Life is Worth Living

Travelogue: 9 Hours in the Van with 7 Kids

We did it. We drove 9 straight hours with 7 screaming* kids all the way to North Dakota for a few nights and then back again yesterday.

Now, how does one accomplish this Herculean Feat without losing one’s mind? I can think of 5 things that helped:

  1. Snacks. Lots of snacks, including all the food groups: apples, Hot Tamales, brownies, chips, and suckers.
  2. No Chugging of Water. Only tiny sips allowed until within 15 minutes of destination. This prevents multiple bathroom breaks. We don’t like to stop on the road; it’s too demoralizing. In fact, on the way there, we only stopped once.
  3. Podcasts. We listened to Dr. Taylor Marshall, Timothy Flanders at The Meaning of Catholic, and Mass of the Ages by Cameron O’Hearn. These great talks effectually bored the little children to sleep, which was best, and instructed the older ones, which was even better. My husband and I? We were just plain entertained, especially by O’Hearn’s interview with Eric Sammons.
  4. Audio Books. The little children begged for Winnie the Pooh. The older children wanted The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi. We took turns, going back and forth. Don Camillo, by the way, is hysterical, if you need a good laugh.
  5. Texting Parties. I had great fun texting a picture of my friend in her Trump dress that she wore to a gala in North Dakota. Apparently she was very popular, as everyone wanted to take a photo with her.
She made this dress. What talent!

You know, on our drive, all the way across Minnesota and North Dakota, we saw countless Trump signs. Apparently it doesn’t even matter that the election is over. I guess rural USA is still pro-Trump. Since a few signs had “Trump 2024,” though, perhaps that’s the reason?

What Did We Do in North Dakota?

Besides visiting family and friends, we did the following:

  1. We held our baby Godson while he was baptized according to the Traditional Rite.
  2. We enjoyed my mother-in-law’s fabulous meatballs. (I look forward to them every time.)
  3. My husband and I went on a double-date with friends at our favorite restaurant in Bismarck–Anima Cucina.
  4. We paused for a minute and took this family photo:

It’s impossible to get everyone to smile at the same time…

5. I greatly enjoyed looking at the vast, beautiful, blue skies. (There is nothing like it, and I’m serious.)
6. We went on lovely bike rides through tall, cottonwood trees.
7. We attended a TLM out in the middle of nowhere with many other young families. The place was crawling, literally, with babies and toddlers.

St. Vincent Catholic Church on the top of a hill, in the middle of nowhere, with the best of families in attendance.


7. I drank coffee and chatted with some wonderful friends.
8. And lastly, I didn’t sleep! I never do anyway.

And that’s why this post is ending. I’m hoping to get a nap in.

Until next time, blessings!

*Actually, the children were pretty good on that loooong drive. Nobody screamed. At least, nobody over the age of 5.

Life is Worth Living

Fr. Ripperger: Spiritual Warfare & Marriage

It’s no secret that marriage and the family are under attack. And I mean all marriages and all families–yours and mine included. Satan hates families, especially families that pray together, and husbands and wives who are striving to do the right thing.

From time to time, then, it’s important to step back as married couples and think about these things. It would be best to attend some kind of retreat, wherein faithful priests could address married couples, but given our current deplorable situation in the Church, that might be difficult.

The solution?

Fr. Ripperger‘s online marriage retreats.

Fr. Ripperger* is an exorcist living in the Archdiocese of Denver, and it was only recently that we began listening to some of his talks. A friend of mine specifically recommended his 3-part series on marriage and spiritual warfare HERE, which is timely and compelling.

If you can convince your spouse to sacrifice an hour a night for three nights, I promise, you’ll have something interesting to talk about. In fact, some of the things he introduces might be quite new to you. Then, if you finish those three talks and want more, listen to his 5-part series on marriage too. Again, I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Do it together for your marriage.

But Kiiiim! I can just hear some of you say. I don’t have tiiiiime to listen to marriage talks with my spouse. We’re tooooo buuuusy with the kids. Besides, I’d rather watch Netflix.

If that’s what your thinking, you’re wrong. Shut Netflix off and put the children to bed.

Do something good for your marriage! If you don’t want to listen to challenging–and he will challenge you–talks, then at least consider a Date Night with your spouse.

When’s the last time you left your house just to spend some carefree time with your husband? If you can’t afford to dine out, go for a leisurely walk. Sit on park bench together. No cell phones allowed. Your relationship with your spouse is more important than the children. And certainly more important than Netflix.

But do consider Fr. Ripperger’s talks.

*If you like Fr. Ripperger, you may want to check out Dr. Taylor Marshall’s recent interview with him about the Latin Mass and Exorcisms HERE. Fascinating.

Life is Worth Living

Gardening With Children 2021

It’s warm enough here, so yesterday we began planting seeds in our outdoor gardens. We’ll hold off a week on planting any plants, however, just in case that thermometer dips.

Planting Bachelor Buttons from seed that we saved from last year.

This year we’ve added another garden box that my husband built. (You’re the best, Dearest.) It’s been a challenge living in the “Driftless Region” where there is no flat land anywhere to be had. The solution is to build these boxes into the hillside. Then, because of the droves of hungry deer, we’ve got to put fences around it all.

This is so different from gardening in North Dakota, by the way. (You may remember that we recently moved?) Deer fence. Right. Nah, just grab that tiller and till for miles and to hades with the fence in the Nodak.

Now, since the region is rather hilly, we’ve also been forced to be creative. For instance, the space in the front of the house was landscaped with rock and lovely perennials, but we’ve decided that this wasn’t practical for a large family. So, I bribed my sons with cash to pick the rock and pull the perennials and voila! We’ve got onions and beets.

Planting onions in front of the house.

My husband is also working on tiering the garden that the children began on the hillside last year. We’re going for potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes up there. I hope it’s more successful than last year.

Planting potatoes.

Now, I will say that the children are a great blessing. In fact, I couldn’t do it without them. They are most willing to help. But this could be because they sell me all their produce. They begin the season by purchasing their seeds and plants, watering them all summer long, weeding them, and then selling me produce along the way.

I’m telling you, if you’ve got kids, this is a great way to go.

Anyone else have any ideas for maintaining a garden with lots of children?

Life is Worth Living

All About Skirts (And Dresses!)

A few days ago, I received some questions from you, dear readers, about skirts. This must be an interesting topic for some of you, as I’m forever getting clicks on my skirt post from about two years ago. (See HERE.)

Today, I’ll show you my wardrobe of skirts and dresses and answer those questions.

Today’s skirt with two Little Girls who wanted to be in the photo too.

My Entire Wardrobe of Skirts and Dresses

Are you ready? I have two pictures for you:

Here are my day-to-day skirts, minus one, which I’m wearing. Boring, no?

And…here are my Special Occasion dresses (2) and skirts (2).

Now this is not very exciting, I know. But you see, I like plain skirts because they are easier to match with any top.

The other thing to notice is that my skirts and dresses hit below the knee. While it’s true that I always wear leggings under them in the winter and shorts in the summer, I prefer this length for comfort, and I suppose also for a sense of modesty.

These two photos, however, are a bit misleading for two reasons:

  1. I actually have more skirts and dresses. Gasp! Today, though, I’m only showing you my Cold-Month skirts and dresses because the Warmer-Month skirts and dresses are folded in a drawer, just waiting to come out. As soon as the weather does change, I will switch out those skirts. The Special Occasion dresses will also be switched out. Does this make sense? (By the way, all my Warmer-Month skirts and dresses are made of a lighter material–both in color and in fabric–but they also hit below the knee.)
  2. And there are an additional few dresses of my mother’s, which I haven’t shown. These old dresses–I think there are about 5 of them–are hanging inside a plastic bag.

Kim, what about exercising or playing sports? Do you wear skirts for that too?

I had this question the other day, and the answer is yes and no. When we go hiking as a family or play badminton in the backyard or go for a walk, I don’t change. I wear my skirt. I don’t care if I look funny. I hate changing.

When I want to jog a mile or two, however, or ride my bike, I do change for obvious reasons. If it’s cold outside, I wear sweatpants, of which I’ve got two pairs. If it’s decently warm, I wear capri leggings with a skirt attached. (See photo below.)

Capri leggings with attached skirt. The leggings extend beyond my knees, but the skirt obviously does not. I’ve got two pairs of these.

How about pajamas? Do you wear “dress” pajamas?

Nope. I twist and turn about too much, so I wear shorts at night, of which I have two pairs. It’s the only time I wear shorts, however, as I do not like them.

A swimsuit??

Yes, I do have a swimsuit, and yes it’s a skirt. Or, rather, it’s a skort with a tank top that I purchased from Lands’ End a few years ago.

Do you own a pair of jeans?

No. I don’t feel comfortable in them.

Where do you like to buy your skirts and dresses?

Mostly, I purchase my clothing from secondhand stores. However, when I can’t find what I want, I will buy things online. I try to avoid Amazon, if possible. Recently, I purchased a few clothing items from Inherit Clothing Company, which is an online Christian boutique specializing in modest clothing.

And of course, when I do purchase something I still follow The Rule:

One Item In, One Item Out

In other words, if I buy a new skirt, then an old skirt goes away.

I hope that helps. Be sure to ask if you have any other questions!

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!!!!!

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.

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.

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!

Life is Worth Living

Buying a Christmas Tree 2020

Now that we live in a forested area, naturally we drove to a Christmas tree farm to hunt down a tree for 2020. In order to do this, however, I broke one of my Advent Rules and blasted the Christmas music from the speakers of my Sweet Ride, for one cannot possibly buy a Christmas tree without listening to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “O Tannenbaum.”

But let me back up. In order to cut and buy a Christmas tree, one has three preparatory things to do first:

  1. Prep the van. As our van does not have a rack on top, we had to remove a row of seats to make room for the biggest pine tree we could possibly find. (Kids will just have to double buckle. There’s no other way.)
  2. Make coffee. Naturally one must prepare a thermos of hot coffee for such a stately endeavor involving hand saws and tree trimmers and loud, ecstatically excited children.
  3. Get the Christmas music playlist ready to blast in the van, as I already mentioned.

After accomplishing the above, we were off, singing gleefully, for it was a joyous occasion. The children had great fun running around, sizing up all the pine trees and pointing them out to each other. I ambled behind and snapped a few photos for fun, which I’ll post below, but not before I mention something a friend had said to me a few days ago, as I was expressing my sadness in killing a live tree, which we do every year…and will continue to do…

She said, “Kim, Christmas trees are meant to be a living sacrifice to God. We give Him our best. We pick out the most beautiful offering, pay for it, and kill it. Christmas trees are sacrifices and gifts to God in thanksgiving for His Son. So quit feeling bad about it.”

Yes, you are right, dear friend.

This one, perhaps?
She wanted this huge monstrosity.
The Little Girls thought this baby tree was cute.
The boys cutting down our 11 foot tree.
Our tree is so tall that my husband had to use his 8 foot ladder to string the lights. We’ll wait until Christmas Eve to put the ornaments on though.

As I likely won’t write anything for a week or so, Merry Christmas, Dear Readers!

Life is Worth Living

A Mouse Tale: A Tragedy and A Triumph

Look, things got pretty desperate around here the other day. I was parking my Sweet Ride, picking some children up from school, when I noticed something. Something so repulsive and grotesque that even the most manly of men sometimes tremor in disgust: Mouse Droppings.

Yes, Mouse Turds. Right in my center console, where I keep my sunglasses and extra napkins.

See??

I cannot even begin to describe my feelings and emotions when I first saw those two Offensive Poops. All I can say is, I got out of my van quickly.

But then, as I reached back into the van to grab my purse, I noticed something even more horrible. So horrible that I grabbed my phone and immediately called my sister in sheer revulsion and horror. There were numerous Mouse Craps on my chair! I SAT on mouse CRAPS*! Unbelievable!

I sat on this. I can’t believe I sat on this. (Yes, those are crumbs in the background. No wonder the mouse defecated all over my chair.)

I immediately hit Speed Dial to my sister, “Katie, you won’t believe it. I just SAT ON MOUSE TURDS IN MY VAN!”

Without pause, and as cool as a cucumber, she calmly responded with, “Burn it. Just burn it.”

I thought about her advice. It was good advice, for it would surely kill any infestation of rodents. But then, I hesitated. Buying a new van would be kind of pricey, and who has that kind of money? No, something else would have to be done and meantime, I had to get these kids home. So I grabbed a napkin and brushed The Offenders into the street, calling on my Guardian Angel to protect me, and formed a plan.

Plan to Get Rid of Mouse:

  1. Bribe the boys to deep clean the van. Obviously with 7 mostly young children, we eat in the van, and clearly the thing is a mess and desperately needs attention. “Boys, $10 to each of you to clean this thing out! There will be Candy Bonuses if done to my satisfaction and you douse the thing with Holy Water.”
  2. Relate my feelings and emotions to my husband immediately upon entering the house, where he is currently “working” from home.

And here’s how that conversation went:

Amidst slamming of van doors, banging of house doors, and children laughing and shouting, I desperately yelled up the stairs, “Dearest! We need to talk. Right now! I just sat on Mouse Turds, and this is unacceptable, and I have to go take a hot bath. I need a glass of wine. And you need to get that mouse out of the van immediately. I don’t care if you have to use Vacation Hours to go buy mouse traps. I’m not setting foot in the that thing again until there’s a dead mouse in a trap. Even then, I’m not so sure. What was that about wine? No, I don’t care if we gave up wine for Advent. This is an EMERGENCY. Now where’s my glass?”

Well, enough of this saga. Being the good husband that he is, though, he took an hour of Vacation, drove to the hardware store, and bought 8 mouse traps. (Which I thought was a bit stingy. I told him to buy fifty.) Then he dutifully set the traps, and the next morning, we had a very dead mouse.

Here are some photos to document the Tragedy and Triumph:

Loyal and Devoted Husband setting traps. Bless his soul!

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me sons to clean the van and check mouse traps.

Disgusting. Just disgusting.

In the Name of all that is Holy and Clean and Rodent-Free, may this never happen again. Amen. Alleluia.

*I am sorry for the vulgar language, but truly, this is what I thought. A stronger foul word may have entered my head too, but good Catholic that I am, I quickly rejected that word.

Life is Worth Living

Dishtowel Embroidery is Not a Craft

Now most of you know that I am not a crafty person. Just the thought of beads and hot glue guns and decorative paper and stamps–and whatever else–gives me hives and my whole body revolts and my eyes bulge out and I can only think, “Where’s my coffee? Somebody, help.”

That said, there must be something out there that one can do that is not a craft, and I’ve discovered it: Dishtowel Embroidery.

Reasons Dishtowel Embroidery is a Not a Craft:

  1. There are no hot glue guns involved. Or anything sticky, syrupy, or sparkly.
  2. There are no beads. Or buttons or stickers or markers or crayons or paint.
  3. Absolutely no neat and pretty handwriting is required at all.
  4. In fact, no creativity is involved whatsoever. Just grab a flour-sack towel, a frame, a needle, and some thread. Then follow the pattern.
The Eldest’s embroidery.

Some of you might point out that a little creativity is actually required, as one must chose one’s thread colors. Well, you’re wrong. Just follow the colored patterns on the covers of those embroidery books at Hobby Lobby, if need be.

Copied the color scheme on Hobby Lobby book cover.

Benefits of Dishtowel Embroidery, Especially in the Wintertime

Of course there are benefits to embroidering these flour-sack dishtowels, and I’ll obligingly list them below for you.

  1. Embroidery provides a perfectly legitimate excuse to stay indoors on a freezing, cold day.
  2. One can listen to excellent audio books while embroidering, like Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham. (Hilarious.)
  3. One may still enjoy a large glass of wine while steadily stitching away in front of a roaring fire.
  4. Dishtowels make wonderful Christmas gifts. My boys even stitched one for that very purpose. (I guess even boys need an occasional break from wrestling, playing football and ping pong, tearing around the yard, and tormenting their sisters.)
  5. If one is feeling put out and incapable of producing productive work, one may simply hold the frame and stare at the unfinished pattern and appear to be in deep contemplation. This gives passersby the allusion that one is fearfully busy, which is sometimes necessary after a difficult day of yelling at redirecting the children.
  6. And did you know, that one’s feet can be massaged at the same time as one embroiders? Heavenly. (I hope my husband reads this.)

If you’ve never embroidered before, look into it. It’s the perfect thing for these upcoming colder months, and Hobby Lobby has everything you need.

These were all done by the children. The twins did the two outside towels, and my 7-year-old stitched the middle one. Merry Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa.

Life is Worth Living

We Love Santa! And All Other Fairy Tales Too

All right, enough of you are interested and apparently would like me to say a few words on Santa Claus.

Most of you know the difference between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus, right? If not, there are plenty of other capable websites out there willing to chronicle the similarities and differences of these two men. (Well, one was a sainted bishop and the other a fictional, old man, likely based on the former…)

But today I’m not interested in detailing the particulars of St. Nicholas, whose feast day is December 6th and wherein many children (including ours) receive chocolate coins in their shoes to commemorate his generosity in helping out three destitute sisters long, long ago.

Rather, today I’m only interested in our modern culture’s Santa Claus–you know, the fat, jolly, old man from the North Pole with a bunch of magical, flying reindeer at his service.

As I was saying, we’re not haters around here. In fact, I like Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and Rudolf and all those hard-working elves. You may remember the charming poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore? This poem is all about Santa Claus and my children recite it every December. Why? Because it’s beautifully and imaginatively written; it’s a lovely story with a happy ending for all the good boys and girls in the world.

But it’s just that–a fictional tale that’s fun to read and dramatize in costume and song and generally just enjoy.

And like all other fairy tales, we cannot tell our children that they’re true because they aren’t, and they know it anyway.

So, for our family, we enjoy the tale of Santa Claus, while avoiding lying about his eternal, omnipresence–for he isn’t eternal or omnipresent. There is only One who is, and He was born on Christmas day, and His story is tremendously important and magical and beautiful. Happy Birthday, Jesus, on December 25th!

Now that’s a story, and a true one at that. And on Christmas morning, we don’t care to have any competition with it. So, no gifts from Santa, but…

Jesus’ birthday cake, early Christmas morning last year. The children had carried Him over from the Nativity Set and had just sung for Him. We chose 3 candles for the Trinity.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!