Saturday, August 31

The Importance of Spiritual Help for Young Children...

By Elder Paisios the Athonite

Parents have to help their children spiritually when they are little; because then, even their faults are little and they can easily be corrected. It's like a fresh potato; if you scratch it a little, it's peeled. If, however, it gets older and staler, you will need a sharp knife to clean it; and if it has some dark spots, you'll need to dig deeper. If the children are filled with Christ from an early age, they will always remain close to Him. And even if they should stray a little when they grow up, either because of a phase of rebellion they're going through or because of bad influences, they are sure to return to their senses. This is because the fear of God and the devotion that watered their hearts - when they were young - cannot ever be eradicated.

Friday, August 30


It is so quiet here!  The little ones have gone for their first sleepover tonight and will be gone most of the day tomorrow so that I can go on a little adventure with friends.  They seem to be doing well...  perhaps better than their parents!  Not having our children here seems so BIG. 

I think that the thing that I am most looking forward to tonight is sleep!  Button has always been a poor sleeper and I am still up with him most nights.  Sweet dreams, Friends!

Thursday, August 29

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist...

The memory of the righteous is celebrated with hymns of praise, 
 but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner. 
Thou wast shown in truth to be the most honorable of the prophets, 
 for thou wast deemed worthy to baptize in the streams of the Jordan Him whom they foretold. 
 Therefore, having suffered for the truth with joy, 
thou proclaimed to those in hell God who appeared in the flesh, 
who takes away the sin of the world, and grants us great mercy.


The Learning Basket for The Beheading of Saint John the Baptis can be found HERE.  

Wednesday, August 28

Learning Basket: Grapes...



  Dissect a grape with seeds and a seedless grape and compare.  Research how grapes are grown seedless
Enjoy eating lots of different types of grapes and graph everyone's favorites
See if there is a vineyard that you can tour (or even a neighbor with a grape arbor!)
Make oatmeal raisin cookies or Irish Soda Bread
Try this experiment with raisins:

Bouncing Raisins

6 raisins
    Glass tumbler
    Baking soda


    Pour a cup of water into the glass jar.
    Add one teaspoon of baking soda and stir until dissolved.
    Gently add one-fourth cup of vinegar and wait until it stops fizzing.
    Drop in three or four raisins.
    Watch and see what happens (it takes about 10 to 15 minutes).

Note: The gas, carbon dioxide, that forms when you add vinegar to the baking soda forms bubbles all over the raisins. The raisins start to rise as the bubbles of carbon dioxide carry the raisins upwards and they fall when the bubbles are released.

El Galeon...

We recently had the chance to tour a Tall Ship that docked nearby.  It is a Spanish vessel and very impressive!  The children  were very excited to climb aboard and it was neat to see how an ship like this is laid out.  Here is a video I found on the ship:

Yarn Along: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day...

Knitting:  Surprise!  I'm still working on my Shale Blanket.  I'm up to 20 inches and halfway through the yarn that I bought for this project.

Reading:  I picked up Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.  I read it a few years ago and am enjoying it more the second time around.

Tuesday, August 27

Homekeeping with Children...

I've been thinking up little things that I know that the little ones will enjoy working on in our home throughout the year.  They enjoy homekeeping tasks very much and I want to encourage that!  My goal is to be home more and limit our time out and about for most school days (though we are planning to have one day a week that involves being away from home for several hours for a class or two).  With that in mind, I've been working on a list of things that I know that the they will enjoy working on...  especially when it gets chilly and we want to be cozy in our warm house!

Kitchen Work
Peeling and chopping potatoes
Using the apple factory to prepare apples for a dessert
Washing dishes by hand
Oiling wooden spoons and the cutting board
Dipping candles for birthday cakes
Making butter
Baking bread
Baking muffins and other treats
Preparing a simple meal
Tidying up after meals
Using a nutcracker 
Making popcorn from scratch

Outdoor Work
Carrying and Stacking firewood that Papa chops
Raking leaves
Indoor plant care
Filling birdfeeders and birdbaths
Sweeping the porch
Washing the porch swing

Home Keeping Work
Making beds
Hanging wet laundry to dry
Folding and putting away clean laundry
Folding washcloths
Polishing wooden toys
Pencil Sharpening
General tidying of bedrooms and playroom

What other things would you add to this list?

Monday, August 26


These are such neat programmes!  I think that I first heard about Tales from the Green Valley from Kyrie and then I noticed a link to Wartime Farm on YouTube!   Here is the complete list of shows that they have completed so far:

I really like history and I am only a little ashamed to admit that I like reality television.  This is the best of both worlds!

Sunday, August 25


Miss Pettigrew began to tremble.  It was like a great light bursting with a radiance that spread and spread.  It was fear gone for ever.  It was peace at last.  A house to run almost her own.  How she had longed for that!  Marketing, ordering, like any other house wife...  Flowers to put in rooms exactly as she wanted them.  She could try her hand at cooking again.  To reach forty, and never, since she had left home as a girl, really to have cooked anything properly!  Loneliness banished.  Oh blessed, blessed thought!  It was unbelievable.  It was heaven come to earth.  It was rest.  It was rest at last."

Winifred Watson

Saturday, August 24

Slowing Down and Being Still

One of the characteristic trademarks of compulsive behavior is the rapidity with which the behavior is performed.  In the case of compulsive buying, a voracious urge to buy overwhelms the calmer, rational mind and overpowers the higher, wiser will.  In my last post on this subject, I mentioned the important role of mindfulness in counteracting the powerful desires that arise from past engagement in compulsive behavior.  Equally important in dealing with the compulsion is physically slowing down and mentally thinking about the consequences of one’s present actions. Saint Ireaneus of Lyons notes that the mind’s desires are naturally impeded by the body’s slowness (Against Heresies, Book 2, Chapter 33). By slowing down even further, by walking slowly and calmly with a measured step, we can give ourselves some time and some space to hear the compulsion’s demands, but also that still small voice suggesting another course of action. In trying to slow down, we recognize that the body doesn’t necessarily have to follow the mind’s lead and race ahead to purchase an item that is not needed.

Clement of Alexandria once wrote, “Women and men are to go to church decently attired, with a natural step, embracing silence, possessing unfeigned love, pure in body, pure in heart, fit to pray to God…. Those who are thus consecrated to Christ should also appear and frame themselves in their whole life as they fashion themselves in the church for the sake of gravity; and to be, not to seem such — so meek, so pious, so loving” (The Instructor, Book III, Chapter 11). In Church, our movements are to be calm, peaceful, modest, and with the fear of God, so that we might pray more easily, hear the word of God more clearly, and be united with Him more deeply. Clement of Alexandria suggests that this way of being in Church should be extended to our lives outside of Church, so that there too we can hear God, but also our neighbor who may need our compassion and our love. For the compulsive shopper who is a Christian, slowing down can also be a way of making oneself available to God and neighbor, so that one might worship God and love one’s neighbor as oneself in every time and every place.

The body can indeed play an important role in slowing down the racing, automatic thoughts that compel us to act like lemmings racing off the edge of a cliff. Once the body is slowed, we can ask ourselves important question such as “why am I doing this” and “how am I going to feel about myself if I make this purchase?” In chapter 5 of Ancient Christian Wisdom, “Saint Neilus the Ascetic suggests that the tempted individual make use of ‘the short period of time available for careful reflection, so that he can examine and discern what is harmful and what is beneficial as well as how sorrowful he will feel after engaging in illicit pleasure and how much satisfaction and joy he will have when good thoughts blossom forth.’  Likewise Saint John Climacus proposes that a person who has yielded to carnal pleasures reflect on his lost purity as a way of preventing further descent into the pit of sensuality.  In other words, when a similar situation arises, the good abbot of Sinai advises recalling a past fall in order to prevent its reoccurrence.” There is a general principle at work here that Saint John Chrysostom expresses in this way: “It is a great good to acknowledge our sins, and to bear them in mind continually. Nothing so effectually cures a fault as a continual remembrance of it. Nothing makes a man so slow to wickedness”  (Homily 31 on Epistle to the Hebrews).
Although at the moment of compulsion, it seems as though the urge will last for an eternity, the fact of the matter is that it will pass if the mind and body are slowed down.  The ascetic practices of silence and stillness are recommended in this regard, for if one has learned to find that place of stillness and quiet in the soul, one can return there in times of need.  In the same chapter of Ancient Christian Wisdom, I write, “The other setting in which the fathers engage in ‘thought about thought’ is solitary hesychastic prayer.  In particular, monks remain in their cells in order to concentrate and to make their inner vision clearer.  They also benefit from the serenity of the night that lends itself to vigilance.  With this restriction of audial and visual stimuli, the mind becomes calmer and more capable of self-examination.  An ascetic way of life is consequently more helpful for examining the thoughts.  Calm conditions are so important that Kallistos Tilikoudis writes, ‘repentance is not possible without stillness (hesychia).  The ancient ascetics often liken this hesychastic self-examination to the fisherman’s art.  ‘When the sea is calm, fishermen can scan its depths and therefore hardly any creature moving in the water escapes their notice.’  According to this evocative metaphor, a person separates himself so thoroughly from his thoughts that they become like fish swimming in the sea and he comes to resemble a fisherman looking into its depths.” The thoughts calling out to satisfy this compulsion can likewise be observed as fish in the sea, but need not be obeyed, much less caught by the careful fisherman.
Of course, these ascetical practices intended to calm the body and the mind must have as their ultimate goal union with Christ if they are to bear fruit of any lasting value.  In the final analysis, it is our willingness to cooperate (synergeia) with the Divine Physician in a process that defines our entire lives that will lead us not only to freedom from compulsion, but freedom to do the will of God, and instead of buying needless items that fill us with shame, purchasing the pearl of great price, the very Kingdom of Heaven, that will fill us with unspeakable joy.

Friday, August 23

Half an Hour Away...

Though it wasn't as wonderful as The Farmer's Museum, the children and I really enjoyed our little outing to this outdoor living museum.  There were only two artisans available yesterday (a woodcarver and a spinner), but we had the place to ourselves.  Just as we were getting ready to leave, the off-duty blacksmith (who was painting museum signs on his vacation!) took us on a garden tour complete with tasty snacks straight from the plant (concord grapes, tomatoes, kale, green beans, black-eyed peas, and figs!).  He also introduced us to two of his garden friends: a praying mantis and dragon fly!  It was a really lovely day and one that we hope to repeat soon!

Wednesday, August 21

Yarn Along...

I've slowed down a bit on the Shale blanket (I'm up to 13 inches), only working on about one repeat of four rows a day.  I'll start knitting furiously again soon!

I've read through the August issue of Country Living UK and the children and I are listening to a lot of Sparkle Stories (have you seen that they have a free podcast?!  Awesome!).  It's almost time to start reading through the Little House books again!

Tuesday, August 20

Hanging Around...

The heat has come back with a vengeance.  Actually, it isn't really that hot.  It's just that it was so blissfully autumn-like the past week or so that it felt extra steamy today.  The children and I took a trip to Target this morning for school supplies (and also a dental appointment) and that was fun.  We (I) spent some time this afternoon organizing the new things in the playroom and getting ready for school to start.  I'm not sure I like the changes I made, but I can tweak things as the weeks go by.

I've started a list of projects that need to be taken care of around the house with Father John's help.  Last autumn and winter we tackled one small thing a week and got a lot done.  With spring and summer came lots more work (it takes him about 20 - 25 hours a week to maintain the church property:  mowing, cutting down brush, watering, cleaning, dealing with wasp nests, taking care of the pool, etc.) and so there isn't much time to hang pictures and fix chairs.  Things are slowing down now and so we're making time for stuff like that (plus the fun family things we enjoy doing every so often!).  Today we moved his office bookshelves around and hung a few things on the wall.  The embroidered pillowcase was a gift from a parishioner who was downsizing to move into a nursing home.  I love it!
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