Saturday, January 31

Morning Message...

I read about Sallie's Morning Message to her daughter each morning and decided to give it a try. I have been doing it on and off for the past week. It is a fun way to make sure we have something exciting to look forward to each day. The added bonus is that it is helping to create a print-rich environment for the wee ones! Forgive my handwriting and drawing... this was done at 11:30 pm as I was heading off to bed.

Friday, January 30

Phenominal Movie...

I rented this for a recent Mom's Night Out that I hosted (I also rented 27 Dresses and Made of Honor) but we just gabbed instead of watching anything. Fr John suggested watching it during his lunch break and while the kidlets napped today. I am so glad that we did! He was very skeptical of it, but thought it was so good that he's planning on using it for February's movie night at the church!

I plan on getting the book... has anyone read it?

Baby Boom...

We happened upon Lucy at the health food store yesterday. She is a very reasonably priced doll (even cheaper at our store!) and was the perfect bribe to tear our daughter away from Henry so that he could be returned to Little Man. I love that Lucy's clothing has snaps and comes off completely... Perfect for learning! She is already well loved and a good transition doll for our little one.

Thursday, January 29

Dry Run for Our Feast Day Shelf...

I gathered all of the things I thought I would need to transform our shelf from the Wintery scene to a Meeting of the Lord one. I decided to try it out this afternoon while the children were playing (somewhat happily). We have the book on the feast (which the children will receive the day of), our wool nativity figures (yes, we found them!!), new candles to be blessed at church and used during the feast, and a few other little bits. I woluld really like to have some fresh flowers or a plant as well... we'll see how it goes. I'll be setting this up for real either before or after Vespers on Sunday night.

Tuesday, January 27

Oh, so clothes are *supposed* to fit.....

Tired of trying to find clothes that fit my long arms and torso and getting sick of having my wrists peeking out from every shirt I own and my lower back being bared every time I knelt or reached down, I bought several turtlenecks from Gap's tall section.

I am never going to buy regular length clothes again!

It is so wonderful to wear things that fit! I feel so much better when I get dressed! It is such a great feeling and I don't know why I didn't do it sooner! If your clothes don't fit properly, find some that do or tailor the ones that you already own so that they work. Come back and thank me later! I'll just be sitting here admiring my long, long sleeves...

Monday, January 26

Meet Henry...

Henry is our son's first doll. He was lovingly made by my friend, Penny, who has sewed things for us in the past. We love him! Unfortunately for the new Papa, little Auntie loves him an awful lot and has tossed Baby and Lulu aside in favor of hugging Henry to sleep. We'll see if the novelty wears off and our boy gets Henry back. Little Man looks so sweet carrying him around! Thank you Penny!! Check out her etsy store for more goodies!

Sunday, January 25

January 25th

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Borrow a rug cleaning machine and go to town on our downstairs carpet!
2. Prepare to host Mom's Night Out on Thursday evening
Use lotion after every shower and dish washing session
Download some new things to listen to... especially some of the children's stories on Ancient Faith Radio
Buy a nice beeswax pillar candle to get blessed in church on the feast of The Presentaion in the Temple.

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post in the comments section. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

Wednesday, January 21

The Most Important Things...

With our son officially reaching toddler-hood and trying to wreak havoc on anything and everything in his path, his painful teething, and a little girl who is quickly entering the pre-school stage and needing more undivided attention, things have been a little off-kilter here. I have been finding myself running from one thing to the next, cleaning the same things several times a day (I've all but given up on my kitchen floor ever being truly clean again!) and wishing that there were more hours in the day (and night). It sometimes feels like I'm not actually getting anything done!

I finally sat down last week and put together a list of the things that are really important to my husband, to me, and to our children on a daily basis. I listed five things for each category (children, homemaking, and femininity) that I would like to get done each day and so far it seems to be helping our household. Things are a little more organized and I find that I'm getting the things that are important to us done each day!

1. Faith Formation - Daily prayers, Bible Reading, and the Celebration of Feastdays
2. Quiet Creativity - Craft projects and playing creative games that encourage imagination (the train set, doll house/farm set, play kitchen, dress up, etc.)
3. Reading Aloud
4. Fresh Air
5. At Least One Montessori Activity for Our Daughter

1. Laundry - I have no problem washing and drying clothes... It's the folding and putting away that gets me every time!
2. Kitchen and Cooking - Having good meals no matter what the day and keeping the kitchen relatively tidy is important to all of us
3. Garbage and Recycling - It is a pet peeve of mine to have garbage sit and recycling litlering the kitchen countertop. I try to take care of this once a day (usually at night)
4. Laying Out Our Clothes - If I do this at night, it is a lot easier in the morning!
5. Papa's Law - A few weeks ago, my husband laid down the law... clean up as you go! Tidying up each morning, afternoon, and evening was becoming a nightmare. The house never looked picked up and it was totally overwhelming to come downstairs at night for a little relaxing time and see a disaster area! Teaching our little ones to pick up as they go and following the rule ourselves has made a huge difference! We're far from perfect at Papa's Law, but we're doing much better!

1. Dress Carefully
2. Daily Tea Time
3. Time to Read - even if it is just a page or two!
4. Soft Music
5. Quiet Creativity - right now, this means working on my knitting

Monday, January 19

An Impromptu Snow Day...

The view from Fr John's office this morning

Our front yard

Cotton ball snowman




Brunch by Papa - Egg, cheese and bacon on a croissant

Exploring the snow

Coloring on the windows

Window crayons

Hot cocoa

Sunday, January 18

Biscuits for Breakfast, Lunch and Even Dinner...

I made these biscuits as an after-thought to accompany Beef Stew for Thursday's Dinner... Delish!

Best Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Yields: 12 biscuits, if you’re careful about apportioning out the dough
Time to make: ~25 minutes

You need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 stick + 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I use 1 T. of white vinegar per cup of milk to make my own)
  • parchment paper
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Melt the 1 stick butter and let cool about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter and the buttermilk, and stir until clumps form.
  5. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients until just incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Using a ¼ cup dry measure, scoop out and drop 12 balls of dough onto the baking sheet (this is easier if you spray the measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray).
  8. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 14 minutes.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack.
  10. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter and brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter before serving.

Notes: This recipe is from the November-December 2007 issue of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine via Simply Cooking.

Sanctity of Life Sunday...

January 18, 2009

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America

Dearly Beloved in Christ:

The Lord Jesus Christ emerged from the waters of Baptism, and heard the Word of the Father: "You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Lord's word to each and every human being, to each and every being which bears the image and can actualize the likeness of God, is the same: You are my beloved. It is the very Word of God who, by His incarnation and assumption of our whole life and our whole condition, affirms and blesses the ultimate value of every human person--and indeed of creation as a whole. He filled it with His own being, uniting us to Himself, making us His own Body, transfiguring and deifying our lives, and raising us up to God our Father. He affirms and fulfills us, not simply as individuals seeking happiness, but rather as persons with an infinite capacity to love and be loved, and thus fulfills us through His own divine personhood in communion.

Our life as human beings is not given to us to live autonomously and independently. This, however, is the great temptation: to deny our personhood, by the depersonalization of those around us, seeing them only as objects that are useful and give us pleasure, or are obstacles to be removed or overcome. This is the essence of our fallenness, our brokenness. With this comes the denial of God, and loss of spiritual consciousness. It has resulted in profound alienation and loneliness, a society plummeting into the abyss of nihilism and despair. There can be no sanctity of life when nothing is sacred, nothing is holy. Nor can there be any respect for persons in a society that accepts only autonomous individualism: there can be no love, only selfish gratification. This, of course, is delusion. We are mutually interdependent.

First as Christians, but even more so, as human beings, we must repent and turn to God and one another, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. Only this will heal the soul. Only by confronting our bitterness and resentment, and finding forgiveness for those who have hurt us, can we be free from the rage that binds us in despair. Repentance is not about beating ourselves up for our errors and feeling guilty; that is a sin in and of itself! Guilt keeps us entombed in self-pity. All sin is some form of self-centeredness, selfishness. Repentance is the transformation of our minds and hearts as we turn away from our sin, and turn to God, and to one another. Repentance means to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean to justify someone's sin against us. When we resent and hold a grudge, we objectify the person who hurt us according to their action, and erect a barrier between us and them. And, we continue to beat ourselves up with their sin. To forgive means to overcome that barrier, and see that there is a person who, just like us, is hurt and broken, and to overlook the sin and embrace him or her in love. When we live in a state of repentance and reconciliation, we live in a communion of love, and overcome all the barriers that prevented us from fulfilling our own personhood.

All the sins against humanity, abortion, euthanasia, war, violence, and victimization of all kinds, are the results of depersonalization. Whether it is "the unwanted pregnancy", or worse, "the fetus" rather than "my son" or "my daughter;" whether it is "the enemy" rather than Joe or Harry (maybe Ahmed or Mohammed), the same depersonalization allows us to fulfill our own selfishness against the obstacle to my will. How many of our elderly, our parents and grandparents, live forgotten in isolation and loneliness? How many Afghan, Iraqi, Palestinian and American youths will we sacrifice to agonizing injuries and deaths for the sake of our political will? They are called "soldiers," or "enemy combatants" or "civilian casualties" or any variety of other euphemisms to deny their personhood. But ask their parents or children! Pro-war is NOT pro-life! God weeps for our callousness.

We have to extend a hand to those suffering from their sins, what ever they are. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven, save the one we refuse to accept forgiveness for. Abortion not only destroys the life of the infant; it rips the soul out of the mother (and the father!). It becomes a sin for which a woman torments herself for years, sinking deeper into despair and self-condemnation and self-hatred. But there is forgiveness, if only she will ask. We must seek out and embrace the veterans who have seen such horrors, and committed them. They need to be able to repent and accept forgiveness, so that their souls, their memories, and their lives, might be healed.

Most of all, we must restore the family: not just the nuclear family, but the multi-generational family which lives together, supports one another, and teaches each one what it means to be loved and to be a person. It teaches what forgiveness and reconciliation are. And it embraces and consoles the prodigals who have fallen. In this, the real sanctity of life is revealed, from pregnancy to old age. And in the multi-generational family each person finds value. This is the most important thing that we can possibly do.

The Blessed Mother Teresa said that the greatest poverty of the industrialized world is loneliness. Let us reach out to those isolated, alienated, alone, and in despair, finding in them someone most worthy of love; and in turn, we will find in ourselves that same love and value, and know indeed that God speaks to us in the depths of our souls, You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased.

With love in Christ,

Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Tuesday, January 13

A Home of Peace, Rest, and Beauty...

"I have deliberately avoided writing too much about what is currently happening in Israel. This is not because I live in a bubble, but because I'm determined to keep our home a place of peace, rest, and beauty. I'm doing this for the sake of my husband, and for our sweet child who is about to enter this world any day now. I have awareness, but I refuse to become unsettled.

This is why I continue to happily spend my days making beds, doing dishes, folding laundry, cooking, baking and cleaning; I read, do crafts, take walks and watch our garden grow. I sit for long stretches of time with my hand on my belly, feeling the movements of the dear treasure within.

If there is ever a collective draft of all adult men here, I want my husband to be able to go away knowing he is leaving a calm, responsible wife and mother behind, someone who will be a source of support and comfort to any children we might have. Drawing my consciousness within, I surrender to God and give my all to my precious family."

Read Mrs. Anna T.'s full article here... She is an inspiration to those of us who live in places that are so much safer and much more peaceful than Israel.

Sunday, January 11

Moving to Greener Pastures?

This past week has been a whirlwind of interesting happenings. Our church has the opportunity to buy a mansion (with seven bedrooms, 7 full bathrooms and 2 half baths) on 18 acres of property (that includes a private road and five ponds) for 500,000 dollars (a foreclosure). To give you some perspective, houses similar to the one we rent a few miles away from the mansion sell for about 300,000 dollars.

If our church bought this property, the church/fellowship hall/kitchen/offices etc. would probably be located on the ground floor while our family would occupy the upstairs (some renovation would have to be undertaken to transform it into an apartment with a kitchen, living room etc.).

These are exciting times for our Mission! Please keep us in your prayers!! It would be nice to have a new series or two to post on this blog: From Mansion to Church and From Bedrooms to Apartment!

Saturday, January 10

Save Handmade...

Go HERE to find out what you can do to help!

Thursday, January 8

Living and Learning for January...

Living and Learning for January

The Twelve Days of Christmas
St. Basil’s Day
Sanctity of Life Sunday
The New Martyrs of Russia

The March for Life – Washington D.C.

Take down Christmas d├ęcor
Re-arrange rooms a bit
Keep to homemaking budget
Clean car
Declutter and organize closet under the stairs
House blessing
Shampoo downstairs carpet
Christmas photo album
Baby book photos for daughter
Buy and fill out calendar
Thank you notes

Host a playdate or Mom's Night Out
Improve prayer life
Potty learning

Weekly baking day
Daily reading time after nap
Daily tea time
Weekly library trips
Frequent winter walks

The Sign of the Cross
Setting the table and helping with the dishes
Winter felt board
Paper snowflakes for windows
Make marshmallows
Winter nature table scene and seasonal book basket
Collect pinecones
Full wolf moon (January 10th)
Owl hide and seek
Feed birds

Special Days
+Grandma Joyce (7th)
Poppy Chick (9th)
Grandfather James(11th)
Auntie Juliana (15th)
AA Milne’s birthday (18th)
Popcorn Day (19th)

**I created this list after being continually inspired by Dawn and her wonderful ideas for homemaking and homeschooling. Her Themes and Plans lists and her Learning and Living list were the jumping off point for mine. I am hoping to create some seasonal binders similar to hers in the coming weeks as well.**

Tuesday, January 6

Creating a Child Friendly Environment: Child-Sized Coat Nook

One of the children's gifts for Christmas this year was a child-sized coat rack. We set it up in our garage on a little rug and added a shoe rack I found at Target. We also added some baskets for hats, mittens, and scarves and a step stool for reaching the pegs on the coat rack and to sit on when putting on shoes. It has worked out surprisingly well!

Our two-year-old really likes to put her things on when we go out and put everything away when we come back in. In fact, I was tidying things up this afternoon and tossed a little sneaker that was in the kitchen into the garage. Later when she saw it, she immediately picked it up and placed it in its spot!

I'd really like to hang a picture of a child playing outside on the wall above the shoes... maybe something by Shirley Hughes.

Monday, January 5

The Twelfth Day of Christmas...

Though today turned into an errand day, we still had time to take the "camera" out on our walk. Our daughter took photos of the water, ducks, geese, and bulldozers that are parked in the field in front of our home. Each time a picture was taken, our little one would remove the imaginary photo from the bottom for me to put into my pocket... I don't think that she has ever seen a Polaroid camera in action, so I have no idea where that came from!

Since today was the final day of Christmas, we gave the children a copy of Flower Fairies of the Winter. We haven't had a chance to read any of the poems inside, but we will try to tomorrow! I am planning to keep my eye out for some of the flowers and plants mentioned in the book... it would be nice to show them to the children in person!

I hope that you all had a joyous and blessed Christmas season! Thank you for being patient as I went through our Twelve Days of Christmas!

The Eleventh Day of Christmas...

We set up our little winter nature scene today. We used a vase of branches cut from our Christmas tree, wooden figures and a picture book about winter. It's simple, but our oldest is just now getting interested in things like this.

Since we have a multitude of thank you notes to write for Christmas gifts, we recycled some of our daughter's paintings. I found a package of 50 cards and envelopes at Michael's (never forget the 50% off coupon... I think the whole pack cost $3.50!) and I rubber cemented rectangles of her artwork. It is an inexpensive and quick project but it will mean a lot to the people that we are thanking!

Saturday, January 3

The Tenth Day of Christmas...

The children received a picture book, Winter by Gerda Muller today. They did a pretty good job of looking at the pictures together, though our daughter was rather possessive of the book when her brother dared to touch it.

In other news, I've begun knitting! I was given a dvd and huge ball of yarn from a friend for Christmas and I tried it out last night for the first time. Though I had my doubts that one could learn to knit from a dvd, I have! Yay!

Edited to Add: I was given The Yarn Ball set. I could only find it on ebay, but I think that it is a worthwhile purchase...

Friday, January 2

The Ninth Day of Christmas...

We had a little dusting of snow today!! I love snow but because we are so close to the ocean, we rarely get it. It didn't stick around long, but it was beautiful while it lasted!

We also painted some wooden stars this evening that I found on super-duper sale at Michaels. Our girl did a great job painting them!

Three and One Half Years...

So it seems that household tools have a lifespan of about three and a half years. So far, we've lost a dustbuster, teflon frying pans (just replaced those with cast iron!) and a toaster (the broiler has been working well instead). Several other things are on their last legs: towels, sheet set (yes we only have one for our bed), spring/summer blanket, pots and pans (!), and all three of our telephones.

Our vacuum cleaner was among the recently departed, but Fr. John thought that maybe a change in filter would solve the problem. We called customer service (who we've dealt with before for the same vac) to order one since our hardware store/big box store searches were fruitless. The Bissel representative told us to cut off the power cord and mail it in. In a few weeks they'd send us a new one. Um, okay.

It came a few days ago! It actually works and the suction is wonderful (I really think that our original was a dud from the moment we recieved it for our wedding!). It was so worth the two weeks of beyond nasty carpeting!

Thursday, January 1

The Eighth Day of Christmas...

Today was a nice day! We visited with my family over homemade waffles until they left for home about mid-morning.

After naps and lunch, we played with our child-sized Christmas tree a bit (we got the idea from Starry Sky Ranch!)

and made Jingle Bell bracelets for our musical instrument basket to help "ring" in the New Year!

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