7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 108)

December 10, 2010 | 58 comments

— 1 —

It looks like I might be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of morning sickness. The nausea is slightly better; the exhaustion is still there, but I’ll take that over nausea any day. A lot of people have asked how I do it with four small kids. It’s definitely very hard. But, in some ways, I think it’s easier than if I only had one other one: since they’re all close in age, they spend a lot of time playing together. For example, this morning I got a full hour where I could pretty much sit on the couch while the four kids ran back and forth through the house in a herd.

— 2 —

I just found out that I’m going to be at the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco on January 22! I’m heading out that way to meet with my literary agent, and the timing just so happened to work out for me to be at the Walk. (If you’re not familiar with my pro-life “conversion” story, you can read it here.) Anyone else going to be there?

— 3 —

Anna Mitchell and I had another fun chat about children’s books on the SonRise Morning Show the other day. LNK Here’s the audio if you’d like to hear it:

— 4 —

So we canceled cable. This is a big move for us. Not that I have much time to watch TV these days, but I’ve had access to cable television since childhood! Also, let’s keep it real: I use it a lot for the kids. I am not above dazzling the crew with Dora or Diego so that I can get a break in the afternoon. But our theory was that there are so many options online now that we wouldn’t even miss it.

We hooked up an antenna to get network channels, and replaced our cable box with an old computer from my husband’s office. We set it up with wireless and connected it to the TV, and now we stream shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu, Clicker or EWTN on our main television! The total cost is less than $10/month, and so far we don’t even miss cable. What’s amazing is that the quality of the streamed shows: we’re watching a Care Bears movie from Netflix as I type this, and you’d never guess that it’s from a computer. It looks just like regular TV!

— 5 —

In a spasm of holiday spirit, I bought this festive Christmas garland to put up around the house. I planned to run it along the mantle, or perhaps above the living room window, but I had to stash it on the pot rack for now so that the kids wouldn’t tear it up.

$50 says it stays right there until Epiphany.

— 6 —

Homeschooling is going amazingly well. I know there will be challenges later, but right now it’s much easier than I’d expected. I’m surprised at how little time it takes to keep my son up to speed academically; in fact, without even trying, we’ve already moved past his current grade level. One of the biggest helps has been that his three younger sisters go to Mother’s Day Out a couple mornings per week — we tend to be much more efficient on those mornings!

— 7 —

Confession: I have not started Christmas shopping yet. Haven’t bought a single thing.


Below is a linky list if youโ€™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. George @ Convert Journal

    Jen – on people asking how you do it (large family), Creative Minority Report had this cute, seasonal video: http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2010/12/12-days-of-christmas-for-large-families.html.

    On cutting the cord (cable), we have been toying with this too. The price of it is outrageous and excellent alternatives exist as you note.

    My entry this week… Advent is a time to slow down, think, reflect. Stretching beyond your limits, even if you are only 16. The UN throws a big party to announce rationing. Leaked cables disclose US dirty tricks to support climategate. An Austrian MP and devout Catholic, responds to the Turkish ambassador on Islam.


  2. Nichole@40daysof

    I love the garland bunched up on the pot rack – a classic!

  3. Tami

    We do the same thing with hooking up the TV to the computer. Our kids have been on a Care Bears kick lately, too!

  4. Dorian Speed

    “Oh, I’ll just check Facebook before turning in,” I thought. And then, I saw them – Seven Quick Takes.

    What’s more, your audio link is embedded into your Facebook status update, which is pretty cool – so I could actually listen to it on my Facebook news feed.

    I welcome you to watching The TV of the Future, as we call it. We will call it that for six more months, at which point every American will watch TV this way.

  5. JoAnna

    We’ve never had cable, and probably never will. Plus, we’ve found that when we buy movies off of iTunes, they last longer (our kids have destroyed many DVDs). We plan to get an AppleTV soon so we can stream Netflix and Hulu.

  6. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    Congrats on ditching cable. I’m a college student, and I doubt that I or any of my friends will bother with cable unless we are really interested in sports (and I’m certainly not).

  7. Jackie

    Hi Jennifer, I hope everyone is familiar with the Lion , the Witch , and the Wardrobe .There is a great book you can read online for free. It’s called “Reading With The Heart”, a guide to symbolism and understanding Narnia.

    Also you can listen to the catholic critic talk about the chronicles of narnia at realcatholictv.com. It might be something your kids would be interested in reading too . Have a great weekend and the garland is just fine where it is :p

  8. NCSue

    So glad to hear you’re feeling better.

  9. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

    Ok, so you made me feel really, really old with “Iโ€™ve had access to cable television since childhood!” since I can remember getting our first color television, having to stand up and go to the tv to turn the channels, and having only 6 channels. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Elizabeth M

    I’m so curious about dropping cable. We’ve been seriously considering it for financial reasons. Funny thing is that we don’t watch a whole lot of TV and even less of it “live,” but we do DVR the shows that we or the kids watch. I just need to check to see which favorites are also available on Netflix or Hulu I guess.

  11. Kerrie

    I haven’t really even thought about Christmas shopping yet…I’m not sure if it has to do with the new baby or my tired of the whole shopping as a sport thing….

  12. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    I am glad to hear home schooling is going well. We currently have $8 cable so we can get the PBS station clear, and do not miss the rest. However, I think I am going to checkout the on-line option.

  13. Pam

    The image of your four kids running back and forth in a herd made me chuckle… and the confession at the end made me identify!! I tell myself it’s not about presents anyway, but I wonder if that’s just because I don’t really feel like buying them…

  14. Love2learn Mom

    We’ve never had cable, but have been using the old laptop connected to the TV trick for years. Haven’t done Care Bears, but the kids are extremely well-versed in profound cultural literacy, like Gilligan’s Island and Bewitched.

  15. Katie

    I missed that you were pregnant! Congratulations!

  16. Tami Boesiger

    Thank you for your confession. I don’t have any shopping done yet either.

  17. Julia at LotsaLaundry

    Glad you’re feeling a bit better. Drinking a ton of fluids helps tremendously with exhaustion. (Yeah, I know you’ve already done this four times, but I only discovered it with #5.)

    On the exhaustion front, one thing to consider when folks ask how to help is to ask them to bring over a small, simple craft project for the kids to do. It helps to have a ready supply of stuff on hand, so your brain doesn’t have to think of it. (This is one of my standard new-mom gifts: something QUIET for the kids to do.)

  18. Jules

    I gave up my dish maybe a year ago. I have Netflix and the internet, but the coolest part is probably the lack of annoying commercials.

  19. Elena

    You have discovered the secret to mothering a big family – THEY ENTERTAIN EACH OTHER!! All you have to do is referee from time to time. And here’s another secret – when they’re teens they’ll hang around together too and be each other’s best friends if you continue to homeschool them. It’s really great!

  20. Sharon

    Congrats on your pregnancy! I can’t wait to read all about the West Coast Walk for Life. I’m hoping we’ll make it to the D.C. one this year.

  21. Kristin

    So good to hear you are feeling a bit better. I too have been thinking about the cable issue. My kids are not big cable watchers, but my husband and father are, so it will be a fight with them for sure.
    LOVE your blog by the way!

  22. Susan

    We do the same, and do even miss cable at all!
    So glad you are feeling better. I remember having my three
    as littles ages 3, 2 and 1, they do play together and you know
    what they still do. It is for sure, easier, in my mind as I
    remember it.
    Have a Happy Weekend!

  23. Camille

    I am terribly jealous of your giving up cable. Maybe I can convince my husband that this is a good idea. It would certainly save us a lot on our bill!

    Another question – do you guys still do Santa? We are having that conversation recently. Is it too commercial v. celebrating Jesus’s birth? St. Nick comes to our house on his feast day (earlier this week) so he’s already been here. Does he love the season so much that we can convince our son he comes twice? Just wondered your thoughts.

    • Josephene Kealey

      Hi, Camille!
      When we were very young, my Mom used to tell us that Santa Claus helps Jesus bring gifts. We also celebrate St. Nicholaus’ feast day on December 6 (boot shining).
      The answer satisfied us until, I guess, it didn’t, which was when my Mom explained that Santa Claus was a substitute idea for Jesus in many households, but she also made it clear that S.C. was St. Nicholaus re-drawn for commercialization.
      I don’t remember being scandalized — just a bit sad about some people not knowing about Jesus.
      Best of luck.

    • magda

      1 So glad you hung in and moved past four and found the answer to the “How do you do it with four?” Wish we hadn’t taken the heretical solution of sterilization. I regret regret regret that we deliberately limited our family to four children.
      2 As an aside, google West Coast Walk for Life and battle of the babes on zombietimes
      3 My husband read the Chronicles to our children when they were little and introduced them to Calvin and Hobbes.
      4 We canceled cable because our cable company moved ewtn to digital without notifying us that we needed special equipment. We use the internet and do not miss cable one bit.
      If you can find the old anime “Swan Lake” on netflex it is great.
      5 No climbers in the house?
      6 That is great!
      7 God will provide!

      • magda

        oops about SC – you are wise to bring in St. Nicholas.

  24. Stephanie

    Totally haven’t started shopping yet either. Whoops!

    We gave up cable, too, about a year ago when we moved into our new house. We really haven’t missed it. We stream shows from my husband’s PS3, but all in all our TV watching has seriously decreased. It’s nice to have nights where you just sit on the couch and chat or read or do nothing.

    (P.S. love the generic brand cereal, that’s the way to go!)

  25. Michelle

    So glad you’re getting close to feeling better. I will keep you in my prayers. Love where your garland is hanging. We did the same thing with cable a couple of years ago. My husband wanted it back this year and so we got it, but I NEVER missed it! We had netflix and all the streaming stuff…now, I wish we’d hooked our tv to our computer, though, that would have been great!

  26. Elizabeth

    In regards to your exhaustion…
    I once read that a woman in her first trimester, lying flat on her back is physically more challenged than a non-pregnant woman climbing a mountain!
    Remember that right now your body is not only building an entirely new human being, but the “support system” as well.

    Loved the mental image of your “herd” running through the house!
    Praise God for large families!

  27. Laura

    Glad to hear that homeschooling is going so well. It is amazing how much time it doesn’t take for each child! Don’t worry, I’m just getting going with shopping, too ๐Ÿ™‚
    God Bless

  28. Elizabeth

    Oh, BTW. With a new baby last year I never even finished decorating the Christmas tree! This year we have a “Wee Tree” that we are using as our Jesse Tree (3 1/2 foot tree on a 4 foot cabinet) The little guy is TOO capable of destruction!
    Love the garland where it is…will it still be there at Easter???

  29. Kristina

    I recently read an article about people cutting cable…I got free cable in my apartment…so I got rid of my TV and only keep up with my favorite 3 shows via Hulu.com and iTunes. Hulu.com also has some random movies too that are sometimes good time fillers. I never had the discipline to turn the TV off. I hope to only do a TV with stream from Hulu or netflix when I have a family as a back up…we’ll see what technology comes by then!

  30. Kara

    We did #4 a while back and it’s been great! I love not having a cable bill, and Netflix is awesome.

    I also haven’t bought any Christmas gifts. We haven’t had the money, and I haven’t felt well, so it’s just not happening any time soon, lol. I know I’m running out of time, but whatever! It’ll get done ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t even had the stamina to decorate the tree, even though it’s been up for weeks. Geesh!

    Glad you’re feeling a bit better. I am too, but I’d like to move onto 2nd trimester and be over this completely.

  31. Jenny

    I swear that is a picture of my kitchen. Except for the pot rack which, at 5’2, I could never reach. And you have way less junk on the countertops.

  32. Judy

    I was right with you on number 7 until last night!
    As for the new garland…don’t sweat it…just finish stringing it about the pots and pans there, and be done with the whole matter!
    As to the FIRST Quick Take…I did not realize you were expecting Jennifer!
    How did I miss this post?
    GOD BLESS YOU and congratulations to your beautiful family!
    Fresh ginger squished into the bottom of a cup, with hot hot hot water over it to make a “tea” and sipped slowwwwwwwly sometimes does the trick for morning sickness.
    I remember the odd feeling of getting rid of cable…now…several years later…we’ve never regretted it.
    Thanks for hosting!

  33. That Married Couple

    1. That’s great!

    4. Good for you! It seems more and more people are doing that. We’re so cheap that at this point we just have whatever channels we can get with rabbit ears.

    5. Nice.

    6. That’s fantastic! Congrats!

  34. Kim D.

    I think the garland is just perfect, right there.
    Congratulations on your pregnancy!
    Blessed Advent to you!

  35. priest's wife

    So the extra littles go to “Mother’s Day Out” and you stay in and teach! Yup- you are a homeschooling mama- I hope you are taking your vitamins and drinking your water!

  36. Josephene Kealey

    The garland made me laugh! It looks like some kinda red mold growing from your pot rack… It’s actually hideously hilarious. You *should* keep it there and let your Christmas guests know it’s all the rage in Hollywood.

    Another thought came to mind regarding nausea and behaving yourself: when Christ was suffering His lashes, cross, and death, we are told He was silent. It speaks to me of many things, but perhaps also that ranting while in pain is “natural” and that keeping silent is sometimes the only way to avoid saying things we regret later. Now, *smiling* while feeling physical discomfort is saintly. I am aiming for “frowning silence” at this stage of my life. : )

    Also, we have in Canada something called Diclectin, which alleviates nausea (prescription drug). Do American Moms have access to that?

    No cable here either. Welcome to the club. Six months from now, if you get the chance, watch television at a friend’s place and you’ll find yourself covering your mouth and saying, “I’m so glad we don’t have cable anymore.” (But then apologize real quick).

    Don’t tell me homeschooling is going well!! It’s something that’s on my mind constantly (we kept our oldest — 4years — at home this year instead of sending him to junior kindergarten because I couldn’t imagine parting from him so soon). I was hoping you would say it’s turning out enormously horribly, just so I can depend on your experience to settle my mind…


  37. Rhonda

    Until recently, we’d been TV-less our entire marriage. We watched movies on the laptop (and snuggle, fun!). I like it, but we’ll see what I think when the little tyke gets older – I, too, may not be above an afternoon of Dora and Diego!

    Thanks for doing this, Jennifer. I’m enjoying your blog and other people’s Quick Takes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Julie

    We got rid of cable at my house when I was in the 3rd grade (I’m 22 now). We gave it up for Lent and never got it back!

  39. Kelly

    Congratulations on the new little one!

  40. Tres Angelas

    I would so love to lose our satellite service; however, when I suggested merely suspending it for a month I was informed that dish latino is a basic necessity of life.

    As for replacing the DVR/receiver with a computer, here’s me exhibiting my technical proficiency to our daughters: “Where’s the remote? No, the other remote. No, the OTHER remote.”

  41. Not A Minx

    Glad you are feeling better.

  42. Monica

    So glad to read that confession: I haven’t shopped a drop yet either!

  43. syd

    We got rid of satellite tv several years ago, and we only recently got a digital converter for our old tv to get over the air channels. For a year, we had no tv at all, and honestly, we didn’t really miss it. I definitely did not miss the satellite or the bill that went with it. We primarily use the internet for our entertainment.

  44. Elizabeth

    I loved your comparison to the Catechism! I haven’t thought about that story in a long time and it’s so cool to see it come back full circle as a lesson in my adult life.

  45. Vicki

    We went to cable from DirecTV (BIG move for hubby), but now I’m wishing we could say adios to cable as well. Baby steps…

  46. Anne Marie

    So with you on items 6 & 7.

  47. Grace

    These are always fun to do! Thanks.;)

  48. Liesl

    props for canceling the cable (and saving money)! my family has never had cable – we had to get one of those digital converter boxes when all we were watching was snow fuzz – and people always ask what we do instead. well, sometimes we read books, or play games, and every once in awhile, we actually converse with each other! it’s amazing. now if i could only get rid of my cable in my apartment… but alas, i have very few people to play games or converse with in my apartment and the tv is my way of vegging out after a long day…

  49. Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    Kudos on dumping the cable! My husband has also been talking about that we should just hook up a computer to the TV and do it. My only concern is that we have our cable, Internet, and phone all bundled together. So, I wonder how much we would actually save by not having cable. I keep meaning to look into it.

  50. Michelle @ Don't Eat That Cookie

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experiences with homeschooling. I’d love to have the opportunity to do that when my little man is old enough!

  51. MelanieB

    Oh I do hope that your morning sickness leaves soon. Icky horrid stuff!

    The only reason we still have cable is so Dom can watch football and Nascar. Otherwise we’d be fine with streaming shows from the internet, which is actually how we watch most of the tv we do watch. `

  52. Michelle

    i will be at the walk for life!!! maybe i will see you there ๐Ÿ˜€

  53. Nina

    Jen, At least my husband and *some* of the nine kids make it each year to SF. I know we’re planning on it this year. Are you speaking? I would love to meet you and hear you in person!

    So glad you are feeling better and getting some relief and consolations. You deserve it. Take care, lady, and know you are “doing” the most important job in the world. (The angels can’t even procreate.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And lastly, you inspire me, with the not-getting-any-gifts-yet. I go into panic mode every year and never feel “prepared” or “caught up”. Reflection….serenity…. and actually being able to stop and relax in the peace of the season…..what a fantasy! So, God slowing you down—-take advantage of it if you CAN. XOXOXO

  54. JCA

    Congratulations (belatedly) to all USA on the day of their patroness, the Immaculate Conception, from Spain, who is also their patroness.

  55. Vicki

    you can remove my link – i accidentally posted it on the wrong quick takes ๐Ÿ™‚ #81 – Vicki

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