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!

Reflection: spring

Alright everyone, Lent has been kind of crazy. All the focus on internal work and spiritual readings has left me exhausted. Every Lent there is always something to push you, either with kids or health, there is always some struggle for Lent that comes your way. 

New York has not been kind to us Californians with the weather this Lent either. First there was a snow storm that left a brand new huge patch of snow and now there are non stop showers. Cabin fever is real. The community here seems to be non stop sick so we have been avoiding all people, making it harder to just hang out with the kids all day. 

Spring weather always seems to show up at the right time around Pascha/Easter. Last year Pascha was in May, way different than the Western calendar but the weather seemed to still go with the Lenten season. It was in the 30’s until end of April last year. This year seems to be the same. As Holy Week will be soon upon us it is already in the 50’s creating hope for glorious Pascha sunshine. 

As I sit and contemplate the spring and try to gear my thoughts towards the end of Lent, I leave you with this thought from St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

Contemplate the Lord Jesus in death:

  1. How all of nature trembled when He gave up the spirit, as though to protest against this criminal act of the race of men;
  2. How the earth quaked, the sun was darkened, the rocks were split, the veil of the Temple was rent, and the graves were opened.

Homeschooling: Lent

Here are some things that I try to do different for my family during Lent. We do have books we read throughout Lent some are pictured above. 

In the Candles Glow– Great story about a girl that says prayers in front of candles. Great illustrations. You can get it through Ancient Faith Publishing.

Saint Herman of Alaska- He is one of our favorite saints and this book is a favorite for kids showing them his life and devotion to prayer. This one is from SVS press

Monk who grew in prayer- Wonderful book about the hours of the church as prayed by a monk.

Joseph and his brothers- we found this one at the monastery I believe they are on Ancient Faith Publishing also.

Orthodox kindergarten- This book is great for 2yr olds, it is a lot of simple things that the child can identity in the church and different icons also. This one is from Ancient Faith also.

We are getting Pascha Passports this year here is the link:

https://lenten-embassy.myshopify.com/collections/lenten-journey-for-the-family

It is affordable, a great teaching tool and beautiful!

Most of my teaching will come from the Good Shepherd program. Our first presentation will be on the altar and then I am mostly going to focus on Jesus’s life throughout Lent. Using the geography presentations, the Good Shepherd presentation, Annunciation, then Holy Week. More on those later. 

I just wanted to mention a thought on simplicity. With kids, less is more, some parents feel like they have to do all these things for the child to “get it” or understand the importance of Lent. I get it, because it’s important to us as well. However, sometimes choosing less activities and simpler ones can make a world of a difference in how kids progress things. In a book Religious Potential of a Child, the author has many examples of kids having that want of a connection to their Creator, with many examples of kids with no knowledge of God having that yearning. In terms of simplicity and teaching I try to think about that and think of opportunities for living discussions not only activities. 

How are you doing Lent with your kids? 

Reflection: Forgiveness 

Today is Cheesfare Sunday for Orthodox Christians everywhere. That means Lent is officially here. We all have a special service to start the event titled Forgiveness Vespers. We all line up and face our community and ask each other for forgiveness. I personally love this service as it’s the perfect start to the Lent and the main focus of the season. Now is the time for reflection, quiet, peace, prayer and service to ones neighbors.

Every year as Lent rolls around I get sad about all the meat and cheese we will miss but joyful also because it cannot come at a more perfect time. I stand there and face the people I go to church with first. The priests that work so hard. I ask them their forgiveness and they as me for mine in return. My friends and neighbors follow. I know that I need to ask them their forgiveness because at some point during the year I did have bad thoughts or even said mean words against them. Lastly, I stand before my husband, I look into his eyes and ask him to forgive me for anything that I might have offended him for. He asks the same of me. We bow to each other and forgive one another. 

It is such a humbling experience to go through every year. I walk my overly tired kids back to the house and I try to keep my peace as long as possible. My sons loose it and I loose it on them. Bam. My peace is gone. I blame myself. All the wrong thoughts come into my head. My husband walks in and calms the storm. 

As I sing my goodnight song to my oldest son I know what I have to do.

“Buddy, I’m sorry I was angry just now. I will try to do better next time. Will you forgive me?” I say to my son.

“Yeah mama.”

Blessed Lent everyone.

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.

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! 

Ever feel like…

You are between a rock and a hard place?

Sometimes life can be a bit crazy. Overwhelming. Chaotic. Stressful. Happy. Sad. Depressing. All the above? At times it feels like that happy saying “when it rains it pours” applies to moments in our own life. During times of trial and tribulations I try to stay positive as long as I can until I loose all the faith in the world and always blame Christ for my problems. If only I had this or that or this then life would be so much easier. I forget the main focus in life which is life in Christ, His teachings, His Church. Sometimes when my son refuses to eat the meals that I prepared, cries about putting on clothes or diapers and other wonderful things kids seem to do to drive us mad, I forget the main point.

Fr. Seraphim Rose said that we should always think of our live as a pilgrimage here on earth. We are guests of the King of kings, so we must behave as guests are expected to behave. How easy it is for me to not focus on the center and just focus on the rock and a hard place instead. Oh Heavenly King, the comforter the Spirit of truth. Who art everywhere and fillest all things. Treasury of good gifts, and giver of life. Come and abide in us. Cleanse us from all impurity, and save our souls oh good one.

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Apostle’s Fast

Here we go once again with fasting. Yes it is true what is said about Orthodoxy, we have more fast days in our calender that fast free days. I really enjoy these short fasts because they are enough to restrain yourself from eating too much in the summer time and not long enough to where you cannot enjoy your summer. But of course fasting is never really about the food. Our last day of Sunday school left me with an interesting thought to start the fast. We had a presentation on Pentecost and the gifts of the Holy Spirit and candles with each gift and shut the lights out and gave each child a candle to light. (This is based of the Catechists of the Good Shepherd presentation which our Sunday school uses) After everyone lit a candle the room was noticeably brighter and one particular child stated… ” It is like this room is the world and we bring our light into it” hmmm interesting indeed… to my poor soul anyways.

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