Life is Worth Living

Travelogue: Sconnie Edition. One Night of Freedom!

Last weekend, my husband and I enjoyed a night away from home. My inlaws–bless their souls!–drove 600 miles to watch, feed, bathe, and drive around 7 obnoxious, giggling children. What’s more, they willingly lent us their clean 2019 Ford Edge to cruise around in while they endured our messy, sticky 15-passenger van.

Anyway, after stuffing an extra skirt and a few books into a bag, we were off. The children didn’t even say goodbye to us. They were too busy playing Rummikub and Sequence with Grandma and Grandpa.

Naturally, the first thing we did on our Tour De Force was to buy cappuccinos. Then we were off into the countryside of beautiful Wisconsin. Or rather, perhaps I ought to say, the forests of Wisconsin? This was exciting because we live on the Mississippi River, which is on the western border, and I had never been past the town of Sparta, which is only 30 miles away.

Our destination? Wausau, which sits bang in the middle of the state. Why Wausau?

  1. It’s past Sparta, hence new territory for us.
  2. It’s only 2 and half hours away.
  3. The route drives by two ancestral cemeteries of my husband’s family.
  4. Wausau boasts a lovely restaurant, Tine & Cellar.
  5. And it has a GORGEOUS TLM church, St. Mary’s.

The Drive

Now, I’ve lived most of my life in the Dakotas where we know how to do long, straight highways. We do highways so well, in fact, that we can legally drive 80 mph on them because they’re nice and straight. But Wisconsin? Oh, no. They do not do long, straight highways. They would much prefer to curve all over the place and go up and down and up and down. Why level this hill? That would require too much work. Let’s just go up! What about this little stream? Should we build a bridge across it? Nope. Too much work. Let’s follow it and swerve about everywhere. Bah!

Ah, well. Sconnies are just different, I guess. I will say, however, that it is beautiful, even in -20 degree weather.

And did you know, if we passed one Trump flag, we passed a million? These people are passionate about Trump. They don’t even care that Biden was sworn into office. It was Trump everywhere–Trump signs, Trump flags, Trump billboards. I actually saw one woman pause in her shoveling, lean over her Trump sign affectionately, and adjust it carefully so as to afford optimal viewing pleasure to her Trump-loving neighbors. Truly, I was wishing we had some Trump flags streaming out our car windows so that we could fit in.

Example of a typical Sconnie house in the country.

The Cemeteries

As I said earlier, we chose Wausau because the route put us in the path of two ancestral cemeteries of my husband’s family. The first cemetery was in Arkdale, which is no longer a town, I don’t think anyway. It’s just in the middle of a forest on some gravel roads. At least I think they’re gravel roads. You see, it was snowing and nobody bothered to plow those roads, so I don’t know.

Anyway, we found the tiny cemetery, and as it was -20 degrees outside, I sat in the warm car while my husband ran about in two feet of snow looking for the Lecy family. He looked awfully cold out there, so I rolled the window down and yelled, “Shall I put your seat warmer on, Dearest?” (Seat warmers are a luxury that we only get to experience when driving our parents’ vehicles; they make us giddy with delight.)

My husband did find some tall Lecy headstones, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to dig down to the actual graves of Christopher Lecy and his wife, Helga. (We don’t know when Christopher died, but we do know from family records that Helga died in 1865.) Sigh. All that work.

It is rather stupid to go grave finding in February.

On to the next cemetery!

Before driving to the New Miner cemetery, however, we discovered that we were hungry from our grave finding efforts and needed a restaurant first. Since the nearest, sizable town to Arkdale was Necedah, to Necedah we went.

Necedah has a population of 916 people, so naturally it has a Main Street Cafe. It’s one of those local cafes that serves like five breakfast dishes and five lunch entrees, all accompanied by french fries. I picked a chicken sandwich; my husband had a burger. The floor sloped and the table was greasy. The ceiling fan above us had inches of dust perilously drooping off of it. The bathroom was down a creepy flight of stairs that have never been cleaned. The toilet, however, was new and spotless. What a surprise! It felt like an adventure.

I met the owner of Main Street Cafe. He was a spry, old man who had come into the restaurant a few minutes after us. He squinted and mused, “Well, I have to eat here, or I won’t get anything to eat.”

New Miner Cemetery

After we paid our bill, which was hand-written on those old green tickets (you waitresses of some years will know what I’m talking about), we drove to the New Miner Cemetery. Like Arkdale, there is no town here, but there is a church–St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran. There are also no woods here because “New Miner” is in Cranberry Country. Cranberry Country means lots of little sunken fields, much like what I would imagine rice fields to look like.

But I digress, New Miner Cemetery. Once again, my husband ran around the graveyard, as respectfully as possible, and attempted to locate his great, great, great grandfather, Jakob Jakobs Norsby, who died in 1910. His wife, Merit Olsd, was also buried here in 1899. But he couldn’t find the graves due to the extreme cold and deep snow.

Husband, looking for graves in two feet of snow and windchills nearing -30 below.

And that was that. We’ll go back in the spring, like sensible people.

The rest of the drive to Wausau was uneventful. We twisted and turned onto many different roads. (Alas, one must remember that Sconnies prefer roundabout ways.) We listened to Tim Flanders and Kennedy Hall discuss fasting. (Excellent podcast HERE.) We arrived in Wausau and checked into our hotel.

Later this week I’ll post Part 2 for those of you who are interested.

Call Me Catholic

Our Lady of Lourdes Today

Happy Feast Day!

Our family will be slipping off to Mass to honor Our Lady of Lourdes this morning in the bitter, bitter cold. Afterwards, we’ll be driving straight to Dunkin’ Donuts. Then later? We’ll probably watch an old movie of St. Bernadette. There was a black and white one done in the 1940s, based off of Franz Werfel’s novel The Song of Bernadette. (Have you ever read that book? It’s worth it.) There was another movie too, done later, that I also enjoy. We’ll see.

In any case, I like Our Lady of Lourdes. I like everything about it–Our Lady beautifully illumined and attired, and yet appearing in a pig sty, humble Bernadette dutifully following her instructions, Bernadette’s rotten home life, her incessant coughing, her drunken father, her sweet brothers–all of it!

If you’ve never watched one of those movies, take a break today. Sit down and enjoy one with your children.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

Call Me Catholic

Candlemas and Crayon Wreckers

Yesterday was Candlemas, February 2nd, which is sometimes referred to as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or even the Presentation of Our Lord (in the Temple). It marks the fortieth day since the birth of Jesus and the end of the Christmas season.

Last night, during the Confiteor, at St. James the Less parish.

Prior to Mass, there was a special blessings of candles. If you’d like a detailed explanation of the great symbolic beauty of this blessing and Candlemas, click HERE for Fr. Z.

Our family loves this holy day. Why? I can think of 6 reasons:

  1. Most of the church’s lights are left off, with only one illuminating the altar.
  2. Every candle the church owns is lit and flickering mysteriously.
  3. Every person, old enough to reasonably hold a candle, gets one.
  4. There’s a procession with innumerable altar boys and acolytes and the rest of us holding our candles in clouds of incense while the choir chants beautiful antiphons in Latin.
  5. Prior to the procession, father blesses, incenses, and sprinkles with holy water everyone’s candles that had been brought from home and placed on or near the St. Joseph altar. (We had a big box blessed for use in our home.)
  6. Did I mention we get to hold lit candles nearly the whole time?
Beginning of the Procession. The rest of the servers and acolytes are already in the aisle. The whole congregation filed after father and processed around the church in candlelight.

Kids naturally love this, but so do adults. If you ever get a chance to attend one, jump at it.

Broken Crayon Syndrome and Crayon Wreckers

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a problem that this household has. It’s called Broken Crayon Syndrome.

Let me explain. The other day the Little Girls brought to my attention the lack of pretty crayon colors. In other words, we only had “ugly” colors left: green yellow, peach, and apricot. All the “pretty” colors were used up and gone. You know, like pink and purple.

Unused, ugly crayon colors. Therefore, these crayons have an especially long lifespan.

Since I’m an attentive and obliging mother, I dutifully bought a new pack of 24 crayons a month or so after the lodged complaint. Naturally the girls were very excited to use the new crayons, and sat right down to color. Now, no coloring books could be found, nor could any clean, white paper, but that didn’t bother them. Undaunted, they just took some cardboard out of the garbage can and hacked away.

Until, SNAP! Broken crayon. SNAP, SNAP! More broken crayons. SNAP, SNAP, SNAP! Broken crayons everywhere! In their race and excitement to color, they just broke the crayons. But what’s worse, they didn’t even care! They could still use them. Ah!

But I cared about those broken crayons–those lovely pinks and purples and blues! What a shame. What if I happened to want to color? It does happen every now and then. (Ok, fine, it doesn’t, but still.)

How long do you suppose that blue lasted? Oh, about 3 seconds for one Crayon Wrecker to smack away at that piece of garbage you can see there. And note the broken purple in the box.

What a bunch of Crayon Wreckers.

I caught one Crayon Wrecker red-handed, coloring on some cardboard. Guess how long that crayon remained intact? Oh, .2 seconds.

Good thing she’s cute.

And willing to use broken crayons because I’m not buying new ones for at least a year. I don’t care if we’re only down to “ugly” colors.

Call Me Catholic

Septuagesima Sunday is Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Septuagesima Sunday*–in the Old Calendar.  Kind of a funny name, no?  It means that we’re on the threshold of Lent.  Are you ready?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent, and they have Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter.  Tomorrow, we’ll be at Septuagesima.

In the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and the Alleluia.  (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.)  All of these things were meant to get you thinking.  Sober up, people!  Let’s start preparing.

The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving

During these fore-lenten Sundays, my husband and I like to begin preparing for Lent.  We take a look at the classic 3 pillars of lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Below I’ll offer a few thoughts for you all to consider.

Prayer:

  1. Do you set aside a time to pray, every single day?  If not, what’s stopping you?
  2. For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?
  3. Or how about learning to pray the breviary? Lauds? Compline?
  4. For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?
  5. How about a daily family rosary?
  6. Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?
  7. And finally, go to confession!  At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season.  If you’d like a challenge, consider going every other week or so.
800px-Artgate_Fondazione_Cariplo_-_Molteni_Giuseppe,_La_confessione.jpg
Again, go to confession!  You won’t regret it.

Fasting:

Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent.  In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot.  And we need it.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

Do you have something in your life that needs casting out?  Try fasting.  Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus?  Try fasting.

If you’ve never done this before, start small.  Give up one meal a week.  If you’re accustomed to weekly fasting, try two days a week.

But NOT if you’re pregnant or nursing. Goodness, mothers, be careful with this one. I’ve written about it before. Here.

Almsgiving:

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.

The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving.  During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:

  1. How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
  2. In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?

The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer.  Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income.  If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2% and so on.

A true tithe would be a full 10% of your income, however.  (The word tithe means one tenth.) If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then give 10% of your total income before taxes.  And tithe that bonus too.

The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice.  For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month.  Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.

In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you.  Just take the first step.

And Lastly, a Lenten Challenge

Have you ever wondered what it was like for most Catholics throughout the history of our Church to pray the Mass?  I mean, what was it like for St. Catherine of Siena to receive the Eucharist?    Or which Mass inspired the great writings of St. Thomas Aquinas?  Or the great missionaries? Or St. Therese the Little Flower? Or Padre Pio?

For nearly 2000 years Catholics have been worshipping the same way at the Latin Mass, and if you’ve got one near you, check it out.  Don’t worry about not understanding everything. Who cares, you know? Everyone has to start somewhere.

Some of you, however, may not have access to any Mass or Sacraments at all, and my heart breaks for you. Truly. Just the other day I received an email from a gentleman in South Africa. They are starving for Truth there. For that matter, people are starving for Truth everywhere. In Canada, too. For example, there’s this piece written by one of my favorite writers at OnePeterFive, Dan Millette. My heart breaks for his family. What a difficult situation.

In any event, God does know of your particular situations, and He cares.

May God bless you all this Lent.

*Want more about Septuagesima Sunday? Click HERE for a piece at New Liturgical Movement

Book Review

84, Charing Cross Road: Really Fun Read!

8 Reasons to Read 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

  1. This book can be read in one sitting. Not kidding. You won’t want to put it down. I only got up once while reading it and that was because one kid decided to bite another kid, and I had to feign like I cared for thirty seconds and dole out consequences. Motherhood.
  2. Read it for free! You can probably get this book from your local library. I did.
  3. This book is in an epistolary book, which means it’s a series of letters written between one party and another. In this case, they’re between Helene Hanff and a book store in London.
  4. It’s a book about books. It’s fun to see what a spinster in 1950s New York City wants to read and can’t find in the States. It’s her real story–her real letters.
  5. And she’s hilarious. On page 5, she informs the book store that they sent her the wrong bible. She writes, “Kindly inform the Church of England they have loused up the most beautiful prose ever written, whoever told them to tinker with the Vulgate Latin? They’ll burn for it, you mark my words. It’s nothing to me, I’m Jewish myself…”
  6. I think the gals (and the Mysterious Mr. Banks) at the Literary Life Podcast are going to do an episode on this book soon. They keep mentioning it, anyway, which was why I read it to begin with.
  7. Speaking of the Literary Life Podcast…you do know it’s the best podcast out there, right?
  8. Helene Hanff loves Jane Austen. She put off reading her because she hates novels and anything that didn’t really happen in Real Life, but when she finally did read Pride and Prejudice, she “went out of my mind” over it.

2 Reasons to NOT Read 84, Charing Cross Road

  1. It’s too short. I wanted it to go on and on. My heart sank when it ended.
  2. It’s apparent that a few letters are missing. Where are they? I’d like to know!
Call Me Catholic

The Goodness of God

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to write something here. This morning it struck me that I had better speak up and speak loudly about the goodness of God. I am choosing this topic for a few reasons.

Why Write About the Goodness of God?

  1. Because it’s true, God is good.
  2. Yes, He really is, even if godless government officials are mandating all kinds of madness and the world seems incredibly dark and upside down, and God seems nowhere to be found. (He is very much to be found, however.)
  3. Satan hates it when we glorify God and speak of His goodness.
  4. Again, Satan really does hate it. In St. Faustina’s Diary–a book everyone should read–Satan howls at Faustina in a fury, “She writing everything, she’s writing everything, and because of this we are losing so much! Do not write about the goodness of God; He is just!”

Now, I am not St. Faustina, but Satan is Satan, and it’s true that he hates for anyone to acknowledge the goodness of God, which is why we should frequently do this.

Did you notice, by the way, what Satan screamed at Faustina? The truth. Because she’s writing about the goodness of God, Satan loses. He even admits that God is a just God. Incredible.

So this morning, after a harrowing night of insomnia and children incessantly waking up, I’m speaking about God’s goodness.

God’s Goodness

Last night we were at Monday Night Prayer Group, where five families gather together with their babies and young children and kneel to pray the rosary. Amidst the squirming mayhem, I noticed that one father actually fell asleep during it all. He was so tired, he slumped in a chair, and was out. When he awoke, he smiled and acknowledged that he was worn out. You see, he knew that his pregnant wife was at her wits’ end and needed a break, so he held the crying baby all night so that she could sleep.

And he smiled about it.

I thought about that last night when I was lying awake at 10pm, 11pm, and then at midnight when I finally got out of bed to pray. I knelt in front of a picture of Jesus and listened to my husband sleeping and also thought of a friend of mine, recovering from a serious illness. I then thought of my son and the heartrending headaches he had had earlier in the day. I thought of my dad, too.

What could I do?

I did the only sensible thing one can do. I thanked God for the insomnia and prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet. Then I reminded Him that I would need a superabundance of grace in a few hours to start this day.

And here I am. God is good, even if I’m really tired and had no chance of sleeping in. (I never do.) In fact, I had to get up even earlier this morning to see my husband and the twins out the door by 6:15 to serve Cardinal Burke’s Low Mass at 7am.

I could have been angry or sulky about getting up even earlier, but that would have been silly and a waste of energy–of which I’ve got precious little. No, I had better focus on being extra patient, as I tend to snap a lot quicker when I’m tired. (May it please His Majesty not to test me beyond my strength.)

This is a good day, though, you know? After Lauds and driving two other children to school, the rest of us ate breakfast. We did grammar and Latin. The boys are out running the dog now. The little girls are playing house, and I’m about to chop vegetables in preparation for supper’s casserole.

Blessed be God!

I also listened to this song, which touched me because it’s true, even if a bit emotional.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:4-6).

Book Review

What Are We Reading?

Today I’ll give a brief overview of what everyone in my family is reading. This might give you some book ideas, if you’re stuck in a rut.

Speaking of ruts…are you stuck in one? I mean, when’s the last time you picked up a book instead of your phone to read something?

For those of you who are addicted to technology and treat your phone like a god, put it down! Take a break. See if you can not touch that Thing for a whole day. (After you’ve finished reading this blog post, of course.)

Books, Books, Books

Shall we start with the youngest?

The two Little Wreckers aren’t actually able to read, so they just drop in wherever anyone else is reading a book. They are not deterred if that person is silently reading. They just plop themselves down and look on.

For example, yesterday, I wondered upstairs to find this:

As you can see, the Older Sister was finishing up Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Littlest Wrecker undeterred, hopped in her chair, threw a doll down, and worked at dressing another doll. The Other Wrecker less obtrusively looked on. Eventually they did beg the Older Sister to read aloud, which she happily did.

I noticed last night, however, that the Older Sister started a new book from the Fairchild Family Series by Rebecca Caudill. Now she’s reading Happy Little Family.

How about the boys?

At this moment, the boys are all deep into the Redwall Series by Jacques Brian, again. There are some twenty or more books in this series, and we only own the first eight or nine. So every now and then the boys beg me to pick up a few from the library, which I did earlier this week. They’re currently reading Long Patrol, Marlfox, and Legend of Luke, I think.

The boys also have a few audio books going. At lunchtime, we’re listening to The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This is the original book–not a modern, edited version–and it’s difficult, but beautiful and definitely worthwhile.

We do own a hardcover Illustrated Classics version of The Pilgrim’s Progress and another edited version that my boys read when they were little, but I wanted them to hear the original language and be very familiar with it. This book is so important. I can’t tell you how many times The Pilgrim’s Progress is mentioned in other books.

The other audio book we’re listening to during Art and History Time is from Tan Publishing. It’s volume 4, The Story of Civilization: The History of the United States. This whole series is great and worth owning in both print and audio versions.

The Eldest

The Eldest is reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe for her Literature class and Honey From the Rock by Roy Schoeman, which she picked up off of our bookshelves for fun.

Honey From the Rock is a fascinating read as it chronicles the conversion stories of 16 mostly well known Jews. I can particularly remember Alphonse Ratisbonne, who dramatically converted while in Rome after taking a dare to wear the Miraculous Metal. He eventually became a priest.

There is also the story of Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, which some of you may know from Catholic Answers and LifeSiteNews.

My Husband

My husband is currently reading a Ham Radio manual and Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson, FSSP. It must be a good book because my husband enjoys pausing and telling anyone in the room all the biblical and historical reasonings behind every gesture, item, and action during the Traditional Latin Mass.

Me?

I just finished rereading two books: The Quiet Light by Louis De Wohl and In This House of Brede by Rumor Godden. Both are excellent reads. The Quiet Light is a delightful romp through history with spiritually edifying insights. It also features a sacrificial love story of a knight, thwarted by his lady.

In This House of Brede is just downright good. If you’ve read it, you know. My favorite sister is Dame Agnes because she’s so cranky and always right. Dame Veronica, the book’s Drama Queen, gets a close second, though, because I love it when her chin quivers. She’s hysterical.

And what am I going to read next?

I think I’ll read Robert Hugh Benson’s The Queen’s Tragedy, which chronicles the reign of Mary Tudor in England. I’ve never been disappointed with Benson’s historical novels.

How about you?

Have you read anything good lately?

Motherhood & Parenting

Surrendering to God’s Will

We are home from Paul’s latest surgery–his fifteenth, I believe, in less than two years.

Waking up in post-op. Still groggy.

Lately Paul’s doctor has been attempting to find just the right valve for his spinal shunt to allow for a maximum flow of fluid to release from his brain without causing other problems elsewhere. It’s a tricky thing. You’ll remember that Paul’s initial problem is an arachnoid cyst that sits on top of his brain, under his skull. He has a second shunt embedded there that is no longer functioning and which they cannot remove without damaging his brain. This surgery, however, was for the spinal shunt. In particular, it was to replace the valve located in his side.

Oh, it’s complicated. So complicated in fact that Paul’s doctor knows of no other case anywhere that even comes close to Paul’s. And as it is, this is the last known valve to exist that we can try. In other words, we are desperately hoping that this will work. There’s nothing left.

We know of course that we’re in God’s hands, though. He has willed all of this suffering, and so we rest in His care. Now this is an easy thing to know, but less easy to feel, especially when Paul is suffering. Instead of crying about it–of which I’ve done plenty–there’s only one thing to do, however, and that’s to live! We trust in Jesus, no matter what happens.

Right now Paul is doing and feeling well, in spite of the dreaded swelling in his spine, but pray for us, dear Readers. Pray for Paul; pray for a miracle.

Swelling in his spine that doesn’t want to go away. It’s this swelling that causes the spinal catheter to slip out, resulting in ceaseless vomiting and/or worse.

Paul, showing the site of his recent surgery wherein his doctor is experimenting with the last known valve, which connects to the spinal catheter.

Happy to receive candy bouquets! Thank you grandma and grandpa!

Christ-Like Minimalism

Can a Teenager Be a Minimalist?

The short answer is yes, but I’m not so sure my teenager is. She does try, however, and today I’m going to offer a tour of her room.

The Eldest’s Room

I’d like to begin by saying that I wish The Eldest did not have her own room, for I think sharing a room with a sibling is terribly helpful in combatting selfishness and pride. This should be obvious to anyone who has had to endure this and contend with a sibling using all your stuff and leaving it all over the place. Nothing is sacred. Furthermore, it’s obvious that nothing can really be private. And for sanity’s sake, one had better have a tidy room to accommodate another person’s treasures and junk. Truly, the possibility for virtue is endless when sharing a room.

In our situation, however, sharing a room isn’t practical. The Next Girl Sibling is half the age of The Eldest and follows a completely different sleeping schedule. The Eldest gets up at 6am, showers, and joins us for Lauds at 6:20, while The Next Girl Sibling skips it all and sleeps until 7:30 am. She also goes to bed a full hour earlier. (At least The Next Girl Sibling has the honor of sharing a room with two Little Wreckers, her younger sisters, which ought to contribute to her growth in holiness and virtue…)

In any case, we’ve decided that The Eldest gets her own room for the time being, and here is a shot of it standing in the doorway.

She does try to keep her possessions to a minimal.

I’d like to point out the neatly made bed. Is it always this way? Nope. Almost never, in fact. But moving on…the two drawers under her bed are not for clothes. One drawer contains knitting apparatus and the other has all the Little Girls’ paper dolls, which they frequently play with during the day and leave all over the place. The night stand serves as The Eldest’s only dresser, and it contains her underthings.

Next, here’s a shot of the opposite wall that I took while standing on her bed:

This side of the room contains an old desk that used to be mine in college. Now normally this desk is covered with school books and piles of paper, but today The Eldest is at school and has her homework with her. The drawers of this desk contain a ridiculous number of colored pens and other letter-writing equipage, which is clearly not minimalist. (She’s a diligent epistoler and a dabbling calligrapher, so we’ll forgive her.)

Lastly, and really what everyone’s interested in, is the closet. Just how much clothing does a teenage girl in this day and age need?

Notice the lego bin on the floor. This contains all four girls’ legos and is most often dumped out and scattered everywhere…

Here is a full shot of the closet. There are no other clothing articles hiding anywhere. What you can’t see on the top shelf is only a sewing machine and a sewing basket on the left and right respectively. In other words, here is The Eldest’s entire wardrobe for every season of the year. (Remember, she does not have a dresser or chest of drawers, other than the night stand.)

Let me break it down for you.

On her shelf are four piles of clothes: (L to R)

  1. running clothes
  2. 1 pair of jeans and 1 pair of sweatpants
  3. shorts to go under skirts and dresses
  4. long leggings to go under skirts and dresses

After the piles, you can see two pair of dress-up shoes. She’s also got a pair of running shoes, flip flops, two pairs of boots, and one pair of Mary Janes for school, which in all total 7 pairs of shoes.

Her clothes left to right break down (roughly) thus: 3 dresses, 8 or so skirts, school uniforms in the middle, 14 or so long sleeved shirts and sweaters, 8 or so short sleeved shirts, 8 or so tank tops. There are a couple of items in the laundry basket below, which you can see, so likely I’m missing a few.

Now, is this minimalistic? I don’t know. For her station in life and considering that she’s got to weather all four seasons in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I’d say it’s not bad. Certainly others have and do get by on less, but I’m satisfied.

One rule we do practice in this household is One Item In; One Item Out. In other words, if grandma gives The Eldest a new sweater for Christmas, which she did, then The Eldest must choose a sweater to give away, which she did, thankfully.

And that concludes our tour. Questions? Be sure to ask.

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday–Epiphany Edition

How was your week? This last week has been wild and busy for our household. So, I thought I’d do a Flashback Friday. It’s been awhile.

  1. Last Wednesday–the 6th–was Epiphany. Did you celebrate? We did, and it began on the 5th with the traditional blessing of salt and water at St. James the Less Catholic Church. If you’ve never attended this traditional blessing, you’re missing out! The prayers are beautiful and powerful, especially the exorcism prayers. If you’d like more about it, click HERE wherein Fr. Zuhlsdorf shows pictures from his church and explains the ceremony.
Getting set up at St. James for the blessing. The servers are organizing everyone’s water and salt. We brought 4 gallons of water and 2 containers of salt to use throughout this coming year.

The above photo shows the water and salt that families brought in to be blessed. They will use this water throughout the year to bless their homes and their children. The salt can be used likewise, and in cooking.

2. Of course we went to Mass on Epiphany Day too. Then afterwards we had friends over for a meal and then later, we prayed the traditional blessing of the home while my husband chalked the front door with blessed chalk, which our parish provides. (If you’ve never done this, it’s not too late! Click HERE for more information.)

Inside of our front door. You’ll notice that the first two numbers and the last two numbers are the current year. The three middle initials stand for the Magi, separated by crosses.

3. Also on the evening of Epiphany, our family chooses a new Saint of the Year. This is just a custom that we’ve done over the last ten or so years. In short, everyone is supposed to prayerfully pick a saint to submit to the hat. My husband invokes the Holy Spirit and asks Him to choose a saint for our family. Then I draw one from the hat.

Last year was St. Miguel Pro, which one of my sons had submitted. This year? The Holy Family, which one of the Little Girls had submitted. She afterward explained, “Well, I wanted Jesus, Mary, AND Joseph, so I put in the whole Holy Family.” And the Holy Family it is!

We’ll invoke the Holy Family to pray for us all year long, especially at every meal.

4. Did anyone eat anything interesting over these holidays? We’ve been eating dove lately, as our boys are making use of their Christmas pellet guns.

It’s not bad eating, really. Chop it up and saute it in olive oil with garlic and onion. You can’t go wrong.

5. I caught the Little Girls playing with toothpaste again. Seriously, this is a problem. I had to clean it up off the bathroom floor and counters. But I guess it makes for good soup or whatever the Little Girls are serving up in their restaurant.

Caught her red-handed. Notice the measuring cup of toothpaste? What I want to know is, what happened to the toothpaste that was obviously IN the cup?? Did someone eat it? Gross.

6. Lastly, dear Readers, Paul is scheduled for another surgery this Monday. If you think of it, remember him in your prayers. He’s doing well, but the swelling in his spine has grown to alarming levels, and we’ll need to experiment with another shunt that can hopefully manage the fluid in his brain better.

7. Oh, but I can’t leave you on a negative note. If you need a bit of encouragement, read Psalm 139 which begins, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me…you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” It’s so beautiful. We are meant to live here and now, and God will never leave us; He is great and powerful and reigns forever!

Most Popular Posts

Looking Back: Most Popular Posts of 2020

I had fun looking back at my stats for 2020. There were a few surprises, which I’ll get to in a minute. In all, though, what a year of revelation, for the Church anyway. Catholics quickly figured out how much the sacraments meant to both themselves, their pastors, and the State. Unfortunately we were devastatingly and deploringly deemed nonessential by most.

I wonder, how will this eventually pan out?

In any case, it was a year of clarity. Look, does the spiritual life matter to me or not? Yes? Then families will be seeking out churches that didn’t close during this hyped-up mania and will be finding pastors willing to teach the hard truths. There is nothing more important than our eternal salvation. Nothing.

Which reminds me, have you gone to confession yet in the New Year?

Most Popular Post of 2020

This leads me to my Most Popular Post of 2020: The Communion in the Hand Debacle. I can’t say I’m surprised by its popularity. The Holy Eucharist is our lifeline, so to speak. We cannot live without it, and furthermore, we have a right to receive on the tongue, no matter the circumstances.

Second Most Popular Post of 2020

My Second Most Popular Post of 2020 was Should One “Stockpile?” I thought this was interesting, as I didn’t expect that great of a response to it. For the record, I’m still inclined to say yes, it might be prudent to “stockpile” or have an extra supply of those things one normally consumes. I don’t think, however, one should obsess or go overboard.

Third Most Popular Post of 2020

My Third Most Popular Post of 2020 was actually from more than a year ago, which was a complete surprise, as I only include the clicks from this year. That means that I have multiple people every day still clicking on it. It’s Kim, Why Do You Always Wear Skirts? Women must be absolutely fascinated with this topic. Perhaps I’ll expound more on it later, for I do love my skirts.

Happy New Year!

As always, if there’s ever a topic you’d like to hear my thoughts on, be sure to drop me a line.

Life is Worth Living

Merry Christmas! Photopost

Merry Christmas! And a happy feast of St. Stephen! (We’ll be singing Good King Wenceslaus all day in St. Stephen’s honor.) As I have a few moments before driving off to South Dakota, I thought I’d post a few photos from the last few days.

Decorating the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve.

Midnight Mass at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on St. Mary’s Ridge, WI. It was a lovely TLM with a magnificent choir.

First Breakfast on Christmas morning.

Opening Presents

Older brother gets a new pellet gun. Younger brother received older brother’s BB gun.

Trying to get a nice family picture!

Minutes ago. Geared up in NDSU attire, ready to hop in the van–hopefully void of all rodents–and meet staunch SDSU cousins.

Merry Christmas!