Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wicked Sense of Humor Required......

If you find the Elf on the Sh*lf phenomenon a bit annoying, or you just enjoy torturing your husband, you need to go check out a blog I recently ran across.    The run down is a wife found her husband's weakness, a dislike/fear of those creepy little elves to whom entire websites and pinterest boards are dedicated.  She is blogging her adventures with her own version of the elf.  Is there something wrong with me?  Because I laughed until I cried.  I guess I have a warped sense of humor.

The Adventures of Bobbum the Creepy Elf

and while I don't think this would phase my husband one bit (though perhaps a creepy Rud*lph might?)........

.....if you are in the market for a creepy elf, it appears eb*y is flush with them!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jesse Tree

Just as every liturgy is both the same and yet different, I love how our festal celebrations each year are the same, yet different.  Each year that we come to a feast, we are different people, our family dynamics change as we grow from a house full of little ones to a house ranging from teenagers to newborns.  It is also beautiful to see how traditions hold up even as they evolve.  Advent has always been a time of deep traditions, and each year I love preparing with the children.  The readings for the Jesse Tree have been a part of our evening time together for many years now, though each year it takes on a new feel.

Most of our ornaments come from a swap on the Festal Celebrations board.  A few have been replaced over time with new ones created by friends in our parish.  We have played with hanging them on an ornamental tree I found at a local florist, and some years we have just hung them directly onto the Christmas tree each day.

This year, while shopping for furniture for the atrium I ran across a small bedside table.  I bought it planning to use it at church, but when I brought it home I realized it made a perfect little stand for a Jesse Tree.  I have always struggled with having a place for a Jesse Tree, one where it was visible and part of our daily life, but not in the way of meals and daily living.  This piece was perfect and fit nicely in front of a window in the living room.  We topped the table with an extra red table runner from the altar cloths, and the children went hunting for branches.  We filled a metal vase from (my favorite store) H*bby Lobby with rocks to stabilize it and arranged the branches.

The table has a drawer to hold our readings and matches for lighting the votives, and there is a place underneath the drawer which houses a box filled with all of our ornaments.

Our readings have changed over the years as well.  We began using readings from an old Orthodox publication, then used the ones created for our swap.

A few years ago, the Queen's godfather began sending us a set of readings he was writing.  They were still in the editing stages, and each day I printed them off for us to use.  Then this year he presented us with the finished version, a beautifully bound copy, complete with icon illustrations.   All dedicated to the Queen  :)  So now, we have our own meaningful set of readings, compiled with love by a very special friend.

It is easy to fall into worrying about having everything just perfect, celebrating or honoring a particular feast in a certain way.  It is good to step back and realize that life changes, and while the Church is always there, and always the same, she is made up of us, the living body of Christ, and therefore is not static.  As our small "t" traditions develop, it is beautiful to see how they grow, change and root themselves in our lives.  And while consistency is important with children, flexibility is as well.  I am trying to focus on being consistent with the things that really matter, such as devoting time to read these precious scriptures which take us on a grand journey through the history of salvation; remaining flexible with the smaller details.  The message I want my children to take away from our time together in Advent is that no moment in the history of this world was more important than that moment of the Incarnation.  And in the Orthodox understanding of the great feasts of the church, I want them to enter into the joy of that Incarnation each year with a sense of both newness and familiarity.  Each of these feasts is like an old friend.  We have travelled this road before, we recall favorite readings, traditions, moments.  But each year is also new again.  And each year we do not just commemorate and remember the Incarnation.  Through the great mystery of the Divine Liturgy and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we are transported to that moment - chronos time ceases to exist (though some may disagree after standing through a Paschal liturgy!), instead we immerse ourselves in kairos.  How glorious to be able to enter into the Incarnation, to not just recall the greatest gift given to man, but to actually be present in that moment!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


After nearly 5 years of hard work, a grueling physical exam that left him faint and a kata exam critiqued by 6 regional black belts, the crocodile hunter earned his black belt in Wado Ryu Karate. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So Many Gifts

One of the most beautiful presentations in the level 2 atrium is the History of the Kingdom of God and the Gifts.  The 6-7 year old is beginning to have a concept of time, and is also moving towards developing a sense of morality.  We begin the first year at this age with a series of presentations expanding on their already deep knowledge of the Kingdom of God, beginning to frame it in the context of time and the child's place in God's great plan.
 All of these presentations lift up three great moments in our earth's history which are a part of God's great plan to bring us into union with Him:  Creation, Redemption and Parousia or the Second Coming.  We look at God's plan as a series of gifts and this presentation really emphasizes the amazing diversity and beauty of all of these gifts.
The children were beyond excited about opening and exploring boxes filled with amazing samples of God's creation -  tiny sea creatures, the scent of lavender, beeswax and vanilla bean, the tiny mustard seed and the large and prickly pine cone, images of the planets, stars, animals for companions, the list goes on and on.........
.....culminating in the most amazing and wonderful gift of all, the gift of God's own son, Jesus Christ.  He loved us so much, that He sent His only begotten Son.  God became man, that man may become God.
His Son, the Good Shepherd, continues to be with us in the bread and the wine of the Eucharist, and we look to the day when He will come again and the fullness of the kingdom of God will be established forever.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Things I never want to forget....

*the way a newborn smells
*the softness of the skin on the bottom of feet that have never taken a step
*the little sighing sounds a baby makes when nursing
*tiny chest moving up and down to the rhythm of shallow baby breaths
*how they stay crunched up with knees to their chest and bottom sticking out when you first pick  
them up
*fists tightly clenched
*first smiles
*the feeling of falling asleep with a baby on your chest
*the heaviness of a little one who cannot yet hold his head steady, and is happiest slumped against you, completely helpless and dependent
*silky softness of baby hair
*startle reflexes

Sunday, October 27, 2013

On Halloween

Once a year I feel compelled to mention this topic, though it is such a controversial subject among believers.  There are those who feel strongly both ways.  I would ask that whatever your opinion, you at least take the time to consider the following: how do we make the decision to participate or to not participate?   I would suggest the same way we make all decisions as Orthodox Christians, by looking at what the Bible, the Church Fathers and the Canons say.

"...Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
 Phillipians 4:8

If that is what we are to hold up and think about, the lovely, the gracious, the worthy of praise, how does Halloween measure up?  There is nothing lovely about glorifying death. In fact, that is the exact opposite of what the Church is about.  We celebrate life.    We are mere weeks from entering into a time of honoring the incarnation of our Savior.  We begin turning our hearts and minds to the fact that God humbled himself by becoming fully man to destroy death.  Think about that just a minute.  The One True God, all powerful, all knowing, all honorable.  Put on flesh.  Lived on this earth. Suffered temptation from Satan. Endured mockery, pain, death. Entered Hell. CRUSHED DEATH. FOR US. Why would we want to celebrate that which He endured so much to destroy?

So, for me, no, it is not just all in good fun. It is not just a harmless night for children to dress up and get free candy. IT IS A NIGHT THAT HOLDS UP ALL WE REJECT.  IT IS A NIGHT FOR SATAN.  So, my question is "why?"  Why would we WANT to participate? Because it is fun?  Because it is uncomfortable to keep our kids home from Halloween parties?  Because someone might make fun of us or our children?  Because we don't want our kids to "miss out", or we don't want to miss out on those cute photos of our little one in costume?

Each morning as we read the lives of men and women who gave their lives rather than eat food sacrificed to idols, children who died rather than bow to anyone other than God, how can we ask those questions?  I think of the mothers who encouraged their children to martyrdom.   They weren't worried their kids would be made fun of - they were worried their children might not attain eternal communion with God.  They didn't try to protect their children from embarrassment, they exhorted them to stand strong against the world, a world that hated them and their God.  This world still hates us, and it hates our God.   So, give your children the strength to stand against evil, teach them to be martyrs!

“Abstain from all appearance of evil” 1 Thessalonians 5:22

If you are interested in reading what others have to say on this topic - here is a selection of links to articles that say far better than I what our duty is as Orthodox Christians in this world. If you have never given this issue thought, or if you are unsure about what is right, I challenge you to take the time to read at least one of these articles.

Finally, on the practicality of the issue. I really do encourage you to consider keeping your kids out of school Halloween celebrations if your school participates in such events. Avoid too much shopping with your children over this  time. I try to limit the places we go during this time, since even a trip to the local drugstore is full of nightmarish images that can affect a young one in ways we often don't realize until much later. My daughter had years of nightmares from a grocery trip where she turned a corner to be faced with a life-sized plastic witch. The night of October 31 has always been stressful for me, with young kids how do you avoid the ringing doorbell? Our former parish used to have an Akathist to the patron saint of our church. What better place to be on this night, than in church, praying for the world?  A sister parish has a prayer service followed by a meal and skits on the lives of saints performed by the children.  If your parish does not offer a service that evening, gather with a few friends and say the prayers yourself. 

first posted October 2010

Monday, October 14, 2013

Loosening my grip.....

......while doing a little fall decluttering and reflecting on being OPEN:

"Hanging on to stuff doesn't keep us more connected to people, places or past moments.  Our memories do that, so we can let go.  We can clean away the clutter that prevents us from spending time doing things more important for the present."

Meg Meeker  The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet our pigs!

As part of his high school work this year, the crocodile hunter will be earning a credit in animal sciences.  He plans to raise pigs, chickens, sheep and perhaps a steer over the next year.  Currently there is a great debate going on in the house over names - Crocodile Hunter is calling them Bacon and Sausage, the girls dubbed them Pumpkin and Pinkie, and I voted for Charlotte and Wilbur.  
What do you think?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Another Reason I Love Homeschooling

A day spent at the local dairy, learning about cows and the logistics of running a small farm.  Crocodile Hunter wants to pursue agriculture as a career, so we are planning to do a lot more visiting of local farms over the next few years.

Church buddies getting to spend a day together

Field trips that involve ages 14 to 1 month

And a picnic lunch at the vineyard after!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Outfit for the Little Princess

Urban Cowgirl by Pink Fig - so excited to find these patterns as downloads now!  Her patterns are not really even "patterns" you have to trace off and cut out (which I hate doing), but measurements for rectangles you can crank out with a rotary cutter and a ruler - my kind of down and dirty sewing!

Corienne by Violet Field Threads - again, downloadable and beyond fun.

Can't wait to get working on new patterns from both of these designers - already downloaded Cosette and Bloomshine for some beach dresses next summer, though I guess a baptismal gown for the baby is really first on the list of sewing priorities now.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Feathering the Nest: The Nursery

 Beehive is woven from wreath vine from H*bby Lobby
I found the bench at a little used furniture shop, perfect!

A treasured gift, the shadow box is filled with verses and notes from the ladies in the Level 1 formation course I assisted with this past year.  The photo is a tradition with each baby, a photo of everyone's hands.  Hard to believe the "large" ones in that photo once belonged to my now 14 year old!

My favorite character  :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Oh Baby

Our sweet little boy, born August 30th.
9 lb. 10 oz.  and 21.75 inches

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Apparently this baby is in no hurry to arrive, as his due date has officially come and gone.  Pretty sure my stomach cannot stretch any further, and am just praying this is not a 10 lb. baby (the crocodile hunter weighed in at 9 lbs. and he arrived 2 weeks early).   We are planning to go in for an induction tomorrow, but I am still hoping to go into labor on my own tonight.  In the past I have managed to avoid having an induction, both times I was scheduled for one my water broke the night before, so we will see if that pattern holds true.  Either way, should have a baby this weekend!
Thank you for your prayers!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sew Very Much to Do!

I feel like I am working on borrowed time at this point.   Only days from my due date, I go to bed every night wondering if this will be the night (I have gone into labor around midnight with all of mine, so I guess I just assume middle of the night!).  This week has been spent sewing.  First, a few items for the atrium......miniature models of the chalice veils, antimins and eiliton.

 Then, a little sewing for myself......
A daygown for baby.......

 ......and a lot of fun with knits.  
I had forgotten just how easy the Bunny's Knit Nightie Pattern can be, once you get your machine settings right!  Knit fabrics always intimidate me, but these have been great to put together.  I made a few for my other children, and they wore them well up into the toddler years.
And the blue gown with the bunny, bamboo knit.  If you have never handled bamboo knit, it is amazing fabric.  It is like the silk of knit fabrics, so very soft, it drapes beautifully and just screams snuggly.  Can't wait to cuddle up with a newborn very soon.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Parisian Shabby Chic Baby Shower

It was a riot of pinks and Parisian touches, for a friend having her first baby.  She is having a girl, and she is a French teacher, so the theme came quite easily!

Hot Cafe du Monde coffee in tea cups, or Vietnamese iced coffee Vietnamese style a la Pioneer Woman served in recycled St*rbucks frappuccino bottles (this will be the third party we have used these bottles, they are perfect for so many things from lemonade for little fairies to "Drink Me" bottles for an Alice in Wonderland birthday).  And no brunch would be complete without mimosas!

Mich*el's Craft Stores are a great source for pretty boxes and decor, and is seems the Eiffel tower theme is big right now!

My favorite cake icing, raspberry buttercream from The Cake Bible.

A selection of French cheeses, mini quiche, creme fraiche with fresh berries, madeleines, palmiers, mini cinnamon rolls and mini breakfast casseroles to fill the belly.

Made my first pennant banner decorations - what an easy way to customize a table!  And after the shower, they went to the Little Princess' room to hang.  An easy tablecloth option is cheap white sheets from W@lMart, I have 3-4 of them that are a great background for most any party theme.  The rest of the table decorations were shabby chic birds from around my house and milk glass vases I have accumulated over the past few years.  Both will make a reappearance at the next event I am planning....baptism for our coming little one.

And of course, dessert crepes!

The expecting mom looking so very chic with her momma (that's my mom on the far right who hosted with me).

For links to fun inspirations and recipes, here is the pinterest board I created for this shower.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Goodbye Little Lambs

Loading the lambs up for the state livestock show
One last goodbye, the girls are sad to see them go.
This little lamb we will be keeping!
The crocodile hunter in the ring, serious face as he focuses on the judges

His face, after he tucked that second blue ribbon in his back pocket!
Both sheep won first place in their class, as well as several other awards.  Not bad for his first year.  His ewe did so well he received several offers to buy her, and ended up selling her to a local man who plans to breed her, so she was saved from the butcher, much to the relief of the Queen.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer in the Vineyard: Wine to Gladden the Heart of Man

Did you know that the first year a grape vine is planted, the vineyard grower does not water it?
Instead, the roots are forced to grope deep into the earth in search of a water source.  The plant struggles to survive at first, but through those struggles, through the hardship, it grows strong and hardy.  A grapevine can live 50-100 years if well established.  
The branches stretch out, spreading, growing, and receiving nourishment from the vine rooted deep in the earth.  "I am the vine, you are the branches, if you remain in me."  John 15:5.  
Love,  joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness self-control