Friday, September 30, 2011

To Sleep Perchance to Stream- 7 QuickTakes

In no particular order and probably with some serious omissions: here are a few favorites to stream on Netflix.Yes, I know the company is getting a bit stingy, but I think they think the future is in streaming.

1. Monk and Psych- 45 minutes is just about the perfect time amount to devote to 'vegging out' in front of the computer screen. We enjoyed Monk and we are watching Psych right now. I guess it is still on the air with new episodes.

2. Sherlock Holmes episodes with the master Jeremy Brett and Miss Marple with Joan Hickson- television was highly censored when I was a kid (thanks Mom and Dad, now Grease is something brand-new for me to watch), so we only had free rein with PBS. This was in the good old days, and we devoured a lot of British television. I never got into Dr. Who (even though I love most science fiction), but other than that, it was British television all the time.

3. All Creatures Great and Small- this is the 'England of my dreams.' And it stars Peter Davison from Dr. Who! Who knew?

4. Keeping Up Appearances- this British comedy is one of my favorites. You will laugh, and you can watch it in front of your mother; I did. A friend just recommended Bless me, Father. I'm going to check it out.

5. The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show- my big girls (they're not allowed to see Monk or Psych- too much 'gore') are enjoying watching these classic t.v. shows. We watch movies, but watching one episode limits t.v. time.

6. All those National Geographic documentaries. Who needs the History Channel? China's Lost Daughters was an especially good one, and my husband really learned from the film on Alexander the Great.

7. For the kids- I choose Shaun the Sheep and Pingu. Busy Town Mysteries is sort of cute, even if they aren't exactly like the original books.

So there you have it! Any favorites of your own to add?

find more quick takes at conversion

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

my first YarnAlong, or In Which I Don't Knit

My first knitting project was a baby blue cotton blanket that I made for a friend. I had just miscarried my first boy at twenty weeks in utero. I proceeded to make a few easy things like scarves, but I never really got into the art form. I collect yarn and knitting books occasionally, but I don't knit. It really is a perfect activity to do while waiting the required hour and a half at the doctor's office. But I don't knit. I think I got off on the wrong foot with the craft, and it is time to exorcise those old feelings.

The big girls, however, are beginning to enjoy crafting. Daughter #2 is crocheting, and Daughter #1 is learning to quilt. They are using their budding talent and skill for their 'Crafters for Life' club that will donate handmade items to crisis pregnancy centers. Daughter #1 wants me to teach her to knit because crocheting is Daughter #1's 'thing.' So even in this demi-paradise, there is a bit of sibling rivalry. But I might just have to pick up my knitting needles again.

She's working on granny squares to make into a blanket, and she's reading Rainbow Valley (my old copy) for the third time.

She's sewing like a wild woman to get ready for the next Crafters for Life meeting. She has completed six quilt tops. As you can see, it is a very simple pattern, but it has been fun. The fabric came from one of my sisters who will be receiving an extra special quilt in time for a certain someone who is arriving by St Valentine's Day. The George MacDonald book was purchased at the recommendation of, yes, Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter

find many many more yarn alongs at small things

I'm not THAT PW: How to Make Hot Chocolate in 36 Easy Steps

Life is serious. Death is serious. Mothering, homeschooling, working, vacuuming- all serious. So, I try to stay positive and not-so-serious when possible in my blog writing (with a touch of reality and truth throw in) and my internet surfing (for example, I'll watch a bit of So You Think You Can Dance and never, ever watch a minute of The Bachelor or Big Brother- see how balanced and positive I am?)

I am very late to the party that is 'PW'- nope, not 'priest's wife'- that is 'Pioneer Woman' to all of us city folk. Her blog is very pretty and busy and makes her a million dollars a month or year in advertising revenue. I have read it a few times, using google to get to it. Boy was I surprised when I clicked on a satire site! I suppose you have to be pretty famous for someone to take the time to satirize your site with photo after photo of barbie dolls making fun of your latest recipe. I don't think it is kind to make fun of someone however famous- except these 'hater' blogs had a few valid critiques, mostly about the care of horses and food safety in the kitchen.

Since this blog's P'sW is mostly a mom, I am in the kitchen virtually all day- at least it feels like that some days. I am always on the lookout for simple, healthy, inspiring, inexpensive recipes to use with my family. I looked at the PW blog for inspiration; she makes a lot of money with the ad revenue connected to her cooking section. I came across 'The Bread.' She writes that it will change my life. In eight photos, she shows how to make 'The Bread'- a store-bought French loaf cut length-wise and spread with two sticks of butter. And that's it. It is garlic bread with twice the butter and minus the garlic. Hmmm...maybe I am being judgmental and jealous of her revenue stream...I'll find another recipe...

So I am temporarily a satire's my recipe for hot chocolate. I hope it isn't too complicated a recipe for anyone (tongue planted firmly in cheek)!

P's W's FAMOUS Hot Chocolate

Place three teaspoons of hot water in a heavy-bottomed pan.
We'll be using cocoa powder for this recipe. Usually, I use fair trade cocoa, but somehow this one made it into my Ghanaian woven shopping basket.
Place four heaping tablespoonfuls of cocoa into the water (I use a bit of water at the beginning so I can heat the cocoa and whisk so it won't clump)
This is going to get hot. Take a drink of yummy elderberry juice if you have it on hand.
Here's the sugar. It's organic, but still not fair trade. Argh.
Place four rounded tablespoonfuls of sugar into the pot.
Choose from your collection of vanillas. Be both horrified that you keep buying vanilla- but also proud that you finally cleaned out the cabinets and know what you have- for the moment. You will add one teaspoon of vanilla to the cocoa mixture. Whoops! I didn't get a photo of that essential, complicated step! Whisk it all together- another step that didn't get photographed- maybe I was too hard on PW with her 38 photos of an easy recipe....
He's not a basset hound or a mustang horse, but here in the real world free of government subsidies, Lucky is a nice addition to the family. He's not getting any cocoa, though.
Pour four scant cups of milk into the mixture. I hope you notice my glass cup recommended by Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter- she had better not recommend anything else or she'll put me in the poor house.
Turn on the fire to medium and whisk!
Make it nice and frothy. I hope you used 2% or whole milk. No half and half or cream here- and no skim milk either. Let's attempt a little balance, shall we?
Swirl it around some more for good luck. Turn off the heat. Don't forget. Really- turn off the heat.
Prepare your marshmallows. I like to go with a Trinitarian Three for each cup.
Place three marshmallows in each cocoa cup.
Ladle one-fourth of the cocoa into each cup.
Admire your complicated cocoa creation before the children slurp it down in a second or two.
WHEW! That was exhausting! I was going to photograph the steps to making popcorn, but this was just too much. PW is a genius. I'm not.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Great Doxology- A Series on The Divine Liturgy of St John Chyrsostom

I'm no theologian, but theology is a huge part of my life. Monday rolls around, and I have nothing to write unless I am going to rant about some struggle with the weekend. That might be alright occasionally, but not every Monday. So I have decided to start a series, going through the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysotom. You might be familiar with a different translation, and some jurisdictions have simplified portions of the Divine Liturgy, but this is our Liturgy. I'll be writing some personal reflections, and I hope you will write your own thoughts in the comment box, especially if you, dear reader, are a theologian.

Before the Liturgy, the priest will be busy at a side altar, preparing the bread for the service. That is a little service in itself. One of these days, I'll have my husband write about it because it is not quite clear what is happening because the people are usually busy singing hymns and then the priest incenses the altar and icon screen and the congregation sings:

The Great Doxology
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men
We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you; we give you thanks for your great glory
O Lord God, heavenly king, Father almighty, O Lord, only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, who takes away the sins of the world- have mercy on us, you who take away the sins of the world.
Receive our prayer, you who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For You alone are holy, you alone are Lord, Jesus Christ, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Make us worthy, O Lord, this day, to be preserved free from sin.
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, and your name is praised and glorified forever. Amen.
Let your mercy, o Lord, be upon us as we have hoped in you.
Blessed are you, O Lord, teach me your righteousness.
Lord, you have been our refuge from generation to generation. I said: Lord, have mercy on me. Heal my soul, for I have sinned before you.
Lord, in you have I hoped, teach me to do your will for you are my God.
For with you is the source of life; in your light will we see light. Extend your mercy unto those who know you.
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.

The Doxology is found in many traditions, the equivalent in the Roman-rite would be the 'Gloria.' The language here is very rich and alludes to Old Testament tradition. One could meditate on each line and take days to really understand what one is singing. Perhaps this is a reason why it is good that we pray it at every Divine Liturgy. Of course, one can just recite it robotically, but if one really prays while singing it, it is a perfect prayer.

I always feel a little calmer when we start the Great Doxlogy. Probably we couldn't find shoes or socks. Probably the little kids are squabbling over who gets which soft toy to hold. Probably we are rushing to put food into the coffee room. Maybe the baby's bottle overturned in my purse- I've never been a baby bag person. Even those days that work because I followed my own Sunday morning advice can be hectic. So, when we start the Great doxology, I can breathe a sigh of relief- even if I can't stay long because the baby decides to act up.

'For with you is the source of life; in your light will we see light' is speaking to me especially. Perhaps it is because the days are getting shorter lately. We are children of light. Christ is the light. Darkness has no place in us because God has made us His children. Although we sin, we are called to constantly renew our relationship with God through the sacraments and personal prayer so that we can 'enlighten' ourselves through God's mercy. I also love that the words 'light' and 'life' are so similar in the English language because these concepts are one and the same.

Contrast this with a prayer-poem written by Fr Ed Hayes and reproduced by the National Catholic Reporter- it celebrates the darkness that is within us- a darkness that as children of light we should reject  

I unite myself with ancient memories that sleep within.
Ancestors of long ago whose fears have left their fingerprints upon me,
remind me of my holy communion with that river of humanity
that flows through my soul.
May this flame be my autumn sacred fire.

I greet you, child of night — my anger.
May I live with you in a creative way.
Be fuel for the prophet within me
to speak and act against the darkness of injustice.

I greet you, daughter of the dark — my sexual needs.
May I always dance with you in creative, selfless ways.
May I live with you in openness and without fear
. (for the remainder of the text, click here)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Pretty- Birch trees are very pretty; these were planted on the shady side of the church as they don't normally grow here. And even though our birches grow next to palms, I can pretend for a bit that I am Anne of Green Gables when I see them.

Happy- Baby girl was happy to pet her mechanical kitty after getting over her fear of mewing, purring toys.

Funny- What's so funny? I don't know

Real- my brother's t-shirt- he was a lawyer-officer-type in Baghdad's green zone, but he knows many who had traumatic experiences over there. Too real.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall is finally in the air

On the menu the last few days...chicken noodle soup, bean soup, bubble and squeak, artisan bread, chicken-dried cranberry-pecan-argula salad, brownies, lots of tea for sick fathers and must be fall!

We don't get the full four-season experience like those of you up North, but I can still feel a chill in the air (this has its ups and downs- we aren't using our heating system because we just learned it is full of asbestos, but baby girl got pneumonia...maybe $5000 will drop from the sky).

In celebration of wordless Wednesday, I just had to share this photo from four years back. Isn't he the cutest pumpkin ever!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

PrettyHappyFunnyReal- yesterday & yesterday's feast

My favorite blog Like Mother, Like Daughter is encouraging all to find contentment in the everyday: Here I go...
Pretty Our learning room, semi-cleaned out yesterday, is becoming pretty. Since I left my camera behind with family, I don't have before and after photos.This is for the best, because it still isn't that pretty, but the girls can do math with pretty smiling faces at their desks. And they have space to put their gladiolas which are being used for a science experiment. So, life is pretty. 
Happy We have a lot to be happy about. My oldest daughter's Godparents' oldest daughter (got that?) is coming home from the hospital after being treated for a skull and femur fracture due to being run over by a car during cross country practice. She needs to do nothing for six weeks. I'm not sure if she will lose a semester of school, but she has her life and her health. In much less serious reasons to be happy, I spent 3 1/2 hours at the emergency room last evening/night with Baby Girl who ended up being treated for pneumonia. And she ate a bowl of chicken soup this morning after not eating anything for four days. So, I'm really happy. And I have been happy to offer up the minor suffering and annoyances that come with caring for a sick child for those families with truly sick children.
Funny I suppose that it is 'funny' that I was happy that Baby Girl got diagnosed with pneumonia, but I was happy to have not given her an x-ray for nothing. Now, we just have to make an action plan to prevent this in the future. She is watching endless episodes of Kipper on Netflix- maybe I will change it up to Veggie Tales or something for a little funny...any suggestions? Please don't write no videos- she is two and miserable on the couch. Even drawing is too much for her right now.  
Real  People sometimes ask me why the Byzantine-style cross has the slanted bar at the bottom. I have heard it said that the slanted bar is to show that Jesus was fully man (and fully God) when He was on the cross. He felt pain. He struggled. So the bar, put in place to support His body weight while He was being crucified, would have twisted under His pain. If one keeps their eyes open, their is a lot of catechism tucked into icons and stained glass windows and even the style of cross that we venerate.

"Come, all you nations, let us bow in worship to the blessed Cross of the Lord through which eternal justice came to us. He who deceived Adam, the first man, was conquered by a tree, and the same who fettered the royal creation by his venom has been washed away by the divine blood of Christ, and the curse of the sin has been lifted by a rightful sentence when the just Christ was condemned unjustly. By God's plan, death that had come from a tree would be conquered by a tree, and suffering would be healed by the suffering of the Lord. Glory be to the active presence of your providence in our lives, O Christ our King: through it, you have wrought salvation for all, O You who are gracious and the Lover of Mankind!"  -- from the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Low-energy, Lazy Introverted Type-A Cleans Learning Room on the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross

7:30 AM- Priest-husband is off to work, slaying the dragons of hospital administration and chaplaincy. His day will be finished after we have the Divine Liturgy and Bible study at 6 PM. he and the big girls will get home after 9; I'll take the little ones home at about 8. But this morning, I should have gone for a walk with one of the big girls, but we have had our sleep disturbed for days because of our sick little girl.

8:00 AM- Breakfast and cleaning up and get your clothes on! I don't know how school families do it all before 7:45 or so.

10:00 AM- Today is an easy day in that Boy is off to preschool for the morning. The girls have some history and literature to do and will continue their science experiment (flowers, sugar, graphing differences, etc) and set up a new experiment with potatoes (light, dark, etc- it is mostly to learn the scientific method of performing experiments). Baby girl is on the couch with a bad cold. We'll get to math after I put her down for a nap and before Boy comes home.

The girls are doing school work (sorry other homeschoolers, I just can't twist my tongue and say 'learning activities, etc- I'll just call it school work) at the dining room table. But loyal readers of this little blog know that I have a one-car garage that we use for storage, family room, school room, etc room- so why aren't they at their desk in the 'garage'? Well.....
  • their desks are piled with random stuff from our vacation a month ago
  • I haven't returned used materials to our charter school teacher so there is an 'abundance' of unneeded things
  • we are in the middle of many projects (like 'Crafters for Life' activities) that don't really have a home
  • I am a low-energy, slightly (?) lazy introvert who needs a sister to come over and just sit there while I declutter, organize and clean (how can an introvert need someone to be there while she cleans, you ask? I don't know- I just do)
  • I can semi-despair over getting organized like a good homeschooling mom who has a lovely, decluttered area- she is able to host meetings and have people over at the drop of a hat because she has set herself up for success.
  • I can say- hey! I am not that bad! The kitchen is fine (the girls do that), the bathrooms are fine (the girls do these- except the toilets), the living room is fine, the dining table is clean (so the girls can do their work on it)...but but but- the school area is a dumping ground. Technically, it is clean (no cobwebs, no rotten potatoes, the carpet is vacuumed) but it is a cluttery mess.
 My goal for 5 PM today- the girls' desks will be cleared to work on, the cable for the printer will be found, all Goodwill bags will be in my van and dropped off before the Divine Liturgy (all the while- supervising the big girls' school day, getting them to ballet at 3:30, cooking dinner, doing just plain-old cleaning, taking care of the two little ones, making time to plan our Crafters for Life meeting on Friday, etc), I am off to work this goal...

 so- did I meet my goals today? well...
  • The girls' desks are cleaned off and they'll be working from them tomorrow
  • Two bags made it into the van for a trip to Goodwill
  • I still haven't found the cable to the printer
  • kitchen, bathrooms, etc are clean
  • 3 loads of laundry done- except for a load that is still in the laundry
  • girls got to both ballet and Divine Liturgy
I went to Target between ballet drop-off and pick-up to buy a gift for a young friend who was hit by a car. Baby Girl, under the weather, was being quite a pill, so I went to the pharmacy section to see what I could get for her. I bought a digital thermometer. Boy's temp was 98.something (he insisted he was sick); Baby Girls's temp was 104.5 in a few seconds. The doctor's office had me take her into the ER. I bought the girls fast food to eat between ballet and church (they ate at noon and wouldn't be home from church before 9...)- the decent dinner I had planned on quickly cooking wasn't going to happen. Three kids went to church with dad, and I spent almost 4 hours in the ER.

Poor girl has pneumonia.

so I suppose she has a very good reason for being a pill.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mommy-ness, random style

So- it was a rather busy & serious weekend. The busy part? The girls had their Nutcracker audition. Oh, for the simplicity of 'do the pony' and 'do the duck' in pre-ballet at the YMCA. Now, we do ballet three times a week (almost six hours of instruction), not including our Saturdays which will be decimated until Nutcracker is finished. Not that I am complaining. It is hard for my girls to be passed over (they are 'pre-pointe' while most girls at the school are en pointe at their age). Secret Vatican Spy- ballerina extraordinaire- what am I doing wrong? Should I watch Dance Moms for pointers? just kidding. I think.

Sunday afternoon after church and church and more church, my daughters sang two songs at the hospital memorial service for 9/11 first responders. If I do say so myself, they did well under the pressure while singing in front of two chiefs of police, a fire battalion chief, various armed service members and some parishioners who joined us. Their version of the national anthem was well-received. As good Byzantine Catholics, they faced what they were singing to, the flag (ad orientem joke- haha?). To make it a true family affair, I was going to sing as well, but the baby has been quite under the weather, and she wouldn't stop clinging to me. So the final song went to priest-husband who was leading the memorial.

Being unemployed this semester, I am looking for lots of ways to save money anywhere I can  So, I saved 30 cents a can by buying plum tomatoes instead of the cheapest marinara at Trader Joe's. I was prepared to puree them with my new birthday immersion blender (thanks F! I have been making morning smoothies with it- a Vita-mix is not in my future any time soon) and make my famous spaghetti with hamburger meat, onions, mushrooms and black olives. I cooked the meat and onions in one pot so I could skim off the fat (I'm no Pioneer Woman), and I started sauteing my mushrooms in another. I always drain my can of olives and put them in with the mushrooms right away so I have a place to put the drained hamburger fat and so I won't eat all the olives before dinner! I put my whole tomatoes in with the mushrooms and started using the immersion blender. Whoops. My sauce was sort of a strange color with pureed mushrooms and black olives. Better sauce next time!

A theological thought: please get educated about the Catholic faith before you say something silly under the guise of knowing what the Church teaches. This weekend, I fast-forwarded (Hulu) through the film Saint of 9/11, a documentary about the life and death of Fr. M Judge. A policeman was giving his testimony about the day. He had rushed to a Catholic church, looking for a priest to administer the last rites to a dying person. No priest was to be found, but the church secretary told him, "In an emergency, anyone can administer last rites." The policeman was amazed to be "promoted" like that. Um, sorry. Baptism is the only sacrament that anyone can administer in an emergency. Whether God would allow someone to damn himself to hell because a priest couldn't be found for confession and last rites is another issue altogether. I believe that, through God's infinite mercy and our efficacious prayers, that man and the 'Falling Man' and many others are in the comfort of God's presence. Even before I became Catholic, I thought the concept of Purgatory ('Heaven's waiting room') was logical; I have never thought much of 'limbo,' though. So if a priest says to you, "stop praying for the deceased during the rosary, he is already in heaven as a saint," just smile a bit and go on with the intentions. And save a few prayers for the soul of that priest who does not seem to understand that all have sinned and need the help of our prayers. God is just and merciful; we shouldn't err on either side. Trust in God's mercy and love. Pray for His mercy to overcome His wrath and justice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My 9/11

Ten years is a long time. We have moved a few times, had a bad miscarriage, two more children. I've continued my education and have taught at different colleges. Ten years feels like a century ago.

I had two small daughters on that 9/11. They were just 2 and 1 and I was teaching adults (mostly African Muslim) part-time in the evenings. We lived in an apartment attached to our cathedral. We didn't have television, and I was consumed with caring for my two little children. So I didn't know that anything had happened until I got a phone call from the old country at about 4 PM.

Brother-in-law: Where's 'John'?
Me: He's not here. He's in the city.
Brother-in-law: What?! Two planes fell from the sky there!
Me: Really? That's strange...

My brother-in-law proceeded to panic. In his broken English and my bad old-country-language, we understood each other. My husband flew out of NYC on September 10th, and he was in Cleveland ('the city') when my brother-in-law called. So, I turned on the radio (an unbreakable morning ritual now) and listened. I took the girls outside to play and I noticed that there were no planes in the sky. I went to class and there were no students there for the next few days. Some students never returned.

I only have four first cousins in the world and one of them was in the Pentagon when it was attacked. My brother served for a year or so as a lawyer/officer in Baghdad. You would think I would be very patriotic and gung-ho, but I am just left with a sense of emptiness and loss that there is such evil in this world.

so it might be pretty silly, but this gives me hope....

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What can I say?

Looking at my wedding photo from fourteen years ago, she said, "You have nothing left but your smile."

I was taken aback. She is a parishioner a bit younger than I, and her husband had come by our house Saturday morning to fix some electrical problems. They had brought the requisite chocolate bars for the children and other goodies that seem to be culturally required for any visit, even though they were coming to do us a favor. We kissed on both cheeks when they arrived. All was sweetness and light until she said those words. So I just shrugged in agreement.

I suppose it is true. Wiry white hairs occasionally spring up from my head. I am the only mom I know that can give birth to a baby and only lose the baby's weight after birth. I did this four times, so about twenty pounds per baby have taken up permanent residence. Unlike the parishioner who has one job, I am a bit frazzled with multiple responsibilities and I suppose that shows up on my face. I usually put on some mascara and lipstick in the car on the way to church or another event, so perhaps my albino lashes at home made me look especially grotesque. I don't know why some people don't have verbal filters; recently another parishioner saw my semi-permanently sunburned forehead and 'joked' about my husband hitting me in the face. Call me gobsmacked.

But what have I accomplished since my wedding? What do I "have left"? I have a happy marriage and four physically and emotionally healthy children who we are home-educating. I still have basic health, even though a few scary things have popped up over the years. I still have all my family relationships- and lots of nieces and nephews to love! I have consistently worked part-time at the college level, and I finished my Master's degree while I was in the throws of pre-eclampsia with our fourth child. We survived the fetal demise of our first son and other extended family sorrows. We have done well enough financially considering our kinds of jobs (humanities-type people don't make tons of money) and where we live (highest overall taxes in the nation), but saving money for a summer in the old country every other year trumps a gym membership and professional haircuts and colors. And slowly, slowly- I am accomplishing maturity so that I can just shrug my shoulders when someone says negative things to me. What can I do? I certainly cannot strike back at her and say mean things.   But I can pity her just a little bit for not thinking before she said what she did...who cares if my body is semi-destroyed? Look at babies 3 and 4 below and tell me a few extra pounds aren't worth it!

aren't they sweet- this is the first time he held her- after she spent 5 weeks in the NICU- she is 6 pounds here

We are in the throws of schooling responsibilities, so I won't write be writing much unless I find the time really, really early and post when I get around to grammar checking. But I was 'inspired' to write this little ditty as a way to process uncharitable words of others- and to try and get over it! But in positive news, I have started walking with my big girls in the early mornings again. Maybe I will get something of my temporal body back.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Not 'Juicy' Here

I wouldn't call myself a feminist. I made eggs for my husband this morning and packed his lunch. I'll take care of the kids all day. I have a large stash of fabric that I am looking forward to using- mostly for my tiered ruffled skirts for various girls in my life. I actually thought that the list of Rapunzel's daily activities in Tangled sounded lovely- if not for the kidnapping and slavery and abuse aspects of the film. My rite has no women around the altar, and I'm okay with that. I actually think it is a good idea that Jesus calls men only to His priesthood, being that all His apostles were men. But there is some Mary and Magdalena in me along with the Martha. I vote. I drive. I work part time while my husband takes care of his children. And right now, yes, I am even wearing pants.

I tried to buy my daughters some new clothes this past weekend. I started at Target because they have carts to keep the littles wrangled. My 11 and 12 year olds don't really fit in the girls' clothes, so we went to the Junior's section. Nope. Nada. I bought a few t-shirts, but there was really nothing for them. After seeing the quality of the polo shirts, I decided to spend a bit more on-line with Land's End and LL Bean. The mall was much worse. Why, oh why, do mothers purchase pants with 'Juicy' on the backside? Why would a focus group think that this shirt is something that girls should aspire to?

The shirt says "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me." Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Beiber album out? So this is when my feminist-self starts to get stronger. This t-shirt was developed because lots of people in the design pipeline knew that it would sell. Nothing is done in marketing without a lot of research, focus groups and talking with design teams up and down the corporate ladder.

In my little bubble, every one would be disgusted by this sentiment.  We want our girls to be intelligent and educated while being kind, feminine and as beautiful as God made them to be. I feel like my girls, in my attempt to be balanced, are between the 'quiverful' world of waist-long hair and ankle-length skirts and the 'normal' world of six year old girls with 'Juicy' on their behinds and Glee notebooks for school. What they'll put in their notebooks, I'm not sure. They're too pretty for homework.

Of course, women around the world (basically if they are not from North America or Western Europe) are literally under siege. I am grateful that my three daughters are living in a place where they were allowed to be born. But I still feel like t-shirts like the one pictured above is an example of hatred towards the female gender. Perhaps it is even self-hatred to form girls into thinking that their looks are all that matters. And according to the world of MTV (no music, just 'Jersy Shore' with girls that fall over drunk every episode and -I suppose- sleep with random men) and Huffington Post (not a lot of political commentary these days, just reality 'celebrity' gossip), a girl doesn't need to study. All she needs for worldly success is a sex tape (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, almost every pop stars' videos). Even the daughter of Laurence Fishburne (rent his version of Othello; it will break your heart) has turned to such immoral activities as porn to be a 'successful' actress. And this is what the suffragettes suffered for? So while a t-sirt is not as serious as the 200 million missing girls due to gendercide, it is a symptom of a world-wide hatred and disrespect for girls and women. As always, we must start with ourselves and respect ourselves. Then, we can work on gaining the respect of others.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

7 QuickTakes- Education Inspiration

If it is Labor Day weekend (in the US)- it must be school time! I don't know about you, but I need some quick inspiration...

1. "Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?" CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe

2. "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
"Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know." GK Chesterton
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." William Butler Yeats

3. "It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." Epictetus

4. "Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.' Abigail Adams

5. "Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each." Plato

6. "Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line, and no way of knowing how near the harbor was. “Light! Give me light!” was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour." Helen Keller


and as a bonus: "1. Confusion 2. Class Position 3. Indifference 4. Emotional Dependency 5. Intellectual Dependency 6. Provisional Self-Esteem 7. One Can't Hide. It is the great triumph of compulsory, government monopoly mass-schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best of my students' parents, only a small number can imagine a different way to do things" - John Taylor Gatto 
find more quick takes at

Daybook for September

Outside my window… a drying rack filled with clean laundry as the dryer decided to bite the dust recently. I guess my appliances have decided to 'go green.'

I am thinking… about our schedule for the coming school year- it is going to be really busy (as usual)!

I am thankful… for family and safe flights

In the kitchen… beef stew with lots of vegetables and corn muffins made by the big girls

I am wearing… a dark green shirt- one of my favorite colors. My high school plaid was mostly green, so I am only recently wearing green after the 'trauma' of a uniform. Now, I wish my kids had a uniform. One of the pitfalls of homeschooling- that and having kids that can't eat a sandwich (sort of kidding)

I am creating… meal plans- actual meal plans that can be printed out and posted on the 'fasting' and 'feasting' pages on this blog. If there is a magic bullet for saving money and time and sanity, I think this is it. Yes, I am forty years old, and it has taken me this long to plan meals.

I am going… to our homeschooling charter school library tomorrow to check out this school year's curriculum, Wish me luck! I only have an hour to make lots of decisions

I am wondering… how to help my oldest daughter love math and spelling.

I am reading… about 4 different books on my Kindle, but then I just back to my old paperback of The Hobbit.

I am hoping… that choir will give my girls the '2 for 1' discount- or they can't do choir this year. The checkbook is stretched really thin these days.

I am looking forward to… finding out which Shakespeare play my girls will be studying and performing this year

I am hearing… a phone ringing, a siren, a cat whining,a baby crying & the big girls practicing reading in the old language- it's not very peaceful around here sometimes! But I am playing Cat Stevens' Greatest Hits. I love his music, and it gives me a chance to pray for his reversion.

Around the house… (this is the song that never ends) the garage/learning room...and getting ready to go swimming with Dad

One of my favorite things… 4 year old boy having fun at his preschool. I don't know if I'm going to find the money for baby girl next year- but for the only boy, it is money well spent.

A few plans for the rest of the week… maybe we will go somewhere after a pool party after Sunday lunch after the Divine Liturgy- or an electrician-parishioner might come to fix a few outlets in the kitchen area so I can get rid of the extension cords all over the place. Then, I need to either buy space heaters for the bedrooms or find $5,000 to replace our abesto-laden air ducts (can I sue the inspector or former home owner- Shouldn't that have been disclosed?)- I'm silly (I hope), but every cough is cancer now that I know we have this problem with the house. Pray for us!