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?

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.

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!