Sunday, September 30, 2012

Icon Writing with Kids - Adam and Eve

Since I have decided to put together a coloring book for my kids, I am drawing the cartoon of whatever icons go along with our weekly religion lessons.  I then scan it, clean it up a little and print one for each child including the two year old. I truly believe that these holy images are a large part of helping the children to understand our faith.  

I need to perhaps be more patient and spend more time getting it to look more graceful and precise.  I pushed myself to draw two this week amidst my other duties and it would have been better to slow down.  I do not foresee any large icon painting sessions any time soon.  

Here are this week's icon.  I could not convince the kids to color the last two because I did not set aside appropriate time for them to work on it.  But we talked about them.



Adam and Eve Fall

Michael the Archangel

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More Annie With Love and A Song

I don't think I made a video for Annie's year one, but I heard a great song the other day that I thought would be perfect for her video, so I made one. :-) Enjoy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Annie Turns Two

Not to make this post all about me, but I really should learn from years past.  It happens every year.  I say to myself, "We're just going to celebrate at home with the family."  But when it gets close to the actually day, I throw an impromptu party.  I call people and say "Hey, I know it's short notice, but will you come to my kid's last minute birthday party."  It's all me, I get to feeling like the celebration needs a little oomph by sharing it with friends.  So late last night I decided that Annie should celebrate with her one and only good friend, Simon.  He was born a couple days after her.  I spent the first half of the day preparing while Annie partied hard all day long.  

Funny story about Annie, today.  This morning, as I was going to take off for the gym, grocery shopping and birthday preparations, we heard a cat's meow outside our garage.  Annie came running out of the house to find the cat.  There, meowing loudly, was a stray, light orange, tabby cat.  I think my neighbor had been feeding it and he is out of town now.  Annie began petting it and hugging it.  Then she put the cat in a headlock and started dragging it toward our interior door, which made me nervous that she might get bit or scratched by a stray.  But she succeeded at getting it to our door and then she and Alex coaxed it in.  She began to give the cat a tour of our house and the cat followed her wherever she went.  Then my husband came in from the backyard with our dog.  The dog immediately chased that cat right back out the garage door and that was the end of kitty (good dog). 

I left for the gym and store and Andrew took the bigger kids to the zoo for some hours.  And in the evening we had our impromptu mini-party.  It was the best day of Annie's life.  (See some party pictures below.)  Clearly, Annie received a stuffed kitty because of her love for cats.  It was precious when she opened the kitty and she let out a gleeful, "Kitty!" and jumped up and down on the sofa.


Annie's siblings filled the play bed with balloons and put Annie in it to play.  Funny siblings.



Annie had her favorite foods: mash potatoes and gravy, cherry tomatoes and hotdogs


Annie's buddy, Simon.  She had to sit in his chair with him.


Our neIghbor made spectacular cupcakes for her


Annie's Royal Court


Annie's Loot: Kitty, My First Baby Princess doll, a diaper bag with baby care items, a blanket and pillow, playdoh activity tubs, bracelets and necklaces


Annie went to be with baby and kitty


Friday, September 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes - It's A Workout

1. The following is my weekly workout.  I guess that I am a little overwhelmed right now (that's not unusual for me).  It's not that the work is too much or too hard.  It's not that I do not love the job and the family.  It is that I never get a break away.   I need a kid free couple of hours each week.  The gym does not count, because I take them there with me and have to orchestrate the whole affair.  I must be doing something wrong, because Americans do not work until bedtime.  Or do we?  I have always worked hard since having become an adult.  But it seems like I have had more down time in the past. 

2. Housework - I work hard to keep up our house.  If I let it go for even a couple of hours, nay fifteen minutes, it is a disaster--a disaster that will take days to clean up.   I have a five year old, a three year old, a two year old and a 4 month old, and let's face it, sometimes husbands can behave like children and forget to pick up after themselves.  I am usually working on housework and stuff for the family until 10:00 p.m. at night.  After I tuck the kids in bed and give them a hug I say, "Stay in bed, because Mommy wants to relax…wait, I mean get more chores done. Love you, good night." 

"Mommy, why do you do  chores after we go to bed?"  I have my reasons.  If it could be helped, I would not.

3. Gym - I go to the gym everyday these days.  I love the group fitness classes.  I work hard and love to be motivated.  I am not where I want to be weight wise.  Yeah, I know I likely never will be.  Going to the gym makes me feel strong and happy.  When I do not go, I feel badly.  But after I defeat myself, I build myself back up by saying, "At least I am trying."  Most people in America get very little exercise.

4. Schoolwork - Alex has been doing well on his schoolwork and gives me little hassle, which is a huge triumph for us.  I do not know if it is his newfound maturity or if he is habituated to it, but we are doing well.  I am actually finding that he is ahead in most of the first grade material.  Last weekend, I had myself all bent out of shape trying to tailor the lessons to him so that it was not too boring, while making sure he had covered everything for the school testing.  Especially in phonics, he is way ahead, but is not proficient in everything, so we cannot quite move on to second grade material even though I am sure he could handle.  They say it is better to know something well than to push one ahead and not know the more challenging material.  I keep doubting the curriculum I chose as well purely on the fact that it is not classical.

Today, he requested to stay home and not go to the gym so that he could count all his money as part of his math lesson.  He had $20.90 in change.  It took a couple of hours for him to count and add up.  It was impressive for a first grader. 

Kristiana has been working on a preschool workbook as well.  She has perfect knowledge of colors and shapes, and she can count to ten, but she does not get letters quite yet.  She is still little though.  


5. Making Baby Big - Your eyes do not deceive you that baby is getting big.  She is almost 5 months old. Wow, time flies.  She went through a growth spurt a week ago and she wanted to eat a lot more.  She woke me up quite a bit in the night.  Nursing moms know that when a baby goes through a growth spurt it can be like a full time job.  Early this week, I decided to move her into the room with Annie.  She did not wake us up in the night.  I am sure she woke up in the night, but it did not wake anyone else.  I went at 6:00 a.m. to get her to feed.  She was hungry all right, but she was not fussy.  So there she has stayed each night since.  I guess we have a baby who will sleep on her own.  (During home school one day this week, I put Lucy on my bed with some toys and while she happily played Annie snuck in and made herself comfortable. Adorable.)


6. Consignment sale - I worked hard last weekend and Monday, preparing items for a consignment sale.  This time my husband helped me, which made a big difference in how much effort I had to put in.  For part of the work, we watched the A&E version Pride and Prejudice miniseries.   We love that series.  We watch it once every year.  It never gets old.

7. I don't do anything well.  I do things just well enough to pass for good.  When I die, perhaps God will let me sneak into heaven just barely...Someday, I really do hope to do something truly well and have people say, "Look have well she does that."  All this to say, I am back to it.  I want to put together a coloring book for my kids, which is 365 religious drawings to help them learn and feel the faith.  My first grade teacher, Sister Madonna, had a coloring book for our class of 180 drawings about whatever we were learning in class.  We colored almost everyday and those pictures really meant something to me.  At first, I was oblivious and as the year went on the story came alive.  If you ask me, there is not anything that she taught me that does not impact my life still today.  I remember that as I teach my own children.  I hope I am making Sister Madonna proud


Monday, September 17, 2012

Icon Writing With Kids - Exaltation of the Most Holy Cross (2012)

"As You were voluntarily raised upon the cross for our sake,
Grant mercy to those who are called by Your Name, O Christ God;
Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power,
Granting them victories over their adversaries,
By bestowing on them the Invincible trophy, Your weapon of Peace."

I have been trying to post our work since Friday afternoon.  We have been very busy.  
I do not understand how other families can do some many activities with the children, allowing each child to have an activity.

I drew the cartoon for this icon last year, took a picture and saved it.  Alex and Kristiana worked on the large version of this icon last year and went a little crazy, mixed all the colors and turned it to mud.  They can be so silly together--giggling and doing silly things.  Anyhow, this year, each person got their own and painted it as they pleased.

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Kristiana's attempt - She is very artistic and patient.  But, she got tired here. 

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Alex peaked at 4 years old in icon writing.  I think this is part of his perfectionism.  If he cannot do it perfectly, he will smear it all together.  It's going to be a year of this.  I can tell.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Miracles Are For Unbelievers"

One of our home school lessons today was about Angels.  I was looking for a way to bring a little liveliness to our lesson today.  So I went to You Tube to see if there were any good children's cartoons about Angels.  I found a video that I felt like brought awareness to my son and daughter.  It was engaging.  So I thought I would share it with you.  

After the video was complete I asked the kids to close their eyes and pray to their Guardian Angel and then just be quiet and listen.  I prayed too.  My son plastered himself to my side closed his eyes and trembled.  After a bit of silence, I asked Kristiana if she prayed and I asked her if her Guardian Angel told her his name.  She said, "Yes."  And I told her to use that name whenever she wished to  talk to him.  I asked Alex if he prayed and he said, "No."  I asked him why and he said he was too afraid.  Have you ever notice how in the Bible the Angels tell people to not be afraid?  I assume this is because meeting an Angel is frightening.  Perhaps, Alex has a better awareness of the Angels among us than I thought.  So I told him I would pray for him.  I asked him to close his eyes again and I put my arms around him because he was still afraid.  I prayed aloud and after a few moments of silence, I asked him again if his Angel told him his name.  He said, "Yes." I told him to use that name when he prays. 

Then I said that I had a picture of an Angel.  I showed them the picture below.  

When I was seventeen some friends and I made a pilgrimage from Wyoming to Lubbock, Texas.  We were going to celebrate the feast of the Assumption with a friend at a place where Mary was said to have appeared.  Supposedly there is an Angel seen there frequently.  Many healings and miracles have occurred there at the fountain where Mary appeared.  Each year, people gather there on the feast and pray.  Many priests come to hear confessions and many Masses occur.  We prayed all day on that feast of the Assumption. We also heard people's stories and saw photographs with strange images.  For instance, a woman showed us a polaroid of a statue of the Blessed Mother in the church.  The statue in the church was a typical statue of Mary standing on a serpent and she was looking down toward the earth.  But, in the polaroid her hands were clasped in prayer and she was looking upward.  Her image in the picture had changed from reality.  

We went to confession and then when the day was almost through we were going to go to Mass.  But before we went into the church we had a stranger snap a picture of us in front of the fountain.  The next day my friend had the pictures developed at a one hour photo place.  He saw this picture and wondered if it were an Angel.  None of us professed to know.  My friend had a personal meeting with the lady who first experienced the apparitions, before he could ask her about the photo she said to him, "You want to ask me about a photograph.  Yes, it is an Angel."  It is said that Angels talk to her.  This confirmed our picture for my friend.  He said that it was a miracle.  But, miracles are not for everyone.  Miracles are for unbelievers.  I immediately professed that I had strength of faith and therefore it was not for me.  I did not need such a sign.  As I grow in wisdom, I recognize that it was a sign and a miracle for me as much as it is for anyone who experiences it.

My friends and I decided to guard our little miracle, because we did not wish others to damage it's integrity.  It would be easy to say it was the glare of the sun.  But, you would have to have been there to know it is not the sun.  The rays from the iridescent image fall straight down next to me.  They are at the wrong angle to be from the sun, which was lower on the horizon as it was evening.  Have you ever seen the sun glare like this in a photo before?  I have not doubted it since I saw it.  But if this is not an Angel, it reminds me of an Angel and of a day spent in prayer, and the good faith can do in one's life; that gives me hope and inspiration to carry on. 

Renee s Angel

Monday, September 10, 2012

Praise Him Ballet

Today Kristiana had her first ballet class.  This has been a long time coming.  It feels like she has been talking about doing a ballet class for years and she will only be four in a couple of months.  
 When I told her she had ballet class today, so was soooo excited.  She talked about it all day.  She did not let me have a moment's peace.  I never heard the end of it.  But I also held it over her head.  Every time she tried to disobey, I reminded her that at ballet she had to follow instructions and I could not take her to ballet if she could not follow instructions at home.
At class, she listened well and had a blast.  And her teacher's name is also Kristiana! I am so thankful she is getting this opportunity.  It is a class held at a local church and it is free except for a small donation.  We definitely would not be able to afford the professional studios. Yay! It's called "Praise Him Ballet."  They use worship music and teach the girls about positive body image.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fat Happy Baby - Lucy

I just wanted to post an updated photo of Lucy (4 months old). 
She's such gregarious baby.  She smiles and coos whenever people talk to her.
She also likes to play with toys more than the kids other kids ever did.

Icon Writing With (Lots of) Kids - The Nativity of Blessed Theotokos

Today we celebrated the birth of the Mother of God with home school friends.  We painted icons and I shared some of my favorite facts about icons.  Then the kids had cupcakes.  It was a birthday party after all.  

I really need to get back to copying the icons by hand onto large paper for Kristiana's year of icons with mummy.  I am more than pleased to be enjoying a life of overactivity again. Whereas last year we tried to experience a life of over activity, but did not necessarily enjoy it, or achieve it due to the misery of, but blessed, pregnancy. 

Troparian – Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to the universe; for from you rose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God. He took away the curse, He gave the blessing, and by trampling Death, He gave us everlasting life.

“And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it. “(Luke 11:27-28)





Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tot Talk - "Love is Cute"

Yesterday, Alex was playing on my husband's computer in our office/guest room as he does often after home school and chores.  He sits and plays intensely for a couple of hours, until we pry him away.  He had headphones on because my husband plays online computer games and likes to talk to his competitors on the other end.  Andrew was laying on the guest bed trying to take a nap.  I came in and laid on the bed with Andrew and started to whisper to him.  Anyhow, we thought Alex could not hear us, nor did we think he even acknowledged our presence, because he was too into his game.  But after a few minutes he said, "Aaawwe, you guys are always showing your love in front of me."  He said it in a tone that sounded like, "Ew, gross my parents are kissing."  Then he giggled a little.  A few minutes later he giggled again and said,  "I think your love is cute."  More giggles ensued.  He said this all without pausing or taking his attention away from his game.  Of course I had to respond, because I cannot ever let the children have the last word.

"It's good that you have parents that love each other and show it."

Kids say the cutest things.  As I write this Alex is getting out of bed to come tell me things he wants added to his birthday present list.  I told him he couldn't demand gifts.  Gifts come from the heart.  You cannot ask for them.  But, if someone asks you what you might like to receive as a gift, then you can tell them.  No one is required to give you gifts….He said that he wanted me to remember what he would like and get it for him, and maybe from this point on he can try to forget about it and be surprised.  Oh the ideas they come up with.

We had doughnuts as a part of our Byzantine New Year celebration - Lucky kids
(I actually got a picture of them all smiling and it came out blurry.)

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