Snow day

Oh New York when will spring actually come? 

We are getting another snow storm here in NYC. Sigh. Being screen free parents can be hard and tempting at times especially when everyone around you has gone to the library to get movies for snow day for their kids. Well here we go, what do we do all day…

  1. Go out- there is no bad weather just bad clothes. 
  2. Read books about snow day- our favorite are The Mitten, and The Hat, also I Spy books
  3. Feed the birds- we just got a bird feeder that attaches to the window and all the winter birds are having a Feast outside our window.
  4. Make forts- provides hiding games and small reading nooks.
  5. Board games- Dinosaurs Escape, Friends and Neighbors we enjoy cooperating games.
  6. Play bowling, basketball, baseball… inside.
  7. Bake something- nothing like a good smelling house on a snowy day.

These might sounds like a lot of work for people especially when kids fight and make a huge mess you’d rather not clean up. It is a lot easier to put on a movie sometimes when they are whining about being bored, but why not let them be bored? 

    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.

    Story: Thankful 

    When my youngest son was born he was a month early. On the day we were packing up our boxes to move from California to NYC I was 34 weeks and started having major back pain. After he came via emergency c-section I somehow knew he would be my little heart ache.

    Ever since then we have been back to the ER and urgent care with him more than anyone else in the family. This week in preparation for Lent I was trying out different recipes and what do you know turns out this little man has a severe allergy to cashews.

    As his body and face began to rapidly swell up I knew I had to act fast. The nurse in me had to think quick because I know first hand what happens in these situation if people don’t act quickly. Off into the car I put him race as fast as I can to our local urgent care, they don’t even check me in and just rush me and my son to the back so he can get his Epinephrine shot and steroids. He is shaking at this point. I know he will be ok but it is still hard to see my own son like this. 

    A few moments later the storm has passed. He just wants to be held by his mama and I am so thankful so this moment. There we were again yet another stay for 6 hours in the hospital for monitoring to make sure he dosent react again. I had a lot of time to think about life during that time and could not stop thinking about timing. If only my husband wasn’t home and I didn’t have help what would I do? If I couldn’t get him there fast enough what would have happened. If he had an allergic reaction again during the night what would I do? 

    I started being so thankful for small moments again. Those kisses I am able to give him again in the morning, thankful for my husband being there for me and being my backbone. Thankful for my community getting that Epi pen for us when it was going to be too expensive for us. Thankful.

    It is the small things folks. What are you most thankful for today?


    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!


    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. 


    One week left

    Well this week took us by surprise. It turned cold on us here with snow and more snow on the way. Our weekly walk to the library almost turned into a disaster with everyone almost frozen when we got there. 

    We went over the letter G today with a story about the Golden Goose modified a little. 

    These are the books I use for my drawing, poem and letters inspiration.

    We painted as well with mixing blue and red together. We mainly use primary colors so when the colors mix and make a new color it’s a nice discovery.

    With the snow storm coming and the weather getting colder we did end up exploring our local nature center where they set up really nice displays for the school groups that come as they learn about life back in the day. We got to play around with the shelter they build and the animal skins before the school groups took over. 

    Also said hi to the chickens…

    Some beautiful views as we took our hike.

    The rest of the week consisted of us attending a co op Christmas play and making our own beeswax molding clay which was a nice experiment. We melted the left over beeswax then added coconut oil and lanolin and a red crayon for color. Came out good but I ended up ordering the real deal to see the difference.

    Loving the cold right now because we focus on family time more and stories and games and warm tea.

    Blessings to all.

    First week round up

    This week was a cold one. King winter has definitely come. Our addition to circle time is this finger play because it’s cold but no snow yet. We will add another once there’s snow on the ground:

    Now that king winter has come to stay

    All the trees are bare

    Little birds must fly away

    To find their food elsewhere 

    Little seeds lie hidden

    In the quiet dark earth 

    Waiting till they’re bidden 

    To rise above the earth

    We focused on a letter B this week with my own story for the boys about a bear that wants to pray and he searches the forest for an animal that knows how to pray. He sees a beaver and the beaver cannot pray and he sees a butterfly but the butterfly cannot pray either. They hear of a monk that lives deep in the forest that prays all day. So the bear goes and finds the monk.

    This is a shortened version of course of St. Seraphim of Sorov that is a beloved saint in the Orthodox Church but this is from the bears side of the story. 

    I am still working on my artwork.

    We also made our friends presents this week for St. Nicholas feast day on Tuesday. Our original idea with salt dough backfired because there was not enough room to fill with beeswax but in the end we ended up making a bear and a letter B then painted them blue and used them as ornaments for the tree. Our friends got cookies and a regular tall beeswax candle we made.

    We also finished up the week with walking the letter B and braving the cold days with daily outside time.

    I have noticed that the boys need to have games when we go outside because it’s cold so taking walks and playing I spy works for us. These stumps we are hoping to transfer to our house and use them as play things for the boys. 

    Our random acts of kindness this week included; listening to someone, giving a hug, and giving something to someone else.

    More ordinations this weekend for us in seminary. Then off to Mt. Athos goes my husband for 2 weeks! After Christmas of course. 

    Blessings to all.

    End of week

    Wrapping up our week here we made our first attempt at melting beeswax and making candles 

    Made a pretty good first candle. My oldest is going to be making these for his friends for Christmas presents. 

    We also lit the first two candles of our salt dough advent spiral that one is also working out well. It is accompanied by the random acts of kindness for each day of advent the boys and I try to practice each day.

    I myself am working on my handwork, trying to do it Russian style with a YouTube tutorial my mom send me. So far I have made a wash cloth, a scrubby and keep failing at a scarf…

    Did turn this one into a bunny that we use for our counting, tossing it back and forth during circle time and counting to 10 in English and Russian.

    For the rest of the time we explored nature on our hike before it started raining on us and finished up our J activities with jugs we painted.

    We have two friends being ordained over the next two Sundays, one to deaconate and the other who is a 3rd year student here in seminary to the priesthood. Axios axios to both! 

    Never stops.


    Getting ready for Advent

    We are getting ready for another year here in seminary. The boys and I did this salt dough advent spiral and they are super excited about getting it going with candles. I was thinking about cutting out cardboard figures of Mary and baby Jesus to keep it moving with every candle being lit but decided against it this year. 

    We are also working on our letter J this week using our Waldorf curriculum. My oldest really loves it and asks for school time all the time after our breaks. 

    I am obviously working on my art skills…

    We made our bread also with the letter J and jam on top they both enjoyed the snack after it was done… so did papa bear. For the rest of the homeschooling week we are going to make jugs from clay and paint them! Fun time.
    Will keep these updates more consistent now that I have a better vision for this blog :o)