Buzz took off the last week or so and I decided I was on vacation too. I mean, as on vacation as I could be at home with kids. BUT STILL.

Things I Did On My Vacation:

1.) Slept. A lot.

2.) Napped. Every day.

3.) Met my Goodreads Challenge and upped my book number to 150 for the year.

4.) Said things like, “Sure fine whatever, eat the pancake that fell on the floor.”

5.) Read Under the Banner of Heaven and decided I’m glad I’m Catholic.

6.) Refused to eat any breakfast that was not cooked by my husband because I enjoy being waited on.

7.) Finished lesson planning for the next year.


9.) Switched to velvet, slim-line hangers and my life has changed.

Things I Did Not Do On My Vacation:

1.) Blog (which is why this is a day late and in listicle form)

2.) Laundry (which is why my kids have worn tank tops or diapers to bed the last few nights.)

3.) Have to manually empty the sump pump like I did every half hour yesterday. (That was fun.)

4.) Made a healthy, well-balanced meal.

5.) Done a whole lot except stand in my closet and marvel at the prettiness.

6.) Shower regularly.

7.) Really anything productive.

That’s pretty good for a summer vacation, I think.

Taking Your Four Year Old to the Dentist For the First Time In 15 Easy Steps

1.) Ignore recommendations by literally every single major child-health organization that they should definitely see a dentist before they’re four because pssh that’s ridiculous he’s your baby and if he’s not your baby anymore maybe you need to have another baby and ugh can’t deal with that right now how many teeth can he have, really?

All of them?

Oh. Okay.

2.) Make appointment for four-year-old and his big sister so that he can see how not scary it is. Also you can only have to skip one afternoon of napping. But mostly the emotional trauma. (Mostly the nap. Shhh.) Make appointment for their father’s summer vacation for maximum number of soothing hands/voices involved and a chance for him to get to see what your life of herding cats is really all about.

3.) Tell four-year-old repeatedly about the appointment. Beam in happiness as he gets genuinely excited about being a big boy and think with pride about how wonderful he’s going to do just waltzing in there for the first time.

4.) Arrive at dentist’s office, both kids excited for their appointments. Four-year-old begins telling office staff and other patients in the waiting area about how this is his first time and he is pretty excited. Feel smugly adorable.

5.) Go back with Big Sister for her appointment. Four-year-old seems to do really well. He stands next to you and calmly takes in the scene.

6.) Realize he’s not standing calmly so much as literally shaking.

7.) Assure four-year-old that it will be okay. Look at how well Big Sister is doing!

8.) Have four-year-old start whimpering and then full-on crying and clinging to your body like a spider monkey.

9.) Give up on having him be on his own in the chair and lay down underneath him, cradling his little shaking body and murmur soothingly to him whilst getting sprayed with grape toothpaste and gunk from between your kid’s never-professionally-cleaned teeth. Mmmm.

10.) Not really  mind because he picked you over Daddy.

11.) Have dentist tell you that his bottom teeth are cracked and ask if you know when that happened. Shrug and respond, “Frankly I’m surprised he still has teeth. This kid has no fear.”

12.) Walk out of room with four-year-old who is now all puffed up with bravery and saying things like, “Me pretty brave. Uh-huh.”

13.) Tell him you’re so proud of him and that you can’t wait to see him be brave again in six months when you come back.

14.) Watch as his face falls and his spider monkey tendencies come back. “NO ME COME BACK. I ALL DONE!!!! I BRAVE!!!”

15.) Figure out how many teeth he can actually exist with because ugh this is so much work, y’all.


We’re in the process of getting ready for second grade here at L’ Ecole Pencils and Eyelashes. And by “getting ready for second grade” I mean a lot of swimming lessons and Irish dance and glancing at the calendar every week or so and exclaiming, “It’s June/July/August already?!!?!”

You know, because I like to be prepared.

I have done some real prep work though, and ordered all of her books for the coming year. This is our second year of doing real elementary school, and I’ve definitely figured out some things that I liked and disliked from last year.

I loved the A Beka Math program, and we’ll continue to use it this year. This is an amazing basic math program. I like it a lot more than other companies’ offerings because they have so much in the way of engagement. The pages are bright and colorful and they do a really good job of explaining the concepts to seven-and-eight-year-olds. It’s amazing. And at $22, you can copy the work pages and use it for other kids. Personally, for us, I found the Speed Drills and Tests unnecessary. But that’s just us.

Same company, same amount of love. We also kept the A Beka English program around. They have separate Phonics (Letters and Sounds) and Language texts but they complement each other perfectly and are easy to finish both in a year. Again, I didn’t use the unit tests. Maybe for higher grades.

We loved our religion seat text from Seton. If you want a Catholic homeschooling curriculum, you can’t go wrong with Seton. I loved that this was laid out daily and in language my kid could understand without watering down the theological concepts. Mortal sin is still mortal sin, even for a seven-year-old. She needs to understand that appropriately and I love that Seton helped give me the language to do it. The artwork is also amazing. The text isn’t meant to be written in, so you can use it for multiple children.

We are changing some things though. I had a rough time with the Latin text we selected for last year. I think it would work great for some kids at some ages, but not my kid at this age. It was too intense and I got too hung up on trying to get her to finish the pages without really learning anything. Not helpful.  So like I wrote about here, we kind of went with a laid-back approach of literally just teaching her Latin. I made her recite prayers and sing songs and practice her cursive in Latin. We started praying in Latin as a family. I made her “teach” her dad some things. It was cobbled together, but it really worked well. In keeping with that concept, we ditched the original text and switched to a primer reader (which my husband remembers from high school hahaha) and decided to use the rest of the stuff we did last year too. I’ll be teaching her more songs and prayers and I’m making it my goal to have her saying the rosary in Latin by the time of her First Holy Communion.

That’s another thing that’s necessarily different. It’s second grade, y’all. Sacrament central. She’ll be making her first confession in September and her first Holy Communion in April or May. So obviously we have to focus on preparation for that. Since we don’t do any organized religion classes through the parish, I have the responsibility to make sure that she’s well prepared and covered in the fundamentals of the faith.

This year we’re using a combination of things. St. Joseph Catechism First Reconciliation and First Communion texts, as well as the Baltimore Catechism I are forming the backbone of our texts. I’ve also ordered Matthew Kelly’s Blessed series, which I will be getting in September and January for the sacraments respectively. I have no idea if I’m going to like it, but I like the idea that it’s made for parish work so I can make sure my bases are covered in her preparation.

Finally, I’m switching planners. I know, I know. If you know me, that’s a huge thing. Last year I bought the Erin Condren Teacher Lesson Planner, and I did love it. It was gorgeous and the material was so high quality and the accessories were adorable but it just was like eight thousand percent more than I needed. I don’t need to keep track of grades (yet.) I don’t need to keep track of attendance. I need weekly lesson plans, monthly goals, and pages for lists. That’s what I need. That’s pretty much it. So this year I saved like two hundred dollars (I love me some accessories) and bought a pretty binder and found printables.

I found one I love and I can’t find it again to link to it. I’ll work on that. I love that it has the Jeremiah quote from, well, my life on it. I love that it will help center me every week. I love all of that. Mostly I love that it was free and simple and exactly what I need. Five days with six or seven subjects and that’s it.

I created my own list of weeks for the yearly schedule, just using Google Drive. I laminate these and put them in the front of the binder so I can tell what week we’re on at all times. I’m really looking forward to making it mine.

(And my husband is looking forward to not getting another $200 bill from Erin Condren.)

(I’m basically sending Erin’s kids to college with how much I love her stuff.)

(My own kids should look into ROTC.)

So tell me- what are you doing differently this year? What did you hate about last year? What did you love?

MSL: A Protestant from Massachusetts Thinks She Knows a Fish Fry

Guys, we’ve reached the height of summer when frankly even the perpetually cool and collected Martha seems to become delirious with the heat. As illustrated by the fact that she has composed a July/August issue devoted to fish fries and a fantasy list of 50 ridiculous things to do during summer if you live on your own Nantucket Island with a stable boy named Noah who is into some weird stuff.

(Just keep reading.)

I can tell it’s going to be bad. I’m a good little Catholic girl from Wisconsin. I know from a fish fry. And you know who we don’t need telling us about fish fries? WASPs from the Northeast.

(Who fry shrimp with their fish. What blasphemy is this?)

But wait guys, first we have to get through Martha’s calendar of random shit. Like donkey hooves? Surely you’re just making crap up now, M.

Also have mole checked. Do we need to know everything, Martha? I don’t want to know when you schedule your PAP smear.

Okay I legit did not even read what this article was about because it clearly was just because Martha had this hat she wanted to wear.

Um. I hope the leash is for Scout and not Noah. Unless Martha’s September issue is entitled How White Middle-Aged Ladies Can Get Into Light BDSM.

That is a waste of space that could be used by WINE GUYS. Peaches. What the hell.

Oh this could be interesting! I love hosting parties and I’m always looking for an alternative to a bottle of wine (that’s a lie, I’m literally never looking for an alternative to a bottle of wine) for a hostess gift when I attend other people’s gatherings, so let’s read on!

Um…okay. I mean, I’m not sure I have a place for an oversized inner tube, but I guess if someone shows up with one I would think it was…sweet?

No I wouldn’t. It would be ridiculous.

Also- party starter? I have had many a cocktail gathering that turned into a pool party. Oh wait, no I haven’t. Because I don’t live in an episode of CSI.

Yeah okay gotta be honest, I wouldn’t be psyched to receive a big-ass bird kite either.

And frankly those look like they would go in the bag with Noah’s leash.

In my family, this would be called “overpacking for ridiculous trips where you never sleep but learn a ton of stuff.”

You do not need a cocktail dress or dark wash jeans.

You need underwear and shorts and that’s it.

To keep her plants watered when out of town, Martha pays a poor person less than minimum wage to do it.

Here at Casa Kathleen, it’s always tea time. Long island iced tea time.

Here we go guys! Martha’s List of Fifty Things to Do In Summer If You Don’t Live in the Real World.

Like no. 3, renting a convertible and turning the GPS off. Followed presumably by being captured by the cast of Deliverance and being eaten for dinner.

In my family we rent Suburbans and fight about whether paper maps or Waze works better.

And walk barefoot along the ocean! Or just in your backyard! Which for Martha are probably the same thing. Poor people. Sheesh.


I feel like you’ve never had children, Martha. Because none of those occasions are kiss-worthy. You’re either trying to get them in bed, in the car so you stop getting rained on, or spray them down with bug spray while making precious family memories and wishing you were home with a bottle of wine instead of at the stupid fireworks getting West Nile.

I’d love to, Martha, but I can’t figure out what’s happening with my estrogen production and sorry, too much information? I mean, you can come back next week for my NFP Awareness Week topic HOW BAD EXACTLY WOULD HELL BE? 

Again, you’ve clearly never raised young children. I’ll see your shoes and raise you “never get out of your pajama bottoms.”

All right, here we go with the fish fry. I…recognize none of the food here. I will be honest, I don’t even like fish or fish fries or anything about fish. But DAMMIT DO NO MESS WITH THE TRADITION.

You probably like your old fashioneds without cherries too.

What even is that. My Wisconsin forebears are rolling in their graves.

You’re dead to me Martha.

Until next month.



Buddy is a bad eater.

Like, really bad.

I remember sitting in the hospital bed trying to feed him the morning after he was born and he wouldn’t take the damn bottle for ANYTHING and thinking “I’m sure he’s just tired. This will get easier.”

It did not get easier.

It got worse.

At one point, he had five bottles a day. Each bottle took me an hour to get in him. A literal hour. I spent five hours a day bouncing and dancing and sitting quietly trying to get him to fall juuuuust enough asleep that he would take it but not enough asleep that he would choke and die because I’m lazy, not awful.

As a toddler he refused to eat real food and was on a steady diet of Gerber 1st foods until he was two and a half. TWO AND A HALF. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY LITTLE CONTAINERS OF OATMEAL A THIRTY POUND TWO AND A HALF YEAR OLD GOES THROUGH?



I took him to ENT specialists and feeding specialists and whatever, turns out it was just Buddy.

We’ve been able to work out most of it, and he at least consents to eating some food sometimes now. But mostly, he subsists on a diet of wheat bread (sometimes toasted), frozen mini pancakes, and whatever cookies he can glean from his grandmas.

(Which explains why his full diapers are a once-a-week occurrence and smell like a tire fire.)

I mean, you all read the Super Why saga.

I still try though. Every night I force him to eat two or three bites of the dinner I make and then go back to whatever bread product I’ve shoved in front of him to make the screaming stop. There’s always yelling. Sometimes crying. Occasionally dumping the food onto my plate and demanding that I eat it because “IS NOT MINE MOMMY.”

You know, totally normal shit.

Tonight I made beef and broccoli over rice. I gritted my teeth and shoved a spoonful in front of his face.

He beamed.

And ate the whole bowl, barely stopping to chew.

And then he ate another bowl.

Even the broccoli.

Yeah. The kid for whom McDonald’s french fries are “too spicy” and who routinely rejects pasta that has been cooked in oil (Not served with oil. COOKED IN IT.) and toast with butter on it as being weird went to town on a crockpot Chinese dish.

I don’t even know but I’m super excited.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to put soy sauce on a bowl of that stupid fake Super Why cereal and see if we can’t get rid of a few boxes.


How to Attend a Baseball Game With Your Obnoxious Small Children

1.) Tell them eight thousand times that you’re going to the baseball game tonight. TONIGHT. THIS EVENING. THINGS WE NORMALLY DO AT HOME TONIGHT WILL NOT TAKE PLACE.

2.) Have them yell at you because “You never told me we were going?!?!?”

3.) Ram head into wall.

4.) Arrive late at the game because you can’t get your stuff together and need to run errands by yourself while the kids stay in the car with your poor husband. Who is starting to grouse about not actually getting to the game.

5.) Arrive at game. Walk six miles to get to stadium. Walk two miles to get to seat. Sit down. “Mommy? Can I have pizza?”

6.) Go on an eight thousand year odyssey to find pizza which used to be ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE and is NOW NOT. It is in one corner on the first floor and you can only get whole pizzas and it takes 7-10 minutes.

7.) Get text from husband saying, “Squeaks doesn’t want pizza anymore. She wants cheese fries.” Reply, “Too bad.”

8.) Stop at bar to get your first cocktail. Give them a kidney for a thimblefull of sweet, sweet nectar.

9.) Return to seat. Watch five seconds of baseball.

10.) Leave on a five-thousand year journey to get dinner for yourself.

11.) Stop at bar to get second cocktail. Give them final kidney. Receive another long island.

12.) Return to seat to clamoring for ice cream or dippin dots or whatever. Say no, you are done walking around and if people want something they can go try to get it themselves yes I know you’re only seven see ya.

13.) Sit quietly by yourself and think about the games you attended when you were young and cute and thing and free. So many cute t-shirts. So much flirting. So much fun. So few pizza runs.

14.) So few tension veins running down your forehead.

15.) Decide life is really better now because your husband doesn’t mind if you scoop nachos out of your cleavage after dropping it.

16.) And your kids are pretty cute.

17.) But your shirts are less so.

18.) Arrive home three hours after bedtime.

19.) Suffer through two days of crankiness.

20.) Begin planning next time because it was actually pretty fun.


Dear Buddy,

You turned four yesterday, and I cannot believe it.

Four is huge. Four is a big kid. If I had more confidence in the school system, you’d be starting kindergarten in the fall. That’s insane. Your big sister celebrated her fourth birthday while you were already here. (I think. I don’t really remember. Those are the dark times.)

I’m so proud of who you’ve become, Buddy. You are a kind, sweet, hilarious little guy. You love your sister and your cousins and me and Daddy with a sweetness and an intent that is yours alone. I am so blessed to be your mommy.

We had a rough start, you and me, Buddy. You were in trouble. I was in trouble. Neither of us were terribly happy to be where we were. But since the beginning, I have loved you so much I knew I would die for you. From the minute I sank to my knees when I saw the faintest blue line on the test I thought I was taking just to be crazy, I knew you were my little boy and Eva’s little brother and Daddy’s son and maybe even redemption for your grandparents.

And Buddy, you have been all of that, and more. Grandpa Joe wrote me a letter when you were brand new, and I still have it upstairs on the shelf in my bedroom. I read it when I want to remember where we were. I was struggling. A lot. He told me that he knew how much I loved you, but that I would end up enjoying you more than I ever thought possible.

He was totally right. When I get to see your smiling little overbite grin in the morning, and cuddle with you and have you try to sit on my head to get as close to me as possible because you love me, I enjoy you so much- so much more than I ever thought it was possible to enjoy another person. You and your sister are the biggest joys in my life and I can’t believe I am lucky enough to raise you.

I love you, Buddy. I can’t wait to spend this year with you watching you grow as a four-year-old.