Life is Worth Living

My Favorite Dress: A Tale of Pride & Woe

The other day I put on my favorite dress.  I haven’t been able to wear it for awhile, due to the fact that I was pregnant and then had a baby.  And you must remember, most dresses are not conducive to nursing babies.

So I finally shook the dust off of it and slipped it over my head.  It fit!  Miracle.  Wow, I felt almost glamorous.  My husband gave me a double-take.  This was going to be a good day.

As the day wore on, however, I found myself thinking of…myself.  Yes, considering my dress, how neat it looked, how neat I looked.  Every time I passed a mirror, I checked myself out.  Still looking good.

Later on my husband and I loaded up all 7 children and drove to church for Stations of the Cross.  My husband and two of the boys were serving, so I was in the pew with the remaining 5 children. Do I need to say, that I didn’t expect to enter deeply into this devotion?

After about the second or third station, I had to take the baby out into the narthex, where I put her on the floor, knelt down, and attempted to pray from the St. Alphonsus Liguori booklet.  Then I was bombarded with thoughts of…my lovely dress.

This was obsessive.  This was not good.  All day my thoughts were of my dress and how I looked.  What was going on?

Then a thought whispered to my soul, “Do you love this dress more than Me?”

Whoa.  My heart pounded.  What?

“Do you love this dress more than Me?”

I was holding that booklet and staring at a picture of Mary, holding Jesus.  He was completely emaciated, and I realized how stupid and foolish I had been.  How blind!  Do I love this dress more than you, Jesus?  No, of course not.  Forgive me, Jesus.  Forgive me.  What shall I do?

But I knew what I had to do, even before I finished the thought.  This dress must go.  It will be a sacrifice in atonement for my pride and vanity.

And so that evening, I took my favorite dress off for the last time.  It will be given away.

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Not much of a dress, I know, but nevertheless, goodbye, dress.
Call Me Catholic

Passion Sunday and Veiling Images

There’s some crazy stuff in the Old Calendar that is just interesting to learn about.  My husband is forever telling me this.  (By Old Calendar I mean those things connected to the Traditional Latin Mass.)

For example, this coming Sunday is called Passion Sunday.  It always falls on the Sunday immediately before Palm Sunday and serves to move our thoughts toward the Passion and death of Christ.  (In the New Calendar, this Sunday is called the Fifth Sunday of Lent.)

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

Now I know that the prayers of the Mass are supposed to reflect the liturgical season the Church is observing, but there’s some real beauty and depth to be found in the prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) that I’ve never noticed before.  I’ll give you one example.

On Passion Sunday, Psalm 42 is highlighted in the Introit and pleadingly states,

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art God my strength.”

If you’ll remember in the TLM, Psalm 42 is also prayed every Sunday during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, but on Passion Sunday it’s omitted and will be until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria.  Both are omitted because they are associated with the Paschal joy of the Risen Christ.

In other words, we have this stripping away of Pascal references in order to sharpen our awareness of Christ’s Passion, which is why we refer to these final two weeks of Lent as Passiontide.

Sometimes this Sunday is also called “Judica Sunday.”  Judica being Latin for the opening word of Psalm 42, “Judge.”

It’s amazing how it all comes together.  I’ve got a lot to learn.

Veiling of Images

In any case, my children always look forward to Passion Sunday, for my family likes to observe a unique tradition that all churches used to do, and many still do.  We veil our images with purple cloth.

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Here’s our fireplace mantel.  Even though we still have two days to go, I went ahead with the purple anyway.

This tradition began sometime in the ninth century to reflect the readings of the TLM.  For example, the Gospel for Passion Sunday is always John 8 wherein the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus, but he mysteriously passes through the crowd unseen and then hides.  Therefore, the veiling of images reminds us that Christ’s Divinity was hidden at the time of His Passion and death.

Think about that for a minute.  Again, it’s astounding how all these things come together.  Of course His Divinity was hidden!  Otherwise everyone would have believed, not just that centurion at the foot of the cross.

Secondly, veiling also strips us of visual stimuli.  Throughout the year we may become accustomed to looking at and praying with our crucifixes and icons, and so taking them away for a time helps us paradoxically to become more aware of them.

So if you’ve never done it before, try veiling a couple of images in your home.  It’s pretty easy to do.  I just bought a yard of purple cloth at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares.  I’ve also heard of families using purple tissue paper in a pinch.

Motherhood & Parenting

Bare Midriffs, Bikinis, and Leggings – Oh My!

Since I brought up the topic of clothing and closets in the last post, I thought I’d examine it a bit further.

When I was younger, I got away with wearing just about anything.  Tight jeans?  No problem.  Bare midriffs?  Big deal.  Tube tops?  How cute!  Bikinis?  Of course.

My parents were too busy to notice, and I took advantage of the situation.  But let me be clear, I knew what I was doing.  I wanted attention from men, and I got it.

I’m older now, and I’ve thought about these things.  Truly, it was really damaging for me to dress that way, for I believed the lie that I wasn’t good enough, but that I had to, in a sense, sell my body for attention and love.

About 15 years ago, when I came back into the Catholic Church, I began to look seriously at how I dressed.  These things matter after all, and I found that I was sending the wrong message.  No, it wasn’t ok for me to dress in such a way as to make men’s heads turn.

The body is to be hidden, veiled if you will, because it is holy and beautiful.  And no, this does not mean that one must wear only denim jumpers and turtlenecks, far from it.  Rather, we are called to wear clothing that is simple, but dignified and beautiful, if possible.

In our culture, this is hard.  It takes an extra effort to search out those stores that even make suitable clothing.  But this is a battle worth fighting for, and I’m thankful that my husband takes the lead on this one.  He sees that our culture is losing this battle, and he wants our children to begin wearing appropriate clothing now, as little children, so as to grow in the habit.  These things matter.

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Daughter #2 hard at work this morning.

For example, when leggings became all the rage a few years ago, our family made a conscious decision to never wear them alone.  This goes for me and even the two-year-old.  If we want to wear leggings, we must wear a skirt or dress over them–just a shirt doesn’t cut it.  My husband and I want to be sure that our girls know that they are beautiful and have great dignity, and that there are other things to wear besides just leggings.

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The Two-Year-Old this morning.  She refused to smile for me.  She picks out her own outfits.

Most people “get it” that husbands and dads don’t care to stare at women out in public wearing skin-tight clothing, but from a woman’s point of view, I find it hard too.  I don’t like to see other women wearing revealing clothing because sometimes it makes me feel poorly about myself.  I think, “Wow, she looks great.  I certainly don’t have that kind of body.  Maybe I should workout more…”  And then, if I don’t stop it, those thoughts continue to speed downhill.  This will always be a struggle for me.

I mention all of this today because I want to encourage those of you who do attempt to dress in a modestly beautiful way, and I want to challenge those of you who may need to take a closer look at your wardrobes.

Just how should one dress as a daughter of the King?

I know I have some work to do, as I am in constant need of conversion.  How about you?

 

Christ-Like Minimalism

Christ-Like Minimalism: The Bedroom Closet

Some of you could care less about what’s in my closet.  Really, I sympathize.  You may just want to skip this post.

For the rest of you, here we go.

My Closet:  An Introduction

Now I’ve been pregnant or nursing for about 13 straight years.  Just think about that a minute.  Then consider that I likely have another 10 more years of fertility.

Take a minute, do the math, process it.  Think some more.

So clearly my body has been up and down a lot and will be up and down some more.  There’s my normal, pre-pregnancy weight.  Then, there’s my pregnancy weight.  I always gain about 50 pounds.  Then, there’s the post-pregnancy period, wherein it takes about a year for my body to return to its initial weight.  And then about that time, I’m pregnant again.

Why do I mention all this?

Because as any of you mothers out there know, this requires a variety of clothing sizes, unless you have the privilege (or burden?) of being able to buy new clothes every “Body” Season.

And then consider the fact that I live in a region that promises a temperature swing from a frigid -40 degrees Fahrenheit to a blasting 110 degrees.

It’d be a lot easier to live somewhere tropical year round.  I imagine you could live in a sundress and call it good.

How does all this relate to my closet?

In short, I’ve got three wardrobes:  Normal, Pregnant, and Post-Pregnant.  Of course there’s some overlap with clothing.  For example, my two nursing tank tops have simply become my pjs for all Body Seasons.  (Romantic, no?)  And fortunately (or unfortunately?) I can wear my one pair of sweat pants also during all three phases.

But for my sanity, I do have clothing for each specific Body Season, and I’ll mortify myself a little by writing about it.  Maybe it’ll give you a few ideas.  I’m hoping it’ll spur me on to get rid of more.

So what is in my closet?

No skeletons, I hope.

Here’s a shot of my clothes as one walks in the closet:

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Let me break it down for you.  As it happens, right now I’m experiencing a Normal Body Season, so my blue tub of maternity clothes is sitting on the floor.

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Tub of Maternity Clothes.  Currently not in use.

The pink box on the upper shelf is my wedding dress, and the brown box is my sole box of childhood memorabilia.

My Post-Pregnancy clothes are discreetly hanging in the corner, behind a few tank tops, which you may be able to see, if you look closely.

My dress-up clothes are hanging on the right, with my 3 dancing dresses in plastic.  (My husband and I enjoy dancing; it’s a hobby.)  So, the clothes on the left are what I wear every day.

Here are the remainder of the shelves, which contain bottoms for all four seasons – jeans, skirts, skorts, and capris.  (I don’t have any shorts.  I hate them.)

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The top shelf features a pink dancing skirt next to a Nikon camera; the bottom shelf has two bags on it.

Here are the exact numbers of my regular clothes:

  1. Long-sleeved shirts: 12
  2. Short-sleeved shirts: 6
  3. Tank tops: 7
  4. Sweaters/zip-ups: 8
  5. Jeans: 1
  6. Pants: 1
  7. Skirts: 6
  8. Skorts: 3
  9. Dresses (including for dance): 8
  10. Capris: 2
  11. Leggings: 2

I realize that for many of you, I’ve got a ridiculous amount of clothing.  But I’m working on it.  I was greatly inspired by Darci Isabella’s video on what she’s got in her closet.  Wow.  Like 5 tops and 2 skirts.  Just wow.  She does qualify it, however, with that she’s done having children.

My current rule is that if something comes in, something goes out.  I keep the same number of hangers.  And I also “rotate” my clothing, so that way I can see what is being worn, and what is not.  For example, do you see that blue long-sleeved shirt on the end?  I haven’t worn it in a long time, because it’s on the end.  Everything that’s been worn, gets put on the other side.  That shirt may have to go.

Confusing?  Make sense?

It’s my crazy way of knowing what I need to get rid of.

And how about my husband?

Here’s his entire wardrobe.

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Work clothes hanging on top.  Everyday clothes on the bottom.

He does have some running clothes too, and so do I.  They’re just in the dresser, in the room, with underwear and socks.

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Dresser for underwear, socks, 2 pairs of leggings, nylons, running clothes, veils for Mass, and an empty drawer.

And shoes?

I gave up on shoes a long time ago.  Less is way better, and in my case, a lot more comfortable.  Here is a picture of every single pair of shoes I own.

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From left to right: winter boots, running shoes, every day shoes, dancing ballet slippers, sandals, flip flops, and every day boots.

Any questions?  Be sure to ask.

 

Life is Worth Living

7 Things I’m Grateful For

In the traditional calendar, today is the feast day of St. Gabriel the Archangel.  He immediately precedes the Annunciation, which is tomorrow.  This makes perfect sense, as he appears to Mary, asking her to be the mother of Jesus.  Happy feast day!

In honor of St. Gabriel, I’ll offer 7 things I’m grateful for.

  1. The Canada geese have been flying overhead all week.  (Yes, it’s Canada geese, not Canadian geese.  I’ve been corrected!)
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    Here they are above our home.

    And here is a close-up of what they look like for those of you not familiar.  These things are big.

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    This is not my photo, it’s Chuck Szmurlo’s from Wikimedia Commons.

    We greatly enjoy their raucous honking and the fact that they all land in the cow pasture across the road.  It’s great fun.  The children and I like to walk down the gravel road to see how close we can get to them.

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    This is a look into the cow pasture yesterday morning.  If you look closely, you can see geese flying above the dead tree and some more out on the ice, waiting for it to thaw, I suppose.
  2. As you can also see from the photo, our snow is finally melting.  This is not only glorious, but great fun for the children, as they  stomp around in the mud and make “rivers” for the water to flow down into the ditch.
  3. We’ve seen other birds too–little chickadees and killdeer.  No robins, though.
  4. The ducks will all be returning soon, and we’ll be doing our annual Duck Day tour wherein we listen to Peter and the Wolf and identify ducks by name.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
  5. I am currently reading Fr. Calloway’s 10 Wonders of the Rosary, which came out earlier this year Maybe I’ll post more on it later.
  6. I gave up wearing my winter coat, for the most part.  Anything above 30 degrees is spring-like enough for me!
  7. My favorite local restaurant, Anima Cucina, has some great meatless entrees.  My husband took me there a Friday or so ago.
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    My husband’s dish.  These are sardines with cherry, basil, and mint.

    And even though I am not a vegan, I ordered their vegan sandwich.

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    This thing features meatless chicken (whatever that is), brie, radicchio, and an olive tapenade.  Delicious.

    What are you grateful for?

     

Call Me Catholic

Yeah, You’re a Strict Catholic

I brought the baby into the doctor’s office yesterday.  She had an ear infection, and I had an interesting conversation.

As the doctor was entering his information into the computer, he said, “Wow, you have 7 kids!  You must be a strict Catholic.”

This seemed out of the blue.  Apparently my baby’s computer file must keep track of those things.  Then he said with a smile and a smirk, “I guess you had to have all those kids, huh?”

Now I’m used to snarky comments about the size of my family, but this ticked me off.  Why should I have to put up with his condescending, vitriolic pompousness?  I didn’t comment on the size of his family, implying that he’s a dope.  So I reached across the baby sitting on my lap, and slapped his smug face.

Ok, no, I didn’t do that.  But I did say, “Yes, we wanted all these children.”

He calmly said, “Oh yeah, I suppose you planned them all too?”

What the hell?*

“Natural Family Planning does work, when you actually monitor and chart your mucus.”  (Yeah, I said that.)

At this point, the look on his face completely changed.  He blushed, cleared his throat, and said, “Uh…I guess the other doctor here at this clinic wants to bring in a nurse trained in Natural Family Planning because she’s so busy with all her NFP patients that she can’t keep up.”

It’s true.  I knew that doctor was swamped with women wanting her assistance.  So I replied, “Yes, it’s fascinating–the woman’s body.  We studied the Creighton Model.  You might consider learning too?”

“Hmmm…”

“This isn’t your grandma’s version of the ridiculous Rhythm Method.  This stuff actually works.”

Then he said something awkward about my husband’s “swimmers” always seeming to find their way (weird), and I just sighed as he quickly slunk out of the room.

Why do I mention this incident?

Of course I couldn’t slap the guy.  That never wins people over, but of course I also couldn’t remain silent.  A wise priest once told me that if someone else is going to “go there,” then by all means, go there with him.

In other words, if someone is going to comment on my family size, then maybe I should go there too.  Just because you think 7 children is nuts and overwhelming, doesn’t mean that I do.  Or, just because you’d rather watch TV in your bedroom, doesn’t mean that we’d rather do that.  You wouldn’t believe what some people say.  “Get a TV!  Don’t you know what the pill is for?”  Or, “Don’t you know how that happens?”  Come on, people.  Be a little open-minded.

Or open-hearted?  As a matter of fact, we didn’t specifically plan each of our 7 children; God did.  My husband and I knew what we were doing, though.  Many of you may not be familiar with Natural Family Planning (NFP), but it’s not that complicated.  I simply chart when I’m fertile by monitoring my cervical mucus.  Yes, it sounds gross, but it works.

So while we may not have specifically “planned” to have, for example, this last baby, we did choose to have intercourse on a fertile day.  We knew the consequences.  But our hearts were open.  Open to God’s plan–His providence–with all it’s heartaches and joys.

And my heart has become bigger and softer with the birth of each child.  And I am so thankful.  So thankful.

 

 

*I just thought that.  I apologize for the foul language.  It’s a sin, and you should pray for me.
Call Me Catholic

Jomo and Silent Retreats

Jomo What??

The other day I came across a curious acronym – JOMO.

Now I know that some of you are much more up-to-date on these things than I am, so you likely have an idea of what it stands for.  For the rest of you (and me) it means: Joy of Missing Out.  It’s a play on the famous “Fomo,” Fear of Missing Out.

This caught my attention because my husband and I joke about Fomo every time we get a new email suggesting another activity for our children, or I listen to another podcast about someone else’s family doing great things out in the world.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am glad that extra activities exist, and I am glad that other families do great things, but I also know that I’ve got to be comfortable with where we’re at and not fear missing out.

This is where Jomo comes in.  For it’s true, there is great joy in missing out.  We say no to many things and prefer to be together as a family.  Instead of running our children to multiple sporting events or musical performances, we limit these things and stay home.  Our children ice skate in the backyard and build snow forts.  We have friends over for coffee.  We pray the rosary together every evening.  We play Up and Down the River with gummy bears.  We laugh with our children.

No, our home isn’t always peaceful.  Quite the contrary.  Most evenings someone’s crying or whining.  My point is that family life seems to have been lost or tossed aside in this modern world, and it’s worth fighting for.  It’s worth it, to be home with the children in a meaningful way.

So the next time you’re tempted to say yes to another commitment, maybe pause a moment to reflect.  Will this bring joy to your lives?  Or will it result in more running?

Silent Retreats

One beautiful thing you might consider doing this Lent is signing up for a silent retreat.

As we’re now in the middle of Lent, and most of us are trying to step it up a notch, I want to strongly encourage all of you to sign up for a silent retreat this year.

You all know how important it is to step back in silence from time-to-time to be with God.  I’m sure I don’t need to convince you.  The hardest part, however, is actually going.  Of course Satan hates silent retreats.  He’ll do anything to prevent you from spending time with God.  In fact, retreat masters will often tell you to expect all kinds of obstacles to appear, especially at the last minute.

Let me give you an example.  Two years ago I was signed up to attend a private silent retreat with a small group of mothers, but just hours before the retreat was to begin, our Retreat Master was forced to cancel.  So we were left wondering if we should still go, without a Retreat Master?  Well, we decided yes.  After all, what harm could come from spending time alone with God for a weekend, even if it wasn’t directed?  And I am so glad we did!  For God always provides, and He sent an excellent priest at the last minute to replace the previous one.  We had a Shepherd and the Sacraments.

In any case, you all need to go on retreat, or into the desert, if you like.  And since I can’t ever get enough of Cardinal Sarah, I’ll leave you with a quotation from his book The Power of Silence.”

It is vitally important to withdraw to the desert in order to combat the dictatorship of a world filled with idols that gorge themselves on technology and material goods, a world dominated and manipulated by the media, a world that flees God by taking refuge in noise.

Did you read that?  It is vitally important!

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This is a life-changing book.

Cardinal Sarah

Cardinal Sarah has two of the greatest books ever written out now – God or Nothing and The Power of Silence.  Buy a copy for yourself and your priest.  You won’t regret it.
I understand he’s got a third book in print too, but it hasn’t been translated into English yet.  When it is, I’ll be sure to get it.
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Now here’s a Man of God, let me tell you.  This book is awesome.

 

Homeschooling

Homeschoolin’ It Like a Spartan

Now I grew up in the public school system, and I only knew one family that homeschooled.  And let me tell you, they were weird.  Yes, they were the epitome of homeschooling weirdness.  You know the type, they dressed funny and kept to themselves on a farm.

So naturally I assumed that all homeschooling families were weird, until I went to graduate school.  It was there, in my very first class on philosophy, that I sat next to a man who was witty and smart and didn’t dress like a ninny.  I was shocked to learn that he was homeschooled, all through high school no less.

A few years later I found myself married and settled in a strange, new city.  I didn’t know anyone, and I was lonely.  But a kind, homeschool mom of 7 invited me over to her home.  In fact, she’d let me come over to her home any time to just hang out, and I was so thankful.  Later, she invited my husband and I to join their weekly rosary group, which we did.

It was at this time that we started rethinking homeschoolers.   For here was a group of six families, all homeschoolers, that found time to pray together every week.  They took the faith seriously.  They were all active in their parishes.  Their children were kind to my children.  They themselves were fun to be around and have discussions with.  It was a true oasis–a monastery in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

It wasn’t long, and we were hooked, and as you know, we homeschool.

And Now For a Rant

Yeah, we homeschool.  We homeschool like Greek Spartans.  Except that instead of training our boys to become hardened warriors for the State, we train them to become masculine warriors for Christ.  Instead of instructing our girls to become tenacious women, we instruct them to become virtuous heroines for our King.

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There’s an old Spartan saying that goes like this, “Come back with your shield or on it.”  This meant that you better be victorious in that battle or don’t bother coming back.  I appreciate this maxim.  Certainly it’s brutal, but I’m tired of mediocrity, and I’m tired of settling for less.

Let me give you an example.  13 years ago, when my husband and I first moved out to western North Dakota, we walked into the local Cathedral and were astounded.  I naively didn’t realize that cathedrals could be built so ugly.  I had just spent 6 years studying art history and traveling all around Italy and Greece and had never seen anything so…boxy, so bare, so disordered, so…ugly.  I looked at the stained glass windows.  I couldn’t figure out what they meant.  I looked for the tabernacle.  It was nowhere to be seen.

Seriously.

The worst part is, I felt bad.  Everyone around me, including the priests, were trying to tell me that it was beautiful.  I even had one priest give me a booklet on the stained glass windows, which attempted to explained them.  He insisted that I read it.

And I tried.  Honestly, I tried.  But let’s get real and call a spade a spade.  That building is ugly, and the whole point of stained glass windows is to tell a story to the illiterate, and those windows fail.

Which leads me to homeschooling.  I’m tired of apologizing for homeschooling.  Look, all around me I see Mass attendance declining and Catholic schools closing.  But guess what isn’t declining or closing?  Catholic homeschools.  We’re on the rise.  In fact, our Catholic coop is so big that we have waiting lists to get in.  And most of our families are young families.  And they’re having babies.

You want to know the advantages of homeschooling?

  1. We don’t give a damn about sports.  Yes, they’re good, and yes, we like playing them, but get real.  I’m tired of all the emphasis on sports.
  2. We’re serious about our academics.  I have a 6-year-old that can tell you all 46 books of the Old Testament.  My 8-year-old can recite The Charge of the Light Brigade.  My 10-year-olds can decline nouns in Latin.  My 12-year-old can write a 2 page essay on whatever.  Yes, there are schools out there that get it too, but so do we.
  3. Christ comes first, and we mean it.  We’re not just paying lip service here.  It’s all about Him.  We begin our day with Him, we attempt to walk all day with Him, and we end our day with Him.  Prayer permeates everything we do.
  4. Our children have to help out.  Of course homeschooling isn’t perfect.  In fact, I’m still trying to figure out a way to take Sick Days.  And I’d really like to get myself a Lunch Lady and a Janitor.  I guess the children will just have to help out and grow in virtue.
  5. We get thrown under the bus all the time, and it forces us to be sharp.  Shoot, even our bishop throws us under the bus!  (Click HERE for that one.)  How many times have I heard, “If you would just send us your kids to our school, it would be so much better.”  Yes, it would be, and thank you for the compliment, but there’s a reason why our children would improve the atmosphere.  It’s because they’ve been taught at home.

Now I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I know some of you will misunderstand me, so I’ll say it anyway.  I am glad that diocesan, Catholic schools exist.  They are a good thing.  I’m just tired of pretending that homeschooling isn’t a good thing too.

To all you homeschoolers out there, take heart!  Keep homeschoolin’ it like a Spartan.  Or better yet, as Dr. Taylor Marshall says, “Be the Maccabee.”  And if you don’t know what that means, go read both books of Maccabees.  Or, if you’re pressed for time, just read my favorite, 2 Maccabees 7.

Book Review

Holy Hacks & The Writing on the Wall

Patti Maguire Armstrong has a new book out called Holy Hacks.  It has some great and practical ideas for living out our faith.

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I love the size of this book.  It’s small and fits easily in my purse/diaper bag.

When I read this book, I was struck again by the importance of Date Nights with my husband.  Seriously, people, when’s the last time you spent some one-on-one time with your husband or wife?

In any case, Armstrong splits this book up into chapters, offering tips for growing in holiness in different areas of our lives: relationships, spiritual protection, evangelizing, against gossip…

If you’re in a rut, get this book and do a few of things she suggests.

There’s also a chapter on Lent with some great ideas for fasting and abstaining.  My two favorites in this section are:

  1. Abstain from something at each meal…St. Francis de Sales advised people never to leave the table without having refused themselves something.
  2. Intentionally wear clothing items you don’t particularly like to reduce your attachment to appearance.  (Ouch, this is a good one!)

In short, I found her little book inspiring.  You may too!

Parting Trifles: The Writing on the Wall

It’s been so cold here lately that my children have taken to some creative playing.

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Here are the little girls playing house with my kitchen stuff.

And then, here is some other creative playing.  My two-year-old had some fun with a pencil on the wall.

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Ugh.

Here’s a closer shot of her “artwork.”

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I was going to erase it, but it was so darkly scribbled on, that I couldn’t.  My husband had to paint over it.  Twice.

In any case, I hope your lent is going well!

 

Christ-Like Minimalism

Christ-Like Minimalism: The Master Bedroom

When I was a little girl, I used to imagine the perfect bedroom.  It was atop a high, high tower, naturally in a castle, built with beautiful gray stones.  My room had a tall ceiling and large, airy windows, with white muslin curtains flowing in the breeze.  My bed was certainly canopied with the same said cloth.  All was peaceful; all was beautiful.

Alas, I have grown up, and to my dismay, I do not live in a castle.  But I have not given up my hope of a peaceful, beautiful bedroom.  One wants a quiet place to retreat to after all.

Today I’ll look at our master bedroom, which may give you an idea or two for your own bedroom.  Also, if you have any good ideas, please be sure to post them below.  I am always looking for ways to simplify.

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There are a few things I’ll point out about our room first:

  1. In order to achieve a quiet atmosphere, I’ve limited the amount of objects sitting out.  You’ll notice that each night stand has a lamp, with my side also featuring a clock and my Bible.  (My Bible is the only reading material in the room.  This is intentional.)  The other dresser has a picture of my family, a few flowers, and a  little perfume bottle that my mother gave me.
  2. I’ve also limited the number of objects on the walls.  You’ll notice in the photos below that I’ve got a picture of our wedding ceremony, a picture of the Sacred Hearts, and a crucifix.  Nothing else.
  3. There is no mirror anywhere to be found either, not even a tall looking-glass.  There used to be one attached to the dresser, but I got rid of it, and in our old house, I kept a tall looking-glass behind the closet door, but I decided I didn’t want it anymore.  Yes, there is a mirror above the sink in my bathroom, and I suppose it’s necessary, as I don’t want to look completely disheveled all the time, but in the end, it is better for me to not walk by mirrors all day long.
  4. Lastly, you will not find a TV in this room.  Nope.  We wanted an atmosphere of simplicity and peace.

So here we go.  If you’re walking down the hall, here’s the first glimpse of our room that you’ll see:

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By the way, in the hallway on the right is my “art wall.”  This is where I hang the children’s latest artwork.

Notice the wooden rocking chair?  That’s my time-out chair.  It’s one of the best things about our bedroom.  I have a place to go, when it’s loud and chaotic in the rest of the house.  Truly, I am very thankful for this little spot.  Above it is a photo from our wedding and off  to the side you’ll see this hanging on our wall:

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It’s a crucifix from our wedding.

I intentionally put the crucifix on that wall because I can see it from both the rocking chair and from our bed.

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Here is another shot of our room when walking in the door.  The only obnoxious thing is the big, ugly fan.  I wish I didn’t need it, but I do.  Every afternoon I lie down for about twenty minutes and must turn it on, to drown out noise from the rest of the house.  I have heard about white noise machines and have wondered if I should look into them?  We’ll see.

The opposite wall looks thus:

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You might be able to see the holy card of Jesus to the left of the dresser.  Next to Him is a drawing (also of Jesus) that my daughter made for me.  I hid those two little pictures there on purpose.  It’s my little spot where I sometimes kneel to say prayers.

The door on the left is our bathroom.

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There isn’t anything special in here.  For example, you won’t find tons of towels.  I’ve already mentioned elsewhere that my husband and I each have two.  You also won’t find a scale, though, either.  About ten years ago I got rid of that Mood-Wrecker.

And the closet?  I think I’ll do a separate post on clothes later on.  I’ll just leave you with one last photo.

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This is my little bird that perches on my windowsill.  It was my Grandma Martha’s.  I think she’s rather pretty.  She brings joy to my heart.  I find that she often changes locations, though.  My children have a habit of sneaking in my bedroom and flying her around the room to land somewhere else.

Call Me Catholic

Ash Wednesday & Fasting

Good Morning, and Welcome to Lent!

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Just got back from Mass.  My ashes are stuck in my forehead creases.

If you’re looking for a really good video on fasting, look no further!  Dr. Taylor Marshall and Timothy Gordon knock it outta da park HERE.  The history of the tradition of fasting is fascinating, but my husband and I were really inspired by what these gentlemen are  doing.

Seriously, watch it tonight with your spouse.  Again, it’s HERE.

Book Review

3 Books in Brief: Gaffigan, McCoy, & Verne

I’ve finished a few books recently and thought I’d comment on them.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Anyone need of a good laugh?  If you have any amount of children, you’ll be able to relate to and appreciate Jim Gaffigan’s hilarious snippets about parenting in this book, which was published back in 2013.  I read it aloud back then to my husband on a road trip, and we laughed uncontrollably at times.  Six years later, it’s still funny.

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Chances are that your library has it.  Ours does.

This book was written when all five of his children were under the age of 8 or 9, which makes for some romping hilarity as he details outings in restaurants, parks, and vacations.  Seriously, we can all relate.  What makes the book even funnier, however, is that he and his wife cram their family into a two-bedroom apartment in the middle of New York City, where they have to navigate five flights of stairs just to get anywhere.  They don’t even own a car.  Imagine that.

In any case, if you’re feeling down about the ridiculously cold weather, go read his book for fun.  (Do know, however, that at times he does throw his family under the bus.  He’s not perfect.  And certainly stay away from his TV shows.  They’re downright terrible.)  Incidentally, his second book, Food: A Love Story, is also good, too.

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

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Lovely cover.  Terrible waste-of-time book.

Now this book is just terrible.  I mean, it’s really bad.  It’s the worst book I’ve read all year.  It’s the worst book I’ve read in the last ten years.  For any fan of Anne of Green Gables, just stay away from it, and here’s why:

  1. McCoy has sexualized it, and that’s downright despicable.  For example, she’s got Marilla at age 13 tripping on her cloak and somehow falling on John Blythe’s chest.  Or staring at his wet lips and bulging arm muscles, etc. etc.  Puke.
  2. McCoy gives Marilla a twentieth-century mindset.  For example, Marilla is concerned about politics and women’s voting rights and reversing male/female courting traditions.  Blah, blah, blah.
  3. In fact, the book is very much concerned about showing what’s going on in Canada politically, which is not what one expects, if one’s used to reading L.M. Montgomery.
  4. She’s got Matthew Cuthbert courting and galavanting around with Johanna Andrews, in spite of what L.M. Montgomery explicitly wrote about him in Anne of Green Gables.  For example, look at the following dialogue between Anne and Matthew below, which you can find on page 140 in Montgomery’s excellent novel.
    “Did you ever go courting, Matthew?”  [From Anne]
    “Well now, no, I dunno’s I ever did,” said Matthew, who had certainly never thought of such a thing in his whole existence.”

    Clearly McCoy didn’t read Anne of Green Gables very closely, or she wouldn’t have him chasing after Johanna Andrews!

All that said, maybe the second half of the book straightens everything out.  For you see, it was so terribly written that I couldn’t, could not, finish it.  So if any of you want to borrow my copy, send me an email.  You can have it.

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Now this is a phenomenal book.  It’s about an Englishman, Mr. Philias Fogg, in the 1870s who decides to take a bet, traveling around the world in 80 days.

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Verne’s book is usually depicted with an hot-air balloon, as seen above.  This is deceiving, as Phileas Fogg never actually took a hot-air balloon.

A friend of mine recommended this book, saying that her children particularly enjoyed listening to it, via audio book.  So, I checked it out from our library’s audio section, and we loved it so much, that I had to buy a written copy too.  Then my husband got hooked, and he added it to his audio collection for his drives to and from work.

I’m telling you, this book is well done.  I love the characters, the plot, everything.  And you know a book is really good if all ages can enjoy it.  I will warn you, though, that the first chapter or two may seem a little dry, but keep going.  You’ll be rewarded.

And if you prefer listening via audio, be sure to get the version with Jim Dale narrating.  His voice changes and accents are truly remarkable.