Friday, May 29, 2009

Bananas and Jelly Beans

I said I would never be one of those moms who makes a different meal for one of her kids, or all of them. But, I am. I was cursed with a child who is a difficult, picky eater. Both my brother and sister were very picky eaters growing up. I am not sure they ever got over it entirely. They did grow to love many foods, but still picky overall. Another problem is that I like to cook foods that just do not appeal to children in general (e.g., babaganouj and greek spiced chicken, or pasta sauce full of whole olives, mushrooms and capers).

When Alexander is home he eats a small variety of foods. He likes most breakfast foods mainly because most of them are sweet. But, for lunch and dinner it is always meatballs, chicken nuggets, or ravioli. Occasionally we may be able to sneak in something different (like hamburgers or tacos). He never eats any fruits or vegetables. When I serve him chicken noodle soup from a can he makes a point to pick out all the carrot and chicken pieces.

For a long time, it was difficult to get him to even eat a meal at home. We know he eats at daycare. It’s a monkey see, monkey do situation. When he sees the other children eat, then he wants to as well. His eating habits are so terrible, it is the reason we decided to have another child. We figured if there were another sibling at the table eating, then Alexander would be jealous and want to eat as well. (Well, that’s not entirely true. God blessed us with a second child and we happened to see the benefits of Alexander having a sibling.) His eating habits have been a bit better since Kristiana's birth.

Alexander has always been a candy fiend. Recently, he discovered jelly beans and we, the parents, discover their power. We have been able to get him to pick up his toys, eat all his dinner, and behave like a civilized person all with the promise of jelly beans afterward. But, a new problem has also cropped up. This is where I become that mom who makes different meals for the kids, “Alexander, what do you want for dinner?

“Jelly beans!” Alexander replies.
“No, jelly beans are not dinner. You can have meatballs, chicken nuggets, or ravioli?”

A little disappointed, “I want jelly beans.”

“No, you can have them after you eat dinner.”

Then we make him something, and the bowl of six or seven jelly beans sits in front of him as motivation to finish dinner.

Last night, Alexander was bent on having a banana for dinner. We did not have any bananas. But hey! That is something healthy! So Andrew rushed out to the grocery store and bought some bananas. Alexander ate one and half bananas. Is that bad? That’s a lot of banana. “Okay buddy, you can have your jelly beans.”

And one more Alexander tidbit. Andrew has long called Alexander, Sasha, because it is the Russian diminutive of Alexander. Sometimes Andrew calls him Sashabus (Latin ending). Recently, I have heard Alexander saying, “I Sashabus,” or simply chanting, “Sashabus, Sashabus, Sashabus.” It’s pretty cute.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Political Impressions 3.0: Political Pettiness amongst the New Administration

I read a long speech (the link is above) by former Vice President, Dick Cheney and afterwards I found myself touched and inspired by his words. The speech is mainly a rebuttal to OUR new presidential administration undermining the actions of OUR previous presidential administration. It was well worth taking the time to read it to the end. It's a little piece of God bless America.

If you are an American concerned about the well-being of OUR NATION, I highly recommend reading it. Whether you are on the left or the right of the argument, it is interesting to see it from the perspective of someone who was on the inside.

On a side note: In my opinion, after reading Cheney’s perspective, it makes the Obama administration look very petty.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Feast of the Ascension

I was going to say something about this feast today and then I realized there are many great things already said. So, connect yourself to a wonderful and simple description of the icon below by clicking on it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Charitable Heart

This is a worthy Blog-jacking. The following was hijacked from A Byzantine Christian in a Postmodern World.

'What is a charitable heart?'— asks St. Isaac the Syrian— 'It is a heart which is burning With charity for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons-for all creatures. He who has such a heart cannot see or call to mind a creature without his eyes becoming filled with tears by reason of the immense compassion which seizes his heart; a heart which is softened and can no longer bear to see or learn from others of any suffering, even the smallest pain, being inflicted upon a creature. This is why such a man never ceases to pray also for the animals, for the enemies of Truth, and for those who do him evil, that they may be preserved and purified. He will pray even for the reptiles, moved by the infinite pity which reigns in the hearts of those who are becoming united to God.’ In his way to union with God, man in no way leaves creatures aside, but gathers together in his love the whole cosmos disordered by sin, that it may at last be transfigured by grace.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

In the Face of Evil, Hope – Honoring Adam Robert Towler

When I wrote my college entrance essay, I wrote about the “a significant moment in my life.” The topic of my essay was how I found my faith and how it made me a leader amongst my peers. While nothing will ever be more important to me than renewing my faith and encountering the Holy Spirit, if I had to write that college essay today, the moment would be different. This time I would write about my brother’s murder and how we who knew him were able to persevere in the face of evil.

In the daily news, there are constantly stories of death, tragedy and murder. It is so easy to glaze over these stories without a wince of emotion. It is so easy to disconnect from the people who unquestionably suffer under these events. But one ominous day I found myself and my family standing on the other side of the newspaper headline.

The phone rang one Sunday morning, July 16, 2006. I was readying for Church and my in-laws were visiting. I was 21 weeks pregnant with our first child. There was a lot to be joyful about. On the other end of the phone was my mother. There was hesitation and fear in her voice. I think perhaps she was holding back her hysteria.

“Renee, Adam is missing.”

“What do you mean he is missing?”

“He went out last night to his friend’s house and didn’t come home.”

“Oh well, he probably stayed the night and he left his cell phone in the car, or something.” I was thinking he is 20 years old and it would not be unusual for him to do something like that. Although, he had never stayed out all night before without planning it beforehand.
“No, Renee. Adam is in trouble. We called the friend he was with and he said we needed to talk to the police...” The conversation went on for a little bit longer. My father was going to go to Adam’s friend’s house to check things out. My mother told me that she would call me when she knew more. When she called later, we were horrified by the news that Adam had been murdered. Other events and emotions that occurred during the following weeks of our mourning are not as important as what occurred in our hearts.

We who knew and loved Adam all suddenly came face to face with evil. Adam and another young woman were murdered by a mentally disturbed college student. What happened in the house where they died can only be described and explained by evil. There was one young man who survived the attack. Without him we would not know what happened. He had been friends with the murderer. He said, when he looked into his friend’s eyes, it was like he was not there anymore. There was a great darkness he had never seen before. I am sure this evil will haunt that survivor for the rest of his life.

But, this story is how good things can come of evil. First and foremost, we prayed. We prayed for Adam and all the others involved. We prayed for each other, because we all missed him and grieved. We celebrated his life and thanked God for what a good life it had been. Adam had been a writer, a poet, a comedian, a linguist, a runner and a dear, dear friend to us all.

Instead of focusing on this evil, or focusing on our grief, we became inspired. Friends and family became inspired to continue pieces of Adam’s life. Some renewed their faith, because of Adam’s great faith. Some prayed to Adam asking for him to pray for us. Some urged the university where the murderer had been a student to change their policies on student discipline. Some wrote poetry, because Adam was a gifted poet. Some began running, because Adam was a runner. Every year, our family has held a 5k/10K race to celebrate Adam’s life and to give to his favorite charities. (To find out more go here Some gave time and money to charity, because Adam gave his time and his heart to charities. Some of us just bought his favorite pizza and ice cream and sat, ate it and remembered how much he liked it.

Today, I live as though I am living for Adam too. I am living my life for others and not only for myself. The good things that Adam did remind me to be selfless and to be a witness to faith. He had a great sense of his place in the universe. He knew that there was great beyond that he did not understand—wise beyond his years.

Though we had come face to face with evil, I believe we were all moved by the Holy Spirit to find what is good and holy. We were all beckoned to reassess our lives and put things into perspective. We became more than we had been and gave more than we had before. Our eyes were opened to blessings previously unseen. It was a reminder to live everyday as though it were our last, and to not have regrets. The ways in which Adam’s life, death and after-life have affected people have been countless. We are still counting the miracles. We will never forget Adam.

Happy Birthday, Adam. Pray for us.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Party for two.

4 years of marriage, 2 babies, 4 apartments, 4 years of grad school, 7 years together--Beautiful

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ideal Woman

Since before I was born my parents have had this Salvadore Dali print hanging in their home—“Leda Atomica.” You can read a description of this painting here

One interpretation of this painting is that this is Dali’s rendition of the Annunciation. Dali was deeply religious (though also a VERY odd character). He has many paintings with religious subject matter, so it would not be a stretch to think this has the deeper religious interpretation suggested.

I have always adored this painting. I have loved it for its beauty. I have delighted in its ethereal subject. As a child, not understanding its meaning or depth, I admired it for the ideal portrayal of a woman’s figure. I wanted to be like her when I grew up. I am extremely appreciative of this woman’s curves. Dali has brought beauty to the natural shape of a woman. On days in which I feel badly about my own shape, I remember this painting and think this is Dali’s portrayal of an ideal woman—curvaceous, medium build, normal breasts.

The woman in the painting is his wife, Gala. In this painting, Dali puts Gala on a pedestal. She was always on a pedestal in his mind. In other paintings Dali portrays the Virgin Mary with Gala’s face. It is no insult to the Holy Mother. Gala was his ideal woman and therefore, Mary ought to have the face of the ideal woman (Blessed Theotokos, we magnify you).

Today I wanted to share with you this vision of beauty—the ideal woman—so that you might also identify a piece of yourself in her.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

7 Not So Quick Takes Tuesday

1. I cannot understand why I am so tired. C’est la vie. Just as the Swine flu freak out started last week Andrew and I came down with colds that commenced with one full day of achiness. I spent the rest of the week trying to get over it. Today, I finally feel as though I am over it.

2. Kristiana: She had an ear infection that we only noticed on Holy Thursday. We had to wait all weekend to take her to the doctor. She was a trooper. She took 10 days of amoxicillin and appeared to be better. By the middle of the following week after she stopped taking the antibiotic she was rubbing her ear pretty vigorously again. Now she is on a stronger antibiotic and she hates the orange flavor. Last week on Wednesday night when she was grumpy with her earache we decided to take her mind off of it by shaving her head with clippers. Her hair was all patchy, so now it will grow in evenly. She’s pretty cute with her fuzzy velvety head. I miss her hair. Headbands and ribbons have become her friend. The head shaving was fun for her.

3. I have been reading the Duggar story “20 and Counting,” and I am almost finished. A friend sent me the book. It is pretty interesting how they have weaved their Christian values throughout every aspect of their lives. Their story has inspired me to be more Holy. They put every aspect of their lives into the hands of God. Every THING is for God, or because of God.

One of the stories they told was how their vacuum broke down and they really needed one because they had a lot of dust in their home from living on a busy street. So they prayed for one and to make a long story short they got one. I initially thought that God does not go around talking to us and sending us vacuums. That can be dangerous going around thinking God is telling you to do things--or blasphemous thinking God will send you material goods. But, then I thought, or does He? I mean, why not. People experience miracles and signs all the time. As Walker Percy pointed out, what about the Jews? They are a sign. Why can’t a vacuum also be a sign? This is a longer discussion. But, their vacuum story has reminded me to put all my trust in God and simply have faith. I am also reminded of the story of Christ walking on water. He tells Peter to come to Him. Peter starts to walk on water, but half way to Christ he begins to sink and Christ tells Peter, “Oh ye of little faith.” (Matthew 14:22-34).

4. In relation to the passage above, I have a friend who used to always remind what Jesus said in this passage, “Come.” He wants us to surrender to Him and simply have faith. So my story of faith this week, we have been wanting a baby walker for Kristiana. I went to a secondhand sale to find one, but they were over priced. I have been tempted to just buy one at the store, but it doesn’t really fit into the budget. We would buy it on credit. So I decided she plays with the one at daycare enough that we don’t need one. Last Friday, our neighbors moved out and they left some things beside the dumpster—an old T.V., a table and chairs, and a baby walker! I could not believe my eyes when I pulled into the driveway. I sheepishly approached it and examined it to see if it was damaged in any way. It wasn’t. It was just used. I celebrated God. I do not know why, but I felt like it was a gift from God. I was so happy. Kristiana loves the walker. She contently played with toys while sitting in it all weekend. It gives us enough time to put her down and get a few things done here and there.

Now I am praying for a new crib ;-) The side rail on our crib does not stay up very well. If you lean on it, it falls down. Kristiana does not use the crib yet. She still sleeps in the bassinette or in our bed. I thought about using duct tape to tape up the rail, but I’d rather have a brand new, never used crib for safety.

5. On Saturday, Andrew pulled out an old jar of change and started counting it. Alexander got really excited about it and started telling Andrew over and over, “I want money!” I pulled out a piggy bank and we gave him a bunch of pennies to put in the bank. It took him a while and he had a good time. When he had finished, he ran to Andrew and told him again, “Daddy, Daddy, I want money!” Andrew told him,

“No more, Buddy.” Alexander was, of course, upset. At that moment Andrew received a phone call and came to the kitchen where it was quieter. I was making bread with Kristiana. A few moments later Alexander popped into the kitchen door with a sword in his hand. He pointed the sword up at Andrew and scrunched up his face and said in a Cookie Monster type voice, “Gimme your MONEY!” Andrew and I immediately busted up laughing. Alexander got grin on his face like, “I did something funny.”

Forever, I am going to remember that moment, because it was so funny and precious—the time Alexander held his daddy hostage for some pennies.

6. Also on Saturday, Alexander and I planted herbs and tomatoes in pots on our back porch. It was a fun little activity for us and I can’t wait for the results!

7. The executive staff is out of the office this week for the yearly May board meeting. So, it is extremely quiet and slow around the office. It’s nice. It is a mental break for me.

Cabbage Patch Baby

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Beauty of a Wife

Friendship, kinship
Moral backbone
Lover, mother
Makes a home

Breakfast, lunch
Pours the coffee
Dinner, dinner
Then the laundry

Hugs and kisses
Welcome arms
Eyes of warmth
Lips of charm

Beauty, Beauty
She’s the one
A wife and more
The family Sun

Boring Old, No One Special

Boring old, no one special, me.
That is plain for anyone to see.

But who am I, should someone ask?
Here I shall explain this task.

Born again is my name.
Once a daughter—so very tame.

Once a student, actress, artist,
Pretty intelligent—never quite the smartest.

Now living a quiet, unassuming life,
Secretary, mother, wife.

These are all the boring old, no one special parts of me.
Let me now deviate to illiterate the unique, yours truly.

Married to the East.
Sister of a Saint.
Daughter of a Beast.
Citizen of Shame.
Keeper of a King.
Mother of the Potential.
Child of Virtue.
None of these sequential.

Friendship, friendship and some prudence.
Hope, hope, and hope some more.
All of these still a bore.