldest wasn't too tricky), I started looking into Infant Potty Training. I got a book from the library called that, and started when my baby was about 9 months. There's also one called Diaper Free that someone else recommended.

    It's useful in a way for the older sibling, too, since they see the littler one using the potty and think, "Gee, maybe I could do that."

    I used to think this kind of thing was crazy, kooky, and out there, but I'm definitely going to use it on any future babies God blesses us with.

    Also, for Advent stress reduction, I try to get my shopping done before Advent starts. I can't TELL you how much this helps.

  76. Christian H

    I'm sure people have something with the diaper change, but what about our greater fear of psychological harm done to kids? I mean, Freud theorized that some people are hung up on potty training well into adulthood. I'm not a big fan of Freud, but I think we'd be right if we thought kids were upset at one point by having a wet diaper when they wouldn't be so upset now…maybe 'cause mommy and daddy are more sympathetic and forgiving about an accident than they might have be 30+ years ago.
    In case I'm unclear, I'm saying that parents were likely harsher on kids who had accidents than they are now. You learn faster when the consequences are greater.

  77. Cmerie

    How timely that you posted this. I started PTing my just turned 3 year old on Monday and expected to be done by today. While he will go pee in the toilet (when I tell him to, not on his own) he will NOT go #2. It's driving me crazy. He comes and gets me when he's done it, so I know he knows what he's doing, but he just won't do it. *sigh*. We've gone straight to training pants, no pull ups. Reading the other comments, many people have talked about starting them earlier, when they are less stubborn, but we actually tried with him about 6 months ago and it was even harder. He didn't really understand what I wanted him to do. I know he'll get it, but hopefully it won't be much longer.

    I've heard the cloth diaper thing before too, but my son is one of those as well that would (and has) sit in a puddle of filth and play carelessly.

  78. Damien and Simcha

    Ha! I'm number 6! I'm number 6! I'm sorry, but now that I know how you feel about cilantro, I don't think I'll ever be able to un-know it. These buffers are here for a reason.

    You look lovely, as always, by the way.

  79. Anonymous

    I cloth diapered my son and he was completely potty trained before he was 2.5. He was bowel trained right at age 2, and it took a few more months to consistently get the bladder part. We started with a diaper service and they even had a guarantee that if your child was not potty trained by three, all of your diapers were free after that age. We didn't continue the diaper service. I washed the diapers myself, which is really not that hard or awful. I think the companies that make disposable diapers have quite a racket going–people are so afraid of poop that they are willing to buy disposable diapers for *years* beyond the normal age of training, just so as to not have to deal with it–ironically meaning they have to deal with it more.

    I don't think disposables are the only factor. I also think that there are a lot of dual income families and other "very busy" people out there who don't have time to devote their full attention to a child being potty trained. Sometimes it's easy, but sometimes, yes, you really do have to camp out with them all day long and make sure you get them to the potty each and every time they might have to go. If your sitter or day care worker is not willing to do that, or if you have a bunch of other kids/duties clamoring for your attention, it's not going to happen.

    Jen–how about getting some help with the other kids for a couple of days so you can do a potty training marathon with your daughter?

  80. Liz C

    Simplifying Christmas:

    Absolutely do make a firm budget, and do it with cash.

    Trim the gift list. We exchange within the household, and for all the extended family, we exchange a 4×6 snapshot of the family (studio prints discouraged.) Last year, my costs, including postage, for both sides of the family were $12. Total.

    Decide the ONE thing that "Makes Christmas" for each person in the house, and do that thing. Sometimes there's great overlap, which helps.

    Don't wait for Christmas. There are some fun things I want my children or spouse to own, but we don't wait all year to add them. Sometimes, we just give a gift for no reason at all. It seems to take the pressure off finding "the perfect" thing at Christmas.

    We also skip Santa entirely, so that's a big help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  81. Jen Rouse

    I have heard the same thing about previous generations and potty training! It makes me feel like a total failure. My three-year-old has been supposedly "potty trained" for months but has been relapsing with little puddles all over the house like crazy. I don't know what the deal is. What did 1970s mothers do that I don't do?

  82. Anonymous

    On Potty training…..compare the super-absorbent diapers of today to the ones I probably wore 40 years ago. The diapers today just aren't uncomfortable. A kid has to be bothered by being wet before he gets the inclination to avoid that feeling. The pull-up (complete waste of money-just a less convenient and more messy diaper) and diapers don't allow for discomfort-even when they're sagging full!

  83. G

    First, under no circumstances open a FB page. I finally closed mine a few months ago because I honestly felt like I'd need to answer to the good Lord for all the time I wasted there looking at "friends" old photo albums, designing bling etc. I'm obviously too ADD to be responsible enough to handle that.
    Second, you're right, the only way to enjoy Advent, at least to me, is to learn to say No to yourself & others. Doing more & buying more is all this culture can equate to a Merry Christmas but that's the opposite, of course, to the silence, littleness and peace of Bethlehem.
    Finally, sorry but your mother in law is wrong. It was just as hard to potty train in the old days as it is now. I finally just waited till summer time & let them run around the house in a long tee shirt. When they felt themselves wetting, they'd stand there stunned for a moment & then we'd rush to the bathroom & they'd finally connect the dots!

  84. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    One possible suggestion for your stubborn 3 YO daughter – after she has an "accident" (on purpose?), strip her, put her in the bath tub, and rinse her off with cool water – cold enough to make her uncomfortable. Tell her that you have to clean her up…

    Another commenter mentioned John Rosemond – his theory is called Naked and $75, where you have the kid run around naked, presuming they won't like the feel of their waste going down their leg. I don't see this as working for you. (The $75 is to clean the carpets when you're done.)

    Your daughter is too young for this, I think, but he wrote an article on "kicking out of the Garden of Eden" that was jolted a 4 year old into using the potty. You can read about it and other uses than potty training here. You could try to modify it by taking away her favorite toys, but it's tough when there are other little ones involved.

  85. big sky

    Simplifying Christmas-
    Instead of baking, we dip oreos in chocolate and then sprinkle with christmas sprinkles. People go ga-ga over this treat. This year, I'm going to get Peanut Butter sandwich cookies from Trader joe's for something different. Everyone gets these- teacher, mailman, garbage man, religious ed teacher, family members as stocking stuffers. Takes about an hour, is fun and kids can help.

  86. Laurie

    Nice to see so many people commenting on diapers. We used infant potty training with our third and enjoyed it very much, were delighted to start and finish sooner than we had with traditional delayed toilet learning. We used cloth diapers and later training pants.

    Some resources: โ€œInfant Potty Trainingโ€ book and โ€œPotty Whisperingโ€ DVD

  87. Anonymous

    re: #5
    When my children were small (& I was broke), we began our modest Christmas: a new outfit (which was worn most Sundays until Easter), a new book, something special for that child's interests, and stocking stuffers. This worked so well, that we continued every year. Some years, the new outfit "grew" into new p.j.s, or a new sweater or jeans as needs be, but my kids now say having just the three gifts never made them feel "poor" and having the mystery of the "special" gift (i.e. – a first camera for the eldest, a stuffed animal for the youngest, a program for the computer kid)and the excitement of "what will the stockings have this year?" kept everything eventful. It helped keep our focus on the real meaning of Christmas because no one was feeling stressed, broke, resentful, &c.

    We also CELEBRATED Advent very deliberately and, as they got old enough to understand, we "adopted" a family and shopped for non-perishables that our local St. Vincent de Paul society would deliver for us, keeping us anonymous.


  88. Stephanie

    Just had dinner with Joe and some others after mass this evening, he mentioned meeting you and I told him I was jealous! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Wish we could have gone to the banquet, sounds like it was a great evening!

  89. ~Leyla~


    I don't do the cookie thing either. What I do is make these super simple candies to share.

    Melt one pound of almond bark in the microwave. Stir in one cup of peanut butter.

    This is your base, now add in one cup of whatever stuff you have available, here are my favorite add ins:

    Peant Butter Captain Crunch Cereal
    Mini marshmallows
    Pretzel sticks
    Rice Crispies

    I typically add in at least 3 different items.

    Next you can either take the long approach and drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper, or speed up the process and just spread the whole mess out in a parchment lined 9×13 pan.

    I usually use the pan method, once cooled and hardened I pull out the candy block and cut it into little half-inch pieces. The almond bark, PB base tastes almost like a peanut butter fudge and people think you spent HOURS on an item that takes less than 15 minutes.


  90. Robinsonpack

    I have to laugh at how many people made the same comment re: cloth diapers. However, I do think it is true. However, I use cloth for my kids, and love them, yet my oldest son still took until he was 3 1/2 to potty train. Probably being a boy, and his personality, he just didn't mind feeling a little wet. He was used to it I guess. For us what worked was letting him go bare bum. He just wouldn't pee on the floor, he knew he wasn't supposed to, so as long as there was no diaper on he went to the potty. We then slowly introduced clothes! As for how to make your Christmas less stressful, we limit the spending. Do secret santa for extended family (so each person only has one person to shop for) and for our kids they all get one big fun gift, one book and one "faith" gift. I think the materialism of our culture is one of the biggest "stressers" at Christmas.

  91. Meika

    No time to read ALL the comments, but re: potty training – yes, to the disposals desensitizing the kids to the feeling of eliminating. They don't get the feedback, so the first thing you have to allow them to learn when training is to notice what it feels like when their bodies are peeing or pooping. You can do this by leaving them naked (usually said to get best results) or with cloth undies or trainers or just knit pants with nothing under. The second thing is that kids do get used to the sensation of being wet and stop caring about it. Kids are more or less sensitive about this by nature to begin with, but also try keeping them very, very dry and clean with very frequent changes for a while before training so they forget how they used to be okay with feeling wet and get to like that whole dry feeling. And start young, like introduce the concept between 12-18 months. It's easier for them to learn then, as well. Good luck!

  92. Amy

    HI Jennifer. Ms. Amy here from preschool. I love your sweet kids and I love getting to read through your blog. My 2 cents on potty training is, I loved diapers as a mom of young kids because they were less messy. I lamented the day that I knew I had to get my kids out of diapers. I also did not have time to deal with taking them to the potty every 30 minutes to try, so I never tried the "start 'em young" philosophy. So, my oldest was 3 1/2 before he was trained and everyone else was right at 3. I think to finally do it, you have to just make the switch. No more pull ups or diapers, even at night. Just go to big kid undies. That puts you in major cleaning mode, and it will definitely test your patience, but that is what has helped us make the switch. There will even still be accidents at 4, which is totally normal, but it won't take long for her to get the hang of it. Remind her to go every hour or so and make sure she has a little potty or a stool so that she can do it by herself, even if you can't help her. Also, it is the last thing before bed. We brush teeth, read books, pray and get out of bed to potty one more time. God bless you!

  93. 'Becca

    Just came back to see if there were further comments. Boy, you must be getting frustrated with all the people telling you that if your daughter feels wet she'll learn, when you know that's not true!

    I am wondering what YOU do when she is wet–how closely you are monitoring and how often you are reminding her to use the bathroom. It's clear she is not going to "get it" on her own at this point, and she may need more help from you.

    If I were you, I think I'd focus on the 2yo at this point and see if her toilet-training inspires her older sister. If you ignore 2yo now, you will soon have another struggle with a 3yo who's past the point of easy learning. I've talked with a LOT of parents who saw signs of readiness in their kids around 18mo, thought, "She's too young," did nothing, and had a big struggle later…and some who started training then, accepting that it would require some effort from them, and had complete success in 6-12 months with even bedwetting becoming very rare.

  94. gls

    My wife and I had our daughter daytime potty trained before she was two. It was fairly simple: as soon as she could sit up on her own, we sat her on the potty whenever we knew it was time for a BM. (They are fairly regular as infants.) We read to her, played silly games — made it enjoyable. That was about all it took.

    As a side note, my wife is Polish and she feels that Americans begin the process much later than in Poland, causing the longer process.

    Don't know if that helps — just thought I'd share.

  95. Martina


    One good one we've done to reduce stress was to cut back Santa's involvement on gifts. He no longer gives the biggest and the bestest secular type gift. We had a sit-down talk with him a few years ago and told him that we would appreciate gifts that were tied to the Faith more! He was very relieved to hear of the good news and has since brought the kiddos two gifts each that he says he finds good deals for his elves from http://www.catholicchild.com.

    I also try to do all my shopping prior to the start of Advent. I sit here and tell you this, yet I have dropped the ball this year. I'm not too worried b/c the intent behind it was to reduce the monster shopping trips – I'm virtually doing all online shopping, so it's not a huge hassle like it normally is. I think doing the "tying up loose ends" kind of shopping during Advent is a FAR different experience than the 'OMG, GOTTA GET EVERYTHING DONE NOW!!!' disaster, kwim?

    We have also started a new tradition this year with a book called The Elf on the Shelf which was bought for us from http://www.catholiccompany.com – it's VERY cute!

    I think one of the hardest things we have to do during this time of patience and waiting is to learn to say no to the madness, however that is defined for us. I choose not to go to ten million activities that take up our evening schedule. I like our down time in the evening and so we take advantage of that family time – it is the time we have carved out just for us to bond, to pray, to be with each other.



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