Meet Rita Buettner:

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” After struggling with infertility, my husband and I were blessed to adopt our two sons from China. I’m a working mother who writes about family fun and faith. Oh, and I own hundreds of flyswatters. Join me on Twitter, say hello at, or follow me on Facebook


May 2016
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Oh, I'm so very sorry for your loss of your twins. So happy to hear you have a little one now. Prayers for you.


I felt lost when I miscarried my twins. I knew no words can ever make me feel better but I do know a lot can hurt me. I lost hope and didn't want to try again. And when I decided to try again, failed IVF treatments and other medications made me feel worse, that I lost my chance of becoming a mom. But after cycles of pregnancytips pills, I am now a very happy mom of one. The journey has been hard but worth it. And I thank my husband and family for all the support.. 



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Open Window

To my goddaughter on her baptism

Dear Baby Girl,

You won’t be able to understand this for a while, but you just had the most extraordinary experience—with oil and water and a candle and a white garment and the Holy Spirit.

Now you are baptized, a child of God.

You were so peaceful as the priest poured the water over your head. Your big sister was quiet, too. Your cousins—my sons—took pictures through the whole baptism. So your first sacrament is well-documented, and I know you’ll enjoy seeing their pictures when you are bigger.

I don’t remember my baptism, but I’ll always remember yours. And I wanted to tell you how blessed I feel to be your godmother. It’s a real job, you know, to help a child grow as a Christian and a Catholic. Good thing you have an outstanding godfather, too. I hope that I’ll be everything you need me to be. You deserve the best.

Today I have a few things I want to tell you:

God loves you. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you. And He loves you so much he created you.

I hope that for you life will be amazing and wonderful, full of beauty and joy. When life is difficult, though, remember that God is always with you. And know that you can always turn to me for help.

God also gave you a whole bunch of cousins and aunts and uncles and two wonderful parents and a big sister—and your big brother, Georgie, who’s up in heaven. He’s a special part of our family, and I know he will be your friend, too.

There is no one else on earth who can accomplish what God wants you to accomplish. We can’t wait to see what that is.

I am so excited to watch you grow and learn and come to realize that your favorite aunt is…well…Aunt Shai. Because she’s everyone’s favorite. But maybe I’ll be your second favorite. That would be fine, too.

Congratulations, little one, and welcome to our faith and our family. We love you so much already.


Aunt Rita

May 02, 2016 09:56
By Rita Buettner

7 Quick Takes Friday: My kitchen is yours, discovering a family heirloom, what to give a 13-year-old, a sweet smile, and more


For years my parents have talked about redoing their kitchen. After a while, I stopped listening—well, until my father said, “We’re thinking we will just move in with you while the construction is happening.”

That got my attention.

The construction started last week, but my parents have not moved in with us—much to our dismay. But we told them they were welcome to use our kitchen and laundry while theirs are inaccessible.

Yesterday my phone rang at the end of the work day and John said, “Do you need me to pick anything up on the way home?” I told him dinner would be ready when he got there.

And it was. But no thanks to me, of course.

My mother had let herself into our house and cooked a delicious chicken and stuffing dish. She pulled it out of the oven about five minutes after we came home. She even served a warm loaf of bread, olive oil for dipping, and a bowl of peas.

I folded a couple napkins and called people to the table.

“It’s great that you’ll be coming over to cook and do laundry,” John told my mother. “Just let us know when you’d like to come do the cleaning.”

Hope those construction workers take their time. I could get used to this.


One night I stopped by the store and bought sandwiches and a few items on the salad bar and met John and our boys for a spontaneous picnic.

“Do we have a picnic blanket?” our kindergartener asked.

I didn’t think we did, but I opened my father’s trunk—it’s only fair that I can use his car while he uses my kitchen, right?—and there was a blanket. Perfect.

I pulled it out and spread it on the ground and we had a wonderful picnic.

It was only later when my father saw the pictures of us picnicking that I learned we were sitting on a family heirloom—a quilt my father’s grandmother made for him when he was 12. He has held onto it and kept it safe since then, taking it to basic training when he was drafted into the Army, and carrying it in his car for years. I had no idea.

I never met my father’s grandmother, but her great-great-grandsons really enjoyed her gift to their grandfather as we sat on it for our first picnic this spring.


My oldest sister’s oldest child turns 13 this weekend. How did that happen?

We celebrated when my sister brought her children to town last weekend, and I realized I had forgotten to order a gift. We could have gone out shopping, but…well, it was Saturday. And we were really enjoying our lazy morning.

So I counted out $13.13 for the birthday girl, and then we dug up some of her favorite things—Parmesan cheese, noodles, cinnamon sugar, onions, and a few other things we knew she would enjoy.

It might not sound like much of a gift, but you should have seen her smile—and try to juggle the onions.


We keep our sugar in one of those great plastic Domino Sugar containers, and I just refill it as needed. When I poured new sugar into it this week, I stopped and realized the sugar was looking up at me.

I’ve never had that happen before. My sons and I thought it was so funny, especially because our sugary friend looks so disgruntled.

He looked even unhappier after a certain 6-year-old stole one of his sugar-lump eyes.


It’s not even May, and we are all having summer fever here. Doing kindergarten homework has become this enormous chore. Yet somehow we are able to find the time and energy to construct nearly life-size paper cannons.

And we’ve been playing quite a bit of Minecraft—and not always on the screens. The boys make up wonderfully creative Minecraft stories themselves.


My littlest niece is being baptized tomorrow! Have I mentioned how excited I am to be her godmother? If you think of it, would you say a little prayer for this precious little baby girl, that she will grow in faith and love for Jesus every day?

And would you maybe say an extra little prayer that the children who are attending her baptism (two-thirds of whom are mine) will stand in reverent peace during the baptism? Or at least not cause too much of a ruckus?


Oh! And we are going to walk through one of the Holy Doors for the Jubilee Year of Mercy tomorrow! Have you been through one yet?

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

April 28, 2016 10:57
By Rita Buettner

Winning Election Day

Our 6-year-old and I went and stood in line to vote.

“Are we voting for the president of the United States?” my son asked.

Yes, I told him. We are, but we have to vote again in the fall before we know who the next president will be.

“Of the whole United States?” he said.

Yes, the whole United States.

You have to admit. That is pretty amazing. Then I tried to explain how lucky we are.

Not everyone gets to vote for their leaders, I said. Voting doesn’t mean the person we vote for wins. But it means we get to stand up and say who we think should be picked. That’s not true everywhere in the world, but it’s true here in the United States of America.

Who knows whether that made sense to our kindergartener?

But what I’m hoping he’ll remember is that today was special. Smiling volunteers greeted us at every turn, sent us to different lines to still more smiling people who pointed us to a high desk where we could color in our circles and make our decisions.

I have to admit that today I didn’t have any passion for the candidates. And the one I voted for didn’t win—at least not in our state. No surprise there. My candidates rarely win.

But as we walked out to the car, I was happy and proud that I voted. And I was even happier that I took our little boy with me.

Because, in the end, deciding to take him was a more important decision than picking that name on the ballot.

So let's just call that a win.

April 26, 2016 11:29
By Rita Buettner

How to support loved ones who are struggling with infertility

Maybe it seems like a strange thing to think about at a wedding. But every time we watch couples exchanging their vows, I worry that the smiling newlyweds will have trouble creating their family.

Infertility is a heavy cross to carry in a marriage.

It’s lonely and painful. It forces couples to navigate challenges together, often early on. It doesn’t always have a solution—or even an explanation. And the medical solutions that are presented as easy fixes by society can raise moral questions and pull couples away from the Catholic faith and from God.

This week it is National Infertility Awareness Week. If you have loved ones who are experiencing infertility—even if you suspect they are, but don’t know for sure—here are a few thoughts on how to support them.

1. Don’t ask when they will have children. They may not feel ready to share their infertility journey with you. They may never be. When my husband and I were realizing we were not likely to have a child by birth, we kept that close, not telling family or friends until we had decided to adopt—and were practically waiting to be matched. Other couples want to talk about their experience. But I would let them initiate the conversation.

2. Pray—and don’t just pray for them to give birth to a child. Pray for them to be open to God's will. Pray for them to become parents, but pray that if they don’t, or if it takes longer than expected, they will have the strength and the patience and the courage to stay strong and together. Pray for their marriage. Pray for wisdom for them on their journey together.

3. Be gentle sharing your own baby news. If you’re expecting, you might want to consider whether it would be best to tell them before you broadcast on social media, or whether to tell them by phone or email rather than in person, where they may struggle emotionally.

4. Don’t offer advice unless it’s requested. This is one of the great rules of life, right? And don’t assume that just because they are experiencing infertility, they will decide to adopt. It’s not that simple, and adopting is not an option for every couple.

5. Keep in mind that infertility is a very personal, individual experience. Even in the same marriage, a husband and a wife may experience grief in different ways. Couples who have given birth already can experience secondary infertility. Some couples know they will never be able to give birth, others have conceived and lost children, and others have no explanation for their infertility. There is no one answer or solution.

It can feel particularly difficult for Catholics to face infertility. The Catholic Church often seems better prepared to celebrate the large, growing families carrying the gifts up to the altar during Mass than to notice the childless couple sitting quietly in a back pew. But being open to life, of course, doesn’t always mean holding a child in your arms.

I hope this week you will join me in prayer for all those couples who are facing infertility. And, if you are reading this and currently on this journey, please know that I am praying with you.

You might also be interested in:

When it's not your birthday

Finding hope through infertility

April 25, 2016 11:20
By Rita Buettner

7 Quick Takes Friday: Talking recycling on Earth Day, work-life balance, being called your sibling’s name, board games, baseball, and Achy Breaky Heart


Happy Earth Day! Our kindergartener is learning all about recycling. He stopped me the other day when I threw something—I think it was a used sandwich bag—into the trash.

“We can re-use that!” he said. I suppose we could, though he is clearly more creative and resourceful than I am.

Then he brought home a sheet that said 9 students in his class recycle and 1 doesn’t.

“Which of your friends doesn’t recycle?” I asked.

No answer.

“Wait a second,” I said. “Did you tell the teacher that we don’t recycle?”

He started giggling. But he wouldn’t tell me.

There goes our reputation at school.


This is the time of year when my job becomes extremely busy—and so is my husband’s. Because I work in higher education, it’s mostly a good kind of busy as we count down to commencement. And I am not complaining. I really love what I do and I work with terrific people. And I get to spend some time on this beautiful campus.

I mean, really.

How lucky am I to call this my workplace?

When work gets busy, it makes me wonder what people mean when they refer to “work-life balance.” I imagine it doesn’t mean wondering why you are eating almost every meal in your car, or feeling proud that you remembered to order the Chinese food before you race to school to pick up your children right before after school care closes.

In good news, though, I made an arrangement with our sons for the days when I am running late. If I am the last parent to arrive, each of them gets five extra minutes of screen time that night.

They love it. When I’m the last parent to arrive, they declare victory. And when I get there earlier—or another parent is later—I pretend to celebrate.


Yesterday as we were getting ready for school, the boys were talking about names and how sometimes people call them by the wrong names.

Leo, our second grader, said, “Sometimes people call me Daniel at school.”

Daniel, our kindergartener, said: “Me too!”

We all had a good laugh about that.

A few minutes later, I noticed that Leo was counting on his fingers. “I’m counting all the people who call me my brother’s name,” he said.

“Don’t forget me,” I said.

“Yes, Mama,” he said. “I’m counting you twice.”


Lately I have noticed that Daniel has been eating his lunch dessert instead of his snack.

“It was too tempting,” he said—using a word I didn’t know he knew. “I couldn’t resist its sweet taste.”

At first I thought maybe I wouldn’t pack a dessert for him at all. But he has such a sweet tooth, and the school day seems so long.

So I put his dessert in a bag and marked it as not for snack. When he saw it, he said it was too embarrassing and he begged me to put it in a plain bag.

Then we made a pinky promise.

And, I'm happy to report that the promise worked. He was eating the cookies when I arrived to pick him up.

I’m just realizing, though, that we wasted a plastic bag. No wonder my son doesn’t think we recycle.


Trying to restrict our little guy’s activity while his broken thumb is healing is hard. We ended up playing some board games over the weekend.

Leo and Baba played Risk for the first time—and Leo won, of course.

Then the boys and I played Monopoly, but we played by different rules, established by the children. Everyone had a set amount of money in a bank account in the bank. The banker could give you money whenever he wanted, but you only collected $100 every two times around the board, instead of $200 every one time. The properties cost 16 times the sticker price. Oh, and Free Parking awarded houses and hotels. And, of course, we couldn't use regular Monopoly figures.

It was a wild and crazy game, and the rules changed as we went. But it was also fun.

Naturally I lost by a landslide.


Our little baseball player can’t wait to begin playing when his thumb is healed. He just has two weeks to go. And he has his uniform, so he wore it around the house all day on Saturday, dreaming of being out on that diamond.

I had a fleeting thought that maybe the rest of the team would be way ahead of him by the time he hits the field. But my father assured me that children this age barely know which way to run and are mostly scared of the ball. So I think he’ll be OK. And I don’t think this will stunt his major league baseball career.


For the past three weeks—and maybe longer—we have been listening to “Achy Breaky Heart,” as sung by the Veggie Tales in the car. Every now and then we listen to another song, but 98 percent of the time we listen to “Achy Breaky Heart.”

We have had much longer runs of listening to one song over and over and over, and I often don’t enjoy them as much as I like this one.

That said, the CD is due at the library in another week, and this time I won’t renew it. Pinky promise.

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

April 21, 2016 10:44
By Rita Buettner

Red as the nose on my face (or my current dermatological saga)

When I went to the dermatologist for my annual check-up, she checked me all over.

“Everything looks good,” she said. “Before you go, let me just check your face.”

She took one glance and told me I had some pre-cancerous spots on my nose. I couldn’t see them at all, but I wasn’t in a position to argue. She prescribed a cream for me to use.

Sort of as an afterthought, she said, “It’s a chemo cream and it will make your nose really red.”

Um, OK, whatever, sure. A doctor I know and trust had just used the term “cancer” and “chemo” with me. Yikes.

After we met our deductible, I went and got the fluorouracil cream (which was an astonishing $1,000 for a tiny tube before we met our deductible; afterward it was free). And I started my prescribed 30-day regimen.

Week 1: It burned and stung a little. It was a little red, but people didn’t stop and stare. This isn’t so bad, I thought.

Week 2: I started explaining to my friends and colleagues what was going on. I had to. It was starting to look red and the skin was peeling a little. This isn’t so great, I thought. Most people thought I had been somewhere on vacation and sun-screened myself thoroughly except for my nose. “You’ve been somewhere fun!” I heard a few times. Sometimes I explained. Sometimes I just smiled.

Week 3: My nose looked awful. It was bright red and I felt like I was constantly shedding skin. I would go to use the restroom at work and glance in the mirror and think maybe I should go home because I was so repulsive. But there was no stopping now. And, as I would discover, the worst was yet to come.

Week 4: I was still shedding skin (how did I have any skin left?), and now parts of my nose were red and crusty. (That's apparently where the cancerous spots are the worst.) A couple people actually recoiled when they saw me. I was torn between being amused by this and thinking I should have performed some kind of sociological experiment on how people were responding. I did quite a bit of explaining. Some people never asked, and I am sort of grateful to them and sort of amazed at their lack of curiosity.

Week 5 (which I have just begun): I’ve stopped using the cream. My nose is extremely red—bright enough to lead Santa’s sleigh through a foggy night. “Mama, you could be a clown,” one of my sons said, not being mean, just marveling at this new facial feature for his mother. We discussed whether I should buy a pair of over-sized shoes or a little car that I can stuff my 15 clown friends inside. I think I’ll go for the car.

Apparently it will take two weeks for my nose to look more normal and then it will fade more over time.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. I’ve learned that I’m vainer than I thought—or at least I don’t really like talking about my appearance unless someone’s complimenting me on my haircut or lovely evening gown. That doesn't happen often.

I also haven’t decided whether I preferred for people to ask directly or not to mention it at all. Maybe it depends on the person. Or my mood.

This situation has made me think about people who live with physical differences throughout their lives. They deal with stares and questions all the time—not to mention actual physical challenges.

It is humbling to realize that I am so very blessed to have all I do have. I am grateful to have the cream. I am thankful that it seems to have done its job. I am so very grateful to have friends and colleagues who have acted as if nothing unusual was happening with my nose. And soon enough I will have an ordinary and very boring nose once again.

Oh, and by the way? Going to the dermatologist is a really good idea, even if you don't think anything is wrong.

April 19, 2016 09:56
By Rita Buettner

7 Quick Takes Friday: A trip to the ER, car problems, baptism gifts, baby names, and an act of kindness


When I arrived at school to pick our sons up on Tuesday, our younger son was holding an ice pack on his thumb. It had gotten caught in a door—a big heavy metal one—and he said it hurt.

I had stopped for chicken nuggets for the boys so I could pick them up, run them home to get changed, and then rush to our little guy’s baseball practice. But when we got home and Daniel was still complaining about his thumb, I took a closer look and realized we weren’t going to baseball practice.

“It’s good it’s my left thumb,” he told me, “because I wear my baseball glove on my right hand.”

Of course, he does everything else with his left hand, but that wasn’t the moment to point that out. But I told him we were skipping baseball practice to go see a doctor.

That’s when he really got upset. The pain of a physical injury is nothing compared to the agony of missing baseball practice.

John had to work late that night at an event, so I took Leo to my parents’ house and Daniel and I headed to the emergency room. And if you ever have to go to the ER, don't forget to bring your phone charger and some entertainment. 

Within a few hours, the medical staff there had confirmed that Daniel’s thumb was fractured. They splinted it and told us to make an appointment to see a hand specialist the next day.

The next day we got Daniel an even cooler splint and instructions to skip baseball, gym, and any rigorous activity for three weeks. If the doctor had seen him scaling the chairs in the waiting room and spinning in circles while we waited, maybe he wouldn’t have bothered with the restrictions. I mean, I think it’s hopeless.

Why do I have the feeling this won’t be our last ER visit?


How do you know when it’s time to give up on your car and buy a new one? I think it’s when the engine dies twice in the middle of the road in one week and your trusted mechanic can’t figure out why.

Car shopping. It has to be more fun than I remember.


Did I mention that I am godmother to our new niece? I am very honored and excited. I am a godmother to my friend’s oldest son, now in high school, and also godmother to my brother Ricky’s second son, who is 6. And now I will have a third godchild, my sister and brother-in-law’s third child. And I myself am a third child. Lots of third children there.

The point is that I have some work to do. But for starters, I need to figure out what we will give this little girl as we celebrate her baptism in a few weeks. I have been thinking of one of these chewable rosaries, but I also might give her a crucifix. But I need to coordinate with the godfather because I suppose a child could end up with two many crucifixes.

Then I saw this framed name idea.

And this custom doll.

I also like to give books, though, and statues of the child’s patron saint. Do you have a favorite baptism gift to give?


When my brother-in-law texted to tell me my niece might be born on Saturday, I immediately went to Google to see whose feast day it was.

Then I sent him the list. I still can’t believe they rejected Waldetrudis. But they did pick an extremely lovely name.


Meanwhile, we are preparing for our older son to receive the Eucharist for the first time, which is so exciting.

I decided to order actual print invitations rather than inviting people by email. I included on the invitations one of my favorite depictures of the Annunciation from a stained glass window at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Mount Washington in Baltimore, and a quote about the Eucharist from St. Thomas Aquinas: "The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love; It signifies Love, It produces Love.”

He wants me to serve lasagna at the lunch after the Mass. I’m so happy he likes my noodle-and-sauce-and-nothing-else-lasagna, but I’m starting to think it’s the only thing he likes that I cook.


On our trip to see John’s parents on Maryland’s Eastern Shore over the weekend, we realized we didn’t have our EZ-Pass. So we stopped at a tollbooth at the Bay Bridge to pay our toll.

“The man in the car ahead of you paid your toll,” said the toll taker.

We were so surprised we drove off without thinking to pay for the person behind us.

Now we need to find a way to pay it forward to someone else.


The other day I was thinking that the Easter Bunny didn’t bring any of my favorite candy. The boys mostly got Smarties and gum—candy they love but not worth my time.

But when we went to Grammy and Poppy’s house, our sons received some peanut butter eggs and Cadbury Crème eggs. The peanut butter eggs vanished—and I can take no credit for that. But no one seemed to want the Cadbury Crème eggs. So when I found a very lonely one sitting on the kitchen table, I stepped up to the plate.

A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

April 14, 2016 10:47
By Rita Buettner

Welcoming our precious little niece

The phone rings. My new niece has been born! I can’t wait to meet her. So as soon as I’ve made dinner for my husband and sons, I grab the car keys and head out the door.

As I pull onto the highway, I remember another night a few years ago when I made this same drive, heading downtown to the hospital to meet my sister and brother-in-law’s baby. That time, though, I was making the trip to hold Georgie, their son who passed away in utero at 34 weeks.

Tonight I drive down to meet Georgie’s baby sister, his parents’ third child. And though Georgie’s first little sister has healed our hearts in ways that were impossible to imagine that fall day in 2013 when we said goodbye to Georgie, tonight it’s not my adorable toddler niece but Georgie who is on my mind.

I park in the same parking garage, board the same elevator, cross the same bridge, check in at the same security desk.

Everything is the same yet completely different.

I walk down the hall to their room, turn a corner and go through the wrong door. There’s my brother-in-law, laughing in surprise as I come out of a door that he thought went to a closet. My sister is there, tired but smiling. The new baby is down the hall for bloodwork—but soon enough she is back, pushed into the room in a rolling bassinet.

She’s gorgeous. She’s wearing a sweet little knit pink hat her Grandma made for her, and she’s all swaddled up. A perfect baby girl, a gift from God, the answer to so many prayers.

I find myself thinking of Georgie. That night I held him in the hospital room, I felt I was telling him goodbye—for now. But he is so much a part of our lives. Our sons talk about him and ask about him. “How old would Georgie be now?” “Can we go to the cemetery today?” We know he’s in heaven. We talk to him and know we’ll see him again.

“I wish we could go to heaven and then come back,” my son said one day this week. “Then we would know what it was like.”

Don’t we all? But sitting here in a hospital room, gazing at a baby—my little niece, my goddaughter—who was born just hours earlier, I can’t think of anywhere else I want to be.

My sister says I can hold this little beauty. I lift her out of the bassinet and sit with her in my arms, a warm little nugget, wrapped and cuddled and sweet. She’s mellow and at peace. She peeks at me through narrow eyelids and then closes them again. She yawns and tastes the air with her mouth. I can't take my eyes off of her. I look at her ears, her eyelashes, her pursed ruby lips, her little chin, her nose.

“I think she has the Sullivan ears,” I joke, “and the Beyer eyebrows.” We laugh because who knows and why does it matter? She looks like herself.

And we can't wait to get to know her.

April 11, 2016 10:55
By Rita Buettner

7 Quick Takes Friday: My swordfish relative, April Fools' tricks, a day of fun, baseball season, and what I found at the Tot Swap


When I was growing up, we had a fish tank full of tropical fish. One was a little swordfish and my younger brother named him Tom Swift, Jr., after the book character.

At the time there were surveys that would come in the mail. We would fill out surveys in his name so when the free samples started coming, we knew how they found us.

Somehow Tom Swift ended up on every mailing list. And before we knew it, he had been honored for his military service.

He has even received an AARP card.

This week a friend mentioned that she had looked herself up on Spokeo, so I went to see what it said about me. And there he was, Tomswift Beyer, listed as one of my relations.

He’s 37 and married, and if you look him up specifically you see another Tomswift Beyer too. That one is 55 and also married. The two of them have an average salary of $150,000.

Not bad for a little 3-inch-long fish who died 30 years ago.


I had no plan for April Fools’ Day, but when the boys both asked for breakfast bars, I got an idea. While they were in the other room, I swapped the bars for celery.

I also served them their breakfast soup in big pans with ladles, but that wasn’t nearly as much fun.

The most fun of all, though, was trying to trick me for the rest of the morning.


On the boys’ last weekday of spring break, we went to Chuck E. Cheese, where we dominated Harpoon Lagoon. We hit three jellyfish, and I have never seen tickets come pouring out of a machine the way they did.

I was inordinately proud of our achievement, especially considering that luck vastly outweighs skill on that game.

After Chuck E. Cheese, we went to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. If you’ve seen it, that’s great. If you haven’t, that’s even greater. Our children enjoyed it thoroughly, though. And when Daniel had to draw a picture of something he had done over his break, he drew a picture of us going to see the movie.

That's us walking into the theater. I'm in the middle looking so happy that we are there and the boys are each carrying a drink. That is an accurate depiction of the experience. Our boys laughed and loved it, and I didn’t mind seeing it. But I am glad we saw it at the discount theater.


For my Christmas gift John placed an order for a set of nesting tables to be made by an Amish furniture maker. They just arrived.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Most of our furniture is handed-down, so buying a new piece is really exciting.

They’re almost too nice to use. Almost.


Daniel is playing baseball for the first time this season. When he and I went shopping for baseball pants last week, I had to ask two store employees for help. Then I sent him to practice in them and none of the other children wore them. You can play baseball without wearing baseball pants? Then what are baseball pants for?

Daniel must have had fun because he came home with grass stains and every day he asks when he can go back to baseball again.


I have to continue to put this skin-cancer-fighting cream on my nose for another 12 days. It makes it very red and the skin is peeling. It looks like a really bad sunburn, but it keeps getting worse instead of better.

It’s the oddest feeling to put something on your face that you know will make it look and feel worse than it does—at least for now.

More amusing is how people don’t know what to say. Some people want to ask me why my nose looks terribly sunburned while the rest of me is pale as a sheet, but some people are trying not to ask. So I’m getting a lot of “You look like you’ve been somewhere fun! Where did you go?” I really need to come up with a good answer to that.

I alternate between thinking it looks terrible and thinking that maybe it’s not as obvious as I think. Mostly, though, I think it looks something like this.

Actually that monkey looks pretty cute. So that's not quite it. 


My friend gave me a pass to get in early to the Tot Swap at the Timonium Fairgrounds, which is happening through this weekend. So I went and bought two books and two board games—a Minion Operation game and a Junior Scrabble. You know, necessities.

The fairgrounds will be the place to be this weekend because the Smith College Book Sale will be there, too. It’s the last one, which is sad, and it means you really can't miss it if you live in Baltimore and love to read. Go early and often and with enough money to buy the best books they have. Just leave a few for me.

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

April 07, 2016 11:01
By Rita Buettner

Don't know much geography: identifying U.S. states on shirts and tortilla chips

Our children’s interests and talents lie in so many different areas that I couldn’t begin to guess their future careers.

But after the news about the shirts in Walmart that mixed up the shapes of Maryland and Massachusetts, I’m figuring maybe they could consider going into T-shirt design. 

Just this past weekend we were eating at a Mexican restaurant where they have free chips and salsa.

And to pass the time while we waited for our meals to arrive, the boys started biting their chips into the shape of different states.

We managed to make Minnesota, Ohio, Maine, Virginia, and California—among others.

Our sons are 6 and 8 and they aren't even taking geography in school yet, but there was never any confusion. And we were working in a rather finicky medium, tortilla chips.

I’m not saying either of them is ready to be president of the United States. And maybe they aren’t ready to run a big box store either. But I think they would at least be able to tell you that that’s Maryland and not Massachusetts on those shirts. So that must count for something.

Of course, they wouldn’t have picked out the shots of Iceland in that Rhode Island tourism video, so we still have some work to do. 

Please pass the chips.

April 04, 2016 10:30
By Rita Buettner

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