Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blog Business and a great reading program

Catholic Summer Reading Logo

I received this email during the week, and wanted to pass it along. I voted in the original selection process, and will look forward to settling into some great books. Please go check this out!

We at Aquinas and More are sponsoring the Catholic Summer Reading Program ( again this year, and continue to try to get the word out to as many people as possible. We are especially trying to let people know about our kids and teens reading lists, including a sheet for kids to fill out for a prize at the end of the program. These can be found at the main reading program site. Since you often blog about your family and children, we thought you might want to check it out if you haven't yet, and possibly link to it on your site so we can reach more people.

St. John the Forerunner and Sts. Peter and Paul

This week has been a veritable vesperal feast! Monday evening we had Vespers for the feast of The Nativity of St. John the Baptist. After all the praying, chanting and incensing, there was the annointing, with blessed oil, of our foreheads and hands. This is to help us keep our thoughts and the work of our hands as a pure offering to God, as well as strength for the journey. I always feel such spiritual power come from holy anointing, and often physical benefit, as well.

The woman who had been barren becomes fertile and gives birth today to the Forefunner of Christ. He is the greatest and last of the prophets, for standing in the water of the Jordan River, he placed his hands on Christ whom all the prophets had announced, and in so doing he became a prophet himself, a preacher, and a forerunner of the Word of God. (Kontakion of the feast)

Then last evening, we had Great Vespers for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. We were honored with the presence of our Bishop, John Michael, and the monks and nuns of the eparchy, as well as many other priests and congregants. The entire service was gorgeous, full of the rich, integral harmonies of Eastern Chant, incensing, many blessings and Psalms, and of course, the beloved anointing. The one prayer, of the many we said, that has hung on to me through the night and into this morning, is this one:

By the three fold question: "Peter, do you love Me?" Christ amended Peter's threefold denial. Wherefore Simon cried out to the Lord who knows all the secrets of the heart:
"Lord, you know all things : You know that I love You!" And the Saviour answered him "Feed my sheep, feed my lambs, feed those sheep I have fashioned to be saved with my own blood." Apostle blessed of God, beseech Him to bestow His great mercy upon us.

How often I cry out "Lord, you know I love you!" Sometimes I think I am trying more to reassure myself than I am Him!

Praying in this manner is such an organic expression of the soul's longing for God. We pray with our whole selves, with our souls, our minds, our hands, our voices, our eyes, our ears, and with touch and taste (we share in blessed bread after the anointing). We are entirely offering ourselves to a God that entirely offered Himself for us.

I am still basking in all that love!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Current Loveliness

The linden trees are in full blossom now, and the scent makes my knees weak. I would say linden tree blossoms are one of God's finest gifts to us. Make the day better just by being in their general vicinity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Deep Sigh.

Once again, real life here has taken most of my time and energy, and I don't have much to spare for blogging. The delicate balance between work and rest is a difficult one for me to handle without much concentration. I have much work to do here, still schooling 3 kids, and the my two oldest teens are sucking great amounts of energy from me. It takes almost all I have not crumple in a little ball and tell them the house, the yard, the food, it's all theirs. Just slide my meals under the door, and I'll be fine. BUT, since that isn't realistic, I must gather myself together, put order in the chaos, deflect and ignore the slings and arrows of teens, and march onward and upward. Pray for me?

The tooth has settled down, so I convinced the dentist to just let it be for a while. Good news.

The rainy season has made the acres verdant and abundant. I bought a pole saw (electric) and electric hedge trimmers and have been busy cutting down scrub trees, dead branches, and beating the hedges back into submission.

I must begin planning next school year, and find I have lost most of my enthusiasm for homeschooling. And yet I must. Any suggestions for relighting my homeschooling fire would be appreciated. Seven students next year. Eeeps~

So to keep it real, let me assure you all that life is not all peaches and cream. I am really struggling with schooling. The attitudes of my kids are horrible, and I don't know what to do about it. As soon as I sit them down to do school, they melt. They don't try. They don't care if they ever get finished, or maybe they feel they never will get finished. I don't know, but this is a rough patch to be sure, and I don't know how I am going to straighten it out.

So anyway, I have to get back to the schoolwork. Til later.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


So, yesterday I took a day off of the endless work of running crazyacrs, and gave myself a summer day of my dreams. It began early, before 5:00am, driving 2 of my children to begin a week long choir tour in for a choral festival. This was a first, as my children haven't ever gone away from home without a parent. It is the first time of many, I am certain, but a first, non-the-less.

After waving goodbye to them, I drove home in the most lovely early day so far this year. 68 degrees, sunny, puffy white clouds. Warm air was coming in my open car windows, tinged with a refreshing coolness. Upon returning home, the house was still very quiet, and I made my favorite breakfast of toasted English muffins with butter and orange marmalade and a cup of strong coffee. I used my favorite mug and dishes, mismatched blue and white china pieces from the thrift store, carried them outside to my little settee in my front garden, and just soaked in the day as I consumed the food. I have worked for three years, creating the space to sit and relax in the front garden, yet haven't yet enjoyed it. Today, I finally did. I have a wren nesting in my garden area. Apparently the nest now contains hatchlings, because I witnessed the parents bringing a continuous supply of insects to the bird house, followed by the sweet, tiny chirps of the grateful baby birds. I made certain my babies got their breakfasts, relished their "chirping", then completed summer school with my elementary students. Despite the negative connotations of summer school, we had a delightful morning, reading, coloring, and writing.

After a quick lunch, the children scattered to various pursuits of summer fun, and I retired to my patio, with my lunch. I made myself the most fabulous avocado salad, brought out a pitcher of mint water, my current light fluffy book (Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy) , hauled out my chaise lounge ($5 at the thrift store ~ SCORE!), and proceed to spend a very delightful couple of hours soaking up the sun, reading, eating, drinking and relishing the ability to make real a dream of a day.

Then it just kept going. The kids entertained themselves most of the day, except for the board game we played, and after dinner when we played ball in the back yard, with squeals of delight ~ we just don't play often enough around here!

Dinner was a delicious but simple chicken salad sandwich served with pineapple. The salad was made with mayo, onion, chopped pineapple, curry, ginger and salt and pepper. I toasted bread, fried up an egg for each sandwich, and assembled the sandwich with the chicken salad, fried egg, cheese slice, and lettuce. It was fabulous. (I used the fried egg in the sandwich to stretch the chicken. I wanted to put in chopped boiled eggs, but that would take too long, so I just fried eggs and it worked quite well.)

After the satisfying summer day, the kids were tucked into bed, and my husband and I retired to our patio with a candle, a bottle of wine and cheese and crackers. Finally reconnecting after a very busy week, just the two of us reviewing our days, our children, our marriage.

And this is the mercy of God. Yes, there will be suffering, but there is always beauty. Always. And I praise God for showering beauty upon me yesterday, a healing balm to a weary heart.


(artwork from my daughter, done a few years ago. I returned home after a refreshing walk, and found this on the white board)

Sunday, June 15, 2008


The chicken pox have arrived. I thought they were coming, and I was right. My top four children already had them, the bottom three are yet to go. One of them has it now, the other two should in two weeks. So now I know what I am doing in June. Then, we're done with that. This is one chapter of parenting I will not be sad to see go.

The funny thing is I didn't have to care for the other four children when they had the chicken pox. One of the children came down with it, and shortly thereafter I gave birth to baby number 5 (this is the child that has the chicken pox now). I was told it was dangerous for a newborn to be around chicken pox, so my mom kept the kids at her house until they were all scabbed over. Isn't she terrific?

Anyway, baby number 5 is now 8 years old, and being so very, very brave. So brave, in fact, the little two are anxiously awaiting when they "get to have" the chicken pox.

Anyway, any advice, besides calamine and oatmeal baths, which we are already doing, that would help me make my brave little eight year old more comfortable would be received gratefully.

blessings to you all!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Problem of Pain ( I think that title is taken, isn't it?)

Well, again, I don't have much time to elaborate or wax eloquent about life, love and foliage.

I have been reading some good books, awaiting the impeding chicken pox epidemic that will most likely hit our home soon, planting, weeding, eating and drinking LOTS of mint water.

I have been bumping into repetitive themes of suffering and suffering, and suffering and suffering. I have been trying to really let this concept, redemptive suffering, sink in. The older I get, the more it is clear THERE WILL BE SUFFERING. No getting out of it. What can God do with this, why do we have to go through it, and what good can come from it? The perennial question. Once again, as I look through the glass darkly, I see some glimmer of understanding. I am headed off to Divine Liturgy now, to avoid the spread of the potential chicken pox, and I will be praying for the grace to understand, to console, and to love. And to accept my sufferings as God would have me accept them.


***One More Thing*** In the first link on suffering, Jen's post is lovely, but BE SURE to take time to look at the comments. A veritable theological and spiritual FEAST. Don't miss it!!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Wimpy McWimpus continues to complain...

I thank God for ibuprofen. And by the time I get the blasted root canal, I'll be thanking God for that, too, because my mouth hurts! Will it ever feel normal again? That is the cry of my weak, lily livered self. And people have so much worse to deal with, and yet, this is more than enough for me right now. Except that our basement flooded AGAIN, even after spend so much time and $$ on solutions. It rained so hard and so fast last night, it overwhelmed the drain.

I used to attend Divine Liturgy so much more regularly (edited to add DURING THE WEEK), and that helped tremendously when the lousy parts of life took center stage. Attending Liturgy is like a hook, pulling the lousy parts of life off the stage, at least for the blessed time I am outside of time and eternity while in the presence of the Lord.

But now, my schedule is so much more demanding. My freedom to come and go has been compromised by many factors, such as need of the kids, duties of the home, proximity of my husband, and sheer volume of Things To be Done Here. Not good.

Also, the daily schedule at church has changed for a while this summer, and Liturgy is only available one extra day a week. Makes me sad I wasted so many other opportunities to attend!

But, I'll make a resolution to attend the one available, and set some time aside at home for more regular prayers. My prayer rule has really suffered lately, why? I have no idea. Scattered thoughts require a prayer rule, and scattered thought fight against establishing a prayer rule. So, I must go back to my last visit with a spiritual director, and do the small rule he gave me, so as not to overwhelm, attend the one extra Liturgy this week, and try to get this blasted tooth off of the center stage.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

How to cool off on a HOT day

I just went shopping with my 3 oldest daughters (13,12, and 8) and was it so much fun! We tried on all sorts of clothes, spent more money than we should (but then we are used to thrift store prices), and I even bought makeup. This was a "real" store, with AIR CONDITIONING!! I saw lots of people looking at us, amused at the fun of shopping with 3 daughters. It made me so happy. And to think, I have one more girl at home, who would have loved to come. What abundance! (Not to mention, the 3 boys, but they don't like to shop).

All this to make up for the fact that I have a very sore tooth that most likely will need a root canal, which I dread. And can't really afford. Only to a "shopping" woman would it make sense to shop to make one feel better about having to spend too much money on a root canal. Please tell me I am not the only woman who thinks this way???

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

varia, misc., etc....

Who-Boy, does time fly when nice weather hits. I have been gardening, weeding, planting, playing, and visiting. Life stuff. I also have been on an kick, and gotten a bunch of new books. So far I am reading simultaneously,:

The Temperament God Gave You
by Art and Laraine Bennett
Feeling and Healing Your Emotions by Dr. Conrad W. Barrs
It's So You by Mary Sheehan Warren
The Better Part by Fr. John Bartunek
Keeping House, the Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson
Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony Destafano

This is on top of the stack of books already in progress, like a few Brother Cadfael mysteries, a book on Mother Teresa, and waiting patiently are 2 Maeve Binchy novels, The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith, and The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter.

I have visions of sitting on my patio, in a sun hat, reclining on my new chaise lounge I just bought for $4.99 at the thrift store, and reading, reading, reading. So far the lounge remains folded up in the garage, and I read the books for 10.2 seconds at bedtime before I fall asleep.

I also have had more dental work done, and had a week of mouth pain. My teeth never hurt before I went to the dentist. Go figure. I praise God Almighty for ibuprofen, and I am not kidding. I have taken more ibuprofen after the dental work than I did after any of my births, and I am not kidding. Any young moms out there, here is some free advice (take it for what it is worth). Keep good care of your teeth. Don't get too busy or tired. I am paying now for the follies of my youth in that department. Make an appointment today!

I have weeded and planted 2 wild areas in my crazyacres, and every. time. I go outside to relax, I see more yard work to do, and start pulling weeds, or digging around my plants. I cannot keep my fingernails clean for more than 15 minutes. I get every pair of my nice sandals dirty by absentmindedly gardening, stained many of my "good" clothes, and despite keeping my nails cut to the quick, they are always dirty.

I have a pile of photos to share, of random prettiness, of my garden progress and of a music fest that was held at our house Monday night. Life has been full of guests, visiting, working and playing. I have tried and loved a new set of summer drinks, including blueberry green iced tea, mohito, with fresh mint from my garden, and gin and tonic, with a twist. Also Weiss beer, with the required lemon wedge. Very refreshing.

Well, that's the update. I am off to shower and change and go to a dinner invite. Life is good!