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.

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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.

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!

Zaccheus Sunday

Greetings friends!

This week I wanted to introduce the catechism lesson I am doing with my kiddos in order to prepare for Lent. In the Orthodox Church we have several Sundays leading up to Lent which we read specific scriptures that help prepare our hearts for the Lent journey ahead of us. This Sunday is the Sunday of Zaccheus. You find his story in Luke 19. As many know he is the tax collector that looks at Jesus by climbing a tree. So the lesson that I am getting is from the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum, from their unit study book.

How I plan on introducing this lesson to my kids is to first read the story and ask them questions to see what they would talk to Jesus about it they invited him to their house. Next, it suggest to talk to the kids about the word “desire” and how the main purpose of this story is to start asking God to plant a desire in our own hearts for us to know God more. I think I am going to talk about bad/good concept with this story as well since Zaccheus was a not so liked tax collector of his time. There was a change in his heart when he heard about Jesus and that change brought on the desire to see him.

I was thinking about doing a separate Main Lesson book for Lent this year also to include all the art work in one book but have yet to decide on that. The above picture is what we are going for in the art portion of the lesson.

I hope this gives some of you ideas for Zaccheus Sunday and hope it opens up to discussion with your kiddos about desire for Christ.

January

Well greetings friends!

Finally back here from our California adventures and ready to finish off our last semester here in NY. We all had such a great break and bypassed the whole winter storm in NY. We did feel a bit bad when everyone of our friends was freezing and we were at the beach with swimming trunks and flip flops. I guess thats why people leave NY for winter.

It is already mid January and I was thinking about making slower homeschooling plans this month and swinging back in February. Still planning on doing Waldorf Essentials for kindergarten and maybe modified stories from “Tell me a Story” for the rest of January.

During our vacation my husband still did a lot of work for the church. For Theophany we blessed the Pacific Ocean! The turn out was great with the ocean being warm that day and all the kids playing at the beach afterwards. For Orthodox Christians it’s a tradition to throw the cross in the water and the person to first get it will have a fruitful year. We were glad to serve the community and heard that it was so cold in NY the creek that is usually used in Theophany service was frozen! Bbbrrrrr…

Here are snippets from our break! As you can tell we spend a lot of time at the beach.

And back to…

Blessed week to come!

St. Nicholas

Many people are celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas today and what a joy! As the years pass and my children get older and older I really appreciate childlike things more and more. Seeing the joy in their faces as they await the feast, wondering what will be in their shoes, preparing gifts for their friends, are all things that I find my self experiencing all over again.

Many people know the story of St. Nicholas. He was from a wealthy family with his uncle as his biggest influence that taught him that serving his neighbor is most important. There are many stories of St. Nicholas and the story of the golden coins seems to be the most popular among Orthodox friends at least.

Celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas is always my favorite because it takes away from the frenzy of the holiday month with so much focus on gifts and what things we want or what our kids want and what our relatives want. The story of the saint is such a great example of what our focus and attitudes should be during this time of focus in the world on materialistic things. So early on in the December month and the holiday race to Christmas, it sets me in the realistic mind of Christmas. I try to capture that joy in my kids and see it through their eyes.

So today as we unwrapped our shoes and found our own golden coins, I saw the light and believe in my kids and tried to remain thankful throughout the day. What a season to be thankful and count our blessings! For the family and the love for the peace and the joy.

Catechism for children

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share with you a little more about the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and catechism for children. It has been really hard for me to incorporate catechism for my boys as part of my homeschooling, mainly because I feel there is so little time to get everything done. The church is such a part of our lives since we are in seminary, I always feel like I do not need to do much since the boys are living it everyday with their father being a priest. However, recently I was watching a YouTube channel of a homeschooling mom of 8 that is a Christian and got really inspired by her teaching and reading the Bible with her kids everyday and memorizing verses. Reading the Bible has been a big problem for me, simply said I do not do it often even though the Church provides daily reading schedule for us that are not that long. So this week I decided to start reading the Bible with my kids to at least start talking about Christ and who he was.

The Garden of Theotokos curriculum provides a really great way to introduce certain concepts. For example, the kiddos are still going over the days of creation and are on day 3. It seems like the kids are actually getting it and are enjoying the a Waldorf style of learning with this curriculum. I have also been trying to do the Sunday gospel reading lessons with my oldest son getting the lessons from the Antiochian archdiocese website and just doing the lesson with him separately. Since we are in seminary I feel like there is no consistency with Sunday school, we do not have a consistent parish we go to so this is hard, so I felt like it was up to me to have them learn about the gospel readings and this was the easiest way.

I like the little added activities attached to the gospel reading and questions they have according to the level of the child. For example, this weeks reading was about the man that stored up treasure on earth in Luke 15, the activity for kids was to take some toys and explain it as stuff and then do a small game trying to discern between scenarios if it is a treasure in heaven or earth.

Overall, this has been an interesting experiment but I do see more of a discussion in my house about Christ now. I am curious about what others are doing in terms of catechism for their kids? Maybe there is a great curriculum out there I am missing. Let me know in the comments below!

Book review

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to do a quick book review here for all those Christian moms out there following me. I have had this book for a while and recently reopened it again. This is not a book that is a sit down and read type. It has many different prayers for different areas of motherhood. What I love about this book is that at any time you can look in the table of contents and search for the prayers you need. I also like how they are not all formal prayers that we are used to and more on a personal request that I felt like are words given in a time when you don’t have any words.

There are also some stories of many beautiful Orthodox mother saints that I personally love reading because it constantly encourages me to look at someone that is a mother with many kids, that has finished the race. I will say that when I did originally get the book I did not think I would use it a lot but now with such little time left in the day I do find myself running to this book for short prayers very often. The book also has various Psalms after the prayers which I liked as a way to memorize them in relation to what I am dealing with at the moment.

Overall I am thinking about getting this book for a few of my friend for Christmas in hopes to encourage their motherhood journey. A copy of this book can be purchased on Ancient Faith Publishing website if you are interested.

Exaltation of the Cross

Orthodox Christians celebrate the cross 3 times a year and tomorrow is one of those times. For our feast lesson we used the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and made our own wooden crosses.

Added circle time song:

Before thy cross we bow down in worship oh master

And thy holy resurrection, we glorify.

For the lesson we talked about the resurrection icon and how the cross is really not a bad thing. I related the demons to bad guys and Hades to jail to make more of an image for them. We looked at the icon together and saw how Christ is pulling people out of this jail place and they are holding onto him to get out.

Since during the service we see red for the cross we changed our cloth to red and then made wooden crosses to process with while we sing our song for the cross. The wooden crosses are super easy to make. All you need is wooden dowels from your local craft store, hot glue them together and then paint them.

We also used string to tie the middle part together since it was a fun handwork thing for the boys to do. We chose red for the color and tried to mix it with orange for fall colors but it mainly just turned to red. This was a fun process and I will share with you how we tied it into our school story from the Waldorf Essentials curriculum later this week.

Homeschool

This week we started with the Waldorf Essentials curriculum and so far we really like it. I have to compile the teaching days into 2 days so we do our craft one day and baking day another. The reason why we do this is because of our co-op that takes a day and just schedules that work best for our family. We did bake the recipe that was suggested with peach cookies and it was a great big mess in the kitchen alright with kids trying to mix and touch every ingredient. Overall I enjoyed it and am seeing that my boys enjoy lessons as well if I hold the space and try not to just check something off the list.

Our co-op started the unit 1 study of the days of the week from the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum. We started with Sunday and since that is the day we go to church we put a chalice and a diskos on our page. We also talked about how God took 7 days to make everything and tried to talk to the kids about what their dads and moms do that is work and resting on the holy day. I mixed in circle time from the WE curriculum along with other finger plays and action rhymes my kids have enjoyed.

This week we have the Feast of Nativity of the Theotokos and used our peg dolls I made to retell the story. The cloth was switched to blue and the icon of the feast was put up. This was a great hit because the whole day we roll played the story, with either using the peg dolls or just acting out the story.

That was our homeschooling wrap up. Blessed Feast everyone!