Tuesday, September 30

Sweet Song...

This past Sunday, I pulled Sweet Song down from the shelf to share with the children in our church.  It is the second time that we have used this book about the life of Saint Romanos for our church school lesson since it has been published.  Both times, the children have been absolutely mesmerized by the beautiful story and accompanying pictures.

Sweet Song is a collaborative effort between Jane G. Meyer and Dorrie Papademetriou.  As we've come to expect from Meyer, this book is a treasure worthy of a prominent place on one's family bookshelf.  In prose that can only be described as lyrical, she tells the story of a young man struggling to read and sing during a time when hymns were often improvised.  Papademetriou's illustrations are rich, bold, and dramatically colored with detail that is simply stunning.
The job of teaching our children about the saints and our Faith has been made infinitely easier because of the efforts of Meyer and Papademetriou. We are very fortunate that they have dedicated their talent with pen and paintbrush to create such wonderful books for Orthodox families...  support their efforts by purchasing this amazing book! 

Yarn Along: Wendell Berry and Pie...

I made the first apple pie of the season on Monday night and it has been the perfect pick-me-up in the afternoons.  I always choose to make Alicia's Sour Cream Apple Pie and this time I spent some time talking to my sister, Juliana, while I mixed everything up.  I wish that she were here to enjoy a slice with me!

As you can see, my knitting hasn't grown much this week.  I really love the uncomplicated pattern though...  it's nice when a pattern is pretty and easy, isn't it?  I really like that I can pick it up whenever the mood strikes and get right back into it.

The children and I started reading The Cricket in Times Square this week...  I know that I have read it before but I don't remember much of it at all,  so the story is fresh and interesting to all of us.  Circle of Friends is just perfect before-bed reading...  It is one of my favorite stories!  Monday is our library day (it is easy to get there after our son's speech class) and for once I was prepared to dash through the stacks to get a book for myself.  I've been hearing a lot about Wendell Berry for a few months and selected Hannah Coulter for my first foray into his work.  I'm hoping that The Art of the Commonplace:  The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry will find it's way to me in the next few days...  I requested it from another library!

Sunday, September 28

Late September Beach...


Mama: Do you love me?

Button: Yessssssssss!  Forever!  Even when you're mad!


Saturday, September 27

More Honorable than the Cherubim...

The Orthodox Study Bible on the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary
 “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” – Luke 1:48
For two thousand years the Church has preserved the memory of the Virgin Mary as the prototype of all Christians - the model of what we are to become in Christ. The tradition of the Church holds that Mary remained a virgin all her life (see note on Matthew 12:46-50). While lifelong celibacy is not a model for all Christians to follow, Mary's spiritual purity, her wholehearted devotion to God, is certainly to be emulated. 

Mary is also our model in that she was the first person to receive Jesus Christ. As Mary bore Jesus Christ in her womb physically, all Christians now have the privilege of hearing God within them spiritually. By God's grace and mercy we are purified and empowered to become like Him.

 The honor we give to Mary also signifies our view of who Jesus is. From early times the church has called her Mother of God (Greek Theotokos, lit. "God-Bearer"), a title which implies that her Son is both fully man and fully God. As His Mother, Mary was the source of Jesus' human nature; yet the One she bore in her womb was also the eternal God.

Therefore, because of her character and especially because of her role in God's plan of salvation, Christians appropriately honor Mary as the first among the saints. The archangel Gabriel initiated this honor in his address to her: "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Luke 1:28). This salutation clearly indicates that God Himself had chosen to honor Mary. Her favored status was confirmed when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was then six months pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth greeted Mary with these words: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:42,43).

And Mary herself, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, predicted the honor that would be paid her throughout history: "For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (Lk 1:48).  In obedience to God's clear intention, therefore, the Orthodox Church honors Mary in icons, hymns, and special feast days. We entreat her, as the human being who was most intimate with Christ on earth, to intercede with her Son on our behalf. We ask her, as the first believer and the Mother of the Church, for guidance and protection. We venerate her - but we do not worship her, for worship belongs to God alone. 

In Matins, Vespers, and all the services of the hours of prayer, we sing this hymn, which expresses Mary's unique place in creation: "It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim, without defilement you gave birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify you."

Friday, September 26

Late September Nature Table...

:: Early Autumn Foliage :: Acorns and Oak Leaves ::  Horse and Cart ::  Phoebe Wahl's September ::

Outfitting the Children...

We've been going through lots of clothing lately...  boxing up things that are more warmer weather or that no longer fits, sorting through baby clothes for my little nephews and big girl clothes for Lucy, and taking stock of things that we need.  

For the past four years, we have made the conscious effort to keep our wardrobes small.  Having fewer clothing has meant that I have to do laundry more often. Washing, drying, and folding a load of clothes each day has become a part of our routine. We have also had to learn to take care of our things a bit more carefully by wearing aprons when we do something messy and folding or hanging up our things when they are not being used or put in the hamper.

Here is my cold weather clothing list for each child: 

5 Everyday Outfits (dresses, trousers, tops)
1 Nice Outfit for Church 

Fleece Jacket or Vest and Coat
2 Sets of Pajamas
Sneakers, Boots, and Rain Boots
Hat, Mittens or Gloves, and Scarf
Underpants and Undershirts (enough for the week)
Socks, Tights, and Leggings (extra socks and tights!)

We are slowly working our way through our lists, buying a little here and a little there.  It has been interesting to see our children's different styles emerging...  we have a little artsy fashionista, a cowboy, and a monochromatic dresser on our hands.  For the first time, I have had requests for jeans from all three children (up until now, I have avoided jeans just because I don't really like them), which I have honored.  Our daughter is branching out from skirts and dresses and is asking for some pants (which is a little bittersweet, to be honest!).  Interestingly though, all three still like to match, which is really cute!

What are your autumn wardrobe plans?  Any favorite items that I should check out?    

Thursday, September 25


It was the first of many Sunday dinners in Lisbeg for Eve.  She loved coming to the house.  Every week she brought something which she arranged in a vase.  Mother Francis had shown her how to go up the long windy path behind the convent and pick catkins and wild flowers.  At the start she would rehearse arranging them with the nun so that she would do it well when she got to the Hogans, but as the weeks went by she grew in confidence.  She could bring armfuls of autumn colors and make a beautiful display on the hall table.  It became a ritual.  Patsy would have the vases ready to see what Eve would bring today." 

Maeve Binchy

Mums and Apples...

To me, September is for apples and mums.  Though we haven't gotten to the apple orchard yet, we we able to buy twenty-five pounds of organic apples from a local co-op.  Though they aren't the prettiest apples, they sure are the sweetest!  We've had a bunch cut up for snacks and I made an apple cake on Tuesday night...  I think that they'll go pretty quickly and we'll get our chance to go picking at the orchard in the next week or two. 

Our little girl has her violin lessons on Wednesdays and the music shop is a hop, skip, and a jump from a nursery.  A few weeks ago, I took the boys there to browse and ended up buying an enormous white mum. As I was paying, the sales woman mentioned that I should put it in a shady place.  In previous years I have placed my mums on the step in direct sunlight and they have shriveled up within a few weeks and I thought that was normal.  This time, it is nestled under our porch near the front door and is doing beautifully.

 It's hard to believe that October is just around the corner!

Wednesday, September 24

Yarn Along: Quentins...

 I whipped through Quentins by Maeve Binchy this past week.  I always forget about how wonderfully she writes...  I want to reread Circle of Friends next, then Evening Class, and maybe Tara Road.  I didn't realize it was made into a movie with Andie MacDowell...  I'll have to see if I can find it on Netflix.

Since I am finished with the Riverbank Cowl and am saving up a bit for the yarn for my next project, I was at loose ends.  I remembered that Lila had a scarf project that I liked a lot.   When I looked it up, I was so happy to find that the pattern was free, I had quite a bit of yarn (in the right weight!) left over from the Grasshopper Shawl, and I had the correct sized needles already...  The Knitting Trifecta!  So now, I am working on a little Favorite Scarf Ever in Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Charcoal!

Monday, September 22

Another Day, Another Sunset...

When he saw the clouds after dinner tonight, my husband suggested driving to a little park on the water to photograph the sunset.  He manned the big camera and tripod on the pier and I took care of the trio on the rocks.  The children and I fled to the car only a few minutes after this shot was taken to save ourselves from swarms of mosquitoes.

I sent my sister a text this morning with five things that I hoped to accomplish today and basically was only able to get two things on my list done.  I am realizing though, that this month is just kicking my tail and I have to be happy with what I am able to do.  Ultimately, I hope that these little ones are going to remember that their mother said 'yes' to spending time outside at sunset rather than 'yes' to cleaning the toilets, folding laundry, and washing the dinner dishes.  People before things.  It's a hard lesson to learn!

Sunday, September 21

Dinner and a Bonfire on the Beach...


Last week I went out with a couple of ladies to a park to see Macbeth for an outdoor performance.  When we arrived, I was amazed to find that there was a gorgeous pre-Revolutionary War house on the premise!  I couldn't stop talking about how beautiful it was, so Father John and I took the little ones there today for a tour.  We didn't wander around the many outbuildings or take any of the nature trails, so I imagine that we'll be visiting again very soon.

Saturday, September 20

Ask Father: Are Orthodox Christians "Young Earth Creationists"?

Question: Are Orthodox Christians “young earth creationists”?

Answer:  The question as to the age of the creation is inextricably tied to the bringing forth of creation from non-being into being – the very beginning when time and space were first created. Two main doctrines come to mind: 1) The physical world is created and has limits. 2) Only God is uncreated and limitless.  

If we are to answer this question truthfully, we have to acknowledge our limitations. The first being that it is impossible for the human mind to even fathom creation from non-existence into being. We run in circles around what came first, the chicken or the egg, the big bang or the stuff the caused the big bang, or the stuff that caused  the stuff, etc.. This innate limitation of the human mind should be enough for us to realize the limitation of science which is simply a human intellectual discipline. So the question as to the age of creation, cannot be answered by science because it is impossible for the human mind to understand the mystery of going from non-existence into being.  

That said, we are free to think/believe/hypothesize that the creation happened over trillions of years or that it happened in 7 literal days. But in my opinion, we should not argue for one or the other. The Church is humble enough and honest enough to say that not only do we not know, but most importantly we are incapable of knowing. People debate the question as to which is more likely, an old earth or a young earth. You can read about this if you are interested in human debate about questions which are beyond human comprehension (ie. creation ex nihilo). I would say this, though, that for God, with whom one day is like a 1000 years and 1000 years, one day, it is equally possible that the earth is old or young. He could have fashioned it loooooooooong ago or just long ago.

We must remember that the observable natural laws which govern the continuance of creation do not apply to the unobservable act or process of creation from non-being into being. The natural laws observed by science deal with what happened after the creation was set in motion, not the act or process of creation itself. Likewise, it logically follows that since creation and continuance are by definition different, the methods/processes/laws of each must be different as well.This means, that God wouldn’t have to wait trillions of years to make a world with layers of strata in line with the natural laws that He would later establish for the word’s continuance. He could do it in one second, if He wanted to. By way of example, God could call a pizza from non-being into being, without first kneading the dough, making the sauce, heating the oven, etc., but to us that pizza would look like it had passed through all the steps in the kitchen because otherwise it wouldn’t be a pizza. Sadly, I think that some, perhaps forgetting that they are not God, try to make microwave pizzas in this way. :)  

Interestingly, Genesis speaks of a staged creation (7 days/stages), not a single instant, yet the stages are described as “days” not “months” or “years” indicating an expedited fashion. Of course, the whole Genesis account is shrouded in mystery because of our human limitations. For those who are interested, there are a million hypotheticals regarding method and how long it actually took but I think there are better uses of our time, like contemplating how cool it is that no matter what our opinion, we are all united in our inability to even know. Thanks be to God for humbling us all! And so, in summary, if you want an Orthodox response to the age of creation: Only God knows because only God can know – and thank God for that!

Question: But why would God create the world to look like it was millions/billions/trillions of years old when in fact it isn’t? Why would He trick us?

Answer:  I don’t think that those who consider the possibility that the Lord could create the universe in short amount of time would list trickery among the Lord’s motives. Those who theorize a young earth, simply acknowledge that God could call things from non-existence into being at any stage and that no matter what stage, it makes logical sense that what
He called from non-being into being would correspond to the natural laws and properties which He would later establish for the world’s continuance.  

This is actually illustrated when the Lord Jesus multiplied the loaves in the Gospels. He didn’t need to wait for the yeast to rise and the oven timer to go off, He simply created more bread, and the bread looked and tasted just like any bread that had been made through natural processes. It wasn’t sleight of hand or a magic trick, it was a display of God’s unique power to do something beyond the laws of time and space. It showed that Jesus Christ was God, the Creator. Now, how old was that bread?  

Ironically, the same question, “Why would God trick us?” could similarly be posed to those who believe in an old earth too. If you were to draw out a timeline of history, going back to the very beginning (non-existence into being), one would trace the universe back to its currently observable beginnings and establish a timeline that is say this long:

Creation (13.8 billion years ago)------------------------------------------------- Present

In the old earth model, creation would be time-stamped at the big bang, stage of dust, crystals, etc.. at the stage of the earliest, most rudimentary elements that modern science can observe/conceive of. Currently, modern science puts this at 13.8 billion years ago, give or take a few million years. 

 But as science improves and more is learned about the natural universe, the hypothesized age of the earth will get increasing older. We have already gone from thousands of years, to millions, now billions and next would be trillions. A timeline would then look like this:

Creation (trillions) ----------------------Creation (billions) ----------------------Present

So in a generation or so, the old earth (billions camp) will actually be young earth people compared to the old earth (trillions camp). Ironically, then the ques tion might be turned on them, “Do you think God is trying to trick us? Why would He create the universe at such an advanced stage?!” 

This would continue forever and ever because even though the tools of science improve, the wielders of those tools will retain the same limitations. The human mind will futilely circle around the question, what came first the chicken or the egg, the big bang or the stuff the caused the big bang, or the stuff that caused the stuff? And so as the earth spins, its inhabitants will dizzy themselves trying to answer that which is known only to God.

Now, please note, (otherwise we will miss the whole point) that the above illustration does not to make the case for either group, old or young earthers; the whole point is that those
groups are actually much more alike than they think or may want to acknowledge. The age of the universe is beyond us all.

  And so, God proves to be the great equalizer of scientists, philosophers, theologians and everybody in between, but not by trickery. It is the devil who deceives, promising us that through knowledge we can be like God, enticing us with this foolish pride, and we listen to him so we can elevate ourselves over each other and ultimately the Other, God Himself. But as God alone is True, He brings us back from the error of our ways to unity with Him and each other by humbling us, reminding us of our limitations. The more we know this humility, the more we can know Him, and through Him, the truth about His creation and ourselves. Who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God who doest wonders!

Question: Wait, I don’t get it! So exactly how old was that bread that the Lord multiplied?

Answer:  Ha! You will have to ask the Lord! Perhaps, though, not knowing the timestamp actually helps us come to know something and someone of greater importance: our own limitations, and the limitless One who’s got time, the stamp, and, as the song goes, “the whole world in His hands.”

Thursday, September 18

And Mother Cuts Chrysanthemums...


The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.
John Updike

September Light...

Wednesday, September 17

Nearly Autumn...

I was really kicking myself because as we were heading out this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of the bright blue sky, white clouds, and golden corn just past our driveway and thought, "Take a photo!"  But we needed to do the banking before violin and our audio book was already blaring away, so I didn't.  By the time we got home and I pulled out the camera, the sky was faded and cloudless.  Instead, I got a few shots of the bright sun, old wood, and my beautiful, wonderful sweet potato vine in all of her colorful glory.  It's all good.   

Sunday, September 14

Riverbank Cowl...

I was in the midst of casting off for my Riverbank Cowl (the smaller size on the project page) when I got the news that Baby Sebastian had finally arrived!  I think that I will remember that moment every time I see this cowl!  It was so exciting!

I chose to use Madeline Tosh DK in Black Walnut (2 skeins) and a size 4 needle for this entire project (it calls for a size 6 to be used once the ribbing is completed, but mine was being used for a different project at the time).  I made a few changes to the pattern that I am pleased with.  I am not a huge fan of ribbing, so instead of 3 inches of ribbing at the beginning and end of the cowl, I only knit five rows for each.  In addition, I knit 2, purled 2 for my ribbing rather than knit 1, purl 1.  Because I only had a little bit of ribbing at the beginning and end of the cowl, I decided to repeat the pattern three times, rather than twice.  I severely blocked the cowl and was very impressed with how light and airy it is!

The resulting cowl was very nice to wear tonight.  It was our first autumn-like evening and I spent it watching Macbeth in the park...  my neck was nice and cozy!

The Exaltation of the Most Precious Cross...

Before Thy Cross
We Bow Down in Worship O Master,
And Thy Holy Resurrection,
We Glorify.


The Learning Basket for The Exaltation of the Holy Cross can be found HERE.  

Lucy's a Big Sister!

Sweet Lucy became a big sister last night!  We are so excited that Uncle Peter and Auntie Kate's new baby boy has arrived and can't wait until we get to hold him!

Thursday, September 11

Shell Seekers...

Today was 85 degrees and we treated it like it was the last hot day of the year (just in case!).  We took a little trip to the beach and went swimming, which we hadn't done all summer.  The water was warm and the shell-seeking was really wonderful and we ended up filling up my husband's shoes with our collection.  While chicken for our Caesar salad was baking, we washed our shells and took baths, and then after dinner the little ones organized them into little groupings.  I tried to preserve all of their little piles on a tray for the nature table...  I think that it will be awhile before we have glossy little acorns and colorful leaves adorning our playroom! 

Wednesday, September 10

Living and Learning: September...

Church New Year
Nativity of the Theotokos
Elevation of the Precious Cross
Saints Juvenaly and Peter

Visit large farmers market a few time before it closes for the year
Begin Serving Warming Meals
September Beach Trips

Place order for a firewood delivery Spend Evenings Outside by the Fire Pit
Organize Out of Season Children's Clothing
Plan Children's Autumn Wardrobes and Start a List of Things Needed
Decorate Porch with Mums and Ornamental Cabbage
Continue Good Homemaking Habits
Replenish Everyone's Socks, Pajamas, and Undershirts
Put Out Autumn Decorations
Organize Seasonal Decorations
Begin Baking Again! Decorate with Dried Hydrangeas
Knit Riverbank Cowl

Learning Basket Themes

Read Alouds Little House in the Big Woods 
Charlotte's Web
How to Train Your Dragon, Book 3

Special Days

Full Harvest Moon – 9th 
 + Michelle – 19th
Auntie Claudia – 20th
Uncle Peter – 24th
Grandmama – 30th

Practice Patience and Love toward one another
Singing – O Heavenly King
Practice cleaning the bathrooms together
Practice sweeping
 Tidy bedrooms each morning   

Enjoy the Autumn Book Basket
Nature Table Scene
Begin Third Grade for Sugar Plum!
Begin First Grade for Little Man!
Apple Picking

Take a visit to a beautiful garden
Trip to art museum Learning Basket for Nativity of the Theotokos
Learning Basket for Elevation of the Precious Cross
Visit the beach frequently before it gets too cold
Weekly Library Trip 
Begin Weekly Gym Class 
Begin weekly art class
Speech classes for Little man and Button with Miss Kelly
Spend 30 minutes to one hour in Quiet Time each afternoon
Poetry Teatimes

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