30 September 2009


Our homeschool group is doing a "World's Fair" where each family picks a country, learns all about it, then presents it to the group. Our family (read: me) picked Switzerland. That was a no brainer. Figured it was time my kids learned a little bit about one of their ancestral homes. Granted, I'm a lot more Irish (technically, of Irish descent) than I am all the other nationalities combined, but so many people can claim that whereas not so many can claim being of Swiss descent.

On a side note, as an American, I learned very little, probably nearly nothing, about European history, other than things related to pilgrims and the world wars. At the library the other day, as I was scanning through the courses on CD that they have (my new past time since I now spend a good deal of time in the car driving my kids to their history club that meets three times a week), I found one on early medieval history. This is the period we are learning about in the history club, so I was pretty thrilled with myself...I'd be able to "brush up" on the time period and not look totally clueless in front of the kids and especially the other moms! This time period was never taught in school. I don't know how I learned the minuscule amount I do know. Minuscule.

Just down the shelf from the early medieval history course was a course on the French Revolution. Did I mention I learned very little about history, other than American? I know little of any history. My liberal arts degree ensured I took at least one history class, but to soften the blow to my GPA, in the wisdom of my youth, I took my one required class on Early American History to 1875...or something like that. Basically, I was repeating the only history I had ever really learned a fig about. Who cared about English history? Our Founding Fathers had left that country behind so who I was to quibble with that...and who cared a lick about the French?

Being a genealogy buff, I have gone on to learn a few things about the countries my ancestors were from, sans the Brits and the French (inherited bias and German pride that was ingrained in me by my father). I know more about Irish history than I probably do American and I know some German and Swiss, along with Scottish, as much as one can without opening their eyes to how it all overlaps and connects.

I finished the course on Early Medieval History, the French Revolution and am now on a course that focuses on Napoleon himself.

I know very little, but I really don't like Napoleon. What on earth was going on in France...the place was mad. Terror is an understatement.

I read Trianon (see Elena Maria Vidal's blog), which I enjoyed for its unique perspective. Historical fiction though it is, I hope it was half true, especially when one learns of the hideous things said about Marie Antoinette! Leave it to the French...what a mess.

Anyhow, in learning about the French Revolution and Napoleon, I learned about this famous painting of him, which must be familiar to most folks, of his crossing the St. Bernard Pass (Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David)...which is in Switzerland, not too far south from where my ancestors are from.

I just read a story to the kids on the monks and the St. Bernard dogs that live near the pass. Funny how things go off on tangents, but then seem to bring you back to where you started.

But, what is interesting about this painting, other than it's connection to Switzerland, is how it was painted. There was a very deliberate method to this painting...it has an orthogonal scheme and Napoleon on his horse forms a "Z" for effect. There are five versions of it. To be brief, I'll just link to it on Wiki.

Oh, and it has Hannibal's and Charlemagne's names inscribed on the rocks...which fits right in with the early medieval history!

24 September 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Sorry to leave you all disappointed that there wasn't a WKJ last weekend. St. Alex was praying for the gift of bilocation, like Padre Pio had, to get everything completed that day, but that didn't happen. So, here's this one a bit early to avoid not being able to do one at all.

Have a blessed weekend!!!

Category: Refractory, refectory, and the French Revolution

The stained glass window above depicts this "colorful" and clandestine Mass that was celebrated by the peasantry when deprived of their priests during the French Revolution. (From what St. Alex understands, since lay people were "saying Mass," women tended to take over and became somewhat modern examples of wymen priests.)

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

23 September 2009

Date night

I guess when you get to be an old married couple, things like an hour alone together is all you hope for. So tonight, my sweet hubby is taking me to IKEA for dinner, drinks and dancing. Dinner is IKEA's Wednesday $7.99 special - half rack of ribs, fries and corn bread (if they still have it), drinks will be carbonated and the dancing will come when we drop the kids off at the one-hour free child care play land.

During our hour, we will stroll arm-in-arm through cheap housewares, oblivious to the world around us.

All this and I don't even have to dress up or wear heels.

(I hope they still have the rib special because for some reason, all you can eat crawfish, also $7.99, just doesn't sound so good. There are the Swedish meatballs as a back up plan though.)

22 September 2009

Cartoon Tuesday

21 September 2009

Monday musings

Praise God, my hives (from an allgeric reaction, recently acquired, to penicillin) seem to have disappeared finally.

Now, what I'm wondering is why a parish with a large grade school has a Sunday Mass where the priest is saying Mass alone, unassisted. I bet I could've even picked out a few DOZEN boys (not even counting girls, which is the norm at this parish...just to cue Chris in that, no, this wasn't St. Agnes) who would've been prime altar server material in attendance during the Mass, but none were serving.

What's next, Mass attendance by proxy?

Think the hives made me cranky.

20 September 2009

Taking after his father

My husband was an Eagle Scout, which I guess is a big deal, at least amongst Scouting folks. A year or so was all my brother lasted, while I was a Campfire Girl (Bluebird to be exact) for about the same duration.

My little guy just started and officially became a Tiger Scout at the investiture ceremony today at St. Agnes. Father Erickson did a very nice job and said the whole goal of scouting was to become a saint. Eagle scout - good; saint - infinitely better.

A saint that can tie a double overhand knot -- bestest of all.

Anybody want to buy some popcorn?

14 September 2009

Not your grandmother's VBS

No, I'm not talking Vacation Bible School. Last year I helped teach the Kindergarten VBS class, but lately the acronym VBS has taken on another meaning that I don't subscribe to.

We had a lot to do over the weekend so we stayed in town. See if you can guess where I spotted people dressed like this over the weekend.

VBS...visible bra straps. Oh, and if you hadn't figured it out or guessed correctly, a clue is the kid/EMHC manning the Precious Blood was dressed almost as well as Zak Ephron in the above photo.

VBS in nearly every pew. Short shorts too. Athletic attire on the altar. Please tell me I was at the beach.

11 September 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

If any of you got up early for WKJ, sorry to disappoint. It was my daughter's first day of school, so things were a bit hectic. But, if you're like Ray, you're still reading Tuesday's Pioneer Press.

Category: The Catechism

These three things are the chief attributes of the Catholic Church.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

No winner last week!! Guess away!!!

09 September 2009

By the light of the lake moon

It's always interesting what comes up in conversation around the campfire. Must be why we don't have campfires too often lately!

We didn't have many people at the campfire over the weekend, just my PIL and SIL. Somehow the conversation drifted to the ELCA and their recent vote on homosexual clergy. Actually, my husband asked my PIL and SIL what they thought of it since his family are all members of the ELCA. I grimaced when he asked the question. I dislike these types of conversations since we are always at odds with my in-laws on nearly everything. Especially these topics.

My SIL, who is surprisingly very active in her parish, went on at length (without really saying much) about how she disagreed with changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Why? Because "the bible defines marriage as between a man and a woman." Calling it a civil union is fine, just don't call it marriage.


It took me a few minutes to get past the obvious and return to the conversation. If you're going to quote the bible and use it as your authority on things, take what it says as "gospel," then how can you so quickly discard it, still within the same breath, arguably within the same thought? If the bible says marriage is between a man and a woman and you hold firm on that, but then moving beyond what the bible says on marriage to what the bible says on homosexuality, you now contradict or conflict with your source, don't you have a problem?

More absurd was my MIL's respose to my SIL (her daughter). My MIL said, "I don't care (what they want to call civil unions)." I don't know if she's apathetic or is merely blinded by the empiricism or relativism of today's culture.

It was interesting to see how my MIL and SIL, both members of the same parish, disagreed with each other and neither could definitively say whether the other was right or wrong.

And to think we could've been sitting there blissfully eating smores.

04 September 2009

Labor Day Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Have a great weekend everyone!!!!

Category: Anathema

This saint defended the Church against Arianism in the WEST.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

Congrats to Archangel's Advocate who won last week's coveted WKJ award!

02 September 2009

Blessings from Rome

It was requested that I show a picture of the Papal Blessing I recently received. My parents received one decades ago that has Pope John Paul II on it. A very good priest friend of my father's, Father Pingatore, brought it back from Rome for my parents. For years it hung on our wall in my parent's den (what an outdated term!) It currently hangs on the wall behind my computer desk (shown in the photo outside it's frame). I like it because it has a real 4x6 picture of Pope John Paul II on it, back when he was healthy and vibrant.

Although Pope John Paul II was "the Pope of my generation," I'm kind of partial to Pope Benedict. The blessing is beautiful and I suppose I should find a suitable frame for it...not the one that I have laying around from IKEA.

Sorry the pics are not so good. I had them laying on a table and stood on a chair to take the photos. Seems I'm a bit unbalanced! You can click on the photos to enlarge.

Thank you, JP Sonnen, for the very kind favor of obtaining this for us and carrying it back from Rome.

01 September 2009

Inside the cloister

Yesterday our homeschool group was allowed a tour of the nearby Carmelite hermits' cloister. We had beautiful weather and a very enjoyable time, spending a few minutes inside the tranquil walls and learning about the Carmelite way of life.

We had a fairly large group of almost 70 people, the majority of them children.

Even though I had been attending Mass at the monastery (owned by the nuns, who have a cloister adjacent to the hermits) since I was a child, and both my parents were third-order Carmelites, I still learned a few things, such as there is a difference between a monk and a hermit -- the terms are not interchangeable. Unfortunately, when I was setting up the tour and was excited that the group may be able to see the hermits' beautiful private chapel, the size of our group kept us out of the main building.

We were split into two groups to make things more manageable for Father and Brother, who generously shared their time with us, undoubtedly speaking more in the 90 minutes we were with them then they do all week. It reinforced for me that this way of life is definitely a calling, a special grace from God.

Our tour ended outside their new gift shop (shown in the photo) and then our group was on our way to the park for a picnic lunch and some play.