Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Preparing for Pascha

My first year preparing for Pascha by myself, I had one day off work and tried to cram all the preparations into Good Friday.  I was on my feet all day working very hard to prepare the items to go into our Easter basket.  I totally missed out on a rare day with my son who was probably 2 at the time and infant daughter.  But, I was adamant about finally getting myself together enough to put it together.  One day Pascha basket preparations is insufficient. 

Ever since I became a homemaker I have spread the Pascha basket preparations over Holy week.  Each day I prepare some of the items for our basket. 

Today, I prepared boiled, dyed and pickled eggs.  Usually, I save dying eggs for Holy Saturday preparing the kids' minds that Christ will rise from the dead.  However, I am making a different Pascha bread this year and want to make it on Holy Saturday so that it will be somewhat fresh on Easter Sunday. 

The kids were very excited to help with this activity...I have been trying to include them in the work this year as they are less of a nuisance in the kitchen now. I actually let them help every year and it is such a disaster.  But they are bigger and more helpful this year...I have not made boiled eggs since Lent began.  They all were eager to sample the eggs after they were dyed.  I insisted that they wait until Easter.  However, I left the room and came back and they had all peeled an egg and were inhaling them.  Six eggs later, we will have to repeat Easter egg dying on Holy Saturday anyway, so we will have deviled eggs for Easter.

I let Lucy participate this year.  I thought she would delight in the activity.  She sat down like all the others.  then I placed eggs in front of each child and two in front of Lucy.  All the other kids plopped eggs into the buckets.  Lucy looked confused, grabbed her egg, which she knew to be food, and thrust it into her mouth.  She took a big crunchy bite--shell and all.  I told her not to eat the shell and to spit it out.  She seemed a bit upset and confused again.  I peeled her egg and then she didn't want it.  She thrust the other egg in her mouth and crunched away.  I made her spit again and peeled it.  She was less interested now, but she finished eating her eggs and toddled away.  Her little bewildered face was such a precious moment.  She was an alien to this strange activity of augmenting food.  I want to remember forever that look of innocence.


Mno Hiya Lyta!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Home Haircut Don'ts

I'm not sure home haircuts are costing us any less.  We decided to buzz cut Alex's hair last night, because it was so long and we are heading into warm months.  The girls all stood around giggling as Alex received his cut.  At some point during the haircut Annie disappeared with a pair of scissors and gave herself a haircut.  It was beyond my skills to fix.  So I had to pay someone to fix it. 

A bad haircut to me three weeks ago.  I took a coupon to a discount hair salon and received the worst haircut of my life.  That bad cut cost me more than I would have liked to have it fixed.

Even so, I won't give up on home haircuts, because as my dad always said, the difference between a good hair cut and a bad one is a few weeks.

Here are the stylings of Annie:








Saturday, March 15, 2014

Feeling Vein

I have good news.  A huge weight has been lifted from my heart.  But first some background...

My doctor had made a request to my medical insurance company to cover the treatment of my varicose veins, which became intolerable with my last pregnancy.  The request was denied.  At first the office manager had told me the treatment would cost $2,200.  This upset me.  I could not want to spend thousands on myself, especially when it is not a life threatening condition.  Alas, when I called another time she said that was only the first half of the treatment, it was really going to cost $3,900.  Then and every time I thought about the procedure I felt my mouth go dry and my throat tighten.  I would think about the cost, which weighed heavily upon me and then I would think about the pain in my legs, which is nagging.  Must I really go on with this constant aching?  I quizzed myself over and over, is this really all that bad?  Can I live with this?  I resolved I would find better compression solutions (socks and hose) and save my family thousands of dollars until I could afford this surgery without it being a burden upon our finances. 

I took another step as well.  I wrote an appeal to the insurance company.  I was astonished that the insurance company would not cover this procedure.  As I stated in my letter, I was appalled that they would basically only cover the procedure if my vein ulcerated, the most extreme level of the disease, yet, the company covers chiropractic services and therapeutic massage.  Why not cover this procedure that would help with my pain and improve quality of life? 

I understand that some people experience varicose veins as nothing more than a cosmetic abnormality.  The veins bulge and contort and look ugly and that is all.  If it were only that, I would not be worried.  I am not a vain person (pardon the pun).  I know my beauty is within, hideous physical abnormality, or not.  However, my veins hurt, which is how some people experience it.  As I describe it, it often feels as though someone has put a blood pressure cuff on too tight and left it there.  My leg will feel hot, tired, heavy and swollen.  It's just unlucky, happenstance.  Or is it?

I think many would confer it to damned genetics, curse it and lament.  I believe there are no coincidences and everything, even that which seems without sense, has a purpose.  I am not sure what I am to learn from all this.  But, part of me thinks this is an opportunity to place me at Christ's feet.  Feeling sick, desperate, and alone, I turned to Him.  I felt very alone on this all, because it is not a burden I have felt I could share with anyone.  Folks just cannot understand what a tempest lies in my heart over this dilemma.  And so I pray.

Blessedly, I received a favorable response to my appeal.  The insurance wrote that my plan did have "riders" that would allow coverage.  So, here I sit post-surgery with an achy leg and grateful heart, hoping that this is the end of my vein troubles for at least a long while.

Mno Hiya Lita!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Great Fast: Everyone Wants to Know What's For Dinner

We begin Great Lent again.   As usual I am feeling very unworthy.  There are many bad habits which need correcting.  I am looking forward to living a life with more humility.  I'm ready.  I'm ready for my purification.  

Aside from deeper spiritual wants, I have entered upon this fast with apprehension.  I have been in the habit for the past year of eating too many sweets.  I never give up all sweets for Lent, because in the past I have viewed myself as having enough moderation in this respect.  

Last Great Lent I gave up fancy coffee creamer.  I drank my coffee with only honey, and kept it up for 7 more months after Lent.  But, as my sweets intake increased so did my intake of honey.  Eventually, I began drinking creamer again.  I was worried this morning that I would not be able to get through without sweets.  But, I think the grace of God has helped me through.  I pray that He will help me to the end of Lent.  This little experience of grace has helped me to see how deeply I am dependent upon God's grace for the small things as well as the great. 

The children colored the Last Judgement Icon this morning.  I have wanted to make a big poster for the kids to paint, but I have not found the time, so I figured that we had better get on with the Lenten lessons.  

I think Kristiana really captured the spirit of the icon. 

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Alex added lighting bolts of death. Eek!

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Tonight we are having something interesting for dinner.  I have never made anything like it before.  It is completing my original recipe.  But, it has lots of flavor and beautiful color.  In case you want to try something new, interesting and Lenten friendly, here's my recipe (and I will also be able to remember how I made it if I post it here):

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Spicey Clam Stew

2 cans (6.50 oz) of clams

1/3 cup of celery, diced

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced 

1 potato, peeled and diced

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

2 T cilantro

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

Open cans of clams and pour the juices into a 3 qt. pot.  Bring juices to a boil and add the raw veggies.  Let simmer until the veggies appear softened.  Add cilantro, tomatoes and clams and let simmer for 15-30 minutes.  Optional: omit jalapeño if you don't like the heat.  I did not add salt as the canned food already had enough sodium. 

The children are very picky.  Therefore they will be having slices of cheese, strawberries, carrots and likely they will drag out the goldfish crackers before dinner is over. 

 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nomenclature

Lucy came charging into my bathroom yesterday morning.  She exclaimed, "Baaa, baaa!" (bath).  She began trying to tear off her jammies.  It was mommy's shower time, but Lucy was so excited, so I could be persuaded to take a bath instead.  We hopped in the bath.  After a few moments, Lucy began pointing at body parts and muttering toddler-ese.  I pointed too and said names (well, euphemisms).  

I said, "Arm."  

She said, "Awm."

I said, "Belly."

She said, "Beb-yee."

I said, "Boobie."

She said, "Bebbies."

I said, "Daisy." (Euphemism for private parts.  We don't need to point.  She knows what that is.)

She said, "Day-dee." 

Then she said, "Yay!" and then she repeated the new names over and over, followed by, "Yay!"

I just wanted to remember a sweet moment when Lucy learned new words very quickly and they actually sounded like the words she attempted. 

(The girls and I were practicing the lift from that eighties dance movie.  They have no idea about the movie or the lift, but they were overjoyed to be lifted high in the air.)

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Extra-Curricular Activities

The kids pick up animal excrement in the backyard to earn extra privileges.  I looked out my bedroom window while they were doing the activity to see the kids walking around the yard giggling and helping each other.  I had to snap a picture out  my window.  But I wish I had snapped the giggles.

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My Favorite Snack is Bubbles

Look at these chubby legs.  They are so cute.  They look edible.  Those itty-bitty button toes perched at the edge of the chair are so endearing.

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Lately, Lucy has been pulling chairs up to the counters to do whatever she wills.  She is not destructive like Annie, but she is starting to get into everything.  She helps herself to snacks and water a lot lately.  

She pulled up this chair to play in a sink full of soapy bubbly water.  Now every time I wash dishes in the sink, she is right there in a minute with her chair "helping."  She eats the bubbles and drinks the water--actions that make a grown-up's skin crawl.

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But, look at the joy on this kid's face.  That is priceless.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Finding Fault and Forgiveness

"for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk. 18:14)

No one is without faults.  "Lord be merciful to me a sinner."

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"`Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.'" (Lk. 11:15-32)

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I think these passages and icons speak for themselves.  However, I will add, and forgive me if this gets cryptic because am a tad tired and burdened, finding fault and seeking forgiveness is not the end of the story.  The next step is correcting the fault.  Sometimes that correction is long and painful.  If the fault is not corrected, the same problems will occur over and over.  The same fault will plague a person unto death.  

Even more so, the solution, the correction to problems are not always clear and or easily attained.  I have often heard people say you have to be consistent, because to really correct a deep problem is about correcting bad habits.  Habits are difficult to break.  At first, one tries to be diligent, but the bad habit nags and nags until one fails again.  But, then again with consistency that bad habit will fall away or the person will breakdown and go back to old ways.

I imagine that every once and a while the Prodigal son longed to carouse with friends again.  Then he remembered how painful it was at rock bottom and thought better.  I hope that he indebted himself to his father and worked away quietly and dutifully for the rest of his days.

Mno hya lita! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pioneers Don't Cry

I still hear my mother's voice telling me not to cry over spilled milk.  I was seven or eight years old and spilled nearly a half gallon.  But would it be all right if I cry over spilled Sugar plum body wash on the carpet?  Because, I did.  I shed a tear or two, when I discovered our handful of a three year old had dumped an entire bottle of body wash on the carpet.  My word, if ever I turn away from her this the kind of thing she does.  I was making dinner at the time and I really should have insisted she help me.  But, I had thought her brother and sister were playing with her and I did not want to disturb good play.  She must have slipped away from them.   There's not really a good solution to lots of soap in the carpet.  You just sort of have to hope to do your best the get it out.
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I thought a nice painting activity would get the messiness out of a three year old, but I am pretty sure it only turned on the messy switch.  Annie is not anything like Alex at this age, who patiently made a beautiful icon with me...last Thursday it was a lot of toothpaste on the carpet, Friday she dumped a spice jar of cinnamon sugar spice on the carpet after breakfast (discovered my vacuum was kaput), and the day after soap was blueberry yogurt.
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We have just finished the 4th book in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little house series.  We are already reading the next volume.  Each time we read one of the Little House books I am astonished at their grit.  I wish I had grit like that.  The trials Pa endured losing homes and crops and so forth are just a astounding and he did it all with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.
Here I am fretting and crying over finances, medical bills, home school and soap in the carpet and they did not cry over anything.  I do not think this is a bad thing.  It's okay to have emotion and feel it within, but having crying fits exacerbates the situation and is not necessarily fruitful.  It can certainly waste a lot of time and energy.  I think there is a certain amount of fortitude and humility in repressing excessive displays of emotion.
I am not preaching all this as though I am a model of this skill.  I am simply saying there is something to admire in the ability to take life's hardships and carry on with dignity and spirit.
There are also a lot Biblical passages about carrying on with a cheerful heart:

 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:12-14
 All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:14-16
Mno hya lita!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feasting on Icons

We are back at it for the moment.  The project went all right.  By all right I mean the disaster was contained to the kitchen.  No paint was splattered on the carpet.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  So perhaps I will find time again next week to draw and allow the kids to write icons.

The Feast of the Presentation

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Sunday of Zaccheus

This one was intended for Annie to paint.  I made it simpler. 

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I definitely wanted Annie to have her own icon, because this is how it ended up.  She's a free spirit. 

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The children were most interested in the story behind the Zaccheus Icon, because clearly a man is in a tree and that is interesting.  I was most interested in it as well, because of the meaning for myself--that one must ascend the tree away from materials things in order to see Christ.  Then to be forgiven and achieve the kingdom one must repent and fully release material possession.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rain Delay Morning

It was a bit rainy this morning.  I was not up for much in particular.  But, I promised my 3 year old a "Rainbow Dash My Little Pony"  for finally having lots of consecutive days of dry panties. We made a trip to two local grocery store and they had no ponies.  So we finally ended up at Toys R Us.  After making the selection, we wondered around and tried out all the electric tot cars.  The kids had a pretty good time.   I was pleased because it amused them so much trying out each car.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Faith Like a Child

The sweetest interaction occurred yesterday during homeschool.  Alex (7 yrs.) bumped into Kristiana's (5 yrs.) chair and she nearly fell out of the chair.  Alex quickly moved back to his seat without saying a word.  Kristiana let out a huge exasperation, "Alex! You almost made me go to Heaven!"  Alex and I immediately began giggling.  It was exceedingly cute and silly that firstly, she thought falling out of her chair would make her die and secondly, that dying would mean she would go to Heaven.

Then Kristiana became a little weepy because we had laughed at her.  It was hard to express to her that we were not laughing at her meanly, but that we thought what she said had a sweetness and an innocence about it.

I whispered into Alex's ear, "What she said was funny because she thinks she was going to die and dying means she is going to Heaven.  But, it does not work that way does it?  We don't go to Heaven just because we die." 

Then Alex responded, "Yes, Mommy. She doesn't know about Hell.  Let's not tell her about Hell and then she cannot go there because she won't know evil.  She will only know good."

Awe. Melt my heart.  It is a nice thought to think if we just don't tell her about bad things, then she will always be good.  I also was surprised that this is the thought my son had for his sister whom he sometimes wishes never existed. 

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Mno Hya Lita!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day-off Update

We had grand mom visit.  We had a lovely time: candy and movies and talking.

"We're fabulous!"

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Wall-to-wall lego carpet is not very nice to step on. Grandmom helped Alex organize his Legos.  

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Love my little Princess Sofia

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Ballet Dancer

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Family Clown

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I jumped out of bed this morning, got everyone dressed, let the dog out, saw snow, then remembered to check my email.  I discovered our once every other week homeschool co-op was canceled due to inclement weather.  Well, at least everyone is dressed and ready for the day. 

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Techno-School

I have long struggled to parent the inquisitive 2 - 5 year old range of children.  They are high need, high energy and poor communication skills.  Especially now as a home schooling mom I have found it even more of a challenge to both educate older children and keep the busy toddlers out of trouble.  I have dealt with many stress inducing scenarios via the toddlers.  Often have I wondered whether I am cut out for this sort of work.  I am sure every mother questions herself in such a manner.  Motherhood is, simply put, challenging.  

For the past year and a half, I have desired that one of our children go to preschool because she is absolutely into everything every minute of the day.  She also seems a bit high strung and high need.  It is not as though I have not tried to creatively deal with it, redirect and so forth.  However perhaps with preschool she could go somewhere else and channel her energy--save my nerves from having to both school and dash about the house keeping her out of it.

This week has been different.  There is one key change.  We acquired an iPad and the tot is using it to stay out of trouble.  Normally, I have activities for Annie to partake in alongside our home school lessons.  It does not take too long before she has done all she desires to do and slinks away to flood the bathroom or write on walls with permanent marker; break something valuable.  This week when she began to look restless, or fussy, I offered her the iPad.  She had educational preschool games to play.  She stayed entertained for as long as I needed and she even learned a little phonics and counting this week.  Kristiana is doing better with counting as well.  It's a win all around.  It has been peaceful during school.  It's really an answer to my prayers.  It's my electronic nanny.

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Mno Hiya Lita!