2

As parents, we can simply SHUT UP! If we can sit back and listen to ourselves, we can hear how much negative harassment we throw at our kids.  If a parent would seriously and objectively listen to what he says (through his child's ears), he would be appalled and could probably with some effort change that kind of "No".

I think here of Lisey (then 3) who was pouring herself a glass of milk yesterday.  She had gotten it from the fridge, opened it, poured from a fat 2-quart carton a very small juice-glass of milk, had drunk it, then had gotten a paper towel and was wiping up the milk spilt on the table.  There was more milk spilt than the towel could absorb so as she wiped now, the milk was being pushed off the table onto the floor.

I walked in at this point and started with the running "No, No" commentary in a whiny voice:  "oooooh, no, Lisey, you should have asked someone to pour you a glass of milk-no, don't wipe it up, it's going on the floor; now stop, don't do it, I'll do it, it's bad enough on the table- look, now you've got it on the floor- you're making more work for me."

Happily at this point I was struck by a rare beam of sanity and it said to me, "Oh, quit being such a bitch, Lisey has just poured her first glass of milk all by herself and you're ruining the whole thing for her."

And suddenly I looked and saw a very little girl trying very hard to grow up- trying to wipe up herself the mess she had made getting herself a drink of milk.  And I said, "Lisey, I think Sparkle (dog) would like this extra milk."

Lisey stopped and looked at me.  I had finally said something of meaning.  All the negative harassment up till then she had been trying to ignore.  I said, "If you get Sparkle's dishe, we can put the milk in it."

She got it and we did.

And immediately she began an animated chatter about how Sparkle would like this milk and how she had poured them both a drink of milk, etc.  Until then, she had barely said one word. In fact, if I had pushed her far enough- "Ok, Lisey, get out of the kitchen while I clean up your mess"- she would have probably ended up crying (over spilt milk!).

But the happy ending here did not require much effort on my part because I wasn't very emotionally involved.  My mind could still be objective about the situation to the extend of being ale to control and change it.

The above was taken from Teach Your Own (The John Holt book of Homeschooling) by John Holt.  It really struck me this morning as I read this passage, recognizing my own self in the story, both as a parent and as a child and the view of the child in today's society.

There is beauty in a child.  They are gifts.  Gifts from our creator.  And they can be the most joyful blessing if we open our eyes to see it.  They can teach us by far more than any textbook, lecture, magazine article written by a scientist, lab experiment, or intellectual conversation.  A child can change us, mold us into the beautiful work of art intended by our God. But if we take society's stance as an unborn child has no right to live and that toddlers are A**holes (yes, a real book title that totally appalls me to the deepest core) whether it be in a joking manner or not, we miss the true essence.  We miss the chance to be shaped and yes, even work through our salvation, through the experience of carrying a child to term, giving birth, raising or even spending time with a child and enjoying that child to his and our fullest potential.  That is a great tragedy.

Today's society seems to tell us that children are born trouble makers....even viewed as a problem from within the womb.  It is not the child that is the problem.  It is our selfish worldview that is the problem.

When I walk into a room cluttered with my son's toys and artwork, it is me with the problem.  It is me that has trouble with how to accept that clutter as beauty.  It is me that grimaces at his noises and interruptions as nuisance to my ears rather than music and opportunity for my betterment and growthn. It is me that worries over insects or a cool wind as he goes in and out the door enjoying his world. It is me that doesn't take the time to observe the things he is learning as he builds the mountains of blocks or stacks his 20 animals around him in the living room or the mountains of papers on the kitchen table and floor surrounding it.  It is me that is not grateful for the messes.  It is me with the problem.  It's not my child.

As a child,  I was raised in a situation in which everything I did seemed to be a problem...  whether it was an accidental spill, noise, moving my lips when reading, a thought of my own, forgetting to pick something up off the floor or table, a question that wasn't wanted to be answered, or simply not performing to the adult perfection or timely fashion expected of me.  No and consequences for simply being a child and doing things that children do, did not shape me in a  positive manner. I grew up, even after that environment changed, believing I must perform perfectly (in the eyes of others and myself) to be worthy of love or acceptance.  Which means I often gave up many things before even trying due to fear, or didn't and still don't give myself credit for a job well done.

Is that what I want for my child?  Is that what we want as a society for our children?  For the young men and women that are growing up who will become the leaders of our society? I see myself, though over the years I've certainly changed for the better, still saying no when it could really be a yes.  There are still so many cases where I really just need to shut up and listen. I need to stop condemning my child for being a child and just shut up....listen, observe and soak it all in like a beautiful symphony. Listen to my child and realize he (they) is there to teach me just as much if not MORE than I am to teach him.  Observe from his perspective and see the beauty that God has given me through the eyes of this child.  Yes, we are here to guide our children-  but how do we do that?  It need not be in the words of "No", "Get out of there," or "Not now". Learning not to say no in a way that demeans or stifles their spirit is a challenge but so necessary for them to be themselves and freely learn more than a school room or academic lesson will ever teach them- or ourselves for that matter.   We don't HAVE to panic at every mess (though I still stick to my rule that he has to ask before he tapes one more thing to my walls.....) or assume the worse at their every move.  We can enjoy these moments.  Savor them really.  Use them to awaken and change our spirits.

 

Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 50:10

 

3

 Someone asked me recently if I had children...and if so, how do they handle a restricted diet?

Well, yes.  I do have children.  Three.  

And I guess the answer is different for each of them.

About 7 years ago, when we began our journey towards a more whole foods diet, eliminating artificial additives and preservatives from the Standard American Diet we were then eating and thereby transforming our health (See Our Food Story that I posted on   ), we then had 2 children.  At that time they were 12 and 8.

My children saw the reactions we had to the artificial foods when we added them back into our diet.  They saw themselves.  My daughter's skin turned the brightest red I have ever seen on a person that had NOT just spent an entire day at the beach without sunscreen.  My son itched and itched until he cried.  Both felt ill and uncomfortable.  My daughter's mood was anxious and irritable.  My son was agitated as well - possibly from the itching or another symptom - hard to say.  They saw our reactions.  My husband was nauseous and itchy with a rash.  I was moody to say the least, itchy, anxious and could not sleep most of the night. This of course, only summarizes the reactions we had that week.

My children did not enjoy feeling that way.  They understood,for the most part, why we were never taking part in those artificial ingredients ever again.

Now was it easy to transition?  Certainly not.  But we did what we could to make it fun or at least as easy as we could.  We homeschool...  so that made it easier.  It was easier to say, "Well for health class this year, we are transitioning to a more whole foods diet.  We will be exploring the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables and learning about reading labels, artificial ingredients and what they do to the body/brain and for Home Ec, we will learn to cook more foods with wholesome ingredients from scratch".  I think because we homeschool, this made the transition easier.  But I am certain one does not have to homeschool to get your kids on board to a healthier diet or make them a big part of it.  I hear public school families can have deep conversations and discussions at the dinner-time  as well!!  And I'm sure our way is not the only way to make a transition work!

My daughter loved the recipe and cooking part.  Life in my kitchen, though, did NOT look quite so glamorous as the picture above!  😉

At that time, we found Christina Cooks on television and would watch her show and bought two of her cookbooks.  Now Christina used macrobiotics (an approach to physical and emotional wellness through consuming foods that are balanced energetically      (between yin and yang) and nutritionally. It is typically a well-balanced  diet with high fibre, low-fat, lots of vegetables and grains, vegetable protein, and limited meat, with an emphasis on eating  seasonal organic food)  and was also a vegan.  I was not, and still am not, totally convinced of the macrobiotic vegan approach (though I do believe that macrobiotics play an important rule in health to a degree and think that veganism, if approached correctly, can be healthy for SOME people though perhaps not ideally...) but what attracted us to Christina was the wealth of information and cooking techniques her show offered.  And my daughter loved the cooking techniques and ideas that Christina presented.  So the three of us, my children and I, would watch this show and come up with great ideas for meals and create them!  My daughter preferred making the desserts but did help with other things too.

My son became my instant label reader(as did my husband).  He was instantaneously intrigued by what was in his foods and what he didn't want in his foods!  He would help me read labels of our old favorites in the grocery store and point out the things we couldn't have.  He would also help me compare these items to the items in the 'natural' section of the grocery store or health food store, assisting in finding easy or sometimes not so easy replacements for things like salad dressings, mayonnaise, ketchup, cereals, etc. He would also express his dismay when he found that a past favorite was off-limits, especially if it were because of only one or two unnecessary ingredients!

So that is ,essentially, how we approached incorporating the new foods into our healthy diet plan.  But this doesn't exactly address restricting them from foods they normally ate out or socially, does it?

My son was easier with this.  Oh, he still wanted things laden in white flour and sugar.  But he did want to avoid anything that contained an obvious artificial ingredient that he knew would cause an immediate reaction (other than a little hyperactivity) or was a known carcinogen as we were learning (You'd be amazed at how many food additives are known carcinogens but are still labeled by the FDA as GRAS/Generally Regarded as Safe in our processed food products...but that's another story for another day).  Since most of those things laden in white flour and sugar also contained such ingredients, most were easy to avoid.  But not all.  As I said in the previous food post, life is hard and we're not perfect. So yes, there were (and are) things we give into to make life easier for our kids (and ourselves).  We know that pizza is not healthy... but if we can find a kind that does not have an artificial ingredient that will cause instant chemical changes in our brain and thus cause an allergic type reaction, we will, on occasion, eat it.  The same with a glazed donut or, often, you could find my daughter baking up some yummy concoction in our very own oven.

Over the years we took this decision a little too liberally in my opinion...but that led also led us to learning more which is what has us experimenting with the Paleo/Primal diets which eliminates those processed foods even more.  Actually, if we followed the Paleo diet 100% it would totally eliminate the unhealthy (yes even the organic ones!) processed foods from our diet.  But again, we do not do this 100%... more like 90%.... and we do allow our older son to choose one processed snack a week... because he's a kid... and this transition is hard.  Some (from the Paleo world) may fault me for letting him have the processed food ...  but this is my family and this is the choice I'm making for him (while secretly hoping that in time his cravings for this will lessen) at this time.  My choice could change...next week, next year or possibly never. (Of course he didn't like reading this part when I asked him to read it over and see if I left anything important out of the post!)

When our daughter is away at college, we know that, at least for the most part, she follows what we have taught her.  A family member once said to her that since she was going away she wouldn't have to follow our food rules anymore...  and no, she doesn't... if she wants to go back to having bipolar disorder.  She does not want that.   She knows what can befall her if she strays.  She wants her college education.  She wants her independence.  She wants her health.  She's already been the one to experiment here and there with things in previous years and saw the results...  yes, sometimes natural flavors CAN make you feel awful.... No, that one candy bar was NOT a good idea.  So while she may be ingesting way too much processed grains, she is, I believe, at least staying away from the obviously toxic stuff that her peers are practically inhaling all around her and would cause her horrible consequences.  So she says, 'no thank you', picks up her coffee and plain bagel and away she goes.

My son, still at home, tells me what he wants to take with him on his camping trips, sleep-overs and the like.  Our close friends totally understand what we do and why we do it.  We've had no problems there and they let us know if he'll need his own snacks when he visits or if they have enough available for him.  He doesn't seem to care either way.  I probably worry more about the impact of him being 'different' than he does! That is what he tells me.

My younger son is only 3.  He doesn't know anything different.  And he loves practically anything that we put in front of him. Sure, he goes through a day here or there where he says he doesn't like something.  All kids do. That doesn't mean they won't ever eat it.  I  know that it's normal for tastes and moods for certain foods to change.  I shrug it off and a few days later, what do you know, he loves it again.  Being away from home is a little more difficult now.  He sees the treats on the coffee hour table at church and wants cake...or a cookie...or 'that'...  And what does one say to a 3-year-old?  I've been known to say , "No, that's yuck" to him but walk away wondering, 'Hmmm....he sees other people eating this stuff... so what is he thinking?  When will he either not believe me or tell someone else what their eating is yuck?"  I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to handle that one yet.  I believe though, I have seen such discussions held on other blogs I've followed in the past... time to do some research on some ideas for that!

In closing, I would say that for my older kids, being part of the elimination diet at the ages they were and seeing the results for themselves played a key role in how they have adapted to what others would call a restricted diet.  My youngest will have an easier time simply because he doesn't have the cravings established for Doritos, KFC or McDonald's.  I think sometimes, parents don't give their children enough credit... that given enough information and time to adapt... kids can come to the decisions to make these healthy choices for themselves even surrounded by a world still eating the chemicals that are heavily laden in the Standard American Diet.

1

I was going to write about the Theotokos (Mary) today as I always find myself pondering over her... her role in Christianity...her role as Christ's mother.  But I think I am getting ahead of myself as I haven't really written much about the church itself just yet. (And perhaps I would be remiss if I didn't add a small segment about Halloween... a 'festival', not a holiday as a holy day it is not...  so I will mention it briefly at the end)

The Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  No, we are NOT the Roman Catholic Church.  The word 'catholic' means universal.  Therefor, we are the universal church started by Christ and the apostles.  This started in approximately 33 AD.

The "church" was not founded by man as some would have you believe.  The Church is God-given.  "I hope to come to you soon," writes St. Paul, "but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth."  1 Timothy 3:14-15.  The whole universe is God's Church. The Orthodox Church is, indeed, the first Christian Church.  It is founded by our Lord Jesus Christ just as it is described in the New Testament.  The history of the Orthodox Church can literally be traced back all the way to Christ and the 12 apostles. For the first thousand years, there was only this ONE church until the Great Schism in 1054.  (Perhaps I'll write more on that another day.)

The Orthodox Church is not merely a building.  God doesn't need the building we call a church.  We, the people, do.  We need places to go that are very specifically made to be dedicated to God.  This is where we gather together  with the one sole purpose of worshiping God and dedicating our time to seek His will.   Is that the only place we can worship and seek His will?  No, of course not.  But that is the central place we can always count on that is full of others who also seek to Worship and to be in God's presence. This is where He speaks to us through Scripture readings and offers Himself to us through Holy Communion.  Entering this 'building', one cannot help but know you are in His presence as your senses are filled not of earthly things you leave outdoors but of the Heavenly realm.

The church is also not merely a building because it is not just the physical structure that is the church. The people are the Church.  The clergy and the laity together build this part of the non-physical structure of the church. "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light".  1 Peter .  Therefore, the Church is not to be identified with a mere building but with the people, God's people, in whom He dwells.

There are over 225 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.  I bet you had no idea.  This is because, despite its size, the Orthodox Church seems to be America's best-kept secret!   This is a shame.  The Orthodox Church has deep roots and is steeped in a rich biblical tradition that many thirst for.   The Orthodox Church maintains its original New Testament tradition.  There is a joke about how many Orthodox does it take to change a lightbulb... the answer is none because Orthodoxy doesn't change.  It's true.  While the Catholic and Protestant churches have changed many many things over the years, Orthodoxy does not change.

Well, I think that may be enough for one day.  But some may be wondering what it is we, Orthodox, believe in.  So I will leave you with this.  It is the Nicene Creed:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible,  And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages.  Light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father by whom all things were made for us men and for our salvation, came down from Heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.  And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate and suffered and was buried and the third day he rose again according to the scriptures.  And ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end.  And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the giver of life who proceeds from the Father who with the Father and the son together is worshipped and glorified who spoke by the prophets. I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.  I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.  Amen.

 

And in regards to Halloween.....

The Orthodox Church does not support the celebration of Halloween.  There are some Orthodox Christians that do allow their children to participate in festivities, seeing it as a harmless activity, as surely they are not worshipping any form in such harmless activities.  I, myself, up until recently, still had a few of those 'harmless' decorations that were 'cute'.  I actually just put them away earlier this week and do not plan on resurfacing them other than for perhaps a garage sale.  We have decided to continue handing out treats at the door, at least for the time being, to be neighborly... as we rarely see our neighbors (we live in the country).  Though this activity may change at some point.  I put these decorations away after reading several articles written by priests/bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church.  I will share the links to the articles as I don't feel confident enough to relay their message quite as eloquently and am only adding this on at the last moment this morning.  So if you care to know the whys behind the nonsupport of these so-called 'harmless' activities, you can read here:

Bishop Kyrill of Seattle  On Halloween  October 2012

The Greek Orthodox Church on Halloween

Halloween  OrthodoxWiki

Ancient Faith Radio

 

 

4

Well, way back in April of 2012, I wrote about what to blog about and that has been on my mind again.  I read that post back from April of 2012 and it seems that I'm sticking to the same basic thoughts.  I'm not a person who can read just one book at a time so I can't imagine just focusing on one subject like so many of the blogs I love do.  So just as I posted back in 2012, I think I'll try to blog about various things:

 

Our Faith... my family is Orthodox Christian.  My husband is cradle Orthodox while my two older children and I converted about 10 years ago.  It was the most important decision of my life.  I love Orthodoxy.  I love all Christians...and all non-Christians... but I really feel Orthodoxy is the True Faith, the Church begun by Christ and his apostles upon his resurrection and Pentecost and I'm so thrilled to have found it to allow it to guide me in my relationship with Christ.

Our Food Lifestyle.... it's truly not a diet...it's a lifestyle.  For really good reasons and that's what I'll start writing about next week (at least that's the plan.... I actually wrote out some notes the other day when I had time about how we got started on this path).  Everyone has told me I should write a book on it...  I'm not so sure about that...  I prefer creative writing...  for kids...  but perhaps I can tell our story on here in a more brief format.

Homeschooling... We started homeschooling not long before our adventures into discovering the difference between real food and food products and it's been quite an adventure of it's own.  It's an important aspect of our life.

WRITING!!!  That's why I'm on here.... because I love to write!  And my dream is to become a children's author... though I'm not sure anymore what I want to write... what age group or genre.  I am thinking of writing an Orthodox Picture Book...but I want to write for the general public as well.

BOOKS!  What's a writer without books and what's a book without writers?  They go hand in hand and I read quite the varied selection.  I like to talk about them all.

Random Stuff.....  My thoughts are generally non-stop and full of randomness so why not include that here?  I like to share thoughts I have based on things I've read, heard, things that are going on in my life or in that of my children and others I know.  I like to read quotes by famous authors or other people and reflect on what it means and how it applies to me...  all of that and more fits under this category.

So that's what I've been contimplating over the last week and that's what I hope to make a habit of writing about very soon!  If you are following me, thank you.  If you like what you see, let me know.  I'm a bit of a shy introvert with not as much of a high self-esteem as people tell me I should have so I'm often wondering why people do view my posts and what they like about them.  If you have time to drop me a note and tell me, please do!

2

I got the idea from someone else’s blog that perhaps I should just post some random stuff on here since I am new as a way for people to get to know me a little bit better. So here goes:

RANDOM STUFF ABOUT ME

1. I was raised by my grandparents. To me, they are my parents….my dad and my mom. Because they were there to do all the things that dads and moms do. While I have strong feeling for my still living father and my biological mother who passed away almost 9 years ago, my strongest attachment is with the parents that guided me and stood by me through all of life’s ups and downs.

2. I miss my grandfather (PapPap) To me he could walk on water. He was my rock. When he died, I felt like a piece of me went with him. I felt weaker.

3. I have three children. My daughter is almost 17 (WOW!), my oldest son is 13 and my youngest is 2! #3 was a BIG surprise but is loved just the same! He brings a lot of laughter to all of us.

4. I am an Orthodox Christian. I am dedicated to my faith and fully believe in it being the Truth, The Way and The Life. It is the original apostolic church still in its original form. I love the way we worship our Lord.

5. I have been married for almost twenty years. I love my husband. He is a wonderful man and I am truly blessed. We have days of not communicating well, but who doesn’t? We’ve been through a lot…and we are stronger because of it.

6. I used to have bipolar disorder….yep, you read that right. USE TO. I know. Most conventional doctors will say, wait, that’s not possible. Either you had it and you still have it or you never had it. But I did. Now I don’t. About 6 years ago, through some accidental discoveries, my family discovered that our illnesses were being caused by artificial ingredients in foods. This led to a radical shift in the way we eat…..and our health. There’s enough info on this one to be several blogs long…. I’ll write more about this another day.

7. I make a lot of our foods from scratch. I still buy already made noodles and canned and frozen fruits and vegetables (mostly organic if it’s financially affordable) but work on gardening and learning to can my own.
I sometimes make my own breads too but not always do I have time.

8.We own a dog, 2 cats and 2 guinea pigs.

9. I live in the country. The house is between two important spots: my husband’s work and our church. The hospital where he works is about 35 minutes north and our church (Holy Cross Orthodox Church of Williamsport, PA) is about 25 minutes south.

10. I am an introvert. I was incredibly shy as a child and had incredible low self esteem. I have come a long long way from that. I have a higher self esteem and can at least carry on a conversation when spoken too but still tend to be a sort of recluse. I need to MAKE myself go out and socialize. It does NOT come naturally at all.

11.I’ve had red or reddish brown hair all my life but seem to be becoming overtaken with these strands of hair that seem to be a much stranger color….gray I believe it’s called……ugh

12. I tend to have very random thoughts…..of which I will probably share some of on this blog. I hope you enjoy them! That’s enough randomness for now though. More another time!

4

Well, I am very new here and have no idea where to begin. But I thought I'd start with two very important things to me.  My faith, Orthodox Christianity, and homeschooling.

I converted to Orthodoxy approximately 7 years ago. It is by far the most important decision I have ever made in my life.  Orthodoxy has changed my life.....all for the better.  I have always been christian, but I was born into a Roman Catholic family and followed that faith from a young age to just a year or so before converting to Orthodoxy.  The story of how I got there is a long one....a good post that I'll save for another day.

The second important thing is my children and how I homeschool them.  I have homeschooled my children for the past 5 and a half years.  Homeschooling has also changed my life.  My family has become so much closer in the years since beginning this adventure.  Once started, I was sorry I hadn't homeschooled from the beginning!  But now God has provided us with a third child to do just that!

Well- it's brief....but it's a beginning....and I guess that's why I started this!