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.

Homeschooling 

Just wanted to share our homeschooling week. We did a lot of stories and art and baking. My oldest son is getting better at baking and also measuring things. He really enjoys the stories that we read from Tell me a Story book and molding with our beeswax. These past 2 weeks we read the Polar Bear story and also the Do what you can do story from the same book. They are very simple stories but he absolutely loves them. 


Right now we have our own thing we are doing but hopefully next year we are going to do the Waldorf Essentials curriculum. Seminary life can be so hectic and the schedule for Lent is not an easy one so we are most likely going to be choosing one story a week and base our art and baking on that till the end of the semester. We still are doing our co op however I notice that it is harder to do with people that have a different philosophy about homeschooling than yourself. Mostly right now it is for the social aspect of things. Which brings me to ponder on school in general and how in the future I might just be a lot happier with a social gathering, not a co op gathering. Maybe even start a Waldorf co op? 

For the rest of our time we did a lot of playing outside with doing what boys do best. Answering the question of how dirty can we get?


Lots of building…


First signs of spring but it seems way too soon so our poems and stories range back and forth about the cold and warmer weather.


As for me a friend gave me a wonderful book to read about parenting from an Orthodox writer. I liked it a lot because it goes along with the peaceful parenting philosophy, which to me is encouraging since half the time I wonder if this whole philosophy works.


My husband is doing the March for Life in our nations capital so I get some time for myself. 


We have a Feast coming up next week for the Meeting in the Temple so I am doing the Good Shepherd presentation for that which I will post about.

Stay warm.

Blessings.

A monk


Sometimes it is hard for us to see if we do any good to people by our small actions. A smile, a kind word, a thank you, a calm response. They all matter. I was recently reminded of this while drinking tea. 

A monk on Mt Athos at the Russian monastery they visited reached up and grabbed a branch from a tree and said to my husband, “give this to your wife so she can put it in her tea and feel as if she has been here.” I did not think much of this until recently while I was battling my own thoughts on if what I do actually matters to others. Parenting is not a glorified job, let’s just face it most of the time kids do not use kindness as a way of getting what they want. So here I am taking out my branch and tearing off the leaf to put into my tea when I start to wonder if that monk ever dealt with these thoughts. 

Everyone struggles in some way, weather with thoughts about worthlessness or pride, in the end we are called to do good. That is what that monk did. He does not know what this small branch means to me. He does not know if I will ever use it or toss it. He just did a good deed from his heart. 

That act of kindness really did turn my whole battle into perspective. I will never meet this young monk since women are not allowed on the Holy Mountain, but as I drink my tea I do feel a little more appreciated that someone that doesn’t know me at all wanted to give me this small gift. 

Welcome back 

Well this week has been hectic with my husband coming back from Mt. Athos and the semester starting again it has been a busy bee hive. After living life as a single mother for 3 weeks, my respect for single mothers or military wives has increased tremendously. How do they do it? Go power mamas!

What did I learn while he was gone is still in the processing part of my brain. I do not know if I learned anything. I did try to take my good friend Matushkas advice and recognize this time as my own, which I did. I prayed more, had more coffee, more cookies and more friend time. In a way it’s hard to get used to the same routine again once he’s home. At this point the time alone was a real blessing. A chance to reconnect with my oldest son in a way I haven’t done in a while. A chance to do some soul searching to see what direction I would like to take my life into. A chance to be thankful most of all. 

So back to homeschooling and play dates . With Lent fast approaching the semester will be over in no time. 

Blessings 

Time


Well what does one do with 2 children while husband is away? 

I still take the kids out daily outside rain or shine. Snow or wind. We have been enjoying snow recently that is finally falling down today how fitting for old calendar Christmas. 



We also have been having fun with building forts and playing with lots and lots of open ended toys. I have noticed that we really do not miss our TV since we have gotten rid of it before we moved to NY. All toys that are not open ended also have a shorter play interest from the boys. I noticed also that during this indoor time their imaginations have really flourished. 

Board games that are cooperative games are our favorites. It basically has players playing against the board and not another person. I’ve noticed with younger kids around here it’s all about who wins who’s better who’s faster etc.  I am sure that will come on it’s own later in my kids lives but for now we are enjoying playing against the board.

Wet on wet painting is something else that has been consistent in our lives and lots of drawing with block crayons we made ourselves.


As far as taking care of myself I am able to say more prayers at night and have more silence which is always a great fruit. 

Theophany

Tomorrow is the great Feast of Theophany aka our Lords baptism. I really enjoy homeschooling don’t get me wrong but with my husband still gone on Mt Athos and the weather being so cold, we have not done much of anything but survive. So here it is my attempt for my kids to understand the Feast tomorrow.

  1. Sing the Troparion of the Feast.
  2. Make doves to hang from our lamp.
  3. Process with the Feast icon around the house and put it on our school space.

We will most likely also have a pretend blessing the house activity before the priest comes to bless the house. The boys really like to bless the house with paintbrushes and water. 



Tadddaaa!