Life is Worth Living

Winter is HERE: A Poem to Celebrate!

Now I know that some of you live in warmer climates.  You know who you are.  You’re probably reading this on your iPhone, sitting on your deck, listening to birds sing, while the rest of us are freezing our tushies off and drinking anything hot to stay alive.  I’ll have you know that the windchill was zero this morning.  Zero.  (Yes, it called for an extra cup of coffee just for coping reasons.)

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This was the view out my front window.  Not really…

Anyway, I wanted to brighten everyone’s day with a little poetry.  My daughter recently came across a lovely poem in an obscure South Dakota centennial book.* The author is unknown, and I’ve typed it below for your enjoyment.  Of course one might substitute “South Dakota” for “North Dakota.”

And I must warn my sensitive readers, this anonymous author uses the word butt.  Goodness, the language some people use these days.

Winter in South Dakota

It’s winter in South Dakota
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour,
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love South Dakota,
When the snow’s up to your  butt.
You take a breath of winter in
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful.
So I guess I’ll hang around.
I could never leave South Dakota
I’m frozen to the ground!

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*Celebrating 125 Years of History and Growth, pg. 17.  Email me later if you actually want the publisher, etc.  I don’t have the book in front of me at the moment, and I’m too cold to get off the couch right now.  Happy Winter!
Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Tumbleweeds, Voles, & Saints

How was your week?  Here are a few highlights from mine.

I’ll bet you don’t have these.

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Check out these mammoth tumbleweeds.

While I’ve been busy unpacking the house, the children have been busy chasing tumbleweeds.  Then they like to stack them along the trees rows to provide further protection from the wind and enemies, who might be seeking to destroy their forts.

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The wall of tumbleweeds extends down the lilac row to the left.

While our new home does not have the quantity of trees that the old place offered, the children are still satisfied with its meager three rows of lilac, ash, and ponderosa pine.  We’ll plant more in the spring.

Some of you may be wondering how Strider is adjusting to his new home?  Well, this morning, he caught and ate three voles.

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Here he is with Vole #2.

He likes to drag them up to the back deck and wait at the patio door for us to see.  Then he eats them.  The children love this.  And I call it Biology Class.

Yesterday was All Saints Day.  My children dressed up for it.

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I’m not really sure what saints they are.  I think there’s a couple Benedictine monks.  Maybe a discalced hermit?  And a knight-saint – Saint Louis King of France?

And lastly, I offer an article that David Clayton wrote earlier this week.  I appreciate his points about Satan and Halloween.  (I suppose because we have chosen to keep our eye on All Saint’s Day and not Halloween too.)  There is an especially poignant quotation from a Russian Orthodox Bishop that I encourage you to read.  Here’s part of it:

Can you honestly think—you who gaze at and touch the holy icons in your home and in our temples, and know that the saints are present with you, and that you are drawn into their holy lives—that to be willingly surrounded by images of the demons (however childish and infantile their representation) will not also affect your heart, and your children’s hearts, and draw them closer to powers that none would call holy?

Click HERE for the whole article.

Finally, remember to pray for the dead today on All Souls Day.  And listen to Mozart’s Requiem.  It’s a Mass for the dead, which would originally have been composed for the Extraordinary Form.  It’s beautiful.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756-1791
Life is Worth Living

Wherein I Offer 3 Articles You Must Read

This last week my family and I moved to a new home.  Deo gratias.

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This is me celebrating with a glass of port at my in-laws.  Not at my new house.  More on that later.

As you can imagine, I am busy unpacking.

So today I offer 3 articles that you should read.  They all come from New Liturgical Movement. And if you have a spare minute, do yourself a favor and read one of them right now.

Here they are:

  1. I’m sick of ugly buildings.  Are you?  David Clayton spells it out for us HERE.  And I’ve added two photos for your contemplation.
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Photo #1.  Ugly Building.  The Capitol of North Dakota.
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Photo #2.  Beautiful Building.  Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

 

2.  Do you have sons?  If they are discerning a vocation to the priesthood, what kind of seminary would you have them attend?  Dr. Kwasniewski writes about this by showing different vocational videos.  One is demanding and requires sacrifice; the other is wishy-washy and features happy-go-lucky seminarians and cardinals.  Click HERE for it.

3.  Why, oh why, can’t we get this right at Mass?  Music matters.  Music becomes a part of us, and if we continually fill ourselves with emotional schmaltzy jingles, then that’s what we’ll become.

Cardinal Sarah gets it.  You should just read what he writes HERE about Gregorian Chant.  My husband has been reading this article out loud to the children (well, and me too) at supper.

You might also consider buying both of Sarah’s books.

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Now here’s a man.  God or Nothing.
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The Power of Silence.  Your library is incomplete without both of these.

And one more thing.  An invite.

If you happen to be in the Bismarck/Mandan area, and would like to experience the Mass of the Ages, come to Christ the King Catholic Church this Sunday, October 28, at 11:30am.

Fr. Nick Schneider will offer the Extraordinary Form the Mass.  You know, the Mass that St. Maximillian Kolbe celebrated.  The Mass that St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about.  The Mass that St. Therese the Little Flower loved.

And there’s a potluck afterwards, if you want to stay and visit.  I’d love to meet you.

Call Me Catholic

Vigano Nails It

If you’re following the Church Crisis, I offer you Msgr. Charles Pope’s Reflections on Archbishop Vigano’s Courageous Third Letter, which first appeared in the National Catholic Register yesterday.  (Click HERE for it.)

Msgr. Pope begins his article with the following:

As I finished reading Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s third letter, I had an immediate sense that I had just read something that is destined to be one of the great pastoral and literary moments of the Church’s history. There was an air of greatness about it that I cannot fully describe. I was stunned at its soteriological quality — at its stirring and yet stark reminder of our own judgment day.

Finally, I want to encourage you to familiarize yourself with this terrible crisis because whether you realize it or not, it effects you and your family.  Homosexuality is the defining issue of the day.  And are you comfortable naming it?

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Archbishop Vigano.  Pray for him.  He is doing great work.
Book Review

From Dust to Stars – A Small Book of Poetry

Anyone find poetry overwhelming?

Would you like to read a small book of poems without a dictionary on hand or a history professor on the line?  Would you like to sit down with a cup of coffee and finish both within an hour?  Do you like pictures with your poems?  With good photographs, not sentimental slop?

Yes?  Then I found the perfect collection for you.

From Dust to Stars

Jake Frost recently wrote and published a slender volume of poetry called From Dust to Stars.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)

He has an interesting little bio that I found online:

Jake Frost is a lawyer in hiatus, having temporarily traded court rooms for kitchens and depositions for diapers to raise his pre-school aged children. He comes from a large family in a small town of the Midwest, and currently lives near the Mississippi River with his wife and children.

From it, I gather that he’s a stay-at-home dad.

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I love the cover, for I’ve always been a lover of the stars.

As I said above, I like this book for its great pictures and short length.  My baby happened to be sleeping, so I was able to read it straight through in one sitting.

This book reads somewhat like a short history book, beginning with biblically themed poems and then moving on to saints and angels.  My favorite of the former is Shiphrah and Puah.  This story comes from Genesis and tells of the two midwives refusing to obey Pharaoh’s command to kill baby boys born from Hebrew women.  This story has always struck me as funny because of those faithful midwives.  For in Frost’s words, the midwives say to Pharaoh,

“There is nothing we can do,
Before we even come
Their labor pains are through
And they hold their new born sons.”

Those robust Hebrew women sure do know how to have babies quickly!

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I’m not sure if you can see the photos here of the burning bush and St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt?  They’re great.

But my favorite poem might be The Ones Who Went Before.  It laments that we often forget the great people and courageous deeds that went before us.  Frost writes:

Then the stones were raised to mark the days
In remembrance evermore
Of the darkness stayed and the price once paid
By the ones who went before
But the sands of time swirl and blind
And weather the graying stone
Till worn away like a passing day
More is lost than known
And tales once told in hall and hold
In time are told no more
Like shadows in shade, memories fade
Of the ones who went before

Maybe it’s the melancholic in me, but I find this poem very true and beautiful, and yet frightening for the times we’re currently living in.  For our tales, our Christian tales, are now forgotten by many people.  Sigh.

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Again, a great photo on the opposite page explaining Saint Bees Dragon Stone.

In the end, this is a good little book.  And it would be good for your children too.  Maybe you’re studying the Old Testament and would like to read poems on Abraham, Joseph, and Jonah?  Or, maybe you would enjoy reading about the terrible English reformation?  (There are poems on such men as St. Richard Gwyn and St. Thomas More.)  Or, maybe you’d like a new poem to read on Christmas morning?

Parting Note: I love that he gets dragons right.  They are always evil and ought to be destroyed.  Deo gratias.

Book Review

Dr. Kwasniewski Announces New Reprints

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It is no secret.  I am a BIG fan of Dr. Kwasniewski.  Click HERE for my review of his book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness.

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So, when I recently read on New Liturgical Movement about the reprints of five books, put out by Os Justi Press, which is Kwasniewski’s republishing entity, I immediately took notice and clicked over to Amazon and threw one in my cart.

Let me advise you, run over to NLM, read the article, and do yourself a favor and buy one or more, especially if you homeschool, and especially if you happen to be studying the English Reformation, for two of the books are historical novels written by Robert Hugh Benson.

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Here they are: By What Authority? and The King’s Achievement

In an email to a friend of mine Kwasniewski wrote, “These two novels by Benson are simply the best unit studies for the periods of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. We read them aloud in our family and couldn’t put them down. My children have returned to them. They make this crucial piece of Catholic history come alive.”

I need no convincing that these novels are excellent, as I am already a fan of Benson, having devoured Come Rack! Come Rope! a few years ago.  But I’m also excited about the little book on vocation discernment that Kwasniewski is also reprinting.  It’s called Vocations by Fr. William Doyle, and really, you should go read the description of it on NLM.

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What am I reading right now?

In the end, I want to thank Dr. Kwasniewski for his hard work in putting out good material for us to read.  My husband is currently reading Pius Parsch’s The Breviary Explained, also reprinted by Os Justi Press.  It’s excellent, and I’m learning so much, as my husband likes to read passages out loud to me.

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My husband’s book.  If you pray Morning Prayer, or any other Office, you need this book.

And I’m reading Kwasniewski’s Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, and honestly, right now, it’s making me mad.  I feel as if I’ve been cheated out of our rich Catholic heritage.  Maybe I’ll do a book review of it later on.

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Snowing Already?!

How was your week?  Here are a few highlights from mine.

1. Dear Readers, I just want to let you know that it snowed here the other day.  Yep.  Those of you living in warmer climates, eat your hearts out.

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It wasn’t as bad as this photo from Wikimedia Commons, but this is how I felt.

2.  So, in honor of the first snow day, our household blasted Christmas music.  I know that some of you may consider this as near heretical behavior, but I ask you, what else ought one to do when it snows in the beginning of October?  I can’t play Louis Armstrong’s When You’re Smiling, because I ain’t smiling.  But I can play It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Bing Crosby, because it is.

3.  We took the children down to South Dakota, where it’s supposed to be warmer, to visit my parents.  They’re in the middle of harvesting soy beans and corn.  It’s a lot of fun riding around in combines.

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Here are some of my children standing in the corn, waiting for their combine ride.
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My dad and the children.

4.  We also took the children to Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sioux Falls.  Ever been there?  No?  It’s beautiful, especially if you attend the 9:15 am Mass when the Men’s Schola chants.  Be.You.Ti.Full.

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Cathedral of St. Joseph.  Now this is how you build a church.  Click HERE for more photos.

5.  We’re still moving and getting closer to The Day.  Next week we should close on our house and move into a new one.  Some of you may be wondering if it’s been a difficult last few months?  The answer is, yes.  For one thing, I haven’t had access to all my stuff for a good four weeks, as we’ve been packing.  Just where did I put that book on St. Dominic that my daughter needs for a speech?  Oh yes, I remember, in a box…

Call Me Catholic

October 7th & the Battle of Lepanto

Happy feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary!  This feast has a rich history, which I do not have time to relate.  (Click HERE for it at New Advent.)

However, many of you may know that this day was originally named Our Lady of Victory to commemorate the naval victory of the Christian fleet over the Turkish fleet in the gulf of Lepanto in the Adriatic Sea in 1571.

Every October 7th our family reads G. K. Chesterton’s famous poem, Lepanto.  If you’ve never read it before, give it shot!  Chesterton covers this historic battle very well, and it reads like a marching army.  We love it.  May God bless the souls of Don John of Austria and Pope Pius V!

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The Battle of Lepanto.  Artist unknown.  It sits in London now.  Can you see the different flags?
Homeschooling

A New Academic Year & A New Schedule

It’s the start of another school year for us, and I apologize for not getting this out sooner.

This year, however, we have a more complicated schedule as three of our children are being homeschooled (The Eldest, Child #4, and Child #5), two of our children are attending a Catholic Montessori grade school (The Twins), and the other two (Child #6 and the Baby) are just. plain. busy.

So, how do I manage it all?

With a good schedule and a lot of grace.  (And coffee, of course.)

Our New Schedule

Some of you may be curious as to how my day now looks, so I’ll break it down.*  Maybe you’ll glean an idea or two that might work for you.  Maybe not.  All families are different and have different needs, after all.

6:00am

Wake-up!  My husband and I still pray the Morning Office and end with about twenty or so minutes of silent prayer.  The three oldest children set their watch alarms and join us at 6:30 for a few minutes of their own silent prayer.  This time ends at 6:40 when the coffee maker beeps to signal that it’s ready for us, at which point I run for the kitchen and thankfully pour myself a big mug full.

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My lovely coffee pot with my favorite chipped mug.  My mother gave it to me.

6:40am

The older children commence Early Morning School, which consists of math facts, Latin, or handwriting.  The Eldest, however, does Saxon Math with my husband.

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The Twins working on a little Math and Latin this morning.

The only thing different about this time is that the two children attending the Montessori school must practice their piano in the morning, after their school work.  They only put in fifteen minutes each, but this is important because after being confined in school all day, who would want to sit down at a piano when getting home later on?  Not these boys.

While the older children are working on things that do not require my help, I sneak in a few minutes of computer time and then get ready for the day.

7:45am

My husband and The Twins leave.  The rest of us eat breakfast and commence Morning Time.  This looks pretty much the same as it did last winter.  While the children eat breakfast, I read the Mass readings and then we recite our poetry.

Right now The Eldest is back to working on a Shakespearian soliloquy, Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be.”  We had started this one earlier in the year, but had to take a break to memorize The Destruction of Sennacherib by Lord Byron for a program she’s involved with called. Catholic Schoolhouse.

Catholic Schoolhouse is a group of students who meet once a week and do some really awesome stuff.  (How’s that for an explanation?)

The little children are working on the Ten Commandments and the 46 books of the Old Testament.  A few years ago I came up with a jingle for it, to the tune of Jingle Bells.  It’s linked it below.  (It’s certainly not professional, as I simply sat down one day and recorded with talking babies and banging toddlers in the background.)  Feel free to use it, if it’s helpful.

 

You’ll notice that the first five books – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – are missing.  That’s because the children already know them in order, as the law books.  You might also notice that I moved 1 & 2 Maccabees to follow the history books.  I wanted to impress upon the children the 4 kinds of books in the Old Testament: Law, History, Wisdom, and Prophetic.  As a former teacher of the Old Testament, I found it helpful to be able to distinguish between the different kinds of writing.  All the other books are in order, however.

9:00am

After breakfast clean-up and piano, it’s time for Mid-Morning Prayer.  I moved this time up a bit, because it seemed to flow a little better with the baby’s schedule.  Remember, during all this busyness, I’m somehow nursing and caring for a baby and a 2-year-old.

During this time, we’re singing two hymns and learning a new prayer penned by St. Therese.  We finish this time together with a review of all our Latin vocabulary.

9:30am

The Eldest works on her Latin from Classical Academic Press.  Child #4 does Math and Spelling.  Child #5 sits down with me, and we learn to read.

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Who doesn’t love kindergarten?  Lots of coloring and learning of sounds.  I use Seton for phonics and Bob Books for fun.

11:00am

Lunch time!  This year I have to have a longer stretch of time here because The Eldest participates in an online class on writing through Schole Academy twice a week, which happens to be during lunch.  But this class has been wonderful for two reasons:  1.  She loves it, and  2.  I don’t have to do a single thing for writing and rhetoric anymore.

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Here she is, “attending” class, with her headphones on, to block out all the background noise.

During lunch we still listen to audio books from Audible.  Currently we’re enjoying Tan’s The Story of Civilization Volume 1, as we’re studying the Ancient World in history.

And that’s enough for today!

 

 

*Care to see how my day looked last winter?  Click on “A Day in the Life Series” in my tag cloud on the right.