Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dealing with Grief - intro

Although I'm not exactly sure how to begin this, I have really felt called over the past few weeks to write a series of posts dealing with "dealing with grief." I am certainly no expert but I do hope and pray that by sharing my process, someone else might possibly be able to deal with their own grief or help someone that may be grieving.

I will start by saying that the process of grieving for my dad actually began two and a half years ago. We found out he had colon cancer only six short months after my father-in-law passed away after his battle with colon cancer. The blessing that came from this very sad time is that I was able to see that I probably would not have my dad much longer. I was able to spend time with him, laugh with him, and ask his forgiveness for my adolescent years (among other things). I realize not everyone has the opportunity to do that, but more on that in a different post.

When my father-in-law passed away, I found a book on grieving written for children. I would say that in addition to prayer and loving, supportive friends and family, this book helped me much more than I would have ever expected. Not sure what my children got out of it, but I am a totally different person because of it. It is called Tear Soup and it has helped me understand grief so much better than any "grown up" book I've ever read on grief. More on this in future posts as well.

May the Lord Bless You!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Prayers of Gratitude

When I last posted (almost a month ago), I had no idea that my dad would pass away only two short weeks later. While this has been a heartbreaking time for the whole family, we have been carried in prayer.

I want to thank each of you who posted here and prayed for us. I also want to thank Mary at evlogia for this beautiful post that united orthodox christian women from several countries in prayer for my dad. At one of the darkest moments of my life, I was shone the light of Christ through this wonderful gift. Unfortunately, I have found no words which can express the depth of my gratitude to Mary, and to each of you who prayed and have been praying for my dad and our family.

To each of you, my prayer is that God may bless you abundantly for your commitment to prayer. I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you, and I pray that, regardless of your struggles, you will receive Christ's peace, which surpasses all understanding.

And to my sweet daddy, may your memory be eternal!!! I love you!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

St. Nektarios, Pray for us!

For those of you who don't know, my dad has been battling cancer for two and a half years now. He has fought long and hard. With God's blessing we have had him for at least a year longer than what we expected. He has been able to play golf and work in the rose garden he loves so dearly. Unfortunately, his body is tiring and hospice has begun.

I come before you this evening to humbly ask for prayers on behalf of my dad and my children. I would be so grateful if you would pray that we all experience Christ's peace at this difficult time.

In love and recovery,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homeschool - The High School Edition

This year of homeschooling presents me with a new challenge.  My challenge... to homeschool a high schooler.  YIKES!  

We began by looking at a list of typical high school offerings from which Princess indicated her preferences.  Although her list has changed some since our initial meeting, here is what we ended up with for her freshman year...
Math - Pre-Algebra/Algebra using Singapore and Keys to Algebra  
P. E. - This credit will be met through ballet classes and a local co-op class
Science - Astronomy using mostly "living books" such as The Right Stuff, John Glenn, and A Brief History in Time (to name a few).  We will also use some texts, such as Apologia's Astronomy to supplement her studies.
Literature - World Literature using "living books" such as The Good Earth
The Poisonwood Bible,  and Night (to  name just a few).
Social Studies - World Geography using Geography Songs and the internet, she will be responsible for creating a notebook/lapbook of each country documenting the most important information of that country.
Social Studies - World History tied in nicely to World Geography and World Literature.  For this course, she will add to her notebook/lapbook of each country by documenting the countries' history timeline.
Foreign Language - Will either be Greek or Swedish... it's still a toss up at this point.  Hopefully she will decide by Monday which is when she will begin her foreign language study.
Elective - Fine Arts Study, not a "formal" class but will incorporate our study of artists, musical instruments, nature journaling, co-op, and a variety of other things we will be doing such as knitting.
Writing - Creative Writing will be the focus of study this year.  Princess should be able to demonstrate different styles of writing to express her knowledge gained in the "world studies" and astronomy.

While 9 credits does seem to be a zealous undertaking for a freshman, so much of it works nicely together.  We may postpone foreign language until next year but for now, we will give it all go.  Say lots of prayers for us!!!

In love and recovery,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


For those who know Sugar Cake in person, you will understand how truly priceless this is.

We have joined a homeschooling co-op this year which consists of an enrichment period followed by a physical education period.  During the first class of physical education, Sugar Cake's teacher discussed the importance of coordination, making sure eyes were working with hands, feet were working together, and so on.  For about 20 minutes, they discussed the importance of coordination.  At the end of the discussion, the teacher asked for examples of coordination, Sugar Cake is about to come apart she is raising her hand so high to be called upon.  The teacher, excited by my baby girl's eagerness, calls upon her and Sugar Cake explains "My shirt is coordinated with my shorts!"  ...Well, yes, of course!!!

In love, recovery, and laughter,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Many Years, Princess!!!

Our beautiful Princess is 15 today.  What a wonderful honor it is to be your "mama".  I love you more than life itself!!!  

Many blessings to you on this very special day.  And may your year be filled with blessings every single day.  Many years, dear one!

And a blessed feast day to all!

In love and recovery,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Homeschool - The Weekly Curriculum Edition

Our schedule is set and we've reviewed the core (daily) curricula. Our weekly studies will be done once a week following our core studies.

Here is what we will be doing on a weekly basis...

Monday - History... Story of the World (4) We will read one chapter, complete one activity
and there will be a selection of additional reading from which the kids can
choose one to read later in the day.
Physical Education... Although the credits for this subject will be met through the
physical activities (ballet, hockey, etc) we will also study the rules for a
different sport each month and we will be learning an exercise a week (for
example - sit ups, jumping jacks, and such).
Grammar... our main spine for grammar will be First Language Lessons (3). We will
complete one lesson each week. Additionally, the kids will be responsible
for one lesson a week in their Grammar Practice work books. We also have
games that we will add to the agenda this year.

Tuesday - Physics... Christian Kids Explore Physics. We will complete one lesson each week.
We also have a physics lab kit that we will complete.
Geography... for geography, we will focus on countries and where they exist on the
earth. Using Geography Songs as our main resource, we will add in books and games to each country.
Computer... we will also be learning about computers and programming. Since I
know absolutely nothing we will all be learning to together. The main

Wednesday - Nature... for this topic we will be using Nature in a Nutshell, which consists of 10 minute nature activities.  We will also be using the Christian Liberty Nature Readers.  Each will be assigned a reading passage in the appropriate level reader which will then be narrated.
Logic... Each week we will do one lesson in The Fallacy Detective.  

Thursday - Art... we do not have a specific curriculum for art although we will be using "What Makes a _____ a ______" as a spine.  Each month we will look at an artist's work, read about the artist, complete a lapbook about the artist and color/paint a replica of the artist's work.
Citizenship... although our previous studies have focused on characteristics of good citizens, I purchased  "Citizenship Activities" which is full of activities about voting, elections, and other citizenship responsibilities.

Friday - Music... This year's music curriculum is one I have made for studying muscial instruments.  We will look at a different instrument each week, listening to a recording of that instrument.
Life Skills... Each month we will focus on a different life skill.  Some things we will be learning include - knitting, finances, cooking, sewing, woodworking, auto upkeep (I do have one that will be learning to drive next year...YIKES!!!), gardening and home maintenance.  Obviously, we won't be able to cover any of these topics in depth but my hope is that they will learn enough to spark their interests in these areas.  

That wraps up our weekly topics.  Next homeschool post will focus on the plans for my HIGH SCHOOLER!!!  YIKES X3!!!

In love and recovery,

Monday, August 3, 2009

Homeschool - The Core Curriculum Edition

Our core studies this year will be Orthodoxy, Vocabulary, Math, Writing, Literature, and Foreign Language.  These are the areas that will be studied every day.  My process this year was to develop a basic outline of what I hope to cover in these areas.  Although I am hoping that this year will be a little more consistent on a day-to-day basis, it has been proven that life happens and rarely is one day like the next, much less one week to the next.  To assist my weekly lesson planning, I have completed a list of 180 assignments for each core area.  When we "officially" begin school, I then plug lessons 1-5 into the first week.  As assignments are completed, the grade will be recorded and then the next set of lessons will be "officially" assigned.  If for some reason we are only able to accomplish 3 of the 5 assignments for that week (for a legitimate family reason), then the remaining 2 will be assigned for the next week along with the next 3 new assignments.  If the assignments are not completed because of student issues, they will have to be completed on the weekend as "homework."  I don't have an end date for the school year, that will happen when the assignments are completed.  

The 180 assignment plans have been completed for Vocabulary, Math, and Writing.

For Vocabulary, we will be using Word Study developed by the makers of Singapore Math.  We used these some last school year and I found them to be enjoyable for the kids to use on a daily basis. Simple enough to be completed in 5 minutes or so but complex enough to strengthen their vocabulary.

For Math, we will be using Singapore Math.  I've been very impressed with Singapore.  Our math journey has included several different math curricula.  We have tried Saxon, Ray's, Keys to..., and MCP ( and there may have been others I'm not remembering at this  While all of these programs had much to offer and several strengths, I have found Singapore to be the best fit for all of us.  Nearly all of the math is taught as mental math.  I have seen a huge difference since we have switched, mostly, when I ask a math question, my children are able to answer without using their fingers (which is really good since one of them is about to start algebra...LOL!!!)  I can't say enough good things about this program but it does have to be right for the student using it or it will be very frustrating.

For writing, we will continue to work our way through Understanding Writing.  I love this program although I have found with our homeschool, we have been able to skip some things. This curriculum is for grades 1-12 although my daughter in kindergarten was able to work along with us.  My plan is to cover several years this year by skipping those lessons which are repetitious.

For Orthodoxy, Literature, and Foreign Language, I will be working off of my yearly plan.

In our study of Orthodoxy this year, we will be taking a look at the New Testament.  Using the Children's Bible Reader, the Law of God, and our family bible, we will study the books of the New Testament, along with the parables, and other significant passages.  My goal this year is for the children to become familiar with the teachings of Jesus as expressed through the gospels and epistles.

My approach to foreign language is a little bit different from the other core courses in that I really don't have goals set because of the nature of foreign language.  I see these as being similar to music lessons, at the end of the year, I want to see progress but the amount of progress made is dependent upon each child.  As long as I can document 180 days of foreign language practice for each child, then their goal will be met.  Princess will study Greek, Rosebud will study French, Stinkbug will study Spanish, and Sugarcake will study American Sign Language.

Literature seems to be our family favorite.  I read aloud a chapter from the selected book while the children follow along in books we have borrowed from the library.  Following the reading of the chapter, the kids either have an activity to complete taken from a study guide, can illustrate the chapter in some way, or we discuss what was read to make sure all understood the passage.  Our selections for this year are...

That wraps up our core studies.  Next homeschool post will look at our weekly study plans.

In love and recovery,

Monday, July 27, 2009

Homeschool - The Schedule Edition

Although it's been quiet here at the blog, it has been anything but quiet on the homefront.  The few minutes that have not been spent shuffling the family around to various activities and camps have been spent pouring over books trying to plan our homeschool subjects and activities. Although there is a little bit of tweaking left to do our basic weekly plan will look something like this...

Monday morning - Piano Lessons, Cleaning, Life Skills, Schedule Review
afternoon - Orthodoxy, Vocabulary, Math, Foreign Language, Writing, Literature
History, P.E., Grammar
evening - dance

Tuesday morning - Park time, Appointments, Orthodoxy, Vocabulary, Math
afternoon - Foreign Language, Writing, Literature, Violin
Physics, Geography, Computer
evening - dance, hockey

Wednesday morning - Co-op
      afternoon - Orthodoxy, Vocabulary, Math, Foreign Language, Writing, Literature
Nature, Logic
       evening - dance, hockey

Thursday morning - Liturgy, Orthodoxy, Vocabulary
   afternoon - Math, Foreign Language, Writing, Literature
Art, Citizenship
    evening - dance

Friday morning - Community Garden
     afternoon - Orthodoxy, Vocabulary, Math, Foreign Language, Writing, Literature
Music, Life Skills

Monday and Tuesday are more intense because we tend to be able to get more accomplished on those days.  As the week continues, we tend to not get as much done, therefore, I have eased the schooling classes on those days.  We will also have weekly hockey practices and games which are not accounted for in this schedule.

Coming soon... chosen curriculum and plans, garden updates, and book reviews.

In love and recovery,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Garden Update

Princess's zucchini has taken over.  I'm thinking we need LOTS of recipes... if you have a good one, let me know.
Rosebud's corn is ready for pollination.  Did you know that when you only have a small amount of corn that pollination is done by hand?  I'm thinking that is something she will need to take care of this weekend.  Her watermelon looks good also but it has some strange looking bug that needs to be investigated and eliminated... another project for the weekend.
Stinkbug's plot has some good looking corn too but it is not ready for pollination.  And you almost can't see his corn because of his potato plants... what is up with those things???  The tomato plants he began from seed are almost as big as the ones we bought.  He is quite attentive to his plot and it shows.
And of course, we can't forget Sugarcake.  The big monster of a thing in her plot is pumpkin... that's A (singular) pumpkin plant.  I didn't use a wide angle but it is over on the right side about 3 or 4 feet and over on the left side 1 or 2 feet.  All she wants from it is pumpkin pie, but I'm thinking we may have to start selling them... lol... she's been trying to figure out a way to make money...

I can't believe it has been almost a month since my last garden update... what a difference a few weeks makes!

In love and recovery,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My "Not So Baby" Baby...

is 6!!!

A Special Day

For many, June 14th is Flag Day.  For me, June 14th marks the day my cousin's son would celebrate a birthday.  This is the second of many times that this day will pass without candles and cake and celebration.  Last year, I filled a basket with items (a Saint Nicholas icon, candles, books, etc) to mark the day.  This year, I made this little bracelet with pictures of her husband and 3 children.  A tradition I hope to continue, giving her a token of remembrance, because for me, his memory is still alive and I still want to celebrate his birth and the blessing of his life.  May his memory be eternal.

In love and recovery,

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Week in Review

What an exciting, CRAZY week this was!!!

Along with the usual this week...
- I had a doctor's appointment... just a check up and everything was good.
- Princess auditioned for the ballet company and made it.
- Stinkbug had a hockey game Saturday (June 6) and scored his first goal.

And looking ahead...
Sugarcake has a name day on Monday (June 8)... St. Melania pray for us!
Sugarcake and Stinkbug have Vacation Bible School - and Rosebud is a helper.
Princess begins ballet camp.
Rosebud begins violin lessons.
Princess has several babysitting jobs.
Stinkbug has another hockey game.
The newspaper is doing a piece on the community garden.
My dad is having a procedure done on Monday morning and a doctor's appointment on Tuesday.

I guess that's it besides the usual... LOL!

Of course, it would be nice if a dear friend would have her baby on June 8, especially since that is MY guess.

In love and recovery,

Friday, May 29, 2009

First Fruits...

Okay, well, actually... FRUIT (  Princess celebrated the Ascension by picking her first strawberry.
Perfectly red... perfectly beautiful.
And perfectly tasty!!!

In love and recovery,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garden Update

YEA!  We have tomatoes!!!  The only thing more exciting than seeing things growing in the garden is seeing the look on the kids' faces when they see things growing!  These two were found on Princess's tomato plant.
The potatoes in the picture above are in Stinkbug's plot.  And below is Rosebud's corn and watermelon looking so much bigger than last week.
Below is Sugarcake's pumpkin.  She has watermelon too but it is not quite as thick as Rosebud's.

Stinkbug's potatoes have gotten so tall we are going to have to add some boards to his plot so we can pile more dirt in.  They are only supposed to have about four inches of growth showing so we've got lots of dirt to get on those babies... and soon!
More weeding and watering to come.  Hopefully we can keep the ants at bay.

In love and recovery,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Singing the Blues... that we are home from Memphis.  My darling husband took me on a mini-vacation to Memphis for my birthday.  Pretty sweet, huh?  Yep, I think so!!!
First stop...

Rendezvous...known far and wide for their BBQ ribs.  But just between you and me, if you are in the area, get an order (or 2) of the BBQ nachos and skip the ribs!
Our room was at the Peabody Hotel, known for the March of the Ducks.  At 10am these precious little ducks come down from their suite (yes, they have a suite at the hotel) on the elevator and walk the red carpet to the water fountain, where they hang out all day.  At 5pm, they march back to the elevator and up to the suite... sweet!
Probably my favorite tourist-y thing to do was the Sun Records/Studio tour.  Truly a step back in time.  For those of you not familiar with Sun, they first signed Elvis... and Johnny Cash... and Jerry Lee Lewis... and  LOTS more...
What an incredible learning experience.  I can see a field trip with the kids in tow in our future!  Towards the end of the tour, I felt my hip going and my knee shaking... no wonder!!! I was standing on the 'X' where Elvis stood in the recording studio... thank you, thank you very much!
And would any trip to Memphis be complete without a trip to Graceland?  Pictures were difficult because they don't allow flash.  This was probably my favorite room... the billards room.  
And in case you are wondering, that is fabric on the walls, and the ceiling, and the windows.  250 YARDS (yes, yards) of fabric.  I'm on the hunt now for a similar retro fabric to make some cute kid clothes.  Next up, "the Jungle Room."  Fun! Fun!
And a view from the front.
We also did the BBQ Cook-Off (don't bother), the Cotton Exchange Museum (a must, especially for homeschoolers), a Red Birds (minor league/farm team for the Cardinals) baseball game (very nice), a tour of the "arts district" (this was about 6 or 7 shops, about 5 of which were not open when we went... heehee), and several trips to Beale Street.

A wonderful trip!  A wonderful husband!  I am too blessed to "sing the blues."
In love and recovery,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Natural...

... at least that is what the owner and prima ballerina at the performing arts school says.  Of course, this mama couldn't be more proud!
Now... if my photography could do her justice we'd be set...

In love and recovery,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fruits of our Labor

Okay, well, I'll be honest... God's the one doing all the work.  He's sent the rain, He's sent the sunshine, and so far He hasn't sent too many bugs or weeds... so this is how some of our plants are looking this week....         The first strawberry for Princess...

Corn stalks for Rosebud...

Stinkbug's potatoes are looking good...

And it looks like Sugarcake may get some pumpkin...
Most of our other plants are looking good also but these are the best looking of the plots so far.
May God continue to bless our garden and have mercy on us city dwellers that haven't done this before.

In love and recovery,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's Official...

... I'm a HOCKEY MOM!  Watch out Sarah Palin (heehee)
While 3 of my 4 kiddos have been taking hockey classes for a few months now, my Stinkbug has taken the next step and is playing on a team.  Tonight was their 4th game and it was a blast, especially since they won 8-3.  Go, baby, go!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Growing a Garden - Update

After our planting session last week, we ended up with some pepper plants and blue boys that did not have a home.  Today I cleaned out some pots and planted our left overs.  Below is a picture of our garden storage.  I'm not a big Walmart fan but I did manage to find this there for $4 and several pairs of garden shoes for $1 each.
Princess's garden plot...    eggplant, zucchini, strawberries, onions
Rosebud's garden plot...   okra, watermelon, corn, stevia
Stinkbug's garden plot...   potato, corn, tomato, carrots
Sugarcake's garden plot...  pumpkin, watermelon, tomato, beans
I can hardly believe it has been less than two weeks since we put these babies in the ground!  I'm amazed at the growth.  Today, we added dirt to each plot and watered.  I finally managed to stake the tomatoes plants purchased from our community garden... another Walmart purchase - bamboo sticks, a whole package of about 25 for $2.37.

Time for a shower  NOW!
In love and recovery,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How a Garden Grows

In the middle of February, God graced our family with the opportunity to participate in a community garden.  We joined about 5 other homeschooling families in this project.  From the first moment, we were hooked.  We have had the opportunity to plant seeds and seedlings, pull weeds, water, feed worms, pull bugs off plants and a variety of other things.  As we approached spring, we decided to try our hand at raising a few vegetables ourselves.

We purchased some packages of seeds, some dirt and some starter containers.  Within a few weeks, our seeds had sprouted and we were ready to get them in the ground.

We constructed four plots.  Each child helped to construct their own plot... we did 3 sides and dad finished up the fourth side of each one.

Next came paper and then organic soil.  None of the kids seemed too excited when they found out what was in the soil... lol!

Within a few short days, the beds were built and filled with dirt.  And the planting began...

God blessed our garden with LOTS of rain... so much rain that we were beginning to wonder if our little garden might wash away.  Not only is the garden still in place, all of the rain seems to be just what it needed and our sprouts are lush and green.  We'll replace some of the washed away soil and my hope is to post a weekly update on "how our garden grows."

In love and recovery,

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Lenten Reflection

My Sugarcake is 5.  She asks the hard questions and she makes comments that can send this mama to the brink of tears from laughing.  She also has a gift for saying things which make me think that she is so much wiser than most adults I know (myself included).

After giving her bedtime hugs and kisses one night this week, she smiled and said, "You smell like church."  I know what she meant, the incense that lingered on my clothes and in my hair.  But in my heart, I felt something deeper.  The smell of church - the aroma of Christ.  That is truly what I want to have!

To exude the aroma of Christ, I have to completely absorb Him.  He has to fill me so completely that there is no where else for Him to go but back out into the world around me.  And as we approach the end of lent and the resurrection of Christ, I can see that I am much more filled of Him than I have ever been before and because of that, I know this lent has been fruitful.  But will His aroma still linger when lent has passed?  My prayer is that it will be so.

And so as I approach this Pascha, I pray that Orthodox Christians everywhere will not only experience the resurrection of Christ, but will also be filled with His aroma.  And I pray that in the weeks and months to come that others will not only be able to see Christ in my actions and hear Christ in my words, but that when I am near they will be able to say, "She smells like church!"

A very blessed Feast to you all!
In love and recovery,

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You Know You Have A House Full of Homeschoolers When...

You know you have a house full of homeschoolers when, in the morning, after a sleep-over, you hear, "Hey, let's watch the Discovery Channel!"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Book Review - Cross Country

I was wanting to leave my fiction reading until after lent but when I had the opportunity to read this book for free, I decided to go ahead and read it.  Since it only took me a few evenings to read it, it didn't seem to be too distracting.

This book is the latest in the Alex Cross series.  If you've never read James Patterson before and are interested in "thriller type" books then he is a definite read.  He's a little more gruesome than John Grisham but not too much.  It is possible to read the latest book without having read the rest of the series but a lot of things really make a whole lot more sense if you've followed the character throughout.  If you love Alex Cross... keep reading because most likely, you'll like this one as well.

Well, I'm off to begin something a little more "lent worthy,"  The Ascetic of Love.  A blessed lenten season to you all.

In love and recovery,

Monday, March 9, 2009

Daylight Savings Change

After 14 years of dealing with children and daylight savings time, I've come to a conclusion. Whoever created daylight savings time, did NOT have children!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Book Review - Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me!

I have to admit I was really drawn to this book by the title  :-)  With 4 children, someone is always breathing on someone else and if they aren't breathing on someone else, they are just breathing.  My oldest in particular has a hard time with the fact that her brother "breathes."  I definitely learned some interesting things.  Some things I was already doing and some things I have been adding to my bag of tricks since reading the book.  If you have more than one child, I would definitely read this book.  Although I do recommend this book, it does have a lot of "fluff." I enjoyed the author's vignettes but after awhile, they did get to be a little irritating, so if you are reading this book, you may want to start "skimming" after awhile.

In love and recovery,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent on my Mind

Although I am an Orthodox Christian now, I was raised as a Roman Catholic.  For lent, we were always encouraged to "give up" something.  My understanding was that we were "giving up" something as a sacrifice for all Jesus had sacrificed for us.  While that is somewhat true, what I have learned after coming to the Orthodox Church is that lent is a time for us to withdraw (of sorts) from our earthly world and focus more on our spiritual world.  Most Orthodox Christians I know observe fasting... fasting from meat, meat products (milk, cheese, eggs, etc), fish, and oil. Before I had a clear understanding of the importance of the fast, I participated in lent the "catholic way."  My first year I gave up Oprah, the next year I gave up watching soap operas (I know!).  What I found was that the things I gave up were distracting me from my walk with God.  I was given so much more than I "gave up."

So this year, I'm preparing to participate in the fast.  This week is preparation for the weeks of lent ahead.  During this week, Orthodox Christians abstain from meat.  Monday begins the Orthodox fast.  So while I am participating in the fast, I will also be "giving up" something as well.  There are so many things that distract me from my walk... so where do I begin finding "that thing" that will have the most impact.  Well, prayer is where I find "that thing."  So this year there are 3 (LOL) things that I have been convicted to practice... I will be "giving up" going out to eat during the week (although this means I'll be spending more time cooking, I have found that cooking actually consumes less of my time overall than going out to eat), I will be giving up "sleeping in" during the week as well (this means that I'll be setting the alarm clock and making sure I start my day before my kids are in full force... ooohh that one's going to be tough) and I will put a very strict limit on my internet time(ouch!).  But I know that if I am faithful in this pursuit, that God will bless me beyond measure (who knows... maybe He'll even let me win the Night Out with the Stars...LOL!!!)

Okay, so what about you?  If you are Orthodox, do you participate in the fast?  Do you "give something up" to spend more time with God?  If not, is there something you feel God asking you to do this lent in addition to the fast?  If you are Catholic, what do you do to spend more time with God during lent?  And if you are someone who doesn't DO lent, why not... just because your faith may not participate in a lenten fast doesn't mean you can't...  

I would love to hear your lenten thoughts.

In love and recovery,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Review - The Power of Less

WOW!  Probably one of the best words I can use to describe this book.  As you might have noticed from my previous reviews... I'm pretty picky... lol!  But I have to say I learned an incredible amount from this book.  The author lives what he suggests and gave a lot of insight in just a few pages.  The premise of the book is to live a more powerful life by doing less.  Yes, you heard me correctly... by DOING LESS.  I've already put some of his suggestions into practice and have been amazed at the things that have occurred in our household.

There is peace and simplicity in his ideas.  And you know I'm ALL about SIMPLE.  Now, his book is written to the professional but I found at least 95% of what he wrote being applicable to a stay at home mom.  I think as moms at home, we have special challenges, but really, how different is an emergency diaper change from an interruption from the boss???  (I've had diaper blow outs and they are much less stress than an angry boss!)  Of course, there are some things he suggests that I really don't want to do (get up earlier...yuck!) but as with everything (thank you OA) I'm learning that there is a choice to make.  Hmmm... I guess I'll have to let you know about MY decision in my next post... don't you just love cliffhangers ;-)

So, my recommendation... if you are looking to live a life of peace and simplicity, and be more efficient while doing it, read this book.  I saw it at our library (our tiny library) so if you have a library in your community, they probably have it.  

In love and recovery,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book Review - The Senator's Wife

Well, I've been busy reading again.  I suppose the cooler weather has made me want to curl up with a book (and not do much

This book is another fiction book.  I've read another of Sue Miller's works, "While I Was Gone," and I like it so I thought I would give this one a try.  Her characters truly come to life.  I was captivated by their lives and was able to read this book fairly quickly because it really did draw me in.  Even so, I don't know that I would recommend this book to others.  I'm at a lost as to how to explain this... I can't say I didn't like the end, I would have preferred another conclusion, but I didn't write the book.  But that's not the reason I wouldn't suggest this book.  A situation in the book, closely tied to the conclusion, was, well, strange and embarrassing.  I know, that doesn't make sense... let's see if this does it... two characters engage in a behavior that leads to the conclusion of the book but I thought that the author could have come to the same conclusion without including some of the details that she did.  Okay... that's as much as you'll get out of me.  If you need more details, you can email me... LOL!

All righty!  Next post will be a book review as well, "The Power of Less."  I need to "sit" with it a little bit longer before I write my review though.  Look for it in the next few days... I'm sure you can't wait... LOL!

In love and recovery,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

NOT a book review

Can you believe it?  I have something to say other than a book review?  Well, not really but I thought I would post any way...LOL!

Things have been busy here... aren't they always?  Dentist appointments and birthdays, trips out of town and visits to the Stars.  Homeschooling and Homecleaning.  The list goes on and on.

Separating the literature reads for the older two and the younger two has NOT been working.  I'll be looking for something interesting we can read all together.  We were all spoiled by the richness of Narnia series so this is going to be tough.

I'm looking forward to a seminar on homeschooling for high school.  We've made lots of progress on the garage so I'm hoping to get some specific areas more organized if we can squeeze that in, because there is some hockey going on this weekend too  :-)

In love and recovery,

Monday, February 16, 2009

Book Review - The Associate

Okay, I really have been doing things besides reading... LOL!  Since my other favorite author, John Grisham, released a book recently, I was anxious to read it.  My mother likes to read him as well, so I was aiming to finish so that I could leave it with her when I went for a visit.  

I did complete it and I must say... it was a huge disappointment.  It didn't flow.  It had exciting parts but for the most part it seemed that he had 5 different story ideas and tried to incorporate them into one story.  There was a love interest but it didn't fit with the story line.  The friendships didn't fit.  The end was a disappointment.  I was totally bummed!

As much as I enjoy his books, I'm afraid it is time for him to either retire or at least take a break for awhile and recharge.  Sorry, Mr. Grisham, this one did not meet "the bar."

In love and recovery,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Book Review - The Whipping Boy

Although this was a very cute story, it lacked the quality that I expect from a Newberry Medal book.  The kids didn't seem too impressed either.  The story traces the adventures of a prince and his whipping boy.  Some nice reflections on friendships.

We do have a fun project planned and I'm excited to see the results.  Over the next few days, the kids will "adapt" the book to something I will video tape this weekend.  I'm very anxious to see their creative minds at work.

In love and recovery,

Friday, January 30, 2009

Book Review - 3:16 The Numbers of Hope

A much faster read, obviously, than the last book I reviewed!  I had some reservations about reading a book from a non-orthodox Christian writer.  During the months following our family's conversion to Orthodoxy, I was involved in a bible study from a non-orthodox writer.  It felt odd, like I was betraying my faith.  It's been almost 4 years since our conversion and I was given this book for Christmas so I thought I would give it a try.  Keeping in mind that Max Lucado was my very favorite Christian author before my conversion, it is worth the read.

I did feel somewhat awkward at times... would the early church fathers agree with this?  But when I keep in mind that this is one man's take on the verse, I was able to read and enjoy.  This book is a focus on the verse of John 3:16... For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  Max Lucado brings a warmth and humor to his writing that makes reading his writing a pleasure.

Now, as an Orthodox Christian, I'll review it this way... With Jesus as the cornerstone, the teachings of the early church fathers would be the structure of the building.  To this, Max Lucado would be the paint.  He definitely has earned his place among Christian writers and what he gives to me through his writing is fun, energy, and a joy in the teachings of Christ.  However, if I ONLY read Max Lucado then I would be stunting my growth.  I need the "meat" of the early church fathers but it's good to have "the sauteed mushrooms" (Max Lucado) to enjoy also.

In love and recovery,

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review - The Hour I First Believed

Oh my!  Let me begin by saying that in regards to current fiction writers, I have two absolute favorites.  One being John Grisham and the other? Wally Lamb!  Now, take into consideration he only has two books out (now 3) and that says a lot about him.  

This latest book confirmed how I feel about him as a writer.  He brings something to the pages beyond the written word, he brings art to the page.  Now that I've given him such a glowing analysis, let me say that this is not an easy book to read.  At over 730 pages (and 4 children in the house) it's not something I was able to rip through quickly.  In fact, it took much longer than I expected.  Not because of the length but because of the topic.  A word of warning, this book is not for the weak of heart.  A main focus of the book is the horrific occurrence at Columbine.  And while this is a work of fiction, he did so much research that I found myself reliving the sadness and horror as if it had happened 9 days ago instead of 9 years ago.

This one goes on the keeper shelf.  Right next to my favorite book of all time... "This Much I Know Is True."  And one last comment I must share... Thank you, Wally, for sharing your talent with me... your books inspire me.

In love and recovery,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Book Review - The Tale of Despereaux

We finally finished the book.  It was a very sweet story.
We saw the movie.  It was okay... not as good as the book of course.

The author uses some beautiful imagery.  She weaves a beautiful tale but by jumping back and forth amongst the characters, it made it much more difficult for the children to follow (I thought...LOL).  

Princess - I thought it was adventurous and not just boring.  It had funny characters as well.
Rosebud - I like how she developed the characters.  I liked how she wrote the book because it was easy for me to understand.
Stinkbug - I liked it because it was really interesting, there was lots of different stuff in the movie from the book, and I liked all the characters because they were really good.
Sugarcake - My favorite was Princess Pea because she was really, really nice and she wasn't rude to anyone.  But there were things in the movie that weren't in the book.

In love and recovery,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

May her memory be eternal!

I'm having a very difficult time with this post.  To be honest, I really don't want to write it but I feel I must.  A very dear friend passed away on Sunday.  I have no idea how old she was, it never really mattered.  My best guess would be late 50's, early 60's.

We shared a love of sewing.  We shared a love of smocking.  We shared a love of cross-stitch.  We shared a love of Bernina sewing machines.  We shared a love of children.  We shared a love of smiling and laughing.  We shared a love of the Orthodox Church.

She wasn't my first introduction to the Orthodox Church but she did clue me in to a lot of things I did not know about the church.  I seriously considered asking her to be my godmother when our family decided to convert to Orthodoxy.  She lived out of town so I asked someone local.  I know it was the best decision but I say that to let those reading know how close I felt to her.

I don't ask for sympathy.  I only ask for prayers on her behalf... "Lord, may her memory be eternal!"

In love and recovery,

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ponder This...

The dear hubby shared this with me...

One day a man was feeling depressed so he went to the pet store.  The clerk asked him what he was looking for and the man said his doctor recommended a pet to keep him company.  The clerk said "We have a great bird here that will talk your ear off... he'd be great company!"  The man buys the parrot and goes home.  He returns a week later and informs the clerk that the bird has not said a single word!  The clerk says "Oh, I know what is wrong... the parrot doesn't have a swing... he loves to swing and he'll start talking."  So the man purchases he swing, only to return a week later complaining that the bird still has not said a word.  The clerk realizes the parrot does not have a ladder and says, "What you need is this ladder... the bird will climb the ladder, start swinging, and then talk your ear off."  So off the man goes, only to return a week later and the bird STILL has not said a word.  "I've got just the thing," says the clerk, "here is his mirror... he'll see himself, climb the ladder, start swinging and then he'll talk to you for sure."  So off the man goes, again!  A week later, the man returns.  The clerk asks about the bird.  "Well, the bird is dead!" the man replies.  "Dead!?!" the clerk exclaims, "Well, did he ever talk to you?"  The man replied, "Right before he died he spoke one sentence...'Don't they sell bird food at that store?'"

And now I share this with you...

How often can we apply this to our spiritual life?  Depressed and alone we search for Christ. We easily find Him!!!  We bring Him home, let Him reside in our heart.  But then we search for ways to please Him, only to find that all the "stuff" is not what He asks of us.  Does Christ really want for us to volunteer in the nursery, teach classes, and be on the parish council when we are not feeding our soul with His Word?  In the Book of James we find that "faith without good works is dead" but what is works without faith?  How long can we continue to bring home toys (or do good works) without feeding the parrot (living in God's Word)?

Just something to ponder...

In love and recovery,

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Too Funny

Okay... I'm always being told to write down all those funny things my children say (and I haven't ever done it).  Why???  Because as much as I want to remember all these funny things...there just aren't enough hours in the day now that we have Sugarcake.

However, this is one for the books...

A little history... when we met the J.'s they had 4 children similar in age and gender.  Since then, they have added another child to their crew and Mrs. J. is now pregnant with their 6th child.  It has been sometime since we have visited with the J.'s.

We went to visit the J.'s on Friday and later in the day picked up hubby from work.  We went to eat supper.  While waiting for our food, the children begin telling hubby about our visit with the J.'s.  One of the children tells hubby that Mrs. J. is pregnant.  To which Sugarcake (who is 5) states...
"That woman needs to get a HOBBY!"

Ummm... apparently she already does.

In love, recovery, and laughter,

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On the Road Again...

On the road to recovery again, that is.  I've been drifting farther and farther away from the tools of Overeater's Anonymous.  Oh, I'm still an overeater... but for some reason, I thought I could just coast.  I mean, the millions of people who've been helped by 12 step programs are much worse than I am...right???? And they say you have to use the tools, who do they think they are????Um...well... I can choose to be one of the millions that have been helped or I can coast.

Coasting... an interesting concept isn't it???  I can only coast so long before I'm standing still once again.  Or, I can coast quite awhile... if I'm going downhill!  Ewww, that's not good.  Heading the wrong direction AND picking up speed!!!  And how many of us have coasted uphill???  I don't want to coast anymore... I want to live.

Thank you, Nick, for reminding me AGAIN!!!  May your memory be eternal!

In love and recovery,

Monday, January 5, 2009

Starting the Year with a Struggle

My heart is aching.  I knew this was coming but I wasn't prepared.  Not that you can really be prepared for the anniversary of a death in the family.  Especially when that death is of a young person (14 to be exact).  A tragedy that will forever be engraved on my heart.  His mom is more than a relative, she is a friend.  A friend whose family will never be "complete" on this earth.  

When our fourth (and last) child was born, my husband and I both commented on how our family had never felt complete before.  It was like something was missing, but we didn't know what or who it was until she was here.  My friend knows what is missing, what will always be missing... when they take a family picture, when they sit down to a family meal, when they go on a family vacation... her middle child will always be missing.

My consolation is what is said in the orthodox church... "May his memory be eternal."  That is my hope and my prayer.  But I want his mom to have more than his memory... I want her to have her son.  I suppose Mary felt that way too, when she saw HER son on the cross, when she had to put him in a grave.  The Theotokos (the Mother of God) has brought me much comfort over the last year.  I've had a glimpse into her pain and she has comforted me through that pain and she's also shared with me that "Gone but not forgotten" is a falsehood.  Nick is certainly not forgotten but he is not GONE either.  His spirit is ALIVE, alive in those who love him and alive in those he loved.  We miss his physical presence but he is still smiling from his heart and his energy still moves through our family.  

As deep as our sadness on earth is, I can't even imagine the joy in heaven at having such a beautiful soul among the angels.  With all my heart I pray "May his memory be eternal" and may his mom find comfort in the arms of the Theotokos.

In love and recovery,

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome 2009

Welcome 2009!  So glad you are here!  

Actually, I found this new year's celebration very different for me.  Perhaps it is the ONE DAY AT A TIME mentality that has become my way of life in the past 10 months.  In years' past, the change of years has always been a big deal for me.  I loved being able to put a close to the stress and difficulties of the old year and look to the promise of the new year.  However, usually by the second week of January (and 2008 didn't even take that long) I could see that the new year was no different from any of the ones before and the grind would continue.  Becoming a part of a 12 step recovery program opened my eyes to see that I DAILY have the opportunity to put an end to the stress and difficulties of the day and look to the promise of a new day.  Every evening is "new year's eve" and every morning is "a new year."  And I don't have to worry that I won't have kept my "resolutions" by February... I need only work on myself for TODAY.

Or maybe I'm just getting old....

In love and recovery,