Monthly Picks

February Picks

Here are some of my favorite things for February:

Favorite New Parish:  St. James the Less in La Crosse, WI.  Seriously, we couldn’t have landed in a better place for kind families, beautiful Latin Masses, and heavenly scholas.  I’ll telling you, this place has got it going on.  They even have potlucks every Sunday after the 11am Mass.  It’s all such a blessing.

Favorite Outdoor Activity:  Hiking.  The weather seems so much more mild here that it makes it easy to be out-of-doors.

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Hiking around Grandad’s Bluff

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention all the sledding going on.  The boys drag their sleds almost every day to the park and sled down the steep sides into the baseball field.

Favorite Cocktail:  The Copyright, which is a signature drink from the La Crosse Distilling Co. and consists of Barrel-aged Fieldnotes Potato Vodka, Orange Liqueur, Honey, Lemon, and Angostura Bitters.  Here a picture of it:

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High Rye Highball on the left and Copyright on the right.

This place was hopping last Saturday night.  We can’t wait to go back and try more local drinks.  Click HERE for their website and more pictures.

Family Game of the Month:  Last month was Catan, and indeed, the children are still at it, but lately Chess has captured more attention.  This is because the 4 older children played in a local Chess Tournament, wherein The Eldest actually took the championship. She claims it was all luck.  My husband said it was all his doing with his careful and attentive teaching at home.  Her brothers say that she owes it all to them for spending hours playing with her, and I say it was all due to her grandpa’s expertise and guidance.

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This tournament was a “Swiss” style tournament with 5 rounds.  (Whatever that means.  I’ve never played Chess in my life.)  It was held at Providence Academy.

Best Amazon Purchase:  My 3 Tier 12 Bottle Wine Rack for $14.99.  Too bad it didn’t come stocked with wine.

Most Enjoyable February Book:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I’m revisiting it again, probably for the 4th or 5th time.  If you’ve never read it, you’re missing out.  Mr. Rochester is my all-time favorite male character in a novel.  Yes, he even beats Mr. Darcy from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  HERE’S my favorite Audible version.

My Kids’ Favorite February Supper:  Hot dogs.  Yuck.  Just yuck.  But I was desperate the other day.  We were in Survival Mode.

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That’s sauerkraut on the back burner.

And here’s what I had for supper that night…

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That’s my new wine rack in the background.

Anybody have anything good to share for February?

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

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

Update From Rochester

I want to begin by soberly thanking every one of you who has offered a prayer or a sacrifice for Paul and our family.  Again we are deeply thankful for all the kind words, meals, money, and most especially, the prayers and sacrifices.  God works in mysterious ways, and please know that we feel His love through you all.

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Unfortunately after another shunt revision surgery last Friday, Paul is still hurting.  His head is aching, in an ebb and flow manner, and he isn’t eating well.

Because we were able to secure a house within walking distance of the hospital, however, Paul was allowed to join us.  This has been a great blessing for our family.  It cheers him to be around all his brothers and sisters.

Yesterday we took the whole family and attended a Latin Mass at the shrine in La Crosse, WI, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  During his brief homily the priest paused and said quietly, “One of two things happen, when one begins to pray the rosary every day.  He either quits sinning, or he quits praying the rosary.”

Put so starkly, those words gave me great hope.

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Interior of the Church

Incidentally, we were able to make this pilgrimage to the Shrine through the generosity of some friends.  But also, on a practical level, we were able to take Paul because the Shrine offers rides on a golf cart to those individuals who are unable to make the ten minute hike up the wooded hill to the church.  Our Lady was surely interceding for us!

We prayed for Paul, but also for a friend of ours suffering from cancer and for the Amazon Synod.  We lit a candle in this small chapel on the hillside:

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It was a beautiful day, even if our hearts were aching for our son.

Tomorrow Paul has more appointments, to determine what should or should not be done.  Every day we live in uncertainty as to whether he’ll get better or not.  It is agonizing.  But we continue to trust in God.  We want to be loyal to His will, no matter the cost.

Tomorrow is also Paul’s 11th birthday, which he of course shares with his twin brother, Michael.  (I wrote about their birth HERE.)

But today…today we thank God for his most lovely and fair mother.  Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!