Saturday, March 31, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Fears and Confessions

1. Fear of Constriction - Got my support hose :-( It took me five tries putting them on by myself.  I cut the heck out of my thumb with my toenail--the toenail I cannot reach to cut.  They totally worked for the four hours I wore them.  Then I could not wait to get out of them for bed time stories.  I was a total exhausted mess and feel asleep at 8:30 p.m. in the middle of story time.  I hate being bound up and I wonder if the hose have anything to do with the severity of the body exhaustion.  Maybe I just over did it.  I am also concerned that my husband will not have time to help me get these hose on, or will sleep long past me.

2. Fear of Suffering - I'll be honest, most of this pregnancy and the others too, I have felt like I have been hanging on by a thread.  As I have said before, I do not even suffer from severe pregnancy complications and symptoms.  Pregnancy really brings to light God's curse on woman.  I just really want to bear it with grace and I am afraid I don't do that well.  I hope I also can learn empathy for others who suffer bodily.  I CAN do this and I know there is end in sight.  I can't imagine having to suffer pain knowing that there is no end in sight.  After the baby is born, I know the burdens of child-rearing will still be there and great.  I think what I suffer is the fear of not knowing how much I will suffer.  Anyone can overcome their suffering if they can redirect their attentions.

3.  Fear at the Wonder of God - I love these little fleshy, soul-bearing blessings God has graced upon us.  I wonder, WONDER, how many He wishes the bestow upon us; and sometimes I fear it.  I believe in God's Providence, but it is quite another thing to know exactly what His Providence is.  I do not feel like we became fully human until these children came into our lives.  It is not until one has children that one can see an even greater picture of the world, the universe, the great beyond, and see oneself reflected in them.

4. Secret Dreams - Andrew and I made the decision to send Alex to public school next year and we have been at peace about this.  Alex has continued progress in his education at home this spring.  We have taken a very nonchalant attitude and have planned out very little of it.  We also found a computer game that Alex will do anything to get a chance to play.  So he works on school so he can play.  Sometimes I think I should be more crafty with the kids, but it's certainly not what Alex's needs or wants right now…All this to say, I still go to various home school curricula sites and peruse and dream about enrolling my kids.  I think Alex will be bored at public school, but will love daily social activity.  I will work with Kristiana on preschool this next year and I am excited to start her formal education.

5. Secret Projects - I have a lot I want to accomplish before the baby is born and I try to remember the REST of my life does not hinge upon the birth of this child.  I can do things after she is born--like the pantry reorganization.  I did reorganize my linen closet and put away the newborn baby girl clothes.  I started a garden bed, but I need help to finish it and that's like pulling teeth to get help.  I decided to sell my boy clothes.  Why am I holding on to five tubs of boys clothing when I have a third girl on the way and need to purchase summer clothing for our oldest girl?  Then I have to go through the girls' clothes and get those organized.  It never ends--and all the clothing business does need to be done before the baby is born.

6. Sneak Peek - Almost done. These are my the Icons I have been working on for Great Lent.  They are for our God-children. With our first God-child I decided I would always send gift for Easter.  It was an easy choice because the same year she became our God-child, her parents entered the Church and gifts were only natural.  Easter is God's greatest gift to the world and our faith revolves around this greatest of Feasts.  I may forget birthdays, but I will never forget Easter.


7.  Little Confessions - Just ate a pop tart and a handful of potato chips, because that's what the kids are eating right now, this mid-morning.  I don't really have another quick take right now and I have to go wash the cloth diapers, which I have been falling behind washing because I am too tired at night to do and need to work on my Icons--speaking of Icon, better go polyurethane those...  So, have a Holy, Holy, Holy Week.

K, after this little vent I feel better. Thanks for bearing with me, Friend.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Kid Klean Scene


Just a little mom-spiration:  As my friend and I visited the other day she mentioned that her sister had six kids and her oldest is nine years old.  I asked her how it was going.  I have been feeling overwhelmed lately with just three kids.  I do not know how older moms get through pregnancies with many more kids.  But anyhow, my friend said her sister does great.  She totally has a Mother's Rule going on and she home schools.  The kids all pitch in around the house and the bathrooms get cleaned everyday--and there was my light bulb.  I like our bathrooms to be clean, but they do not get cleaned as often as I would like.  My kids actually crowd around and desperately want to help when I do clean the bathrooms, but I don't like them to be around the chemicals let alone the bathroom bacteria.  I usually let them each swirl the toilet with the toilet brush so as not to discourage them.  But, why shouldn't I capitalize on this enthusiasm.  So I looked up recipes for natural cleaners.  It's all vinegar, water and borax.  I put them in a basket under the sink in the bathroom.  So they can now clean the bathroom whenever they want or whenever I ask them.

Let's see the like to help cook too.  So I need to teach them to cook.  They also always asks to help vacuum too.  Mommy's plotting, Kids.  All in good time, your motor skills will be sufficient to cook and you will be tall enough to vacuum and I will have that clean orderly house I dream of.

Although, Alex has really matured over the last six months.  He listens well and helps out a lot.  We are really enjoying our big boy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Li'l Slugger

...Or should I say Li'l Bunter.

Alex had his first tee ball game on the weekend.  It was unexpectedly fun for the whole family.  We did not expect to feel so involved with a 4-6 year old tee ball game, but it was very exciting.  Alex's team "won" (they don't keep score, but Alex's team all made it home twice and the other team made it home once and Alex's team tagged their first three players out, so they only got to bat once through too.)

Alex was the first to bat and the first to score.  He was also the last to bat and the last to score.  He bunted both of his balls so they had to run in to get it.  Then he speedily ran the bases.  He is easily one of the fastest kids on the team.  He was so proud of himself--in a sweet, adorable, humble way.

It was fun to cheer on the other kids too.  It was fun to see their improvement and see them do well.  It was adorable to see the little girl who ran the wrong way to the pitcher's mound instead of first base.

We feel like Texans and community members now! We feel like Americans!  We totally get the love of baseball (maybe not nine innings of baseball). We were also pleased by the covered seating in the Texas heat! You won't see that on a soccer field.


After his home run - He asked me to take his picture.  He wanted to remember the moment forever.


Proud Sister - She wanted to share this moment with Alex
Then the kids all got to have popsicles.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Feast of the Annunciation - "Hail Mary, Full of Grace"

Alex's Icon - Afterward he showed his Dad and said, "Isn't it beautiful?"
"Indeed, son."

Alex Annunciation

Kristiana's Icon - She was very insistent on coloring Blessed Theotokos all blue and the rest of the image gold.  
Divine insight, I guess.

Kris Annunciation

"Gabriel came to you, O Maiden,
and disclosed God's plan
which was from all eternity.
He joyfully offered you his greetings
and cried out:
"Hail, O land without human seed!
Hail, O bush untouched by fire!
Hail, O depth no human eye can fathom!
Hail, O bridge that leads up to Heaven!
Hail, O fleece receiving the heavenly manna!
Hail, O dissolution of the curse!
Hail, O Maiden who returned Adam to grace!
the Lord is with you."


"Today is the fountain-head of our salvation
and the revelation of an eternal mystery:
The Son of God, becomes a virgin's Son
and Gabriel announces this grace.
Therefore, let us exclaim with him
to the Mother of God:
"Hail, O Woman full of grace,
the Lord is with you!"


Oh, how I have missed Icon writing with the kids.  But these Byzantine Icon coloring pages will do in the meantime. 
Here's a look back to last year: Icon Writing with Kids: The Annunciation
Next year will be Kristiana's turn to write a year of Festal Icons with Mom. Yay!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

7 Steps for Preparing the Kids for Easter

Caveat: I am not going to profess I am an expert Christian, expert Mom, or expert educator.  But, I always have a lot of thoughts running through my head ready to spill.  Here are some thoughts to share.

I thought of these 7 steps to prepare children for the Easter season.  Since I have tried and failed at teaching many "lessons" I think these steps should be kept simple and should be executed between now and Easter Sunday.  Keep it to 30 minutes of work a day.  This is not overly crafty or overly wordy.  But, feel free to elaborate on it as you see fit.  And if you come up with a good addition to a step, post it in a comment below.

7 Steps to Prepare for Easter

1. A good way to begin is reading the story of the Garden of Eden and the Fall, so that they understand why Jesus died for our sins. (Gen. 3:1-23).
2. Then define Messiah and explain that the Messiah is Jesus.  He was a teacher, minister during his life with us and in the end our Savior.
3. Color Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem prior to Palm Sunday.  Christ entered Jerusalem as a King (Click the picture below and print, or email me for a pdf).
Christs Entrance Into Jerusalem
4. Read the Stations of the Cross and color them.  Explain that Christ's death and suffering heals the sin that Adam and Eve gave to all their descendants in the Fall.  (Here are Extensive Stations of the Cross coloring pages middle of the page, Stations of the Cross reading from Loyola Press).
5. Decorate Easter eggs on Holy Saturday.  Eggs symbolized Christ's Resurrection and our own rebirth into the Eternal Life.
6.  On Holy Saturday or Bright Monday color the Resurrection.  Explain that Christ conquered death (our death) and healed Adam and Eve's sin.  In the image Christ is stepping on the cross (the gates of hell) showing that he conquered death and he is pulling Adam and Eve out of their graves showing that he healed our sin (Click on the picture below and print, or email me for a pdf).
The Resurrection
7. Pray as a family, on Easter or Bright Monday, thanking the Lord for His suffering to make up for our sins and His Resurrection giving us eternal life.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes - Beware the Mommy Brain

1. Pregnancy Amnesia - Oh Boy, we're there again.  It's that time in pregnancy when my brain gets all mushy and forgetful.  I am not talking just a little bit mushy and forgetful.  I am a lot forgetful.  This morning I took the kids to the library and on the way home I had a minor panic attack because I could not remember what I fed Alex and Kristiana for breakfast.  I started to wonder if I had actually fed them anything.  Not only had I fed them breakfast, as I remembered later, but I had also fed them a mid-morning snack.  I must admit that each one of them has missed a meal or two over the past few weeks.  It's not because I have not tried, it's because they will tell me they are not hungry when it's a regular feeding time and I am not going to cater to feeding children all day long.  Especially, when it's difficult for me to get around.  They need to eat at regular times.  They did not seem disturbed by it.  They just wanted to actually eat dinner as opposed to pushing it around their plates. ;-) (Some nights I swear I am just going to start serving them empty plates for dinner, because they never seem to eat anything.)

2. Huge -  As I said at the beginning of this pregnancy, I was hoping that would not be a big complainer toward the end.  Well, I am not exactly complaining, but I am not feeling like everything is an ice cream sundae with a cherry on top.  I cannot ignore my discomfort.  This is the point when it happens for me.  I do not feel my body can can stretch any farther.  I'm not just huge.  I'm HUGE.  I have a lot of time left in this pregnancy, so I am only going to get bigger.  I find it difficult to get up from wherever I am sitting or laying.  I am really trying to encourage the kids to be more independent about their needs and desires.  In order to wash the dishes in the sink, I have to turn my belly to the side to reach.  Poor Annie, has almost no room left in my lap.  She also wants to be picked up and cuddled a lot.  She's figured out that something is changing, but she's not ready for it.

3. Feeding Frenzy - Hmm, I might be huge because I am so hungry lately.  We're talking regular meals and snacks are obligatory.  After dinner, I clean up and the kids play a little.  Then we get the kids ready for bed, which involves a lot of chasing around tots.  Then I spent an hour reading to the kids and we put them to bed.  Then we put them to bed a couple more times ;-) By the time this is all over, two and a half to three hours have passed since dinner, it's late, we're tired and I'm hungry again! So I eat.

4. A Leg to Stand On - I have some awful varicose veins on one of my legs.  I have had trouble with this in past pregnancies, but this is the worst they have been.  My leg is all black and blue.  But, worst of all it hurts, burns and itches.  It is really uncomfortable by the time dinner has been cleaned up.  I have to lay down to stop it from hurting.  I probably need to try support hose :-/  Weirdly enough exercise helps it because the increased heart rate pumps the pooling blood out of the veins.  The problem went away after the other pregnancies.  I hope it goes away again after this one.  But, I know it's not going away until after birth.  We are just going to have to bear it.  And by we, I mean I really need lay down from time to time, so children and husband are just going to have put up with me laying down.

5. Easter - Sadly, today I was thinking I need to scale back my Easter preparations.  I cannot stand on my feet for many hours preparing our Easter basket as I have in the past.  I guess it is fitting since I have scaled back our Lenten preparations as well.  We are prayful, but the fast does not seem quite as sacrificial as in the past.  The fast from coffee creamer is still hitting home.  I do not know why coffee creamer has been such a challenge, but it is what we need I suppose…I digress…Thankfully! A friend just invited us to their Easter celebrations.  Praise be to God!

6. Projects - Well, I have a lot of projects in mind to complete before Lucy is born.  I guess they are just things that need to be done, but impending birth gives a good excuse to get them done.  I am going to mention them here in the hopes that it will keep me honest.  Finish my Great Lent Icons (I think this one will get done. Fingers crossed);  Weed the yard; Yard sprinkler system and new sod; Make a Mary garden in the backyard; reorganize my linen closet; reorganize my pantry; reorganize the baby/girls' clothing.

7. Quirks - My little Kristiana is a funny little girl.  Full of her own little quirks.  She loves/is thankful for grated cheese, chocolate almond milk, cereal and oranges.  Kristiana walked around the kitchen cradling a mandarin orange.  She said it was a baby orange.  And she talked to it like it was a little baby.  She told the orange that it was cute little baby orange.  Then she had me peel it and said it was a naked baby orange.  Then she told the orange that it was a cute tasty baby orange and then she ate her baby.

Last month, I made Andrew a big burger with all the fixin's. She thought I had made the burger have a face with lips since it had a tomato slice on it.  Before my husband made it to the table she grabbed the top of the bun and started flapping the top bun up and down as though it was a mouth talking.  She was jabbering away.  "Hi, I'm Mr. Burger.  I like sauce…"  Then my husband sat down, prayed for the blessing and then took a big bite.  As he lifted the burger to his mouth Kristiana said in a little, squeaky, puppet like voice, "Noooo, don't eat me."  Yeah, try to eat a burger ever again after something like that happens.

Somedays Kristiana changes her clothes five times in one day.  Yet, she'll tell me she needs help in the bathroom, because she has trouble with her clothes.  I'm not buying it.

Kristiana wore this little number out in the backyard to play one evening. It was 40 F degrees outside. It was chilly.  She came in to tell me she was cold. No kidding, Kristiana.

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Alex's little quirk - People ask Alex if he is in school.  He tells them, "No, he does homeschool."  He started telling people he is in first grade (Btw, he's tiny.  He looks like he is no more than four years old).  He started telling people this because I brought out a first grade work book one day.  He has not worked in it all, since he has refused lessons.  I never correct him about his "grade."  For one, he is usually chattering away and I am usually busy as well.  Secondly, why not?  It's not entirely inaccurate.  He reads first grade books well.  He counts to 100.  He is working on addition and subtraction (he works on this verbally with me).  He could be a beginning of the year first grade level student.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Christ is in Our Midst" - Retreat Part 2

Continued from Retreat Part 1

Fr Daniel Forsythe, from St. Basil the Great, Byzantine Catholic Church in Irving, Texas was our first speaker of the day.  Fr. Daniel expounded upon the Schmemman reading briefly and then turned to his favorite Bible passage, The Samaritan Woman, St. Photini, (John 4:1-45).

Samaritan womanChrist and his disciples came to "Jacob's Well," outside of Samaria at noon.  The disciples traveled on farther into the city to find food.  Jesus, sat by the well and asked a woman to give him a drink.  The woman was shocked Jesus would talk to her.  Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.  Further men and women do not normally talk with each other in public.  Jesus asks for a drink of water, after some banter about the water and well Christ offers, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14).

Jesus and the Samaritan woman discuss her life and worship all alluding to the worship of the Samaritans as well as her personal life.  Finally, Christ reveals to her that He is the Messiah and she believes Him and runs to the town to tell everyone.  They believe and come to the well to meet the Messiah.  St. Photini, the Samaritan woman, is known as the Mother of the Church in Samaria.

Following the meeting with the Samaritan woman, the disciples returned and offered Christ food, but He said that He had food they did not know about.  “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor” (Jn 4:34-38).

Fr. Daniel explained, we encounter Jesus as we are, as Photini did.  She was not perfect.  She was a sinner who had had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband.  But encountering Christ is life giving.  The woman is elevated from being a lowly Samaritan and a woman of ill-repute to becoming the leader of conversion for her people in this life-giving encounter with Christ.

In summary, in the Gospels we never are given Doctrine from Jesus, which is what the Samaritan woman and disciples sought from Christ.  What we get from Jesus is Jesus.  Jesus is Truth.  Jesus is living and moving in our midst, giving us Truth throughout His ministry on Earth.

The Eucharist is not a Doctrine laid out in the Gospels.  Jesus gives Himself to us--sacrificing Himself for our sake out of Love.  The Eucharist is our gift of ourselves back to Christ.  We come to be in communion with God out of our love as He always has offered His communion with us from the beginning of time.  From the Greek word eukaristo meaning grateful, with gratitude, grace.  It is not saving in Its transformation--we are transformed in our partaking.  It is a mystery in which our communion is our saving.  We must recognize Christ in each other and come to the table together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  This is our communion with God as the Church, not individually.   Therefore, it is costly to turn Liturgy into a hyper-spiritual experience in which it is your expectation, need and desire that every moment be engaged in an individual, lofty, spirituality.  Communion is not an individual experience.  It is the Church coming to the table.  Christ does not cease to be present in life's experiences and distractions.  We do not need to have an ultra-awareness of Christ's presence to actually be in Christ's presence.   A toddler is tugging at your clothing, or babbling away during consecration--Christ does not cease to be present.  While lighting a candle in prayer and your mind suddenly questions whether you turned off the oven before leaving the house--this does not negate your prayer.  "Christ is in our midst!"

Liturgy is our coming together as Christ's Church.  The Holy Spirit has gathered us proving we have a relationship with Christ--whether there is heightened awareness of Christ or not.  When we eat our Eucharistic meal, when we come and have a place at the table as son's and daughter's of Christ, that is our saving.

***I am sure I have not done Fr. Daniel's talk or Fr. Schmemman's essay justice, however, I have to add my own reflection as a mother.

When Fr. Daniel spoke the words, "Christ is in our midst," a blessing I have heard many times in the Byzantine Church, I burst into tears.  I hoped that no one around me would notice.  How could I explain my sudden emotion at that moment.  I could have bawled and still I get teary-eyed when I think about it.  These words were my undoing.

As a mother of three pre-school aged children, it has been years since I have attended a Liturgy or uttered a prayer uninterrupted.  There have been so many times in which I felt hopeless, because I would go to the gathering of the Liturgy and had hardly participated at all as I spent the entire time disciplining or attending to children.  In the past, I felt strained emotionally, and in my spirit, that I could not focus on a tangible relationship with God--with Christ.  Yet, I persevered, and over time, I felt I came to a place of peace about it all--that is until this day came.

Through all the noise and busy-ness of my days with these beautiful blessings--my children, my work--Christ is in our midst.  Through all the Liturgies in which the children were the central focus as opposed to the worship--Christ is in our midst.  Through all the days in which my attention was on my duties and on doing good work--Christ is in our midst.  Through all my worst and best moments--Christ is in our midst.  How many times I had heard this phrase before, and this was the first time I knew it was not only true, but it released me from my own bondage in some strange way.  We do not need to hunger or thirst for Christ.  He is in our midst now.  This gave me comfort and peace (like a warm hug).  His grace is there.  I had been receiving it all along.  I have been in His midst--my every prayer has proved it, my every effort has proved it, and my presence at His table has proved it.  And He has blessed me.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Everywhere Present and Fills All Things" - Retreat Part 1

A couple of weekends ago we held a mother's retreat for a Catholic moms group of which I am a part.  For the second year I was the organizer of the retreat (I hope I am doing a good job).  I wanted to share what I learned at the retreat.  I will do a few posts in parts containing a summary of the speakers.

The retreat was called, "Come to the Table."  We advertised it as a Eucharist centered retreat.  We had two speakers in person, a Scott Hahn audio, an hour of Eucharistic Adoration and an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation; and lots of good food and conversation.

It all began last spring when I read For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemman.  I was so inspired.  I wanted to bring this to the retreat.  Most of all, what I wanted to bring to life was the part of the Eastern prayer to the Holy Spirit that says, "O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who are everywhere present and fills all things..."  I wanted those attending the retreat to be given an opportunity to be present with the Lord and then remind them that He does not leave us.  It is we who leave Him.  So by the end of the retreat the ladies would be prepared to be present with the Lord always and take this home to their families.  As moms our days are full of children's, household and wifely demands.  It's easy to lose God's presence amidst the noise and busy-ness of daily life, or is it?

I offered the first chapter of For the Life of the World as an optional reading.  The chapter introduces man, "'Man is what he eats.' With this statement the German materialistic philosopher Feuerbach thought he had put an end to all 'idealistic; speculations about human nature. In fact, however, he was expressing without knowing it, the most religious idea of man" (Pg. 11). To paraphrase further, man, first,  is a hungry being; man must eat in order to live; take the world into himself and transform it into his flesh and blood.

Schmemman's mission was to end the fallacies of religiosity.  He wanted to end notions that our physical life and spiritual life were separate entities and in order to have a spiritual life one had to leave himself and this world behind.  He wanted to end notions that the material was in opposition to the spiritual--that because man eats and consumes to live and has appetites, this is his profane side. However, Christ unites all things in Himself.  Everything Christ did as a human becomes of God.  "In the Bible the food that man eats, the world of which he must partake in order to live, is given to him by God, and it is given as communion with God…All that exists is God's gift to man and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man's life communion with God.  It is divine love made food, made life for man" (Pg. 14).'

"The world is a fallen world because it has fallen away from the awareness that God is all in all" (Pg. 16).  Man uses the world for its own sake and not because God made it and not for the love of God.  "Man's dependence on the world was intended to be transformed into communion with God."  It is only when the divine gifts are received by man in communion with God, received for the sake of God, that we are granted life.

If this is whet your spirit and intellect, I recommend you follow the link above and read the entire chapter.  What Schmemman offers so clearly, what Christ Himself offered, is that communion with God is meant to be unending and filled with His love.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Mother's Place to Pray

It's a practice of our Orthodox faith to have a home church--a place to worship and keep both our souls and bodies engaged with our Holy Lord (  I have posted pictures of our prayer corner before ( is a work in progress.  It is a good place for the family to pray--although I plan to place Icons down low near the kids' book basket so they have a place with Icons at their eye level.  But I realized today, that this is not the place where I pray most frequently.  I pray here...

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…In my kitchen.  Ever since we moved into this house a little over a year ago, I placed this travel Icon diptych over our kitchen sink.  In the old place, I had something similar over our stove.  Both places it was a pass through from the kitchen to the family room where I could both spend my time in the kitchen and watch over my children playing (or fighting).  I spend most of my day in our kitchen.  I cook meals at the stove and feed the family at the kitchen table; I do dishes at the sink; I draw and teach the kids at our table; and the laundry room is on the other end of the kitchen.  And pray here a lot.

In the morning when I wake up, I often grab the diptych and our Bible, set up and pray at the kitchen table.  The kids will begin waking one by one as I pray.  They can all come sit with me at the table and wake up as I pray and I feel I can easily say to them, "Just one moment, I'm praying."  Or if they need their milk more urgently some mornings, I can attend to them quickly since we are already in the kitchen and easily return to morning prayer.  Why not include them?  This is not their prayer time, it's mine.  Then I return my little shrine to it's central location over the kitchen sink.  Throughout the day, I will see it and say a little prayer.

It only makes sense that a mother would pray where she spends most of her time.  It is good that we have our family prayer place out in the open, on an Eastern wall and where all who enter can immediately view it.  That is for everyone else.  But this little place in the kitchen is my sanctuary.

(As I have said before, Kristiana likes to move statues around our house and she added the statue of Mary this month.  
It's a glow-in-the-dark statue that I received in first grade from my teacher for learning the fourteen stations of the cross)

I also want to emphasize that this picture was not posed.
I threw my prayer rope up on the prayer book before I washed something and thought that maybe I should make a post about my prayer place

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Lenten Split Pea Soup Recipe

All right we have a request for the Split Pea Soup recipe so here it is:

2 large carrots, chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 T olive oil
32 oz of vegetable broth
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups split peas

Sautee all vegetables in oil until tender.  Add broth, water and salt.  Bring to a boil and add split peas.  Simmer for 1 hour -to 1 1/2 hours until the peas become a porridge.

It's pretty simple.

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More Lenten Menus

Here are more Lenten Menu ideas:


Sunday: Steak (we're so low on iron), honey and butter carrots, corn

Monday: Split pea soup and bread

Tuesday: Roast chicken thigh, brown rice and okra

Wednesday: Chickpea Masala, mixed veggies and jasmine rice

Thursday: Pan poached salmon, green beans with bow tie pasta and slivered almonds covered in italian dressing

Friday: Black bean tacos (flour tortilla, black beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, hot sauce and peppers); Kid sub: quesadillas

Saturday: Meatloaf, mash potatoes and oranges


Breakfast: Total cereal (for extra iron), black coffee (still no coffee creamer and it still hurts like the first day of Lent)

Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Chickpea masala


Friday, March 2, 2012

Truth and Tenderness

Well, I guess I stirred up some emotions in folks with yesterday's post about homeschooling.  My husband thought it was a pity party post.  That totally was not my intention.  More than anything, this place truly is my log.  It was something I do not want to forget in the future.  These are my life lessons and I want to remember and learn from them.

I felt badly about what happened between Alex and I.  I wondered if my attempts were just too forced.  I think I am going along just swimmingly, coming up with fantastic, creative ideas only to have them shot down, by a five year old no less.  I recognize that there is honesty behind his response despite it's ugliness.  Therefore, what is that truth this child reveals to me?  Moreover, what am I missing in this process?  How many books do I need to read and how many attempts must I make to succeed?  Teaching my child is something I believe in.

But on a lighter note, here are tender moments from the girls.

Now that Annie has learned to smile at the camera, she thinks that pulling funny faces is part of it.  
Check out these silly faces she pulled especially for these pictures.




Kristiana likes to feel she is helping.  Here she is feeding Annie her breakfast - Look at the cute "mommy-face" she is making


Annie and Kristiana are really good at modeling adult behavior and actions.  Kristiana learned to cut up her own apple today.  I helped her with pressure control.  
She skipped watching her afternoon cartoons to come and learn.  It was that exciting and interesting to her.

At Alex's T-ball practice the adults were all yelling, "Go, go, go!" at the tikes running the bases.  Annie thought this was brilliant and started yelling, "Go, go, go!" as well. It was really cute.  Then she kept trying to escape and run the bases as well.  I think she thought it looked like fun and perhaps people yell, "Go!" for her as well.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homeschool Guilt Trip

My husband tells me I am not a failure.  And when I look at all the things that our children have learned, I know that I cannot be considered a failure.  But, the way my children behave toward me sometimes makes me feel like a failure.

From the beginning of becoming a stay-at-home mom, teaching my son has been a struggle and a battle.  He has been very resistant to a lot of what I try to teach him, yet, he has seemed to thirst for me to provide activity and knowledge.  At first, I thought that I just need him to trust me.  We worked on it and he trusted me and things got better.  Then I had to figure out how to make things comfortable and pressure-free, because he shut down if he could not do it perfectly.  I did my best and things got better.  He learned a lot.  I taught him to read, write, count, paint, and faith, and he is only five years old. All along the way there have been speed bumps.  I have tried to take them in stride.  I have tried to take things slowly.  All along the way I have felt moments of defeat.

Recently, he refused all lessons I prepared for him.  I started offering him learning opportunities in disguise.  He has continued to learn, just not as steeply and neatly as I would like.  I have insisted that he continue to practice reading, but he always has to receive a reward for it.  That is nothing new.  I also have begun to read to him more.  He has spent more time playing independently, which I love and encourage.  Any opportunity to use one's imagination is good.  I view playing as learning as well.  Alex comes up with all sorts of creative things while he is playing.  If he is playing, he is not picking on his sisters.  I also welcome the opportunity to do my own chores without children expecting me to entertain them.

However in recent times, we have decided, much to our chagrin, to give him a new experience and give him time outside of our home.  We are going to send him to the public school around the corner from our home.  And for us, no more battles trying to teach him and a little peace for his sisters--a little recovery time for mom after a new baby arrives.  With this decision, I have felt like a failure.  Why could I not make this home school situation work?  My husband said that I am not a failure.  Alex is just the kind of kid that needs to go to school.  I am not sure I believe that.  Cannot any child be taught in the home?

I have not given up.  I checked out books from the library on Montessori education and have been reading them all month.  I am not an expert on it at all yet.  I figured that since Alex likes to be master of himself, that I would give him that opportunity by letting the learning be practical and self-led.

I wanted to continue academic development as well.  I started by getting out his lesson books and would let him pick one lesson he might be interested in learning.  "I'm drawing right now, Mommy."   Okay, keep drawing.  While the kids eat breakfast or in the car before we go on a morning outing, I read them a Bible story or a religion lesson and then ask them a couple questions.  No complaints about that yet.  I took a couple baskets we already had and I made one reading books and one science and math books.  I told Alex he could look at them as he pleases.  So now he is teaching himself addition and subtraction.  And he is looking at his reading books on his own (I miss our snuggly reading sessions).





Today,  I found a website that has simple Montessori lessons for primary aged kids.  I thought the website was very helpful.  I read a lesson on "sweeping."  After reading it, I thought that I could turn the sweeping lesson into a game and maybe I would invent a little sweeping helper.  I envisioned how nice it would be to have children sweeping the floor after dinner while I cleaned up.  I took construction paper, taped it to the floor and drew shapes on the paper.  Then I took out our child size broom and dust pan and invited the children to the kitchen.  I told them I had a game for them.  I poured colored bow-tie pasta onto the floor and told them whoever sweeps the most pasta into their shape wins.  Alex played along.  Then he swept the pasta into the dust pan and put it back in the bag.  I said, "All right, now let's play the same game with the dirt on the kitchen floor."  Alex freaked out, hit me, said no, said that's not fun and left.  I tried to convince him to come back and talk to me.  I told him it could be fun.  When he did not come back, I told him he needed to go to his room and sit on his bed and think about how he should treat people, and that his behavior was unkind and being unkind breaks God's commandments.  He left.  Then I cried. I cried (probably because I am pregnant, emotional and overtired from kids waking in the night) because I felt like a failure.  I have tried so hard to make learning something new and practical, fun and without pressure.  I have reinvented how we learn over and over again for him.  And I have been mistreated.  I do not want to admit that strangers in a public school could do better than I and without Faith in God.  Yet, this is what I am resorting to.  Furthermore, I cannot face being mistreated daily every time I try to teach him and I cannot let him run wild as he would like.


I am not trying to make him out to be some crazy deviant.  He is a good kid.  He came back to the kitchen after he had thought about his behavior and said that he would help me sweep and he was sorry.  He did not know I was crying when he came back.  I told him that I did not want or need his help sweeping; I just wanted to make a game for him and make sweeping fun for him; I told him that he could go away and play.  He said, that he still wanted to help me.  So I had him sweep up my piles of dirt with the dustpan.

What a disaster.  I cannot decide whether Montessori is on to something, or whether it just creates inauthentic busywork for parent/teacher and child.  I say this, because I learned all of these life skills the Montessori method teaches by living life authentically, not by contrived trays overtly placed and lessons.  A child learns to sweep by watching his mother and then is given the broom and told to do it (this does not have to occur at the same moment, but at some point in his life).  A child learns to button his shirt because there are buttons on his shirt, not because someone set a button practicing tray in front of him.  Can you force a child to be a "sovereign knower," or does this not happen naturally?  I think not.  I think each man MUST define and know himself for himself.  Montessori seems to set out to define the child's sense of self by teaching self-sufficiency through an overly contrived setting.  But like I said,  I cannot decide if this is the case.  There is something to providing a child-friendly, practical, orderly and beautiful environment in order that the child might discover his world and thrive on his own.

I do not know why sweeping the floor had to turn into a guilt trip for me and Alex.  I did not mean it to.  I don't know why I take such things so personally.  Maybe this is how homeschooling is going to be for us--step ups and speed bumps--and I just need to make peace with it all.