Here are some of my favorite things lately. Is there anything you’ve been enjoying? I’d love to hear about it.
Favorite Children’s Book on Audible:Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Brink. Since we’re moving to Wisconsin, we thought this book pertinent, which it is. But, seriously, it’s very entertaining too.
Favorite Read Aloud: Rebecca Caudill’s Tree of Freedom, which we’re in the middle of. The children groan every time I put it down. “Ah, Mom! Can’t you just read one more page?” But a girl’s gotta have Quiet Time; I can’t read aloud all day long.
My Favorite Read: Hands down, Hilaire Belloc’sPath to Rome. Every time I read it, I just chuckle and laugh to myself. He’s so witty! Everything I’ve ever read by him is a gem, including this travelogue.
Best Amazon Purchase: Besides my new dress with pockets? The board game Catan. We can’t stop playing it; our whole family is addicted. In fact, we should really consider purchasing the 5-6 player Expansion. And Sea-Farers. Or Cities and Knights…
Favorite YouTube Video: Yes, I just made this a category. But if you haven’t been watching Dr. Taylor Marshall, you’re missing out. We especially enjoyed THIS one.
Best Movie Seen in an Actual Movie Theater: Yeah, I know, right?! I actually saw a movie in the movie theater. It’s the first time that’s happened in about ten years, and it was worth it, even if there were jabs at marriage and the plight of women in the 1800s. The ironic thing is, is that in this movie (and the book) all the women end up married. Go figure. In any case, go see Little Women. You’ll sob. (And thank you to my mother-in-law for inviting me!)
Favorite Drink: A Gibraltar. This is a double-shot of espresso with an ounce or so of steamed milk served in a tiny tumbler. You gotta try it. If you live in Bismarck, North Dakota, go to Anima Cucina and order one. Jason makes the best drinks there.
Best Idea Ever: Pay your children a dollar for every lesson in the Baltimore Catechism that they memorize. Our children are on a learning frenzy, thanks to my husband. I guess money can be a good motivator…
Here are a few photos from Christmas morning. Enjoy!
For those of you who might like ideas for your own children. Here’s what we gave each child:
One wrapped present, which was a clothing item and a book
One Christmas stocking, which contained a “fun” toy, new socks, and candy
And yes, we still adhere to our “One In, One Out Rule.” In other words, if a doll comes in, a doll goes out. This year, prior to Christmas, the girls had already given away a doll to charity. If this seems confusing, see my post on Toys HERE.
This time, however, we’re not just hopping across a river and strolling down the road a few miles. Nope, we’re trekking across the state, skipping over Minnesota, and landing in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where my husband will begin a new job at the end of January.
We’re very excited about this move for a few reasons:
La Crosse puts us within about 70 miles of Rochester, MN, where our son doctors. This will be a tremendous relief for us, should we need to race to the Emergency Room in the middle of the night again. (God forbid.)
La Crosse, as you perceptive readers may have noticed, has gorgeous churches, complete with Traditional Latin Masses every single Sunday. As this is what our hearts long for, we are truly delighted and grateful for this opportunity.
My husband is very pleased too with his new job. It looks to be just what we need.
And…it’s warmer in Wisconsin! And the sun shines more. Not kidding. My husband looked it up. Any move closer to the equator is a Serious Plus.
There are a few downsides to moving south (and east), however.
We will be leaving behind family and friends. This will not be easy, and it does tear our hearts. We have been so blessed over the years with devoted grandparents and caring friends. We thank God for them every day.
It will also be terrible to leave the prairie for a forest. How does one see the weather coming in Wisconsin? My goodness, I’ll have to actually look at a Weather App.
My husband has frequently commented that he’ll miss his boss and coworkers. His boss in particular is a good man–a man he looks up to. He will be awfully hard to replace.
In any case, though, God has clearly made His will known to us, and we are happy to move. Wisconsin, here we come!
And we did the unthinkable…
Due to the impending move, we did the unthinkable and put the Christmas tree up early. Yes, we are still observing our Advent rituals. For example, here are the little girls joyfully watching the Advent candles burn:
But we did it; we committed Liturgical Sin and bought a huge, 9-foot Fraser Fir right smack in the middle of Advent.*
Oh, what a tree! Just for fun, here are some photos of the children decorating it.
All said and done:
If you look closely at the foot of the fireplace, you’ll see our Nativity Stable and Inn. (You know, the Inn that rejected Joseph and Mary.) Of course Joseph and Mary aren’t there yet, in fact, they wandering around in the kitchen cupboards right now, and the children are having a jolly, good time playing with all the shepherds, sheep, and inn keepers.
Favorite Christmas Ornament?
All my birds. One cannot have enough birds in a Christmas tree.
Ok, I really like this ornament too. It’s my husband in 1987. He made this ornament for his mother, and she graciously gave it to us.
*Next year, however, we do plan on waiting until the last possible moment for buying and putting up a Christmas tree. Truly, there is something really special about that. See HERE for it.
We’re packing up this morning for a week of travel. It’s for business and pleasure. Our son, Paul, has two days of medical appointments in Rochester, and then we’re headed to South Dakota for Thanksgiving at the Farm, which should be a good time.
My dad’s whole family will be there celebrating, which amounts to 50-60 people, depending on how many cousins show up. My children are very excited, especially the boys, as Aunt Elline has been known to search out little boys and lavish big smooches with her bright, red lipstick-ladened lips. The boys, however, declare that they’ll never be caught!
Advent is just around the corner, and you know what that means, right? You guessed it, piano recitals.
I know it’s the first thing you thought of too because your kid is probably practicing Go Tell It on the Mountain right now. You’ve heard that song so many times that you have his every mistake memorized. And you’ve silently made a mental note to delete it from your iTunes playlist for when Christmas does finally arrive.
I used to think that Advent piano recitals, wherein every child plays a Christmas piece, were a bit disordered. Aren’t we suppose to wait until December 25th to listen to Christmas music? So, why not have that concert during the Christmas Season? Everybody’s bored in January anyway.
But I’m older and wiser now. I know why these recitals are held during Advent. It’s because Advent is meant to be a Penitential Season, and there is no greater form of penance than sitting through an hour of children slogging through Christmas jingles.
It’s not there that aren’t some really good pieces being played. Oh, there are. It’s just that I’ve got to sit through 5 of my own children playing. FIVE. So I can’t just sit back and relax after Little Therese pecks out Silent Night. No, I’ve got to sweat it through 4 more.
Oh, the agony! My stomach drops with every mistake made. Perspiration breaks out on my forehead. My heart races as I sit on the edge of my chair. It doesn’t even have to be my kid playing the piece, if whomever fumbles a little, I start trembling and biting my nails. I wonder if it would be an appropriate time to take out my rosary and begin praying on my knees.
By the time the hour is over, I’m weak and exhausted, as I lean back into my chair. It feels as if I’ve staggered across a marathon finish line and by George I deserve a drink.
Cheers to a Season of Recitals! Cheers to Perspiration and Sweat! Three Cheers for Advent!
P.S. For those of you who homeschool, there’s a great article from OnePeterFive HERE.
In honor of my husband shooting a beauty of a buck–11 points!–I’ve reposted last year’s Hunting Soliloquy below. Enjoy.
But first, here are the boys, holding the thing’s head in the garage before Mass.
And now onto last year’s thoughts…
Opening Deer Season 2018: A Solemnity
Now there are seasons that we celebrate in this household. You know, like Christmas, Lent, Easter, Hunting, and Advent. It just so happens that we’re about to embark on Hunting Season this weekend. Today is in fact Opening Day for North Dakota.
Like any other solemn undertaking, we begin this season with many prayers. For example, the following prayer may be found in the Divine Office in the Proper of Seasons:
O Lord, please let my husband shoot a deer within the first hour of hunting. You know, O Lord, how I cannot survive another Saturday without his presence. I’m afraid I might yell. And look like this:
Help me. I need You. Amen.
As you know, Hunting Season commences with a Class 2 Feast Day, which is of course properly called Opening Day.* You might also recall that at the recent Youth Synod in October many reforms were suggested by the youth to the Holy Father in the hopes of elevating this most important day.*
Suggested Reforms Coming Out of the Latest Synod
Holy Father, We the Youth ask that Opening Day may be made a Solemnity and a Holy Day of Obligation wherein in all Youth are required to abstain from school and made rather to walk the glorious fields of God’s creation with a gun.
We the Youth ask that this synod might be renamed from “Walking Together” to “Walking Together With Guns.”
We the Youth ask that St. Hubert, patron saint of hunters, be made a Doctor of the Church.
We the Youth also propose Orange Vestments to be worn during these solemn of days.
I’m not sure if the Youth were successful in any of these endeavors. I do know, however, that our household will also be praying the following prayer, which may found somewhere in the Bible. I think Moses prayed it in the Wilderness with those stubborn Hebrews.
O Lord, you see that our freezer is empty. We humbly ask that you might provide a 30 Point Buck to fall within sight of my husband’s .243 Rifle. For You are All Powerful and Glorious forever and ever. Amen.*
*Not really. Nope. These things never happened. This is nowhere in the Bible.
For those of you who may be interested in my son Paul’s story, I’ll be interviewed on Real Presence Radio this Monday, November 4th, at 10am. I hope to speak of God’s greatness in allowing us to suffer this trial. May He be glorified and adored forever!
For those of you who may be new to Musings From the Home, click HERE for more pictures and a brief account of his suffering.
And Just For Fun
And lastly, just for fun…HERE is a video of some men destroying Pachamama with explosives. Not kidding.
The other day, when the twins and I were stranded in St. Paul, we decided to tour the old James J. Hill Mansion. I was of course wearing my usual attire: black shirt, gray skirt, and black boots.
And naturally I was minding my own business during this tour, politely listening to our Tour Guide in his ponytail, pink button-up shirt, and skinny jeans.
As we were entering the bed chamber and bathroom of the Mr. James J. Hill’s wife, our Tour Guide commented on the lack of a shower.
He glibly remarked, “You’ll notice, if you look into Mrs. Hill’s bathroom, that you will not see a shower, but rather only a bathtub. In fact, none of her daughters’ bathrooms have showers either, but all the boys do, as well as James Hill. This was because it was thought that if a woman were to take a shower, she may suddenly want to wear…”
He dramatically paused and then smirked, “pants.”
At this point, the Tour Guide grinned and looked directly at me, the only woman wearing a skirt in our group, and then remarked, “You probably don’t have a shower in your home?”
He winked at me and went on, “Watch out for those showers, ladies!”
Honestly, it took all my self-control to hold back an eye roll. Instead, I just interiorly rolled my eyes, for he meant his comment as a slight to any woman who would be backwards enough to prefer the chains of feminine attire.
Well, I do prefer dressing in a feminine way. I like skirts, and I like dresses. And I can really think of two main reasons why this is so:
I am a woman after all, and I like how skirts and dresses make me feel. I like feeling feminine. Why is that such a bad thing in our culture anyway? Why must we all be the same?
I’ve noticed that when I do “dress up,” I feel better about everything. My morale goes up. I’m happier. I’m a better wife and a better mother.
For the record, I do own one pair of jeans and one pair of black pants, which I do wear from time-to-time…even though I don’t like them.
Today, however, in honor of my Condescending Tour Guide I want to offer a challenge to any ladies out there who may have never given skirts or dresses a chance. I challenge you to a 30-Day Skirt-Wearing Fiesta. (Or Dress-Wearing Fiesta.)
30-Day Skirt-Wearing Fiesta Guidelines
Wear a skirt (or dress) for 30 days in a row.
Notice how it makes you feel. Uncomfortable? Pretty? Frumpy? Feminine? Whatever.
Does anyone treat you differently because you’re “dressed up” in a seriously “dressed down” culture?
Write these things down daily. Keep a journal.
At the end of 30 days, review your thoughts, and let me know what you think. I’m genuinely curious, for I realize that skirts and dresses are not everyone’s cup of tea.
I Did Not Grow Up Wearing Them Either
By the way, I never used to wear skirts every day. It just sort-of grew on me over the years, but I suppose it began about 15 years ago in grad school. I had a friend who consistently wore skirts, and she always looked so well put-together. Later she married and everlastingly wore the same thing: a black pencil skirt and a collared, button-up shirt. I can tell you, her presence commanded more respect and awe than if she had chosen to wear sweatpants and t-shirts.
In any case, I’ll close this post with photos and comments of my 4 skirts that I wear every single day. (I’ve also got a few nicer skirts and dresses for Mass…but I don’t feel like trying those on right now.)
This is my newest skirt, which I bought at Christopher and Banks for about $45 earlier this year. (It’s still available HERE on their website.) I like the jean material because it’s stiff. I don’t like flimsy material of any kind. The buttons that you see running down the front are deceiving, as they don’t actually unbutton. I also like this skirt because of its length. It’s great for any season. You’ll notice that all my skirts are this length, which is intentional.
I purchased this skirt for a few dollars at Clothes Mentor, a second-hand store. I’ve had it for a few years, and I still like it, even though I’m not a huge fan of brown.
I bought this skirt probably 7 or 8 years ago at Christopher and Banks. I don’t remember how much I paid for it. It’s also jean material, like the first skirt. (I clearly like jean material, even if some may think it nerdy.) I realize that when I wear this skirt, I’ve likely got “Homeschool Mom” tattooed on my forehead, but I don’t care.
Lastly, you’ve already seen this skirt. It was also purchased at Christopher and Banks 7 or 8 years ago, and I still like it, in spite of Condescending Tour Guides.
If you’ve got any other clothing-related questions, be sure to ask! Or, if you’d like a tour of my closet, click HERE.
For those of you who may be new here, I’ve also got some other thoughts on clothing and modesty HERE.
Anyone remember this photo that I posted awhile ago?
At the time, we thought it might be a bull snake, but we were wrong. That is definitely not a bull snake. It’s a fox snake.
The boys and I recently made this discovery while we were in Rochester last week. During one of Paul’s good days, I took the twins to Quarry Hill, which features some scenic trails and a little nature center. This nature center happens to house a few snakes (yuck), and a staff worker kindly let the boys hold their fox snake (yuck, yuck, yuck).
Now this is obviously disgusting, but the boys were undaunted by it and had no problem holding a live snake. Me? No. Way.
The point is, is that I was gravely mistaken about the difference between a bull snake and a fox snake. In case anyone is wondering, a bull snake is fatter, and while the colors of both are nearly the same, their patterns are not. See below.
As it is, when my husband and I were hiking this last summer on some nearby trails, I believe it was a bull snake we came by. But all the other snakes we have seen this year have been fox snakes. Like this one I snapped a shot of towards the end of summer:
And here it is, trying to get away from my boys:
There. I’ve made my correction. My conscience may rest in peace. Science class is over for the year. May I never see a snake again. Amen. Alleluia.
P.S. For those of you wondering about Paul…he’s doing well. He is having daily headaches, but they’re “small,” which means that both of his shunts are working. We travel back to Rochester at the end of November. If both shunts continue to work, but he still has daily headaches, then likely he’ll be in for that big, complex surgery. St. Jude, pray for us.
P.P.S. We’re just kind of hoping the headaches disappear all together. But in the meantime, this last week has been nice, as these headaches are not the scary ones, and he can fully function with them.
Well, the good news is, Paul, Michael, and I are on our way home from Rochester at last! The bad news is, we’re stranded in Fargo because of a big snow storm that’s been raging across North Dakota for a few days now. The interstate is still closed between here and Bismarck.
Fortunately, Fargo is a great place to be stranded in, however, because we have family here. In fact, I don’t mind at all. We’re staying at my husband’s aunt’s house, and it feels like a spa! Check out my room:
And right now, I am sitting in a quaint sunroom:
But here’s a closer look at the snow out my window:
To really get an idea of the nasty weather, however, you must look at a few photos my husband sent of the other side of the state. Here’s my backyard:
Those of you in warmer climates, eat your hearts out! We’re committing a sacrilege and listening to Christmas music. According to my husband, there’s only one thing to do in October weather like this:
Go, grab a beer, and send the children outside to make snowmen.
P.S. For those of you who like wintery poetry, see THIS post. It is very fitting.
P.P.S. Paul is doing well. He is still having headaches, but they’re “small.” Hopefully we can get a few weeks at home before he gets worse again… Or maybe, they’ll just disappear all together. In the meantime, we’re hoping to be together again as a family sometime tomorrow, if the interstate opens up.
I want to begin by soberly thanking every one of you who has offered a prayer or a sacrifice for Paul and our family. Again we are deeply thankful for all the kind words, meals, money, and most especially, the prayers and sacrifices. God works in mysterious ways, and please know that we feel His love through you all.
Unfortunately after another shunt revision surgery last Friday, Paul is still hurting. His head is aching, in an ebb and flow manner, and he isn’t eating well.
Because we were able to secure a house within walking distance of the hospital, however, Paul was allowed to join us. This has been a great blessing for our family. It cheers him to be around all his brothers and sisters.
Yesterday we took the whole family and attended a Latin Mass at the shrine in La Crosse, WI, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. During his brief homily the priest paused and said quietly, “One of two things happen, when one begins to pray the rosary every day. He either quits sinning, or he quits praying the rosary.”
Put so starkly, those words gave me great hope.
Incidentally, we were able to make this pilgrimage to the Shrine through the generosity of some friends. But also, on a practical level, we were able to take Paul because the Shrine offers rides on a golf cart to those individuals who are unable to make the ten minute hike up the wooded hill to the church. Our Lady was surely interceding for us!
We prayed for Paul, but also for a friend of ours suffering from cancer and for the Amazon Synod. We lit a candle in this small chapel on the hillside:
It was a beautiful day, even if our hearts were aching for our son.
Tomorrow Paul has more appointments, to determine what should or should not be done. Every day we live in uncertainty as to whether he’ll get better or not. It is agonizing. But we continue to trust in God. We want to be loyal to His will, no matter the cost.
Tomorrow is also Paul’s 11th birthday, which he of course shares with his twin brother, Michael. (I wrote about their birth HERE.)
But today…today we thank God for his most lovely and fair mother. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Paul is unexpectedly back in the hospital. (For those of you who are new, click HERE for more details and pictures.)
We are choked with grief, as we watch him suffer. He’s been vomiting for two days now, as the doctors are deciding what to do. As it is, they are going to tap his spinal shunt, to see if fluid will come out. If no fluid comes out, then Paul will have another shunt revision surgery. If fluid does come out, then that means the shunt system is “working,” but it’s not helping him. In this case, he’ll have a cranial reconstruction surgery on Monday or Tuesday. This is where they cut and peel back his skin from ear to ear, take apart his skull, and put it back together, allowing for more space. (St. Jude, pray for us.)
In the meantime, his doctors will do everything they can to get him through the weekend. They can go in, open up his cyst, and drain fluid to release pressure, but again, they won’t do the cranial reconstruction surgery until Monday or Tuesday because it requires more doctors and planning. It is a complex surgery, to say the least.
We should know later tonight which surgery to expect.
This is very painful for all of us. It’s heart-rending.
Just now, we’ve booked a house within walking distance of the hospital, and the children and I are leaving tomorrow morning to join my husband and Paul. Our whole family will be together.
Please remember us in your prayers.
P.S. A friend sent this to me. I feel it in my heart. Thank you, dear friend.