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.

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Reflection: Seeing the other side

I recently was brushing teeth with my boys and every mother knows it’s one part of the bedtime routine that can get really mundane. After going through the rhythm of “ok now wash your face, ok let’s put the brush down… ok put the brush down… ok PUT the brush DOWN” I looked at my oldest son in the mirror. He gave me a big smile as I looked at him in the mirror and then he turned to me to look at me face to face. In that moment I realized that how I saw him in the mirror is so different from how he sees himself. I see him so much different than he sees himself and so much more beautiful than he knows he is at this moment.

It made me wonder about other people as well. How we honestly look at them through a mirror. We only see a little part of themselves. Sometimes we see the flaws in the mirror and judge or gossip about those flaws. The whole other side, the face to face side, is really hard to get to know. Sometimes we never get to see that side of people. Knowing that the other side exists in other people can in itself be eye opening.

My hope is to have that realization with me when I am inclined to judge or gossip about others. I hope I can carry that with me when people hurt me. That is what some believe to be… seeing the goodness in everyone, forgiveness and love.

DIY fall mobile

Part of our handwork this week was making a fall mobile and I thought I’d share with you this easy way to do this craft.

What you need:

  • Colorful leaves (we collected ours on our nature walks)
  • A stick
  • Ribbon
  • String (we used floss)
  • Pine cones
  • Beeswax

How to do it:

  1. Melt the beeswax
  2. Lay all the leaves in wax paper or aluminum foil
  3. Once beeswax is melted dip each leaf and lay them back down to dry (this preserves the leaves)
  4. Get string ready
  5. Tie each leaf on as you’d like finishing with a pine cone on the bottom for weight
  6. Tie another string on top of the stick one end to each side
  7. Find a great place to display your craft!

This was fun to do with kids because they got to pick the stick and leaves and pine cones so everyday was a treasure hunt looking for our items when we went outdoors. Next weeks handwork kites!

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!

Reflection: Choosing Joy

What does it mean to have joy? Is it the same as happiness? Some people have put it in the same category. As long as we are happy then we are joyful right?

What is supposed to make us happy? People? Places? Things? I am sure you have your own list of happiness bandaids that you can fill in the blanks with that you go to in order to make yourself feel better in a time of crisis. I started thinking recently about what it would take for another person to say that I was a joyful person. That requires me to really dig deep inside myself and change a lot of my actions towards my family and people I encounter daily. I do not think that joy is the same as happiness and that is where a lot of people tend to get mixed up. Looking at the people that I look up to for living a joyful life I really had to think about it and found one person. That person inspires me to be hopeful in the future and being present in the moment.

What does living a joyful life look like to you? What are qualities in people that you know that you think resemble joy? Is joy the same as happiness?

A Sunday thought.

Homeschooling: Our Week

Greetings everyone!

I don’t know about where you live but NY is starting to feel a little bit like fall is knocking on our door.

This week in homeschooling we didn’t do a whole lot. I wanted to start next week officially but started going over the story of Moses with Mr.4. We played a lot and hung out with friends mostly trying to get adjusted to the new routine with my husband gone in school. I have been taking walks with the boys early in the morning to get their crazy energy out before I attempted to do a story or any sort of school. Boys have a lot of energy ( or are those just mine?)

Here is our circle time songs now:

Come into the garden children and plant yourselves in a neat little row

Burrow down in a sweet little hollow in the fresh cool earth here below

All is dark and quiet and still the angels gather around

Mother Mary and all the saints are waiting to hear our soft sound

Lord Jesus Chris have mercy on us

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us today

My cross

This is the way I make my cross

One two three (thumb, forefinger tall finger)

Three fingers come together and the other two lie down

“Father” is my forehead for He is over all

“Son” is near my head while I stand straight and tall

“Holy Spirit ” shoulder shoulder

Then my cross is made

I can always take it with me while I work or rest or play

We also do some counting ones from a Waldorf book “Joyful Movement”

These are going to slightly change when we incorporate Waldorf Essentials next week.

Here is our classroom:

I always notice that the boys really gravitate towards nature things like building with pine cones or running in dirt or making mud. This simple analogy just shows the beauty of Waldorf education and how it goes with development of a child. Also, it shows that kids do not need a lot to be happy.

My handwork:

We have a feast coming up in the church for the Nativity of Theotokos. I prepared peg dolls to retell the story next week and we will switch the cloth on our place of prayer to blue for the Theotokos. This is my first big feast attempt but I really enjoyed the process as well as the end result. St. George and the dragon are my next project later in the month.

Hope you’ve had a great week as well! How are your homeschooling plans going? Have you started?

Homeschooling: Start

Come into the garden Children…

Our first week of homeschooling started this week. We are starting the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum from Anaphora press and will be using Waldorf Essentials as our main curriculum later in September.

We started lesson 1 that was supposed to start on September 1st but I felt like this is a good intro to schooling and could be done flexible according to homeschooling schedules. It was all about talking to the child about a special place where we are going to talk to Jesus and learn about the Saints and the great Feasts of the church. Surprisingly Mr.4 responded really well to the lesson and the songs. Above is the picture of our space.

Since we are doing the unit studies with our co-op I do not have to worry about scheduling that in so our next lesson is about Moses and the ark of the covenant. In order to prep for this lesson I have to tell the story of Mosses, which is kind of long if people know it, so I decided to break it up into small lessons throughout the week leading to the feast day of Moses. I am using a variety of children’s bibles for that and just keeping it really simple.

Then it’s Russian… ugh. My struggles with teaching Russian has always been ongoing. How will they ever learn! This year I am just doing a curriculum I found that has drawn out stick figures for the words and I do one page at a time for the words. This way I track the lessons and words and can also repeat the lessons beforehand. We will see how this goes.

My crafts:

Decided my hand at candle making this week and also made an altar for a little church play for quiet time. No, dipping a ballon in wax is not an easy process. So I found that dipping the balloon in wax first then dipping it in water speeded up the process. Also I noticed that I had to stick the shells on way later in the process. Oh well, I learn from mistakes.

And there above is the miniature altar I made for my kiddos to play with. Mr.4 really loved watching these crafts. Work with your hands. I try to show them that.

Hope your week was blessed.

Curriculum 2017

So let’s talk curriculum 2017…

I have debated this for a really long time about which curriculum to use this year with so many options as many know. Finally got to the point of just getting the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and planning on mixing this with Waldorf Essentials.

The Garden curriculum I like so far because it has Waldorf base, it is really hard to find a Waldorf anything with Orthodoxy and this is the best I have found. I also plan on using this:

I have finished my first peg project and this book I highly recommend for anyone that is interested in seasonal beginner projects.

We are going to be doing a 3 day plan with Waldorf Essentials and one day with the Garden with our co-op. Will keep up pictures of the adventures.

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!