Moab UT

Moab UT

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The ladies after five

We went to a Christmas party last night.  When I told them we had a party at six, they immediately took the opportunity to put a little extra flair.  

I love how Katherine's scarf is tucked in to a ribbon on her belt.  Thea's scarf flowed down her back, coupled with a diamond number around her neck that my mom got her for Christmas.  

Zoe took the practical route and just put a church head scarf on.

You know it's time for Christmas detox when:

You ask your three year old what we should have for lunch and she says:  "How bout goldfish and pretzels!"

"You put steamed vegetables on the table and your children say:  "But it's Christmas!"

Your children wake up and assume that it's OK to have cookies for breakfast.

Hope your having a glorious feast of the birth of our Saviour!  Clearly my children are.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Signing off for now!

I won't have time to blog between now and Nativity, so I'll wish you and your family a blessed and joyous feast of the Nativity of our Lord!

All of creation rejoiceth in thee, O Full of Grace, the assembly of angels and the race of men.  O Sanctified Temple and spiritual Paradise, the glory of virgins, of whom God was incarnate and became a child-our God before the ages.  He made thy body into a throne, and thy womb He made more spacious than the heavens.  All of creation rejoiceth in Thee, O Full of Grace.  Glory to thee!  ~ Hymn to the Theotokos

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Three doctors, three opinions

So, a certain three year old doctor told me tonight, as I was playing a heated game of Rat-a-tat-cat, that I didn't look so good and that she thought a check up was in order.  Before I knew it, I was laying on the couch with a seven yr. old, a five yr. old and a three yr. old all giving three different opinions about what should be done.

Zoe:  "I fink she's sick."
Katherine:  "We need to cut her open."
Thea:  "We just need to kiss her and she will wake up."

Zoe:  "Let's take her temperature."
Katherine:  "Let's cut her open."
Thea:  "Let's kiss her."

Zoe:  "Hold still mommy and I'll listen to your heart."
Katherine:  "I'm telling you she needs to be cut open."
Thea:  "She just needs to be loved."

The moral of the story is to always get a second opinion and maybe even a third.


Is that you?  

The feast draws nigh!

A few more days and we will be celebrating the feast of Nativity!  

I am ready.  The groceries are bought, the cards and gifts are wrapped and mailed.  

We decorated the tree on Sunday evening.  The girls are beside themselves with joy.  

Tomorrow we'll decorate the church and our home.  We will start baking sweets after we decorate the church.  Thursday we'll have several services and end the day with Holy Supper with our parishioners.  Friday morning we'll wake up, have liturgy and go to my mom and dad's for the day with my brothers and their families.  This is a precious time.  

I thank God for all that He has given to our family.  Living at the rectory, we see a steady stream of people who are hungry, sick, alone, confused, strung out, sad, the list goes on and on.  I feel so blessed to be able to put food on our table three times a day.  I feel blessed to have clean clothes and a washer an dryer in my home.  I feel blessed to have a warm home and a bed, a hot shower, our health, two cars!  I pray I never forget to give thanks for all that God has given to us.  I pray I never forget to ask forgiveness for forgetting to give thanks!

May you all have a glorious week leading up to the feast of the Nativity of our Lord.  May we all remember to give thanks for the great goodness and wealth God has given us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Memory Eternal!

Remember, O Lord, the soul of thy departed servant, Vladyka Job, that has fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection and life eternal, and grant him eternal memory!

You get what you get,

and you don't throw a fit.  Especially if you've waited until the 11th hour to take Nativity pictures of your children.  

Can someone tell me why I can take hundreds of pictures of my children that are so great, except when I really need a picture to send out with Christmas cards that are already really late?  

I tried to take some photos of the girls outside the other day and Zoe, being a true Texan, could only take a few minutes of posing in the free-sing (her word-not mine) 60 degree weather.  (There are a couple of drawbacks to being a Texan, not many, but a few.)

We had another photo shoot today, this time indoors.  I think I got a few good ones-thankfully.  
Hope your having a lovely week in preparation for the feast.  Mine just got lovelier!  :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Slowing down

It's time for us to wind down with homeschooling and start to focus on what lies ahead in the next few weeks.  The girls are antsy and know that a break from school is close at hand.  The feast of St. Nicholas always seems to give them the heads up that we'll be slowing down until after the first of the year.  

Katherine has finished up a math workbook, so we'll not start a new one until after the first of the year.   From now until after our break we will focus on reading and spirituality.  These two areas we try to never lay aside.  

We will decide on crafts to make for our loved ones and start working on those this week.  We'll try to focus more intently on the Lord over the next few weeks-and what His birth means for us.  We'll meditate on our blessings, those blessings we love and those that have challenged us, and we'll give thanks for them all.  We'll try to be quiet and not get caught up in the insanity of the world at this time.  

A blessed preparation for the coming of our Lord to you all!  

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A time to pray

Last Monday morning we got up early and headed down to Holy Archangels Monastery in Kendalia.  It is an Athonite Greek Monastery hidden in the Texas Hill Country.  As I've mentioned many times before, I love monasteries and wish that everyone could have the opportunity to cultivate and be a part of a monastery on a regular basis.  I am  blessed time and time again by the quiet, the conversations, the wisdom of the elders and the opportunity to pray unceasingly.  

The brothers at Holy Archangels are so precious.  They have truly committed themselves to the monastic life and in going there one cannot help but feel the Holy Spirit.  The fruit of the labor of the brothers is clear.  

We try not to bother the brothers in any way, but they always have something new to show us and spend time talking with us and making sure we feel cared for.  

One of the brothers took us up to the bell tower and gave us a course on the different kinds of bells and the purpose of each one.  He even let Katherine ring the bells.  

Thea became very preoccupied with the graves this visit.  She wanted to take several walks with Papa to the cemetery to visit the graves.  She took countless pictures and talked and talked about those people who have fallen asleep in the Lord.  Fr. Justin was happy to oblige her and talk about prayers for the departed.  My girls have been to many funerals and so it was good to spend time at the cemetery and talk about the need to continue to pray for those who have fallen asleep.  Thea took the picture of the cross on the grave in this post.

The services at the monstery are beautiful.  I remember the first time we went as a family, I was worried that I would be distracted with the services in greek since I don't speak the language.  I also thought the girls would be bored since they couldn't understand the services.  But the services are so beautiful and holy that no one ever even mentions that we don't understand what is being said.  In fact, I never feel like I don't understand what is being said.  I always feel completely part of the service.  We all just listen and pray silently. 

Here are a few pics of our stay.  May the Lord grant us a visit again soon!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I am so thankful

for this man.

Blanco State Park

As promised, here are some pics of our time down in the Hill Country last week.  Blanco is about ten miles from the monastery and is a lovely little spot to camp.  They also have covered shelters which are screened in.  

The Blanco River runs through the park and it also has a couple of great playground areas.  There are several great climbing trees and a hiking trail.  

Our first night in the park we went to sleep with lovely 60 degree weather, but were awakened at about 4:00a.m. by a cold front which brought the temp down to about the mid 40's.  The following night we slept in 30 degree weather.  Hey, we're Texans, we're tough right?  
Well,  I'll just say that if you had told me that the weather was going to drop to 30 at night, I'm not sure I would have been up for the trip.  However, it wasn't bad at all.  Once we all got in our bags and cozied up we were snug as bugs in a rug-and warm too!  

We probably won't make another camping trip until the spring, but I am excited about our new little spot.  Well, I should say early spring-before the rattle snakes wake up.  One of the brothers showed us a rattle snake head and the rattler preserved in a jar.  It was quite large.  I really didn't want to ask if there were lots of snakes in the area, but I couldn't help it.  His answer, "Oh yeah, they're all over the place."  

Did I say I was a tough Texan?  I take it back.  

We were all very motivated to get up at 5:00a.m. the next morning and get to the 6:00a.m. liturgy, where it was nice and warm.  

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's been a little too long!

It's been a little too long since I've been able to write here.  My computer has proven to have a fickle personality.  Some friends stopped by for a surprise visit today and Fr. Basil just so happens to have the magic touch.  He got my computer running again.  Let's hope it lasts.

So much has been going on down here in the south.  Most recently we celebrated Thanksgiving, took a glorious trip to Holy Archangels Monastery, and took part in the blessing of our new women's monastery, The Nativity of our Lord, in Kemp, TX.  

We started out on Monday morning by driving down to Kendalia to Holy Archangels Men's Monastery.  I love this monastery.  The brother's there are absolutely wonderful.  They are so gracious and loving.  Every time we go none of us ever want to leave.  It was truly a time of spiritual refreshment for us all. 

We camped out at Blanco State Park (women are not allowed to spend the night on the monastery grounds).  The park is about 10 minutes from the monastery and is really nice and very kid friendly.  The park ranger told me that this is the most beautiful time of the year to be there.  He was right.  The trees were bright orange and yellow and the brown and gold of the grass was so lovely.  We spent most of our time at the monastery, but during the "quite times" of the monastery we went to our camp and fished and played.  

Thanksgiving was spent at my brother and his wife's house with all the immediate family in attendance.  I have a sweet family and resolved to make more of an effort to spend more time with them. 

Saturday morning we drove out to the women's monastery, The Nativity of our Lord.  Metropolitan Jonah came out to bless the property and gave a wonderful sermon on monasticism.  Among other things, he talked about the necessity of monasteries and what a blessing they are.  I agree.  I wish all Orthodox christians had monasteries close to them so that they could be blessed by the love, grace, hospitality and words of wisdom the monastics share.  They are excellent examples for those of us living in the world-especially our children.  

My girls never want to leave monasteries when we visit them.  They always love the monastics and they seem to somehow comprehend the beauty and holiness of that calling.  I feel the same way.  

Well, there's much more to share, but no time now.  A blessed week to you all!

I'll post pictures as the week progresses, but I'll leave you with a pic of this tree that overshadowed our camp.  

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Zoe:  "Mommy, I do not want the p-nut butter getting in my golden hair!"
Me:  "Umm, yes, Zoe/Your Highness/Most Precious One, I do not wish to see your golden locks soiled by p-nut butter either."  "Is there anything I can do to help?"  
Zoe:  "No fanks."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wisdom is an ornament to young men, and the glory of old men is their gray hair." Proverbs 21:24

Katherine:  "Mommy your hair is turning white."
Me:  "Yes, dear I know."
K:  "Why is your hair turning white?"
M:  "That's what happens when you grow older, your hair turns white."

Wisdom?  No, I do not consider myself wise.  Just exceedingly blessed.  
Old man?  Yes, the years come.  Ready or not, they come.  


I loved finding the Orthodox Church.  I came into the church when I was 30 and while I was so thankful to have found the church, I wished that I had always been a part of it.  On the other hand, I really loved being old enough to comprehend and fully experience my baptism and chrismation-a most glorious event that I recall with every single baptism and chrismation I attend.

Not yet married at the age of thirty, I felt very drawn to monasticism.  I spent many years visiting the Kazan Skete in Northern California, entreating the Lord to show me His will for my life.  This time was a most blessed time for me (and still is) and I came very close to committing myself to that monastery.  However, right before I left to spend a recommended six month stay, before selling everything  and committing myself fully, I met Justin, who would become Father Justin.  

While our courtship was challenging, we finally ended up together.  I am so thankful for my husband and our children.  Each of them plays a beautiful and important role in my salvation.  


Yesterday, the girls and I took the day off.  Life has been a bit busy and serious as of late.  Silly stuff.  So, I realized that we needed some down time.  A little fun.  

So, we meandered throughout our day and did whatever we wanted.  We made pancakes and had them for breakfast and lunch.  We watched Black Beauty.  We took a walk.  We went to the new house and encouraged Papa in his great work.  

Papa came home, did an afternoon Vespers service and then made us his killer pasta with cream sauce.  After dinner, the girls got camera silly.  

This was all just what the doctor ordered.  


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Science Experiment

Katherine recently read in one of her publications about a science experiment using the five senses.  Of course she wanted to do the experiment.  So, I pulled out three foods for them to smell, feel, taste and listen to.  The three I chose were chili, kiwi and cumin.  

It was interesting that they all three recognized different foods.  Zoe was the first to nail the chili.  Thea got the kiwi and Katherine got the cumin.  Feeling of the foods stumped them all.  Of course tasting them was easy.  

I didn't have much time to devote to the experiment, so I allowed the girls to continue on without me.  Yes, I know.  What was I thinking?  Katherine thought it would be really funny to put cayenne in Thea's mouth.  At least she had the sense to only put a tiny bit.  Thea only cried for a few minutes.  

Here is a pic of them lining up for the experiment.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Close call

Well, we had a close call on the farm today.  (We don't really have a farm, but I like to dream.)  I went out to feed our chickens and the coop door was open (from the night before) and all the chickens were missing.  I looked around for them (we live on a little over an acre and about half of it is thick with woods and privet).  When I realized that the chickens were gone, I came in to tell the girls.  I knew this would be a hard blow-especially for Katherine who sees them as her personal pets.  

However, one of the three left the coop door open and needed to be taught a lesson.  After I told them what I had found, Katherine was simply convinced that they had to be someplace close by.  I told her with the raccoons, fox and dogs, the chickens probably weren't coming back.  
Undeterred, she pulled on her boots and went looking.  I was amazed when she found five of the six.  We found evidence that one had been eaten.  They are all missing quite a few feathers and looked a little frazzled (well, chickens always look frazzled to me) but they are home now.

I was so thankful that we found the five.  It would have been really sad to lose all six, but I think having the scare and losing one of the chickens was a good lesson for them.  I was also glad that Katherine had the tenacity to keep looking.  I am often guilty of giving up too easily.  

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Our home

Well, the roof is fixed, the sun is glowing, the flowers are screaming with neon colors right now.  It's amazing the effect that our surroundings have on us.  

As soon as our house dries out (from all the leaking) we can start putting it back together.  My husband is working tirelessly on this place of ours.  He is doing an amazing job.  This kind of work suits him well and I know he really enjoys it.  I also know he is burning the candle at both ends right now, so please keep him in your prayers.

The place is completely torn apart.  New toilets, doors, paint and caulk is staring at us waiting to put the finishing touches (for this phase) on  our little casa.  I can wait.  We've turned a corner and are now starting to do the fun stuff.  

It's amazing that all of the problems that have slowed us down, has enabled us to rethink things.  While the rain was pouring in our house, we had time to rethink the bathrooms-which will save us money.  The kitchen, which has been the most challenging (from a design perspective) has had to be put on the back burner and that has given us much time to rethink our original plans, and those plans too have changed.  

The man who fixed our roof saw our basement and offered a solution for keeping the water out.  We weren't quite sure what to do with our leaky basement, but now we have a plan.  We may not have the money to fix it right now (which is not a lot), but we have a plan!

He's also the guy who wanted to see the house and must have said "What a beautiful house!"  about ten times while I was showing it to him.  He even offered to buy it.  Man did I need to hear that!  :)

I figure we'll be in by Thanksgiving.  I hope.  :)

A blessed week to you all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


No, no I didn't get busted doing something I shouldn't have! My computer is busted. Yes, that is my new lap top that Fr. Justin got me last year! Arrrgggghh! Anyhow, no money to fix it now. So, I'll be a little quiet for awhile!

Things are moving along slowly with our house. Hopefully, by the time I get my computer fixed I'll have nice pics to share with you!

Pray for us!

A blessed week to you all!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Who is this sweet thing?

We were heading over to the new house to get some work done yesterday and I looked over and saw this very tall young lady standing there with her ankles sticking out of her pants!  

Those pants fit her last year!  What's happening over here!  It's all those vitamins I'm making my kids take isn't it?  I knew they were good for something.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hello! Is anybody in there?

We are buried here in the south.  We are schooling, gutting a home, taking out bamboo, building a fence, having the flu, going to court over having trash in our yard, having our tenants electrical box go haywire after a big storm (welcome to being a land lord) and believe me the list goes on and on.  

My mind is so boggled at the moment that every time I log on to write something, I can't even express my thoughts.  

Nonetheless, we remain fairly upbeat.  Fr. and I occasionally have the look of treading water for a long time, but we are hopeful.  I only thought I never saw my husband.  Now, I really never see him.  Well, I do, but it's a blurred guy running in covered in mud and filth to jump in the shower and put on his cassock and cross.   

Prayer: it's the thing that keeps me sane.  Church:  it's the constant that keeps me grounded.  I don't know how people live without either of those things.  

I still love my new little place despite all of the many little bumps in the road.  We can't wait to move in  and start cooking.  

Pray for us!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thea-isms and other ramblings

Katherine was reading a book about cowboys to us the other day and she came to the word "bunkhouse".  Katherine said "Mommy, what is a bunkhouse?"  Thea quickly replied "It's where the horses sleep in their bunk beds".

Thea threw up a little the other night and Katherine came in to report the incident.  When I asked Thea what happened, she said "Nothing mommy, I just hicked up my water".  

Tee hee hee.  I love my girls.

We've been a little quiet around these parts.  We're working hard on homeschooling and getting our new home habitable.  It's been raining quite a  bit here in the south.  Everything looks so green and lovely.  The flowers are giving us one last show.  

I've temporarily lost motivation to write on my blog lately.  We're all tired and quiet at the end of the day-including myself.  It's a good thing, I think, especially for the soul.  I've noticed that when we work hard throughout the day, there's not much time for idle chatter, squabbling and trouble.  This is good.

My kids are much better behaved and happier when we keep busy with good things.  I am vehemently against filling a child's day with extra curricular activities, however, keeping busy with productive things is different.  I see many children who go and go and go, moving from one event to the next and have no "down time" with books or prayer or even a meal with the  whole family.  I see this as being far more destructive for children than most parents think.  

I do, however, think that keeping children "busy" by inspiring them to read or create, pray and helping within the home is a good thing.   I learned this the hard way this past summer.  I allowed us to have too much free time and my children fought more than they ever have.  

Off to play the Lady Bug game.  A blessed week to you all!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The bedrooms

The final leg of the tour are the bedrooms and study.  The bedrooms are all on the east side of the house.  The girls will all sleep in one room and have the other as a play room.  The dark red room will be our study, with a second bathroom.  The third bedroom up front will be ours.  

On to the other rooms.

When you walk through the kitchen you enter an area that runs the back of the house and faces out into the back yard.  If you keep walking and do a u-turn, you'll walk into a second living room.  Not sure what the back section will be.  Perhaps some window seats are in order.  

The second living area (temporarily home to the boy's old washer and dryer) will soon be a library/home school room.  

The second picture looking out is from the second living area.  To the right is the kitchen.  On the far wall, behind the shelves, is the stairwell to the basement...which is currently filled with water...which is why they don't build basements in Texas.

You can also see a glimpse of our little cottage out back.  

The one bathroom I am showing you here is the main bathroom.  It is a gut.  It had major bath tub leaks! At the end of the bathroom is a dressing room with a built in vanity.  It's pretty cute, but will have to go and make way for the washer and dryer. The wall behind the door is filled with built in cabinets!  Where were the washer and dryer before, you ask? Why,  in the kitchen next to the stove of course.  

Well, here it it!

As promised, here are some pics of our new home.  The front, is well, the front. We hope to put a silver tin roof on the house and paint it white.  This will more than likely be a phase B, C, D or E.  Anyhow, the house has two front entries.  The one to the right (you can't see it in this picture) takes you into the living area.  The left (or the one you now see in this picture)  takes you into our study.  I'll start by taking you into the living area.  

The first thing I do when I go into the house is light the candles on our little altar.  I then start praying while I work.  This house needs lots of prayers!  :)

The living and dining are one big room with a fireplace.  Fr. knocked a hole through the wall, which will now take you into the kitchen, where there once was a door.  Not sure why they covered it.  Not sure why they did many of the things they did...

Anyhow, then on to the kitchen.  This is one of the rooms requiring most of the work.  We are reconfiguring the kitchen a bit, so the next picture you see will (hopefully) look much different than this.  

More pics later!

But first!

OK, I know that I promised pictures of our new house, but first I have to say that there have been several major events take place around our house that I should mention.  

First, my little Miss Zoe turned three on Elevation  of the Cross!   I can't believe that she is three! I'm sure I don't have to say that it was a low key evening for us-given all that is going on around here as of late.  

We actually celebrated on the day before, since the feast is always a fast.  So, we went to chips and cheese (mexican food) and then came home for ice cream and presents.  Nice, quiet and memorable-just the way I like it.  

Then, Thea came in to my room late one night and in her quiet voice asked simply "If I swallowed my toof, would you need to take me to the Dr. tonight, or would you wait until the morning?"  

Me:  "I wouldn't take you at all."
T.:  "How would I get my toof?"
Me:  "You probably won't see it again."
T.:  "That's sad.  Nite nite Mommy."
Me:  "Goodnight love."

Moments later she came running into my room excited that she had not swallowed her "toof" after all, it had fallen into her bed.  

So, now Thea is looking more different than ever.  She is missing a front tooth and is about to be missing two.  I'm telling you this growing up stuff is bittersweet for me.  

The girls and I have been attending another area Orthodox Church for Liturgy and their co-op on Thursdays.  This has been a real blessing for us all.  They have set aside Thursday's as a day that all children can sing in the choir.  This is huge for Katherine as she has longed to sing in the choir for as long as I can remember.  We've enjoyed worshipping and fellowshipping with people we rarely get to see.  The girls both love the co-op and playing with friends.  Katherine is attending a class where they are working on "Journaling throughout the Liturgical Year", by Barbara Shukin, and then both Katherine and Thea are doing a Science class, where they are doing "Little Labs". 

Now, about those house pictures.  I haven't taken them yet.  I give you my word, I will do some shooting today.  The sun came out this morning (it's been a bit grey around these parts lately) which will make for nicer pictures.  Believe me, I  need all the help I can get in making our little place look, um, better.  

A blessed day to you all!