Monday, April 25, 2016

Palm Sunday 2016

We are loving our new new parish. But, I have to admit I've been missing our old parish. With Holy Week approaching I was feeling a bit nostalgic and at the same time wondering how things would be different this year. 

I'm not a huge fan of change and I have so many fond memories of Holy Week in our previous parish. ...and I don't really like the unknown. What will it be like this year?

We had our Palm Sunday this week and it was lovely! The parish was beautifully decorated! Beautifully!! It reminds me to enjoy change. 

Moses carried a palm with his candle as altar boy. 

Of course everyone held palms. And yes I did get my face and eye poked about a zillion times with those palms my kids held. And yes, the kids did whack each other with the palms and pretend they were swords.

 But, in the sermon our priest talked about how when Jesus came riding in on a donkey that it was the children who recognized him as the Son of God. The children were the ones who laid palms in his path and declared, "Hosanna"! I was so struck by this. The children, because of their purity of heart knew that they were in the presence of God. Amazing. It was a beautiful reminder to look at the world through a child's eyes. 

One of my FAVORITE things about our new parish is this right here...the pic below. When it's time for communion the children all line up first. They stand ready for communion for maybe about five minutes before the priest is ready. That is a long time for kids....and they do an amazing job. The older children guide or help the younger ones. It is so precious! 

On Palm Sunday the Orthodox process around the church with our palms. Our parish is in a tiny, tiny, tiny little tiny building so the procession was.....tiny. It was a hoot. We went out the door and around a parking median and then back into the church. Good thing since it was a very rainy day! 

After the liturgy everyone went over to the priest's home for a salmon BBQ. It was very fun...even with the rain. The kids of course didn't care about rain. 

So we are now heading into Holy Week...and a whole new experience. I'm looking forward to it. New  and different can be wonderful. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring Break 2016

We had great weather for our Spring Break. We did another stay-cation this year. We planned fun day trips and activities. At the end of the week I was exhausted! We had a lot of fun!

Early in the week we took the kids to see Zootopia. I liked it! Really good!

Our favorite day of the week was spent taking a ferry ride and exploring our favorite island. And the weather was great!

We took in the beach while waiting for our favorite pizza place to open for lunch. The kids found lots of crabs and other sea life to look at. There was a huge eagle sitting on the beach too. Really fun to see. 

Then lunch. So yummy!

Next up we visited a huge and beautiful public garden. There were trails to walk along and take in all the blooms.

There were also trails into the woods. It was a nice mini hike.

After our hike we piled back into the van and headed off in search of ice cream cones. We found the most amazing little place in the next town. Oh those ice cream cones were good. We walked along a pair and enjoyed the views. No photos since I was licking ice cream. 

Then we made a stop at a little farm. We visited last year and we were eager to go again. There is a little hike to the top of the hill and the views are gorgeous. 

After our farm visit we weren't sure where to visit next. Cam headed down a road we had never been on just to see where it would end up. Well that was the perfect thing to do. We discovered a beach we had never been to and we loved it!!

The kids and dogs ran all over the beach and driftwood.

Tuba had some fun throwing rocks into the water. 

Along the bluff above the beach is a trail. We hiked up to the top and along the trail. The view was amazing!

I love this photo. It can be hard to get all five of them to sit still, look at the camera and smile. Perfection!

We got home close to bedtime....happy and tired. It was a really fun day!

The next day we went on a picnic bike ride. We packed up and headed for the trail. We rode 16 miles...and it was hot and sunny out. We were beat. Okay, I was beat. The littlest kids were tired and the bigger kids were fine and Cam was just getting warmed up. And don't forget he is pulling Tuba in a trailer. The man is a machine. Did I say how tired I was?! Seriously.

We took the kids to the beach the next day. We packed lots of stuff and arrived at the beach to find out it was colder than we expected. And windy. And we were under dressed. Cam and I piled all the beach towels on us as blankets. The kids played and swam. Crazy!! Plus, then we had to give them the beach towels to dry off with. Brrrrrr. I was happy to go home. 

The rest of the break we spent working in the yard, doing laundry and getting ready to go back to school/work. This pic of Kali is just about how I felt at the end of the week. 

Needless to say I was happy to have a quiet and EMPTY house on Monday morning. I love my family and we know how to have fun. And then, I like a little solitude to balance it out. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bonding Moment

I don't think I ever wrote about our family's audiobook bonding moment from last summer. We listened to Where The Red Fern Grows on audiobook. We started the book on our way to our annual summer vacation at the ocean.

I knew the book had a sad ending but I had never read it. None of my kids had ever read it either. Plus, we are a dog loving family so we were all excited to hear it.

The story was very good. It was fascinating to hear about a time and place unfamiliar to us. We had just gotten a new puppy and our kids were in love with him just like the boy in the book.

On the way home from vacation we were at the end of the story and were all listening intently. When the dogs died I was a mess. I wasn't simply shedding a tear...I was sobbing. I was bawling and blowing my nose kind of cry. I wondered if everyone else was as moved as I was. I tentatively looked over at Cam who was driving. He had a long tear streak rolling down his face. Then I turned my head to peer into the back seats of the van. Mr. P and Moses had red rimmed eyes, red noses and tears rolling. George was sobbing silently. Tuba looked sad as he could sense the tension and mood around him.

All of this only made me cry harder. It was a real family boo-hoo session.

About 10 minutes after the story ended we were all talking about the book and Sis pipes up with, "What?! The dogs died??". Oh my, in true Sis fashion she was in her own world and missed the most important part of the book. She missed our tear shedding scene. She gave us all a good laugh after our good cry.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Weekend Warmup

We just spent the weekend at Mr. P's basketball tournament. Really fun to see his team play again!! The games were a 40 min. drive and there were games Friday, Saturday and Sunday....5 games in all. The kids were troopers about it. Cam had to work the first two days so I was on my own. Just me, the tribe (including both dogs) and my big white bus. Oh, and my bag-o-tricks. 

It's easier in many ways to travel with the kids now that they are big kids. But, there are also harder the amount of food and snacks to bring....and water....and entertainment. And keeping kids from bickering. Ugh. And, nobody sleeps in the car anymore. Ever. Bummer. 

To prepare for the trip I downloaded some new audiobooks on my phone. We love to listen to books on long drives. It keeps the van quiet and keeps the peace. This trip we listened to Flora and Ulysses...a very funny book about a Super Hero Squirrel and a girl named Flora. I plug my phone into the van's audio system so everyone can hear the book. It's really fun. 

We also packed soccer balls, a football and George brought a book. As a side note he is reading Shiloh. It's a 4th grade reading level. Wow! He is a reading machine. I wondered if it would be too hard for him to read. Nope, he is reading and comprehending it well. It's a sad book in the beginning and he was very moved by the story. 

I packed a ton of snacks. Trail mix, fruit, crackers, and huge bottles of water for each person. And most important of all treats for the ride home. An incentive (bribe) to keep everyone behaving kindly all day long. Don't works for me. Oreos have magical powers. 

Saturday and Sunday there were games in the morning and then again later in the afternoon. We went to lunch and then played on the grass enjoying the sun.

On Sunday we were thrilled to have Cam with us. The tournament was fun...I've missed watching basketball this last month. I've missed the basketball family of kids and parents! Tuba had a blast! He loves whooping it up and cheering. He actually cheers for both teams. Anytime the crowd gets loud he follows along. 

And everyone was excited to get home. They ran around and played with the hose and water guns. It was a balmy 70 degrees which to kids means it's blisteringly hot outside. 

Following up on a fun and busy weekend....we are on Spring break this week. We are going to be taking day trips and enjoying the outdoors and places close to home. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Kairos in Spring

Spring is in full swing. It's beautiful! It's a full on Kairos opportunity.

I enjoy and appreciate the beauty of Spring a little bit more each year. I notice more each year older I get.

I love hearing the birds chirping. I can hear them before the sun is even up. When I take the dogs out to potty in the morning I like to stand still in the yard and listen to all the chatter of birds. I have several bird feeders up and I get so excited to see the birds at them. I can't wait to see my first yellow finch of the year! I've also noticed crows flying with twigs in their beaks. They are shoring up their nests for Spring time chicks.

This year the frogs have been very loud. I adore them! There are places in the neighborhood where the congregate and as I walk past I like to stand and listen. It's funny though if I get too close they all stop. Once I move on they begin the croaking again.

I enjoy looking at the trees and bushes and flowers sending out new buds and blooming. Everything bloomed early this year so we have had a lot to enjoy.

Kids are playing outside more, especially since it's light out until almost bedtime. It's nice to sit on my deck and watch my kids run and play. I also like to hear the sounds of other kids in yards up and down the street out playing. I don't have toddlers any more so appreciate the neighbor kids who are. Even when they are pitching a fit in true toddler fashion I enjoy it. Is that evil of me?! Hey, I've experienced plenty of those moments and am far enough away from them that I do think it's funny again.

The dogs are happy to find sunshine to curl up in...even if it's on top of the picnic table. Sheesh Rocket! I don't know how I'll break that bad habit. He also stands up on it so he can look in the window and say, "HEY, ya gonna let me inside now?!". Stinker!

The kids are growing by leaps and bounds. Spring is the season of high water pants. I think everyone needs new pants but I always just wait it out until summer when they give up pants for shorts. Even their pj pants are all looking like capri length pants.

Deck time has begun. It's been warm enough to sit out on the sofa and soak up some sun. Soon the rest of the furniture will come out. It's on of my favorite places.

So many warmer weather things to look forward to...and so much to enjoy right now.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lenten Motivation

I came across this great Lenten project for us to use. You can find it HERE on Etsy. It's called Lady Lent and each day of Lent has an item on the calendar...a sort of Lenten To Do list.

This is what it looks like. This is last year's version...but you get the idea. We purchased the file and then printed it out. I hung it on the refrigerator so we can all see it.

So far the kids are excited each day to see what the calendar offers. Some of the day's activities so far have included, clean your icons (on Sunday of Orthodoxy, pray for the departed, attend 3 services this week, and memorize a specific prayer. 

I was amazed when we sat down to gather a list of departed. The kids were able to come up with lots of people...some they knew well and some they've never met but heard about. Some are family and some are friends. Cam and I each added some names too. 

Orthodox Christians pray for the departed. HERE is a good explanation of why.

It was fun on the day we cleaned our icons. It was touching to see my 12 yr. old happy to participate. I wondered if he would consider himself too old. 

The kids carefully took their icons off the wall and lovingly cleaned them and returned them to their places. Since we venerate and kiss the front of the icons it is nice to get them clean. 

We are all working on memorizing The Prayer of St. Ephraim. It's a beautiful prayer said during Lent...and really it's fitting all year 'round. 

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. 
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. 
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

So far Lent is going well. Of course we are already tired of fasting foods. But, yes that's the point. We have enjoyed several of the extra services.

We are looking forward to Pascha as it will be different this year being in a new church. But, we still have a ways to go. As our protestant and Catholic friends and family celebrate Easter today we won't celebrate until May 1st this year. For an explanation on why we use a different calendar go HERE.

The good news for us is...

1. Easter candy and decor will be on closeout sale.
2. The weather has a better chance of being sunny.

Yeah and yeah!! Bonus for us Orthodox and a late Pascha.

And so how do we spend our time now without electronics/TV. Well the kids have been building like crazy with Legos and spending time reading for hours and riding bikes outside. Yes! Why do we allow them any screen time the rest of the year?! It's a rhetorical question. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Moses is Double Digits!

My sweet baby is 10!! Double digits! Woot! 
He was really excited for this birthday. He celebrated with a party. Five friends plus our family went swimming at a local pool, then had pizza and rooter floats and it was a sleep over! 

I tell ya...the older the kids get the easier the birthday parties are. Boy/food/video games=easy party. 

Then on the actual birthday, which is also St. Patrick's Day, he woke up to a decorated dining room, green shamrock pancakes....with mini chocolate chips and bacon!

And something new to wear.

That night we had nachos and ice cream pie for dinner. No more Irish dinner since the birthday boy picks the dinner. 

Happy Birthday to my awesome Moses! You are an amazing boy. You are smart and kind and determined. You are polite. You are curious about things and quickly figure out how they work. You are an excellent student. You are a super brother to your siblings. You are an early riser...often up an hour before anyone else. You are a great've got some moves! You are breathtakingly handsome. You make me so proud. I love you!


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