Friday, April 24, 2015

I'm taking a stand!


My husband claimed that my last few posts have been all wishy-washy and you didn't take a stand on anything,

So now I am...taking a stand that is.  I'm choosing sides, drawing lines, picking an alliance. 

Here are 7 things, I'm definitely taking a stand on!  If you don't like it, too bad.   

1.  Chocolate is a necessary food group.



Plus it's healthy....full of antioxidants. 

2. Tapioca pudding is disgusting.

It's just so grainy and icky and blah.  Why anyone would decide to make a pudding out of TAPIOCA is beyond me.  If you're going to make pudding, I would suggest chocolate.  Or at least vanilla or butterscotch or lemon.  But NOT tapioca.  Tapioca should only be used as part of a wheat flour substitute in gluten-free baking.  Or maybe people eat it other ways?  But they definitely should NOT make pudding out of it.  I'll never foget the first time I tried tapioca pudding.  I was horrified at the texture of it. I still shudder at the memory. 

3. This is the ugliest article of clothing ever made. 

If you like it though, you can buy it on ebay. 




4.   It should not snow in April.  It just shouldn't. 

 I think it was snowing here very briefly a few days ago.  No, no, no.  That is all sorts of wrong.  Rain is okay..but not snow. 

5. Toddlers who don't take naps should go to sleep early. 

Raise your hand if you're guilty of skipping naps and staying up too late. 




6. Real Ponies are Much Prettier Than My Little Ponies.

No contest. And I hate it when cartoon stuff has unnaturally big eyes.  It just looks weird.   

7. Nutrition and Diet Matter.

Different people have different eating philosophies......vegan, vegetarian, paleo, primal, clean eating, etc. etc, etc.  I don't have a stand on which one is best, because I don't know . Although I know what is best "for me", I can't say what is best for you.  But I can say that what you eat, matters.  It matters a lot.  It affects both physical and mental health.  And I can also say that you should eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods and (mostly) stay away from processed, junk foods. 
And that what you eat absolutely does make a difference, so it's worth the effort to try to eat well, as best you can. 

(Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes). 



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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Benefits of Larger Child Spacing

Lots of people in Catholic circles seem to have kids spaced really close together.    People tend to drop things like 4 kids in 5 years or 8 kids in 12 years as a badge of honor. 

Which in in a way it is, I suppose. 

But not all faithful Catholics will have those large families with a child every 2 years or less. 

And I feel that those of us with smaller families and bigger spacing tend to get lost in all the praise and exaltation bestowed upon larger families with closely spaced children. 

So, I'm here to tell you what it's like to have bigger spacing between children. 

My 4 kids range in spacing from 32 months to 4.5 years.   There are 10.5 years between my oldest and youngest. 


Did you know that this week is Infertility Awareness Week?  Lots of families end up with larger spacing than they had intended due to infertility or lower fertility. 

Many people worry about what that larger spacing will mean for their children and families. 

Well...I've never had closely spaced children.  Thanks to a long period of breastfeeding infertility and generally lower level of fertility all around, I just don't get pregnant easily.     

So I've ended up with these larger age gaps.

And that's okay.   There are a lot of benefits to having a larger spacing.  

Even when that larger spacing is not intentional.  Even when you wanted to get pregnant sooner than you did.   It's still okay to enjoy the benefits of larger spacing. 





  • It's just plain easier.  It's easier to just have 1 baby or toddler at a time.  Because babies and toddlers are HARD.   
  • The baby is the baby longer.  All my children have had a full 2 years of breastfeeding without me getting pregnant.  And pregnancy does disrupt the breastfeeding relationship . Which is okay.   But, it's just easier to nurse longer if you aren't pregnant.  Of course, then you run into the issue I currently have with my 2.5 year old...who will probably never wean. Never, ever, ever.    (kidding...I know she will...someday)
  • Pregnancy announcements are more fun, because no one expects it.  It's a total surprise. When you have a baby every 2 years or so...people just start to expect when the next one is coming along.   But not when they are spaced far apart...you get to keep everyone guessing.
  • Your body can REALLY recover in between pregnancies.  Because pregnancy and breastfeeding is HARD on your body.  So, it's nice to really and truly fully recover before doing it again. 
  • Studies have shown that there are risks involved with closer spacing. 
  • It's fun having bigger kids with a baby.  You have someone to laugh with when the baby smears peanut butter in her hair, or can't pronounce her own name or does silly stuff.  Of course you can get that even with closely spaced kids as long as you have enough of them.   But there is a special kind of fun that comes from having babies with older kids. Plus older kids are a big help. 
  • You get to sleep before doing it all over again.    Which is nice.  Having a few months or years of normal sleep can do wonders for your health.
  • Fewer diapers.   It's just plain easier to only have 1 child in diapers and to have diaper free time before having another baby.
  • Siblings can still be friends, even if there are large age gaps between them.  Yes, yes, they can!  They really, really can. A lot of moms worry that because their children are further apart, they won't be friends.   Really, friendship between siblings probably has more to do with their individual personalities, and less to do with how many years are between them. 
Ultimately, birth spacing is a personal thing. 

However, a lot of times, it's really beyond our control.  Whether you get pregnant very easily and have babies close together, or are lower on the fertility scale or even struggle with infertility, it's beyond our control. 

Part of surviving in this crazy world called Catholic family life and being open to life, is realizing that we we all fall in different places on the fertility scale.    So, if you have closely spaced children...well I hear that can be fun too. 

However, if you don't have closely spaced children.....if you have large age gaps, whether intentional or not, I hope you still feel welcomed in Catholic communities.  And I hope this list helps you celebrate, some of the benefits of that...even when that spacing is not intentional.  

**(It should go without spacing, but the title of this blog is One Catholic Mama.  That means we're Catholic.  It also means that we don't use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy.  Therefore, it also goes without saying that nothing in this blog should be construed as support or encouragement for anyone to use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy.  Although I said it anyway.)
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Small House - (Sorta) Big Family . How We Did It


846 square feet

2 bedrooms

1 bathroom

6 people 

1 cat

This has been our reality for the last 10 months (thankfully....only a few weeks longer!)

I'll be honest...it's been difficult.  Very, very difficult.

Somehow we survived.  Barely.  

In the process, I did learn some tips for small house living.  So, I thought I would share them with you.  Because that's what this blog is all about.



1. Minimal Furniture.

This should go without saying.  When you live in a small house, you can't have even one unnecessary piece of furniture.  No coffee tables.  No knick-knack holders.  Nothing that doesn't serve a purpose.  Beds.  Kitchen Table, Couch, Chair, Desks, Dressers, Bookshelves.  That's it! Nothing decorative.  Nothing non-functional.  Nothing that takes up space. 

2, Learn to ignore the mess.

One of the biggest problems with a small house is that small messes look much  bigger in smaller spaces.  The kids build a fort in the living room.  Forget it.  You can't even walk through it anymore.   Everyone doing school on your one (small) dining room table.  It's GOING to be a mess.  When you have several kids sharing a room, all it takes is a few clothes thrown on the floor, for the entire room to look like a disaster area.   You kinda just have to embrace it, or it will drive you crazy. 

3. Kick everyone outside.

Unfortunately this doesn't work when it's cold.  Thankfully, spring is FINALLY here.  And I can kick everyone outside. Our small house does have a large backyard .  That helps A LOT when the weather is nice enough to go outside.   Or I just go outside myself and leave everyone else inside.  

4. Save nothing.

You don't have room to save anything.  So don't.  Get rid of stuff quickly. And when I say get rid of it, I mean get rid of.  If you have a bag of outgrown clothes...put them in the car to drop off someplace the next time you are out.  Don't leave them in your house....anything you are getting rid of, get rid of immediately. 

5.  Realize that it just takes sacrifice....for everyone.

We all had to sacrifice a little privacy.  Which has been really, really hard.  The kids have no place to do stuff without the toddler getting into it.  No one has their own room. There is no place to talk without kids overhearing.  Everyone is sharing ALL THE SPACE, which is hard.  So, you just have to learn to deal with the lack of individual space.  And realize that it's just as hard for the kids as for the adults.   Think of it kinda like Little House on the Prarie living. 

6. Enforce bedtime.

There are certain children who, if we had a bigger house, I would likely let them stay up later.  However, we don't have a bigger house...yet  So the only way for us to get kid-free time is if everyone is in bed. So off to bed they go...earlier than they maybe otherwise would.

7. Come up with alternative bathroom arrangements in a pinch.

This is a big one.  Having just one bathroom is very hard.  So, we actually have an old plastic cat litter pan (the cat doesn't use that one) we keep in the garage.  In an emergency, someone has been known to pee in that, and then dump it outside.   Just in an emergency.

However, that can be limited by anyone who is going to be in the bathroom for a longer period of time (ie. for a bath or shower) checking with everyone else first, to see if they need to use it.  It's had to remember to do that, but when we do, it makes everyone happier.  

Those are my tips.  Mostly, I got through the time by realizing it was only a short-term arrangement.  It ended up being longer-term than we had originally planned, but it's almost over.  And I've spent A LOT of time this past year, looking at houses on Zillow and dreaming of larger spaces. 

(Linking up with Kelly for 7QT)



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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Thoughts on Free-Range Parenting

Free-range parenting has been in the news lately.   Apparently that is a philosophy where parents let young children (say under 10-12) go places by themselves or be places by themselves.

It's a controversial.  Of course. 

Sometimes the parents get in trouble for it and CPS gets involved.




It's been on my mind lately because we currently live on a busy, major road without sidewalks so really no one, no matter their age, can walk or bike anywhere.   The only way to get someplace is to drive.   However, we will soon live in a place that is more walkable/bikeable, so I've been thinking about how much freedom I will give my kids. 

My natural inclination is to NOT be free-range. 

I didn't grow up "free-range" so the idea of kids going places by themselves is really something I only read about in books, but not something I ever experienced. 


 I grew up on a busy street where walking about would have been quite dangerous and I pretty much didn't go anyplace by myself until I was old enough to drive.  There was basically no place to go.  Maybe I'd go to the neighbor's house (but we weren't really friends with many neighbors), and when I was older (like 14-15) I might have have walked to a nearby super expensive, very trendy toy-store to buy Christmas presents or walk in the tree nursery across the street.  Occasionally I rode my bike to a nearby horse stable but I was at least 14-15 then.   And it wasn't that safe, because riding your bike on narrow 2-lane road with a 25 mph speed limit where people routinely go 50 mph is not that safe. 

But that's it.  I didn't take jaunts to the store or the library.  I didn't walk to/from school. There were no sidewalks or safe places to walk in my town.  I didn't spend hours outside wandering the neighborhood. 

I think that has both good and bad points.

Yes, I was probably a little less independent as a 10-year old than a lot of other 10-year olds. 

However, I also was never exposed to peer pressure.    I'm sure all children who grew up in the 80's and 90's remember drug education in schools. I always thought it was weird, because I never experienced any peer pressure to use drugs or smoke.  Probably because I didn't spend any time really hanging out with other kids in really unsupervised settings.  Not that my parents hovered over us in the backyard or anything....certainly not.  But we didn't go many places where there weren't other adults in charge. 

And once I learned how to drive (at age 16) I was never any less independent than any of my peers.  I definitely don't think that not being able to wander around town by myself at age 9 ever hurt me and by the time I learned how to drive, I was just as independent as the next 16-year old.  

So, I'm not convinced that kids need to wander around freely to have a happy or healthy childhood. 

Although I'm not saying that letting kids be free-range is bad. 

Overall though, I can't imagine that I would feel comfortable letting a 10-year old and 7-year play at a park a mile from home by themselves.

That is outside my comfort zone. 

Don't get my wrong...I don't hover over my kids in the backyard.  But my general philosophy is that if a child is too young to be home alone then they are too young to be out in public alone.   With the exception of short walks going from one place to another...maybe to/from school or to/from a neighbor's house.  But I would not feel comfortable with extended periods of being unsupervised in public places before a child is old enough to be unsupervised at home. 

However, I now have a 13-year old....which changes things considerably and is why I'm left pondering this whole issue. Because thirteen IS old enough. 

So we'll have to see the layout of the land and what things are like before I make any decisions.

There are a lot of factors involved in the decision to let kids "go places" by themselves.

What about you?

Do you have any thoughts on free-range parenting?

Do your kids go places by themselves?

Where?  How far? What age? 

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Friday, April 10, 2015

7 Housekeeping Things I Didn't Learn from My Mother and One Thing I did

Soon we will  be moving into our own house.  We did get the house we liked and put an offer on...so as long as everything goes well with the inspection, we will be moving in about a month. 

Which sorta scares me.

I'm not a good housekeeper.  And, I don't come from a line of good housekeepers.  As far as I know, no one in my family has ever uttered the following...

I love to clean. 
No one.  To be fair. My mother is a half-way decent housekeeper.  And, it's not that she didn't try to teach me.  I just was never interested in learning.   Truthfully, I'm still not.  I don't get giddy over the thought of a trip to Ikea. Organizing does nothing for me.  And, I find cleaning to be exceptionally boring and not very satisfying.  My spice rack will never be organized alphabetically and my shirts will never be arranged by color. 

Nonetheless,  I have found that I do have to clean and organize stuff. It's a sad, sad fact of life.

When I first got married,  I was an absolutely terrible housekeeper.  I've since graduated to mediocre status.

I would love to move up to half-way decent status.  

I know I'll never be house beautiful status.  But, I'll settle for half-way decent, can have people over anytime status. 

Here are some of the things I've learned that helped me move from terrible to mediocre status.





1. Soaking clothes in oxy powder gets out tough stains, and brightens whites and colors.

I don't know that oxy powder was as popular when I was a kid.  I tend to think not.  However, I have learned that a good soak in oxy-powder can do wonders for removing stains and brightening colors and making clothes last longer.  Or at least making them look nicer longer.

2. You have to clean out your vacuum cleaner.

When I was growing up, we never had wall to wall carpet.  So, I never learned how to properly vacuum.  Which means I never learned that if you don't regularly clean our your vacuum cleaner, it gets all clogged up and loses suction and isn't efficient.  Sadly, it took me YEARS to figure this out.  I could never figure out why our vacuum cleaners would lose suction and stop working well.  

I'm not smart when it comes to housekeeping stuff. 

3.  Sometimes chemicals are needed. 

Normally, I hate chemicals.  I'm all about the crunchy, natural stuff.  But sometimes, you just need chemicals.

When we lived in Virginia, we were constantly getting mold in the bathroom. Humid climate with no bathroom fan was a disaster.  And that utterly toxic, horrid stuff was the only thing that got rid of it.

Now, we live in a house with well water...which means that the tub and toilet and sink turns a horrible yellow and you have to use that super strong lime remover on it. Nothing else works. 

4. Corners and edges get dirty, so once in awhile you have to crawl on the floor with the vacuum.

Sad to say, it actually took me years to figure out that vacuum and brooms don't really get edges and corners well, so sometimes you have to take the hose on the vacuum and crawl on your hands and knees and do them.  Ugh.  Did I mention that I hate cleaning?

5.  You are supposed to vacuum your floors instead of sweeping them. 

I actually just learned this one recently.  Apparently vacuuming hard floors removes the dirt better than sweeping (which just throws the dirt around).  Who knew?  And why did it never occur to me to vacuum hard floors before?

6. Less stuff is better.

The easier it is for me to keep a house clean is inversely proportional to the amount of stuff it has in it in relation to its size.  The emptier a house is, the easier it is to clean.  When we move, we will be going from about 860 square feet to about 2800 square feet.  That will be a lot of empty space.  I'm hoping to keep it that way.   

7. You are supposed to dust your blinds and ceiling fans and baseboards and clean the grout in your tiles. 

Again, these are things which would NOT occur to me to do.  I can do major stuff.  Sweep up crumbs.  Wash dishes.  Do laundry. Vacuum. Wash windows. But this little detail stuff...would not occur to me.  Never in a million years.  It's not until I heard someone talking about it and I was all... People do that?? Really? People clean the grout in their tiles? Dusting baseboards? Is that a thing? I didn't know you were supposed to do that?  No wonder my baseboards are so dusty. 

Now, the one trick I did learn from my mother. 

1. It's easier to hide dirt than to constantly clean it up.  

My mother picked out her kitchen floor and paint design and cabinets to hide dirt the best.  

That woman is a genius.  

I have a vivid memory of her throwing cheerio crumbs on vinyl tile samples to see which ones hid the the crumbs the best when they were building the house I grew up in.  Genius.

I've lived in a lot of different houses, because we've moved so much, and some houses are much easier to clean than others, because some floors and walls hide the dirt so much better. 

Right now we have white vinyl on our kitchen.  That is bad. I have to mop constantly and the floor never looks clean because it is stained (was stained before we moved here). 

In Virginia, we had this tan, marbled vinyl on the kitchen.  That was good.  It hid dirt fantastically and I only had to mop like once a week. 

However in Virginia we had white walls.  White walls are bad, bad, bad things. 

Here, we have these ugly, orange walls.  But they do hide the dirt, super well. 

We were recently at a chess tournament that had glass tables.  And I was remarking how they showed every.single.fingerprint.  I mean, you touch the thing, and it looks dirty. That would drive me crazy.  Another women there overheard and was all 


"Yes, but that's great, because then you know when it is really clean and it makes you wonder if those wood tables are ever really clean. ."

See..this demonstrates a fundamental difference in philosophy between me and other people.  I just want something to look clean. I don't care if it actually is clean, as long as it looks clean.  It's all about the appearance, people.

On the bright side though....my kids are all fairly healthy and don't suffer from any known allergies (not even seasonal allergies) or asthma or breathing difficulties or eczema and they all
 have strong immune systems. I attribute that to my poor housekeeping skills. 
 Apparently dirt is good for you.  

Still, I don't like to be a total slob.  So, I'm trying to get a handle on this housekeeping thing.  It's a slow, slow process.

Do you have any housekeeping things you recently or not so recently learned.  Any tips or tricks??

(See Kelly for more Quick Takes).
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Things I've Spent my Tax Refund on


The UPS man has been a regular at our house lately.  

Most of the ever growing pile of boxes in our living room is for Ben's soon to be opening new law practice, but I must admit, I've used our tax refund and bought a few things myself. 

Here are some of my favorites. 

1. Sleeping Mask

There is lots of research showing the benefits of sleeping in a totally dark room.   I definitely noticed it makes a difference in my own sleep and mood.  For the longest time, I tried to make the room dark by blocking out light....which is very hard when you live someplace with street lights outside your bedroom.  Then, I got smart and realized that it would be much easier to just wear a sleeping mask.  Duh.

So, now I do.  And, it works.  Except this one is a bit too big for me, so it tends to slide off my head at night.  But, I have a smaller head compared to a lot of other adults, so I think that's just me.  It just needs a bit longer Velcro trip to make it a bit tighter and then it would be perfect.

And, using it while sleeping definitely improves the quality of my sleep and I sleep a lot better.  

The main problem is that I keep losing it.  Or should I say, that my kids keep walking off with it.   But that's not a fault of the mask. 


This has a bunch of nice features that I like.  For one thing, it works.  I mean, it's not professional and it didn't make my carpet look brand new or anything.  But it did improve it significantly and did a decent job. And the water it was sucking up was totally black.  Nasty. So, I know it picked up a ton of dirt.  And my carpets do look a lot better.  

But the best part are the features.

1). The cleaning solution is a separate reservoir than the water....which is more economical.  Because I always waste things and would use more cleaning solution than needed.
2) It is super easy to clean because all the different parts come apart.  That makes a huge difference.  If you have to unscrew something to clean it...well....forget about it.
3) It has a separate rinse cycle.  Yes...I know you could just use it with plain water, but I love being able to keep cleaning solution in the cleaning reservoir and then rinse with plain hot water. 

I would say that this is a good steam cleaner and does a decent job for its price.


This is the first multi-vitamin where I've actually noticed a significant improvement in my energy level.  It really does help. Probably because it's whole foods and has a lot of B vitamins. Anyway, I really love it...even though I'm not Paleo.

4. Land's End Shape and Enhance High Waist Swim Mini



The high-waist style is super flattering. Great for smoothing out all bumps and lumps. I wish I had discovered high waist styles years ago. When will I ever learn?

5. Boar Bristle Hair Brush



This is supposedly spreads the oils out on your hair, to make it softer and shinier and reduce frizz.  It actually sorta does help.  I wouldn't say it's a miracle or anything, but it does help.

However the thing I love most about this brush is that it's no- pull and actually makes brushing tangled, knotty hair less painful.  That's big with a bunch of girls in the house. 

Do you have any favorite things?  Any plans for a tax refund?

(Linking up with Call Her Happy for 5 Favorites)

*contains affiliate links


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Friday, April 3, 2015

When Holy Week Doesn't Feel So Holy And Why We Don't Eat Hot Cross Buns Today (7QTF)


1. I'm always amazed when I see these moms post about these amazing Holy Week activities.  I've never been able to really pull that off.  Life just seems to always get in the way.   I'm especially intrigued by the idea of visiting 7 churches on Holy Thursday.
I thought this was cute.  From the ever popular Catholic Memes

But I've never done that.  I first heard about it last year.  But, last year we lived in Virginia and not in the super Catholic part of Virginia, so finding 7 churches to visit would have involved A LOT of driving.  More than I was willing to do.

2.  This year.  This year we are all suffering from sneezing, sniffling, coughing, runny noses, nasty colds.  So again, I didn't feel up to it.  And of course, we missed Holy Thursday services....because... nasty colds.  And we missed the Seder meal with my parents for the same thing.  And I wasn't with it enough to put something together at home just for us.  

3.  We've also been using the week for house searching.  A LOT of house searching.  We've spent hours with our poor realtor this week.    This week is spring break, so Ben wasn't working, so we wanted to take advantage of that and see as many houses as possible since we could go out and look during the day, instead of just in the late afternoon. We found one we like....a lot.  But of course the last time that happened, someone bought it first.  So, we'll see what happens with this one. 

4. Did I mention that Ben signed a lease on an office?  Well he did. Which means he is officially opening his own law practice in a few weeks.  Which means there is a lot of work to get done.  So, I've also been using this week to create his websites.  This is turning out to be harder than I thought it would be.   But again, since this is spring break, this is the best time to do it.  Actually the designing part is easier than I thought it would be, but the writing part is much harder.   

5. I feel like I should have some sort of Good Friday mediation here.  But, I really have nothing.   I'm not good at meditations.  We'll be fasting today.  We probably won't be going to any Celebration of the Passion because we are still a little sick.  Although we're starting to get on the upswing.   I read somewhere that colds are most contagious for 2-4 days after symptoms start.  Well, today is the 4th day for the kids, so they should be good tomorrow and for Easter, but today we'll still stay home. 

6. Well, I should say that I'm fasting except for all the apple cider vinegar mixed with vitamin C I'm sipping.   And the raw garlic.    That's pretty penitential.  Effective at knocking out a cold...but penitential.  Didn't they give Jesus vinegar on the cross?  Well some translations say wine and some say vinegar mixed with gall.  Whatever it was, I'm sure it was not pleasant tasting.  So I'll be thinking of Jesus while I drink my apple cider vinegar. 

7. I'm really trying hard not to feel guilty that we haven't done more for Lent or Holy Week.  I feel like this whole season has passed us by in a whirlwind of house searching and business starting and now illness.  Reading other blogs, I definitely feel "less than" as a mother.   Last year, we did at least go to a Good Friday celebration of the Passion at our church.  Unfortunately it was a bilingual, which really meant that it was 80% in Spanish.   So, only one family member actually understood all of it.  This year, we probably won't even make that.  And when it comes to "Living the Liturgical Year."  Well, I'm really, really, really, really, really bad at that.  Really bad.  I never plan ahead.  I hate crafts.

And, I'm always a little befuddled that all these celebrations generally involve some sort of sweet treat. Like the whole hot cross buns on Good Friday thing.  I can't get past the whole eating a sweet treat on a day you are supposed to be fasting thing.   Now, my kids don't technically fast on Good Friday, but I certainly don't let them eat sweets or treats.  Somehow eating a sweet bun with frosting shaped like a cross doesn't seem like the best way to celebrate Good Friday.  Now, maybe if it was like spinach shaped like a cross, I could get into that.  Hey,  maybe we'll do that today. We'll shape our broccoli into crosses before we eat it.

Anyway. whatever you do, I hope you have a holy Good Friday!
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