Thursday, June 30

Beauty on the Porch...

Busy Days...

Not much is happening here and yet, too much is! We took a trip to New York and New Jersey this past weekend, enjoyed the services of Saints Peter and Paul on Tuesday and Wednesday, spent a few hours at the beach, had a dentist appointment, and took the children out to see their first movie in the theater. Next up is Father John's 5th anniversary to the priesthood, my mother's birthday and a tag sale at the church, the entrance of a family of four into the Church on Sunday, the Fourth of July, and Sugar Plum's Namesday on the 5th! I am tired just thinking about it all...

What is happening in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, June 29

Learning Basket: Independance Day...

The Fourth of July Story
George Washington
The Story of America's Birthday
McDuff Saves the Day
The Very Lonely Firefly
(See Also The American Flag Learning Basket)


Go to see Fireworks
Host a Picnic or BBQ
Wear Red, White, and Blue
Listen to Patriotic Songs (We Like Wee Sing America!)
Light Sparklers (with Adult Supervision!)

Tuesday, June 28

Festal Learning Basket: Saints Peter and Paul...

Commemorated June 29th

Christina's Favorite Saints - St. Peter and St. Paul, page 16 and 17

Wear your best to liturgy today
Display an icon of Saints Peter and Paul. If you don't have one, print a coloring page and color it in!
Sing the troparion of the feast before meals
Serve special foods for lunch and dinner
Add a vase of flowers to your icon corner
Make little boats to float
Take a boat ride


O Leaders of the Apostles and teachers of the universe,
Entreat the Master of All,
Grant peace to the world and to our souls, great mercy.

Monday, June 27

Learning Basket: Boats...

"Driving" a Friend's Boat Last Summer

Curious George Rides a Bike
My Blue Boat
Little Toot
Boat Book

Go for a Boat Ride
Make a Newspaper Boat
Float Sticks in Puddles (or a larger body of water!)
Play with Boats in the Bathtub
Sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat (sing in rounds with older children)

Saturday, June 25

Re-Affirming the Sancity of Marriage...

Archpastoral Letter of His Grace, Bishop Michael

June 24, 2011 Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Beloved Fathers and Mothers, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

Christ is in our midst! – He is and ever shall be!

On this very day, we have witnessed the successful efforts of public officials in the State of New York to legally re-define the meaning of marriage to include unions between two persons of the same gender. It is important for us, as Christians of the Orthodox Church, preserving the Tradition of teaching the truth handed down by the Lord Himself, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3), to re-affirm the meaning of marriage given to us in His Sacred Scripture.

In the document, Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life, written and adopted by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America in 1992, we read (in part) the following summary of the teaching of our Faith on this matter:

1) God wills that men and women marry, becoming husbands and wives. He commands them to increase and multiply in the procreation of children, being joined into “one flesh” by His divine grace and love. He wills that human beings live within families (Genesis 1:27; 2:21-24; Orthodox Marriage Service).

2) The Lord went even further to declare that people who look at others to lust after them in their hearts have “committed adultery” (cf. Matthew 5:27-30).

3) Christ’s apostles repeat the teachings of their Master, likening the unique marriage between one man and one woman to the union between Christ and His Church which they experience as the Lord’s very body and His bride (Ephesians 5:21-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2).

4) Marriage and family life are to be defended and protected against every open and subtle attack and ridicule.

5) Sexual intercourse is to be protected as a sacred expression of love within the community of heterosexual monogamous marriage in which alone it can be that for which God has given it to human beings for their sanctification.

As children of God, we are called to conform our sexual behavior to the commandments of Christ. As Christians, whether single or married, we are called to a life of chastity, pleasing to the Lord. This means struggling against those passions that incline us to “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) – fornication, homosexual activity, or adultery. One person may have to overcome his or her inclination toward partners of the opposite sex outside of the blessed union of marriage; another person may have to overcome his or her inclination toward others of the same sex. We are all called to live our lives according to the will of God and thereby partake of the way of salvation.

No matter what the prevailing pressure of the culture or the legislation of the state may proclaim, the timeless teaching of the Church echoes the rule of marriage revealed to us by the Lord, written in the Scripture, and re-affirmed by the wisdom and examples of the Saints. Gay marriage or any other unblessed sexual activity is not the love that the Lord extols. Because “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), no matter what the government or society may say, like St. Peter and the Apostles, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). We need not be afraid to stand in opposition to prevailing trends, as the earliest followers of Our Lord stood bravely and boldly, upholding the ideal of Christian marriage in the non-Christian empire of their time.

Having said this, we must never forget the Lord’s greatest commandment of love, which includes, after loving God above all else, the imperative, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). This means we must never condemn anyone, but reach out to everyone with the living, healing, saving love of God in Christ Jesus. It means to walk in truth toward all, to do what is right for all, and to affirm what is good and holy on behalf of all.

Let us bear witness to the truth taught by Our Lord, and lived by His Saints, in our daily conversations with our families, our fellow Christians, our neighbors and co-workers. Let us teach the Orthodox Christian vision of marriage, as a path to salvation shared by husband and wife, to our children, godchildren, and all those who come under our care as parents, godparents, pastors, and Christian educators.

Let us join in prayer that the people of faith across the states of New York and New Jersey will continue to stand fast in the divinely revealed truth of what marriage means. And let us by our example witness to the life of chastity to which every human person, made in the image and likeness of God, is called.

With my humble prayers and love in Christ, I remain
Devotedly yours in His service,

+ M I C H A E L Bishop of New York and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey


Though we are not in Bishop MICHAEL's diocese, we were visiting New York City when officials were successful in legally re-defining the meaning of marriage to include unions between two persons of the same gender. I was so happy that Bishop MICHAEL quickly released a statement Re-Affirming the Sanctity of Marriage... especially since a similar law was just passed in our own state and no such statement was made by the Orthodox Church in America at that time.

Friday, June 24

Feminine Friday: Spreading Good Cheer...

I think that there is always someone (often someones!) in our lives that need a bit of love or a little visit. Personally, I often get caught up in my day to day life and think: "They don't want to see me " or "I can't possibly fit anything more in today" or "We'll just disrupt them." What I forget is that it often doesn't take more than jotting a note or wrapping a ribbon around a box of raspberries or visiting for fifteen minutes to make someone feel loved and special. It is the small things that count. Find someone to cheer up today.

Thursday, June 23

Summery Fashion Inspiration...

Chic Sunglasses

A Scarf to Ward off the Chill

A Variety of Tees

Summery Handbag

French Market Basket for Shopping, Beach Trips, and the Pool

Light Cotton Skirts

Flowery Sandals

Wednesday, June 22

Good Things...

Five Good Things About Today:

:: A Sunflower Stall on the Side of the Road - 3 for a Dollar!

:: Freshly Trimmed Bangs

:: Fajitas for Lunch

:: Mrs. Pig Gets Cross and Other Stories in the Library Bag

:: A Shoelace Strung with Wooden Spools Entertaining a Teething Babeshki

What are some good things in your life?

Tuesday, June 21

The Good and Faithful Priest, Parishioner and Parish...

Recently, Father John came across several podcasts by Father Alexander Atty and recommended that our parishioners spend some time listening to them. I think that you will enjoy them too!


Monday, June 20

Learning Basket: Summer...

Catching (and Releasing!) Baby Crabs Last Summer

Mama, is it Summer Yet?
Summertime in the Big Woods
Summer Story
Flower Fairies of the Summer
Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic

Play in Water (use the hose if all else fails!)
Enjoy Summer Fruits and Vegetables
Visit the Farmer's Market
Visit the Beach or Pool
Pack a Picnic or Dine in your Backyard
Take a Walk to Hunt for Treasures for Your Nature Table

Sunday, June 19

Papa's Day in a Seaside Town...

Happy Father's Day!

Papa and Sugar Plum Catching (and Releasing!) Baby Crabs

To all of the fathers we love!

Learning Basket:: American Flag...

The Flag We Love
Our Flag
Stars and Stripes:The Story of the American Flag
F is for Flag
I Pledge Allegiance

Make a Flag Cake
Hang a Flag Outside Your Home
Review Flag Etiquette
Sing Patriotic Songs (we like Wee Sing America!)
Learn the Pledge of Allegiance
Dress in Red, White, and Blue or Wear a Flag Tee Shirt

Saturday, June 18

Evening Ocean...

We took an impromptu trip to the beach last night... the waves were rougher than usual, but the children has a good time building channels, pits, and dunes to block the waves from our towels. Since it was such a balmy evening, we ended the evening with ice cream and watched lightening through the car windows all the way home.

Friday, June 17

Feminine Friday: Decorate for Summer...

With the Summer Solstice just a few days away on June 21st, it is time to start freshening up your decor to reflect the warmer months of the year. Though I love to shop, it is always fun to see what you can come up with from what you already own. An easy way to get started is by looking through your favorite magazines and catalogs for inspiration. My favorites include: Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, Cottage Living (the British Edition), Victoria,, and Martha Stewart Living.

The next thing to do is to put away the decorations that don't evoke summery feeling to you. I've put our heavy throw blankets away and taken down a lot of my spring-y things (bunnies, bird's nests, eggs, etc.). On a side note, since I like decorating for the seasons so much, I have several large bins in the basement to keep my decorations organized, safe, and clean for the next time I need them.

Once you have a clean palette, consider these classic summer ideas for decorating your home:

  • Seashells
  • Wicker
  • Lanterns
  • Strings of fun twinkle lights
  • All things patriotic
  • Fresh flowers
  • Baskets for storage AND decoration
  • Butterflies and Fireflies
  • Candles
  • Books open to summery illustrations
  • Fresh herbs in pots on the windowsill
  • Geraniums
  • Seasonal fruits and vegetables in a bowl
  • Jars or baskets with favorite games like dominoes or Bananagram letters
  • A favorite straw hat or bag hanging on a peg
  • Jars of rocks collected on a nature walk
What are your favorite ideas for summer decorating?

A New Great Grandson!

My cousin, Phoebe, and her husband Andrew welcomed a little baby boy into their family this afternoon! Phoebe had to have a c-section, so please keep her in your prayers! The baby is perfectly healthy and the new dad says that everyone is doing well! We are so excited for them!

Monday, June 13

On the Farm...

Hello, Billy Goat!


Sweet Black Raspberries

Oink, Oink!

We spent the afternoon at a local organic farm in our area. One of our parishioners works there in the summer and he was excited to take our children on a tour! We loved seeing the crops and animals... it was especially exciting to take a walk into the woods to see the pigs! Before we headed home, we bought a sack of black raspberries, flat leaf and basil seedlings, and some porkchops (hurray for a fast free week!). The children shared a snack of the creamiest chocolate milk and homemade strawberry yogurt... it was the quietest ride in the car we have had in a long time!

Sunday, June 12

Six Years...

Happy Anniversary, Father John! I love you!

Saturday, June 11

Festal Learning Basket: Pentecost...

The Feast of Pentecost
Pentecost (The Children's Bible Reader, Pages 268 - 269)

Wear outfits in shades of green to liturgy
Bring flowers and greenery to church to hold during Kneeling Vespers.
Decorate family icon corners with greenery.
Sing the Troparion of the Feast for the prayer before meals.
Display the Pentecost Icon on your feastday shelf. If you don't have one, print a coloring page and color it in!
Serve green foods for lunch and dinner. I am thinking about Chicken Caesar Salad for lunch and Homemade Pizza with Alfredo Sauce, Broccoli, and Sausage for dinner.
Make a cake or cupcakes for dessert with strawberries and candles

Friday, June 10

Feminine Friday: Sunglasses...

One of my favorite summertime (or anytime) accessories are sunglasses. Normally, I believe in quality over quantity, but with three young children sunglasses don't survive very long in our house. My favorite pair is from Walgreens and was under $10. I have also gotten nice ones from Marshalls and big box stores like Target. I have heard that you can get fabulous sunglasses at thrift stores, goodwill, and garage sales, too!

I keep my sunglasses right in the cup holder of our car so that I can grab them the minute that I need them. I feel a little more sophisticated and a little more pulled together when I put them on... which si a great feature for a relatively cheap accessory in your wardrobe!

Thursday, June 9

Queen Anne's Lace and Seashells...

It feels as if summer has already arrived... the days are truly hot here (upper nineties 101!), Queen Anne's Lace is blooming along the roads, and sandy seashells are finding their way into little pockets. My children are quite used to mama putting on the hazard lights and hopping out of the car to gather flowers on our forays around town. I am happy that I found lots of Queen Anne's Lace because our anniversary is on Sunday and I like to have our wedding flowers (Blue Delphinium and Queen Anne's Lace) in a vase on the table. What a blessing that it falls on Pentecost this year!

Wednesday, June 8

Summer Lunch...

.:Peanut Butter and Jam with Strawberry Hearts:.

Here are some of our favorite no-fuss summer lunches:

Fresh Fruit and Yogurt
Spinach Dip with Chunks of Crusty Bread for Dipping
Caesar Salad
Simple Sandwiches
Veggie Platter with Fresh Dip
Cheese, Sausage, and Crackers
Chef Salad
Tuna Fish Salad on Bread or a Plate of Greens
Chicken Salad on Bread or a Plate of Greens
Hot Dogs and Macaroni and Cheese
Falafel in Pita Bread
Homemade Bread, Ham, and Cheese
Freshly Baked Muffins with Butter
Pasta Salad
Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwiches
Pesto, Peas, and Pasta
Taco Salad
Chili Cheese Dip and Corn Chips


What are your favorite summer lunch ideas?

Great Commercial...

Can you guess what is being advertised before the video finishes?

Tuesday, June 7


When we bought our house nearly two years ago, putting lattice up under the front porch and the screened-in porch were high on our list of things we wanted to do... however, there were other more pressing things that had to be done first. Yesterday, out of the blue, Father John suggested that we just do it already!

.:The Front Porch Before:.

.:The Screened-In Porch Before:.



.:After... But Before We Scrubbed Off the Moss Growing on the Siding:.

.:Ta Da! All Clean!:.

Monday, June 6


Happy birthday to our sweet little boy!

Sunday, June 5

A Peaceful Sunday...

We took some time to explore a State Park not too far from us this afternoon. It meant a later dinner and later bedtime, but it was so nice to walk along the beach, see interesting wildlife, and even climb an observation tower from World War II. Life seems to move more and more quickly as each day passes, so I treasure these moments with our family so much.
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