26 September 2016


     Her knees trembled, but her voice did not. "Yes," she said.
     "We'll give you one last chance to rethink your answer," the captain said. "Is this really so important to you? You could save yourself and your family if you just said no."
     "Yes," she said again, this time more loudly, her voice ringing through the morning stillness. The guards shifted their feet, unwilling to meet her gaze. "It is so important to me," she went on. "If I can't say with conviction that I believe in my Lord Jesus Christ and in His Church, then what can I be certain of? I know that if you kill me, my family will suffer. My baby may die with no one to care for him. But can I face them if I deny God? Can I face God if I deny Him? Do what you want with me. You want me to say one little word, and I won't say it. I won't say it because it goes against everything I am. I believe in God and I will die for Him." 
     Her voice caught as she thought of her husband and three young children, and what her death would mean for them. But she knew God would take care of them. He always did. And if they should become martyrs, so much the better--she would see them again soon.
     Non nobis, Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloria.
     Her knees stopped shaking and she was at peace.
     "That's enough," said the captain, his voice harsh with anger. "Take her away."
     She cried out as the beasts hurtled toward her, but it wasn't in fear. It was her Lord's name that she cried out. The onlookers turned away from the sight and wished they could shut out the sound.

25 September 2016

Weekly Prompt Writing

I actually went to the meeting last night, so I have a prompt this week!

I whistled as I strolled by the many shops of downtown. It was a glorious sunny day, despite the chill, and I was in a determinedly happy mood. My sister would be coming over tonight and I thought I'd order something special, something we'd both loved in our childhood.
I walked into the pizza place and waited in line to place my order. "One large Hawaiian pizza with extra pineapple and anchovies, please," I said.
The cashier paled a little—perhaps at my topping selection?—and told me to wait there. I did so, and in a couple of minutes she came back, looking even paler. Without a word she gestured me to follow her, glancing around with suspicion. I followed her to the back of the shop, then down a dank staircase and into a danker basement. Before I could ask what I was doing down here, a voice slithered toward my ear in the darkness.
"So. You've come at last."
I cleared my throat. "Look, if you don't like my pizza choices, I respect that, but it hardly necessitates kidnapping me—"
"Enough joking, Kramer. Did you bring the money?"
"I don't know who Kramer is," I told the darkness, "but yeah, I'm prepared to pay for my pizza." I realized that the cashier had disappeared back up the stairs.
"Please," said the voice, "cease the dramatics. It's a simple transaction. I provide the goods, you provide the collateral."
"Right. So where's the pizza?"
The voice let out a long-suffering sigh, then yelled at the top of its invisible lungs. Two feet scampered down the stairs.
"Yes, sir?"
"This man is buying a pizza, Jules. BUYING A PIZZA. You've just given away our front to a mere civilian. I'll not have this kind of behavior. You're fired. Now, for the sake of my business dealings, I'm afraid I'll have to hold both of you hostage until the real Kramer shows up."

16 September 2016

Recent Happenings

I decided to post some pictures of various life things.

Mom has been making delicious roasted tomato sauce. 

On Sunday after church we walked to Cottonwood Coffee...

...and obviously took pictures.

Sunday afternoon was an art afternoon.

Tessie finished her four-season fox project.

Later Sunday evening we went to Cherry Berry and were our usual awkward selves...

Claudia and Othman the day he left.

A random picture I took while practicing piano.

I've been making dinner once a week: this was yesterday's effort. source

Rehearsals for All-State Chorus began this week. It'll be a blast! source

14 September 2016

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

Yesterday two sisters from the Dominican convent in Ann Arbor, MI came to the Newman Center for a dinner and talk. We went to Confession and Mass, then had dinner with the sisters (cooked by Fr. Andrew) and talked with them. Then one of the sisters, Sr. Joseph Andrew, gave a talk on what it means to be a hero. It was a really enjoyable evening!
The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have a similar apostolate to the Nashville Dominicans, whom you may remember from last summer's nun run. It was a lot of fun meeting them and learning about their life teaching in schools all over the country. Sr. Joseph Andrew was a lovely southern lady who reminded me a bit of my grandma, and she gave a wonderful talk. The pure joy on her face and Sr. Irenaeus's face no longer surprised me, having met enough sisters to know how joyful they are!
Thank you for coming to South Dakota, Sr. Joseph Andrew and Sr. Irenaeus!

13 September 2016

The Queen's Thief

Recently I finished the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whelan Turner. I'd read them on the recommendation of one of my writing group members, and I'm very glad I did. The books were different than what I usually enjoy, but they were very well-written and the setting reminded me of one of my books, so it was interesting to see how the setting affected the story.

The books are in this order:
The Thief  (Newberry Honor) - it took me a while to get into the rhythm of this one, but it had an intriguing plot that made me pick up the second one when I finished it.
The Queen of Attolia - this was the book that really got me hooked on the series. It focused heavily on character development (I approve) and there was plot twist after plot twist...I couldn't put it down!
The King of Attolia - in choosing my favorite book of the series, I can't decide between this and the second book. Its heartbreaking plot, fabulous characters, and epic action sprinkled with humor dazzled me.
A Conspiracy of Kings - I have to say, this one disappointed me a bit after the third one. It's still really well-written and has lots of great elements, but the plot seemed relatively scattered, and I was left with a lot of questions after finishing it. That being said, it supposedly isn't the intended "last book" for the series, so there's still hope!
Overall, these books were very good. The plots were complex, fast-paced, and surprising, the characters were never static, the worldbuilding was excellent, and the writing was unique and beautiful.

11 September 2016


Alright, so I've been making brownies from scratch for a long time. And they're always delicious, because what brownies aren't? But recently I tried out a new recipe, hoping for a different kind of brownie, and it was an overwhelming success. The recipe is almost identical my old one, except the ratios are slightly different and half the cocoa is melted chocolate chips. This makes for a very rich and fudgy brownie. (The only thing I do differently than the recipe is I use semisweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate.) Enjoy!

09 September 2016

Lemon Cookies

I have a fondness for baking, which obviously means that I save recipes all over the place with little expectation of actually using them. Well, last night I decided to finally make one of those random recipes, and it turned out well enough to save on here for posterity!

These cookies are similar to sugar cookies, but very lemony and soft. They were easy to make and oh-so-delicious! And they had nothing in them that Claudia couldn't eat (which is saying something).

 Obviously my pictures don't make them look as scrumptious as they are. They are really good with and without glaze--depends on how sweet you want it.

06 September 2016

Family Camp 2016

My (possibly) last year of Family Camp was awesome! I'm so glad our homeschool group gets this opportunity every Labor Day weekend. It's really special and every year we make unforgettable memories.

I love this place.
Maren and Nicole went a little far with the friendship thing...=]
Beautiful Midwestern sky. 
The first night Katie left for college--best of luck at University of Mary!!
After Mass every year is the mandatory group photo. 
Mr. Benz gave us a ride back from Mass in the bed of his pickup.
Thomas and his bundle of cold cuteness.
The more competitive campers spent lots of time playing beanbags.
This child was very cute.
In fact, there were numerous adorable children.
Most of the weekend was cloudy and windy, but we didn't mind.
Watching the bean-bag games.
Many selfies occurred throughout the weekend.

We seniors are so mature...
A panorama on the last morning.

The boys serenaded us while we took our annual playground pictures.
4-year-old Josie, whom Ann and I dubbed the "magical fairy child".
I took some selfies with Josie. She was skeptical at first.
But then she was very amused by the front-facing camera!
Marguerite joined us, too.
Maren photographed our efforts.
The annual high-school picture on the playground.
This year's homeschool seniors: Ann, Maren, me.

Bye-bye, Broomtree!