Saturday, April 30, 2011

Felt Saints: How

I know I am cutting it close, but it is still this week, sort of :)  Here is a look at how I made the little Theotokos figure.  I also still have a few left in the shop for those of you who prefer NOT to do it yourself! 

 I started with a small wooden peg person, purchased from your local craft store, or from Casey's Wood Products.  This one measures about 2 1/2 inches tall. Using acrylic blue paint (this was Anit*'s brand in royal blue), paint around her face.

Cut a rectangle of felt that measures roughly 1 1/2 inches by 3 inches.  Peg people can vary in size, so it is best to cut out a paper rectangle first, and see if it will wrap around the peg person and meet in the back before cutting out your wool.  I purchased wool from Wool Felt Central, but have also had luck finding a few select colors at my local craft shop. Using craft glue designed to work with fabric, glue the rectangle around your peg person.  I add a bit of glue around the neck, and just gently press the wool down so it follows the curve of the figure.  Trim any extra wool from the bottom of the figure so it will stand flat.

Using red wool felt, cut a rectangle measuring roughly 2 1/4 inches by 5 inches.  Test the size, once you embroider you cannot trim this piece to fit.  Curve the edges and blanket stitch around the edges.  For instructions on how to do a blanket stitch, try this link.  I used DMC floss color 3852, and the wool is "barnyard red."  Place the first star in the middle, then try it on your peg person to determine where the other two stars should be to have them fall on her "shoulders."

Brush a small amount of glue on the top center front of the red felt, and press into place.  The wool conforms nicely to the rounded shape with just a bit of manipulation.

Continue gluing the edge of the red wool down the figure.
From the side, your figure should now look like this, with only the front portion glued down.
Next brush a little glue on the back of the head and body, and press the felt down.

Brush some glue down the back, and fold one edge of the red wool towards the center.  Press and hold it in place until the glue sticks well.
From the back it should look like this.

Fold the other side to the center and glue it.  Now your figure is finished!  I hope to post another step by step of a more basic saint in the next week or so.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grocery School: Food for Thought?

by Don Boudreaux on April 24, 2011

Suppose that we were supplied with groceries in same way that we are supplied with K-12 education.

Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties.  A huge chunk of these tax receipts would then be spent by government officials on building and operating supermarkets.  County residents, depending upon their specific residential addresses, would be assigned to a particular supermarket.  Each family could then get its weekly allotment of groceries for “free.”  (Department of Supermarket officials would no doubt be charged with the responsibility for determining the amounts and kinds of groceries that families of different types and sizes are entitled to receive.)

Except in rare circumstances, no family would be allowed to patronize a “public” supermarket outside of its district.

Residents of wealthier counties – such as Fairfax County, VA and Somerset County, NJ – would obviously have better-stocked and more attractive supermarkets than would residents of poorer counties.  Indeed, the quality of public supermarkets would play a major role in determining people’s choices of neighborhoods in which to live.

Of course, thanks to a long-ago U.S. Supreme Court decision <> , families would be free to shop at private supermarkets that charge directly for the groceries they offer; such private-supermarket families, though, would get no discount on their property-tax bills.

When the quality of supermarkets is recognized by nearly everyone to be dismal, the resulting calls for “supermarket choice” would be rejected by a coalition of greedy government-supermarket workers and ideologically benighted collectivists as attempts to cheat supermarket customers out of good supermarket service – indeed, as attempts to deny ordinary families the food that they need for their very survival.  Such ‘choice,’ it would be alleged, will drain precious resources from the public supermarkets whose (admittedly) poor performance testifies to the fact that these supermarkets are underfunded.

And the small handful of people who call for total separation between supermarket and state would be criticized by nearly everyone as being, at best, delusional and – it would be thought more realistically – more likely misanthropic devils who are indifferent to the malnutrition and starvation that would sweep the land if only private market forces governed the provision and patronizing of supermarket.  (Some indignant observers would even wonder aloud at the insensitivity of referring to grocery shoppers as “customers”; surely the relationship between suppliers of life-giving foods and the people who need these foods is not so crass as to be properly discussed as being ‘commercial.’)
Does anyone believe that such a system for supplying groceries would work well, or even one-tenth as well as the current private, competitive system that we currently rely upon for supplying grocery-retailing services?  To those of you who might think so, pardon me but you’re nuts.

To those of you who understand that such a system for supplying grocery-retailing services would be a catastrophe, why might you continue to count yourself in the ranks of those who believe that government schooling (especially the way it is currently funded and supplied) is the system that we should continue to use?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bright Monday, and so many Gifts to Count

135. hammer pounding nails, bringing tears to my eyes with each resounding strike
136. bringing flowers to decorate His tomb

137. seeing little ones stand before the shroud, praying that I too could may become as a little child, see as they do
138. heady scent of rose water filling the air
139. showers of rose petals, exuberantly thrown by little girls, falling like tears to the ground. 
Even the flowers weep over His body

140. young men bearing the burden of His tomb, as Joseph carried His cross to the hill, they lead this somber funeral procession

141. passing under His body, heavy weight of grief

142. walking barefoot through a carpet of rose petals

143. watching the Queen's finger trace the words of the Psalter, hearing her little voice in the dark stillness of the night, taking her turn at the vigil for the first time
144. the peace of a dark, empty church, standing alone before the tomb of my Lord
145. newly chrismated
146. bright white cloths
147. bay leaves floating through the air

148. children with sticks pounding against wood, the gates of Hell are groaning as death is being trampled down!

149. standing in the presence of the body and blood of Christ
150. being able to watch the preparation of THE gifts, heart humbled at the chance to view such a mystery
151. wine to gladden the heart of man after a long week, brief rest before the final stretch
152. dark church, buzzing with the uncontained excitement of what is to come
153.single candle burning in the darkness, gradually becoming 300, filling the darkness with light

154. warm night air, no coats or umbrellas needed!
155. bells ringing, shouting the news to the dark and quiet night
156. clergy all in shining white,
157. fists pounding at the doors, demanding they be opened for the King of Glory
158. holy doors flung open wide
159. singing The Angel Cried

160. feasting with family and friends
161. Pascha egg cake pops!
162. 17 services in 7 days, 15 hours of prayer, praise and celebration in 3 days, everyone falling into bed exhausted, happy sleep
163. Christ is Risen - the only gift I truly need

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pascha Dress for the Little Princess

When I found this beautiful embroidered fabric a few months back, I just knew I had to find a good use for it. 

It just shouted Pascha!  So, I gave the Regency dress pattern another spin.  I was a bit concerned about the heaviness of the embroidery, but I managed to cut it so most seams were embroidery free.  The only real problem I had was with the gathers at the waist, if a gathering thread ran through a flower, it did not care to pull up for me at all!
But, all in all, it turned out beautiful.  I didn't line the sleeves, which makes them look a bit "dirty," since there is no white lining fabric behind them, but I am not sure it could have handled the bulk.  Top it off with a strip of vintage lace we found tucked in the corner of the antique store last week,  perfect match.  I love this dress pattern.  Next time I think I will try a light weight cotton print for a more casual feel.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Felt Saints: Why?

When it comes to educating my children, I have always followed a "classical" approach, inspired and modeled around two major influences, Charlotte Mason whose writings were the first I read (thanks to a wise veteran homeschooler who gifted me her 6 volume set of books when I first began homeschooling), and Andrew Campbell's Latin Centered Curriculum.  Lots of memory work, plenty of living books, tea time with poetry readings, composer and picture study, nature walks, with our main school hours dedicated to math and Latin.  I also used bits of Macrina Lewis' wonderful program, The Garden of the Theotokos, which introduced me to Waldorf methods when my oldest was just 6.  This past year I have received intensive training in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori approach to spiritual formation in children. 
 So, am I a mixed up teacher who can't choose a method or philosophy?  No.  I can see now that my mind was attempting to reconcile two areas of child raising - the intellectual development and the spiritual development.  I want my children to know about the feasts, the saints, and the rubrics of our faith.  More than that, I want them to love Christ.  I want them to know Him and His saints, not know "about" them.  I can see that is why my heart kept reaching out to those methods of teaching which seem to reach the spirit.  Waldorf excites wonder.  Flash card drills of icons to learn to identify a saint is not the way to go (believe me, it crossed my mind :)  Young children learn best by touching, doing, feeling.  So several years ago I began to pull together hands on things to connect them with the church.  The Holy Week Learning boxes were the most ambitious of these projects, but saint storytelling inspired by Children's Garden of the Theotokos became a part of our day as well.  I was inspired by Leah, who I so wish I could link to, but no longer has a blog.  Her little saints inspired my lessons for our Vacation Church School trip to Ireland last year

So, how do we use these little saint "dolls"?  I am not sure "doll" is the right term, as they are not really toys.  One thing I really like about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is some of the terms used.  As a catechist, I present a story to the children, then offer them an opportunity to "work" with the materials.  This is not play, it is work.  It is taken seriously, and therefore, the materials are taken seriously and treated with respect.  Our little felt saints are not played with in the same way a lego person is played with. At the same time, they are not icons, so we do not hold them up as holy objects.  They represent holy people the same way a nativity set does. 

For Vacation Church School last summer, we set up a scene each day to represent the saint.  We read one of the many wonderful Orthodox children's books about that saint, and we acted out various moments in the life of the saint with the figures.  The children were then permitted to use the pieces and set the scenes up themselves. 

At home, it is often a form of narration for us.  After hearing the life of a saint, my children have access to the materials for that saint.  They will often retell the story, using the objects and felt saints.  The older ones love to tell the stories to the younger ones.  Sometimes, I have a book that goes with the saint.  In that case, the book and items are kept together, and the kids enjoy reading the book while setting up the story.  Some days, I simply set up a scene in our kitchen to follow up on a story we have recently read. 

At co-op, we often are relating the life of an obscure or lesser known saint (since we try to find ones that relate to the science topic which is flying creatures this year), so we rarely have a book. In that case, I find the life of the saint in my collection of Rostov's lives, or on various Internet sources.  I go over the life and usually will outline the highlights as memory joggers for myself.  Then I retell the story to the children in a storytelling format, with the scene set before them.

Really, it is no different than a nativity set.  The figures are out, and so the children want to use them.  They like to retell the story, they like to interact with the figures.  As they do this, they are thinking about the story.  We may not always understand it, we may not always think what they are doing is productive, but they are coming to know who these people are.  My children love seeing a new figure, and even my 12 year old, when I showed him St. Herman (modeled after Leah's), immediately asked if I would make him one of his own to keep in his room.  They are learning to know these saints in a real way, as real people.  And they love them.  I hope that answers many of the questions I have gotten recently about the use of these figures.  Please feel free to leave a comment if you have further questions!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week Birthday Boy

When your birthday falls in Holy Week, odds are you are going to spend a good part of it in church.  This new 12 year old got up at 6:30 to serve for the presanctified with his "middle name sake", who also shares his birthday!  Many years to both!

Follow that with birthday shopping with Dad for a new bike (his knees were hitting his chin on the old one :) 

 The afternoon was spent turkey hunting, and boy did he bring home a big one!  Not sure I want turkey for Pascha though, this one might have to hit the freezer.  The birthday dinner will wait for next week, tonight's menu is bean soup!