Christ-Like Minimalism, Kim's Kitchen

Christ-Like Minimalism: The Kitchen

Today I’ll continue the minimalist discussion with a look at my kitchen.

Disclaimer (Again)

I’ll say it again, always be careful about comparing yourself to other families.  We are all different and are called to different stations in life.  No two families will look alike!  I am only offering one way that works for us.  Maybe an idea or two will stick out for you in the following.

My Kitchen

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So here we go.  The above is my kitchen, which you can see is one big room with the dining room to the east and the living room to the north.  (You can’t see the living room, as I’m standing in it to take the photo.)

I probably don’t need to say that our kitchen is used for preparing food, (I do have 7 perpetually hungry children and 1 husband who is grateful to eat anything) and the dining room is for eating in.  Except that I feel that I do have to mention it.  Not all families cook and eat together.  We do.  So this space is important.

A Note on Beauty

Beauty matters.  Beauty is objective, and it affects us.  I learned this in grad school, studying art and reading what St. Thomas Aquinas and others had to say about it.  But really, I didn’t need to study those great thinkers to know that I am influenced by my surroundings.  Walking into a clean and simple room has a calming, peaceful effect on me.  Walking into a dirty and chaotic room will instantly overwhelm me.

Since I am at home all day, with 7 loud children, I find it very important to live as neatly and simply as possible.  And if I can, I add a touch of beauty.  Maybe it’s a candle; maybe it’s a few flowers for the table.  Wild flowers are readily available where I live in the warmer months, and during the rest of the 10 months of the year, my husband can pick them up from a florist very cheaply, if they’re bought by the stem.  (It’s only arrangements that are expensive.)

I’ll say it again, beauty matters, especially in our culture of throw-away, plastic ugliness.  We are not utilitarian communists after all.  We are Catholics.  Do you suppose Jesus ever picked a bouquet of wildflowers for his mother?  I’ll bet he did.

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Tulips by the stem.  $12.83.  Always worth it, even if they only live for 5 days.

Back to the Kitchen

So in the kitchen, I’ll point out 3 things I try to do.

  1. I try to put very little on the countertops.  In the above photo, you’ll notice that only the items that get used daily get a place there.  This is for both practical and aesthetic reasons, for it allows for more space to cook, and it makes the space seem cleaner and bigger.
  2. Everything in the kitchen has a place.  If it doesn’t have a place, then it doesn’t belong.  And I try to put things in a logical spot.  For example, since my husband and I drink a bottle or so of wine per week, these items need to be easily accessible.  (See the photo below.)  Of course if wine isn’t your thing, then get rid of all those wine glasses taking up space!
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I realize that to some of you, this may seem ridiculous that we own all these wine glasses, but trust me, we use them.*

And lastly, #3.  If I haven’t used something in a year, then I get rid of it.  I’ll highlight that for you again.

If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it!

Seriously, if you haven’t used that egg separator in over a year, get rid of it.  If you’ve never used that brand new juicer, get rid of it.  If you have two ice cream scoops, get rid of one.  For that matter, how many large, cooking spoons do you have?  Or when’s the last time you used all those cook books crammed in your cabinet?  Or how about those 52 water bottles?

It’s freeing, living with less.  And who knows?  Maybe someone will be overjoyed at finding your mini-muffin tins and champagne flutes at the secondhand store.

Parting Notes

Lastly, I’ll point out a few other practical things that I do in my kitchen.

Here’s a shot of the island.

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Like the countertops, I keep this as clear as possible too, so that it is a space that can be used throughout the day.  Children will do homework here, work on a puzzle, or just sit and watch me chop vegetables.

The other notable thing about the island is that I put all the plates, cups, and bowls in the lower righthand cabinet.  I did this so that the little children need not climb the cabinets to set the table.

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Every day plates and bowls on the bottom shelf, and cups on the top shelf.

The other thing I’ll point out is a shelf by the dining room table.  (See photo below.)

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Note:  Everything has a place.

We keep our laptop here, so that we can listen to audio books during lunch.  (The speakers are on the middle shelf.)  My husband I also enjoy listening to jazz music in the evenings too, so it’s nice to have it readily available.

Next to the laptop are our prayer books for meal times.  This includes the Magnificat for the Mass readings and Butler’s Lives of the Saints.  I also keep the children’s current poetry there too, since we review them at breakfast.

And next to the speakers, you’ll notice a white basket.  This is where we keep our cloth napkins during the day.  After supper, Child #5 empties it into the laundry.

That’s all for today.  If you have any questions, be sure to ask in the Comments Section below.  Others may have the same question!  Or if you have any great ideas to live more simply in the kitchen, post them for us to see.

 

*Two notes here.  1.  We enjoy drinking wine out of proper wine glasses.  Hence all the different stemware.  2.  Did you notice all the glass bowls?  It also may seem ridiculous that I own that many.  And I agree with you.  I think I’ll give away one or two.  But I’ll also have you know that I’ve made progress in this department.  I used to own about 25 beautiful glass bowls.  Not kidding.  People were very generous to us at our wedding.
Kim's Kitchen

Lentil Stew For Me & You!

Awhile back a friend gave me a great recipe for Lentil Stew, which we loved, but had to modify a little to feed everybody.  As it’s one of our favorites, I offer it to you today.

Lentil Stew

Here’s how I made it.  (See the bottom of the post for the actual recipe.)

Step 1: Chop up your vegetables and sauté them for a few minutes in olive oil.

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A large onion, 5 stalks of celery, and a couple handfuls of baby carrots

Step 2: Start dumping stuff in your crockpot while the vegetables cook.

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I had a quart of my mother’s canned tomatoes, so I used those in addition to another can of diced tomatoes.

Step 3: Add 5 cloves of garlic to the vegetables and sauté for just a minute or two longer.  (Don’t  burn the garlic!)

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By the way, do you have a garlic press?  No?  You need one.

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Pampered Chef Garlic Press.  Probably one of my most used kitchen utensils ever.

Step 4: Add the vegetables and everything else to the crockpot.

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I like to rinse my black beans, for a brighter colored soup, but you don’t have to.
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These are green lentils, but I’ve used brown too.

Step 5: Bring it all to a boil, and then let it simmer for about thirty minutes.  Then turn your crockpot down to warm until you’re ready to eat it.

And what to serve with the stew?

Salad, Anyone?

Most days I make my own salad dressing, but if I’m in a hurry or feeling lazy, I go for this because it comes with dressing.

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Asian Chopped Kit

But I have to dress it up and add more so that it feeds my family.  I usually add spinach, dried cranberries, and unsalted cashews.  If I’m not feeling so very lazy, and if I have it on hand, I especially love to add green onion.

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Here it is, doctored up a bit.

Now the children generally set the table, and I always fill the salad bowls at the last minute, before we pray and sit down to eat.  I’ve found this to be much less chaotic, than attempting to pass around the salad bowl with everyone making a mess.  It’s just better to have the salad waiting in everyone’s bowls.

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What’s wrong with this photo?*

And here we are, after the salads, eating our soup.

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A Note About the Wine

This evening we drank a Petite Sirah, which is not my favorite, but it paired well with this soup, because of its strong, spicy flavors.

And because I wanted to know the difference, I’ll share this with you too.

  1. A Petite Sirah is not a Shiraz or Syrah.  A Petite Sirah is the American name for the French Durif grape, which is a cross between the Sirah and Peloursin grape.  It is not a lighter version of Syrah.  In fact, from what I’ve read, it’s higher in tannin, making for a bolder taste.
  2. Shiraz and Syrah are also full-bodied red wines, but these are made from the Syrah grape.  Shiraz is made exclusively in Australia.
  3. Shiraz and Syrah wines pair well with barbecue and barbecue sauce, especially spareribs.  Petite Sirahs need rich or fatty foods with exotic spices.  (Hence, the Lentil Stew did do nicely.)

 

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Notice the deep purple color.

Recipe for Lentil Stew

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
carrots, chopped
5 stalks of celery, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of broth
3 cans petite tomatoes
2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16 oz.) package of lentils
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Sauté vegetables in olive oil for a few minutes.  Add garlic for a minute or two more.  Combine everything else in a crockpot and bring it to a boil.  Let it simmer for about thirty minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked.

Note: This is a great recipe for meatless Fridays.  I will, however, frequently add meat, if I’ve got some on hand.  For example, today I added a few cups of chopped ham.  I’ve also done sausage and bacon too.

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Mmm, good.

 

*No wine, of course!  (I hadn’t poured it yet.)  And the silverware does not match, but that cannot be helped.

 

 

Life is Worth Living

Almost There! Photopost

It’s almost Christmas, and we’re getting ready!

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We hope you’re eating lots of cookies and chugging the sprinkles like this gal.
  1. A few weeks ago, here’s how I worked on my Christmas cards:

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    I love Asiago and red wine.
  2. And here is how I scrubbed onesies full of poop.  (Laundry doesn’t go away during the holidays.)  It just so happens that a dear friend stopped by and gave me the coffee.  May God bless her thoughtfulness!

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    Cheers!
  3. Here is my son traveling to his doctor appointment wherein we didn’t discover much of anything.

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    He says thank you for all the prayers!
  4. Here is our sweet Christmas tree.  It has a gaping hole in the back.  But that’s what you get when you wait until two days before Christmas Eve to buy one.  (As of last year, we decided to wait until the last possible moment to get one.  Oh the excitement!)  Then we decorate it on Christmas Eve.  Click HERE for last year’s Sweet Thang.

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    For the record, this tree was $11.25.
  5. And, here are the rest of the children helping with the cookies.
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I’m not sure if you can see it, but those cookies on the left are supposed to be Spritz.  They’re the worst ones I’ve ever made for two reasons.  1.  We had no almond extract.  2.  We also had no cookie press.  However, they are still edible.

In any case, I pray that your Christmas may be holy and jolly!  Come, Lord Jesus!

 

Life is Worth Living

Ode to My Box Wine – Splendor of My Refrigerator

Anyone in need of a little lighter fare?

Remember when I wrote that Ode to my Coffee Pot?  Well, I have something else that I’d like to honor and call to your attention.  It’s my Box Wine.

Without any further ado, here is my Ode to My Box Wine in modern, “free” verse.  (Whatever that means.)

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Got this one on sale the other day for $17.  There’s the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine in that thing.  O joyous Safeguard of sanity! O Splendor of my Refrigerator!

Ode to My Box Wine

Even though you take up much needed space in my refrigerator,

I praise you, Box Wine,

for you are gloriously and wondrously made.

O Hope of desperate mothers!

O Comforter at the end of an exasperating day!

Just one glass is enough to fill our hearts with gladness.

After a day of cleaning up urine all over toilet seats, floors, and walls,

and scrubbing feces from onesies and seat-holders,

and wearing spit-up and drool,

You are my Illustrious Reward.

O Vessel of Joy!

Some things must be prioritized to allow for your presence:

Ketchup or Box Wine?

5th gallon of milk or Box Wine?

Sauerkraut or Box Wine?

(Oh wait, we’re German and cannot actually live without sauerkraut.)

Water pitcher or Box Wine?

Some things just have to go.

For you are our Solace in the midst of woe.

O Bestower of Buzzes!

And Terror of Bad Moods!

You are the Splendor of my refrigerator.

May you live a long life

and never run dry!

May you be as a Stone Jar at the Wedding Feast of Cana!

O Happy Box of Brilliance!

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She fits right in.

 

Have a friend who needs a glass of wine?  Be sure to send this post along.

 

Life is Worth Living

Time for Cocktails!

As this is summer, I am wondering what you all are enjoying in the evenings?  I like a glass of wine* or two, but every now and then, I like a cocktail too.

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This is a Classic Martini.  2.5 oz. dry gin, .5 oz dry vermouth, and an olive.  I hate Classic Martinis.  Yuck.  My husband loves them though.

Summer Drinks

The other night, my husband and I enjoyed a Lemon Martini (on the left) and a Rob Roy (on the right).

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As the famous Fr. Z asks, “which is mine?”

Lemon Martinis

Some of you have asked how we make our Lemon Martinis?  (By we, I mean my husband.  Who are kidding?  I don’t make the drinks around here.  I just drink ’em.)  My husband pours equal parts freshly squeezed lemon, dry vermouth, and vodka into a shaker with ice.  Then he shakes it violently and pours it into my martini glass.

So of course, it isn’t a true martini, as it has no gin.

And what’s around that rim?  It’s sugar.  He does this by wetting the rim with the lemon wedge and then tipping the glass upside down onto a plate of sugar.  It’s worth the extra minute of two waiting.

Rob Roy

The second drink, my husband’s drink, is a Rob Roy.  This is two parts Scotch, one part dry vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura bitters.  Rob Roys can also be made with sweet vermouth or even with equal parts of both, but my husband prefers dry.

This is also poured into a shaker with ice and shaken.  Then it’s poured into a martini glass and enjoyed.

Helpful Tools

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My husband loves his Drink Tool shown above.

When making cocktails, it’s helpful to have a cocktail shaker and something to measure shots with.  A simple shot glass will do, or if you have a nifty tool like the one above, you’re good to go.  You’ll notice that on this tool, on the left, is a little measuring cup while on the right are other useful things – most notably the extended stick used as a juicer.  This juicer gets a lot of use in our house for drinks requiring lemons or limes.

What are you all drinking this summer?  Drop a line in the comment box!

*One of my favorite scripture verses involve wine.  The following one comes from Psalm 104:14-15.
“You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”
Notice that?  Wine to gladden the hearts of men and bread to strengthen us.  Two of the best things ever.  God is good!
Kim's Kitchen

What’s For Supper? Italian Minestrone

Tonight we had a lettuce salad, Italian Minestrone, and bread.

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Lettuce Salad with feta, yellow & red peppers, and kalamata olives.

Now I know that my Minestrone may not be true Italian Minestrone because it’s lacking cabbage and Italian sausage.  The fact is, I didn’t have any Italian sausage because I’m not Italian.  But I did have venison sausage because I’m a North Dakotan, and my husband hunts.  Every fall he shoots a deer, hangs it, guts it, cuts it up, and then has his butcher process it for us.  Hence venison sausage.

So maybe, I ought to call it North Dakotan Minestrone?

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“Italian” Minestrone

Now what to drink with this soup?  I understand soup is difficult to pair with wine.  I looked it up and came across two suggestions.  The first was a sparkling red.   Well, I didn’t have any sparkling red.  Next, I read that a Sangiovese will do, with the most popular Sangiovese around here being Chianti.  Alas, but I was fresh out of Chianti.

What to do?

Some of you may be wondering what I did have in the wine rack?  Only a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.  And when all else fails and one only has a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, one drinks Cabernet Sauvignon.

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I suppose I spent about $10 on this Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was good.

Notice the bread in the picture?  I bought it from our local bakery, Bread Poets.  They buy wheat from the farmers around here and grind (or should I say mill?) it themselves.  It’s the best.  This particular loaf is stuffed with tomato sauce and pepperonis.  Who wouldn’t like that?

Recipe for “Italian” Sausage Minestrone

Ingredients
1 lb. “Italian” Sausage
2 large carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
olive oil
7 cups chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup small pasta
shredded Parmesan for serving

Directions
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.

In the same pan, saute the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in oil until tender.  Stir in everything else, except pasta and Parmesan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Put the pasta in the last 5 or 6 minutes.  Serve with Parmesan.

 

Life is Worth Living

Welcome to the Family!

Dear Readers,

I can’t help but spread a little cheer.  My brother has just announced his engagement to the lovely lady in the photo below.  They both have suffered a lot through previous “marriages,” which have been annulled.  God is giving them a second chance to do things rightly.

All I can say is, congratulations!  And welcome to the family!

And then I have two bits of advice for all Engaged Couples.

Advice for Engaged Couples

  1. Start praying together now, if you aren’t already.  (This goes for you married couples too.)  This is so important.  Not only will it help you when things get tough, but just think of the example you are setting for your children.
  2. Go to confession.  We are all sinners, and we all need to frequent this sacrament.  (Married couples included.)  So, go to confession!
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Here is my brother and his new fiancé in front of the oldest cathedral in the United States.  Quiz:  Where are they?*

 

By the way, I understand that my brother’s fiancé is 100% Italian.  This is exciting for our family because we are mostly German and Norwegian, with a little Dutch sprinkled on top.

But the Dutch part is very important, as I will never forget my Grandfather explaining his heritage and last name.  “You see, Kim, our last name used to be ‘Van Dubbelden’ in the Old Country, but now it’s Dubbelde, which is a little more American.  But don’t you ever forget,” and here he stopped, looked me straight in the eye, pointed his finger at me, and said, “If ya ain’t Dutch, ya ain’t much!

Well, I’m glad I’m Dutch.  But, I look forward to having an Italian in the family.  I love their wine.  (After all who ever heard of a Dutch wine?  Or a Norwegian wine?)

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Cheers!  From my husband.

 

*Answer:  St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.  Not built by the Dutch or the Italians, but by the French of course.

Life is Worth Living

This is How You Sell a House?!

The night before our open house a few days ago, Child #3 chucked a chair down the stairwell and this is what happened:

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See the nice hole?

Now, I’d like to say that I handled this situation well, but that would be a lie.  We were frantically trying to clean for this open house, and it was stressful.  So I cried, but I didn’t yell.  And that’s an improvement for me.  This particular child felt badly enough.  I didn’t need to make him feel worse.

What was one to do?  There was clearly a visible hole in my wall.  Well, I did three things:

  1. I called my adept father-in-law, as my husband was at work, and asked if he might want to fix a hole in the wall?  Of course he did.  He came right over.
  2. I was making supper, so I stopped all necessary prep-work and popped a bottle of wine.  All situations improve with a glass of wine.
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You know, there’s a reason why Jesus turned a bunch of huge stone jars from water to wine.  It just tastes better.  And life gets brighter.

After all, God is going to sell this house in His own good time, with or without holes in the walls.  I might as well relax a little bit.

3.  I blasted out Louis Armstrong.  My absolute favorite song of his is When You’re Smiling.  Click HERE for it.  Just listen to that trumpet solo!  It’s at 2:20 in the video.  Now if that doesn’t put a gal in a better mood, I’m not sure what will.

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When Armstrong was asked what religion he was, he’d apparently answer, “I was raised Baptist.  I wear the Star of David.  And I’m friends with the Pope.”  Hmmm…
Life is Worth Living

You took 7 kids on vacation?!

Yes, we did.

Are you nuts?!

Yes, we are.

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.

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Mount Rushmore.  Tourist Trap.  But one has to see it, right?

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.

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The name of this particular wine is Lawrence Elk, which I thought was funny.  Anyone ever watch reruns of that old show, Lawrence Welk?  You do know that he was born in North Dakota, right?  All good things come from the NoDak.

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.

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Really, you need to visit this place.  Great history to this once-upon-a-time Catholic Norwegian church.

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.”

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Here we are organized.  My aunt is in the middle.  Notice her “blonde” hair.

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!”

Michelson Trail

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.

Motherhood & Parenting

Insomnia Bites

I was asked the other day if I suffer from insomnia?  Uh, yes.  From time-to-time anyway, and it’s terrible.  I’d say that it sucks, but that’s not proper language for a sophisticated blog.  So I’ll just say that it’s terrible.

I never used to have a problem sleeping.  Anybody remember those college days of setting the alarm clock for 10am?  And sleeping all the way through the night, until 10am?  Yeah, that’s a little pathetic, but you get the idea.

Then I got married and started having children.  Like a lot of children.  And the older I get, the less sleep I get, and not just because the baby wants to nurse and the 5-year-old wet the bed and the 2-year-old just feels like screaming.  Nope, with this last pregnancy especially, I was just plain wide awake at all hours of the dark, dark night.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the children asleep and realizing that one has only a few precious hours wherein to sleep and then not being able to sleep. Oh, the agony!

If any of you find yourself in this situation, I’ll give you a few ideas that seem to work for me.  But remember, everyone is different, so these tips may or may not work for you.  (Shoot, they don’t always work for me either.)

4 Tips for Surviving Insomnia

1. Watch what you’re doing those two hours before bedtime.

If I’m stressed out, running around, or worrying about everything I didn’t get done, you bet I’m going to be wide awake at night.  This is why it’s very important for me to relax in the evening.  I need to forget about the load of laundry sitting in the dryer and the sticky mess on my kitchen floor.  Rather, it’s time for me to sit down, have a glass of wine, and play a hand of Gin Rummy with my husband.

2.  Eat well.

I always feel better when I’ve attempted to eat well during the day.  You know, like pass on the potato chips and have a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries instead.

3.  Exercise.

Every day I try to get outside and go for a walk or a run.  It’s amazing what just 20 minutes will do for a gal.  And yes I said outside, even in the cold, cold North.  Bundle up!  The reason I prefer outside to a machine indoors is because of the quiet.  Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking down the road outside by myself.  And I always feel better at the end of the day knowing my body moved around a bit.

4.  Just get out of bed and go pray or read.

This one is so difficult for me, but when I do it, I almost always come back to bed and fall asleep.  Instead of lying in bed, staring at the clock, and thinking Oh, I just need to sleep!  The baby’s going to wake up in 45 minutes, and I have so much to do tomorrow.  Why, oh why can’t I just fall asleep!  I just get up and go tell Jesus about it.  I grab my robe, stumble out to the living room, and sit before our icon of the Sacred Heart and pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I don’t turn any lights on either.

I also have a couple favorite Psalms that I like to pray, which come from the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)  From Psalm 134, “In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord!”  And from Psalm 91, “Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God’s wings.”

In the end though, Jesus knows, and he cares.  Really.  And this too shall pass, or so I tell myself.