7 Quick Takes about eating bugs at Ivy League Christmas parties and the sounds of Lino Rulli’s homeschool takeover

December 12, 2014 | 22 comments

— 1 —


We still don’t have a Christmas tree. I just walked by a broken Advent candle in the toy pile next to a naked Barbie. But it’s all good, because I GOT MY CHRISTMAS CARDS DONE! (Not “done” like “sent, ” but “done” like “we got a decent picture and the newsletter is written.”) I’m so excited!

As I say every year, this is one of my very favorite holiday traditions. I love getting everyone’s letters and pictures each year. Even for the families that I already know what’s been going on with them, I love re-living the year with them through their letters, and having a picture to display in our living room.

If you’re a fellow Christmas card fanatic, put me on your list! Send me your card at:

1411 West Ave. #200
Austin, TX 78701

I can’t wait to read them!

— 2 —

Joe and I went to a holiday party for the Ivy League club of Austin this week. It was a cool dinner party with Dinnerlab chefs serving experimental Oaxacan cuisine.

For members of the “Ivy+” group, the nametags included the name of the school you attended. For those of us whose schools didn’t make the cut, that part of the nametag was blank. So I improvised:


— 3 —

I had an ominous feeling when I saw the words “Oaxacan” and “experimental” used in the same sentence. As someone who prefers my “Mexican” food to originate no further south than Houston and be comprised of nothing more exotic than tortillas smothered in cheese, I think of interior Mexican food as being a little rough to begin with. So I suspected that any attempts to make it even more exotic were going to spell doom for my tastebuds.

Most of the food turned out to be great, but the appetizer was…wait for it…FRIED GRASSHOPPERS.

After confirming that there was no cilantro on them, I agreed to try a bite (because, yes, I do find cilantro to be more disgusting than dead bugs).

This is where I’m supposed to say that it was actually pretty good. It wasn’t. It was exactly what I thought eating a fried insect would be like: crunchy in all the wrong ways. Strange, oddly fishy taste. Troublingly prickly feeling of the legs. UGH.

To quote Joe from a time that I made him try soy bacon: “I can erase the taste from my tongue, but I can never erase it from my mind’s tongue.”

— 4 —

The room where the dinner took place had low lighting, so I actually didn’t get a good look at the grasshoppers as I was eating them. When I got home and looked at the picture I posted on Instagram, I almost vomited when I saw the details that my iPhone flash and the Instagram filter brought out:


(Although the comment thread in response to the picture made the whole thing almost worth it. Almost.)

— 5 —


Remember how I mentioned that Lino Rulli homeschooled my kids when he brought his radio show down here? That audio is now available, and you’ll definitely want to hear it.

Not only can you hear his efforts to teach Geography and Texas History, but we discuss why I started homeschooling in the first place. It was a super fun segment (it’s the first 20 minutes of this “best of the week” podcast):

(Email readers, click through to see the player.)

— 6 —

Since I am evidently incapable of writing blog posts without linking to Dan Lord these days, let me get that out of the way in this one to let you know that Dan’s latest wine guide is up. As with everything he writes, it’s awesome and hilarious. And you will want to know which wine he’s talking about when he says: “Do not buy this wine. And, if you do, don’t drink it. And, if you do, consider us enemies.”

— 7 —

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! If you’re not familiar with the fascinating story behind this image, treat yourself to this video:

(Email readers, click through to see the player.)



Looking for the 7 Quick Takes blogger linkup? It now has a fabulous new home over at Kelly’s place!


  1. Jeannie Redmond

    I…I can’t believe you gave your address so I can include you in my Christmas card fanaticism! I’m so excited! I have no domestic skills to speak of, but how I do love a Christmas card. Mine will actually be New Year’s cards this year because baby #6 is due January 1st, and he or she must be included in the picture!

  2. Adam

    You ate a grasshopper????? I would rather eat a salad made of beets, kale, brussels sprouts and a side of tapioca pudding (which has those little eyeballs in it)!

    • elizabethe

      wow, if I had to choose between grasshoppers and beets, I’m honestly not sure which one I would pick.

    • Caroline

      I’d even eat a bowlful of plain mayonnaise instead of insects. Maybe.

  3. Melody

    So I read the takes about the fried grasshoppers aloud, while laughing, and told my friend, “And THAT is why I read this blog.” 🙂

  4. LeeAnn Balbirona

    Snobbish name tags and experimental cooking…sounds like a “fun” night. Christmas card on the way!

  5. elizabethe

    Loved the homeschool show. I loved how you had to manage your kids so they wouldn’t joke that they didn’t know basic stuff. My kids would totally do the same thing.

    I think the hardest part about homeschooling (for me so far, my oldest is turning 8) is getting over the expectation that it’s got to look, feel, and sound like a class or it doesn’t count. Just an example, I do memory stuff with my kids every day (in theory) and when I started for like two weeks I kept saying to myself after memory work, “this is a complete failure, I’m just reading this out loud to myself, they are not paying attention, they are focused on coloring, they keep interrupting me, they are jumping up, I should just drop this, I’m wasting my time…yada, yada, yada.” and then one day my son recited back to me with no effort at all the (fairly long) poem I had been reading to him. It was like a miracle! (of course I correct them when they interrupt but they are still all pretty little, so I’m looking for progress but not perfection on that score).

    What I mean to say is I totally got Lino’s whole “have we started? when does this start? is everyone here? how do I know if we started? the bell keeps ringing, does that mean we need to start again?” issue. I have that myself every day. Did we do school today? We read that and wrote this, but was it learning? What even happened all day? I’m not sure of the answer on a day to day basis, but after a while I realize that they really do know the things I have been trying to teach them.

    Also want to say that your grasshopper picture was pretty useful for talking about last week’s Mass readings. excellent timing.

  6. The other Becky

    Remember John the Baptist ate “locusts and wild honey”. Locusts are a kind of grasshopper. He probably did not have them prepared by professional chefs in a top quality kitchen. So now you have a better idea of his life of sacrifice.

  7. Mary Therese

    You know I’ve pretty much given up with the Christmas cards because the family fights me so much on the photo, and I get -0- feedback on my “newsy letter”, so I figure it must be in the class of ‘ones I wish people wouldn’t send’. But for you, since you had the nerve to give us your address, I think I’ll write one and send it. 😉 Enjoyed reading about your week!

  8. Sarah H

    Re: the grasshoppers.

    One of the Nepalese students at the Bible College I attend was telling me about grasshoppers as good food. He said they were a little like shrimp, a bit crunchy and that his grandmother made them into pickles. Would you have eaten them as pickles I wonder?

    I read recently that people from…I think it was Indonesia (but don’t quote me on it) think we are gross for eating cheese – i.e. milk that’s gone solid and may have mould on. I guess they have a point… 😀 LOL

    • Will

      Pickled grasshoppers? I just had a full-body shudder. No, no, no, no, no.

      • Sarah H

        Pickled grasshoppers doesn’t sound too tasty to me either. 🙂

  9. Emily B

    Fried Grasshoppers? Gross! Clearly I am not Ivy League material. You are a brave woman.

  10. Mary Beth S

    But no one is crying in the pic!!!

  11. Caroline

    I draw the line at insects, if for no other reason than the legs. What if they get caught in your teeth and when you talk to people there are legs waving at them?

    That grasshopper picture is going to haunt me in my sleep.

  12. jen a

    My kids want to listen to the homeschooling with Lino again and again!

  13. Tammy

    Before I brag, I will share that I am a full-on failure at decorating, I hate to cook and we will barely buy any gifts this year (kids are adults and we don’t need anything). I would stick a fork in my eye before I did “Elf on a shelf”. I dont even have a wreath on the door yet…

    That said, I have the best Christmas letter ever. Last year I had photos of my daughter with Rihanna and Ed Sheeran… this year I got cute kids, dogs, my daughter photobombing George Weigel at St Peters Basilica and cartoon explanations of who everyone is.

  14. Hevel

    First of all, i don’t like changes. Just the fact that I need to update your lovely template with Kelly’s link prevents me from progressing to actually write my 7 quick takes!

    When I saw your nametag on IG (I think) for the first time, I had to LOL quite literally. It reminded me of the one time Kevin and I went to an event, where everyone had some academic degrees it seemed, except me. Our seating ended up saying Kevin Mc, PhD. and Hevel C has three useless BAs.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I can so relate to that! And I bet Kelly will have a new template soon. 🙂

  15. Marcy K.

    At least they didn’t serve fried scorpions.

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