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. 

Homeschooling 

We are not in California anymore…


Nothing like a snow storm here in NYC to remind us of how lucky we were in California with our weather. Our homeschooling week was interrupted by stomach sicknesses and a snow storm brought a stop to classes for my husband. We still did our story from Tell me a Story using Snowdrop on page 31. Also did out wet on wet painting and bread making since the boys couldn’t eat anything but bread. Our poem for the month is from All Around the Year by Elsa Beskow. 


Since everyone was down this week we had plenty of book time and also retold stories using our animals from the Tell me a Story book about Mr. Grienders farm. Such simple and nice stories the boys seem to respond to them.


I did use Winnie the Pooh movie when I needed to sleep, when I am sick I am not so crazy about technology. Recently my husband and I were previewing some popular kids shows that people in the community have their kids watch and we were so disappointed about the mixed messages or just crazy flashing from one scene to the next. Maybe we are getting old but what happened to quality with kids shows? Anyone else feel this way?Sigh.

The rest of the time we did get some outside time in with shoveling our car out and just having sled fun.


Have a great weekend everyone!

Blessings.

Photography 

Hunting for animal tracks in the snow is a good past time in the snow outside and also great to show them where animals go.


Snow covered hill


I love shapes of trees, especially this one that looks like it’s own frame.


To go or not to go… that is the question for a toddler.


Seminary church 

Homeschooling: Feast

Greeting everyone!

Tomorrow is a great Feast of the Presentation of our Lord into the Temple according to Orthodox tradition. I love sharing this Feast with my children and everyone because St. Simeon’s prayer can be heard every Vespers in our church:

Lord now let your servant depart in peace

According to Thy word

For my eyes have seen Your salvation 

Which Thou has prepared for all people 

A light to enlighten the Gentiles 

And the glory of Your people Israel

(Luke 2 29-32)

With my kiddos we took the pictures of our sons when they were being presented to the church after 40 days and showed them those explaining that this is also what happens during this Feast as Christ himself gets presented into the Temple. The deep tradition and history can be clearly seen with this Feast which is why I love talking about it with children. You can see their wheels turn and make connections and it’s beautiful.

We took Sculpey clay and made our own figures of

  • St. Simeon
  • Theotokos
  • St. Joseph
  • Two turtle doves 
  • Baby Jesus 

As I read the story I retold the story using the figures and left room for my oldest to reenact it on his own afterwards. Also showing them an  icon of the Feast and pointing out who is who in the icon before he sees it in church to make the connection as well.

My husband, the artist that he is, drew a wonderful chalkboard drawing of the icon and we will have it as our story for the rest of the week. 


This is all part of the Catechism of the Good Shepherd program which teaches kids about the church using the Montessori method. 

Enjoy this Feast tomorrow!

Blessings.