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!
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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.