Saturday, November 30

Kindle a Fire...

If but ten among us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city." 

St. John Chrysostom

Monday, November 25

Copywork and Speech...

I found an article on copywork as I was clicking around this weekend and immediately set out to work it into our day.  I have halfheartedly had Sugar Plum do copywork the past couple of years, but I am hoping to be committed to it on a daily basis now.  We are using sheets of paper for this week's work, but once Thanksgiving is over, I will buy the notebooks that the author recommends (I believe that I saw them at Staples).  My plan is to continue doing our regular schoolwork in the morning and then later in the day (at about 2:30 or 3 when my little ones start to get peckish) have a nice snack, a little classical music, and then do some copywork.  It worked out really well today and gives them something to do for a little while

We had the boys tested for speech therapy last week and I picked up the speech therapist's reports today.  The situation for both kids is more serious than we even thought, so the next month or so will be spent working to get them into the public school's speech program.  I was encouraged by the women at the county that I spoke to, so hopefully we'll get them situated quickly.

We've been working and playing by the fire all day today!  It's chilly out there!


Sunday, November 24


Did Mama sing every day?" asked Caleb.  Every-single-day?"

Patricia Maclachlan

Saturday, November 23

A Meal of Unity - Christian Reflections on Thanksgiving Dinner...

By Fr. Mark Beshara, 

Families like to meet together for a meal. When the family is large and particularly close to one another, it usually develops this family meal into a kind of ritual. Most Americans find this most clearly expressed in the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, held every year. The time and place are important for Thanksgiving Dinner, so too is the menu which must be built around certain meats—usually a big turkey—and certain other traditional dishes, such as cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Other ritualistic elements are usually developed when a family meets over a number of years for this traditional meal: certain persons have certain functions, definite places to sit, preparation rites are evolved into a strict custom, certain routines become traditional after the meal is finished. And when the afternoon is finished, everyone goes away back to his own daily round of living strengthened once more in the sense of oneness with this family. This conviction of unity and mutual support will bolster each person often in times of frustration or loneliness which come into all our lives. No family should be without a traditional meal. All of us, even those who cannot have such a gathering at Thanksgiving, know that this is true. Some families find that many more than one family meal each year is needed. And these families usually enjoy a unity and strength among themselves that is envied by others.

The Christian Family—the Family of God—also need their Meal of Unity. This need was well understood by Jesus Christ, and He instituted the Christian meal for all His followers. He did it very simply: He took bread and said, “This is my body.” Then He broke it and gave it to His followers to eat. He took wine and said. “This is my blood.” Then He gave it to them to drink. Then He said. “Do this in memory of me.” As the Apostles ate, they realized that they were becoming one with each other by Christ Himself entering into all of them. It is on this strength that they lived and gave witness to Christ all over the world.  This meal and its effects  on the Christians who ate of it immediately fulfilled the prayer which Christ said to His Father on that same night: “That they may be one Father, in you and you in me. . . that they may be one in us.” From that day until now, Christians have always met together in the traditional Breaking of Bread.

Christians, too, over the years have evolved a thorough ritual as the setting for this traditional Meal of Unity. Orthodox Christians in particular have developed a preparation rite, the Eucharistic Prayer, the Epiclesis, which invokes the Holy Spirit to “descend upon us and these gifts here offered” and to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ so that the Orthodox Faithful may break this Bread of Life and receive it unto themselves for the “remission of sins and Life Everlasting.”
Christians who come together for this Eucharistic Meal should come carrying the gifts which they want to contribute. In early Christian days each one did literally carry gifts to the Altar, much like Aunt Jane brings a casserole or Uncle George brings a bottle of wine to Thanksgiving Dinner. Nowadays the preparation of gifts is done in our Churches through one representative of the whole assembly, the Priest. who brings the bread and wine to the Altar in the Great Entrance. Each of us, though, should give our lives and our sincere dedication to Christ’s way of life while our representative is preparing the Gifts. The meal which we are readying on our Altars is, after all, OUR meal. OUR Breaking of the Bread. Of course, the Priest has the main function during the meal, because he is specially Ordained with the Grace of God to represent the community to God, as well as representing Christ before the community. But our function is also evidently meaningful; we come forward and eat from the Breaking of the Bread. We, like the Apostles, realize that all the assembly eating from this Holy Banquet are partaking of the same Christ which is filling us. We move back to our places with a sense of deep unity growing within us and all around us. There is a togetherness in this which penetrates us. There is a strength in this which fills us with a sense of power. There is a solemn conviction in this which makes us feel more and more Divine. We join together with all Orthodox Christians in this Breaking of the Bread. . . but we join with Jesus Christ in the deepest sense of our being. All of us are one, not only together, but in Christ.

When a family leaves a Thanksgiving Dinner, they are strong against frustration and loneliness. When Orthodox Christians leave their Eucharistic Meal of Unity, the Breaking of the Bread, they have a deep conviction that they are all joined together in a renewed commitment to witnessing Christ in their own world. At the end of the Gathering, the Priest says, “Let us depart in peace, let us pray to the Lord.” Surely this is clear truth. We indeed depart with Christ in us. We go in peace, the peace which Christ alone can give. We go to take Christ into whatever work is ours. Christ goes with us—with each of us, with all of us—and we know that large numbers of Orthodox Christians eat of the same Bread, and live on the strength of the same Jesus Christ. The more we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, the more life, His Life, we have in us. And that life vivifies our actions till they become obviously and powerfully Christian. We witness Christ to others—individually and all together. Never will we be alone again. Together with countless other Orthodox Christians we are doing Christ’s work. Christ working through us will remove all frustration. He will make our lives successful. If today’s Orthodox Christians gather frequently for the Breaking of the Bread of Life, then people will say what the Romans said of the early Christians—and a touch of envy will be in their words: “See how they love one another.

Wednesday, November 20

Yarn Along: Inklings...

A few weeks ago, I received a surprise package in the mail (which I love!).  Inside was a copy of the book Inklings.  I instantly knew who had sent it!  Father John's family has been close with Father Michael, Auntie Janet, and their daughter for years (Father Michael was Father John's godfather!) and I recently connected with Auntie Janet on Facebook.  She and I share the same taste in books and movies and she not only recommended this book series to me, she sent me the first one!  I am so touched!  I am several chapters in and I really like it!

I finally cast on for Sugar Plum's hat and cowl set and have found it to be a quick knit.  You see, I knit up the beret in the child's size and we found that it was much too big!  I ripped it out and am now knitting the toddler size.  Hopefully, it will be perfect for my little girl's head and in a few days, she will be toasty warm!

Tuesday, November 19

The Attendance Was Two...

On Sunday morning, we woke early to find that a thick blanket of fog had moved in overnight.  I don't know what it is about fog, but I love it.  It feels mysterious and cozy all at the same time.  Little Man and I took a quick stroll around the outskirts of the woods before people started pulling into the parking lot for church.  It is interesting to me that this boy of ours actively pursues alone time with his parents (much more than our other children).  Once or twice a week, Father John will return from his evening prayers (which he does in the chapel) and he'll whisper to me that the "attendance was two."  While I'm busy fiddling with the knitting, Little Man slips out of bed and tiptoes in to pray with his papa.  I asked tonight what he does in the church, and Father John said that he just sits on a bench and quietly listens to the prayers.  This boy is in constant motion during the day, but he seeks out the peacefulness of a nighttime service with this father and an early morning walk with his mother.  He'll be six in a few short weeks.  I cannot believe it.

The Tree of Jesse...

Several years ago, Katherine and I worked on a Children's Bible Reader reading schedule and coloring page project to supplement the fifty-two ornament Jesse Tree. The coloring pages and schedule have been uploaded to Scribd.  I thought that I would repost this information as several readers have been asking about it.  I hope that it is an encouraging tool for all of you to celebrate the feast of the Nativity of our Lord!

Monday, November 18

Trains, Trolleys, and Fire Engines...

This past Friday and Saturday, Father John had several diocesan meetings and so the little ones and I decided to tag along.  It was good for us to break up the routine and do something different for a little while.  Though there were a million different things to do in the area, we opted to keep things low key and just wander around.  We did get in a short train ride, several trolley rides, and we even saw brave firemen putting out a fire in a coffee shop.  I think that the biggest thing that happened was that our littlest one got his first haircut.  He no longer sports the blond fluff in these photos...  it is bittersweet, but he really wanted a haircut and the barber did an excellent job! 

Saturday, November 16

On the Good of Patience...

It is patience that both commends us to God, and saves us for God. It is that same patience which tempers anger, bridles the tongue, governs the mind, guards peace, rules discipline, breaks the onslaught of lust, suppresses the violence of pride, extinguishes the fire of dissension, restrains the power of the wealthy, renews the endurance of the poor in bearing their lot, guards the blessed integrity of virgins, the difficult chastity of widows, and the indivisible love of husbands and wives. It makes men humble in prosperity, brave in adversity, meek in the face of injuries and insults. It teaches us to pardon our offenders quickly; if you yourself should offend, it teaches you to ask pardon often and with perseverance. It vanquishes temptations, sustains persecutions, endures sufferings and martyrdoms to the end. It is this patience which strongly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It is this patience which sublimely promotes the growth of hope. It directs our action, so that we can keep to the way of Christ while we make progress because of his forbearance. It ensures our perseverance as sons of God while we imitate the patience of the Father."

Saint Cyprian of Carthage

Friday, November 15

Preparing for Nativity...

 The faithful of the Orthodox Church are embarking on the Nativity Fast today.  Though we try to keep our Christmas celebrations to a minimum prior to December 25th, we do some exciting things to prepare and enjoy this special time as well.  Here are some of our plans for the next forty days. 

November 15: Plant Paperwhites
November 16: Clean Out the Refrigerator and Grocery Shop for Lenten Foods
November 17: Start Writing Out Christmas Lists
November 18: Go Through Books to Give Away
November 19: Go Through Toys to Give Away
November 20: Donate Money and/or Canned Goods to the Food Pantry for Thanksgiving
November 21: Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God
November 22: Research Christmas Activities in the Area
November 23: Make Beeswax Ornaments
November 24: Plan Christmas Card
November 25: Plan Christmas Menu
November 26: Plan Christmas Outfits
November 27: Participate in Gift Giving for those Less Fortunate
November 29: Thanksgiving Day
November 30: Begin Listening to the Messiah
December 1: Put out the Nativity Books
December 2:  Begin listening to Christmas music
December 3: Purchase This Year's Ornament Frame
December 4: Little Man's Namesday
December 5: Bake Saint Nicholas Cookies and prepare treats for little shoes
December 6: Saint Nicholas Day & Christmas Parade
December 7: Enjoy a 19th Century Christmas at a local reenactment town
December 8: The Nutcracker
December 9: Hang winter wreath on front door
December 10: Create a Gingerbread House 

December 11: Hang snowflake decorations from dining room chandelier
December 12: Little Man's Birthday
December 13: Saint Lucia and Saint Herman
December 14: Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival
December 15: Visit a Living Nativity
December 16: Decorate the mantle and hang stockings
December 17: Watch The Christmas Miracle of Johnathon Toomey/Put Out Nativity Scene
December 18: Wrap presents
December 19: Purchase a new Christmas book for our family collection
 December 20: Cut Paper Snowflakes for Windows
December 21: Bring home the Christmas tree and decorate it

December 22: Messiah Sing Along
December 23: Grocery Shopping for Christmas Day
December 24: Prepare Food for Feasting

Thursday, November 14

Whose Gift List?

By Father Daniel C. Kovalak

Preparations for the “holiday season” are already in full swing. And some of the colorful newspaper inserts suggest that, even though Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, the holiday gift-giving pressure’s on!

A study from ten years ago reported that the average person maintains some 200 relationships.  That’s a substantial number including various circles of relationships—family, religious, social and professional groups, volunteer organizations, service providers, etc. Perhaps our holiday stress is due to the sheer number of people in our circles we want to remember through our gift-giving.

But the implications of this relationship study are more far-reaching.  Obviously, because it’s a secular study, there’s no consideration of one’s relationship to God. As people of faith who presumably strive to keep the commandment to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, every other relationship should be seen through the prism of our relationship to Our God.  And we have the capacity to personally share this faith with about 200 souls!

There’s more. When this relationship study was published a decade ago, its purpose was to illustrate the increasingly detrimental effect various social media have on the depth of human relationships. The study’s conclusion was, with all our advanced technology, our relationships are becoming increasingly “superficial, non-substantial and inconsequential.”

This is a sobering indictment!  In all our twitters, texts and tweets, there’s little if any substance, quality, or “soul” in a majority of human relationships. They’re deteriorating into “virtual” relationships, void of personal, human interaction and maintained largely by words; that, in case we need to be reminded, makes up roughly seven-percent of effective communications. If we don’t know the circumstances and struggles of the person behind the words, can’t hear the intensity of their voice or read the body language that accompanies their words or are unaware of the “heart” from whence they emanate, words are just bits (or bytes) of data that show little if any respect to “personhood.”

In Christian theology, the relationship between the Persons of the Holy Trinity is profound and instructive. “In the beginning,” God’s will regarding relationships is clearly revealed after the creation of Adam: “It’s not good that man should be alone.”  The coming of Jesus Christ into the world is literally the “personification” of God’s will: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The Gospels essentially document the myriad ways Jesus connected with people on the most intimate level and repeatedly note such connections were inspired by divine and redemptive love. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). There’s absolutely nothing superficial, non-substantial or inconsequential in this relationship!

There’s little argument that gift-giving is synonymous with Christmas. But are we concerned enough, caring enough, loving enough of the 200 or so souls precious to God among our circles of relationships to give them more than a crockpot, computer game or scented candle?

It’s through real, deep, substantial human relationships that we move toward heaven and eternal joy: to the extent we acknowledge upon Whose gift list WE are listed as beloved children of God.  May we share the gift of some refreshing, cool water with someone today; to help satisfy their thirst for a truly meaningful relationship with the Living God.

Wednesday, November 13

Yarn Along: Village Diary...

Knitting:  Hats and cowls for the little ones.  I'm using the Lottie Cowl pattern for all three children and the Lottie Beret for Sugar Plum.  The boys hats are going to be Be Loving Hats.  Pictured above is Little Man's set.  I used Cascade 220 for his in 1944.

Reading:  Village Diary. I have always maintained that Miss Read's Thrush Green series is my favorite, but The Fairacre Books are growing on me!

Monday, November 11

Saint Martin...

In signs and in miracles thou wast renowned throughout Gaul.
By grace and adoption thou are a light for the world, O Martin, blessed of God.
Alms, deeds and compassion filled thy life with their splendors,
Teaching and wise counsel were thy riches and treasures,
Which thou dispense freely to those who honor thee.


The Learning Basket for Saint Martin can be found HERE.


Sunday, November 10

A Commitment to Loveliness: Novemeber 10th...

I have chosen five things that I want to work on this week to bring a little femininity and beauty to our life.  I would love it if you joined in!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Keep up with schoolwork...  we have quite a busy week with lots of learning opportunities, but I want to stay on top of our book work this week.  It will be difficult because I know that we will be tired, but we can do it!

2. Exercise a little each day. 

3. Make lots of yummy meals.  The Nativity fast is quickly approaching!

4.  Knit a little each night.  I've finished up Little Man's cowl and now have a matching hat for him on the needles. 

5.  Try to be calm and peaceful amid chaos! 

Saturday, November 9


I finished up the desserts and the centerpiece just before church tonight!  There are now stacks of chocolate chip cookies, a sour cream apple pie, and Monica's pumpkin pie tormenting us all from the confines of the counter...  I can't wait for tomorrow!

Live in Gratitude...

Unknown Source
"Live in gratitude, and you will never be disappointed. See that your afflictions are not there to punish you, but to purify you and cleanse you of the delusions of this world. You all are being prepared each day for great things. Be wise, and prepare for the future, but do not be worried about it. Be prudent, but not obsessed. The man who constantly worries achieves nothing but stress and anxiety. Instead, pray and draw close to God. Believe that He will help you, and suddenly, you will see how He has already."

Friday, November 8

All Set...

Whew, what a day!  The house is clean and all the shopping is done.  Tomorrow I'll be baking up a storm!

Thursday, November 7

Our Thanksgiving Menu...

Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Candied Yams


 All of the sudden, it is dark at five.  The lights come on and everyone breathes a sigh of contentment now that we are snug in our warm house.  Tonight, the boys are gliding paper airplanes back and forth as Sugar Plum weaves potholders on her little wooden loom.  We are starting to get ready for church tonight and tomorrow morning and then we have a flurry of preparations to do to get ready for the big Thanksgiving weekend with my husband's side of the family.  I'll be cleaning and shopping tomorrow and then the cooking will commence Saturday and Sunday.  I love hosting this holiday here and will try document it here!
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