Friday, July 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes

I haven't done one of these in forever!

1. Frank and I have started a new little custom of reading a psalm every night before we go to bed. It is awesome. There's something about regular Bible reading that just makes life better.

2. My dearest Maggie gave birth to her firstborn, a little boy, two weeks ago. Now she is in town visiting with the newborn, and I get to see her and the baby tonight!!!

I may have bounced excitedly out of bed this morning because of this little fact. And I'm trying to memorize this helpful article in an effort to handle everything just right.

3. Have you ever read The Shadow of His Wings? I finished it on Tuesday and I can't remember the last time a book made me cry, and laugh, like this one. If you are looking for your next amazing book ... pick up this one!

4. BlogHer 2013 is in Chicago this weekend, which I found out via a sign on my way to work yesterday. I toyed with the idea of crashing for a hot second (anything to see Ree!) but ... nah. Is anyone going to be in town for it?

5. There's also a Catholic homeschooling conference near Chicago this weekend. Frank is very open to homeschooling—he was homeschooled and loved it—while I wasn't homeschooled and am more hesitant (for a bunch of reasons I won't go into right now). Anyway, Frank thought I might enjoy the conference, and Laura's mom sweetly offered to accompany me (she homeschools her girls). I'm trying to figure out if I should go, and if it's even possible at this point (the weekend is shaping up to be a busy one).

6. At dinner on Sunday, I found out that my parents' sweet exchange student had never had pie.

In fact she'd never even heard of pie.

Apparently pie isn't a thing in Spain.

So we decided to teach her how to make an apple pie that very night—prompting lots of "American as apple pie" remarks from Caroline's visiting friends.

She and Angela slicing up apples:


Her first bite:


She said she really liked it!

7. While we made the pie, I asked Caroline if she wanted me to make anything special while her friends were over.

She requested s'mores bars.

Have you ever tried s'mores bars? If you're looking for something to bake this weekend, I recommend these. They're a definite crowd-pleaser!

Happy Friday, dear friends! And thank you to Jen for hosting!


  1. My husband and I pray together regularly, but we've never done much (okay, any) Scripture together aside from a few group Bible studies--I love your idea of doing a Psalm before bedtime! I'd love to read about your experience with the homeschooling conference; we're in the same setup where Andrew was homeschooled and I was not, and though I'm on board, I feel like I don't know the first thing about it! Have a good weekend!

  2. I read that book years and years ago and remember really enjoying it! Also: homeschooling? Totally an awesome way to go! (haha - sorry - I'm yet another person who was homeschooled my entire life up till college. :-) I know people who didn't have such a great experience with it, but my mom LOVED teaching and used as few texts as humanly possible, so we were always off doing crazy things and involved in fifty zillion groups.

  3. I ran into you at Cantius earlier this summer (Frances Gianna's mom). 'Twas great to meet you! I love reading your blog, especially about the books you read, and your adventures in Chicagoland. I grew up in the South and am slowly discovering all the fun things to do around here. I've added a few new places of interest to our list since reading your blog, so thank you for that!

    I'm curious to hear your reservations about homeschooling. My kids are not yet school aged, and our educational path is still a big question mark. I, like yourself, was educated in a traditional school setting. I find the idea of homeschooling quite attractive, but haven't been able to mentally commit. Big topic. Trying to figure out how to raise my children to be in, but not of the world (which I think may be easier with homeschooling, though certainly not the only way to do it). It's a weighty consideration for any Catholic mother!

    Anyhow, happy two month anniversary! With Grace it only gets better.

    1. Julia, thanks for your comment. It's so nice to hear from you! I would love to chat about this, but since it's a sensitive subject I think it might be best done over email. Please shoot me an email at your convenience and let's chat about it over there. :) Thanks!

  4. Hey Tess! It's Maria from "It Is Essential..."!

    I was homeschooled and I loved it. There are definitely things I wish I could change but overall I think it was good for me. I also live in Illinois and the homeschooling laws here are VERY relaxed - which can be simultaneously good and bad. Good for the amount of freedom to homeschool according to the methods you want. Bad in that it's easy to abuse the system.

    I wish I had kept transcripts of everything I did and I also wish I had done testing every year to prove I was keeping up with my peers. I was only homeschooled for high school (Well, also Kindergarten.) and I was convinced I didn't want to go to college. I'm 22 now and I would like to start attending community college in a few years but I'll have to go through extra steps to be able to attend. That's pretty much the only major regret I have about it. If you keep good transcripts and/or test on a yearly or so basis, this could be avoided.

    I do have to say, homeschooling is the reason I got closer with my parents. They went from being my enemies to being my best friends. I watched everything they did for me and I learned to respect them. I also learned to respect myself and I got into religion again. There are so many positives I got from homeschooling I can't even list them all right now.

    Also, if you decide to homeschool, Illinois thankfully has a really good homeschooling community. Even though I'm not Catholic, a Catholic homeschooling group reached out to me and asked me to join one of their classes for literature where a parent (who was also a university professor) taught it. I decided not to join but I think that was a great opportunity. I was also invited (and went to) multiple Catholic homeschool group outings.

    You definitely wouldn't be alone as there's a great support system in this state.

    I'm definitely no homeschool expert but if you have any questions, feel free to ask! Although I'm sure your husband already does a great job!

    - Maria :)

    1. Maria, thanks for this interesting and helpful information! There is so much about homeschooling that attracts me, but there are also aspects to it that make me question whether I would be suited to it—I can be quite Type A about things that matter to me, and honestly I worry that that would make me too controlling as a homeschooling parent. I do really appreciate your point about how homeschooling helped you get closer to your parents. I think my husband experienced the same thing!

      I enjoy considering all the pros and cons of different schooling systems, but at the end of the day I think those decisions will depend on where we live when we have kids in school, our financial situation at that time, and the temperament of each individual child. I can't say yet whether I will homeschool or not, since unfortunately my ability to predict the future is pretty nonexistent. :)