Monday, March 6, 2017

Why I Veil for Mass

Well, it finally happened.  A friend I attend Mass with regularly asked me why I wear a veil. And since the reasons are varied (and often interconnected), I wasn't sure how to answer her, at least not in a brief and concise way.  So I sat at my computer, and I attempted a blog post on the topic, because we all know I express myself in writing far better than I do when speaking.  And it was too complicated, largely because I'm aware that a significant percentage of the ten or so of you who read my blog posts aren't Catholic.  Some aren't even Christian.  And so I found myself trying to explain the history and Catholic theology behind every point I was trying to make.  Can we say "headache?"

So I'm going to begin again.  And this time, I'll try to keep it simple, and personal.  If you don't have a basic understanding of Catholic theology and history to begin with, you may want to skip this post.  If you choose not to, questions are welcome, but I simply can't foresee and address them all in the body of a blog post.  I should know; I tried already. :P

To begin with, I'll say that women wearing a veil or some form of hat or headcovering in church was the norm in the Catholic Church (and most Protestant churches) throughout most of Christian history.  Besides history, the practice is rooted in sacred scripture, specifically I Corinthians chapter 11, verses 3-16.  In 1917, the first official Code of Canon Law was promulgated by the Catholic Church, and it enshrined the practice in Church Law, stating that women were not to enter the church building, and most especially not approach Holy Communion, with their heads uncovered.  (Men were also forbidden to do these things with their heads covered, but for some reason, no one talks about that.)  In 1984, a new Code was published, omitting any mention of headcoverings.  Some contend that this is not enough to do away with centuries of tradition, as new codes must be interpreted in light of old ones.  Others say that the notation in the new Code abrogating the entirity of the old is evidence that veiling for women was, in fact, done away with, or at the very least, no longer required.  Still others believe that while the new Code removes the legal requirement for women to wear a hat or veil, it remains a worthwhile devotion, and pleasing to the Lord.  A good comparison to this would be the fact that Canon Law does not require any Catholic to pray the Rosary; however, it is still considered a very worthwhile practice that pleases our Lord.  I'm not a Canon lawyer, armchair or otherwise, so I'll leave the picking apart of such things to those who are.  My personal beliefs place me in the third group, but I'll not insist my view is the correct one.  In doubtful things, liberty.

The practice fell out of favor in Western culture, particularly, with the rise of feminism in the 1960s.  A protestant-influenced (and perhaps poorly-catechized) culture insisted that the veil was a symbol of woman's oppression by man, and as such, it needed to be done away with.  And if one reads the above-noted scripture passage, it's easy to see where they're coming from.  The passage from Corinthians, along with a corresponding one (in my opinion) in Ephesians (5, 21-33), has often been used by men to justify mistreatment of women.  The correct relationship between men and women, particularly man and wife, would be an easy side street to get lost down, but I'm going to do my best not to do so, because while related, it's not really the topic of this post.

The veil has many potential meanings, and Catholic thought doesn't tend toward seeing one meaning of something as correct and all others as wrong.  A few examples:  The veil is an imitation of the Blessed Mother who is rarely (some insist never) seen without her veil.  The veil signifies women's status as sacred (all sacred things in the Church are veiled--the vessels before the consecration, the ciborium inside the tabernacle, the altar itself) and as bearers of new life (the very "life" of Christ is veiled in the tabernacle, or in the monstrance if no one is present for adoration).  There is a great deal of thought to be found on the topic if one cares to go looking for it, but I do recommend Catholic sources, as Protestant sources tend to focus very heavily on the modesty and submission to one's husband dimensions.

To insist, however, that the veil is not about submission at all (as I've seen some try to do) is dishonest.  Scripture clearly points out that it is.  This is, in fact, the point that places me in the third camp noted above regarding the legal status of veiling.  If veiling is an expression of submission (which, one must remember, is actually considered a virtue in our faith, and not only for women), then requiring it by law under pain of sin or threat of censure is to offend the heart of the matter.  For something to properly express a spirit of submission, it must be offered voluntarily.  However, to see the practice of headcovering as being solely, or even primarily, about women's submission to men, or even wives' submission to their own husbands, is, I believe, to largely miss the point. 

Christian theology, and Catholic theology in particular, teaches us that the relationship between husband and wife is properly understood as an image of the relationship between Christ (the Bridegroom) and His Bride (the Church).  In the sacrament of matrimony, the husband and wife give themselves, freely and without reservation, as a gift to one another, much as Christ gave Himself for the Church and the Church (made up, let's remember, of individual Christians) gives herself to Christ.  And so, if husband and wife are an image of Christ and the Church, then the veil, properly understood, also signifies the Church's submission to Christ.

So why do I veil?  In summary, I would say that I veil out of reverence for Christ, present in the tabernacle and on the altar at every Mass.  I veil as a sign of my personal submission to him, and for my part in expressing the submission of the Church as a whole to her Bridegroom and Savior.  I veil because, while the Church no longer requires it by Law, scripture and history teach us that it is still a practice that is pleasing to our Lord--and if I can please Him by such a simple gesture, why would I not?

I would like to offer, as a postscript of sorts, that the Vatican still requires (or at least strongly encourages?--someone may be more up to date on current practices than I am) ladies to wear a veil for an audience with the Pope.  If you would veil in the presence of the Steward, how much more appropriate is it in the presence of the King?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ramblings and Grumblings

It's been a busy, but strangely peaceful, couple of days at the Duncan-Mosher house.

My car has been having issues recently.  It's a '95, so a few quirks are to be expected, and last week, it began.  The fan would stay on, no matter what position the key was turned to, or even if it was removed.  And then, the battery started refusing to hold a charge, and I've had to rely on another mom to bring my kids home from basketball practice most of the week.  I hate asking other people for favors, so that's been kind of a pain in the butt, but it has gotten my hermit-y self talking to other people, so I suppose there's a silver lining.  We finally took it to AutoZone to be tested, and lo and behold, the problem is a small part on the alternator.  Is this part replaceable?  Of course not!  You have to buy an entire new alternator for one little piece that actually looks like it would be quite easy to replace--if I just knew where to get a new one.  But, Jon's picking up the new one on his way home from work, so by the end of today, my car should be running again.  Just in time for my ex-husband to take it for the weekend.  :/  Oh, well.  Nothing's perfect.

I rearranged the bedroom yesterday, moving Lissa's crib to a place where she can't reach through the slats and pull everything off my nightstand anymore, and moving the TV table (which hasn't had a TV on it since JJ broke the one we had in the living room) into the spot where her crib used to sit.  A bit of rearranging of stuff later, and my home altar project is underway.


This is where we're at so far.  The crucifix is stolen from the living room, so it's going to have to go back, but I'm thinking of moving the bedroom crucifix from over the bed to here and hanging something else in its place.  I'm just not sure what, because it's a small space between two windows.  Thinking maybe one of those initial art things.  And eventually, the crucifix (whichever one) is going on the wall, and I have a couple brass candle sconces from the thrift store to hang on either side.  It's likely to be a work in progress for some time.  But that's okay.  I want it to shift with the feast days and liturgical seasons.  What I really want is something for the living room or kitchen, to highlight the different feast days for the kids.  But I haven't really decided on a format for that yet.  So, this is where I begin.


This little angel is particularly special to me.  She was the last ceramic project my mother ever made.  Those who knew my mom know she was actually remarkably talented with crafts.  A few friends may even still have ceramics (or a plethora of other things) that she made over the years.  This is the only ceramic piece I have, as she didn't tend to keep those for herself, for whatever reason.  The little dish is meant for holy water, but the kids spilled the last bottle I had.  Somewhere.  What do I know?  Maybe they drank it.


The prayers in the back are from Catholic All Year, and are free to download and print.  There are several in the series.  I have all of them in this booklet, so the featured prayers can change as appropriate.

And to the left, I have a little figurine of Mary (I believe it represents the Medjugorje apparitions) that I picked up a few years back at Goodwill, when I first became Catholic, and a little vase with some silk roses.

I spent a little time there this morning, and I believe it set my day up very nicely.  I tried to pray a rosary, but well, ten-month-old babies can make it very difficult to meditate, especially when they're trying to pull the beads from your hands.  :)




Recently, I've been working on learning some of the basic prayers (particularly those of the rosary) in Latin.  It's been a fun experience.  I'm using an app called Memrise, and YouTube for the pronunciations, because Memrise doesn't offer audio in the free version.  Besides, Memrise breaks it down, and then YouTube brings it back together for me.  It's been a good combination.

I've made a new friend on Facebook, in a group I recently joined for women who veil for Mass.  It's not often that I add people I don't actually know in real life, but she seems very sweet, and so encouraging.  Who can't use more friends who encourage them in their Faith?




The boys' first basketball game is next Tuesday, and they're pretty excited about it.  Coach sent home uniforms yesterday, and they're washed and hanging in the closet.  I'm not supposed to put the darn things in the dryer, so I'm hoping this fabric dries quickly, considering they sometimes have games scheduled on two days in a row.  I only wish the season could be a little longer.  I really think playing sports is good for them.  Tristan could use the exercise, and Dalton could use the motivation to behave and keep his grades up.







Speaking of school, I got the word a couple days ago that it's time to begin science collections.  This year we have one leaf collection and one bug collection that are going to be due in time for parent-teacher conferences.  Oh, joy.  I can't be the only parent who dreads these things, can I?  I mean, on the one hand, they seem like a fascinating little project.  On the other, the kids are only home for 4 hours every night before bedtime.  In that time, I'm supposed to feed them, see to it that they bathe, and make sure they do any homework they might have brought home. And now I have to buy special supplies and see to it they gather a bunch of bugs and leaves, mount them appropriately, look them up, and label them.  :/  I know some of you breeze right through life, but I've barely got a handle on feeding people and making sure the house doesn't look like it should be condemned some days!  Failing at stuff like this, no matter how awesome it sounds in theory, is why I no longer homeschool.  Deep breaths.  This too shall pass. ;)

I need to wash the dishes.  I've accomplished SO much today, but those darn dishes.  They're my Achilles' heel, man.  I don't know why.  It's not like they're even that hard.


But this ^^^ is invariably how I feel about them.  Ah, well.  Suds await.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Still Here

Eep!  So, it's been over two months since I've published a post.  I've been busy.  Stop judging me!!! 

Just kidding.  You can judge me if you like. 

My life is regaining some semblance of order now that (can I get a "hallelujah?") the kids are back in school.  It's SO much easier to keep the house clean (and all the other odds and ends accomplished) when I have several hours each day with only my two tiniest mess-makers at home.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my kids.  I just don't love having all 10 of them up my butt all day every day, picking fights with each other and not picking up after themselves unless Jon uses the "Dad Voice."

That said, unfortunately, catching up on the past two months is going to be just this side of impossible.  So many things have happened that I thought "Oh, that would make a good blog post!"  And then I never found the time to sit down and write said post.  :/  Oh, well.  C'est la vie, I suppose.



The first weekend of August, my oldest stepson, Tomas, left to begin his basic training in the U.S. Army.  His departure was supposed to be a bit later, but when they moved up the date, the family swung into action and planned a farewell barbecue at his grandparents' house, complete with a "death by chocolate" cake, by request of the new soldier, and created by yours truly from a design chosen by his mother.  I must say, it turned out pretty well!  Don't mind the coffee mug, lol.  Someday, I'll learn to take better pictures.  It took about 3 weeks, but we finally have a mailing address for him, so add mailing letters to big brother to my list of things to accomplish on a regular basis.  :)  We're all proud of him, and, of course, praying for his safety and well-being.








 Now, since I showed you that cake, I feel honor-bound to show you the one I made for my 11-year-old son's birthday just a couple weeks later. . .

Yeah. . . That one didn't turn out so well, lol.  We'll consider this a learning experience and move on.  If I had it to do over, I'd know several things to improve.  For one, using gold sugar crystals to cover the cake and make it sparkley is a terrible idea.  For two, shop towels, for reasons I don't understand, cannot replace Viva for smoothing icing.  Just don't.  Poor Tristan.  Mom was a bit too ambitious with that design, and everything just went horrifically wrong.  Thankfully, being my easygoing child, he forgave me.  But now I feel like I owe him a cake that doesn't suck.  And his stepbrother, who turns 12 in October, already has his request in for a MW3 cake, so I'm on the hunt for designs that look doable.

I have so many ambitious ideas for what I'd like to accomplish this school year.  I want to make a bench for our kitchen table, so we'll have enough seating for everyone to eat or play games together.  I want to clean up the burn pile that the previous tenants had in the back yard and turn it into a firepit area, and hang out around a bonfire and roast s'mores and hot dogs with friends, or just family, on cool autumn evenings.  I want to fix the broken table leg and set up my craft space, which has been just a neglected pile of my craft stuff sitting in a corner since we moved into this place.  And then I want to sew all the things.

And I want to design a sacred space for our home.  A space dedicated to prayer, designed to direct the heart and mind toward God.  Which is really just part of a larger goal.  I want to bring faith home for my children.  When I was a child, we went to church every Sunday.  For a time, we went to church Sunday and Wednesday nights as well.  I attended Sunday School.  But largely, looking back on my childhood, though we went to church regularly, our faith didn't permeate every area of our lives.  It was there, but not discussed readily.  I was expected to be a Christian, but I was expected to be a good person (and perhaps a good Baptist) more than I was expected to truly care about loving and following Christ.

That's why, recently, I've begun to pray for more genuine love for Him, not just the intellectual assurance and overwhelming evidence that says the Catholic Church is Christ's church and the place where the fullness of the Christian faith is to be found.  But real love, the love I know I should have for One who loves me so completely.  I want to fill our home with sacred art, that points the mind and soul toward him, and reminds us of what we tend to forget, the God who is invisible, but ever-present in our lives.  I want to make time for a prayer life that is too often neglected in this busy, noisy, chaotic life I live.  I want to remember the saints, the great heroes of our faith, on their feast days, and teach my children their stories, in the hope that those stories will inspire the next generation of saints.

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is coming up soon.  I think maybe I'll bake a cake. :)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Finally Finished

Finally.  The project I've spent the last three days, basically, working on is finished.  I didn't realize until I was already started on it that my newly minted (well, almost) 16 year old didn't yet know what the design of his birthday cake (shared with his younger brother) was going to be.  The moment I got enough decorations on for him to recognize it, he was so excited!  I love those moments of motherhood. 

Basic shape carved out and frosted.
Ready to go

I began first thing this morning, stacking and carving cakes.  Once I got four layers stacked up, I decided it looked tall enough, so the kids got to enjoy the extra layer.  Okay, okay.  I had some, too.  Remember how I said I'd tell you more about the new cake recipe once I'd had a chance to work with it and taste it?  Yeah.  It's pretty awesome.  Moist, delicious, and carves like a dream.  I think I'll be making this one again.  But no project can ever seem to go off without a hitch, and I was realizing as I checked my reference photo that I had forgotten an important component.  I was going to need black fondant for the tires and underside of the van.  So, after getting the cake stacked, carved, and iced, I was off to the store for black fondant (and the big fondant rolling pin I couldn't get yesterday because the other Wal-Mart was out of stock), and a mat that I didn't intend to buy but decided I needed.  I didn't end up regretting that $9 spent, either, let me tell you.

When I got back, it was time to add the main layers of fondant, black first, then blue.  The blue tore just a bit on one corner, but by the time I was finished, you couldn't really tell.

The offending tear is on the other side. :)
I decided to do the green splashy designs by making a template of the side of the van and sketching them on it sort of freehand, then cutting them out to use as a stencil for cutting the fondant.  It took a little trial and error, but I found a method for getting them cut and on the cake that worked.  You can see it at that stage up top, with a teenager who's just realized what his cake is going to be when it's finished. :D

Probably the hardest, most time-consuming part of the entire process was getting the text on the sides.  I carved it freehand, but it also had to be done backwards because of the way I was putting stuff on the sides of the cake.  Simply lifting the fondant was causing it to stretch out of shape, so I devised a system of using parchment to lift it up, then peeling it carefully off the parchment--but that meant everything had to be backwards!  I was so thrilled with how it turned out, though!


And now it was just time for the details.  Flowers, tires (including spare) made of fondant-covered Oreos, hubcaps, bumpers, headlights, and gum paste luggage rack, license plate (J05-E16 for their ages), and door handles.








 Ta-da!  One Mystery Machine.  This is, without a doubt, the most complicated cake I've ever undertaken, but these guys make it all worthwhile. . .


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Turning in My Mom Card

Many years ago, a humor columnist by the name of Erma Bombeck wrote a piece entitled "Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?"  The title, if not the actual content (which gets lost amid many brilliant writings of hers I've read over the years) has always stuck with me for some reason.

Today has been one of those days.  The days that make me want to throw my hands up, declare adulting too difficult an endeavor, and retreat to my blanket fort with my crayons.  And maybe a stiff drink.

Our home has been a war zone today.  Kaylee (age 9) and Dalton (11) are frequently known to bicker, but today was worse than usual.  There has been name-calling, kicking, shoving, grappling, and biting. Jonathan (5 tomorrow) kicked Michael (6) in the face, knocking out his loose tooth in the process.  And all I could think was, Well, at least it was the loose one.  There have been accusations of Dalton shooting Michael and Preston (age 8) with the teenagers' airsoft pistol.  And then Dalton has the nerve to act like he doesn't understand why when I inform him it's inappropriate to observe that his internet connection "sucks balls." *facepalm* 

I feel you, Erma.

And through all this, I've been doing my best to prepare the fondant, bake some of the cakes (5 13x9 sheets) needed for this weekend's birthday cake, and hopefully even get the buttercream made up.  So far, I have the fondant made and 3 of the cakes baked.  I should probably be satisfied with that and just say I'll do the rest tomorrow.  I don't plan to decorate until Friday anyway.

I'm doing so many new and different things with this project.  The cake design itself is ambitious.  I settled late last night on a carved, three-dimensional Mystery Machine, since both boys can agree on an interest in Scooby-Doo.  Perry the Platypus was arguably 3D, but the Mystery Machine is going to be a touch more difficult, and quite a bit larger.  I liked the marshmallow fondant recipe I used for Perry, so I made a couple batches for our Mystery Machine.  Hopefully, it will be enough.  I tinted one the teal blue of the base color of the van, and I left the other white to be used for all the other colors.

Photobombed!
I'm trying a new cake recipe as well.  I've always just used boxed mixes in the past, but they're very soft and light, and this cake will need to stand up to quite a bit of stacking and carving, so I need something a bit more dense.  I'm using the mix-based vanilla cake recipe from Rose Bakes, and so far, it looks fantastic.  More info to come once I've actually worked with it (and eaten it, yum).

Squeee! :D
And y'all.  I simply have to share this with you.  Anybody that bakes, listen up.  I have found the Holy Grail of pan greasing.  It's called Miracle Pan Release, and basically, it's a homemade version of Wilton's Cake Release.  I've never used Cake Release, so I can't compare the two, but if you decide to use this stuff, be careful.  They are not kidding when they say it literally falls out of the pan.  It's a thing of beauty.  Look at this pan.  LOOK AT IT!!!  No cake film left behind.  Just shiny, aluminum bliss.  Three ingredients.  Just whisk it up and brush it on with a pastry brush.  If you don't have a pastry brush, I'm sure a paper towel would do the trick.  Try it.  Really, go bake a cake.  I'll wait.

The kids seem to be gearing up for another round anyway. :/

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Growing Pains

I occasionally make cakes.  "Occasionally" tends to coincide with the birthdays of my children.  This is a talent and a tendency I inherited from my mother, who was far more talented than I am myself, in this area and many others.  Pinterest, however, has been a fabulous source of inspiration, and most of them have turned out rather cute, despite the stress I place on myself, the dismal working conditions (our kitchen at the old house was TINY, and I have yet to make one since the move), and the repeated threats to just buy the darn thing this time, which I always talk myself out of doing because it costs so. much. more.  I never really expected to move beyond the (almost) monthly rush to find a suitable (and achievable) design and bring it to life in time for a horde of small people to devour it with ice cream.

The other day, my ex-husband's fiancĂ© asked me to make their wedding cake.  In February. And I found myself saying, "Well, I'd have plenty of time to practice the requisite skills."  And that, dear friends, is how I found myself obsessing over cake designs and how-to's on Pinterest, and planning to make the next birthday cake, which is, as it happens, a 2-kid party, in two stacked tiers just for the practice.  What in the world was I thinking?

I just recently made my first fondant cake.  Admittedly, I was rather pleased with the results, and I definitely plan on using fondant again.

Oh, there you are, Perry.

But never mind all that.  I'm pretty sure I just agreed to a wedding cake.  You know, the basic epitome of cake decorating skill.  I'm also fairly certain I agreed to gum paste roses.  Which, oddly enough, scare me less than buttercream roses.  Because I can do this. . .
 

. . . when I'm just fooling around with some play doh.  I imagine, given the proper tools and a little time to practice, I'll be able to pull off passable gum paste roses.

But now I'm starting to think of other things.  Like if I can pull this off, what's to stop me from making cakes to sell?  I'm always searching for a realistic way I can pull in some supplemental income around here, and rejecting every idea as, well, not being realistic.  And truthfully, I might reject this one, too.  But maybe not.  But it's hard to even find time to consider it thoroughly.  The house and kids require quite a bit of my attention, and a business venture would as well.  And I start to doubt my own abilities.  A lot.  I've invested before in ideas that didn't pan out.  Time.  Money.  Heart.  It's discouraging when you fail.

But eh.  It's not like I have to decide tonight, after all.  Tonight is for planning, and list making.  Tomorrow is for shopping and icing and fondant prep.  Maybe some baking.  Wish me luck, friends.  I'm going to need it.

Catching Up

Would you look at that?  It's been such a busy couple of months at the Duncan-Mosher house that I haven't even found time to write a blog post.  That was about the time that the house next door to us became available to rent, and we decided we were moving.  About six weeks ago, we (with much help from our teenagers and their friends) carried all our stuff across the yard to our new home.  Easiest move ever, lol.  I didn't even need boxes.

And what a blessing it's been!  Our old house was small, poorly laid out, and (biggest problem) absolutely falling apart.  We have long-term plans to buy a home, but that isn't realistically happening for at least a couple of years, and I was genuinely worried that the house we were living in just wasn't going to hold up that long.  Honestly, I wasn't sure what the solution was going to be.  We were trying to tweak our financial plan in a way that would allow us to buy sooner, but it just wasn't looking realistic.  And with nine kids in residence full time, plus a dog and cat, finding a different rental to move to (especially that fit our budget) seemed impossible.  So I finally threw up my hands, figuratively, and I said to God, "God, you know what my family needs.  I'm trusting you to find a way to provide it."  As we all know, God's plans have a way of being better than anything we could have come up with on our own, and very shortly after that, we learned our next-door neighbor was planning to move.  A quick call to the landlords confirmed that we could take the place, and now here we are.  Larger rooms, an extra bedroom, and sturdy floors!  Thanks be to God!  This place is literally the answer to a prayer.

Three weeks later, my six school kids said goodbye to classes for the summer, and I took advantage of having older kids at home to spend some time giving the old house as thorough a cleaning as its structural issues would allow.  (And then spent a couple weeks getting the new house back to some semblance of order, because, well, it looked like ten kids had been in it largely unsupervised for a couple of days.)  And now, it's locked up and waiting.  Supposedly, they know someone who wants to fix it with an eye toward renting it and trading the cost of labor and materials for rent.  I haven't seen him yet.  Personally, we're in agreement that the best fix for that place would be to tear it down and start over, but we aren't carpenters, so we shall see.

Baby Lissa has learned to crawl and is starting to pull up (time to lower the crib mattress!), and Justin is potty training, largely on his own.  I'm not sure if our choice to cloth diaper is making that easier, or if he just would have been easy in any case, but whichever it is, I appreciate it.  The only hitch is that he still barely talks, so I'm hesitant about taking him anywhere without a diaper yet, as he can't communicate to me that he needs to go.  And honestly, when he's wearing underwear, he's more likely to forget.  We've been having great success with simply allowing him to go freestyling for the time being.
 

We've done some traveling, which we always enjoy.  Jon and I took a weekend trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul for an anomaly, which is a large event that brings together lots of players in smartphone-based geolocation game we play called Ingress.  We had a wonderful time exploring the city, and for once we had enough extra time to stop and discover (and play in) a few other towns on the way home.  My only regret was not packing dress clothes, because if we had, I would certainly have arranged the end of our trip so we could attend Mass in the beautiful Cathedral of St. Paul.  We've agreed that from here on out, we're packing dress clothes for our weekend trips!  Yes, yes.  I know we could have attended Mass as we were, but it just didn't seem appropriate.  As usual, we saw a few things that made us wish we had been in places we visited by night during the day instead.  The old-time village replica in Owatonna, MN would have been interesting to see during the day, as would the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum in the same town.  We did, out of necessity while working on a mission banner (game stuff again), make a stop at the Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa, and it was an experience not to be missed.  They were hosting an exhibition of Lego sculptures by one of only 17 certified (by the Lego company) Lego artists in the world.  As an added bonus, we found some lovely locally manufactured lace doilies in the gift shop.
Win!




There was also, just this past weekend, a day trip to Shiloh, TN with our teens and one of their friends, to visit the National Military Park there, which preserves the battlefields where the Civil War battles of Shiloh and Corinth were fought.  It can't be properly appreciated in a single day, and we hope to return.  So many men (many actually boys no older than those we brought with us) died there over those two days.


It's chilling to look at the battlefields and think about the horrors they've seen.  It seems so at odds with the serene, peaceful environment of a place that was originally named for peace.

Our annulment process is moving along, if rather slowly, but I find it hard to complain too loudly about the slowness, because a lot of rescheduled appointments have been caused by unexpected deaths or other hardships among our parish family.  Those things require our priest's attention more urgently, and play havoc with his already busy schedule, so we've been pushed back a few times.  I'm not especially good at waiting, but I can manage compassion fairly well, so patience is a bit easier to find than it might otherwise be.  Father alluded at our last meeting that we might be able to be married around this time next year, but if the process keeps getting delayed, I'm not holding my breath on that.  I just keep trying to remind myself that God truly does know best.

I actually tried on The Dress the other day for the first time, and came to the surprising realization that aside from a few pounds for comfort, it pretty much fits.  I guess wedding dress sizing has been changed to more accurately reflect real world sizes since I bought my last one in 2000.  Thankfully, I have a friend who can take it in for me if too many of the baby pounds come off between now and whenever.  Yes, I know.  Perhaps it's a little presumptuous to have a dress already.  But I am pretty confident, and it was hard to pass up the deal.  It's modest enough, I actually really like it, it's a realistic size, and it was a fraction of the price I'd have paid if I'd ended up buying new at the last second.  Having what seems like an unlimited amount of time for planning at least has the bright side of allowing me to keep an eye out for and take advantage of bargains.  And who doesn't like a good bargain?