Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Extraordinary Ordinary Day

Every time I am preparing to go take communion I am severely tempted to stay home. Each and every time. It's a spiritual battle and my flesh is often weak. A priest told me one time that the devil likes to prey on the old, the infirm, and the innocent. I'm am neither old nor innocent, but I certainly do have more than my share of infirmities. Sometimes these legitimately keep me home, and at other times I'm just tempted to give in to laziness, all in the name of "I need more rest."

I was facing such demons this morning at six when my alarm went off. I managed to get to Church anyways. It's the feast of the Holy Apostle Andrew, the First-Called. So, I walked into St. George's chapel at 7 am while it was still dark outside, and was met by the lovely glow of the lit up Church. All was gold and rosy, and the choir was heavenly. I am so glad I got up extra early today and managed to make the effort. I feel blessed. It's so good to receive the Sacraments.

In other news it's raining today and it's just the kind of day for doing internet research on potential dress patterns and fabric sources for one of the wedding dresses I'll be making next spring. Such fun!

And knitting! I'm knitting a lace cardigan out of fisherman's wool. The pattern lends itself well to the chunkiness of the wool yarn and it makes me happy, happy, happy. I have dreams of having it done by Christmas. A girl can dream, I guess. I'm almost done with the body up to the armpits, and then I'll split it up and do the front panels and the back, weave the shoulders together and make the sleeves. Pish tosh, yeah, right. It takes me 17 minutes to knit two rows of this pattern at an easy pay-attention-to-what-I'm-doing pace.

Speaking of which, I think I shall get back to my knitting now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Lenten Pantry: Meal Inspirations Chunky Chickpeas

I was shopping at Costco on Saturday, and I found this little gem of a food product. Now, normally I don't go for pre-packaged food items, but the ingredients list was short and non-creepy, so I thought I'd bring them home and see what the family thought.

Here are the ingredients: Water, Chickpeas, Onions, Sunflower Oil, Garlic, Ginger, Coriander, Salt, Cumin, Spices

Looks OK to me. Bethany and Maia tried it today in a stir fry with some onions, cabbage, rice and radishes. The dish was a winner and these chickpeas with their spices were a hit. (Well, the radishes could have been omitted...)

It's like lenten, Indian hamburger helper. Especially if you love curries like most of our family does.

Check out Tastybite.com for more ideas, similar products and a store locater.

This is a product I will keep in my lenten pantry from now on!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Unsweetened Low Carb Blueberry Muffins

These are for someone who is killing her sweet tooth, and has not had sweets in several weeks. I don't think the natural flavors would have been so pleasing were I not so strict with myself. As it is, the natural flavor of the coconut flour and the vanilla and lemon...with a few blueberries...oh, so good! After weeks of nothing but meat, eggs, cheese and vegetables, these hit the spot.

6 eggs
3/4 T. baking powder
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 lid of natural lemon flavor
1 lid of vanilla flavor
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1/2 cup of blueberries.

Beat all in kitchenaid. Add berries last. Bake in paper lined muffin tin at 350 degrees Farenheit for about 25 minutes.

Makes 6.

These are obviously not "fasting friendly" unless your fast is...you know...something your doctor told you to do and your priest told you to do and....something you have a VERY HARD TIME STICKING WITH nonetheless.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's Nice to be Home

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday gathering with my side of the family. All the usual fixings, eight adults and eight kids...good times had by all.

On Thursday afternoon I took the longest nap of my life. I laid down for a few minutes in bed after lunch, and woke up to it being dark outside and everyone having eaten most of the pies. That's just fine, since I wasn't having any pies anyway.

I stuck with my diet. I'm proud. At least not losing momentum there. We'll see if I can keep things up until Christmas.

I was happy to see that the gerbils survived our two day absence just fine. They have so much food stashed underneath their bedding that we probably won't need to feed them for a week, he he.

Our journey home took lots longer than we anticipated due to a family member's car breaking down and Wes ferrying them home while the kids and I hung out at a McDonald's and waited. It was fun. I got lots of knitting done.

Did not get as much knitting done at the holiday gathering as I thought I would, since knitting lace involves counting and it's hard to count while engaged in interesting and lively conversation. Oh well, that's OK. Lively and interesting conversation is always worth a slow down in knitting activity, IMO. My BIL and I talked about blogging, and how to monetize, etc. His interesting and thoughtful blog is here, and I can truly say he is in deed a "Super Daddy". I don't think I'm going to monetize this blog anytime soon, but the thought does intrigue me.

Now it's full focus on the upcoming Christmas holidays. I hope I can manage to pull off some good festivities for the kids this year. Meanwhile, we fast.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Cake Disaster

I ought to tell you all about my most recent fiasco, since this blog is muchly about keepin' it real.

I decided to throw a baby shower for a friend of mine and I asked another friend to co-host it with me. And then we got our friend's godmother into the loop, so it ended up being a group effort. My part was the invitation and the cake.

I had, after all, taken a cake decorating class recently. Woot, woot! A chance to practice my new found cake craftiness! I was really looking forward to doing a cake.

Since we don't know whether our friend is having a boy baby or a girl baby, and since my cake skillz are still limited, I decided to do another Hydrangea cake, but to do this one with blue, pink, and pink/blue transitional flowers on it. I had visions of piping a tiny sleeping baby out of frosting and nestling him/her in amidst the flowers. It would be fabulous! It would be amazing!

It was not meant to be.

On Friday I was tired. That was the day to bake the cake. I thought I could make the cake and sit and rest while it was baking, and then go grocery shopping. I thought I had more energy than I did.

It's all my own fault really. I could blame my friend, C, who invited me to go to a midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie on Thursday night/Friday morning. Perhaps I could blame JK Rowling, or Harry Potter himself. Or the evil Lord Voldemort. The movie outing was a blast, but boyoboyoboy have I been paying for it since! I got about six hours of sleep, which is what I pull on many bad nights, so I thought I'd be fine. Let me tell ya, midnight to six am is far better sleep than 3 am to nine am. But I digress.

So, what happened, is I'd planned this cake, and I wanted to do a ten inch layer with an eight inch layer on top...a tiered effect with hydrangea blossoms nestled all around and dripping down the sides-very elegant. But when it came time to get the cakes out of the oven, I was drifting off to sleep on the couch. My youngest daughter took the cakes out of the oven. I muttered something about getting them out of the pan myself in a few minutes (yeah, right!) which she did not hear and the bigger layer broke while she was removing it from the pan.

She was SOOOOO apologetic. So, she decided to make another cake. I, meanwhile, fell asleep on the couch.

I do NOT give good baking advice while I am sleeping. Apparently (I have no memory of this) A asked me if it's OK to just use regular milk rather than sour milk in the recipe. I told her yes. Wrongly, of course. I was probably drooling in my sleep at the time.

Secondly, Ariana overfilled the cake pan and batter spewed all over the oven. I awoke to stinky burning cake batter smells filling our home. Lovely.

So, eventually cake number two was done and it was also a disaster. It did not rise right and was sunk in the middle because the pan was over full.

But I still had that first 8 inch top layer and it was perfect.

Later that evening I went to remove the perfect 8 inch layer from the cooling rack and remembered why we weren't supposed to use cooling racks in our cake class...it of course had gotten thoroughly stuck to the cake, and the removal process resulted in yet another broken cake layer.

Oh well, I would make another cake after AHG at 9 pm on Friday night, after being up most of the night the night before and while being so wobbly on my feet I could barely see straight. Yeah, that's the ticket!

And while there was crud in my oven?

10 pm came and went and found me in a heap of tears on the kitchen floor, sobbing my eyeballs out. It was the realization that I'd have to clean the oven before I could bake in it that finally did me in.

Because in between the cake drama we also had at least one adolescent aspie kid melt down in which I realized that someone around here needs more from me and from life than what I've been able to give. And I felt low, low, low.

So, as my husband told me on Friday night: "Don't they have bakeries for this sort of problem?" Why yes, yes they do!

I wish all my problems were that easy to solve.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Behind the Scenes

I have fibromyalgia. People often ask me what causes fibromyalgia and I usually tell them that there's debate about that in the medical community. Then I tell them the theory of Dr. Paul St. Amand, which my own Rheumatologist who diagnosed me subscribes to. In short, Dr. St. Amand, who has been treating thousands of people with fibro for over forty years, who has the illlness himself, and who is NOT selling any supplements or programs or herbs, and who has scientific studies which begin to verify that his theory is pointing in the right direction, has observed that fibromyalgia is the set of symptoms that manifest themselves when there is a disorder in energy metabolism on a cellular level...system wide, on a cellular level. I will let you, dear reader, go here to learn more about that.

That whatever is wrong with me is wrong system wide on a cellular level I definitely can feel in my body.

Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is something that doesn't make me look sick...unless you can see fatigue. My hands look normal while I am typing this, but they hurt and are slightly puffy. Aches and pains are invisible. Fatigue is invisible. I don't have a stuffy face and a cough, or leg braces, or prosthetics...so it's not obvious to others that my body is ill.

In fact, as a busy mom, I learn to fake it and appear "normal" when I'm out and about. I have learned over the years how to manage my illness to the point where I can "go and do" and not have too many problems...while I'm out. Sometimes I might be a bit more propped up on the grocery cart than the woman next to me. Sometimes I might be out doing a chore and shuffling along just slightly slower than the next...but who knows, I might just be browsing, right?

But then I get home and sometimes literally fall to pieces. But you can't see THAT part (my family does, but you don't). I might come home too fatigued to move a muscle, or to finish the chores, or to do anything. Sometimes even too fatigued and in too much pain to sleep. I have the most excellent family. They pitch in, they help. They do.

You see, behind the scenes is where it all happens. When I go out I have my game face on and I do my best. A very observant person will perhaps catch me walking slower than usual because my whole body might be hurting, or I might have that sudden weird fatigue that happens where my legs suddenly stop working right and the feet drag against the pavement even though I'm telling them to lift and to walk. At that point, I can't walk. I can only shuffle...because there is literally no strength in my leg muscles to make them go. Often when I'm walking I can literally feel myself slowing down against my will.

And the painful thing is, I can't always predict when this will happen, but I can to enough of an extent to keep it pretty much at home.

I also have a worse time of day....from 3-4 pm until about 7-9 pm when in varying manifestations, I have an even worse energy dip. I can forestall this by taking a nap sometimes.

So, last weekend I was on an AHG campout and we went hiking Saturday morning. Two lousy easy miles through some woods, and that was there, and back again. On the first mile I cold feel trouble brewing. My legs were slowing down. I told my fellow leaders and went at the pace I could. On the way back, I forced myself. I made it, of course. I always do somehow. But it wasn't much fun.

Later that day, on an excursion to see a pioneer days mill, I got to the point where I was shuffling. I sat down in the rain in my poncho and waited for the rest of the group to finish what they were doing. I was done at that point. It was time to stop. But I was on a camp out and it was raining and there were four of us leaders and four girls and there was not much stopping. I rested when I could, but the rest of the evening turned out to involve breaking camp sooner than we'd all planned and driving and hour and a half in the dark in the rain to get home. I managed. But it was definitely pushing myself. I'd pay later.

I was grateful to spend the night in my own bed after taking a hot shower. Sunday comes...Church as usual in the morning. And in the afternoon, the activities of the day before came home to roost. My legs were so fatigued I could only shuffle very very slowly, and not walk. I knew that what my body needed was to sit and be still, to rest. But what my family needed was groceries. So Wes came with me, drove the car, and at the store I rode the electric cart thingy. And that's always a bit embarassing. I literally couldn't walk.

I've been on museum trips where sitting in a wheelchair was the right thing to do. I own a cane. I used to use it to help me stand up for Church at St. Athanasius. For some reason, I've not used them much since we've moved to Louisville because I'm too embarrassed. Lately I've been thinking about it. When I'm shuffling across a parking lot, going too slow for words, a cane sends a social signal that there is, indeed, something wrong with me and I"m not just being slow to irritate the cars that have to wait on me. I wish I had a handicap tag on my car. But because the symptoms of fibro come and go, because I have good days and bad days, good moments and bad moments, those are very hard to come by.

Last night at AHG someone told me I should move out of the Ohio Valley. That would cure my fibro. Perhaps if I went somewhere cold and dry I would find relief. Perhaps if I took a week long trip with my husband we could find out if my body does better elsewhere. Um...yeah. I have no money to follow up on her suggestions, partly because the reality of chronic illness in a family has an impact on that family's earning potential.

Another person suggested I should eat an energy bar. Egads! If, on a cellular level the Krebs cycle/energy metabolism is screwed up, eating an energy bar will only do one thing: Make me FAT. Or send me to the ER since I'm allergic to nuts and I've never seen a nut free energy bar.

And then there was the first person again, who also suggested that a clean diet would do the trick. yeah. Already working VERY HARD on covering that particular base, thankyouverymuch.

Why did the topic of my fibro come up so much at AHG last night? Because the girls were hearing a presentation about Venture Crew and the opportunities for high adventure activities at various Boy Scouts of America facilites around the country from Rocky Mts. adventures, Sea Base in the Florida Keyes, or Northern Tier in Canada: hiking, horseback adventures, rock climbing/repelling, wilderness canoe trips, winter camping, whitewater rafting, sailing, scuba and snorkeling. All the sorts of things I would LOVE to do if it weren't for this darned illness of mine. And yes, they do need parent leaders for these trips. So I was sad, and people were caring and observant enough to ask me what's wrong. And then I'm told to work on my fitness levels and to eat an energy bar. I'm told to move out of the Ohio Valley. I'm told to clean up my already clean diet.

Earlier in the day another person told me that fibro is caused by anger. Pfffft. That sounds like Scientology to me. It's all in my head or in my heart. And if I would just repent hard enough the problem would go away.

Um, no it's not and no it doesn't and no it won't!

I take medicine. I follow my doctor's diet (yeah, struggled with that one over the years. I'll admit) I am on a protocol to reverse this damnable disease but it is slow and it takes a very long time. And I pray. And I see a therapist.

I have more life than I have energy for. The kids and their needs can't be scheduled around my illness. On a daily basis I set aside my own needs in favor of the needs of others. I, literally, have rigor mortis (the chemistry in my cells is the same as what causes rigor mortis...'cept I ain't dead yet!) and yet I keep on keeping on as best I can.

I don't want to be the forty year old with the cane. I don't want to be the woman with no cast on her leg driving the sit down cart at the grocery store. I don't want to be pushed in a wheelchair when my family visits a museum for a day. I don't want to miss out on anything or be hampered by anything. But sometimes I am. And it makes me sad. I read an article one time that mentioned that in quality of life surveys, people with fibromyalgia came up with a much lower score than people with cancer who are undergoing chemo. Think about that. WORSE THAN CHEMO. Day in, day out. Invisible. Behind the Scenes.

Please also read this here about what it's like to live with a chronic illness.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Love this music!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa...(My Christmas wish list):
-I saw a pretty binder at costco for doing one's own recipe collection. I need to improve my cooking by using more/better recipes in 2011. That would be a nice gift because all the best recipes seem to be on-line these days.

-I have a huge box of pictures that needs scrap booking. DO I DARE ask for scrap booking supplies? I'm frightened of a new craft involving (gasp!) paper. I wouldn't know where to begin. But I have this yen to do something with some of them....

-nothing sparkly. I'm not in a sparkly mood this year. No jewelry this year.

-knives. I need knives...but knives are BORING UTENSILS, and I don't really want boring utensils for Christmas. (I remember the year my mom was thrilled to get a salad spinner for Christmas. I think all moms should get any kitchen item they want/need any time at all, but NOT for Christmas.

-I do NOT want a snuggy. I have hotflashes. Do they make wearable air conditioners?

But a pair of house slippers would be nice. Perhaps the kind with memory foam?

And while we are speaking of wishes and memory foam...I need a new bed. But I think that's way beyond a Santa miracle. That's all the way up to the top... that would be a God miracle, or a God via Saint Nicholas miracle. Dear God, I need a new bed. My back hurts. Amen.

-Dear Santa, something smell-good to keep my skin moisturized and someone nice to apply it to me regularly. Some nice Swedish/Norwegian guy, preferably. Yeah, him (the one I married).

-Dear Santa, what I don't have enough of is energy. Can I have some energy for Christmas?

-Oh, and maybe that energy could come in the format of me burning off all the body fat I'm currently lugging around. That would be great. A wonderful Christmas present. I'll skip the Christmas cookies if it would help. Will give them to you on a plate with a glass of milk. You can be fat and jolly. Personally, I don't find myself very jolly when I'm as fat as I am this year.

-Dear Santa...what I want most in the world is for my kids to grow up loving God and for them to be OK as they face the challenges of living in this world with Asperger's Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. So what I want for Christmas is the grit and the strength to keep on being the best mom for them, because none of us are getting any younger...and I'm SO TIRED almost all the time.

-Dear Santa, that purse you gave me last year is a bit heavy and large...but oh, so chic. I wish I used it more often. Perhaps I shall stuff half of it with light weight scarves to I won't be tempted to carry so many books in there and weigh myself down.

-Dear Santa, I collect tea pots. I don't own a Christmas themed tea pot. That would be nice.

-A pretty shelf to display tea pots on.

-I would also like a Nativity Scene, which I do not own. But darn it, where would I put one? Nevermind.

-And Santa, for some reason I always want a Christmas dress because I'm old-fashioned and weird and I want to dress up for Church. I always envision something beautiful and end up feeling like a frumpy ill-put-together cow on Christmas. That might have more to do with the lateness of the hour of Church than anything else, though.

-Dear Santa...most of all I want to not be sick this year on Christmas so that I can make it to the midnight Divine Liturgy for the Nativity of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ: Christ's Mass.

Yours truly,


P.S. If anyone asks me if I believe in Santa, I tell them all about Saint Nicholas. More people ought to know the truth.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Notes from Mother Gabriella's Friday Night Talk

Given at St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church, November 5, 2010 "Longing for God"

Disclaimer: I tried to get a full sense of what she was saying and write down as much of what she said as possible. I was not able to write down full quotations of Fathers of the Church, etc. I will transcribe the notes here and put them into complete sentences as much as I can. As a result, the words will be mostly my own, based on what I heard her say and the notes I took. Bear in mind that Mother Gabriella's first language is Romanian, and English is her second language. This comes through in some of the syntax, and I let it stand in some of the notes, and covered for it in some other of my notes.

I hope the topic is not "new" because God is always the same and our spiritual struggle is the same. But it is new because we change. As Orthodox Christians we live in the present, and there is always something new in each moment. The purpose of our earthly journey is to draw closer, always, to God. This talk is to remind us of our purpose, and that we may be encouraged in our struggle and know why we struggle.

St. John Climacus, in the 3rd step of his book wrote that even more than hunger, thirst which can so torment someone in the desert, describes our longing for God. The Psalmist writes the same thing "As the deer pants for the water, so my soul thirsts after Thee, O God."

What is this thirst for God? It is the calling to the human vocation, which is to become like God by grace. When we fulfill this calling, that is when we live our lives to the fullest. Every human being is created to receive the glory of God-to become like God. Gregory of Naziansus describes us as being both earthly and heavenly, both flesh and spirit, animal and yet rooted in another, heavenly, land...

In human beings, heaven and earth are united together. (We see this also in the Nativity of Christ when God took on our flesh and became human for our sakes.) We are here but we are on our way to another land. (heaven).

The human vocation is to take the universe into itself, and offer that back to God in worship, in order to articulate the worship which the universe secretly offers. Because we contain God (made in God's image, filled with the Holy Spirit) we are bigger than the universe.

Humanity is the only aspect of God's creating that is made in the image of God. We are the only part of God's creation that bear the likeness of imperishable beauty. When we turn to God, we become that which He himself is. The mystery is, that although He holds the universe, he lives in us. God says He will live and move in us. We have the qualities that God has: Intelligence, spiritual, etc. therefore we are always drawn to eternity, to that which is like us, but superior to us. We are drawn to God. We have in us the grace of the Holy Spirit along with the freedom God has given us.

God offers Himself to us, but doesn't force us. His power is love and love wants the freedom of the beloved. He knocks at the door of our heart and waits. WE have the handle on the inside to open to him if we wish.

Man (humanity) is to reflect the image of God and love that exists in the circle of the Trinity.

But man chose not to live in communions with God, and fell from grace. Adam lamented after he fell. We have a hunger and thirst that no one but God can satisfy, a nostalgia for paradise, which is the state of being in full communion with God.

Man will never find rest until he rests in the Lord. David says this in the Psalms. "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone".

Proof of God's limitless love for us is the incarnation, John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

St. Athanasius in _On the Incarnation_ writes his famous line: "God became man so that man may become god."

The incarnation is the essence of Orthodoxy. God is a personal God who speaks face to face. The Holy Trinity manifests that God IS life in communion.

We need one another, and we belong to one another. The only natural way of life is to deny our-self for the person next to us, giving of our-self.

Likes and dislikes are the fruit of pride and selfishness.

Each family, community, nation, workplace, have their own vocation to become a living icon of the Holy Trinity. Our mission is to reflect the communion of God's love. As individuals we can't be true persons. "We are responsible for everyone and everything." --Fr. Zosima

We are not saved separately. If we had the courage to live totally for one another we would transform the world.

Christianity is not a philosophy, rather a life to be lived within the community of the Church. There is nothing that's in the Church that is lacking. Everything we need is here. It is a "saint factory", and God wants us to be saved (turned into saints). There's a saying that goes: "God has need of everything that He has made."

Therefore we accept God's will and trust in God's will. Faith and grace are a gift, but we need to assemble it, and cooperate with God. (here the word assemble, I think is an example of M. Gabriella's English not being native...perhaps the word acquire would do better?)

Saint is someone who is "set apart" for God. Set apart from the rest of the world. The world will hate you...love one another, as St. John says in his epistle.
Be God-pleasing, holy, virtuous, to die to self-these things are not the worldly way. God has given us dignity and potential to rise above what is base. We are expected to rise above the cares of everyday life. Life is beautiful and it is the way we are destined to go to God. Life is a gift from God to be lived for God and to be offered back to God.

So, we offer our day to God in the morning. Start small but be constant in the remembrance of God and our purpose in life. There is only one way to true happiness and that is self-sacrifice.

After doing the Christian things such as going to Church, daily prayers, fasting, confession, receiving the sacraments, etc., what more is there? Meditate on God! We are to discover the depth of who we are and grow closer to God. Our spiritual growth is infinite. There's always something new to look forward to. By learning who we are, we learn about God, too. We need to have that desire for God because that is where we are traveling-there will be a time when we see God face to face, not as in a mirror. We shall see Him as he is and He will se us and we hope to be recognized by Him. That is the joy and excitement of the Christian life. "My desire is to be with the Lord."-St. Paul.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Doll Clothes

I saw a doll at Costco today and since they don't always have the same items from week to week, I decided I'd better snap it up. ;-) It's a Madame Alexander. Madame Alexander dolls and I go way back to my very first doll (Baby Huggems) which I clutched to my chest at the age of 1 and did not let go of for several years. She's been living on my dresser now, for a while, and when I got her down to compare faces with the doll I bought today, I realized her body, long ago mended by my Meemaw, was literally falling apart.

So I had to remove the head and quickly create a pattern from the body before it utterly disintegrated. I know, I probably just vastly reduced the value of my baby huggems, but replacing the body with an exact replica will make it more fun. I plan on sewing a baptismal gown for this doll at some point, after seeing a baby huggems in a baptismal gown on a Madame Alexander collector's website.

At any rate, here are some shots of my new doll, and the dress and slip I made this week. I'll be delicate and refrain from showing the doll panties. They are of the same eyelet that the slip bottom is made of.

Господи помилуй

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sitting on the Front Pew

Whenever my family is at Church, I feel like perhaps we are a bit of a freak show. Lord have mercy, but those are my feelings. We like to sit down front, so that the kids aren't as distracted by the mayhem around them, and can see the icons and hear the prayers better. Yes, the nave is that large.

But I've always been a front row kind of gal. I was the kid in school who sat up front right under the teacher's nose, and at our old parish we had our spot, close to the front on the left hand side, right under the Theotokos' nose.

At. St. Michael's we are on the right hand side. Right smack dab in front of Jesus (well, his icon at any rate).

But for the past several weeks I've not managed to stay there the entire service. Any parent of young children knows what it's like to have to take a child out during the service.

My kids aren't young, but I often still have to take a child out during the service. Week after week after week. And so we are in the narthex, in a parish that is still largely filled with people who are strangers to me. I feel like they know who I am because I'm the lady with the special needs daughter who has to go out of Church every Sunday and sit on the bench outside by the Incarnation icon and settle her down and then go to the bathroom for tissues and a face wash. We get sympathic looks and head nods. The same anonymous parents who are taking the same toddlers for a potty trip and the same older guys out for a mid-liturgy smoke (I don't judge). Sympathetic looks from teenagers whose names I don't know and whose names my own teenagers don't know.

I feel like we are, mostly, the untouchables.

Not that it's true. I have plenty of friends at Church. I am known and I know people. Just not everyone. And that's hard.

Part of the asceticism of my situation, then, is for me not to assume that I know what is in people's hearts. In a large parish it is impossible to know everyone within the span of two years. Having special needs kids that keeps them and me out of the normal loop of normal youth group activities and Church activities makes it all the more difficult.

But just because I don't know people doesn't mean they are mean, or that they are thinking bad things about us. Perhaps (and I will assume this to be true) people I don't even know are praying for us. And perhaps I can get beyond my own little word, and learn to pray for them, too. At any rate, I am learning to assume the best of people, even when all my vulnerabilites are out there for the world to see. And that is a good lesson.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Craft Day

Doll Pascha Goodies

Today I declared it to be "craft day" and we worked on all sorts of things. I still count it as school. As an adult, I earn way more money so far with my crafting skills than I do with my math skills, and it would be a crying shame not to pass on some of my vast knowledge to my kids.

So, I've decided to teach my girls to sew. We are sewing doll clothes, to save on cloth and to be able to do projects from my fabric stash. Why did I not think of this sooner? Maia is making a "hippie chick" outfit for her 18" doll, and Ariana, of course, is making the most complicated 18th century gown she could envision with lace and ruffles and the like, in THE most difficult fabrics (lace and satin) to be found in my stash. Oh well, she'lll learn to pin things diligently, then. Har har. Bethany is making her doll a flannel nightgown, but she didn't craft much today. (She's already very crafty) because her meds are making her sleepy and she's depressed.

And what shall Eric do?

He's not at all intersted in sewing. Or knitting. Or crochet. Of course. Those are "girl things".

Well, what does he like? Role playing games. Characters. Computer games. What craft would fit with that? Learning to model with sculpey polymer clay, perhaps? He got excited when I mentioned it.

He made a bird and a santa ornament, to practice.

Meanwhile, since we are dressing dolls (and I'm knitting doll tights), I decided to make some doll accessories out of sculpey clay. Today's efforts yielded the contents of a Pascha basket: Red eggs, a wheel of cheese, sausage and of course a kulich with removable beeswax candle. And grapes for transfiguration (or a snack).

Other ideas I have for sculpey doll accessories: Bowl of koliva, again with removable beeswax candle; Lytia bread, a birthday cake, roses for one's name day, palm frond for Palm Sunday, perhaps a cross on a tray with flowers around it for the feast of the elevation of the holy cross, etc.

Needless to say, I'm having way too much FUN with this. I'll be having craft days with my kids more often.

They all worked really hard. So hard that Eric was exhausted and grumpy during his piano lesson, and Ariana could barely keep herself straight at supper time.

And while the day was good and exceedingly productive, the evening was full of
bellowing sobs, crying, grumpiness and misery on more than one person's part.

And so, as you can see, the idyllic "good" degenerates into the realistic narshty of people just having been and done too much. Lord have mercy, once again!

P.S. I want a doll for Christmas. But I'd also like her, if she weren't so overpriced for a piece of cloth and plastic.

And I want to make hand knitted tights and cute clothes for my doll (it's all about the tiny-scale crafting) and then someday maybe I"ll be the coolest grandma ever, what with my nifty future doll collection and all.

Tomorrow I'll post pics of some of the cool things the other kids did with their sculpey clay: a praying nun, a bird, santa ornament, and an alien space ship.