Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sue's Diner: The Complete Thanksgiving Dinner

For the Marchellis’ first Thanksgiving in Munsonville, Melissa’s little brother Brian shows off the depth of his newly acquired culinary skills, under the direction of his mentor, Steve Barnes, the village maintenance man.

Steve and Brian won’t tell what’s in Steve’s secret dressing, but if it’s anything like this one, you can bet it was delicious.

As promised on last Sunday's Sue's Diner blog, I've posted all the recipes to the dinner. You can find them HERE. Try any or all of them.

The entire feast is pictured below. For individual photos, click HERE.

A HUGE  "thank you" to Rebekah Baran for preparing it, (with Daniel Baran assisting) and for Timothy Baran plating the entire meal photo.

And remember, all proceeds from Memories in the Kitchen: Bites and Nibbles from "Bryony" benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties.




This one shows better highlights the roasted vegetables (ignore Bertrand's photo bomb)















Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ed Calkins: Ruthless Distractions

Dear MOMI,

No doubt you've noticed that my correspondence has been scarce. I'm sure you can understand what happens to me this time of year as I transition for a ruthless Irish vampire to that merry big elf. You'll have to imagine it because I can't.

Typically, I decide to be either ruthlessly jolly or merrily ruthless, and I get completely distracted trying to decide what that means. The reverse transition is more immediate as somebody corrects my introduction some time after Christmas. ('No you're a jolly big oaf.')

This year, I have a different distraction. One who reads the news, (Does anyone do that anymore?), might think that I'm frustrated by all the incompetent ruthless dictators leading many failed countries but, nevertheless, getting the "ruthless" part completely wrong. 

Insulting your opposition is quintessential but repeating the same insults on an endless continuum promotes the notion that no victory was achieved. I don't want to mention names so I'll use myself as a positive example. 

People fear me because I might think badly of them, so they pretty much do as I "suggest," but if I insulted everyone all the time, say on some social media device, with composition that lack aesthetic value, I might get the label of "ruthlessly idiotic" and generate no fear at all.

(Sigh) 

It's so hard to mentor would be ruthless dictators. They tend to be so sensitive especially when marriage is involved, and I have to play marriage counselor...

My point is slipping away from me, so I'll tell you more while concealing the identity of the couple at a latter time.

My distraction at this particular time is China. I recently realized that I know almost nothing about its people, history, and culture. If I wasn't a ruthless dictator, I might conclude that problem is my own ignorance resolvable by studious study. But as I am a ruthless dictator, I can only conclude that the China has been hiding from me.

Still, let's look at some clues and start with a map. 

Eureka! 

The first deviant distraction comes to play. 

On a 12 x 8 world map, China looks small, like a tiny scoop of ice cream out of the banana split bowl that is Asia. A globe tells a different story.

                        ...........to be continued........wife is calling...........


Ruthlessly yours,

Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara



Friday, November 17, 2017

Community news: Nov. 16 and Nov. 17, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing. 

Taking a week over to write fiction and will post more when I return. Enjoy!


Local faith events: Nov. 16 through Nov. 23



Member of Joliet church helps with Hurricane Harvey efforts



Joliet cross country team races to success



Trunk or Treat held in October at Plainfield parish



Annual Franciscan Autumn Feast recognizes honorees



Help New Lenox Fire Protection District keep the wreath red this holiday season



Plainfield students are science buddies



Joliet Central Madrigal Dinner is Dec. 9


http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/11/16/joliet-central-madrigal-dinner-is-dec-9/adokxlm/


Local arts and entertainment: Nov. 17 through Nov. 24




'The Drunk’n Gnome' staggers into Joliet on Dec. 2



Joliet West choir hosts 'Songs of the Season dinner to benefit its choirs
Reservations due Nov. 17



Lincoln-Way student artwork on display at art exhibitions



Shorewood student has T-shirt design selected by Gap Kids



Lincoln-Way Central participates in Choose Kindness Week



Santa Sightings



Amazon donates 1,000 backpacks to United Way of Will County



Valley View Schools Participating in Illinois 5Essentials Survey



41st Festival of the Gnomes frolics into Joliet Dec. 2 and Dec. 3








Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Nov.12 through Nov. 17

First of all, a huge "thank you" to everyone who supported "An Evening with Tom Hernandez" last night. It was an enjoyable evening of readings from Tom's latest book, which he infused with humor, inspiration, and tremendous introspective transparency.

If you missed Tom last night (or feel like seeing him again) he, along with other members of WriteOn Joliet, will be at The Book Market tonight at 6 p.m. hosting an anthology release party. Details below.

WriteOn Joliet Anthology Release Party

When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 17

Where: The Book Market, 2365 Plainfield Road, Crest Hill

Etc.: Copies of "Write Where We Are" (WriteOn Joliet's first anthology) will be for sale. Information about WriteOn Joliet. A chance to meet and talk to some of WriteOn Joliet's members, as well as purchase books written by individual WriteOn Joliet authors as well as browse the store and purchase others books. Chef-created refreshments. BryonySeries raffles. Free admission.

Contact: bryonyseries@gmail.com

Visit: writeonJoliet.com or www.bryonyseries.com

Next week, I have vacation time to use, so I'm giving myself a "writer's retreat" and immersing myself in Before the Blood. Social media postings will be sporadic in order to maximize my time, but I'm hoping to give a brief update about my progress each day via this blog.

Also in 2018, I'll be starting a newsletter. I'm giving away the first chapter of one of the books in the BTB prequel as a "thank you" for signing up. Want to be included? Drop me a line at bryonyseries@gmail.com

Now some quick information before the stories:

Non-bylined features:

Monday through Saturday I assembled my non-bylined works - brief posts and calendar listings - into one convenient file and posting them on Facebook in the evening, so readers can easily choose the ones they want to read.

One can also find those event listings, the Gotta Do It calendar, as well as the pets, health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars, under the sections tab on the left hand side of http://www.theherald-news.com/. Click on "features" and the topics drop down.  Gotta Do It runs under "people."

Community news? Again, under the sections tab, under features, and by topic. Updates are posted on these days in print and web and in web on other days as I have the time: Monday (pets), Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (arts and entertainment), and Sunday (people).

Social media:

Daily updates: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61.

BryonySeries stuff: I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries. And assorted related content at www.facebook.com/BryonySeries. And of course, please follow the adventures of Bertrand the Mouse on Instagram at bertrand_bryonyseries.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News. And for reading this blog. Your support is greatly appreciated.



Will and Grundy counties offer resources for veterans

A listing of services and organizations for veterans along with opportunities to serve veterans in return.



Beagle ‘best companion’ for Joliet family

To make up for his neglected years, Allie Rios admitted she spoiled Spanky with an abundance of toys and food. Spanky’s favorite toy was his stuffed beagle. Spanky’s favorite food was all of them.



Pets of the Week: Nov. 13


Read the caption of each photo to find out about that pet, including where he or she can be adopted.



'Ellie has spina bifida'
'But spina bifida does not have Ellie'


Ellie Fontanetta of Lockport serves as an ambassador for various charitable outreaches.


“We honestly just have a heart to help,” Nikki Fontanetta, Ellie's mother,  said. “From an early age we wanted her to be involved with her hospital. Philanthropy is a core value in our family.”



'A little bit of comfort' in Nicholas' name


July 4, 20111: That was the day Joanna and Bart Veghts' 8-year-old son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with leukemia. While on vacation, Nicholas “wasn’t himself” and his lymph nodes in his neck had grown very large, Joanna said.



Mystery Diner: Pesciolino Osteria isn't easy to say, but it's worth your time to try


The place isn't huge, but it's well-decorated with an intimate setting that was more welcoming and comforting than loud.



Thursday: The Center returns to its Joliet roots


Incorporated in 2013, The Center has one mission: to help teens connect with God, so they can experience the life Jesus promised to everyone in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”


Joliet artist shares her autumn art


A freelance artist for many years, Terri Ellinger specializes in watercolor, gouache, pencil, colored pencil, mixed media and ink. She enjoys creating custom portraits of people, places and pets.

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/11/15/f92f64ac843b449db66d49f06b3d2a96/index.xml


Artworks: Joliet resident wrote lyrics for 'Here Come the Irish'

John Scully said: "As a musician, I think it's always good to add to something to people's lives, something that's worthwhile, and I think we're on the mark here with 'Here Come the Irish.' It has added immeasurably to the quality of people's lives. [And that's just not a ] good goal for music. I think that's a good goal for anything."


Thursday, November 16, 2017

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Today at The Book Market

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Today at The Book Market

Today is an appreciation post. Monday's post will recap my impressions.

First of all, a huge THANK YOU to Sue Merrell for arrranging the event and inviting me to participate, The Book Market owner Jan Staley for hosting and promoting us; Allie Rios for handling the extras: promotional flyers, author one-sheets, frames, and a Facebook ad; Daniel Baran for transportation; and Rebekah Baran for her phenomenal "take charge" organizational and managerial skills.

I'm blessed to know and collaborate with some really outstanding people. God is truly good.

The venue:

The Book Market, an indie shop of new and used books, is located at 2366 Plainfield Road in Crest Hill. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/newandusedbooks/ and http://www.theherald-news.com/2015/04/13/crest-hill-bookstore-expands-across-the-street/atrjgyw/


My fellow WriteOn Joliet authors:

Sue Merrell writes crime fiction. The setting and incidents are based on similar ones in the Joliet area. For more information, visit suemerrellbooks.com.

Allie Rios writes inspirational fiction on the theme of healing. She also has a collection of stories about brain cancer battles (including the story of her mother) that benefits the American Brain Foundation at www.americanbrainfoundation.org. Find her on Facebook at Allison Rios, Author and at www.amijustmom.blogspot.com.

Ralph Carey, a recovering alcoholic, has an inspirational book about the recovery journey. Find him on Facebook at Life's Wisdom Overcoming Addiction.



From left: Ralph Carey, Jan Staley, Allie Rios, Denise M. Baran-Unland, Sue Merrell

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Community News: Nov. 15, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing.



Need help? Want to help? Here’s a roundup of area food pantries and upcoming events



Local pet events: Nov 6 through Nov. 13



Nation’s oldest poison center offers tips to avoid foodborne illness



RSVP for gingerbread house making by Nov. 28



IDNR reminds hunters to make safety a priority



Joliet meat cutter advances to round two in National Meat Cutting Challenge




Song # 2 Romantic Piano Music - One Last Time by James Onohan

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Community News: Nov. 14, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing.


Local health events: Nov. 14 through Nov. 21 



Joliet Central High School alumnus is successful architect



Joliet Township High School names Students of the Month for October



Forest Preserve District’s IT director earns recognition



Lincoln-Way East joins Exemplary Student Research Program group 



Troy Academic Bowl Team takes 3rd place at competition



Eagle Scouts install bat houses in forest preserve







A Time to Improve

Tomorrow is the beginning of advent in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

It is a traditionally a strict abstinence (i.e. no meat, eggs, or dairy products).

Before I developed some allergies and food sensitivities, I kept this fast. Now, I limit portions and unhealthy eating during this time. The whole point is to make some "room in the inn" in our spirits for Christ.

With the days growing darker and colder, it's a quiet, reflective time.

Although life's busyness is often inescapable, we can make our interiors a little less busy, a little more still.

How best to use the gifts and talents bestowed on us? What to cut back for a season? What to eliminate forever?

Advent is an opportunity for improvement, to become better equipped for God's purpose for us.

Today, I'm on the advent of advent.

Whenever yours begins, may it be blessed.







Monday, November 13, 2017

Community News: Nov. 13, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing.



Gotta Do It: Nov. 12 through Nov. 18



Bolingbrook soldier promoted to major 



Joliet native receives award from Airman Leadership School



Plainfield Vietnam veterans recognized



University of St. Francis, other area organizations collect socks for veterans



Plainfield school makes poppies for veterans



New Lenox Boy Scout Troop 44 holds merit badge university




Book Signing, Anthology Release Party, Writing Vacation: It's Crunch Week

With leftover vacation time I'm required to use, I'm taking next week off.

During that time I will catch up on a couple marketing projects and spend a little time with loved ones. Mostly, I will be immersed in Before the Blood, a sort of week-long writing retreat, if you will. I'm truly looking forward to this as a busy couple of months meant little actual writing time.

Except for a bit of email, I won't be working my "real job."

Except to post a Bible verse and wave good morning in some groups I maintain, I will be off social media. Including this blog. But there's LOTS of old posts to check out. So you're welcome to visit this site in my absence.

But before that happens, I have to meet all work deadlines for this week and put together an extra week's worth of event calendars and several stories that will run in my absence! (Wish me luck - gonna need it)!

Also this week, in lieu of WriteOn Joliet's regular meeting, my group's co-leader Tom Hernandez will be hosting An Evening with Tom Hernandez, where Tom will read from and sign copies of his latest book, The Edge of Middle - thoughts from the top of the hill

I am attending and so are many of WriteOn Joliet's members. Registration is required. Visit the library's online calendar at www.plainfieldpubliclibrary.org or call 815-327-2515.

Last, but certainly not least, is WriteOn Joliet's anthology release party. Details below. Hope to see you there!


WriteOn Joliet Anthology Release Party

When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 17

Where: The Book Market, 2365 Plainfield Road, Crest Hill

Etc.: Copies of "Write Where We Are" (WriteOn Joliet's first anthology) will be for sale. Information about WriteOn Joliet. A chance to meet and talk to some of WriteOn Joliet's members, as well as purchase books written by individual WriteOn Joliet authors as well as browse the store and purchase others books. Chef-created refreshments. BryonySeries raffles. Free admission.

Contact: bryonyseries@gmail.com

Visit: writeonJoliet.com or www.bryonyseries.com




Sunday, November 12, 2017

Next Week on Sue's Diner: Recipes for a BryonySeries Thanksgiving Feast

Want to change it up this year?

How about preparing the Thanksgiving Day dinner featured in the Bryony?

For the Marchellis’ first Thanksgiving in Munsonville, Melissa’s little brother Brian shows off the depth of his newly acquired culinary skills, under the direction of his mentor, Steve Barnes, the village maintenance man.

Next Sunday (Nov. 19), I'll post recipes for the following on the Sue's Diner page at www.bryonyseries.com:




Steve’s Roast Turkey (brine and turkey recipes by Rachel Buchanan Savicz)







Steve's Stuffing (recipe by Virginia Schonbachler)








Roasted Root Vegetable Medley (recipe by Sarah Stegall)







Traditional Cornbread (recipe by Tutti Weiss)







Drop Biscuits (recipe by Rebekah Baran)







Salad Dressing (tastes like Thousand Island, recipe by Janet Cooney, salad by Timothy Baran)







Darlene’s Trifle (recipe by Virginia Schonbachler)






Darlene’s Pumpkin Roll (recipe by Sarah Stegall)




Rebekah, assisted by Daniel, cooked up this feast for us last week while I was at work. Timothy plated the entire meal (next week's photo), as well as the salad and desserts.

Needless, to say, we ate well for a couple of days!

Why, might you ask, would we cook a Thanksgiving Day dinner early?

One: I wanted to have photos to share with you, in case you'd like to try some of all of the recipes this year.

Two: Our traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner is comprised of poor boys, kettle-cooked chips, and pumpkin pie (Don't judge us), a Frankensteined tradition born our of my mother working in retail and hosting Thanksgiving at her house on the Sunday before Thanksgiving; Thanksgiving deadlines for both newsroom, routes and insert customers; too tired after meeting those deadlines; and, now still too tired after working long hours to want to cook up a feast on a day we're not working.

Besides, now that some of the adult kids work in the culinary industry, they, too, don't want to waste a precious day off in the vacation. It's far, far better to cook on a work day (or a working weekend).

So we did. Or rather, THEY did. 

But I enjoyed every scrap.

And maybe, just maybe, Rebekah will make some pumpkin rolls instead (or along with) pumpkin pie.

BTW, if you'd like a cookbook, proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. Order a cookbook HERE.

And if you didn't try out last week's recipe (cinnamon coffee cake), it will remain up for another week. Find that recipe on the Sue's Diner page HERE.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Community News: Nov. 11, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing.


2017 Veterans Day events in Will and Grundy counties


Parents and community members invited to meet with Joliet superintendents 



November holiday closings set for electronic recycling site



Sign up for The Herald-News Joliet City Government newsletter



Conduct science experiments that are in the movies Nov. 18 at Romeoville university 



Sign up for the Ask Dick Goss newsletter



The Herald-News Photo Store



Plainfield school recently held annual golf outing and dinner 




Irish Vampire Facts (or reposting from 2011)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Irish Vampire Facts

There really aren't any.

True, Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla) and Bram Stoker (Dracula) were both Irish. There is also the Gaelic Dearg-Due, always female, that rises from the grave at night to drain the blood (some say life force) of men, but to kill them, not for a meal.

That's about it.

Ed Calkins, the Steward of Tara, is not only creating legend for himself, he is establishing Ireland's first vampire lore.

Is this worthy of a national parade? You decide.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Community News: Nov. 10, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing.


Local arts and entertainment: Nov. 10 through Nov. 17



Homer Glen woman wins October photo contest



Will County area craft events

http://www.theherald-news.com/2017/09/11/will-county-area-craft-events/a3fil9j/


Santa Sightings



Joliet Central High School student center addition wins 7th award



Joliet hospice to hold memorial tribute



Frankfort ballet company offers new twist on popular 'Nutcracker'



Romeoville university's radio to bring 'Christmas Memories' on Thanksgiving Day



Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Nov. 5 through Nov. 10

It's been a busy week and even busier fall. But I'm nearly on the other side of the hecticness.

One more work week (and working weekend) and the I go on writer's retreat (a fancy way of saying I have vacation time to use up and will spending it working on book No. 5 of the Before the Blood).

This weekend, I'm wrapping up the stories in a three-part series I wrote, exploring how devastating illness impacts families. I also have some incomplete marketing projects to, well, complete.

But looking back, I've made nearly all my goals for this year. That, combined with the fact I finally got some decent sleep last night, makes for an overall satisfying feeling.

Overall because I lost an object important to me yesterday. Also, I wanted to run something timely in the newspaper but moved another, not as timely item on the page instead, again, the product of being tired, which is grating on my nerves this morning.

Before I move onward to features, I'd like to give a quick shout-out to WriteOn Joliet's anthology release party. Details below. Have a blessed Friday, all! :)

WriteOn Joliet Anthology Release Party

When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 17

Where: The Book Market, 2365 Plainfield Road, Crest Hill

Etc.: Copies of "Write Where We Are" (WriteOn Joliet's first anthology) will be for sale. Information about WriteOn Joliet. A chance to meet and talk to some of WriteOn Joliet's members, as well as purchase books written by individual WriteOn Joliet authors as well as browse the store and purchase others books. Chef-created refreshments. BryonySeries raffles. Free admission.

Contact: bryonyseries@gmail.com

Visit: writeonJoliet.com or www.bryonyseries.com

Features, etc.:

Monday through Saturday I assembled my non-bylined works - brief posts and calendar listings - into one convenient file and posting them on Facebook in the evening, so readers can easily choose the ones they want to read.

One can also find those event listings, the Gotta Do It calendar, as well as the pets, health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars, under the sections tab on the left hand side of http://www.theherald-news.com/. Click on "features" and the topics drop down.  Gotta Do It runs under "people."

Community news? Again, under the sections tab, under features, and by topic. Updates are posted on these days in print and web and in web on other days as I have the time: Monday (pets), Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (arts and entertainment), and Sunday (people).

Daily updates: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61.

BryonySeries stuff: I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries. And assorted related content at www.facebook.com/BryonySeries. And of course, please follow the adventures of Bertrand the Mouse on Instagram at bertrand_bryonyseries.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News. And for reading this blog. Your support is greatly appreciated.


Micro pantries cropping up in Will and Grundy Counties

So far, people are jumping in where they can, and Jeff Eberhard is certain the project will keep snowballing.

 Eberhard is referring to Little Free Food Pantries.

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/10/31/b58803cf92b24a0db77e773bcaafac35/index.xml



'Grandpa, you should write a book'
Joliet man took his passions and flew with them

Flying and hard work were mainstays of his entire life. But how Albert arrived there might make modern parents cringe.

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/10/31/5bb6dda8d93e44d8bb8769f8deaf28b1/index.xml


'I prefer to live in the moment'

“At the time, we thought it to be good news," Krystal Bettega said of her daughter Madi Mumm's diagnosis. "We finally knew what was going on and there would be a cure or treatment that would help,:

And then Krystal learned the details of Madi’s disorder.




'You just deal with it'

“Day-to-day life is not predictable,” Rosemarie Melnik of Tinley Park said about her granddaughter Bella Brya. “Bella has no verbal communication. If something is bothering her, she is not able to tell you. She’s lost all her motor skills. She cannot move her arms and legs and cannot hold up her head. She cannot swallow. She has a feeding tube."

Bella's brother Liam Bella and father Bill Brya also have health challenges.



Mystery Diner: Old Fashioned Pancake House: casual atmosphere, great value since 1986

Did we want breakfast, lunch or dinner? Despite the late hour, we could order any menu item.

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/10/30/0bbe209f14e4487ab9d55fd6e050769e/index.xml?page=1


'Psalms of Paul' addresses life, love and faith

Two years ago, when Paul Oliver turned 50, he desired to leave a legacy for his grandchildren, so they might know he was more than a water treatment plant employee.

“Now you can ‘Google’ my name and see I’m a writer of poetry,” Oliver said. “[They can say] he had a mind and a soul and actually accomplished something.”

http://www.theherald-news.com/lists/2017/11/08/08b8b08707234ec187a0a7e54b28beb4/index.xml



WriteOn Joliet publishes first anthology
Writers don't have to look far for resources

WriteOn Joliet recently published its first anthology: "Write Where We Are" and will host a launch part on Nov. 17 at The Book Market in Crest Hill.

The anthology contains poems, short stories, essays, a novella and a novel excerpt by these local writers: Mauverneen (Maureen) Blevins, Holly Coop, Emily Duncan, Diana Estell, Joshua Henderson, Tom Hernandez, Beth Higgins, Sharon M.E. Houk, R. Michael Markley, Sue Mydliak, Colleen H Robbins, Jennifer Russ, Stephen T. Saporta and Duanne Walton, as well as Tom and me.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Community News: Nov. 9, 2017

Check out upcoming general events in the Joliet area, as well as the awesome things people are doing.


Plainfield church held Fatima rosary rally


Bess the Book Bus visits Lemont school


Shorewood’s Trinity Christian honors pastors


Plainfield's District 202 state academic achievement up, fiscal keys solid


How to help a caregiver


The Lincoln-Way Area Chorale to host holiday concert Nov. 19




BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Grandma, Can I Have a Blessing?


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Grandma, Can I Have a Blessing?

That question (minus "the grandma") is a common refrain in our household at bedtime, and one that has been resounding since my oldest child--almost thirty-one and standing nearly six-ten--was eighteen months old and wearing one-piece, zippered sleeper pyjamas with plastic feet.

That's when I was reading a series of child rearing books by 1950's Catholic mother of seven Mary Reed Newland, the best source of mothering wisdom I've ever encountered. In one of her books, Newland briefly mentioned how, after witnessing another family use the custom, she and her husband began giving her children "blessings:" at bedtime, before special events, etc.

The concept appealed to me, so I began adding this blessing prayer with the goodnight kiss: Christopher David, may the blessing of the Lord be upon you always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. While doing so, I traced a little cross on his forehead. Christopher, although non-verbal at the time, was soon babbling back to me and tracing marks on my forehead with his tiny index finger.

As Christopher's siblings arrived, bedtime blessings lengthened and included Sarah Catherine, Joshua Paul, Timothy Michael, Rebekah Anne, and Daniel John. Most of the adult children living in my household still request blessings at bedtime, and I still receive them in return. If our schedules cross, we text them to each other.

As my children began having children, some of most of them continued the tradition, too, which was soooooo cool for me to experience. And of course, when I see my grandchildren, the goodbyes always include a blessing.

Friday evening, as I was walking out the door for the night, my five-year-old grandson stopped me with a, "Grandma, can I have a blessing?" After I happily bestowed that upon him, I asked him for one in return. I bent low; Ronnie placed his little hand on my forehead and recited the sweetest prayer. Then he gave me a quick hug and dashed away to find Uncle Daniel.

It's such a simple practice, and yet...think of the many, many decades of prayers we have raised heavenward on each other's behalf. The custom has created more than a family legacy, but a treasure whose value we'll realize only in eternity.

Mary Reed Newland, I owe you.