Saturday, December 26, 2015

This week...

This past week was full of excitement in our house!

Last Saturday, the kids rose on St. Nicholas Day to find that he had paid them a visit the previous night.

The same day, my parents and sister arrived for a short (but very sweet visit!) They came to celebrate our son's birthday with us, and we had the nicest visit together! My dad made a huge gift for me that means so much. He re-copied a lot of the home videos taken when we were little onto DVD. My mom handed me the wrapped gift and said "happy birthday!" I looked at her and said "enough already! You already spoiled me for my birthday!" And she responded that I might not want to reject this particular gift. When I opened it I was so excited! As soon as the kids went to sleep that night, we had tea and watched a good portion of the DVD. My dad says more are on their way. :-)
The rest of our time together was spent mostly out of the house. We had a family and very close friends gathering last Sunday to celebrate our 5-year old the day before his birthday. It was the perfect afternoon for him! On Monday we showed my parents around our favorite parts of this area and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Then, on Tuesday we celebrated the birthday boy again with a relaxing morning at home, lunch and cake, and then some Christmas fun in the city (followed by a yummy Greek dinner!)

On Wednesday, we said goodbye to my family early in the morning, and later in the day, headed into the city again - this time to the Museum of Science & Industry, to see the Christmas Around the World exhibit. The main reason for our visit though, was to watch our parish "tambura" (Serbian Orchestra) group perform at the museum! They are really an amazing group and they are all young students, which makes it even more exciting.

The Russian tree at Christmas Around the World. It was full of matryoshkas just as I hoped it would be, as well as beautiful ornaments with churches on them

It was sad to say goodbye to family, as usual, but we have so much to look forward to these days! In preparation for baby's arrival, I washed newborn baby clothing this week. There is no smell more nostalgic to me than the smell of Dreft baby detergent. I smiled as I folded each piece of clothing. The detergent holds so many memories, but each article of clothing does as well. I haven't used our baby boy clothes in 5 years now, and I still remember at least one memory per each article of clothing that I have washed!

Lastly...I have been knitting away like crazy. I have two projects on my needles (which is a huge deal for me!) I am knitting a cowl for a Christmas gift (one of several), and at the same time, a black scarf for my husband. I am having so much fun with both projects, and I am loving knitting more and more each day! I keep looking through my Pinterest Knitting board and planning out what project I will attempt next. :-)

The scarf for my hubby coming is moving faster than I expected!

Happy Sunday to everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Preparing for St. Nicholas Day...

Today is the eve of the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia. We are so excited about this feast day in our family because not only do we love St. Nicholas, but it is also the day my husband was ordained to deacon. It is also his namesday.

Growing up we did not have a particular St. Nicholas day tradition in our home, (aside from going to church of course), but when I married my husband and we had a baby, he insisted we begin putting our shoes out for St. Nicholas each year. I have grown to love this tradition so much, and today the kids share in the excitement.

I would have loved to bake some nice St. Nicholas cookies to leave out for St. Nicholas tonight, but I am 33 weeks pregnant, and it is hard for me to do much of anything ambitious these days. And so, I am keeping things simple this year.

The first thing we have done today to prepare for this feast day is to watch a short video in Russian about the saint, made just for kids. (If you are interested, the link can be found here).

And then, I printed out a coloring icon page from an OCA website which I have come to find very handy! My son loves coloring and drawing, so he is the only one I give this to. My girls do a lot more scribbling, which I don't prefer for an icon page.

I ordered this book on Amazon a few weeks ago and have been looking through the beautiful illustrations. I am not sure if my kids are old enough to sit through the entire book yet, but I will definitely look through it with them tonight before bedtime. In addition to our shoes, we will leave out the St. Nicholas icon we have. I am so excited!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Celebrating St. Katherine's Day

Yesterday was St. Katherine's feast day (Ekaterina, in Greek and Russian). It was my Namesday, and it was a really lovely day. We started the day by getting up early and driving to the Russian church for liturgy as a family. We got caught up in some traffic on the way, but we made it for the end of the Gospel. It was a huge treat for me not only to be at a Russian-style liturgy (home for me), and have Communion on my namesday, but also that my husband stood with the kids and I for the service. A clergy wife's dream is an extra set of hands in church, and that is just what I got! After liturgy, we had coffee and some breakfast treats, and then walked around an upscale mall in the area for a few hours and let the kids get their jitters out. We visited the Lego store, and they got to play there as well. (So did my husband. :-))

Once we got home, my husband declared he'd be making dinner, and one grocery store trip and a few hours later, we sat down to a delicious meal of baked salmon, bruschetta, and rice pilaf. He even made homemade lemonade from scratch, which is a really big favorite of mine! The best part of my husband being in the kitchen instead of me was that he cleaned out my overly messy pantry (which I have been procrastinating doing because I have no idea how to organize it!). It was such a nice day. The best part was that while my husband made dinner and then cleaned up from dinner, I got to sit on the couch with my feet up and knit by the Christmas tree. A special treat in so many ways!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Winter Book Haul

A few days ago, I took a trip to the library without the kids to pick up some books about winter. I love our homeschool curriculum so far, but it does not include any seasonal books or activities since people choose to run their school years at different times of the year, and the holidays would not align properly for some. I searched around on Pinterest for a long time for the top winter and Christmas books, and I selected 10 for right now to begin with. I am adding in a book a day to the end of our school mornings, and the kids and I have really been enjoying this so far. For some books, there are fun activities that can be done, too, if you look on Pinterest or anywhere online, but I do not stress myself out too much about doing anything much other than reading the book. Some days the crafty mood strikes, and other days it does not. :)

Here is a list of the books I checked out so far. I'll let you know if any of them become favorites! (You can see any of these books on Amazon).

The Snow Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
The First Day of Winter, by E. Fleming
Snowballs, by Lois Ehlert
No Two Alike, by E. Baker
Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy
The Mitten: A Ukrainian Folktale, by Jan Brett
Bear Snores On, by E. Wilson
Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow, by E. Soman
Red Sled, by E. Judge
Katy and the Big Snow, by E. Burton 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Prayer to Share

This morning as I scrolled through the saints of the day, I clicked on "St. Philaret, Metroplitan of Moscow" to read about his life. At the end of his life story, I was struck by the beautiful prayer of St. Philaret, a prayer that he would read throughout his life. I hope to add it in to my daily prayer routine, and am sharing it for those who may wish to, as well. I usually read the prayer of the Optina Elders, which is very similar to this one and equally beautiful, and today I learned that this prayer was the original one and was read by the Optina Elders, too. This is why it has been called the prayer of the Optina Elders in some prayer books.

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforseen events let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of this coming day with all that it will bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me. Amen.