Monday, April 28, 2014


Crazy-busy day. Husband got an email saying, yes, he could have some 100 bricks for $10 after all, right before he was supposed to leave to get another priest and go off into the wilds of Wisconsin for a few days. So there are bricks in our backyard, which were my suggestion, but now I don't remember having a specific idea of what to do with them.

Then we went to speech therapy, where the swing was put to good use. Lucia has gotten beautiful /g/ and /k/ sounds, so her speech therapist wants to work on /s/ sounds and verbs. (This is one of the few shots without the boys in it: everyone loves going here as she is fun and the toys are fun, too.)

On the way home I realized that Teddy had outgrown his play shoes and there was soccer this evening, so I dragged the kids to several thrift stores in search of the elusive 10.5+, but came home with overtired everybody and a tricycle. (One of our two broke, and this one is a "high-seater like at M and G's house!" according to Teddy. When we got it home I noticed it said Radio Flyer. Score! But just out of curiosity, how come when I was little all the cool second-hand stuff was "boy colors" and now we have two floral trikes and a flowery helmet?)

So when I was on the phone with the husband asking whether I should get Teddy some (pink) soccer cleats (at least they were size 11 and useful, and Teddy was enthusiastic), he mentioned that soccer was cancelled for tonight due to high winds and upcoming weather.

Made pizza for everyone and got to the library almost at the very beginning of the movie (Fro- that one) for family storytime. They had chocolates and popcorn! (By the way, Timmo can say "chocolate" as well as "open." Quite disconcerting, but I, ah, "helped" him with that.) The few snippets I saw of the movie seemed kinda cute, but at one point Timmo was completely disinterested and we made a foray (half an hour?) into the actual library where he flirted shameless with a librarian and learned the words "uh-oh" and "ta da!" complete with hand motions, although he had to cue his audience a couple of times.

At bedtime prayers, Lucia was singing along with lots of "Christ is risen" with Teddy and me. (So we did it three times in English. And then the Lord's Prayer three times, too, and I got extra snuggles.) The dishes are clean in the dishwasher, the baby laundry is hanging up, and there are two baskets of clean laundry in the living room. The basement guy is supposed to come tomorrow morning, and then I hope we'll still be able to get to the art program at the library later. I've pencilled in "collapse and eat chocolates on the couch" for the afternoon, but need something for the little ones to do. Maybe we'll go shopping again and try another part of town for those blasted shoes. (Why, yes, I do have a two-hour nap and a further one-hour quiet time period written in my schedule daily for the week. I just don't have someone to tie me down and make me rest like I should.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bright Saturday

Today marks the end of the first week of Pascha. I think in many ways it's been harder than Holy Week. We've been trying to do too many things for too long. The basement has been waterproofed, my computer has been de-virused, we went to speech therapy once and soccer twice. Father's vestments have been dry cleaned (except he forgot the epitrachelion for one set and just realized that today). We went to Des Moines for vespers for St. George, and stayed in Cedar Rapids for services the morning of the feast. There were two swimming excursions, another vespers (with only Father and Teddy attending while the rest of us napped) and Liturgy for the feast of the Theotokos, the Life-giving Spring. Then we got to hang out with friends at a barbecue last night and a liturgical burning this morning. There was a city festival where I thought we could get the two big kids free bike helmets, but that part didn't pan out well. Teddy and I did get cake and ice cream and stickers and coloring books, and he planted some sunflower seeds (which we will try not to kill) and I got sunburned. I thought there was yoga, but there wasn't, so I ended up taking a walk of about half a mile before Father and the kids came back for me, which might not seem like much for people who are not shaped like the letter thorn ( þ ). My left leg was actually falling asleep for the last part. Then we went to vespers and the kids all seemed to have melt-downs, so after some help getting them in the van, we went home and I fed them and did the whole bedroom routine so that the baby laundry was done and they were in bed both before 8:30.

Then I cried because I'm tired and ungainly and useless because I can't move and what am I going to do next week (and probably a bit because I had sunburn) and Father had to go out on another errand after staying for confessions after vespers, but he brought doughnuts and I had a restorative soak and it's all better because I get to go to bed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Living in the Resurrection

Now that we have passed through the rigors of Lent and Holy Week, our challenge is to live the Resurrection. I'm not exactly sure how to do that, but my heart has been happy the past couple of days, even as my body has basically hit me upside the head and told me to go lie down because, dang, walking around for five minutes is exhausting.

We had a lovely time at Agape Vespers and the following egg hunt. I am especially grateful to R after I just about collapsed in a chair in the narthex. I couldn't get downstairs to collect our things so we could go home, and a lady was asking Father for assistance, so I couldn't get his attention, and R made me stay still and drink two large glasses of water and generally fussed over me. Then I sat and emptied my kids' eggs into their baskets and returned the eggs with Mr. J's help so that I don't have to feel guilty next year for not buying plastic eggs to donate for the egg hunt. (Note to self: remember not to feel guilty next year.)

After a bath and a nap (which I'd done before the Resurrectional service and decided it was a lovely idea), we went over to E's house and played with her children and tractor (very important) and listened to the owl across the street and generally had a marvelous time. Her presence is so completely restful. Her house reminds me of being with my childhood best friend's mother. I would love to have that kind of affect in my home. Somehow the glorious mess of Holy Saturday seems charming in church but not in our own living room.
(An example of the Holy Saturday mess.)

Today we started having our basement waterproofed. The huge amounts of noise were annoying while I was working on next week's bulletin and related things, but immensely soothing when I tried to take a nap in the afternoon: I only was pestered by noises caused by people wanting me to do something. The hammering/drilling was actually putting me to sleep and I was sorry they stopped.

Then we went to Lucia's speech therapy. She is making excellent progress, putting words and sounds together more often and more quickly. Timmo, however, seems to take this as a personal challenge and is adding words almost two a day to his spoken vocabulary. In addition to last week's nani, amen, wi(s)dom, he's added open and mine, the latter just this morning!

After some time at the playground and another nap, we headed out to Teddy's soccer (and playground for me and the two littles so Timmo didn't steal all the balls all the time). After we came home, I rested while Teddy got a haircut, kids were bathed, sung, and prayed over and then put to bed.

Tomorrow we'll attempt vespers for St. George in Des Moines, a load of laundry or two, and trying to find the living room again, one sock at a time. It's a bit frustrating knowing there is so much work to be done, trying to stay in a resurrectionally-minded outlook, and not really being able to do much or for very long. (I am continuing to ignore the kitchen.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Friday

This morning we went to the Royal Hours of Pascha. Most of my time was spent in the narthex, but Timmo managed to get all the way through the gospel reading for the ninth hour. We did plenty of prostrations and censing ourselves. In addition to "amen," he has started to copy his sister and her new word: "wisdom!"

The unnailing vespers in the afternoon is a blur, but I was quite surprised that Timmo voluntarily crawled under the kouvouklion. (Traditionally children crawl underneath in the shape of a cross after the vespers service.) His big brother finally didn't put up a fuss this year, and I dragged Lucia through. But then we couldn't get Timmo away! He really liked it, and kept going.  It may not have been "proper," but after Lucia's earlier screaming it was nice to have all three children laughing happily together beneath the tomb of the Life-Giver.

The children and I stayed home from Lamentations in the evening. (Two services a day seems to be the limit.) The big kids got to watch part of a Chicago church's service and they tried to sing along. Teddy did pretty well with the Greek.

His prostrations crack me up.

He just makes me happy.

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.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Little horse

Teddy and Fr. Peter and I had a good time outside this morning while the two little ones were asleep. I finished raking the front yard and swept the front walk, and Fr. Peter removed more of the bushes in the front to make room for his incoming black currant bushes.

Our lovely midwife came today for the 27-week check-up. My plan to keep the kids out of the way totally didn't work. I was going to have my husband take the Duplo bucket upstairs and dump the blocks in Lucia's room. Well, he told Lucia to go up... and Timmo was holding onto the bucket and pulled Lucia down the stairs head first. (I caught her, but I needed a hug, too, after that.) So Lucia went up with the toys and Timmo clung to me. Teddy is fascinated by the midwife, so he stayed, but relatively in the background this time. I put Timmo on my legs so he could be touching me and see what was going on. The midwife put her measuring tape on my belly and he totally lost it. His face scrunched up and he just wailed like watching this was the worst thing that had ever happened to him. I had a hard time stopping laughing.

This time the baby didn't kick away the Doppler or run and hide, so we got to hear a nice little heartbeat, sounding just like the little horse it should.

The kids and I stayed home from the Philoptochos meeting, as it was starting to get pretty hairy and hectic when it was time to leave, so I nudged the husband out the door and things were fine. I had opened the windows in the boys' room to air it out a bit, so I went upstairs to make sure nobody went out either window. (Unlikely, but one of those nagging "they're too quiet" things. And I did catch them "listening to the outside noises" when they did figure out that the (screened) windows were open.) Since I was up there, the mess started getting to me, so I reorganized the landing, asking Teddy where things should go, and he gave some really nice suggestions and approved all of mine.

Poor Mister Timmo was so tired he dragged his pillow everywhere with him, not wanting to be left out, but definitely ready for pajamas and bedtime.

They're pretty scrumptious.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Two busy days

Yesterday was the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt. Got the kids to church, attempted a few places to sit with the kids, but had to keep taking them out for one reason (screaming) or another (screaming). Eventually we relocated to the other side of the church, two pews back (which meant they couldn't really see much of what was going on). I remembered to give them a quarter each for the collection basket at the children's sermon (Timmo tried to eat his; we left for the narthex), and record it. I am quite far behind on transcribing those...

We stayed for the coffee hour, and basically had a baby table. (One parishioner remarked on it and asked whether he needed to have a baby to sit there. I offered him Lucia's baby doll, and he said, "My favorite kind.") Stayed long enough at the general assembly meeting to determine that my warm body wasn't needed, so I took all three kids home and we had a nap. Teddy survived trying to wake me up, and then it was time to get up and go to Waterloo for the pan-Orthodox vespers at St. Elias. Their parishioners are so welcoming. We raided their little library for children's books for Teddy. Lucia followed me around with her baby doll and had baby kiss all the icons she could reach, as I was having Timmo kiss all the icons I could reach for him. He also charmed everyone with his little spool-necklace/censer. The food afterwards was marvelous, although Lucia's direct application of chocolate cake left much to be desired. (Someone unknown gave it to her, not Mommy or Daddy, and she wouldn't eat more than a few bites of dinner after that; Timmo made up for this lack by eating about three grown-up sized dinners, it seemed.) Like last year, we closed out the place, with wonderfully patient people waiting for us to finish changing our extraordinarily messy little ones.

This morning I called to get a three-year-old appointment for Lucia (we'd been putting off something or other and I kept referring to her appointment "next month" and then realized I didn't actually have an appointment), which we had in the afternoon, 15 minutes after her speech therapy. So that was exciting. In the morning, I did a little bit more for Fr. Seraphim, and then spent a bit more than half an hour in the yard, raking. It was fun to go outside as a family and do things.

This afternoon got us a little bit of rest after the doctor's appointment, but not much, because Teddy's spring soccer (with Daddy coaching) started today. Fortunately, the site is between home and church, so we were only halfway through compline (Daddy left early, of course—I'm grateful he's not the only coach) when we got there. It was okay, especially since the last half is more heavily weighted with prostrations and easy responses, but we were still camping out in the narthex due to just... I don't know. But we had lots of it.

Then I took all three kids home so Fr. Peter could do his Orthodox spirituality class in peace. (It's the last week! I might see my husband again!) I decided Lucia was done eating when she started wiping her hair with hands covered in mashed potato (earlier I'd gotten leaves out of her hair from a confusedly described game of "birthday"). Kids were in bed before eight; although there may have been some screaming, none of it came from the boys. Had to get Teddy out of bed when I remembered his antibiotics, but at least it was a good four hours earlier than midnight (when I woke him up last night, poor thing). When he and I were closing the bedroom door (so Timmo stays in), he peeked out at me and reminded me, "Think of all the things we'll do tomorrow!" So I guess he had fun today.

I started this section of the blog because I really liked Fr. Aidan's calm and relatively short reflections about the priesthood. These are more a testimony of banal, quotidian survival. I mean, there's a beauty in that, but it feels more... with fingernails, or something, than anything to do with calm. And there's still Holy Week to go. (I have nightmarish memories of last year when I was carrying the two little ones up the stairs at the same time. Now they're bigger... and so am I.)

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Back to yoga

Finished transcribing all three podcasts today. Whew. Unless there's another round, I can get back to the other computery projects which have been nagging at me in my head. Oh, and it would be nice to do some housework so I can walk around the house without risk of severe bodily harm in one form or another. And clean socks would be awesome, not that I can see my feet most of the time.

I did go outside for my half hour (with the kids for much of it) and finish filling the yardy, picking up sticks and whatnot. Not sure what else I can do in the yard until after trash day comes again. Aha! I went to look up getting a second yardy, and the leaf vacuum collection (big hit with the kids: vacuum truck) will start next week! I hadn't realized there was a spring one in addition to the one in the fall. So I can still rake and put things by the curb.

In the afternoon, I went to yoga, taught by E, one of our parishioners. She is lovely. It was just me and one other lady, also a good friend. We laughed quite a bit, especially when E told us to put our hands on the blocks on the chairs and we both sort of stared at the blocks and thought, "Well, that looks a bit further away than it used to." The first part wasn't as intense as I'd feared, but I was definitely warmer by the end of the first half, whose motto was: "Do what you can."

For the second half, E propped me up on a bolster on some blocks (about a 40-degree angle, I'd guess) and blankets, wrapping my feet up, propping up my knees, tucking my arms into a blanket and putting a weighted bag on my forehead. I felt almost like a little doll, all wrapped up. I woke myself snoring four times. After the second, meditation half, we sat up (quite slowly) and E read us a little story about the woman anointing Jesus with the costly nard: she did what she could. She didn't make Jesus a five-course meal, she didn't sell the ointment and give to the poor, but she did what she could.

I love E's meditations after each yoga class. Even in the classes with lots of people (and not necessarily Orthodox or even Christian), I know that her teachings are safe and related to the God I know. Then she had us put some lovely-smelling oils on our aching parts (knees for the other lady, ankles for me) and rub them in. It was immensely peaceful, and I'm looking forward to doing that again soon. (We were hoping to do Saturdays, but next week is Lucia's birthday, and then Holy Saturday when we'll all be too busy, but the next one is something to look forward to.

Teddy has been taking these children's magazine activities and getting excited about cutting them out and making a book or playing a card game with them, so I really thrilled him by taking a sheet of paper, folding it, stapling it, and cutting the folds to make a book for him. I asked him to write me a story and illustrate it, so he took one of his favorite Tigger books and dutifully (and beautifully) copied about four or five pages of it, words and pictures and colors. I hope to do more in that regard, inspired by Barbara Shukin's journals. (I wish we'd had more time at her booth, as I don't see the Orthodox or Lenten ones on her website... oh, she has more than one website. Excellent.)

So I took my time about getting to vespers. We were late, coming in the middle of the aposticha, but I hadn't yelled at anyone (I think), and everyone had eaten and gotten dressed. (We won't mention the state of Lucia's hair.) Teddy was a bit frustrated with Lucia not sharing "her" books, but he had patience and, of course, she shared with him once it was up to her and not a demand. She was a very good mommy to her baby doll, making sure that the baby kissed the cross at the end, which made my husband do a double-take. Timmo seemed quite content to stay put, censing or looking at things, especially that fascinating baby Z in the pew just in front of us who made noises occasionally! (I can't wait until he's up and making trouble with my kids, who are pretty much ready to adore him as much as he'll let them.)

I was even able to get everyone out and home mostly by myself! (It took a few trips and lots of persuading, but again, no yelling. This double-header of confession and yoga is seriously excellent.) We went home and I asked who was hungry, thinking maybe one of them, but, no, they all professed to be hungry. I had my doubts, and when Lucia was throwing cereal on the floor for Timmo to eat, I decided she was done. Timmo was done soon afterwards, and I reaffixed the baby gate (grumble, grumble, just did it before we left for vespers), and emptied the dishwasher. Then I went and wrote out a list of all the things I needed to get done with them, and went and attacked it: medicine, vacuum noses, pajamas, teeth, prayers. (No story as there was pee on the floor. Fingers were pointed, baking soda was applied. I will wait to refloor the upstairs until the youngest is well past potty training, but I'm looking forward to it already.) Then started the baby laundry, got myself something to eat, and finished up the transcriptions.

Tomorrow should be interesting, with a special guest at the general assembly to help us move forward productively with our plans to make our parish more accessible and more functional as it should be. Not sure whether I'll be there (sometimes the extra warm body outweighs the rowdiness of tired children, so I'll ask), but then there's the last pan-Orthodox vespers to attend.

Next week Teddy starts soccer, with Daddy helping to coach again. (I promise I didn't volunteer him; he did this all on his own this time!) We may not be able to make all of the practices with evening services (this soccer is twice a week, but cheaper than last summer's program, which makes me glad I looked this one up), but will attempt something regular, at least.

I think as long as I have something to look forward to, and useful things to do, I can be happy. Right now I am tired, but looking forward to things. So very grateful for confession yesterday and yoga today.

Greedy for virtuous strength, or: confession

Just realized I forgot to post about yesterday. Husband and I had confession with Fr. Elias, and for the first time I went first (they decided, since Timmo looked like he might go to sleep in Fr. Peter's arms—he didn't). Going first is way better, since I didn't have all the time my husband was confessing to worry about how unprepared I was. Got plenty of advice on what to do with the children in church (lower expectations of participation, don't worry about anyone's opinion except Christ's, bring quiet books).

Had an interesting time decorating the icon in the afternoon. We decided that Fr. Peter would go during naptime to get flowers and stop by Michael's to get more foam for a frame, since the large frame would be needed for some icons during Holy Week. That meant he needed to take the frame with him, so I started taking off the flowers—and a certain lovely lady who had decorated the icon last week seems to have completely replaced the foam frame! It was a wonderful treat, and saved us time and energy on a busy day. Fr. Peter and Teddy went out to get flowers from Aldi and came back with a mixed bouquet, and three of six roses each (one pink, two red).

I took off the old flowers and put them in a boxlid, carefully putting the pins on the table next to it. I asked my husband to take the flowers out to be put with the yard waste. While he was out dumping, I noticed that there were only three pins on the table. I asked Teddy where the pins were. "I put them in the box."

So my husband who is fighting off a cold got more clothes on and patiently sorted through the yard waste and came up with about 12. He came in and asked how many we started with. I wasn't sure, but thought about 25 or 27—and I need at least one per rose, 'cause they're persnickety like that. He said it was really hard as I'd filled the yardy halfway with brown sticks and leaves and the pins really blended in and there wasn't much of a way to distinguish them. So we tested the refrigerator magnets, and they were strong enough to work pretty well, and he came back with several more. (There are probably a few in the yardy, but there were enough for all the roses and a few more for the other flowers. We should really figure out where to buy some more...)

It was fun getting the lights from the chandelier to frame Mother and Child.

Before we left for church, I made sure the kids had eaten. I snatched up (we're always in a rush) about five books about church and saints and off we went. On the way there, I reviewed what we do when we get to church with the children, and told them that this time we were going to sit one pew back from where we usually sit, and our job was to stay there and to be quiet. (The front pew where we usually make camp is open to the front of the church, with no physical barrier.)

I actually had a pretty good time with the kids in church. Teddy started in the altar but came out after a while and looked through the children's books and paged through the Akathist book and pestered me about what page we were on, etc. He didn't want to read the prayer that week, but seemed rather content when I didn't bother him about standing, sitting, facing the front, etc. Lucia had her baby doll and was taking care of her while I was taking care of Timmo. (We both went to the back of the church and walked around for a bit, patting our babies on their backs. Must remember not to step backwards while I have my shadow trailing me so closely.) She was a bit distressed a couple of times about the "don't leave the pew" rule, but mostly adhered to the idea. Timmo was pretty tired and fussy. He really wanted to go to Daddy, especially when there was censing. I had stuck a necklace of wooden spools in my pocket, and brought that out. Timmo was quite happy with that for a while, and very good at not smacking them into anything (which didn't help my nerves, because I kept expecting him to). When he got really fussy, a couple of parishioners took him over and kept him mostly downstairs after a while. He was ready to go to sleep, but kept fighting it. One reported he kept tugging at his right ear. (No no no no.)

So we're still working things out and seeing what works and what doesn't, and sometimes what worked before doesn't work any more. Hope everyone (especially me) has the patience for this.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

On the mend or just lazy?

Mostly concentrated on feeling better today, despite my plan to get lots of work done. I putzed around (mostly on the computer) until about three and then went to bed for what turned out to be a three-hour nap. And then it took another half hour just to get up again. I did manage to go outside in the morning and pick up sticks and rake leaves for another half hour, not quite filling the yardy but making some little progress. The husband might be coming down sick, too, just to join the party. (No pool today.)

Teddy came to show me his colored drawing of "The Chalice of Holy Comunion" [sic]: "The red is for the wine which is the blood after it's blessed, and the brown is the bread, and the blue is the water, and the gold is what I see when I help in the altar. And I need to stick another /m/ in there."

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


When it comes to thinking back over the events of the day, with a day like this one it's hard to remember anything prior to the latest meal. Fortunately I took a few pictures to jog my memory.

I finished a long transcript (still have two in the queue, with plenty of work and volunteer needs after that).

Made myself go outside, remembering Kh. Nicole's "all children should go outside for at least half an hour a day." I tried to take Lucia with me, and told her she could take her "babies" with her. Eventually she interested herself enough to put on socks and shoes. She found a baby doll in the garage and was supremely happy the rest of the day. (She is sleeping with the baby doll now.)
Lucia's "babies." According to her: "Hands! La-la-la."

There was a bit of miscommunication about how much math Teddy needed to do to go outside and/or get crayons. I had given him a sheet of copywork and a sheet of skip counting. He finished the copywork and I flipped it over and found a picture of an ornate chalice on the back with the words, "The Chalice of Holy Comunion." He asked for crayons, and I told him he needed to finish his math first. Evidently he had a prior deal with Daddy to only do half a page of math, so the next time I saw him he had crayons and wasn't interested in going outside.

So I picked up sticks and leaves for fifteen minutes and exhausted myself. Then Teddy came outside, so I stuck it out for another fifteen and actually filled the giant "Yardy" with debris. (Not much of a difference from the sidewalk and driveway in the back of the house, which is all I did, so I'll have plenty to do in coming days...) I turned around and found a beautiful chalk drawing. I asked Teddy about it and why he drew it, and he said that's what they talked about at St. Emmelia's with the story of the red egg, because we're preparing for Pascha! Then he drew a church for Daddy, and got in the picture as I asked (but not really what I was thinking of when I asked him).

I got to thinking about the St. Emmelia conference. It was a lot more hard work than I had anticipated, but the kids are simply blooming from the workshops they attended as well as the twice-a-day chapel services (especially Timmo on the latter, although I'm so frazzled I couldn't say why I think that). I started getting excited and wary about asking my husband for more services at the parish or at home.

Husband was gone for an appointment before office hours and didn't come back before Presanctified, so I had the kids again. Even though we were late (as usual *sigh*), I did get them dressed and fed. Although they were rather wiggly, and the only children in church, I thought they did really well, but had had enough for the day, so after the shared meal I was going to take them home and ask Father to record his talk. That plan seemed to work, and I had put the kids to bed, taken out the trash and recycling, and was starting the baby laundry, when Father came home, having forgotten to record his talk, with a third-hand "they say" that the children were "distracting." I'm beat.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Workaday Fool

I am working hard at finding working hard to be exhilarating. Fr. Peter wrangled children amidst his work for the morning so I could work on computery things. Then he took Lucia (and Timmo) to her ophthalmologist visit (another two months of two-hours-a-day patching, but things are improving, hurrah!) and I brought Teddy to church in the church car and we two hopped into the van and got more fuel and mailed things to lovely friends (at last! I keep missing the mailman!).

Fr. Peter had office hours and then had a long appointment, so I had the kids for most of the afternoon and for the bedtime routine. I let them at each other for quite a while but didn't manage to get much work done. (I really love that they love those Duplo blocks so much!) Then I figured I should do something with them, so I wrote out a brief schedule (feed at such a time, clean up at such a time, teeth and pajamas and prayers and such a time), but they ate faster than I thought, so there was time for a bath. I told Teddy that if he picked up the blocks he could have a bath. All three went to work with concentration and alacrity!

So while they picked up the floor of the living room, I gathered the clean laundry that had spread over the couches and chairs, including the thrift store finds from a while ago (two weeks?). While they took their bath (I had to remove some toys so there would be enough room for all three. Sheesh.) I was in and out putting things away, tidying up the bathroom, etc. Now I can see how dirty it is. Blech. But at least it's not covered with toilet paper and hair any more.

Lucia was first out. (I'd found a Winnie-the-Pooh towel at the back of the shelf.) Then Teddy was ready to come out. Timmo was all: I finally got all the toys to myself and you want to take me out just because I look cold? Once he was in pajamas, he went straight to his pillow and put his head down, not even bothering to lie down! So I combed and braided Lucia's hair, and after prayers took the big kids to her room for their chapter of Little House on the Prairie. (Teddy is very good about what chapter we're on, which is great because I don't seem to have bookmarks when/where I need them. We finished chapter three, in case you'd like to keep tabs.)

During the reading, Teddy's toenails were bothering them. So after the chapter, we three went downstairs and did toenails and fingernails and cuticles (brave little souls). I did Teddy and he asked to go up to bed. Then Lucia got back in her pajamas (they're footed, so the whole thing had to come off to get to her toenails) and bade me goodnight and went up the stairs herself. ("Mama nani!") When I went up to hang up the baby laundry on the drying rack, there was a prone little girl in the hallway. I guess she was rebuffed from sleeping with her brothers and didn't make it back to her own bed.

Made a start at updating the budget spreadsheet. Had figured out the new HSA cards and online access and whatnot this morning... or was that yesterday? In any case, I made a bit of progress on bills and things, although I still have an untidy heap of receipts (and a more careful log on my phone) from last week's trip. Got one little podcast transcribed, and found out that Bobby had made a blog post on AFR because someone posted about it on FB! Now I really need to get cracking on things. And with that, getting to bed soon (although "on time" is right out for the evening) is a priority.

I really like the spreadsheet tied to earning money, even if it's only a few cents here and there, and I'm just rearranging which account the money is going to. So getting out of bed on time has a financial pull to it, so even though I've missed the going to bed on time (and lights out) mark, I still have something else to shoot for. Also, the temperature goes down after ten o'clock and there's a lovely down comforter awaiting me.