St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

What a great Saint and a perfect example of saying “yes” to God. I will not go on to repeat his story here as you can probably find it online or already know it. What I do want to say is how he should be an inspiration to us this time during Lent. He said “yes” to God and ended up a Saint. We are all called to do the same thing. To say “yes” to God and follow Him. During difficulties in life that is the hardest thing to do. It was not easy I am sure for St. Patrick to be a slave. He still said “yes” to God. His life is a perfect example of what God can do in your own life. There are many stories of different struggles in Saints lives but they still chose to say “yes” to God. Our life is a constant choice, from moment to moment. We can say “yes” to God or not. We have that freedom.

I hope that this St. Patrick’s Day you get inspired to say “yes” in your own way. Whether it is seeing Gods hand in a terrible situation or Gods help with your children. Through the prayers of St. Patrick May our souls be saved.

Troparion

Holy Bishop Patrick,

Faithful shepherd of Christ’s royal flock,

You filled Ireland with the radiance of the Gospel

The mighty strength of the Trinity!

Now that you stand before the Savior,

Pray that He may preserve us in faith and love!

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Children’s Lent readings

Hey everyone! Happy Friday!

Today I wanted to share with you some of our favorite books that we have been enjoying as part of our spiritual care with kids. All of these books you can get on Ancient Faith Publishing as well as St. Vladimir bookstore website.

Small books about Saints from Pontamitis Publishing

I absolutely love these books. They are very small and can be taken to church. They have stories about different Saints, they also have stories about major feasts, and as of now my kids love using it as a collectors item.

A Child’s Paradise of Saints

We mainly use this book to read a saint of the month for our co-op but I have learned that these are really simple stories of saints that can be implemented in our daily Saints readings. It is great because it is short enough for children to understand the Saints life and remember it.

We Pray

I really like the simplicity of prayer in this book. It explains what we play for and what the different prayers of the church are. I like to take it to church with us to explain what the prayers mean. It’s simple and gentle way to explain prayer for a child.

From I-Ville to You-Ville

This book is a chapter book that we are really enjoying so far. It is a story about a boy that lives in I-Ville full of different vices as peoples names. He goes to You-Ville when he meets a girl that lives there and she explains to him how people live in You-Ville and explains the different virtues as people. We absolutely love this book. I highly recommend this one if your child is able to listen to chapter books.

The Prologue by St. Nikolai

This book is my personal favorite for everyday reading. It has everything for the day that you need. Saints lives for the day, a contemplation, a reflection, and a homily. Depends on the day I either read all of them or I just read the contemplation or I just read the homily or reflection. This is great for busy moms and also a way to read one Saint with your children.

I hope you this list has been useful. Please let me know in the comments below what your favorite books have been this Lent?

St. John of the Ladder

This Sunday in the Orthodox Church we celebrate St. John of the Ladder. He is a great saint of the church and during this time of Lent it is helpful for adults mainly to remember “steps” to heaven. How to explain this to kids?

Well the first thing to do is actually show the icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent to the children. It is easy to find online if you do not have it at home. There are steps in the ladder you can bring your children’s attention to and y’all about stools for example or a bunk bed ladder. Talk to the child about how ladders or steps help us get somewhere such as a top bunk or a stool can help you reach for things. Well in the icon it is the same thing since all the people are trying to get to heaven. But sure enough there are the bad guys all trying to get these people off the ladder. You can talk to the children about what can we do as steps to get closer to our goal which is heaven. Here are some ideas our kiddos came up with:

  • Do not be angry
  • Pray
  • Be nice
  • Share
  • Take turns
  • Take a deep breath and count to 4
  • No yelling
  • Go to church

Then talk to the children about the Cross and how powerful it is. How those pesky demons do not like the Cross and how they will get scared away and we can keep climbing.

Afterwards, have the children make their own ladder in their notebooks and then glue on people that are climbing the ladder. You can make the sun at the top with other bright colors or a picture of Jesus. Just some relation to the climb with getting to heaven.

A thought about Waldorf

Greetings homeschoolers!

I wanted to share some thought out there about Waldorf education. Recently I have been rethinking schooling for my boys and found myself extremely overwhelmed about homeschooling using the Waldorf method, especially with multiple grades. I know there is a lot of posts out there about this type of thing in the Waldorf world, how you really should combine things if you can and on and on and on those I am sure you can find on your own time. While the idea of Waldorf education and its beauty really appeals to me, I am or wondering if the stress of it is even worth it. I find myself constantly thinking if I can teach 3 main lessons a day and handwork and music and language and do laundry and make meals and get outside time. Does that sound like a lot? Why yes it does… hence this post.

Where will school be like then you ask? Well… I was just thinking about teaching them the basics of math, reading, foreign language and spelling, then leaving room for their own interests of study in a sort of an unschooling way. There are things like nutrition I would like them to know and I just recently started feeling really bad to saying “no you can’t learn this yet” to my middle son when he was interested what his older brother was learning. In the Waldorf method, people would say it goes with the child’s development and we should guard them… something like that… but in the end I think my kids will be ok.

Now all this is just an idea and it is getting towards the end of the year here with homeschooling when you feel a bit crazy from the stress of winter. I will honestly re-evaluate all this in September when we have to start a new school year. For now, I wanted to throw this out there into the blogging world and get some thoughts back.

Anyone out there doing Waldorf? Do you really think it’s worth it to do multiple main lessons a day for multiple grades? Honestly.

What I ate in a Lent day

Breakfast: Oats, cocoa nibs, coconut flakes, dates, maple syrup. Topped with blueberries.

Lunch: leftovers and these yummy yummy nut butter balls that I can now make with my Ninja blender. (Is is bad to love a blender so much? Seriously this one piece of machinery changed my lent)

Dinner: Vegan chimichangas with lentil stuffing and the yummy cashew “cheese” sauce made with of course the Ninja.

Desert: Banana “ice cream” with cocoa nibs topping and coconut flakes.

Lesson for Orthodox Sunday

Alright everyone I thought I would share a short lesson about Orthodox Sunday that is coming up. Since Lent has started we have changed our alter cloth to purple. This goes in sync with the priest vestments in church. And now with Orthodox Sunday coming up here is a way to have a small activity of play to do in order for those little minds to get the “Lent journey” concept.

Start off by pretending to get in a boat. Have the icons at the end of the room. We are using each child’s patron saint and an icon of Christ. The “boat” is in the middle and ask the children/child to get on the boat and see what we need to do in order to get to the icons. How do we steer the boat? Who’s going to be the leader? Who is going to steer the sail? How are we going to work together to get to Pascha aka the land of Paradise?

After the time of pretend play for the kids have a short story about this time of Lent and how the boat is the church. We all need a leader who is the priest and we all need to work together and “row” and make it to the land of Paradise. This opens up a good discussion with kids regarding church. How can everyone work together? What does it mean to work together with our neighbors and friends during Lent? By prayers? Fasting? What does that look like in a family?

Talk about the icons that the boat is going towards. What do icons mean in the church and why do we have a patron saint? What qualities do the saints have that make them close to Christ?

Just some thoughts.

What’s in my fridge? Lent version

Here we are again… another Lent is upon us. So let us play the game of… what’s in an Orthodox moms fridge?

Fridge is mostly free of all dairy. Since we got a few days to go here we do have eggs and cheese for those breakfasts. I have lots and lots of veggies. I use a combination of different veggies pretty much in every meal. From eggplant to zucchini to lots of lettuce and cilantro. I also loaded up on sweet potatoes and mushrooms. I try not to use any fake cheese or fake butter or anything like that, I might later but the key is pacing yourself here people.

Along with veggies come lots and lots of fruits. I have loads of bananas cause I use them in smoothies all the time every day. Kids eat it for snacks and husband eats it with almond butter sometimes for breakfast. Apples are a great snack for me, the boys love this as a snack also. This year we are splurging in avocados for Lent. They make a difference with food tastes by a lot! The boys love eating avocados and love the food that they mix with avocados so you know… whatever saves me from a food struggle is a win for me.

Alright on to my pantry. So yes I have a food processor and it helps with making my own sauces but I am not one to soak the beans in my fridge so the pantry is a place for my pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. There’s cashews in there and trail mix for a nice snack as well. Yes that is a big box of espresso in the back. I’m a mom of three.

That pretty much covers it all for now. My boys are fairly young so I am not going to make them fast but so far they do eat the fast friendly meals for dinner. My oldest son was never a meat eater to be honest ( potential monastic? Hmmmm) this is just the start though. Everyone that’s fasting always comes to this point in Lent where all the veggies and all the fruits and all the fake stuff just doesn’t cut it anymore.

I will try to do a “what we ate” kind of post sometime soon and then later on in Lent so we can all see the persevering difference.

Homeschooling: February

Greetings everyone!

Our homeschooling journey this week took us to some artistic places. I didn’t mean to focus on art really this week as it started out with candle making but then later progressed into just painting and making lots of doodling. Here in NYC we took advantage of the MET museum and it’s beautiful works of art! We saw the Michelangelo exhibit there and it was one of those experiences in life I won’t forget. Even though Michelangelo’s sketches and paintings were beautiful I must still say my favorite was the Monet.

Candle dipping result below

It was rougher weather here in NY these days which make me look forward to spring a lot more. Recently I read a book titled “How Children Learn” by John Holt and it was so insightful into the mind of a child. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend this book to anyone that’s looking into homeschooling. From reading this book I am noticing a lot of things about myself that I do to try to push what I guess you can call my own agenda on learning even in our homeschooling setting. It is hard to do. These constant comparisons between kids and who’s kid is reading and writing and who’s kid has more music lessons and knowledge about whatever topic is a hard conversation to be a part of among women. Especially when I am going against the grain here and delaying formal education.

With the bad weather here there was lots of chances for games in the house, lots of boys energy bursts and lots of fighting. We do have some epic LEGO creations going here though. Hope your week was good! Lent is almost here! Meatfare Sunday is tomorrow!

Painting with blue this week

Finally got Stockmar block crayons

Russian picture chalkboard update

Messy messy paint day

LEGO fun

Being thankful for the sun at least

The Publican and the Pharisee

Tomorrow in the Orthodox Church we read the reading of the Publican and the Pharisee. Each week as we get closer to Lent we have special reading to help prepare our hearts for the season of fasting and repentance. This one was a hard one to explain to the boys since the Publican was a tax collector and a “bad guy” so they had a hard time understanding the word “pride” associated with the Pharisee. In the end our final understanding was that pride= thinking of oneself before others and that we want to be like the Publican.

What you can do at home:

Read the story about the Publican and the Pharisee in Luke’s gospel. Try to see where they are at with asking them questions about the story and see if they understand who the “good guy” was. Explain the word “pride” and why it is bad and how the Pharisee was prideful. Relate it to the tax collector Zaccheus in las weeks reading and how the Publican was also a tax collector and how people didn’t really like him either. Then discuss the prayer that the Publican prayed and how we pray that prayer every day still. Draw a picture of it in a book or on the fridge like us! Discuss it on Sunday!

Homeschooling: Mud

Oh what to do in this New York winter? Go outside and play in the mud! Let me just say that it is hard to get kids all geared up and go outside in the cold. It makes me want to give up every day. My only motivation is the fact that all these seminary walls close in on me more and more if I stay inside all day. So my boys found some mud and it seems to be the place they want to play all the time. Yes they get SUPER dirty… but it is worth it for me to see them so happy to experiment with it. We have been going on a lot of walks in this cold as another outing. Looking at birds nests and looking for ice is a great adventure. Once in a while we will come across interesting animal tracks and try to guess the animal and where they were going. Sometimes it turns into story time about the animal tracks and the animal associated with it.

For Waldorf kindergarten this week we continued our Waldorf Essentials curriculum. This week was making stars. What we decided to do was have a painting day and use those as our window star paper later in the week. They turned out really nice and Mr. 4 has fun cutting and folding the star shapes.

We also did some baking using coconut flour. I have a hard time with this flour since I feel like it has a weird texture but have a ton of it so it’s a constant coconut flour experiment at my house. This muffin project was a fail. I honestly didn’t even think to take a picture since it all burned and crumbled. We still ate it but it was like eating crumbled bread. My kids did not complain which is an up. What was our moral of the lesson? Sometimes things burn when you bake it boy. Sorry mama tried.

Getting through our Russian with more and more vocabulary everyday. My next goal is to get a story for kids in Russian and try to actually incorporate those words into their rotation. Yes they do not like it so much but not to sound like a total mom but… they will thank me later.

Hope everyone is still going strong in their homeschooling journey. We are gearing up for Lent here with this Sunday the reading of the Publican and the Pharisee. I will post about that lesson later.