Motherhood & Parenting

In the Hospital Again

Dear Readers,

I am sorry to have such depressing news lately, but it cannot be helped.  We need your prayers once again for Paul.

Last week he began having prolonged headaches again, and we knew something was up. On Sunday I drove through the night, back to Rochester.  It was an excruciating drive, as he was vomiting, and during intense periods of head pain, his body tightened into a ball, and he slurred his speech, unable to control even his facial muscles.

I prayed that Mary would fly us to the hospital.

Paul prayed for Ex-Cardinal McCarrick, that he might come to his senses, and for my brother, who is suffering from a terrible year of farming.

Well, we made it, and spent a few sleepless hours in the ER.  Yesterday Paul had surgery to revise his shunt once again, which, due to the incredibly small space within which the catheter must go, keeps getting blocked.

Tomorrow he’ll undergo a second surgery to place another shunt in his spine, in hopes of alleviating the pressure in his brain.

Today, Paul is feeling much better.  I am sorry I don’t have a picture to show it.  I am incapable of figuring out how to sync photos from my phone to the laptop.  My Web Master* will hopefully attach a photo later this evening, for those of you who might be interested.  So be sure to check back.

In any case, we pray that this next surgery will be successful, but if not, we pray for the strength and courage to continue suffering this battle.  And if you think of it, would you kindly say a prayer for us too?

* Compliments of the Web Master:

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Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: The Grass & Garden Edition

I haven’t done one these in awhile, so here we are.  Welcome to Flashback Friday to those of you who are new to the blog.  This is where I look back on my week and offer a few trifling thoughts.

  1. I am just downright thankful for having grass in the yard.  Yesterday the wind was whipping 40mph and for once, the dirt wasn’t swirling around the house.  If you’ll remember, this is what my yard looked like on June 4th:
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Oh, the dirtiness of dirt yards!  Oh, the agony of planting grass!  Oh, the endless dirt and mud flung into the house by carefree children!

2.  As it is, on September 4th, our yard now looks like this:

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Yes, it’s still patchy in spots, but seriously, it looks great.  It’s a vast improvement anyhow.

3.  And that’s my garden in the center there.  From far away, it looks perfectly respectable too.  But don’t be deceived by those delightful flowers.  Shall we take a closer look?

4.  Here are my tomato plants and onions:

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Tomato plants are on the left.  Onions are in the middle.

All six of my tomato plants are lying on the ground.  That’s because the wind whips them over, and I’m too lazy to walk out there and right those wire cages.  In my defense, I did attempt to stand them upright a few times at the beginning of summer, but those weak things just toppled back over with the slightest breeze.  Likely this is all my fault to begin with, as I ought to have stuck those wire cages deep into the earth, but I guess I didn’t.

Now the onions…that is just not my fault at all.  They look like they’ve been trampled on by a circus parade, and it’s true; they have been.  My 3-year-old and the tornado-wrecking-toddler play in there all the time.

Then there’s this:

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Notice the dead-looking sticks in the foreground?

See this dead-looking bush?  Yep, I guess I don’t know how to transplant rose bushes very well.  It was an offshoot from my grandmother’s rose bush, and I killed it.

Now this rose bush isn’t just any rose bush.  It happens to be descended from a my great grandmother’s original rose bush, which her mother brought from Norway to Elis Island, and then finally to South Dakota over a hundred years ago.

That dead-looking thing is my 3rd attempt at planting it.

5.  But all is not lost.  Even if my garden is a bit unruly and unproductive, I’ve always got the children’s garden.  In fact, they’ve been selling me their produce.  I bought a lovely cucumber the other day for 60¢.  (I thought that I had planted my own cucumbers, but alas, none came up.)

6.  In case you’re wondering, this growing-of-gardens business is what we call Science in our household.  Or Biology.

7.  Lastly, though, I’ll have you notice that my zinnias and marigolds are handsome.  I planted them from seed that I had collected last year.

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Zinnias and Marigolds.  See that bushy looking thing behind the zinnias on the right?  Yeah, what is that?  It was supposed to be cosmos flowers, but there are still no buds.  And no sign of any to come.  And as I do live in the Arctic North, those things better hurry up because it’ll likely freeze next week.

Happy Friday!

Homeschooling, Motherhood & Parenting

10 Things I Wish I Knew 8 Years Ago

Well here we go again – the start of another school year.

For those of you interested in homeschooling, today I’ve updated my List of 10 in honor of another year of teaching.  For the original, see HERE.

Homeschooling: Hard, But Rewarding

Now I’ve been homeschooling for about 8 years, and this has been the hardest job I’ve ever had.  It’s certainly harder than when I taught sophomores at a high school.  Or the time I shelved books in a library.  Or the time I cleaned toilets at a state park.  Or, well, you get the idea.

And I hate to break it to those of you just beginning, but it does get harder.  For example, eight years ago, I only had a kindergartner.  Now I’ve got a 7th-grader, two 5th-graders, a 3rd-grader, and a 1st-grader.  (Not to mention a 3-year-old and a tornado-wrecking-toddler.)  But the good news is, it’s all worth it.

The following is a list of things that I’ve found helpful to remember over these last 8 years.

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10 Things I Wish I Knew 8 Years Ago

  1.  Get up before the children do.

Yep, you just need to do it.  You’d never stroll into your old job at the office without being ready for it.  I mean, praying, showering, putting on “real” clothes…  If you can do this, your day is set.

Now that said, there are seasons when this is not possible.  For example, the three-month-old baby screamed all night and Susie puked and Timmy wet the bed.

But just because I think this one is really important, I’ll give you Jennifer Fulwiler’s thoughts too:

“It’s not always possible, but if you can make a habit of getting up an hour before everyone else in the house, it will change your life. (I say this as the biggest non-morning-person in the universe. There are vampires who enjoy watching the sun rise more than I do.)”**

**Click HERE for Fulwiler’s complete list of things she’s learned while parenting.  She’s hilarious.

  1.  It is a bad idea to compare yourself to others.

I’ll repeat that: it’s a bad idea to compare yourself to others.

For example, I will never be a crafty mother.  I detest finger-painting, gingerbread-house-making, and sticker charts.  If my children can’t do the project on their own, forget about it.  Now I know some of you are very talented in these artistic areas.  This is a good thing, and I’m genuinely glad for your family.  I’ve decided not to worry about my creative disabilities, however, and it’s freeing.

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This is the extent of my “craftiness.”  The children may draw whatever they want.  Then they can hang it on the Art Wall themselves.  My Art Wall, which adorns a hallway, consists of a white board with a few clothespins stuck on it.

But it goes beyond not worrying about my lack of creativity.  I’ve also got to not worry about all that awesome curricula that other mothers are using and I’m not.  So what if my kids don’t have a Book of Centuries?  Or don’t have official Science books?  I’m ok with that because we’re working on things that we’ve decided are important for our family.

All families will look differently.  And that’s a good thing.

  1.  Quit worrying about your children not learning anything.

This one’s absurd.  Anyone remember Andrew Pudewa relating his experience in a “public prison,” by which he meant a public school?  How he would get so bored, he’d see how hard he could bite himself?  Then, when he’d get sick of that, he’d see how long he could hold his breath.  (I actually remember doing that one in public school too.)  The point is, our children are learning.  And in the very least, they shouldn’t have to resort to arm-biting and breath-holding.

  1.  Make a “Rule” or schedule for your days and stick to it.

This is really freeing–almost as much as not comparing yourself to others.   With my Rule, my priorities are set, and I know what I’m supposed to be doing at all times during the day.  If you’re looking for more about this, I recommend Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life.  She’s really intense, but insightful.

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This is my 3rd or 4th copy, as I keep giving them away.
  1.  Just because one child seems born to learn quickly, don’t think they all will.

I had a child who sat down and read the Old Testament for fun, at the age of five.  I can tell you, it was a piece of cake teaching that one to read.  But with the next two children I spent at least three years in purgatory, just sitting on my couch, praying to Jesus to give me the patience to not rip the book out of the kid’s hand, chuck it across the room, and storm out myself.  (May it please God to not test my patience any further with slow readers, for I may not make it.  Amen.)

  1.  Outsource those terrible subjects you hate.

I hate math.  And guess what?  When I attempt to teach math, my loathing for the subject comes out, no matter how hard I try to hide it.  But my husband loves math, so a few years ago, he took it over.  (I will love him forever for it.)

In our household, math starts at 7am.  Yep, before breakfast, and it still goes well.  If there’s a subject you despise, think creatively.  Maybe switch a subject with another homeschool mom?  Or, budget for and hire a tutor?  Enroll in an online program?  (We’ve got one enrolled online this year too, and it’s awesome.)

  1.  Eat breakfast like a prison camp.

In our house, everybody eats breakfast at the same time; everybody eats the same thing; everybody cleans up their spot together.  We eat peanut butter toast every single morning.  We’ve done it for years.  There’s never any complaining about it because they know what to expect.

And I never have to worry about meal planning for breakfast.  On the weekend, there is a reprieve.  Saturday is oatmeal.  Sunday is cold cereal, which is their favorite.  You can imagine their excitement when my parents give them orange juice, as a present.

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I keep the bread and PB right above the toaster, as it’s The Eldest’s job to make all 13 slices of toast every morning.
  1.  Learn to say no.

Do you want to destroy your family life?  Then frantically run from event to event, never eat a meal together, and never pray together.

As a culture, we are far too busy.  Little Sally does not need to participate in gymnastics and tee-ball while playing on the soccer team and taking violin, piano, and voice lessons.  This is ridiculous.  Pick one.

And let your children experience a childhood of climbing trees with their siblings, reading a book on the grass, eating dinner as a family, and receiving Dad’s blessing at night.  This other Chosen Busyness is Satan’s great attempt to divide families.  And it’s crept right into Catholic and home schools.

  1.  Are you going crazy?

From time to time, I have to put myself in time-out.  I mostly prefer to hide in the laundry room with a glass of wine, but there isn’t anywhere comfortable to sit, so sometimes I sneak out to the garage and grab lawn chair.  What do you do to get away?

Furthermore, I recommend instituting quiet time every afternoon.  And if possible, take a few Saturdays off a month, and go on a monthly date with your husband.  Life is too short to do otherwise.

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This oughtta look classy in the cupholder of my camping chair in the garage.
  1.  Lastly, and most importantly, begin each day with prayer.

This goes along with #1.  Get up before the children and pray.  You need it.  In fact, not only should you have a regular time for prayer every day, but you should also consider a weekly Adoration hour.  Shoot, it might be the only quiet hour of your week.  (It is of mine.)  So, get after it!

Jesus should always come first.

 

If you’ve found this post helpful, send it to someone else who might appreciate it.

Anyone have other thoughts or ideas?  I’d enjoy hearing about them.

Call Me Catholic

Mitres, Crosiers, & the Eucharist

The other day Bishop Kagan celebrated Mass for our local homeschool group to signal the beginning of another academic year.  We were very grateful to him for this.

Two of my sons served this Mass.  (Paul, of course, could not, as he was still in the hospital.)  Their particular roles during the Mass were to take care of the Bishop’s mitre and crosier.  Each son wore a special cope draped over his shoulders, which he used to cover his hands, so as to never touch either object.  For only the bishop may touch these holy items.

It was impressive to watch this interplay of giving and receiving.  One instinctively knew that something special was being given and received each time, by nature of that cope.  It was out of the ordinary and beautiful.  I wish I had a picture of it.

Kagan’s homily was beautiful too, even though it appeared to have nothing to do with the Mass readings.  Rather, it was all about the Real Presence in the Eucharist.  At the time I wondered if he was reflecting on the recent Pew Research Poll showing that 69% of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence.  In other words, the majority of Catholics believe the Eucharist to be only a symbol, which is nothing short of a tragedy.

My Husband is Spot On

I called my husband that night (he was still in the hospital with Paul) and told him about the Mass, about Kagan’s homily, about the boys serving, and finally about the special treatment of the mitre and the crosier.

My husband was quiet a moment and then said, “It is beautiful how carefully and respectfully the bishop’s mitre and crosier were handled.  You know, we used to treat the Eucharist this way too.  No one touched Him with his hands.  Rather, we knelt at an altar rail, and we received Him on our tongues.”

My husband sighed and went on, “I wonder if there would be more belief in the Real Presence if our actions showed what our hearts believed?”

“You mean,” I said, “if churches were to bring back altar rails and patens and if we all knelt once again?  You think it would help Catholics believe in Jesus’ Real Presence?”

“Yes.”

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

This got me thinking.  Of course our actions and our postures matter.  There is a little phrase that one comes by, “Lex orandi, lex credendi.”  It means that how you pray will affect how you believe.  For our actions and postures aid our faith and belief.

Life is Worth Living

Paul is Home!

For those of you following Paul’s plight…he’s home!  He and my husband just pulled into the driveway a few hours ago.

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We are rejoicing.  The children are running around the yard, playing baseball, and chasing this painted turtle around.

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My husband and I are drinking wine.  Yes, it’s only 3:30pm, but seriously, it’s been a long 4 weeks.

And now, it’s time to celebrate.

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Thank you for praying for us!
Life is Worth Living

Paul’s Suffering: Updated

Dear Readers,

We cannot thank you enough for your kind words of encouragement and more importantly, for your prayers.

We have good news today.

After 5 surgeries, and ever since late last Thursday, the Feast of the Assumption, Paul has steadily been getting better.  His heart rate and breathing are normal.  He hasn’t vomited.  He hasn’t had any seizures.  His head does not hurt very much.  He sat up, and he smiled.  He ate and is gaining weight.  He even went for a little walk around the ICU.

And he lost a tooth.

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See that gaping hole on the left?

A good friend of ours drove 8 hours to bring Paul’s two brothers to see him yesterday.  This was a great boost to his morale, which had been waning after 3 and a half weeks in the hospital.

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Here they are, eating dinner together last night with another friend of theirs.
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Paul’s twin, Michael, is in the upper left.  Johnny, Paul’s younger brother is on the right.

If he continues to feel well, the doctors will remove the tubing in his spine, and he may get to come home sometime later this week.  We certainly hope this will be the case.

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Tubing in his spine, which measures pressure levels in the brain.

Again, we cannot thank you enough for praying for him and for our family.  This has been the most difficult trial we’ve ever experienced.

Nevertheless we feel God’s love, and we thank Him.

 

 

Life is Worth Living

Paul’s Suffering

Well, I am back at it, after taking a 3 week break.  During this break I had intended to vacation with my family, attend my brother’s wedding, and enjoy some carefree timelessness.

But nothing has gone as expected.

Rather, two days before we were to leave for South Dakota, my husband and I had to rush our son, Paul, to our local ER.  His incision from last May’s surgery had become infected.  And before we knew it, he and my husband were driving straight through the night to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.

And thus began 3 weeks of the most excruciating suffering I’ve ever known–watching a child suffer.

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Paul Endures Surgery After Surgery

During these last 3 weeks, Paul has undergone surgery after surgery, with almost everything going wrong that could go wrong.  His shunt tubing became blocked.  His heart rate kept dropping dangerously low.  He quit breathing for 10-15 seconds at a time and would struggle for breath, for hours upon hours.  Blood leaked into his brain.  One shunt malfunctioned.  Another shunt slipped out of place.  His left ventricle collapsed.  He hasn’t eaten for days upon days and is losing weight.  He is suffering seizures.  And then there’s all the vomiting.

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All of these things have been happening in addition to the most excruciating head pain.  And we sit helplessly by him and watch and pray.  I’ll never forget the terrible day and night I had to watch his heart rate slow, his breathing cease, and then the trembling of his body to grasp a breath.  It was terrible.

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And it’s still going on.  I beg of you, dear Readers, to remember him in your prayers.  But remember the other children too.  They are suffering in a different way.  They wonder, where is Paul?  Why can’t Paul just come home?  Why can’t the doctors fix him?

We don’t know the answers.  We only know that for some mysterious reason God is allowing this suffering, and we can choose to accept it, or we can drive ourselves mad with endless, unanswerable questions and blame God for ruining a perfectly healthy little boy.

But we choose to trust in Him.  He who is the beginning and the end of all things.  He who created the heavens and the earth.  He who loves us so much that He died for us.  And His name is Jesus.  And all knees on earth and in heaven will bend to Him at the end of time.  May His kingship reign forever and ever.

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Paul Prayer Intentions

In the midst of his suffering, Paul has been praying.  He has been asking Mary to hold him.  And he has been praying for Ex-Cardinal McCarrick and for my cousin, Tony.  Up until today, Tony had been in psyche ward of a hospital.  All within a few years, his brother died in a motorcycle accident, his wife died from cancer, and his father just died last week.

Tony was released this morning.  He drove to his father’s house and killed himself.

Please, Jesus, You have a most merciful heart.  We pray, that in those briefest of moments before his death, Tony in his agony turned towards You.

 

 

Life is Worth Living

Summer Vacation: Weddings & Books

Dear Readers,

I will be taking a break from this blog for about 3 weeks.  Firstly because we’ll be doing some traveling in the tropics of South Dakota, and secondly because I have a few books that I’d like to get through.

Firstly: A Wedding

My brother is getting married on the Feast of St. Martha, July 29th.  He and his fiancé have a devotion to this great saint, hence a Monday wedding.  We are very excited for them both and will be traveling down a few days prior to and then staying a few days later.  I am looking forward to toasting glasses of wine and visiting with my family.

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My mom snapped this photo of The Eldest, me, and my dad when we last visited for the Bridal Shower a few weeks ago.

After the wedding, we’ll be driving to my parent’s lake house to watch the children splash around, and then after they go to bed, we’ll play endless card games.  It promises to be a lovely few days of no internet.

Secondly: Lovely Books to Read!

Lately I’ve been enjoying a number of James Herriot’s books.  It all began when I stumbled upon a cheap paperback of his at a used bookstore.  It was All Things Bright and Beautiful.  I picked it up because my children and I love to read his Treasury for Children.

Anyway, All Things Bright and Beautiful was such a charming and entertaining read for summer that I decided to check out every book I could find at our library.  I can’t wait to get at them.  If you need something light and bright, then definitely read some Herriot.

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Lastly, A New Book Club

Lastly, I’ve started a new book club for moms in my area.  I had been thinking about doing this for awhile now, but I just never did for the logical reason that I already belong to a book club–a good one, too.  My current book club follows the reading suggestions of the Well-Read Mom website.  They’re generally great reads, but even better are the women in the actual group.  But the meeting time is very difficult for me, and so I’ve done it.

Saturday Morning Book Club

Yep, you guessed it, we’re meeting on Saturday mornings, once a month.  I chose Saturday mornings because this is when I happen to have free time.  In fact every Saturday morning, once I finish my cleaning chores, I leave for the day, and so I thought, why not see if other mothers would like to join me to discuss books?

I didn’t think there would be much interest, as many families tend to be busy.  In fact, I really thought I’d only have one to two other moms interested.  But I was wrong.  I’ve got 12 moms on the email list.

For those of you who might be curious, I’ll list this year’s selection of books below.  I chose these books for the simple reason that I wanted to read them, or reread them in some cases.  I’ll try to post a word or two about the books, when we get to them.  Maybe you’ll want to read along with us?

August:  Michael O’Brien, Father Elijah
September:  Taylor Marshall, Infiltration
October:  Gertrud von Le Fort, Song of the Scaffold
November:  Cardinal Sarah, The Day is Now Far Spent
December:  Sigrid Undset, Ida Elizabeth
January:  Joseph Pearce, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde
February:  Hilaire Belloc, The Path to Rome
March:  Michael Richard, Tobit’s Dog
April:  G. K. Chesterton, St. Thomas & St. Francis
May:  Gereron Goldmann, The Shadow of His Wings

 

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Happy Summer!

See you all in 3 weeks.

Homeschooling

Is Classical Academic Press “Catholic?”

Nope.  It’s not.  Bummer, no?

I am bringing this question up because the other day I received the following enquiry:

Have you found Classical Academic Press to be Catholic based?  I am planning on letting my daughter join the Schole Academy online and I just wanted to make sure that Classical Academic Press didn’t have anything anti-Catholic.

As this isn’t the first time I’ve answered questions about CAP, I thought I’d post a few thoughts.  No, Classical Academic Press is not strictly Catholic.  However, our family has been very happy with 99% of the content and 100% of the online class discussion.

We’ve been using their Writing & Rhetoric, Grammar, and Latin materials for about 5 years now, and our daughter will be entering her second year of Scholé Academy this fall.

We are, though, moving her towards Queen of Heaven Academy this year too.  (She’ll be taking Writing & Rhetoric and Latin from Scholé and Algebra and Religion from QOH). Because we homeschool 5 children, I need her to be enrolled full-time, and I don’t want to worry about the Catholicity in any classes.  So in two years, she’ll likely be all Queen of Heaven.  All the younger children will continue in their CAP courses with me.

Clear as mud?

The short of it is, we do really like Classical Academic Press.  I can only think of one chapter in a previous Writing & Rhetoric book that spoke too charmingly of Queen Elizabeth.  (Book 4, Cheia & Proverb).  Blech.  I wasn’t worried about it, though, because we talk so much about these things.  In fact, I just pulled out my Hilaire Belloc Characters of the Reformation,* and we discussed his chapter on Queen Elizabeth together.

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Love this book.

The only other questionable thing I can recall from CAP is that their Latin B Reader features famous people and events during the Middle Ages.  Obviously Catholics and Protestants are going to understand this time period very differently, but CAP’s paragraph summaries are so benign and uncontroversial that I didn’t have a problem with them.

I hope that’s helpful.

 

 

*If you don’t own this book, you’re missing out.  Sheed and Ward first published it in 1936, then Tan in 1992.  It’s great for referencing those infamous heretics.
Call Me Catholic

Why do I veil?

The other day I came across a great article at Catholic Sistas, written by Antonia Goddard, called 5 Reasons to Wear a Veil (and Five Not to…).  For any of you who might be curious about veiling, click over there and check it out.  She’s spot on.  (I especially appreciate #4.)

My own experience with veiling began around 15 years ago.  I was living in St. Paul, MN, and was attending St. Agnes Catholic Church.  At the time I had never even seen a veil.  And there I was, attending both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass, and there were women veiling all around me.  It was beautiful, and my heart wondered about it, and I was drawn to this tradition.  Naturally, I began to pray about it.

Two years later, I ended up in Bismarck, ND, where such things as veiling and the TLM were sighted as often as the Lock Ness Monster.  They just didn’t exist.  And my heart ached for them both.

Should I Start Veiling?

I spoke to my spiritual director about veiling, but he didn’t know anything about it, being from the area and likely never having attended a TLM.  But he suggested that I continue to ask Jesus for guidance in wearing it, and that I just begin to veil at home during prayer and also at Adoration.

Of course I immediately did this, and it was great for me, because I became used to having something on my head, but more importantly, it gave me time to learn about it, for I wanted to be sure I was desiring it for the right reasons.  (Again, see Antonia’s article HERE.)

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The 3-year-old modeling her older sister’s veil.

Over those early years, my heart did grow in love for Jesus and with the desire to veil at Mass, whether it be the TLM or the Novus Ordo, for wasn’t Jesus present at both?  But I was scared too.  What would people say about me?  Would they think I was being prideful?  Or holier-than-thou?

Eventually those fears, however, melted away, for how could I presume to know what other people were thinking?  Why should I attribute negative thoughts to them?  I know I certainly try to curb my own negative thoughts.  It’s just best to not live in other people’s minds.

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The 6-year-old modeling one of my veils.

So after a few more years of praying, I brought the matter before my spiritual director again, and he agreed.  It was time–my heart was in the right place.  And so I began veiling at Mass–at both Masses, the Novus Ordo and the TLM.

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The Eldest modeling my black veil.

And What Do People Say?

Surprisingly, I’ve never received a negative comment about veiling.

I do think, however, I have some family members who think I’m crazy, but they never say anything, and I don’t ask!  Probably other people think I’m crazy too, but most people are just used to seeing me this way.

I have, however, received positive comments from other women, both young and old.  Generally the older women touch my arm after Mass and look into my eyes and say, “I, too, used to veil.  Thank you for veiling.”  And the younger women say, “I’ve always wanted to veil.  Where did you get it?”

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Look closely to the right, in the first pew.  There we are, veiling.  I’m holding the wriggling baby, but the veil is staying put!

Practical Matters

Where do I buy my veils?

I buy them online at Veils by Lily.  I prefer these veils because for a few additional dollars, they will sew a clip or a comb into the veil.  (You can do this yourself; it’s just that I detest sewing.)  And these clips are absolutely necessary for any mother with children.  This way my babies can grab all they want, and it’s not coming off.  It’s also nice to not worry about the veil slipping.

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See the clips?  Genius.

It’s better to buy locally, though, if you can.  For those of you living in the Bismarck/Mandan area, Mayo Pharmacy on 4th street now carries beautiful veils.  You can walk right downtown and buy one.

And how about colors and styles of veils?

Over the years I’ve noticed that married women tend to wear darker veils, mostly black, and unmarried girls tend to wear lighter colors, mostly white.  While there is no rule about it, I kind of like this distinction.  White is a great symbol of virginal purity and black has always been a reminder of our death to this world.

But really, you can wear whatever color or style you want.  Go with what’s comfortable.  I’ve seen it all.

Any questions?  Be sure to ask!

And for the fun of it…

Photo of the Week

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Check out this 4 foot serpent.

We accidentally ran this thing over on our way to Mass.  Of course we had to pull over and check it out.  You can see the guts protruding in the middle of it.  We think it’s a bull snake.  (YUCK!)

Life is Worth Living

Date Night: You Need It

A week ago, my husband and I enjoyed not just a Date Night, but a weekend away by ourselves.  Except that, it wasn’t really away, as we stayed at home, and the children went across town to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  (A “stay-cation” vs. a vacation.)  It’s a lot cheaper that way.

There is a danger, however.  One may be tempted to work on home projects and ignore each other, instead of simply enjoying carefree timelessness.  But we didn’t, and we had a great weekend.

A Word About Date Nights & Weekends Away

If you’re married, when’s the last time you sat outdoors with your spouse and enjoyed a drink?  Or played Scrabble together?  Or hiked a nature trail?  Or reclined under a tree and read a book aloud, without the children?

It’s time.  You need to schedule it.  Your marriage is more important than running around to baseball games or swimming lessons.  It’s more important than mowing the lawn and scrubbing the kitchen floor.  Shoot, it might even be more important than sleep.

After Jesus, this spouse of yours just happens to be the most important person in your life.  Then your children.  Many people mix this up and end up running themselves ragged, as the expression goes.  Life is too short.  If you can’t do a whole weekend away, surely you can manage a few hours on a Saturday night?

Our Recent Stay-cation

For those of you who’d like an idea, here’s what we recently did.

On Friday, I picked my husband up early from work with cappuccinos in hand, and we wandered around Menards.  We had a great time laughing and shopping together for trees stakes, mouse traps (now there’s a story for another time), and Mike and Ikes – just the essentials.

Then we parked the car downtown and strolled around some more.  We perused isles of used books at a local book shop and found a few good ones–Immaculee Ilibagiza’s Left to Tell and an authorized biography of Tolkien.  Then we were thirsty, so we enjoyed a cocktail and an appetizer.  Lastly, we made our way to a local pizzeria.

Saturday morning, we drove a mile down the road to Harmon Lake Recreation Area, and we hiked the 9-mile loop that we’ve always wanted to do, but never could because of the children.  And here’s what we saw:

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This single-file dirt trail was breathtakingly beautiful.  It wove in and out of trees and prairie.  We took our time, and quite literally, stopped to smell the flowers.

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Like these prairie roses, which were everywhere in bloom, along with many other wild flowers.

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Shell Leaf Penstemon
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Scarlet Globemallow

We also saw patches of wild strawberries, and we tasted them.

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Wild Strawberries

We crossed a bridge over a swampy area and looked at bluegills swimming in the water.

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We saw gnarled oak trees.

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I love these beautiful tree trunks.  One must reach out to feel the bark.

We saw cacti and yucca.

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Cacti, almost ready to bloom.  Did not reach out to feel these things.
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Yucca.  (In the wild is the only acceptable place for this horrid plant to be.  See HERE.)

And there was so much more.  We saw deer, bunnies, birds, and snakes.  Yes, snakes.  A garter snake and then a bull snake.  The 2-3 foot-long bull snake was sunning himself on the trail and was not about to move for us.  So we walked around him on the grass while my heart pounded away.

But more than everything we saw, heard, smelled, and tasted, we just felt God’s presence around us and experienced His blessing in our marriage.  It was just the two of us, meandering along, not worrying about anything.  Not necessarily doing anything.  Just being together.

My husband is my best friend, but he wouldn’t be, if I never spent time alone with him.  All relationships require time together.

Want my advice?

Make time for God in prayer every day.  And make time for your spouse too.

 

Life is Worth Living

Airing My Dirty Laundry: Room Tour

As any mother knows, there must be a method to the madness of laundry.

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My Laundry Room.  I even left some clothes out for you to see, with a dirty pile of whites on the counter.

It just so happens, however, that the chore of laundry is one of my favorite things to do.  And why?  Because the machine does all the cleaning.  All I have to do is calmly shut the laundry room door and fold the clean clothes in peaceful solitude.  So, I hog this chore all to myself, and then I make the children put their clean piles away later.

Of course, someday soon, I will have to make sure the children know how to open the lid, put the clothes in, and press the correct button.  But I can go over that process later.

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So back to the laundry room.  Now this is the first year of my life that I’ve actually had a laundry room.  When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a beautiful, old craftsman-styled house in Duluth.  This house was lovely, but it had the scariest, creepiest dungeon of a basement that I’ve ever seen.  Of course that’s where the washer and dryer were.  I made my husband douse the place with Holy Water before I even set foot down there, and I shudder to think of it.  I don’t know how I made it that year.

Then in our second home, the washer and dryer were in a closet.  This wasn’t so bad, especially since there were two shelves above the machines, and I was just happy to not be in a dungeon.

Our third home featured a shared laundry room/bathroom.  Now this was almost worse than the dungeon.  Almost.  Because every time I wanted to shut the bathroom door and fold clothes in silence, someone had to use the toilet.  It never failed.  And then this bathroom/laundry room was right by the back door, so the children were constantly in and out of it.  With dirt and mud everywhere.  Just thinking of it makes my stomach queasy.

But finally, in the 13th year of our marriage, God saw fit to provide an entire room, dedicated to blessed chore of laundry, and I will forever be thankful.  It’s my favorite room in the house.  Now I can fold clothes, gaze at my Virgin Mary pictures, and drink my wine in peace.  The only thing that’s missing is a lock on the door.

So without further ado, I’ll post a few more pictures, for those of you who might be interested.

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These are the cabinets above the machines.  The bottom right shelf features piles of socks, missing their matching pairs.  Amazing how that happens.
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These lower cabinets store extra toilet paper that I buy in bulk.  The drawers above have gift-wrapping paraphernalia in them.

Opposite the machines, there is a closet.

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This side features coolers on the bottom, our extra blankets that the children use for forts in the middle, and my sewing box on the top shelf.
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This side has more sewing stuff on the top shelf, our extra “puke” towels in the middle, and my ironing board down below.
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The cabinet under the sink stores all the basement cleaning supplies.

That’s all for the laundry room.

Advice About Doing the Laundry?

The best piece of advice about actually doing the laundry, however, I think I picked up from Holly Pierlot, years ago.  (If you’re looking for a great book on how to order your days, click HERE.  This book changed my life.)  Pierlot said something about waking up and immediately putting a load of clothes in the wash.  Then, after lunch, switching it out to the dryer.  And finally, folding it after supper and doing this every single day.  Our days must be ordered.

It’s genius advice though – having a routine for laundry.  I’ve been doing it for years.  I put a load in right away in the morning and so forth.  I used to only have one load a day, with Sundays off.  Now, however, I do 2-3 loads a day, depending on the season, always with Sundays off, and I’m never behind.

Parting Trifle

And this is what we ate for supper tonight, in addition to a pork chops and lemon noodles.  It has nothing to do with laundry per se, except that after supper, when all the children were doing their chores–washing and drying dishes, sweeping the floor, chattering away–I hid in the laundry room and folded the clothes with my glass of wine.

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Avocado, red onion, blueberries, and feta over spinach with a homemade lemon/olive oil dressing.