Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

....stolen from Catholic Memes....

12 Reasons Why I QUIT Attending SPORTS Events
1. The coach never came to visit me.
2. Every time I went, they asked me for money.
3. The people sitting in my row didn't seem very friendly.
4. The seats were very hard.
5. The referees made a decision I didn't agree with.
6. I was sitting with hypocrites—they only came to see what others were wearing!
7. Some games went into overtime and I was late getting home.
8. The band played some songs I had never heard before.
9. The games are scheduled on my only day to sleep in and run errands.
10. My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
11. Since I read a book on sports, I feel that I know more than the coaches, anyway.
12. I don’t want to take my children because I want them to choose for themselves what sport they like best.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where can I get cheap Christmas lights? Where can I buy Christmas lights not made in China?

It is like clockwork. These search terms come up in my stats around October from people wanting to buy either cheap lights or expensive lights not made in China. Here are links to what I have written in the past. I might revisit the issue soon if I find new information.
St Nicholas and some native Aztec dancers...Toto, we are not in the Byzantine old country

Hello, my name is Church

Hello my name is Church,
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about me. I have no shortage of critics. Perhaps you have heard that I am…
A waste of time
You’ve heard that I am full of
Greedy people
The self- righteous
Maybe you have visited me before and discovered
Horrible music
Passionless singing
Dry preaching
Rude congregants

Less Lupus, More Life- What's for snacktime?

I can't take a picture of it because it looks so gross. My latest smoothie recipe is not earth-shattering. You can probably find ten versions of it on 

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 cup frozen blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup almond or rice milk (a bit more might be needed)

Blend well and drink in an opaque glass. The color will not be pretty! Added honey or maple syrup is not needed in this one because of the pineapple. Maybe my taste buds are off, but the spinach doesn't ruin the taste; it just seems a bit 'earthy.' Be certain to check your teeth for any tiny bits of greenery!
I had high hopes for the month of October and this blog, but my top priority is my children- right now I am specifically re-learning all my algebra so I can help my oldest do well in class...

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Byzantine Catholic Inferiority Complex

If you are Roman-rite Catholic, you know the drill. It is time for Little John's First Communion. Did he sign up for catechism classes on time? I hope you didn't miss the first meeting! Yes, that's right. That will be two years of weekly classes in the evenings if you are public schooled or homeschooled. And everyone does what the pastor and DRE deemed necessary to receive the sacrament.

Your lovely family of seven wants to become Roman-rite Catholic? How wonderful! It is too bad that you didn't notify the parish office in time for the first RCIA class. Yes, you will have to delay entering the Church another year. Sorry, if we change the rules for you, everyone will want to skip out on a few classes. That wouldn't do at all. So everyone does what the pastor deemed necessary to receive the sacraments.

If you are Orthodox Christian, you know the drill, you can't just waltz into any Orthodox church and receive the Holy Gifts of Jesus' Body and Blood.  How would the priest know if you had just been to confession? How would the priest know if you had conformed to his eparchy's guidelines for fasting? How would he even know if you are a baptized and confirmed Orthodox Christian? So, the Eucharist will be denied to those who did not make arrangements with father. So everyone agrees and does what the pastor deems necessary to receive the sacrament.

Demanding the 'right way to do things' and impressive within their respective traditions, Roman-rite Catholics and Orthodox Christians are this way and can be this way because they are confident in their place in the world. The world isn't perfect. Actually, the world hates Christians of any sort, but Orthodoxy is a state-supported religion to some true super-powers and Roman-rite Catholics are secure in their magnitude and also the culture ties to many, many people. There is still power and numbers behind both Roman-rite Catholics and Orthodox Christians.
(really- less than 1%- as I have been reminded)
While Roman-rite Catholics and Orthodox Christians are the lion and the eagle (I'm not sure which should be which), The Byzantine rite (and other Eastern Catholic rites- but I don't have real-life experience with them, regrettably) is the mouse. The mouse hides quietly, trying to survive even though there is really no reason why it should. If the mouse is quiet, maybe the enormous animals will leave it be. The mouse is nothing- just a mouthful. Maybe the mouse will be permitted to live another day. We Byzantine Catholics wait with bated breath; will this Pope permit our tradition of married men being ordained priests? Will my local Catholic school force my child to take First Communion classes even though he has been receiving since he was 40 days old? Some Byzantine Catholics are eager to throw off the term catholic so that the Orthodox will welcome us. Once there is unity we won't exist! We are truly "Orthodox in union with Rome!" I suppose so, but did St John Chrysostom use the label 'orthodox?' 

The Byzantine, with his inferiority complex, sees himself as nothing- as something that Rome can crush and that unity with Orthodoxy will make redundant. The Byzantine welcomes visitors and converts, knowing in his heart that they will most likely leave for the convenient pastures of the Roman-rite or the strict-never sit-vegan-Pope-free waters of the Orthodox. Or perhaps this is all too serious, debating pews or no pews, skirts or pants, veiled or non-veiled, married or celibate- and the visitor decides to save himself the aggravation and just listen to AirOne with his Sunday morning coffee and internet news. The Byzantine doesn't think much of himself or his religion, so even he will be tempted to leave once the priest breathes in the wrong place while singing the Gospel or the priest isn't totally flexible with sacramental prep's time and place (what else is he doing with such a small community?) or the cantor's singing isn't as exquisite as the Orthodox parish or a special new Bible study opens up at the local mega church "The Branch" or his children demand to attend the Roman-rite parish like normal kids. 

This is anecdotal, but 100% truth. This is the kind of post that upsets my lovely Roman-rite friends who say, "your husband is an amazing priest and we hear that the Byzantine rite is lovely!" But they have never visited...I suppose with my bordering-on-despair-attitude, they don't have a reason to visit. 
The joy of the Lord is my strength- not my joy.

Less Lupus, More Life- Day 7 of "31 Days" series What's for breakfast?

Funny, when I decided to write on lupus for this October series, I hadn't had a flare-up in 18 months. I mean, there is the constant fatigue and joint pain, but nothing acute. But I started writing and then I got my classic red mottling on the face. This is why I finally got bangs. Don't you, fellow lupus-dealers, get sick of people asking what is wrong with your face? Ah let's talk about food.

I'm not going to photograph my bowl of oatmeal. You know what it looks like. I don't eat it every day, but I should. I feel good and also full after a bowl of oatmeal; most of the ingredients here would be considered 'anti-inflammatory.' I enjoy it with some kind of protein, something naturally sweet and something extra nutritious like chia or flax seed.

oatmeal (soaked overnight)
almond milk or rice milk
lots of sliced raw almonds or raw pumpkin seeds
a sprinkle of chia seeds or flax seeds
chopped apple or a chopped date/coconut bar (found in all health stores)
cinnamon and vanilla

You should not need any honey or maple syrup with the sweetness of the fruit and cinnamon, but a little bit is fine. I used some Trader Joe's 'pumpkin pie spice' on my oatmeal this morning- it was delicious! Anyway- this is my earth-shattering breakfast's quick and easy...

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Byzantine Child's Alphabet- "A"- 31 days series

I am slowly plodding along on this little project. Please consider this a very rough draft. The amazing artist drawing an illustration per letter is juggling 8 children while she is sketching and taking pictures with her cell phone of her work and then emailing me the results. I can't wait to make a 'real' version with her drawings scanned. It will be clearer and with more contrast. But I think you can get the idea...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Less Lupus, More Life- Day 3 of "31 Days" series to medicate or not to medicate?

Birth control pills lower libido and can increase the chance of stroke and heart attack. But many women feel that they are so necessary to their health that they insist that their university pays for it.   Anti-depression medication can increase thoughts of suicide. But many people, young and old, feel so desperate that they turn a blind eye to the side effects.

I'm not totally against pharmaceuticals. I used progesterone and heparin during my last two pregnancies. I just hate the idea of living 'under the influence' for the rest of my life.

Twelve years ago, I had my first lupus flare. It was the worst flare I have experienced in my life. I didn't know what was happening to me. My joints hurt so badly that I literally had to crawl up the stairs to my classroom to teach my college class. I went to our family doctor, and she prescribed me a month of prednisone. It worked. I was able to walk. Unfortunately, one of the rarer side effects is acid reflux. After only a month of using the drug, I had developed vocal nodules which later caused one of my vocal chords to be permanently paralyzed; I no longer can sing or speak as I once did.

I understand the need to relieve symptoms. When I was in so much pain twelve years ago, I knew that I couldn't live that way for long. I consider my semi-remission to be a miracle, and the loss of my singing voice is a small price to pay for my life these past twelve years and two more healthy children. I was so blessed that I don't need to go back on steroids. perhaps in the future I will. For now, I am attempting to maintain my tenuous health through natural means.  

Three years ago, my doctor had me take anti-malarials for about six months. He insisted that it would help with my chronic fatigue. I didn't feel any difference, not even any of the relatively minor possible side effects. It seems that my body doesn't really respond well to low doses of medication, so I prefer not to take any. When I got a tooth pulled out, it took 4 doses of whatever the dentist was using to numb the area. She was surprised. My first c-section was my first and only epidural; it took the anesthesiologist three doses or attempts to numb me to go ahead with the c-section. Maybe it is the slight redness in my hair....I'm not against trying the drug again. I will do anything to avoid taking prednisone again. Even though I needed the drug when I had the first severe flare, I regret using it. I think it changed my entire body chemistry for the worse.
from Mayo Clinic website: Side effects of oral corticosteroids
Because oral corticosteroids affect your entire body instead of just a particular area, this form is the most likely to cause significant side effects. Side effects depend on the dose of medication you receive and may include:
  • Elevated pressure in the eyes (glaucoma)
  • Fluid retention, causing swelling in your lower legs
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain, with fat deposits in your abdomen, face and the back of your neck
When taking oral corticosteroids longer term, you may experience:
  • Clouding of the lens in one or both eyes (cataracts)
  • High blood sugar, which can trigger or worsen diabetes
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Thinning bones (osteoporosis) and fractures
  • Suppressed adrenal gland hormone production
  • Thin skin, easy bruising and slower wound healing

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Less Lupus, More Life- Day 2 of "31 Days"

"Wonder what causes lupus? Lupus, an autoimmune disease, happens when the immune system attacks its tissues, causing inflammation, swelling, pain, and damage. Lupus symptoms vary, and early lupus symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, fever, and a lupus rash, especially after being in the sun." (webmd)
  • Get adequate rest. People with lupus often experience persistent fatigue that's different from normal tiredness and that isn't necessarily relieved by rest. For that reason, it can be hard to judge when you need to slow down. Get plenty of sleep a night and naps or breaks during the day as needed.
  • Be sun smart. Because ultraviolet light can trigger a flare, wear protective clothing, such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants, and use sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 55 every time you go outside.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise can help you recover from a flare, reduce your risk of heart attack, help fight depression and promote general well-being.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and can worsen the effects of lupus on your heart and blood vessels.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Sometimes you may have dietary restrictions, especially if you have high blood pressure, kidney damage or gastrointestinal problems.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Byzantine Child's ABC- Day 1 of 31 Days (cover)

wow...I thought that giving myself a month to write this little picture book was generous, but I've been fiddling with the cover for hours, using picasa, picmonkey, google docs, etc....bear with me! It might be interesting, seeing a little book growing day by day. I hope that by the end of the month I will have it finished and I will figure out a way for you to print the finished product from the web officially, not just as a screen capture. 

I can't figure out how to have the pdf actually show up here in the post, but if you are curious, you can click and see the cover below...
a possible text for the facing page.... 
Dear Parents-

This is the first edition of a Byzantine alphabet book that you can print and perhaps laminate for your children's use. 

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. 

May this little book be a bridge! May Christ be glorified!

Priest's wife

An October Daybook

Outside my window...baskets of laundry, clean and dirty (our laundry is outside) and a single blooming yellow rose

I am thinking... that all this algebra has to be useful for something- right? My big girls are studying things that I don't remember forgetting...

I am thankful...for my mildy awful body, riddled with (mild) lupus, chronic fatigue, the battle scars of having four children...the human body is still amazing even when we don't look like super models!

In the kitchen...avocado, tomato, lettuce, chicken, blue cheese on toast...even though I am trying to eliminate dairy...not so easy...

I am!

I am creating... a healthier pumpkin spice drink...recipe in a few days

I am force some family to come for the holidays- it is only 900 miles for some of them!

I am wondering...why some people are so bitter and unforgiving. It is not my story to tell- but can you pray for the soul of A and for the consolation of J? They were in the cross-hairs of a lot of evil.

I am reading...Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find"- my stomach is still queasy!

I am hoping...that I can figure out how to get pdf files into my blog posts...Blogger doesn't like that

I am looking forward to...seeing the illustrations for my Byzantine alphabet e-book

I am learning...“Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it."- Flannery O'Connor

Around the house...big girls are working on Alegebra, Boy is drawing a picture and we are being entertained by Baby Girl's playtime- turning crayons into family characters. I guess boys typically turn everything into guns (not really my boy, he'll turn a crayon into a car) and girls turn everything into dolls.

I am pondering...
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” - Miss Flannery, of course...

A favorite quote for today..."Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there." Ray Bradbury, October is his month

Some of my favorite things...children in dance shoes, a baby girl living in her leotard with tutu skirt, kids painting there paper mache ornaments, Christian radio

A few plans for the rest of the week: life, as usual, and trying to continue my two '31 days' series- less Lupus, More Life and A Byzantine Child's ABC 

A peek into my day...well...a peek into what I wish this day was like! We are not at the beach...we are knee-deep in renovations and unpacking and homeschooling...

Less Lupus, More Life - Day 1 of 31 Days

I am one of the lucky ones. I was diagnosed with lupus, an auto-immune disease, over ten years ago and it really has not manifested itself in a deadly way. Lupus has had a profound effect of my life, however. We lost a baby at 20 weeks because of my body's auto-immune attack on the placenta. The last two pregnancies were coaxed along with blood thinners and hormones. I have more than fifty pounds to lose; my sluggish thyroid, chronic fatigue and joint pain make it nearly impossible. basically, my body is a mess, but I know that many people suffering from lupus have it much, much harder.

I've decided to tackle my lupus head-on. It is just not right that I am not taking this seriously. At the end of October, I will see my doctor who will probably give me a prescription for hydroxychloroquine (absolutely no steriods for me; that would be 'last resort') and, hopefully, also a natropath medical doctor to continue my journey to a healthier self. In the meantime, I will journal here on those healthier choices I will make to combat my lupus.
1. gentle, moderate exercise
2. hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
3. eat anti-inflammitary foods
4. combate any emotional stressors
5. take vitamin supplements
6. early to bed, early to rise
7. take a short nap once a day
If you are living with lupus or an auto-immune expert, I would love to hear your experience and advice in the comment box.