Wednesday, September 30

Accidental Gardening...

When we began the search for our new home in the winter months, I began planning to plant a small garden in the backyard. As house hunting stretched into the summer I still held on to the hope that I could plant pumpkin seeds and sprout them to plant in August and we'd have a mild autumn that would allow us to harvest them in late October or early November. It seemed as if gardening had eluded me for one more year when we moved into our home in the beginning of September.

We had a few little surprises though!

A few weeks ago, my sister was visiting and noticed something growing secretly behind the church! It was several tomato plants!

They are still going strong even though the farm stands have all but closed up.

We've been picking delicious grape tomatoes and larger ones that I am guessing are the "on the vine" ones we see at the market.

I think we have one or two more weeks of tomatoes left (depending on the weather).

My next gardening surprise came today when I was out in the front yard with the children. I found this sweet little plants growing in the over-grown flower bed next to the walk way:

Lambs Ears!! We got out our spades and rakes and began weeding. Don't laugh, but this is what the little bed looks like now:

I hope that the lamb's ears take over the spot.

It was so nice to find these little lamb's ears on the day before the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God - since the religious name for the plant is Our Lady's Fingers!

Autumn Color Week: Orange...

Tuesday, September 29

Autumn Color Week: Green...

Here's a picture I took last week while we were visiting one of the treehouses at Longwood Gardens. Join Autumn Color Week here.

Monday, September 28

Autumn Color Week: Yellow...

Learning Basket: Autumn...

A Tree for All Seasons
Apples for Everyone
Seed, Sprout Pumpkin, Pie
Eating Apples
Apple Farmer Annie
Flower Fairies of the Autumn (only one or two poems)
Why do Leaves Change Color? (above our little one's listening level, so I shorten the information in the book)
Circle of Seasons (Autumn pages only)
High Five October 2009
A Child's Calendar (only September pages)
Out and About (Only Autumn pages)
Leaf Man

Sonlight Preschool 3/4 Books
Guess Who Lives Here (Eloise Wilkin Stories)
Baby Listens (Eloise Wilkin Stories)
Baby Dear (Eloise Wilkin Stories)

Chapter Book
Here We All Are

Picture Study: Quiet Time with Cassatt
Music Study: Bach
Poetry Study: A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Loius Stevenson

(With such small children, simply looking at artwork and listening to the music and poetry is enough exposure... Read Once a Week for further explanation. )

We bought a few gourds to decorate the children's picnic table on the porch.

I pulled out the autumn felt board pieces I made last year so that we could make some scenes up, talk about the different things that we can do and see in autumn, and so that we could discuss the weather daily in a way that is easy for both children to understand.

We made apple prints and even tried layering the colors to see what new ones might appear.

The best activity was baking a delicious apple pie, though!

Sunday, September 27

Longwood Gardens 2009...

A canopy of flowers

Purple gardens

The estate peeking through the trees

A magnificent tree house

Italian Water Gardens

Peacock fountain in the Children's Garden

Miniature Hersey's train

Another train going over a bridge and tiny pond

Chugging along

Stick fort for children to play in and re-arrange

Larger stick fort with log furniture

Bumblebees made of flowers and suspended from the ceiling

Greenhouse Gardens

Children's Garden

For more pictures of our visit in October 2008, click here. We plan on making this a tradition!

Saturday, September 26

Newly Illumined...

We had an adult baptism before Vespers tonight! God Grant the Servant of God John Many Years!

House Tour: Playroom....

The First Warm Breakfast of the Season...

"Porridge" (also known as Cream of Wheat in other households) was the perfect breakfast to start our day with! My little ones have really enjoyed listening to me tell them the story of The Three Bears (stories out of my mouth as Sugar Plum calls storytelling) many, many times and we also recently read Goodnight Moon (for the millionth time) with our new knowledge of how Mama Bear makes porridge for Papa Bear and Baby Bear (with lots of milk, nuts, fruits, and honey). We had ours with milk, brown sugar, and bananas... very delicious!

Tuesday, September 22

Learning Basket: Tomie DePaola...

Tomie DePaola
Bible Stories
Tomie's Little Book of Love
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato
Strega Nona
The Popcorn Book
Pancakes for Breakfast
Watch Out for the Chicken Feet in Your Soup

Feast Days
The Exaltation of the Cross

Sonlight Preschool 3/4 Books
Goodnight Moon (Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics)
Baby Says (Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics)
Noah's Ark
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics)
George Shrinks (Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics)
From Head to Toe (Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics)
Make Way for Ducklings (Make Way for McCloskey: A Robert McCloskey Treasury)
Katy and the Big Snow (Mike Mulligan and More)
Busy Timmy (Eloise Wilkin Stories)

(We read a lot for Sonlight this past week to catch up from weeks past - three books from their list per week allows you to finish within a year.)

Picture Study: Quiet Time with Cassatt
Music Study: Bach
Poetry Study: A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Loius Stevenson

(With such small children, simply looking at artwork and listening to the music and poetry is enough exposure... Read Once a Week for further explanation. )

Monday, September 21

A Good Monday...

It has been weeks since we've had a normal day in our home. Even when things are more rhythmic here, Mondays are often days where either nothing gets done or too much is happening.

Today was a Monday where just the right amount happened. We had breakfast and our first real school time. We did the menu planning and grocery shopping for the week, had a nice lunch and took a nap. The rest of the day was spent watching Papa stain some bookshelves, making a pie, and taking care of some laundry. Our evening routine was normal except for the addition of a long walk to the tot lot in our neighborhood - perfect for wearing out some energetic little people I know!

How was your day?

Sunday, September 20

Brokenness: Hope and Optimism...

By: Fr George Morelli

Does any one need any more evidence that brokenness exists in the world? We see it everywhere: in business, government, education; even in churches, synagogues, and mosques. Brokenness also exists among individuals called to noble conduct: judges, lawmakers, law enforcement officials, medical practitioners, military leaders, religious personages, teachers and more. No level of society or occupation is exempt.

The Prophet Isaiah spoke in stark terms of the people who should have chosen God but decided to choose sin instead: “Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged” (Isaiah 1: 3-4). Jeremiah the Prophet said: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9)?

Hope is fostered in tribulation. We can transform suffering, build character and endurance by nourishing the Godly virtue of hope. St. Paul wrote: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (Romans 5: 1-4)

The Fathers of the Eastern Church knew that we cannot get through the periods of brokenness and darkness in our lives without God and hope in Him. St. Thalassios says: “Our Lord has given light to all men, but those who do not trust in Him bring darkness upon themselves” (Philokalia II). St. Maximus the Confessor wrote: “Hope is the intellect’s surest pledge of divine help and promises the destruction of hostile powers. Love makes it difficult or, rather, makes it utterly impossible for the intellect to estrange itself from the tender care of God; and when the intellect is under attack, love impels it to concentrate its whole natural power into longing for the divine” (Philokalia II).

Contemporary research psychologists have studied how individuals cope with tribulation have found that “Learned Optimism” (Seligman, 1990, 1995) is a major contributing factor. “Learned Optimism” can be viewed as applying the virtue of hope in our lives. It involves perceiving tribulation as temporary, and a challenge to find some meaning in it.

Another Eastern Church Father St. Peter of Damaskos said: “For God, as the creator of all things, knows our nature thoroughly and has ordered all things for our benefit... if someone wants to be saved no person and no time, place or occupation can prevent him” (Philokalia III). This means that there is no trial, or tribulation, no matter how insurmountable it may seem, which cannot be overcome with God’s help.

The brokenness we see in the world, often a source of despair, can be transformed into an opportunity to learn from the life-errors we and others have made which have brought about this corruption. Thus: Love of God and neighbor can motivate us to take the first steps in recognizing and changing, transforming, our own faults and brokenness.

Our victory over brokenness begins with ourselves in the voluntary struggle that must be waged daily. The words of Jesus set the theme of hopeful optimism: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Friday, September 18

House Tour: Master Bathroom...

Here is a room that really doesn't require any explanation. I will say that this is the third bathroom that we've installed decorative window film in. We really like this stuff! It is a beautiful way to ensure privacy in the bathroom (essential in development homes!!). We've used both magnolia and wisteria (my favorite one) and have had no trouble with them at all!

House Tour: Family Closet...

So, we've lived here two weeks and today was the day we finally got to fill and use our closet for the first time! Two days after we moved in, the little ones had a bath in the tub upstairs and there was a large leak that drained through the ceiling of our master bedroom closet! It was a huge mess and necessitated a plumber (who found out the problem was cause by a leaky pipe repaired with electrical tape!) and the service of a dry wall man. We are back in business now and I am so happy that our room looks tidy again!

This closet is actually our only closet downstairs, so it is home for quite a lot! We have our linens in here, storage, suitcases, coats, cassocks and other priest gear, dress-ups, games, and of course clothing!

These little hangers will soon hold children's clothing

Here is our side with my clothes, Fr John's shirts and priest clothing, and our coats (I'll get a better photo tomorrow)

I will probably move some of the toys upstairs to the loft (which has a small closet) when we create the reading nook up there. My favorite part of this closet is the dress-up corner though, so I think that will stay! Eventually, I'd like to add another shelf or two to the closet to make use of some of the wall space.

House Tour: Master Bedroom...

This house is the first one we've lived in with the master bedroom on the ground floor and the other bedrooms on the second. I can't say that I was thrilled with the idea of having the little ones upstairs while we sleep downstairs. We've lived here for two weeks and honestly, the kids have slept in our room the whole time (Little Man is still a co-sleeper and Sugar Plum is sleeping on the little mattress on the floor). We are planning on setting up their room this week and will have a baby monitor in our room so we know what is going on up there. Any tips from mamas who've done this before?

We still need curtains and I want to remove the venetian blinds from the door and window. The door leads to the screened in porch.

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