Friday, August 31, 2012

In Union With Rome- my new quasi-blog

Glory to Jesus Christ! Another day, another blog- In Union with Rome! This new, 'under-construction' blog will become a definitive and current listing of all those great active blogs and websites that are educating and evangelizing the world about the Catholic Church and more specifically the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church.
 I would appreciate any links that you would care to share and also notifications if a link goes 'dead' before I catch on. 

At this point, I will not be writing original content for this blog (find me at Fear Not Little Flock for original posts), but I would like to feature blogs or websites that I especially appreciate. In Union With Rome is just a clearinghouse for great Eastern Catholic blogs and websites. Bloggers- your blog needs to be current (a post a month maybe?) and occasionally talk religion to remain on the list.
'Ecumenical' links will be listed for those friends who are Orthodox or Anglican and/or who are 'Catholic-friendly.' If you have an ecumenical blog and want to be on the list, please let me know. I don't want to assume that you would want a wee bit of traffic from this blogroll.
 
If you would like your blog or website included, please comment at In Union With Rome or email me at remnantofremnant.gmail.com.
 
Thanks for bookmarking or following In Union With Rome!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I suppose some homeschooled kids are "dreadful, dreadful people"

Simcha Fisher, one of those important Catholic bloggers (you have to be on Patheos or at the National Catholic Register or at least on Fr Z's blogroll), wrote a funny-to-me post about ex-homeschoolers putting their children into mainstream school. I felt varying answers of a, b, c as I put Boy in half-day kindergarten last week (a blue-ribbon school! in walking distance! teacher plays the guitar every morning! I volunteer weekly!) with the hope that he will be (charterschooled) homeschooled beginning in the 1st grade. 

But Simcha got a bit testy in the comment box, responding to some testy types; she knows some "humorless" homeschooling parents who are raising "dreadful dreadful children." Ouch- rather harsh, don't you think? . 

It got me to thinking. I suppose some homeschooled children are "dreadful, dreadful" people (in the here-&-now-they-don't-smile-&-are-annoying-&-their-mom-isn't-doing-much-with-them  sense, not in the eternal sense, thank God).  And some traditionally schooled children might be as well. But I'd rather compare adults. Let's keep the children out of this.
 just kidding, Simcha! (I'm sorry- I can't find the source)
 I personally know families who homeschool traditionally, classically, Charlotte Mason, and eclectically in many different ways. Some use Seton, use MODG, use a public charter school to homeschool (that's me), unschool, or carschool. Each family has varying levels of 'success' and different ways to measure their success. I know other families that use public schools, charter schools, alternative schools, Protestant schools, parish schools, and independent Catholic schools. Each of these families has varying levels of 'success' and different ways to measure their success. And some families go from one way of educating to another to yet another depending on the child, the season of life, and family needs and abilities. 

We need to be judgmental. I have made a judgement that for now my children will be homeschooled. It is this strong feeling that gives me the strength to oversee my children's education and to get in the car yet again for their many supplemental activities. I have made a judgement that public half-day kindergarten is the best for Boy. This strong belief gives me the strength to get him in the car by 7:45 in the morning with a healthy snack and his parented-checked homework. It gives me the strength to find time and energy to volunteer in his classroom. 

But just because I have judged what is best for my children right now, this does not give me the right to judge another family's intentional choice. There are pros and cons to everything in life. School would make certain aspects of my life easier. If I hadn't judged that homeschooling was best for the children right now, I wouldn't be doing it. 

I must admit that the diversity in Boy's public school  is  off-putting. In the homeschool world I live in, there are Catholics of all types (long skirts, skirts-to-the-knee, very conservative, almost liberal, classical, unschooling, etc), pagans (really), tattooed types, army types, Protestants, purple mohawk types, happily married, divorced, widowed, and people from every corner of the world.  But at our local (blue ribbon!) public elementary, some of the parents are....interesting. Some dads proudly wear the regalia of the local gangs. A few moms seem (I'm a little jealous, but that's ridiculous) less than 100 pounds. But look closer and they have the teeth and skin of someone addicted to methamphetamine. I've never seen a drug addict bother to homeschool.

Because tax-funded public school is the default position for most parents, one finds literally every kind of person there. This can be a good thing, but sometimes it is scary and perhaps dangerous. In the Catholic and general mommyblog blogospheres, we all seem to be really intentional about our decisions as parents. Some might get judgmental of another family's choices, but this is only because we have strong feelings about our personal choices. If we prayed about our choices and then went boldly in the direction where God was leading us, there would be less need for a quiz like Simcha's. We would do the right thing- homeschooling, private schooling, public schooling-  for our own children and not look back. Like our teachers said- "Keep your eyes on your own work!"
I hope it isn't wrong to comment about a comment...but her comment just 'inspired' this post- I think Simcha will understand what I am getting at- I didn't want to take over her combox.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Once More, With Splashing-Pretty Happy Funny Real

The
Pretty, Happy, & Funny
is pretty obvious, no? Yes, there are four children in that pool! See the pointed ballet toes on Big Girl #1? Where's the  
Real
you ask?  I took my laptop to the pool to plan some lessons and write a too-ambitious family schedule. I think the laptop rebelled as it seems that the battery gave up the ghost tonight. I wanted to wait until the new year to replace the 'old' laptop, but it seems it will be sooner rather than later...

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Byzantine Sinner- a guest post


When the Lord told his Apostles to forgive 70 times 7 I think he had me in mind. It seems like I am constantly falling into the same sins only to be asking for forgiveness and help to change. One thing that I have learned in my falling is that no matter how promising the sins might be I am not fully able to be comfortable practicing them. For even in the depths of my sins the Lord is there bringing a sobering reality that I lack his peace and is always offering me a way to escape. I am ashamed to say that there have been times that it has taken me a great deal of time to yield to the reality of his presence. On the other hand, I am grateful for the constant demonstration of how much he loves his children.
One time in my failure I found myself in a place that I knew I shouldn’t have been at. At this place there was this person who identified themselves as a Christian. Being ashamed I couldn’t not do the same thing and asked him how he could justify being where he was. He started talking like he was reading out of a theological manual and his response amounted to that as long as he speaks about Christ he can do just about anything. His response reminded me of something Metropolitan Hierotheos once said concerning modern spirituality. The metropolitan said that its na├»ve to think that intellectual knowledge about God can save you. To me this naivety was looking me right in the face showing me what kind of hypocrite I was being at the time. For the place I found myself in might not intellectually compromise a personal belief in Christ but it did compromise the possibility of growing in the spiritual experience of him.

There was a time in my life when I might not have seen my sinfulness in the same way. However, the Byzantine tradition is uncompromising when it comes to a life that does not strive to develop intimacy with God in all things. The tradition is very clear when it sheds light on such a life and calls it what it is "sin". It is possible to find God in all things but when we look for some other comfort as we often do we find ourselves falling short of our destiny. This can be overwhelming if we ponder the consequences but our tradition also tempers this reality with the understanding of God's mercy, patience, and continual desire for us to know him.

Looking into our tradition, the ultimate goal we have to constantly adjust ourselves to is total freedom from the enslavement of the fallen world so that we can truly experience God. As it says in many ways in the Philokalia God "yearns" and "hungers" for our freedom to know his presence(V2. Pg82). Unfortunately, as I have shared I have not been very successful in realizing the goals of our spirituality. On the other hand, I have learned something just as essential that being that God does not give up on us no matter how many times we fail. For this reason I feel an even greater obligation to not give up.
Looking at my record, I don’t expect to be canonized as a saint. I have screwed up too many times and ruined my testimony on many occasions. Never the less, I hope to embrace my God in the end. He has shown me that if I fall hard it pleases him that I get back up and keep trying. I hope one day to be free from failures because they keep me from more of him. Sometimes it feels like I'm no different than the Israelites who were subjected to a life in the wilderness because of their sins. On the other hand, even to those in the wilderness the scripture reveals something very comforting about God. It says, "During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.( Deuteronomy 29:5 NIV)".To me this says God never forsakes his children no matter how bad they have blown it. 

If perhaps you find yourself in similar circumstances that I have found myself in, please don’t give up. Understand that God only wants us to stop our sin because he wants to give us something better. It might not be easy to give up your sin. However, even if it’s a struggle that you will face to your death, keep trying. There will always be consequences for choosing to sin but one consequence that we will never face is that God will give up on us. For as he also said to those in the wilderness, "For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon,(Deuteronomy 4:31NIV)."God will never give up on you so don’t give up on trying to love him.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Uncensored Quick Takes: Summer & Cute Animals

1. Yes, you guessed correctly- my post title is a shameless attempt at a traffic spike. It worked. You will get your cute animal by the seventh take, but 'uncensored'? Hmm...something scandalous...I did swear under my breath when Girl #2 splashed pool water very, very close to my laptop. And the family-room/garage/pantry/storage/school-room/dog-dorm is not quite perfect! Look for photos on Tuesday- I have the 'before' pictures. Now I am working on the 'after.' I posting photos whether it is done or not- can you tell I need the motivation?

 2. I've been back to teaching since last Thursday (part-time- only 8 hours, but 4 evenings per week). Boy started half-day kindergarten this Tuesday. Baby Girl does 'love bug' class (coloring, painting, a song, some 'writing', story time) )whenever we remember. I am signing the big girls up for their activities, and I got their textbooks from the charter school library. One could go a bit barmy comparing education philosophies. Hence, my next quick take: 

3. Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. --Oscar Wilde
or
A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated. --Horace Mann

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. --Albert Einstein
or
He who opens a school door, closes a prison. --Victor Hugo

I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice. That's what I call a liberal education. --Tallulah Bankhead
or
Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and diligence. --Abigail Adams

4. There are many places to give money. I'm sure my fabulous readers are frequent givers at their churches as well as other important works of mercy. May I suggest you click on and read Kristen's blog 11 On My Own and see if God is calling you to help her just a smidgen as well? Her daughters sell custom-made saint dolls in this etsy shop, and her older children work part-time to help the family finances, but their car just died. She could use basic cash. Thanks for considering her family!

5. “It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife and sometimes must leave God at the altar to find him in housekeeping” --St. Frances of Rome --Alright, St Frances...I guess I'll pick up that broom. With brooms, I am in good company. I always think of the Little Flower, St Therese.

6. I thought of you, Mom, while making dinner. We had scalloped potatoes (I finally figured out that the potatoes have to be parboiled before being added to the recipe...I think you kept that a secret) and ham with vegetarian 'hippie hash' (sauteed green peppers and onions without the meat).

7. okay...I promised you a cute animal, and here's the cute animal- Duke the Magnificent

Last Days of Summer- PrettyHappyFunnyReal

Pretty- It was such a pretty day, but I must confess to loving the fact that it was drizzling this morning! I am ready for a the coolness of Fall. 
Happy- They were happy to have the townhouse complex pool all to themselves!
Funny- Today the littles were sea lions as they crawled along the pool steps. The big girls prefer to be dolphins or sharks, depending on their moods. 
Real- This was the last place I wanted to be yesterday afternoon. I am teaching at the local college now. It is just an hour class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and three hours on Monday and Wednesday evenings. But until I get into the swing of things, I tend to teach my class in my head all day. I was pathetically proud of  myself for taking the time to lifeguard my own precious kids before my class. It is what it is. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Scholar and a Gentleman- Wordless Wednesday

Boy is having a great time at kindergarten, and he is adjusting to having a man-teacher (16-year Kindy veteran, father of two and guitar player Mr. D). I'm glad it is half-day because we miss him! Time to take a family swim before the rest of the family kicks up the homeschooling! 

note to self: don't mention you homeschool after kindergarten- there will be sneers from most folks. Mr. D seems cool with it, though. He appreciates how well-behaved and 'socialized' Boy is already

Monday, August 20, 2012

Church is Boring- a guest post

There was a quotation of a saint floating around a few months back that I wish to address. I can't remember who the saint was, but how the quote was being used was unrealistic. The quote claimed that the sure sign that you are being saved is that every time you go to church it’s a wonderful spiritual experience. Not sure if this was part of a greater context of a teaching, but in its isolation this is no more than a religious fantasy. In my experience, a real sign that you are being saved is that when you go to a church you immediately want to get the heck out but instead stick it out because you want to love God. Not that it's like this all the time because there are times we do get those wonderful experiences of God. However, for the most part, church and other spiritual exercises challenge the weakness of our sin scared condition. It is all by a true gift of God that we can see this and truly persevere. In my opinion, this is the ultimate sign that we are truly being saved. 
It is commonly understood by young people that church is boring. In response many well churched adults try to make them feel guilty for their honest and frank attitude. This is a shame because even though these well churched people have experienced the same feelings they drive some of these young people into resenting religion altogether. Would it be so wrong to admit that these young people are right? To share with them that at times we want to hurry up and be done with our church services? I think if we do admit this we can also share with them that this is how we truly are before God. In essence, to show them that there is a part of us that does not want God and if we were to die today we would stand before Him just as bored and ready to run from his heavenly glory. 
In a significant part of us, we really don’t want God. I'm reminded of this on a regular basis when sometimes I  sit down to pray only then to want to go to sleep after 5minutes. In contrast, I could easily watch TV all night long. In addition, as a Byzantine Catholic we have some of the most rigorous liturgies in Christianity and there are times when I can't wait till its over. However, I would have no problem going to the gym for the double the time. A normal person would ask why do you continue to follow the teachings of your religion if you feel that way. My response is because Christ loves me and it's really is not normal for us to be so indifferent to spiritual things. We need to saved from this indifference that we have toward God and in understanding and being honest about it is the first step. 
It is not the desire of God that we should feel bored or a lack of enthusiasm with our churches. The problem ultimately is in us. However, He is working to change that. I can't express the deepest levels of intimacy that await us when we began to let God heal the indifference that we feel. There are plenty of testimonies of many Christians and saints of modern times and from the past that will demonstrate to the highest degree that "he that endures" will experience God in the deepest way. From this perspective to recognize the struggle we have doing spiritual things is a good thing. However, only if we face it knowing that real intimacy with God is at the other end. 

It's in only in learning to stick it out do we truly discover the sign that we are truly being saved. At the end of this pain, boredom, or struggle that we have with going to church there is someone waiting for us "God". Christianity in its deepest core is ascetic or a religion of suffering. On the other hand, the suffering is not for its own sake but a means to heal the part that that does not want God. As a Byzantine I have come to appreciate long liturgies, standing for hours, fasting, and our many other challenging disciplines because I know they lead me to a greater experience of God. It's not always fun to worship the way we Byzantines do but when we do words cannot express the presence of God that manifests within us.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Homeschooling Hilarity- 7 Quick Takes

I just finished up registering my son in the public school kindergarten. So I thought I'd write a post about homeschooling. Why kindergarten for him when I've homeschooled the big girls all the way up to 8th and 7th grade this year? Well- he's the only boy. It is a 'blue ribbon' school within walking distance. I hope that 1st grade at home will be successful because he will be old enough for activities outside the home. This is the plan. It could change. Anyways- away we go with homeschooling quick takes- with the sub-theme being 'we need to laugh at ourselves because we are in the vast minority!'

1. Can I write....LOL....?!

2. from a homeschool mom- she was probably 'in a mood' after being asked too many questions about homeschooling. It is interesting how many people can be offended by a choice we are making for our own children. We are not making a statement about what we think other people should do! And statically, our kids should grow up fine, so society can breathe easy.
Q: Do you have any friends?
A: No. People avoid us for some reason.
Q: How do you meet people?
A: When forced to socialize we paint ourselves blue and run through the streets screaming. We find this a very effective way to meet new people.
Q: How do you assign grades?
A: We toss a coin.

3. okay- just click here to read some hilarious 'Homeschool SAQs- Seldom Asked Questions. If you are a veteran homeschooler, put down your tea because you should be laughing. 

4. (sing to the tune of 'On the 1st day of Christmas'- see this page for the complete text
On the twelfth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, "Can they go to college, I could never do that, what about graduation, they'll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they're missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE, What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?"
On the thirteenth day of homeschool I thoughtfully replied: "They can go to college, yes you can do this, they can have graduation, we don't like the prom, we do it 'cuz we like it, they are missing nothing, we'll homeschool forever, WE ARE NOT STRANGE!, We give them P.E., and we give them tests, they are socialized, AND WE HOMESCHOOL LEGALLY!
5. 
6. 

7. 
find more quick takes at conversiondiary.com

Mary's Contentment- PrettyHappyFunnyReal

In honor of the Dormition of the Theotokos (or Assumption of Mary, the Mother of God), I thought I would focus of her contentment. She is the supreme example of a content, Godly woman, of course. 
Pretty- we usually use the word 'beautiful' to describe the Mother of God, but I insist that her inner radiance made her a 'pretty' woman, too.

Happy- can you imagine a happier time in Mary's life as when she found him in the temple? 

Funny- The wedding at Cana (Mary to Jesus- "They have no wine" Jesus to Mary- "Woman, why does this concern me?") always makes me smile when she turns to the wine steward and says, "Do whatever He tells you." 

Real- Like so many mothers before and after her (but in sinlessness), Mary stayed during the suffering of her child.

pretty happy funny real at Like Mother, Like Daughter

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Dormition of the Theotokos


Troparion
In giving birth you preserved your virginity, 
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. 
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life, 
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.
Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos, 
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. 
For being the Mother of Life, 
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

thoughts on homeschooling & felt banners...a replay


Homeschooling families can get a lot of questions when they tell friends and families about their educational choices. What about socialization? What about physics and calculus? What about the babies?...legitimate questions all...the question I can't abide is: What about the prom? I really disagree with letting a one-night event be a part in such serious decisions- should our children go to a brick-and-mortar school? Perhaps, but it would be for a combination of many reasons that doesn't include a dance.

A couple of years back, a visitor at the Divine Liturgy was talking with a semi-permanent parishioner who she knew from our Catholic homeschooling group. I was so happy to have a visitor from the group as it doesn't happen often (what with all the confusing incense, "pictures"-icons- and that married priest). I overheard "so you go to Sacred Heart too right- and what about John's First Communion?" so I fled into the kitchen, knowing that we would soon be losing the parishioner and her lovely family.

There is just something about making felt banners with mom and the smell of that hot glue gun. There is something so strong about that photo with a little seven-year old with his praying hands draped with a rosary. The classes, the veils, the suits- so important that even the Byzantine rite in the United States waited until the age of reason to allow Eucharist to our children up until very recently. Sometimes the traditions of today override the traditions of many, many years. In the Byzantine rite, infants receive  baptism, confirmation and Eucharist, but we until recent memory decided to conform ourselves to the majority rite so our children wouldn't miss out on the dresses and parties and checks from Godparents. Perhaps there is deep theological significance to receiving sacraments early or late, but it usually comes down to "I don't want my children to miss out on the dress."

So the First Communion classes won out, and the family is no longer attending our Byzantine Catholic mission. My family does meet socially with them, and the parents sometimes complain about their parish of 5,000+ families. They regularly compliment my husband on his singing and preaching, but only when he is substituting at the Roman-rite parish. They have their felt banner on display. I hope my children will be okay because they didn't make one.

Monday, August 13, 2012

father at the altar, mother & children in the pews

A question from a reader: My husband is studying to be a deacon, and we have 2 young boys (2.5 and 1.5) right now. We will God-willing have more children also. Right now, because of their age, church is a battle. I honestly don't know how I would handle it if my husband was a deacon right now. I know the time will probably come where I am with them in the pew alone. Eventually, they will be able to serve and we do have help from other members. However I do not expect others to discipline my kids. My fear is being w/o my husband and having two misbehaving kids by myself - major embarrassment to me. Not a big fan of cry rooms which is great b/c we don't have one! Just wondering if you have experienced this and if you have any advice?
when my big girls were super cute and sometimes 'bad' in church

Future deacon's wife
Some Sundays go well. Other days feel disastrous, and I do feel embarrassed. The same will go for you because you are a mother to beautiful children with free wills. This means trouble! Here is a slightly tongue-in-cheek 5 stages of responding to naughty children & the spilled-sippy-cup-in-church.
Denial
My children are gems! They have grown up in the Church! They are baptized! What's concupiscence? I don't need to worry about them crashing for lack of protein! I can bring in his talking Lightning McQueen car; Johnny won't turn it on! Diaper bag? I don't need to bring in something so bulky; baby won't need a change!
Anger
Why did big girl forget the diaper cover for the baby when she was dressing her for church? Why can't the 5-year old listen in rapt attention at the getting-pretty-long homily? Is that sippy cup milk that is filling my purse? Did the baby go poo-poo five minutes into Mass? Grr. And does the five-year old really need to go pee-pee fifteen minutes later? Grr. Husband looks comfortable up there at the altar. Grr.
Bargaining
Okay- baby can have the lollipop that a random grandpa-type thrust in her hands during the homily. Okay- we can get ice cream if you just sit like a decent person. Okay- don't cross yourself; just be quiet! Okay- I'll look the other way while you play with a car during the consecration; just do it quietly! Okay person-I-don't-know-in-church, I'll ignore your tisk-tisk at my imperfect children and I won't throw a milk sippy cup in your purse. Okay husband- I'll watch your kids during Mass if you will watch them while I take a quick Sunday siesta. 
Depression
My children will never be perfect in church. I'll never have a 'spiritual experience' again. His children aren't perfect in church; this is a source of scandal to the believers in church. People will be turned away from the Church because the deacon/priest's wife isn't perfect.
Acceptance
Maybe things aren't so bad. The big girls (13 and 12) can cantor the Divine Liturgy themselves in two languages if need be. They woke up for the 6:30 AM Mass to sing for the Roman-rite 'mega'-parish. Even the five-year old gives awesome hugs to the old ladies in the coffee room. The littles are getting good at Amen, Alleluia, and Lord, have mercy. 
Part of the stage of 'acceptance' is realizing that this is a long process and that is never a perfect time to start going to church- so we start at the beginning. Another portion of 'acceptance' for a clergy wife or other church worker (or someone in a mixed marriage) is that you will be doing this portion of the week alone. One may as well have a good attitude about that fact. 
A final part of accepting children's childishness and dealing with them alone in church is that you will get embarrassed by mistakes your children make. Don't allow them to manipulate the situation so they can leave church. If you do need to step outside, make it very boring. Decide as a couple the behavior that each children should exhibit, keeping in mind their ages. You will need to balance being mindful of others in church but also the fact that your children are people, too! They will not be perfectly quiet. 
A little baby noise in church is a beautiful thing. Do not worry that children will be a scandal to others. Some people are just grouchy and look for something to complain about. "To the impure, nothing is pure" (Titus 1:15) Your obligation is to your children's souls only. The fact that you are making a good example by being in church on Sundays and feast days with children who are improving with their church participation is enough.
Some Ideas:
-small children should bring no more than 2 distraction items (anything more-they may as well bring the entire toy chest- and they will try)
-small children eat some protein (string cheese?) & go to the bathroom right before Divine Liturgy (Mass) -at whatever age that is appropriate- children will sing Liturgy parts, cross themselves, sit and stand when congregation does (start slowly & sweetly...but expect participation- not because they are clergy kids but because they are your kids) 
-teach the kids to nod and smile at the lay people that try to make conversation during the communion distribution. They will talk to people in the coffee room. 
-assume the best of other people- most people will love your kids and tolerate it when they are naughty. 
-don't discuss church business in front of the children (this is what chamomile tea after the children are asleep is for). 

Kids and Church
You know you're a priest's wife when...
Church Participation- Christian Lifestyle
Christian Family Education
Educating Byzantine Catholic Children


wiser, dear readers (clergy wives- choir husbands, etc), add your ideas for her in the comment box, please!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lupus & Sjogren's: 7 Quick Takes

1. "Lupus (also known as SLE, systemic lupus erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease. It takes on several forms and can affect any part of the body, but is most commonly attacks the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and brain. Autoimmune diseases are characterized by a malfunction of the immune system –- one in which the immune system cannot distinguish between the body's own cells and tissues and foreign matter, like viruses. Rather than simply producing antibodies to attack antigens (viruses, bacteria and similar foreign matter), the immune system creates auto-antibodies that attack the immune system itself." from about lupus
Scary, but as my doctor said, "With these test results, your symptoms (skin, joints, etc) should be much worse. You haven't gotten sicker in ten years, so your lifelong prognosis is very good." This is reassuring; my husband has had patients in their twenties die of the disease (usually it would be brain and kidney involvement). And lupus might not have completely caused me to miscarry a 20-week baby seven years ago, but it didn't help. So, I hate lupus even if my manifestation of it isn't 'that bad' for the time being. 
image from Scripps website
2. Lupus patients should protect themselves from the sun so much that they need Vitamin D supplementation. This is not an easy feat for me, living in sunny-all-the-time-land and having a big head that no woman's hat will fit on me. One size does not fit all! 
3. Please, please don't tell me anything bad about sardines! They are low on the food chain, so they should be very low in mercury. They hopefully aren't overfished, and they actually taste really delicious. I've been eating them every day for lunch. The checker gave me a weird look when I bought 12 cans. 
4. 14.5% of lupus patients have a wheat sensitivity while 1% of the general population has one. Am I going to have to get on the gluten-free bandwagon? I was never one for trends. 
5. I am going a bit crazy trying to find a good eating plan.There are so many conflicting ideas on this! 'Normal' doctors say stay away from meat and coconut oil because of the saturated fat. Others say that grassfed (spendy!) beef is perfect as well as coconut. And don't get me started with implementing a high-protein, soy-free, saturated-fat free, lots of raw vegetables diet will work with small children in the house. I am basically down to sardines and fresh vegetables (but no nightshade- potatoes, peppers and tomatoes)
6. Sjogren's is the exciting new syndrome I have- also an autoimmune problem. It manifests itself with a general dryness and can be quite serious, but for now it is just my eyes that feel like they are filled with sand. I use artificial tears on sleeping and awakening. So far, so good. 
7. I've been doing a lot of 'smiling and waving' at my doctors- some of whom I do not really respect. Who orders a 24-hour creatine urine test without also ordering a protein test on said urine?! And I find that I make medical assistants and doctors nervous. One said, "You've read a lot about this, haven't you?" He was shocked when I knew which drugs he might prescribe. I was interested in being a doctor as a girl, but I just didn't feel like going past Algebra 2 and Chemistry. I'd rather reread a good book and have a cuppa.
I'm sorry for the semi-depressing quick takes. If you have anything to add about autoimmune disorders, I welcome your advice in the comments- but before you ask, I am not taking steroids...thankfully, I am able to focus on natural means to help my symptoms.
find more quick takes at conversion diary

Cute Baby Animals or the Married Priesthood in the Catholic Church?

What should I write about today? These two subjects are the most popular in terms of page views, and I believe I need to kick it up a notch to increase views. All bloggers, perhaps blogs like mine (Godblog/Mommyblog/Whateverblog) the most, see a big drop-off in readership during the summer months. The nerve! Everyone is picnicking and swimming and living their lives instead of perusing blogs. 
But I'm not in the mood to be controversial. Maybe some other time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Promises & Poodles

When she was 4, I promised my oldest daughter a poodle for her 12th birthday. I thought we would have a bigger house by then. We are in the same place, house-wise and money-wise. She did not get a poodle for her 12th birthday. Well, her 13th birthday came and went recently with no poodle (she got a copy of The Extraordinary Education of Mr Benedict). She didn't complain; she just continued to feed her beta fish.  
But be careful what you promise....my husband keeps promises (even when he didn't make them) whenever possible. We called the poodle rescue on Sunday afternoon, struggled through 2 hours of traffic to go 40 miles, met the dog of her dreams and adopted Duke that evening. So far, he is a gem.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Transfigured with Christ


The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ
Troparion - Tone 7
You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, 
revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it.
Let Your everlasting Light also shine upon us sinners, 
through the prayers of the Theotokos. 
O Giver of Light, glory to You!
Kontakion - Tone 7
On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God,
And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it;
So that when they would behold You crucified,
They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
And would proclaim to the world,
That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ask Priest's Wife 2...More Quick Takes

Click over to my first post for more answers to my survey questions.
I'll answer these questions as quickly as possible, but look for longer posts inspired by your questions- thanks to everyone who participated at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DWZSCDW

How do you make friends at church?
I try to be a friend to all. But in all truthfulness, church is not the best place to have a close personal friend because of the conflict of interest- if that makes sense...I see myself as a minister at church, not someone to have people ministering to me.
 
What was the hardest change when your second child arrived?
There are only 51 weeks between my first two children. I would say that it wasn't that big of an adjustment because my husband took over nighttime duties with the big baby while I would take care of the new baby. I did get ill a year after #2 was born, so maybe my body did have trouble dealing with the change. 
What do you "miss" about the Roman rite? I realize you feel at home in the Byzantine, but is there anything you miss about when you were exclusively Roman? No knowing the differences, it's just curiosity.
This would make a good long post...but to keep it quick, I miss the Holy Week Masses of the Roman-rite. I love the Byzantine-rite's Holy Week as well, but it is hard knowing I might never be at the 'old' Masses again. Holy Week is just too busy to go visiting and doing supplemental Masses.
 
What insight does being the wife of a priest bring to the sometimes controversial Roman practice of celibate priests?
 Another good idea for a long post- one thing that quickly comes to mind- celibacy needs to be as much a part of an unmarried priest's vocation as the priesthood. He should discern celibacy as a positive choice and then priesthood; he shouldn't decide to be a priest and then figure that he can 'handle' celibacy. Does that make sense? These old posts of mine might give you more ideas of where I stand on the subject.
How do I get a busy 6 year old girl to sit through a 2 hour service :)
If she isn't used to church, you will have to go slowly. If it is a 2 hour service, I assume that you are adding vespers or matins to the Divine Liturgy. Maybe you can start with 'only' going to the Divine Liturgy. That should cut it down to no more than 1.5 hours. Keep it positive. Give her a cheese stick right before Mass so she doesn't crash during the homily. By six years old, she should be singing all the people's parts. This makes it much more interesting. Blame it on me when you start insisting that she sing ;)
 
I'm curious how you decided to homeschool and also to keep your children more sheltered from the secular world than most American children are.
I've never liked the idea of the state deciding what was important to know. Homeschooling gives more flexibility (not that I don't use text books and get advice from 'experts'). And I suppose my children are more sheltered than the typical child, but I am trying to be balanced enough that there won't be huge bitterness and rebellion when they are older- wish me luck! I am all for age-appropriateness and letting children enjoy their innocence. But compared to some of my friends, we are 'liberal' and then to some I am hyper-traditional. For example, my girls wear one-piece suits (sometimes with skirt or shorts) but not bikinis or full 'modest' cover-ups with suit, shirt and shorts at all times. I let my 13 and 12 year old watch The Pursuit of Happyness when some of my readers here were scandalized that they had seen The Sound of Music. I guess you can't win them all, but I think we have found a pretty good middle ground for our family.

How are you doing these days? (this is ______ formerly from oak view) I miss you and your family and pray for you.
Thanks for the prayers! We need them and miss you- any new baby on the horizon?

What is your favorite part of the expression of the faith ?
I have many favorites, but right now the prayer before we receive the Eucharist in the Byzantine-rite comes to mind.... "O Lord, I believe and profess that you are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal your mystery to your enemies, nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to you: Remember me, O Lord, when you shall come into your kingdom. Remember me, O Master, when you shall come into your kingdom. Remember me, O Holy One, when you shall come into your kingdom. May the partaking of your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly your most precious Body and your life-giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen."
 
Could you elaborate more on your faith practices so those of us who are not of your Eastern Faith can learn more about it.?
You might click on the 'Divine Liturgy Mondays' label to your right to learn about our Mass. Here are some other links- Holy Resurrection Monastery-- a similar question on the Catholic Answers forum-- information on the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church-- Eastern Catholic Spiritual Renewal-- a little history...
Where does your patience for parishioners come from?
First of all, I need more charity and patience! Pray for me! But when I do a good job it is because I try to follow the Lord's Prayer. We must forgive those if we want God to forgive us. Also, if someone is truly rude, I play a little game and try to imagine why on earth that person did/said that...maybe he is rushing off to fix a broken water main, maybe she is in labor, maybe she never got a birthday cake as a child and is now obsessed with providing them for everyone in her life...
 
What is your best resource for encouragement or inspiration as a priest's wife? Do you have a favourite book or blog or speaker?
I usually read mommying and homeschooling books and blogs. My overall homemaking-with-a-dash-of-Catholic blog is Like Mother, Like Daughter. For theology, I have been learning a lot from The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin and On Marriage and Family Life by St John Chrysostom. Another perfect book for every lay person is Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales. Sometimes I will try to find encouragement from Protestant or Orthodox sources because there are more Protestant and Orthodox clergy wives, but it really isn't for me. I usually feel ignored, so it is best to just use Catholic sources even if they can't understand or fulfill my unusual niche.
 
My husband is studying to be a deacon, and we have 2 young boys (2.5 and 1.5) right now. We will God-willing have more children also. Right now, because of their age, church is a battle. I honestly don't know how I would handle it if my husband was a deacon right now. I know the time will probably come where I am with them in the pew alone. Eventually, they will be able to serve and we do have help from other members. However I do not expect others to discipline my kids. My fear is being w/o my husband and having two misbehaving kids by myself - major embarrassment to me. Not a big fan of cry rooms which is great b/c we don't have one! Just wondering if you have experienced with this and if you have any advice?
I'm going to answer this one on Monday....

Would it be awkward if I asked how soon, if dating a Latin Rite girl, the subject of priesthood ought to come up, for those discerning? 
This is a tough one! If you are eighteen and are going out to coffee and movies with a girl with no physical and emotional ties, you don't owe her an explanation that you might be thinking of a celibate life.  If you are a college graduate and dating a woman you could take home to mom, you need to tell her right away. Then, she will guard her heart. But perhaps you should discern celibacy/the priesthood before you look around for Mrs Right? I just know a few men that got out of dating relationships with the "I'm discerning" excuse and then got married to another woman a year later. Honesty is the best policy here! Maybe Holy Resurrection Monastery can help. maybe some comments in the combox would help- I really don't have a perfect answer here.

What are the most difficult and the most awesome things about being a priest's wife?
Click on the 'disappointed' and 'loss' labels to your right to read about the difficult things. And then read the other posts for the awesome things! 

An August Daybook

Outside my window...black and white cat whining for his breakfast, orange tree, hanging flower baskets that are surviving the summer, megablocks scattered on the cement, 

I am thinking...that my three-year old girl looks silly (but cute) in her big sister's ballet recital costume. 

I am thankful...for my parents' visit and for their skyping with my in-laws in the old country. 

In the kitchen...I want to create orange marmalade from our oranges. It just hasn't happened yet.

I am wearing...pajamas!

I am creating...a diet and exercise plan to deal with my newly flaring lupus problem. Stinging nettle tea- here I come!

I am going...to the natural history museum today to introduce my son to his first T-Rex skeleton. He's looking forward to it

I am wondering...if I have fulfilled my summer goals....not quite....I have two weeks left before I start work...time to get to the park!

I am reading...The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom (about Shakespeare)

I am hoping...that I have enough students enrolled in my classes in two weeks so I will have a job

I am looking forward to...finishing up the garage/family/storage/school room and posting before and after pictures. Soon!

I am learning...that doctors have to be forced to communicate

Around the house...we are getting ready for the grandparents' last day here. We will miss them!

I am pondering..."I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn."~ Albert Einstein


a photo from a fun day....
A favorite quote for today..."By bells and many other similar techniques [schools] teach that nothing is worth finishing. The gross error of this is progressive: if nothing is worth finishing then by extension nothing is worth starting either. Few children are so thick-skulled they miss the point."~ John Taylor Gatto

Some of my favorite things... songs by James Taylor, classic Elton John, Cat Stevens,  Steve Winwood, anything baroque for Sundays- my song choices are older than I am

A few plans for the rest of the week: talk to my conventional doctor about my lupus and then make an appointment with a homeopathic doctor. 


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