Wednesday, September 30, 2015


"Sacraments do not simply bless things as they are, but transform them in a dynamic manner towards what they should be. In the case of the Eucharist, this transformation is complete. But in those sacraments that involve the freedom of persons, the transformation can only be seen as a dynamic. Man and woman are blessed towards what they should be. The heart of marriage is self-emptying love towards the purpose of union and the procreation of children. It does not exist for the self-fulfillment of our tragic existence ... but towards an end that is only just now being made present." - Fr. Stephen

"In the ancient Church, crowns are a symbol of martyrdom. The word "martyr" means witness. The common life of the bride and groom is to bear witness to the Presence of Christ in their lives and in the world. Martyrdom is usually associated with death. So the reality of God's Kingdom in the life of the husband and wife will necessarily take the form of dying to one's self, to one's will, and the giving of one's life totally to the other, and through the other, to Christ." - Wikipedia
"Bless (+) this marriage and grant unto these Your servants a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace, offspring long‑lived, fair fame by reason of their children, and a crown of glory that does not fade away." - from the crowning service

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Back to School with Calendar Printables (and other stuff)

We're back to school this week! I'm really grateful for a return to routine, oh yes, I am.

We've returned to a mostly Charlotte Mason style again this year, although we're keeping many elements of the Waldorf program we used last year. Its hard, really hard, to make all the choices about what and how to teach and to feel confident you've made the right decision - especially when there are so many lovely options out there. But I'm really appreciating Ambleside Online this year, and I'm feeling more and more confident that what we're doing works well for us.

Calendar Cards sitting on our kitchen corner shelf
Last year, I shared these feast day cards last year, and as I noted at the time I had forgotten a few important feasts. I started by putting them on the morning board and trying to remember to rotate as new feasts arrived. Gradually, we moved our school work from upstairs to the kitchen table (which has been great for a lot of reasons), and suddenly our feast day cards have a nice place to sit and are much easier to see and remember. This has worked really well for us as a Church Year Calendar, and our whole family has enjoyed them beyond school time.

Initially I kept the extras in my teaching folder, but now the entire stacks sits on this corner shelf. All I have to do is flip the card to the back when the feast/fast is passed to see what's coming up next. Of course, we'll have to be mindful of moveable feasts and feast days in the middle of a fast. You can download it here.  There are 40 cards: one for the 12 major feasts, many popular saints, and fasting periods. Each card includes the date of the feast and the troparion (or other relevant hymn for fasts). I printed mine through fed ex printing on nice card stock (and they even cut the pages for me).

We're enjoying our Dormition Fast printable, and looking forward to celebrating the feast this weekend with lots of flowers!

I made some new animal bookmarks (sea animals and horses) for my girls. You can find the animal bookmark printables on my craft blog.

Happy New School Year!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dormition Fast Calendar Printable and Lesson Plan

Briefly, this is my lesson plan for a class at our mission this week on the Dormition. We have all of our kids in one class, so its a challenge to try to keep everyone's attention and not let the noise level get out of control! I'm thinking of telling the story with flannelgraph this week - can't wait!

Dormition Fast Lesson:

1. Start with songs and finger plays (“It is truly meet,” “this is the church…” “Our Father”
2. Teach kids to sing refrain, “Most holy Theotokos, save us,” for the paraklesis. 
3. Tell the story of the Dormition in an exciting way.
4. What does it mean? God raised her up and took her to heaven, and he will someday do that for all the faithful. 
5. Give kids Dormition Calendar with instructions to color one flower per day to count the days of the fast and celebrate the feast. 
6. Challenge children to bring flowers to the church for Christ and his mother on the feast of the Dormition (Saturday, August 15, or the next Sunday if their family can’t come).  
7. Give kids a letter to parents also, explaining about the calendar and the flower challenge. 

Grab the Dormition Fast calendar png above, or print the pdf below. 


"Finally it must be stressed that, in all of the feasts of the Virgin Mother of God in the Church, the Orthodox Christians celebrate facts of their own lives in Christ and the Holy Spirit. What happens to Mary happens to all who imitate her holy life of humility, obedience, and love. With her all people will be “blessed” to be “more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim” if they follow her example. All will have Christ born in them by the Holy Spirit. All will become temples of the living God. All will share in the eternal life of His Kingdom who live the life that Mary lived."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Teaching the Eucharist to Children

I put together this lesson on the Eucharist with a little zine for our kids at church. I tried to make the book appropriate for a broad age range. It simply explains the Eucharist, with quotes from the services, and bubbles telling the children ways they can participate in the Liturgy, with an image to color on each page.

It prints on one page. Fold the paper in half, in half again and in half again, then cut  just the center vertical fold. Then you can fold it into a zine. More precise instructions are here. I love this easy zine template and make books for my kids frequently with it. 

Grab the png above or the pdf with teaching notes is embedded below. Print at actual size (not scale to fit).

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Many years, Mary!

As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia.

"It is the story of Christ, and it is the duty and joy of every Christian to know and teach this story. When children are baptized into this narrative, they become part of it. The stories of the patriarchs, the judges, the kings, the prophets, the apostles, the saints who followed them, and of Christ Himself, become their stories." - source

"Every child knows when it is loved; every child responds to affection and tenderness. An infant may not be able to articulate any of that in a rational, conscious way, but that doesn’t mean that the child has no understanding of life’s most important intimacies. And if all infants, at some level, comprehend and react to human love, surely every child can do the same with the love of the Most Holy Trinity." - source

Friday, June 5, 2015

All Saints Sunday

I put together this lesson for our kids at church for All Saints Sunday, but it could also make a nice patron saint lesson. The printable includes:

1. the epistle reading for All Saints Sunday and some notes I used to prepare.
2. (and page 5) Two saint pages for children to fill in with the name of their saint, why they are a saint, and how to be like them. A box for drawing the saint is there with light lines to help young children get started. (the second page doesn't have the "St." so it can be used for the Theotokos, angels, or other saints with different titles.)
3. I didn't use the third page, but it is an extra printable with a space to draw all of your favorite saints, or perhaps your family's saints around Christ enthroned.
4. The next page has 12 circles of Christ enthroned meant to be cut out and pasted on a paper plate, and then, like number 3, you can draw saints around. We didn't get to this either.



Feast Day: 50 days after Pascha
Liturgical color: Green
Liturgical offering: greenery for the church
Special prayers: Kneeling Prayers

Around the web:
Festal Learning Basket from Charming the Birds from the Trees
On Ancient Faith Radio:

We found this pretty green tree frog while out cutting greenery for church.
Lou named him Fifty Nifty.