Tuesday, November 29

Preparing for Nativity...


I know that this list is so late and I am sorry about that! I have wanted to have a list that reflects the fact that Orthodox Christians begin preparing for Nativity on November 15 (40 Days), and it took awhile to get my ideas down. I anticipate that things will change from year to year for us. This year is a prime example of the need for flexibility! Our move is tentatively scheduled for December 5th and because of that, many of the things that we like doing each year are going to have to be adjusted to our current reality. Later, I will work on making a Twelve Days of Christmas List for our family which I will post here, too!

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November 15: Clean out the Refrigerator and Grocery Shop for Lenten Foods
November 16: Plant Paperwhites
November 17: Start Writing Out Christmas Lists
November 18: Go Through Books to Give Away
November 19: Go Through Toys to Give Away
November 20: Donate Money and/or Canned Goods to the Food Pantry for Thanksgiving
November 21: Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God
November 22: Plan Christmas Card
November 23: Make Beeswax Ornaments
November 24: Thanksgiving Day!
November 25: Plan Christmas Menu
November 26: Plan Christmas Outfits
November 27: Participate in Gift Giving for those Less Fortunate
November 29: Research Different Christmas Activities in the Area
November 30: Begin Listening to the Messiah
December 1: Put out the Nativity Books
December 2: The Christmas Parade
December 3: Purchase This Year's Ornament Frame
December 4: Little Man's Namesday
December 5: Bake Saint Nicholas Cookies and get Golden Chocolate Coins ready for the Shoes
December 6: Saint Nicholas Day
December 7: Begin Listening to Christmas Music
December 8: Purchase a new Christmas book for our family collection
December 9: Gingerbread House Party at the local bookstore
December 10: Hang winter wreath on front door
December 11: Hang snowflake decorations from dining room chandelier
December 12: Little Man's Birthday
December 13: Saint Lucia and Saint Herman
December 14: Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival
December 15: Decorate the Mantle and Hang Stockings
December 16: Living Nativity
December 17: Watch The Christmas Miracle of Johnathon Toomey/Put Out Nativity Scene
December 18: Hang Garland Around Front Door
December 19: Nutcracker Performance
December 20: Cut Paper Snowflakes for Windows
December 21: Put out Christmas and Winter Decorations
December 22: Bring home the Christmas tree and decorate it
December 23: Christmas Wrapping
December 24: Prepare Food for Parish Feast After Midnight Liturgy

Sunday, November 27

Reading...


No matter how just your words may be, you ruin everything when you speak with anger."
-Saint John Chrysostom

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More Quotable Sunday HERE


Saturday, November 26

The Parenting Vocation: Living the Life of Christ...


by Fr. George Morelli, Ph.D.

Consider Our Lord’s words on the importance of how children are influenced: “And he said to his disciples, … woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin” (Lk. 17:1-2). Parents and any caretakers of children have one of the most important vocations in the Church, namely to teach their children about Our Lord Jesus Christ and His message. Teaching may take many forms.

The place to start is with those who care for children themselves. Parents are the primary teachers of children by the blessed marriage they possess. One of the blessing prayers said by
the priest in the Holy Mystery of Matrimony is: “Unite them in one mind and one flesh, and
grant them fair children for education in thy faith and fear” (acknowledging the awesome, transcendent God).

If parents and others who teach or care for children are not keeping a “life in Christ,” how can children be expected to follow Christ and His teachings? Psychologists have long emphasized the powerful effects of modeling on children (Bandura, 1986). Recently, news media have even reported that a gene for imitation has been discovered. Children have a propensity to make a neural copy of a behavior modeled and to repeat it (Milner and Goodale, 1996).

I remember when I was first in clinical-pastoral practice. Parents would come to me and present a behavioral problem. For example, their ten-year-old was smoking. Inside the shirt pocket or hanging out of the pocketbook of the parent would be a pack of cigarettes. This was and still is hypocrisy. It is nearly impossible to change the child’s behavior. Parents, guardians, and others who have children in their care are supremely powerful models. I have never met one child in my pastoral or clinical career who bought into the usual “lame” explanations: “Well I can do it, and when you get to be my age then you can make up your own mind,” or “You are not old enough yet.” Children are bright enough to see right through such explanations.

The Holy Spirit imparts grace in the sacraments. The parents have to bring their children to their parish church where the Holy Spirit is sacramentally imparted. If a child is not brought in to be baptized, the child is not an Orthodox Christian. If the parents do not bring their children to attend Divine Liturgy, they do not receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. If the parents bring the child to church but do not go themselves, children see right through such hypocrisy, just as in the cigarette example above. The message is: “Grown ups do not have to go to church.” So the child is no longer getting the grace of Christ. Often the greatest teaching, or, in this case, scandal, is teaching by what is not done

A child may hear a family conversation about a nasty neighbor or relative in which a parent says, “That no good for nothing @#$%^&,” yet in church the child hears preached from the altar our Lord’s words of love, forgiveness, and not holding anger against a brother. If they then see and hear their mothers or fathers doing just the opposite, does this add to the child’s faith and commitment to Christ? It destroys it! And we wonder why morality and values are breaking down in modern times?

On the other hand, no one is perfect — parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, bishops, priests, teachers. We all sin and fall short. What a beautiful lesson could be taught to a child we care for, when we do fall short, if we go to the child and say, for example: “You know, I lost my temper today. It was not right, I am sorry and I will try to do better. This is what Jesus would want me to do.” No one may speak exactly like this, using such words. However, using their own words parents will get across the substance of the message: I did wrong, I will try to do better and I want us all as a family to follow our Lord’s teachings. Thus, the first and most important lesson in Orthodox Christian parenting is to live the life in Christ as thoroughly as can be done. Despite our failings, we must remember the words of Jesus: “He said to them: The things that are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

Friday, November 25

What I Wore: Friday...


White Tee Shirt
Walnut Colored Corduroy Trousers
Tall Black Boots
Gray Chickadee Scarf draped round my neck

Thursday, November 24

What I Wore: Thursday...


Happy Thanksgiving!!

White Tank Top
Black Draped Open Front Sweater
Black Jersey Knit Knee Length Skirt
Black Patterned Tights
Tall Black Boots
Gray Chickadee Scarf

Monday, November 21

What I Wore: Monday...

White Tank Top
Black Draped Open Front Sweater
Blueish-Gray Jersey Knit Knee Length Skirt
Black Stretch Pants
Tall Black Boots
Violet Sequin Scarf (on my head for church but knotted simply round my neck afterward)

Sunday, November 20

Reading..

It is all a question of weeding out what you yourself like best to do, so that you can live most agreeably in a world full of an increasing number of disagreeable surprises."

How to Cook a Wolf
MFK Fisher

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More Quotable Sunday HERE

What I Wore: Sunday...

Gray Long-Sleeve Tee Shirt
Black Jersey Knit Knee Length Skirt
Black Patterned Tights
Tall Black Boots
Oblong Chickadee Scarf (on my head for church but knotted simply round my neck afterward)

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In the past week or two, several blog writers I admire have documented their clothing choices for a time... I was inspired to do it this week!

Friday, November 18

House Tour: Bedrooms...

Master Bedroom

Sugar Plum and Little Man's Room

Guest Bedroom

Thursday, November 17

Sunday, November 13

House Tour: The Front and Entrance...



With our move about two weeks away, I thought that I would take photos of how our home looks a little over two years after we moved in.

Saturday, November 12

One Misty, Moisty, Morning...

One misty, moisty, morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
There I met an old man
All clothed in leather

All clothed in leather,
With a cap under his chin.
How do you do?
And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

Friday, November 11

Happy Martinmas to You!


Today didn't go as I had planned it, but somehow it was better. The little ones received new slippers and we had a friend from church come over with her two children. We served peanut butter and jam, chips, and apple crisp... perfect for the cold weather that blew in overnight. We were car-less today (it is in the shop), so we all snuggled down for a long nap this afternoon rather than getting out to Goodwill for the clothing donation. Is there anything cozier than sleeping with three little ones in the big bed? We are waiting for Papa to return with the car before I take the older two out for a quick lantern walk in the neighborhood. Then it is baths, a story, and bed. The perfect day.

Thursday, November 10

Festal Learning Basket: Saint Martin...


Commemorated November 11th

Books
The Life of Saint Martin

Activities
Give your little ones a gift of a warm item (mittens, slippers, sweater, etc.)

Offer your children a candy bar after reading or telling the story of Saint Martin...
if needed, help guide them into sharing it

Make muffins. Serve everyone one and break them in half, sharing one of
your halves with the person on your right

Gather clothing to donate to a charity in honor of Saint Martin's gift of
half of his cloak to a beggar

Create a lantern garland

Make lanterns and take a lantern walk once it gets dark
(watercolor lanterns, tin can lanterns, glass jar lanterns covered with tissue paper)

Wednesday, November 9

Monday, November 7

Sidebar...


I just wanted to mention that the November Learning Baskets are now listed on my sidebar. I have also started a section for the monthly Festal Learning Baskets. I will be adding to these as the days progress... I'd like to have the basket for Saint Martin (November 11th) and The Entry of the Mother of God (November 21st) completed and posted before the week is out.

Sunday, November 6

Autumn Feast...


Every year we host an early Thanksgiving Feast for my husband's side of the family. This was the first year that my brother-in-law, Gregory, has been able to come. It was a wonderful day of visiting and family fun! We are already looking forward to gathering together for Christmas!

Menu

Sparkling Apple Cider
Sparkling Grape Juice

Cheese and Sausage Platter
Chili Cheese Dip
Olives
Pistachios

Turkey
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Squash Casserole
Peas
Gravy
Cranberry Sauce

Monica's Pumpkin Pie
Brownies
Ice Cream

Can You Sleep While the Wind Blows?


Unknown Author

Years ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals.

Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him. "Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man.
Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work. Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!" The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows."

Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down.
Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

Moral of the Story

When you're prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. We secure ourselves against the storms of life by grounding ourselves in the Word of God.

Saturday, November 5

Grammys for the Parents...

My father and mother were honored for 25 years of the priesthood today! My dad received a jeweled cross and both parents were given gramatas (decrees of blessing). My sister cracked us all up by saying that they got grammys! What an exciting day!!

Friday, November 4

The Firepit...



Uncle Peter thrilled the little ones when he lit the firepit on Grandfather's patio this evening. When I was a little girl, I remember how much fun it was when my Poppy Chick lit the big outdoor stone fireplace at my great-grandmother's house. I hope that our children will remember these evenings with family when they are older!

Thursday, November 3

Living and Learning: November...

Faith
Archangel Michael
St Nectarios
Saint Martin
Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos
Kursk Root Icon

Homemaking
Purchase last bits of warm clothing for the cold weather
Host inlaws Thanksgiving dinner
Create costumes for the children to wear on Saint Michael's Day
Plan Cleaning List for Nativity Fast
Plan activities for the Nativity Fast and the Twelve Days of Christmas
Plant Bulbs and Pansies
Feather the nest with down blankets for the beds, warm throws for the living room, pajamas and slippers, candles, slippers and a stock of teas and cocoa
Plan Nativity activities
Plan for December's feastdays (Saint Nicholas Day, Saint Herman, Saint Lucia, Christmas) and Little Man's Namesday and Birthday
Knit two washcloths
Plan celebration for the feast of Saint Martin (Martinmas)
Stock the winter pantry

Sugar Plum
Learn how to finger knit or use a knitting tower
Work on identifying numbers 11-20

Little Man
Work on saying words that start with the /L/ sound
Work on listening better

Baby Button
Work on one nap each day and an early bedtime (especially on church days)
Nightly baths... his favorite time of day

Themes
Pilgrims
Native Americans
Turkeys
Thanksgiving

Rituals
Try to keep from over scheduling our days... especially keeping the shopping to a minimum

Special Days
2nd Auntie Heather's Birthday
9th Uncle Nick’s Namesday and Birthday
9th Jacob's Birthday
10th Full Beaver Moon
11th Veterans Day
17th National Bread Baking Day
20th Uncle Gregory’s Namesday
24th Thanksgiving

Learning
Practice being still and quiet during services and prayers
Singing – “O Heavenly King”
The Sign of the Cross for Button
Nature table scene
Seasonal book basket
Celebrate the feast of Saint Michael
Encourage imaginative play by not over-scheduling our days
Take the children to the nearby state park for nature walks
Polish wooden toys together
Lacing Cards
The Tree of Jesse - Christmas Preparation
Celebrate Martinmas

Wednesday, November 2

Keeping Warm...

I've been thinking about keeping the little ones warm these past few days. I am particularly concerned about our littlest. Button is prone to sickness (he has been sick every other week since August due to neutropenia) and so we've been dressing him in layers: hat (even indoors), undershirt, long-sleeve shirt, sweater, pants, socks (look at the wooly socks my sister Kate knitted him!), and slippers or shoes.

Though our older children tend to be warm during the day, I am having trouble keeping them toasty through the night and first thing in the morning once they are up and about. They are now wearing undershirts under their pajamas and I will be getting them some slippers to wear with their socks once they get up. Now the trick will be to get them to not kick their blankets off at night!! Hopefully that will be enough to keep them warm.

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Here's Some Food For Thought:
Kyrie had some beautiful posts on Warmth last Autumn
Auntie Leila had an excellent entry entitled How to Dress Your Child in Colder Weather

Tuesday, November 1

Habit...


Habit is celebrating their 1,000th post this month! They are inviting Habit readers to to submit daily photographs to their flickr group for the month of November! It was such a fun challenge the last time I did this... their eighteen month anniversary coincided with Button's homecoming from the hospital. Let me know if you are joining in... I'll look for you there!
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