Friday, September 28, 2007

Not What I expected

I've been feeling the nudgies lately, that I need to get off my rear and start taking some food down to the Catholic Action Center again, regularly. I used to do that and then I got lazy.

Today I woke up to a freezer door that had been open all night and a freshly stocked freezer full of thawed meat that was refridgerator cold, but no longer frozen. In other words, fine to cook and eat today...not so fine to re-freeze.

I guess that's my answer, eh?

I also need to get the oil changed and transmission fluid flush and fill on my mini-van.

And I need to schedule a trip to the dentist to take care of a tooth that is getting interesting, before it becomes a root canal situation.

Then, I guess I need to buy some more meat.

Glory to God for all things.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

About this LIfe

Well, I think I've hit my home schooling rhythm. It needs to involve an alarm clock so that I'm getting up earlier, but for now we have found a way to get all seven subjects covered in a decent amount of time. While I have not actually in real life read any Charlotte Mason materials, I find that I'm gravitating towards that style, in the sense that I have some sit down time with all four kids each morning, where we say morning prayers, read the Lectionary, then I do some Catechism work with them, then some Ancient History. After that it's English, Math, History paper work, and Rosetta Stone (everyone is learning German and my oldest is also doing Spanish), which they have to have done by 2 pm. At that point I give them a Botany lesson, and our day is over.

I'm having trouble fitting in enough time to wade through all my e-mail lists, so this morning I culled a bunch of those. Sigh. Seems like each one was somehow relevant to my life. But I must pick and choose.

We started a new diet for my daughter with Autism and I'm in the process of finding a doctor who follows a bio-medical approach to fight this illness. The new diet, however, is really helping. Getting more eye-contact and social interaction. While GFCF is good, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is better! Check out the book _Breaking the Vicious Cycle_ to learn more.

One of the things the SCD calls for is 24 hour yogurt to help re-populate the gut with friendly bacteria. Well, since she's got Autism, we're doing the goat milk yogurt, which is lower and casein and friendlier to digest. I made up a huge batch in my yogurt maker and now we are learning to love the goaty essence of this new food. I think I'm going to try and turn some of it into a soft, spreadable cheese. The probiotic benefits will be preserved.

Well, we are having fun, and everyone is learning. That's one thing I like about this life, is the opportunity to constantly learn new things. And, we started reading _The Hobbit_ together! All of us are enjoying that.

When, oh when is the weather going to cool down? The ten day forecast has a dip into the seventies for a few days at the end of this week, but the first week of October is going to be back up into the eighties. While I was out walking and sweating yesterday I was thinking about the soon-to-come season change, and how knowing it's coming gives me patience with the hot-for-now weather.

The trees are fallish, and acorn detritus, busy squirrels, dark mornings and earlier evenings, orange tinted trees and grass that is really not growing any more are all signs that fall is here. But the air temps are HOT. We still have everything opened up all day, with fans going. And it's still sandals and t-shirts, that's for sure.

That's the thing about this life: The tension between te Now and the Not Yet...awaiting the parousia. And so we carry on.

Maranatha.

Friday, September 21, 2007

drudgereport.com

Sometimes I feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket....whatever that means.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Book Samaritan

I just found out about this very cool ministry for Homeschool families who are strapped for cash to purchase curriculum materials with.

I know that it's hard for many of us, single income families, piles of kids, you know the drill.

One thing that I've sort of had in mind is saving my old books as we outgrow them, and passing them along at some point to someone who needs them. I'll know the time and place when it is right.

Meanwhile, here it is, being done on a much grander scale: The Book Samaritan

I hope that by spreading the word on my blog, someone who needs this ministry in the future will benefit. Or that someone who can donate to this good place may feel led to do so.

I, for one, am glad to know that it exists.

Healed!

I was getting ready to take a shower this morning, and something wet dripped on me from inside my closet. Lovely! Turns out the air conditioner upstairs in my girls' room is doing the condensation/water/dripping thing. We switched it to "fan" and hope for cool weather soon, so we can figure out how to cool the upstairs without destroying the drywall, floor and ceiling.

I HATE our house sometimes.

So, today the furnace guy was supposed to come to diagnose and fix our non-functioning furnace. We had to borrow a space heater for a couple of weeks at the end of last winter because the heater conked out and we didn't want to fix it then.

Well, furnace diagnosis: Nothing's wrong with it, started up just fine, everything looks greate, clean, new and wonderful.

And since we have a service contract with the heating people, there was no charge for the call.

How'd ya like dem apples?

This is the second major appliance that has been miraculously "healed" this summer. So that takes the sting of needing also to replace the kids computer which is irreparably fried, and it's an integral part of home school, it seems.

Well, glory to God for all things, I guess.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy

My floors are mopped.

It's a sunny, non-hot day.

A nice young man from our parish came and cut our very ugly lawn very nice and short for a very good price.

All the kids did excellent work in their school work today.

My laundry is clean.

I had some good conversations at Church yesterday that are still running through my head.

A good, productive, home-y day.

Glory to God for all things!...even the good days.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Stop Mountaintop Removal

And another one.

I Love Mountains

I grew up in Switzerland, after all. The Jura mountains, where we used to vacation were just an hour from our home in Basel.

And since coming to the USA, it's been Tennessee and Kentucky. Beautiful Applalachian mountains.

And this makes me want to weep.

Learn about this. This is a great video.

How can this be made illegal, when the powerless are oh, so powerless and the strong are oh, so powerful?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

OCTPOB (The Island)

It's Russian. Pronounced "Ostrov". The title of the BEST foreign film I have seen in a long long time. Ever, actually.

I highly recommend this movie.

It starts out with the monk, in a desolated place, at the monastery of Ostrov, praying the Jesus Prayer. He falls down, and presumably dies.

Then a flash back, to 1942, during the Great Patriotic War (known to us as WWII). A young teenaged sailor in the navy who's job it is to stoke the coal furnaces of the ship is very frightened when Nazis come on board and commandeer the vessel. He looses his cool, pleads for his life, and is compelled by the Nazis to shoot his captain, who then falls overboard, in exchange for his life.

The cruel Nazis have plans to blow the ship up, and leave the young sailor to his fate. Instead of dying, though, he washes up on the shore at Ostrov, and the monks care for him.

Fast forward to 1976. Father Anatoly is a holy fool and a prankster. He is the one who was rescued by the monks all those years ago. He humbly stokes the furnace, just as he did on the boat. But his crazy antics also annoy some of the other monks.

This movie is a story about the human soul. It tells of forgiveness, repentance, human hearts and sin, and the confrontation of each of these with the Holy.

This movie is peppered heavily with Orthodox prayers and I would say offers a glimpse into Orthodox monastic spirituality, just as the movie "Into Great Silence" offers a glimpse into one style of Roman Catholic monasticism.

Like that movie, this one is breathtaking in it's scenery and cinematography. The landscape is stark, rendering the movie almost black and white, although it is in color.

Unlike "Into Great Silence" this movie is a bit earthy, just as Eastern Orthodox Christianity is. At the same time, it is important to note that this glimpse into Orthodox monasticism is more "universal" in the sense that Orthodoxy does not allow for different religious "orders". The monastic rule in Orthodoxy is simply the monastic rule and does not differ from place to place, so this film offers a broader peek than into one community.

One of my favorite lines, besides the beautiful and familiar prayers and psalms was when Fr. Anatoly said to one of the monks: "We are all sinners! Just go and try not to sin too much."

This film is definitely on my "to own" wish list.

Monday, September 10, 2007

House Elves

I'm convinced I have house elves living with me. Unfortunately, they aren't the good kind who smooth out the domestic situation. No, these are evil house elves.

The evil house elves leave bags full of stuff that should be put away on the floor instead, forgetting all about them.

The evil house elves don't bend over and pick stuff like cardigan sweaters or used socks off the floor for days on end.

The evil house elves tend to leave stacks of books on the coffee table and papers piled high on the brown table in the living room.

The evil house elves don't believe in de-cluttering at all, judging by the state of things.

Evil house elves like to read.

Evil house elves like to draw lots of pictures of manga princesses and pokemon characters and leave said artwork on the couch.

Evil house elves would rather cook than clean.

Evil house elves don't like to clear the breakfast dishes off the table.

Evil house elves would rather be on the computer.

Evil house elves can only be persuaded to clean the bathroom when it's very hairy and gross.

Evil house elves don't dust.

Evil house elves like to read. I mentioned that. But these evil house elves REALLY like to read.

Evil Yard Gnomes have neglected the yard. The grass needs to be cut.

Evil house elves leave dirty laundry on the floors of their rooms.

Evil house elves are behind on folding laundry.

I think this house is rather infested. I'd say about six very evil house elves live here.

And to make matters worse, these are ORTHODOX evil house elves, who have been very busy at Church all weekend and thus their evil house elvishness is exacerbated.

Whatever shall I do?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

My Favorite Time of Day

Morning really is my favorite time of day. That is, the mornings when I'm just "bing!" awake at 5:20 am and I get up, put on the decaf to brew, light a few candles and do some morning prayin' while the brown stuff gets ready to drink.

Then it's time to do some quiet reading and sipping. Usually I have more than an hour like this to myself before the rest of my family starts to stir. I love, love, love such early morning times.

Part of the challenge I'm facing these days is carving out that time I need to recharge my batteries. And figuring out just WHAT recharges my batteries. Schooling the kids is much more intense this year than it was last year, as it should be (more kids, and we are doing more stuff). This feeling that my time is no longer my own, but that it's much more fully being give to a JOB (too bad I don't get paid) is taking some getting used to.

Well, glory to God for all things! (That's my new phrase that I'm trying to incorporate into my vocabulary whenever I want to complain about my life).

So, what recharges my batteries?

Well, prayer time ALONE. I'm doing morning prayers with the kids in order to teach them the habit, but I realized pretty quickly that that just isn't quite the same.

Time with other adults. God is good. I've started going to a Wednesday night women's bible study that a friend invited me to. Most/all of the women live in this part of town and I'm so happy to be getting to know some more people in my area.

I've also had some good opportunities to see and spend time with old friends this week, too.

Time to read. This is good because once my school work with the kids is done, I often need to lay down and rest for a bit. I love to read. I have about three things I ought to be reading right now and it's so hard to get through it all. The early mornings help.

Blogging. Yep, writing and reading other's blogs recharges my batteries, helps me feel more connected.

Getting out of the house alone. Even just going to the coffee shop with notebooks to grade. That's a good one. I always have the need to do that. I'm only caught up on ONE of my kid's school work grading. Must tackle more of that, soon. I also like to go thrift store shopping, but don't want to buy things I don't need just for gratuitous fun. I like the tactile experience of riffling through the racks of clothing and the thrill of the hunt to find something good amongst all the yucky stuff. (It would be nice if I could find a perfect fitting scoop neck long sleeved black t-shirt at the thrift store. He he he.)

Studying Scripture. Lately I've been taking it in large chunks, but also trying to adhere to the discipline of daily gospel and epistle readings. A book called "Through the Year with the Church Fathers" which has daily readings and some quotations to read by various ECF's is my new bed time companion.

Walking. I'm not doing as much as I used to, because too much gets my back to hurting, and I have to save some energy to clean house and cook, but I am trying to walk regularly. I like the fresh air and being out of doors and the quiet.

Sewing or other crafty thing. Have not done much of this lately but when I do, it is usually a good thing.

So, here's to finding the right balance so that I don't go totally crazy in my life. I have to have that quiet space to think about God. I have to have times when no one is talking to me. That's just vital. But I'm also so grateful that I have times around people, too.

How do YOU recharge your batteries and take care of yourself?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fed from God's Hand

I was feeling sorry for myself the other day. It's a sin I often struggle against, and often fail to struggle against. Specifically, I was feeling a bit down about how tough it is with four kids, single income family, lots of growing bodies, an old house...you know the drill, can do the math and figure out what I mean.

Sometimes, despite living in the richest country in the world (or at least what is close to the richest country in the world), I feel poor. Despite having everything I need, I feel poor.

Where does this feeling come from? Not from God, that's for sure. I feel poor because I don't have a Kitchenaid, only have one computer, and can't afford tai kwan do lessons for my kids, and because there are things that need to be repaired in my house? I feel poor because I don't have the ability to walk in to Talbots or Old Navy or the Gap and buy cute clothes for myself and my kids and pay cash for it. What's up with these standards, anyways?

It's the standards that are bent, not my life. But I sometimes still feel poor.

But it's been amazing. No one here is naked. Seriously. None of us.

So, what is UP? Why these feelings?

It boils down to envy. I decided to do a bit of a search to see if any of the early Fathers of the Church wrote about riches and poverty, and specifically what the poor can do to enhance their virtue, and google led me to the Orthodox Peace Fellowship site (I am such the OPF type of gal, and if I had the membership fee, I'd join in a heartbeat!), where there is the first half of a very excellent article soon to be published in full in the Marquette Journal by a man named John D. Jones, who works at Marquette University. Here's the link.

The main thing I pulled out, as far as my own personal responsibilities go, is that everyone can give alms. Even to poorest of poor have the ability to pray for another, offer a kind word, a smile to a fellow human being. This is alms giving, too. But I am not such a one. I have more resources than that. I can do even more, even in the midst of my so-called "felt poverty" that is mostly due to a horridly inflated sense of what is or ought to be "normal" and a pile of previously incurred obligations.

In short, a vice for the poor to battle is that of envy. The article spoke of that, quoting St. John Chrysostom (of course!) at length on the subject. (St. John spoke at length about so many things, didn't he?) The rich have a narrow path indeed! Think of the parable of the poor man and Lazarus! St. John speaks of this, but also speaks of the path of the poor: practicing gratitude and not allowing envy, self-pity or any such vice to creep into one's heart.

Because poverty, no matter how strident, cannot take away a poor person's virtue unless it is abandoned voluntarily.

But standing in the middle, caught between a degree of imagined or felt poverty on the one hand and extraordinary riches and responsibilities on the other hand (a unique place to be, perhaps, in the history of humanity), it behooves me to face up to both sides of the sermon: And I feel both the calling of the rich to remember the poor, and the calling of the poor to abandon envy.

And as I was picking up my shoes off my floor the other day, thinking about all of this, I realized that the very shoes I was picking up were expensive shoes. The sort of shoes that I need for my bad back. Several pairs of birkenstock sandals, and a pair of warm Morrel slides that I wear in the winter. Each of these pairs of shoes came to me...from God's hand. I did not go out and buy them. I prayed about needing appropriate shoes, and God met my need. Providence.

And then it occurs to me, in a small moment of clarity that the only real poverty is a failure to be fed from God's hand.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thinking about commericalizing this blog

How sad is that? Ads. A wee nosh of Money for me. Pocket change. Something to give the bums. Or with which to buy my kids shoes. Or lettuce.

What do you all think? Would it ruin this blog to have a strip of ads along the side?

Or should I start something snazzy and less contemplative where I rant and rave about all the injustices in the world, so that I can get highter number of hits and get paid more?

Opinions? Votes?

I don't even know how many people read this blog. It would be interesting to get a hit counter and find out.

Let me know what you all think.