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Today was a long day. At least it seems that way. I'm not exactly sure why other than waking up at 5:00 am....not my idea of a good wake up time. I do that occasionally...just wake up early and can't get back to sleep. So this was about 1 1/2 hours early. I like to wake by 6:30 (well, like isn't exactly the word) because it allows me to get some things done and do some of my scripture reading for the day done before I actually have to get my toddler out of bed and really start the day. But at 5 AM, I'm not ready to do ANYTHING.

After breakfast, completing a writing lesson with my oldest son and giving instructions for lunch,
I went shopping and wasted a lot of time, in my opinion, because I didn't find much of anything I was looking for. Then I went grocery shopping which I loathe. I came home hungry and tired and needed to make dinner. During this process, the men came by to install our new oven. (I don't even want to go into how much it cost to replace our wall oven in time for my husband to do his annual Pascha Bread for Pascha in a couple weeks....there's no way the bread would have turned out well with the one we had...) It looked for a bit like they weren't going to be able to get it to fit in. With the help of our neighbor who specializes in cabintry though, we finally had success!

And then I completed dinner. Vegetarian Black Bean Chili.....It is soooooooo gooooood!It is my favorite lenten meal (followed closely by my clam chowder). I like cooking. I enjoy it. I just loathe the process of planning menus, planning grocery lists, grocery shopping, being in charge of every meal nearly every day and the clean up process. Luckily my kids (the older ones of course, not the toddler) are old enough and take turns cleaning up after dinner. But I still prepare breakfast, clean up, prepare lunch, clean up and prepare dinner and, because I'm just that way, clean up a lot of that as I go. Which means I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and sometimes I get very resentful of that. I wish there was a way I could find to simplify all of this and still have home-cooked, made from scratch meals for my family. But alas, there doesn't seem to be.

I know some people who make really large batches of whatever they cook and that's what they eat for the next 2-3 days or more. That just doesn't fly in my household. I guess I've spoiled them. But even I wouldn't want to eat the same thing for more than two days in a row.....and yet I would...at least occasionally.

I'm not even sure why I'm complaining about this today since today was probably one of my easier days in the kitchen. I guess I've just been irritated by it other days recently plus my grocery shopping trip. I usually have the older kids do the grocery shopping with me. Three people in a grocery store take up a lot LESS time than one! And the cooking from scratch is worth it. That's another story for another day.... which I do hope to write about one of these days....our family story will probably take up several posts to complete. But still, I wish I could have days off, you know? Where I wasn't in the kitchen and I wasn't the one doing all the food prep....so I'd have time to really get some other things done or just RELAX..... with a good book....or pencil and paper? Someday I'll get back to all that....but this (blog) is a start.

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The Rules:
1) Post these rules.
2) Post 11 random things about yourself
3) Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post
4) Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5) Go to their blog and tell them they’ve been tagged
6) No cop-outs in the tagging section like, “If you are reading this” or “if you follow me”. You have to legitimately tag people!

11 random facts about Me
1) I shouldn’t have dairy…..it messes with my sinuses and digestive system…..but I can’t live without it for more than 2 months ( and only the season of Lent can help me get that far) and Ice Cream is my biggest temptation back into that.
2) I taught in public schools for ten years…..learning support classrooms that covered grades K-6.
3) The moose is my absolute favorite animal.
4) I can still recite many portions of A Charlie Brown Christmas from listening to it many many times on a record I had of it when younger.
5) I hate my voice…..probably related to the speech issues I had as a child related to being born with cleft palate.
6) I started my love for reading in second grade when I would polish off a Nancy Drew book in a day…..my love for books continued for life and I still love a good mystery!
7) I have a secret desire to own a red sports car…..a mustang preferably….but I have a feeling I will never give in to that one…..money would be part of the reason.
8) I love planting flowers and a vegetable garden and I love bringing in a harvest but I loathe all of the work in between.
9) My absolute favorite color is red….but I also like blues and purples a great deal.
10) I love talking to people….if they start the conversation and do most of the work to maintain it! I’m really a recluse and need to fight those reclusive tendencies constantly.
11) I grew up Catholic but converted to Orthodoxy just 8 years ago.

Ambers 11 Questions:
1) If you could have a secret identity what would it be?
Oh, that’s hard! Well, I’d probably go back to my early book years and be some private detective and solve crimes…..weird, but I’d love to catch a bad guy and put them in jail!
2) What period of history is your favorite?
The colonial period up to the Civil War. I just like learning about how difficult life was for the new Americans and the abolition of slavery.
3) What is your Favorite TV series? FRIENDS…… there’s a lot of immoral actions in that series but I was always drawn to the friendships and how they supported one another and loved one another no matter what. They always worked out their differences.
4) Cookies, Brownies, or Cupcakes? BROWNIES….soft and chewy ones
5) Coffee, Tea, or Hot Cocoa? Hot cocoa….but usually tea because of the dairy in the cocoa….
6) When you relax would it be to music, a book, or movie? A book, definitely!
7) Who’s your favorite actor? I have quite a few but the one that came to mind was Tom Hanks…. I like actors that can do a variety of different types of characters and isn’t always in the same type of genre. He does this well.
8) What is your favorite pie? Banana Cream
9) Letter writing, texting, or e-mailing is your preferred written communication? E-mailing….. I like letter writing except for the time it takes to get it to the person.
10) Your favorite book series? Patricia Cornwells’ Kay Scarpetta novels….they are a crime novel series
11) If you could instantly play any instrument which would it be? PIANO! I’ve only taken about a years worth of lessons….oh I wish I could play…

My Questions For You
1.) What’s your earliest memory?
2. ) What is your favorite fiction book?
3. ) What is your favorite fiction movie?
4.) What is something your afraid of?
5.) What is your favorite quote and who said it?
6.) If you had to be stuck on an island with just three people for the rest of your life with no other humans, who would you pick and why?
7.) What accomplishment are you most proud of?
8.) What is your favorite place to visit?
9.) What is your favorite holiday tradition?
10.) What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
11.) If you could be anyone for just 24 hours, who would it be?
I tag….(of course...I'm not real sure how to do this....)

Thea@ Speak Now 16
Amber@joyofdawn.wordpress.com
Valrfederoff.wordpress.com

I’m new to the blogging world. So that’s all my tags…..but
if there is anyone else out there reading who’d like to answer this tag please feel free to do so! Let me know in the comments if you do.

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I went to visit my mom a few days ago.  Well, I went to visit her and my brothers/uncles.  I guess I should explain just a bit there.....  BIOLOGICALLY she is my grandmother and they are my uncles.  But in my heart, she is my mother and they are my brothers.  Mom and PapPap raised me....from about a year till I was about 61/2 and then again from age 11 on up.  That's a long story in and of itself....

Anyway, I went to go visit her and to give assistance to her and my brothers.  Mom is 83. One brother had a heart attack about a week ago and the other broke his shoulder in a skiing accident.  Mom is losing her memory.  To tell the stories I can laugh but inside I'm crying.

She couldn't remember when I was coming or when I was leaving.  I took a book for her to read (The Help).  I had to tell her at least 5 times that I had brought it and that it was for her to borrow and read.  The first night I kept asking for things to do to help her.  She couldn't come up with anything.  Later she mentioned she had nothing to wear for a baptism she was to attend on Sunday as she's lost a lot of weight.  I said I'd take her shopping. She said that sounded like a good idea.  About a half hour later I mentioned going shopping and she asked "what for?".  We repeated the conversation.  The next day I asked where she wanted to go shopping.  Again, "What for?".  "Mom you wanted a dress for the baptism."   "I did?  I have that dress I wore to the wedding, don't you think that's okay or do you think everyone will know that's the only dress I have?"   "Mom you said you wanted a new dress."  So I go into how it's not inconveninent for me to take her as I could shop as well.  We have a lengthy conversation of how she shopped all over the mall for the dress for the wedding and how that wore her out and she ended up in Burlington and maybe we could just go there.  Okay, so let's go to Burlington.  We get ready and go.  We get there and she asks where is the petite section and I show her.  So she looks for a dress and I look for a dress and my daughter looks for a dress. My son pushes my younger son around in a cart.  An hour and a half later we walk out of Burlington with a shirt for my youngest.  That's it.  We get in the car and I say, "Well, Mom was there somewhere else you'd want to try?"  She looks at me and says, "For what?"

Sigh. 

Dan (my brother/uncle) that he told her not to make ice tea anymore.  Twice now she has told him the ice tea maker(it's electric) doesn't work anymore and when he investigates he finds that it didn't work because she didn't put the water in.

Of course this is just a snipit of  the whole picture.  And I can laugh at each isolated incident.  But put them altogether and it gets scary.  She lives alone.  Dan checks on ever several times a day when he can.  But still, it's scary.  I worry.  She's my mom.  I hate to see her lonely.  I hate to see her depressed.  I hate to see her confused.  But I love her so much.

My son will be two years old at the end of the month.

He is our first child that is 'cradle Orthodox'.  It has already been a wonderous experience....the baptism, chrismation and of course the first communion and all of those to follow.  He has wonderful godparents whom we feel very close to.

His favorite activity is playing 'church'.  It started over a year ago.  He waves his plastic links, chained together, as though they are a censor.  As time went on, he learned to kiss icons and crosses, so each time he sees one he must kiss it.  It doesn't matter where it is....within reach or not, so sometimes this is a challenge as he gets rather upset if he can't.  He also takes them off the wall or the dresser and walks around the house with it, holding the icon or cross, or yes, even the bible, high above his head, singing in a tone quite similar to that of the priest....Could it be? "Blessed is the kingdom......"

Now, in addition to bible and censor, we have vestments.  His trusty blanket.  This is the blanket given to him by his godparents on his baptism day.  This is 'blankie'.  This is the beloved item that goes everywhere.  It now rests gently upon his shoulders, tied in a knot at his chin or, in a rather funny fashion, clipped on with a Pampered Chef Twix It Clip,.....  But alas, it drapes across his shoulders hanging down past his knees in the back.  He lifts up his arms, sings (Blessed is the Kingdom) and proceeds to do prostrations and crosses himself.

It is dear. 
It is precious.

It is etched into my memory forever.

Alexander Nevsky (Russian: About this sound Алекса́ндр Яросла́вич Не́вский (help·info), Aleksandr Yaroslavich Nevskij; pronounced [ɐlʲɪˈksandr jɪrɐˈslavʲɪtɕ ˈnʲefskʲɪj]; 30 May 1220 – 14 November 1263, proclaimed Saint of the Russian Orthodox Church by Metropolite Macariy in 1547[1]) was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over the German and Swedish invaders while employing collaborationist policies towards the powerful Golden Horde.

The above is taken from Wikipedia.  We were looking up several sources today on Saint Alexander.  It is my youngest son's  patron saint.  My oldest son is using it as the topic of his next essay.

Essay writing is not his favorite thing.  He likes writing in his journal.  He does not like writing for an assignment, especially if Mom is actually checking it for grammar and punctuation! 

We are trying a new approach to the whole capitalization and punctuation issue.  We are only working on 6 rules.  I got this idea from one of my homeschooling sources.  It was an article written by the seller of Analytical Grammar- my favorite grammar program thus far!  I chose three rules that my son must ALWAYS follow.  He chose the other three.  Of course, he chose ones he knew he wouldn't use very often.  I knew that would happen (even without the same acknowledgement form the author of the article!).  I chose the two that drive me the craziest that he just must be responsible for and through in one more obvious rule for good measure.  Her is what we came up with:

1.  All sentences must begin with a capital letter and end with correct ending punctuation.

2.  Capitalize all proper nouns(names of specific people, places, events, dates, titles and documents, organizations, trade names, and titles of respect)

3.  Capitalize the pronoun I.  (That's the obvious one....but this eliminates laziness)

4.  Use a two-letter state abbreviateion in uppercase letters and without periods in an address.

5.  To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending in s, add only the apostrophe.

6.  Use a colon before a list of items.

He must be responsible to follow the above 6 rules at ALL times.  Any time he is caught (and here's the catch he doesn't like) he has to rewrite the ENTIRE sentence over....not just correct the mistake.  What 13 year old wants to rewrite sentences? 

I realize the list is short for a 7th grader. But these are NO exception rules.  And, of course, we will add to them in time.  Maybe only one more by the end of this school year...not sure. We'll see how it goes.  It's not that he doesn't know most of these rules.  It's just keeping him accountable to follow them all the time and not be quite so lazy with checking his work.  I think it's doable for both of us.

Now that he has begun his work on writing today, and I have already prepared the rice and the veggies for our veggie sushi tonight (carrots, cucumbers, steamed sweet potatoe and asparagus --- I'll slice the avocado just before serving!), It's time to find a recipe for Japanese Cucumber salad...I've made it before, but I can't seem to recall the amounts of rice vinegar and sugar.  And it's almost time for lunch!  That's just leftover stewed tomatoes with macaroni today.  We have music lessons this afternoon.  Hopefully between all that and working on spelling with my daughter, I'll get some of my psalm reading done.

It's a beautiful Sunday.  It's been a beautiful weekend.  It is my kind of perfect weather.  All sunny with temperatures in the mid 60's.  I LOVE it!  Not too cold, not too hot and the beautiful sun I love!

We went to Liturgy this morning.  Alexander wore his blanket, once again, as the priest wears his vestments.  He had his plastic rings with him that are attatched together so that he can swing them like the priest's censor.  It is really adorable to see him act the part.  He always watches to see when Fr. Dan puts down his censor so that he himself puts down his.  He picks up his little blue prayer book when Fr. Dan picks up the Gospel Book.  He prostrates on the ground when Fr. Dan does up in front of the altar.  And he gets very very excited at the end of the service when it is time to venerate the cross. Today he got overly excited and headed up the aisle to the front of the church where Fr. Dan was standing BEFORE it was time to do so.  🙂  It was cute.  Fr. Dan smiled.

I hope I keep up with this blog.  I think it could be very therapeutic for me and really get me back into the desire to write.  I have the desire, but not the inclination to set aside the time.  I have a hard time staying on track of the task of hand lately.  It's not just having a toddler.  Even when our nanny is hear during the day, I'm able to get things done, but in small steps because I seldom have a day where I stay focused on just one task at a time to really accomplish anything major.  I guess I need to go back to making lists and forcing myself to wait until one thing is finished before moving on.  That's the hard part.  I make a list and then I see all that stuff that needs done and I jump around from thing to thing or get distracted and then I feel like I've accomplilshed nothing.  So setting aside time for me to write on here may be difficult.    And trying to take time to learn all the ins and outs of this blog will take time too.

This is the season of Lent.  It's always been hard for me....the fasting, the trying to get to the services, keeping focused on the meaning of preperation for the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord.

This year has been different for me.  I'm not sure why.....at first I thought my goals were to high.  I'll never achieve these.  How can I do all this when I've barely been able to even remember to get my children to do morning prayers, pray at mealtime and perhaps mumble a few repitions of the Jesus prayer at night.  Barely have I lifted the bible to read for months?

But set the goals I did.  Here is what they are:

1.  Read the psalms  --  my goal is 3 a day....along with the commentary on each in the book Christ in the Psalms.

2.  Read at least three books on Orthodoxy (along with the ambition of NOT reading anything fictional...in other words, only reading about Orthodoxy in book reading during Lent....other than what I read to the kids that is)   --------so far I have read The Illumined Heart, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, and Great Lent Unplugged.  Currently I am reading Surprised by Christ and I might just reread the Illumined Heart since I picked up a study guide companion that goes along with it.

3.  Say The Jesus Prayer periodically through the day as I think of it, and 50x at night before bed. (Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy On Me)

4.  As a family we are trying to each take turns finding a reading each day that pertains to Orthodoxy, a bible reading, or something that will help us in our faith and discuss the piece we have chosen.

5.  Also as a family we are trying to watch one movie per week that has to do with Orthodxy or at least Christianity or something inspirational that will help our faith rather than something just for entertainment purposes.

6. And of course, we are trying to attend more services.

I have done pretty well with my personal goals.  A trip out of town put an interuption in our family readings and we haven't gotten back on track...and we are behind in the movies as well.  I hope to catch up this upcoming week.  It's hard with my husband's schedule.

I have done well, though certainly not perfect, with my personal goals.  I am loving the reading.  Cherishing it.  I feel as though I am back on track with keeping the Lord my focus through the day.  I love the selections I have chosen....though Great Lent unplugged not so much.... I liked some of the chapters, the ones on fasting especially..... the rest of the humor just isn't my style I guess.

Well, time is short this morning.  I have a toddler covered with egg and a husband who just got home from work!  Have a wonderful day!