Sunday, November 30, 2008

O Tannenbaum...

We put up our Christmas tree a bit on the early side this year. The kids were thrilled to spend an hour or so this afternoon doing that.

And we actually have a mantel and fireplace, so we got some stocking hangers and finally, at long last the heirloom stockings look like they have a home.

I'll post some pictures as soon as I can find where my oh so organized self decided the place for our camera would be. Yes, indeed, yours truly lost her camera in her own home.

We've been using the same ornaments for almost as long as we've been married, (every once in a while we'll replace the ball ornaments when they get too skeetchy looking), but the white lights we got this year (our colored ones were worn out and did not light up when we tested them) give the whole thing a more sophisticated look).

But as much fun as it is to watch the kids decorate the tree, it's more important to pray for the whole world, give alms and be kind to one another: kindred, friends and strangers alike.

Peace.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Crab Cornbread Dressing

Make a pan of cornbread the day before. Let it cool, and perhaps even get stale.

Chop 1 onions,
finely chop 2-3 stalks of celery

Sautee these in margarine (or butter if you aren't avoiding dairy) until onions are clear.

add 1 veggie boullion cube

open 4 cans of crab meat and dump in, juice and all.

Let simmer until all is hot.

add salt, pepper and about 2 tsp of sage.

now crumble up the cornbread into a bowl

add the skillet stuff

mix thoroughly, together with 2 eggs (or egg replacer).

Transfer to 9x13 backing dish.

Dot very generously with margarine or butter.

Bake at 350 F. until golden and delicious looking.

This was good for Thanksgiving, but it would also make a nice dinner main dish for company or just family during winter lent.

Sickish

Well, our relatives were not able to come to our house for Thanksgiving, due diahoweveryouspellit, vomiting, pink eye and ear infections in the kiddos. God have mercy.

Around here, some of us feel like we are coming down with colds or some such, too. And my back is really hurting today. It's been sort of hurting all this week, but today is worse.

I've also felt sort of Migrainy (I know that's not a real word) around the edges, especially yesterday, so I dropped out of the requisite Thanksgiving Day Scrabble game (Wes always wins anyhow) and took a nap.

The nap was nice, the food was good and some of us did take a nice walk around the neighborhood. It wasn't too cold. A very laid back sort of afternoon. My favorite thing about Thanksgiving: LEFTOVERS

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Look what I found!

"Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own." Philippians 3:8-12


This used to be my very favorite Bible passage when I was younger. It's still way up there. I came across it this morning when I was reading through the Epistle to the Philippians, and there it was.

I recall reading it with grand dreams of valiant sacrifice when I was younger. Sort of my life dream verse. It's always easier to read stuff like this and project big "what ifs" into the future, of wonderful ways to serve Christ (tromping through a jungle somewhere, no doubt) than it is to read "have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him" and see the heartbeat of one's own life in those words.

Suffered the loss...I've had losses. Very real ones. And a very very outwardly mundane life. And I get to look at those real losses and count them as refuse in order that I may gain Christ. And it's even in the midst of mundanity that this process can occur. And that is encouraging. Sacrifice for Christ does not always look glamorous or even noticeable. Sometimes it is quiet, often unnoticed and very often extremely hard for all it's ordinariness.

For is it not in the most ordinary of things that God meets us sacramentally? Bread, wine, oil, water. The stuff of life.

Perhaps it's the perspective of age. I'm not all that young anymore. Not all that old yet either, but certainly not all that young. Somewhere in the middle, I guess. And I can look back and I can look around and there's this perspective that all my great and wonderful credentials don't mean an thing when I'm standing before the throne of God. I can look at my life and the supposed smallness of it, and be content because it is in the moment by moment stuff where my salvation is forged in Christ.

Not that I've obtained this or am already perfect...

Where's the Turkey?

I have too much to do today. It's the day before Thanksgiving, and I have some cleaning to do for the relatives who are coming tomorrow, as well as some advance cooking to get done:

Cornbread, for the stuffing, and a gluten free/casein free pumpkin pie. And a pretzel pie*. Perhaps a GF/CF apple pie as well.

Oh, and I should make some cranberry relish. Must troll the web for a recipe. The kind with orange juice concentrate, which I have plenty of.

So, all that in addition to guiding the kids with the rest of their school work, and doing the vacuuming, dusting and bathrooms. Perhaps I should ask for the kids to help me, hmmmmm?

Yeah.

So I woke up this morning with a sore throat and all over body aches. Glory to God for ALL things, even this, then.

Menu for our feast:

Crab meat-cornbread stuffing (GFCF)

gravy from a jar (NOT GFCF)

GFCF mushroom gravy

mashed potatoes (GFCF)

Cranberry relish (GFCF)

Green beans with garlic and mushrooms (GFCF)

Butternut Squash bake with cinnamon and brown sugar(GFCF)

The above mentioned pies

Perhaps some gluten free dinner rolls, as well.

What? No Turkey? On Turkey-Day???? Well, actually it's not "turkey day", it's Thanksgiving. We can certainly be thankful without Turkey, especially since most of my kids don't even LIKE Turkey and we always have too many leftovers.

And here's a hymn to sing while doing my work:

We give You thanks, Christ God, for Your earthly gifts.
Do not deprive us of Your heavenly kingdom.
But as You came among your disciples, O Savior, giving them Your peace
Come also among us and save us!


*Pretzel Pie is just like Pecan Pie (my erstwhile pre nut allergy favorite) only with mini-pretzels instead of the pecans. It works remarkably well and has a nice blend of salty crunch with the sweetness. I'm doing the "Derby Pie" version and adding in chocolate chips.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Louie Giglio - Laminin

My less-than-glamorous Life

Alarm clock goes off. I'd gotten to bed too late last night and slept restlessly. Weird and unremembered dreams. (Which beats the way weirder and unfortunately remembered horrible dream from night before last where I kept finding my baby that I'd completely forgotten about, would take care of her for a few minutes then rush off again to do other things and utterly forget about her existence for several days...over and over again...BAD dream, but I digress).

So, too early I"m batting the alarm clock, trying to decide whether I really want to get up to take a cold shower and go to matins, or not. Not was winning. And then I was getting up for some reason, and decided to take a crack at Matins after all.

Made coffee, had a cold shower (long story...no hot water due to a slab leak that the apartment people are working on), clothes on. Feeling fat. Looking fat, too. Yech.

Time to go, and the youngers wake up and want me to cook porridge before I go.

What kind of mother would I be if I rush out the door to go to prayers while my children are hungry?

So I make the porridge. They are grateful. By now it's ten after, but I'm only three minutes away, so I can get there late.

I head out the door. My oldest stops me. She wants to come, too. Still needs socks and shoes and coat. I wait. What kind of mother would I be if I rush out the door and leave a kid who wants to go to prayers in the dust?

Even later, but we go together.

At least we made it for part of the "More honorable..." bits, the epistle and Gospel readings.

Being there reminded me of why it's worth it to get up and go, though, too; A sparkling point of light in my darkness. So perhaps tomorrow when I'm tempted to hit the snooze button more than once and bury myself under the warm covers, I'll know better.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today is a Hard Day

Oooof! We are just at the end of our first nine weeks, and I have set each kid the task of getting various assignments like vocabulary lists learned, book reports completed, quarterly tests taken. The loose ends must be tied up.

Unfortunately, this is the week when my slacker tendencies rear up to bite me in the butt. I've got some grading to catch up on, and the kids have some heretofore-unnoticed gaps in their school work to complete. My fault. Bad me. I should have been on top of things better. Live and learn.

And I'm a little worried about my youngest. She seems hypersensitive to EVERYTHING, especially sound. Noises bother her and there she sits, hyperventilating and making squeaking sounds and generally pitching little fit after little fit. It takes every ounce of self control not to scream and yell. I want to beat her butt but I don't. She hates it when I get stern, but if she only knew that stern is the current "nice version" of me, she'd be kissing my feet. At any rate she seems to have some sensory issues and it's driving me nuts. She can hear (and freaks out about) the TV if it's turned on with the volume on silent, says it's a high pitched whine. I believe her, because I've read of this before, but her reactions are annoying nonetheless.

And I'm in the middle of filling out forms to have my son evaluated for Autistic Spectrum issues, and seeing the questions makes me think I need to have an evaluation done on each of my kids.

This depresses me.

This one information dumps. That one monologues and has obsessions. This other one is afraid of her own shadow and seems to be having senory overload issues and panic attacks. None of them have social skills nor do they seem able to "pick up on them" as several miserable years in public school have already proved.

What the heck is WRONG with us??????

My entire life is spent walking on eggshells through I-have-senosry-issues or I'm-on-the-spectrum or I-am-mentally-ill land. Just me being normal sends the people around me over the edge and into melt down mode. On the inside I want to scream and rage and yell at people because they can be so gosh darned difficult-but I try to be patient instead. I try to control myself. But that's not good enough. Like the kids have e.s.p. or mind reading skills or something, they react negatively even to my attempts at loving guidance and self-control, since usually in those cases my voice gets stern and flat and commanding-better than raging screaming attacks, but I've not yet achieved that saintly peak of loving gentleness, soft spokenness and perfection. One of my kids, I can't even correct her (such as "you need to load these plates in the dishwasher this way so that they'll come clean) without a complete melt down on her part. "See, I'm bad! Everyone hates me!" Curled up on a ball on the kitchen floor.

And this happens multiple times a day. This is our life.

And so today is a bad day. Right now I think I want to explode. I bet a bunch of my kids want to explode, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Homesick

Really really really missing St. Athanasius Orthodox Church today.

Took communion in our new parish. It's all fine. Just big and different and lonely.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What Are the Chances?

We are finally coming up on the end our our first quarter in homeschooling this year. It has taken lots of time because of our big break to move. That's OK. I have until the end of August to get three more quarters done, and I know we can do it.

What this means for me, is that next week, in addition to getting ready for Thanksgiving, I'm going to help each kid tie up any loose ends on the school work front, and do some grading and organizing and make sure we have everything ready to send in to Seton. Then it will be the dread trip to the post office. Grading papers and doing all the "organizy" stuff are my least favorite aspects of home schooling. Morning prayers and slow mornings with a cuppa and a good book are the more beloved aspects of it.

But the paperwork has to be done.

People were busy taking tests etc. today, when B walked into the bathroom and discovered it was filled two inches deep in water. I knew maintenance was busy jackhammering next door to fix a plumbing leak that was in the slab. Oh joy. The water got into our place.

So I went over to the main office to let them know (for some reason I decided not to pick up the phone) and went home to shopvac the water. Maintenance came by and turned off the electricity to the bathroom outlets, and looked around to find where the water was coming from. Some water was leaking into the kitchen floor as well, so they moved the stove out from the wall and unscrewed a panel between the kitchen and bathroom walls. All was dry.

Going back into the bathroom, the maintenace guy found the problem: Our washing machine drain hose had come out of it's slot, and the water on the floor was from our laundry. Sigh.

More shop vac activity.

What are the chances that a flood would happen on the very day that maintenance is doing major surgery on the hot water lines in our building, but that it would be MY fault?????

Pretty good if you are me, I guess.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Something for the Holidays

Please consider making a donation to Heifer International. This is an awesome organization. Rather than feed a family for one meal, this is a way to make a long term difference in the life of a family. It's amazing that what is a drop in the bucket for us Americans (even those of us who live on the bleeding edge of "tight") can be a life changing difference for someone in a developing country.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Homemaker

I must say, I am enjoying being a "homemaker" now that I'm in a home that I enjoy living in. It's so much easier to keep clean now that we have a place for everything and everything in its place.

A quick tidy-up, and running the vacuum throughout the apartment does wonders to perk things up around here, and I MUST say I'm so very very grateful for my much larger kitchen and much larger refrigerator...well, much larger dwelling place in general....several hundred feet larger and we can all tell.

I'm just grateful.

It will also be fun to build a fire in the fire place come the holidays.

So what "homemakerish" things did I do this week? Well, aside from keeping things nice and tidy I graded papers for my home school and I make a batch of homemade bread which got rave reviews, even from my pickiest eater. And lots of soup. It's a good time of year for soup and bread.

Today I made tomato soup.

The one bugaboo about this place was that for the past two weeks there's been no hot water. At first the apartment managers thought it was due to a faulty hot water heater, but after replacing that, they learned it was due to a slab leak.

Since our bathroom floors were nice a toasty, the theory is that the leak was under there, and I fully expected to come home this evening and find a hole ripped in the bathroom.

Instead, I came home to a perfectly intact bathroom and HOT water. The leak must have been under our neighbor's slab, instead.

I'm glad, because I really like the charming tile on our bathroom floor. And now I like hot water, too.

I'm grateful, that's all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mittens!


Aren't these cute? My oldest dd has been crocheting like crazy lately, and I just HAD to show these off.

Matins

This has been one of my favorite Psalms since my teenage years (a LOOOOOOONG time ago) and it jumped out at me during Matins this morning. Back in the old NIV days, it was numbered Psalm 63, but here it is in a lovely translation from the LXX:

Psalm 62 from the Septuagint

O God, my God, unto Thee I rise early at dawn.
My soul hath thirsted for Thee; how often hath my flesh longed after Thee in a land barren and untrodden and unwatered.

So in the sanctuary have I appeared before Thee to see Thy power and Thy glory,

For Thy mercy is better than lives; my lips shall praise Thee.

So shall I bless Thee in my life, and in Thy Name will I lift up my hands.

As with marrow and fatness let my soul be filled, and with lips of rejoicing shall my mouth praise Thee.

If I remembered Thee on my bed, at the dawn I meditated on Thee.

For Thou art become my helper; in the shelter of Thy wings will I rejoice.

My soul hath cleaved unto Thee, Thy right hand hath been quick to help me.

But as for these, in vain have they sought after my soul; they shall go into the nethermost parts of the earth, they shall be surrendered unto the edge of the sword; portions for foxes shall they be.

But the king shall be glad in God, everyone shall be praised that sweareth by Him; for the mouth of them is stopped that speak unjust things.

Monday, November 17, 2008

About the Nativity Fast in the Orthodox Church

I'm cutting and pasting this straight from Wikipedia:

The Nativity Fast, is a period abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches, in preparation for the Nativity of Christ, (December 25).[1] The fast is similar to the Western Advent, except that it runs for 40 days instead of four weeks. The fast is observed from November 15 to December 24, inclusively.

Sometimes the fast is called Philip's Fast (or the Philippian Fast), as it traditionally begins on the day following the Feast of St. Philip the Apostle (November 14). Some churches have abbreviated the fast to start on December 10, following the Feast of the Conception by Saint Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Contents

The purpose of fasting

Fasting with humility and repentance is believed to enable one to draw closer to God by denying the body worldly pleasure. Although the fast influences the body, the emphasis is placed on the spiritual facet of the fast rather than physical deprivation. Orthodox theology sees a synthesis between the body and the soul, so what happens to one affects the other. The church teaches that it is not enough to fast from food; one must also fast from anger, greed and covetousness. In addition to fasting, almsgiving is also emphasized.[2]

Fasting rules

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the fast traditionally entails fasting from red meat, poultry, meat products, eggs, dairy products, fish, oil, and wine. Fish, wine and oil are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays, and oil and wine are allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The fasting rules permit fish, and/or wine and oil on certain feast days that occur during the course of the fast: Evangelist Matthew (November 16), Apostle Andrew (November 30), Great-martyr Barbara (December 4), St. Nicholas (December 6), St. Spiridon and St. Herman (December 12), St. Ignatius (December 20), etc. The Nativity Fast is not as severe as Great Lent or the Dormition Fast.

As is always the case with Orthodox fasting rules, persons who are ill, the very young or elderly, and nursing mothers are exempt from fasting. Each individual is expected to confer with their confessor regarding any exemptions from the fasting rules, but should never place themselves in physical danger.

There has been some ambiguity about the restriction of fish, whether it means the allowance of invertebrate fish or all fish. Often, even on days when fish is not allowed, shellfish may be consumed. More detailed guidelines vary by jurisdiction, but the rules strictly state that from the December 20 to December 24 (inclusively), no fish may be eaten.

The Eve of Nativity (December 24) is a strict fast day, called Paramony (lit. "preparation"), on which no solid food should be eaten until the first star is seen in the evening sky (or at the very least, until after the Vesperal Divine Liturgy that day). If Paramony falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the day is not observed as a strict fast, but a meal with wine and oil is allowed after the Divine Liturgy, which would be celebrated in the morning.


For the full article, click on the link at the top of this blog post.

Living the Gospel

Luke 14:12-15

Then He also said to him who invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.
13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.
14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!"


So, what are YOUR Thanksgiving plans?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's Cooking?

Well, technically today was the first day of the Nativity fast, and as usual, when a fast rolls around, I like to post a few meal ideas and recipes.

I remember well the sense of "what am I going to feed my family?????" panic that used to overwhelm me at the beginning of a fasting period. It also seems like I used to spend loads of money to transition from "regular" to "fasting". This is no longer quite so true.

Part of it may be because we have a member of our family who is on a dairy free (and gluten free) diet, so we have lots of non-dairy or ersatz dairy items in our fridge already. This makes the transition easier.

So, for all you curious (the non-curious can just find another blog, I suppose), here's what's in our fridge:

Almond Breeze Almond milk (unsweetened) and we keep this stuff around
Silk Lite Soy milk
Silk Chococlate Soy Milk (I can get my picky kids to drink this with marshmallows or on plain cereal like rice crispies).
Tofutti better than cream cheese
Tofutti better than sour cream (we keep the tofutti around, regardless).
Tofu
TVP
Boca Chicken patties
Fish Sticks
Canned Tuna
Canned black beans
tomato sauce
Vegan Cheese slices
shrimp ramen
lots of frozen and fresh veggies
apples, tangerines
hummus
crackers
pasta and sauce
canned tomato stuff (diced, sauce) for chili, soups, etc.
nut butters: peanut, soynut and almond (yay! allergies!)
variety of jellies
variety of breads, gluten free and regular. Ezekiel bread is WONDERFUL if you have need of more protein.
sprouts
garbanzo beans (canned)
black beans (canned)
dried lentils
Dolmades (normally we have a giant can of these in the fridge but we ran out. I need to find an Middle Eastern food store here in the Ville. Or get a bunch next time I'm in Lex.)
Falafel mix.
onions
potatoes
taramasolata (caviar spread, good on potatoes)
corn tortillas
refried beans (to make bean "quesedillas")
salsa
non-dairy creamer.

OK, that about sums it up. Mostly. As you can see, I'm not very much of an ascetic.

Today was leftover chili with spaghetti, veggies and hummus, and pie (Yes, Mrs Smith pies are dairy and meat free!). And for dinner it was leftover pie and tuna noodle casserole.

This year, I'm really working on not snacking and not taking seconds, which is also a part of the fasting and fits perfectly with the NoS stuff I've been reading about. Perhaps by the time I'm an old lady I won't be quite so carnal about all of this, and I will actually have learned to pray more, as well.

My favorite way to cook during a fast is to throw some soup in a pot, and have some bread on the side. And hope there's leftovers so I only have to cook something new once a day. In other words: I don't' wanna cook much. And I like the simplicity of not dealing with meat.

The Nativity Fast

I found this wonderful excerpt over at Abide and Endeavor and I want to share it. It blessed my soul. I know the Lord is gearing up to really take me deeper this fast, and I am, by His mercy, prepared to humbly follow. Having said that, I'll probably do something really bad, but I'm in this place of liminality, having just moved, and I'm so aware of this being a key time for building new habits, being in a new place and a new town and all.

So here's the quote from Saint Nikolai Velimirovich:


XLI


With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord, Who are to come again.


Fasting hastens my preparation for Your coming, the sole expectation of my days and nights.


Fasting makes my body thinner, so that what remains can more easily shine with the spirit.


While waiting for You, I wish neither to nourish myself with blood nor to take life--so that the animals may sense the joy of my expectation.


But truly, abstaining from food will not save me. Even if I were to eat only the sand from the lake, You would not come to me, unless the fasting penetrated deeper into my soul.


I have come to know through my prayer, that bodily fasting is more a symbol of true fasting, very beneficial for someone who has only just begun to hope in You, and nevertheless very difficult for someone who merely practices it.


Therefore I have brought fasting into my soul to purge her of many impudent fiancé's and to prepare her for You like a virgin.


And I have brought fasting into my mind, to expel from it all daydreams about worldly matters and to demolish all the air castles, fabricated from those daydreams.

I have brought fasting into my mind, so that it might jettison the world and prepare to receive Your Wisdom.


And I have brought fasting into my heart, so that by means of it my heart might quell all passions and worldly selfishness.


I have brought fasting into my heart, so that heavenly peace might ineffably reign over my heart, when Your stormy Spirit encounters it.


I prescribe fasting for my tongue, to break itself of the habit of idle chatter and to speak reservedly only those words that clear the way for You to come.


And I have imposed fasting on my worries so that it may blow them all away before itself like the wind that blows away the mist, lest they stand like dense fog between me and You, and lest they turn my gaze back to the world.


And fasting has brought into my soul tranquility in the face of uncreated and created realms, and humility towards men and creatures. And it has instilled in me courage, the likes of which I never knew when I was armed with every sort of worldly weapon.

What was my hope before I began to fast except merely another story told by others, which passed from mouth to mouth?


The story told by others about salvation through prayer and fasting became my own.

False fasting accompanies false hope, just as no fasting accompanies hopelessness.

But just as a wheel follows behind a wheel, so true fasting follows true hope.


Help me to fast joyfully and to hope joyously, for You, my Most Joyful Feast, are drawing near to me with Your radiant smile.


Prayers by the Lake

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Axios!


Members of the Diocese of the South of the OCA have been so excited that Archimandrite Jonah Paffhausen was to be elevated to become the auxillary bishop in our diocese, to assist Vladyka Dmitri. About eleven days ago he was consecrated Bishop.

Yesterday, at the All American Council, he became the new Metropolitan! My first thought was: "But what about the Diocese of the South?" But what's good for us (I suppose I need to stop saying "us" since we've moved and are now with the Antiochians...) can be good for the whole OCA. Here is a humble man who just a few weeks ago was an archimandrite (head of a monastery), and now he is to serve the whole OCA.

The full story is at the OCA website, of course, and Ancient Faith Radio has some excellent podcasts. I particularly liked listening to the talk he gave a couple of days ago before his elevation. He seems humble and I don't know that he was necessarily expecting this. But I don't know anything. I'm just watching from afar.

It seems to me that His Beatitude looks shocked, though.

Let us all faithfully keep this man in our prayers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

But I've never even BEEN to Philly!

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia
 

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Midland
 
The South
 
The Inland North
 
The Northeast
 
Boston
 
The West
 
North Central
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


I always wondered what I talked like since I did not grow up here, but English is my first language of Texas born and raised parents. I know I don't talk Texas and that I only fake Kentucky. But how do I really talk? Well, now I know. huh.

A Tip

One of my blog readers tipped me off to the No-S diet, which is entirely interesting, and very compatible with any and all Orthodox feasting and fasting guidelines. In fact, the principles are remarkably similar to things I've read that various Father of the Church have to say about gluttony and the like.

check it out at everydaysystems.com

Basically it is this: No snacking, no sweets, so seconds. Except for days that begin in S, which means Saturday, Sunday and Special occasions (Feast days in other words.)

Can I build these habits? We shall see. My hypoglycemic self may need a snack in the afternoon, but if it is a planned mini-meal, this would be a meal not a snack and would be a far cry better than what I've been doing lately, that's for sure!

Cozy Troubles

The problem with BIG LIFE CHANGES (imagine some sort of dum, dum duuuum background music here) is that they cause stress. Good stress, or bad stress, it doesn't matter. My subconscious inner psyche does not care. Stress happens and I EAT. I used to be in utter denial of this very obvious fact, and obsessive dieting in the between times has meant that I "only" tend to carry an extra 20-50 pounds on my tallish frame, depending on where I am on the pedulum. I'm sick of it: Both the compulsive over eating and the dieting.

Last year, when my daughter was in the hospital (and I happened to be in one of my dieting cycles, so the infractions became obvious to me) I woke up to the reality of my disordered eating. The compulsive stress related eating is disordered, the dieting obsessively is disordered, the whole cycling back and forth is disordered. Messed up. And I know I'm not the only person who struggles with this, and that is why I'm blogging about it.

So, when stress hits, I eat compulsively. It's like a part of me can stand back and watch myself do it, know I'm doing it, know WHY I'm doing it, but be helpless to do anything about it. At least I'm observing it. That's a step. Now I need to figure out what to do about it. The cycle must stop. And it must stop not just at the eating point, but also at the dieting point.

The temptation, after working like a beast to get things packed and finding myself over eating in the meantime; after moving and eating at too many fast food places for a few days; after working equally hard to get everything settled and still finding myself overeating for a week or so after the fact, is to go on another diet. But I don't want to do that.

I'll come out of the proverbial closet and admit publicly that I've been seeing a therapist who deals with eating issues. A year of Weight Watchers and stumbling up against this reality that I have some deeper broken issues relating to food that counting points would never really cure pulled me in that direction and through a serendipitous (thank you, Jesus!) coalescing of finding a certain book at the library and getting a certain recommendation from one of my kid's physicians who saw me reading said book, I've been doing some hard work with a therapist. And it's time to go back after a two week break for moving.

I need to do this. But it's hard work.

I also need to keep certain things like red wine and chocolate chip cookies and taco chips out of my house. I need to get my husband's support because we sure do like to cozy up together at night after the kids are in bed with a plate of taco chips and cheese and some wine. Too many calories. The unfortunate thing is, where on his body it means perhaps an extra ten pounds at the most, on my body habits such as these lead to an extra thirty and climbing. Egads! Comfortable married people we are for sure.

And combine that with BIG LIFE CHANGES (imagine the music) it spells disaster for the belly-butt-b***s trifecta.

And the gospel reading at Matins this morning was "Do not worry about your body, what you will eat or drink or what you will wear..." and the epistle was "Do not let anyone judge you in regard to food or drink..." Which is very interesting. I know I'm hearing this though a slightly different lens then it's usually taken, but the thing that's different right now for me, is that I'm not panicking (yet?) and I'm not beating myself up or condemning myself or berating myself or calling myself utterly unlovable because of my disordered eating and my resultant less-than-perfect figure. Instead, I have a sober awareness but also a sense of God's mercy and peace that makes no sense. And it is THIS that convinces me that the cycle is beginning to be broken in my life.

Oh God, I pray that it is so! Because repentance and true change is going to be harder than swinging back into dieting mode. And that is what I want, is true change. Pray for me.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Confronted by the Cross of Christ

It seems that everywhere I turn this past week or so, I'm confronted with the Cross of Christ. On election day, since we had just moved and I had desire neither to drive all thew way back to Lexington to vote, nor to cast my vote in favor of any of the dubious options on the ballot this year. I decided to pray the rosary instead. (My oldest laughed and said it would probably do more good anyways, and in a country that announces election results based on CNN exit polls instead of on actual counted ballots, I tend to agree, but I digress.)

So there I was, and it was Tuesday and my little "pray the Rosary" booklet had me praying the sorrowful mysteries, which is a meditation of the cross of Christ and the events surrounding his crucifixion and death. What a thing to spend time thinking about! I think we Christians so often take the sufferings of our dear Lord utterly for granted. I know I do. I glibly waltz into confession, trying hard to muster up some repentance, only to go forth and sin some more. Isn't that the way of it for most of us? It's good to spend time thinking of his wounds and how I caused them. God have mercy.

But there I was, confronted by the Cross of Christ on a day when our country was making an important decision and I had intentionally disenfranchised myself from the process. "Put not your trust in princes and in sons of men in whom there is no salvation..." I think that would make a good A-political bumpersticker. Perhaps in political type colors of red, white and blue...hmmmm. I digress again.d

And this morning during liturgy, while the gifts were being consecrated and we were all knealing, I was thinking of the Gospel reading we had heard: The woman with the issue of blood who boldly came to touch Jesus, and the Father whose twelve year old daughter was dead who came to ask the seemingly impossible of Him who would trample down death by death. The Father did not know that the situation with his daughter was that dire when he came, to be sure, and the blood-shedding woman, St. Veronica, did not know that He would she His blood for her when she had faith enough to touch his robe, but both of those events, it seems to me found their culmination in the Cross.

And there I was: thinking of my crosses. And wondering, knowing, hoping that such mercy as was shown to the woman and the dead girl and her parents could be poured out in my life, and on my family.

And a stubborn resolve took hold of me in that moment. If nothing else, the cross of Christ makes sense out of suffering in the world and his glorious resurrection offers us hope that there will be a day when the tears will be wiped away, and that there is a Kingdom that is not this one, and that all the earthly things MUST be set aside in order to see that.

Nothing else matters when confronted with the Cross of Christ. So, I'm wondering, how simple and how quiet and how giving would my life need to be in order to really focus on the things that matter most? Perhaps God is preparing my heart for winter lent...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Out Walking

B and I had fun exploring in the new neighborhood on foot this afternoon. The fall colors are so pretty and the leaves in some of the yards and on the sidewalks by them are so delightfully crunchy that I must command for all my blog readers who live in this hemisphere, and in places with autumn leaves: Go ye therefore and crunch in them, at least once before they are gone for the year!

We walked clear to St. Michael's and back, through the neighborhood, not on the busy main roads, because those are just too trafficky. It was a nice long walk. Theoretically only about two miles, but I wonder if it wasn't actually pushing three. Some of the neighborhood streets wound around a bit. The walk made me tired, perhaps because I ate too much sugar today, or perhaps because it's been a long day and I got to bed late last night.

I like walking in the fall; leaves, crisp cool air, all that. It's definitely my favorite season for walking. Spring is nice, too, especially when it's warm and breezy and I can finally wear a skirt and sandals again. Winter is delightful when it's snowing. Falling snow is magical, assuming I have on enough in the way of clothing. Summer is not a good time to walk. I do it, but I don't like it.

What's your favorite time of year to walk?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Glory to God for All Things...even the good ones!

It's so often that I write about my stresses and uncertainties and my sadness. Today I would like to say that God answered many many prayers.

Our thermostat was not working right, and I called the front office for a maintenance guy to come out. The lady at the desk said he'd come out this morning. Then I proceeded to start making calls to try and find a medical person to see my daughter. I've been praying for this need a great deal, as she really needs her meds adjusted. Unfortunately, with her type of illness, it's hunt and peck until we find one that works. So far we have not found a perfect medication.

So I called and bing! got an appointment for THIS MORNING, 11 am. Perfect timing. Hope she meets our needs. I'm glad B gets to see a woman, perhaps it will be easier for her to communicate with a woman.

The only thing that makes me nervous is the fact that the maintenance man was supposed to come and I started praying about that detail.

Well, the maintenance man came and left just as we were needing to walk out the door, and then we met the new health care person, who just so happens to work with the doctor B was seeing in Lexington two days a week and could pull up all his notes on her computer. Continuity of care!


And she was wonderful. And good at communicating clearly and compassionately and took the time to talk to B and make sure she understood her. Took the time to listen and start building trust. As we were leaving, B said "She was wonderful!"

Many many answered prayers today. Glory to God!

And now, I start praying that the new meds help B more than the old ones did. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy!

Going to the Chapel

For years I've been longing to be in a place where I could pop over to Church and pray Matins or Vespers daily. Not by myself, but with others in the Church. God has blessed me and answered that prayer, and it is so comforting and wonderful.

Even though I feel like a stranger in this city, when I walk into St. George's Chapel, and it's still dark outside and it is literally lit only by candle light and oil lamps, I am no longer a stranger. There is a deep human need to know and be known, and there at least I get to see the icons of my Christ, and the Theotokos, St. John the Wonderworker, St. Raphael of Brooklyn, and many others. Familiar faces, even though the ones in the flesh around me are still mostly strangers.

And familiar melodies, although to a different rhythm mixed with familiar lines and unfamiliar tunes, blend with enough insence to scent my yawns afterwards. Lungs full.

And it is in such a place that I am known and that I can know. Even after just a week the faces around me are becoming familiar and are becoming attached to names and stories and personalities. Knowing others, and becoming known is a process. Having a cup of coffee with others afterwards helps, too.

But there's this other aspect of daily prayers that I really like: The way it ties my day together, beginning and end. Not too long to be impractical: just thirty minutes at 7 am and thirty minutes at 6 pm, a nice frame to the day. And it's an extra support for my feeble heart, who surely needs it, for the private prayer life I struggle to cultivate.

It's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What Makes me Happy

Inspired by Anna's list over at Veiled Glory , I decided to make my own "what makes me happy" list:

-A home with a maintenance man on call.

-ceilings that don't crumble and roofs that don't leak and walls without cracks in them.

-tile bathrooms

-tea pots with roses on them

-tea pots without roses on them

-lace curtains

-singing along out loud to the Christmas music at the store

-my kids singing along out loud to the Abba song that was being piped into the store at Kroger yesterday

-my new bedroom that does NOT also double as the computer room (in other words, it's PRIVATE!)

-chocolate

-popping over to vespers which is less than five minutes away

-hearing new music to old familiar hymns and liking it

-incense and candle light

-canted prayers

-icons of beloved saints popping out at you from unexpected corners of an unfamiliar nave

-old friends

-phone calls

-Wes coming home for dinner!!!!

Discovering Louisville-Part 1

Some people from Church invited us to share their Zoo passes with them on Sunday afternoon for a few hours. We had a delightful time exploring the Louisville Zoo together, and getting to know each other, too.

The Louisville Zoo is a very nice place. My favorites are always the giraffes, for some reason. I just love them, pungent odor and all. I think it's the fact that they are so HUGE and yet so delicate at the same time. Proportion is everything. I also like the mysterious quality they have. When I was younger, I used to think that they did not make a sound, but I learned a couple of years ago from a NOVA episode (or perhaps it was a National Geographic show) that giraffes actually communicate on a subsonic to the human ear frequency over very long distances. Way cool.

The layout of the zoo is delightful, with lots of gorgeous plant life, exotic and domestic, and well placed benches, restrooms, and cafes. There's a petting zoo, and I think every goat in the place had to come and rub up against my cane. The zoo keeper said that they were scent marking it, and that they always do that with canes, walkers and wheelchairs.

The nice thing is, the zoo is pretty much a straight shot down Taylorsville road, very easy to get to from where we live. We'll definitely be going back, and buying Zoo passes of our own as soon as we can.

I can't wait to ride the wonderful old fashioned looking animal carousel the next time we visit. Perhaps I shall ride a carousel giraffe.

R.O.U.S. (rodent of unusual size)

The move could not have gone smoother. Many thanks to all who helped. The weather was perfect, everything was packed. People showed up and we loaded the truck, drove to Louisville, and there were five intrepid folks here to meet and help us from our new parish, plus a couple of old friends who followed us down.

So that first day started at 5 am and ended late in the evening, with unpacking the kitchen and every muscle and joint in my body hurting, but we got an incredible amount of work done. I think I was running on caffeine, adrenaline and God's grace.

The next morning, we woke up after sleeping like logs in our new place, only to find a RODENT in our kitchen. Wes' first thought was "Eeeeep, a mouse!" But then we noticed that it was not running as fast as a mouse. At first I was worried that there had been a stowaway in one of our boxes.

But we tracked the critter as it ran into the girls' bedroom and behind one of the beds. We shifted it, and caught the wee beastie in a shoe box when it ran back into the hallway. By now I was suspicious that it wasn't a mouse. So we got onto the internet and figured out it was a Siberian Dwarf Hamster. Clearly someone's pet. I'd always thought hamsters would be more easily distinguishable from mice by their size, but note the "Dwarf" in the title. This little fellow was rounder and cuter and had no tail, along with a distinctive T shaped stripe on his back.

It was early in the morning and we weren't able to roust our neighbors, so we gave the R.O.U.S. a temporary name, and a temporary home in a plastic container with sides high enough to keep him in. He kept trying to hop out, so we called him Hopko. Hopko got some water and a couple of triscuits to munch on while we went off to Church.

When we got home I knocked on the neighbor's door and a twelve year old girl answered. "Are you missing a hamster?" "Yes!" Big smile.

So our kids had fun petting "Hopko" for a while, and then we had fun returning him to his owner. And the R.O.U.S.'s name is Berry (or Barry...but I sincerely hope it's Berry, because who would name a cute furry rodent Barry?)