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About Page Updated

If you’re interested, I’ve finally updated my About Page.  You can click on the tab above or HERE for it.

I welcome feedback.  If there’s a burning question that you feel I should address, drop me a line, and I’ll consider it.

I’ve learned over the years that the “About Page” is actually really important.  You wouldn’t believe the number of hits it gets.

Monthly Picks

June Picks: Late Edition

Yes, it is now July, and I’m very late in getting after this.  Somehow the summer days slip by, and I thought, ah well, better late than never.

My Favorite June Things

  1. Jumping off docks at 8:00 in the morning is always a great thing.
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    Exhilarating!

    We spent a few peaceful days at my parents’ lake cabin.  Naturally the children wanted to swim all day.  My only requirement was that they first eat breakfast and then wait that full hour before taking the plunge…yeah right.  They shoveled in breakfast, scrambled into their suits, and literally ran off the end of the dock–end of story.

    And how about me?  Did I follow suit?  Not a chance.  I drank my coffee and read The Remnant on shore.

    2.  Catching Fish is a favorite for the boys.
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The boys caught this thing off the end of the dock.  Don’t ask me what kind of fish it was.  I love to eat fish, but I hate to touch them.

3.  Drinking wine on the deck with my husband and eating olives is a lovely way to spend an evening.

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I buy these from Sam’s Club because they’re reasonably priced.

I think I could live off of wine, bread, cheese, and olives–in all their varieties of course.  I’m pretty sure that all the food groups are present in the above list: fruit, grain, milk, vegetables…  Well, what are olives anyway?  Vegetables?  Fruit?  Meat?  Somebody clue me in, for I’m too lazy to Google it.

4.  I love fresh wild flowers from the backyard for my table every day.

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This is the Little Girls’ job.

The Little Girls supply me with fresh flowers for both the dining room and the breakfast-nook table every day.  They just hike up our hill in the backyard and gather at will.

At our old place in North Dakota, the ditches were very obliging for these kinds of bouquets.  We always found such things as alfalfa, aster, sunflowers or goldenrod.

Here, on the very edge of eastern Minnesota?  I’m still figuring it out.  We’ve got butterfly-weed, clover, fleabane, and what looks like daisies.

5.  Corpus Christi Processions are definitely a June favorite.

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Here’s the start of ours, as they were processing out of the Church.
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Father, Jesus, and 4 “Laymen of Distinction” holding the canopy.
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And heading around the block.

Our Corpus Christi procession featured six Torch Bearers, two Acolytes, two Thurifers, a Cross-Bearer, an MC, four Laymen of Distinction carrying the canopy, our priest, and Jesus Christ King of the Universe.  The rest of us trailed behind in gratitude and thanksgiving.

6.  Another favorite?  Campfires in the backyard with s’mores.

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Sure bliss.

The boys built a fire pit in our backyard up on the hill.  After dousing and sanctifying it and the surrounding area with Holy Water, we proceeded to enjoy a small blaze.  Everyone had to have a bath afterwards.

7.  Lastly, a DIY project.  Who doesn’t need a white cross in their backyard?

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In our neighborhood a couple of houses have erected large white crosses, which they lit up brilliantly during Lent and the Easter octave.  (Given these dark times, perhaps we ought to keep them perpetually lit?)

Anyway, as we had some extra wood lying around, my husband put one together.  And if you look closely at the photo, you’ll also see a small statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus off to the right.  This is our children’s mini shrine.

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Here’s Jesus.  We didn’t want Him to tip over, so we had to “ground” him in a flower pot.  The Little Girls are growing marigolds for Him.
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This is a view of the valley which our Cross overlooks.

DIY: Instructions on how to build your own Cross:

  1. Rummage around the garage for some spare wood.
  2. Get one of your sons to saw two pieces of wood to whatever lengths you desire, allowing extra length for the vertical beam to be buried.
  3. Grab the spare can of white paint from the basement.  If it’s not crusted and rusted over, and if it happens to be an exterior paint as well, paint your wood.
  4. Use one stake and a couple of screws to affix the crossbeam to the vertical beam.
  5. Get your husband to dig a deep hole.  (Who are we kidding?  In this household, my husband’s been doing all the work on this project already.)
  6. Keep digging.  You’ll need the hole to be deeper than you think.  (Apparently 10% of the length of a transmission pole, plus an addition foot, is buried beneath the ground for stability, etc.)
  7. Stand off from afar, as your husband holds the heavy cross, and say such things as, “A little to the left now.  Oh, well, a little to the right.  That’s it.  No, now it’s crooked!”
  8. Send a kid to the garage for the level to place on the crossbeam.
  9. Fill in the hole, crack a bottle of wine, and enjoy it from a distance.
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It’s nothing fancy, but because it’s white, you can see it when you enter the valley about a 1/2 mile away.  I can’t wait to wrap bright, white lights on it for Lent.
Book Review

Read a Print Book!

The other day I attended a talk given by the founder of the Well-Read Mom Book Club, Marcie Stokman.  The most inspiring point I took away was simple and went something like this:

You really do have time to read!

Now, she’s right.  There are many moments throughout the day that I waste.  For example, what did I choose to do during those fifteen minutes of free time after the boys’ Morning School, but before I had to get lunch ready?  Nothing.  I really can’t account for them.  Then, what about that half hour in the afternoon when nobody was hanging on me?  I checked my email and scrolled through a favorite blog.  Or, how about last night when everyone was in bed?  Hmmm….

Usually I’m pretty good about not wasting time, but I know I do it.  Yesterday, however, I was inspired to sneak in a few extra minutes of reading, and it was worth it.  I actually read about 75 pages.  Got that?  75 pages that I normally wouldn’t read.

Today, I just want to challenge you to pick up a print book and read it, if only for ten minutes.  Just do it.

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P.S.  Need a book recommendation?  I would suggest anything by Michael O’Brien or Jane Austen.

P.P.S.  Already read all of O’Brien and Austen?  Read Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Book Review

Books in Brief: Willa Cather, Miguel Pro, & Agatha Christie

I’ve read a few books recently.  If you’re interested, my thoughts are below.

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Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

Willa Cather is one of my favorite authors.  The way she writes about the land–the prairie in particular–is deeply moving.  I suppose it’s because I grew up on a farm, and I have vivid memories of climbing grain bins only to watch the sun set on acres and acres of corn.

But it’s not just the way in which Cather writes about land, though, that is admirable.  No, it’s the way in which she writes about people, especially those early settlers.  Her stories remind me of my ancestors and their stories.

Cather knew these farmers and immigrants–for she was one of them–and she was able to give them an unforgettable voice–a dolorous voice, for their lives were full of suffering, which brings me around to Song of the Lark.  In this novel, my favorite characters were just those who couldn’t seem to pull it together–Professor Wunsch especially, but also Fritz Kohler and perhaps Mrs. Tellamantez.

This novel, though, was my least favorite Willa Cather novel.  I didn’t like Thea Kronborg, and I didn’t like Fred Ottenburg.  In the end, Thea puts her career, wealth, and fame over her mother’s dying wish to see her one last time, and Fred wants to justify lying to Thea in order to further Thea’s career.  (Do you know, Fred reminded me of Mr. Rochester from that excellent novel Jane Eyre?  You’ll recall both men had secret wives and both thought that the means could justify the end, which is stupid and wrong.)

In short, however, I was disappointed in Song of the Lark.  While I enjoyed her descriptions of Moonstone and the surrounding Colorado territory, I just couldn’t muster up enough sympathy or compassion for Thea.

But for those of you unfamiliar with Cather, take heart!  Read her other works, especially Death Comes For the Archbishop.  Now that’s an exceptional book.

Father Miguel Pro by Gerald Muller

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Our family’s Saint of the Year is Miguel Pro.  Naturally I thought it a good idea to read up on him, and so I bought this Ignatius Press book at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which has a side altar dedicated to him.

I really enjoyed reading this book and so did the rest of my family.  In fact, we had to make a rule: No One Takes That Book Out of the Living Room Until Mom is Done Reading It!

Well, I finished it, and I have a much deeper appreciation for this priest who survived a few years of the terrible Mexican Revolution in the 1920s wherein churches were desecrated, nuns were raped, and priests were murdered.  Fr. Miguel Pro was eventually hunted down too and shot.

I highly recommend this short book for your whole family.

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It has great pictures too.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

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My daughter is taking a British Literature class this summer wherein all the novels are murder mysteries.  Yikes.  She’ll be reading the likes of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and G. K. Chesterton.

Now I’ve never read an Agatha Christie novel.  Up until this week, the only thing I knew about Christie was the fact that she signed the infamous 1971 “Agatha Christie Indult,” wherein Pope Paul VI granted England and Wales permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.

Apparently Christie, who was not even a Catholic, objected to the promulgation of the Novus Ordo due to cultural and aesthetic reasons.  She signed with the likes of Graham Greene.  Supposedly Paul VI saw her name and exclaimed, “Ah, Agatha Christie!”

So as I was saying, I was motivated to snatch up The Murder of Roger Ackroyd before The Eldest got to it.  Just what is all this fuss about Agatha Christie in the twentieth-century anyway? Apparently she’s the most widely published author of all time, excluding the Bible and Shakespeare.

And how was it?  Reading a murder-mystery novel?

I can’t say it’s my cup of tea, as the British saying goes.  Even though The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was entertaining, I felt like I was supposed to use my brain and try to solve the thing while reading it.  Now I’m feeling old, and there were just too many parlourmaids and butlers to keep track of and too many open windows and missing objects and murder motives and such too.  Goodness.

I can handle playing the board-game Clue, but that’s the extent of my ability to solve a murder.  So, I’ll have to leave it to sharper blades in the drawer to tackle these books.

Motherhood & Parenting

Miss Severed Fingers Is Whole Again!

Our family has great news: Miss Severed Fingers is whole again!  It’s been a little over two weeks since her calamitous encounter with a folding chair wherein one finger was dangling by the skin and another was sliced through the bone.  These fingers, however, haven taken nicely.  A couple of days ago she had all sixteen stitches removed.

It was quite the ordeal, though, having those sixteen stitches yanked out.  Miss Severed Fingers screamed bloody murder during the entire clipping and tugging, especially when the doctor had to forcefully wrestle with the ones stuck in her nail beds.

We had a very sympathetic nurse, whose job it was to hold sharp-looking implements for the doctor.  She kept smiling and crooning, “Oh, Honey, you’re doing such a good job!  Just a few more!”  Whereupon Miss Severed Fingers wailed even louder, and I snickered and interiorly rolled my eyes.  Doing a good job?  Humph.  Four-year-olds.  Everyone in this hospital is wondering what kind of hellish operation is happening in this back room.

But I did my part to console The Poor, Afflicted Thing too.  I said, “Honey Babydoll, calm down!  I’ll buy you a lovely coffee afterwards!”

The Little Dear quickly turned her teary, blue eyes towards me, and whimpered, “Really?”

“Of course, Honey.  Coffee fixes nearly everything, you know.”

And so that’s what we did.  After her little fingers were re-bandaged, we drove straight to Moka Coffee.  Miss Severed Fingers ordered an iced vanilla latte; I had a hot cappuccino with a much deserved extra shot of espresso.

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What a Honey.

Notice the delectable donut?  The Coffee Check-Out Lady was so impressed with Miss Severed Fingers that she even threw in the donut for free, along with a tootsie roll.  For you see, Miss Severed Fingers rolled her window down from the backseat and stuck her damaged digits out for the Coffee Lady to admire.  She even graciously wiggled them too.

Then we drove to the Post Office.  She showed her bandaged extremities to the Post Office Lady, and you guessed it, the Post Office Lady was mighty impressed with her cuteness and gave her two suckers–one for each afflicted hand.

Oh, what a day!

Call Me Catholic

What If the Darkness Comes From Within the Church?

Ah, a difficult topic.  I’ve heard from a few of you who want to know, what if the darkness is coming from within the Church herself?  What if it’s faithless priests and bishops who are causing your frustration and feelings of isolation, desperation, and despair?

If this strikes a chord, then read on.  I hope to have some words of advice or encouragement.  If this topic doesn’t interest you, or isn’t helpful, I hope to see you next time!

Church Crisis Causing Turmoil and Interior Darkness

I received the following email from one of you dear readers the other day.  I’ll post parts of it below, for one can feel the agony in this woman’s heart as she wonders what to do?  In her diocese, unprecedented and unlawful liberties are being taken by the bishop and priests.  For example, the faithful are not allowed to receive the Eucharist on the tongue, contrary to the Church’s Universal law Redemptionis Sacramentum, statements put out by the USCCB, and Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

But it’s not just the Communion in the Hand Debacle.  It’s everything.  It’s so disheartening to be told that one’s faith is “nonessential,” and then to have seemingly no bishops or priests publicly fight against this discriminatory term.  (Well, almost no one.  There is this priest.  And Archbishop Vigano.)

In any case, here’s a part of this woman’s heartrending email:

Kim, I appreciate your post on darkness.  Thank you for sharing it.
I have been experiencing a total disconnect in some ways when it comes to the Church.  I know, I believe, and I trust in Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church.  However, I still feel so bitterly disappointed in how we are being led.  I can’t even think of the right word to describe how I feel about our bishops seeming to make our Faith nonessential.  Whether or not they intended it, that is what seems to have happened.  Is abandoned the right word?
I try not to dwell on it, and I try to instantly offer it up, but I feel the darkness, the loneliness, and the disappointment that the institution I look to in order to help make sense of this life was pretty much silent throughout all of this.  I go to a Holy Hour and I try to pray, but not much comes, but I keep going because it’s about Jesus (not me) and it’s about being there with Him even if I feel disconnected, unworthy, and an utter failure.  The leaders in His Church on earth might fall short, but He does not.
Forgive me, but I find it ironic that bishops are marching in protests (racism is an issue that needs to be dealt with, of course) with no social distancing but we can’t more fully open our churches.  I can’t speak personally to whether or not the bishop or any clergy attended these protests, but it’s ironic to me that social distancing doesn’t seem to matter anymore and we still aren’t able to live the full life of the Church with its many devotions and Communion.
I feel all of these things so deeply, and I also try to offer them up and to live in the joy that is the Lord’s, but I confess it is very, very difficult at times.  I wish I could be more saintly and welcome the suffering.  I find myself often praying, “I do believe, help me with my unbelief!”
Thanks for listening.  I always appreciate your insights and any thoughts you might have.

Ask For the Grace of Longanimity

Oh, how I wish I had greater insights into what one should do in these dark times.  Truly, this email is heartrending, especially because it’s not the only one I’ve received from you readers.  I have spoken to too many people who feel abandoned and hurt and lost.  O, the agony in the world!  In the breasts of faithful men and women!  How long, O Lord?

There is no logical reason why the bishops and priests won’t stand up and be real mean of God.  I don’t get it.  It would seem that if you, dear readers, find yourself in a similar situation as to the woman above, that I can only think of one sensible thing to do:  ask Jesus for the Grace of Longanimity or long-suffering.  If you are meant to stay in your particular diocese, peace will come, even in the midst of great suffering.

If, however, you cannot accept the local situation or stand it or stomach it, then pray about leaving.  Say, Jesus, give me longanimity and peace or open a door for us to leave this forsaken place.  And then patiently wait.  Accept whatever His will is.  Rest in His peace.  It’s out of your hands.

Ah, easier said than done!

But I’m serious about the leaving part too.  Some of you readers may know which path our family chose–we left a diocese that continually suppressed tradition.  We worked for 10 years there, trying to establish a TLM.  Eventually, it became evident that it was no longer God’s will for us to struggle under such a heavy, oppressive yoke.  We had no peace, only an everlastingly nagging feeling that we needed to leave, to seek refuge in another place where we might raise our family with the aid of faithful, courageous priests.  And oh, happy misfortune that finally gave us the courage to leave–Paul’s medical problems.  And then, my husband could have worked anywhere, but that a job miraculously opened up in the one place with an abundance of Latin Masses and a beautiful, traditional school.

Indeed, we know of others moving too.  Just two days ago, I spoke with two different men after Mass.  One was nearly crying because he couldn’t believe the courageous things coming out of our priest’s mouth during his homily.  This man drove hours and hours with his family to hear him.  This man is now in the process of moving his family here because of the unlawful things happening in his home diocese.

The other man I spoke to was telling us about his brother, who is also hoping to move his family here to escape the madness in California.

Dr. Taylor Marshall speaks about all this HERE.  He calls it the “Great Catholic Migration.”

But of course that path isn’t for everybody, which is why I mention asking Jesus for peace–for the grace to accept your situation too.  And longanimity–the grace of long-suffering.  He will give it; only beg for it!  Jesus may have His reasons for keeping you in your particular diocese, for who else would carry out His plans?  He needs faithful men and women everywhere after all.

I wish I had greater insights to give, for I’m afraid I’m falling short.  I can only end by saying stay close to Jesus.  He loves you.  He cares deeply about you.  You are never alone!

Motherhood & Parenting

When Darkness Creeps In

It’s been incredibly difficult over the last few months to navigate these uncharted waters of no piano lessons, no Chess Clubs, no Moms’ Nights Out, or no anything.  One would think that with the Government Lock-Down and cessation of all social activities that stay-at-home mothers wouldn’t be affected, for they stay at home after all.  But I know that they are.

Even as restaurants and other stores begin opening up, nothing is the same.  And sometimes, it’s just downright difficult.  Sometimes darkness comes creeping in, whether or not we invite it.

By darkness, I suppose I mean feelings of loneliness, sadness, helplessness, or hopelessness.  Depression maybe.  Anxiety.  Feelings of worthlessness or incompetency–a whole host of dark sentiments.

These things are difficult, and mothers are suffering.  If you’re one of them, today I want to encourage you and offer a few things that have helped me out from time-to-time.  Maybe you’ll find one or two helpful.

Have a Daily Schedule

If life is feeling dark right now, take a look at your day.  Is chaos reigning?  Do your children not know what to expect from day-to-day?  If you’ve never had a daily schedule, it might seem daunting or restrictive to do so, but I can only say from experience that it’s freeing.  For I know at all times what I ought to be doing, and so do my children.  Children thrive in routine, and I find that I do too.

Ah, but it’s not easy when the alarm goes off at 6am…

If this is something new to you, I highly recommend Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life.  I’ve said it before, this book literally changed my life.

Set Aside Time For Prayer Every Day

I probably should have put this one first.  Don’t let any feelings of darkness take time away that would be normally spent with Jesus.  He is the Light, even if you don’t feel anything.  He is always with you.  Don’t listen to any lie saying that He doesn’t care; He does.

Prayer is so important that it needs to be a fixed thing in your day.  Pick the same time every single day to pray.  Lauds or morning prayer and a family rosary are great places to start.  And let me tell you, Satan loathes families that pray every day.  You will be attacked and tempted to cease your daily prayer, but don’t give in–no matter how loud or raucous the children may be, or how low you may feel.

Go For a Walk

Go for a walk or get some form of exercise every day, if you can.  And without your phone or any other technology, if possible.  Disconnect.

It’s amazing what 20 minutes will do for a gal who’s down in the dumps.  I personally prefer to do this in the evening after supper while the children are (loudly) cleaning up. It’s a perfect time for me to escape, even if it’s 90 degrees outside.  I’ve never regretted a walk or a run, have you?

And no, exercise is not about having the “perfect” body or any other such worldly nonsense.  Our culture takes exercise to the extreme–one must always look young and beautiful!  Garbage.  No, going for a brisk walk gives a body life.  It clears the mind.  Just do it.

Are You Getting Time To Yourself?

I mean, are you getting any time to yourself during the day?  Not prayer time, but just time doing whatever it is that recharges you?  A nap, a cup of coffee, twenty minutes of rereading a Jane Austen novel…anything.  Make it happen, if you can.  There’s a reason why at a 8-5 job there are two mini-breaks and a lunch break.  How much more does a stay-at-home mother need a few minutes to herself?

When I put the toddler down for a nap, I require the older children to stay in the basement for about 45 minutes of “Quiet Time.”  I lie down myself for the first 20 or so minutes, and then I drink a cup of coffee or tea.  By myself.  The children are not allowed to come upstairs, and that’s it.

When this doesn’t happen, I notice that I’m grouchier.  Touchier.  Maybe frazzled.  I know sometimes it can’t be helped like when the toddler wakes up early or another kid chops her fingers off, but most days, this can be done, if you’re children are old enough to follow directions.

Are Your Children Whiners?

Ah, this is a difficult one, and something that always requires work.  Indeed, if you’re in a really dark place, this is the one thing that absolutely must be fixed.  It will take a lot of effort and support from your husband, if possible.  But it needs to be done.  Now.

Truly, whining is about the worst thing in the world.  I’d institute Black Out for it.  One whine from little Charity, and its, “I’m sorry, Honey, but now you will have to go to your room for Black Out.  That means no books, no toys, no anything until I come and get you.”  If your children can’t resister the temptation to play with their things, just remove their “things” from their room.

A Word About Black Out

I’ve been asked, how long should Black Out last?

It depends on the situation, the age of the child, your family life…

Just the other day, The Eldest said something incredibly sassy, so she was in Black Out the rest of the afternoon.  After an hour or so, she was incredibly bored.  And I knew it, so I went in there and said, “My kitchen and dining room floors need scrubbing.  If you want, you may come out of Black Out and do that.  Or just sit here until supper time…”  She came out and washed away, very slowly and meticulously, so as to enjoy her time out of Prison.  For she had to return to Black Out when she was finished.

The point is, all families are different, but human nature isn’t.  The Bible is replete with verses warning parents about the dangers about “sparing the rod.”

My favorite?  Proverbs 13:24:

“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

And, oh, it’s hard, especially when you’re down, for one must keep a clear head and not yell.

Lastly

Lastly, dear Reader, Jesus loves you so much.  If you’re in a dark place and you need further help, consider reading two things:

  1. The Catholic Guide to Depression by Dr. Aaron Kheriary.
  2. The Gospel of St. John.

“In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

I always want to put an exclamation point at the end of that John 16:33 verse.  “…but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!

 

Life is Worth Living

Severed Fingers, Audio Books, & Skirts

Severed Fingers: Warning!  It’s Gross.

I’ve had an interesting week.  My 4-year-old daughter was holding a folding chair by its hinges and running.  She tripped and fell on top of the chair, which immediately sliced her two fingers–one on each hand.  The lefthand fingertip was dangling; the right was only cut through the bone.

Yuck.  It gives me the willies just thinking about it, for I had to put the one fingertip back in place.  Ew.

I debated on whether or not I should post a few pictures of her cut-up fingers. I decided to go for it, but with a warning that the following pictures are just plain gross.  If you’re queasy about such things, you had better skim past ’em!  For the rest of you curious folk…

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This was in the ER, right after the doctor cleaned up all the blood, but before he sewed the one on and stitched up the other.
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Back on!
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Much needed drinks for Mom and Dad the following night.  On the right: 1/2 a lemon, vodka, & dry vermouth.  On the left: 1/2 a lime, vodka, & triple sec.
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Poor Thing.  All her brothers and sisters were outside playing with water the next day.  She sat inside, but with her swimsuit on and a forlorn face.
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A few days later…bandages finally off!  Her finger “took!”  (Notice how the tip is pink.)  Time will tell if her fingernails grow back…

Audio Books

After my last post on Summer School, I had a few of you ask some great questions:

  1. How does your “Art & Tea Time” work exactly?
    Around 3pm, I yell, “Art & Tea Time!”  Everyone makes a mad dash for their cursive books, extra paper, drawing books, and colored pencils.  The Eldest puts on the audio book, and I either fold laundry or do some dinner prep.  During this hour, 4 of the children are required to do 2 pages of cursive, which I never check.  I also give them a snack.  In the colder months, we had tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.  Now I tend to give them anything that will keep the 2-year-old and the 4-year-old quiet–so, like animal crackers or gold fish.  When Art & Tea Time is finished, the children put everything away and also set the table for supper.  Then they quickly disappear, usually outside, so that they can’t receive any more chores from Mom.
  2. What audio books are good for a variety of ages?
    My age range is 2-13.  Generally the youngest two never listen, but just eat a snack and roam around a bit.  I’ve found that if the volume is loud enough, they won’t cause any problems.  In any case, our favorite books that have satisfied everyone are the following:
    a.)  The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    b.)  The Little Britches series–books 1-4–by Ralph Moody
    c.)  The Mitchells series by Hilda van Stockum
    d.)  The Cottage at Bantry series by Hilda van Stockum
    There are others, but that should get you started.  If you have any questions about these books or need more recommendations, drop me a line!
  3. What if your children complain about the audio selection?
    Then they can go sit on their bed in Black Out until Art & Tea Time is over.

Summer Skirts

It’s no secret that I love wearing skirts.  (There’s a whole post on it HERE.)  This summer I added two more.  And yes, that means I got rid of two.  You do remember The Rule, right?  One in, one out.

So anyway, I was in dire need of two new skirts.  Where to find them?  I checked out a few secondhand stores, and while I did find something for my daughter, alas, there was nothing for me.

And oh!  What to do on a budget?

I had to shop online at the Power-Hungry-Giant, otherwise known as Amazon.  Sigh.  But truly, these were about the cheapest skirts I could find that met my length requirement. (I prefer to cover my knees.)

And so, if you’re curious, I’ll link below the two I bought.  They’re great, if you don’t mind a skirt sitting at your natural waistline.

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Skirt #1.  Light material.  Twirls too, which is a bonus.  There’s another more “summery” color available.  I might consider purchasing it.
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Skirt #2.  Also light and twirl-able and available in lots of colors.

 

Homeschooling

Summer School!

As The Eldest wraps up her online courses from both Scholé and Queen of Heaven Academy and the other children finish their school books, my mind naturally turns to Summer School and Summer Schedules.

Not that we’ll be doing anything fun like Baseball or Chess Club…no.  Just more school and garden-weeding.  Well, it’s not as bad as that, we’ll do chores too.  (You know I’m being a little waggish, right?)

In any case, since I have a couple of friends who are passing ideas back and forth, I thought I’d share what our average summer day will look like.  You might find something helpful in it.  You might not.  We’re all different!

At the end of the schedule, I’ll type out specifically what the children will be doing for “school” this summer, if you’re curious.

Summer Schedule

6:00-6:25am:  Mom Computer Work

6:25-6:50am:  Lauds with Husband and 4 Older Children. (We use THIS.)

6:50-7:40am:  Shower, Laundry In, Dress Little Girls, Twins do Saxon Math with Husband, Eldest Piano

7:40-8:15am:  Eldest Makes Breakfast for Everyone, Mom Reads Bible Aloud.  (We currently use RSV Catholic Edition, but I want to switch to Douay-Rheims.)  Poetry Recitations

8:15-9:15am:  Piano for Other Children, Mom Cleans up Breakfast

9:15-9:30am:  Midmorning Prayer

9:30-10:00am:  Twins Grammar

10:00-11:00am:  Free Time, Lunch Prep, Laundry, Kids Set Table

11:00-11:30am:  Lunch with Audible

11:30-12:00pm:  Mom Reads Aloud, Kids Clean up Kitchen

12:30-1:30pm:  Quiet Time, Mom Naps & Requires a Cup of Tea or Coffee

1:30-2:00pm:  Twins Writing & Rhetoric

2:00-3:00pm:  Free Time, Kids Better Find Something to Do or They Get Chores, Mom Walks or Jogs

3:00-4:00pm:  “Art and Tea Time,” Children do Cursive or Calligraphy, Drawing, and Listen to Audible while Little Girls Run Chaotically Around

4:00-5:00pm:  Dinner Prep, Mom Contemplates if Happy Hour is Warranted

5:00pm:  Greet Husband with a Smile

5:15pm:  Dinner and Bulter’s Lives of the Saints

6:00pm:  Children Clean Up, Mom Laundry, Dad House or Outdoor Projects

7:10pm:  Rosary

8:00pm:  Little Girls to Bed, Big Kids Banished to the Basement, Mom & Dad pray Compline

8:30pm:  Mom & Dad Be Together

10:00pm:  Bedtime

So, What Exactly Are the Children Doing?

The Eldest will be taking two online summer classes from Scholé Academy, which she chose–a Brit Lit class and a Latin Novella Reading Club.  Truly, these will be fun for her.  It won’t be work, as she loves reading.

The 11-year-old twins will do more school than usual, however, because of all the school Paul missed due to his 11 surgeries this last year.  They will not like this, but that’s too bad.  They’ll be moving right into the next Saxon Math book in a week or so.  They will also be marching straight into the next Writing & Rhetoric and Well-Ordered Language books from Classical Academic Press.

All the other children will pretty much get off scot-free.  (Do you know that that phrase refers to a medieval tax that people tried to avoid paying?  Fascinating.)

If you have any questions about our schedule, be sure to ask.

Lastly…

Need a good homily to listen to?  This one knocks my socks right off.  We had the children listen to it too.  We’re praying for the protection of this priest.  He’s a warrior, the likes of whom we haven’t seen in awhile.  May the Holy Angels protect him!

Life is Worth Living

Awesome Stuff

I was whining the other day–bemoaning all our feckless Church leaders actually–and it occurred to me that I should just spend 5 minutes in gratitude, for there are a lot of things to be thankful for.

So today, I’m highlighting some awesome stuff.

Awesome Stuff You Might Consider

  1. My Heart Lies South: The Story of My Mexican Marriage by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino.  I know I mentioned it before, but this autobiography was downright hilarious.  I laughed out loud as De Trevino chronicled her real-life adventure of marrying a Mexican in the 1930s.  Of course her husband came from a large, traditional Catholic family complete with strong opinions and stronger emotions.  I must say, she never had a dull day in her life.

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    Bethlehem Books, whom I think is having a sale right now, is the publisher.
  2. I am thankful for Chickens.  The other day, during the Communist Lockdown, we went and visited some family in a different state.  They have baby chicks, and not only are baby chicks cute, but they are practical too.  We might have to look into owning some ourselves.

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    The children held them.  Awesome stuff.
  3. Apparently Tractors are pleasant and enjoyable too.  Who doesn’t love driving around a 1978 John Deere 4040 through a mud hole while eating a cookie?

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    This boy had to be jackhammered out of the tractor at the end of the day.  He thinks it’s the best place in the world.
  4. Or how about watching children play?  They can be very creative and entertaining.  Lately our children have been playing a game called, “Anti-Social Distancing.”  This a game wherein everyone marches six feet apart with one person acting as Governor Evers.  Governor Evers wears a face mask and carries a big stick.  He puts people in jail who try to break his unconstitutional mandates.

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    Here they are, marching around.
  5. This guy’s hat is awesome.  He’s my brother-in-law.

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    Apparently he doesn’t really pee in pools, though.  He told me.
  6. Dr. Marshall’s short video on Post-Covid19 Predictions is spot on and awesome.  My husband and I heartily agree with every point of his, especially Number 9.
  7. Need another can’t-put-it-down-book?  Read Pierced By a Sword by Bud Macfarlane Jr.  It caught my attention because Michael O’Brien wrote the forward.  I am almost finished and really enjoying it.
  8. And finally, I am thankful that The Eldest still wants to match somebody.  She picked out my outfit!
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Call Me Catholic

Kneeling in the Rain

A few weeks ago I was present at a Mass that I’ll never forget.  I don’t think the children will either.

It was during Lent, when our country quickly began shutting down all around us, and our bishops began closing churches and denying the sacraments.  It was surreal to be abandoned like that.  I mean, to have bishops willingly label the Church as “nonessential” overnight, for a virus.

The Mass, however, the Mass we attended that morning was beautiful.  We hiked up a hill in the rain with our umbrellas, knowing that we would only have to remain in the rain, as the government had deemed the church “unsafe” and “nonessential.”  And so we stood with about 15 other people in the pouring rain.

The old friar celebrating the TLM had set up a screen in the piazza, under an overhang, so that we could pray along with him.  We all knelt on hard concrete in sopping puddles.  At communion time, a different friar came outside and distributed Holy Communion to a wet, cold flock.

It is difficult to tell you how I felt.  I was thinking of Abraham pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah.  Oh, Lord, here are about 25 faithful people!  Relent!  But I was thankful too–so very, very thankful–that those friars understood what was important.  They were doing everything they could to administer to our souls.  Indeed, another friar was hearing confessions during the Mass.  Deep emotions of gratitude welled up within me.  I felt so blessed; I knew the love of God in that moment–I felt it through those holy friars.

Furthermore, I wanted to embrace those other 15 people, who were willing to suffer for Jesus and endure that dismal, penitential rain.  And I loved my husband, for he held the baby and took the brunt of the weather, sheltering us as best as he could.

Who would ever have thought that we’d be in a situation like that?  And how, O Lord, will it end?

Ah, but life will never be the same.  A line has been drawn.

And our children are watching.  What will we do?

Call Me Catholic

Why I Receive Our Lord on the Tongue

A dear reader recently asked me if I might share a few reasons why I choose to receive our Lord on the tongue?  Yes, I will share.

But this is a love story.  It is not a heady, theological exposition, nor is it meant to “convert” anyone to receiving Him on the tongue.  No, this is a love story, wherein a soul abandoned our Lord, only to passionately seek Him again years later.

You must remember that I did not grow up in a prayerful family–a family that perhaps knelt together and prayed an Ave or closed the day with an Our Father.  No, prayer was absent, and we were not catechized.

Deep down, though, deep deep down, I knew our Lord.  I saw his goodness all around me–in the verdant trees surrounding our farm, in the muddy creek winding through the pasture, in the mourning of the doves, and yes, in the love of my family, for our parents loved us dearly.

Ah, but I shelved Him in time.  I came to college and thought why not?  Why should I not do these things I once thought harmful?  And so, I pushed Him out of sight and embraced The World.

This was a miserable and confusing time.  Once one ever steps into a dark path, it only leads to more and more darkness.  It can be no surprise that I jettisoned whatever faith I had left.  I no longer attended the Mass.

Many of you are familiar with my conversion story, and so I will not go into it here.  It is enough to say that even though I abandoned our Lord, He did not abandon me.  When I cried out to him from the bathroom floor of a hotel in Italy, He was already there, holding me.  When my friends whispered into my ear that I could not be Catholic, He held my face and said yes.

When I came back into the Church in 2004, it cost me everything–my friends, my family*, my fiancé, and my pride.  But I had Love itself.

But What About Receiving Our Lord?

It was at this time that I read a book about a mystic.  I don’t even remember who the mystic was, but I do remember her having a stark vision of bishops’ hands burning black in hell for encouraging the faithful to receive our Lord in the hand.  It was striking then; it is striking now.  That was when I began receiving our Lord on the tongue.  I figured, why chance it?  It was something like Pascal’s Wager for me.

Over time, however, I began to think of other things.  I thought of all the saints who for hundreds and hundreds of years knelt and received our Lord on the tongue.  I thought of St. Thomas Aquinas writing about the Eucharist–he never knowing anything but receiving our Lord on the tongue.  I thought of the Fatima children kneeling before the Angel of Peace and receiving our Lord on the tongue.  Why wouldn’t I want to imitate these great saints?

And then, I married and a different thought entered my mind as my husband served for the TLM.  During Communion, he would hold the communion plate, which follows the Host as it travels from Father’s consecrated hands to the recipient’s mouth, and nearly every single Mass there were particles on this plate at the completion of Holy Communion.  Of course we know that Jesus is present in these particles, however small they may be, but I wondered, where were the communion plates at the Novus Ordo?  Surely nobody wants to neglect or trample on our Blessed Lord.

Oh, but what am I trying to say?  In the end, it has to be about love.  I can only say that my interior disposition is different when I receive Him kneeling and on the tongue.  It’s deeply humbling to lower oneself to the ground and be fed like a baby.  If an altar rail is present, one need not rush away chewing, but may take the time to receive Him and make a Sign of the Cross.  I don’t kneel for anybody or anything else after all–only for my King.  It is Holy; it is beautiful.  It is Love.

I’m afraid that my explanation may not be very coherent or comprehensive.  In other words, I realize I’ve fallen short.

Be sure to ask if you have any further questions.

If you’d like a few more thoughts on posture and the Eucharist, click HERE for an old post of mine.

*My family has since then been very supportive of my decisions.  How I love them!