I’m all about cats killing animals, especially of the rodent variety. And I don’t mind at all if they proudly drag those dead carcasses into my garage. And it’s really not so bad that those dead things sit there until I notice them, whereupon the cat proudly rubs against my leg and then eats it.
But robins? No, this is where I draw the line. These lovely birds are a sign of spring! They’re a sign of life! And beauty! They’re one of the first birds to return to the cold, cold North after ten months of winter!
You know what my Grandma Martha used to say about shooting robins, right? (Click HERE for her murderous threats to guns and little boys even thinking of such things.) I wonder what she’d do to this cat?
You bet Strider ate this robin too. But no, not the feathers. They were strewn all over the place. I had to have my son vacuum up his mess. At least with mice and gophers, the whole thing disappears – snouts, tails, guts, and all.
My husband and I decided we needed to get outta Dodge, as the saying goes. (Where did that saying come from? Anyone know?) And of course, we wanted to go south, where it’s warmer. So naturally, we went to South Dakota.
The Black Hills
We stayed in a beautiful cabin at Newton Fork Ranch. Long ago we gave up on hotels, because with our big family hotels are impractical. Cabins, on the other hand, are great because they can provide multiple bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen. Kitchens are a must, as one does not want to take 7 children out to eat very often.
This cabin was the highlight of our trip for the children because it sat right on the side of forested “mountain” complete with a trickling stream. They all insisted that their favorite part of the whole trip was throwing sticks and rocks into that stream and climbing that mountain. In fact, they made both my husband and I do just that – throw sticks and rocks and hike the hill, which I found rather difficult and somewhat frightening.
Prairie Berry Winery
My favorite part of the trip was stopping at Prairie Berry Winery and drinking wine. This place, thankfully, is kid friendly. It even has a table set up for checkers, which my children played. And we only had a few gaping stares from others as we traipsed in and sat down. One bold woman remarked, “Looks like you got your hands full!” To which I promptly laughed and replied, “Yes, which is why we’re here!” And I lifted my half empty bottle of wine up for her to see.
I’m not really sure that these wines should be called wine, however. Many of them are made from anything but grapes. The Lawrence Elk, for example, is made from currants. It tastes like sparkling Kool-Aid. It was very refreshing after hiking a few miles though. (My husband condescended to drink a glass of it. He gave the rest of the bottle to me.)
Chapel in the Hills
My second favorite part of the trip was the tour my aunt and uncle gave us of the Norwegian Chapel in the Hills. My aunt and uncle were once the caretakers of this place for many years, but they came out of retirement just for us. They’re the best.
This chapel is an exact replica of the Borgund Stave Church in Norway built in 1050 and still standing. So, if you can’t get to Norway, go the Black Hills and tour this one built in 1969. Of course my children liked the sliding partition for the lepers to receive Holy Communion the best.
I asked my eldest daughter what she learned from the tour, and she exclaimed, “Your aunt said that there’s no such thing as white hair. She said that she has blonde hair, not white hair, and I’m not supposed to let anyone tell me differently. Mom, you’ll always have blonde hair too, I suspect.”
As an aside, my aunt is also wearing bright red lipstick. (She is my grandmother’s daughter after all.) She kissed every one of my boys on the cheek. She laughed and laughed, as they all ran to the van, desperately looking for baby wipes to get that lipstick off saying, “Ewwww, gross!”
And finally, we all greatly enjoyed the Michelson Trail. This was once an old railway that ran through the Black Hills. Now it’s a multipurpose, gravel hiking trail. My husband and I have biked on it before, so we thought we’d take the children and explore a different section. We found a five-mile stretch that began a few miles out of Hills City and was all downhill. So my husband dropped me and the four older children off and met us at the end.
At first it was glorious. The sun was shining. The trees were glistening. A stream ran alongside us. Then, it was terrifying. Gentle mountainside gave way to steep, scary cliffs. There were no guard rails. My children squealed in glee at the enormous canyons below. They pointed out distant deer while the wind whipped through their hair, and we flew at a fearful pace. Visions of wipe outs and falling children splattering on rocks below absolutely terrorized me. I prayed to their guardian angels. I asked St. Michael to protect them. I begged Holy Mary to wrap her mantle around them.
And we made it.
I do not, let me repeat, do not recommend that section of the trail for children! Nope. If you have children, stick closer to Hill City.
But boy, oh boy was that ride breathtaking! It even ran through the mountain in two places. Those tunnels were awesome.
How did your week go? Here are a few highlights from mine:
At the Easter Vigil, the lady sitting behind my husband was genuinely concerned that the toddler might start something on fire. Like my husband. So she kindly tapped him on the shoulder and offered to hold his candle, but of course he could not give up the candle because then the toddler would scream. Candles are so much fun at Mass!
Anybody have problems keeping toddlers in Time Out?
My toddler was supposed to be sitting in the Time Out Chair, but if nobody’s watching her, of course she’s going to get out. Here’s where I found her this morning:
No, this is not her crib. No, those are not her pacifiers. But she thought it would be really fun to climb into her baby sister’s crib and pretend to be the baby.
3. Why say something in 3 words when you candy it in thirty? This is the motto of my fifth child, a girl of course. “Mom, she pulled my hair. And it really hurt, and I told her that. She grabbed my hair like this, see? Then pulled it really hard, like this. Then I cried, and told her to stop it, but she just laughed and kept right on pulling. Mom, I really don’t see why she gets away with this sort of behavior all the time…” Blah, blah, blah.
4. My parents visited us for a few days. My dad is a great story teller. This time it was all about guns and rodents. He grew up on a farm with 7 brothers and sisters, and for awhile they had chickens, like a lot of chickens. Seriously, 12,000 of them. Now being the youngest, it was his job to pick eggs with his brother. Of course they had egg fights, but the real fun was shooting the rats with a BB gun. There was never a shortage. And then for more fun, they’d go find the bull and shoot him in the behind, just to watch him tear around a bit. Then when they were sick of that, they’d shoot pigeons. But never, never did they shoot any robins. For they were always sternly warned by their mother, “If I ever, ever catch you boys shooting any robins, I’m gonna take your guns, I’m gonna give your guns to your father, and he’s gonna run ’em over with the 806!” (An 806 is a tractor, by the way.)
My dad’s mother is the same woman who wore lipstick every day of her life. For good measure, here she is:
5. Drink of the week: Lemon Martini. I know, I know…it’s not a real martini because it’s made with vodka instead of gin. But let me tell you, it’s great.
A week or so ago, I mentioned something very important in my post on How to Survive Barfing Children. (Click HERE for it.) You’ll notice that Point Number 2 mentions Lipstick.
It occurred to me yesterday afternoon that many of you may not understand this one. You see, I grew up around a grandmother who was convinced that lipstick was the key to a great life. Ok, other things were important to her too, like family and big jewelry, but there is something simple here that she taught me.
While of course one can go overboard with relying on material things for happiness, there is something to say about a little dash of color and an attempt at looking well put together. I always go back to what Paul Harvey, the decades-long, iconic radio broadcaster, had to say about it all. You will always perform better if you dress the part. Statistics prove it. (Click HERE for a Wall Street Journal article on that.)
Paul Harvey. My grandmother named my father after him, literally.
My grandmother knew this secret—attempt to dress well, throw a little lipstick on, and Bam! Most of the time, you’ll feel better. No, it won’t solve all your problems, but it might help.
Now I know that many of you do not wear lipstick. In fact you may not even own any brightly-colored fun-in-a-tube. This is too bad because after all, St. Thomas himself speaks of it in his Summa Theologiae. (Click HERE for that one.) If there are any further lipstick naysayers, please know that I understand. I was once one of you, as I gave it up for a time, just to see what it was like. (I was miserable.) And truly, I suppose it’s not for everyone. (Like those with a vocation to the Carmelites?) But for me, I had to go back to lipstick, because it’s just that fun.*
Some of you, however, may be thinking, “Yes, yes, lipstick is fun and all, but what will my husband think?” Well, try it out. Tonight when he arrives home, greet him at the door with your lipstick on and his favorite drink in your hand. It will be impossible to not smile at that moment. Lipstick is so powerful, after all, that you may even be wearing sweatpants, and you’ll still have fun.
So, when there just isn’t enough coffee in the house and your hairspray runs out and it’s -20 degrees outside and your children are all screaming…quietly walk to a mirror and brighten your day with a splash of hot pink.
*Do I need to say, “all things in moderation?” One probably shouldn’t own bags and bags of makeup? You know that, right?