Category Archives: book

7 Quick Takes: A PSA, a home remedy, DYI, a library must-have & the Big Fibber

                                                 My Public Service Announcement

Well, after Pio’s accident I was freaking out about our basement door. Every time I turned around someone was forgetting to close it inspiring nightmarish visions of a repeat performance. I made three trips to two different big name hardware stores and purchased two different door closing devices, but all that merited us were holes in the door.

My mother owns a rental building and the law in her state requires that all the entrance and exit doors from each apartment close automatically, so I knew there was a simple device to accomplish the mission of kid-proofing our doors. Thankfully, my husband put an end to my city by city wide search and found the solution on Amazon. This simple spring fits over your existing hinge (no holes required) and voila!

Now the basement door closes magically as soon as you let it go. It works so well we added one of these awesome springs to our mud room door (now the dog can’t push it open every five minutes) and to the back door. My kids may still act like they live in a barn, but now at least the barn doors get closed.

                                                            My Home Remedy

Okay, this isn’t actually MY remedy like I invented it, but everyone in Brelinskyville knows garlic is my go-to cure-all.  Whether it’s a fever, a sinus infection, an earache or a bad cough my best line of defense is the garlic poultice. HERE is a handy visual on making a garlic poultice. I most often place the poultices on the soles of our feet and then simply slip a pair of socks on top. For the bigger kids, Mr. B, and myself, I generally insist we drink the garlic water that is left over after soaking the paper towel with the crushed garlic inside. A note of warning the water is VERY spicy and you will stink a bit, but for the tougher ickies like infections I reason it is worth grinning and bearing it.

Because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time, I got poison ivy AGAIN (just as round one started to clear up). In my blind fury to rid my yard of weeds before our upcoming party, I grabbed a lovely vine of the itchy stuff and thought, “Ut oh!” Yes, I attempted to wash the invisible residue off, but apparently it was a fail. I awoke the next morning to a forehead dotted with tiny bumps. Not really sure garlic was a remedy for this, too, I gave it a shot and applied a poultice directly on my head. Here I sit 2 days later scratch-free on the parts I applied garlic to (I left my legs alone for comparison and for that I’m sorry).



Our family room is one giant space which houses an office, a playroom, and an entertainment area. The space needs to be both comfortable and functional. As NFP teachers, we also use the space to host classes so I’d rather that the playroom portion not overrun the whole room. Using furniture placement and a little creativity, I think I’ve achieved my goal.

the view of our family room at first sight

the playroom section

what’s really going on behind that couch
my hubby’s office space camouflaged behind a home-made partition


                                                           Another DYI: extra seating

This seemed like a no-brainer, but it took me a few years to give this hope chest a second job. I really don’t like have too much furniture, so the items that make the cut generally serve more than one purpose. Mr. B and I bought this hope chest (used) pre-kids and it has faithfully held our extra blankets and stuff for years. When I was rearranging the family room recently (rearranging/swapping furniture is a cheap way to renew your space every few years), I decided we needed an extra spot to plant little “seats.” I touched up the finish on the old chest, added a cushion and here ya go.


                                               One More DYI: Umbrella Stand

We have a badminton net that has been relocated at least half a dozen times. The tie-downs it came with have long ago disintegrated and who knows where the metal anchor pins ended up. Since I am all about being frugal and making things last a LOOOONNNGGGG time, I asked my handy hubby to make something more permanent but also easily movable. With a few 5 gallon buckets (we own more of those than any normal person needs), pieces of PVC pipe and a bag of cement, he created these great stands for our nets and our porch umbrella. They are heavy, but that keeps them firmly planted upright and they aren’t so heavy that the big people around here can’t move them when necessary.

the PVC pipe is cemented in the center so the umbrella can be slipped in and out


                                            A Book That I Must Have for My Library

A few months ago we attended the annual Ignited By Truth Conference in Raleigh, NC and we were privileged to hear Jennifer Fulwiler speak. Ms. Fulwiler, of Conversion Diary blog, has now penned a book about her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. My 12 year old daughter was so taken by Ms. Fulwiler that she has been asking to purchase her recently published story, Something Other Than God.  Don’t tell my daughter, but I am planning to put this purchase on top of the to-buy list come pay day.


                                                             The BIG Fibber

If you need evidence to secure a conviction than my 5 year old hasn’t got a prayer. This little ball of energy and wit keeps us ever wondering and sometimes worrying. So, when I heard another ruckus just the other night I was expecting anything from blood to broken bones. I reached the dining room just after Daddy managed to rescue the said child who’d been hanging by an arm and a foot from the second floor railing.  No less than 100 times we have implored, forbidden and begged him not to slide down the banister. On this evening, our threats came to fruition as his sliding feat turned dangerous when he slipped too far over the side. The ridiculous thing is that he insisted we (all nine of us) were wrong because he was NOT sliding down the banister. He had no other alibi than to
 promise he had definitely not flung his leg over the rail. I submit the following picture of my crooking painting and Happy BT R Y sign into evidence (not to mention the testimony of his father and siblings who found him hanging on for dear life).

Same child, different day…my daughter runs in screaming (or was she just talking ’cause it’s hard to tell the difference) that her little bro has just taken a mud bath. Fast on her heels he arrives crying innocent. Um, yeah, we’ll turn to the evidence again and let you decide.

For More Quick Takes by great blogger, check out
7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about winners, 100th birthdays, blue blocking glasses, and my desperate need for Youtube recommendations


Building Calvary In The Heart, Letting Go of Attachments

Get your copy of 33 Days to Morning Glory

33Days to Morning Glory is a book that had been recommended to me in the past, but it took a while before I invested the time and energy into tracking it down. Last year as a family we consecrated ourselves to Jesus through Mary following the method of St. Louis de Montfort. This book is a sort of preparation for that consecration. Since the consecration isn’t necessarily supposed to be a “one and done” kind of endeavor, reading this preparatory book now still makes sense as a way to recall and recommit to the promises made.

This morning’s reading focused on an inspiration St. Louis had to build a monument to the Lord’s Passion. His vision to create a huge visual testimony led the peasants of Pontchâteau, France to dedicate 15 months of their lives to erecting the massive structure on the hillside. Imagine the love they must have poured into the planning and construction, volunteering countless hours of their free time to memorialize the greatest act of love ever displayed, the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Being peasants, it is doubtful that extra money, supplies and time were luxuries in ample supply, but that didn’t stop them from the mission.
Considering how elated I feel when I manage to complete some small (far less meaningful) task, like painting my kitchen cabinets after seven years of wanting to, the people of Pontchâteau must have been brimming with well-deserved pride and satisfaction once they stepped back to admire the result of their labors.
Then on the day before the bishop was due to arrive for the dedication, word came down that St. Louis’ enemies had succeeded in convincing government officials that the memorial was actually a fortress in disguise. They connived so as to turn Jesus’ road to Calvary into a Trojan horse. Afraid of usurped authority, the officials opted to destroy it.
Standing before thousands of faithful on the day of dedication, with the knowledge that all was slated for demolition, St. Louis said, “We had hoped to build a Calvary here. Let us build it in our hearts. Blessed be God.”
Wow. Rather than incite the peasants to rail against the injustice, rather than call them to their knees in petition for protection, rather than grumble and complain against his detractors, St. Louis let go. He recognized God’s Will and accepted it, although it was probably far beyond his own understanding. Surely, if God had inspired the building of such a potential source of grace and devotion, He had a great purpose for doing so. Why then should He allow its destruction after only a day? St. Louis didn’t stir up that question, he simply detached himself from the physical work and taught the faithful to do the same.
Now sensitive me gets so annoyed when my children carelessly undo my hard work (like the dirty dishes and crumbs that appear five minutes after I’ve scrubbed the kitchen clean), I can hardly imagine the anger and hurt the peasants might have felt once they witnessed the deconstruction of their sacrificial toils.
But more than just detach, St. Louis blessed God. He blessed God. He blessed Him for all of it, for the inspiration, for the motivation, for the laboring and the final completion; and he blessed Him for the persecution and destruction. He blessed God.
Reading those words launched me back in time. Every summer when the birthday bonanzas begin here in Brelinskyville I am compelled to take an accounting of sorts. In June, we will celebrate the 18thbirthday of our eldest son, the one who grew in my heart and not under it. July would have marked the 19thbirthday of our firstborn son.
That July in 1995 when our firstborn passed through me into the world, I felt the joy of new motherhood. I wrote in a letter to family and friends that his birth felt like climbing a mountain. After nine months of sacrifice and waiting, plus seven hours of laboring, I pushed a perfect being beyond the safe harbor of my womb. The feeling of elation was truly overwhelming like that of a climber who has reached the utmost heights and is rewarded by an expansive view of creation. However, my vision, like that of St. Louis’, was limited. God’s Will was for my firstborn to lose his earthly life too soon after.
I would like to say that I blessed God, as St. Louis did, but at the time I couldn’t even begin to find that kind of strength and faith. But today, with nearly 19 years of clarity, I recognize that letting go of my firstborn son opened the doorway to the adoption of my second son and the conception of my third son (both in 1996).
Additionally, after my husband and I had converted our hearts and more fully dedicated our marriage and our fertility to Jesus through Mary, God’s Will would again challenge ours. Two years with four consecutive miscarriages, routine bouts of depression and the resurfacing of an addiction (in 2010-2011) stripped me bare. Perhaps similar to some of the faithful of St. Louis’ time, I felt as though God has inspired me to build up something (new lives) only to have it torn down again and again. However, if I hadn’t consented to the suffering, I wouldn’t have the reward of mothering my now 8 month old son.
St. Louis let go and in doing so he allowed God to build an everlasting memorial to love and faith which has continued through centuries, affecting the spirituality of so many popes and faithful alike. Had the physical structure remained, St. Louis’ lesson of detachment and obedience may have born less fruit both in himself and in the Church he served.
With Holy Week on the horizon, it seems the ideal time to scrutinize my personal attachments (to stuff, to comfort, to my will). What was easy to separate myself from for 40 days, may not be so readily left aside if I focus on the narrow picture. However, if I build a Calvary in my heart, I have the hope of creating something eternal (or perhaps more likely I will be allowing God to create something eternal in me).