Friday, April 29, 2011

Princess and “Lady” Clayton

A couple of weeks ago I adopted a dog from the humane society.  I went to the humane society just to have a look with the kids.  I met this little gal and fell in love.  I called Andrew to tell him that he should come meet this dog.  It was a bust day, so he said that he approved if I liked her.  So I brought her home, but had buyers remorse that night.  We didn’t know each other and she was expensive.  I kept her under wraps until I was sure that I wasn’t going to change my mind.  Her paperwork said she was a Catahoula leopard hound, which are very big dogs.  I think they were confused because of her spotted merle coat.  They also said she was 4 months old, which I did not agree with and I don’t know anything about dogs.  But, the vet said she had all her adult teeth, so she’s probably 7 months old.  Everything has worked out great.  She was spayed, groomed and saw the veterinarian. She is really smart and good with the kids. We think she is a mix between heeler and Australian shepherd.  Half the time her ears stick up like a heeler.  I learned that she is what they call a Texas Heeler :-) ( Her given name was “Lady.”  Alex liked the name.  He didn’t want to call her anything else. 

So please meet Lady Clayton



And here is a video for the grandparents of our littlest princess Annie jumping and laughing in her excer-saucer.

Speaking of princesses, Kristiana woke up early this morning and Andrew turned on the TV for her thinking he would go back to bed.  Of course the royal wedding was on TV.  Shortly thereafter, I got up to be with Kristiana.  We had a little Mommy-daughter bonding watching some clips of the wedding all by ourselves.  I told her that Kate Middleton was a real princess, to which she replied.

“Ooooh, I am a princess.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bright Week 2011

We spent four days traveling to and from church praying,  grieving, praising, opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit.  And then, “Christ is risen. Indeed he is risen. Alleluia! 

We had a lovely Easter celebration with friends and neighbors.  We had lots of delicious, cream filled, butter filled, sugar filled food.  We poured out the libations.  We hunted for Easter eggs.

Celebrating the Holy days would not be what they are without the feast.  Food cuts to the very core of our being.  Food is a part of our vitality.  I am proud to be the procurer of this feast—provided by God to celebrate His glory.  We are now nourished from within and without.  Here is our Easter basket. 

We could not carry all of our Easter dinner in our basket, so we made selections to put in the basket: Wine, salt, butter, Pascha bread, horseradish beets, polish sausage, cheese, boiled eggs, chocolate. We also always make a basket for our priest.


Of course, we included the Pascha bread…

pascha 2011

and lamb butter.



Check out my deviled eggs.  I thought putting red crosses on them was a pretty cool idea.


My girls had the same Easter dresses, but I forgot to take a pictures of them together, because Annie was soooo sleepy.  She came to the Easter vigil with us and stayed awake the whole time to 11:00 o’clock at night. 



The Egg Hunters


I spent Holy week cooking and cleaning as well.  I prepared all the food prior to Easter.  The house looked great too.  At the end of the celebration yesterday the house was destroyed, which means a fun time was had.  Today, we are just going to kick back a little and rest.

Christ is Risen. Happy Easter.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Icon Writing With Kids–By Death He Conquered Death…

…And to those in the graves He granted life.

I know it is early for Resurrection Icons, however, if we are preparing ourselves for Pascha, then we are preparing ourselves for the Resurrection.  After all, we are the Church of the Risen Lord.  Therefore, I am posting this so that requests may be made for the Resurrection Icon coloring page and you may prepare your home for the Risen Lord. (Post a comment if you would like the page. Does anyone know how to attach a PDF to a blog post?)  You can color the Icons and place them in your Easter basket to be blessed on Easter.

Description:  Christ’s clothing is to be white—representing His renewal of Eternal life.  Behind him is an ellipse representing Heaven.  Archangels Michael and Gabriel are above.  Christ is standing on the broken cross representing that He conquered death.  Below the cross is Hades.  This area should be colored black.  Christ is pulling Adam and Eve out of their graves.  He is granting life to those in the graves.  He pulls Adam out of the grave with such force his garments fly into the air.  Eve bows seeking forgiveness.  There are supposed to be a lot of others people in this icon, but I like to keep it simple for the kids.




I have been developing my small scale icon skills and have been creating coloring pages so that I can get Kristiana into helping write icons without ruining Alex’s work.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Monster Prayer

While Alex was still three, I adapted this little prayer to help with his new fear of monsters.  Now Kristiana, 2 years, is afraid of monsters.  I think it is a phobia acquired from her brother.  She does not like to go into dimly lit areas of the house by herself.  Her little eyes stretch as wide as they go and she says, “Mon-ters! Carey!”

I tell my kids, “Whenever you are afraid of a monster say, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, I love you. Protect me.”  It is short and to the point and any toddler can remember it.  The Lord has saved many “Carey” bedtimes and turned them into sweet dreams.  Next time you have monsters in your house, try The Monster Prayer.


Friday, April 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes–I fixed Your Heart

1. This week I decided to jot down my thoughts about life as they occurred and thus I have some quick takes to share this week.  Well done, Renee, gold star.

2. My goodness, if I had a dollar for every time some one said to me, “[chuckle] You have your hands full,” this week, I could have taken my family out for a nice meal.  I do not know what it was about this week.  I went on the usual weekly errands, but everywhere I went at least two people let me know my hands were full.  I assume this was because my kids were exceptionally cute this week.  It might be because I am constantly reminding them how to behave in public.  Calling out, “Alex, Kristiana, stay with mommy, hold hands, don’t touch, keep your hands to yourself, say hello, say sorry” does tend to draw attention to one’s hoard.  They have become pretty good at falling into line.  Kristiana is also very gregarious too.  She always talks to adults as we go about our business. “Oh hey, I’m a princess. Are you a princess? Look at my boo-boo.”


3. Saturday we had a visit with our neighbors.  They have kids the same age as Alex and Kristiana.  They do not allow their children to watch T.V. They decided before they had kids that they did not want to use T.V. as a parenting crutch.  So they removed the temptation.  They have a T.V. in their bedroom, but the kids never watch.  We were amazed that their children never watch T.V.  I get it. I really do.  I can’t say anything bad about parents who play with and read to their kids all day long...We felt a little ashamed at letting our kids watch so much T.V.  It’s not more than the recommended amount, but still.  Our kids did not get to watch T.V. for another for three days afterward.  This mainly had to do with the fact that I told Alex he could not watch T.V. unless he cleaned his room.  It took him that long to get around to it.  However, now I have guilt when they watch T.V.

4. Annie being adorable.100_4024

5.  I let Kristiana have a painting session this week.  She often asks and I usually say no.  But I decided to let the kids have a little free painting time.  I sat in the next room with my eyes on the kids as I did some shredding.  Kristiana painted a while and then became quiet and stepped out of view.  Then I heard her singing a made up song and she called me over to look.  I dropped my work and went into the kitchen.  She had finished her painting and put her hands and feet in the paint and proceeded to dance around the kitchen.  This was all very amusing until an HOUR later and I was still trying to scrub blue foot prints off my kitchen floor. Washable paint my @&$%$!  I can still see the foot prints. (Ssshhh, don’t tell my husband.)


6. One of the ladies in my mom’s group arranged a play date in the church nursery.  We took turns watching each other’s kids as we went to confession.  I thought that this was a brilliant idea.  The children got to have a little play time and we did not have to figure out how and when to go to reconciliation.  This is always a dilemma with little kids.  The usual confession times in this town are either the bewitching hour for kids or when the husbands are at work and unavailable.  Good, great, marvelous idea. I highly recommend it.

7. Over dinner Andrew and I briefly discussed a difficult moment in the past and my husband said, “That broke my heart.” After a few moments of silence Alex hugged Andrew and exclaimed,

“Daddy, I love you!” long pause, “I fixed your heart.”

Yes, it’s moments like those that melt your heart.  Andrew and I smiled at each other teary eyed. 100_3999


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Icon Writing With Kids: Christ’s Entrance Into Jerusalem–Palm Sunday

Here is a coloring page for you to share with your kids.  If you get a chance to write this one with your kids, let me know how it went. 

Instructions: Go slowly.  Tell them the story.  Talk about the image.  Notice how the branches of the tree form a cross.  Christ is always pictured with red inner garments, symbolizing His humanity and sacrifice, and blue outer garments, symbolizing His divinity. We always paint the background sky and halos golden yellow symbolizing this is a Heavenly image.  It is a doorway from Heaven to you.  Notice that Christ holds a scroll.  He was going to Jerusalem to teach.  Christ entered Jerusalem as a King—the Word Incarnate. (Email me if you want the pdf version: renee dot clayton82 at gmail dot com).

Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
   ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
   and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

   “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

   “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”  Matthew 21:1-11

Entrance into Jerusalem

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beans and Rice Shouldn’t Taste This Good

Here we are in the midst of Great Fast and we had beans and rice for dinner.  This time I made it with steamed kale.  I had never made steamed kale before and it was surprisingly good and way better than collard greens.  The next day I had leftover beans and rice for lunch.  The flavors had marinated and it was even better than the night before.  I feel bad, because I proceeded to break the fast and eat two more bowls. :-(


So here is my beans recipe, but don’t break your fast:

1 cup dry white beans
1 cup dry red beans
3 T of olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
4 minced garlic cloves
1 T Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 cans of rotel tomatoes with chiles
4 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of red wine or apple cider vinegar

Cover dry beans with 2” of water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling turn off heat and let them sit for one hour.  Then bring the beans to a simmer and cook until soft.  Drain and set aside.  Saute the onion and garlic in the oil; add the rotel tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar and spices and heat.  Then fold the beans into the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve beans over brown rice with a side of steamed kale.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Simple Woman’s Daybook


Outside my window… It is dark, hot and humid and the wind has been blowing hard for the last week.

I am thinking… about a conversation with my sister about my previous post (  We discussed the despair it invoked.  To which I replied, “’I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.’”

I am thankful for… my husband.

From the kitchen… the kettle is boiling for tea.

I am wearing… a fuscia pink (my fav color) “Waco Catholic Mom” t-shirt and black tennis shorts, smeared with mud from the garden and baby snot.

I am creating… a garden.

I am going… on a journey to Easter.

I am reading…. Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, Full of Grace, Come Be My Light, Everything You Need to Know About Organic Gardening, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, the Bible. Anything I can get my hands on.

I am hoping… to lose this extra pregnancy weight.

I am hearing…the muffled sound of the baby fussing in the bedroom as I type this.

Around the house… The house is looking pretty tidy aside from the carpet needing to be vacuumed.

One of my favorite things… when my kids obey, and then tell me they love me and tell me I am a good and nice mommy.

A few plans for the rest of the week… The same old: laundry, chores, karate, church, playdate, book study.  Nothing special.

Here is picture I thought of sharing…

Here are our friends. They’re still in the Honeymoon phase of marriage. Ah, young love. It’s a beautiful thing.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

One Could Lose His Soul…

crucifixion-icon-sinai-13-c-possibly-venetian-writer-1205-x-67-cmI have not made it very far into Mother Teresa’s Come Be My Light during my Adoration hour.  I think I will try to purchase it (unless someone wants to loan it to me) and read it on our long summer road trip.  However, my children are learning a lot about prayer, proper behavior in church and most importantly, the real presence of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

That said, as I read today, Mother Teresa reiterated over and over that the driving force behind her religious order was to quench Christ’s thirst.  One of the last things Christ said before, “He let go of His spirit” was “’I thirst.’”  She said that since Christ is infinite His thirst is also infinite and unquenchable.  Her charge was to try to quench that thirst with love and compassion.  She committed herself to Him and vowed to deny nothing to the Lord, and she had faith that nothing would be denied to her.

When I read that “Christ’s thirst is unquenchable,” I nearly lost my faith.  I was sitting before the Eucharist, screaming in my heart saying, “Something is amiss here! How can this be?”  I knew full well that Christ said, “I thirst.”  I thought I knew what it meant.  But, after reading about Mother Teresa’s drive to quench the unquenchable thirst I questioned the logic.  I know that in God all things are infinite.  I pondered deeply, “Then how could God the Son thirst infinitely?  How could He have a depravity in Him?”  I wrestled for only a few more moments and then turned to my study Bible. 

“I thirst.”  Sure enough there was a note.  Someone has asked this question before me and the elders wanted to be sure faith is unshaken. It said, “God the Son, through the Incarnation, has fully assumed our weakness in order that we may be delivered from thirst by partaking of His salvation.”  A couple of things came to mind: this explains the lack; but, does the thirst not end with the death and resurrection of Christ.  Does the old covenant not end and the new covenant begin?  How can Mother Teresa say that Christ continues to thirst?  After all, before Christ gave up His spirit He said, “It is finished.”  The thirst, rightly understood, should be in us until we partake in Christ’s salvific grace.  I understand her and what she tried to accomplish by saying this.  I have a hard time accepting that there is a lack in the Infinite. If this were true, the Infinite would not be infinite.  One could lose his soul over such a thing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

When The Earth Quickens and Winter’s Silence Ends: Claytonopolis Yard Makeover

“The earth was emptiness, but by a word spoken, it became full of God's riches, and his they are still. Though the use of them is allowed to man, they are from God, and to his service and honour they must be used. The earth, at his command, brings forth grass, herbs, and fruits. God must have the glory of all the benefit we receive from the produce of the earth. If we have, through grace, an interest in Him who is the Fountain, we may rejoice in him when the streams of temporal mercies are dried up.” (Ge 1:14-19)

Each day our little piece of the American dream becomes more glorious and more our own.  Here is what our yard looked like when we moved in at the beginning of December. 


A couple weeks ago we called a nursery to get an estimate on landscaping.  We already had sod. That came with the house.  The nursery gave us ideas and a quote to do all the work.  It came to $850.00 to put in two garden beds. Yikes! About 60% of that total was labor.  So we took some of their recommendations and said we would do the work ourselves.

Andrew borrowed a power tiller from a co-worker.  Our neighbor helped him pick it up.  When they placed the tiller in the garden bed, the men started stirring and tinkering and grunting.  Before we knew it our garden bed was tilled and prepared.  Who needs to hire someone to till, when your neighbor skips his workout to get a workout with the tiller.



The next morning I was anxious to go to the nursery and pick out the nice plants before everyone else did.  Andrew is not much of a morning person and we arrived at the nursery around noon.  It was a joy filled moment to finally buy the plants for our garden.  By the time we arrived home our dear friends, Peter and Chaleigh, had arrived for a visit.  They were passing through town on a cross country trip back to Northern Idaho.  I thought we would just unload the plants and commence our visit.  But as it turned out, they were feeling game to do a little planting as we visited.  Who needs to hire someone when you have friends who like to play in the dirt.


I think the best recommendation from the nursery was the iron trellis and star-jasmine.  It was the perfect point of interest for our garden bed.  From there we chose everything else in this bed.  Andrew chose a variety of peppers: habaneros, jalapenos and hot banana peppers.  Now when he is jones-ing for a habanero, he can just go to the front yard.  Then I chose a variety of herbs: rosemary, oregano, basil, coriander, tarragon, chives, mint, orange mint, chocolate mint.  Finally, I chose a few perennials to pump up the color.



I had not planned on having any roses in our yard, because I had heard they can be delicate and difficult.  But, apparently this variety of rose blooms all season long and does very well in Texas.  The other bushes are Hawthornes.  I would like to get two more rose bushes to put in front of the girls room window.  It faces the street and when the nice thorny rose bushes get big enough they will serve as security.  And as a bonus, the girls will not be able to sneak out their window when they are teenagers ;-) No one can get in and no one can get out.


Another helper


The After Shot – Bellisma!


Friday, April 1, 2011

A Reminder to Pray Without Ceasing–Pretzels

A favorite Lenten tradition of mine is making pretzels on fast days.  We are obliged to eat only one and half meals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the Great Fast.  A pretzel, pictured below, takes the place of the half meal.  The shape is meant to evoke the image of arms folded across one’s chest in prayer, Byzantine-style.  The fast itself reminds us to pray, but the shape of the pretzel also reminds us to pray.

One thing I like about pretzels is that warm, fresh baked, bread is so comforting.  With the first bite of a fresh baked pretzel, a sigh of relief washes over the weary and fasting body and soul.  It is a reminder to rest in the Lord and wait for the joy and Light to come.  We come to a point each year in which we are so beleaguered with sin, that the purging of Great Fast is welcomed.  We begin our journey of great hope.


pray without ceasing