Monday, September 1, 2014

the time has come!

Happy September all! 

Click over to my new blog for a warm welcome! See you there!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

gonna be some changes made

It was a little over a year ago when I changed my blog from “The Yellow Butterfly” to “All These Things.” Also, I had honed in on what I wanted to write about. I admitted I was a writer. One of my goals for this year was to learn more about blogging and writing in general. I have done that to some extent, although there is so, so much more to learn. However, slowly I have read things here and there and listened to podcasts that were helpful.

The more I thought about my writing, and my blog, I felt that something needed to change. With the blog title of “All These Things” referring to seeking the kingdom of God, I felt it odd to write about some things I felt compelled to write about. I felt as if I had to put a twist on each thing to make it spiritual. It is true I do try to honor God with all that I do and write, but the title just felt too serious for “My Favorite Salad Dressing Recipe” or things like that.

And so, after much thinking and discussion with my husband, I decided to make a new blog. Next week, I will reveal it to you! That is where I will be doing the majority of my blogging. The title is simple: my name. I know it’s all in my head, but it feels like coming home. There I can explore my writing style and work to find my “voice.” There are no “rules” (as made up as they are) about what to write. If I want to write it, it works, because the blog is named after me.

I have a vision for “All These Things” that needs some more praying, musing, and planning. Until then, it will be quiet. When the time comes, I’ll be sure to write about it on my main blog.

Come back here on September 1st and I’ll have a link to my new blog! I’m really excited to share it with you all, and so much more in the future!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


A sweet  quiet moment.

We returned home from the Vazquez family vacation last week and caught up on sleep over the weekend. I feel I am finally able to exhale and take a deep breath of fresh air. The last thing on our string of big summer events is over. I feel the time for normalcy to take over has come. (I sure hope so at least.) But the normalcy is not “life as it was.” It’s a new way of life.

I have really enjoyed being able to get back into our routines and I look forward to sticking to them. There's no big thing to plan and prepare for, then do or go to. And hopefully no surprises. I have a lot of little projects I have been tackling now that I have my time freed up.

Corn (given by friends) waiting to be blanched and frozen. Ahh, summer. :)

A few exciting things are happening in September.  For one, we’re getting the internet! I’m thrilled! It was nice for a while to be without, but it has become a hassle. I hope to use the internet in moderation and still make time for reading and other important things. Yet, with the internet at home, I won’t have to leave to do some shopping, blogging, or look something up.

Also in September I am starting school with Mia. Nothing too complicated. Some Circle Time (calendar, songs, memorization, reading, etc.) and then learning our phonics! I bought "Spell to Write and Read." We’ll just do a little every day, and maybe a little bit of fun math stuff here and there. I don’t see us spending more than an hour each day. And then there’s seasonal clothes shopping (which I love!) and celebrating our anniversary. 

Oh, and yes, I have a big project to reveal on September 1st! I will share what that is next week. Until then, take care friends.

The kids love the bikes they got for their birthdays!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

a short update

After waiting almost four weeks for my body to naturally miscarry, I took a small dose of medicine on July 20th to give it a nudge. My body kicked right in and it was fast and relatively easy, thank God.

We got to hold our baby and see that we had a little boy. We named him Elijah Matthew. It was only fitting to name him Elijah since it was his feast day. We buried him in our church's cemetery on the 22nd. God continues to hold us.

I plan to write and share much, much more, but that will come in time.

For now, I have a project that has been in the works since before all this happened. So stay tuned for details to come!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Some Bad News

What can I say, dear readers? The past couple weeks have been some of the hardest of my life.

We lost our baby.

I’m doing something different than the conventional medical way, and waiting for my body to finish the process. (It’s called expectant management.) Guess what. My body is a tortoise walking a marathon. It’s started the race, but it’s taking its own sweet time.

Please pray for us. And I will be back around eventually. Thank you!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Weekly Goals: June 22-28

Overall, progress was good this week. I was thrown off a bit by traveling Wednesday evening to Kentucky with my husband and his summer travel team. We're still here and will be until Sunday. (It's been fun!) Below is a review of how I did on the goals. And new goals follow that.

      Goals for June 15-21

1.       Read the Bible a little every day. - Some days it was very little, but I did read some every day. 

2.       Write in gratitude journal throughout the day. - I did really well until we left for our trip, and haven't since...

3.       Write something every day (journal, blog, or letter). - I think Thursday was the only day I didn't get some writing done. 

4.       Do some sort of exercise every day. - Did very well Mon-Wed. 

5.       Hang the laundry instead of using the dryer. - I did this once. That's something!

Goals for June 22-28

  1. Continue reading the Bible, writing in gratitude journal, and other writing every day.
  2. Do some sort of exercise every day. 
  3. Hang laundry instead of using the dryer.
  4. Hand wash dishes instead of using dishwasher. 
  5. Spend some intentional time with each child. 
It has been nice to get away and have a bit of a vacation, but I will be glad to be home and get back into the every day routines such as these. 

Care to share a goal you have?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Father's Day... a little late

{I had this scheduled for Sunday, but I guess I forgot to hit publish! So it's a few days late!!}

In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to introduce you to my man, the father of my children. A blogger friend profiled her husband (sometime last year??) and I thought it was a great idea. Here I am much, much later, following suit.
Will with our youngest nephew
My husband, William Jesus Vazquez, is my favorite person. I honestly think I could be with him, and just him, for days on end without getting sick of him. This is not because he is a perfect person, but because he is the perfect match for me. He charges my soul. I feel safe, secure, and loved with him around.

When he and I started courting, he was still much more a boy than a man. He has grown so much in the past (almost) seven years of marriage, but he still has some of that boy side and I love that. He loves baseball and history. He’s an avid reader.  He loves food and makes some awesome salsa.

He’s an amazing father. He plays with the kids, reads to them, and teaches them. He makes sure we read the lives of the saints each day and say our morning and evening prayers.

One thing I admire about him is his friendliness. He’s generally quiet, but not shy. He’ll go up to anyone and introduce himself. If we’re in his hometown, and sees someone he used to know, he always goes up to them and catches up. He’s really good with people. He’s also a really good teacher. He taught me how to drive a stick shift and I was really impressed with how clear he made it and how patient he was with me.

His strongest desire is to serve God and learn more about Him. I am so thankful he is the spiritual leader of our family. He inspires me to seek, to read, to pray. Directly after that comes us, his family, and that extends to our extended family – both his and mine.

I thank God every day for him, usually multiple times a day. I am in awe that God would bless me to be the wife of such an amazing man!

What do you love about your man?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Weekly Goals: June 15-21

Life has gotten a little sloppy around here. The past couple months have been on survival mode. Get through this event, plan for the next, get through it, etc.  Add to that my fatigue and the general requirements of raising two kids and maintaining a marriage and a home. Some things had to be let go. And that’s not a bad thing. It was a season, but now it’s time to move on. I’m still tired, but it is slowing fading, I feel. The schedule has relaxed tremendously so that is a huge relief. I am feeling more myself mentally and less foggy and overwhelmed.

With all that said, I wanted to share with you some weekly goals of mine to get back on track. It’s mostly little things. Things that used to be a normal part of my day. I’m mostly doing this for myself, but maybe you have some habits you want to pick back up or start? Maybe a project or two? Want to make a goal or two with me and we can work together?

June 15-21

1.       Read the Bible a little every day.

2.       Write in gratitude journal throughout the day.

3.       Write something every day (journal, blog, or letter).

4.       Do some sort of exercise every day.

5.       Hang the laundry instead of using the dryer.

Will you pray for me that I can be disciplined in these things (especially the first 4)? I’ll check back next week and let you know how I did and make new ones for the next week!

Now, tell us, what is something you want to work on this week? I’ll pray for you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Reflections

June 2013

This picture was taken around this time last year. The last child is my daughter and the grass she’s in is now our backyard. The land you see is the acreage behind our house. A lot has changed.

June 2013 - Our house is the one way back on the right (next to, but not part of, the white building).
We took a walk down to this house last year when my sister-in-laws were visiting. We had no idea we would move here in January. That the next year, they’d stay in it with us. Life can change so fast.

May 2014 - The garden

Yet, sometimes it feels so slow. Like this dream of living slower and being more self-sustainable. Well, those things take time to come around. Time and slow, but continual, change. Active change. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the dream alive. Hard when you realize all time and effort it takes to have the things that you want, like a garden. Hard when you realize that having a slower schedule sometimes means fighting against the system, or changing your own system.

June 2014 - Lots of growth!
Despite how I may feel, a lot of good change has happened this year so far. And mostly due to my husband. If I had been in charge of the garden, we wouldn’t have one. If I had to care for the chickens, I might have given them away. Yet, I am growing the baby – he’s doing the rest. So I guess I’m pulling my own weight. (And I still cook all the food.)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

3 things I learned about myself in Boston in the month of May

I'm linking up with Emily again for this one!
File:Public Garden, Boston.jpg
Image Source

I traveled to Boston (without my kids!) for my brother's graduation from seminary, and included a little site seeing. It was a great trip, but there was a rough time. I learned some important things about myself from it. Read on.

1.      I am an introvert. I never thought of myself as an introvert, or an extrovert for that matter. I just figured I was somewhere in the middle without a title. I really like being around people and I really like being at home. So I never really knew which one to apply.  I read Tsh’s small e-book 20 Things I’d tell my 20-Something Self on the plane to Boston. In it she talks about how she figured out that she’s an introvert: “Turns out being introverted simply means that your batteries are charged more from alone time than from time with people.” A light bulb went off in my head. “Oooohhhh!” Okay, I get it. I’m an introvert.

2.       What it means for me to be an introvert. I traveled to Boston with my sister who is, most definitely, an extrovert. And eleven. After two and half days of travel, site seeing, and socializing without any alone time (except sleep, which doesn’t count), I was drained. My batteries were beyond depleted. At this point in time, we switched from staying at my aunt’s familiar, quiet, lovely house to an unfamiliar, cluttered house where many people were staying, only I didn’t know where I was staying. The people with the answer were the only ones not there. It was nap time (remember, I’m preggo and therefore always tired). I was emotionally and physically zapped. It was not a good time. I’ll skip the soggy details. (Soggy because there were tears involved. Lots.)

3.       What I need as an introvert. Let’s just skip to the next day. I finally know where I’m staying, and it is nap time again. I lock myself in the room, take a nice long nap and then spend another hour on top of that doing interesting nothings on my phone. Afterwards, I feel so refreshed. I actually wanted to engage in conversations. And smile. The following day, I take two hours to come out of the room in the morning (unlike my sister who bolted out as soon as she heard another person’s footsteps). And again, I was ready to face the world. At least until nap time.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Humor Me?

This pregnancy has made quite and adjustment to my schedule. This adjustment may, or may not, have included complaining. The thing is, any adjustment is hard, especially one that comes so quickly. I was getting up at 5:00 each morning in order to have plenty of time to read, write, reflect… simply charge my soul for the day. I spent each nap time doing the same, as well as working on projects and doing school with my daughter. All of that is gone.

I am blessed to be able to get up about an hour before the kids (if one doesn’t wake up early) and at least say my prayers, get dressed, and gather myself. But that’s only if I go to bed on time, and that can be rare. Nap time is now my nap time and includes a sluggish hour or so afterwards (although a glass of kombucha does clear that right up!). And although I am getting all this rest, I still feel tired all day long.

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. I usually feel a little perky in the morning. And as my first trimester is coming up to a close here soon, I am feeling a little better here and there.
I don’t mean to complain. I have it great, really. Hardly any nausea or other symptoms. I’m just being honest. This fatigue has completely changed my life, and that’s an adjustment, and all adjustments take time to get used to. That’s all. And I’m getting there.

Sunday I was moaning (in my head) about the tiredness as a lay in bed after my nap, but unable to get up yet. And then I thought, “Hey, I’m making a baby here! I’m making art.” I realized that all this rest was not “doing nothing” but allowing for the miracle to take place in my womb. I thought about all the cells dividing and growing and how much happens in the first trimester – brain, other organs, skin, bones. That’s no little task. Just because I’m not mentally participating, does not mean that I’m not involved. God is doing the work, but I’m participating by allowing it to happen in a non-taxing way. I’m giving my body the rest and time it needs to do the work God has put forth. This new mindset has helped a lot.
Doesn’t mean I’m going to just lay around the rest of the pregnancy though. I means I’m going to listen to my body and give it what it needs. And that includes exercise. I had been toying with the idea of jogging again, but the timing never seemed right. Now it is. This week I’ve been doing a walk/jog for a whopping ten minutes a morning! It’s been hard, and it feels great. My love for running has been revived. Wait. Did I just say love? Yes, I did. I never admitted it last winter when I was running a lot then, but I do love running, and especially outside. Out here, I have plenty of space to run.
I say all this to simply express my thoughts on the current state of this pregnancy and my life. Thanks for humoring me. :)


Monday, May 26, 2014

Helps for Orthodox Mothers: Other media

This is the last post in this series. I don't have a lot, but what I have has been extremely helpful to me, so I wanted to pass it along!

Just a quick word on podcasts... They have become my new best friend. Since I don't have internet at home, I can't just browse blogs. And really I shouldn't be spending too much time doing that. But, I can download podcasts on my iPhone while I'm somewhere with internet, then listen to them at my leisure at home. Like, while doing dishes, laundry, cooking... So I'm really learning a lot, while getting my chores done too. :) A couple specifically applicable to motherhood and Orthodoxy are:

Raising Saints - Every. Single. One. I haven't listen to them all, but each one that I have has left me inspired and with tangible ideas to better teach my children the faith.

Readings from Under the Grapevine - This one is specifically for kids. The narrator reads (in her British accent) chapters of different books, one week at a time. Or she might speak about a certain feast. I haven't listened to these on a regular basis, but I want to start. We did listen to the whole Chronicles of Narnia with this podcast, so, it's not just for kids. :)

Gigi Shadid's albums for children are excellent! She has five: ”Fruits of the Spirit,” “Celebrate the Feasts,” “Middle School Math Music,” “The ABCs of Orthodoxy,” and "Fight the Good Fight." We have "Fruits of the Spirit" and I've listened to "Celebrate the Feasts." 

Anyone have any other great resources?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

In Which I Tell You a Bit of News

I have been trying to think of a creative way to say this, but I haven’t been able to. Probably because of what I’m going to say. And most of you already know anyway… I’m pregnant!

Let’s cut to the chase:

When am I due? Mid-December

How am I feeling? Amazingly well despite being tired all.the.time.

Where will I deliver? (A big question in this town because you can’t deliver at our local hospital.) At home! I just got signed up with a midwife and I’m very excited about it!

Are the kids excited? Yes. Well, my daughter anyway. The little guy doesn't get it yet. He will as it gets closer.

So there you go. And there’s my excuse if I’m not on here a lot. I have a lot I want to say, but not a lot of time or energy to type it up. Hopefully my energy level will increase (and my sleep need will decrease) over time, but I’m not getting my hopes up. But don’t worry. I won’t disappear forever. :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Helps for Orthodox Mothers: Books

I just have a few books to recommend when it comes to motherhood. The first two I have read a few times already and plan to read them every year. The last one it one I should read more often, and I hope to read it again this year.

This is not a book about motherhood, but about life. My friend Rachel gave this to me when my oldest was just 7 months old. It came at a pivotal time for me, during a time I was still adjusting to the whole motherhood thing. This book changed my life, and I know it did the same for many others.

This also came at an important time in my mothering life. My sister-in-law Lisa recommended it to my husband and me when our oldest was about 18 months, right when we started having discipline issues. For us, this book is right on. The concepts are common sense and grounded in love. The hard part is living them out! (That’s why I read it over and over!) You can actually read the whole book for free on their website here. The book it worth it’s cost though!

I’m sorry to say I have only read this once – while I was pregnant with my first. I can’t remember a lot from it, but I remember appreciating it. It is excerpts from his book The Path to Salvation.

And if you just want a pat on the back, Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s book In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms is a fun and quick read.

What is a book that was helpful to you?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Helps for Orthodox Mothers: Prayers

Below I have several prayers for mothers to pray for their children. I know it can be difficult to read lots of long prayers when you’re intending to relax by reading a blog or two. So, maybe just scan the titles and see if one catches your eye. Or maybe leave it up and read one here and there. The last prayer is for an expecting mother (I just did one out of three I have). So, that may or may not apply to you. If it does, and you want the other two, just let me know and I can send them your way somehow!

As my sister-in-law Lisa commented on the introduction post, praying for our children is the most important thing we can do. There are lots of ways to do that. These are a just few prayers the Orthodox Church has given us.

Lisa emailed this to me in a post somewhere around the time my daughter was born.

A Mother’s Prayer
O Lord Jesus Christ our God, who didst come into this world not to be ministered unto but t minister and to give Thy life as a ransom for many. Help me, I beseech Thee, in my ministry of caring for the children Thou hast given me. Enable me to be patient in tribulations, to instruct with a meek and gentle spirit, to reprimand with inner tranquility and a sober mind, and to serve in humility of heart with love. May I thus live in Thee alone and for Thee alone showing forth Thy virtues and leading my family upon the path of Thy saving commandments. That we may glorify Thee together with Thine unoriginiate Father and Thine all-holy and life-giving Spirit both in this world and that which is to come. Amen.

I read this in the book Children in the Church Today, loaned to me by Lisa.

O Lord God, only Thou knowest this Thy child, his/her heart, his/her needs, his/her future. Help me not to make a mistake in my dealing with her today.
(I pray this for each child individually and then pray about any current issues I am having with that child.)

I saw this on Molly Sabourin's blog.

Orthodox mother’s prayer for her children

Holy Father, Immortal, from whom all goodness and gentleness comes, penitently I pray Thee for the children whom Thou hast given me to bear. Keep them in Thy grace and holiness, that Thy name may be glorified in them. Direct me by Thy grace to raise them toward the glory of Thy holy name and the benefit of other people. Grant me the gift of the patience necessary to do so. O Lord, enlighten the mind of my children with Thy Wisdom to learn to love Thee in their souls and thoughts. Instill in their hearts the fear and abhorrence of every vice, that they may be able to go the right way without sin. Adorn their souls with purity, goodness, humility, diligence, patience, and every virtue. Guard their lips from all slander and lies. Bless my children, that they may progress in virtue and holiness, and grow under Thy care into honest people. May their guardian angels be with them and protect them in their youth from misleading thoughts, from the evil and sinful temptations of this world, and from the traps of all unclean spirits. And when my children sin before Thee, do not turn away Thy face from them, but according to Thy great mercy be merciful unto them, for Thou alone art the one who cleansesth people from all sin. Reward my children with worldly good things and everything they need for salvation. Keep them from wrath, anger, misfortune, evil, and suffering all the days of their lives. O good Lord, I pray Thee, grant me joy and happiness from my children. Keep me in righteousness and justice, that with Thy children I may stand before Thee in the day of Thy dreaded judgment, and that without fear I may say: Here I am, Lord, with the children whom Thou hast given me, that together with them I may praise Thy most holy name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages. Amen.

There is also the Akathist to the Mother of God, “Nurturer ofChildren” which is full of petitions to Christ and Mary to guide children on the right path. I try to pray this weekly during one morning before the kids get up.

And lastly, a prayer for expectant mothers:

O Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ our God, the source of life and immortality: I thank Thee for in my marriage Thou hast made me a recipient of Thy blessing and gift; for Thou, O Master, didst say: Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. I thank Thee and pray: Bless this fruit of my body that was given to me by Thee. Favor it and animate it by Thy Holy Spirit. Let it grow a healthy and pure body, with well-formed limbs. Sanctify his body, mind, heart and vitals, and grant this infant which is to be born an intelligent soul; establish him in the fear of Thee. A faithful angel, a guardian of soul and body do Thou vouchsafe him. Protect, keep strengthen and shelter the child in my womb until the hour of his birth. But conceal him not in his mother’s womb; for Thy hands fashioned him; Thou gavest him life and health. O Lord Jesus Christ, into Thine almighty and paternal hands do I entrust my child. Place him upon the hand of Thy grace, and through Thy Holy Spirit sanctify and renew him unto life everlasting that he may be a communicant of Thy heavenly kingdom. Amen. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Helps for Orthodox Mothers

Things were a bit rough when my first child was born. I constantly stressed about everything. My mother gave me the best advice: “she only needs food and love.” That became my mantra, and it got me through those very difficult first few weeks.

I love being a mommy, but motherhood is hard! No way around it; it just is. I’m thankful that along the way I have gotten great advice from family, friends, and outside sources.

With Mother’s Day being in the month of May, I want to use this month to share some tools that I have found very helpful. Each Monday I’ll share something from books to prayers. My hope is that you’ll find them useful too as we walk through the delightful, yet demanding trenches of motherhood.

What’s the best mothering advice you have received? 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Growing Pains: spring thoughts

I should have known when we decided to move here, it would mean that this year would be hard. For me, most of my growth has been to accept slowing down, yet maintaining peace when things are busy. And also to have patience when projects take more time than I want them to. Those are some things I probably would have gone through no matter where we were. And they will probably be lifelong things anyway. 

For my husband, he’s had to be even more of a leader since we have taken on more projects. He’s also had to learn to be handy. All while working more than full-time, as in 12 hour days, 7 days a week, and sometimes traveling on the weekends. All of this has been an adjustment for sure, involving some growing pains here and there.

So, what projects might you ask?
  1.   Wood stove. We have a wood stove, which is amazing, but it takes lots and lots of wood, of course! So my husband has had to add wood collecting and cutting to his list of things to do. But he got to buy a chainsaw and ax out of it, which I think he’s pretty happy about. Still working on finding a truck! We don’t need wood now since it’s warm, but he’s still making it a weekly habit of collecting so we’ll be well stocked come winter.
  2. Maple syrup.  We teamed up with my parents to tap some maple trees on their property. It was our job to empty the sap into buckets. My dad would simmer it in a huge pot on a hot plate outside for a long time. When it was getting close, he’d bring it inside, we’d split it, and then we each boiled it down all the way to syrup. Ahh, I loved the smell of it boiling down. And you know what? We got over a gallon of maple syrup! It won’t last us all year, but it’ll get us through most of it.
  3. Chickens. At first we were taking turns feeding the chickens at my parents’. One weekend my dad and my husband moved an old coop to our place. Fencing was on the way. As the weather got nicer, more chickens escaped their home at my parents’. My mom asked if we could move them early and just keep them in the coop until the fence came. April 2nd, they moved in! It was work initially for my husband, getting everything set up, but now I do most of the care, egg collecting, and storing. My parents pretty much gave us a small business. We’re selling eggs to friends and church members. My main hope is to break even (and have eggs for us, which is a profit in its own way), but if we make a little extra, that would be helpful. So, yeah, we have chickens!! Didn’t think that would happen for another year or two, but it practically happened overnight!
  4.  Garden. My husband has done all the planning for the garden, outside of my ideas for what to plant. I know this was work for him because he’s never gardened. Our yard is thick with years of grass that had not been mowed. He worked a few mornings shoveling out a border around the area we choose. God blessed him with neighbor driving by on a Bobcat. My husband promptly flagged him down and asked him what he could pay him to plow that plot. Fifty bucks and it was done. It was well worth it! It has taken trials to get the lot tilled, but it is finally tilled (thanks to a friend and my father) and we have some spring things planted!

It’s been really neat to see this land come alive in the spring. Who knew we had flowering trees in the front? I think we’ll have irises and maybe another bulb flower. There is a rose bush trying to revive. And this lovely plant below.

There have been many ups and downs with this move. There still are. But the vision is coming together. Our hard work is paying off. This is the exciting time. This is what all of our day dreaming and planning has been for. It’s such a blessing to see a little fruit from our efforts. I pray God continues to guide and bless us along this new journey of ours. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

What Were We Thinking?

It was the summer of 2011 when I first started seeing glimpses of this homestead dream of ours. I was reading Real Food by NinaPlank. In it she described the family cow and how pigs and chickens can root, fertilize and basically prepare your land for gardening. She described the cycle of food and animals – the cycle of a farm. That was the spark. 

Of course, my extended family was already moving in that direction. My brother had started a CSA on my parents’ land. Two of my sister-in-laws and I had “Nourishing Traditions” and were doing what we could. We all wanted to be eating real, traditional foods. And I began wanting to grow it.

Two and half years later, we are able to make steps toward this dream. It’ exhilarating. And daunting. And overwhelming. I have had many moments when I have thought, “What were we thinking?” Like when I smelled a stench in a particular part of the kitchen after we moved in. (It’s gone now thankfully!) Or when we would spend $200 in just half an hour getting things for the house and land. Just to mention a few. There have been challenges and I sense they are just the beginning. What were we thinking? What are we thinking?!?

I would ask myself this. Yet then, I’d see a glorious sunset. I’d catch the bright stars and stare out at the open field. While spring delayed, the sunsets and stars served as reminders to why we moved. Now that spring is here and we have walked and worked the land, I have even more reminders. Our plans are unfolding. And grateful and hopeful anticipation is rolling in. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

In Which I Tell You My iPhone Thoughts

I’ve had my iPhone almost two months now and since I can still remember life before it, I thought it would be a good idea to write about it… before I forgot.

The iPhone has, indeed, made life easier. But, alas, it has not solved all my problems. But, it has cut me down from four devices (phone, iPod, camera, and tablet) to one. That is very nice. Now my calendar, planner, music, timer, phone, and camera are all on one thing. And I have email. So if you count my husband’s phone that I was using to do email, that’s a total of five down to one. I like that! Or six to two if you count that I did, and still do, use the computer some. Oh, and I still use the tablet here and there, but not daily like I was. So six to three? I digress.

Getting the iPhone was not the most pleasant experience. I was nervous going in because we weren’t sure what we were going to get yet. When we parked outside the store, I saw a mini-van with a Christian fish on it. “Ah, a family man!” I thought. “Good.” Wrong.

Now, the guy was alright. It could have been worse. He was just very different from us. Of course, we are very different than most people, except all the people we hang out with, so it’s easy to forget that fact. Anyway, what do I mean by different? As soon as we told him we were looking into upgrading our phones, and I showed him my non-smart phone he said, “Welcome to the 21st century.” I just laughed but I wanted to say, “No thank you buddy. I’d rather not.” He went on to tell us all about storage and speed and data restrictions. There was a difference in storage between two phones and as he explained it I thought, “I don’t care about storage. I’ll store what I have room for, not ask for more storage. I’ll limit myself to what I have. Not demand more.”

As I shared these thoughts with my husband while we tried to decide on whether to pay some for an iPhone or get free phones we didn’t really like, he said, “So does that mean we shouldn’t get the iPhones? We should limit ourselves to the free ones?” Um, no!

What I actually said was, “I wasn’t thinking of it like that, but maybe.” Yet, when it boiled down, we really felt like we should get the better phones (iPhones) and the ones we knew we liked. And since we did, we haven’t debated about it at all. No confusion or regret, just simplification of our lives.

I don’t know what they’ll come out with next. Frankly, I hope it stops. But then again, I never thought I’d own an iPhone.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cathing Up & Checking In

Well, hello friends! How are you? It’s been a while, but it’s been good. And it’s good to be back too. I just wanted to take a post to check in a bit, catch you up a little, and share some housekeeping notes.

Even though I wasn’t posting, I was writing a lot. I was also reading a lot, and I read a little about writing too. I have a lot of thoughts to share with you, but I just want to warn (?), er, point out, that I’m toying with my writing. Some posts may seem familiarly contemplative; some might be funny (or rather, a stab at being funny). I feel I am growing as a writer and this is my space to try things out. Consider me a pre-teen writer trying to find my style… something might click, or something might be hideous. Allow me some patience and grace (and kind feedback too?), pretty please? Thanks.

Spring is finally here, thank God! There’s so much to share with you about what’s going on at this new homestead of ours, including a couple surprises! I guess I really can’t say more or I’ll be giving everything away! I’ll just have to keep you in suspense. But don’t worry, the posts will be coming faster than every six weeks. In fact, I hope you don’t get sick of hearing from me! I’ve got a lot coming!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Strength of the Church

The church was unusually full from the men’s retreat earlier that day. The singing filled the nave. It was glorious. There was one song in particular that was just amazing, and it brought tears to my eyes and a joy in my heart. I didn’t want it to end. “This must be a taste of heaven.” I thought.

The next day at Liturgy was much different. It was back to the usual thing - managing kids constantly. I didn’t even have time to let my mind wander, which is my usual struggle if I’m not juggling little ones. I had barely a moment to enter into the prayer, to even contemplate the sacredness of what was happening. But I did have one, reassuring, simple, yet deep, thought: even if I cannot realize the deepness, holiness, and truth of the church, it is still so. Even if I can’t engage in the prayers and hymns, they are still prayed and sung - even by angels. Even if I can’t grasp the miracle of Jesus, He still is. The Orthodox Faith is not dependent on me, my mood, or my ability to realize it.

The Church is not dependent on my whims and emotions. She is still what she is no matter my ability to appreciate it. She is bigger than me. I make her a part of my life and I am a part of her. And if I am busy taking care of my kids, or tired, or just anything, then I can rest in her strength knowing she will carry on - and carry me with her.

I hope you all had a blessed Pascha! Enjoy your Bright Week!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

thoughts on the day before Lent

I struggled with what felt like a million various things all through the service this morning. Things I couldn't even change but tried to find solutions to, judging thoughts, ungratefulness, despair. The same feelings I've been having a lot lately, just different things.

Finally it occurred to me to be grateful for these struggles, instead of wishing them away. It means I'm fighting. It means God trusts me with them, to eventually turn to Him. And as we began Forgiveness Vespers, I started to see clearer the sin in my life and the ways I fail. Yet, instead of the fists of my mind beating up my heart like usual, I felt a sense of peace... and freedom.

Yes, I sin. But it's okay. Not because it's okay to sin, but because it's not fully up to me to fix things. Yes, I have to make the first move, but it's toward God. And after that, He can work through me to help me grow, to take away my anxiety, and to "fix" the "problems" in my life by changing my perspective and my heart. I have freedom in Him.

It's like having a heavy suitcase that I'm lugging around and wishing I could lighten or that I could just be stronger or, or, or. And then comes along a strong man (think, Jesus!) and he takes it from me and carries it. Now all I have to do is follow. I am light. The responsibility of carrying the heavy load is gone.

I wish I could explain this better, and if it doesn't make sense to you, don't try. My words are failing me because I don't have to the time so sort it out better right now. I just wanted to try. And I'm sure I'll forget this tomorrow morning and each day after, but I am going to try to keep it tucked in my heart ... I am sure going to try.

Due to the distraction of trying to find time to post, I am going to take Lent off. It will be weight off for a bit. Once the weather is nicer (and we have a second car, God willing!), it will be easier to get to places with internet. Until then, I'm going to focus elsewhere.

Please forgive me a sinner! And I pray you all have a fruitful, blessed Lent! Pray for me!

With my love,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

all these things :: february 27

heart & soul :: I wrote in my last post how I was in desperate need of a clear schedule. I got what I wanted from Monday-Wednesday, but by yesterday, I was about to go crazy. Not because I wanted to get out, but because we were all grouchy due to interrupted sleep for all of us because of Michael’s cold. It’s really hard for me to be joyful and patient when I’m tired. I have been allowing myself to sleep until 7, but it’s getting harder for me to accept having less time to myself and work on some things. I’m really struggling with being okay with not making progress on my goals.
mothering :: Overall, things are going okay, really. It’s just when I feel depleted most of the time, I’m not the mother I should be. We have started doing Morning Time again, and I’ve been doing “school” with Mia again too. We were working on writing numbers, but when accidentally said “letters” she got really excited, so we did that instead. She’s doing well.
home & kitchen :: We got some curtains and a few pictures hung up on Valentine’s Day, but not much else has happened. I have a plan to do more organizing in the extra room and set out all my decorations so I can start thinking about what would look good where.  What little decorating I had done, I redid yesterday. I realized I was doing what I had done in the past (which I never really liked the results). I was putting stuff somewhere because it needed to go somewhere, not because it is what I need to make that space the way I want it. I really want to take my time. Yes, I’ll try to use what I have, but I’m not going to use something just because I have it.
growth :: I’m sure I’m learning and growing during this hard time, but it feels more like being stuck. I am reading a lot, but most of it is more entertaining, although it’s edifying also. ~ I am at least thinking about the garden, and we have a list of what we’d like to grow. I still need to make plan. I’ve been reading through The Self-Sustainable Life and How to Live It some and learning some things. Taking care of my parents’ chickens is helping me form an idea of how I want to raise chickens. We are hoping to bring the chickens to our place this spring, but we have to sit down and really calculate the cost. I sure hope we can make it work!
Looking forward to … SPRING!!! Whenever it gets here. Although, that means my husband will be working 7 days a week, 10 hour days most days, and gone on some weekends. Actually, he already has that schedule. He was gone last weekend. It’s really not that much harder doing all the childcare, and I do enjoy a little extra space here and there, but mostly I miss him and it makes me sad to have him gone so much. Also, right now with only one car, if I don’t take him in, then I am stuck until 7 or 7:30, no matter what kind of day we have… But we are working on that.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"state of the heart" post

My favorite view from the house. I can see my parents' house, and my favorite patch of trees (the sycamores).

Before we moved into the blue house, I envisioned life here as peaceful, slow, and collected. In knew I couldn’t be distracted by the Internet and so, all my jobs would be completed in a timely manner and I’d spend all my free time by the fire with my husband, doing crafts or projects, or reading a book. I’d go to bed at a decent time after a good day’s work.
Part of the time, life has been like this. But somehow the social calendar racked up, interfering with evening tasks and my bedtime routine. And all my free moments, while the kids are sleeping, are spent reading in order to zone out or sleeping. I am simply tired.
I wish I was the type of person who can host a few times a week, who can always have a hopping schedule. In my mind, this person has it SO together that she can do all these social things and have a clean home, well-fed family, and everyone well rested too. That there are people like that is probably a lie - or at least very rare. Regardless, I am not that person, as much as I wish I was. I need routine, time, space, and consistency like I need food and water. If I go too long without them I feel parched and weak.
Friends, that is where I am right now. The thought of staying at home and going nowhere, except church, for a month sounds really good right now. It’s not that I don’t love other people or want to see them, but that it drains me right now. I’ve been drained each day for two weeks straight. I need replenished.
It’s pretty unrealistic to hope to stay home so much, but I am going to be guarding our schedule. I just have to. Hopefully once spring is in full swing, I will be too.
With Lent right around the corner, I intend to be more vigilant with sticking to routine, keeping the schedule slow, and taking care of myself physically and spiritually.

How are you all doing? Are you going to slow things down for Lent?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Blue House :: Weeks 2 & 3

The Blue House :: Week 2 and 3

Sometimes the hardest thing is just doing the work that needs to be done. Other times, it’s just staring at it. That is what this past week has consisted of for me. I had to resign myself to just sitting on the couch, holding my son while he rested or reading to my daughter. Friends, we were sick.

I know it could have been much worse. There was no throw-up and by the grace of God, the dishes and food always got put away eventually. The laundry was folded and put away, with more hung in the evening. The daily messes of life were attended to. That’s pretty good when you have two sick kids and are recovering yourself.

Yet each evening and morning, I’d hope the day would be different. I’d hope the kids would just play and I could just work. But each morning, until Friday, it was the same. We sat around or watched movies, and in snippets I would barely get the daily basics done.

I knew I should remember that dirt will wait and to be thankful for what I could get done. And I did. And I was. At times. But you know these times are… a constant struggle.

And here I am today, the first day I don’t feel like I need a nap during quiet time. I’m hopeful for this week. Last week was full of spiritual work (how fruitful, I don’t know). I hope this week can be full of physical, concrete work. Yet, more so, I hope I can accept whatever kinds of week it is.

Here are some quick lists of what did get accomplished the past two weeks, and what I hope to do this week.

Week 2:

-          sunroom unpacked

-          new daily and weekly rhythms planned

-          new cleaning plan

-          Morning Time and school plans made

-          unpacked my clothes into a dresser from my parents

-          cabinets cleaned

-          some of the floor deep cleaned

-          laundry room shelves and hooks put up (by hubby)

Week 3:

-          kids’ toys organized into 3 rotations

-          kids’ big clothes organized and repacked

-          fan cleaned

-          curtain rods bought

This coming week:

-          finish cleaning the floor

-          clean walls

-          stain boards for entry way

-          paint curtain rods

-          make a plan for icon corner shelves

-          have friends over

-          start feeding the chickens at my parents (!!!)

Here are the pictures:

In case you forgot what it was like before...

And I realize now that my pictures of the sunroom and laundry room are still on my computer at home! Sigh. Well, another time!