Thursday, April 26, 2007

Goslings, Chicks, and Teddy Bears

Ahh, Spring! It's finally starting to feel like it, and we've been spending more time outside. The kids, and I, are very happy about this. Walks to the pond are lovely on these days; Peregrine and Alethea have been bringing their buckets and wearing rubber boots. They don't seem to mind getting very wet, and all I can think of is a song from when I was a kid that went like this:

Six-inch boots in a nine-inch puddle,
You're really in a muddle in the middle of a puddle
With your six-inch boots in a nine-inch puddle.

Yep, we're bringing home some pond water and the footsteps on the return walk sound awfully squashy to me. The geese have had their babies and we're having so much fun watching the fuzzy yellow goslings follow their parents around. Mama and Daddy geese are very protective and hiss at us if their babies get too near.


Our baby chicks are getting big so fast! They are still in the house but hopefully soon we can move them outdoors. They're fun, and we're looking forward to fresh eggs in another several months! The last few days we've let them outside for a while.


Peregrine is turning into a thinker. Well, his questions at least are changing. We're hearing less of "What's that?" and more of this sort of thing:
"Mom, if everyone in the world started out as babies, then how could that be? Who would be the mommies?"
Hmmm, that time thing is a bit tricky to explain.


The Teddy Bear Tea was a great success. We were joined by four Teddy Bears and one dragon, who arrived in style in the back of a Tonka dump truck. The fare was tiny scones, kiwi fruit, strawberries, and cheese cut into big and little T shapes. Oh, and tea, of course. (Which tasted suspiciously like apricot juice and was guzzled by children who usually get their juice in about a 1 to 3 ratio with water.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

T is for Trains

After a very long break, we are resuming our letter-of-the-week activities. There are about a Trillion things we could do for T, but here are a few we have done or are planning to do this week:
  • Learn about Trains, play with Trains, listen to Train songs, and read books about Trains! Bring Peregrine's Train Table out into the front room.
  • Have a Teddy Bear Tea with Teddy Bears and Alethea's little Tea Set.
  • Sing "I'm a Little Teapot".
  • Make Tiny Tacos, a recipe from Salad People by Mollie Katzen. (This book, and her other cookbook for kids, Pretend Soup, are wonderful! Peregrine will peruse them carefully, marking the recipes he wants to try. Each recipe has a two page spread with instructions for the "grown-up helper" and then two pages with pictorial instructions for the little one. Peregrine loves these books! The recipes are simple, and really do appeal to kids.)
  • Talk about being Truthful.
  • Work on the th blend.

Friday, April 20, 2007


There's a certain brand of sippy cup that comes with an optional ring with handles. Somehow, both of my kids instinctively knew that it wasn't truly meant to be used to hold the cup. Of course not. It was to be worn on their faces, and, most likely, would transfer to the wearer some sort of super powers. I'm pretty sure it doesn't hold true for adults. (Not that I've tried.) Here you can see Peregrine with the Super Ring when he was just a wee thing:

And here you see a more recent picture of Alethea:

And finally, the mighty duo, Super Rings in place, nearly invincible:

Well, maybe not quite invincible. But at least irresistible!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I Want to Live in a Wigwam

What can you make with a broom, two leaf rakes, a sponge mop, a dust mop, and an old cloak?

A wigwam, of course! (Bonus: I have a very good excuse for not sweeping my floors today!)

I'd like to live in a wigwam
Yes I'd like to live in a wigwam
I'd like to live in a wigwam and
Dance round the totem pole
(Cat Stevens)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Light and Life

Life and death are inseparable: the fact has never been so evident to me as during the months I spent in Benares, India. There, Hindus who are able come to live out their last days, lured by the promise of release from the cycle of reincarnation if only they can die in that holy city. There the piles of wood are stacked high and the flames stoked hot to consume the flesh of the dead. There the ashes are sprinkled on the flowing water of the Ganges River and carried away. I grew accustomed to seeing funeral processions winding their way through narrow and dusty streets, bodies wrapped in white cloth and decorated with marigolds and tinsel. The smell of cremation became familiar to me as I witnessed it over and over again. I ceased being shocked by the contrasts of life and death, of seeing bodies being burned just yards away from children playing lively games of cricket, of women scrubbing pots at water's edge, of young boys leading water buffalo to drink, of Hindu holy men performing rituals, of the bustle and color of the life of India swirling around the stark white-shrouded bodies and the consuming flame of death. At some point I learned to accept the seeming irony of this life and death dance and it became normal to me.
One hot and dusty day in India my friend Rachel and I washed the feet of several of our fellow travelers, wandering souls seeking meaning in the religions of the East. Kneeling before each person we spoke of the One who washed the feet of His disciples, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His own life as a ransom for many. Both Rachel and I are presently living our lives as wives and mamas, serving our families here in North America. The past few weeks have brought Rachel the joy of expecting a new baby and the pain of losing that same child. She joins me and countless other mamas who have delivered little souls to heaven, into the arms of Jesus. Death has wound its way through our lives, like a river, our tears joining its flowing waters. In the midst, though, of the sadness of this life shines the reminder of eternity, the brightness of Hope....

Hope, and life, for the Christian, are made possible by the Resurrection of our Lord. I have never been more ready for the celebration as I was this year. On Good Friday night I found myself walking beneath a bier representing the tomb of Christ. It was a simple thing, but in taking those steps I and my fellow worshippers declared that through His death "we have passed from death into life." (John 5:24) Late Saturday night we came together to celebrate the ultimate victory of Life over death. All light was extinguished and we waited expectantly. At midnight a single candle was held up and we were invited to "Come receive the light from the light that is never overtaken by night, and glorify Christ Who is risen from the dead". Quickly the glow of candles, symbolizing the light of Christ, filled the building and we sang loudly that "Christ is risen from the dead! By death He has trampled upon death, and has bestowed life to those in the tombs." Together we shouted "Christ is Risen!" with hearts full of joy. A passage from John's gospel was read in several languages to remind us that this good news is for all people, that the Light we've received is not to be hidden, but is to illuminate the world, the whole world....

My mind returns to the banks of the Ganges River that flows through India and through the lives of millions who've never been invited to come receive the Light. Life goes on there much as it has for centuries, the mingling of life and death like ashes on the water. Each morning countless people make their way into the flowing water to make offerings to the rising sun. Each year thousands of young people travel there searching for enlightenment. Hope there is wrapped up in dying in the right place or achieving enough good works to be reborn into paradise. How different it is from what Christ offers us: Life, freely and abundantly. Through His death and Resurrection, He gives life, freedom from the bondage of sin, and the promise of eternity with Him. In this life we are no strangers to sorrow; like the Hebrew children long ago we often sit and weep by the rivers of Babylon, longing for Zion, the City of our God. But because we serve a risen Savior, we can rise above the sadness and live joyfully here on this earth. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow, trusting that Christ will be there with us as He promised. Because He rose from the grave, I know that one day I will be reunited with my babies by the "river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy Place where the Most High dwells. (Psalm 46:4)
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:4-5) May the Light of Christ shine in me and through me. May it transform my life into something beautiful. May it shine in your hearts and lives too, giving you abundant and radiant life. And may it shine in the dark corners of the world where many have never seen it. May they be given life so they can lift their voices with ours and shout "Truly He is Risen!"

(This article is my submission to the blog challenge sponsored by Art Bookbindery, "Empowering Writers to Self Publish.")

Friday, April 13, 2007


Last weekend was wonderful, and I'm finally getting to putting some of my thoughts on it together. Here are a few of the highlights of the celebration of Jesus' death and Resurrection:
It is Good Friday; what gruesome and unjust death but our Savior's could be celebrated as Good two millennia later? We gather to remember His descent into Hades. The atmosphere is one of mourning and lamentation, but even in the sadness there is the certainty of coming victory. Candles are lit to symbolize the Triumph of the Light of the world. We walk slowly around the church building singing "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us." Outside the door of the church a bier that represents the tomb is held high and we all walk beneath it and back into the sanctuary. It is a reminder that through Christ's death "we have passed from death into to life." (John 5:24)
Saturday morning finds us back at church. We remember that Christ is still in the tomb, but there begins to be a change in the "feeling" of our worship. My favorite point in the service is when our pastor walks through the church with a large basket of fresh laurel leaves, a symbol of victory from ancient times. He scatters them, and as the leaves fall around us he cries "Arise, O God, and judge the earth, for You shall take all nations for Your inheritance" to which we respond with various verses, my favorites being "Judge the orphan and the poor; justify the humble and the needy" and "Rescue the needy and the poor, and deliver from the hands of sinners." I can't help but think of our Saviour coming into Jerusalem on the donkey, treading on palm branches; now we, His people, are reminded of His triumph over death as our footsteps release the spicy scent of the laurels.
Saturday evening our home is quiet; we put the children to bed and lie down to rest for a while ourselves. After only a few hours we pull the sleeping ones gently from their beds and make the drive back to church. We join with the many other worshipers who have come to celebrate the ultimate victory of Life over death. All light is extinguished; it is still, dark, and quiet, like a tomb. At midnight a single candle is held up. Death could not contain Him, the Light of the World! He is Risen! We are invited to "Come receive the light from the light that is never overtaken by night, and glorify Christ Who is risen from the dead". Quickly the glow of candles, symbolizing the light of Christ, fills the building and we walk outside to pray and sing loudly that "Christ is risen from the dead. By death He has trampled upon death, and has bestowed life to those in the tombs." When we return to the church we find it filled with light and we celebrate with worship, praise, and festivity. We hear the Paschal (Passover) homily* of St. John Chrysostom and all shout together, with hearts full of joy, that "Christ is Risen!" These words, written over fifteen hundred years ago, ring with freshness and life as one and all are invited to the Lord's feast. Later we hear John 20:19-25 read in several languages to remind us that this good news is for all people, that the Light we have received is not to be hidden, but is to illuminate the whole world. We are sent ones, the message of Jesus is for all people and we are to go into all the world with it.
It is Friday again, and my heart is still singing ""Christ is risen from the dead. By death He has trampled upon death, and has bestowed life to those in the tombs." I hope that yours is too!

*The Homily
(Everyone stands for this, and we all shout out the phrases that are in bold type. This is done in all Orthodox Parishes on Easter morning.)

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it! He descended into hades and took hades captive! He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, "Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions." It was embittered, for it was abolished! It was embittered, for it was mocked! It was embittered, for it was purged! It was embittered, for it was despoiled! It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and, face to face, met God! It took earth and encountered heaven! It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!
"O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?"
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the First-fruits of them that slept.
To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Two: Letter to Alethea

From this..... this! In just two short years!

My Dear Alethea,
It's hard to believe another year has passed. You have just turned two- two whole years since that clear Spring morning when you were born to us. Your Daddy was the first one to touch you; he brought you up out of the water and placed you in my waiting arms. Life, tiny and new. We were smitten.Two years have gone by fast; sometimes I feel I've already forgotten what you were like last week or last year or when you were a baby. That's part of why I write you these letters, so we can remember the little things that make up the days as you race past the milestone markers we call years and months.
How to describe you? You are busy exploring the world around you and you have very definite ideas about how you want that world to be. Sometimes you're just plain emotional and we have to chalk that up to the fact that you're a girl! Girly as you are, though, you but have no problem keeping up with your rough-and-tumble brother Peregrine. You love him and want to do just about everything he does. I think you're the only tiny girl I know who can roar and then look at me and say "pirate" in explanation. Swords and rockets, too, you're no stranger in that territory. On the rare occasion Peregrine's not around, you ask over and over "where's Ba-lah? where's Per-grin?" You know your family consists of you and Peregrine, Mama and Daddy, and when someone is missing you want to know why. Often one of the first things out of your mouth in the morning is "Where's Dada?" On the weekends he's always the one to get you when you wake up in the morning, and he's often home in the afternoon when you get up on the weekdays. You're always happy to see him; you reach your little hand into his shirt pocket to find little bits of dried fruit and "rainies" (raisins) he's put there for his girl. I love it when you come up to me with little arms outstretched and say "I want to hold you Mama!" I want to hold you too, little one.
You've become a real talker in the last few months. Daddy and I are surprised at how you're speaking in sentences now. We think it must be due to hearing your brother's constant stream of chatter. That, and all the books that get read aloud around here. You still love to "cozy up" with us and hear story after story. I'm glad that your attention span is getting longer and we get to read books now that have more than two words on each page. There are a few books you must know by heart because if we stop short of the end of a sentence you often fill in the rest! We think you're pretty smart. You would rather sit with us and read a book than watch a movie. I like that about you.
You like all the things most little girls your age do. You got a play kitchen for your birthday and are having lots of fun cooking. You look awfully pleased when Mama and Daddy ooh and ah over the things you serve us; we hope you always like serving others. You like to play with dollies and stuffed animals too. You carry them around and tuck them into little beds and share your food with them; we hope you always enjoy caring for others too. You squeal with excitement over dogs and cats and over the birds and squirrels that share our yard. We just got five fluffy chicks and when I sit down to hold them you race over and throw yourself into my lap to play with them too. Flowers and dresses and music and babies all make you happy. We hope that you're always excited about the life God has given you.
Alethea, my girl, you are such a joy. I love that you're still small enough to fit comfortably in my lap. You love it when I wrap you up in a blanket and hold you like a "bundle". But you're not really a baby anymore. You're growing up. And I'm enjoying getting to be part of your precious life. I'm so thankful that God made you who you are, and that He gave you to us.
Here's to a very happy third year my little Joy girl!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I was honored to be given a Thinking Blogger Award by Stacy of With Great Joy. Thank you Stacy! All the kind things she wrote about me are equally true of her and if you're not familiar with her blog I encourage you to go check it out. I'm supposed to pass the award on to five other bloggers who cause me to think. She chose a few of the same ones I would have, so my awards will go to:

  1. Rachel of journeymama. Rae is a busy mama of little children and lives in a community in the woods. I traveled in India with her and her not-yet husband Chinua and they are both people I love and admire. Rachel's writing is down-to-earth, honest, poignant, and humorous. It is refreshing and full of life. She is the person who inspired me to start blogging.
  2. Melissa of A Glimpse Into our Busy Little Family. Even with four little ones and another on the way she finds the time to write about what the Lord is teaching her as she cares for her family. I am often encouraged and challenged by her writing.
  3. Molly of Close to Home. I have only recently begun to read Molly's blog after hearing her podcast on Ancient Faith Radio. She is a mother of four whose writing beautifully interweaves faith and family.
  4. Pamela of Three for Thee. I look forward to reading her posts; they are simple and lovely, each is accompanied by a beautiful photo and a fitting Scripture verse.
  5. Monica of Small Things. She and her husband are raising their family in Romania as part of a Word Made Flesh community. I enjoy reading about their lives there.
If you are given an award, you are welcome to:
  1. Pass the award on to five other bloggers that make you think.
  2. Link to this post.
  3. Display the Thinking Blogger Award.
Thanks again Stacy!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Great and Holy Friday

We were able to attend a church service last night commemorating the sufferings of our Lord. Readings from the Gospels were interspersed with prayers and songs, praises and petitions. I have never experienced anything like it; it was mournful, haunting, and yet filled with hope. We, unlike the first disciples, already know "the rest of the story", but I was better able to identify with them than I've ever been before. I realized that, in my experience, Good Friday has usually passed fairly quietly. I have tried to focus my mind on Jesus and what He did for us on that day, but coming together with other believers to remember it was powerful and moving in a way I've never known. It's sets the tone for the next few days and helps to prepare our hearts for the Resurrection.

Here are a few phrases from the service that I found particularly moving:

He who clothed Himself with light as with a garment, stood naked at the judgement; and received blows from the hands which He had fashioned.

Today is hung upon the Cross, He who suspended the earth amid the waters. A crown of thorns crowns Him, Who is the King of Angels. He, who wrapped the Heavens in clouds, is clothed with the purple of mockery.

Throughout the service we were reminded of the thief, who through his faith and confession of Christ, found a place in God's kingdom, and we were admonished to emulate him: Because of a tree, Adam was estranged from Paradise; because of the wood of the Cross, the thief abode in Paradise; for the former, in tasting, disobeyed the commandment of the Creator; but the latter, who was crucified with You, confessed, admitting to You, the concealed God. O Saviour; remember also us, in Your Kingdom.

And were were reminded of why Jesus suffered and died, and led to praise Him: You were crucified O Christ, for my sake, to become the source of my forgiveness. And Your side was pierced, that You might cause streams of life to flow for me.
You ransomed us from the curse of the law, by Your precious blood; You shed forth immortality upon mankind, being nailed to the Cross and pierced with a spear. O Saviour of us all, glory to You.

And finally, these words that I read this morning: "In Christ, who is the New Adam, there is no sin. And, therefore, there is no death. He accepted death because He assumed the whole tragedy of our life. He chose to pour His life into death, in order to destroy it; and in order to break the hold of evil. His death is the final and ultimate revelation of His perfect obedience and love. He suffered for us the excruciating pain of absolute solitude and alienation - "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!" (Mark 15:34). Then, He accepted the ultimate horror of death with the agonizing cry, "It is finished" (John 19:30). His cry was at one and the same time an indication that He was in control of His death and that His work of redemption was accomplished, finished, fulfilled. How strange! While our death is radical unfulfillment, His is total fulfillment.
The day of Christ's death has become our true birthday. "Within the mystery of Christ dead and resurrected, death acquires positive value. Even if physical, biological death still appears to reign, it is no longer the final stage in a long destructive process. It has become the indispensable doorway, as well as the sure sign of our ultimate Pascha, our passage from death to life, rather than from life to death."
(From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese website.)

However you celebrate it, I pray that your remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus will be meaningful and bring glory to Him. Have a blessed weekend!