Book Review

Books in Brief: Hardy, Sayers, & Ten Boom

I’ve written about about these authors before, and yes, they are delightful and entertaining. Today I’ll offer a few thoughts about a different book from each.

Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge

Just finished Hardy, moving onto Lefebvre

Because I loved Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, I decided to give another one of his novels–The Mayor of Casterbridge–a shot. (Thank you, Michelle, for the recommendation. It was well worth the read.)

I was hooked from page 12 wherein Michael Henchard, a dissatisfied and poor hay trusser in early nineteenth-century England, sold his wife at a refreshment tent at a country fair. Indeed, Henchard was hasty and drunk. Consequently, his wife was only glad to depart with an obliging sailor, who purchased her for five guineas.

Now that’s a beginning to grab one’s attention, for I was mighty curious to see just how this book would turn out. It was quite a rollicking ride for a Victorian novel. Oh, but nothing too scandalous, mind you. (Did I mention it was the early 1800s?)

This book reminded me a bit of George Eliot’s Silas Marner–what with people disappearing (think of Dunstan’s drowning and the sailor too) and little girls being raised by other more capable men (think of Silas Marner raising Eppie, and then the sailor in this book raising Elizabeth.)

But really, I was disappointed in the end because I wanted more. I would have liked an account of Mr. Farfrae’s fickleness. Really, the man was attracted to Elizabeth, but then was easily infatuated with Lucetta, only to return once again to Elizabeth. Just how did this change come about, I wonder?

The good thing about this book, and most Victorian novels that I’ve read, is that the good or virtuous characters, while experiencing hardships, are generally rewarded in the end. Conversely, the bad characters are given their due as well. In this case, Elizabeth experiences much persecution from Henchard, but with her quiet humility, she rises gloriously. Henchard, however, dies a lonely man.

Dorothy Sayers: Clouds of Witness

From Victorian novels to detective fiction, here we go. I do love variety.

Now, if you have not read a Dorothy Sayers crime novel, you are missing out. Do start with Gaudy Night, then follow up with Busman’s Honeymoon, for Lord Peter Wimsey is quite a dashing sleuth in those novels.

I’ve heard from somewhere, probably the Literary Life Podcast, that C.S. Lewis admired Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey because he was the only sleuth to have ever evolved throughout his fictional career. I mean, to have grown and developed into a more admirable man.

And it’s true. In Clouds of Witness, which was written prior to the Harriet Vane novels above, we see a more carefree and flippant Wimsey, than in Sayers’s later novels.

Because of that, however, and because there are allusions to complicated marital affairs, I wouldn’t recommend this book for immature audiences. For anybody else, however, this book is hysterical. Sayers is bitingly critical of communism. She’s continually pointing out its contradictions and follies, especially through the Duchess of Denver–my favorite character. (She’s the mother of Wimsey.)

You know, this is what sets Sayers apart from, say, Agatha Christie. Sayers has a way of developing her characters and cunningly using them to speak about something else. In this book, it’s communism. She’s brilliant.

I’ve enjoyed the Agatha Christie novels that I’ve read too, but the Christie novels have a completely different feel. It seems to me that her novels are more concerned with solving the mystery and restoring order than commenting, say, on the medieval theology that built beautiful churches complete with bells and bell choirs. (I’m thinking of Sayers’s The Nine Tailors.)

Corrie Ten Boom: In My Father’s House

Yes, another Corrie Ten Boom book. Really, if you haven’t read The Hiding Place, then I’m not sure what you’re doing wasting your time on my blog. Go get that book.

Since The Hiding Place was an incredible read, I thought I’d pick up her prequel, In My Father’s House. This short book is filled with lovely photographs, about Corrie’s life prior to WWII. So, if you were astonished and inspired by The Hiding Place, then you will want to read this book.

Now, that said, it’s not as gripping as the first, naturally. But there was one thing that struck me. Her family was a family that prayed, and I mean prayed at all times. They never decided anything without praying, and praying right then and there too, in front of anybody and everybody.

Do we do that? I mean, pray at all times?

Corrie is the second from the left. They were poor, and yet, look with what dignity they dressed.

More Books: Ciszek and Lefebvre

I had wanted to say a few words about another nonfictional book I just read, but really, I’m running out of time. So, I’ll just mention it: With God in Russia by Walter Ciszek. Ah! What a tremendous read! Do you have sons? Get them this book immediately. Read it yourself. That priest survived 23 years in Soviet concentration camps, and I’ve never been more inspired by his perseverance and faith in God’s will.

Lastly…what am I reading now?

I’ve picked up Marcel Lefebvre’s biography. I’ve always wanted to read about that controversial SSPX archbishop. I’m about 80 pages into it and loving it. When I finish, I hope to give you my thoughts.

Anybody else reading something good?

Call Me Catholic

The 8th Day: Low Sunday

Easter is so important that it gets an octave, or eight days, not just one. Easter Sunday, or High Sunday, is the first day of the octave and today, the eighth day, is the last Sunday–Low Sunday.

I love octaves. It’s the only time when “time” is suspended, as one day is drawn out over eight.

To make matters more complicated (or fun!) there are a few other names given to today too–Dominica in Albis and Quasimodo Sunday. The former is so called because the neophytes, or the newly baptized at Easter, would now lay aside their baptismal garments, which were white. The word “Dominica” has refers to the Lord’s Day and “albis” refers to the color white.

The name “Quasimodo” comes from the introit for today which reads, “Quasi modo geniti infants…” This means, “As newborn babes..” It was a common practice to refer to particular Masses by the opening words of the introit.

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also Divine Mercy Sunday in the the New Calendar. Deo gratias!

In honor of this glorious day, I snapped a few photos of the Traditional Latin Mass at St. James the Less with Fr. Altman presiding.

The canon of the Mass.
The servers are about to pray the Confiteor before receiving Holy Communion.
The servers line up for the Last Gospel, which Fr. Altman reads in the background.
The Recessional

Homeschooling

Memory Work

Most of you know that we’re a homeschooling family, and from time to time I like to review what we’re doing for memory work, which consists mostly of poetry. As some of you may be new to this, I’ll answer a few questions first.

Question #1:  How do you choose your memory work?

We memorize those poems, public addresses, Bible verses, or other literary works that we like. It’s as simple as that, but I think it’s an important point.  Your children will sniff it out immediately if they think you think a poem is dull or lame.  And you’ll hate teaching it. So don’t choose memory work that you don’t like.

For example, if all your friends’ kids are memorizing Shakespeare, but you don’t understand Shakespeare, and it makes you break out in hives just thinking about reading all that “foreign” language, then don’t do Shakespeare!  Quit stressing yourself out and pick something you do enjoy and understand.

Furthermore, If you’ve never memorized anything with your family at all, ever, don’t panic, but do begin somewhere. It’s worth it. We cannot truly own something until we’ve interiorized it, or memorized it. If you really don’t know where to begin, crack open your Bible to the book of Psalms and pick one. Go for Psalm 23 if you’re completely lost. There are obvious reasons why everyone used to have that thing memorized.

Or, if you want a book of poetry for your small children, but don’t know where to start, buy Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.  He’s just plain fun, and we love reciting Where Go the Boats and Foreign Lands this time of year. Or belting out The Swing while pushing those little sweeties back and forth on swings.

Question #2:  How do you teach a poem?

For a number of years, we always did our reciting at the breakfast table.  Usually I’d begin by reading the poem first and then let everyone else have a shot at it.  If you have five children memorizing the same poem, it really doesn’t take that long before everyone has it memorized.  Think about it.  That’s six times of hearing the same thing every morning.

A few years ago, however, we began reading the Bible at breakfast, so now our poetry has become a part of “Morning Time.” This is a half hour slot in the mid-morning when everyone comes together to review Latin vocabulary, pray, and recite.

Question #3:  Are you always memorizing new poetry?

Yes and no.  There are certain poems that we always return to because they’re family favorites.  For example, every Fall the little ones recite Autumn Fires because it’s what we’re living.  We’re really raking leaves and burning them.  And every winter we revisit Stevenson’s Wintertime and Robert Frost’s Stopping by the Woods on Snowy Evening.  In the spring, we return to the great Catholic priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, which I mentioned in a previous post.  The summer always brings us around to a more patriotic theme with Paul Revere’s Ride and the Declaration of Independence.

But again, throughout the year, we do whatever strikes me or the children.

I also keep a running list of the poems that we’ve memorized over the years.  It’s fun to see what the children have done, and it’s good to review our favorite ones from time to time. I don’t have a problem with repeating again and again our favorites.

Question #4: What are you memorizing now?

Three Must Haves: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Shakespeare, and Stevenson

At this very moment, the boys are memorizing and loving Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech. It’s from his play, Henry V. In this selection, King Henry V is encouraging his English soldiers to fight valiantly against the French, on the feast day of St. Crispin. In spite of terrible odds, they do win.

One of my little girls is reciting Hopkins’ Pied Beauty, and the other little girls are enjoying Stevenson’s Foreign Lands.

The Eldest is required to recite at her school, but she isn’t home at the moment, so I don’t know what she’s working on. (Although I think it might be some Edgar Allan Poe.)

I hope that clears a few things up.  Just ask, if you have any more questions.

Lastly…The Well Read Poem

For those of you who might want more, I came across a lovely podcast that features one poem a week, read and explained by Mr. Thomas Banks. I’m greatly enjoying it.

Life is Worth Living

Happy Easter!

I had hoped to write and post pictures of our beautiful Latin Mass Triduum this week, but I guess I failed! It wasn’t all my fault, however.

An hour before Holy Thursday Mass, one of the twins was impaled by his sister with a wooden spear. (A homemade affair from a large stick in the backyard.) It went through his lip, and she felt very badly as blood was spurting everywhere, and I had to drive him to the clinic for stitches. Then, when the doctor finally looked at it, he sent us to the ER for a specialist to do the job. Apparently he didn’t want to mess it up and leave a big scar. I said I didn’t care, but he sent us anyway.

Prior to stitching. Small hole, but all the way through! Thankfully his teeth were fine.

Well, if any of you have spent any time in an ER, you know one thing: It’s going to take forever. And it did. Three hours for three tiny stitches. We missed all of Holy Thursday Mass, much to the chagrin of my son, who was to serve with all his buddies and brothers. (The rest of the family went ahead.)

We did all attend Good Friday services and the Easter Vigil, but I neglected to take any photos. You see, it was my first traditional Latin Mass Triduum, and I didn’t want to be bothered with that. Hopefully next year, however, I’ll be able to snap a few, as the whole experience was striking.

For instance, did you know, in the Novus Ordo, the Easter candle isn’t actually blessed? Only the fire is. Now why would anybody want to get rid of this traditional blessing:

May the abundant outpouring of Thy blessing, we beseech Thee, almighty God, descend upon this lighted candle; and do Thou, Who dost renew unseen, rekindle this nocturnal brightness. May the Sacrifice made to Thee this night shine with strange reflection of the light that Thou art; and further, into whatsoever place some of this blessed mystery of fire shall be brought, may the power of Thy majesty there be present and every evil device of Satan depart. Through Christ our Lord.

Did you catch that? Every evil device of Satan will depart whenever the Paschal candle is lit. I’ve heard the same is true of church bells–bells that have been properly blessed and “baptized,” hanging in the bell tower. (No, I’m not talking about automated “fake” bells.) Certainly Satan hates all blessed things, which is why we need more of them–bells, candles, holy water, incense…

Happy Easter!

P.S. We pulled a most disgustingly big tick off of one of the Little Girls a few weeks ago. Want to see it? Her little sister said, “Mom, why does she have a bean stuck in her hair?”

GROSS!!!!!

Call Me Catholic

Palm Sunday Penitential Procession

As we officially enter Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, I’m offering a quick photo post of our Penitential Procession. It was a bit breezy outside, but beautiful nonetheless.

As the procession turned a corner, I quickly snapped these shots. You can see Fr. Altman near the stop sign. The choir, which you cannot see, is near the turn, followed by the rest of the flock–all holding palm branches.

Check out that smoke from the thurible. During the Mass, which followed, the incense was so thick, I felt veiled in mystery, literally. Father likes to lay it on thick.

The procession ends at the church doors with the choir chanting Gloria Laus et Honor. Then, father strikes the doors with the end of the processional cross, which is a pre-55* liturgical action, and represents Christ breaking open the doors of heaven by the power of the cross.

Truly, if you’ve never attended a Traditional Latin Mass Holy Week, give it a shot. It’s glorious.

May God bless you this coming week!

*Pre-55 refers to the Holy Week that the Church celebrated for hundreds of years until Annibale Bugnini began his liturgical tinkering, ultimately ending with the 1970 Novus Ordo Missae.

Motherhood & Parenting

Twin Pregnancy: A Question From a Reader

A reader contacted me the other day with a twin pregnancy question. I’ll post it below with a few thoughts of my own.

Question From a Reader:

I recently found out we’re expecting twins, and you’re one of the very few people I know who has also had twins. So if you have ANY advice/tips for a twin pregnancy, the newborn stage, or managing multiple kids that are close in age, I would love to hear it!

My Thoughts:

First of all, dear reader, congratulations on your twin pregnancy! What a blessing. I put together a list of a few things that were helpful for us in raising our twin boys. (Click HERE for the birth story of those twins. Whoa. What a ride!)

Our twin boys, born in 2008.

Advice For Surviving a Twin Pregnancy and Newborn Stage

  1. Prayer. You need to pray with your husband, as a couple, every single day.  Never skip it.  Seriously, God will help the two of you to keep it together when things get rough, and they will get rough when both babies get sick at the same time or decide to scream and cry at the same time or…
  2. Move next door to your mother or some other helpful person. 😉 If you can’t do that, then think about hiring someone to come in for a few hours a day those first few months so that you can…nap, shower, get out of the house, etc.  Even if you can only afford one day a week for a total of 3 hours, you won’t regret it. (In our case, I had a saintly mother-in-law who helped out every Friday.)
  3. If you plan to nurse, learn to nurse both at the same time right away.  You’ll save yourself precious time.  In other words, if one baby wakes up at night and wants to nurse, get the other one up too.  Nurse both at the same time.  I read a *very helpful book* about that when I was pregnant with our twins 12 years ago.
  4. You don’t need a ton of extra stuff.  Just say no!  In fact, your babies can share a crib until they’re too big and need extra room.  When that happens, don’t buy another crib.  Just pull out the pack ‘n play and put the other baby there.  That’s what we did.  Rotating nights, so that each baby gets used to sleeping in either place.
  5. Go for a walk every day, once your body has healed anyway. Truly, get at least 20 minutes of fresh air.
  6. Lastly, do you pray the rosary every day? No? You’re gonna need it.

Does anyone else have any practical advice for raising multiples? Or having all Littles? We’d love to hear about it.

*Book: Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins! by April Rudat. Dramatic title, cheesy cover, but very practical and essential for first-time moms and twins.

Call Me Catholic

Passion Sunday is Coming

Passion Sunday is only a few days away.  Get your purple cloth ready!

Here’s a shot of our mantel from last year:

IMG_2376.jpg
In our home, I only veil the images where we gather as a family to pray, which happens to be the living room.

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

On Passion Sunday, Psalm 42 is highlighted in the Introit and pleadingly states,

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art God my strength.”

“Judica” is the latin word for “judge,” which is where we get the name.

If you’ll remember in the TLM, Psalm 42 is also prayed every Sunday during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, but on Passion Sunday these prayers are omitted and will not return until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria and the Alleluia, which disappeared earlier, however, at the beginning of the “Gesima” Sundays.  All of these are omitted because they are associated with the Paschal joy of the Risen Christ.

In other words, we have this stripping away of Pascal references in order to sharpen our awareness of Christ’s Passion, which is why we refer to these final two weeks of Lent as Passiontide.

It’s beautiful how it all comes together.

Veiling of Images for Passiontide

My children always look forward to Passion Sunday, if only to see the images disappear from our fireplace mantel and the church.

All statuary in St. James the Less are veiled for Passiontide, except those way, way up high on the crossbeam.

This tradition of veiling images began sometime in the ninth century to reflect the readings of the TLM.  For example, the Gospel for Passion Sunday is always John 8 wherein the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus, but he mysteriously passes through the crowd unseen and then hides.  Therefore, the veiling of images reminds us that Christ’s Divinity was hidden at the time of His Passion and death.

Think about that for a minute.  Again, it’s astounding how all these things come together.  Of course His Divinity was hidden!  Otherwise everyone would have believed, not just that centurion at the foot of the cross.

Secondly, veiling also strips us of visual stimuli.  Throughout the year we may become accustomed to looking at and praying with our crucifixes and icons, and so taking them away for a time helps us paradoxically to become more aware of them.

Seriously, I’m always excited for Easter Sunday for the obvious reasons, but then, how exciting to see these beautiful statues again!

Give It a Try

If you’ve never veiled your images at home before, give it a try.  It’s pretty easy to do.  I just bought a yard of purple cloth at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares.  I’ve also heard of families using purple tissue paper in a pinch.

And speaking of veiling…

Ah, what a lovely thing to do for love of Jesus. Dear ladies, have you ever tried veiling yourself? We, too, “hide” ourselves to be only visible to Him.

Book Review

All About Books: Hardy, Eliot, and Ten Boom

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

I recently finished reading Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. I’ve read it once before, back in my heathen college days, and didn’t like it. I suspect I was too stupid to appreciate Hardy’s vocabulary and too shallow to appreciate his detailed descriptions of flora, fauna, and architecture.

Let me tell you, though, I couldn’t put the book down this time, even in spite of its daunting 362 pages.

This is the same copy I read in college. It even had my old notes in it, which were hysterical to read.

Far From the Madding Crowd is set in rural nineteenth century England and follows the fate of Gabriel Oak who meets and falls immediately in love with a very vain woman named Bathesheba. Then we meet two more men in the novel: Mr. Boldwood and Captain Troy.

Now just looks at those names. What comes to mind? There are so many biblical and ancient references in this book that it’s no wonder I was clueless the first time I read it. (Which is why, by the way, it’s worthwhile to revisit a book that one read a long time ago.)

In any case, this book was amusing and a sheer delight to read.

Silas Marner by George Eliot

I read this book by George Eliot (i.e. Mary Ann Evans) for four reasons:

  1. It’s short.
  2. It’s a Victorian novel. (I love Victorian novels.)
  3. I enjoyed two of Eliot’s other novels, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, so why not read another?
  4. Since the gals (and Mr. Banks) were reading it at the Literary Life Podcast, I wanted to follow along with them.

Now, did I like it? Meh. It picked up as I went along, but I must admit, I got tired of the didactic tone, and I found parts of it unbelievable–possible, yes, but unbelievable.

Basically this novel follows the plight of Silas Marner, a thwarted weaver living in the sticks who loses all, but gains something even better. I won’t spoil it for those of you tempted to read it, for it is worth a read.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

I’ve written about this excellent book before. (Click HERE for details.) The reason I reread it was for a local book club–The Well-Read Mom.

As I’ve said before, if you haven’t read this autobiography, you are missing out. Corrie Ten Boom tells her story of hiding Jews during WWII and of how she survived a Nazi concentration camp. I give it a 10+.

Go buy a copy NOW. You won’t be able to put it down.

Bonus Book Mention: And now, a book I tossed into the trash…

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

This book was another read for the Well-Read Mom Book Club. It seems that every year at least one sketchy book is selected.

I tried to finish it, really. But page after page was chock full of occult practices and disordered sexual references, that I quit on page 47. I then looked up the author. It would appear to me that she had an agenda with this book. She wrote it specifically for Young Adults and even won awards for it. Disgusting.

I should have known even before page 47 when Alvarez has one the older sisters tell her younger sister that, “Sometimes you need to do a bad thing for good to come.”* Nope. No, you don’t. The ends never justify the means.

It’s not that authors can’t write about bad or evil things, though. They can, but what matters is that the good is good and the bad is bad. It’s harmful to read books that don’t get virtue and vice right. In others words, you can’t pass bad things off as good, which I think Alvarez does.

Alvarez even admits to having no biographical information about these four sisters who died in the Dominican Republic under a totalitarian regime, and the picture she paints is, well, disturbing. She’s got them playing fortune telling games with a priest, buying and reading spell books behind their mother’s back, drawing pictures of private male anatomy and then laughing when caught, participating in a girl stripping naked for others just to look at, and finally, where I quit, the masturbation scene.

Now you tell me, with zero biographical information, was all that necessary? Or is Alvarez sending a different message? Regardless of what other messages she may want to portray in the book, it would appear that Alvarez is trivializing and therefore normalizing these other completely disordered and disgusting behaviors. And remember, her intended audience are teenagers.

What Am I Reading Next?

I don’t know yet. I might pick up George Orwell’s 1984. Or I might read another Dorothy Sayers detective novel. Or maybe Agatha Christie?

What are you all reading?

*I can’t verify the exact quotation, because I threw the book away. But if you still have the book, check between pages 40-46. Then throw that trash away.

Christ-Like Minimalism

Decluttering For Lent

I’ve been trying to declutter a few areas of my life for Lent–spiritually and physically. I want to get rid of the noise. You know, the things that keep me from hearing Jesus.

In prayer, I’m often distracted and don’t even realize it. For example, when I’m praying the psalms in the morning, I’m not thinking about them. I’m thinking about my coffee. Or the sick kid, or my grocery list, or the hole in my sock. Anything, but what the psalmist is trying to say to me. I need to get better at listening.

I want to be intentional. I want to be present to Jesus everywhere, at all times.

Then there are the things or the “stuff” of my life. How many cookbooks do I own and never consult? Do I really need more than five skirts per season? How many nights a week should one have a glass of wine?

Or better yet–one that hurts a little–why do I like bright lipstick so much? Why? Is it perhaps because I’m vain?

Alas! I have so many attachments.

And little by little, I’m asking Jesus to scrape away the filth and the clutter, which reminded me of a true story I wrote about a couple of years ago. It’s about a family whose house burned down. I’ll post the whole thing below.

The Family Whose House Burned Down

A few years ago a local family lost their entire house to a fire.  It was devastating, as they only escaped with the clothes on their backs.  Somehow I got wind of it all and heard that they were living in hotel room and were asking for household supplies to start over again.

So I thought, what can I give?  I went to the basement and grabbed our extra suitcase.  (I thought they might as well have that.)  And I began to fill it.  I had an extra quilt.  I had a whole set of unused kitchen towels.  I had a few kids’ games that were never used.  I found so many things that I filled the suitcase and had to get a garbage bag.

Then I found my beautiful set of extra silverware that I had never used.  I held the wooden box in my hands.  It was a gift that someone had given to us for our wedding.  I didn’t want to part with it, partly because I worried about what that person would think should she find out and partly because the set was complete and like I said, beautiful.

I started to put it back on the shelf, but something inside me said no.  This lovely silverware set was not meant for me.  It was meant for this poor family, and so in the end I gave it too.

The next day I drove over to the hotel and gave them my things.  The mother of the family was so thankful.  So thankful.  But you know what?  I was the one who was thankful for the opportunity to give.  I walked away with Love burning in my heart.

Of course when we simplify or declutter our homes and give things away, we don’t always get to see who might benefit from it all.  But that one time I did get to see.  And it was worth it.

But it is always worth it, no matter what.  For giving our things away teaches us detachment from them, and more importantly, it teaches us Love.

Christ-Like Minimalism

Boys and Minimalism?

Before we get to the topic on hand, how’s your Lent going?

Ember Days last week was a wringer for me and oh so difficult. I can barely do the Church’s prescribed fast of one main meal and two small snacks without practically dying. Three days in one week! I’m such a wimp, but I guess I’m trying, and I made it. (Barely.)

Then, for some extra penance, last week I decided to paint my bedroom. I don’t know why I did this to myself. It’s so horrible and terribly tedious, especially the trim work. To help things along, though, I listened to Patsy Cline and sang loudly. Eventually my husband felt sorry for me and took over–painting, not singing, that is. God bless him.

And onto today’s topic…

Boys and Minimalism

Today I’m offering a tour of the boys’ bedroom for those of you interested in such things. There are three boys who share this room: a 10-year-old and twin 12-year-olds. Is it minimalistic? Sort of.

Here’s the what greets you when you walk through the door:

A Triple Bunk Bed

One of the very first things we purchased when we moved into this house was a triple bunk bed for the boys for the obvious reason that their room was the smallest. I’m telling you, if you’ve got more than two kids in a room, triple bunk beds are the ticket.

The first thing you may have noticed from the above picture is the lack of toys everywhere. That’s because the only “toy” the boys keep in their room are legos, and normally these legos are strewn all over the floor in the corner. So for posterity, I took the following picture which more accurately resembles the “everyday” experience.

Legos dumped out and beds not made.

What’s Missing From This Boy Room?

  1. The 10-year-old’s little tractors and farm equipment. One boy does have some toy tractors and hook-ups, which he keeps in the storage room. Why there? Because there’s room on the floor to set up a farm, and he won’t be bothered with the girls, for nobody likes to play in that dark, unfinished place.
  2. Their books. While they do keep their current reads in their beds to peruse at night, all other books are in the book shelves located in the basement family room.
  3. 3 Nerf guns with bullets. The boys have a little plastic tub of these items, which is also in the basement family room.
  4. Games and puzzles. All the kids’ games and puzzles are in the Game Closet, which is technically the bathroom closet. Funny place, I know.
  5. Trains and train tracks. This bin is also in the basement family room as the Little Girls actually play with them now, not the boys.

That’s all for toys. If you’d like more thoughts on that topic, however, click HERE for a post I wrote awhile ago. Not much has changed.

Moving on.

The Closet

Here’s a picture of the the boys’ closet:

What you can’t see are a few lego boxes on the left and 3 backpacks on the right of the clothes hamper. The upper closet shelf is where the twins put their jeans and pants. (Most of which happen to be in the hamper when I took this picture…)

Since the boys’ room is small, we’ve elected to put their only dresser right in the closet. On top of the dresser are three boxes. Each boy has one in which to put his treasures, like duct tape, string, baseball cards, rocks, jack knives, etc.

The drawers of this dresser are all labeled, too. This is because the boys were continually mixing everything up and not, therefore, able to find socks or undershirts when they wanted them. I’ve found that clarity makes for less chaos.

Here’s a breakdown of the drawers from top to bottom:

  1. Undershirts and underwear (They all share)
  2. Socks and belts (They all share)
  3. Shorts – 12 pairs (They all share)
  4. 10-year-old’s jeans/pants
  5. Lego directions

To the left of the dresser is where the 10-year-old hangs all of his shirts and to the right is where the twins hang their shirts. The nice thing about having 3 boys close in age, however, is that really, they can share most things.

Confusing? Here’s a specific inventory of the boys’ clothes:

10-year-old:

  1. 5 pairs of jeans/pants
  2. 8 long sleeved shirts
  3. 4 short sleeved shirts
  4. 1 suit with jacket and vest
  5. 4 uniforms for private school

Twin 12-year-olds: (These numbers are higher, as their are two of them)

  1. 8 pairs of jeans/pants
  2. 12 long sleeved shirts
  3. 12 short sleeved shirts
  4. 2 suits with jacket and vest

We try to stick pretty closely to these numbers, as it seems to work if I do their laundry once a week. Also, should the boys receive a new shirt or something for their birthday, etc., we do follow The Rule:

One Item In, One Item Out

Lastly, here’s a shot standing against the bunk beds of the opposite side of the room.

Nothing to show.

And that’s it! If you have any questions, be sure to ask.

Call Me Catholic

Kids and Lent

It’s not too late!  Would you like any ideas for your children during this Lenten Season?  If so, read on.  If not, I’ll see you next time.

The Children: Lent 2021

Before you read on, however, I want to remind you that all families are different, and just because the following works for us, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll work for you.  I only offer this with the thought that it may give you an idea or two, if you’d like one.

Without further ado…

The 3 pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  So I’ll break it down for you.

Prayer

The four older children join my husband and me every morning for Lauds.  I’ve written about it here.  Even though we’ve been doing this for years, most mornings the children are in a drowsy stupor.  We’d like for them to be more intentional during this time, if possible.  So we’re working on it.  The Eldest has her own breviary; it’s likely time to invest in books for the boys too.

At breakfast every morning I normally read aloud from the Bible, but during Lent, I’m reading the Mass propers and readings from our 1962 missal, this is especially beautiful because the readings correspond to the Stational Churches, which my husband reads in the evening.

If you’re not familiar with the Roman Stational Churches, you’re missing out!  They are ancient; they are holy.  Click HERE for the particular booklet that I’m talking about, which is available from Biretta Books.  (Or was available.)  NLM, however, does a great job of posting actual pictures of the churches in Rome with commentary.  Click HERE for an example.

We are also praying St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Stations of the Cross in our home every Friday night.  A few years ago my husband had ordered a bunch of those booklets from Tan Publishing.  When Friday night rolls around, the girls and I grab a copy, the boys process with lighted candles, and my husband leads the prayers in front of homemade plaques that a dear friend of mine gave me a few years ago.  It’s lovely.

Fasting

The children are all too young to do any serious fasting, but they’re not too young to begin somewhere.  Since all them are capable of abstaining from desserts and candy for 46 days, they do that.  Of course we don’t eat meat on Fridays, but that’s a given.  We do that all year around anyway.

But the older children can do more.  On Fridays, they eat plain bread for breakfast, and then during Lent, they add a day–Wednesdays.

Almsgiving

As the children don’t earn any money at all, this one’s out.

Let Us Know!

If you have any other great ideas, I’d love to hear about them.

Lastly…Need a boost?  My husband and I greatly enjoyed Patrick Coffin’s interview with Tony Roman, a restaurant owner in California who’s fighting back.  (How I wish more men would follow his example.)  His heroes are Jesus Christ and George Washington.  Watch it now, for I’ll bet it gets censored and disappears.

Life is Worth Living

Travelogue: One Night of Freedom! Part 2

In today’s post, I’ll continue our travels into interior Wisconsin. If you missed out on Part 1, click HERE.

As I was saying a few days ago, my husband and I had One Night of Freedom last weekend, so we drove to Wausau, Wisconsin, and checked into a hotel. We had hoped to stay downtown, but all those rooms were booked, so we were forced to settle with Holiday Inn Express, which wasn’t so bad.

Naturally, the first thing we did in Wausau was seek out a Happy Hour somewhere. We drove to a pub named Sconni’s Alehouse. I had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon; my husband had an IPA. We then pulled out our books and read for an hour. I think the neighboring table of bearded men in Carhartt jackets thought we were weird.

My Book: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

Now, if you’re a book lover and you have never read Helene Hanff’s first book, 84, Charing Cross Road, you are missing out! Go to your local library and get it. Better yet, just buy it. That book is sheer bliss.

Hanff’s sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, is also worthy of reading, but not quite as hysterical as the first. Those of you who have read the first, and couldn’t put it down, though, will definitely want to read the second, for Helene actually does fly to London even though the night before she, “got out of bed, had hysterics, a martini and two cigarettes, got back in bed, and whiled away the rest of the night composing cables saying I wasn’t coming.”

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is Helene’s day-by-day dairy in London. One of my favorite episodes is when her acquaintances drag her all over Oxford, neglecting to show her the one college she wants to see–Oriel College. (She’s a huge fan of John Henry Newman.) Helene won’t stand for it; she must see Newman’s Oxford, and so, “I stood in the middle of Wadham Yard and hollered: “WHEN ARE WE GONNA SEE SOMETHING I WANNA SEE?” They immediately took her to Oriel and she sat in Newman’s chapel.

Did you know, Helene also scandalizes the hotel bartender by demanding a real martini? She had to first show the guy how to make it and then convince him that she wouldn’t be, “face down on a bar table sodden drunk.”

Oh, it’s a delightful read.

Tine & Cellar

After Happy Hour, we made our way to Tine & Cellar. We had to make reservations the week before to get in. The place was hopping. We were seated up a few steps on a landing with three other tables, all obviously for two person “dates.” I had great fun watching couples come in and out. It was St. Valentine’s Day weekend, after all, so lots of sweethearts and formal dinners and flirting and wine flowing everywhere. Do you know, men don’t tuck in their collared, buttoned shirts anymore? Scandalous.

At our table, we began with a charcuterie board, a Manhattan, and a glass of Donati Cabernet. Then, I whipped out my deck of cards featuring Greek gods and goddesses and proceeded to lose playing Gin Rummy.

You see, my husband and I play Gin Rummy all year round and keep score for the whole year. I lost last year, and I’m still bitter about it. What’s worse? I’m losing already this year. In fact, I haven’t won since 2017. I’m not sure why I still play that game.

Ah, well, the food was good. I had pan-seared Atlantic salmon with wild mushroom couscous in roasted pepper cream with carrots. My husband had roasted duck breast with caramelized fingerlings (what’s that?), prunes, and braised purple cabbage. De-licious. Naturally we had our food paired with the appropriate wine–Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc and Monte Oton Garnacha, respectively.

Quinquagesima Sunday at St. Mary’s Oratory: Heaven On Earth

One reason why we chose Wausau was because of St. Mary’s Oratory. If you live within…say 3 hours of this place, THERE’S NO EXCUSE. Your life isn’t complete. They have a magnificent choir, gorgeous church, beautiful TLM liturgies, babies and children everywhere, and a real altar triptych. Now when’s the last time you had all those combinations together?

Here are some pictures to prove it.

Exterior. My apologies for not getting a frontal shot, but it was -20 below and I didn’t want to run across the street.
Narthex. The first thing that greets you. Notice the lovely foliage in the vaulting. What’s your church’s entryway look like? (Hopefully you do NOT have TVs or screens in it.)
We came a half hour early, hoping to take a few pictures. Turns out people actually come early to Mass to pray here. Novel idea. All the lights weren’t even on yet. And just look at those light fixtures!
Real altar triptych. With hinges. Gorgeous. And notice the gothic columns, soaring to the heavens.
After Mass their priest began a Forty Hours Devotion wherein Jesus was exposed in a monstrance for 40 straight hours and the people came to pray. Now that’s a vibrant parish.

The End

After Mass we made our way home, back through the meandering highways of Wisconsin. We look forward to exploring more of this great state when the weather is nicer.