Monday, March 24, 2014

Bacon and Spicy Sausage

The crocodile hunter showed both pigs at county, regional and state this winter, earning a second place and a few fourth and fifth placings.  
Bacon, the female pig, has been sold to a neighbor for breeding, so she escaped the slaughter. The male pig is now in the freezer (220 lbs of meat!) awaiting Pascha when we plan to enjoy loads of bacon and sausage.   I am amazed by how much comes from a single pig.  The verdict is in and while he enjoyed showing pigs and plans to again, he definitely prefers sheep.  Watching 20 kids try to show pigs in a ring, it looked like trying to herd cats to me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Memory Eternal

Metropolitan PHILIP (1931-2014)
Memory Eternal to the man who opened the doors of Orthodoxy to a group of seekers in the 1980's when everyone else turned them away.  His open arms brought my in-laws and husband into the church, and paved the path for my family to come years later.  Because of him, and Fr. Peter and Fr. Gordon, I am where I am today.

Chick Time!

 It's really crazy that just 2 days ago (on St. Patrick's Day) these little ones first saw the light of day when they pecked their way through an eggshell!  I still am amazed that they are immediately packed up into boxes and shipped out, arriving at your local post office two days later.  The crocodile hunter went to the 4H extension office this morning to help sort birds, and incredibly, out of 1250 birds, only one didn't survive the trip.
The girls are raising 25 for a 4H project, and the Crocodile hunter was given a handful of extra birds.  We also purchased 10 Cornish Rock Hens for meat and a dozen Red Pullets, so in all we ended up with about 60 birds.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick Seasonal Table

Here is our current seasonal display.  And no, the hens don't relate to St. Patrick, except for the fact that our chicks were hatched on St. Patrick's day, and arrive this week!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Ordinary

"Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder 
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself."

William Martin

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First Haircut

I never imagined having a baby's first haircut at 6 months, but we just couldn't last any longer!  His hair was in his eyes, hanging over his ears, and so long in the back we constantly got comments about what a beautiful girl!
So, with Bumbo in hand, and a very brave stylist who managed to follow his bobbling head without any nicks, we set a record in this family for earliest first cut.  (compare that to Dimples, whose hair grows so slowly, she was 5 before she had her first cut!!!!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Five P's and a Daily Plan

Walking the path of the day, there are times when life is more purposeful, and times when I  seem to float wherever the tidewaters take me.  In an attempt at remaining open to God, while still living a purposeful life, an outline can be helpful, as long as I remember it is only an outline – a reminder of what might be next.  Last year, I spent some time working on a daily docket, along the lines of the one available from   There are multiple versions of this, including Ann Voskamp's version, a lovely take on the quotidian.  These daily planners inspired me to create my own outline for the day, one that reflected my goals for each day.   I created a basic outline, but set it aside and never completed it.

 I have lived the past year in a floating bubble of preparing and caring for a newborn, allowing many things to fall to the side in order to fully inhale and experience these fleeting moments.  I am loving every precious and beautiful day.  I also know that at some point, a new daily rhythm must find itself within our home.  The cold, dark days of winter always turn my thoughts to how I can better manage my home, and so I returned to the long abandoned daily outline.  I know there is no perfect plan, and no perfect day.  Planning must be balanced with flexibility.  I also know that without any kind of plan or goal, we remain static;  if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.

In thinking about what to include in a daily plan, I went to my personal mission statement, inspired by Holly Pierlot's A Mother's Rule of Life.  If you are not familiar with this book, Holly breaks down the roles of a mother's life into the "Five P's" of Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent and Provider.  In that order, she looks at each facet of a woman's life and how to find the correct balance of priorities.

In keeping with these Five P's, here is my take on the day's plan:

Primary - these are the three most important things of the day.  If only these three are accomplished, the day is a success!

Prayer - the first "P" and the principal thing of the day - here is a place to write down a memory verse, a quote from the lives of the Saints, or other inspiration from morning prayer time.  At the bottom of this box is a place for Partner - the third P.  Here is a place to write out a reminder of how I will serve my husband today - whether it is praying for him, doing something special for him,  or just a reminder of a daily habit to work on in my interactions with him.

Provisions - a place to jot down the family meals for the day - I may eliminate the breakfast and lunch options, since those are pretty fixed around here, but I left them on for now.  By looking at that first thing in the morning, any dinner prep (thawing meat etc.) that needs to be done early in the day is not forgotten.

Personal - the second P in Rule of Life, this is the fun part!  Here is a place to think about the ways I make sure I am getting what I need to enable me to serve those around me.

Pursuing the creative - my favorite, whether it is sewing, painting or building a new material for the atrium, here is where I note any project for which I want to make time 
Pursuing the orderly - a small goal, habit, job to help improve upon or maintain the rhythm of the home
Pursuing the beautiful - a project, moment, idea for bringing beauty into my home and my life 
Pruning - an area of personal growth that needs work - a reminder of a character habit to be working on

Also included in the personal care of self is maintaining good physical health, so there is a place for documenting daily workouts and water consumption.

Praises - here I took a cue from Ann - a place to write down daily thanksgivings, offering praise to God for each gift given.

Planting Mustard Seeds - a place to consciously think about how I am going to participate in the growth of the Kingdom of God on a daily basis.  This serves as a reminder that the smallest of acts, the tiniest of moments can grow into a tree that offers shelter to many.

Parent and Provider - the final two P's, here is a place to make notes on anything related to the kids and basic household duties.

Proposal for the Day - a place to jot down when I plan to complete those Primary priorities, and add in other scheduled events of the day

Projects and Pursuits - another spot to make notes, jot down ideas for future projects, make lists of items needed for a co-op project or the latest idea seen on Pinterest  :)  

There may be a few areas of redundancy here, and this page is certainly a work in progress.  With some of the reading I have been doing lately, I have considered shifting this to a weekly planner format.  As a new regularity begins to manifest itself to our days and weeks, I will likely make a different plan.  Until then,  I have to start somewhere!  For now, it will serve as a roadmap for the day.  A day considered is a day well lived, and I pray that each day may breathe with its own unique life while also maintaining a consistency and direction.

Friday, March 7, 2014

What I did today

slept in
nursed a baby
read aloud to the girls
baked lemon muffins
nursed a baby
took a nap
began to sketch out a new weekly and daily rhythm
helped the girls feed the horses
built a fort by the creek
nursed a baby
practiced my crayon skills
watched the sun go down
prayed the Akathist to the Theotokos
took a 30 minute bath with the door locked
turned thirty-nine
celebrated with a glass of champagne
nursed a baby

I consider it a day well spent.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Reorienting to Rhythm

It seems having babies grounds and centers me.  I didn't always see that as a good thing.  It took a few babies for that lesson to begin to sink in, to see the 40 days the church gives us to rest as a time to draw in and settle, to see the the first years as a time to be home, to allow that new little one to be a reason to let go of some burdens of responsibility that lie outside the home and family.  Those who know me will never say that I do that to the degree that I should.  But I try.  After Dimples was born, I think we found a rhythm of life that seemed to suit us well.  We lived that path for a few years, and they were beautiful years.  Then some things entered into my life that began to demand intense amounts of time.  I let those things pull at me, because they are good things.  But I lost our rhythm.  The bare bones were still there, but too many things stretched me out.  Now, a new little one demands that we pull in, that I find my center once again; that I might not be pulled to pieces, not find myself living in Zerrissenheit.  The cold winter days are such a good time to contemplate new (old) patterns, and the past weeks of icy cold have been a time of thought and evaluation.  Seeking inspiration, I found a lovely little online course, Living Curriculum: Celebrate the Rhythm, that caught my attention, so I took a chance and enrolled for March.  Some of it is just a reminder of things I have forgotten or laid aside, some of it is new insight, some of it we do on a daily basis and all of it is an encouragement to me - a friend holding my hand for a few weeks to bring me back.  The yearly rhythm is perhaps the one I kept hold of the best, so I will work from my strength, and move in to find a new pattern to the weekly and the daily.

My visual interpretation of the yearly rhythm using liturgical colors of the seasons.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


What a beautiful gift the church offers us each year in the form of Forgiveness Vespers.  It can be a hard service.  It is off putting to some.  Some may wonder why we would ask forgiveness of people we don't know, or people we feel certain we haven't wronged?  To miss out on this interaction though is to miss out on a great catharsis of the Orthodox faith.  The church offers us this moment to cleanse.  It matters not if I have offended each and every person present (though odds are, without my knowledge I more likely than not have at some point).  Even if I am asking forgiveness of someone I have never met, I am a sinner.  I was created in the image and likeness of God, and I have corrupted that image and likeness each day.  I have damaged and stained that beautiful white garment I was given at baptism.  Each time I tarnish that image, I sin against all of humanity.  So, this forgiveness is asked of all of humanity, that I might start fresh each year and work towards preserving that likeness better.  And of course, there are those moments when I come face to face with those who I know I have harmed.  Maybe it is just a careless word, maybe it is a strained relationship, maybe it is a long term tension between personalities that likely will never be close.  And maybe it is someone I have hurt deeply through word or deed.  Certainly each member of my family has received painful wounds from me.  Each encounter is a moment to humble oneself before Christ and each other, to ask forgiveness, and to seek to do better in the coming year.  The hugs, the words of forgiveness, the shared tears, all are small steps toward the healing of the soul.  What a great gift the church offers us each year, to humble ourselves before God and each other.  The joy and lightness upon leaving this service can only be compared to that of confession or of the Paschal service when one has fasted, prepared and entered into the full cycle of services.  It brings a sense of new beginning, and for that I am ever grateful.  To each of you in the online world with whom I have crossed paths, I ask the same.  For any stray word, false humility, false appearance or hurt;  Forgive me a sinner.