Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Hardcore QuickTakes

Okay- those were the first two quick takes- but this won't be quick at all if I attempt to make this post please tolerate the formatting's number 3:

3. "Back to the definition of Eastern "Byzantine" spirituality we find a spirituality that is in many ways is different from what you find in western traditions more specifically the Roman Catholic church. We are in communion with the church of Rome and at the same time we have our own spiritual tradition. In these traditions we find a different approach to the same mysteries we celebrate and hence we have a different spirituality. One could even say that it has been God's plan to foster this diversity. As I said we see this in the scriptures, we see it in the history of the church. Unfortunately, we also see human weakness. We do see many divisions in the Church today which we are working to heal." the rest at Eastern Catholic Spiritual Renewal 

4.  "The Church doesn’t exist to cure the symptoms of the human condition. She exists to cure the disease itself: death. Miracles happen to point our eyes towards the end goal, to keep us on the road. But that road lies not apart from the world and our humanity, but right down the middle. The challenge is not to avoid human suffering, but to embrace it with faith, placing all our confidence in the finality of Christ’s victory; to say with St. Paul: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philppians 1:20-21.) more from Fr Maximos here.
5. If you are feeling unappreciated and on: An old man said, “Anyone freely praised by people is in not a little danger to his soul. But anyone not held in honor among people will finally be given glory.”

6. The blog Your Word to the Wise has a big linky list- lots to learn there!

find lots more quick takes at

Thursday, July 28, 2011

PrettyHappyFunnyReal Replay

a replay for a tired mom...
 from journey to the old country last summer- can you imagine American churches with icons painted on the outside?
 it's almost warm enough to swim!
 vegetables from the Great Fast...need veggies...too much meat...


 prayers of supplication for a friend who has left the Catholic Church

Christ is risen! 
Christos Anesti! Christos Voskrese! Cristo ha resucitado! Al Maseeh Qam! Hristos a Inviat! Krisztus felt√°madt!Christos harjav i merelotz! Pikhirstof aftonf! Christus resurrexit!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No Words

The girls enjoyed a week of ballet intensives (6 days of 7 or so hours of ballet)- and they paid for it themselves with babysitting jobs. So, we are recovering...

more Wordless Wednesdays can be found here

Friday, July 22, 2011

7 Quicktakes- Birthday/Food Edition...

1. Breakfast in bed provided by big girls- tea & whole wheat toast. But the real treat? They got the little kids ready in the morning, dressing and feeding them. Aren't those big girls lovely?

2. My lunch- the ultimate treat- fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and pesto. And because daughter #1 was at her day of ballet intensives, I didn't have to share! Dear reader, if you haven't tried this classic Italian salad with a bit of pesto, you must indulge! For me, fresh basil overpowers the taste of the mozzarella, and dried basil is an abomination. Pesto is a perfect middle way; just don't put too much on.

3. First world disappointment- my students gave me a box of See's chocolates. They are of the 'cream' variety. Unfortunately, you "know what you are going to get" with a box of fruit cream chocolates. In any case, I don't need the sugar. Not-so-good chocolate is a point of snobbery for me. I don't eat milk chocolate (except for s'mores) and I can't eat fruit creams. UNless I am in front of the students who bought it for me. Then, I eat it.

4. My Chinese students gave me some very authentic-looking, loose tea that I am looking forward to using. And all of the stereotypes about Asian students being hard-working are playing out this summer; they are a joy to have in class.

5. and what can I kids love the flan that Elizabeth from Mexico makes....who needs a birthday cake when you have flan? The only problem is that her flan brings to mind a similar dessert that grandmother makes in the old country with farm fresh (from that same day- very free-range and organic) eggs and milk. Yum---We miss you, grandmother!

6. Not a birthday food quick take- but dough made from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day is waiting in the fridge. I guess I  am silly- but this concept is mind-blowing to me, and I hope to keep baking and expanding my repertoire.

7. After anti-terrorist training & hospital work, priest-husband was ready for dinner at about 9:15. This town shuts down at 9 on weekdays, and I wasn't in the mood for Subway- the only place open. We ended up buying blueberry/peach panna cotta (freezer section) from Von's (Safeway) and taking it home. I heartily recommend it! This would have been a perfect dessert for my year in Austria where I decided not to eat chocolate- yes- it was a crazy promise to myself, but I was successful!

find many more quick takes at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

PrettyHappyFunnyReal- Birthday Edition

So- it is my Big 4-0...I could be depressed over wrinkles and wiry white hairs, but I suppose I should just relish the forty years God has given me and make plans for the next forty. The two little ones are fighting fevers, so no photos today...and please excuse the speed-typing typos!
Birthday Memories & Stuff
Some beautiful roses were given to me by parishioners in anticipation of my birthday. My English students gave me a pretty tin of real Chinese tea. The silver van in our driveway (given two months ago) is very pretty. Really everything is pretty about a birthday- streamers, balloons, the cake, prettily wrapped presents
When I was a kid in Southern Califonia, we had pinatas at our parties. It might have looked silly for me as a bleach blonde girl beating the pinata, but it was very happy-making in those years before bouncy houses and professional party planners. I had a pretty gold and white pinata at my wedding as well to relive those happy memories.
One funny birthday memory- Uncle B, in a clown costume, sat on my birthday cake when I was four. I don't think it was part of his act, and I believe we ate the cake. Another funny memory was the 'Snipe-hunting' at my sixteenth birthday folks will fall for anything ;)
Priest-husband left at six this morning to do an anti-terrorism training with the police and then has a full day of work at the hospital, so he might be home at 9 in the evening. I guess I will eat my classroom potluck flan with the kids before I put them to sleep. This is the reality of our life, but as long as the children have health, it is okay! Daughter #1 gave me 'breakfast' in bed today- toast and tea. Not elaborate, but thoughtful.

so that's that! Short and sweet (?)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How to Educate Without Using a S'mores Cage

Did my last two posts just complicate matters? Did I take the beauty of imparting Christianity- and more specifically the Byzantine Catholic life- to our children and make it seem like an insurmountable task? Do you really need to read the early Church fathers when other Christians do very well thank you with singing Kumbaya? And what do s'mores have to do with any of this?
s'mores maker picture found at if you 'need' it, buy it at amazon- or don't

To make a s'more: you need campfire roasted marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey's chocolate. Nothing else is needed. Don't complicate and cage perfection.

To educate a child as a Byzantine Catholic: take the last two posts with a grain of salt. Our faith is very rich and it can get overwhelming (I still have books and materials that I have forgotten to mention). But the Lord said that we must be a "little children" to enter heaven, so we shouldn't get too worried about acquiring knowledge especially if we are sacrificing child-like faith in the process. The mother who wrote me the email that inspired this week's posts is a fairly new Byzantine Catholic, so I would encourage her to work on her own spiritual journey while she is educating her children.  

Some essential components of good theological education for a new Byzantine Catholic would be- pretty uncomplicated (although I think early Church fathers are really important- slow & steady, read them when you are ready):

1. The Bible- I read the Douay-Rheims translation
2. Byzantine Daily Worship (Ruthenian) or the Melkite version "Publican Prayer Book"
3. the new Catechism of the Catholic Church
4. Catholic Encyclopedia (from Our Sunday Visitor)- even though the editor Fr. Peter Stravinskas seems to be against Catholics homeschooling, this volume is very helpful and contains a lot of information on Byzantine Catholic subjects.

Parents know that the kids are watching everything (no pressure, right?)- so the best thing a mom can do to educate the kids is to be a faithful and educated Byzantine Catholic (or Roman-rite Catholic or Orthodox Christian) herself. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was so right when she said God desires "faithfulness, not success." Specifically, Byzantine Catholics should really try to cultivate an atmosphere that is Eastern if the goal is to educate children as Byzantines. Some ideas:

1. Once again, live the liturgical year. Try to be at the Divine Liturgy for feast days, not 'only' Sundays. While at the Divine Liturgy, make all of your moments (standing, crossing yourself) intentional. If you don't know why we do what we do, ask the pastor or a faithful church-goer. Sing all the parts for the people and encourage the children to sing as a way to participate in the Liturgy.

2. Fast and feast joyfully and realistically. Talk with your pastor about the guidelines and times for fasting. With your spouse, decide how 'hard-core' you are going to be as a family. There are kids in the house and day-to-day chaos that makes fasting as a family different than if you were living in a monastery. Fasting (during Advent, for example) is an important part of Eastern culture, but it is also important not to get smug and superior about it. Balance, please!

3. My children know the Roman-rite Mass and we pray the Rosary. We also do the Stations of the Cross during Lent. But as Byzantine Catholics, we shouldn't forget our Eastern traditions- the Jesus Prayer, the Akathist, praying before the icon corner. Most of our specifically eastern traditions are church-based, but let's not forget the importance of the home in building up our spiritual life.

4. Try to keep our sometimes-complicated religion simple. Yes, we tend to do everything three times, but by simply living out the liturgical year (no foam crafts, just flowers for Mary), our kids will experience the love of God.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Educating Byzantine Catholic Children- Part 2

A Byzantine Catholic family doesn't have a lot of resources to work with that are exclusively Byzantine Catholic when educating the children. One usually has to decide between using Roman-rite materials in order to be loyal to our hierarchy or Orthodox Christian materials to be more 'in-line' with our spirituality and history. We do some of both, and my children are already learning to live 'in the middle.'

For parents who are considering taking over the reins of education and teaching from home- you have lots of decisions to make- will you insist that every math page has a Bible verse or is it okay if you simply live the liturgical year and also have theology with the kids? If your Byzantine Catholic church has few children, do you have the energy to go to a Catholic park day(most likely Roman-rite) so your children can be with like-minded friends? As the children get older, perhaps it is time to start a catechism class or a "Little Flower's" girls' club- maybe with a Byzantine twist. It is not easy when you are small- you have to force the issue.
a few more on-line resources:

Seton Books, a homeschooling resource, has some Byzantine Catholic books available in their on-line catalog. I'm going to order some.

The Faith & Life series by Ignatius Press works with the new Catechism of the Catholic Church- it is Roman-rite, but I have used it in younger grades with my children with Byzantine supplementation. The artwork is beautiful.

Crazy Acres is a blog written by a Byzantine Catholic mom of many- sometimes she writes a bit about homeschooling. She also writes icons.

Catholic Heritage Curriculum has some lovely Roman-rite materials that I am always drooling over.

St Vladimir's Seminary Press publishes some wonderful anthologies of early Church fathers- an Orthodox publishing house.

This post is about living Lent as a busy mom, but I think the thought is right for any day.

Educating Byzantine Catholic Children- Part 1

A happy Monday morning to all! I received the following email & decided to write a reply to her in the form of a blog post, hoping it might be helpful to others along the way...

"Hi! My name is _____. I'm a Byzantine Catholic from _____. I am thinking about homeschooling my kids next year but I'm having a hard time finding Byzantine resources to teach my children from. They are grades k,1, and 3rd. Do you have any suggestions for me? I have been looking at Catholic curriculum but I'm fairly new to Catholicism (I converted after my oldest daughter's birth) and I want to give them a good Byzantine Catholic education."

First of all, whether or not you decide to homeschool the kids, it is still your God-given mandate to be the primary educator (along with your husband) of your children (no pressure, right?). So I hope today and tomorrow's advice will be food for thought for all parents. While I am writing from a Byzantine Catholic perspective, it can be applied to Roman-rite and Orthodox households. 

Another 'first of all'- the pinnacle of the week should be the Sunday Divine Liturgy. This is where the religious education of our children should begin and end (with religious education and lifestyle in between). I have written before about preparing for the Divine Liturgy here...and here are some more thoughts on that subject:

- Read the troparion, epistle and Gospel before the Divine Liturgy. For homeschoolers, this would be a great read-aloud exercise.

- For older children, ask them after the Liturgy what stood out for them during the homily. You might be surprised at what was the most interesting to them and the discussions your question might spark.

-For younger children, bring them back into the church after the Liturgy is finished. Say a spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving and invite them to say a prayer of their own. Talk about an icon of interest to them or the feast day

-Continue Byzantine traditions with your children during Liturgy- light a candle, kiss the icon, encourage them to sing, make sure they are crossing themselves whenever the Holy Trinity is invoked or the priest gives a blessing

-Ask the priest or another well-educated person to prepare some short talks on being Byzantine Catholic. Even having the priest describe the altar space and his vestments and the icon screen's significance would be a great education for the kids and you. Most children will learn a lot when given visual cues, so giving a short talk after Liturgy with the children in the pews and the priest at the icon screen would be memorable and educational.
Some book and blog resources:

Theological Book Service carries the catechism books we use at church and home. You can order on-line which makes it very convenient. Their catechism books will probably be the backbone of your kids' religious education.

Byzantine Seminary Press has some children's books- it doesn't look like you can order directly on-line. We like their coloring books.

Sophia Press is a part of the Melkites- I don't see any children's books, but I really like their daily worship and "Publican's Prayer Book"

Eastern Christian Publications publishes books with both Orthodox and Catholic standpoints.

"Aquinas & More" is an on-line store that has a section for Eastern Catholic goods- they also don't carry religious articles made in China.

Renee of Claytonopolis is very talented; she does the black outline of icons for her Byzantine Catholic little ones, and they paint them in with the appropriate colors. She might even send you a pdf of her work (hint, hint- Renee!)

The Orthodox Christian blog "Charming the Bird from the Trees" has good homeschooling ideas for little ones; look under the label "learning basket"

Peruse the archives of Like Mother, Like Daughter- I believe if Leila were answering your email question, she would simply say "Live the liturgical year." She doesn't believe in crafts of foam board and has successfully homeschooled seven Catholic children.

East to West has a link list that has some good resources.
tomorrow....more about educating a Byzantine Catholic child! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Birthday QuickTakes

1. Boy in March, Dad in April, Girl 3 in June and Girl 1 and 2 in July- Thank goodness to be finished with the birthday season- all this cake is getting tiresome!

2. Girl 1 was born in the middle of July and Girl 2 was born the next year a week earlier- so they are 51 weeks apart. Thank goodness for youth- they were both (relatively) easy to carry and give birth to- the drama came later.

3. Girl 1 wasn't even walking when Dad and she came into the hospital room to visit Girl 2 and me. The looks on the nurses' faces were priceless- and I would bet that they would be surprised to know that we ended up with 'only' four children. At the time, it seemed that this baby-thing would be easy.

4. Said daughters 1 and 2 have exchanged breakfasts in bed and small gifts (earrings and a 'Sisters' book)...I don't think I ever did something so thoughtful for sisters when we were young- but I love you anyways!

5. Daughter 2 had a great success making the master recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. We are very excited- and if their recipe for 'soft crusted whole-wheat bread' is as successful  I will never buy bread again. I highly recommend this book- just be really careful when you put the water in the oven for steam and don't burn yourself

6. Quick Ultimate Mac and Cheese- Three boxes of 'Deluxe' mac and cheese- use 2 of the packets of gooey fake cheese, add 2 large handfuls of shredded 3-cheese blend and some grated parmesan. Serve to cheese-loving daughter; give bread only to non-cheese-loving daughter (when it is birthday season, I'm flexible)

7. This is not a poodle.
Seven years ago, I told my oldest daughter I would get her a poodle when she is twelve. Poodles have been her favorite dog since she could have a preference. Well, she is twelve, and she didn't get a poodle. I didn't think we would still be in this small-for-us townhouse and that our life would be so chaotic. While we can afford to buy a poodle, we cannot afford vets and kennels and other essentials of being responsible dog owners. So, she got a betta fish. His name is Duke Azure of the Society of Indigo Dragon.

Many more quick takes can be found at!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

PrettyHappyFunnyReal--- Crafters for Life

To be Mary and Martha simultaneously---My daughters decided to extend their fun after a year of Little Flowers Catholic Girls' Club, so they got some friends to form 'Crafters for Life,' a group that meets to crochet, knit and sew baby goods to donate to the local crisis pregnancy center. They are starting small, but it is a dream for them to actively use their talents for a pro-life cause.

little baby booties for a precious life made by a young crafter


girls sewing and some projects to donate to the center---my girls are so happy that their dream is coming true to help babies and inspire mothers


Making hand crafts means reading directions and tearing out a few hours of work when the pattern just isn't coming together. It can also mean tired hands and eyes- But every stitch is a prayer....The video below was an inspiration to my oldest daughter. She wants to do something similar for life, but for now, she is making crafts for babies in her own backyard.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rachel weeping for her children

There is no utopia here on Earth. While we set off fireworks and sing anthems to the greatness that is the United States (for fellow American readers), we know we aren't perfect and we fall short of our constitution and God's laws. Our true citizenship lies with Heaven. We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.

But even though we fall short, there is such an evil in communist China today with their one-child policy that forces sterilizations and abortions on women. Women's rights to basic health care, education, safety and other freedoms (the vote, right to own property, right to hold a passport) are a challenge throughout the world, but China is able to continue their abusive and satan-inspired policies with impunity. They are so huge economically. The West depends on their cheap goods. The West depends on China's buying of their debt. 

Watch this video (found at deltaflute's blog)(the middle of the video has a sad, disturbing image- skip over if you are sensitive- I closed my eyes) for a little 'inspiration' to work harder at boycotting Chinese goods as much as possible....I just got an old, American made sewing machine. The interior is all steel- not plastic components like the new Chinese made ones. A little creativity goes a long way...try clicking on my label 'shopping' for older blog posts on China and shopping.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday, Monday

 Take a look at this photo of a pontifical Divine Liturgy. Was the photo taken yesterday- or perhaps 1,700+ years ago? It is difficult to say. It looks beautiful and ancient and mystic and reverent and very different from the Roman-rite Mass. certainly it doesn't look 'liberal'- even though they have married priests.

I probably shouldn't peruse blogs at 6:45 in the morning Monday morning when Saturday and Sunday's cortisol is still surging in my veins. But I did, and I came upon this comment at Fr Z's blog- "What’s deplorable about this all too common tactic is that the Church didn’t have a pedophilia problem – it had a homosexual problem. Acceptance of homosexuality is on the agenda of the modernist/liberal element along with female ordination, married priests, universal salvation, social justice, etc." I understand where this man is coming from; he is afraid of the negative moderization of the Church, and he is coming from a Roman-rite perspective. He is not, however, a rare case who equates a possibility for a married man to be ordained priest with the acceptance of homosexual behavior and woman 'priests.' This comes up very frequently in the blogosphere and in casual conversation. 

What these commenters always seem to shy away from is the possibility for married men to be ordained priest and the history of the Church. While it would take logistical changes for it to be a common occurrence, a married priesthood in the Roman-rite (along with many celibate secular priests who chose not to be married and the monastic tradition) would not destroy the Church. It is a possibility, and it is a tradition that remains in the Eastern rites.  Although a married priesthood commonly occurring won't happen, it should not be spoken of in the same breath with accepting homosexual activity and women's 'ordination.' 

Yes, yes- he was speaking of the Roman-rite and one doesn't have to constantly qualify one's remarks with "in the Roman-rite." We Eastern rite-types- a minuscule percentage of the Catholic world- should remember to "mind our own business." But it pains me that it seems that this attitude is very common- thinking that a married priesthood is liberal and non-Catholic.  Perhaps a married priesthood would be done for modernist reasons. But the attitude of fear signals bad things for ecumenism. How can we pray for unity with the Orthodox when their traditions would be disrespected and perhaps made canonically impossible (as happened in the US 100 years ago through Bishop John Ireland and led to the formation of the OCA)?

 A photo of a Byzantine Catholic seminarian and his wife before his ordination to the diaconate and priesthood. In the old country, seminarians wear clerical garb, and this would have been his most formal suit to wear. In the old country, no one is confused between seminarian, deacon and priest- all wearing clerical garb. People simply ask "are you a priest?" before they ask for confession or the like.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Simple Daybook for July

Outside my pots of basil, cilantro, parsley and thyme are doing well in this heat; the big girls are hand-watering them with an old two-liter bottle because the hose is broken.

I am thinking...that this summer is going by so fast- where does the time go?

I am thankful...for quick family reunions, a brother who buys all the fireworks, small town parades, kids who are still enthusiastic, wise sisters, cousin camp where my non-egg-loving girl is astonished by tastiness of cast iron camp eggs, a sister-in-law who grooves to the tune of 'ain't gonna pee pee my bed tonight' (it is on youtube, watch with caution, the song will stick in your head), genius brother-in-laws who make my husband panic and pick up new books, really great homilies, not-so-great homilies, seeing our Nigerian priest- family friend for 25 years- after many years and finding him the same sweet and good man

In the kitchen...I am cooking pot roast with potatoes and carrots which I am going to drop off at two families- one with good news and one who is mourning a loss. We made deviled eggs and a chopped salad with some garden herbs to round out the meals. I don't know why I am making pot roast on a hot Friday- maybe I needed to make some comfort food.

I am wearing...a linen shirt with an Indian design- I think Indian clothes are my favorite 'national costume'- except for my husband's old country, of course.

I am creating...ideas to use up some of my fabric stash. Now that I have a working camera, I might post some projects at the 'crafting' button up top- beginning with my go-to, easy three-tiered gathered skirt.

I am invite more friends over for a town-house complex pool party. Yesterday's get- together was fun (even if I ran out of popsicles)!

I am I am going to fast when traveling for the two weeks before Assumption...

I am reading..."Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day"

I am mom gets the clear for exercise after her successful surgery... hint, hint Mom

I am looking forward to...spending more time with most of the family in August

I am hearing...a two-year old's speech slowly get more understandable; she is growing up!

Around the house...laundry, cooking, and reading

I am pondering...modesty and what God's standards truly are...and poverty/simplicity and what God's standards really are

Some favorite things...Oregon Chai, Manifesto perfume, professional pedicures (not manicures), Cat Stevens, children who behave at the Divine Liturgy

A few plans for the rest of the week... birthday cakes for the girls for Saturday and Sunday...registering the big girls for their week of ballet intensives...buying a new garden hose...actually using the book "Artisan Bread"...writing a few blog posts when the ideas come...edit some photos on and get them printed and framed...return my good friend's a few more episodes of Monk and wonder what short show we can watch when the series is over (one more to go!)...pray a rosary for our bishop...