Friday, December 04, 2009

Fat Head: the movie

A must see movie!!!!
Here is the blog post written by creator of the movie.
Here is a review.
And my own husband has started writing a review. This one is of the first half of the movie. We watched the second half last night and I hope he reviews that as well. The 2nd half is by far the best, I think.

Watch is worth it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thank you, James, for these incredible new benches you made for us! I love them! You did an incredibly beautiful job!
Next, a table?

A Teenager?!

Kelsey Anna Sierra came into this world 13 years ago today! I am completely and utterly flabbergasted as to how quickly the last 13 years have flown past. She has grown into a young lady! She wears my shoes, my skirts, my shirts and my socks (give them back!). She reads more books than I could ever keep track or count. She writes pages and pages of stories every day! She cooks and cleans ( I just wish she would do it cheerfully), and last night she baked a banana cream pie almost by herself for her birthday "cake". It was SO delicious! She is sweet and loving, when she wants to be, because yes, she is very much a teenager! Today, she can truly say it in number.
I love you my Kelsey Belle!!! May God grant you many years!!!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Our Church Fundraiser

The women in our Women's Fellowship group have been working for months to get ready for our 2nd annual Christmas Boutique. Last year we crafted on what each of us specialized in, donated our goods and set up a table where we sold our crafts during coffee hour for 5 or 6 Sundays leading up to Nativity. This year we decided to see how it would be if we had a Saturday Holiday Boutique open to the public. So we worked even harder! Being that it was our first year, we are a very small mission fairly unknown in town, and there were 4 other Christmas type bazaars in town on the same day I think we do alright. We'll be running our table during the next 6 coffee hours to sell what's left (lots).
I decided to take a bunch of pictures of the goods we've created. We've got some pretty talented ladies in the Church. Here I am to show you some wonderful Christmas gift Ideas. If you would like to do some Christmas shopping for Quality Handmade Gifts AND support our small missions land/building fund(we are currently leasing in a business park) you've come to the right spot. ALL proceeds go the land/building fund. I would gladly ship anywhere in the USA for just a small fee (flat rate $1.99). If you would like to see closer pictures I can email them to you. Each picture below has descriptions and prices. Click the images to enlarge and see the items closer for details. Please feel free to contact me with any questions! susansophia.f[at]gmail[dot]com

First up, Resuable Gift Wrap and Bags. These are fabric gift wraps and gift bags with ribbon to tie them. Reusable year after year. There are several different patterns to choose from. Each set typically has 1-3 wraps, 1-2 bags and ribbon for each. Each is a packet of several. Some are a set of 2 (wrap or bag or both) for $5. Set of 3 (wraps and bags) for $8, and set of 4 (wraps and bags) for $10.

The earrings below are made with sterling silver hoops and beautiful colorful beads. Click to enlarge photo for better view. Handmade! $20 each.

These are some of the best dishcloths I've ever owned! I got a bunch for Christmas last year from my kids who shopped the sale. I LOVE THEM. They are small, tight crochet and they last forever. So soft but not flimsy. I hope I get many more this year. There are tons of colors available and you can even order certain colors to be made if you don't see what you want.
$3 or 2 for $5

These scrubbies have a crocheted circular dishcloth sewed on the one side. So your scrubbie has a soft side and scrub side. $3

There are several things here to point out (click the picture to enlarge).
First, in the background you'll see 4 framed Quillings: salmon($25), flowers($15), farm($25), flower basket($15). Next right under the salmon quilling you have Reusable Produce Bags. You can use these when buying your produce instead of those plastic bags that just fill the landfill. $2 each. Next to that you have a stack of Shoe Bags. These are so cute, they look like a little pair of pants, but they hold your shoes when you need to pack them up in a suitcase. Many colors to choose from. $4 each. Next to that you some Jean Bibs that my 12 year old daughter made. $4 each.

Lavender Bath Salts & Foot Soak. Click on image to enlarge and read the description.

Gifts in a Jar! These are meant for the Slow Cooker but could be adapted for oven or stove top. They are $10 each. These are the meals that are available: Black Bean Chili, Ham Hock Stew, Rice Pudding, Old-Fashioned Brown Bread, and Red Beans and Rice.

These are an artisan type of box hat. They are cleverly made reversible and are absolutely beautiful! $25

Lavender Sache $3

Crocheted Water Bottle Holder, water bottle included. If you have certain color schemes you are looking for we can see about making them. For example school colors, or sports team colors. $12 each

Crocheted and Wool Felt Handbag. Fairly small these are currently holding perfectly, a notebook/journal. $20

This is our pet section. In the basket are handmade catnip toys. The catnip is home grown. $3 each. Then we have a quilted dog blanket/bed and quilted cat blanket/bed. $20.

Here we have Beaded Bookmarks. This first picture isn't very good but it gives you the length and look of these beautiful bookmarks. The next picture is a bit closer to see more detail. $8 each.

That's it folks. Thanks for browsing and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Tips for fighting colds!

These are my tips and I am not a doctor, but these are things that have definitely worked in our home time and again!!! I really swear by them. These tips are mainly to fight colds: sore throat, coughs, etc.
The earlier you start these when symptoms appear the better.

1. Squeeze half a lemon, add enough honey and water to make it palatable. Drink several times a day. The sooner you do this after the first hint of sore throat or scratchy throat the better. A hot cup of water, with a whole squeezed lemon with honey is nice alternative, hot lemon tea. It's good.
2. Start taking echinacea with the first symptoms of cold or flu. This is an immune booster. It is known to shorten the length of illness. Studies at the UofW, have shown this. (Wish I had a link to the study, James, can you find one?) Take no more than 2 weeks.
3. Garlic is a well known anti-viral, anti-bacterial. Take as raw as you can. I make garlic oil and sneak into the shot glass of echinacea juice for my kids. Yes, the older ones notice the floating but it's medicine...put a little honey in it and they won't complain too much. "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."

Some other tips I've found to work:
If you child complains of ear pain, make or get some garlic oil and put a few drops in the complaining ear. In no time at all the pain is gone.

My friend Carrie has posted on Immune Boosters to fight the flu! Check it out!
The healthier you are inside the easier it is to fight any bugs trying to make their way in.

Again, I'm not a doctor, these are tips I've found after researching on my own. You can do some research as well: Herbal Remedies for colds. Yes, it is not "orthodox medicine" but after trying, I've changed my mind.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Fathers (and mothers)

>For Father's Day this year Kelsey Anna spent a great deal of time creating a music CD to give to James. She spent her money at iTunes and searched through our CD's picking songs that seemed to fit a father/daughter theme. She did an incredible job. I just recently really started listening to this CD and I've got to say it really makes me think. Mostly about how fast my kids are growing up, how much time I waste during these years that I have with them. In no time flat they will be grown and on their own. There is one song in particular that has me in tears nearly every time because it is actually written from a daughter to her mother. It's a Taylor Swift song but it isn't one that has ever been released like on the radio. It's called The Best Day. What gets me about this song is the relationship between mother and daughter. I want desperately to have my daughters look back when they are older and say just this! Will they? I'm really not sure. I think I really need to sit back and relax! Relax about all the tiny details that I fuss about all the time. Relish in this VERY SHORT time I will have with them to build a loving relationship. Stop worrying about every little detail and when I do....give it to God and know that He is all merciful, all gracious and in control of everything. By His grace it will all be okay.

Smile and laugh with them. Have fun learning with them, instead of looking at it as a chore. All too soon, this time will be over, but being their mother will never end. I want them to always know they are loved. And I only have one chance.

Monday, October 12, 2009


"Know, beloved, that the valleys shall abound with wheat and spiritual fruit. This valley is a soul low and humble among the mountains, that is, it is filled with labours and virtues, and always remains unhaughty and steadfast."
St. John Climacus
"The Ladder of Divine Ascent" (Step 25)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Grammar lessons are my biggest hurdle as far as required subjects is concerned. I just want to know what everyone else uses for grammar. I have 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th graders. They've had very little formal grammar instruction although my 7th grader is an incredible reader and writer. She wants to be an author when she grows up. We've done a tiny bit with Easy Grammar and are currently working on Writing Strands 2 and 3.
I'm just curious what everyone uses and why.

I've had recommendations for the Building Christian Writing from Rod & Staff but am not sure how I would choose where to start.

Thanks for your input.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Way of the Ascetics"

by Tito Colliander

I bought this book at the bookstore that was set up at the Women's Retreat I attended last weekend. The retreat was wonderful, just not long enough.

The first chapter of this book is amazing and speaks directly to me and my slothful tendencies. I struggle everyday against the demons that entice me to sit and read, sit and surf, sit and _____. I sit and then I despair because I sit. It's a vicious cycle. I find that reading other peoples blogs only exasperates the whole cycle because I tend to see all of these "perfect" people and the "perfect" lives they live and question my abilities even more.
This chapter spoke to me deeply and profoundly. I have vowed to read this 2 page chapter over and over and over again throughout the day. To find Christ in my day by working harder with my children, opening my eyes to see Christ in them, to see Christ in each and every encounter I have.

Chapter 1 "On a Resolute and Sustained Purpose"

If you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign of the cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. To let in fresh air we have to open a window; we never reach a goal by just sitting in comfort and waiting, say the Holy Fathers. Let the prodigal son be our example. He "arose and came". (Luke 15:20) However weighed down and entangled in earthly fetters you may be, it can never be too late. Not without reason is it written that Abraham was 75 when he set forth, and the laborer who comes in the 11th hour gets the same wages as the one who comes in the first.
Nor can it be too early. A forest fire cannot be put out too soon; would you see your soul ravaged and charred?
In baptism you received the command to wage the invisible warfare against the enemies of your soul; take it up now. Long enough have you dallied; sunk in indifference and laziness you have let much valuable time go to waste. Therefore you must begin again from the beginning: for you have let the purity you received in baptism be sullied in dire fashion. Arise, then; but do so at once, without delay. Do not defer your purpose till "tonight" or "tomorrow or "later, when I have finished what I have to do just now." The interval may be fatal.
No, this moment, the instant you make your resolution, you will show by your action that you have taken leave of your old self and have now begun a new life, with a new destination and a new way of living. Arise, therefore, without fear and say: Lord, let me begin now. Help me! For what you need above all is God's help.
Hold fast to your purpose and do not look back. We have been given a warning example in Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back (Genesis 19:26). You have cast off your old humanity; let the rags lie. Like Abraham, you have heard the voice of the Lord: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from they father's house, into a land I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). Towards that land hereafter you must direct all your attention.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Field Trip Fridays

ADDENDUM: I realized that for being a scrapbook of sorts for our "Fun Friday" field trips I didn't have very many pictures of our first 2 field trips on here. So I have added 9 or 10 more pictures with descriptions to this post!

I've been meaning to blog about the start of school this year but just haven't had time nor the words. I've been second guessing my purpose for blogging but that is a whole different post entirely.
I just thought I'd share with you what our Fridays are going to look like. I want to "scrapbook" all our "Field Trip Fridays" but I'm not really into scrapping so I think the next best thing is blogging each trip. The purpose of that will be more for our own preservation of memories than anything else. After the year is over if the kids want to print out the Field Trip Friday posts and make a book I think that would be a fantastic idea and really fun!
I wanted to make it easy on myself and not have to do too much planning and as little driving as possible. So we are sticking around North Kitsap County and we will explore as many parks and hikes as we can. Some days it'll be a really simple playground visit and other days I hope to get in some pretty good hikes. Even a museum now and again.
On Friday, September 11th was our first Field Trip and we went to Battlepoint Park on Bainbridge Island (which really is only about 15 minutes from here, if that). They have an awesome playground, a nice 1 1/2 mile trail with a cool pond. Here a few pictures of that day.
I hope to get some cool pictures of the kids too during our outings. I haven't been taking a lot of pictures of them lately and they are sure growing up fast! During the very hot hike we finally reached the pond we had heard was there and it was such a nice little respite. Then as we watched a ton of ducks approached. They were so friendly and came up so close but we had no food for them. Later on down the path we ran into a couple little brown bunnies. We sat and watched them for quite awhile.

Here are the ducks making a bee-line for us. It was really cool. They got so close I was able to snap this really neat picture of a female Mallard.

Here we have a picture of the rabbits we ran into. You might have to click on it to enlarge to get a better look. They were so cute. The boys were able to get quite close to them before they hopped away.

Our 2nd field trip was a simple one to downtown Poulsbo to walk the boardwalk that overlooks Liberty Bay. It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed it. September 11, 2009

I think this picture of Joseph is so neat. This was actually taken on our way back to the parking lot. After all the walking and running on this boardwalk, he finally realized that if he looked down he could see through the cracks to the water. This always freaks him out. The cracks are quite small so he didn't notice before. When we've walked bridges before where you can see water below he is almost paralyzed. It's funny.

It was another beautifully sunny day, of which we really need to take advantage of and be grateful for because they won't last much longer. We walked a short walk on the boardwalk and here is where it ended and the path goes into the woods a little to a VERY tiny play place. I like this picture of the kids.

I have no idea what Charissa and Joseph are looking at.

My "almost" teenager...she is as tall as I am now!

There was this very odd scum on the bay and we took a picture so I had to include it for their memory books. We wondered what it was and why.

This next Friday their "field trip" will only be a playdate at a friends house because I am headed out of town by 11AM to go to a women's retreat in Portland, OR. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to this and wondering what God has in store for me. I waited till the last minute and I just know the way it all worked out it was of God.

I want to post about our curriculum soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

St. Sophia

Today we commemorate St. Sophia and her three daughters; Faith, Hope and Love. To learn more about her go here.

Troparion - Tone 5

You blossomed in the courts of the Lord
as a fruitful olive tree,
holy martyr Sophia;
in your contest you offered to Christ the sweet fruit of your womb,
your daughters Faith, Hope, and Love.
Together with them intercede for us all.

Oh Most Holy St. Sophia, please pray unto God for me.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


My baby, Joseph, who turned 7 in July, got to serve in the altar yesterday for the very first time! I wasn't prepared for this occasion like I was with Nicholas' first service nearly 3 years ago so I had to use my phone to make a memory.
This is a picture of both my boys during the Little Entrance. Joseph on the left and Nicholas on the right.

And here are ALL my boys!!!!
(L-R) Joseph; their daddy, Sbdn. James; Nicholas.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Contest at Organic & Thrifty

Win Some Counterculture

over at Organic and Thrifty.
Thank you, Carrie, for this opportunity. How how I would love to win some of these cultures. I've been wanting to try the Kefir!
Good luck to all but I sure I win!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I needed this!

"Tedium is the granddaughter of despondency, and the daughter of slothfulness. In order to drive it away, labor at your work, and do not be slothful in prayer. The tedium will pass, and zeal will come. And if to this you add patience and humi...lity, then you will be rid of all misfortunes and evils."
St. Ambrose of Optina

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Children Should Be Taught

I picked up a book at the library called "Easy Homeschooling Techniques". At the start of the book, before the Foreward and Preface you will find these two lists. I love them! Notice where they come from and the date.

What a Little Girl Should Be Taught:

To cook plain wholesome food

To make her own clothes

To be neat and orderly

To care for her own room

To learn well the art of housekeeping

To care for her person

To exercise a quiet reserve in the presence of boys and men

That all cheap talk is unbecoming

That loose jokes about "beaux" and "lovers" are improper

That modesty is a priceless treasure, and will prove her surest protector

That her brothers are better escorts than most other young men

That her mother is her best companion and counselor

That her dress should be plain, and not the chief subject of her thoughts or conversation

That she should wear only such styles of clothing as will cover her person modestly

That it is better to be useful than ornamental

That there will be time enough to learn fancy work after she has learned to darn stockings

That the old rule, "A place for everything and everything in its place," is a good one

That she should dress for health and comfort as well as for appearance

-Home and Health, © 1907, Pacific Press Publishing

What a Little Boy Should Be Taught

To be strong and brave-a little man

To shun evil companions

To respect gray hairs

To be gentle

To be courteous

To be prompt

To be industrious

To be truthful

To be honest

To prefer the companionship of his sisters, over other girls

To honor his father and mother

To be temperate

To discard profanity

To be thoughtful and attentive

To keep himself pure

To be his sister's protector

To refuse to listen to vulgar jokes or stories

To use common tools skillfully

To care for his own room

To do all kinds of housework

To earn money, and to take care of it

To be neat and orderly in his habits and appearance

To be self-reliant

To be his father's partner

-Home and Health, © 1907, Pacific Press Publishing

Friday, August 07, 2009

Curriculum and Changes

I've been working on our school schedule and curriculum for a couple weeks now. I want to start with the Church New Year(September 1) and base our year on Church Calendar. In the past we've used Story of the World for History, Math-U-See for well, Math; A Unit Study approach to Science from Tanglewood (which I love ). Explode the Code, Spelling Power, Paidea Classics for copy work, Critical Thinking Co. for Logic, Writing Strands and a hodge podge of other phonics methods for the boys.
I have this huge 3-ring binder that holds weekly lesson plans and I fit all 4 kids on one sheet. This year I was going to use one of those pens that has the 4 colors and write their separate assignments with that by giving them each a different color.
The problem is there too much to sort out and write down and well, I just want to try and streamline it and make it easier. I also would like to approach things differently with regards to L.A. and History. I have to say, I absolutely LOVE the Unit Study approach we did last year with Science. I would really like to try and do this with History as well and within these 2 topics as Unit Studies add into the units the L.A. I'd love to hear from anyone else who approaches their schooling in this way or something similar. I have some ideas that might work and would be fun but tell me what you do? Do you know any websites that talk about this? Share with me what you do in your home!
I'd love to discover a better way of recording my schooling projects and assignments on my laptop vs. having to writing everything down. I have Vista on here there is Windows Calendar. I also know about google calendar. I don't want some fancy home school record keeping program, just a simple calendar aid of sorts to write down what I want to accomplish each day for each child with the ability to "cut & past" or hit a recurring button or something like that. Any ideas?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Our Library is SO COOL!!!

I've posted before about our library ordering books we've requested. We've had them bring us books often through the Inter-Library Loan system and have had books come from places even as far away as Florida! I do not know how they decide what books to buy and what books to ILL. I was so excited when they bought "Close to Home: One Orthodox Mother's Quest for Patience, Peace and Perseverance", but the latest book PURCHASE by Kitsap County Regional Library System tops the cake.
Kelsey Anna went to St. John the Forerunner Monastery for girls camp in July and came home talking about a book the Sisters were reading them. They didn't get to finish it and she really wanted to read it all. She asked Father if he owned it but he didn't so she decided to fill out the form for ILL/Purchase request at the library.
They bought it! The title?
Experiences During Divine Liturgy by Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos
I cannot believe it! I can't find it anyplace for sale except at St. Anthony Monastery so I am SO curious where they are buying it from.
We are spreading Orthodoxy on Kitsap Peninsula! Maybe the book purchaser is curious about Orthodoxy and that's why they are approving so many orthodox books.

Thank you again, Abbot Tryphon...

...for more great quotes on Morning Offering.

"Don't sit, glued to the television....Guard yourselves from the means of mass blinding."

Elder Epiphanios

"...It is patience that both commends us to God, and saves us for God. It is that same patience which tempers anger, bridles the tongue, governs the mind, guards peace, rules discipline, breaks the onslaught of lust, suppresses the violence of pride, extinguishes the fire of dissension, restrains the power of the wealthy, renews the endurance of the poor in bearing their lot, guards the blessed integrity of virgins, the difficult chastity of widows, and the indivisible love of husbands and wives. It makes men humble in prosperity, brave in adversity, meek in the face of injuries and insults. It teaches us to pardon our offenders quickly; if you yourself should offend, it teaches you to ask pardon often and with perseverance. It vanquishes temptations, sustains persecutions, endures sufferings and martyrdoms to the end. It is this patience which strongly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It is this patience which sublimely promotes the growth of hope. It directs our action, so that we can keep to the way of Christ while we make progress because of his forbearance. It ensures our perseverance as sons of God while we imitate the patience of the Father."
St. Cyprian of Carthage
"The Good of Patience"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


...from the blog of Morning Offering.

"The greatest sacrifice we can offer to God is our peace; it is fraternal harmony; and it is a people gathered together by that unity which exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

Saint Cyprian (200-259)

Monday, July 20, 2009


"This life has been given you for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits."

St. Isaac the Syrian

Monday, July 13, 2009

Die Death!

My husband posts on his blog, Paradosis, his thoughts regarding our ex-brother-in-laws death last Thursday.
He says it so well, I have nothing more to say.

Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tragedy in our family....PLEASE PRAY

My husband wrote this:

Prayers please for someone we know who today took their own life. For him and for his family as they/we sort through this all. In particular we would ask that guilt not be allowed to settle upon and cripple us who are likely to look back and believe they should have done more to help.

I can tell you that there are children involved and until all children involved have been told we won't release names. Please pray for them!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Remembering a friend

Nate's in the center, at his own wedding.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the repose of my dear friend Nathaniel Listerud. May his memory be eternal!

"With the spirits of the righteous give rest, O Savior, to the soul of Your departed servant, Nathaniel, and keep him in the blessed life with You, O Lover of man. In the place of Your rest, O Lord, where all Your Saints repose give rest also to the soul of Your servant for You alone are the Lover of mankind."

This is me and Nate in 1976, Flower Girl and Ring Bearer.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thought for the day

I love to read Abbot Tryphon's blog The Morning Offering. He has a quote for the day, scripture reading and a daily picture from around the monastery or outing or area in which they are (Vashon Island).

Here is the quote from today...

"Beware you do not blindly insist that things must work out according to what you consider to be right and good. God sometimes does permit such blind insistence to be followed by the fulfillment of our ardent desires. This always leads to misery and disaster (intended to open our eyes on our folly), and happens particularly often when our desires are founded on wild passions.
Pray to our Lord for guidance, and to His Holy Mother for special protection."

Staretz Macarius of Optina

Friday, June 05, 2009

Good ol' HIPAA

So, we've had well-check visits this week at a couple different times. Yesterday I took my 12 1/2 year old daughter in for her well-visit. She is healthy and doing well. She still wants me to go in with her, well, you know...I'm her mama.
Today, I went in with the boys. As I checked in the receptionist asked me if I wanted to fill out a form to give me access to their medical records online like I have with mine. I can make appointments, check lab results, email their doctor, etc. I said I'd love to and asked for 2 more forms for my daughters as well. Before agreeing they asked me how old they were and I so I told them the ages. I then get to find out that there probably isn't any point since in 6 months from now it will all be canceled because she'll be 13. I said, "so."
Apparently, due to HIPAA laws, my daughter (in 6 months from now) has the RIGHT to her medical privacy with regards to drugs, sex and MENTAL HEALTH!! In 6 months from now I have NO RIGHT to know anything about my daughter with regards to those 3 topics! She'll be THIRTEEN!!! NOT 18, not 21... THIRTEEN!!! I was heart was actually doing flip flops! The ladies behind the desk...all three of them saw my amazement and AGREED with me! They are equally irritated by the absolute audacity of it all.

My question to HIPAA...whose going to pay the bills!?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Thank you, Molly!!

I just finished reading Close to Home by Molly Sabourin. I ordered this book from the library(which I posted about here), they didn't have it but I put in a purchase request and they bought it.

First, I need to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU Molly for writing this book. Thank you God for giving Molly the words to put on paper, words I believe so many mothers need to hear. Words of encouragment. Words of comfort, knowing that I am NOT alone in the race. That I am not the only mother with these thoughts racing through my head. Thoughts of doubt and fear. Thank you for bringing to these thoughts an Orthodox understanding, a perspective that I just didn't see and REALLY needed to hear.

This blog post is the only way I can thank you, Molly. By letting you know how incredibly real this book was to me. And by sharing with those that may happen upon my blog...this is a MUST READ for all mothers...Orthodox or otherwise.

Here is one section that really hit home for me. And it feels so good to know I'm not alone!!!

Of the many cracks in my mothering armor, there is one that leaves my children and me particularly vulnerable to harm: a subconscious habit of judging my family in regard to how we mearsure up to others. I am ashamed to admit how many years I wasted trying to be somebody I wasn't, or how many M&M's I consumed because our papers were chronically out of order, the clutter more conniving than my impractical cleaning schedule, or because the laundry had washed with a tube of greasy Chapstick in my pants pocket...again.
I got downright crabby when my idealized self stood just inches out of reach, looking more muscular, organized , and outgoing than this all-too-human flabby-thighted mother pressing her nose against the glass that divided heavily marketed pipe dreams from reality. My neck was chronically sore from craning over fences for a nice long look at where the grass was always greener, the children better behaved, and scrapbooks filled to overflowing with anecdotes and updated photographs. Guess how few people were blessed by my neurotic desire for flawlessness?

Later in the chapter regarding the above...

I could try to be you, all clever and crafty and virtuous, or her with the delicate feminine disposition; but eventually my real, Molly Ann Sabourin self would rip holes all through that disingenuous disguise. It is my first fruits God is asking of me--my talents, my quirky habits and convictions. It would be awefully counterproductive to try ato work out my own salvation with fear and trembling by concentrating on everybody else's.
I know I am impatient. I know I am absent-minded. I know I struggle with being too impulsive and easily distracted. I know I am sefish, but I also know that I am the very best mom for the wonderfully human kids God gave me. If I start each day with a prayer of humility, admitting that on my own I will really mess things up, my mind and heart remain open for help and direction. I set tiny goals, like not yelling through breakfast, or putting aside my "work" to sit and play one game of the children's choice.

I needed that!

One last quote from her chapter Acceptance...this is huge for me....

The quiestion I need to ask myself is not, "What, in addition to the blessings right before me, would make me happier?" It is rather, "What do I need to rid myself of in order not to get sidetracked from my first and foremost goal of achieving salvation?"

Whoa! There is so much more in this book that is! For me!

I think I'll read it again before it's due! (or buy my own!)

Thank you again, Molly!!

(It's really late so please forgive the typos and if they are really bad please dont' hesitate to let me know.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Learning about forgiveness from my 6-year-old son

I've been meaning to share this story that truly touched my heart but kept forgetting. Now another, equally beautiful (to me, his mother) happened today so I will tell you about both.

I'm biased, of course, but he has truly touched my heart. He teaching me about forgiveness!

Three weeks ago....
I needed to pull J aside to talk to him about some harsh words I overheard him saying about another person. They were said somewhat playfully but still they weren't appropriate and I really don't think he fully comprehended what he was saying. So we talked about it a little and I told him that I really didn't think he meant it. He leaned over and said, "Like sometimes when I say rude things to you, mommy, I really don't mean it. Will you forgive me?"

Today during Divine Liturgy for the Ascension of our Lord, Joseph made it quite clear he really did not want to be there. He was very cranky for the first half of the service. Early on in the service I bent over and told him that he really needed to change his attitude before he approached the chalice, that he shouldn't do so with such anger. I told him he needed to find forgiveness. Just as we were starting to say the communion prayer he came up to me and hugged me and said (with a big smile on his face), "Mommy, I forgive you." I hugged him back and said, "thank you, I forgive you too."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


"Behold, you have three weapons for spiritual warfare: humility, patience, self-condemnation. With these conquer." Elder Lev of Optina

Quote I found on the Fr. Tryphon's blog, Morning Offering. He is the Abbot of the All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, WA.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prayers Please

This might seem rather silly but it is pretty serious to us.
It seems as though our goat, Butter, has milk fever. This is what I lost my goat, Firefly, to last year. It is a lack of calcium and it happens either within days of kidding or in large producing milkers. Butters been giving me over a gallon a day. I changed the way I fed the goats after I lost Firefly last year but I guess it wasn't good enough. I feel only slightly hopeful in that she isn't completely down yet (although I don't think it is far off) and I have someone on the way to help me administer a calcium drench. But I have to wait.
She isn't eating. Bad thing as it can cause her rumen to shut down and this is very dangerous.
I'm trying to figure out what God is telling me.
"Persevere, Susan."
"It's time to let the goats go. You have too much on your plate."

The children will be devastated if we lose her. I will feel like a complete failure!

Oh, Most Holy St. Brigid, Please pray to God for us!


I just came in from the barn after spending a hour and a half with my friend who is my mentor. She was awesome! Thank you, Sherrie!
Before Sherrie arrived I was able to get Butter to drink some Molasses water (for energy). And she nibbled a leaf of alfalfa. She was up and around. By the time Sherrie arrived her eyes actually looked brighter. Last night she was very droopy. We decided that it really isn't acting like milk fever, but rather a very, very bad case of stomach ailment. On Sunday I had to give her some feed she wasn't used to be Cenex Feed Store sold me the wrong bag of feed and it was Sunday. No choice, and I actually didn't know for sure it was the wrong stuff until I went in Monday to see what the problem was with the feed.
Apparently her body didn't like it.
By the time Sherrie left Butter was eating a favorite weed of hers called Fireweed. We gave her a big dose of Pepto-Bismol, which she didn't like.
I do not think we are completely out of the woods yet. Until she starts eating alfalfa again, which is her main source of calcium, I will be very worried. She still won't eat much...but this is a start.

Glory to God. I'm feeling hopeful again. Now, I must decide what route to take for the future. This is so stressful.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Christ is Risen!

Indeed He is Risen!

It has been amazing several weeks.
Several weeks ago I began to prepare to be a new godmother and help my 12 year old daughter be a first time godmother to a 6 year old little girl. We were supposed to sew her chrismation/Pascha dress but it turned out to be I. Kelsey said, "This is too fancy for my first project." So I took it on as MY first fancy project. With a infant baptismal gown in a close 2nd as my fanciest yet (that story further down).
On Lazarus Saturday the Ferrenbergs were excited to help welcome the Sallis family into the Orthodox Church.

Here they are kneeling to receive prayers of absolution: (from left to right) Walker Gregory, Gregory, Marina, Alauna (Euphrosyne), Riley Benjamin.

A friend of ours took tons of pictures but the best ones are of the kids of course. They were awesome during the whole service!
Marina is 6 years old.

Walker Gregory is 5 years old. (if you click to enlarge you can see his cute little smile.)

Riley Benjamin is 2 almost 3 years old.

Then we were into Holy Week with all of it's splendor and preparations and on the list goes!
Followed by the Feast of Feasts and a week of celebrations!
Here are my children ready for the midnight feast, tired already and being silly while grandma took pictures.

Bright Week has been followed by a challenging week of sickness for me and me alone in this house. Sometimes I really think it was just all the overdoing it that took place for 2 + weeks which ended on Bright Saturday with an entire day of tilling up the garden using a heavy duty tiller. My body had enough. Because the only symptoms were sleep, sleep and more sleep, headaches and chills. Today I feel much better, but still not 100%.

During Bright Week I also scrambled to put the final touches on my first baptismal gown ever which is for baby Isabelle, the first infant I was blessed to become godmother to! My mom helped me out a lot with the sleeves and the bonnet.
Sunday, Thomas Sunday, was a glorious day with baptism. She is so adorable.

It wasn't until Monday that I crashed!

Christ is Risen!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

15 years!!!

What Greater Thing
What greater thing is there for two human souls,
than to feel that they are joined for life-
to strengthen each other in all labor,
to rest on each other in all sorrow,
to minister to each other in all pain,
to be one with each other
in silent unspeakable memories ...

George Eliot

I love you, James!
Thank you!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Rising River Threatens Fargo, ND
March 27, 2009
Volunteers are working around the clock to raise the dikes protecting the city of Fargo, N.D. from flooding. They hope to hold back the Red River which is expected to reach record high levels by Saturday. IOCC has been in contact with the local Orthodox community to determine needs. “Officials and emergency workers are scrambling to determine a course of action for a situation that remains unpredictable,” says Pascalis Papouras, IOCC US Program Coordinator. “We urge the Orthodox faithful to pray for the people of Fargo and the surrounding areas as we continue to monitor the situation in these next critical days.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Admonitions for Parents finale...because I can't post everyday!

It's just too much work to post everyday! So I highly recommend that you go here to read the entire article (if you haven't already) and I will leave you with this one that!

27. I have said this so that you would know that God will not be condescending to those who are neglectful of those for whom He Himself takes such care. For it is impossible that one and the same God should do so much to save these (children), yet pay no attention when their own parents disdain them. He will not ignore this, but to the contrary, He will all the more fearfully display His displeasure and wrath, as it actually hap pens. Therefore the blessed Paul insistently convinces us, saying: Ye fathers... bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). If we [4] are obligated to tirelessly care for their souls, as they that must give account (Heb. 13:17), so much more is the father (obligated to do it), who gave birth to the son, brought him up and lives constantly with him. For just as he can find no excuse for his own sins, he cannot find one for his childrens misdeeds. The blessed Paul showed this same thing. Describing how those who have accepted authority over others should be, he requires care for their own children over all other requirements, so that we have no excuse for our childrens unruliness (I Tim. 3,4, 5). And this is perfectly just! If evil in people is from nature, then everyone would have a right to excuse himself; but as we ourselves are impious or honorable according to our own will, then what good excuse could one present who has allowed his son, whom he loves more than anything, to come to impiety and dishonor? That he did not want to make him honorable? But not one father will say that nature itself insistently and incessantly inspires him toward this. Or that he was not able to do it? But this also cannot be said; for everything—that he took his son under his protection at a tender age, and that he alone primarily has been given authority over him, and that he constantly had him around—all of this makes the education of his son very easy and convenient. It means that the childrens unruliness comes from nothing other than the insane attachment of the fathers to earthly cares. Paying attention only to earthly cares, and counting nothing to be more important, they involuntarily begin to neglect the souls of their children. I will say of these fathers (and let no one consider these words to be born of anger), that they are even worse than child-killers. The one only sunders the body from the soul, but the other casts them both into the fires of gehenna. Death is inevitable according to the natural order, but the second fate could have been avoided if the fathers neglect had not led up to it. Physical death can be ended instantly by the resurrection when it comes, but no reward awaits the lost soul; it will receive not resurrection, but will have to suffer eternally. This means that we not unjustly call those fathers worse than child-killers. It is not so cruel to sharpen the sword, take it in the right hand and plunge it into the little childs heart, as it is to destroy and degrade the soul, for there is nothing equal to the soul.

Coming soon to a library near you....if you request it...

I am TRYING to be frugal these days and REALLY want to read Molly Sabourin's new book Close to Home: One Orthodox Mother's Quest for Patience, Peace and Perseverance. I have often ordered books at the library through their "Purchase Request/Inter-Library Loan request" form. So I decided to give it shot and request this book using the form. I just looked on my account and see that they indeed ordered this book, it is listed as "on order". I'm so excited!
Thank you, Kitsap Regional Library, for supporting Molly Sabourin, an Orthodox mother.
I cannot wait to get my hands on this book.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Admonitions for Parents 6 & 7

I missed a here are 2 days worth of wisdom from St. John Chrysostom.

9. Let us suppose that you fulfill the commandment of the law in every other respect, but being unfaithful in this one commandment you will be severely punished. Listen to this proof taken from the history of one ancient people. You will immediately see to what terrible punishment those fathers subject themselves who neglect their childrens upbringing. Among the Jews was one priest who was respected for his meek character. His name was Eli. This priest had two sons who had given themselves over to every vice. The father did not concern himself with this and paid little attention, or if their depravity, having reached the limit, forced him to reproach them, he did it without the necessary fervor and authority. He should have punished them severely, thrown them out of his presence taken strict measures in order to put a stop to the outrage. He did nothing of the sort. He limited himself to giving them a form of admonition: Nay, my Sons, for the report which I hear is not good; do not so (I Kings 2:24). Is this what he should have said? They offended the One to Whom they owe their existence, and he still accepts them as part of his family? His admonition was useless and vain. No, this demanded not an admonition, but a strong lesson, severe torments, a treatment as strong as the evil. He should have used fear to root their young hearts out of this blindness. An admonition! Elis sons had no lack of these. O useless words! O criminal meekness by which they became victims! A war began, and the wretches became the spoils of their enemy. When their father learned of their misfortune, he fell to the ground and, smashing his head, died.

10. I have just told you that fathers who do not take care to give their children a Christian upbringing are murderers of their own children. Is it not true? Who should Eli blame for his son's death? Himself. True, the enemys sword slew them, but the neglect of their false father directed the blow. Abandoned by heavenly help, they appeared naked against the arrows of the Philistines. The father destroyed himself and them. Meanwhile, we see the same thing before ourselves daily. How many parents there are who do not want to take upon themselves this labor of correcting their unsubmissive and unruly children! They are as if afraid to upset their children by reigning in with stern words the vicious tendencies to which they have submitted themselves. What is the outcome? Their disorder increases; their impunity leads them to criminal offenses; they are brought to trial; and the wretches die at the hands of the executioner. You refused your personal rights over them and committed them to the severity of civil punishment, and human justice wielded its harsh rights over them. You are afraid to humiliate them with some light punishment in your presence; but what horrible dishonor shall befall you when your son is no longer around, and the father, hounded everywhere by accusing glares, no longer dares to show himself anywhere.

Lessons by Our Holy Father John Chrysostomos on Raising Children

Friday, March 27, 2009

Admonitions for Parents 5

7. Children who are submissive and faithful to God in their obedience to His law will have found an abundant source of happiness, even in this temporal life. A poor man with Christian morals inspires respect and love from others. Meanwhile, with an evil and depraved heart, all your riches will not save you from the displeasure and aversion of everyone around you.

8. The youth to whom you give a good upbringing will not only enjoy general respect, he will also become dearer to you yourselves! Your attachment to him will not be a mere natural attraction—it will be the fruit of his virtue. For this, during your old age, you will in turn receive from him the services of his filial love. He will be your support. For just as those who do not revere the Lord also have contempt for their own parents, those who revere God, the Father of all men, will have every respect for those who gave them life.

Lessons by Our Holy Father John Chrysostomos on Raising Children

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm sold!

I have recently been doing a lot of reading on herbal remedies. It just comes naturally after reading Nourishing Traditions and making a conscience decision to try and feed my family with healthy foods staying away from processed foods and chemicals in foods. Lately there has been a lot of negative talk about cough syrups for children. The FDA discourage children under the age of 6 to take it at all now.

I have become friend with a lady I met through Azure Standard co-op and she has been into medicinal herbs for quite awhile and I am learning a lot from her. She introduced me to a couple of books, one which is called “Family Herbal” by Rosemary Gladstar.

Recently the children one after another became sick with the “crud”, coughing head congestion, etc. But...those who started symptoms later had it less because I was able to nip it in the bud...that's my theory anyway. I'm hooked and hope to do a lot more herbal research for my family AND my farm. I already by herbal wormer for the goats and have gotten other herbal remedies for them during pregnancy for the goats so maybe I can make my own.

The boys had the sickness the worst but with diligence we have been able to ward off prescriptions and doctor visits.

I didn't start the herbal cough syrup until after they were coughing for a couple days and so that is why I think it got the best of them. But I did start the cough syrup when I learned about it and also started them on echinacea tincture immediately. As soon as I did start the syrup though the symptoms would be relieved. No nonstop coughing at night or otherwise.

Charissa got it slightly less, mostly just a cough. Started her on the syrup and echinacea.

James and Kelsey both woke with sore throats one day, I pumped them with fresh squeezed lemon and honey and echinacea tincture and it never developed into anything more. They took echinacea for a few days but then were able to stop.

Joseph complained of earache's a few times but each time he did I put a few drops of homemade garlic oil in his ear and that would relieve the pain and nothing more ever came of it.

I'm sold and I will continue to research and read on ways to help my family be healthy. It is very rewarding.

After researching the vitamins in herbs my friend created a mineral tincture out of 3 herbs that she uses in place of store bought vitamins. This tincture (which is very tasty) along with kelp capsules, give you all the minerals and vitamins that your body needs. And it is more natural and more readily absorbed and available to your body. Even Joseph likes it.

I have so much more to learn and I can't wait dig deeper into this new world of tradition medicines we can grow in our own garden. It was and will continue to be very satisfying to help my family like this.

Admonitions for Parents 4

6. The wise Sirach says: Hast thou children? Instruct them, and bow down their neck from their youth (Sir. 7:25). But the Lord does not only prompt us with this command through the lips of His prophet; he even takes our side, supporting the fulfillment of this commandment with the fearsome punishment that awaits those children who do not submit to the authority of their parents: Every man who shall speak evil of his father or of his mother, let him die the death (Lev. 20:9). He punishes with death those who become guilty before you, and you look tepidly at these sins that they commit against the highest possible authority. They are rebelling against God Him self, transgressing His commandments, and you look at this without the least displeasure, without the slightest criticism of your children. What does He have to lose from their offense? Nothing. But you, why should you not fear for your own selves? For whoever abandons the Lord will never respect either his own father or himself.

Lessons by Our Holy Father John Chrysostom on Raising Children

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Admonitions for Parents 3

4. Your children will always be sufficiently wealthy if they receive from you a good upbringing that is able to order their moral life and behavior. Thus, strive not to make them rich, but rather to make them pious masters of their passions, rich in virtues. Teach them not to think up illusory needs, reckoning their worth according to worldly standards. Attentively watch their deeds, their acquaintances and their attachments—and do not expect any mercy from God if you do not fulfill this duty.

Lessons by Our Holy Father John Chrysostom on Raising Children

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Admonitions for Parents 2

p3. This obligation belongs to fathers as well as mothers. There are fathers who spare nothing in order to secure for their children teachers of pleasure and to pander to their cravings as wealthy heirs. But so that the children would be Christians, so that they would exercise themselves in piety, is of little need to them. O criminal blindness! It is this very crude inattention that is responsible for all the disorder that causes our society to groan. Let us suppose that you have acquired large property for them. However, if they do not know how to conduct themselves sensibly this property will not last long with them. It will be squandered; it will perish with its owners, and will be their most grievous inheritance.
by St. John Chrysostomos

My introduction to this list I'll be posting for the next 25 days is here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Admonitions for Parents 1

I found this needed (for ME) and very profound article recently titled "Admonitions for Parents: Lessons by Our Holy Father John Chrysostomos on Raising Children". It is a list of 39 admonitions and I thought it would be a great Lenten Journey, for the rest of Lent anyway. There are 26 days left until Pascha, so each day I'll post one or two of these admonitions, in order they appear in the article. I cannot find the word I want to use to describe how these admonitions REALLY grabbed my heart and soul, jerking from my selfishness and putting me in my place. So here goes day 1:

1. Having children is a matter of nature; but raising them and educating them in the virtues is a matter of mind and will. [1]

2. By the duty of raising them I mean not only not allowing them to die of hunger, as people often limit their obligation toward their children to doing. For this, is needed neither books nor rubrics, for nature speaks of it quite loudly. I am speaking of the concern for educating childrens hearts in virtues and piety—a sacred duty which cannot be transgressed without thereby becoming guilty of the childrens murder, in a certain sense.

1. The first part is taken from Christian Reading, 1838, part 4, pp. 242-253, which was taken from vol. 5, Benedict in Mund; vidua Eligatur.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


When our good and all-gracious Lord and Master sees people too lazy in their exercises, He lays their flesh low with sickness, an asceticism with less toil; and sometimes it also cleanses the soul from evil thoughts or passions.

St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step26: On Discernment of Thoughts, Passions and Virtue

Lord Have Mercy on me a sinner.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Clean Week cleaning.

Emma over at Charming the Birds from the Trees posted her "Lenten Cleaning List". She asked for others to share so I thought I'd share what I was doing. I don't have a Lenten cleaning List but rather a "Clean Week Cleaning List".
I decided for this week we would take the week off from school and focus on Church and cleaning. To start Lent off with a clean and organized home my hope is to being to then focus the rest of Lent of prayer, fasting and alms-giving.
During the time that we would normally be doing school we'll work together to clean and each day we will cover a different room. In each room I hope to deep clean by cleaning off shelves, culling unneeded items (next Wednesday Northwest Center will come through the neighborhood), washing windows and scrubbing floors and moldings, etc. Here is my list:

Monday: Livingroom
Tuesday: Kitchen/Diningroom
Wednesday: Laundry room (Presanctified Liturgy in the morning will shorten our cleaning for this day)
Thursday: Girls Bedroom and downstairs bathroom and downstairs hallway.
Friday: Master Bedroom and Boys Bedroom
Saturday: Cabin

Have a blessed Clean Week and a fruitful Lent!

Monday, March 02, 2009

On Forgiveness and the start of Great Lent.

Excerpt from "Great Lent" by Alexander Schmemann

He is speaking about the Vespers service...

This day's Great Prokeimenon announces the beginning of Lent:

Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant for I am afflicted!
Hear me speedily.
Attend to my soul and deliver it!

Listen to the unique melody of this verse--to this cry that suddenly fills the church: "...for I am afflicted!"--and you will understand this starting point of Lent: the mysterious mixture of despair and hope, of darkness and light. All preparation has now come to an end. I stand before God, before the glory and the beauty of His Kingdom. I realize that I belong to it, that I have no other home, no other joy, no other goal; I also realize that I am exiled from it into the darkness and sadness of sin, "for I am afflicted!" And finally, I realize that only God can help in that affliction, that only He can " attend to my soul." Repentance is, above everything else, a desperate call for that divine help.
Five times we repeat the Prokeimenon. And then, Lent is here!...
We will have to wander forty days through the desert of Lent. Yet at the end shines already the light of Easter, the light of the Kingdom.

One of the things that is so amazing to me, the thing that has been so comforting and appealing to me from early on in my journey to Orthodoxy is knowing that all over the world, Orthodox Christians are singing these very same hymns. Orthodox Christians all over the world are walking together, singing and repenting, asking forgivness and beginning this journey of Great Lent together. Knowing that I could go just about anywhere and enter just about any Orthodox Church and I would hear the same hymns being sung:
Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant for I am afflicted!
Hear me speedily.
Attend to my soul and deliver it!

Together we fast, pray and give almsgiving as we strive a little harder on our path to salvation. That we may come out in the end a little bit more like God.

My dear friends and family in Christ, as we begin our journey through Lent I ask forgiveness.
Please forgive me!
God forgives all!