Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Almost September...

The seasons ahead. This is my focus, as we enter into the birthday-anniversary-extra-church-services month that ushers us into the autumn. It could bring rain, or snow, or windy days. In actuality, it could bring all three in the same day. I have already been canning and hope to do a bunch more when we get some raspberries in a couple weeks and also some peaches sometime soon. When apples are in abundance, I plan to make some apple butter and sauce.

With heating costs always on the rise, it is good to know that we are a family who drinks some hot infusions and enjoys some homemade soup. We are also going to experiment with keeping the thermostat even lower than usual. Since our condo is situated on the bottom level, we retain heat rather well, but we are also on the north side of the building, so our daily sunlight is limited. I will be making Katherine a sweater vest that she can wear over the top of her shirts, for all-purpose use, whether indoor, or out. I am hoping to complete my vest soon, too. Jay has a vest, and the sweater I made him last year, which he loves! It appears we are set, for now, so long as I can keep on top of my projects. It can be rough trying to keep up with knitting during the heat of summer, but I have been working on it.

We are hoping to visit my grandma for Thanksgiving, providing we can afford the trip. If we can't go then, we will try for January/February again, I suppose. The beach calls to my family like nothing else! We have plenty of people to see out there, as well, so it is always nice to make the trip and have our once-a-year catch up. Families like Nicole and Jake Howard, Uncle and Aunt Cousins Tom and LeeAndra, the West Family and, if we are fortunate enough to have it work out, my Goddaughter and her family in AZ.

Jay has recently put in to the VA for compensation for his ptsd, among other things. They readily admit that he has ptsd, even so far as to possibly blame his insomnia and headaches on it, but his disability doesn't include anything for it. Funny how that works, but we will see how this turns out. My concern is that, since he already receive some disability benefit, he will get shoved to the bottom of the pile and it will take even loooooonger than usual. You know the military, hurry up and wait! Only time will tell.

This year marks our 9th wedding anniversary, but I am thinking about our 10 year coming up soon, since it seems so close, I can taste it! I am dreaming of going to a bed and breakfast for a couple of days when the 10 years approaches. I really liked the Bybee House out in Jacksonville, near my parents. Aside from being so capable of catering to our food needs, it is set in a small town, on a piece of beautiful land and lovely hosts. I had thought about going to the one where we spent our wedding night, but I have no other attachment besides it being the place we stayed the night we were married. It would be pretty, to be sure, but now that our lives are so delicately revolving around food, it is nice to have found a place that offers so much for those of us who have specific needs, but it isn't a bother, or out of the ordinary.

Well, this little girl got up super early, so we need to be getting her off to bed. I will write more later! Glory to God for all things!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saint Macarius of Egypt

I found it!!!! Yay! I have been thinking about this particular post a friend put up a couple years ago, but couldn't remember where it had come from. I scoured her blog and, voile!!! Here it is, for your reading pleasure :o) (Ok, so I just like it, but you might too)

From the life of Saint Macarius of Egypt, as written in The Lives of the Saints, Vol. 5 (January):

A brother came to visit Saint Macarius and pleaded, "Abba, give me a word, that I will be saved."

The elder said, "Go to a cemetery and insult the dead."

The brother insulted the dead, threw rocks at their graves, and returned to the old man. "Did they say anything to you?" the venerable one asked.

"Nothing," replied the monk.

"Now go, praise them," enjoined the elder. The brother praised the dead as saints and apostles, then reported back to the saint. Macarius asked, "Did they respond?"

"No," answered the monk.

"You heaped contempt on them, and they said nothing; you praised them, but they remained silent," said Macarius. "If you wish to be saved, become a dead man. If, like the dead, you take no account either of the scorn of men or their acclaim, you can be saved."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Today is a Good Day

Today is the forefeast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (O.S.). Katherine has been feeling under the weather and, while I remember she has a growth spurt every year around her birthday, I fail to be reminded she always gets sick around her birthday too, until she comes down with something. This year, it is a little early and we are considering whether we can only make it for the liturgy for the feast, since she is congested, though not worsening. She is doing well with taking her supplements, but she still sounds a little funky, with an occasional sneeze.

I suppose it is a good reminder to slow things down a bit and let things ride. This summer has been so fast, it seems, that I can hardly believe it is over and we are already canning for the winter. We have a bunch of things already in the works and are planning another trip for an abundance of raspberries to make sure Katherine has her fix for the winter months, until the next berry season is upon us. I also hope to make apple butter and sauce, as well as, peach halves and spiced jam. Good golly, I am tired just thinking about it.

We have Katherine's birthday in under 2 weeks! Can you imagine, she will be 8!?!?!?!? It is hard for my brain to really comprehend, but I find myself remembering her tiny days lately, since she is growing into herself exponentially in the recent past and I can only think of how much more that will be setting in soon. She is a good girl, mostly she just has bursts of personal preference and takes us all down with her in a mini fit of stubbornness that would shame any donkey. She can be reasonable, but often is more in touch with her contrary streak when she is dealing with her papa, poor fella. Thankfully, we have all been matched accordingly and we can usually help each other wind down from a whirl with a flash of temptation. Ha ha! We are good for each other and I can often see how God gives us those people in our lives for the working out of our Salvation. I love them, but not because they always make me feel warm and fuzzy. In fact, it is more often that I am growing in spite of myself, due to a need to be something more for one another. A simple, yet enigmatic, symbiosis.

Well, I am off to can some marinara! I will catch you all on the flip side! Congratulations with the feast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Theotokos, Mary!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Quickie

So, I only have a few minutes because I ought to be sleeping to rest up for a big day at Berry Patch Farms in the morning. My goal is to can a load of stuff so as to supplement every dinner (or, at least on meal per day) with something canned from home. We will be making pickles, relish, marinara, jams, peach halves, applesauce, salsa, etc. I will keep everyone updated as to how it goes! I keep telling people that I will go broke/hungry now, just to have some things this winter and it will be well worth it.

I picked up the book, "Pearl of Great Price: The Life of Mother Maria Skobtsova 1891-1945." So far, it is a good book, rather an easy read. For those of you who know me, that is saying something, since books and I have a splotchy past. We like each other, just not all the time, every day, nor every subject. I wanted to get this book because her life is interesting to me, as a contemporary saint, who lived during some of the most deadly, brutal and darkly monstrous times the world has ever seen. Little did I know, she wrote poetry, which I think is fantastic and hope to find some writings intact. I will leave this posting with a short bit of her poetry she apparently wrote while she travelled.

"Again I leave, the poorer,
for some more distant part.
The world, try as one might,
will not fit in one heart."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Little Love

Tank top, p.j. pants, apron, flip-flops and popcorn. *heart*

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Girl in the Cowgirl Hat

I looked over at the girl wearing a red felt cowgirl hat, two-tone pink striped shirt, khaki short pants and sparkly white flowered church sandals. That is my baby, who is almost 8. We were driving to the store together with the windows down and she pointed out the song that came on the radio was talking about riding with the windows down, so she crinkled her little, freckled nose into a smile that was sweeter than words. At that moment, I got choked up and had a flash forward twice her life from now when she is a teenager and looks at me with that same sweet face, in instances like today.

I love her and supremely grateful for her in our lives. God knows just what a mom needs to have her heart humbled and melted. I did think about what it would be like to have more little lovelies, wondering just what kind of nuances might be. I imagined that my heart is like a plant or tree, and love for my family and friends, like the flowers that bloom. Each of them a beautiful representation of a perfect love that functions best when in harmony with the whole. The flowers cannot bloom without care; watering, sunshine, shade, mineralized soil and, hey, we even talk to our plants. Without the combination of the factors, the greens would not survive to bring forth flowers, the fruits of care, diligence and faith.

Well, that is all for this one. Glory to God for all things, especially being aware enough to recognize blessings daily, whether we like them, or not. Love to you all.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chewy Thoughts

Ok, so I have been thinking a lot lately, big surprise, right? I am the sort of person who thinks about things, but they often become real when I talk them through and I am ever grateful to my dear husband for his patience and willingness to listen. I do have to begin by saying that, at times, I have to preface our conversations with: "So, I don't need you to do anything, or fix it for me, I just want you to hear me out." He is such a good sport, I think I'll keep him. So, after all of my blathering, I will have a point, it will begin below, I just wanted to set it up like this, because that is just me.

Imagine, if you will, a receptacle, like a cup or bowl. Now, I want you to think of it being filled, are you with me? Good. When I think of this vessel, I often visualize what it is like to be filled with the Holy Spirit, with God and His Church, etc. You catch my drift. The other day, I was talking with Jay and seemed to articulate that when I picture this in my head, I also see how it can be tipped and spilled, just as it can be filled. It made me envision it as more subjective, rather than steadfast and unchanging. I do believe that change and growth are necessary, but it is the vessel which should be molded, rather than the content and perception of such.

In earlier posts I have touched on how I am in a transition sort of state at this time, so, in my mind, this is what has been churning. As I gave more time pondering and talking to Jay about the above mentioned idea, it seemed to settle in and progress into this next concept.

Now, picture that the vessel is a conductor, for something like electricity, but in this case, I mean for God. If I act as a vessel, in the first example, which tips and gets upset, I hardly stand a chance to continue keeping the levels full and satisfied. If I perceive that my vessel is to act as a conductor, I will always be full, though it will may be possibly be thought of as this bit from Revelations, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." -Rev. 22:13. There can be no end or beginning if there is a constant flow of energies and, in this case, a synergy with God. I avail myself to be a vessel wherein I accept that God will work through my unworthy hands and heart, to offer to whom it is meant.

This is to assert that, to be open; heart, mind, body and soul, there will follow a filling Whose source cannot be found, nor contained, and never ends. A fullness that cannot truly be described with words and will come to fruition with a life in Christ. It is not to say, however, that being full is always comfortable, or easy, or even welcomed, for that matter. But, if we do strive to always be accepting of God's Divine will for our lives, we may come to a point where even the most uncomfortable and painful aspects in our lives, become as a flowing existence, rather than simply an obstacle to overcome. That all circulates in a fashion that offers peace in every breath of our journey.

I hope I have conveyed my thoughts without completely alienating anyone, or being too redundant. Peace be with you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Metamorphosis of Self Through Trial and Error

As per my burnout post, I have given a little more thought and have discovered an analogy for me in my life's lessons and struggles. I am not so much a hermit, though I do find myself appreciating some alone time to sort through my internal workings. Rather, I have decided, whether I am a moth or butterfly, I go through my trials and eat them up and become fat, tired and weary with them. I take in just enough more to enter into my cocoon where I process, which is longer or shorter, based on what length is needed for how much stuff is getting mulled over. When all is said and done, I come out on the other side transformed to fly about and appreciate all of the business that has been undertaken to get to that point. Oftentimes, it doesn't last as long as one might hope, but the appreciation is still evident and present.

This is me, for better or worse, this is how I function and I am grateful for the people in my life that make it possible. Whether by direct influence, or by a simple gesture. Thank you to all the people who know me and truly love me just the way I am.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kat's Karrots

We harvested the first batch of carrots from Katherine's garden patch and this is what we came up with. We decided to harvest them so we could use the space for an 'all-beet' patch and started a new carrot patch elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I have been gliding along through the summer activities and have done rather well, I think. I have realized that I have hit the wall, finally. I am tired and just want to hang around. I am ready for the relaxing part of the summer to set in. I am grateful for all of these opportunities for everyone to do, but I think we are at our limit.

I think it began when we sort of started our break early with going out to Oregon for the wedding and spending Pascha and Bright week away from home. It was nearly impossible to get ourselves back into school routine, but things have gone alright. I can't really complain about things, not really. I am just weary and I suppose after 2, or so of struggling with serious health issues and complications that fluctuate like the tides, with a few doozies, this past 9 months has been nice to be steady and more predictable, but we are almost making up for lost time.

I have decided that I am in recovery, but haven't figured it out until recently. My role as intensive caretaker has diminished, but my mind has not completely reverted back to pre-illness mode. It doesn't take a lot these days to drain my reserves, whether it is mentally or emotionally. I think I need to ride my bike more often, but if I am not getting up early enough, it just isn't happening. I need a vacation, the kind where I don't have to worry about schedules, money and other peoples' needs. Sometimes, it is just nice to be at home, alone.

I have a lot of healing to do and things to come to terms with. I have lost, or in some respects shed, a great deal, had the entire existence of our lives change nearly completely and gained a lot of insight and understanding. With God's help and my little family, we are coming out on the other side of things, but letting go of some of the tools that were necessary before can be harder than it seems.

Life is a process, I am well aware, but the things that seem to change in our lives tend to swing the pendulum to the far reaches and leave me reeling. In short, we met, I moved, we got engaged, got married, had a baby, he got laid off, signed up for reserves, got another job, then got a great job and we moved, he got deployed, we all went into survival mode...this span of time covers about 3 years and we have been in some form of survival ever since. Jay's ptsd has been treated and he manages himself and his newly shifted abilities quite well. In retrospect, I am finding that I need to sort out where I have landed after such an amazingly tiresome journey, for which I am grateful.

If you don't see me much, in person, that is, it will likely be due to my need to do some personal house cleaning, but also getting things done around the house without feeling like it is all about to topple over.

Monday, August 8, 2011

To All of You Who Homeschool

Please share what has motivated you to do so, in however many words you can get your story out, and also what sort of homeschooling you use, i.e.-curriculum, activities, methods, etc.

I want to have this here out of my own curiosity, but also for other people who ever consider it, or wonder why others' do. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are many parents who would make this choice, but are hindered in feeling confident, or that they are the only one's who have gone through the turmoil trying to figure it out.

Some of the questions I imagine people asking are:
Can I really do this myself?
Can I offer my kid(s) enough?
What about social interaction?
How will my kid(s) make friends?
Will this be more work for me?
What is the difference between homeschooling and 'school at home'? (This one is mine that I think ought to be answered for people, because I think that many people get confused between the two and attempt schooling at home, which can be far more strenuous.)

Anyway, any input anyone has on the subject is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I mean it

I am going to writing something real again soon, I promise. For now, off to church and the rest of sunday with family and friends. I hope you are all having quite a summer, as are we. Art and dance camp, Ironkids, swimming, friends, friends, family, friends!

Friday, August 5, 2011

In one month and a couple days...


That's my baby, she's gonna be 8 soon! *sigh*, it seems like yesterday she was just little and full of spunk. Now that spunk has gone and grown into a lovely girl.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Maylene-Our New Kitty

Monday, August 1, 2011

Old Previously Unpublished

This is an unfinished bit that I wrote sometime ago, maybe 1.5 years. I thought I would repost.

I have been thinking about death a lot lately, prompted by two separate funerals. The first was last thursday, a dear old man, the servant of God, John, who lived quite a life as he fought in WWII, had a family and was a devout Christian. I think there is much to be said for how a faith reacts to and treats its dead. Since we knew John, it was more touching to be present there. Fr. Boris left after communion the sunday prior to go see him, he announced that John was on his death bed and to please pray for him. It was barely a couple hours later that John's soul departed him and his body laid there without breath.

Monday there was a Pannikhida, or Requiem, service for him and another on wednesday when his body was brought to the church before the vigil for the feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord. Following the vigil, the Psalter reading began for the evening. There were pairs of people signed up to read the Psalter over the body as we await the funeral service the following day, I had the 4-6 am shift. Although I did not sleep well, I was well enough to pop out the door and make it there on time. The church was dimly lit with few candles, one in hand for reading, some at the foot of the coffin and another next to the icon of his patron, St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. The time went quietly by amidst the trading of reading, but what a wonderful tradition to keep, the psalms are so very human, yet they are what the soul speaks.

After the Liturgy, the church was full of many family and friends for the service. The choir sang, the priest prayed and the deacon petitioned with prayer to the Lord our God to accept his soul into His eternal kingdom and to give him rest. There was a swell of emotion as the music and words gave picture to the lamentation of the people. At the end, though I care for both Elizabeth (the widow) and John himself, I found myself imagining that it was not he who was in the casket, but my own dad. I know it may seem strange, but I could not help it and it is not so far from what will be some day, we will all enter this path at one time or other. All the things that ought to be said or done came rushing into my mind, but none of them seemed to be words that needed to be said, but rather action and a few tears welled to the surface as I tried to shove them down.

Fr. Boris announced that it was time to give the last kiss and that since we know that the soul and his guardian angel were present there with us, we make our peace, one final goodbye. We venerate the body, as we are made in the image of God. He held a large cross in his hand, and icon of his patron saint was laid in with him and a simple crown of paper with prayers on it. I stepped down from the kliros (where the choir sings) and made way for the line to venerate one last time. Elizabeth was first, as it should be, and as she held his hand and pressed her face next to his everything switched and that is where I was consumed by the love of this woman for her husband, her love, her life and everything she has known for decades has changed. I imagined saying goodbye to my dearest love and we have not even have a whole decade together, I cannot imagine her sadness after so very long. It is all as if to say, "Good bye dear husband, father and friend, we will miss you incredibly but may you rest now, in peace, may he lead you beside the still waters..."

Everyone said their goodbyes, which includes Fr. Boris, and his prayers at that point made me think a little. The part that stood out was where he referred to John as his spiritual son and it had never occurred to me that for Fr. Boris, it is as if he is losing a child of sorts. A prayer was rolled into a scroll and placed in John's hand and the body was then dressed with a facial shroud and one for the body, followed by a blessing in the sign of the cross in oil poured out over him. The coffin was then closed and taken out to the car for the transport to the cemetery as the choir was singing, Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us!