Life is Worth Living

Coffee Troubles and Triumphs

One of the first things that must be done upon moving to a new city is locating the local coffee shops.  This post is a Tale of Woe, but with a happy ending.

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Cheers. (Found Panera the other day.)

Now, this is not as easy as it appears.  Yes, Google Maps is very helpful, but I’m telling you.  There are things that Google just doesn’t know.  Like how to cruise around in a 15-passenger van full of uproarious children and not pull your hair out or chuck shoes at them while attempting to locate the nonexistent coffee drive-thru.

Like I said, I’ve had some major coffee hardships this last week.  All of them ended in complete failure while exploring downtown La Crosse, WI.  Let’s just say that one cannot get coffee in downtown La Crosse.  Leastways not in a gigantic van.  And not with ravenous, dog-tired children.IMG_2144.jpg

This is my Sweet Ride, by the way.  Shouldn’t this monstrosity really be considered a “handicapped” vehicle.  I mean, I’ve got 7 children…

In any case, so much for those cute, chic Caffeine Sanctuaries downtown.

Well, what to do next?  I guess explore the usual…Starbucks?  Even if the line hadn’t been longer than the Continental Divide, nope.  Caribou?  Another nope.  I couldn’t even find the drive-thru.  Not kidding.  (Apparently one does exist, however.  It’s just hiding.)

There were other places I tried to drive to.  For example this place:

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But I couldn’t make the lane change quick enough in this big barge of a boat.

Then I saw this place:

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Too much construction.

You might be wondering if I was discouraged at this point?  I mean, how many coffee shops must one drive by?  The answer to this question is no, definitely not.  I am made of sterner stuff than that.  It must be all that North Dakota blast-your-face-off cold that toughened me up.  I kept driving.

Eventually the children and I found Dunkin’ Donuts.  And they had a nice, big, empty parking lot, and I was glad for two reasons:

  1. While I can parallel park this giant beast of a van, I prefer not to.  Big parking lots are heavenly harbors and balm to my soul.
  2. I remembered a gift card a friend had given me awhile back that was itching to be used, and since 5 of my 7 children are coffee drinkers, this seemed perfect.  And I wanted to treat everyone because we had just finished with Mass and confessions at St. James.  It was time to celebrate.

Dunkin’ Donuts was a success!  Guess what else we had besides lattes and cappuccinos?

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Donuts, of course.

It was glorious, even if we couldn’t fit around one table.

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This is one of my non-coffee drinkers.  The other is the toddler.  I don’t understand how these two can pass it up.  They’re crazy.
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Look at those handsome fellas.
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One, happy family.  The boy on the left, however, should never be allowed to have caffeine.  He’s always running on Turbo the way it is.  I’m likely out of my mind for allowing it.

Lastly, one of you readers requested an outside photo near my house.  I’m most happy to oblige.  Here a shot towards the east, standing in my driveway.  The park is at the end of the road.

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There are hiking trails in those woods yonder.  These hills extend all around the valley, with a small opening, which you can see on the right side of the photo.  If there were to be any kind of breeze, it must come from that opening, which faces the southeast.

Any other questions?  Be sure to ask!

 

 

 

Life is Worth Living

Settling In With No Wind

While it is a difficult thing to move an entire household hundreds of miles, it is also an exciting adventure.  For it does no good to dwell on negative things, like the absence of grandma and grandpa and the lack of a single friend.  No, one had better do constructive things, like find the local coffee shop and clean out the van.

I did just that yesterday, and I found that when I drove out of our valley in search of coffee, the wind was blowing.  I had almost forgotten the sensation.  This lack of a daily wind is an extraordinary thing for us, as we were used to a blasting gale that blew incessantly out on the wild plains of North Dakota.

When I pulled back into the driveway, I left the van outside for the children to clean and vacuum.  The sun was shining with nary a breeze.  The children threw sweatshirts on, even though the thermometer read 39 degrees, and went at it.  I stood on the driveway, cappuccino in hand, and gazed around at the wooded hills.  Amazing.  No wind.

Later, when I went for a run around the neighborhood, I did encounter evidence of the wind on the other side of the “bowl,” however.  Our valley, you see, is shaped like an oblong bowl.  We’re situated on the northwest end, and when I ran around the park, which sits in the very center of the bowl, I noticed a few leaves tumbling across the sidewalk.  When I looked around, indeed, a few tree branches were swaying.  “Well,” thought I, “the wind can enter into this secluded haven after all.”

But surely there must be something terrible about living in a secluded, wooded valley with almost no wind?

And I’ve thought of it.  There are 3 things which must be lamented.

  1. No more sunrises.
  2. No more sunsets.
  3. And I’ll bet the mosquitos are terrible in the summer.

For now, however, I’ll enjoy the calm.  And did you know, we’ve got birds?  Lots of birds!  One can actually hear them in the house even, because there’s no wind.

 

P.S.  There’s no need for hairspray around here either.  I guess can save the environment by getting rid of that.
Life is Worth Living

Moving Update: Hello Minnesota and Wisconsin!

We made it.  We survived (barely) the 600 mile trek across the windswept prairie and have finally arrived in the woods of Wisconsin.

And I never want to move again.

Not that the move didn’t go well, for it did, but hauling around 7 sick children in two piece-of-junk vehicles, packed like sardines, without the comforts of stretching one’s legs or lying in one’s own bed for a week, is not my idea of fun.

This sickness was no ordinary cold either.  Nor was it your run-of-the-mill 24 hour puke fest.  Nope.  This was a 3-week-long raging cough that induced violent vomiting from the little girls. The children affectionately called this illness the “Barfy Cough.”

I never got it, praise be Jesus Christ, but I’m still recovering from not sleeping for a week.

In any case, it’s lovely here in Wisconsin.  I’m convinced that the wind never blows here.  We’re on day four, and I haven’t so much as seen a tree branch flutter.  This is not something you woodsy people can understand.  Coming from the prairie where a 20 mph wind is seen as a “calm” day, this is just unbelievable.

Perhaps I’ll comment more on that later.

A Few Pictures

For those of you who are curious, here a few photos from moving day.  I hope to write more soon, but I’m afraid I’ll need a few more days off, as there are a few items that need my attention…like my backload of laundry and those unopened boxes.

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The children watching the moving truck pull up.  It was exciting to watch all those men unload an entire household in 3 hours!
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This is my dad.  After the workers laid protective flooring and wrapped the front door, he manned it for them–opening and closing it when needed.
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This is my mom and Therese unpacking the kitchen.  Bless their souls!
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Here are the little girls enjoying all those empty boxes.
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The Eldest taking a break with a Little Sister hiding behind her.
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Fun, no?

Lastly, here are some Quick Facts.

Quick Facts About Moving:

  1. It’s terrible.
  2. I’ve learned that all one really needs to unpack are a corkscrew and a crockpot.
  3. In Wisconsin one can buy alcohol right in the grocery store!  Scandalous!  And so lovely!
  4. Our city offers Log Rolling lessons alongside Swimming lessons.  I don’t even know what the former is.
  5. I changed my mind about Number 2.  Really, you just need a coffee pot.  In fact, you should carry one in your purse at all times because you may not be able to A.) find yours, which is likely buried in a box labeled “books” or B.) feel like driving to the gas station at 4 am when your sick children have decided that they’re up for the day.
  6. I have a new respect for Abraham being called out of Ur.  When moving, one should just meditate on that for awhile.  At least I didn’t have to sleep in a tent.
  7. The children enjoyed moving because they got to eat candy on the way.  (I just asked Child Number 5 what her favorite thing about moving was and she said, “Candy.”)

 

 

 

Life is Worth Living

Merry Christmas! Photo Post

Merry Christmas!

Here are a few photos from Christmas morning.  Enjoy!

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Here are most of the children, singing Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus!  (That’s a lemon loaf, which went very well with my black coffee.)
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Let the chaos begin!

For those of you who might like ideas for your own children.  Here’s what we gave each child:

  1. One wrapped present, which was a clothing item and a book
  2. One Christmas stocking, which contained a “fun” toy, new socks, and candy
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The little girls wearing their new dresses and playing with their “new” baby dolls, which aren’t actually new. They came from my grandmother, who wanted to pass them along, so that’s what they got in their Christmas stockings.

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.

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She was super pumped about her “new” baby doll, and wouldn’t put it down.  “Mom!  Her eyes really blink!”
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Here are the boys modeling their new saint socks and swim trunks.
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I don’t even know what this tool is, but he was excited about it.  It was from Grandma and Grandpa.
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She wanted her nails painted for the occasion.
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This is me and The Eldest at a later Christmas party.  Merry Christmas!
Life is Worth Living

Moving, again?!?

Yes, it’s true.  We’re moving again.

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. My husband is very pleased too with his new job.  It looks to be just what we need.
  4. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

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Yes, those candles are crooked; it’s the best we can do around here.

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.

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All said and done:

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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.

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Isn’t he cute?

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.

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Isn’t he cute too?
*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.
Life is Worth Living

Traveling for a Week

Dear Readers,

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.

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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!

Happy Thanksgiving!  See you in a week or so.

Life is Worth Living

The Agony of Advent

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!

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P.S.  For those of you who homeschool, there’s a great article from OnePeterFive HERE.

Life is Worth Living

A Successful Hunting Season

Dear Readers,

In honor of my husband shooting a beauty of a buck–11 points!–I’ve reposted last year’s Hunting Soliloquy below.  Enjoy.

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Good work, Honey.  Thanks for bringing home supper.

But first, here are the boys, holding the thing’s head in the garage before Mass.

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After we took this photo, we drove to Mass and thanked Jesus for such glorious things as guns and antlers.

 

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.

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My husband celebrating Deer Season a year or so ago.

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:

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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

  1. 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.
  2. We the Youth ask that this synod might be renamed from “Walking Together” to “Walking Together With Guns.”
  3. We the Youth ask that St. Hubert, patron saint of hunters, be made a Doctor of the Church.
  4. 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.*
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Happy Deer Season y’all.
*Not really.  Nope.  These things never happened.  This is nowhere in the Bible.
Life is Worth Living

Real Presence Radio Interview

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!

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Paul, during one of his 10 surgeries.

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.

Now that is how we do things in America!

Life is Worth Living

Kim, Why Do You Always Wear Skirts?!

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.

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For the record, this is the exact gray skirt I was wearing that day…

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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

  1. Wear a skirt (or dress) for 30 days in a row.
  2. Notice how it makes you feel.  Uncomfortable?   Pretty?  Frumpy?  Feminine?  Whatever.
  3. Does anyone treat you differently because you’re “dressed up” in a seriously “dressed down” culture?
  4. Write these things down daily.  Keep a journal.
  5. 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.)

Skirt #1

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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.

Skirt #2

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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.

Skirt #3

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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.

Skirt #4

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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.

Life is Worth Living

Snake Correction & Update

Anyone remember this photo that I posted awhile ago?

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I wrote about it HERE at the end of that post.

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).

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The Twins holding a juvenile fox snake.

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.

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Large Bull Snake.   (I will never understand people who keep snakes alive–cages or no cages.)

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:

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Fox Snake

And here it is, trying to get away from my boys:

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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.

Life is Worth Living

Stranded in Fargo

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:

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And right now, I am sitting in a quaint sunroom:

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These are my feet.

But here’s a closer look at the snow out my window:

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What you’re not seeing here is the ferocious wind.

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:

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Yes, that’s a yardstick, stuck in my once luscious garden.  Too bad I hadn’t harvested the potatoes, carrots, or onions yet…

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:

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Go, grab a beer, and send the children outside to make snowmen.

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This photo was actually taken at the beginning of the storm, when it was still suitable to be outside…

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.