Monday, September 30, 2013

A Byzantine Catholic Alphabet Book- 31 days in October

I'll be spending October writing a simple alphabet book for Byzantine Catholic wee ones and linking up at The Nester.

Most Byzantine Catholic children have never seen a book written especially for them. I wanted to fill in the gap with this book which I hope will be the first-of-many.  My four children enjoy reading Roman-rite Catholic and Orthodox books, but the former does not acknowledge Byzantine spirituality and the latter does not acknowledge Catholic hierarchy. 
Click on the label "31 days 2013 ABC" for all of the daily pages. I hope to have them easily printed as pdf documents.

Less Lupus, More Life- 31 days in October

I'll be posting on 'Less Lupus, More Life' for the 31 days link-up at The Nester. Look for recipes and ideas for an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise tips (ha!), and journaling while I try and get my lupus under control in time for a doctor appointment in November! 
Click on the label "31 days 2013 Less Lupus" below this post for all of the posts as they are written

Friday, September 20, 2013

more summer memories- quick takes

Boy (dressed in bear and mouse costume) and Baby Girl on July 4th
canoes are lovely, especially when dad and uncle are paddling
church kids after Liturgy, lunch and play- finally time to rest!
even aunties used the bouncy castle!
gramps has plenty of varying weights to use for exercise
cousin love- may it be ever green
a very rare 'incognito' day
I know summer is long gone; I guess I am mourning its passing a bit. Now is the time for responsibility and schedules! Not to get overly dramatic (okay- I'll get dramatic), our schedule makes me think of Galadriel saying, "The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail to the ruin of all...." In the words of the pilot at the end of Star Wars- "Stay on target....stay on target...!" We are trying to stay on 'target.'
more quick takes at conversion diary- thanks for hosting, Jen!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

overworked & uncommitted married priest, bitter & busy wife, sullen & sinful children- Our Future?

Our eldest daughter is 14 and is now a freshman in high school. She feels discrimination against teenagers; this is her new, strongest pet peeve. Someone asked her, "Do you have a boyfriend?" She said no. The person, an acquaintance who we barely know,  replied in front of me, "Well, you wouldn't tell your parents anyway." When I was caught complimenting my daughter on how she was dealing with her new high school situation (mostly at home, two college classes, meetings and tests with her mentor teacher at the charter school), other colleagues of mine said, "She's only 14. Just you wait until she is 15!" Perhaps this is true, but it just all seems so negative to me. Shouldn't we plan and pray for the best?
There is also discrimination when it comes to the idea of married priests. When 'liberal' ideas come up like Eucharist in hand, girl altar servers, non-Ad Orientem Masses and non-Catholic ideas such as woman priests, you can be certain that someone will also list 'married priests' as one of these abominations.  As I say ad nauseam, I do not have any reason to encourage the Roman-rite to change their discipline on priestly celibacy. I would say that a married diaconate is quite enough change, thank you. But anecdotal evidence in com-boxes prove that married priests (Roman-rite, Byzantine-rite, Orthodox) are not committed to their priesthood or their family or both, the wives are bitter and their children are eventually sinful non-Christians. 
First of all, com-box commenters, please remember that these are actual people living their lives that you are writing about. Please remember that a married priest is striving to give his life to God through two vocations- the priesthood and marriage. No matter what you think of this, some prayers would be appreciated!
Second, please give the married priest you bump into the benefit of the doubt. I don't think that every celibate priest is either a pedophile or an active homosexual (some people do believe this because they cannot fathom a man being celibate and chaste). Please don't assume that the local married priest is neglecting his priesthood or destroying his family. Perhaps he is, but let's take this on a case by case basis, please. And yes, he might be rushing off to have dinner with his family. Celibate priests don't rush off to enjoy dinner? Of course they do! Both categories of priests are permitted to get hungry and have a bit of downtime, are they not? And the celibate priest's cook might be even more upset when her pot roast gets dry as a wife of a married priest who dressed the salad, thinking he would be home at 6 when he really came home at 6:30. Sorry Father! Enjoy your soggy salad!
Enough peevishness, this is getting tiresome. Praise God, it is working for us so far- no one is uncommitted, bitter or sullen, yet. How do we do it?  
1. Have the family work together as much as possible. Com-box-types will call this free labor that will make the wife and children bitter. I disagree. We are together as a family when we help father at church. We are together much more than a surgeon or a business man's family. One way to keep from feeling overworked and bitter- make sure that other parishioners are involved in the activity (music, clean-up, cooking, set-up, etc). Boy serves at the altar and the big girls and I have varying responsibilities with singing, reading, cooking. Baby girl is getting better at staying out of trouble (the photo above is girl #1 in the chancery office when she was a year old). Of course, sometimes we do things apart. A surgeon's wife doesn't hang about the operating room, does she?
2. Learn about and visit the important faith sites. This makes the faith come alive! There's a church near my husband's city that has an altar that is 1,000 years old-amazing. We loved visiting some after-split Orthodox monasteries in Eastern Romania. It was a different feeling than visiting my husband's grandfather's Orthodox church that was built as a Byzantine Catholic church before the war. In any case, seeing the Church in these ways makes the faith real. It also helps keep our faith down-to-earth. When we visit holy sisters who are normal people, it keeps our faith on a normal, positive footing.
3. Have fun! This is doubly important for those with a serious liturgical tradition. We expect ourselves and our children to be holy at all times (how we fail sometimes!). This does not mean that we must go about with solemn faces, planning the next church service. Wasn't it Don Bosco who would juggle for his boys? A bit of levity can go a long way. Along these same lines, I try to limit the exposure my children have to the extra sad part of a priest's life. My children do not go to every funeral. I don't discuss the hospital cases that their father deals with every day. I don't force the grief down their throats. Last week, we went to bless a grave site after the Divine Liturgy. All the children were there. I didn't mention to the kids that we were blessing Mary's mother's grave (over 85) and the grave of Mary's infant son who died before his first birthday 40 years ago. Of course, the older children read, so they knew. I cannot hide everything, but I try and keep it age-appropriate.
4. Always celebrate- Celebrate as a church family, then celebrate as a nuclear family. We can get a bit overloaded with cake, so I've learned to make fruit salads and such for family celebrations after days of sweets at church. Most importantly- cultivate a grateful heart and don't complain if your immediate family holiday celebration needs to be delayed (but don't not celebrate just together as a small family!)- sooner or later, even the children will prefer it this way. We actually celebrate holidays more, and it emphasizes the Catholic view of fasting/feasting seasons, not just a day.
5. Do something besides church stuff- Man fully alive is the glory of God- sometimes this means dancing or singing or baking or taking a walk. 
6. Cultivate a love and respect for the Church in yourself and your children. The children can see your humanity, but if clergy families are corrupt and decadent at home while putting on a good show at church, the children will most certainly be turned off to religion. No one is perfect. Mistakes are made. People, even clergy, sin. But there are limits. Faith is a gift, even the holiest of parents 'lose' children to the world, but parents need to be holy, joy-filled examples of God's love to their children. The future? Only God knows.
Forgive those com-box-types who accuse a priest's wife of 'perhaps having undue influence' on the parish priest. Forgive those who allude that a priest-husband would break the seal of the confessional and that his wife would allow that. Heaven forbid! Forgive those who assume that a married priest would cost a 5,000 family parish too much money while you , clergy wife on a strict budget, choose the best produce from the gleaners and the 25 cent water over the 50 cent water (I'm not complaining! Please! Anyways- it's the economy here and the hospital job, not the missions!) so there's room in the account for Boy's tae kwon do and Girl's braces. 
The theological virtues are faith, hope and love. I live in hope that my family will love their faith! The cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude- what a tall, impossible order...please readers, pray that our virtues grow!
My last piece of advice for myself, stop reading com-boxes (even though I love getting comments here...ah well, I am a bit of a hypocrite...)!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Giveway Winner!

Susan Kolosionek!
Thanks for all the entries...maybe next time I can have more than one winner. Please take a look at my brother-in-law's website, Veronikon. He is a father to many little ones and a very talented artist that prays while he creates! In hippy language, the art you buy will have 'good vibes!' With the cost of silver and other precious materials increasing, you might prefer to purchase one of his reliefs made out of plaster. I just love ours. It has a place of honor at our icon corner.
Susan, send an actual address to!

when God wants you living a simpler life, remember- "enough is as good as a feast"

We have lived in a townhouse for almost ten years. Time flies. This August, after all the fun summer activities, I decided to look into selling it and slightly upgrading to a fixer ranch. With the new real estate boom here, it was now or never.
We sold the townhouse in four days and found the only house in our price range that was not a foreclosure. All was well. We would have a nice 15% down payment without dipping into checking or savings.
I failed to remember that I am strongly INFP with no paper work talent besides paying the bills on time. My father says that it is only half my fault, but I 100% forgot that we have 3 'silent' loans in addition to the big mortgage. 'Silent' means that you never get a bill and it doesn't even show up on your credit report! You just pay it when you sell the house. It took the month of August for the lender and escrow officer to figure this out...because I failed to mention it...because I forgot.
So, we are a bit under water. To buy the fixer ranch we would have had to liquidate all checking and savings to zero to make a 5% down payment with mortgage payments $1000 more per month. Um, no thank you. Praise God that the deals were contingent on everything working out. And yes, in California, all we talk about is traffic and real estate.
I sobbed for two days, mostly for disappointing my children who won't get to run around like both their parents did. I had ponies, chickens, a goat named Friday. Their dad had country grandparents 3 miles apart to choose from, spending summers picking plums, fishing, smoking cornsilk. But now is not then. After the escrow fell apart, the calls came, realtors who wanted to sell our house since the deal went south. So, I had to explain the situation- everything was great- except I forgot about $30,000+ of debt! Aren't I stupid! Thankfully, the calls have finally stopped.
God has made it clear that he wants us to be satisfied where we are. We can never upgrade here because when our townhouse grows in so-called value, all of the other properties do, too. Someday in the far-off future, we will be that annoying ex-California couple who cashes in their 'California dream' and moves to Oregon or Ohio and buys a nice place outright. It won't happen here. And I am staying away from pretty blogs like soulemama and small things where the kids have room to roam and be creative. I know they only show the pretty- but how pretty it is! 
So- we ripped up the carpet last week. When we bought this townhouse 9 years ago (for more than what we were offered with the failed sale), it was a mess. There was literal fresh dog vomit we ripped up the 35 year old forest green carpet and put laminate downstairs and carpet upstairs. Carpet is cheaper than laminate. Who knew? But the new/old carpet is making me sick; I wake up with sneezes and puffy eyes. So it has got to go. We slowly replaced just about everything- appliances, windows, doors, floors, ceilings...It takes a long time to do-it-yourself without credit cards, but I would rather have laminate counter tops with cash than solid surfacing with a credit card I can't pay off. 
So, I have finished my pity party. I am grateful for what we have. I'm trying to make it prettier. I will have aquaponics even if it is just a kitchen counter system. I'm getting a little worm composter for my kitchen scraps. All will be well. "Enough is as good (or maybe better than) as a feast." Someday, my children will have room to run whenever the mood strikes.
In the meantime, I'll see you at park day. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

what I did on my summer vacation- quick takes

fun time at the zoo, saying goodbye to kindergarten friends...
It only took 14 years, but we got a night away without the children. No, we did not run away to Paris. Husband had a two day conference in the middle of the week in San Francisco. I got to tag along when a friend offered to babysit the children. What a treat! Husband worked; I got to slowly explore two museums....alone....(for an INFP- this is heaven). One museum was Legion of Honor with the largest Rodin collection outside of the Musee Rodin in Paris. It was lovely, wandering the exhibits like I did in France years ago as a single woman with no responsibilities besides myself. It was a long time coming, having a night away. It was also wonderful coming home to the children.
more alone time- dinner at a garlic restaurant, home of the world's longest garlic braid; visiting a new-to-us old mission of Padre Junipero Serra
fun with most of the cousins- pinata for the 'all-cousin-birthday' party, small town Independence Day parade, the oldest three girls performed their traditional July 4th ballet, choreographed by Daughter #1

Pretty Happy Funny Real

pretty- don't you agree?

happy- Boy graduated from public kindergarten and now he is home via charterschool/homeschool. He is happy to be in tae kwon do three times a week!

funny- Baby girl, 4, doesn't do much past cut her own hair, but she is really, really, really happy (really) to be starting her weekly tap class with her teacher, Pam. Girl's nightly special intention is "I love Teacher Pam." Teacher Pam is nice enough to allow Boy (he is over the age-limit for this class) to take the class as well; his first dance class!
real- This is what happens when you graduate from charterschool/homeschool 8th grade; you are reduced to wearing your kindergarten brother's paper hat. She already has one month of 'other school' under her belt (basically- it is a high school via mostly independent work and college classes as well)- Daughter #2 is having a low-key year as an 8th grader, waiting to start the same high school program. She has taken over doing the dishes so that her older sister can do the extra homework. What a girl!
and yes....I will pick a name for the cross giveaway today/tonight...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

An Anniversary Giveaway: Silver Byzantine Cross

The month of August was a bummer. Regular readers noticed a drop-off with this blog. I've had some disappointing personal stuff going on...I could try and write more eloquently about the situations, but I just don't have the heart. I am just glad that my immediate and extended family can find it within themselves to love me! And....we were going to move to a house from our townhouse...we were (still are, actually) packed to travel the two long miles to the old, wee house with a yard. It was not meant to be. As my oldest daughter says, "Well, we could be living on the streets!" True, that.
So, as a belated thank-you to all my blog readers, I'd like to celebrate three years with a giveaway. One commenter (please either comment with a user name with email or put an email address in your anonymous comment) to this post will be randomly chosen to receive this solid silver Byzantine cross made by my brother-in-law. If you win, I will contact you by email- please be prepared to email me your mailing address. 
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo- I just wanted to get this post done, and my camera is packed! My brother-in-law's website is Veronikon. Please explore all his beautiful artwork. The diptych on the homepage with images in relief of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Jesus' face from St Veronica is especially beautiful in real life. My children love to light the small candle in front of the diptych when we pray at our icon corner. Don't I have talented family?
Leave a comment- win a cross!

September's Daybook & a giveaway!

Outside my window... I see the same patio as nine years ago. I see the same tree, the same rose bush, the same chairs...I am grateful to be here, to be safe, to be able to pay the bills, to live in a place with a climate where we complain when it gets over 85 degrees. But I am disappointed and embarrassed. A month ago, we started the process to upgrade just a tiny bit. We sold the townhouse in four days and also had an offer accepted on an old, little house two miles away. It was old and little, but it was a house- room for a garden, a compost pile, a place for the kids to run just a wee bit. It wouldn't be the five-acres with goats and ponies like I had, but it would be something. Well, it all fell through and we won't be going anywhere. The big girls had packed half the house- 30 boxes of books! 
I am thinking...that there are good things about not not having to change my address on everything, enjoying all our upgraded appliances, replacing nine-year old carpet with laminate to ease my allergies, not having to worry that the outside kitty will get lost, paying bills without feeling panic (as long as husband keeps his hospital job!) all will be well...

I am thankful... for this new year! For Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox, the liturgical year starts today- 
"O Creator and Master of time and eternity, God of all, O merciful One, bless the course of this year, and in your boundless mercy, save all those who worship you, our one and only master, and who cry out to you in fear: O Savior, grant a happy year to all people." (Kontakion for the New Year)
In the kitchen... I'm trying to save money- does anyone have opinions about Costco?
I am wearing... blue!
I am creating... new meal plans!....I need to get beyond soup and salad
I am beg, beg, beg extended family to come for Thanksgiving and/or is only 900 miles!
I am wondering... why I am such a scaredy-cat when it comes to confrontation...the two negative situations of this summer have not been resolved for good or ill. I don't like to 'smile and wave' at people who I consider sisters in Christ! 
I am reading... The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
I am hoping... to start a small aquaponics set-up in our little back patio as well as a compost bin...I'm trying to make compost out of lemons!
I am looking forward baby girl starting tap class! She cannot wait any longer!
I am learning... about liturgical history....try this video on Vimeo by Sister Vassa
Around the house... Boy is practicing his tae kwon do moves; he has had two classes and hopes to receive his white belt soon.
A favorite quote for today...

One of my favorite things... is this solid silver, Byzantine-style cross that my brother-in-law created. Click and comment on my anniversary giveaway post (second September 1st post) if you would like a chance to win one! Please, put yourself only in the running if you are willing to email me a address and email me back when you receive the cross. It is always a bummer to do a little giveaway, send out something and not hear anything back!
A few plans for the rest of the week: school, work, paint, cook, work, more school....