Saturday, March 26, 2011

Icon Writing With Kids–The Annunciation

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!"
29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.
30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
34 And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"
35 And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing will be impossible."
38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
(Luke 1:26-38)
I really need to start drawing the outline of the icons we will write before Alex sits down with me.  He is getting bored while I draw and sometimes wanders away.  Lately, he has only painted for a short while and becomes disinterested after waiting so long.  I think he would paint longer if his icons were prepared before we sat down.  Suffice it to say he painted very little of this icon.  I was sad.  The Annunciation is one of my most favorite feasts.  I am always very moved by the life of Mary.  I think it is because she was fully human and undefiled by sin.
This is a water-color painting of the Annuciation I did for my senior project in high school.  The book was, honestly, terrible.  If only I knew then what I know now.  I had a lot of trouble finding someone to help me with the text.  I should have stuck to scripture.  How FAR I have come and how FAR I have to go.  In any case, this painting was inspired by, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pure Laundry

It turns out that today was a perfect day for the dryer to die, not that I wanted my dryer to die!  I am 100% sure that it can be fixed.  I am not in the least bit happy that I will have to pay to have it fixed.  But, I only had two loads of laundry to finish, so I pulled out the trusty clothesline.  I really like hanging things on the clothesline, I just was not at all prepared to do so.  I had A LOT to do today and I only completed half of my list.  What made this all so much harder was that the kids were really on their game today.  Every once in a while the kids do not mind at all.  Alex did not do anything I asked the first time.  Asking five times and then coercing him into order wears on me severely.  Right before nap Kristiana pooped on the floor in the playroom.  Yeah, real cute, K-dawg.  Then she did not nap, but she did stay in her room for an hour.  Then she joined Alex and I for the reading lesson.  All day long I kept repeating to myself “Come on, Renee, don’t give up.  You can do it.”  Yeah, I really wanted to throw in the towel today (uh, pardon the laundry pun); call a sitter; pour a drink; draw a bath; and sink in for a soak.

Speaking of throwing in the towel, I have been thinking a lot about Mother Teresa lately even though I have not been reading her book lately.  I have been thinking about how she did not give up on all the hard work she did, and how she did not give up on her vows to God.  It is hard to believe that a woman who was adamant about doing SMALL acts with great love, did so many great things.  To me her vows seem unfathomably difficult.  I fear making any vows outside those the Church beckons me to keep.  I fear that if I were to invent a vow for myself, I would not keep it.  Perhaps Mother Teresa did not invent these vows, but was hearkened by the Holy Spirit.  


Friday, March 18, 2011

7 Quick Takes - From Youngest to Oldest

1. Annie Loves Sunshine – Annie’s Godparents have a little song they made up called “Annie Loves Sushine.”  They sang it to her when we visited and now I sing it to her and she smiles and laughs.  It’s a sweet thing.  She is pushing up a lot these days. She also sits. She babbles at us a lot.  She is also smiling a bit more these days. She likes grabbing things and trying to get them to her mouth.  She likes music a lot.  Whenever she is crying in the car, I only have to put music on and she is quiet again.  Just a couple of weeks ago I lamented my little newborn was gone and she now grows too fast.  But now, she is becoming and fun little infant.

Annie loves sunshing

2. Kristiana Two Going on Twenty – Little Miss KK loves to talk to adults.  If any adults acknowledges her, she starts jabbering on.  No one knows what she is saying.  She must be saying something real, because I understand a word or two as she goes on.  She gestures wildly as though her gestures mean something.  She is such a head strong little girl.  She knows just what she wants and won’t accept any thing less.  Lately she has been telling me she is a princess; everything has to do with princess.  At dinner she told me she wanted a princess orange.  She is such a dainty and effeminate girl too.  I don’t know where she learned to act so girly.  This picture is typical Kristiana. 


3. Alex Learning Patience As I have said before, Alex and I have been working on “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.”  Overall it has been going well.  He is now reading short sentences from the book.  However, he IS a typical boy in every way.  He always has been.  On Monday, it took more than an hour to get through our lesson.  He was wiggly and not doing what the instructions asked.  I kept asking him to put his finger on the words and make the sounds and he would just flop over.  I kept telling him that clearly he did not want to do the lesson today and we would work another day and I would close the book and walk away.  He kept begging me to come back.  I would sit back down, open the book, and he would look at the lesson and remember how hard it was and shut down and we would be back to square one.  But he wanted to finish it and I don’t know why.  By the end of the week the lessons only took the appropriate 15-20 minutes.  Perhaps he is learning patience and reading at the same time.


4. Renee the Way I have been meandering my way through Great Fast.  It seems like two steps forward and one and half steps back.  It seems the harder I fight to pray and fast, the harder evil fights back at me.  It seems every day I see evil running through my life like a freight train I am powerless to stop.  All I can do is hope that the Lord will push me out of the way when the train comes too near.

I am just juggling all the house hold duties and more—paying bills, cleaning, dog walking, cooking, diaper changing, laundry (Oh, woe is the never ending laundry!); and breastfeeding is a job on it’s own; reading lessons, play dates, among other morning activities—then there’s my mom’s book study and retreat planning, and learning about home schooling, and icons.  Then I must have an hour of leisure each night.  It’s a busy life and there hardly seems time for it all.  I look forward to the day when the children can help more with the chores.  Obviously, this will be essential to becoming a homeschool family.

ladder of divine ascent

5. Andrew of Joy and Madness – Andrew seems to have had a good week.  Early in the week, he had a student mouth off in class about the impending college basketball tournament.  He saw that the student was showing his youth and ignorance.  He challenged him to put something on his mouthy exclamations.  The student thought about it and it was decided that if Gonzaga lost to St. John’s Andrew would shave his head.  We now know Andrew does not have to shave his head.  Oh how I wish he would not make such wagers.  But, March Madness makes Andrew both joyful and mad.

6. Friends and Family Focus It seems so many of our friends and family are facing trials and tribulations at the moment.  It is hard to know how best to be charitable towards them.  It is hard to do anything at all without making their troubles greater.  All I know to do is to pray for now.

7. The Living House – No one ever told me that houses have lives of their own.  I knew there was going to be expenses and maintenance with owning a home, but it seems as though this house has a life of it’s own.  We have to plant a garden bed now.  We have a big ugly, empty garden bed right in front of our house.  All the rest of the landscaping can wait, but this needs to be done.  Anyway I slice it, to make it look halfway decent is going to cost $200.  Andrew and I would much rather spend that $200 on other things, but this house has a life of it’s own.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Icon Writing With Kids: St. Patrick’s Day

It’s been way too long since we have written an icon.  It’s been six weeks.  I think it would be enlightening to write the icon from last Sunday’s Gospel: The Temptation of Christ.

Anyhow, I am happy we were able to celebrate one of the great saints in history—St. Patrick of Ireland.

Alex wanted our icon of St. Patrick to look like the one drawn by Tomie De Paola in his book, Patrick of Ireland.  But I modified it, because I still wanted it to be our own creation.  After we wrote this icon, we read the book.  I highly recommend checking it out from the library, even if you are grown up. I also recommend Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato, by the same author (the story begs you to speak in an Irish accent).




Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Because Childhood Should be Magical

Here are the murals in the girls room.  I imagined it more elaborate with green vine borders and flowers around the doors and window, but this took forever and was difficult because we have a lot of texture on our walls.  As it is, I still have some highlighting to do.  But, I am all burnt out now and I don’t think I can be an attentive parent if I do anymore for now.  (This is the color my kitchen was supposed to be.)

This is Kristiana’s side of the room.  She’s my tinker princess.



This this is Annie’s side of the room (that is when she finally moves in). 
She’s the beautiful humble princess.





Monday, March 14, 2011

Tot Talk: Just Ask Kristiana

kkSo we lost a credit card the other day.  We knew it was in the house.  I had borrowed the credit card from Andrew to purchase some books on the Amazon website.  Then I handed to Alex and asked him to take it back to Daddy.  That is the last time the adults saw the credit card.  The next day we asked Alex where the credit card was and he confidently exclaimed that he had put it on the high counter for Daddy.  This was a plausible answer.  I remember seeing it there.  But, where was the card now.  We looked in all the likely places—the office, the playroom, in the sofa cushions—nothing. 

Today, when Andrew came home from work, he asked if we had found the card.  “No Honey, and Alex is insistent that he put it on the high counter. So we will have to cancel it to be safe.”  Then Andrew asked if I had questioned Kristiana. 

“Oh well, I guess I could. Maybe she knows where it is.”

I was not feeling too hopeful.  I have been having trouble understanding her lately as her vocabulary expands, but her enunciation does not.

“Kristiana, do you know where the blue credit card is?”

“It in da t.d.”

“Uh, okay?”

So, I walked over to the t.v. and started shifting the t.v. pedestal around.  No card yet.  Then I got down on my knees and low and behold, shoved underneath the pedestal between the cabinet door latches was the card.

No, we were not angry with her at all for shoving it in there.  We were happy she told us where it was.  She was just precious when she told us.  The irresponsible adults need to put important things away properly.  It’s funny how little kids seem so out of it at times, yet they are totally on top of their game at other times.

Deep Thoughts–“Harden Not You Hearts”

Saint_Bernard_of_ClairvauxFor a Christian, our struggles and imperfections give us even greater depth of soul and fervor for the Lord, because we have worked so hard to seek the Lord despite that which corrupts us.  The Lord cannot remove the desire to sin.  He cannot remove temptations so that sin is impossible.  Because we have chosen these afflictions for ourselves.  Removing temptation would remove all that there is, because the heart of man can turn any substance into a vice.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

‘til Pascha

Duccio_-_The_Temptation_on_the_MountToday, I was thinking that I do not keep up on this blog often enough.  However, on any given day my life is so full of things to do.  It is a wonderful blessing to have such a life that is so full that it can hardly all be done.  When my mind is full of thoughts to share there isn’t a moment to sit down and share it; and when there is a moment to sit and share, I am too exhausted to remember the things worth sharing.

Perhaps, during Great Lent I ought to devote some time pondering great and Holy things.  Then spend a little time sharing great and Holy things.  My fellow blogger friend, Kayleen (, shared about her Lenten journeys and that she was reading Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Alexander Schmemann.  This excited me because my husband recently read Schmemann’s book For the Life of the World and shared some enlightening notions with me.  I purchased the book on Amazon this weekend and hopefully in a week, we will be joining in the Schmemann “journey to Pascha.”

In the same vain, I wish to share some significant Lenten sacrifices that took me down new avenues in life…

Freshmen year of high school I “gave up” soda pop.  I was surely addicted.  I drank at least three a day.  This sacrifice was great for me, but did not remind me to pray and be holy near as much as it ought.  I was only just discovering responsibility for my own faith.  I never went back to drinking soda pop and this gave me confidence to seek other goods in life.

Freshman year of college I gave up looking in the mirror for Lent.  This was to squelch my vanity. I found myself falling to peer pressure, often desiring more beautiful physical appearance.  It was hard.  Especially when I had an interview and had to put on makeup without a mirror.  In any case, the fruits were great. I only had the beauty of my inner-most parts to reflect upon people as I had no idea what my outer-most parts were reflecting.  Do not misunderstand, I cared for my appearance as usual.  But, I spent less time on my overall appearance by not spending any time in the mirror judging whether it was good enough.  This loss of vanity remains almost as strong today as I brush aside my gray hairs knowing vanity will never cover them.

The first year I fully participated in the Eastern tradition of Great Fast, I was astonished at all the deprivations of the East.  The reminders to be Holy were almost every moment.  This filled my soul so greatly with life.  This was the first time in my life I felt I could truly be selfless and be a true servant.  Again, the fruits were great.  By Easter these fruits were tangible as we learned we would have a child.  This is something neither my husband nor I could not have fathomed at the beginning of the Fast.  How great is the Holy Spirit.

Since then, I have been pregnant or nursing each Lenten season and have done my best to partake in Great Fast in whatever ways I can.  However, I have come to find that nothing moves the soul like great deprivation.  It is harder to deprive oneself when food is so vital to sustain the lives of infants.  Hopefully, this Great Fast will be as fruitful as those of the past.

It is amazing how much we missed meat and dairy after just one week.  We indulged in our Sunday feast today.  The meal of sausage and veggies with cream sauce tasted very luxurious.  Every morsel tasted of blessings.  How fortunate we felt to partake.  We felt far removed from those who truly suffer.  What a terrifying earthquake and tsunami that occurred a couple of days ago.  Our little deprivations hardly seem enough and now we hope with baited breath that no more tragedy befalls the nation of Japan.

What journey will the Holy Spirit send us on this fasting season?

…’til Pascha.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ashes for Annie


“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  From ashes you have come and to ashes you will return.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Simple Woman’s Daybook

Outside my window… there is a slight spring chill. The sun is shining brightly as it could only in Texas.  I see lots of construction of houses in my neighborhood and I hope everyday for more houses to be built for nice, holy folks.  So that our neighborhood may be finished soon.

I am thinking… the kids might watch a little extra T.V. today so that I can do some painting.

I am thankful for… all of these marvelous things the Lord has provided.  And if not for these marvelous things, then for the faith to sustain me all the days of my life.

From the kitchen… Chickpeas soaking in the pot for chickpea masala tonight.

I am wearing… a peach top and flowery pajama bottoms. I haven’t gotten dressed yet today, because I wanted to catch up on blogs—foolishly.

I am creating… a mural of Tinkerbell’s pixie garden in my daughter’s room.

I am going… to plant a garden in the garden bed outside our front door.  I am feeling very intimidated by it, because I am not a green thumb. But I have planted seeds. Lavender, stevia, rosemary, basil, cilantro and baby’s breath.

I am reading…. Full of Grace, Come Be My Light, Another Brush with God

I am hoping…a baby girl may get to go home with a wonderful family toward the end of the month.

I am hearing… the jingle of change being picked up off the floor.  Alex just spilled a few hundred pennies…oh wait, the baby is screaming because Kristiana pushed her over just to hear her cry.

Around the house… please no more little improvements to make the house hospitable. I am sure we can live as is for a while. It’s hard not to want to do it all at once.

One of my favorite things…
is eating an avocado sandwich first thing in the morning, washed down with coffee.  I get really selfish when Kristiana wants to eat my sandwich too. I have started to make her own avocado sandwich.  Now Annie is eating my avocado too.  “Girls, just back off my avocado.”

A few plans for the rest of the week: I am going to Boston to visit good friends!!!

Here is picture I thought of sharing…. My seedlings—green and flesh.