Friday, April 18, 2014

Is it supposed to be this easy?

Maybe I'm doing something wrong or have the wrong expectations, but this year's Holy Week isn't as bad as I had feared, at least so far.

This morning we celebrated the Eucharist with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, and everything went pretty well. Timmo and I came home, and he didn't even wake up when I put him down for a nap straight from the car. Teddy and Lucia went shopping with Daddy for most of the things we'll make on Holy Saturday as well as things we're just running out of, and roses for the crown for tonight and rose petals for Holy Friday's Lamentations. He brought them home and put things away and everyone at least rested if they didn't actually nap.

Then about two hours before tonight's service, my husband looks up from his researches on decorating a crown with roses and says in an alarmed fashion, "There's the icon of the crucifixion for tonight." So he went to the church to get that icon as well as another icon (to get the floral pins out), get more flowers (first place didn't have any good ones), grumble about traffic (it has seemed especially bad this week, including this evening's "Let's merge onto the busy highway starting around 20 mph" driver right in front of me), and finally get enough good flowers (he has good taste in these things, we think) for the icon. Then he came home and wrangled food into the children and clothes onto them, and took them upstairs so I could murder flowers with pins in a hasty manner and then just about snatched the icon (the crown having already been taken out to the car as soon as it was finished) and vanished, leaving me to finish the wrangling job (okay, so it was mostly me waddling around trying to find my shoes and sunglasses and realizing that the rest of everything was still in the car).

Here's basically how tonight's service went: change a diaper while husband starts service, prayers and hymns, first gospel in the narthex, prayers and hymns, (repeat for four more gospel readings including a poopy diaper), go downstairs to put baby to bed, come out to chastise and feed oldest, go upstairs and get to be in church for gospels 8-10 (maybe?), unhappily find another poopy diaper by feel, and come back up for some closing remarks by husband, then venerate the cross with a little girl who won't and without a little boy who just fell asleep. (I had the service on my phone thanks to Fr. Seraphim's Digital Chant Stand, having loaned out my Holy Week book, but even then it was easy to lose my place, and I realized I could have stayed upstairs so the baby and I could have watched the cross procession, but he had just started settling down...)

I don't really feel like I'm able to pay attention to the services much if at all, but I think I might be yelling less. I do feel like I have my Holy Week blinders on. Everything is streamlined and focused on getting to church (at least physically). Does everyone have enough to eat? Does everyone have something to wear to church? (Yes, since they don't actually take clothes off at night, just at mealtimes if they can't eat neatly yet. All three children are asleep in their church clothes, and Teddy has inexplicably added a sleep mask* to his nighttime attire.) Is there a path through the living room to get out? Are there enough clean diapers? Are they put together? Do we have time to lie down and rest? Is there enough energy to get anything above minimum done? (Above minimum tasks for today included picking up a piece of toast on the living room floor and tossing it outside for the birds; starting a load of laundry (I'd like clean socks for tomorrow); and getting more than half an hour done on AFR transcripts.)

*When Daddy opened the door for Timmo to come out this morning, Timmo didn't even give him the time of day: he went straight for the sleep mask which was right outside the door, started censing with it and chanting (mostly "Aaah"), and bam! prostration! (This kid does not bend his knees, just puts his head on the floor.) I guess he's absorbing something from all these services. Tonight we were mostly in the narthex, and he was censing away (everything is a censer: pillowcase, bead necklace) and heard "ages of ages" and carefully intoned, "Amen"—his first, to my knowledge.

Teddy had earlier made a connection between Judas selling Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and Joseph's brothers selling him for 20 pieces of silver. (He really likes his Joseph book, a beautiful discard from some library that I found.) Then today he asked about Jesus' purple robe when talking about the procession of the cross in preparation for this evening's service.

I don't know what Lucia is picking up yet, but she seems to know what's going on in all the services, prompting me to get up or sit down or kneel. She even was ready to stand for the twelfth gospel pericope this evening.

So even if I think I am not paying attention to the services, I am certainly deriving the benefits of attending.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This will be a relatively pictures-heavy post, because it's late and I'm tired but I owe a post.

I am so grateful for our parishioners. The children know they are loved and welcome, and have acclimated themselves to the rigors of Holy Week beautifully. Last night I was almost skipping out of church because it was so (relatively) easy to stay in the service: Teddy with with C and Lucia nestled in with D and A, so I just had Timmo who was mostly content with me and his pillowcase, and occasional visits from Lucia.

Left: Book buddies in the service. Right: He started saying "nani" (Greek for "sleepytime") last night.

A big event: packages from Lucia's nouna! New clothes and Paschal candles!

She was thrilled with the dress at home, but then I realized she hadn't napped... until we got to church for the afternoon unction service... and when I brought out the camera it was a tragedy (but not for Timmo, who is perfectly happy in the bathroom with lots of things I don't want him to touch).

I tried getting a picture of the boys together with (close enough) matching outfits. It was worth getting Timmo one to match Teddy's because Teddy delights in it so much. (Delighting in it so much meant very fuzzy pictures, and Teddy had soccer practice between services... and Daddy is the coach, so I had a very limited window.) I did get this picture of our little ham.

We were graced by His Grace Demetrios's visit to our parish! The kids seemed to be okay with him from far off, but when it was time to be anointed... they showed how patient he is. And nobody kicked the bishop, so I think we're okay.
(Please don't move us. Please don't move us. Please don't move us.)

Got plenty of work done on AFR transcripts today. Need to rest more and take magnesium. Didn't manage a nap, but did manage to decorate the icon of the Mystical Supper in record time. (Husband was supposed to take pictures but, you know, had other things to do, so we'll try again tomorrow.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Three down, fourteen to go

-Unction (Hierarchal)
-Bridegroom with Unction
Sunday-Resurrectional liturgy
-Agape vespers

This will be the first year of trying the Presanctifieds in the mornings of the first three days of Holy Week. (My husband is all excited.)

Have learned from previous years not to have the beautiful looking Holy Week boxes. Those things are noisy. Maybe when the kids are older. For now, books seems to work, and a small thing of beads for a "censer." Tonight I also brought the lovey collection: blanket and pillow for Teddy, "George book" for Lucia, and Timmo's pillow. Seemed to work okay.

Last night, R came up to me and said that the kids were doing really well. I don't even remember anything else about that day. I am so grateful she took the time to say that, because that was not what I was seeing from my perspective at all, and it was a piece of kindness that, even a day later, is bringing tears to my eyes. I love this parish.

Fr. Peter had confession, so I took the kids home after service and surprised him by having them all in bed and the laundry started by the time he came home. Bedtime with Mommy is expeditious; what can I say? I reviewed the list of what needed to happen (and since the evening services start at seven this week, I don't have to worry about "Are you hungry?" afterwards, since they have eaten dinner), and delegated what I could, focusing on the smallest myself on up to the largest. It also helps that I leave the books at church and the other bags in the car, so I only had to bring in any soiled diapers for laundry and the lovey collection and the children, then change diapers, put on pajamas, do teeth, attempt a story, and tuck in.

Lucia continues to make impressive progress with her speech therapy, still working on /k/, /g/, /p/, and /t/. I don't know whether her therapist is inordinately cheerful (a definite possibility) or her progress is, indeed, impressive. (As you see, I've decided to go along with the professional opinion.) Teddy's soccer was canceled due to cold weather and wet ground. I know they're only five years old, and I'm glad of the break, but I think that's kinda wussy, given how my father (Brazil) and husband (Romania) grew up.

Managed to get in more than I thought I would today, including a shopping trip (mostly failed, but did get the groceries I went for), a nap (oh, yes!), and even some AFR work (which makes my husband happy: a great motivation). Better get to bed so I have a shot at the rest of the week.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: Timmo, although wiggly, is definitely interested in being in church. He kisses icons and crosses, censes with his little bead necklace (much quieter than spools), and does an amazing job on prostrations: anybody goes down (even if it's just Mommy picking something up, as long as it looks like kneeling), he puts his head on the floor (not bending his knees or anything)—done in utter sincerity and in earnest. This, following the example of his older siblings, makes all the struggle worth it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Today had Liturgy, church cleaning, and a children's retreat (sort of) afterwards, then the kids and I came home for a nap (skipping vespers in favor of dinner) and then a brief trip to the park across the way. Not what I'd call a great birthday, but it wasn't mine and I think Lucia had plenty of fun. (There are a couple of presents following her around until we can find a relatively quiet time when we're all together... might not be tomorrow, either.)
Somebody can open the door to his bedroom and shorten Mommy's nap!

Follow that kite!
(Yes, they're all in that picture, from green to blue to yellow.)

A brief moment of rest in which to admire a new three-year-old.

Onward and upward!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mostly dirt

Accomplished more than I thought possible today, and am feeling happy and achy because of it. Two transcriptions for AFR (need to be double-checked, but they're done). Got more dirt for the garden, courtesy of a parishioner with a truck—and it's all out of the driveway. (Yay for free horse manure compost!) The minivan has been vacuumed, blankets reclaimed from the clutches of seats stapling them down, and car seats restored to their proper places. (Dang, that's a lot of Cheerios.)

Teddy had a bit of a hairy time with math this morning, but struggled through it. Once outside, he is quite helpful and creative. (But always in motion, so no picture.)

I love how Timmo is so bright and mimics so many different things. I was sitting on the steps, so he came to sit on the steps, too. Then Lucia was playing with rocks, and that looked much more fun. He couldn't decide between us for quite a while. Then I think there was a ball, so that settled the matter.

After playing in the dirt, all the children were bathed, and my husband was in charge of bedtime. By the time I got there, he had been liberally festooned.

Today was the last day my beautiful girl is two years old. She is so delightful.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Day off"

This morning I was able to get a little work done on AFR as well as some weeding outside. Husband took the kids for a swim in the afternoon, and I had one of those naps that is actually restful. It was glorious.

In the evening I was able to get more AFR done. I rather dread it because it is such a large and hairy project.

The main thing that got done today was my husband's work in the garden. He is making a raised bed, and I stumbled upon a horse place on Craigslist with free composted manure for hauling, so he took the newly emptied recycling and yard waste bins and some smaller bins and brought back some lovely dirt to fill in the patch.

Seems like I should have done more to be as tired as I am, but I guess being six months along will be sufficient. This one sure does kick!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Best $2 I've spent

Today I exhausted myself going shopping. Didn't find a maternity Easter dress, but did find other things on my list, specifically a "reach tool," according to the receipt. I no longer have to bend over to pick up the multitude of small items strewn everywhere! One problem I had not foreseen, though, was a certain tiny boy trying to claim it as his "bacuum." Timmo was afraid of it at first, but then I got handy enough at using it to tickle his back. I do love that belly laugh!

So tired tonight after Presanctified that I was having trouble focusing my eyes together, but I did drive the kids home safely. Timmo was out before we got home, and the big kids were perfectly behaved so they got another chapter of Little House.