7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)

October 26, 2012 | 59 comments

— 1 —

I think I might actually enjoy Halloween this year. For the past eight years, Halloween has an an extremely low “actually enjoyed it”-to-“expected to enjoy it” ratio. Ever since we had our first child, I always pictured Halloween to be an evening when I would bounce around the neighborhood with my elaborately-costumed children, soak up the compliments about their preciousness, then go home to watch them delight in a few pieces of candy (after our conversions I had some vague visions about doing something prayerful acknowledging All Hallows Eve too).

Then here’s how it would actually turn out:

I’d be unwilling to pawn our TV to afford outrageously-overpriced children’s costumes, yet unable to come up with any cute and easy make-at-home costume ideas (I note that this was a pre-Pinterest problem). Then I would be too tired from the sheer toil of my daily life to herd my children around the block, and I would stay at home while Joe took the kids around the neighborhood, his own banana costume utterly overshadowing whatever we’d managed to throw together for them. We’d come home and every single one of the children would end up crying and screaming for hours when they found out that they could not, in fact, eat their entire bag of candy in one sitting. (My most salient Halloween memory is of trying to carry some pumpkin-shaped baskets filled with candy over to a closet where I planned to store them, dragging two toddlers who were clinging to my ankles and shrieking as if their very wills to live were contained in those orange baskets.)

But I think this year might actually be fun. My mom hooked us up with some great costumes, I actually have some energy these days, and at least a few of our kids are above the age of sanity so that the candy battles should only be mildly epic.

— 2 —

I need some easy saint costume ideas. We’re going to an All Saints Day party at our parish, and I’m hoping that we can repurpose some Halloween/dress-up supplies for this one. Here’s what we have in the way of costumes: a tiger, a skeleton, a bumble bee, a nurse’s uniform, a lab coat, a feather boa, and about a thousand princess dresses. Are there any saint outfits we could throw together here? I mean, I guess all the girls could be St. Elizabeth of Hungary, but I was hoping for a little more diversity.

— 3 —

I tried not to reference my library story from this time of year in 2008. I really did. But I can’t not talk about it. I don’t entirely understand why, but every time I think about it I just about laugh until I cry.

You see, this was during that season I referenced recently when I was barely surviving each day. I had a newborn, a 15-month-old and a two-year-old, and about 95% of my brainpower at any given moment went to figuring out how to cling to life for the next hour. I was barely aware that there was an election about to take place, let alone conscious of whatever other dates may be on the calendar. On one such day I went to the library to return some books, and was shocked by the appearance of one of the employees. I normally have a certain fondness for people who dress in outrageous styles, but this was way beyond what is appropriate for a library employee: the guy wore a huge hoop ring in one ear, a black bandanna covered in skulls and crossbones, had charcoal eyeliner smudged all over his eyes, a black vest with a depiction of crossed swords on it, and a gaudy nose ring that covered half of his nose.

When I called Joe to crow about the unfortunate declining standards of employee attire at our local public institutions, he started laughing so hard he could barely breathe. I didn’t see what was so funny about it, and he was barely able to choke out the words: “It’s…Halloween. The guy…was dressed…as a pirate.”

— 4 —

We have a great family tradition where my dad comes over every Sunday and cooks a big breakfast of bacon, sausage, and scrambled eggs for us. We walk in the door from Mass each Sunday to smell the scents of breakfast meats and biscuits mingling in the air, and hear the bacon popping sizzling on the grill. But it just occurred to us that perhaps we should choose a place to set up the grill other than the spot right under the wine glasses:

A friend joined us for dinner the other day, and had an odd look on his face as he noted that the cabernet we served was tannic with notes of grass, bell pepper, and…bacon?

— 5 —

My copy of Undaunted Courage arrived in the mail today, and I can’t wait to dig into it tonight. It’s been on my wish list forever, and our upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest pushed me over the edge to get it. It is almost embarrassing how excited I am to read this. I absolutely love well-written historical nonfiction anyway, and knowing that I’m about to see in person many of the places depicted in this book just about sends me to Nerdvana.

— 6 —

Joe pointed out that I need to read fast, since we leave for Seattle exactly two weeks from today. I shook my head and calmly said no. “No, you don’t need to read fast?” he asked. I corrected him to clarify, “‘No’ as in we’re not flying to Seattle in two weeks.” He paused, looked at the calendar in confusion, and confirmed that, yes, in fourteen days we will load ourselves and our children onto airplanes and depart for the state of Washington, whereupon we will then drive to Oregon and stay for an entire week. I nodded placidly, and explained that that is not my truth. It blesses me to feel like we have at least three more months to get ready for this thing, and therefore that is what I choose to believe. He has his truth, and I respect that. I will not infringe on his views about 14-day timelines for 2, 000-mile trips that involve packing for rainy, winter weather for a herd of young children. But I also ask that he respect that that is not my truth.

— 7 —

Our girls love to dance, and last night we decided to inspire them with Youtube videos. We began with examples of traditional Irish folk dancing, showed them a classic waltz, and tried to entice them with images of ballroom dancing with tuxedo-clad men and ladies in sumptuous gowns. The result was yawns all around. You see, the problem was that at some point early in our searching, a terrible series of events played out in which we somehow found and inexplicably clicked on the video for The Hamster Dance. My girls stopped what they were doing, stared at the television, and knew at that moment why God gave us the internet. Long story short, they spent the rest of the night asking us to play it over and over again, and now I shall spend the rest of my days tortured by this song, which will evidently never leave my head. And so I share it with you:



  1. Megan

    Blue sheet=Mary. Dark blue sheet with stars glued to it=Our Lady of Guadelupe. White sheet + blue ribbon/sash=Our Lady Of Lourdes. That’s the most creative I get…even with Pinterest. But the the possibilities are endless! 🙂

    A pirate! Ha! And we have dance parties, too…but my children, even in their toddlerhood, are wise beyond their years. I thought the Hamster Dance would be an amazing gift to them; they asked me to never play it again and just put Elmo back on. Lesson learned.

  2. jen

    #2: nurse = st. marianne cope (yes, she was a franciscan nun but she went to go be a nurse.)
    princess = st. clotilde, st. radegunde,
    lab coat + dress = st. gianna molla

    #6: i’m reminded of adam savage’s catchphrase from “mythbusters”: “i reject your reality and substitute my own!”

    • Lady Harriet

      I was just about to suggest the same thing for St. Gianna! Since she was a pediatrician, your daughter could carry a baby doll too.

  3. megan too

    the bumblebee could be one of st. rita’s bees. the lab coat over a dress and cardigan is st. gianna. pair up the tiger with a princess dress and you have a martyr…and possible scarring for whoever has to be the big bad tiger 😉

    • ashley.elise

      Yes! I was thinking of pairing the tiger with someone else for a Roman martyr! Alas, too slow… 🙂

  4. Dianna

    ahhhhh ….. You Tube.

    My husband teaches my children Music Appreciation via You Tube.

    You know.

    Michael Jackson and Queen. 😉

  5. Cassandra

    The dance videos my kids can’t get enough of is the jabbawockeez. Really awesome dance group. They’ve done several of the ‘talent’ shows. My two year old can robot dance like none other thanks to them. Find it. Watch it. You’re welcome. 🙂

  6. Snarky

    OOOH the Bumblebee could be St. Ambrose! Add a Bishops Hat and you’re done!

  7. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I won’t even comment on Saint costume ideas because I think everyone has come up with amazing ones already that I would have never thought of!

    But, I will comment on the fact that you dad makes you breakfast every Sunday! What? What a man, I say! That is amazing 🙂 I don’t think I have ever heard you talk about your parents before…albeit I have only been reading for a couple of years maybe?

    Do you write about them often?

  8. christine

    Great list. As for a saint costume, pillow cases on the girls’ heads are handy. It cracks me up that you actually called your husband and told him about the guy at the library. Awesome, and totally depicts life with three kids under three. Bacon makes everything tasted better, right? Even wine? I,too, love to read books about places that I’m going or have been. I like to picture the places of which they speak. What a fun trip you have planned, whenever it may be. Good luck with the packing. You can do it!

  9. Lynn

    Okay, I’m going to watch the hamster dance in a second, but first I have to tell you that my parents must have been careful about how far we trick-or-treated, because her strategy my whole childhood (and mine for my kids now) was to let us gorge ourselves, but only Halloween night until bedtime, and then only before noon. Candy was gone in 2-3 days and there were never any power struggles. We also learned quickly how awful blood sugar spikes and crashes felt. I have good friends who dole out two pieces per day for *months* until their kids forget there is candy. It blows my mind that anyone could forget the presence of candy.

    • Christina

      My mom always had to “check the candy for poisoned ones” which generally meant the stash was cut in half becuase of delici…uh…suspicious candies were pulled out. Then were were allowed to gorge on the rest, it was not a battle she felt like picking and it was usually gone quickly.

      We also would play “poker” with the candy as chips…I put poker in quotes because we knew the hands but were fuzzy on the rules. Why not make three different things a wild card and have unlimited discards?

  10. Maria Johnson

    oh my! your pirate story gave me a hearty laugh, lass! aargh!

  11. Leanne

    I’m currently in that period of life where Halloween has a very low “enjoyment” rate! Plus, my husband will be at work, which makes toting our two littles through then neighborhood even less desirable!!

    I love your Halloween/library story! This is SO something I would do and I can completely relate! So funny!

  12. Leslie

    I recently discovered the origin of the Hamster Dance song. My 2-year-old is obsessed with Robin Hood, thus we’ve been watching the Disney animated version for months, and he regularly hums the music from it. One day my brother-in-law asked me, “Why is he singing the Hamster Dance?”

    Mind blown.

  13. The Boring Blogger

    Can I just say I am scared to use a hanging wine rack. We are down to our last 3 wine glasses because I break them on a weekly basis. Perhaps this is lame but I find the hanging wine glasses intimidating. That being said, I sort of like the idea of a merlot with some bacon undertones.

  14. Seth

    Labcoats can be used for either Dr. Gianna Molla or Dr. Frederic Ozanam, both recent saints from JPII.

  15. Bonnie

    St. Gianna Molla was a doctor.

    Can the tiger be modified into the Lion of Judah?

    Last year one of my boys wore a brown adult XL hoodie inside out with a sheet of brown felt safety-pinned to the front and back, rope tied around the waist, red marker on the hands = St. Padre Pio or St. Francis.

    skeleton could wear a sign that says “Oh Death” and then the bee could wear a sign that says “Where is your sting?” Which maybe that’s Shakespeare but there’s something similar in Scripture. And really, that’s close enough to a saint, right?

    • Lady Harriet

      “Oh death, where is they sting?” is in the Messiah, so it must be in scripture! (Why yes, most of my biblical knowledge does come from things I’ve sung in choir.) I think your idea is the best I’ve heard in a long time. I wish I had kids so I could steal it!

      • Lady Harriet

        …by which I meant THY sting. My fingers have trouble cooperating with my brain.

    • jen

      1 Corinthians 15, actually.

  16. Erin

    Just let them eat as much candy as they want on the first night. It’s a rite of passage. They won’t die, and they will stop at some point, I promise, esp if you make them slow down enough to notice when they start to feel sick and promise them they can have more tomorrow. Get it over with and have less candy later. Also have a “drop” date where-by everyone’s candy gets dumped into communal storage.
    If you have a silver dress, you could add to it in ways to make it a Joan of Arc costume.

  17. Jessica

    My dad wore a bee costume one year to our All Saint’s party with a nametag reading “Glory”…yup, he was the “Glory Bee”!!!

  18. Karianna@Caffeinated Catholic Mama

    Halloween is huge where we are in SoCal. People go all out with house decorating and the shebang. Couple it with night time ToTing and you get a really great time! We limit our Tot to usually only a few houses, because my that time the girls are tired (5 and 3) and have enough candy (for mama to scavenge through for the “Mama Tax.”)

    Saint Costume Ideas…

    Lab Coat: One of the “Doctors” of the Church- St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, etc; or an actual physician: St. Gianna, St. Cosmas, St. Damian, St. Luke

    Skeleton: depending on the humor level of your parish… St. Stephan (you know, first martyr?)

  19. Renee G

    Great Saint costume ideas over at Lacy’s Catholic Icing…along with everything preschool!

  20. Carla

    How about Ezekiel, since he commanded the dry bones to life. I like Stephen the martyr too.

  21. ce58

    One of the best costumes I’ve seen, saint related, used scrubs (the lab coat could possibly work too…). The little boy was dressed in scrubs, I think had a stethoscope, and on the back his parents had pinned a piece of paper that read “Doctor of the Church.” The image of the cute little boy makes me smile every time. Someday, when I have kids, my little boy will go like this!

    • bobbi

      “Doctor of the church”. Love that! I am using your idea! thx.

  22. Christine Smith

    If your daughters like hamster dance, show them this one…


    I think it’s fun, but it also gets stuck in my head for ever!

  23. Mary

    It was incredibly difficult to click away from that video but to my credit I did. And my children will NEVER see that, thankyouverymuch.

    And I want your dad. Or at least bacon.

  24. Cynthia


    I remember those little hamsters from high school. Love it.

  25. michele

    Yeah…the lab coat can totally be a St. Gianna costume! Princess ones can be Mary, Queen of All Saints or St. Helena!

  26. Grace

    I’d just go the lazy route and have them dress as themselves and say humbly that they are aspiring to be “future saints” — Julia just about has that down pat.

  27. Anne-Marie

    Skeleton = first class relic
    feather boa -> Rahab, Mary Magdalene

    • bobbi

      “First class relic.” Genius.

  28. Catherine

    Why can’t they just eat as much candy as they want to? It’s only for one night! And that way it’s over and done with much sooner.

  29. the Holy Terra

    Lab coat- Blessed Nicolas Steno, scientist (geology, paleontology..).

    Love the first class relic idea for the skeleton

  30. Tammy

    My husband read that Undaunted Courage book…he always thought he was born in the wrong century. Since he is in purgatory or heaven now, maybe he is hanging out with some of them now…my husband is probably telling them how lucky they were to have avoided the 21st century.

    I would love a breakfast like you describe and would give up the wine glasses entirely if necessary for it.

    I could only do 30 seconds of that hamster video. My daughter dances…this year when she turned 16, I took her to Paris France & got her pointe shoes on Rue de la Paix near Place L’Opera…one of the coolest mommying things I ever got to do.

  31. Joni

    I’m 54 years old. I watched the hamsters. Every second of it. Just couldn’t stop! Quite a toe-tapping tune! Loved it with a goofy grin on my face!

  32. Lisa

    Re: Saints Costumes
    For the lab coat- St. Gianna?
    Also, not sure if people would respond negatively to this but- for St. John the Baptist just take a large box and cheap plastic tray, cut a hole in the bottom/ middle of both, affix together, and, voila, put over a kiddos head.

  33. Hevel

    I think I really am the worst parent on Earth. I always let my kids devour as much of the holiday related candy (Purim in our case) in one sitting as possible. One day of absolute sugar high, with no stomach ache ever so far, and I removed a week of whining for the candy and continous sugar fueled evenings from our lives.

  34. Becky

    Ok, I can see that people have already suggested Catholic Icing, but I’m going to suggest it too! She has a great Bl.Mother Theresa costume where all you need is a pillow case and duct tape! Sounds lethal I know, but it’s worth checking out! It’s especially cute on little babies. I wish my 9 month old were a girl, then I would have an excuse to dress him up as MOther Theresa!

  35. Christine Dalessio

    Did someone say St. Bernard of Clairvaux, patron saint of bees?
    lab coat = St. Gianna Molla (pediatrician – what a great girl role model)

  36. Mrs. K

    Wasn’t St. Ignatius of Antioch fed to the lions? Also in the Bible, Daniel in the Lions’ Den… My son is going to be St. Joseph. He will wear his forest green robe and carry his play tools (plastic hammer, square, etc.). Easy. 🙂

    My other daughters are St. Agnes (their blue robe and will hold a picture of a lamb we printed out from a websearch -a stuffed animal lamb would work too), St. Kateri (making a paper bag vest as I type, idea from Catholic Icing), and the baby/toddler is always an angel (throw a pair of fairy wings bought from thrift shop and used canning lid ring for halo or sequin head band).

    I’m almost to my 3rd trimester with #5, so easy is the theme this year. 🙂

  37. Mrs. K

    Oh and one year my daughter was St. Helen (princess dress and held a cross). She was a queen or princess that found the relics of the Holy Cross.

  38. Maria

    i linked yesterday, but didn’t stop to comment. but i came back!

    loved your pirate story. really, really funny.

    for my boys, a simple cape in our costume bin has been the staple to transform them into anything: harry potter, st. dominic, st. francis (belted with a rope), luke skywalker, and a pirate.

  39. nancyo

    I absolutely LOVE all the ideas for saint costumes from the bumble bee outfit! Princess dresses could be: Saint Margaret of Scotland, Saint Helena, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

  40. Laura

    One of the girls could be wrapped up in a bedsheet, toga-style, as St. Monica. (Yes, I know, women didn’t wear togas… but as you know, Mom Has To Do What Mom Has To Do.) Or call it a “sari” and make her Mother Teresa.

    Others have mentioned St. Gianna Molla. You also have many princess-saints (or queen-saints) to choose from: St. Elizabeth of Portugal (or of Hungary), St. Helena, St. Dymphna, St. Jeanne de Valois, and St. Margaret of Scotland. That means ALL your girls can go as princesses, if you want! I know I’d never get away with letting one of my girls be a princess and the other not.

    As for your son, you can just dress him in sports clothes and call him Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati.

    You could also declare the baby to be one of the Holy Innocents. You’d have to go to confession afterwards though. 😉

  41. Amy Caroline

    Someone might have suggested this for the costume… but I am doing three of my kiddos as the Fatima children. Some dresses, an apron, and a kerchief for the girls and my son is wearing church clothes and a a red felt hat that is actually a tube sewed up, so it flops over to look like Francisco’s hat in his pictures.

    It was easy!

    I think I will claim my baby as one of the Holy innocents too. Love that idea!

  42. Lisa V.

    Laughed out loud with these this week! I can already see myself using “That may be YOUR truth, but MY truth…”…Oh my, I will certainly be using that one…hehe. Thanks, need some comic relief bracing for Hurrican Sandy here in NJ. Hope you’re feeling well. P.S. Those hamsters are scary!

  43. Linda

    We had a rule regarding Hallowe’en candy…unlimited on chips, raisins, “healthy” stuff, but candy limited to one piece/school day until the weekend. Soup for Friday supper and all the candy you can eat – until bedtime when it was over, finished or not.

  44. Francie Escovedo

    My 83 year old grandmother related a story to me similar to your number 3. Yesterday, Halloween of course, she went to the clinic to see the doctor. She was quite taken aback when a nun checked her in. She sat baffled wondering what on earth a nun was doing at a Baptist clinic. She finally mustered up enough nerve to ask someone, and was told, “it’s Halloween, and that’s her costume.” LOL!

  45. ej

    Re: The Hamster Dance
    At least it wasn’t “The Scorpion Dance”!

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