Monday, April 28, 2008

Pascha Gifts List

Thank you, Lord

#20: A fun time naturally coloring eggs inspired by Martha, using beets, onion skins, blueberries, and saffron to create different colors.

#21: beautiful eggs for home and for our Pascha basket

#22: Little Builder and I learning Christos Anesti (our first Pascha in a Greek parish) using YouTube.

#23: Kulich loaves standing guard on the counter, beautiful to my heart even if I ran out of coffee cans and had to make some short, fat ones.

#24: My mother and sister helping with all those eggs and kulich, shared experiences with ones I love.

#25: Teenagers undeterred by muddy grass, still creating an egg hunt for the little ones...

#26: muscular little legs, setting off in excitement with baskets in tow

#27: Baby born on the Tuesday after Pascha last year, protected by God "from every danger, illness, and grief" despite a multiply-wrapped umbilical chord threatening her neck... now walking with the big kids and finding an egg of her own... we are so grateful she is with us.

#28: Our God-baby, shyly smiling.

#29: Hollow emtpy-tomb cookie recipe from Elizabeth; shared stories and time with my son making them.

#30: Spontaneously singing Christ is Risen in any of the three languages we now know and Little Builder breaking out in a series of multilingual *Christos Anesti!* call-outs, prompting my smiling replies, *Alethos Anesti!*

*Christos Voskresi!* *Al Massiah Kam!* *Christ is Risen!*

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Paschal Stichera - Fifth Tone

Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered!

A sacred Pascha today hath been shown unto us:
a Pascha new and holy,
a Pascha mystical,
a Pascha all venerable,
a Pascha that is Christ the Redeemer;
a Pascha immaculate, a great Pascha;
a Pascha of the faithful;
a Pascha that hath opened the gates of Paradise unto us;
a Pascha that doth sanctify all the faithful.

As smoke vanisheth so let them vanish!

Come from the vision, O ye women, bearers of good tidings, and say ye unto Sion:
receive from us the good tidings of the Resurrection of Christ; adorn thyself, exult, and rejoice, O Jerusalem, for thou hast seen Christ the King come forth from the tomb like a bridegroom in procession.

So let sinners perish at the presence of God and let the righteous be glad!

The myrrh-bearing women in the deep dawn stood before the tomb of the Giver of life;
they found an angel sitting upon the stone, and he, speaking to them, said thus: Why
seek ye the living among the dead? Why mourn ye the incorruptible amid corruption?
Go, proclaim unto His disciples.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein!

Pascha the beautiful, Pascha, the Lord's Pascha, the Pascha all-venerable hath dawned
upon us. Pascha, with joy let us embrace one another. O Pascha! Ransom from sorrow,
for from the tomb today, as from a bridal chamber hath Christ shone forth, and hath
filled the women with joy, saying: proclaim unto the apostles.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Both now and
ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

It is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant for the feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us say: Brethren, even to them that hate us, let us forgive all things on the Resurrection, and thus let us cry out:

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, And on those in the tombs bestowing life.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Learning New Liturgical Skills

Our parish bulletin directions for today after the Vesperal Liturgy:

Light lunch, then the men will die eggs and the ladies will decorate the Tomb

I've never done this before, and it was nice to be a part.

First, the MEN:

What patience required to take them out one by one!

After drying on paper towels, they are polished with olive oil, to lessen the fading in the refridgerator.

Egg Dying Tip of the Day: brown eggs take the color better than white ones!

Meanwhile, the women trimmed the ferns and flowers to decorate the Tomb.

Here's the wooden base before it was decorated:

Getting there...

Some MacGyvering of the cross was required...

Finally, a beautiful finished Epitaphios

Little Builder helped clean up:

Epitaphios decorating tip of the day:
If you're trying to cover a blank spot, aim the end of the stem 4 inches below the blank spot. Then the leaves/flowers will end up in the right place. Took me a while of trying and the advice of an experienced Orthodox gal to learn this one!

Gifts List #51: Getting the day off so I could spend it with my family at Church!

Cheese Paska

This recipe is a combination of 3 recipes. I use cottage cheese because "Farmer's Cheese" was $9/lb the first time I tried Matushka's recipe, which called for 3 lbs! I tasted it plain and decided that it tasted like cottage cheese, and being frugal, decided that if I ever attempted this again cottage cheese would have to suffice. Vanilla beans were going to be $13, so I used vanilla extract. By all means, spring for the vanilla beans, if you can.

Also, I decreased the portions by 1/3, as I didn't need to make 3 large Cheese Paska's. The original recipe called for pushing boiled egg yolks through a sieve. After doing this once, I decided I wouldn't be making Cheese Paska again. Then I came across a recipe in a parish cookbook that used cream cheese and cooked the egg yolks in warmed cream. Aha! Now that, I could try. It's not exactly authentic, but it's what I can do.

1 lb of cottage cheese, drained overnight in cheese cloth, whirred in blender until smooth (like Farmer's Cheese, wink)
4 egg yolks (save egg whites for Resrrection Cookies)
2&2/3 sticks of butter
scant 3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 pint of whipping cream, whipped
2 tsp vanilla
1 block of cream cheese, at room temperature

What to Do:
1. Mix cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sugar together (add more sugar if you want it sweeter).

2. In saucepan, melt butter, vanilla, and cream. In a coffee cup, mix 2 TBS of warmed cream with egg yolks, then slowly pour egg yolks back in, stirring. Do this instead of pouring the egg yolks straight in, so they won't scramble in your cream. Stir until it thickens a little.

3. Take off the heat and stir in cream cheese mixture until smooth.

4. Line the inside of a clay flower pot or colander with cheesecloth. Put the cheese mixture in this and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

5. Spread thickly on sliced Kulich and enjoy!

Some folks have a special Paska mold, with crosses and other decoration, which are beautiful. Others put fruit and nuts in their Paska. We like to decorate ours with chocolate chips in the shape of a cross.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Help Wanted!

Our 1 year old is very mobile; she's been walking for two months. She does NOT want to stay in my arms during church.

She's so fussy that our priest asked if we feed her before church, making sure we weren't trying to make her fast! (yes, we feed her)

Holy Week wasn't so hard with My Little Builder as a baby. Wait - Maybe that's because when he was 1, I didn't bring him to Holy Week (except of course we did Pascha!). When he was 2 years old, his Papa made him a little silent censer and he would walk up and down the side isle, over and over, sensing. For 2 hours!

But this precious little girl will not stay in one area to walk - she waits until my attention is turned on her brother, then starts sprinting toward the alter! Sometimes she turns around to look at me and laugh, as I try to reach her before she starts climbing the steps.

Then I struggle with her for the rest of the service, trying to force her to stay in my arms.

I've considered asking other parishioners to corale her, but don't want to disrupt their worship by giving them baby-guard-duty. I figured they would already be stopping her if they cared to take up that duty. Maybe they don't think they have permission to swoop her up. I take that for granted, coming from a previous parish in which any number of people would deal a swift thump on the head to any kids getting out of line.

My dear baby's God mother suggested that I try holding her hand and walking with her near the back - which I plan on trying tonight.

So, you other experienced mothers out there: ANY SUGGESTIONS OF WHAT'S WORKED FOR YOU?

Thanks, in advance!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Crockpot Ideas for Holy Week

Roasted Potatoes recipe from the Lipton package
Throw in 1/3 cup of oil, a packet of onion soup seasoning, and 6 skinned and chopped potatoes. Stir every now and then on high for 1-2 hours or low 4-6 hours (sorry about the times; my crockpot will cook these on "keep warm" in 4-6 hours, so I'm never sure what others will do.)

Taco Soup
Throw in & simmer until you need to eat, juice and all:

1 can tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 can corn
2 cans of beans
1 can of hominy

then, either use packets if you're in a rush or measure to your taste cumin, oregeno & chili powder

if you use packets:
1 pack of ranch seasoning
1 pack of taco seasoning
Additional water, if things are too salty or not soupy enough
Optional: soy crumbles or tvp

Sloppy Joes
2 Lg. Onions, Chopped
1 Head Fresh Garlic, Peeled and Minced
2 Med. Zucchini Squash, Chopped (if you don't like zucchini, do bell pepper)
2 Tbsps. +/- Olive Oil or other oil
1 Can. Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Tomato Sauce
Either: 1 Pkg. Taco Seasoning
Or: 1 Tsp. Chili Powder + 1 Tsp. Ground Red Chiles + 1 Tsp. Paprika, or to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 Pkgs. Ground Meatless (frozen type) or Dehydrated TVP Chunks, moistened
¼ C. Fresh Parsley, Minced
Optional -for that sweet barbeque flavor, add 1/2 cup of brown sugar

Chop the vegetables and sauté them in the olive or other oil, adding first the onions, then the garlic, then the zucchini. Cook until well done. Add saute pan and rest of ingredients (except ground soy) to crockpot. Cook until flavors have blended. Add the ground meatless (meat substitute) and fresh parsley. Cook until blended. Serve on buns or over rice. If you want the one in the picture, instead of the sub-standard Lenten version, visit pbs for the recipe.

And finally... visit here for a Honey & Orange Tofu crockpot recipe.


My Pascha expectations, as a new convert:
Mostly, I hoped that I would "Experience" it as strongly/intensely/spiritually as I was supposed to. Sigh.

What actually happened:
I should have napped Saturday afternoon instead of making Kulich. The service started off beautifully and I was in awe. I felt, there is no better way to sink into our thick skulls that Christ is Risen than to sing it one-thousand times! A blessed time.

But then... I started to crack. After St. John Chrysotom's sermon, I thought things were winding up. It was the moment the priest chanted "Blessed is the Kingdom" that I realized there was an entire Divine Liturgy to go. I whispered to my Godmother, the service is how much longer? I started to cry. I wasn't going to make it as a good, faithful Orthodox person. I wasn't even going to make it that morning, standing up much longer, which a Subdeacon noticed. He gestured toward the bench. But I wasn't infirm - or pregnant! I was supposed to be strong! I crumbled to the bench in failure.

I laugh now, looking back.

I hardly have such high expectations these days that I'm more aware of my sin.

I've always been a people-pleaser and wanted to look good & right. My challenge is to try to care more about actually being good, before God.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

For any upcoming converts out there - it is a marathon, not a sprint. Take a nap on Saturday!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Still Counting...

Thank you, Lord, for many gifts!

#11: sticky hands smearing 1-year old birthday cake on naked tummy

#12: half eaten cake, forgotten on the counter... evidence of a celebration of a year of life

#13: double-beared Irises, blooming outside the front porch

#14: rose bushes my grandparents planted

#15: love of grandparents, lifting up little ones

#16: stuffed puppies and doll to comfort little arms, taking a break on the window sill

#17: telling the story of Lazarus to my Little Builder as we make monkey bread for breakfast

#18: peas climbing their wire

#19: prayers whispered in ears while rocking to sleep:

Lord Jesus Christ, who did receive the children who came to You, recieve also the prayers of me Thy Child. Shelter us under the shadow of your wings, that we may fall peacefully asleep. And awaken us in due time, that we may glorify You, for You alone are righteous and merciful. Amen.

Angel Guardian, please keep us from every evil, sickness, and grief.

Help us oh Lord, to be good, obedient, and kind. Thank you for all the good things You've given us this past day. Please help us spend this night in peace and protect us from all harm. Amen.


Russian Pascha Bread

Symbolic of Christ, who is our True Bread

Don't have pics from last year, but this one is from Mt. Holyoke's website:

Here's one from Russians in Australia:

And a shorter, fatter variation from Finnish Cloudberry Quark resting next to a beautiful Cheese Paska.

I made this recipe our first Pascha - we had officially been chrismated into the Orthodox Church for a few hours, that Holy Saturday afternoon when I took to the kitchen.

We didn't think we'd like candied peel, so we replaced it with dried cherries when we changed up a recipe from Cakes & Cake Decorating.

I've used new clay flower pots, coffee tins, and even a 2-cup and 4-cup glass mixing cup before. Whatever you use - grease it well and line the bottoms with waxed paper and flour the sides. If you want a really tall dome, folllow the directions on the My House and Garden recipe.


1 TBS yeast
6 TBS tepid milk
6 TBS sugar (divided into 2TBS and 4 TBS)
4&1/2 cup all-purpose flour (divided into 1/2 cup and 4 cup)
pinch of saffron strands
2 TBS dark rum
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cumin
4 TBS butter
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup or so of dried cherries
1/2 to 1 cup of slivered almonds

1: Blend & Sit
bowl one - yeast, milk, 2 TBS sugar, and 1/2 cup flour.
bowl two - saffron and rum
Let sit about 15 minutes.

2: Bread Dough
Sift remaining flour into a bowl and rub in butter and remaining sugar. Make a well and work in yeast mixture, saffron mixture, and everything else to make dough.

3: Knead & Rise
Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes, until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1&1/2 hours or until doubled.

4: Ready, Set, Bake
Preheat oven to 375 F. Knock back the dough, divide it (this recipe makes one 4c. glass measuring cup and 1 small coffee tin) and form into round lumps. Press the lump into the bottom of the pot, cover and rise for another 1/2 hour. Bake for 35-50minutes, depending on your pot. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

5: Decorate
Mix 3/4 cup powdered sugar with 2 tsp warm water and 1 tsp amlmod extract until smooth. Pour over the dome so that the glaze drips down the sides a little. Decorate with nuts & cherries, leaving room for a candle in the middle.

At our Russian parish, everyone had one of these and lit the candles and Father blessed them all along with the Pascha baskets. At other parishes, we've been the only ones with Kulich, but usually everyone enjoys it.

Kulich is the very best sliced and spread with Cheese Paska. My version of Cheese Paska coming soon...

For Pascha bread recipes from different cultures, visit here.

And remember, let me know ( your Pascha recipes and I'll host a Pascha Food Carnival.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lent... Rolling By Quickly!

So glad the Skating Rink had these "starter" skates at the Birthday Party we went to. Little Builder could practically run in them and not fall too painfully.

Coming soon... a recipe for Kulich (Russian Easter Bread)

I propose that we all post our favorite Pascha recipes next week! I'm new to Blogging policies and procedures, but I think this is called a "CARNIVAL" - when many people all post on the same theme. If you decide to do it, let me know the link and I'll arrange all of the links in one special post.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Memorial Wheat

Last Sunday we prayed a short Memorial Service for loved ones who have passed away. Our little church has quite a few parishenrs who have died and we do this service almost once a month.

Someone volunteers to make the Koliva (Memorial Wheat). Often this is someone related to whoever is being remembered that month.

After the prayers and blessings, we all join in sharing the sweet and spicy wheat, nuts, and dried fruit.

May Their Memory Be Eternal!

Revised Menu for this Week

Let's just say that the China Wok has crept in a couple of days...

Which defeats any point in spending less money on food during Lent.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Shall we get to know each other better?

A friend sent this in an email and I adjusted a couple of questions to be more meaningful for me.

Four Things about Me

A) FOUR PLACES I GO OVER AND OVER: The High School where I work; Church; (I'm really embarassed to say this next one) Walmart; local library (the kids' section has puzzles, games for the toddler, a puppet rack with 30 puppets and a curtained stage)

B) FOUR PEOPLE WHO ENCOURAGED MY FAITH ALONG THE WAY: My parents for reading the Bible to me and praying with me all through my childhood; Mary, Queen of Tots for being real about living out Christianity; Father Thomas for massive patience yet straitforwardness; my toddler's Godmother, for being so steadfast even when everything else around us is caving.

C) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE FOODS: chips and dips (salsa, guacamole, queso), cheese enchiladas, (notice a theme here?), greens w/ cornbread, and chicken-n-dumplings.

D) FOUR PLACES I WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT NOW: honestly, we're working on being content where we are since we've moved about so much since we got married; our hearts do often long after Columbia, SC; and I would rather be in bed than about to clean the kitchen, if that counts.

E) FOUR MOVIES I WOULD WATCH OVER AND OVER: The Man Who Knew Too Little; Persuasion (the one with less beatiful, less model-like actors, from the British Shakespeare company - when Anne first sees Wentworth after 8 years, the camera shot is of her hand grasping the chair she is standing by - what a moment!; Two Weeks Notice; The Holiday

F)FOUR THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHURCH: candles; prayers written by people holier than me, for those times I don't know what to pray; a way to kiss Jesus; an explaination for why I am still so miserably sinful even though I was "saved" and a process for "working out my salvation"

G) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE HOBBIES: cooking!; reading; drinking a glass of wine or hot tea with friends; crotcheting or quilting with friends.

I would like to know more about all you other Mothers - Tag! Please be sure to post a link to your blog in the comments, so we can all read about each other. If you don't have a blog, I'd love for you to email me at with your anwsers.

Gifts List

#5 - Going from knowing 3 to 12 other Orthodox mums with little kids - in less than one week!

#6 - The encouragment of knowing we're not alone trying to raise our kids in the Faith, though in my town, it feels like it.

#7 - Even though we have to drive out of town to get to an Orthodox Church, I'm very grateful for it and for the loving people there.

#8 - The lantana is coming back up near the road; small shoots of promise where it once looked dead.

#9 - Kisses from the toddler; she has learned not only how to close her mouth and pucker, but has also mastered the sound... and she is so generous with those delicious kisses.

#10 - The anticipation of family coming in from out of town.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

...need your help for this to be a success

Here's a message from another orthodox mom:

Marie L. Eliades M.A.

1805 Wagner Lane

Petaluma, CA 94954



I’ve been blessed to begin a project that my husband thought of and was further developed through conversations with others. What are we thinking? We were wondering how to raise strong Orthodox Christians in the anti-Christian world today. The answer obviously is through the prayers of the parents, the prayers of others and by the grace of God. We know that no good comes except through God. We want to be clear that we are not saying that anything can be done without Him and His grace but as parents we must do our part. We are very aware that God sometimes works not through the parents, their methods and lives but more often more in spite of them.

So, how do you fit in? We were thinking of putting together a book of practical parenting tips for the Orthodox Christian family today. We need your help for this to be a success. We’re proposing two parts of a book at the moment.

The first part will include: “Things I/we did that worked: what helped our family and our children grow in their relationship with Christ AND live in the world but not be OF the world.”

And part two: “Looking back: What I/we wish we had done differently in raising our children.” Or mistakes we made, something like that. Maybe some day we’ll produce something from some of our grown children with their opinions (YIKES!).

This is all subject to change. But there seems to be a real need here. A lot of us are or feel alone in this child rearing process. We think others are better at it than us or have a gift, when frankly I think most of us are surviving by grace & prayer alone. So, while none of us are perfect parents we ALL must have ONE thing we found that “worked” in our family and at least ONE thing we would like to change (given our druthers). If this one thing was shared (in a simplified format) we may be able to help a lot of parents raise their children in the faith.

The Church Fathers have a written not a few books on child rearing, though many are still in Greek. Of course there is St. Theophan, and currently Sr. Magdalene from Essex… Yet, what speaks to us who have to deal with: computers, sports, schools, television, internet…ouch the list goes on! AND none of us have ANY time to read! Let’s all make a simple suggestion book for the Orthodox parents of today and perhaps even tomorrow.

My question for you is; would you like to contribute? What would you like to offer to other Orthodox Christian parents? …Help?

Love in Christ,


Weekly Menu

Last week of Great Lent - I can't believe next Sunday is Palm Sunday!

Sunday - Greek Baked Veggies over Pasta

Monday - Veggie "Chicken" strips with Mixed Veggies & Crockpot Roasted Potatoes

Tuesday - Bean Soup

Wednesday - Soup Leftovers

Thursday - Pancakes (with soy milk & Egg replacer)

Friday - Chili & Cornbread

Saturday - Leftover Chili made into Soft Tacos or Taco Salad

Saturday, April 12, 2008


The seeding pot was my Mother's Day gift last year.

The tomaotes are much cuter in this picture than they are now, out in the garden. Now they languish, a pale yellow-green shadow of what they should be.

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew explains:

If more gardeners fully understood ahead of time the work and nuisance involved in the hardening-off process, they wouldn't be in such a hurry to start their seeds extra early each year... The problem comes in the fact that the transplant has been grown under protected, almost ideal conditions. Inside there's lots of sunlight, warm air, protection from night freezing, plenty of water, perfect soil, lots of nutrients, few pests, no wind, no pelting rain, hail, or snow - sounds pretty nice, doesn't it? Now try to move that plant out into the hostil garden world where encironmental conditions are just the opposite and it will probably succumb in a short while.

I'm thinking 3 things:

1. Oh, Lord have mercy on impatient me.

2. Will I ever succeed in gardening? Maybe with the new seedlings I put in from the high school...

3. I'm thankful that God keeps better care of me than I do of my plants!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Little Daily Gifts

#5 : Moo-less Mocha Pie

#6 : puppets a the library, on my son's hands, singing the Swedish Chef theme song

#7 : high school biology II class with strong healthy tomatoes for only $1.50 per 6-pack, to replace the ones I tried to grow from seed

#8 : snuggling on the couch, reading books before bed

Thank you, Lord, for every good thing given comes down from You, the Father of Lights.

Moo-less Mocha Pie

Otherwise known as... yet one more way to eat soy (thanks for the laugh, Elizabeth) during Lent! But really, this one is a winner.


2 cups of semi-sweet(non-dairy)chocolate chips
1/3 cup of coffee
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS honey
1 block of silken tofu
1 chocolate pie crust

What to do:

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, then stir in coffee and vanilla. Pour into blender with tofu and honey and blend until silky. Pour into pie crust and chill for 2&1/2 hours. Top with Cool-whip, if you like.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bed Time Songs?

I've only been Orthodox for 4 years, and have never been a good singer. Consequently, I do not know a lot of tones or special troparia for special times of the year.

When I sing to the kids at night, we sometimes do some vespers hymns ("Lord, I Call Upon Thee" or "Oh Gladsome Light"); but often I just sing old hymns from my college days ("Create in Me a Clean Heart" is a good one, straight from Psalm 50) or make up songs.

The made-up songs go something like this:

Beautiful St. Elizabeth, pray for us... that we may be beautiful, with Christ in us, just like you... and so forth.

What we do now is kind of sweet, but I'd like to add actual troparia or kontakia for the day or season if I knew them. Do any of you do this, or know where to find such songs - not just the words, but guidance on how to sing them. Best would be audio of someone singing them. Ideas? Email me at and I can post them directly to the blog.

Gifts List #4 : Little Builder couldn't sleep and wouldn't stay in bed. Papa suggested he go over to the icon corner, do prostrations and pray. I didn't think he was actually going to do it, but as I swept the kitchen, I heard his little voice very slowly, so as to get it right before God in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. I swept my way over to a better view and my heart smiled.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Memory Work

When I was a student, I had to memorize things for exams.

These days, I try to memorize how to say the Lebanese names of the new couple at church.

We work with our little 4-yr old builder, helping him lay aside Lincoln Logs and Legos to pray and memorize a psalm.

All these things can be memorized by repeating, but for me, my most difficult memory work must be done on those moments that only manifest themselves once before passing into history.

So last Sunday, during the sermon, I confess that I was partly listening to the lesson about how we aren't all monks like St. John of the Ladder, but we can all make choices to help or hinder us on a path to God.

I was also busy memorizing the moment. Our Little Builder was in my arms. Oh, I wanted to be able to etch into my mind the feeling of those knees grounded on my lap, torso pressing against my chest, arms resting around my shoulders and neck, head leaning next to mine. I sat there intentionally going over each detail of his body in mine, knowing he's almost too big to fit in my lap anymore. I gaze at the Theotokos with the baby Jesus in her arms and ask her to pray for me, that I may be a good mother to this boy in my lap.

These moments, as I am reminded from Anne at Holy Experience, are gifts from God to be thankful for. In the sermon, Father mentioned many forks in our road of life, with one way taking us toward God and one away. When I seek to see God in daily blessings and be thankful for those moments, I choose a path that leads down a road of joy in God's goodness.

So I'm going to join in recording the One Thousand Gifts List.

1. That warm moment in church with my boy in my arms.

2. Baby arms flapping and toothless smile sending me greetings as I get home in the afternoon from school.

3. Reassuring rise and fall of little back, when I touch it in the crib in the middle of the night, seeking signs of breath.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Weekly Menu

Half Way through Great Lent

Sunday - Shrimp Pad Thai, Steamed Veggies with a splash of soy sauce, Baked Pears.

Monday - Acorn Squash, White Bean & Tomato Ragout over Polenta, Strawberries

Tuesday - Magic Loaf (I chose Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Corn, and Mexican seasonings- I'll let you know how it goes), Soft Tortillas, Salsa

Wednesday - Fried Crawfish Po-boys, Crockpot Roasted Potatoes, Apples

Thursday - Assuming Tuesday's Loaf isn't a disaster... Enchiladas filled with crumbled Magic Loaf and Silky Tofu Cilantro Cream & covered in Red Echilada Sauce (mixed with some browned-flour gravy to tone down the spice), Chips, Back-up plan is Crock-pot Veggie Soup.

Friday - Leftovers... Possibly made into Jambalya

Saturday - Soy Cheese Pizza, Celery Boats with Peanut Butter

We'll make enough pizza dough to put several balls in the freezer to use next week.

Back Home

All 28 of us were glad when the tournament ended. Although we brought home a few trophies, no 1st place ones. So no punky color for my hair.

Mostly, I'm just glad to be back home with my family.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Tagged by Emma

What I was doing 10 years ago:
I spent the year after college graduation working at a United Methodist Church Campus Ministry. April 1998 I was booking flights and raising money for a large group of students to go on a mission trip to Haiti. Did you know that the average annual income of a Haitian that year was $106? At that point in my life, I had never heard of the Orthodox Church.

Five things on my To Do List today:
1. get all lesson plans for my substitute teacher to the office secretary

2. set up the overhead projector for the sub

3. enjoy a little half-hour good-bye visit from my family before heading off to coach my Speech & Debate Team at the State Championships.

4. Drive south with the debaters.

5. Remember to pack the guitar into the car, to bring down to my cousin.

Laundry, bathrooms, etc., etc. will all be waiting for me when I get home this weekend after the tournament.

Snacks I enjoy:

Something homemade and with substance: For instance, chocolate is good but homemade chocolate brownies are better than, say, chocolate tootsie rolls. This cake looks good too.

Ice Cream
Hummus and warm flat bread

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

We could easily afford for my hubbie to finish his schooling and start whatever community development projects needed help.

I think I might homeschool my kids instead of teaching other people's kids.

However, I'd still want to work with other kids in drama and public speaking. Maybe I could volunteer coach a Speech & Debate Team. Also, maybe I'd teach a free childbirth class to pregnant teenage girls (there are lots of them!).

I would go on tons of mission trips with OCMC (especially if I could bring my kids & hubbie with me!)and pay for lots of college students to go too.

I would go visit Abbess Mariam and her orphanage and do a drama program with those kids. I read an article from their art teacher in a 2006 issue of The Orthodox Word about how art helped the kids heal and rehabilitate.

I better stop or the list could go on and on and might include land and orchards and green construction...

Five places I have visited:
Papua New Guinea - the Highlands and Sepik region
Juarez, Mexico
Siena, Italy
Little Rock, AR (we loved the brew pubs and book stores!)
Nuremburg, Germany

Five jobs I have had:
Church Secretary
Cracker Barrel cashier
High School Teacher

Consider Yourself tagged if you read this and haven't filled it out yet!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Our Prayer Corner

This past week, my husband has somehow roped me into extra "before sleep" prayers.

I'm actually grateful for the idea, even though every night this week, as I glance at the clock just before 9pm, I sort of wish he'd forget to come find me in a few minutes. Because I have important other things to do. Like play on the computer or find some other way to procrastinate from doing school work.

The candlelight, the familiar icons connecting us to the Saints and our family and friends, and the words that remind me that I need forgiveness and Christ forgives - these things make me glad for the moment of prayer.

For me, spiritual exercise is like phsyical exercise - don't want to do it beforehand, but glad afterwards.