7 Quick Takes about movies on the lawn, my life being a Mensa puzzle for the insane, and why I do NOT recommend peppermint oil for eyeball massages

May 30, 2014 | 29 comments

— 1 —

For those of you who missed it, I posted the details of my NYC / CT schedule for this coming week. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you!

— 2 —

As I plan this, it occurs to me that, once again, my life has become a living Mensa puzzle. I spend hours each day staring at my computer with Google Maps open in one tab, the NYC subway schedule open in another, Gmail open in another, and I can almost hear a voice narrating a problem from a book with a title like Brain Teasers for People Who Hate Themselves:

A woman tells her friend that she can meet her for coffee on the Upper West Side at noon, and she has a live radio interview in Midtown at 2:00. If she spends an hour chatting with her friend, gets lost on the way to the subway because she’s reading tweets, gets on the wrong train — twice — and walks at a rate of approximately 2.8 miles per hour, is this enough time for her to make it to the radio interview?

— 3 —

Speaking of me and getting lost in epic ways:

I told Ignatius that I didn’t need a representative from the media company to come with me on the trip. “I’ve been to New York plenty of times, ” I said fatefully. “I totally have this.” (Please imagine the words I totally have this replayed through a distortion machine that makes them echo slowly and deeply for maximum ominousness.)

I spent this afternoon inputting all the event addresses into my calendar, which I will access from my iPhone while I’m out each day. I won’t be back at my hotel at all, so the addresses in my calendar, which connect to Google Maps, are my lifeline.

One of the first events I put in was the talk and reception at the headquarters of First Things. I examined the itinerary closely and typed their address meticulously. I noticed that Google Maps placed it in Brooklyn, so I made notes about the best subway routes to get over there, making sure to factor in extra time for the commute from Manhattan.

A few hours later, thought popped into my mind, completely out of the blue. It was undoubtedly sent directly from the Holy Spirit, who is known for looking out for fools. The gist of it was: The First Things offices are in Brooklyn?

As soon as I got home I double-checked it. Sure enough, they are in Manhattan, and I’d clicked on an identical address in a different borough.

I am now devoting enormous amounts of time to triple-checking every single address, because it is straight out of the “Jen Moment” files that I would show up at some unsuspecting family’s door in Brooklyn and announce, “Hey, I’m here to give a speech!” while a bunch of people are waiting for me over in Manhattan.

— 4 —

I just got back from a Movies on the Lawn party, hosted by friends of ours. They bring in a massive screen, and after an hour or so of socializing and playing croquet, everyone spreads out on picnic blankets and watches a movie on their front lawn. We’ve been going to these events for years: In fact, I just came across this post I wrote about one of them in 2008!

Tonight they showed A Night at the Museum, and it was a great time, as always.




…Although we did have to leave halfway through the movie due to a certain one-year-old who decided he’d had enough of Movies on the Lawn around 9:00 PM.

— 5 —

In a great “small world” moment, I ran into Eric Bryant, a local pastor whom many of you remember from the Explore God video we did together a while back. It turns out that the Movies on the Lawn host is a mutual friend of ours.


It was great to talk to Eric, and it got me thinking about the value of throwing parties. I think it’s truly a type of ministry to get people together and let them connect with one another. When we used to host parties, there was something magical about watching mutual friends hit it off.

— 6 —

I’m exhausted today because of a headache I had last night. You probably take that to mean that the pain of the headache prevented me from sleeping, but, of course, the story is far more ridiculous than that.

Around midnight, I was halfway asleep but bothered by the pain in my head. I could have drifted off, but I decided to solve the problem instead! (You probably just thought: Uh-oh. You’re right.)

My friend Rachael sells these amazing essential oils, and I consider the peppermint one to be a miracle cure for headaches. On more than one occasion, I’ve rubbed some of that stuff onto my temples and had headaches disappear.

So I got out of bed, grabbed the peppermint oil, and decided to show this headache who’s boss. But rather than do the usual temple-rubbing method which is simple, fast, and proven to be effective, I decided to mix it up. Why just rub oil on my face when I can give myself a full aromatherapy experience? I thought.

I doused a washcloth in steaming hot water, dribbled peppermint oil on it (though I couldn’t see how much, since I didn’t turn on the overhead light — this will be relevant later), and took it back to bed with me. The plan was to place it over my face and let the steam and peppermint work their magic.

My first clue that this was not going to go according to plan was when I plopped the cold, clammy washcloth on my face. We blast our A/C at night to the extent that our home could probably be a training ground for people planning to summit Mt. Everest, and by the time I’d walked half way across the room the wash cloth had lost all its heat.

Trying to make the best of it, I began massaging the areas of my head and face that hurt. Unfortunately, my eyes were a particular source of discomfort. So I began rubbing them through the wash cloth. The wash cloth THAT WAS SOAKED WITH CONCENTRATED PEPPERMINT OIL.

The pain. I cannot even describe the pain.

It was beyond thinking that I might have been blinded; I was almost certain that I no longer had eyes. I stumbled over to the bathroom, unable to see, and frantically felt around for the faucet. I splashed water all over my face with my hands, and when that wasn’t enough I felt around for a plastic cup and poured the water directly onto my eyeballs. Then I grabbed a large towel — the only thing my fumbling hands could find — and soaked it, knocking over the half-full plastic cup in the process.

After ten more minutes of alternating pouring water in my eyes and rubbing them with a towel, I finally stumbled back to bed, where I would lie in agony for another hour or so. Joe had been woken from his slumber by the stomping, the banging, the muttered profanity, the splashing, and my bumbling in and out of the room. When he sat up to see what on earth was going on, there was no way to explain it all.

So I just said, “I had a headache.”

— 7 —

Hey, the Novena to the Holy Spirit starts today! For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a nine-day series of prayers asking to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It’s always a powerful experience. I strongly recommend it.

Also, I just discovered this great email list called Pray More Novenas where they sent out daily prayers for various novenas. It’ll be handy to have each day’s prayers sent to my inbox this year!

* * *

Have a great weekend, everyone! NYC and CT, see you in a few days!



  1. Marisa

    Oh no…I’m so sorry to laugh at your pain but I’ve done the EXACT same thing. I use essential oils as well, and a few months ago I had a terrible headache (due to my one year old daughter who just recently started sleeping through the night). I was exhausted and in pain, and I decided to massage some peppermint oil into my temples. Which would have been fine, except that I also rubbed my eyes (out of exhaustion) without washing my hands. My eyes felt like they were on fire, and I was frantically splashing water onto my face and trying to wash my eyes with baby shampoo, while my 3-year old son shrieked happily and announced that “Santa is here and he brought me candy canes!!!” Yes, the peppermint smell was THAT strong. Not my finest hour…but lesson learned, right?? 🙂

  2. Michelle

    Oh where do I begin!?
    #3 Once, my brother and I arrived at my sister’s sister-in-law’s BBQ. That sounds kinda funny. I didn’t recognize anyone, but my brother was sure that he saw my sister enter the house. Moments later, we realized that we were at the wrong home!!

    #5 I’m so happy to see that your cute little one has shoes. Way to go.

    #6 Only you can make the excruciating funny. I hope, after all of that, the headache went away.

  3. Andrea

    Hopstop.com is great for NYC transit. Gives you transit, walking and cab times and amounts.

    Rome2rio.com is great for directions between any two points anywhere in the world.

  4. Elizabeth

    The key to EO’s in the eye is vegetable oil! I was mixing with EO’s once and my daughter walked up to see what I was doing. Right as I was telling her to back up, a drop of Clove oil dripped into her eye. I tried water as she flailed about and then I remembered what a Young Living consultant told me once. Vegetable oil ATTRACTS EO’s while water REPELS! So I took a paper napkin and dunked it in the vegetable oil bottle and touched it to the corner of her eyeball. It pulled the Clove oil right out like a miracle!!!! I hope you never get EO’s in your eye again, but if you do, try vegetable oil!!!!!

  5. Jules

    I had something similar happen to me the first time I used peppermint oil for a headache. Nobody told me how much to use so I applied it generously. All over my face. The thing that made the experience worse was in between the application and the effect, I decided to use the bathroom without first washing my hands. There was a lot of yelling.

  6. NYa

    Whaddaya need to know? Life-long Noo Yawka here who just happens to be a registered parishioner at St. John’s (and once you get there, you’ll see why. They have a mass-cam; check out their Sunday choir and schola masses…Msgr. knows what he’s doing. Which is why I make the trip.) Anyway, yes, you’ll make it in time because everything and everyone here moves so much faster. I mean, I don’t think so but that’s what all my out of town visitors breathlessly claim.

    Let Johnny T tell ya how it’s done; it’s all true:

  7. Christine

    First of all, the baby is getting so big! (Yes, obvious statement.) But, wow! I was just thinking about him this morning and wondering how he’s doing.

    Second, I love that we both have a Movie on the Lawn event in our Quick Takes. Only difference is that ours is hosted by a local park, and we were there with about a million other families who all wanted to see Frozen.

    Also, my daughter once made a sleeping mask with rice built in so it could be heated up in the microwave. The co-op teacher encouraged the girls to add a few drops of peppermint to the masks because it’s so relaxing.

    Only problem is that the amount she added was NOT relaxing, and the mask went unused until we finally threw it away. The peppermint smell NEVER. WENT. AWAY.

    Have a great weekend!

  8. Marcy K.

    Oh dear, I’m sure that was just an awful experience. One thing to know is that Essential Oils are extraordinarily concentrated and should almost never be used without dilution (and don’t mix with water and drink either because it can damage your liver and the delicate tissues internally.) You might find this website helpful. And rubbing vegetable oil on it to dilute as someone said would be the thing to do. http://www.learningabouteos.com/index.php/2013/08/05/using-essential-oils-safely-cheat-sheet/ Good luck in NY!

  9. Monica

    Oh my gosh, Jen, please take a friend with you to the city. I cannot handle the thought of you bumbling around there alone. Jen moments will surely abound.

  10. Rebecca

    Google maps app on your phone is THE best for public transportation directions, its updated for weekends, construction, etc. In a pinch, I use UBER for getting around. You can request taxi or a private car – so easy!

    Sounds like you’ll have a busy schedule, but if you need some company, while you are in the city – let me know!

  11. Lynne

    I *love* PrayMoreNovenas! I’m always like, “Hey I never heard of this novena, but it sure couldn’t hurt me to pray this one!” Which results in a never-ending series of novenas. Having just finished “Mary, Undoer-of-Knots”, I deleted the Holy Spirit one today. But now that you highly recommended it, I have guilt and (being always in need of powerful gifts of the Spirit) will go retrieve it from my trash.

    • Kristi

      I did, and do, the same thing! I love the Pray More Novenas website.

  12. Michelle @ Endless Strength

    I’m sorry about your peppermint oil experience. that stinks! Good luck in NYC! I’ve been using “Pray More Novenas” for a while now. it’s nice!

  13. Elise

    I would like to second what Rebecca said about the Google maps app being awesome for public transit in NYC. Just type in your two locations, make sure you’ve selected the public transportation icon (as opposed to driving or walking directions) and hit enter. Your best bet, hands down. Hope you enjoy your visit! Fingers crossed that I might be able to catch your Wednesday night event in Manhattan! 🙂

  14. Jenny Parish

    Like others have said above, water drives essential oils in deeper. Coconut oil is my favorite to use for dilution or to tone down an overzealous application (something I’ve done several times…).

  15. Roxane B. Salonen

    Jennifer, our city hosts movies on the lawn at one of our local parks that is decked in trees, and they have that same big bubble screen. Popcorn, pop and games for the kids are doled out, along with mosquito spray for those who need it. It’s always a fun time and totally free because businesses sponsor it. I discovered it just a few years ago but wish I’d known about it before because it’s so fun and so hard to find free fun anymore. The kids love it and so do I. There are three featured in the summer, one in June, July and August. Which reminds me, I need to go find out what this year’s movies are. Thanks for the reminder. That friend of yours has a really nice pad! And by the way, I’ll be thinking of you, wishing that live radio show were mine. Hopefully we’ll get another chance at some point, the next time I sub-host. 🙂 Blessings!

  16. Jennifer Z

    I recommend you download the Hopstop app before going to NY. It was a true lifesaver when I went. It tells you exactly which train to take (in which direction – which is really important). Make sure you look up the information before you head down to a station as you usually cannot get a signal once underground. Have fun!

  17. Rachel

    I just bought my first set of doterra essential oils this week! Sure, I had sell a kidney, but I feel like it’s gonna be worth it.

  18. Monica

    So sad that you are going to be so close…I live about an hour away in CT…but I can’t get the day off to drive to Stamford. I will pray for you on your trip! Would have loved to meet you! You have been an inspiration for me. As a life-long Catholic it is so refreshing to hear faithful conversation from a feminine perspective that does not water down the truth to feed the masses.

  19. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I didn’t read the rest of the comments, but I’m sure a million people gave you tips on how to get peppermint out of your eyes. Also, I just became a doTERRA rep. Loving my oils.


    Baby Joe = Man Joe. Twins.

  20. Jaime

    We just started praying the Novena to the Holy Spirit tonight! Honestly, I pray the novenas by myself a lot, but we decided to have all the kids join in. Good grief, it was sort of a disaster. I set of the fire alarm while making supper (oops), 5-year-old kept asking if the tongues of fire meant that it was really a fire (not a fire drill). Then my 4-year-old was repeating everything I prayed, only one word late. It was driving me nuts. We got done with prayers and realized our oldest was hiding out in her room, conveniently missing out on the “fun.” Hopefully tomorrow night will go better or I may have to poke my eyeballs out…or I guess I could borrow your peppermint oil? I just found your linkup last week. It’s been a lot of fun, thanks!

  21. Ellen

    Jen, two things stood out to me in your post – first how much your youngest looks like your husband. I was imagining him in a small banana costume as that was the picture of your husband I remembered. And then, the line, “when we used to host parties” It sounds to me like many of your days are parties, though perhaps the age of the guests has changed to the under 10 crowd?

  22. Hevel

    I am always jealous of people who can use essential oils without getting a headache/skin breaking out/throwing up. That is, till I read a post like yours!

  23. Becky Castle Miller

    I already knew I liked you…but now I’m even more sure. The Ministry of Throwing Parties? I AM ALL OVER THAT ONE. “I think it’s truly a type of ministry to get people together and let them connect with one another.” <—-Brilliant

    • Becky Castle Miller

      Who knew that my upcoming Steampunk birthday party was also a form of service to God and people?

  24. MamaTod

    You might be interested to know of a Christian ministry that uses the “movies on the lawn” idea for evangelism,except that it’s drive-in movies here and “walk-in” more in other countries. I was involved as a teen handing out the response cards when they were in town for our summer tourist season and the last two summers my kids have spent several weeks in Romania working with the ministry. http://www.drive-inministries.com/

  25. Lindsay

    I don’t think you’ve ever blogged in detail about your preference for pain-medicated deliveries or not, but seeing a mother of six describe *peppermint oil in the eyes* as truly ineffable pain has really freaked me out.

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