Tuesday, January 28, 2014


With all of my rambling of randomness, I forgot to mention that, along with the walking and biking we are moving toward, we are also shifting to getting back on track with some of our diet needs. Even when being gluten and dairy free, there is still much room for eating junky things, like cakes, cookies, and fried foods. Now that the season of sweets and such is over (for now) and in preparation for being ready to embrace Great Lent, we will be eating better...again. My hope is to eat more simple foods that offer a wide variety of benefits. I have already begun making us smoothies with the Vitamineral Greens, which I love, and having things on hand to make a salad regularly, for those who wish to throw one together. 

Ok, now I really think that is all ;)

Finally, The End Of January!

We have made it to the end of January in our new schedule and things have been good. I am looking forward to continuing most classes for the girls, though we are visiting whether we will spend the money on certain classes for Sis right now, or put it into an envelope and save it for a summer camp of the same fun business. Anyway, we shall see, but these girls are doing really well in their tumbling classes, and Sis is moving up to being in longer piano to make sure there is enough time to do anything, since her music is getting longer and more complicated. On top of learning to play, she is also learning to identify notes by their names both on the keyboard and treble/bass clef staff position, and working on different practice scales, so longer class will be great and she loves her teacher, so it works out.

We have finally gotten some rain in the valley for the first time in what seems like forever. I am chomping at the bit to plant things, since it should stay somewhat mild enough to get a few things in the ground, like peas, beets, and carrots. I have to wait until after the first, which will be pay day, so we can head down to get things to make raised beds. I would like to repurpose things to be a veggie/flower/herb/fruit bed, like the fire truck toddler bed. (We had to remove it from the house because a certain toddler was keeping hersel awake playing with the knobs and things...) Any ideas on what to repurpose? I have a pallet that we may fill with dirt and plant; my biggest criteria is creative and interesting. Oh, our bulbs we planted after we moved in are already starting to poke their little leaves up through the earth, which makes my heart jump for joy!

While I take the girls to their sister tumbling class, we leave papa for a minimum of 2 hours to work on his Orthodox graphic novel. He is working on adapting the lives of saints into a form that is appealing to many, but to target teens/young adults, beginning with Great Martyr Katherine. There are ever so many children's books, and certainly plenty of meaty adult books, out there and this is one of the concepts he has been wanting to work with for some time. It is coming along and we will see how it goes; I will keep you updated as to when he gets further along.

I have begun to teach the older kid's Sunday school after the liturgy, since our usual person is with family as they grieve the loss of her father (memory eternal, Rafik!), though my role is not to teach exactly as the other teacher has taught. This has proved both challenging and rewarding, due to the needs of older kids and the vast resources of what the posibilities are in this realm. Because they are able to comprehend things on a different level than the younger kids, knowing where to begin can be unclear. I have read the lives of Sts. Macarius the Great of Egypt and Brigid of Kildare, discussing their lives, having questions, really trying to get them to think. The season of Great Lent is upon us, so I hope to tie in the Gospel readings of the next sunday into the lesson with Q & A. I want to learn about the following sunday because they will have one bit from me and the next week they will have a follow-up by Father's homily, which I am hoping will reinforce what we discuss. As well as these lessons, we are discussing Christian virtues in an applicable manner, to try to bring mindfulness of ourselves and another aspect of the great fast. We often tend to focus on what food we are and aren't eating, and less on what we are or aren't doing/saying. These are often the hardest for us and I want us to acknowledge the entirety of the fast, so I have asked them to think of things for next sunday. Godwilling, this will all come together.

On monday, Jay took Mini to her 'tass' on his bike, with her in tow in the kid trailer, which we call the 'stroller bike', since it converts between bike trailer and stroller. Now that the weather is more cooperative, lacking in snow and super cold (all of which has been unseasonable for these parts!), we are aiming to drive less, bike and walk more. The overall goal is to be driving for liturgies and to Medford, but walking and riding all the other places. As I explained to Sis last night, it is good for our bodies, the earth, and our pocketbook. We started off by walking to her swim class as a family and I took Luna on a walk while she was in class, while Daddy and Mini watched Sissy swim. It went pretty well and I hope it continues to last, though I am at the coffee shop a little begrudgingly on my bike, because I ate lunch and got tired. I am glad I hopped on Samantha and came down, but getting the motivation to get out the door sometimes may become interesting. The ultimate question is: How badly do I want to go? Not to mention the outcome of feeling happy to have pushed past the lethargy of the body and slug onward, making a pinch of progress in redirecting some of the willfulness into productivity.

I think that may be it for now, but I suppose that is enough. We are trucking along, looking forward to February being a shorter month, as January has seemed eternally dragging. Spring is coming, Great Lent, another birthday for me, plants, flowers, hiking, barbecuing, camping, and whatever else we come across. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Along The Way

O Lord! I should possess a constant heart

One worthy of praising You
All of Creation sings anew each dawn
With the rising of the sun and break of day
The whole earth reflects Your beauty and promise

Changeable and willful, am I
Wasting away my time
As though I have eternity
Nestled in my pocket
Idly pressing time for more

When will I learn without inducement
To flee to You in every way
With every breath, my heart beats
Yet I continue waywardly
Overlooking my recourse to You

May Your mercy fill me
Your will guide me
As love overcomes all
Covering a multitude
In accordance and abundance

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nearly Spring

Awaken me like the early spring

Ready in anticipation of abundant Life
Call me gently to You
Oh God of life, peace, and love

Direct my growth and yearnings
Set right my aching heart
Squelch the burning of passions
Hush the chatter of foolishness

I must prepare a place for planting
Seeds of eternal hope and tranquility
Working in symbiosis
To reveal fruits from seedling

The night will guard the Mysteries kept
With quiet solitude and prayer
As day begins anew in magnificence
Offering the hope of life eternal

As the birds call to You in earnest
Hear also the prayer of one divided 
Between a life that can be seen 
And one that is Forever in You

Stir contrition and prayer in me
I wish to lay up myself
Take up the cross which is given
Diligently, ardently follow You for all eternity

Friday, January 17, 2014

Foggy Days

Fog is one of those amazing creations in this world, both eternal and transitory, it seems. These past days we have had a fog that has been drawn out through the valley, only to be washed over the shores of the hills by evenings return. It is has been both dense and intangible. Cool, damp, sturdy, comforting, and calming, the fog is solace in a world that is busy with itself. 

Thick and dormant, there is little to be spared. In the night, the cold air invites the fog to rest upon every surface reachable and, by morning, there is such a silver glimmer of frozen life, it sparkles with reverence and devotion. As the sun emerges from the blackness of night, the clinging fog awakens to greet its warmth and welcome. Again, the sun delights the dew of fog to dance about and create a shimmering glitter of radiance that is only caught when we stop to notice and breath a little.

The ebb and flow of this heavy fog renews my heart and soul in such a way as to lure thoughts of eternity and longing as nothing else is able. I find myself here, as I reside in such a state of dream and wake, as it is both stable and fickle. After days of this ocean of fog coming and going, trapping what it will and letting all else linger on its own, I will admit the enormous blast of sun today gives way to refreshment and joy, offering a new hope of spring to come!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Prayer Becomes Us

Prayer is such an elusive concept, much like Grace, wherein we cannot confine, or fully define, its entirety, nor are we able to attain prayer without going within. We know that we pray from a place within us that contains both compassion and concern, though we may not be able to pinpoint its origin, and we may attempt to draw it closer as we might desire a cloud to be more near, as its wisps hang just out of reach, yet knowingly encompassing us. 

Prayer is not something we can own, nor are we able to live without its dynamic influence. We must cultivate prayer as though we are growing a spiritual garden, laying up our treasures, as it were. Sometimes, we may ask another to water our garden when are in need, ill, unable, or just plain struggling, just as we may ask for another to pray for us. Perhaps God provides instances for us to pray together and for one another that we may participate in triumphs and challenges outside of ourselves, that we may nurture and grow love and compassion within ourselves.  That we may put away ourselves and take up the cross of another, just as Simon the Cyrenian carried the cross for Christ toward Golgotha, which may help us realize how closely knit we all truly are and so we must humble ourselves to bear one another's burdens as our own. It seems to me that when our compassion, love, and understanding of our fellow man awakens and grows, so also does that place within us wherein prayer flows and Grace touches. 

Prayer does not always look the same, since our motivation to pray is often different. At times, we are compelled to pray due to our circumstance, or someone else's, and other times it is because there is a designated time during the day, week, etc. that is set aside to give our focus and time to God. The latter of these times, it may come easier to fully participate in our offering and participation of prayer, but at the appointed times, it can be easier to let our minds wander into another part of the week, whether it is past or future, or any other time and place. Perhaps one of the works of a Christian is to learn to fuse prayer into contancy with fervent compunction and compassion, and, over time, we may "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess. 5:16-18) 

It is one cross fashioned to bear Christ, one Son of Righteousness to bear the sins of all mankind, one act of selfless love to bear generations of selfishness and greed, one woman to bear the uncreated Light more spacious than the Heavens. I am fond of imagining that each of our own crosses is made up of pieces of the cross which bore Christ, intertwining us completely and, sometimes, unknowingly. If we are to put on Christ, then it would stand to reason that we must take up our neighbor's cross with our own, pray for all selflessly and without ceasing, and give God thanks in all things. 

Ok, I think I am done. Thanks for listening!

Thursday, January 9, 2014


I very nearly forgot to mention seeds! I have ordered my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co for this season, at least, most of what will be planted and I am super excited. A few kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers, squash, beans, peas, etc., so as to cover both cool and warm weather varieties. I love color and so everything ordered is based on beauty, but also to attract good creatures, like bees and butterflies, hummingbirds and goldfinches. I truly hope we get some delicious and lovely growth out of all of it and we are blessed with visits by our winged friends!

Overdue Update

I am sitting at the coffee shop, latte in cup, and having a bit of time to myself. This is  the third day in a row we had tried to get me out of the house to have a bit of time away from the busyness of the days, since it has been awhile. I am grateful for any time at all, truly and definitely. I got to ride my bike, wearing my new leather gloves to keep my hands from becoming ice cubes, and they were a success. Riding bikes for most things in town is a goal we have, but with it being drizzly, we will need to invest in a rain/wind shield for the trailer that Mini rides in. We are looking into getting some new smoother tires for Sissy's bike to reduce friction and make it easier for her to ride longer distances. She is actually quite a sport about the riding, but if we are going to ride to some of her classes, like Le Cirque and swimming, which are extremely physical, it would be nice that she can conserve some energy in riding. At some point, she will build up some more endurance, but I am a fan of setting things in place for success with the proper exertion and focus.

That brings me to the girls classes! We have both girls in classes this month which include: tumbling, swim, ceramics, piano, and Le Cirque. Mini is currently taking tumbling three mornings a week, one of which is with Sissy, though we had hoped we could have her in swim, as well, but the time for the ONLY parent/tot swim conflicted with the rest. We are actually discussing whether we will jujst become members at the YMCA so she can just go swim with mommy or daddy whenever there is open swim and we have time. We live less than a mile from the Y and both girls are avid waterbabies, so it is looking like our best interest to invest, even if it is just or the pool! 

Sissy is the only kid enrolled in her swim class, so we get private lessons for the price of group! Last night, her swim teacher told her that she thinks that Sis would be great on a swim team and decided to begin endurance training her. For a half an hour straight, she swam laps! She swam freestyle down to the deep end, was given a minute to tread water and make sure she wasn't wiped out, then swam breast stroke back down the lane, moving almost immediately into elementary backstroke to keep her heart rate up, but not work too hard. Back and forth she swam, then practiced a little diving at the end. When we talked about it later and I mentioned how she just kept swimming, she said, "If I stop, I get too tired and it's harder to start back up again." Good for her! We have often said that she is built like a swimmer and I am pleased we are able to give her the opportunity to give it a go. Jay and I were joking last night that Sis will be our relay swimmer and MIni will be our water polo kid, since both adore the water.

As far as classes go, I am super thankful that the tumbling offers sibling and multiple class discount, which makes it very affordable. All the classes seem to have an element to offer the girls, both in challenge, togetherness and team work, individual focus and development, and enjoyment. The structure of these classes has given us the chance to have more routine in our lives, which is a blessing, truly a Godsend. I have often said that I am capable of following routine and schedule, but left to my own devices, I will likely drift from the originally drafted plans...So far, so good. 

Mini is a hoot and a holler these days, even in spite of her sleep troubles that have popped back up again. She is goofy and sweet, with facial expressions to match. One of her favorite phrases lately is, 'Dat's funny!' She has a big heart, full of compassion and drive, and with God's help, perhaps we can guide her toward the best avenues of exploring and using her gifts. She always seems to know who needs her smile or a hug. She has a special way about her that is terribly magnetic and loving, though she is still very much a toddler trying to find words to communicate and the storm can break out without much warning, especially if there is a lack of sleep. She has ever so many words and is enunciating more clearly than ever, much to her delight. She keeps asking to go on a walk, then follows that up with wanting to go to Meema's house. She doesn't quite get that we have to drive all the way through the entire state of California to get there, and little does she care, she just wants to go there and go to the beach!

The snow finally melted away, leaving behind it a plethora of mud, but the drier weather allowed the mud to subside and we can finally get back in the habit of daily outtings without massive bundles or clean up. In the midst of all this weather, we have had a wonderful season of family, friends, and feast! Perhaps more on that later, since I think this is enough for now and I may knit for a few before heading back home again. May your days be blessed.