Thursday, July 31, 2008

Abundance


I've been amazed at how easy it has been to let some veggies grow in our garden this year. This is our first year to plant vegetables and it's been a great experience. I don't think we could ask for better weather. Rain has come often enough that we've barely bestirred ourselves to water.

For weeks we have been harvesting a bumper crop of green leaf lettuce. Each time we picked, we'd get the biggest leaves from the outside layer, and it seems like within three days the next layer of leaves would be big and new ones were coming is as fast as could be.

Finally those plants have bolted and the leaves are bitter. But they are not too bitter to eat, especially with honey-mustard dressing, or sauteed in some garlic.

So today A and I harvested all the rest of the plants, stripped the leaves off the stalks (because each was at least 18 inches tall) and harvested three packed gallons of leafy greens. That's three weeks or a month's worth for our family. I'm not the only one who eats them, but I do eat more than anyone else, I think. We eat other fruits and veggies, of course, too.

Earlier in the season we had a very lovely run of spinach and a couple of heads of red leaf lettuce that we harvested in similar manner.

The squash plants are rotting on the vines, but the tomatoes are lovely. We've already harvested one little cluster of precocious grape tomatoes, and the two grape tomato plants are hard at work producing and ripening LOTS more. As are the larger tomato plants. I'll post pictures when those are ready to harvest.

It's fun to go out and check our humble little garden. And there's something about growing it yourself that makes you really excited to eat it. Even if it is "just" bitter greens!

Glory to God, who makes things grow!

The Dormitian Fast


Here is an article from http://www.antiochian.org/node/18058 Which explains the fast that Orthodox Christians are undertaking starting tomorrow. Please pray for us, as sometimes "minor" fasts can be more difficult that the longer ones, such as Great Lent.

I personally hope to keep a private spiritual journal during this time, as part of my fast. Thank you to the friend (you know who you are!) who gave me this idea.

Well, here's the article:

July 30, 2008 + The Fast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos

By Fr. Gabriel Barrow

From The Word, June 1977

first fourteen days of August during each year, the Holy Orthodox Church enters into a strict fast period in honor of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. The eminent Orthodox theologian, Father Sergei Bulgakov, beautifully expresses the high regard which the Orthodox Christians have for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, for her special role in the salvation of mankind, when he affirms, “The warm veneration of the Theotokos is the soul of Orthodox Piety.” St. John of Damascus, one of the great Orthodox fathers, pointed out that when the Blessed Virgin Mary became the Mother of God and gave birth to Christ, the Redeemer of Mankind, she became the mother of mankind. We call the Virgin Mary “Theotokos”, from the Greek, which means “The Birth-Giver or the Bearer of God.” This is the highest title that can be bestowed upon any member of the human race.

The Theotokos, the Virgin Mary, was “blessed amongst women,” and she was chosen “to bear the Savior of our souls.” We, therefore, as Orthodox Christians, consider her to be the Queen of all the saints and the angels.

Knowing that she holds such a high place in the Kingdom of Heaven and that she is eternally present at the throne of God interceding for mankind, we, as good Orthodox Christians, must pray for her love, guidance, and protection. We must never forget to ask for her intercessions in times of sickness and danger, and we must constantly thank her for her care and her prayers in our behalf.

Every year the Orthodox Church sets aside the first fourteen days of August in honor of the Virgin Mary. This fast period is climaxed on August 15th, when the Church gathers to celebrate the Great Feast of the Dormition (Falling-Asleep) of the Theotokos. During this fourteen day fast period, the Orthodox Church prescribes that the Paraclesis Service be held in honor of the Mother of God.

The word “paraclesis” has two different meanings: the first is “consolation,” from which the Holy Spirit is called the “Paraclete,” or “Consoler”; the second is “supplication” or “petition”. The Service of the Paraclesis to the Theotokos consists of hymns of supplication to obtain consolation and courage. It should be recited in times of temptation, discouragement or sickness. It is used more particularly during the two weeks before the Dormition, or Assumption, of the Theotokos, from August 1 to August 14. The theme of these Paraclesis Services centers around the petition. . “Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

If you have a problem or if something is burdening your soul, if you feel spiritually uneasy and if you are not at peace with yourself and with those around you, then, you should come to the Church during the first fifteen days of August and ask for the intercessions of the Mother of God. Even if you are fortunate enough to be one of those very few who are at peace with themselves and with God, then those blessed ones should come to these services and thank God and His Blessed Mother for the blessings that they have bestowed upon you and your family.

Since these Paraclesis Services to the Theotokos are primarily petition for the welfare of the living, let the whole Church pray for you during the first fifteen days of August and especially on the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 15th. Don’t let your laziness and your apathy cause you to miss this great blessing and inspiration that the Church can bestow upon you. Let the peace and holiness that only the Mother of God can give you enter into your life. “Let us lay aside all earthly cares,” and let us truly, during these fifteen days, participate in the fasting and prayer life of the Church so that we can “taste and see that the Lord is good” and so that we may fully experience the spiritual blessings that the Church offers to us at this holy time. “Blessed is he whom He shall find watching.” Come and pray to the Theotokos with us and with the Church and by her prayers and intercessions, may our souls be saved!

MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS, SAVE US!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Extreme Fatigue

I took the kids to Michael's this afternoon, for a scouting visit. I came away with a tie-dye shirt kit, and an idea of how much t-shirts cost, for A's birthday party. I went ahead and bought the kit because it was the last one on the shelf. The kids were really excited about some of the craft kits on sale there. I wish I had a hundred bucks to spend on each of them.

And then we went on a further scouting mission to Target, to see what was in the toy department there. Getting ideas for birthdays. Unfortunately, pickings were somewhat slim at Target.

But on the way out of the store, I meandered through the bedding section. Sigh. I wish I had about five hundred dollars to spend on bedding. I'd buy a down comforter, new pillows, a duvet cover and new sheets. Why does stuff like that have to be so expensive? And why does it never feel like a "necessity"? Even so, our comforter is completely worn out and our one set of sheets is getting that way fast. A girl can dream, I suppose. I often comfort myself with the thought that there will be mansions in heaven. Surely that means that after the resurrection there will be pretty sheets as well? Who knows. Perhaps I won't need that stuff and won't care then, either.

But of course we didn't spend any money at Target. It was just a scouting mission. I very rarely take the kids shopping, so I had to remind them repeatedly to tone down their excitement. Perhaps they don't get out enough. But it's nice to know that I have kids who don't have all the latest gadgets, and aren't demanding.

But the consequence? Extreme fatigue. So we came home, and I popped some popcorn, and we watched a movie. Now it's five o'clock and I wish I had the energy to whip out supper and drive down to Vespers. But I don't know that I do. I'm just that tired.

Sigh. I really miss mid-week vespers. I don't think I've done that much since Wes started working in Louisville, because I always relied on him to drive us. But it comforts me to know that he gets to go to Church in Louisville.

Perhaps I should just lie down on the couch and plow through some more of that Bible reading I want to want to be doing.

Ain't no cure for the summertime blues...

Next week, I have two birthday parties to throw. TWO. That's what I get for having babies 363 days apart.

So, A's party is going to be a group of girls (I hope they'll come) doing tie dye t-shirts and getting stoked on too much sugar.

And E's party is going to involve Pokemon from beginning to end. Again, I hope the invitees (who have yet to be issued their invitations) will be willing to show up.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to panic a bit. I think the cakes are going to be store bought. And I need to go on an excursion to figure out how much tie dye kits cost. Yeepers! I hope I've not bit off more than I can chew.

I always panic a bit when it comes to stuff like this. I'm not very good at it.


In other news, I've been fighting summer sloth. It's just so stankin' HOT around here, what with no AC or anything like that, and I get tired. Doldrummy. Craving salt. Don't want to exercise.

And why does the heat make me feel fat and bloaty? And of course bored, but too drained to do anything fun like roll my carcass to the pool, where we could at least cool off in the water.

Two other reasons I've not done the pool thing as much with the kids this summer: My ears were bothering me...which problem is solved now, and I HATELOATHEANDABHOR my swimsuit. That's a new word. Does one get the drift of how much I dislike it?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Book Giveaway

over at my cyber friend Anna's blog, Veiled Glory.

Check it out and participate if you want to.

It's Leftover Chicken Night

I really don't mean for this to be a food blog. Really I don't. A life blog...and food is a part of life. Sometimes I truly wish it weren't. I have brief fantasies about becoming an airetarian which get firmly squelched on a weekly basis, thanks to the Eucharistic fast.

But I digress.

It's leftover Chicken night in Orthodox homes all around the world. Not officially, but I bet you dollars to donuts...

See, here's the logic: It's so hot, that a pasta salad would be nice. It's not a fasting day, so I might as well throw some of this leftover chicken that's stashed in the freezer into the salad, since it's just a little bit, not really enough for everyone to have a full portion otherwise.

But then I remember: Wednesday is fasting. Thursday is non-fasting, and then there's the two week long Dormitian Fast starting on Friday.

So it would not be smart to make a huge giant vat of chicken pasta salad, now would it? Because the point would be, to finish it off before we all get food poisoning from it having been in the fridge too long.

The leftover chicken will still get eaten, but it is definitely ON THE SIDE.

Tonight's pasta salad:

1 cut up zucchini
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 box of rotini pasta, cooked and cooled
All the red wine vinegar left in the bottle (1/2 cup, perhaps?)
1/4 cup oil.
italian spices.
pepper
salt.
some more salt...

...even more salt.

I think I'm sweating muchly, because today I had a peach with salt on it, and it was very very good. And I'm craving salty crackers, etc.

I want to MOVE, so I can get someplace with CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING!!!!!!!!!!!

(sorry for the lameness of this post...)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pray for the Fish




We laughed out loud at the humor in this song when we heard it on the radio yesterday. And then, thinking about it, it sort of reminds me of why we do what we do at Theophany, the great blessing of the waters.

Click through the pictures at the link, and read the descriptions of each one if you are unfamiliar with the Orthodox feast of Theophany. (January 6). I don't think the slideshow feature is working.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ponderings



I was listening to a podcast from Ancient Faith Radio yesterday, and I had a new thought. This is going to seem so patently obvious to some, most likely, but for me it was a new thought.

It's not the WORK of Jesus Christ which saves us, but rather the PERSON of Jesus Christ the God-Man whose incarnation was for us, WHO saves us.

And in a similar vein, Fr. J. told me of something that Father Stephen Freeman used to tell him day in day out: "Fr. Justin, never forget that our God is literally mercy incarnate."

Lenten Bread Recipe


3 cups warm water
1 T. salt
1 T. rapid rise yeast.
stir together.

Mix in enough flour to make a still stir-able very soft dough. But a dough not a batter. Just stir until it's mixed. Don't knead. Then let it rise for a few hours.

When it's ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Farenheit. Place a pan of water (don't use pyrex because it will shatter if all the water evaporates.) on the bottom rack of the oven (I usually use one of my cast iron skillets with water in it). You want your oven hot and steamy.

Grab a handful of flour and sprinkle on the section of dough you want to grab, it will be soft, so the flour helps your hands not to stick. Form the dough, in your hands, into whatever shape loaf you like (a round artisan loaf works well)...can be either individual sized, or family sized. Place on your baking stone (or baking sheet) that has been sprinkled with a bit of flour or cornmeal. Dust the top of your loaf with some more flour and cut a criss cross into it, if you like.

Let the loaf rise for 20 minutes or so while the oven gets nice and hot.

Pop the baking sheet into the oven (one version has the stone preheating in the oven and the loaf rising on a baking sheet and you slide it into the oven onto the hot stone).

Bake for 30 minutes. This will make a very yummy very crusty European style loaf. And it's completely lenten. Always good with soup or margarine and jelly/honey.

Bureaucracy, or The War on Drugs

So, yesterday I go to make sure my dd1 has enough meds to get her through a week of Camp, which starts this Sunday. Thankfully, I did this yesterday, and not tomorrow. I realize she's going to run out of both her meds. No big deal, right? I drop off her prescriptions on the way to the store, Wes picks them up later.

Inside the bag was one filled perscription, and one empty bottle. Attached to the bag was a note: Can't fill "medication X" until 7-29-08.

That's smack dab in the middle of Camp week, which child who needs to take said meds will be 2.5 hours away, thankyouverymuch!!!!!!

This is just lovely. This is what you get when people abuse prescription drugs, or sell them on the street. And yes, this drug does have some street value. But then normal law abiding people who merely don't want their kid to be CATATONIC can't get a prescription re-filled a few days early to accomodate sending a kid off to camp.


Grrrrrrrrrrr.

So today it's going to be frantic phone calls to her doctor, hoping for a solution to this delimma.

Or else next week I get to schlep myself and the two kids who are too young for camp up to Indiana and back. Not the end of the world, but that would be annoying and expensive.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

If you give a Mouse a Cookie...

You know the book?

Well, I'd gone grocery shopping which always makes me tired in italics. Tired.

So, after sitting and looking at the computer for a while, I decided I must force myself to do something constructiverather than piddle on the computer in a tired stupor all afternoon. I go to my bedroom where my Bible is. I start to read. I realize my water bottle is empty and that I have not had any water yet today. But then my daughter comes in, complaining of a sliver in her foot, so we move to the living room where the light is better to do minor sliver surgery with a needle and some tweezers. When we are done, I remember an e-mail I sent to Wes, and wonder if he's answered my question yet or not. I open up the laptop and check e-mail. After a few minutes of distraction, I remember that I'd better put some dinner in the crock pot for a late supper, so I get up and drag myself to the kitchen. In the kitchen I find that someone put the icream in the fridge instead of the freezer. Chocolate goo is all over the fridge and the floor. I clean it up. Then I finally get the chicken out of the freezer and into the microwave. I start heating up the crock pot and realize this would be a good time to do some laundry. I get the clean stuff out, put the dirty stuff in, dump the contents of the dryer on my bed, etc. Then I remember that I'd promised the kids a big bowl of pop corn since dinner will be late tonight. So I go make the popcorn. While it is popping, I am reminded that popcorn makes people thirsty and that I still have not had any water today. So I go to the bedroom to fetch my water bottle. Looking at the bed makes me realize that I'm tired... with italics.

Five Leaf Clover

Wednesday Pasta Salad

1 pound of pasta (whole wheat recommended) cooked drained and cooled down.
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 or so green onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
dark green leafy lettuce chopped fine, 2 cups or so)
1/4 cup oil (or not)
liberal amounts of red wine vinegar and/or balsamic vinegar to taste
liberal sprinkling of italian seasonings
salt and pepper, to taste.
This was yummy. Did not heat up the kitchen. And fed us for two meals!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Itty bitty vacuum cleaner

That goes in your ear canal to suction the impacted wax out. Now THAT was a weird feeling.

But I can HEAR again. It seems like I must have had fluid trapped behind the impacted wax, because all was resolved as soon as the doctor was finished.

So, praise God!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

And to Top it All Off

9 pm, we are pulling in to the driveway for a very late after-Vespers supper, and I have this bad thought: did I forget to plug in the crock pot?

Answer: Yes, indeed!

So there's no way we are eating THOSE two bags of beef ravioli which were supposed to be simmering but instead have probably been growing bacteria, now is there?

Wes ordered pizza.

And so we wait.

Big. Shuddering. Sigh.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What's for Dinner on a Friday?

Every once in a while someone will ask me about Orthodox fasting practices. And so I will answer on this blog, so that perhaps others who might be curious can learn about it, too.

Specifically in this post I will write about some tips to make fasting easier, perhaps for someone who is new to fasting.

For starters, it helps to have some fasting friendly foods in your cupboard. If you are aleady a "health nut" then you probably have loads of options.

Things that end up in my grocery cart include:

Firm Tofu (goes well in a stir fry)
vegetable boullion
pasta
rice
potatoes
TVP (textured vegetable protein...great as a meat substitute in pasta sauce or chilli)
corn tortillas
fat free refried beans
lentils
salsa
pasta sauce that doesn't contain cheese (I like light Ragu)
canned beans: black, garbanzo, etc.
lemon juice
flax seed meal (very important item, as I use 1 heaping T. plus some hot water for an egg substitute in baking)
applesauce (if I want to avoid oil in baking)
cornmeal
lipton onion soup mix (does not contain beef!)
soy milk
rice milk
almond milk...whichever kind of non-dairy milk you like
diced tomatoes
onions
smart balance light margarine (no trans fats!)
flour and other normal baking stuff
facke-o bac-o's
shrimp
high fiber burger buns
boca patties: fake chicken and fake beef.

This is just a start and I did not even bother to list the fruits and vegetables that exist.

With all this, one can make black bean chuckwagon and cornbread (or chili) , pasta with sauce, vegan smoothies, any type of baked bready thing or cake, potatoes with broccoli and baco's, stir fry with either shrimp or tofu, bean "quesedillas" with salsa, soups, salads, etc. etc. etc.

the key is knowing what sorts of things to substitute in baking: 1 heaping T. of flax seed meal plus enough hot water to make it slimy = one egg. Soy or rice milk can be used instead of milk. Or water can be used.

For a cheaper baking-only rice milk, make some brown rice and just double the water. When the rice is tender, strain off the water into a bowl and that is your rice milk good for baking as a milk substitute. Potato water after boiling potatoes can be used similarly.

Tonight my family had curry stir fry with firm tofu cubes, rice and canned no sugar added fruit cocktail. It was yummy. Although surprisingly mild. I wonder, now, if I grabbed the tumeric instead of the curry powder, by mistake.

A Visit to the Hospital and a Cazy Day!

My dear little 20 month old niece is in the hospital with hemolytic uremic syndrome. In other words, her kidneys stopped functioning thanks to e-coli poisoning.

Please say a prayer for her and for her parents. That her kidneys would kick in and start working after the dialysis flush and that she would get better.

I've been running like a chicken with my head cut off today: visit there, doctor appt. for myself, and soon another visit to drop off some dinner.

And the kids want to go to the pool! Augh!

A Short Trip to the Audiologist


For one thing, my ears are tiny. Undergrown. Runty. The very nice and loud/clear speaking audiologist had to keep reaching for a smaller device. I think I have infant sized ears. Seriously. A long time ago, a doctor noted that my eustacian tubes were not going up and down the way an adult's normally would, but were still horizontal, like a small child's. That fits with the whole "my ears forgot to grow" theory. All my kid's ears are way bigger than mine.

Long story untold so far: Too much ear wax impacted against my left ear drum to do anything. And when I used the ear wax dissolving fluid, it just stayed there, so I have all this fluid in my ear.

Next week I go see an ENT who will manually clean out the ear wax and then send me over to get my hearing tested.

I'm tired of living in this sound fog.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Simplifying

It feels good to get rid of extraneous STUFF. I've been working hard this summer, and the fire has just spurred me on in that direction. I have a long to-do list, fire cleanup related, that I chose to ignore today in favor of cleaning out a bunch of extra stuff from the kitchen.



As you can see, the curtains are down, since I had to wash them. It all sort of feels like a good opportunity to do some serious cleaning.



I think I have one of the least practical kitchens imaginable. Not enough cabinet space, no pantry (I have a book case that I'm using for boxed goods), very little countertop space, and a small fridge. But it is rather cozy. All the pots live on the stovetop because there's no other place to store them.

I still have a long way to go, but in the past months (including today) I have removed both an old metal cabinet that was cluttered with junk AND an old wooden mini-hutch that was similarly cluttered with junk, and re-organized to fit the few non-junk items (such as the coffee maker!) into other nooks and crannies.



And now, because I had to wash ALL the kid's clothes to get rid of smoke odor, I have some laundry to finish folding and sorting before I can go to bed tonight. Here's all the clothes...summer, winter and everything inbetween. I shall be smart and actually try and do some culling before I put it all away. Bwahahahaha! Here is my King sized bed filled with those clothes.

But praise God, the insurance company agreed that they'd re-imburse us the cost of some air mattresses, so we can sleep the kids here at home rather than constantly going to a hotel every night. This is a win-win situation because it allows us to get back to our normal routine, AND it saves Allstate some money. We would rather be at home and sleeping people on the floor than separated into two hotel rooms. So, glory to God!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Coming Home this Morning

After being out to dinner and spending the night in a motel, it's interesting to come back to the house today. The whole place smells. Some rooms are worse than others, with the upstairs being the worst and the living room a close second. Our bedroom is probably the least affected.

I want to get curtains down and wash them, but I really must wait for the insurance guy and the guy from the clean up company to do a walk through.
The whole house feels like we are camping, which is fun if one is camping partly because you know that eventually you get to go home and clean up. But around here, everthying smells and everything feels dirty.

And since the upstairs is so bad, the carpet will have to be replaced, wall restored...I don't know what all, I just wonder what will happen.

So I will wash dishes, do laundry and wait and see what happens.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Your'e in good hand with Allstate!

Nice clean smoke stench free motel room, Bob Evans for dinner (Allstate's tab...or at least our deductible's tab) and an insurance adjuster coming tomorrow.

Ahhhhhh.

So, I"m pretending like I'm on vacation.

A girl can dream, can't she?

Adventures in the Middle of the NIght

A knock on our bedroom door at 2 am. Our 12 year old informed us that the smoke alarm was blaring in her and her sister's room. I woke up instantly then. Fear does that to a person. Thank you adrenaline. I made sure Wes woke up in short order and let him do the manly hero thing of going up the smoky stairs. My son was still up there, although both girls who live upstairs had already come down.

M says she woke up when she was experiencing a sore throat and it smelled funny and she couldn't breathe. She came downstairs and got a drink of water and noticed that her sister was on the couch downstairs instead of in her bed. She says she knocked timidly on our door at first, and then realized that "Hey I smell smoke and the alarm is going off." Then she knocked loudly and woke us up. This whole process too several minutes.

Wes had to go and wake E. up so that he would come downstairs. By now we are all awake, and grabbing a blanket and robes, and heading out the back door. I nabbed the sleeping bag that's on the back porch and that kept us off the cold ground. B had nabbed one of her blankets, so the kids all huddled under it while I called 911 and waited out front for the fire department to show up. Wes was busy being his own personal bucket brigade. He got the fire out (or mostly out?) by the time the fire department got there. They never did get out the fire hoses, so I think he did a pretty good job dousing the flames.

But the upstairs was filled with smoke, and they had to destroy the wall where the fire started in order to make sure it was out.

How, you wonder, did this all happen? Stoopidity, that's how.

A. needed a night light, and hers burned out. So, Wes draped a towel over a lamp to make a night light. Later, A. decided that the towel was still letting too much light through, so she folded the towel up and draped the folded towel over the light, which was on the wall right by her bed. That caught fire. Probably 2.5-3 hours after it was left there. And she was asleep right smack dab next to it. Oh, yikes! The flames were spreading up the wall by the time Wes started fighting them.

Wall damage, ceiling damage. Carpet damage, mattress damage.

And a house fire SMELLS....a cloying combination of wood smoke and burnt plastic smell.

We were back in our beds by 3 am. The two younger girls in with me, and dh and ds camping out in the living room. Firefighters told us not to let the kids upstairs until morning. It took me forever to fall back asleep, and then around 5 am I woke up from a "the house caught back on fire" nightmare.

Needless to say, I'm sporting a big headache this morning which I also went to bed with last night. (But interstingly enough, was not present during the emergency. Thank you, adrenaline.)

And while I was sitting huddled with the kids in the back yard at 2:30 am grateful that it was a clear night and not raining, I had the funny thought that for all the times I've thought about "if our house is on fire I will grab this, that or the other (perhaps the laptop, or my guitar, or the one hand painted Icon we own), I realized that the ONLY thing that mattered is that we were all physically safe.

Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee!

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Visit to Louisville

We drove out to Louisville yesterday, and attended Church at St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church. The choir was very good and the pews are quite comfy! Oh, and gorgeous icons. Coffee hour was extremely noisy and that bothered my autistic daughter. I met about three people and we introduced ourselves to the priest. I didn't get in any long conversations with anyone, either. It will take some doing, getting used to a big parish. Seems like a person could feel a little less self-important in such a context. I haven't been to a Church that big since High School...and that one was way bigger, even than St. Michael's. But everyone keeps telling me it's a WONDERFUL parish, so I'm sure eventually we'll be able to find our niche. But the thought of leaving St. Athanasius makes me literally cry.

Then we ate lunch at Fazoli's, and on a whim drove around looking at the exteriors of some apartment complexes. There was one very near where Wes works, and we actually took a tour of a unit that was being readied for someone to move in to. It looked nice, and the kids are excited to move, now.

We'll keep looking around, though, and not just jump into the first place we look at.

Besides, we have to sell our house first. That will take a total miracle, I think. Please pray for us on that.

It was a good day, but very busy, so today I'm tired, of course. I've been reading apartment complex reviews, and boy, THAT is a depressing prospect. All people do is complain about how horrid management is, or how nothing ever gets fixed properly...that sort of thing.

Of course, here at home, nothing ever gets fixed properly, either. So it might still be an improvement. But reading all that did remind me of some of the difficulties inherent to apartment living.

The whole thing is scary and depressing. And overwhelming.

Friday, July 11, 2008

This Man Needs a Job

And I'll do my part on this blog to help spread the word:

The Ultimate Job Search
Check it out, and if you know of anything, contact him.

I Can't Hear You!

Standing at the sink and water is running, I can't hear ANYTHING else. Someone talks to me from behind, forget it. I can't distinguish the words.

And sometimes when I'm tired it seems like someone has turned the volume way down on the whole world. Like my ears just. dont. work.

So I'm constantly having to ask my kids to repeat themselves, or get closer, to tell me things.

So I have an appointment on the 18th with an Audiologist. That ought to be interesting.

And the problem is, I"ve been on these anitbiotics for over a week because of an ear infection and my ears still feel like they have fluid in them. Sometimes they just feel hot.

The bad hearing was an issue before the ear infection, so I'm a little bit worried that the ear infection, if it's not cleared up by the 18th, will perhaps obscure what else might be going on.

Is it normal to lose one's hearing at the fine age of 38? I wonder if I damamged it with too much loud music in the car when I was younger. Or do I turn the volume up because I can't hear over the noise of the engine and AC otherwise?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Polyeleos - Tone 5 - Byzantine Chant (English)

For His mercy enureth forever and ever! Alleluia!

I've been Tagged

by Maria!

Here are the rules: I say 7 things about myself, and tag seven people, providing their links.

OK, so here are 7 things about me:

1. I hate spicy food.

2. I was born in Munich, Germany. (Not a military brat, my parents were Missionries).

3. If I could vacation anywhere in the world, it would be in the Jura Mountains, in Switzerland for a hiking or horseback vacation.

4. Whenever I travel somewhere to visit, I have a strange longing to move there. Wanderlust.

5. My favorite drinking glasses are actually recycled peanut butter jars. They are the perfect size, shape, and weight.

6. I have an anaphylactic peanut allergy which I developed as an adult (yes, it could happen to you, too) and I can live just fine without peanut butter, even though I used to LOVE the stuff.

7. I LOVE to sew and am a very skilled self-taught seamstress, and I can reverse engineer garments and create patterns by measuring and doing lots of math.

I tag: Anna Sammybunny Kristin Sylvia Michelle
EricaTamara


And you. Consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Trisagion Hymn and Glory to the Father.....in English

This is beautiful. Thought I'd share.

How Can a Lazy Summer be so Busy?

The interesting thing about homeschooling is that I don't quite feel the contrast between summer and the other seasons quite the same way that moms who send their kids out to school might feel it.

Long before we were done (which we at long last officially are!) with our school year, we were already frequenting the pool. On the flip side, during the busy winter Christmas season, we were slacking off on school work, neener, neener. But we go it all done this year, and that is good. I still strive for a bit more purpose and structure, so here's hoping for next year.

Seems like every day there is more to do than energy will allow, so I stay busy. I've been giving my kids their CAT tests this week (that's California Achievement Test) so that Seton will know how to place them. I glanced through the booklets, and based on what the kids are saying, I think everyone will pass with flying colors. I'm not worried.

We continue our big purge in preparation for hopefully moving. My son's room has never been so clean! Nor so empty! The poor boy has hardly any toys. This was discovered once we got rid of all the cardboard box pieces and styrofoam pieces, papers and junk he likes to collect. At one point he was making a suit of armor out of cardboard. He has an aspieish friend who LOVES weapons of all types. So it's been "swords", pillow fights, and cardboard armor, lego hand granades, etc. God have mercy. I suppose it's a boy thing. What else do ten year old boys like? His birthday is a month away. My youngest will be NINE and he will be TEN. Those were my BABIES, folks! Emphasis on were.


Next Sunday we are going to visit St. Michael's in Louisville. Wes went there for Vespers last night after work, and he said the singing was beautiful. It will be neat to go to St. M's on a normal Sunday. We've only ever been for pan-Orthodox vespers a time or two, and I, for a retreat to hear a nun give a talk. So at least it's not a total unknown. But darn it, I'm going to miss St. Athanasius when we move!

And speaking of the kids growing up...my two older girls were sent off with a pan of brownies in tow for a YOUTH GROUP activity. Oh, my! We are into that phase now! I remember how great going to youth group was when I was a teen, and I'm so grateful for the young adults who are doing this good work. My head is spinning.

So, the "teenagers" (I put it in quotations because dd2 is "only" 12, but in my mind she's in the "teenagers" category) and I have all decided we need more exercise, so now my newly revived walking program includes the two older girls, and they are keeping me accountable. We decided to call our two mile walk "the Meriton" and once we push it up to three miles, we will call it "the Netherfield". Ah yes..."Shall we walk the Netherfield, or the Meriton today, dears?" I need to scour other Jane Austen books for a moniker for a 2.5 mile walk. Please leave suggestions in the comments box.

So, today I must fold some laundry, give phase two of the cats tests and take some growing bodies to the half-off day at the thrift store to see if we can find any clothes to fit them.

And this is why I have not blogged much lately.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Too Materialistic

I have definitely come to the conclusion, that as simple as I try to keep things, I am still possessed by too many possessions.

Our family is in the process of a big clear out. After that, we are going to try and sell our house. Yes, I said it.

Lord willing, we'll be moving to Louisville. It's where Wes works, and he drives 150 miles a day to and from. We miss him. Moving would give him 2 extra hours of time, per day. We might could get to a mid-week prayer service or two. We might could have more family time.

And such a drive is crazy, isn't it? That's five gallons of gas per day in his little gas-friendly Nissan. It adds up. $$$$$$$$$ Cha Ching!

The thought of leaving my parish and my other friends here in Lex makes me want to cry.

Not that I have an eye to move I realize that, we have so much stuff. So these days I'm working hard to cull the things that we don't use. I was able to give a stack-o-Thomas-Merton-books to one friend of mine today.

I have a "things that belong to other people which we need to return" crate going.

Closets are getting purged. Multiple trips to thrift stores to send stuff away.

I just don't have what it takes to do a yard sale.

Soon I need to turn some scrutiny towards the things filling my kitchen cabinets.

All this STUFF....it just creeps in under the doors at night, or something, and takes up permanent residence. Feels like a ball and chain to me at times. The detritus of years of living.

But then I find myself wanting more. I guess it's because I'm

too materialistic.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Today

-Grocery shopping
-more hives on chest, face, arms and legs
-trip to doctor for steroid shot and prescription
-fun evening roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over a small hibachi fire in the back yard

Total score: pretty good day.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happiness is....

...being slightly loopy on Benadryl (for the hives. I'm officially allergic to CEFPROZIL) while the teenage and almost teenage daughters bake artisan bread and make black bean dip the sauteed onions in which smell SOOOOO NICE!

Perhaps I'll add a picture to this post when it all comes out of the oven.

Meanwhile, the house smell good, and I'm on drugs!

Hives!

I've been on antibiotics for an ear infection for two and a half days so far. And now I have itchy hives with little white bumps on them popping up all over my face and chest.

Awaiting a call back from the nurse.

It's always something, isn't it?

A Daily Cycle of Prayers


I'm not going to get on here and talk about what my prayer life is or is not. That would defeat the purpose of Matthew 6:6
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.


But I would like to lay out in this post what a full daily cycle of prayers looks like. Of course, I am speaking as a lay person, here. Monastics have the same structure, but perhaps longer, according to their rule. And I am also writing as a learner. If I make a mistake in what I write, please forgive me and feel free to give me relevant information.

And what I"m laying out here is not necessarily every Orthodox Christian's rule of prayer, but rather a possibility. Something to strive for if one is called to pray in this way.

The most basic rule of prayer consists of Morning Prayers and Evening Prayers. Each of these little prayer services take about 20 minutes to complete. There is also a section of intercessions for the living and the departed that gets added on to Morning prayers.

The first thing in each service in an introductory prayer followed by the prayer of the Publican (O Lord have mercy on me a sinner!), and this is followed by is what is known as the Trisagion Prayers (thrice holy). This starts with a prayer to the Holy Spirit: O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth who art everywhere and fillest all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of life come and abide with us, cleanse us from every impurity and save our souls, O Good One.

then:

Holy God, Holy, Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us. (3 times)

Oh most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, blot out our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy One visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name's sake.

Lord have mercy (3 times)

Glory be the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Followed by the Lord's prayer:

Our Father....

then (in the morning prayers):

Come let us worship God our King.
Come let us worship and fall down before Christ, our King and our God.
Come let us worship and fall down before the very Christ Himself, our King and our God.

This is sort of the basic introduction to the prayers that follow. These include some morning hymns which call to mind our sleep and rising as being metaphors for this life and our eventual "awakening" to be with the Lord in heaven, and also sleep and awakening being a metaphor for when we were dead in our sins, but now are made alive in Christ.

Psalm 50(LXX translations, that is) (51 in translations based on the masoretic text) "Have mercy on me O God..."

Nicene Creed

Followed by ten prayers of varying lengths with general theme of "Help me to awaken to the Reality of You, God, and things spiritual and to live for Your heavenly Kingdom.

Followed by intercessions, both personal and general.

----


Evening prayers: similar structure, minus the penitential psalm and creed. The main theme of the evening prayers are: "Help me not to fall asleep in my sins", and the going to sleep process is a good time to remember one's impending death. Sins are confessed in the evening prayers. There's also an introductory section with the trisagion, followed by some hymns, followed by ten prayers. (Pre-communion prayers have the same lay-out)


---

In addition to this, it is possible to pray:

Matins
First Hour prayers
Morning Prayers
Third Hour prayers (9 am)
Sixth Hour prayers (Noon)
Ninth Hour prayers (3 pm)
Versperal prayers (early evening)
Evening prayers (aka Compline)
Prayers before sleep.

I'll talk more in detail about the general structure of each of these little services, how they can be conflated, if one so desires, and provide some more links in future posts.

For now, here is the complete text of Orthodox Morning Prayers

And here is my favorite out of the 10 prayers:

Prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ:

O my plenteously merciful and all merciful God, Lord Jesus Christ, through Thy great love Thou didst come down and become incarnate so that Thou mightest save all. And again, O Saviour. save me by Thy grace, I pray Thee. For if Thou shouldst save me for my works, this would not be grace or a gift, but rather a duty; yea, Thou Who art great in compassion and ineffable in mercy. For he that believeth in Me, Thou hast said, O my Christ, shall live and never see death. If, then, faith in Thee saveth the desperate, behold, I believe, save me, for Thou art my God and Creator. Let faith instead of works be imputed to me, O my God, for Thou wilt find no works which could justify me. But may my faith suffice instead of all works, may it answer for, may it acquit me, may it make me a partaker of Thine eternal glory. And let Satan not seize me and boast, O Word, that he hath torn me from Thy hand and fold. But whether I desire it or not, save me, O Christ my Saviour,! forestall me quickly, quickly, for I perish. Thou art my God from my mother's womb. Vouchsafe me, O Lord, to love Thee now as fervently as I once loved sin itself, and also to work for Thee without idleness, diligently, as I worked before for deceptive Satan. But supremely shall I work for Thee, my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, all the days of my life, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.