Tuesday, August 31


Today is day four of fevers, croup, headaches, and coughing for our little ones. It is so sad to see them laying listlessly on the couch. We were planning on beginning school tomorrow, but I think that we may wait a few more days to get better. We are definitely going a little stir crazy... especially since we had our first taste of freedom to do whatever we wanted last week after months of bedrest, 40 days at home after the baby's birth, and then waiting for the little one to be baptized. Any tips for encouraging my little ones?

Monday, August 30

Learning Basket: Circus...

The Secret Circus
It's Circus Time, Dear Dragon
Circus Caps for Sale
Curious George Rides a Bike
Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken
Dimity Dumpty: the Story of Humpty's Little Sister
Last Night I Dreamed a Circus

Crafts and Activities
Create Circus Playset: Circus Clown, Ringmaster, Lion, and Elephant
Animal Crackers for a snack
A trip to the Circus (ours is in town Monday and Tuesday)
Watch Curious George Rides a Bike
Sing Circus Song

(tune: "I've Been Working on the Railroad)

I am walking through the circus,
Happy as can be.
I am walking through the circus,
Just to see what I can see.
I can see the clown laughing.
I can see the elephant, too.
I can see the lion sleeping.
Look out! ‘Cause he sees you.

Sunday, August 29

Reading Through the Year of Grace...

Mary has been hard at work preparing a blog for us all that will be full of different reading lists for all age groups for the entire year! It will take some time for everything to be loaded onto the new site, but please visit often so that you can see the updates!

Reading Through the Year of Grace

Saturday, August 28

Vintage Doily Votives...

This was such a fun and easy craft! I am hoping to find some doilies at a thrift store or two so that I can make a few more! I am envisioning a whole bunch of these on the mantle in January and February once the Christmas decorations are packed up and the house needs a little cheering.

Friday, August 27

Paddle Boating...

Earlier this week, Fr John took the morning off to take us to a nearby state park to go paddle boating with the little ones. Button and I stayed on the shore enjoying the cool shade of a tree so that we could take pictures! It was quite an adventure for the children. Papa even had to push the boat out of the mud where it got stuck!

Thursday, August 26


Tuesday night, we finally got our act together and made s'mores! This great s'mores set was a gift that I gave to my in-laws when I was dating Fr John and they gave it to me so that the children could enjoy it now that they are empty nesters. It was so much fun! Though both of the children really liked roasting the marshmallows and making the s'mores, only Sugar Plum liked the taste. I think that we'll try to do this a few more times before the summer is over!

Wednesday, August 25

Learning Basket: Seashore...

Crafts and Activities
Ocean Scene Painting: use blue, green, and white paint to create an ocean scene... add sandpaper for sand if you would like
Visit to the Beach to Splash in the Water and Play in the Sand
Seaside I Spy: "I spy a beach umbrella, I spy a kite, etc. Give more difficult clues to older children
Fish Bowl Puzzle (mainly for Little Man)
Magnetic Fishing Game

Stay tuned for next week's basket! The topic is The Circus!

Tuesday, August 24

Daily Rhythm...

.:Coloring Together, March 2010.:

While we are planning on doing preschool work just two days a week, I also want to have a rhythm to our days. I don't believe in over-scheduling children, but I think that there is merit in having a general idea of what one's day and week will bring. Because life can be hectic, I like to plan for reading, art, and going places we find interesting. I know myself... if I don't plan for these important things, they will get pushed aside and before I know it, bedtime will arrive and we will have forgotten to read!

Each day, we will strive to read aloud three times a day. We will sit down with storybooks after breakfast, before our nap, and before bed. During one of those times (probably before bed), Father John will read a selection from the Children's Bible Reader to the little ones. Prior to Button's arrival, we read this frequently nearly everyday. Now that life is getting back to normal (or more accurately, new normal!), we can get back in the habit.

We will try to set aside time for arts and crafts on a daily basis. Some of the mediums we like are paint, watercolors, colored pencils/watercolor pencils, window crayons, play dough, collage...

Daily adventures will also be a part of our rhythm. Exploring our development's nature paths and playground, taking walks around the neighborhood, venturing to the town library to pick out books, taking part in story hour on our errand day, going for nature walks with Papa at the state park, and visiting the beach are a few of the things that we like to do. It is also a goal to get outside as much a possible during the day. Even if we don't go anywhere, taking the children out to ride bikes, dig in the dirt, water plants, and just wander around the yard looking for bugs is a perfect way to spend the day.

There is no doubt in my mind that there will be days that we get very little accomplished... it is just how things are with little ones in the house. However, I know what I would like to aim for each day and hopefully, our children will get what they need to thrive, learn, and grow!

Monday, August 23

Homeschooling for the 2010 School Year...

We are beginning the pre-school officially this year. It is a very exciting time for Sugar Plum! Here our the things that we will be working on two mornings a week this year:

Morning Circle (A variety of little things will be sampled during this time: recording the weather, singing, storytime, artist study, poetry study, music study, etc.)
Memorization of The Trisagion Prayers
Learning Basket Reading and Activities
Shape Identification
Counting by Rote
One to One Correlation in Counting
Pre-Writing Skills
Letter Recognition
Letter Sounds
Identification of the Beginning Sound of Words
Simple Rhyming

Materials We Will Be Using:
An Abundance of Children's Literature
Letters of Grace Orthodox Curriculum
Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K (Pre-School Workbook, Wooden Letters, Letter Cards, and Chalkboard)
My Book of Numbers 1-30
My Book of Number Games 1 - 70

Sunday, August 22

Peach Crisp...

This makes a scrumptious breakfast or dessert! It can easily be made Lenten or can be enjoyed with a dollop of whipped cream or a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

5 cups of peeled and sliced fruit - apples, peaches, pears, apricots, blueberries*, cherries*, rhubarb*, or a combination
2 to 4 T. granulated sugar
1 cup regular rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup coconut

For filling thaw fruit, if frozen. Place fruit in an ungreased baking dish. Stir in granulated sugar.

For topping, in a mixing bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and coconut. With a pastry blender or clean hands, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over filling.

Bake in 375 degree F oven for 30 -35 minutes (40 for thawed fruit) ir until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream, or non-dairy whipped topping, if desired.

*Blueberries, Cherries, and Rhubarb filling should be mixed with 3 T. of flour and have the granulated sugar increased to about 1/2 a cup (depending on taste).

Friday, August 20

Learning Baskets for the 2010 School Year...

I really like the idea of using themes that reflect the changes in the seasons for teaching pre-school. Expanding on Dawn's list of Kinderthemes, I came up with five themes per month last year. This year, I reduced the themes to four and changed some of them that I used last year (mainly moving some of them to months where they make more sense for our family). I think that this will help my planning for my Living and Learning Lists as well as provide a focus for our week. Since I am planning this a bit far in advance, I am expecting to tweak things a bit as we go along. I am hoping to tuck the books, crafts, and ideas into a basket the week before we plan to learn about them and then we'll have a Learning Basket to work from at our own pace. We are also planning on homeschooling more formally this year... but that is a topic for another post!

Without further ado, here are the themes that I would like to use for our Learning Baskets this year:

12 Days of Christmas
The Nutcracker
Snowflakes and Snowmen

Hearts and Valentines

Rainbows and Shamrocks

Knights and Dragons


American Flag

Independence Day


Harvest Moon


Native Americans

Saint Nicholas
Nativity and 12 Days of Christmas

I will post our basket for the last week of August next week! The topic will be the Seashore!

Thursday, August 19

Things You Can Do in a Cassock...

Bonnet Tip to my friend Maria


One of the things that I didn't anticipate when we scheduled Button's baptism for the day following Dormition was that we kind of feel like we missed the feast. Thankfully, we celebrate Dormition for 8 days!

Wednesday, August 18

What's the Deal with the Amber Necklaces?

Several people have e-mailed me to ask why our children are wearing amber necklaces and where we got them. All three of our little ones have amber necklaces around their necks almost all of the time. Originally, I bought them to help our children with teething (there are many health benefits!). Not long after they began wearing them, I realized that instead of having them wear their crosses pinned to their shirts, we could put them onto the amber necklace to simplify things. The amber beads are individually knotted and strung on durable string so they are safe and long-lasting. The two older children have worn their necklaces for 18+ months and have had no problem with them. I bought small necklaces for both boys through Nova Natural and Sugar Plum's at a small toy store (with no website). I have also heard great things about Inspired By Finn and hope to purchase one for myself in the future.

Highlights from the Baptism...

Tuesday, August 17

Purple Basil...

Recovery Mode...

We had a very long but beautiful weekend! Today is going to be spent shopping for a dress for a wedding my sister is going to in San Diego (lucky girl!), hitting the beach (Button's first time!), and trying to recover! Thankfully, we have no cleaning up to do since my mom, sisters, Sugar Plum's godmother, my mother-in-law, and my husband helped take care of that throughout the weekend and last night once everyone left. All that was left to do today was fold some laundry and arrange some toys:) I'll be back later with some pictures from our special weekend!

Edited to Add: No beach for us today... Sugar Plum and Little Man have fevers. It's just as well though, because I think that we need a day or two to relax after the busyness of the past week.

Friday, August 13

Nursing Tank Tops...

After seeing my friend nurse her son while wearing a nursing tank top, I knew that I wanted to buy a few for my current nursling. I checked out Glamourmom Nursing Tanks and was all set to order one when I double checked to see what Target had to offer. Since the Gillian O'Malley tanks are about half the cost of the Glamourmom ones and had great reviews, I decided to order one to see how it worked. The tank arrived today, and I am ready to buy more! I am going to see how they wash and air dry before I do, but I have to say that I am pleased with how they feel and fit. I was really hoping that it would arrive before the big Baptism weekend! I'll let you know how it holds up!

Thursday, August 12

Early Autumn Wardrobe...


Slip On Sandals

With the addition of a fleece jacket for chilly mornings, some yoga pants for cool and rainy days at home, and several long sleeve tee shirts, this should work well for the early autumn. I have the majority of these items from past seasons. All I need to purchase is a pair of trousers (camel) and the wellies... It will be wonderful to have rain boots!

Wednesday, August 11

A Test of Faith at Ground Zero...

Bonnet Tip: Matushka Anna

My Safe Cutter...

A little over a week ago, I was invited to my neighbor's Pampered Chef Party. I really had no idea what I was going to purchese until I saw these little knives. I have wanted something like them for the children for awhile, but didn't really know where to find them. I bought two, but now that we have them, I think that I might get a couple more if the opportunity ever arises again. Sugar Plum and Little Man were very excited to use them and in my opinion, they cut very well. I like to encourage independence in the children as soon as they are interested and I think that these knives will be great for fostering that!

Living and Learning for August...

I've decided to resume my monthly Living and Learning Lists. I've missed them since finishing a year of them in December! They are so helpful to me in setting the tone for our month... hopefully they won't be repetitive or boring for my readers!

Saint Herman of Alaska
Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

Serve breakfast and lunch on the porch
Visit farmer's market before it closes for the year
Make S'mores as a family
Clean the house top to bottom before the baby's baptism
Plan everyone's clothing for the Baptism
Get baby's cross for the Baptism
Plan menu for the Baptism
Organize out of season children's clothing in nursery closet
Frame children's artwork
Plan for upcoming school year (the official start of Pre-School!)

Tummy time
Start using the baby wrap to carry Baby

Learning Basket Themes

Daily Rhythms
Monday - Library
Tuesday - Story Hour
Wednesday - Playground
Thursday - Beach
Friday - Nature Walk

Special Days
Four Years at Christ the Savior -1st
Full Corn Moon - 24th
Oksana - 13th
Courtney - 22nd

Practice being still and quiet during services and prayers
Practice receiving Communion properly
Cleaning up toys several times a day
Feast day shelf and book basket
Learning Plans for Transfiguration
Prepare baskets of grapes for Transfiguration
Learning Plans for Dormition
Purchase flowers to be blessed on Dormition
Attend a few performances/concerts before summer is over
Look for toads and frogs
Catch bugs
Visit the beach once
Weekly Library trip
Afternoon waterplay - hose, kiddie pool, sprinkler, etc.
Care for plants indoors and out

Tuesday, August 10

Two Month Well Check...

.:Handmade Scrapbook by Mimi!:.

We had the baby's two month well check doctor visit today. Since we began breastfeeding around August 1st, the baby had gained one pound! Wow! He now weighs 8 pounds, 3 ounces and is 20 and a half inches long! Our little Button is very healthy and growing well. He can hold his head up pretty well now and turn it from side to side whether he is on his back or on his tummy. He is breastfeeding better each day. We are still struggling with reflux, but based on Little Man's experience, I tend to think that this will be something that we have to deal with for quite awhile (Little Man still throws up at the drop of a hat). We are so excited for the baptism on the 16th!

Baptismal Meal Menu...

We are planning on having an open house following the baby's baptism on the 16th. Some of our guests are on the Old Calendar (including my parents and siblings), so they will be fasting for Dormition Lent, while others will be eating whatever. This makes for a slightly complicated menu, but I think that it will all work out. Here's what I am planning on serving:

Smoked Salmon and Crackers
Shrimp Cocktail
Crab Balls*
Crab Soup*
Vegetables and Ranch Dip
Chicken Quesadilla Rolls
Olive Tapenade on French Bread

Main Meal
Tuna Submarine Sandwiches
Italian Submarine Sandwiches
Turkey Submarine Sandwiches
Beet Salad*
Potato Salad*
Cole Slaw*

Fruit Salad
Chocolate Cake (Lenten)

Iced Tea

Is there anything that I am missing? Any suggestions?

*I just got a phone call from some parishioners who own a seafood shop, and they want to bring crab balls, crab soup, beet salad, potato salad, and cole slaw for the baptism. Therefore, I am not going to serve the smoked salmon and shrimp cocktail.

Monday, August 9

The Feast of Saint Herman of Alaska...

Joyful North Star of the Church of Christ,
Guiding all people to the Heavenly Kingdom;
Teacher and apostle of the True Faith;
Intercessor and defender of the oppressed;
Adornment of the Orthodox adornment of the Orthodox Church in America:
Blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
Pray to our Lord Jesus Christ
For the salvation of our souls!


Today is the fortieth anniversary of the canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska. To read a little about his life, go HERE.

Friday, August 6

Adios, Miss Medela!

I am so thankful that you helped me feed my little one for the past two months, but I have to be honest with you... I won't miss you!

Joyous Feast!

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God,
revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it.
Let Your everlasting Light also shine upon us sinners,
through the prayers of the Theotokos.
O Giver of Light, glory to You!

Thursday, August 5

Celebrating Transfiguration with Children...

  • Take a trip to the market to purchase grapes (and even other fruits) to be blessed after Liturgy. Purchase as many different varieties of grapes as you can (last year we found Green, Red, Champagne, and Midnight Beauty - all seedless) and have the children wash them and arrange them in a basket. If you have enough baskets for each child, allow them to bring their own basket of grapes to church.
  • Wear white to Liturgy. If you don't have an entire white outfit (we don't!), don a white sweater, shirt, or even a hair bow!
  • Sing the Troparion of the Feast for the prayer before meals.
  • Read The Feast of Transfiguration and the story of the Transfiguration from a children's Bible with the children.
  • Display the Transfiguration Icon on your feastday shelf or table. If you don't have one, print a coloring page and color it in!
  • Serve a special meal. Feature the grapes and other fruits that were blessed at Liturgy. Use your best linens and dishes. Have the children create a special centerpiece.
  • If possible, do something special together: go to the park, take a trip to the beach, go as a family to the playground, rent a family movie, etc.


    Talking with Children About the Feast of Transfiguration

    The Orthodox Church celebrates many special feast days throughout the year. One of the very special ones falls on August 6/19 and is called the Transfiguration of Our Lord. "Transfiguration" is a long word that tells us about something wonderful but hard to understand. To be transfigured means to be changed or glorified; on this day when Jesus was transfigured He showed Himself as God to three of His friends. How did He do that? He let them see Him changed, shining with light. After a little while He looked the same as before, but they still understood better Who He was. What a beautiful day that was!

    On that day Jesus wanted to go up on a mountain to pray. It was called Mount Tabor. Jesus had 12 disciples, but He only chose three to go with Him: Peter, James and John. Why do you suppose that He didn't take all of His disciples with Him? Maybe Jesus didn't think that Judas should see Him in His divine glory, because Judas later was going to go to the people who wanted to kill Jesus and ask for money to show them where Jesus was. All the same, Jesus loved Judas and didn't want to leave him alone at the bottom of the mountain, so He left some of the other disciples to stay behind with him.

    Have you ever climbed a mountain? Peter, John and James had a long climb as they went up the mountain with Jesus. They must have been tired! But with Jesus leading the way maybe they were so excited that they didn't even notice. What do you suppose they were thinking as they climbed higher and higher? They must have known something really special was going to happen!

    They were all dusty when they got to the top, but they didn't care. Jesus began to pray. As He prayed, the way He looked changed. The disciples could hardly believe their eyes! The face and clothes of Jesus shone brighter than the sun. Have you ever looked up at the sun? You know how hard it is to look at the sun when it is shining; you have to quickly look away or your eyes will hurt. Jesus was even brighter than this. Maybe you wonder how this could possibly be? Because Jesus is God, He wasn't just FILLED with light, He IS Light! The disciples had to cover their eyes. Some icons even show them falling over and losing their sandals because they were so surprised at what they saw.

    That was not all that happened. When they opened their eyes a little, Peter, James and John saw two holy men were talking with Jesus. They recognized Moses and Elijah and hardly knew what to think: Moses had been dead for a very long, time and Elijah had been taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. What were they doing there on the mountain? The Gospels tell us that they were talking to Jesus about His death, which would bring all men the salvation they needed. Peter was so happy he didn't know what to say. He just knew he wanted to stay right where he was with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. So he said, "Let's make three little houses here..." But as he said this a big cloud came and covered them all. The disciples couldn't see anything and were afraid. They didn't know what was happening. Then they heard a voice coming out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him." The cloud disappeared and Jesus was alone.

    So much happened that day; on the way down the mountain, the disciples must have been very quiet. What they saw was so special, Jesus told them not to tell anyone about it until after He rose from the dead. Were you ever asked to keep a secret? This was a very beautiful secret!

    ::from Life Transfigured: A Journal of Orthodox Nuns, Vol. 22, No. 2, Summer 1990, pp. 15-16. (The Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, Penna.)::
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