7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 95)

September 2, 2010 | 104 comments

7 Quick Takes Friday

— 1 —

What day is it? What’s going on? Where am I? I’m telling you, it’s going to take me a couple months to get into our new Fall routine. We did end up finding a good part-time school for my kindergartener to go to, but it’s meant getting up more than two hours earlier than I did on my lazy summer schedule. I think I’m still in shock. Every evening I think, “Oh, wait, that awful rising-at-the-crack-of-dawn thing we did this morning? We have to do that AGAIN? TOMORROW?” This is going to take some getting used to.

— 2 —

That reminds me: I think one of the most entertaining discussion we’ve had on this blog was when I asked morning people to explain themselves to me. I thought it was hilarious how some of the commenters seemed to think that I could not possibly be being truthful about my night owl sleeping habits, whereas I had the same reaction to them. I would read the comments out loud to my husband, and then remark with confusion and awe, “Do you think they’re making this up?” Anyway, if you’re looking for an amusing discussion with two very different groups of people, that’s a great read.

— 3 —

Bug Bacuum

Warning: Not tested with angry scorpions.

My son saw one of these bug vacuums on TV the other day, and he instantly understood that he’s been living an incomplete life. All his five years on earth have been a waste, a hollow shell of an existence, because he doesn’t own one of these. He mentions it at least once an hour, and every day we have to pull up the Amazon page and watch the video of it in action.

I keep trying to tell him that this is designed for people in states like Connecticut. I mean, look at those measly little bugs in the video! Has anyone even tested this on speedy scorpions or giant centipedes? I can just imagine the macabre results if he were to go after one of our gigantic tarantulas with it. I think they need to make a Texas model with the motor of an industrial vacuum cleaner, a mouth about three times as wide, and a titanium container closed with a two-pound padlock. (Though at least he didn’t want an old-fashioned one!)

— 4 —

YoHeatu know how our country has a poet laureate? I feel like Texas should have a position of Complainer About the Heat Laureate (though hopefully someone could think of a more eloquent title). I would really excel at that: I am a proud sixth-generation Texan, but in the summers I spend about 80% of my mental energy contemplating how much I hate the heat. As Complainer About the Heat Laureate, I could compose clever lamentations about the weather for the governor to work into his speeches, and perhaps the newspapers could occasionally excerpt my reflections about how going outside makes you feel like you’re stuck in a bowl of hot water, or my five-step analysis proving that humans weren’t meant to live in this climate. I’m telling you, I would be such a natural at this, it may have been the reason God put me on this earth.

— 5 —

Here’s an inspiring conversion story to start your weekend. It’s a video from Marcus Grodi’s show The Journey Home: Fr. Donald Calloway was raised without faith, then embarked on a crazy life that involved being deported from Japan, following the Grateful Dead, and ending up in multiple rehabilitation centers. Long story short, he had a profound conversion that led him to become a Catholic priest! (He also wrote a book about it, which I hear is excellent.) Quite a story!

— 6 —

Speaking of books, I’m stuck on mine: I finished the draft. All I have left to do is finish revisions, and the ball really starts rolling: I’ll send it to my agent, he’ll offer his suggestions, then he’ll shop it to publishers. Yet I keep getting offers to do other (paid) writing projects that take up all my free time. I hate to turn down gigs that are easy and pay…and I don’t have a hard deadline to finish the book…yet I’m really anxious to finish it and move on. Any advice?

— 7 —

I need some lunch box ideas: my three-year-old is going to be in a Mother’s Day Out class with a child who has a severe peanut allergy, so PBJ’s are out for her. Considering that that was 50% of my lunch repertoire (quesadillas making up the other half), I’m going to need some suggestions. She’s not a fan of lunch meat, so turkey or ham sandwiches are out. What are some other good ideas? Thanks!


Below is a 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.


  1. Megan

    For #7, what about hummus on pita bread with fresh veggies? You might need to put the veggies in a separate container so that the bread doesn’t get soggy. You could also try sending pizza. My Maureen is hit-or-miss with pizza, but I think she’d be ok with an all-veggie pie.

  2. Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    That bug vacuum is too cool! My kids would think that was amazing. You always find the coolest things!

  3. Headless Mom

    Love your new look!

    Lunches: bento box (google it), my oldest likes taquitos (wrap in foil, hot, they’ll still be warm by lunch,) with salsa to dip, yogurt and fruit, laughing cow wedge spreadable cheese with crackers.

  4. Roxane B. Salonen

    Jennifer, I’m very impressed with your blog! Great job. Too tired to write more…feeling the pain of transition here too. 🙂 But I need to contact you soon so will talk to you in a bit.

  5. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    Lunch Ideas:

    Flavored cream cheese sandwiches, my daughter likes strawberry
    Crackers and cheese
    String cheese
    Yogurt smoothies mixed with fruit and protein powder

  6. Eva

    Now look, I understand the trauma that you are working through regarding noxious insects. yes, huge, yes, icky. But are they as fiercely poisonous that the crawly things that we have here in Australia? I mean, the type of spiders that would quickly, if I was bitten, solve my anguish over whether there is actually a god or not? If they are huge AND poisonous then you win, but if not,then I think that you need to think yourself lucky……
    School holidays started yesterday, so I’ve totally wiped all memories of lunch boxes from my head for two weeks. I know that they involve Vegemite, though.

  7. George @ Convert Journal

    I miss your old design, but must admit the new layout is very attractive, comfortable and easy to read! I bet you are glad this looming project is behind you.

    On #6 – you are so close that I would make it a priority. Also remember that it will help your “street cred” for other projects.

  8. Thomas @ Conative Catholic

    First time Quick Takes participant, long time Conversion Diary fan.

    I’m afraid a young man who only just got engaged doesn’t have a lot of kids lunch bag ideas, but I do know that I personally enjoy sandwiches more when they’re bagel sandwiches, so that could make an otherwise lackluster sandwich idea seem extra special. Also, lots of kids love “Lunchables,” perhaps your daughteer would take to lunchmeat and cheese more if you sent them cut up with crackers? She could stack them or eat them separately. I recommend Triscuits because they’re large, as well as tasty.

    I just looked back at #7 and realized these ideas may not work well for a 3 year old. I plead zero-experience.

  9. Natasha

    Arrrgh….routine!! I’m with you all the way, although we have not been getting up any later, things have been a little lazy around here, as they should be with a new baby, I guess.

    We even have a sandwich routine – egg mayo on Meat Free Monday, tuna mayo on Tuna Tuesday, sushi on Fishy Friday 🙂 Wednesday & Thursday being made up of chicken, cheddar cheese & mango chutney – sometimes even leftover pizza. (FYI – I am not a Born Organised person.) Hope some of this helps!

  10. Tami Boesiger

    Couldn’t the Complainer About the Heat Laureate BE the Poet Laureate? Then he/she wouldn’t sound like a whiner and everyone would feel sufficiently validated by the succinct imagery..

  11. Kathleen@so much to say, so little time

    You know, the heat’s not so bad early in the morning. 🙂

    As for lunches–PBJ is important in ours, but we mix in a container of yogurt one day and slices of hard salami & pepparoni another day–you know, the ones you can get with the full sausage and cut it yourself? I just look for some kind of protein, and that’s what I’ve come up with. Though I’m trying to force him to eat some lunch meat, too. He needs a greater variety in his diet. LOL

  12. Jenny

    Thanks Jennifer. I like the new look.

  13. Kristen

    I also live in Texas (though I am a native Coloradan — gosh I miss that weather by July). The best analogy for our weather I heard from one of my patients the other day — Texas summers are like sitting in a steam bath with a bunch of dirty old men. Ick. Fall, please come soon.

    We are also doing the early morning thing. My husband (university professor) is teaching an 8:00 am class this semester and my oldest son (3rd grade) has a teacher who will mark him tardy if he is 15 seconds late for the 7:50 am start. The twins (5 years old) still take at least 25 minutes to find their own shoes every morning and have recently started to debate clothing choices with me at great length rather than just wearing what I set out for them the way they did last year. Even with pushing my first patient of the day off to 9:00 from 8:30, it is September and we are getting up in the dark. What is this going to be like come December?!

    • Jessica

      As a teacher in an elementary school that starts at 7:50…I just want to say thanks on your teacher’s behalf for getting your son there in time. I know it’s early (it is even for us teachers!) but it makes a huge difference for the tone of the day when everyone is there and we can start when we’re supposed to. Otherwise the “arrival time” gets expanded and teaching time is lost. Thanks!

  14. Cindy

    I enjoy your blog so much! For my daughter’s lunch (she doesn’t care for lunch meat either) I get those new bagel thins or sandwich thins and put spaghetti sauce very thin, pepperoni and a slice of provolone cheese. Or we do cream cheese spread on the bagel thin. The bagel thins are softer and thinner…easier for a child to eat than a thicker bagel.

  15. Barbara

    We have a peanut allergy kid in our house and Sunbutter is a great alternative. I think it’s yummy (it’s made with sunflower seeds instead of peanuts) and it’s totally nut-free (not even made in a factory…blah, blah, blah). Trader Joes carries it — maybe your daughter will like it and you can make SB&Js.

    • Katie

      My son and I like Sunbutter, too (though my husband isn’t a fan). We’ve found a peanut-free brand at WalMart as well, which might give you easier access.

      • Salome Ellen

        There are also tahini(sesame) and almond butters out there, and probably hazelnut as well. And if it’s a one day a week thing, your child will survive on just a jelly sandwich (gasp!)if she gets protein at breakfast and dinner.

        • Shirley

          Our second is allergic to peanuts as well, so we eat a ton of almond butter. Maranatha makes a really good “no stir” almond butter and it is super yummy (even to a HUGE peanut butter fan)! I’ve found that it’s cheapest at Wal-Mart. BTW, you might want to inform the teacher/school that it’s not peanut butter as it looks almost identical.

    • Alisa

      Totally second the sunflower seed butter!!! I can’t have peanut butter but missed it terribly. Sunflower seed butter is now my go-to fix. And, IMHO, much healthier than peanut butter (simply because it isn’t a fungus- just my experience speaking here).

      • Julie

        We also really like Sunbutter. We tried the soy nut butter, but I think it tastes kinda like dirt. Sunbutter is much better!

  16. Christine the Soccer Mom

    Re #7:

    My girls used to hate all lunchmeats. I finally got them to try bologna by telling them it was “flat hotdogs.” We’ve expanded from there, which I suppose is a good thing, considering they are 9 and nearly-12!

    I also used to have a neat recipe for “Boulder Bites,” which was chicken salad with diced dried apricots mixed in, wrapped in crescent roll dough, then baked. My girls actually ate these at a time when tuna salad and lunchmeats were anathema. I haven’t made them in ages, though.

    I wonder what caused the rise of all these nut allergies. I never, ever met anyone with a nut allergy growing up, and now kids everywhere seem to be highly sensitive to peanuts.

    BTW, your new blog look is beautiful. 🙂 Have a blessed weekend!

  17. Bridget

    Lunch solutions that work for my picky eater: Hard boiled eggs — peel and send w/ a little packet of salt. Crabby Patty — (our family’s fav sandwich) toasted ww bagel w/cream cheese and a slice (or 2) of bacon. Salad — I was surprised by this one – I always put some form of protein on it. Grilled cheese — it’s cold by the time they eat it, but they don’t care.
    Hope these help!

  18. Rosita

    My thought on No. 6 is that maybe these offers keep happening to keep you from finishing your book because it will have such a powerful impact on many people. The devil would prefer that it not be published, so he is putting this legitimate work in front of you to delay you. I would say to just push it through.

    As for No. 7, I am actually hoping to get some ideas. One thing for when it gets cooler is to get an insulated container and sending something like spaghetti or something warm like that.

  19. Jennifer

    Try sunbutter for sandwiches. It’s made from sunflower seeds and works like Peanut butter. It’s more expensive than peanut butter though. Just make sure that you get a brand with sugar, otherwise it’s pretty nasty. Also, let the teachers know that it’s sunbutter so they don’t get upset. My neighbor gave this to her son who was allergic to peanuts.

  20. The Sojourner

    My boyfriend’s brothers have one of those bug vacuums. When I last visited the 13-year-old was showing me how they had a dead bee in it. Boyfriend’s mother remarked, “I bet these things never happen in a family of girls.” Me: “Um, no.”

  21. Marian

    This was such a funny 7 quick takes. I hearby dub you Complainer About the Heat Laureate (you can save the eloquence for the actual writing). Or does that dubbing have to come from an actual Texan of rank?
    I don’t get morning people at all, though I yearn to be one, in the same way that someone might yearn to be a fairy princess or super-hero or some other impossible character from fantasyland.

    There are some yummy-tasting almond butters. (The organic one we use is pre-mixed with a bit of honey!)
    Prior to special diets and changing tastes, my kids used to love “bugs in a rug”, which is as follows: Mix an 8 oz. pkg. of light cream cheese, softened with 1/3 cup (or less) powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Spread a bit of the mixture on two slices of bread or on a tortilla. Dot with raisins and put sandwich together/roll up tortilla.
    Don’t forget about leftovers in a thermos container, pre-cut into whatever state your child needs.

  22. Liesl

    I hear you on the morning thing. It’s 9:30 and I’m still not quite with it. I am much more a night owl.

    And this may be weird, but when I was little, I did not like peanut butter, so I always had jelly and butter sandwiches. I’m not sure when I started liking peanut butter, but I’m glad I did.

  23. Meika

    I also love the new website – beautiful!

    Re: PBJ. My daughter also has the oh-so-fashionable peanut allergy, and we’ve just recently been getting into Sunbutter, which is a completely non-allergenic peanut butter substitute made from sunflower seeds. They have it in every supermarket around here, so it’s not hard to find. It is… not peanut butter. But it’s not bad, and it’s pretty awesome to have something to directly substitute for peanut butter. Our family doesn’t take the ease of the PBJ for granted one bit – it’s an amazing thing.

  24. marie

    So the reason you should finish your book immediately is because we would all like to read it!

  25. Elizabeth

    My hubby also has a severe peanut allergy, so he never feeds the kids pbj either (although I do when he’s not around). Mine are not yet 3, so I don’t if tuna would be too messy (my two year old makes a mess, but loves it). But we also do cheese and crackers, cream cheese and jelly, and pita and hummus. After reading these comments I am going to go look for the sunbutter! I have never seen it before.

  26. Milehimama

    My Rob is in 5th grade and takes his lunch too. He detests any kind of sandwich. I got this great container at the Container Store, it’s designed for dip! So I can send bean dip, white bean dip, hummus, etc. and know he’s getting protein. Or chips and salsa, he loves that. Egg salad with crackers to dip, tuna salad with toast fingers or pita chips, the possibilities are endless.

    R likes deviled eggs, too. You can fill it then put the egg back together to save mess in the lunchbox (pack an ice pack, obviously!).


    You might google Bento lunchbox and prepare to lose half a day online. There are some great ideas!

    • Bridget

      Thanks for the link — I’ve been looking for something like this! Decent price, too.

  27. Nutmeg

    Just participated for the first time!

    And yes… Fall is coming way too quickly. I’m still trying to de-clutter and organize our school room!

    And… not being morning people ourselves, we all scrambled yesterday to get to 8am dentist app’ts. 8. AM! I was delirious when I made that app’t time….


  28. Julia

    I second Laptop Lunchboxes. There are four little containers, and for some reason having a little bit of several things works better than one big sandwich. I allocate one box for fruit, one for starch, one for veggies, one for protein.

    Protein ideas:
    – tortellini, with a toothpick for eating
    – celery with cream cheese. Add raisins if necessary
    – quesadillas, cut in little slices
    – mini meatballs, again with a toothpick (just make extras, smaller, when you’re making meatballs for the family, and toss’em in the freezer)
    – cheese sliced kind of thick, cut into heart shapes with a mini cookie cutter (sounds ridiculously labor intensive, but it’s not; save the scraps for making mac ‘n cheese) My kids will eat a bite or two of almost anything that looks cute.
    – leftover burritos
    – a chicken drumstick
    – tuna or egg salad with crackers

  29. Dawn Farias

    Thanks for hosting, Jennifer!

    We had one of those bug guns and they really are quite fun. Your son would love it.

  30. nicole

    I also complain about the heat, but I love living in Texas. I would take our long, hot summers over the long(er), cold winters in other parts of the country any day.

    I also dislike mornings and the school routine, but I try to be at least pleasant because I don’t want to deal with grumpy kids. My oldest (almost 9) is already showing signs of morning grumpiness. It is not good.

    No ideas on the lunches. I would be at a loss if we had to forgo pb&j.

  31. Stephanie

    Just wanted to say that I love this new design. It looks awesome and the comments section is amazing. Great work!

  32. That Married Couple

    6. Congrats on finishing your draft! When I get stuck working on my dissertation, I have to make my husband take away the internet for the day. He actually unplugs the wire and takes it in to work with him, and then I have no excuse for distractions! (Of course, I don’t have kids yet or fancy phones, which I understand can be even more distracting than the internet…)

    7. Something with cream cheese? Like a bagel? Or a sandwich with cream cheese and jelly? Or how about tuna salad?

  33. Susan

    Cream cheese and pineapple on banana bread.
    Tuna or chicken salad?
    Cucumber and tomato sandwiches
    Hot dogs?
    Homemade macadamia nut butter made with enriched sunflower seed oil and mixed with home canned organic grape jelly made from your own grapes on home baked wheat bread made with organic wheat the you ground yourself. Sorry, I just always wanted to be one of those kinds of bloggers.

    • Julie

      LOL, Susan, you had me going “what?!” for a minute there. LOL

  34. Sarah@From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell

    I’m not great with lunch ideas because both of my kids get school lunches much cheaper than me making it. How about a thermos of soup and crackers? Grilled veggie panini?

  35. MIchelle

    lunch ideas…maybe not a main course…but what about celery with cream cheese? Yum!

    About the book…I don’t know. YOu’re my hero for getting paid writing gigs (not that I’m surprised at all). I can’t wait to read your book…so how about you get it out there? LOL

    Have a great day!

  36. Kimberlie

    Living in Oklahoma, I complain about the heat only slightly less than you, though I am a native New Jerseyan and spent time in Wisconsin and think their weather (at any time of year) is glorious. So Oklahoma is definitely purgatory for me. Enough said.

    RE: Lunches. All suggestions have been used in our house. I was going to make a very politically incorrect comment about one child’s allergy having to change the eating habits of an entire class when it comes to personal lunches (not snacks, I get the food allergy and snacks thing) but I decided not to.

    • the cottage child

      RE: Lunches – me too, Kimberlie :). I was afraid if I harped on it I would be convicted to start carrying pot roasts up to school for the entire class. It’s been known to happen.

    • syd

      I heartily agree with Kimberlie. Our school not only disallows peanuts, but ALL nuts or nut derived ingredients or anything that rhymes with nut.

      I also do not remember having such a prevalent allergy problem growing up. Are kids having more allergies nowadays or is it one of those things that has always been but downplayed?

      ok, well I’ll stop now 🙂

      • Amity

        I had a friend who was allergic to peanuts, and when he was little, he was on an airplane when a woman three rows back opened her PBJ sandwich and the particulates in the SMELL of it were enough to send him into anaphalactic shock. They had to land the plane to get him to a hospital. So, as bizarre as it seems, it’s not politically correct to change the lunches, it really is a matter of life and death.

        • Alice

          Hm, yes. It drives me nuts–er, crazy– but then again, we did have a girl in our program who could go into anaphalactic shock from touching something that someone who had eaten peanut butter recently had touched.

          She’s since moved to England, though, where (at least when I was living there and desperately searching) they don’t have peanut butter.

  37. the cottage child

    Happy Kindergarten to your little one – how exciting! I’ve been thinking we ought to try something other than peanut butter for no other reason than a break in the routine. The kids think that means a different flavor jelly. I might just let them keep thinking that…Be well!

  38. Melissa

    I pack plain cold noodles like mini penne, leftover pizza, hard boiled eggs – those are mainly for the “main course”. Then I always make sure to add a fres fruit cut up, fresh veg (love the baby carrots that are already in bite sizes!), dairy – either yogurt, baby cheese or cheese stick and finally another carb like pretzles or crackers (not too unhealthy, but sometimes they might get sunchips). I’d love to hear if this helps!

  39. Monica

    Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches are a hit around here!

    My kids might fight you for the Complain About the Heat Laureate. Oh, wait–we don’t live in Texas. OK, they’ll take California!

  40. Sister Lynn

    My nieces loved jelly and cream cheese sandwiches or on crackers, they also liked hard boiled eggs, hummus and crackers or carrot sticks, How does tuna fish go over with her? tortilla roll up with cream cheese and salsa. bean dip is great too is she likes it. Or a small bean and cheese burrito.

  41. LeeAnn Balbirona

    My four year old son has similar food limitations. He used to eat only plain cheese quesadillas, but I started sneaking in little diced bits of protein (chicken, pork, beef) with the cheese and he didn’t notice it and then got used to it. Otherwise, how about just a jelly sandwich? Or a cream cheese bagel?

  42. Erin

    How about hummus and avocado, avocado and swiss, hummus and tomato, or some combination of those? Kids usually like all three.

  43. Jake

    So … I am new to this whole thing, but I feel a little like a fish out of water. A friend sent me this way with a task … I have started a series on my site about Remarkable Catholic Women in response to a series done by Lifetime Television. I am in need of ideas, and my friend suggested participating in the Friday Quick Takes. My wife, for her own contribution to the cause, simply told me not to be afraid of all the women here. At any rate, I write about one Catholic woman a week (on Friday as luck would have it) … thus far I have presented three Saints. I am looking for ideas about living Catholic women to throw into the mix. Any help is appreciated.

    • Lana

      You could look up Sister Prudence Allen. Also lots of non celebrity people like bloggers out there. And then there are “big name” bloggers such as Danielle Bean, Elizabeth Foss and now Jennifer Fulwiller! These are good and remarkable people who others would certainly learn a lot from. I certainly do.

  44. Erin

    Re: #6, you don’t have a hard deadline from someone else. But you can always create one for yourself, and then plan the things you’ll do once you’ve met the deadline. Make it inconvenient for yourself to miss that deadline. Works better for me that way than if I plan on some sort of bribe. Bribing myself never seems to do the trick. If it works for you, then go for the bribe. But for me, threats of having to reschedule things and let people down seem to be the best motivator. Somehow having to figure out how to tell people “I missed my self-imposed deadline, so I can’t come out and play,” or some grown-up version of that, seems painful.

  45. Barb @ My Daily Round

    I love the bug vacuum! I am absolutely getting that for my almost five year old son this Christmas. He is our resident bug guy. We always yell for him whenever we find a stink bug, ant or spider inside.

    I’m lacking in the food ideas department, but if you’re up for it, try varying the presentation. For example, use a small cookie cutter to cut her bread. Muffins might be a good idea. You can make a batch ahead of time and then pull them out the night before.

  46. Tracy

    I’ll be reading through for more ideas for my kindergartener’s lunch. He doesn’t care for PBJ unless the bread is freshly toasted. (picky isn’t quite a strong enough word for his appetite). I basically pack bento style – with little helpings of fruit, veggies, cheese, cookies, healthier chips, etc. He loves cheese by itself, and loved cream cheese sandwiches.

    My husband reminds me that when we lived up north, I couldn’t be outside much in the winter. Here (in Louisiana), I don’t spend all that much time outside in the summer, unless we’re swimming. And even then, not in the heat we’ve had this past month. I am almost jealous just now of the people up north, having fall weather starting up. But at least our temps have fallen to the low 90s?

  47. Libby

    First time commenter, long time reader! Conversion Diary was my constant companion during my own year of RCIA and conversion. I’m not an ex-atheist, I’m an ex-NeoPagan. Yikes! XD But so much of your journey resonated with mine. I would spend hours and hours reading your archives. With relief. You NEVER know who you touch and inspire! 😀

  48. Missus Wookie

    We don’t do luncheon meat here so I have sympathy for your dd. Chicken drumsticks, cheese in chunks, cottage cheese with a spoon, meatballs and pasta (which my kids loved cold) or veggie box with something to dip into – cottage cheese, cheese dips, salsa, hummous or a not peanut butter nut butter (Almond is a favourite here) are all possible.

    Good luck 🙂

  49. Catherine

    I am a hopeless night owl with morning obligations and I am always tired and dragging myself in the morning so I just had to read the “morning people” blog. The common thing that astounds me the most is when people write that they can’t stay up past 10:00 pm because they are just too tired. I am too tired also but I push through, hoping for a second wind, and stay up until my normal bedtime of 11:30 or 12:00 or sometimes 12:30. I love sleeping, when it is time to get up, but I just can’t seem to want to go to bed, no matter how tired I am, at night!

  50. 'Becca

    I’m with you on #1! My son has to be at school an hour earlier for kindergarten than for preschool, and we’re all having trouble adjusting. He never has been an early bird–which was great for 5 years, but now we have to change.

    #7: I agree with all the people who suggested hummus, either on a sandwich or with something to dip in it. Or any other bean food. I’ve been experimenting with homemade veggie burgers lately (several good recipes at tasteofhome.com) and most of them, once they’ve been cooked, taste fine cold. You could make them in nugget size if you don’t think she’ll eat a whole one.

  51. JoAnna

    Re: the bug vacuum, we’re having the same situation here with Pillow Pets. We finally broke down and bought one for my daughter, and she carries it around constantly (in addition to sleeping with it). Now my son wants one too, and we bought one for our niece’s birthday.

  52. kim

    for lunch we pack yogurt a lot and lunchables instead of pbj

    • Courtney F.

      lol, it helps to read what previous commenters write, I guess!!

      I like the muffin idea, though. You can do savory muffins, too. I have a recipe for roasted red pepper, feta, and basil muffins which is delicious.

    • Sr Anne

      I made this veggie spread and it is fabulous!

  53. elizabethe

    Well, I was going to weigh in on the lunch issue, but others have that covered so I’ll just move to the writing issue. I’ve had essentially the same problem, large book project with no deadline crowded out by smaller paying assignments. Here’s what I do.

    First, go through your book and make a list of the revisions you have to do. This should take 2 to 4 hours depending on how long your book is and how many revisions you want to do but it’s a necessary step. Don’t be tempted to actually do any of the revisions during this stage, even if they are small. It will only derail you.

    Second, assign each revision a small unit of time that makes sense for you. I’ll use 15 minutes as an example, you might find 10 or 20 works better for you, depending on what kinds of revisions you are doing and your time availability. Each revision should take one or at max two units of time to complete. If it’s a really small revision, clump it together with some other really small revisions until you get to 15 minutes worth of work. If it’s more than two units of time, break it down so it fits. An example of a revision might be “write paragraph explaining term X here” (15 minutes) “cite Christopher Hitchens here” (5 minutes) “Make writing livelier on page 35 – 37 (30 minutes) “Reorganize this section so XX is first.” (10 minutes) If you come to a place where you can’t break down the revision or estimate the time, take that as a signal that more major work is needed. Read it, make a few notes, and then revisit it after you’ve done all the other revisions and see what you think.

    Small units of time are important for these reasons 1. It breaks it down into manageable steps – instead of “revising my book” you are “clarifying the third paragraph on page 34.” 2. You can cross off an item every day or every other day giving you a sense of progress. 3. Leaves time in the day for other work. 4. Helps you to not procrastinate. You might go to do some blog browsing and then realize you can either spend 15 minutes looking at otter pictures (hand raised!) or check an item off your revisions list.

    Third – and this is crucial – Dedicate at least the first 15 minutes (or unit of time) of your writing time every day to doing revisions. Do two units of time if you can. Then you have the rest of your writing time for paying work. When you accept paying assignments, pretend like you have 15 minutes (or 30) less per day for writing. That time doesn’t exist for other projects. If a paying project would tempt you to cut into your revision time, that’s the time to decline the project or try to renegotiate the deadline.

    This works for me!

    • ~ Nona

      I was about to offer advice on this problem — and then I read Elizabethe’s reply.

      She said it all; she said it best.

      Terrific advice, Elizabethe. Take a bow!

  54. Kate

    Food for lunch boxes: cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, carrot sticks, the little hummus packs, ritz cracker sandwhiches with jam inside (or cream cheese and jam), tuna sandwhich, you could use apple butter or almond butter or nuttela instead of peanut butter–apple butter is delicious, a bagel, chicken salad sandwhich, mixed nuts, quinoa is good hot or cold and it’s really good for you, granola bars, that’s about it..good luck!

  55. Erica Minneman

    #6: When I was working on my dissertation an acquaintance said that he just decided one day that he was ready to be finished, so he holed up in his apartment with life necessities and was finished in two weeks. I didn’t really believe him until I got to the “I must finish immediately” stage, and sure enough, in two weeks I was finished with it. I didn’t have kids at that point, so my times was more my own; however, I’m guessing that if you just decided that you really want to finish and give yourself a firm deadline you’ll get there. As a postscript, I’ve told this to other folks working on their dissertations, and they seem to find it to be true, too!

  56. Lana

    I am not yet at the revision phase, and so I don’t have specific advice like PP. But here is what I suspect will happen once I am there: I will be so close and feel so close that it will SEEM as if there isn’t much left to do. And I will be sick and tired of it all, too. Along with that, other tempting projects will arise.
    But if I give in, rather than focusing primarily on the still-unpaid kind of writing, I will lose my focus with said writing. I will keep having more and more and more ideas of things I could “just squeeze in” or “just add this quote” or that thought instead of packing it all up neatly and just Getting It Done. It will become More frustrating and More of a burden that way, and so much less fun.
    Probably if you cut the paid projects down to a quarter of where you would actually like to do, that would leave the right amount of time to do the work that needs to be done now.

  57. Matt

    I just put in my 7 cents for this week, and surprisingly had a lot to say.

    As usual I loved yours, Jennifer. And you are right about the bug vacuum, it’s for Yankees in the North East. For hunting those large hairy spiders where you’re at, I’d use a bug GUN: .44 mag stainless Ruger with hollow point rounds. I lived in Oklahoma for 7 years and found it very handy for critters. Good luck.

  58. Marcy K.

    I agree, the crack of dawn thing is awful. I get up at 5:30am to have some prayer time and that helps a bit, even though you would not think it would.

    We have the bug vacuum and it is very fun, I just wish it had more suction. It would be nice to suck up a little lizard or even a determined fly.

    For lunches, hard boiled eggs are good. Salami and mustard on thin Italian bread or thin ham with mayo are great, as are cheese sandwiches. Some little pretzels. Pudding. Don’t forget soup in a thermos. You can get small ones online. I got mine at Amazon last year. Little containers of peaches or apple sauce are tasty, too. Celery, apple slices with lemon juice to prevent browning. Cherries, grapes, etc.

    Congrats on how far you have come with your book. I can’t wait to read it.

  59. Sr Anne

    My mom (in New Orleans) sometimes complains to me about the heat. In the winter.
    I live in Chicago, so I am hardly sympathetic. Not only are Chicago winters…very long and very cold…I love that steamy, Nola heat!

  60. Sue

    I didn’t read through all the responses, so sorry if this is a repeat. When we can’t do PBJ we always substitute cream cheese. Our favorite is cream cheese and blueberry jam.

    I love your new look, too!

  61. Sally Thomas

    Am I the only person laughing at the “Complainer About the Heat Laureate?”

    We live in NC, and used to live in western TN; I have often thought that the entire South was not really meant to be lived in by humans, at least not between July and November. What should live here? Kudzu, obviously.

    (and my family has been in the South since roughly 1735, so you’d think our genes would have adapted by now . . . )

  62. KC

    I’m a night owl. I understand.

  63. Stephanie

    I haven’t used an alarm clock in 7 years. And now I have to get up a 6:45 in the morning in order to get my sweet girl off to school. Oh sweet heavens. It almost tempts me to homeschool. Added bonus to our new fall schedule: I’m having a baby next week.

    Let the good times roll.

  64. Bender

    Wow, that Bender guy was mean to those morning people. Ah, but you know I love you all. I was just funnin’

    But I still think you are insane.

    I can bounce out of bed, ready to go, at 6 a.m. if I have a plane to catch or something. But often that’s because I’m lying there in bed half-awake all night for fear that the alarm won’t go off. Any other time, I’ve hated, hated, hated getting up early. High school at 7:20 a.m. was typical of an education system that likes to torture kids. That job I had that started at 7:30 a.m. — including Saturday and Sunday mornings! — most certainly did long-term damage to my body (especially since I was in college at the time and did what college kids typically do on Friday and Saturday nights).

    And I don’t know what it is about morning twilight. Evening twilight is nice, but in the morning? It just feels creepy. There is an eerie, other-worldly aspect to being outside around 4:30-6 a.m.

    Yes, I am a night person, which has left me sleep deprived for as long as I can remember. Wide awake at 1-2 a.m., but having to be at work at 9, usually resulting in only 6-7 hours of sleep a night. I never would have made it in pre-industrial times, having to go to bed at sundown (7-8 p.m.) and getting up before sunrise (4-5 a.m.).

  65. Bender

    Oh —

    Did anyone mention cold fried chicken yet?

  66. Liz Neuman

    How about Sunbutter and jelly. My son has a peanut allergy too and our family has had to leave our beloved peanut butter behind. But sunbutter is completely peanut free and delicious! You can usually find it at larger Target stores.

  67. Tracy

    My daughter doesn’t like sandwich meat either. Sometimes I send her with those spinach and cheese raviolis that they sell at Costco (at least in my area). I cook them in the morning and then put them right in a thermos and they stay warm. I’ve also done that with rigatoni noodles and butter. I’ve also sent her with tuna and crackers, putting the tuna in the thermos and refrigerating over night. I have a hard time with lunches too. I don’t like to pack them and I really don’t like trying to figure out what I’m going to pack in them! Good luck!

    • 'Becca

      Those spinach ravioli are delicious!!! My son will eat them at room temperature, whether they’ve cooled from being cooked or warmed up from being refrigerated after cooking. With most foods, I don’t think spoilage is a concern just in the time between putting things in the lunchbox and eating lunch.

  68. gb

    Ok, if you get the Laureate of TX for Heat, then I get Laureate of TN for Heat. Memphis has just had its 2nd hottest summer on record…so, needless to say, I waxed eloquent all summer long…just ask my long-suffering spouse!

  69. Sister Lynn

    I have a very unscientific and amateusish study going about night and morning people. It entailed talking to several of the nuns I live with who fall in both camps.
    My theories:
    1. The time of day you were born is your most alert time and determines if you are a morning or night person. I was born at 7AM. I am a morning person for sure.

    2. I also think morning people have their deepest sleep shortly after falling asleep so their lighter sleep is towards morning – hence it is easier to awake. I think night people sleep more lightly at first and get into their deep sleep when the rest of the world is starting to wake up hence the extreme grogginess. This is also shown in worry patterns. Morning people tend to fall asleep quickly but wake in the middle of the night with things on their mind and worries. Night people tend not to be able to fall asleep because of concerns etc but once they fall asleep they stay asleep.

    • Sal

      I was born at 5:11 am. Total morning person. My day is out of alignment if I sleep past, oh, 7:30, tops.

      I think there must be a genetic component as well, though. My four are all Owls, like their father. Three were born mid-day, one at 3:00 am.

    • 'Becca

      This is a fascinating theory! I was born just after 11am, and that’s when my most alert time of day begins. My son was born around 8pm, and as a baby he’d often nap in the early evening but wake up right around then and be up until my bedtime. However, on our new early schedule for school, we’ve been able to get him feeling tired around 8pm; I think it’s only because he no longer naps.

  70. thomas tucker

    I was born and grew up in Texas, and have been in Austin for the last twenty years.
    Being older than you, and having lived through more miserably hot summers than you, I finally came up with a solution- I moved.
    Now, I must admit that the main reason we moved was because we wanted to raise our kids in a smaller town. But, to escape the heat, instead of moving to a small Texas town, we have moved to a small town in the Northwest (Washington State).
    Wow- what a glorious summer this has been!
    I’ll pray for you guys. 🙂

  71. Tina Morehead

    Try tahini in place of the PB. My kids like cream cheese rolled up in a flour tortilla. Small yogurts, string cheese, or cheese cubes work well for protein; just put an ice pack in the lunch bag (assuming it’s an insulated bag, not paper bag).

  72. Sal

    Fifth generation here. I’ve decided that I could devote the energy I formerly spent complaining to staying cool. I’ve finally accepted that late July-August is garden winter: just rip it all out, let it rest and re-plant in the fall.
    This is why iced tea is the elixir of the gods…
    We ladies do the janitoring at our parish and they do not turn on the AC in the parish hall where the restrooms are during the week. Penance, anyone?

  73. Mel

    As a mom of a kid who HAS a severe peanut allergy, I feel your pain. I LOVE peanuts! Peanut butter is my favorite…oh well. Our kids don’t like lunch meat either, go figure.

    Here’s what we do:

    1. Chicken nuggets!
    2. Grilled cheese
    3. Quesadillas – good choice!
    4. Sunflower butter! It’s LIKE peanut butter but made from sunflower seeds (just buy the one that’s allergy sensitive – some are processed in plants with peanuts). Of course, this may freak out the MDO folks, haha. My allergic kid doesn’t like this anyway – he’s got a “radar” far all things peanut like. But since we’re a peanut free house, my toddler gets to enjoy it.
    5. Cheese and crackers with fruit
    6. mac-n-cheese
    7. Yogurt w/ fruit
    8. Smoothies
    9. Cottage cheese (which I hate, but is a hit with the kids, I don’t know why)
    10. Cold pasta salad (I just keep out the more “offending” veggies, haha)

    I got lots more, haha, but I’ll stop there.

  74. SusanE

    I just came across a recipe for lasagna cupcakes that I thought would make a really cool lunchbox treat (http://framed-mylifeonepictureatatime.blogspot.com/2010/08/lasagna-cupcakes.html). Not sure a three year old would appreciate them, but she also had a recipe for mac’n’cheese cupcakes which most kiddos like. You could always just put some maccaroni and cheese into a small thermos. Or how about some soup or stew in the thermos. I think a cold pasta salad (maybe with tuna or chicken) would make a refreshing lunch. Some alternative sandwich fillings–tuna/chicken/or egg salad, cream cheese, butter and jelly, or smashed banana with honey.

  75. Hope

    a bagel with cream cheese and jam
    grilled cheese sandwich

    I used to live in TX and do NOT miss the heat!! I remember walking outside as far as the mailbox and my glasses getting foggy with the humidity. No fun.

  76. lisa

    Re: lunches
    My son is peanut allergic and my other kids love(d) peanut butter. We have found SunButter to be a pretty good substitute. A bit more expensive, but pretty yummy. It is made from ground sunflower seeds. By the way, as a mom of allergic children, it is good of you to be careful for that child’s sake. Thanks!

  77. Lenetta

    I can’t bear to feed these to my own daughter, but my mom used to heat up spaghetti-os and put them in a thermos for me. The reason I mention it is that she figured out to use HOT water to preheat the thermos, then dumped it out and added the hot food. It was still toasty at lunchtime. You could use this method on anything that would go in a thermos – sky’s the limit.

  78. Meredith

    Jen, I really like the new look–warm, but uncluttered without looking austere.

    I picked up some great lunch packing ideas here! Even though I sometimes lament my non-lunch-meat eating kid’s pickiness, it’s probably better he’s not getting all those nitrates, anyway.

  79. LarryD

    Jennifer – this may have been mentioned already (105 comments!) – have you tried Soy Butter? My son has a peanut allergy, so we have been using this instead of peanut butter for years. Same color and consistency, and nearly the same taste. Works great as a substitute for PBJ’s. check the health food section of your grocery store. Here’s a link to the product we always use: http://www.soynutbutter.com/

  80. Amanda

    Regarding finishing your book: you’d be surprised how fast revisions go if you just sit down with them for about a week and just do that instead of all the other gigs. If you can get by without gigs for one week, you should do fine. At least that was my personal surprise with revising my novel. I was doing a little at a time, and it was so hard. But when I just did it when I was energized, devoted that time to it… it worked. I did half of the book in a weekend.

  81. Rachel

    ABSOLUTELY go to Bubble Island!! Well, I supposed there are Bubble Islands all over the country… but everyone in around here goues out to Ann Arbor to Bubble Island for bubble tea, it’s a huge thing around here!
    I recommend getting a fruit smoothie thingy… I don’t actually remember what it’s called though (I’m not a big fan of green or milk tea). The best one I ever had was strawberries, bananas, ice and yogurt, and mango stars. It was SO GOOD! I think maybe it was called strawberry-on-the-go or something 😀

    • Rachel

      Although it appears this post wasn’t from this past friday, darn, that probably means you’ve already been here and left… oh well, Hope you had fun!!


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