Pascha eggs

Today I wanted to share our method of dying Easter eggs. This is an old Russian favorite, I used to always wonder how my grandmother put the designs on the eggs and this year I gave it a try.

What you need:

  • Onion skins
  • Eggs
  • Pot
  • Flowers or leaves (fun activity with kids to find from nature)
  • Baige stockings

Take your scissors cut the stocking into pieces that will fit the eggs inside and hold the flowers on them. Tie one end in a knot, put the egg inside and then put the flower on it, then tie the other end. 

Repeat the process with the rest of the eggs and put them inside with the onion skins.

Boil the eggs in the pot for about 15 minutes or until you have reached your desired color. Once done remove the stocking and the flower off the egg and set to cool in cold water. Then tada…


Ready to get blessed by the priest after the Pascha Liturgy. 

The boys really enjoyed this activity because they got to find the decorations to put on the eggs and then got to see their imprints on the eggs. “Ooooo wow” says my oldest son. 

Next up to tackle for our traditional food is Kulich aka Easter Bread or Pascha bread. This one is a long process one. Will keep you posted.

How is your Easter prep going? Do you have any traditional food you eat?

Homeschooling: Holy Week 

Here is a Holy Week activity for everyone to try. This is a good way to teach kids about the concept of past, present and future using the events from the Holy Week services.

You will need to print out all the icons for the Holy Week services and laminate them. Using a board, divide it into three sections: on the left is the future, middle is the present and the right is the past. In the beginning of the week put all the icons on the left, as each day comes put the icon of the day in the middle with your child and read the scripture that goes with the Holy Week service. 

Talk about the icon with your child, what do they see? What do they think the readings mean? Then the next day as you put a new icon in the middle simple move the old icon to the right on the past side. 

Go to as many Holy Week services with your kids as possible for them to make the connection with the readings and the icons to the church. They will recognize the shift in the regular rhythm. Also, teach them the Behold the Bridegroom hymn or the Alleluia hymns that are sung in the church for the first 4 days.

Hope your Holy Week is gearing you up for Pascha!

Handwork

Well folks I finally finished something. A washcloth. Although to expert knitters out there this may not seem like a big deal but to this newbie it is. I honestly stopped counting how many days it takes for me to finish a knitting project because I just get down thinking about it. Boredom, no time, no motivation, sleepy, lazy have all been my excuses to not finish projects. Am I the only one that finds this difficult to accomplish? Maybe handwork in our little homeschooling journey will not be our strong suit. I’d rather get dirty in the garden honestly. At the very least I did hope I was going to finish before Holy Week and did accomplish my goal. Horray!

Please share your motivation for handwork with me. Do you find it as difficult to complete one project? How do you keep doing it with small kids around that have such high needs all the time? 

Homeschool: CGS

Today during our co op we are getting ready for Pascha!

Using the Catechism of the Good Shepherd program we did our Liturgy of Light presentation. Since here in seminary we really do not have the space for an actual atrium I have to modify my lessons and include a craft for the kids whenever it is my turn.

We gathered in the class today and all the kids were excited to be back since we have had sort of a hiatus for a while. The energy level was high and I knew it was going to be a sort of strict teacher day. We had the altar set up with the purple cloth first and remembered our church colors song and purple for preparing and white for celebration.

After the song I switched the altar cloth to white and put the big Pascha candle on it with flowers and the Good Shepherd icon. We talked about how Jesus walked on this earth and he said many things but one thing He said was that “I am the light of the world” as I said this I lit the big Pascha candle. 

I then called out each child by name and gave them their own blank candle and we learned the Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen greeting for Pascha. Then we processed with our candles 3 times singing the Christ is Risen troparion. Afterward the children sat down and I called each one by name to light their own candle from the big Pascha candle. They stood there for a little bit as we turned off the lights and saw their candles light up the room. 

For our craft we decorated the Pascha candles with puff paint and put ribbons on them so the children can use it for the Pascha service and the procession. It was a joy to see their faces light up.

What you can do at home: 

  • Make your own Easter vigil candles 
  • Get puff paint from Joanns or Michael’s 
  • Dye Easter eggs together 
  • Make a Easter basket for the priest to bless after the service
  • Buy fresh flowers for the house

Hope this is helpful in your Easter preparation.

Reflection: spring

Alright everyone, Lent has been kind of crazy. All the focus on internal work and spiritual readings has left me exhausted. Every Lent there is always something to push you, either with kids or health, there is always some struggle for Lent that comes your way. 

New York has not been kind to us Californians with the weather this Lent either. First there was a snow storm that left a brand new huge patch of snow and now there are non stop showers. Cabin fever is real. The community here seems to be non stop sick so we have been avoiding all people, making it harder to just hang out with the kids all day. 

Spring weather always seems to show up at the right time around Pascha/Easter. Last year Pascha was in May, way different than the Western calendar but the weather seemed to still go with the Lenten season. It was in the 30’s until end of April last year. This year seems to be the same. As Holy Week will be soon upon us it is already in the 50’s creating hope for glorious Pascha sunshine. 

As I sit and contemplate the spring and try to gear my thoughts towards the end of Lent, I leave you with this thought from St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

Contemplate the Lord Jesus in death:

  1. How all of nature trembled when He gave up the spirit, as though to protest against this criminal act of the race of men;
  2. How the earth quaked, the sun was darkened, the rocks were split, the veil of the Temple was rent, and the graves were opened.

Snow day

Oh New York when will spring actually come? 

We are getting another snow storm here in NYC. Sigh. Being screen free parents can be hard and tempting at times especially when everyone around you has gone to the library to get movies for snow day for their kids. Well here we go, what do we do all day…

  1. Go out- there is no bad weather just bad clothes. 
  2. Read books about snow day- our favorite are The Mitten, and The Hat, also I Spy books
  3. Feed the birds- we just got a bird feeder that attaches to the window and all the winter birds are having a Feast outside our window.
  4. Make forts- provides hiding games and small reading nooks.
  5. Board games- Dinosaurs Escape, Friends and Neighbors we enjoy cooperating games.
  6. Play bowling, basketball, baseball… inside.
  7. Bake something- nothing like a good smelling house on a snowy day.

These might sounds like a lot of work for people especially when kids fight and make a huge mess you’d rather not clean up. It is a lot easier to put on a movie sometimes when they are whining about being bored, but why not let them be bored? 

    Homeschooling: Lent

    Here are some things that I try to do different for my family during Lent. We do have books we read throughout Lent some are pictured above. 

    In the Candles Glow– Great story about a girl that says prayers in front of candles. Great illustrations. You can get it through Ancient Faith Publishing.

    Saint Herman of Alaska- He is one of our favorite saints and this book is a favorite for kids showing them his life and devotion to prayer. This one is from SVS press

    Monk who grew in prayer- Wonderful book about the hours of the church as prayed by a monk.

    Joseph and his brothers- we found this one at the monastery I believe they are on Ancient Faith Publishing also.

    Orthodox kindergarten- This book is great for 2yr olds, it is a lot of simple things that the child can identity in the church and different icons also. This one is from Ancient Faith also.

    We are getting Pascha Passports this year here is the link:

    https://lenten-embassy.myshopify.com/collections/lenten-journey-for-the-family

    It is affordable, a great teaching tool and beautiful!

    Most of my teaching will come from the Good Shepherd program. Our first presentation will be on the altar and then I am mostly going to focus on Jesus’s life throughout Lent. Using the geography presentations, the Good Shepherd presentation, Annunciation, then Holy Week. More on those later. 

    I just wanted to mention a thought on simplicity. With kids, less is more, some parents feel like they have to do all these things for the child to “get it” or understand the importance of Lent. I get it, because it’s important to us as well. However, sometimes choosing less activities and simpler ones can make a world of a difference in how kids progress things. In a book Religious Potential of a Child, the author has many examples of kids having that want of a connection to their Creator, with many examples of kids with no knowledge of God having that yearning. In terms of simplicity and teaching I try to think about that and think of opportunities for living discussions not only activities. 

    How are you doing Lent with your kids? 

    Reflection: Forgiveness 

    Today is Cheesfare Sunday for Orthodox Christians everywhere. That means Lent is officially here. We all have a special service to start the event titled Forgiveness Vespers. We all line up and face our community and ask each other for forgiveness. I personally love this service as it’s the perfect start to the Lent and the main focus of the season. Now is the time for reflection, quiet, peace, prayer and service to ones neighbors.

    Every year as Lent rolls around I get sad about all the meat and cheese we will miss but joyful also because it cannot come at a more perfect time. I stand there and face the people I go to church with first. The priests that work so hard. I ask them their forgiveness and they as me for mine in return. My friends and neighbors follow. I know that I need to ask them their forgiveness because at some point during the year I did have bad thoughts or even said mean words against them. Lastly, I stand before my husband, I look into his eyes and ask him to forgive me for anything that I might have offended him for. He asks the same of me. We bow to each other and forgive one another. 

    It is such a humbling experience to go through every year. I walk my overly tired kids back to the house and I try to keep my peace as long as possible. My sons loose it and I loose it on them. Bam. My peace is gone. I blame myself. All the wrong thoughts come into my head. My husband walks in and calms the storm. 

    As I sing my goodnight song to my oldest son I know what I have to do.

    “Buddy, I’m sorry I was angry just now. I will try to do better next time. Will you forgive me?” I say to my son.

    “Yeah mama.”

    Blessed Lent everyone.

    Story: Thankful 

    When my youngest son was born he was a month early. On the day we were packing up our boxes to move from California to NYC I was 34 weeks and started having major back pain. After he came via emergency c-section I somehow knew he would be my little heart ache.

    Ever since then we have been back to the ER and urgent care with him more than anyone else in the family. This week in preparation for Lent I was trying out different recipes and what do you know turns out this little man has a severe allergy to cashews.

    As his body and face began to rapidly swell up I knew I had to act fast. The nurse in me had to think quick because I know first hand what happens in these situation if people don’t act quickly. Off into the car I put him race as fast as I can to our local urgent care, they don’t even check me in and just rush me and my son to the back so he can get his Epinephrine shot and steroids. He is shaking at this point. I know he will be ok but it is still hard to see my own son like this. 

    A few moments later the storm has passed. He just wants to be held by his mama and I am so thankful so this moment. There we were again yet another stay for 6 hours in the hospital for monitoring to make sure he dosent react again. I had a lot of time to think about life during that time and could not stop thinking about timing. If only my husband wasn’t home and I didn’t have help what would I do? If I couldn’t get him there fast enough what would have happened. If he had an allergic reaction again during the night what would I do? 

    I started being so thankful for small moments again. Those kisses I am able to give him again in the morning, thankful for my husband being there for me and being my backbone. Thankful for my community getting that Epi pen for us when it was going to be too expensive for us. Thankful.

    It is the small things folks. What are you most thankful for today?

    Food: Lent


    Let’s talk food and Lent. This blog is for all those people out there that have Great Lent some what on their minds. Yes I realize that it is Meat-fare Sunday this Sunday but before you know it Lent is going to creep in with all the extra services. In order to not loose my own mind with kids and husband that’s going to be traveling I thought I’d start planning earlier this year.

    So for those of you that do not know about Lent in the Orthodox Church we give up all meat and dairy until Pascha/Easter. I believe the Catholic calendar with Easter is the same as Orthodox so we will be sharing in the celebration. This year my husband is also traveling a lot going to different parishes all over the East Coast here for the extra services. So enough of that let’s plan…

    Lenten Pantry List

    Dairy substitute 

    • Nut milks such as coconut or almond

    Proteins 

    • Dried beans such as garbanzos and black beans (also get canned versions for quick prep sometimes dried beans take a long time to cook)
    • Cashews, almonds, walnuts
    • Quinoa 
    • Nut butters

    Egg substitute 

    • Chia seeds
    • Stores have egg replacement nowadays 

    Grains

    • Oatmeal 
    • Rice
    • Pasta

    Fats

    • Vegan mayo
    • Avocados
    • Olive oils
    • Coconut oil for cooking 
    • Sunflower oil

    Flavor Enhancers

    • Salsa
    • Curry sauce 
    • Dijon mustard 
    • Nutritional yeast
    • Soy miso
    • Enchilada sauce 
    • Pizza sauce 

    So you got your pantry stocked what to do now? Plan meals with them. There are a lot of vegan recipes out there online on Pinterest or with recipe books. Find a recipe book that works for you. Not the most popular one but one that works for you. Look at the list and see if it’s honestly doable for your family. If you have homeschooling on top of meal planning and a crazy complex recipe that might stress you out. Choose easy meals that you can do for service days and then rotate them for each week like good ol pasta and sauce. Also veggie pizza is a good one. Have your recipes ready.

    Make a meal plan for the week for the month, all of Lent if that is what works for you. I personally make weekly meal plans. I look at all the services I’d like to attend, plan the meals around that. Also make extra batches and put them into the fridge for lunch or starters for the next day. If you go shopping with your kiddos know where your beans are in the store, know where your vegan stuff is so you don’t have to wander the isles with crazy kids. Save your sanity. I went to the store the other day and just looked at where this stuff was that I would need to buy later.

    Lent is for our spiritual benefit. It’s not about the food and crazy prep time. With a little bit of planning it could be a lot of stress off your shoulders.