Category Archives: parenting

rosalini's pizza & sub restaurant

We Bought a Restaurant & We Home School, Too

For most of my marriage, I’ve been a stay-at-home mama and home school teacher. My spouse has been the sole bread-winner. When we purchased a restaurant in December of 2015, I assumed that the effect of our decision would be confined to my husband’s employment only. I never dreamed that our choice to buy an eatery would have such radical repercussions on our whole family life, including our home schooling. Continue reading

random acts of kindness

Motherhood’s Random Acts of Kindness

 

We’d just finished showering, the two-year-old and me, when I reached for the towel bar. Unfortunately, since I hadn’t planned in advance for our dual exit from the hot, steamy shower into the frigid, meat locker that is our bathroom in winter, my hands met with one dry towel and one damp one (left over from my husband’s solitary shower a few minutes earlier).

In a split second decision, I grabbed the dry cloth first and wrapped it around my little one’s pink, naked body. Then I proceeded to use the chilly, wet towel on myself. Working in high speed, I figured I could whisk away enough water from my limbs to stave off hypothermia.

Once this step was accomplished, I was forced to tip-toe across the icy tile floor to get from the bathroom mat to the laundry room rug (because again my morning brain hadn’t thought to have our clean clothes laying at the ready.) READ the rest HERE

12 days of christmas ideas

Why We Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas

 

For years, at about 3pm on Christmas Day my kiddos would hit the wall one by one. After a long Christmas Eve followed by a too-early-rising, their energy stores were depleted and just past midday they’d drop like flies: a snoring pre-schooler on the couch still clutching his new light saber, a drowsy teen sprawled out on the floor amidst her books.

Additionally, I often noticed an air of disappointment creeping in once the last gift was torn open, the evening meal digested and the boxes hauled out to the trash. Honestly, I sensed it in myself almost as much as I detected it in my family members.

READ more about the 4 ways we’ve reclaimed the Twelve Days of Christmas on Raleigh Moms Blog.

when words hurt children

Sticks and Stones: How Verbal Abuse Hurts Children

“What are you, an idiot?”

“Stupid”

“Dummy!”

“You #%&^$!”

It wasn’t the first time his parents had resorted to a litany of name calling. It seemed to be their routine form of communication: an insult here, a slight there, a sprinkling of profanities, a rude retort or a less than flattering moniker. Honestly, I’d been disgusted from the start, but on this day I could no longer silently stomach the verbal assault his parents were launching rapid-fire in his direction. Continue reading

lady thinks i have too many kids

An Open Letter to the Lady Who Thinks I Have Too Many Kids

 

Rounding the back bumper of our 15 passenger van, we began our routine for loading up the crew. The chatty teens readily made their way to the rear seat while our younger daughter buckled in the toddler.

Dropping the stroller down to the closed position, my husband instructed our 9 year old ball of boy energy to move the bottles of water and take his seat next to his 7 year old cohort. While our feet were dog-tired from the full day of walking around the fairgrounds, the kids’ energy levels seemed to be drawing off of some endless reserve. Continue reading

child in hospital

Some Mothers Will Have Empty Arms This Mother’s Day

bloomsFreshly picked bouquets stacked in bunches, lovely hydrangeas planted in bright pink pots, cards spilling out into the store aisles and 1-800-BUY-HER-THIS commercials repeating on the radio: all reminders that Mother’s Day was on the horizon.

Envious, I longed to be pampered, fussed over and honored. Desperately, I wanted to expect cards in the mailbox and notes in my inbox. I fantasized about getting one of those carnations they give out to all of the moms after church.

I wanted to be just like every other mama on Mother’s Day.

But I was not.

Mothers Are Special

Mothers are special people. Well, all people are special, but only a mama can contain and grow life within her.

Most sacrifice their bodies in order to nurture wholly new persons. And even those moms who don’t carry a person in their wombs, cradle sons and daughters in their heart. Mothers give up sleep, comfort and personal space in order to satisfy the needs of another.

It’s no surprise that we’ve designated a day in order to shower them with attention and praise. Except for some women (like I was), Mother’s Day can seem more like a cruel date on the calendar than a joyful celebration.

My Arms Were Empty

My arms were empty that first Mother’s Day. There was no cooing babe swaddled in them, no wriggling toddler perched on my hip. I had no stroller to push, no diaper bag to haul nor cradle to rock.

My firstborn had died the previous summer, so I bore no “proof” of my continuing motherhood. I felt like a mother, but I appeared to be a childless woman.

Ashamed by my conflict, I was caught between two realities (the one my heart understood and the one the world saw).

An awkward position in a time when people are heralding children as a choice, the unseen child cannot be justified by many. Then others, who aren’t sure how to comfort a grieving mother, think it best to ignore what has been lost.

How I wished to remind everyone that my son had been real, not some temporary dream or imaginary person. He had been flesh and bone.

Stuck in Limbo

And his very existence in the world, while brief, had changed me into someone new. That first son had made me a mommy, but his absence left me in a (painful) limbo.

I am not suggesting that we scrap the holiday in some ridiculous, politically-correct attempt to “level the playing field.” No, mothers deserve recognition and we all need to remember the countless ways in which women give of themselves to care for their children.

The truth is that when a woman becomes a mother, some part of her becomes forever entangled with her child. A lasting imprint gets left on her heart and in her mind.

The truth is that when a woman becomes a mother, some part of her becomes forever entangled with her child. A lasting imprint gets left on her heart and in her mind. Click To Tweet

Mother's Day noteThankfully, my own mother sensed my grief that first lonely Mother’s Day and sent me a delivery of sweet-smelling roses. My husband knew my dilemma firsthand and he, too, gave his best effort to make me feel cherished.

Those tokens of support and acknowledgment meant a great deal to me. They also allowed me to shed my shame and embrace the reality that I was truly a mama.

How You Can Help

If you know someone who has lost a child, especially a mother who’s lost her firstborn/only child, please remember to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday.

Send her a note, a text or a card, call her on the phone or drop some flowers on her doorstep to remind her that you recognize her motherhood. Tell her that no matter how long she was able to carry her child (whether in her womb or in her arms) she remains a mother forever.

Life In a Big Brood: 10 Problems with Living in a Family of 10

When we started out, just the two of us, my husband and I were clueless. He is an only child and my siblings didn’t show up until I was 10 years old. We both were accustomed to the limelight, tranquility and praise, but we’d always longed for the joys of sibling companionship. My husband says he actually referred to himself as a lonely only when he was little.

Our heads in the clouds, we envisioned our own family would be a cross between the Von Trapps and the Bradys. Add twenty-two years and eight kids and our eyes have been opened. Oh, we wouldn’t trade one of our lovelies for the world (most days), but we concede that our initial plans were unrealistic.

In an attempt to set the record straight for starry-eyed newlyweds and lonely-only parents, I compiled a list of 10 big family problems.
1. Timing
Wake up, time to wake up,” I bellow up our two sets of stairs every morning. Yes, my kids own alarm clocks, but apparently my voice is the only sound capable of breaking the sleep barrier. The first countdown (of the day) commences approximately fifteen minutes prior to all planned endeavors. And this (my squawking) repeats in five minute intervals until about five minutes beyond the target time. It goes like this: while brushing my hair, I warn, “fifteen minutes to school.” With toothpaste dripping down my chin, I crow, “ten minutes.” After admonishing a still pajama-ed, bed-headed, stinky breathed child who’s reading a book, I shout, “FIVE MINUTES.” Ah yes, and the post countdown (“we’re LATE”) gears up exactly five minutes after we’ve failed to launch (which in a household of ten occurs more often than not). Because although I’ve educated my bright pupils myself, not one of them can tell time (unless the time involves a party, play date, or a guest’s anticipated arrival).
2. Laundry

I remember eyeing all those bare breasted women and half-naked children on the cover of Time Magazine when I was a kid and wondering why. Why didn’t their culture adopt some semblance of modesty and fashion. Didn’t they see the value in covering up their sensitive parts or donning some designer label jeans with a cute matching top? Now folding mountains of clothes I fantasize about a life without laundry (albeit after nursing eight babies I kinda like camouflaging my drooping bits). As if ten pairs of socks, shorts, t-shirts, underwear, and pj’s weren’t enough to handle daily, there’s also that one sweater that keeps turning up in the middle of the mound (you know, the one that still has the creases in it from the last time you washed and folded it which was yesterday).

3. Memories
With my first precious babies, I carefully documented their little lives in picture albums. From the scrunchy, red-faced newborn photo to the soccer team snapshots, every important moment was captured and neatly organized. With the invention of the cell phone and instagram, in addition to half a dozen more sweeties vying for my attention, I fell behind in my scrapbook endeavors. But in a big family that’s really not a problem (per say) because there’s always someone who will remember your history and exuberantly retell it for you (usually while in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner or when you bring your first real love home to meet your family). The real problem arises when your version of the facts (you know the honest-to-goodness facts that you remember because you always remember correctly) get twisted in a knot by everyone else who shares your surname.
4. Feast or Famine
We keep a small arsenal of snacks and non-perishables in our basement. Not because we are hardcore doomsdayers preparing for the end times, but because we have to keep some back stock to protect against the end-of month famine. Here’s how it goes down in the big family: the children cry out weakly, “Please, Sir, our porridge pot is empty and we’re starving (to death), can’t you please go fetch us some gruel?” At which time we head over to the local discount grocery and proceed to cram two carts filled to overflowing with cans, boxes, slabs and bunches of every kind of nutritious (cookies and marshmallows count, right?) ingredient. The feast begins on the drive home when those malnourished children tear into the first box of cheese crackers and eat all but the crumbs stuck on the inside bottom of the packaging before the van rolls into the driveway twenty minutes later. This jolly feasting continues for the next week until they’ve finished off the other two packages of cheese crackers, a dozen apples, a pound of salami, four sleeves of cookies, two loaves of bread, three varieties of cereal… Hence, how we end up back in a scene from Oliver Twist.
5. Volume
Back in the day (BC- before children), my husband and I laughed when we visited some relatives with kids because they had the TV cranked up to 55 in a 9X9 foot room. It didn’t take long for karma to swing back. We have no clue how anyone ever enjoyed a family movie before the advent of the rewind button. My husband makes feeble attempts to threaten the kids into silence when a race or ball game is on, but they can’t hear him over the barrage of “Who’s winning? Who’s that? What’d he just say?” Years ago we suspected our children must be deaf (especially our second daughter), so we had their hearing tested in the hopes of remedying their busted volume controls. Unfortunately, the doctor told us they all hear just fine.
6. Privacy
Perhaps, their volume control problems are to blame, but most of the time my brood are unable to hear my commands when spoken in a range below screaming. However, when the hubby and I are discussing vacation plans (while hiding in a closet on the opposite side of the house) you can be assured that some little busy-body will overhear us and chime in. Then there’s the bathroom. Precisely eight minutes into my morning shower every.single.day. my six year old must retrieve the only pair of pants he seems to own which (of course) are located in the laundry room that can only be reached through the bathroom. Most of the time, I’ve already got toddler company in there anyway, so what’s another family member, right? My husband freely empties his bowels without any pomp and circumstance, but as for me it is no wonder why all those commercials for fiber aid feature women. If I need to excuse myself, it is a game of distraction wherein I try to slink off unnoticed (tiptoeing down the hall and holding my breath while pulling the door shut in the hopes of masking any squeaks). 10% of the time I succeed in peeing in peace and solitude, 90% of the time someone decides it is of the utmost importance that I be located immediately to answer some burning question like “Can I have a puppy for Christmas?” 
 
7. Shoes
Summer sandals and sneakers, church shoes and winter boots, shoes that used to fit and the hand-me-downs that are still a size too big for anybody, shoes, shoes and more shoes. The shoe problem is less about the number of shoes around here and more about the fact that they rarely all make it onto the shoe rack (kinda like dirty clothes and the laundry baskets). They make it beside the rack, under it and next to it. We also find lone shoes under the table, behind the couch and strewn about the yard.
8. Seating
Seating in the big family is assigned. Be it in our big, white van or circled around our permanently extended dining room table, every body has his/her respective spot. Hours of discernment and mediation went into mapping the plan-o-grams so as to reduce the chance of conflict between adjoining parties. The schematics work (mostly), until a new person gets added, then it’s back to the drawing board.
9. Somebody to blame
Somebody” is ALWAYS to blame. Of course, “Somebody” is the invisible child who perpetrates every crime that can’t be directly attributed to a known offender. Rest assured, children are quite helpful when it comes to solving crimes (like who wrote on the wall or broke mom’s favorite coffee mug). Their detective work rivals that of Sherlock Holmes when asked, “Who did …?” But if it’s not sister or brother, it typically falls to that annoying Somebody kid (who to date has consistently avoided my capture).
10. Bedtime
And then there’s BEDTIME. We hear that is the time of day when people lay their heads down, close their eyes and drift off to peaceful slumber. We wouldn’t know because (did I mention?) we have eight children. I have vague memories of a time BC when I may have slept through the night without waking to nurse, comfort, redirect, reposition or talk with some family member. Truth be told, I’m so well trained now that even if no one disturbs my rest (which happens close to never) I still arouse long enough to pee (probably because it is the rare time I can be alone) and to double-check that everyone is still breathing. I’ve yet to actually laugh in the face of inquisitors who’ve dared ask, throughout the years, if our newborns are sleeping through the night, but I’d like to. Bedtime would be more aptly named Second-Wind-time since it seems as though our kiddos (who were drifting off to sleep during dinner) suddenly muster enough spare energy to run cackling through the house at warp speed.
Perhaps, if we enlisted a whistle like Captain Von Trapp, our children would report on time and line up in a tidy row. Maybe, I just need an Alice like the Bradys had to contend with Laundry Hill and the case of the missing left shoes. Yes, big families are rife with problems. But if I had it all to do over again, I (honestly) wouldn’t change a thing because along with the challenges come even more blessings. When I’m sitting elbow to elbow at our noisy dinner table, my cheeks aching from laughing too hard at the family story that’s being told for the umpteenth time, all the hard stuff counts for nothing.

A Little Reminder That Life is Good

When my older boys were little I made Halloween costumes (from sewing Buzz Lightyear to creating a bull out of a cardboard box), threw themed birthday parties (Veggie Tales and Sea Creatures), paper-mached a pinata (that turned out to be nearly indestructible), and baked birthday cakes (a school bus). Eight kiddos later and I sometimes feel a bit of guilt because my crafty skills are more often constrained by time.
Lately, I have to admit I feel downright aggravated with myself.

Between juggling home school lessons, tending to baby and coordinating teen work/commitment schedules, all those Pinterest ideas are little more than eye candy. Just when I contemplate reaching for the glue gun or sewing machine, I see the unmade bed, the unbrushed hair, and the fingerprints. A thousand other chores bellow for my attention.

Even finding time to write a post had become a hassle as of late. Inspiration rises to the surface only to be squelched by a cry or a “Mom, I need your help.”
But tonight when I sat down to save pictures from my camera, I discovered all these happy moments that we’ve been wracking up together. And I am reminded that I am my own worst critic because life in this big brood can’t be all that bad if the measure of judgment is metered out in smiles. 

 

The birthday bonanza lasts from late March through September and everyone gets to wear my homemade birthday hat. Note the sticky papered age tags so I can keep track.
Lilia got to spend her birthday with dogs, lots of dogs. Oh yeah and Aunt Tammy, too!

Nikolai getting help from his baby bro.

This is the 15 year old boy version of a smile. I’ll take it.

Nothing says “We had fun” like dirty, bare feet!
Pierce turned 18 and got his driver’s license. He promptly drove out alone to buy his siblings lunch in celebration.

Okay, so Pinterest does get credit for this idea. I simply had to find the time to give my 6 year old a surprise minion cake.
marshmallow minions

So I didn’t make the pinata, but I don’t think anyone cared where the candy was raining from.

Daddy and the boys at the race.
Indeed LIFE is GOOD!
 

Our Family Never Misses A Meal: Getting Kids to Eat Their Supper (plus our favorite recipes)

Please, pass the mashed potatoes and don’t hog the gravy.”

 
Some of my best memories revolved around the dinner table. Holidays and many in-between days found me settled at the family table with my mom, grandparents, young aunts and uncles amidst good food and even better conversation. Graduated out of a high chair, I remember the delight of sitting (propped up on the silverware box) next to my grandmother at the head of the table. I learned the value of keeping your elbows off the table and your manners minded.
Those meals took some preparing. There were duties to fulfill in order to get everything to our plates. Uncle Tom was the master of salads and I recall watching as he shook the dressing packet into the oil in Grandma’s glass bottle. Clean up always seemed to fall to the women of the household, who filled the kitchen with chatter as they washed and dried and put away those Corelle dishes. 

My grandmother managed to keep her family bonded, even after her youngest fled the nest, by officiating a once a week family supper to which we were all expected to return. Those meals not only filled my belly, they nourished my spirit, my heart and my mind.

When I started my own family, my husband  and I agreed that dinner time was important (dare I even say, sacred) so we laid down some ground rules early on.
  1. Everyone sits for dinner together.
  2. Only one meal is served and everyone must eat what is served.
  3. You are free to leave food behind, but you cannot have dessert if you can’t finish your dinner.
  4. No one leaves the table without being excused by dad or mom.
  5. Everyone remains at the table until dinner is declared over.
Everyone sits for dinner together.

Being the only ones to beat my grandparents’ record (they had 6 kids), we inherited their dining room table. That table was actually a deciding factor when we were house hunting as we needed a room big enough to house it (with both extension leaves installed). We all sit down together every night. This is our time to regroup, to recount our day, and to hash out plans. Everything else revolves around dinnertime to the extent that we set schedules to insure we can eat a healthy meal together. Television, radios and cell phones are not invited to the table or anywhere nearby.

Only one meal is served and everyone must eat what is served.
Eight kids in and we are proud to say that not a one is a picky eater. Okay, forgive me if it seems like I am bragging, but honestly we never never ever cater to a finicky eater. My husband is the chef around here. He comes home at the end of his work day and whips up fantastic meals. It would be an insult to snub our noses at his meals so we don’t. Admittedly, sometimes the chili is a bit spicier than Lilia likes and I’ve been known to silently hold my breath while eating extra gamey tasting deer steaks, but the rule still holds. One family=one meal. I really believe (barring allergies) that children learn to be difficult dinner guests. I feel quite confident that poor children aren’t passing up any morsels.
You are free to leave food behind, but you cannot have dessert if you can’t finish your dinner.

My kids are highly motivated by dessert which generally consists of a small bowl of ice cream or two cookies. We learned with son numero uno that it is no fun to dedicate our nightly conversation to begging, bartering and cajoling a kid into eating his broccoli, so we don’t. The policy is simple and everyone knows we stick to our guns, so our darlings police themselves when it comes to wiping the plate clean. Now I have heard the complaint that this can teach children to overeat, but I disagree. If they help themselves to reasonable portions, they should eat what they take (or receive). If their tummies are too full to finish, they are too full for dessert and late night snacks. And if a sweet one opts to skip a meal in defiance, trust me, they will not starve to death over night!

No one leaves the table without being excused by dad or mom.

I shake my head (internally) every time I hear a parent complain about a child’s eating habits right after he was allowed to bolt from the table mid-course. Like I said, dinner is about more than food and so everyone needs to be present. Having children ask to be excused (and waiting for your reply) teaches them respect for your authority as well as respect for the other guests at table. 

Everyone remains at the table until dinner is declared over.
 
An occasional brief, rest room break is acceptable, but dashing up out of the seat before the meal is declared done is not. Sitting a while longer allows everyone to have a chance to talk, to listen and to digest. And it inspires those less than happy eaters (the ones leaving the squash on their plates until the last minute) to continue grazing from their plates. Additionally, if everyone leaves the table together, then no one is able to mysteriously disappear at clean-up time.

If you are just starting out, take my advice. Set the household agenda so that your family circles the table at least once a day; giving one another their undivided time and attention. “But it’s soccer season,”you say. Well, then factor the times into the schedule and sit down as a family either before or after practice. If you make this time your priority, it will work out.
If your family is in the habit of dining and dashing, leaving behind half-eaten portions or demanding tailor-made courses, then stop and take back the reins. It is never too late to reevaluate and begin anew. Get the kids involved to help them re-adjust and feel responsible. 
The evening meal has always represented more than a venue for stuffing our bellies. So, especially now in this time of fast food and fractured families, it is time to reclaim the supper table.
*****
homemade all-natural garlic and olive oil dressing for salad

We place a lovely salad on the table first and everyone takes a serving. In the past, when we used bottled dressings we ate smaller helpings of salad. Then we switched to homemade Invisible Dressingand now it isn’t uncommon for kids to ask for seconds. One of our sons is responsible for making the salad. Here’s our recipe (as handed down to us from Poppy):

Poppy’s Invisible Salad Dressing:
(amounts are based on feeding 9 people)
1 head of Romaine lettuce
4-5 cloves of fresh, raw garlic
1 ¼ tsp coarse salt
pepper to taste
½ C extra virgin olive oil
¼ C red wine vinegar
Cut, wash and spin the lettuce (we love our salad spinner!)

Remove the garlic cloves from their skin, then crush them along with the salt directly in the bowl (we prefer a wooden bowl), Add pepper to taste.

Add the olive oil and be sure to mix the crush garlic into it. Let sit for a few minutes.

While that it sitting, cut up some tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese and olives and add them to the lettuce pile.
Now toss the lettuce and extras into the bowl with the oil and toss until everything is coated (but not dripping) in the garlic/oil mixture. Then, just before serving drizzle the red wine vinegar over the complete salad and toss again. Voila! A delicious, nutritious start to our meal. 
 
*******
We like to keep beverages clear and minimal, so that the kids don’t fill up on liquids. Drinks should accompany a meal, not replace it. Another son assumes the duty of beverage maker (in addition to the pitcher of water always at the table). Here is his recipe for homemade Southern Lemonade:
home made lemon lime lemonadeNikolai’s Fresh Southern Lemonade
This recipe should make you one gallon. Feel free to add or subtract sugar or juice to suit your taste.

 3 lemons
2 limes
1 Cup sugar
2 Cups boiling water
10 Cups cold water
Ice


To get the juice out of the lemons, I use one of these things:



But any other juicer or even just your hands work as well.

First, it’s a good idea to wash and scrub the lemons and limes, as they have a thin layer of wax coating and possibly residue from pesticides. 
Second, squeeze as much juice out of the lemons and limes as you can. I’ve heard before that if you microwave them beforehand for 10 seconds, they are supposed to yield more juice. Personally, I’ve never noticed a big difference. 
Third, dissolve your sugar into the boiling water. Add the sugar water to the citrus juice.
Fourth, add cold water and ice to your taste. Some people prefer their drinks near freezing, whereas I kind of like them chilled.

Fifth, It’s pretty easy and tasty to add other fruits and herbs if you wish. Grapefruit makes for pink lemonade, oranges, mint, and pomegranates are also pretty good. Go ahead and experiment! 

Picturing Parties, Peacocks & the Perfect Beach Day

Just another week in Brelinskyville I say. And by that I mean: traveling to celebrate our first graduate, hosting 86 of the world’s most awesome party guests, a stray peacock, field tripping to the beach and an extra blessing to count.




1. I’ve already gushed HERE over my very first home school graduate, but now I’ve actually got the pictures to document the achievement. We opted to enroll our high schoolers in Seton Home Study, so my son was eligible to participate in a graduation ceremony in VA. What a thrill to be among 100+ other graduates (from all over the country and one who came all the way from the Philippines) and those were just the graduates who chose to attend the event. 

I can’t say enough about how well Seton met our needs as a family and prepared my son for his future as an intelligent adult and a Catholic capable of defending his beliefs. Quite frankly, while I knew I would stay the course throughout my son’s high school education, I was somewhat intimidated and overwhelmed at the prospect of having to calculate his credits, double-check his requirements and create his transcript. Enter Seton where they do all of that and more. Four years and three high schoolers later, I am satisfied that we made the right choice and the tuition is worth every penny.

Class of 2014






Jude’s First Holy Communion
Sebastian’s Confirmation



2. When we throw a party, we like to really throw a party! Years ago we decided to host big, all-inclusive, family-sized shin-digs. When the oldest two were little I did the kids’ only, themed birthday parties (think Veggie Tale donuts, pirate treasure hunts and paper mache pinatas) complete with preplanned games and a gift unwrapping break. However, as the size of our brood increased that plan seemed less than ideal and honestly kind of un-fun for the adults and siblings. I mean hosting 8 birthday soirees would book up our whole summer and fall (since our bdays span from March to September). So the big bash idea sprang up and we’ve been sticking with it ever since. Now the kids entertain one another (no need for me to orchestrate games) and no one is left out since there is a least one (or six) somebodies your age to hang with. Moms and dads are then free to enjoy the company of other adults since the kiddos are so busy together. Of course, being southerners and all potluck is the way to go. This cuts down on expense and allows friends to share something rather than feeling obliged to bring gifts.  

This go around we and 76 of our friends and family spent the afternoon together celebrating this year’s sacraments and milestones (with a confirmation, communion and graduation in one spring there was oh so much to celebrate).





Kevin (named in honor of the bird from UP)

3.  Okay, so normal people might happen across a stray kitty or puppy, right? But here in B-ville we find ourselves adopted by a stray peacock! No, really, a peacock literally flew into our field of fowl and he’s decided (against our best efforts to discourage him) to make this home. Occasionally, he perches on our high roof, but most of the time he sits near the hens that he is trying so very hard to impress. Quite comical, when the hens walk passed he fans out his tail feathers and shakes them ever so purposefully whilst turning slowly so as to remain within 

the hen’s line of sight. The chickens (like innocent, college girls in a frat house) don’t quite understand his oh-so-subtle flirtations (or they’re just not interested in inter-species romance). If the girls here aren’t diggin’ him, I guess he’s decided the food makes up for it. Anyone got any peacock tips?

Mr. B and the sea

4. How is it that a whole year has slipped by since I carried my big bellied self to the beach? Well, it has and it was high time to soak in some RR on the coast of NC. A more perfect beach day we couldn’t have prayed for (okay well the freezing cold water may have been a deterent for some of us but as you can see from the pics the kids numbed up fast enough to enjoy the chilly waters) as the temperature was warm but not sweat-worthy, the life guards were on duty, the parking lot was nearly empty and the sky maintained its Carolina blue.

We barely even bothered with the radio as the soothing sounds of the waves were enough to captivate our attention. God also graced us with just enough wind to lift our kite, but not so much as to require us to wrap up in towels for comfort. The coast takes a bit of navigating for our crew since we live a few hours from it, but as always the day trip gave us that little timeout we all needed.





5. Putting this post together, I have to admit my shame in adding this last thought. Just across the way from our favorite beach spot is the Bodie Island lighthouse, so this trip we decided to check it out (not sure why we hadn’t in the past). Happy to have arrived an hour before its closing, we filed out of the van and began snapping pictures. A tour guide was about to usher in a new group and she advised that we’d need to purchase tickets inside to join the next grouping. Unfortunately, once inside we realized the pricing was too far outside of our tight budget, so we had to settle for looking at the curator’s picture book of the lighthouse interior. 

Glad for the portrait view, I was internally bemoaning. Our budget is more often than not tight, but I hate saying no again and again. I wanted to say, “Yes. We’ll take ten tickets!” I wanted my kids to race up the spiral staircase, to peer out from the top, to imprint a lasting memory, but thoughtful planning dictated that we needed to forgo this expense as our traveling is not yet complete for the summer. 

How silly I feel now for my ingratitude as I detail the abundance of blessings that have been poured forth these last few weeks. So what that we missed the spiral stairs in that black and white structure we’ve witnessed sacraments, welcomed loved ones, met new friends, experienced unfamiliar settings and stored up an ample cache of mental souvenirs. 

Once again, this domestic church I call home succeeds in raising my eyes upward.