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!

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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!

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.

Transfiguration

Blessed Feast of Transfiguration everyone! May this be the icon of our lives. To be transfigured into the likeness of Christ Himself.

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, / revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it. / Let Your everlasting Light also shine upon us sinners, / through the prayers of the Theotokos. / O Giver of Light, glory to You!

 

 

The way I see it

Life as a parent can get a bit rough. The majority of the time it seems like parents always try to fool themselves into thinking that everything is fine by replying to everyone’s questions with a well prepared response of “oh parenting is such a joy.” Recently my husband took my son to a family that we love and look up to for a good old fashioned BBQ during this hot and sticky summer. My son got to see new things, watch kids play around and eat some dirt. “I hate is when parents say that everything is ok and they love it,” says a mother of four “ yes, they may love it but lets just face it its not ok until you survive parenthood.”

The sleepless nights, the constant change, the noise, the crying, and the diaper bag packing as if you are going on a vacation. Let’s not fail to mention my famous black cat named Trouble that seems to wake up my son every time he is asleep with his echoing howls in the hallways. Parenthood. We have arrived. Ladies and gentlemen you will not be getting off until your children are out of your house or stable on their own sometime in the future. Meanwhile you will just be getting older and more and more tiered by the day.

The way I see it… a great sacrifice. True martyrdom to self and living for someone else. All the while trying to stay calm, maintain peace, not get angry and find time to pray. “This is probably the hardest thing that I have ever done in life,” my husband states. That realization  has never hit me until I became a mother.

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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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