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.
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.
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…
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?”
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.
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.
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?
It’s past Sparta, hence new territory for us.
It’s only 2 and half hours away.
The route drives by two ancestral cemeteries of my husband’s family.
Wausau boasts a lovely restaurant, Tine & Cellar.
And it has a GORGEOUS TLM church, St. Mary’s.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.)
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.
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.
As I likely won’t write anything for a week or so, Merry Christmas, Dear Readers!
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.
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 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:
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.”
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:
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.
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:
There are no hot glue guns involved. Or anything sticky, syrupy, or sparkly.
There are no beads. Or buttons or stickers or markers or crayons or paint.
Absolutely no neat and pretty handwriting is required at all.
In fact, no creativity is involved whatsoever. Just grab a flour-sack towel, a frame, a needle, and some thread. Then follow the pattern.
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.
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.
Embroidery provides a perfectly legitimate excuse to stay indoors on a freezing, cold day.
One can listen to excellent audio books while embroidering, like Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham. (Hilarious.)
One may still enjoy a large glass of wine while steadily stitching away in front of a roaring fire.
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.)
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.
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.
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. Nicholasby 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…
Yes, we’re talking Christmas here, and it’s about the material side of things, too. Yikes! I intend to dedicate this post to Christmas shopping and Christmas gifts intentionally for two reasons:
It is always a good idea to look closely at one’s finances well ahead of any purchases, especially in a season oftentimes fraught with expense. So for prudential budgeting purposes, our family actually does the bulk of our Christmas shopping in October.
We also like to have our Christmas shopping done well in advance of Advent so that we can do precisely that: Advent. Who likes to rush around frantically shopping at the last minute? Not me, anyway. We prefer to attempt a slower, more prayerful awareness of the liturgical season.
That said, let’s look at a few things our family does for gifts.
Ah, but perhaps I should mention that we don’t do Santa Claus? On second thought, let’s not mention it and move on. Feel free to ask me to explain later, if you’re curious, and I will.
So on Christmas morning, after praying Lauds and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, our children open a few gifts from us. Our goal is to keep it simple, and so here’s what we typically give:
An article of clothing
And something else fun or useful
Now we have 7 children, and those three items add up and can be expensive, so we buy used things, if possible. For example, almost all the books are used, or I will purchase them months in advance from, say, Bethlehem Books when they have their half-off sales. Most of the clothing I purchase used too, at second-hand stores. The last “fun” gift, however, does get to be tricky and most often is not used.
Let me give you some examples of what our children will actually receive thisvery Christmas. (Should you happen to see the children, don’t tell them!)
Next Girl Up:
The Third Youngest Girl will also receive much the same, except that instead of a play skirt, she will be getting some colorful notecards that I found on sale at Hobby Lobby. (She likes to do crafty things.)
The boys will also be receiving second-hand clothing from my cousin, the following books, which I purchased earlier this year at a Bethlehem Book sale, and one pellet gun, which they will all share.
The Eldest is getting a new dress–not used–and this book:
Christmas Stockings and a Family Gift
Yes, we do Christmas stockings. Typically we put Christmas candy in the children’s Christmas stocking. This year I also purchased some Christmas-themed socks to stick in too.
And lastly, I purchased a Christmas puzzle as a family gift.
And what about me and my husband? Do we exchange gifts? Yes, and while I do have his gift purchased already, I cannot tell you what it is, for fear that he might actually look at this blog post.
Do You Have Any Christmas Gift Ideas?
Do any of you have any Christmas Gift ideas? If so, I’d love to hear about them. I suspect that some of you are very crafty and handy and might even be able to make Christmas gifts.
This morning, at 7am, I drove to our local voting precinct only to discover a line trailing out the door and wrapping around the building. So, I drove right on by, came home, fed the children breakfast, and tried again at about 8:45am.
Thankfully there was no line the second time, and I walked right in without a mask. I was greeted by a kind, elderly lady who in a muffled, mask-voice asked, “Would you like a mask?”
I smiled and declined, “No, thank you.”
Muffled Mask Lady then pointed to the Huge-Mondo Hand Sanitizer Pump and enquired hesitatingly, “Would you like to sanitize your hands?”
I again smiled sweetly and said, “No, thank you.”
After I checked in and signed for my name and address, I received my ballot in a manilla envelope and a pen. I was told to keep the pen. I guess in Minnesota our taxes are so high that we earn Voting Pens.
I then walked to a table, sat down, and voted as conservatively as possible. The only distraction to my voting was the incredible reek of cleaning materials. The room was in a haze. I hope I didn’t contract cancer from all that hazardous chemical being sprayed and wiped all over the place.
In any case, I submitted my ballot to a machine and was told to add my manilla envelope to the pile on a chair. I wonder if they will dare reuse those manilla envelopes? My germs are on it.
How was your voting experience? Did you get a sticker?
I want to sincerely thank everyone for their prayers and kind words, as we continue to struggle with the loss of our baby. It is truly agonizing to wait for this miscarriage to happen. As it is right now, I’m still waiting and going on ten weeks “pregnant.”
I worry about rescuing the baby’s tiny body. Will I be able to identify anything? I’ve heard that as time slips by, one’s body can sometimes slowly absorb the baby.
I worry about something else going wrong. There’s the risk of hemorrhaging. There’s the risk that the little baby will become toxic to my body, and I dread a D&C.
I battle with thoughts of guilt. Perhaps I ought to have been more vigilant with taking progesterone?
Then there’s the heartbreaking questions from my four-year-old, “Mommy, why did the baby have to die?”
“Jesus must have wanted him in Heaven, Honey.”
“But, why did the baby have to die, Mommy?”
I looked down at her innocent eyes, held her hand, and said, “I don’t know.”
I suppose in the end–the only thing one can do–is place little Raphael Marie in God’s hands. He’s a good Father, after all, and knows best.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Rosary
On a lighter note…Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary. This feast has a rich history. (Click HERE for it at New Advent.)
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.
And which publication of Chesterton’s Lepanto to we prefer?
Dale Ahlquist’s book appropriately titled Lepanto, consists of Chesterton’s poem along with a few essays detailing the historical background for October 7th, 1571. It’s excellent.