Thursday, March 31

Our Learning Room...


As I mentioned earlier this week in my Commitment to Loveliness, one of the things that we wanted to accomplish this week was to streamline the children's play and learning area downstairs. What ended up happening is that we transformed the loft upstairs into the new learning area. It really only took us two hours in the morning to move the toys and learning things from the sunroom up to the loft. I would like to put up an icon corner, hang a few pictures, and perhaps get another lamp or two. I am very happy with how everything looks and I think that we will get a lot of use out of previously wasted space. I wish that there was some natural light up here, but as my grandfather says, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

Of course, moving everything upstairs has created a rather barren space in the sunroom. We are hoping that it will eventually become a little reading nook for our family. Fortunately, garage sale season is nearly upon us... maybe I'll be able to find some treasures to make a cozy little room for reading before the weather gets cold again!

Wednesday, March 30

Window Treatments...

Wooden Cornices in the Midst of Being Built

Old Curtains

Father John Installing the Cornices

Cornices Up and Curtains Down

Honeycomb Shades Installed!

Tuesday, March 29

Commitment to Loveliness: Week of March 27th...

Jessie Wilcox Smith

1. Repair the chain for my Cross and put Sugar Plum's Cross back onto her chain... this will be easy, now that I have some needle-nose pliers to use.

2. Tend to some beauty needs that I have been neglecting: Get bangs trimmed, groom eyebrows, and give myself a pedicure.

3. Find some window treatments for the front door and sidelight. This has been a very frustrating item on my to-do list for awhile now... I cannot find what I am looking for and everything seems to cost a bit too much for my pocketbook. Your ideas would be most welcome!

4. Streamline the children's play area/learning room downstairs. Father John really abhors clutter (as do I) and that has become the main description of that area of our house. I am thinking about moving our learning things upstairs to the loft and then transforming the space into more of a reading nook. It is going to take some creativity, since I don't have the budget for new furniture (like a comfy chair or two). We'll see what we can work out.


5. A new centerpiece for our dining room table. The tulips from Father John's birthday have reached the end of their life. I am hoping that some pretty little violas might like to try life indoors for awhile.

:::::

Please join me in making a Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in one's life each week without much effort! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!
Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and let us know in the comments section. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

Lenten Cleaning: Week Four...


Monday
Dust and Vacuum Living Room, Learning Room, and Dining Room
Vacuum Under Couch Cushions
Wash Throw Pillows and Throw Blankets

Tuesday
Sort Through and Organize Toys
Sort Through and Organize Books

Wednesday
Wash Windows and Glass Doors
Clean Television Screen
Clean Laptop Screen

Thursday
Dust Light Fixture in Dining Room
Dust Lamp Shades

Friday
Put Up Honeycomb Shades in Downstairs Windows

:::::

To see the Lenten Cleaning Plan for all of Great Lent, click HERE.

Monday, March 28

Magazine Butterflies...

I spotted this craft a few weeks ago, and it instantly came to mind this morning when Sugar Plum asked to make something with butterflies... we made ours out of a Pottery Barn Bedding and Bath catalog and I really like how the colors turned out!

Sunday, March 27

Using the Sign of the Cross Everyday...

The sign of the Cross is a great way to sanctify or bring God every part of your busy day -whether good or bad! Here are just a few times during the day when you might want to make the sign of the Cross:

  • Before you get out of bed, to thank God for protecting you during the night.
  • Before you prepare a meal for your family, to thank God for His bounty (My grandmother, Mary, said a prayer and traced the sign of the Cross with the tip of her spoon whenever she opened a new sack of flour or sugar, opened a jar of jam or peanut butter, etc.).
  • Before and after meals, to thank God for the bounty He provides.
  • As you leave your home, to ask God to Protect you on your journey and watch over your house or apartment while you are gone.
  • When you pass an Orthodox Church building or monastery, to ask God to preserve it and guide its leaders
  • As you bandage a "booboo" or take any kind of medicine, to ask that God will heal you both in body and spirit.
  • Over any new piece of equipment, tool, book, art supply, or toy, to ask God to guide you in using it wisely in His service.
  • Before, during, and after any meeting or conversation you have - especially with someone you know to be "difficult" - that God will help you approach them with Christian love and understanding.
  • As you begin any project, and before and after working and studying, to ask God to guide your efforts.
  • As you sign a contract, lease, or any other legal agreement - or even when you make a promise to someone - that God with protect and guide all involved.
  • As you mail or fax an important letter, that God will see it quickly to its destination and allow the reader to understand/not misinterpret its contents
  • When you hear news of something wonderful )to thank God), or of something terrible (to ask for His mercy and protection).
  • When you witness any accident - big or small- to thank God for His protection and ask HIs help in "setting things to right" and recovering from it.
  • When you pass a cemetery or are reminded of departed loved ones during the day, to ask God to forgive their sins and welcome them into His kingdom.
  • As you come through the door at night, to thank God for His protection and bounty.
  • Before reading the Bible, the writings of the Church Fathers, or the lives of the Saints, to ask God for His enlightenment.
  • Over your bed, before you get into it at night, to ask God to protect you as you sleep (many Orthodox prayer books include special prayers to say when blessing your bed, too!).
  • If you wake in the middle of the night, after hearing a bump or a screech, or having a bad dream.
I am not sure who to attribute this to (it says NTK at the bottom of the page)... if you know, please tell me!

Friday, March 25

Button at Nine Months...


Wee Button had his nine month well-check this past Wednesday. He is 14 lbs of pure sweetness! He is sitting up and pulling up and loves to laugh. We are still waiting for teeth (not that unusual for our family... his siblings went this late too) and crawling. I am content with Button sitting still for now! Living in a gated community can be challenging... I haven't even picked out a gate for the this house yet (we had pressure ones in our last home for Little Man and they destroyed the drywall and weren't that secure).

We are looking forward to so many things with Button as the weather warms up: Swing rides at the park, sand and water at the beach, stroller rides, the pool for the first time... It will be a wonderful spring and summer with this little guy!

Thursday, March 24

Lenten Cleaning: Week Three...


Monday
Clean and Organize Master Bedroom Closet

Tuesday
Dust and Vacuum Master Bedroom
Wash Linens
Sort Through Books and Drawers

Wednesday
Clean and Organize Nursery Closet

Thursday
Dust and Vacuum Nursery
Wash Linens
Sort Through Books, Toys, and Stuffed Animals

Friday
Dust and Vacuum Guest Bedroom
Wash Linens

:::::

To see the Lenten Cleaning Plan for all of Great Lent, click HERE.

Wednesday, March 23

Festal Learning Basket: Annunciation...


Commemorated March 25th

Books

The Annunciation
The Children's Bible Reader - The Angel Visits Mary (pages 164 and 165)
The Story of Mary, the Mother of God

Activities
Wear the Color Blue Today
Listen to the Audio of Dr Chrissi Hart reading The Annunciation
Use recipes for the feast of The Annunciation from An Orthodox Kitchen
Add a vase of flowers to the icon corner and/or feast day table
Set out an icon of The Annunciation
Color an icon of The Annunciation
Sing the Festal Troparion Before Meals
Look for Icons depicting The Annunciation in church
Collect Baby Items and Deliver Them to a Crisis Pregnancy Center or to a Food Pantry
Begin Planning/Planting a Mother of God Garden

Learning Basket: Spring...


Set Up a Bird Watching Station to View the Return of the Birds from the South
Plan Your Garden
Feed the Ducks and Geese
Take Stock of Outside Gardening Tools, Toys, and Bikes to Clean, Repair, or Replace
Take a Nature Walk to Spot Signs of Spring

Monday, March 21

Happy Birthday, Father John!

We love you!!
We wish that we could be with you today!

Sunday, March 20

From Office Building to Church: Part 17...





After over a year of waiting, Father John's dreams of blue covers for the Altar, Table of Oblation icon stands, gospel stand, and various little tables, has finally been realized! Two talented ladies in our parish spent the whole day sewing the cloths and though a few still need the gold fringe, we will have these gorgeous covers for Annunciation on the 25th!

If you'd like to see our mission's worship space as it was created, please click HERE.

Wednesday, March 16

Practicing for PreSanctified...

video

Now, I know that this is far from professional (both the singing and the recording!), but if you had heard our choir's singing two years ago, you would understand how miraculous it is that we are able to sing this music! Glory to God for All Things!

Learning Basket: Rainbows...



Books
All the Colors of the Rainbow
A Rainbow and You
Planting a Rainbow
A Rainbow of my Own
Weaving the Rainbow

Activities
Listen to Roy G. Biv by Mr. Ray
Hang Prisms in a Sunny Window
Watch Somewhere Over the Rainbow on YouTube
Paint a Rainbow using Watercolors
Try to Create Rainbow on a Sunny Day by Spraying Water with the Hose
Dye White Carnations and Make a Rainbow Bouquet

Tuesday, March 15

Festal Learning Basket: Saint Patrick...


Commemorated March 17th

Books
The Life of Saint Patrick: Enlightener of Ireland
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

Activities
Set Out an Icon of Saint Patrick
Color a Saint Patrick Coloring Page
Create a Fruit Rainbow to Enjoy for a Snack or Dessert
Purchase a Pot of Shamrocks to Adorn the Icon Corner, Feast Day Shelf, or Table
Discuss the Symbolism of the Shamrock
Use recipes for the feast of Saint Patrick from An Orthodox Kitchen
Listen to the Life of Saint Patrick on Readings from Under the Grapevine on Ancient Faith Radio
Wear the Color Green

Monday, March 14

Lenten Cleaning: Week Two...



Monday
Deep Clean Half Bathroom
Deep Clean Guest Bathroom

Tuesday
Deep Clean Master Bathroom Shower Bathtub and Window Ledges

Wednesday
Deep Clean Changing Table and Toilet
Purchase a Over-the-Door Towel Rack

Thursday
Deep Clean Sinks, Cabinets, and Drawers

Friday
Wash Bathroom Floor


:::::

To see the Lenten Cleaning Plan for all of Great Lent, click HERE.

Sunday, March 13

On Complete Fasting...

Let your mind fast from vain thoughts; let your memory fast from remembering evil; let your will fast from evil desire; let your eyes fast from bad sights, let your ears fast from wicked songs and slanderous whispers; let your tongue fast from condemnation, blasphemy, falsehood, deception, foul language and every idle word; let your hands fast from theft; let your legs fast from walking evil paths.
-St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Saturday, March 12

Lenten Cleaning: Post-Script...


After posting my plan for my Lenten Cleaning on Monday, I realized that I should have written out a proposal for each week of Great Lent. I'm sorry about that! Here's my Lenten Cleaning Plan for all seven weeks:

Week One
Kitchen

Week Two
Bathrooms

Week Three
Bedrooms
Bedroom Closets

Week Four
Living Room
Learning Room
Dining Room

Week Five
Entrance
Laundry Room
Steps
Loft
Upstairs Hallway

Week Six
Paschal Shopping (Outfits, Pascha Baskets, and Egg Hunt)
Clean Car
Wash Glass Doors and Windows
Launder Spring Bedding

Week Seven
Garage
Porches
Hanging Flower Baskets
Mulch Flower Beds
Paschal Grocery Shopping

Friday, March 11

Feminine Friday: Looking Chic in the Rain...




April showers will soon be here! While I really love snuggling down in my cozy home on a gray day with a good book and a mug of tea, having to run errands in the rain is the pits! With the right clothing and accessories, looking chic and remaining dry in the rain is much easier. A sturdy umbrella, flattering rain coat, and good wellingtons will keep you cheerful on wet days when you have to be out and about and should really by staples in every women's wardrobe. Stores from Target to Nordstrom have tons of options that will fit any style an budget. Do you have these wet weather necessities? Where are your favorite places to shop for rain gear?

Thursday, March 10

Daffy-Down-Dilly...

Daffy-down-Dilly
Has come to town
With a yellow petticoat
And a pretty green gown

:::::

It was so exciting to find bunches of daffodils for sale at the market this past Monday... it was especially appropriate that we found them on the first day of Lent, since they are also known as Lenten Lilies (as they typically bloom during Lent.)

Wednesday, March 9

Learning Basket: Green (or Is It Almost Spring?)...

Books
Annie and the Wild Animals
Emily
Miss Rumphius
The Garden in the City
The Gardener
The Big Alfie Out of Doors Storybook

Activities
Paint a Picture with Green Paint
Create Picture Entirely with the Color Green Using Different Mediums (Paint, Colored Pencil, Watercolor, Chalk, Crayon, etc.)
Have a Snack or Meal with Different Green Foods (Green Peppers, Green Onions, Green Grapes, Green Apples, Pesto Sauce on Pasta or Bread, etc.)
Buy a pot of Shamrocks from the Market
Plant Some Bulbs or Seeds and Watch for Green Shoots
Take a Nature Walk and Look for Green Things


Tuesday, March 8

Living and Learning: March...

Faith
Forgiveness Sunday
40 martyrs of Sebaste
Sunday of Orthodoxy
St. Gregory of Palamas
Sunday of the Cross
Annunciation
St. John of the Ladder

Homemaking
Lenten cleaning
Utilize An Orthodox Kitchen
Find window covering for front door
Potty learning for Little Man
Speech evaluation for Little Man
Research and buy a baby gate for the steps
Reorganized children's outgrown/out of season clothes
Make dental appointment for me

Baby
Rocking and crawling!
Teething!
Baby food tasting!

Themes

Rainbows and Shamrocks
Green
Spring
Peter and the Wolf

Rituals
Nighttime when there is an evening church service

Special Days
Mama’s Birthday (5th)
Nana and Grandpapa’s Anniv. (16th)
Button's Namesday (18th)
Full Lenten Moon (19th)
Grandma Daria’s Namesday (19th)
Papa’s Birthday (21st)
Grandma Judy’s Birthday (25th)
Aunt Jenny’s Birthday (30th)

Learning
Practice Being Still and Quiet during Prayers and Services
Learn the Trisagion Prayers

Lark Buns for the feast of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste
Lenten Lilies - Daffodils!
Festal Learning basket for Annunciation
Rainbows - Roy G. Biv
Shamrocks
"March Comes in Like a Lion and Out Like a Lamb"
Learning How to Put Away Laundry
Early Spring felt board
Nature table scene and book basket
Listen to recorded books
Learning How to Draw Books
Listen to Gigi Shadid's Orthodox Children's Music
Magnetic Lenten Calender

Father and Son...

.:Planting Lilacs Together:.

Monday, March 7

Lenten Cleaning: Week One...


I try to deep clean our home as much as I am able during the weeks when we fast. I find that it is really wonderful to enjoy having everything clean and organized for the Great Feasts of the year. I plan on breaking my cleaning up by cleaning one room or area each week of the Fast (there are seven weeks). For this first week of Lent, I am going to focus on the kitchen. I'll also try to keep up with my regular daily cleaning and laundry routines as much as possible so that the kitchen isn't spotless, while the rest of the house looks like a war zone with naked children running around! :)


Monday
Clean Out Refrigerator and Freezer

Tuesday
Deep Clean Oven, Stove, Microwave, and Dishwasher

Wednesday
Clean Counters, Kitchen Decor, and Sink
Purchase a New Scrub Brush for Washing Dishes

Thursday
Clean Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers
Organize School and Art Cabinets and Drawers

Friday
Wash Kitchen Floor
Refill Oil and Vinegar Cruets and Fill Pepper Grinder and Salt Shaker

:::::

To see the Lenten Cleaning Plan for all of Great Lent, click HERE.

Ten Tips for Great Lent...


1. Regardless of how you fast, fast every single day. This type of fasting helps wear down the passions and build spiritual endurance.

2. Know exactly what the fasting regulations are and try to approximate them as best you can. Each Lent, try to be more strict yet humble.

3. Particular concerns about fasting? Age, health issues, never fasted before, mixed-marriages? Speak with your priest.

4. Be sure to recite the Lenten prayer of Saint Ephraim. If you cannot make prostrations just make bows or cross yourself.

5. On weekends, we do not make prostrations and our fasting is slightly relaxed since Saturday and Sunday are holy days.

6. The Lenten services and tones are offered only during the week –
strive to participate as much as possible in these services and the spirit of lent will rub off on you.

7. Sports and outdoor activities are not contrary to the Lenten spirit.

8. Strive to avoid going to movies, parties, vacations, and other entertainments. This we do so we can have more time to devote to spiritual things.

9. Confession and Holy Communion are central to securing the benefits of Lent. Without fail, we should receive the Sacraments during the period of Great Lent.

10. Be mindful of what we look at and how much time we spend on TV and computer. Some give up TV for all of Lent. Others strictly limit their time and watch only educational and news programs. Surfing on the web? Hit the theological sites.

Sunday, March 6

The 40 Martyrs of Sabaste...


Together let us honor the holy company united by faith,
Those noble warriors of the Master of all.
They were divinely enlisted for Christ,
And passed through fire and water.
Then they entered into refreshment praying for those who cry:
Glory to him who has strengthened you!
Glory to him who has crowned you!
Glory to him who has made you wonderful, O holy Forty Martyrs!

:::::

Today we celebrated the feast of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste with Lark Buns. Though this feast is usually celebrated on March 9th, it was transferred to Forgiveness Sunday because the 9th falls during the first week of Great Lent. We used the Lark Bun recipe from the Orthodox Kitchen Cookbook and these 40 larks were gobbled right up at coffee hour!

Saturday, March 5

31!

.:Flowers from my sister and lots of birthday greetings from loved ones:.

.:Birthday flowers from the little ones:.

.:Pizza for lunch:.

.:Ice Cream Cake:.

.:Pots of birthday lilacs to plant alongside the house.:

Great Lent for Little Ones...


Though our children will go to nearly every service offered at our church this Great Lent and will fast from meat until Pascha (Easter), we will be doing a few things as a family that will teach them about this Liturgical Season. This year, we were fortunate to get a Magnetic Lenten Calendar from Orthodox Christian Craft Supply. I put it together last week and read through the study guide that accompanies the calendar and it is wonderful! The weekly theme and daily Bible readings are superb and will really keep us on track this Lent. I cannot recommend this product enough!

In addition to the calendar, we will be going on a shopping trip this week to choose non-perishable food that are favorites of our children. Each day, each child will put one of the foods into a basket for the poor. On the Sundays of Great Lent, we will bring the food that we have collected to the church so that we can put it into the church's food collection basket, which will later be donated to a local food pantry.

We will also be reducing time spent watching television. Since Button's birth, we have been very lax in regard to the amount of television that is watched. While our children only view things on dvd or PBS, we have gotten to the point where enough is enough. I truly think that this will be harder on Father John and me, than on the little ones. We have become accustomed to turning the tv on when the children wake up so that they are quiet and Father John can get a few more winks and then again in the late afternoon/early evening so that I can get dinner done and have some quiet time before the hubbub of bedtime. After a few days of us being consistent, things will get easier.

What is your family planning on doing for Great Lent?

Friday, March 4

Feminine Friday: Easy Skirts...


I am always on the look out for skirts that are comfortable and easy to pair with what I already have in my closet. When Button was baptized, I found a nice brown skirt at Target. I was so excited to find that they now carry the same skirt in black and charcoal gray. I spent my birthday money getting those two colors as well, which will make these three skirts the bulk of my wardrobe through autumn! They look equally great with sandals and dressier shoes and will be very comfortable through the services of Great Lent. Since these skirts are so simple, they will work for most women no matter what their style is... add a feminine top, a button down, or a plain tee and denim jacket and you have three very different looks!

Thursday, March 3

Treasure Hunt...




Sweet little Button is sick! While I was cuddling and comforting him, the big children entertained themselves by playing and drawing. After Sugar Plum and Little Man went down for their nap, I noticed that some fruit snacks were left around downstairs in random spots. These kids crack me up! It was just what I needed when I was feeling so tired and discouraged.

Wednesday, March 2

Lenten Reading,,,


Great Lent begins in only a few more days (March 7th) and we are in a flurry of preparations. One of the things that I'd like to do is spend some time choosing a few books to read over the course of Great Lent. We got a flier in the mail for a new Frederica Mathewes-Green book that was recently published and I lent out Close to Home a few weeks ago, so that has been on my mind to be re-read.

What are you planning on reading? Any suggestions?

A Naked Woo-Woo Truck...

Little Man really enjoys trucks and other vehicles and sweetly plays with them for hours at a time, making noises, having them talk to one another, and thinking up elaborate story lines for getting them or his little play men out of trouble. His favorite one is a Lego firetruck that he got for his birthday in December. When we took it out of the box, I worried that Little Man would want it to look precisely like the picture on the box, but the opposite is true. He really enjoys coming up with different firetruck styles with the Legos. Yesterday, he asked me to play with him for a bit and help him put together his "woo-woo truck." Button and I got down on the floor to begin putting it together and I started to add the cab to the front of the truck (sometimes a little tricky for small hands). Immediately, Little Man stops me by shouting:

"No, Mama! Me want a naked woo-woo truck!"
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