Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who is this...

...and what did they do with my son?

Sasha does really well in school, except in writing. It's not that he doesn't have things to say (that is NEVER a problem). It's his handwriting. It is totally illegible. Or was until this week. I assumed that it would improve during the year little by little until it would turn into something tolerable. I was so wrong!

The homework from last week:

The homework from this week:

What happened?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saved by Paper

While I was recuperating from minor surgery I had to find something to do at home with my son, Sasha, that didn't involve racing, freeze tag, pillow fights or generally climbing on mommy.  Above are the results.

These are relatively easy to make even with a 6-year-old's hands and patience. Here is the link.

I don't know how we survived before the internet!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A conversation

I will need to have some minor surgery. Nothing serious, just a hassle. Before the surgery I had the following conversation with my doctor:

Doctor: It will require a small incision in your stomach area.

Me: OK.

Doctor: It will leave a scar.

Me: OK.

Doctor: It will be permanent.

Me: OK.

Doctor: You are not American, are you?

Make of it what you will.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Practical Arts in the Modern Age

A friend from church homeschools all her 3 children. (She has wonderful children, but still, I don't know how she does it.) There is a "practical arts" requirement in the home schooling curriculum that her children are enrolled in. So we got to talking about what it means in this day and age. She told how she was teaching his son online banking. That is certainly a big change from building bird houses and ironing and sewing aprons like we did when we were in school.

A few days later I showed my son, Sasha, my blog. An hour later he came to tell me he wants his own blog. I thought, aha, a teachable moment, learning by doing, etc...Here is the result: Sasha, Boy in School. Sasha is truly the creator and writer of this blog. He chose the photo, the colors and dictated what to write. I am merely the technical producer (and will be working towards handing that job over soon as well).

So, if the "building trains" career falls through he can always fall back on blogging.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Earthen Vessels

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
2 Corinthians 4:7

This Sunday our new bishop will be installed. I sing in the choir and earlier this week as we rehearsed for the service I was reminded by St. Paul's words. We have some very good musicians among us but most of us are just "well-meaning amaterurs". And no matter what our level, we all have our own stumbling blocks, be it language issues, becoming frazzled, pitch problems, or (my personal favorite) standing like a deer in headlights with no clue what we are supposed to be doing. When we rehearse there is a point when it seems that no way will we manage to turn our efforts into music.  But some how it ends up coming together for the service (most of the time). Orhodox services rely heavily on the choir and despite all of our individual weaknesses and stumbling blocks, people keep showing up. Sometimes because of, sometimes despite of, and sometimes irrespective of our singing. No room for either pride or self-flagellation. Earthen Vessels.

As I was thinking about this topic, our priest send us this email:

This e-mail was sparked by the following comment in today's "daily devotion" on the Portland, Maine, TV station, Channel 6:

"We could take a cue from Orthodoxy, whose priests stand with their backs to their congregation, leading a liturgy that is neither clever nor impassioned, but simply beautiful, like stone smoothed by centuries of rhythmic tides. It's an austere ritual, in the sense of - there's nothing new here; it's sublime, in the sense of - creating a clearer view into Heaven. The priest can be any priest. Who he is, what he looks like, how he speaks, and what he thinks matter little. He hasn't written the service that he officiates. It isn't about him or his prowess. He's an interchangeable functionary draped in brocaded robes, obscured by incense, and, as such, never points to himself, a flawed human, pointing ever and only to the Perfection of the Mysterious Divine. That is the role of every priest or preacher - invisibility, while making God seen."

While I certainly believe that having a good priest makes a huge difference for the parish (and Father Christopher is the best!) it is true that the services minimize the significance of the individual over the priestly role. Recognition of our nature as earthen vessels?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Slaying Tiny Dragons

When I leave the house for the first time in the morning, I kiss the icon of St. George and ask his help for slaying dragons. I realize that the dragons I face are minuscule compared to what many people have to deal with every day. However, that small gesture reminds me that we are representatives of God's Kingdom here and it helps me at times (but, alas, not often enough) to bite my tongue, swallow those words, sway my hand, extend myself...whatever the situation calls for. It reminds me that it does matter what I do and how I behave within my small sphere of influence.

Most of us live most of our lives with the realm of  the "small". In his blogpost Why Small Things Matter Father Stephen writes beautifully (as always) on the significance of small things. If you are not familiar with his blog "Glory to God for All Things" I strongly recommend it. He always has something interesting and profound to say, and in a manner which seems to be infused with humility and love. His posts have helped me countless of times as I try to slay, over and over again, the seemingly tiny but persistent dragons of laziness, despondency, lack of hope, lack of faith and fear.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gluten Free Baking: Why Do My Cookies Look Like Hamburger Meat?

Lookers these cookies are not, but they are full of chocolatey and peanutty goodness!

A friend from church believes she might be gluten-intolerant so in an effort to keep her included I am experimenting with gluten-free recipes. Baking Bites' Peanutbutter and Chocolate Cookies are totally flourless, so no problem there. I have to say I was skeptical, but these turned out wonderfully flavorful!

Getting decent photos on the other hand, was not so simple. No matter which angle, which distance I used, the cookies looked like unappetizing blobs (Photo I) or more like hamburger patties (Photo II). I have to admit I rather like the play of color and textures in Photo III, even though the cookies themselves end up playing 2nd and 3rd fiddle to other elements.

So much to learn...