Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I really loved this post on new year resolutions, and figured I'd share it. Enjoy!

Dacha Designs

As we begin a new year, I am sure that you, like me, are thinking about what you'd like to accomplish this year. I am thinking of my new home and how to keep it cozy this year. One of the ways in which I would like to keep my kitchen looking its best is to put out a clean dish cloth and dish towel each night before I go to sleep. There is nothing like coming downstairs each morning to a sparkling clean kitchen, clean dishes in the dishwasher, and a neatly hanging dish towel! What's coolest, to me, about dish towels is that they can bring out the personality of a housewife...from color variations, to seasonal towels, to favorite items...the list can go on!

And this is where I get really excited! A friend of mine has recently opened up a new Etsy shop (gotta love Etsy!), and can you guess what she is selling? Dish towels! These are one-of-a-kind at its finest, especially for a Russian Orthodox housewife! These particular towels are printed with a unique Russian old font and in some cases, a really cute picture (depending on which style you choose). I have several of these towels and so far, I have zero complaints! They wash really well, too!

Dacha Designs has also put out some reusable market totes this week! (Click on the phrase "Dacha Designs" to go to the site).

Do check out this shop if you have a second, and I promise, you won't regret a purchase from Dacha Designs!


Here we are, at the end of another year! On this new year's eve, we are feeling quite "new" already as we are in our new house and starting the new year at our very first parish! We moved in at the beginning of this week, and already, our new house feels like a very cozy home! Thanks to a few nights of early bedtimes, and help from some friends, we have managed to set up the kitchen completely, as well as the living room. We even put up our Christmas tree and other Christmas decor last night! Nothing says cozy like Christmas decor!

Looking back on this year, it seems like such a blur, but some memorable times included:
-having our third child (our second girl!) two days after Christmas;
-my husband being ordained a priest,
-a lovely trip to San Francisco for hubby, baby and I,
-our son starting preschool for the first time,
-and, moving to our new home at the tail end of the year.

With happiness always comes a fair share of not-so-happiness...and this year, it was the passing of my grandfather, my first sweetheart in life. May his memory be eternal! He is sorely missed each and every day.

Looking ahead (as much as one can) into 2015, it is exciting to know that our family will be spending it in a new place to all of us. I am still working on some resolutions for myself, which will include one resolution as an Orthodox Christian, one as a mother, one as a wife, one as a housewife, and one as a friend. I choose to make one resolution for each category because otherwise I become too overwhelmed with my goals.

Our family will be starting a new annual tradition tomorrow, but I'll keep you guessing until I share that idea on the blog (hopefully tomorow!)

Happy New Year to you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Preparing for Nativity with little ones

Though we are in the middle of a move with 3 littles ones underfoot, and not even half way packed yet, I am still trying to remember to prepare for Nativity as much as possible. The kids and I have been hard at work learning one Christmas carol (in Russian), one Christmas poem (in Russian), and one Russian song about a Christmas tree. If these three are learned well enough and far enough before Christmas, I'd like to introduce them to another carol. In the meantime, I am definitely also going to start teaching them the Nativity troparion in the Russian melody (which they will hear much less of because we are in the Serbian Church!) They will pick up the Serbian melody from church services and from our daily evening prayers (during which we sing Serbian melodies). I'm excited because they are getting really good at the carol and song!

My plan is that we will have a little Christmas performance in our house via Skype with my family on Christmas...and then again when my parents come to visit the day after Christmas!

My sister is arriving for a 10-day visit later on this week, and we'll be starting some Christmas crafts and cookie baking with her, once I have an extra pair of hands :) I have been so exhausted lately, and not ambitious enough to embark on any cooking or baking with my little ones! Looking back, last year I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy and somehow managed to bake with them....this year, things sure are different!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wisdom from St. Theophan the Recluse...

"The straying of thoughts, inconstancy of passionate desires and uneasiness of the heart constantly disturb us, not allowing us to do a single thing as we should, and nearly always leading us astray. This illness, although it is universal and endemic, is not natural: rather, it is contracted by us willfully. The enemy knows how much this aids him, and when attempting to entice someone, he first tries to push him into the whirlpool: that is, first of all he enters into the stream of thoughts; beneath these thoughts he kindles passionate desires, and with these he agitates the heart."
-St. Theophan the Recluse

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lenten Blueberry Corn Muffins

Haven't been writing for a while simply due to the fact that we have had a few crazy weeks. Now, we are busy packing for our move just about full-time...and I'm trying to make sure the kiddos are out of trouble while I am preoccupied frequently.

In the meantime, Christmas Lent has begun, and I wanted to share a delicious recipe for Blueberry Corn Muffins. I got it from a cookbook a while ago, but since then have modified it and made it my own.

Blueberry Corn Muffins (Lenten)
Recipe makes 1 dozen muffins


1 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal (white or yellow)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. corn or vegetable oil
3/4 c. soy milk
2 T. apple sauce
1 t. vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, or just a hint of lemon juice
1 1/4 c. blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 deg. Lightly grease a 12-muffin tin.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, soy milk, apple sauce, vanilla, and lemon zest/juice. With a wooden spoon, fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Fold in the blueberries, being careful not to overmix.
Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

Tip: To keep the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffin, toss them around in a bowl of flour to coat. That will give them some "grip" in the batter. ENJOY!!!

P.S. Frozen blueberries work beautifully for this recipe, too! I use them more often than fresh ones because usually fresh ones are very expensive.

Monday, November 24, 2014

On the Fallen World...

..."We must begin with ourselves and not try to change others. The Holy Fathers say that we must correct ourselves -- to work on our salvation and many around us will be saved. We must strive to always be kind, good, and quiet -- at peace so that people will always feel peace and quietness in our presence. We know that we can either attract people with our thoughts or drive them away from us. We need to change so that our faith might be strengthened."
-Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Friday, November 21, 2014

St. Archangel Michael

Today is the feast of St. Archangel Michael.

Here is a snippet about Archangel Michael, taken from the Prologue of Ochrid.

The angels of God have been commemorated by men from the earliest times, but this commemoration often degenerates into the divinization of angels (IV Kings 23:5; A.V. II Kings). Heretics always wove fantasies round the angels. Some of them saw the angels as gods and others, if they did not so regard them, took them to be the creators of the whole visible world. The local Council in Laodicea, that was held in the fourth century, rejected in its 35th Canon the worship of angels as gods, and established the proper veneration of them. In the time of Pope Sylvester of Rome and the Alexandrian Patriarch Alexander, in the fourth century, this Feast of the Archangel Michael and the other heavenly powers was instituted, to be celebrated in November. Why in November? Because November is the ninth month after March, and it is thought that the world was created in the month of March. The ninth month after March was chosen because of the nine orders of angels that were the first created beings. St Dionysius the Areopagite, a disciple of the Apostle Paul (that Apostle who was caught up to the third heaven), writes of these nine orders in his book: 'Celestial Hierarchies'. These orders are as follows: six- winged Seraphim, many-eyed Cherubim, godly Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. The leader of the whole angelic army is the Archangel Michael. When Satan, Lucifer, fell away from God, and carried half the angels with him to destruction, then Michael arose and cried to the unfallen angels: 'Let us give heed! Let us stand aright; let us stand with fear!', and the whole angelic army sang aloud: 'Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth are full of Thy glory!' (See on the Archangel Michael: Joshua 5:13-15 and Jude v.9). Among the angels there rules a perfect unity of mind, of soul and of love; of total obedience of the lesser powers to the greater and of all to the holy will of God. Each nation has its guardian angel, as does each individual Christian. We must keep in mind that, whatever we do, openly or in secret, we do in the presence of our guardian angel and that, on the Day of Judgement, a great multitude of the holy angels of heaven will be gathered around the throne of Christ, and the thoughts, words and deeds of every man will be laid bare before them. May God have mercy on us and save us at the prayers of the holy Archangel Michael and all the bodiless powers of heaven. Amen.

Also, here is a very short little video about St. Archangel Michael that I found on YouTube, in Russian. This will buy you about 6 minutes of peace to get ready for church! :)

And here is an Akathist (in Church Slavonic) to the great Archangel Michael.

St. Archangel Michael, Pray to God for Us!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Loneliness in Modern Life...

I read something so wonderful the other day, and it just happened to be written by a fellow priest's wife, but one who has many years of experience, unlike me! Matushka Ann McLellan Lardas wrote an article that was published on Pravmir, entitled, Loneliness in Modern Life: What to Do? I wanted to share this article here because it is just phenomenal.

Loneliness in Modern Life: What to Do?

Source: Taste and See
Matushka Ann McLellan Lardas | 13 November 2014
Loneliness in Modern Life: What to Do?

Recent conversations have led me to think more than usual about loneliness in modern life. I often speak of clergy life as being all of us fighting the same battle, from different foxholes. But loneliness is a factor, a reality, and I think it’s worse for the laity. The closer one stands to the altar, the more one gets that “Christ is in our midst” is not a mindless greeting but the statement of a profound reality. When one lives far from church, both physically and metaphorically, it becomes harder to keep this in mind. What to do?
On a pragmatic level, the best thing is to find other Christians and spend time with them, first and foremost in church, sure, but in the ancient times the Agape meal was considered part of the service. Now it’s too hot, it’s too cold, the Sisterhood doesn’t serve things you can eat, the kids have a ball game or a birthday party — we leave each other in the narthex till next week. And so all of us on some level feel abandoned and alone.
How to fix it? The first thing is to pray for each other, every day. Even if it’s just that you’re walking through Walmart and see something that reminds you of your godson, this is from God, this is your chance to say, “God bless my godchildren and be with them! Mother of God, cover them with your veil! Guardian angels of my godchildren, thank you, protect them, correct their thoughts and keep them from despair!” If we react appropriately to these little flashes, like instant messages from God, we will build the foundation in our hearts, and the people we pray for will on some level know. Somehow they will feel the love, they will have new courage.
Secondly, we need to feed each other. Does someone in your parish live near? Invite them over for supper! Does someone in your parish live alone? When you make too much of something, put that last serving of pasta or last piece of pie in a container and drop it at their house, sharing a word or two in passing.
Thirdly, bring the people whom you miss, in church, to the services with you. Start by bringing them in your heart. Pray for them, light candles, ask God to lead them to come to church with you. Then, call them up, or pick them up, or invite them, or encourage them. When you hear the barrage of reasons why people don’t want to come — the old ladies who criticize or the young people who dress wrong, the priest who speaks too much or too little — all you have to say is this: “Yes, but I love you and I miss you. Who can separate us from the love of God?”
We don’t have to start big. We just have to start. Because in curing the loneliness around us, we will notice, to our surprise, that our own bruised and empty hearts have suddenly become whole and full. Baby steps are fine. We just have to start walking the walk.
Matushka Ann and her husband, Archpriest George Lardas, live in Stratford, CT. Fr. George is the rector of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Stratford and Matushka Ann is the choir director. They have four grown children. Matushka Ann is currently studying writing through Fairfield University’s MFA program, and should graduate in 2016.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Love...

"Love is the most powerful means of defense there is. There are no weapons and no power that can measure themselves against love. Everything is defeated before love."
-Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Preparing for Lent...

Slowly, I am starting to take baby steps in preparation for Christmas Lent, because even though the fast is not officially beginning for a few more weeks, with my 3 little distractions, everything takes longer to do.

In past years, I have not been really organized in preparing for the meal planning for Lent, and it has really thrown me off. It was especially difficult for me in the last few years because I was always either pregnant or nursing a baby, during which times I had a blessing not to fast or to partially fast (for example, without meat). It is particularly hard to cook for your husband when he is fasting and you are not! This year though, I'm going to have a new beginning with fasting because I am no longer nursing, nor am I pregnant. I am excited to try a new, organized way of meal planning. Today I sat down and began perusing my cookbooks for Lenten recipes (anything that includes NO dairy, meat, or eggs), and made a huge list of them all. I have to add, that the idea of doing this "list" has been in my head for a long time, but I found Orthodox Mom's handy "Lenten Meal Planning" section of her blog to be helpful, too. In fact, I have printed out the meal planning pages (which she has linked to) to record my meals onto later. For now though, I am just listing recipes, followed by the cookbook they are coming from, and the page number. Once I have them all in one place, I will be able to make actual meal plans from there.

I have grouped my recipes into various sections. They are:

Lenten Soups
Lenten Appetizers & Salads
Lenten Lunch or Dinner (because for me, they are interchangeable, though for some, you may see the need to split these two up)
Lenten Desserts

I wanted to share one of my new cookbooks. I ordered it last year after a raving review from a friend. I have always struggled in finding fasting recipes that do not include tofu, seitan or anything funky like that. I'm a plain kind of girl when it comes to food, and I really am not into anything unusual. I'm into fruits, veggies and grains, and dessert during Lent. So I was thrilled to find out that the Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen cookbook has no "weird" ingredients in it that I will not enjoy cooking. It's all about the fruits, veggies, pastas and grains! I love that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Psalter Groups

I haven't been feeling well for a while now, thus the lack of posts.

I did want to take a minute tonight though and share something I'm going to be a part of starting next week. Orthodox Mom (aka Sylvia), has a really lovely and very informative blog. Every fasting period, she makes a Psalter Group sign-up for her readers, open to anyone who would like to join. The point of these groups is to read the entire Psalter during the fasting period, and also pray for others who are in the same group as you. I think it's a lovely tradition and I love having a goal for each fasting period which makes me pick up a spiritual book each day. I only recently started reading the Psalter (usually in a difficult moment, I'd pick it up and read a psalm to calm down), and I love that Sylvia has this going on.

If you'd like to join in, go to her blog, and sign up below in your own comment.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrows....

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow. I love that there is an icon like that!!

Join me in learning a bit of the history of this depiction of the Mother of God.

The following was taken from the OCA website.

The wonderworking “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon of the Mother of God was glorified in the year 1688. Euphymia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim (1674-1690), lived at Moscow and suffered from an incurable illness for a long time. One morning during a time of prayer she heard a voice say, “Euphymia! Go to the temple of the Transfiguration of My Son; there you will find an icon called the “Joy of All Who Sorrow.” Have the priest celebrate a Molieben with the blessing of water, and you will receive healing from sickness.” Euphymia did as she was directed by the Most Holy Theotokos, and she was healed. This occurred on October 24, 1688.

The icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (with coins fused to it by a bolt of lightning), was manifested at St Petersburg in 1888. See July 23.

And from July 23, about the origin of this icon: 

The Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (With Coins) was glorified in the year 1888 in Petersburg, when during the time of a terrible thunderstorm lightning struck in a chapel. All was burned or singed, except for this icon of the Queen of Heaven. It was knocked to the floor, and the poor box broke open at the same time. Somehow, twelve small coins (half-kopeck pieces), became attached to the icon. A church was built in 1898 on the site of the chapel.

Here is the version of the Akathist (in Church Slavonic) that the kids and I will be listening to today, once everyone has started their day. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Kazan Icon of the Mother of God

Today we celebrate the feast day of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Here is a description of the history of this icon, taken from the OCA website.

The Commemoration of the Deliverance of Moscow From the Poles by the Kazan Icon was established in gratitude for the deliverance of Moscow and all Russia from the incursion of the Polish in 1612. The end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries is known in Russian history as “the Time of Troubles.” The country suffered the onslaught of Polish armies, which scoffed at the Orthodox Faith, plundering and burning churches, cities and villages. Through deceit they succeeded in taking Moscow. In response to the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Hermogenes (May 12), the Russian people rose up in defense of its native land. From Kazan, the wonderworking icon of the Mother of God was sent to the army headed by Prince Demetrius Pozharsky.

St Demetrius of Rostov (September 21), in his Discourse on the Day of Appearance of the Icon of the Mother of God at Kazan (July 8), said:

“The Mother of God delivered from misfortune and woe not only the righteous, but also sinners, but which sinners? those who turn themselves to the Heavenly Father like the Prodigal Son, they make lamentation beating their bosom, like the Publican, they weep at the feet of Christ, like the Sinful Woman washing His feet with her tears, and they offer forth confession of Him, like the Thief upon the Cross. It is such sinners whom the All-Pure Mother of God heeds and hastens to aid, delivering them from great misfortunes and woe.”

Knowing that they suffered such misfortunes for their sins, the whole nation and the militia imposed upon themselves a three-day fast. With prayer, they turned to the Lord and His All-Pure Mother for help. The prayer was heard. St Sergius of Radonezh appeared to St Arsenius (afterwards Bishop of Suzdal) and said that if Moscow were to be saved, then people must pray to the Most Holy Virgin. Emboldened by the news, Russian forces on October 22, 1612 liberated Moscow from the Polish usurpers. A celebration in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was established in 1649. Even in own day this icon is especially revered by the Russian Orthodox nation.

The Kazan Icon is also commemorated on July 8.

One of my new traditions in our home has been to start playing the Akathist of the saint or icon of the day first thing in the morning. It helps me get a good start to the day and stay focused on what is important. I have also noticed that it makes the kids a lot more peaceful. They are quieter and I have found them commenting about the singing, like by saying "Mama, this choir is really beautiful!" I love that! I want them to be accustomed to church music and know that it is important in their lives to always think about God first.

Here is the Akathist to the Kazan Icon that we listened to this morning. It is sung by a choir of nuns. Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Preserving Baby Memories in a Shadowbox Frame: A DIY Project

I am a sentimental person. My husband teases me for it, but that's ok. I love creating photo albums on Shutterfly, looking through old photos and cards, remembering old days, etc. I have never been very good at handling change, and it's probably because I get so stuck in the past sometimes! But I still wouldn't change that about myself because I really do enjoy remembering the past, and truthfully, I'm getting better at handling change as I get older because I am realizing that change is good and necessary in life.

One thing that comes with being sentimental is keeping things. Believe me, we've got enough "stuff" without me keeping anything extra as it is! I could not for the life of me ever part with my baby's hospital bracelets from their birth day/week or with their first articles of clothing, ultrasounds, etc (but what mom could?!) So for each of my children, I have created a shadowbox memory frame filled with their newborn sentiments. I am most proud of the last one I created for my little baby and I wanted to share the process as well as the end result here.

1) To begin, go to your local Joann's, Michael's or Hobby Lobby and pick up a 12x12 sized shadowbox frame. This has proven to be a good size for me, but you can go smaller or larger as needed, of course. I happened to hit up Michaels' during a sale and the shadowbox frames were Buy One, Get One Free!  I'm saving the other one for another project.

While you are at your craft store, visit the scrapbooking section and pick out an appropriate piece of scrapbook paper for your background...I chose a pink paper for my baby girl. You should not have any problems finding a paper in the same size as the frame. You will also need to pick up some thumbtacks and double-sided scrapbooking tape, if you do not have any on hand at home. And of course, you will also need to gather your sentiments that you plan to use. In this project, I used my baby's ultrasound, her newborn hat (which had been mine as a newborn, too!), the white t-sihrt she wore at the hospital, her birth announcement, both her and my hospital bracelet, and the hospital tag that was used to label her crib during the hospital stay.

2) Now that you have gathered all the proper materials, take apart the shadowbox frame from the backing of it. Make sure you check on the back of the frame that the hanging tool is facing the right way when you are beginning your work.

Now, take your scrapbook paper and line it (on the back side) with scrapbook tape/double-sided tape. Make sure you get the corners, especially. Flip the paper over and place it (correctly aligned) onto the board from your shadowbox.

3) Next, take all of your sentiments and place them on the backing WITHOUT gluing them on. You want to make sure everything fits properly and looks nice before you begin to glue anything.

4) Once you have arranged everything to your liking, you can begin gluing or tacking on each item. I used glue or double-sided tape for flat items, such as the hospital bracelets, hospital tag and birth announcement. For the thicker items, I used thumbtacks to pin them down. The tacks did stick out a bit on the other side of the backing, but being that the shadowbox will be hanging or propping against a wall, this really is not important.

5) Finally, once you've finished attaching your items, place the backing into the frame and adjust as may see that something is loose (like the t-shirt, which I had to adjust several times) and play with it, or add more tape/tacks accordingly.

Here is my finished product. I love it!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tis the Season for Gratitude

Every year, come autumn and the changing leaves, I have one thing on my mind: Thanksgiving and the season of gratitude. It's important to be grateful every day, for everything, but at this cozy time of year it is somehow nice to be in a grateful frame of mind. Being grateful can be particularly helpful in setting goals for the holiday season and remembering not to worry as much about accumulating new things but more about enjoying what we already have (and I am the first who needs this reminder)! It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Black Friday sales and all the seasonal sales thereafter. Even though it's a bit early to be thinking about Thanksgiving, we are just two days from November and that lovely day will be upon us before we know it!

The point of this post is to tell you about one of my favorite exercises in gratitude. A few years ago, I acquired this handy little Gratitude Journal from Amazon. It's a small journal...sometimes my hand feels cramped writing in it. But the point of it is to write down things you are grateful for each and every day of the year. I have gotten out of the habit of writing in this journal and lately I have kept it under my nose (by the computer, a frequently visited spot) to remind myself to write in it. Things can be simple like, "Grateful that I have my coffee to get me through this morning with energetic babies!"...which can lead to "Grateful that my babies are energetic..for they could be ill or unwell in some way, and unable to run around in such a manner." ...which can then lead to..."Grateful for good health...Grateful that God blesses me every day." It's contagious once you just begin!

As I encourage myself, I encourage all my fellow mamas to try this little exercise. You don't need a fancy notebook, and if you can't afford a new one, grab any old notebook, label it "My Gratitude Journal." (If you Google 'gratitude journal' you can also find some free templates to make your own journal!) Take a new page for each day, and see how many things you can be grateful for each day! Life seems much easier when you are listing your gratitudes, big or small, and get into a positive frame of mind.

Living Simply...

As we prepare for our big move to a parish at the very end of this year, I am focusing on getting rid of as much of our "stuff" as possible, bringing with us only the most important necessities. It is nice to get rid of things that I know we don't need.

I came across this quote this morning about simple living, and thought I'd share it since it can be useful to everyone in their own life.

"The best thing of all is to live simply. Don’t rack your brains over anything. Pray to God. The Lord will arrange everything, only live more simply. Don’t torment yourself thinking about how and what to do. Let it be as it happens: that’s what it is to live more simply." -St. Ambrose of Optina

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seek and you shall find...

"No matter how many creature comforts and blessings a person has, he has very little. Everyone, as you have already noticed, is always seeking. They seek and find something, but after they have found it, they cast it aside and start seeking all over again, so that they may once again cast away what they find. So it goes on endlessly. This means that they are seeking the wrong thing in the wrong place, and not what they should be seeking, and not where they should be seeking it. Isn't this tangible proof that there is a force in us drawing us away from the earth and earthly sorrows toward Heaven?"

From the book, The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It, by St. Theophan the Recluse

Monday, October 13, 2014

Housework Sanctified

"Tired of laundry? Parenting and homemaking are indeed a holy calling. Daily chores are a blessing to us and to our family. Even laundry is blessed - no children, no laundry. What would our life be like without them? So as we wash, fold or iron each item we can say, 'Lord have mercy on (name of clothing wearer).' This works for your husband's clothing, your children's and your own clothing. 'Lord have mercy on me.' This sanctifies our time and work. It also helps us acquire peace and unceasing prayer."

This lovely quote was taken from the book Orthodox Christian Parenting.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Something New

I wanted to share a new tradition I have started this month in our house. I call it Thoughtful Thursday.

For years now, I have been constantly thinking that I am not thoughtful enough. I always seem to be forgetting to do little things for people that can really make a difference and make them happy. I beat myself up when I forget to send a thank you card or a birthday card or forget to remind someone that I am thinking of them.

Enter Thoughtful Thursday.

For the last few weeks, each Thursday, I have made the time in our day (via my planner) to stop and do something thoughtful for someone else. For grandmother was preparing for a hip replacement a few weeks ago, so the kids and I took some time out of our morning to write her a "thinking of you" card and send it out in the mail that same day. She got it a day before the surgery and she has thanked me about ten times since for that card which really made her day. Another day, I mailed a "just because" gift to a friend in need.

I cannot believe that I have never realized before that I should just assign a day of the week to doing something for someone else. It has made such a difference in my happiness to know that I am not completely disregarding other people any more. The kids have really enjoyed this so far as well. If there is one routine from our days at home together that I hope to keep up, it is definitely Thoughtful Thursday.

Join me in this, if you'd like! It's so fun and very rewarding!

New Rituals...

I have been trying to scramble and get organized, as I keep mentioning, and well, with my son's new routine of twice-a-week preschool, I have gotten much motivation to get moving on some of the things I have wanted to do for a while now. For example, I have developed a little routine with the kids for learning. This week, we have been working on learning a song of the Russian alphabet...they are loving it so far, and even though it is not really easy, they are starting to catch on so well! It is a new melody for them, whereas the Serbian alphabet song goes to the same tune as the English ABC song.

Aside from learning the Russian alphabet song, we are working on some seasonal songs...I have only chosen one for now because I do not want to overload them. I chose a song that's new to me (I haven't learned any 'seasonal' Russian songs before other than Christmas ones)...and I YouTubed it to find a clip of the song. We listen to it 3 times each morning and sing along to the best of our ability. It is a lot of fun for me because I really love to sing, and the kids are so enthusiastic! The song we are currently learning is about leaves falling from the trees, and it's so fun for me because it has opened the door for many teachable moments that I never even thought about. We have talked about the leaves changing color and falling from the trees...about fall meaning a change in the temperature outside....the birds flying south...many topics that are really not something I intended on teaching them about. Now, when I say "teach" I am not talking about us having a sit-down session at the table. I still really am a firm believer in kids learning through play at a young age like my kids are, and so I don't want to make too much of a structured "school" session at this point. But I do love making a point to sit on the couch with them and just talk, listen and sing along to our songs each morning.

Other days, when we can, aside from these little lessons, we try to squeeze in a morning walk. It is hard to time the walk properly in between the baby's morning nap and lunch time, but today we managed. I want to be outside as much as possible these days before it gets really cold.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Preparing for the Fall

Ahh... a quiet house. L is in pre-school, and M & K are both asleep. I just finished my afternoon cup of tea and have been doing some computer "work" (AKA planning things to do with my kids). I'm making plans for the fall because last year taught me well that I was unprepared for Fall with toddlers. This year, I'm hoping to do more with my kids now that I am not toting around a pregnant belly everywhere I go. Even though my baby isn't sleeping through the night (not even close) I am pretty much on the same level of exhaustion as I was last fall, but L and K are each a year older now, so I am hoping that Fall memories can be created with a tad more maturity this year. :)

I have been looking through all my pins on Pinterest this week, starting with the "Kids" board, and weeding through the useless ones and deleting them, but printing out the good stuff. I ran across this list made by one Mama that I found to be really great. She lists all her favorite art supplies to have on hand for kids to use at home. With a little guidance from me, my kids will have a lot of fun with each of these supplies this next few months...hopefully, it'll come in handy as we prepare for our big move.

Here it is.

It's easier for me to link it to you so you can see the cool layout of this Mama's post, as well as all of the handy links she provided. Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Tea Time

Thursday, yesterday, was my scheduled day of the week to look at the Ascetic Lives of Mothers book and think about my spirituality as a mother. I did this while my kids were playing happily outside, and the wind blew in my face, still a nice summery breeze (thankfully!)...

This passage really hit me as being brilliant, and I wanted to share it.

It first begins with a quote...

Stand at the brink of the abyss of despair, and when you see that you cannot bear it anymore, draw back a little and have a cup of tea.  - Elder Sophrony of Essex

And then, my favorite passage....

"My mother reminds me often that tea has a way of keeping you in the moment. It's not like coffee, which, in our society, is meant to keep you always moving forward. Tea encourages the partaker to sit down and rest a moment. It is a sort of reset button for the weary. If we push ourselves beyond what we can bear for the sake of being strong, we will fall over, teacup and all, and find that staring up from the darkness of the abyss is far more terrifying than standing at the brink.

Let us step back and take tea together as mothers. Of course we may not be able to sit at each other's tables and sip a perfectly steeped pot together, but we can pray for one another and be an encouragement. We can make a pot of gratitude for all the Lord has blessed us with and sip it throughout the day through prayer and the reading of His Word. We can choose to face the difficulties, in the strength of Christ our Lord, and lay down the idea that we must somehow bear it all. How freeing is that though alone?"

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Preparing for Fall: Children's Wardrobes

I have been thinking about the kids' fall wardrobes since we are in September now. One of the things I am trying to do (as I have mentioned in previous posts) is to become more minimalistic with their clothing. In the past, I have gone shopping only on clearance racks or sale racks and have picked up whatever looked cute for both of my older kids. But now that my children are able to dress themselves (the older two), they also love picking out what they are wearing each day instead of me giving them their outfit. What I have seen lately is that my son has two favorite colors (Navy and Red), and he'll choose only clothes in those colors to wear. He also loves jeans. My daughter loves pink and leans towards anything that's either a dress or pink to wear. At first this drove me crazy because I was wondering why on earth she won't wear anything else that I have for her (so many cute clothes!) but then I started realizing that if she didn't have those other clothes, I wouldn't care. I only want her to wear them ALL because I spent money on them ALL. Other than that, I don't really care what she wears...even though I do cringe if she doesn't match, hahaha.

So, I am trying to take what I have learned from my first years of dressing children and use it to become a smarter shopper for their new fall clothes. My baby is going to be wearing mostly hand-me-downs from her sister, the ones that overlap with the correct season, anyway. I may pick her up a few new onesies though because ours have gotten pretty worn out by now.

Anyway, I have done a little research on other blogs as well as on Google and have tried to figure out what my kids' fall wardrobes should look like. Here's a helpful article I have read on being minimalistic in clothes.

With all of that in mind, I came up with a reasonably-sounding list for each kid, which basically includes enough outfits to have one for each day of the week (instead of more than that like we've had in the past), several warm sweaters per kid for our frigid winters here, several church outfits, a pair of play shoes each, one pair of church shoes each, socks and underwear and the winter necessities such as jackets, hats and scarves and mittens. And for the girls, several pairs of tights.

I'm hoping I can stay minimalistic with the clothes from now on and make my laundry loads lighter, too!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Living and Learning for September

Trying to get back into the swing of things over here....

Living and Learning for September

Sts. Adrian and Natalia - 8th
St. Kasijana’s Feast Day - 20th
Nativity of the Theotokos - 21st 
The Elevation of the Precious Cross - 27th

Sort through things for 20 minutes each day, in preparation for our move this fall
Visit the farmer’s market a few more times before it closes
Work on following my morning and evening routines
Start having a little school-type routine with the kids each day that Lazar is not in pre-school 
Work on making sure the dishes are done after each meal/snack
Make sure Lazar has quiet reading time in his room each day after Kasijana is finished napping
Make sure each kid has a one-on-one date with a parent once this month

Themes for the Month

Establish better family routines
Start having a snack after nap time each day

Special Days
+Liza - 8th
T. Natasha’s Namesday - 8th
Kasijana’s Namesday - 20th
Babi’s Namesday - 22nd
Dida’s Birthday - 27th
Deda’s Anniversary of Ordination - 27th

Follow new spiritual schedule for each day of the week (Monday: Read an Akathist, etc…)
Go outside every day before it gets cold
Start working on a Montessori activity each week (hopefully to pick up the pace next month)

Practice Being Still and Quiet during Prayers and Services
Singing – the troparion for this month’s feast days
The Sign of the Cross for Kasijana 
Visit the beach as much as possible
Go to Story Hour or to the library for a visit, weekly
Visit a pumpkin farm

Go apple picking

Monday, September 1, 2014

Re-Organizing: New Goals, Part 1

In getting ready for our upcoming move, I have gotten into a purge/sort/re-organize kind of mood... It is making me excited for changes in the near future, even amidst the feelings of nervousness.

In doing all of this, I have done a lot of thinking and reflecting and I realized that I have really lost most of the self-discipline I used to have. One of the things I really need to work on right now is making my spiritual life more a part of my daily routine. Sure, prayers in the morning and the evening are a routine, but I don't feel like that's cutting it any more. Especially when days are hard, I realize that those days would not feel quite as hard if I were just a bit more disciplined but most importantly, if I always always prayed inside my head.

In order to start fixing this little glitch, I have decided to make an organized schedule for myself of something spiritual to do each day of the week. Here's the list I have come up with.

Monday: Read an Akathist to a saint of choice (relevant to the week perhaps!)

Tuesday: Read a kathisma from the Psalter

Wednesday: Read a chapter of my current spiritual book choice 

Thursday: Mama prayers. Pray about current struggles I'm having in motherhood, as well as prayers of thanksgiving. I'll use the book The Ascetic Lives of Mothers as a tool here. 

Friday: Work on confession list (it's much easier to remember sins one week at a time, than to sit down once every few weeks when preparing for confession!)

Saturday or Sunday: Write down spiritual reflections on the week that has passed...make goals accordingly

This is a start, and I am sure that I will find a few things to add in the future.... Or perhaps I'll change it up every now and then or at the start of a fast. These aren't things I'll do necessarily at night after the kids are in bed, but I will try to find time for them whenever I can throughout the day. Sometimes at night I have so little energy left that I feel like all I want to do is vedge on the couch and sleep, so I don't want to make these night-time activities per se.


In other news, tomorrow my oldest starts his first day of pre-school! I'm going with him the first day, so I am excited...otherwise, it'd be a little brutal to just plop him into a new setting and leave for 2.5 hours! He's so excited, and I am too, but I do have some feelings of apprehension. I comfort myself by reminding myself that if something goes wrong, I can always pull him out.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Confessions and Reflections...

This is going to be a post that's really, really honest (not that they usually aren't honest ones, but some are "business" and this one isn't).

I have realized that life is moving along so quickly that even though I mean to, I forget to stop, think and reflect. If I "stop" it's always to check my phone or to read a snippet of something online, or to use the bathroom. Even though I love social media and the Internet and my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, I get annoyed sometimes because all of these things are just one huge distraction from a simple lifestyle. I love being in touch with friends via Instagram or Facebook, I love "following" my friends on Pinterest, and I love reading snippets of news, looking at videos on YouTube and keeping up with the times in these ways, but sometimes when I feel like something is missing in my life, I realize that what's missing is really something that is lost and needs to be found again. It is living in the moment, putting aside media, using the time I'm cooking dinner for thinking about myself and my day, and writing in a paper journal. All of these things add up to not only simplicity, but to so much more, too.

Back in the day when I was a teenager, I LOVED and I mean loooooved the show 7th Heaven. It's about a minister and his wife and their family of 7 children and it's really just about the ups and downs of life, and the highs and lows of being a minister's family. Now, this minister's name is Eric Camden. Let me tell you not about Eric though, but about his close-to-perfect wife, Annie. (Bear with me here even if you think i'm cheesy, like my hubby always says I am when I talk about this show!). Annie is always dressed nicely, and always, always modestly. She wears dress pants with a blouse and a long sweater very frequently...but other days, she chooses a comfy dress or a skirt/blouse combo. To church, she usually wears a suit. (After all, everyone is watching the minister's wife at all times!) She's always wearing her make-up and her hair is always neatly combed. Now. Annie is pretty much the perfect house wife. She loves to cook and she always has a freshly baked good ready made for her kids upon their return from school. Her kitchen is perfectly clean at the end of the night, and she has her kids help with chores. Her dinners are delectable and rarely does she call out for a pizza. The thing about Annie though, is that she loves her job and being at home, doing laundry and all those endless housework chores. She truly makes it all look so easy, but still manages to tend to her 5 and then 7 (after she births twins) children, and her extremely busy minister of a husband. (But look, Annie sometimes cooks with Campbell soup ;-))

Ok, so growing up I wanted to be Annie Camden. The minute I met my husband and knew I wanted to marry him, I dreamed that we'd be the Eric and Annie Camden of the Serbian Orthodox Church...we'd have this big and beautiful parish house, we'd have so many children, and most importantly, I would make my husband lunch every day and then a yummy, well-thought out, beautiful dinner for the whole family every evening. And of course, I'd have these beautiful cakes and cookies ready for my family to enjoy all the time. Let's not forget to mention, I'd always have modest but beautiful outfits with my hair and makeup perfect (and lipstick, too!!)


Well, let me tell you, five years in to this whole housewife thing, and 3.5 years into mamahood and I am sad to report that I have failed to be Annie Camden Jr. It's sad but it's true. Now, the comforting thing about this is that indeed, 7th Heaven is a TV show and TV shows are very rarely completely realistic. Secondly, we are a priest's family, but we're not yet on a parish, so my life is very different than the Camden's life. Third, I am still developing my motivation and my love for housework, and I have no real energy in me to be this rockstar Mama who has it all together. And I know I never really will have it ALL together, because I'm never going to be perfect. God made it that way for a reason, and that's what I have to remember. (By the way, Annie also had her less-than-perfect moments ;-)). My husband has always teased me that I will never be Annie Camden because she's an unrealistic, movie housewife and that I should know better than to be aspiring to be her, but I can dream...right? :) It's the idea of her role that I admire more than the actual unrealistic character of her.

The point here is, that it's not about being perfect but about trying my best (and you trying your best)! It's easy to make excuses. From being exhausted (the eternal excuse) to being overwhelmed (what Mama isn't overwhelmed though?!) to having inner temptations (like no one else has those?), it's easy to find ways to justify myself and "just get through the day" sometimes, without being fully present, but distracted instead. And I don't mean to sound like I or any other mom should always be super mom, because no mom is. What's important is that I be the mom that I want my kids to remember - the mom that is always there when they need her. To be less selfish and more selfless..but it takes a while to get there (if ever it's the right balance).

Disclaimer: I do think that Mamas need time to unwind, they need time to destress, think, etc WITHOUT their children around. So I am going to write into my calendar 2 days of the month that I can get to do this and that my hubby will stay with the kids for to give me this time.

BTW: I own the entire set of 7th Heaven, and I think I'll start re-watching the series tonight :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Preserving Memories

One of the things I have always been really into is making albums. In my teenage days, I'd print as many photos as possible, buy one of those magnetic albums, and make something between an album and a scrapbook. I never got too fancy, but I did use colored paper and write little labels with my pictures. I really loved doing this! With time though, these albums have gotten pretty discolored. Plus, now all I have are digital cameras, so printing photos doesn't happen often at all.

Somewhere in the time between finishing high school and getting married, I took thousands of photos that have never been put into albums. So for the past few years, I have been working on putting these into Shutterfly photo books. I have been trying to catch up on all the main events and trips I have taken so that I have a small photo book of each of these main events. Anyhow, since I had kids, I've been very focused on preserving memories that we all have to look back on. It's so easy to get lost in time due to sleepless nights, diapers, etc, but one thing I refuse to NOT have time for is my photo books.

Each year, I like to make one huge photo book from the whole year's photos. So I take time each week to upload photos to Shutterfly and choose the best ones to go into our family's photo album. At the end of each year, (usually in January though), I wait until Shutterfly has a 50% off sale, and I buy our photo book for the year. It's SO exciting to get it in the mail and look through it!!! I get the 12x12 size book. Even though these books are pricey, it really does make sense to splurge on them. By the time I were to print each photo and buy a nice album to put them into, I'd spend almost the same amount of money anyway. And for me, memories are worth preserving. I like to write little snippets on every page or so to remember major moments or feelings, so that is a nice addition, too.

Friday, August 15, 2014


I've been quiet mostly because we've been busy...but also because I have been in a state of complete and total exhaustion. I make notes of what to blog about, I take photos, and then I get too tired to sit down, take the photos from my phone or camera, download them, and put together a post.

This week I am attempting to sleep train my baby, who is already 7 months old and should definitely be able to sleep through the night, but won't... I feel very bad for her because she has reflux, so I constantly second-guess myself as to whether or not she needs to "learn how to sleep" or if she already knows how to, but is waking out of discomfort. Motherhood is such a challenge!!! Here's hoping that my baby is sleeping through the night soon, so that Mama can return to her normal self.

One thing I can share now is that this morning was just plain difficult and one of those mornings where you just want to give up. I took the three out for a walk around our lake here, and it was a complete and total disaster...I never thought a walk could be disastrous until today! The baby screamed through the ENTIRE walk...I tried everything..even stopped to nurse her, but she wouldn't be anywhere but my arms. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but when you're pushing a double stroller with another kid in it, and using only one hand b/c you're holding Baby in the other, it's a problem. I got a good workout , for sure. My oldest was on his bike and usually he's very good about waiting for me, not going too far ahead or falling behind, but today he truly had a plan of his own. He fell twice, too, so I had to tend to his tears on top of the baby's. When we got home, the baby was still screaming, and was way overdue for her nap, and the older two were screaming too, so I put everyone in their bedroom to rest quietly while I took care of the baby. I gave her Tylenol because I thought she was in pain (she's got 2 new teeth), and nursed her to sleep. Then, I took some time alone, had a cookie in the kitchen, and called the older two down to have their lunch. Now they are peacefully napping.

One very exciting package came today...a J. Crew Factory box that I have been waiting for! My sweet, sweet uncle has spoiled me for as long as I can remember whenever he sees me, and I saw him on our recent trip to NY. I took the gift he gave me and decided to use it on some new clothes, because I'm working on weeding out old clothes that I've worn since too long ago, and getting some nice new basics.

Always check for a coupon code before you press "Complete Order!". I got 25% off of everything, and most things were already on Final Sale. I got 2 long sleeved shirts, one baseball henley, 1 cute ruffle top, 2 t-shirts, a pair of pants, and a pair of Bermuda shorts, all for under $100.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cleaning up...

My kids (like many kids) are expert mess-makers. My daughter loves to put things back in their places, and if she was on her own, she'd probably never make much of a mess. Of course big brother is the boss though, so he invites her to make a mess with him nearly every morning in the playroom. I've spent many days thinking about the best way to make them clean. I always had a clean-up song in the back of my mind. I didn't want to be the one to sing it though, b/c then I'd have to be there the whole time they are cleaning up. I'd rather be in the kitchen doing my own clean-up while they are cleaning the playroom. 

A few weeks ago, I took the iPod and searched for a clean-up song in Russian but did not have any luck finding one (I speak Russian to the kids, so I try to make everything we do in Russian if I can...there's so many times ahead that I'll be speaking English to them, like if I home school, so I like to keep Russian as the main language for now). I decided that in this case, it'd be ok to make an exception, and I YouTubed a clean-up song. The first one that came up was this one, and it was perfect!!! 5 minutes and 18 seconds long, just the perfect amount of time for little kids to spend cleaning. I play it at least once a day and make them clean up until the song stops (usually they manage to finish in that time). Sometimes I help them, other times I do my own house work or cleaning during that time. Lately they have even asked me to press 'repeat' when the song was over, because they were still not finished cleaning! At their cousins' house the other day, the song was a huge hit and I had the kids "race the song" and they were able to finish cleaning all together in just 4 minutes!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Food for Thought...

"Brethren, what is the end of faith? The salvation of the soul. What is the goal of faith? The salvation of the soul. What is the fruit of faith? The salvation of the soul. Therefore, we do not adhere to faith for the sake of faith, but rather for the salvation of our souls. No one travels for the sake of the road, but because of someone or something that awaits him at the end of the road. No one throws a rope into the water in which someone is drowning for the sake of the rope, but for the sake of the one drowning. God gave faith to us as a road, at the end of which the travelers will receive the salvation of their souls. And like a rope, God extended faith to us who are drowning in the dark waters of sin, ignorance and vice, so that we, through the help of faith, might save our lives."

-St. Nikolaj Velimirovic in the Prologue to Ochrid

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pre-Bedtime Routine

I've been going on a few days of my new morning routine now, and I am happy with it, but I have really been struggling to get up before the kids, so I've had to make changes accordingly each day.

I have come up with a pre-bedtime/evening routine which I will be trying to complete each evening once the kids have gone to sleep. We will see how this goes, and I will make changes if needed.

Here's a look at my new routine. I'm hoping it will help my mornings run a little smoother, and my days in general.


Run through the downstairs room and pick up anything that has been left out (shoes, clothes, scarves, toys) - 20 minutes tops

Make sure all laundry from the morning’s load has been put away

Clean up the kitchen - shine the sink, wipe down the countertops, lay out a clean dishcloth and start the dishwasher

Clear a “hot spot” for a timed 10 minutes, if there is one (any area with visible clutter)

Lay out clothes for tomorrow for children and self

Get into pajamas

Reflection time/Self time: Journaling, blog time, reading time, time with hubby

Read something spiritual before bed

Say evening prayers (apart from the ones that are said with the kids)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Food for Thought

As soon as I read this quote, I had to share it with you. It comes from the book, Children in the Church Today,by Sr. Magdalen.

"A mother at home, although she may be busy, is more free to pray than anyone at work outside the home. In general, a working mother must be earning away from home for really valid reasons and without her losing the feeling that her family is her first duty. Her salary must be a genuine necessity for the family. A change from home may be psychologically necessary in some cases, but this does not mean that a mother needs a full-time career. A mother's presence in the home has a positive influence on the spirit of the family; this is well expressed in the saying that "the mother at home is like the heart in its place." A mother's spiritual role in the family "organism" is more valuable than any financial assistance she can provide; and it is irreplaceable, especially in the modern nuclear family."

Monday, July 7, 2014

New routines...

For months now, I have been meaning to re-vamp my daily routines because they have not worked for me at all for probably a year now. Ever since my 3rd pregnancy exhaustion hit, plus having 2 toddlers in the house, I got away from housekeeping and I have had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. Now that my little one is almost 6 months old (this week!), I am hoping that I can get her to sleep through the night soon (she's almost there...I just need to gain the courage to sleep train her fully), I'm hoping I can start feeling a bit more rested each night (who am I kidding?!)...

Anyway, housework is a constant challenge for me because I simply have no time for it. That's not even an's the truth. I spend every second of my day either running after one of my kids (or two of them at a time), cooking, feeding or diapering. By the time my husband gets home from the office, it's the dinner marathon, followed by a little family time, followed by bedtime. I'm sure I lose time during the day every time I check my phone, for example, but that's the only time I really can think of that I "waste." These days I've really focused on trying to only look at my phone during nursing sessions so that my kids don't see me on my phone too often. It's hard, especially in this day and age when phones are "tools" in people's lives on a regular basis. 

The point is that I have decided to write down my routines (fix the ones I wrote 2 years ago, really), and keep them laminated in my housekeeping binder so that I can try to follow them and hopefully, waste less time this way, leaving some time for the house each day. If I can spend 15 minutes of time cleaning each day, I'll be happy. This does not include laundry time or dishes, which I have always tried to keep up with. 

Here's what my morning routine is, starting tomorrow morning. Side note: Swish & Swipe is a term used by FlyLady, which means literally swish the toilet once over (with a Clorox wipe, for example), and swipe the sink.

I'll update with other routines as I create them and start enforcing them in my life.


Wake up(before the kids) and thank God for a new day

Get up and make the bed

Check weight


Swish & Swipe in the bathroom upstairs

Get dressed to the shoes

Grab some laundry on the way downstairs

Make coffee

Do hair and make-up

Start the laundry

Sit down, sip coffee, and read something spiritual

Check the calendar/planner for today’s routines and activities

Empty the dishwasher

Prepare breakfast for the family

Take vitamins and give the kids vitamins and any medication necessary for that day

Check what’s for dinner and see if anything can be prepared in advance

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A prayer

This morning I felt at my wit's end way too quickly. Just in time, I picked up my copy of The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, glanced through it for the most appropriate prayer for me today, and read this beautiful prayer for a mother of little ones:

"O my God and King, help me to be a peace-bearer in my home. Tending to my little ones takes so much time; help me to focus and order my day in a way that is effective in training and loving them and, most importantly, honoring to You. Help me to use kind words and give loving encouragement. Give me the wisdom to direct these precious little ones to love You. During the trying days, remind me that the investment I make in their lives is worth each sacrifice. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Frugal living...

Yesterday, a friend and I met up at a kids' consignment shop to do some browsing for the little ones. My kids don't need much for the summer season because I got them all they needed already, but I did browse for a few things that we needed, and for next season as well (I like to shop mostly a season in advance).

I always go to these stores (there are a few around here) before I go out to a retail store. I find that most of the items in these shops are always chosen with taste, which leaves me the job of finding tasteful clothing for my kids..and on top of that, if you go to the right area (like a prestigious one), you can get quality name brand clothes for a fraction of the price. Now why would I shop at a real Hanna Andersson store, if I could find my kids Hanna outfits for less than $10, in great condition, at a second-hand store?? Check it out. I got my girls mostly Hanna Andersson clothing, and a dress from an Australian popular store, Pumpkin Patch. All of this (6 articles of clothing) for $27.

My point is, when you're living on a frugal budget (not because you necessarily want to, but rather because you have to), you can still dress your kids in nice, quality clothing if you make a little bit of an extra effort.

My other favorite way to shop is, as I already mentioned, a season ahead of time. What I do usually, is I'll go to stores like GAP, Gymboree, OshKosh B'Gosh (just b/c those are my favorites) and shop their clearance racks for out-of-season clothes, looking for the next size up for each of my kids. Every pair of my son's shorts for this summer were bought last winter for $6 or less a pair. The stores want to get rid of their off-season clothes badly by that point, so they mark them down to just about the lowest price you'll ever be able to get. Usually, you can use a coupon on top of these clearance prices, too! I'll never forget the time I scored my middle daughter a gorgeous Gymboree dress brand new for $2.95! That's even better than you'll find at a second-hand store!

One of the most popular second-hand kids' stores is called Once Upon A Child. They have these all over the country. Other than that, a popular branch out in the Midwest is Kid-to-Kid. You can always check Google for your local consignment shops, too, though.

I have to mention that I've gotten some great deals through the years on EBay, too. I decide if an item is a good deal with the shipping calculated into the cost, because sometimes shipping can really make or break a good deal. If it's equal to or less than what I'd pay for a similar item in a secondhand store, I buy it. If not, I leave it.

I love a good deal!!