7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 117)

February 18, 2011 | 52 comments

— 1 —

Have you seen Patrick Madrid’s new site? It’s beautiful! I’ve been offering some of my web nerd skillz behind the scenes, so it’s exciting to see it all up and running. Go stop by and say hello!

— 2 —

My mother-in-law, the famous Yaya, is all settled in to her new house, which is only 10 blocks away from ours. It is everything I dreamed it could be. And more. If you look up “win-win situation” in an English phrase dictionary, you will see a picture of me and Yaya, with the kids swinging from the rafters of her living room in the background. I mean, it could hardly be more perfect: I like to sit alone in a quiet house; she likes to have lots of people and noise and activity around her. I have my hands full; she has free time. She loves children; we’re bad at NFP.

Aside from all that, it’s just fun to be around her. She’s a blast. I’m telling you, this situation is like something out of a fairy tale.

— 3 —

One of the more amusing parts of Yaya’s move-in process has been watching her get her cats acclimated to the new environment. I get daily calls with updates about her latest feline adventures. Last week she thought she might take one of her cats for a walk, so she slipped a harness on him and headed out. The cat hated it, ditched the harness, and Yaya ended up chasing him all up and down her new block.

Then she heard that a good way to keep cats from running away is to put butter on the bottom of their paws. (I’m not sure about the science behind that one, which is undoubtedly rigorous. Something about what happens when they lick it off making them lose the scent back to their old home.) Anyway, she took one of her cats out to the back porch, slathered his paws with butter, and sat back to wait for him to calmly lick it off before exploring his new back yard. The cat immediately bolted back inside, covering her new carpet in buttery footprints.

— 4 —

We recently switched to Vonage, and its automated voice transcription service is an endless source of amusement for us. When someone leaves a voicemail, it attempts to capture the words and email them to us. This afternoon I got an email with this effort at transcribing a message from Elizabeth Esther:

Hey Jen, it’s Elizabeth. I was weird. I called and like it picked up and stomach is dialing and then it hung up. I don’t know what’s going on.

And another one from a friend whose first language is not English, who calls me Jenny (transcribed as “Jaime”):

Hey Jamie, April Howell yeah my no Jamie I was to get my not allowed i.e. going but indeed they they said they gonna come you know study and then doses for call again my no square go over this isn’t a kind of little baby gas is Danny. Bye.

They should charge extra for this free entertainment.

— 5 —

I’ve had my first homeschooling fail. A few weeks ago my son got it in his head that his life was incomplete because he didn’t have a BugZooka. It’s all he talked about. It’s all he thought about. Whenever he had free time, he simply wanted to sit in front of the TV and watch the infomercial clip over and over again. So I told him that he could have it as a treat to celebrate the end of the school year: when he finished all his reading lessons, I’d get him a BugZooka.

He ended up covering two month’s worth of material in two weeks. He powered through reading lessons at a rate that I could hardly keep up with. At first I thought this was fabulous, but I became concerned when he started referring to reading as “BugZooka practice.” He finished the entire curriculum on Monday, got his BugZooka, and promptly announced that he was happy to be done with reading. His impression was that all that book stuff was merely a bitter means to the end of having an unbelievably awesome bug catcher, the written word irrelevant to his new life of chasing scorpions around the yard.

Looks like I may need to re-evaluate my homeschooling motivation techniques.

— 6 —

I’m almost finished reading Abby Johnson’s book, Unplanned. Wow! It’s so good! I mean, I’d heard it was good, but I didn’t know if people meant that it was a good read, or that it simply did a good job of explaining why Abby left her Director role at Planned Parenthood. I’m glad to report that it’s both. I stayed up way too late reading it last night because I just couldn’t put it down. A very well done book.

— 7 —

We finally have some warm weather back over here, and it’s wonderful. High’s in the 70’s, lows in the 50’s all week. I feel like I’ve been let out of a Siberian prison.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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. Erin


    You have me in stitches with no5, I do have to say, ‘been there, done that.’ lol. I’m so tempted with all the reviews I here of Unplanned to purchase. How wonderful to have the indefatigable Yaya on hand:)

  2. Kassie @ Secret Vatican Spy

    I would power through all of my reading assignments so I wouldn’t HAVE to do anything so entomological as catch bugs. πŸ˜€

    The vonage transcription is hysterical. It reminds me of my mother, who just got an iPhone. She isn’t used to autocorrect, so I got a text in the middle of class last week that read “Shes got the fiber.” It remains to be known what she meant, because she can’t remember now. But someone, somewhere, has a happy colon.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Dorian Speed

    Wow – his site does look good! Nice to see that it came over from blogger in one piece.

  4. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    My sympathies on #5. I had an orchestra teacher in middle school who screwed up by telling us if we rehearsed well we’d get to see a movie. And no one cared much for the instruments themselves for a while.

  5. the cottage child

    I feel very fortunate that we have not seen the ads for the bugzooka – it would be the hot topic of conversation around here, without doubt.

  6. Sharon

    I’m almost done with “Unplanned,” too! It’s a great book, and the cool thing is, Shawn and Marilisa Carney recently moved to our area and attend our church. I’ve met Marilisa and talked with her several times and she’s every bit as lovely and sweet as Abby describes her. Hopefully I’ll get to meet Shawn soon (although I did spot him sitting with the family in church last Sunday. πŸ™‚ )

    Still no 7 Quick Takes post this week. Our oldest son’s confirmation is tomorrow, and between getting the house ready for the flow of friends and family and work-related projects, I haven’t had a chance to blog at all. Hopefully I’ll have one up next week. Have a great weekend!

  7. Kathleen@so much to say

    The voice/e-mail comments are hilarious! I suppose these things will get ironed out in time, but it’s darned funny while it lasts. I will continue to be a stuck in the mud curmudgeon at the tender age of 36 and refuse to get a text-able phone. Or use the phone I have, for that matter. I loathe being that available.

    As for the bugzooka…good luck with that one!

  8. Michelle

    1. I will have to go see Patrick Madrid’s new site! Thanks for the pointer.
    2. What a blessing that you and your mother-in-law get along so well!
    4. Hilarious. We used to have vonage at an old home and it was fun to read the voicemails/e-mails.
    5. Leave it to your son to “show you”! That’s great. I wouldn’t call it a fail, though…Just grab next year’s curriculum and keep on chugging, right? πŸ™‚
    6. I have got to get my hands on a copy of that book. I have heard wonderful things.
    7. we, too, got some warm weather! but in KC, that means another cold blast or two are probably on the way. But I have enjoyed the 60s and 70s this week!
    Have a blessed week.

  9. Pam

    Oh, I KNEW things were going to get even funnier when Yaya moved to the neighborhood… and you didn’t let me down. Buttery footprints? Wow.

  10. Mandi

    I don’t have any kids yet, so I am still amazed to hear things like a little boy thinks his life is “incomplete” without a bugzooka. Little boys just amaze me! Especially the fact that they all seem mesmorized by the same things (I recently worked at a daycare that didn’t have guns but the one-year-old boys – and only the boys – turned every toy into a gun)! So excited to have a boy of my own someday – they are endless entertainment!

  11. Tina

    I loved Abby Johnson’s book!
    I found myself that I couldn’t put it down either. I actually finished it in a week and a half…which says a lot about the book considering my super busy schedule!
    God is doing such a great work with her…it’s amazing to see. I’ve been following her blog since I read the book (as well as following her on twitter and facebook) and He just continues to work in her!
    It’s awesome!

  12. Bonnie

    Travis and I also consider ourselves to be bad at NFP. πŸ™‚

  13. el-e-e

    Enjoy your spring weather! We have the same and I’m LOVING IT!

  14. Kate

    I bought Unplanned to support Abby, but I have to admit that I’m scared to read it. I read the intro chapter online, and I literally almost passed out at the description of the abortion ultrasound. I’m wondering if I have the courage to read the rest.

    • Catherine


  15. Donna@workofcreation

    Oh Bugzooka?? I’m pretty sure if my 8 year olds saw that it would move to the number one position on their birthday wish lists.

    And they’re girls. I’m often giving little rewards for a job well done — I find that when I give a BIG reward they lose focus after a while. I think something like a Bugzooka would totally move you into *best mom on the planet* territory!

  16. Judy

    Can’t wait to visit Patrick’s site…thanks for sharing.
    And,I think I will be smiling the whole-day through at the JOY of having Ya Ya as your newest neighbor in town!!!

  17. Rebecca

    Those transcriptions are hilarious! I feel bad for people who are actually relying on the emails for useful information!

    I am loving the warm weather here too – though I’m not excited about the snow in the forecast for next week :(.

  18. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    I understand about home schooling, I am currently battling a simialr situation with my kindergartener. Her reward Girl Scout cookies, now she wants them for breakfast!

  19. priest's wife

    I can’t wait to read Unplanned- might be good for 40 days for Life

  20. Anne

    I loved these! My favourites were the cat adventures, and the Bugzooka story.
    This made my day!

  21. Love2learn Mom

    BugZooka practice! Gotta love it! Sounds so much like my youngest (age 7). He just finished the Bob Books last night. When I told him this morning that he’d have to do some spelling eventually he said, “I don’t need to learn spelling, I already know how to read!”

  22. Grace

    #’s 4 and 5 crack me up!!

    Loving this weather as well..heaven!!!

  23. Jackie

    I definitely need to read that 10 Prayers book. I read about it at another blog, so I’m stopping by a bookstore today to hunt for it!

  24. Christine

    Great homeschooling story.

  25. David Peru

    Looks like I found something else to do to with my friend’s cat…

  26. Amy

    Yay for Yaya! Can’t wait for more stories–the cat one was quite good πŸ™‚

  27. threelittleowls

    Abby’s book is wonderful! I’m so glad we have her insight as we continue to battle to defund Planned Parenthood!

  28. Lauren

    “She loves children; we’re bad at NFP.” HA HA HA HA HA!!!

    Also cracking up at your home schooling motivation!

    LOVED Unplanned. REad it in 24 hours…with a new baby! What an incredible story!

  29. mrs.marcus

    I’m glad Yaya is close! I love Yaya stories! I can’t believe her cats even want to leave the house. When we moved last year, we took my MIL’s outdoor cat with us. He stayed under the bed for the entire first week. Thankfully, he hasn’t tried going outside once.

  30. Jamie Jo

    That BugZooka sounds pretty cool! I say, if they work extra, let them have that break. They deserve it!!

    Your weather sounds great!! We, here, in MN, just got over our February thaw and are back to freeeeeezing cooooold!

    Thanks for letting me join in again.

  31. Liesl

    I look forward to more Yaya stories!

    I really want to read Abby Johnson’s book! I heard her on Catholic Answers Live and REALLY want to read her book now… I’m hoping the library will get it soon…

  32. Mel

    HA! We will be starting homeshooling soon, and I can see my own son’s brain would work in similar ways, haha. BugZooka practice, haha.

  33. Julie @ The Corner With A View

    I loved Abby Johnson’s book too! I read it as fast as work hours would allow me. πŸ™‚

  34. Monica

    I love your homeschooling fail take. We are stuck with a rule we enacted a few weeks ago: You get half as much wii time on the weekend as you spend reading during the week. Now, reading is indeed an evil means to an end.

    I’m sticking with it for a few more weeks, just to see if the complaining dissipates.

  35. That Married Couple

    Great quick takes this week!

    1. Looks nice!

    2. We grew up right next door to my grandparents. It really was so handy!

    3. Ha! Looking forward to more amusing Yaya stories πŸ™‚

    5. Sounds like great motivation to me!

  36. Audrey

    Not sure how to follow you through the whole google system, kinda annoying to me…lol..but I’ll just add you to the blogs I follow on blogger, I guess.
    Anyway, this made me crack up, & wanted to say I like your blog alot! God bless!

  37. Lisa

    At least your son may now be able to read the instructions to the bugzooka πŸ˜‰

  38. David Marciniak

    “…bad at NFP”…LOL!!!! US TOO!!!! That…was…priceless. Thanks for hosting and for a good laugh today!

  39. Heather of the EO

    I can’t stop laughing about the phone thing. I just can’t. Stuff like that totally cracks me up.

    And I’m so happy for you and your Yaya situation. GOOD stuff.

  40. Heather Cady

    Finally back on the Friday bandwagon πŸ™‚ Thanks again for hosting!

  41. JoAnna

    When we moved cross-country, it was me, the kids, and the cat in our car, and my husband driving the moving van. I stopped at a rest area and took the cat out on a leash. I didn’t take the time to put on her harness, just her collar (one of those safety ones).

    Of course, she managed to slip out of her collar and ran off. I searched for her for nearly an hour, and had finally concluded I was going to have to leave without her when I heard her meowing. She had crawled under our car and UP INTO THE ENGINE BLOCK. It took some doing to get her out, but I managed (thanks to some Good Samaritans who helped out as well). I learned my lesson and kept her harness on after that.

  42. Emily

    Sounds like it’s time to invest in books on insects and other creepy crawlies. There have been months in our household where such books were the bulk of one child’s independent reading.

  43. Matt@StBlogustine

    I finally came up with 7 takes to post. Okay, six and I cheated with the last one. It’s my first of the year.

    Jennifer, yours as usual are great.

  44. Blair

    How can that be a homeschooling fail? It’s a win-win in my opinion! He completes his lessons, gets a toy that keeps him out of your hair, AND captures bugs and scorpions? You should get a brilliant mom award for that!

  45. Sister Lynn

    You have to post more of your voice mail craziness… I laughed so much!

  46. Rosemary

    Visited Patrick’s site: looks terrific! And hurrah for Yaya! (Hurrah for more stories, too!) Who new the high-priced spread could be so very entertaining? πŸ™‚
    Our priest recently downloaded some voice-translation software to help him with his sermons. According to him, he said something that it didn’t like, and it hasn’t spoken since! H-m-m-m, Bugzooka. We’ll have to investigate it for our three grandsons. I’m ordering Abby Johnson’s book when I finish this comment. I’ve been asked by a friend to join her in volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, so I’m sure the book will be helpful. Warm weather here, too, but it can’t last. We’re fortunate if our true spring begins in April. It was wonderful while it lasted, though. Hope your weekend is blessed. Rosemary

  47. MamaTod

    It’s not a home school fail to motivate him that way and have him go faster. Look at all the weeks he didn’t waste learning what he could do so much more quickly. Now that he’s got the bugzooka, require a report about it: how it works, what it cost, etc. Then ask for a report of the week’s activities. Have him research other similar inventions. Challenge him to build a model of it out of Legos, or draw a model. It’s called delight-directed learning and he’ll learn and remember and use so much more that way. My oldest son’s entire 7th grade science curriculum revolved around rockets for that very reason and in that very way.

    As for motivations to read from now on, use the same idea, but smaller goals. For example, if he likes to stay up later than the others, 5 days of reading gets him an extra 1/2 hour on Friday nights.

    You’re doing great, and I’ve got 18 years of experience with several kids to qualify me to make that assessment! πŸ™‚

  48. Whimsy

    If I recall, he’s still pretty little, especially for a boy. I don’t mean to sound rude, but it’s really stupid to make reading, at his age, a power struggle between the two of you. Sounds to me like he’s feeling pressured.

    Give the both of you a break, ask less of him for awhile, and spend that time reading to him. Avoid the Captain Underpants type stuff, find one of the plethora of good books lists and dive in.

    The best way to make readers is to create a family culture that loves to read.

  49. Michelle

    I just bought “Unplanned” and am looking forward to reading it. I’m glad to hear you are enjoying it!

  50. Kaye Swain

    I really enjoyed reading about your YaYa – sounds like she enjoys fun activities for grandparents and grandchildren as much as I do. πŸ™‚ My grandkids love to come over to my house – I don’t have rafters for them to swing from, but they love to pull all the couch cushions off the couch and make forts all over the living room. Very fun!

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