7QT – Liturgical Burpees and Walking on Water

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It’s my one-week 7QT anniversary! It’s very late at night so let’s get right to it.

  1. I got my hair cut. Oh yes, this is a big deal. Were I proficient in posting pictures not hypersensitive about internet privacy, I would share my new ‘do. (Call me Apple.) Anywho, I chopped it up to my chin for maximum ease on our trip.
  2. My chickens are laying eggs again! My chickens went through a ridiculously hard molt for about 6 months and ceased laying altogether. I threatened execution and the kids rebelled. It was gearing up to be a show-down like the OK Corral. However, the old girls are back to an egg a day and the execution has been stayed indefinitely…or until the next time they start slacking.
  3. Quandary: Is it breaking the fast to not eat dairy or meat, but to eat sweet things? I’ve been pondering this (while stuffing my face with a late afternoon sugar fix). I feel like I am lacking in virtue, but my low blood sugar says, “Screw it.” Such penance. I am definite role model.
  4. Thursday night was the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. This saint wrote a 4hour long matins service that includes something like 300 prostrations. About 60 pages into the service I realized why I love being Byzantine…it’s like Catholic CrossFit. Prostrations are really just liturgical burpees. A surge of pride rolled through me as I thought, “I’ll beat all you fools at these burpees!” I began doing burpees prostrations as fast reverently as I could. This, ladies and gents, is the story of me: I can turn anything into a competition.
  5. I have company in town this week for my cousin’s baby shower. It’s always The. Best. to see my familia.
  6. My daughter has eczema, so we are very familiar with steroid creams in our household. Years ago, her little baby lisp called it, “Hydrocortiscream.” This became so ingrained in our family that it is not unusual for me to hear my big boy or husband ask for an application of hydrocortiscream.
  7. When we do travel, my family will be staying a night at a resort by the Dead Sea. My ten-year-old confidently told me today that he plans to test walking on water during our stay. Now I understand why he’s taken St. Peter as his patron for this trip.

Happy Friday, party people. Head over to Kelly’s for more.

Busted – A pro-life homage to a cartoon teen

The name of my blog is inspired by my favorite cartoon teenager, Candace Flynn. Throughout the show, Candace eschews normal teenage activities in favor of her everquest to “bust” her brothers. Candace isn’t vindictive. Her desire to bust her brothers springs from a desire to keep them safe. Her brothers are geniuses who spend their time building questionable contraptions that, to any casual onlooker, should probably be handled by experts and tested for safety before being used by the hordes of neighborhood kids. But, Candace has a problem: every single time she gets her mother’s attention, the boys’ contraption has vanished and it appears that the boys are just doing normal, childhood things. Candace is persistent. She calls her mom over and over, freaking out about her brothers and her mother never gets it.

What does Candace Flynn have to do with the pro-life movement? Nothing at all, personally. However, as I watched an episode of this cartoon with my kids, I realized that Candace suffers from the same trouble the pro-life movement has: no one listens and they are done responding to the freak-outs.

See, at various times, Candace actually finds an adult who can see what she sees and they also freak out, but it is to no avail because her mother is absolutely deaf to  Candace’s position that the boys are up to “something.” No one can really blame her mother. Candace has been screaming at her mother to come look at nothing for years. At this point Candace’s mom is so used to finding nothing in the face of a prime flip-out that it doesn’t phase her when Candace finds another person who also flips-out.

Recently, my family had a Facebook debate about the Planned Parenthood videos. The gist of the debate was that graphic images don’t change minds, they just make pro-lifers look crazy. But, I think that pro-lifers, myself included, may just be suffering from a Candace-complex – the audience we need most is used to ignoring us.

Let’s not be hard on Candace. She is the oldest and truly loves her brothers. They do very dangerous things and her mother never does anything about it. If you walked out to find your little brothers loading up neighborhood kids onto a several-stories-high roller coaster they built in a matter of hours you’d be worried, too. Candace’s responses are not out of proportion to the events she witnesses. The only problem is that Candace’s mom usually never registers the danger and so never sees a problem.

And, this, ladies and gentlemen, is my point. The pro-life movement has every right to “flip-out” about the sale of baby partsunregulated clinics, and the millions of people lost each year to abortion, but our audience hasn’t seen it, yet. There’s no good reason that they haven’t seen it, but no amount of our “flipping out” will make them see it. They are happy to ignore us.

Candace had every right to continue to try to confront her mother with the truth; she even had the responsibility since her mom wasn’t watching. Pro-lifers, too, have that responsibility because we must stand up for those who have no voice. Yet, we’re going to have to realize that no matter how loud we yell “Mom!”, she’s just not yet ready to see what we’re talking about. Should we do it, yes. But, we’re going to have to put out a Candace-level effort to show up, to witness, and to help. Candace never stopped trying and neither should we. We should be at the clinics offering help, demanding that political candidates do something to protect women from a predatory industry, trying to get our friends involved, and watching out for safety concerns where we know there is little to no supervision.

Although Candace never gets her mom’s attention, her constant witness to her brothers’ dangerous schemes allows her to be uniquely position to help save them from the danger they create for themselves and she builds a loving relationship with them just by always being around. I don’t have the answers, but for now proclaiming the truth of life, showing the love of Christ to the victims of abortion, and witnessing to the lives of our little brothers and sisters in the womb is all we can do. We’re going to have to accept looking crazy because the truth just can’t be seen, yet. We pray for better days.

A Day in the Life – For posterity’s sake before I throw in the towel.

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I am not a full-time homeschooler. I’m only a part-timer thanks to the awesome university model classical school my kids attend. They have classroom teachers who write the lesson plans. I simply have the responsibility of doing two home-days per week. This, it turns out, is too much responsibility for me. It didn’t start out as too much responsibility. It was lovely at first. As my job became more demanding, I had the help of our wonderful nanny. But, life goes on and she got married (the nerve) and had her own baby. We were left limping along without a devoted adult and growing work obligations. This year was garbage time. So, to my future self who may look back with longing at the university model days, I present a day in the sucktastic life of working a demanding job and partially homeschooling.

5:20am – I awake. I am thinking about what I need to accomplish at work, what we will have for dinner, and whether I have booked all of the necessaries for our trip. I start my morning prayers, but become distracted and start reading about the weekend primaries.

6:00am – I am making breakfast, getting dressed, doing make-up and hair, and making my bed. I wake the kids. The boys don’t want to get up, so I hurry their sister out of bed and then tell them that they are losing to her. They are up, dressed, and out the door to feed and water the chickens in less than 10 minutes. This game always works because they are overly competitive and my daughter doesn’t care, having figured out that she does fewer chores if she dawdles over her toilet. I keep wondering when the boys will figure this out, but so far they still fall for the old, “You’re losing to your sister” line. I complete breakfast, pack my husband’s lunch, braid my daughter’s hair, and wrangle the boys’ hair back into shape after their acrobatic sleeping and dressing.

7:00am – Everyone sits at the table for morning prayers. I grab some toast, a banana, and my medicine and head out the door. I come to a screeching halt in the driveway so that I can run back in for a file I forgot, a spare charger for my phone, and a cup of coffee. My husband will drop off the kids at school after he gets them to finish eating and finish their morning chores. With any luck the beds will be made and the breakfast dishes picked up before they leave.

Until 4:30 – I do my work thing. The kids are picked up by their great aunt. I get a text right before I leave informing me that my daughter forgot her soccer shorts. F…Great (only clean epithets cross my mind and lips when I get bad news). We’ll have to run by the house before we actually go to practice. I leave the office and remind myself not to speed or allow panic. It’s soccer practice. She doesn’t even run the right way most of the time. The Lord has mercy on me and all the other Monday sojourners and there are no traffic jams on the way. I am listening to a really interesting book, so I am able to keep my resolve to not speed or lose my cool. Take that, lack of virtue.

5:00pm – We actually get home with enough time to have everyone change before practice. We also got to walk to practice, which is great because the parking is The. Worst. For some reason, the weather turns super chilly in the hour we are at practice and I am freezing by the time we get home. I handle this with heroic virtue much whining.

6:15pm – We’re back home. My husband has a meeting this evening, so I’m gonna let myself off cooking. The kids will have frozen pizza that I jazz up with some mushrooms and extra cheese. Chef Boyardee are me. I’ll eat some leftovers. We begin tomorrow’s homework.

7:45pm – We’ve finished 2 or 3 subjects a piece and no one had to be yelled at beaten threatened encouraged. Go kids! We grab pizza and hot chocolate and settle in for a bit of a movie. They choose Nanny McPhee. My favorite line in this movie is, “I understand you have extremely ill-behaved children.” Been there. We’ll try to hit one more subject before bed that way we will only have 1 or 2 subjects to finish in the evening tomorrow. I have early meetings and a haircut in the evening, so we need to finish as much as we can tonight.

10:00pm – I’m off to bed. Tomorrow I get to go to the gym at 5:45am, so I’ll try to keep myself from staying up tonight.

Five-days-a-week school, I am longing for you!

For better homeschoolers, click here.

Seven Quick Takes – International Travel, Vegan Breakfast, and Border Crossings

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My first 7QT!

  1. The. Entire. Family. is traveling to the middle east soon because I chronically choose difficulty – expert for my first attempts at things. First time overseas? Let’s go to the middle east with three kids and not use a travel agent.
  2. I got real ambitious and was going to try to cross a land border between Israel and Jordan on the same day as our flight out of Jordan…but this has caused such anxiety that I am going to nix that idea in favor of the more sane idea – crossing the border on Sabbath. What could go wrong?
  3. I’ve been working crazy hours lately in preparation for this trip. I’m tired to the point of wanting to punch my computer screen. Today I have to do billing for the past two weeks and gently remind my assistants that I really, really, really need them to stay on top of my calendar and prepping me for various appearances. There was a cluster yesterday that left me…perturbed in mind and soul.
  4. I emailed the kids’ teachers asking for assignments ahead of our travels. The response was less than satisfactory. “I’m sorry. I don’t have those plans yet.” What? When I was teaching, we were required to have plans a month in advance. I’m asking for two weeks of lessons one week in advance. Kids these days.
  5. My youngest kids are making breakfast this morning. The menu is toast, blueberries, and eggs. They wisely started with the toast so that they would be able to focus on the eggs. They’ve been at hard work for almost half an hour and they are just getting ready to start cooking the eggs. This is totes adorbs.
  6. The schedule has been relelentless lately. Tomorrow I’m cantoring an All Souls liturgy, we have a soccer game, two rugby games, I’m running a practice for the St. Andrew liturgy on Thursday, and then I’m cantoring vespers and the Saturday night liturgy.
  7. Well, the kids have informed me that breakfast is finished except eggs…would I help them by finishing the eggs? Such cuties.

For more quick takes, join Kellyseven-quick-takes-friday-2

Fasting Foods

My family is not Orthodox, but we follow many of the Orthodox fasting rules as Eastern Catholics. We are currently in the season of the Great Fast, which has not yet begun for our Orthodox counterparts. I have tried to up our fasting over the years, aiming for that day that we can keep a traditional fast. For those of you unfamiliar with Orthodox fasting, let me break it down. There are four fasting seasons each year: 1. Phillip’s Fast (40 days prior to Christmas starting on November 15), 2. The Great Fast  (Lent, but it begins on Monday instead of Ash Wednesday and ends on Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday. However, the fasting continues until Great and Holy Saturday Night), 3. The Apostles’ Fast (most of the month of June, but it changes depending on Pascha [Easter]), and 4. The Dormition Fast (the two weeks prior to the Dormition [Assumption]). During fasting seasons, it is traditional to not eat any animal products, olive oil, or alcohol. Shell fish is traditionally allowed on weekends and fish (or any animal with a backbone) is not allowed except on feast days. Okay, them’s the rough outline of the rules and seasons.

What I love about the East is that the rules really aren’t the rules, per se. They are guidelines and we are called to aspire to compliance as our souls and will to be united to the Holy Trinity grow. My family has been in the East for about 7 years and this is the first time we are going all-out vegetarian for the Great Fast. I am attempting the vegan guidelines; the kids and the hubby are avoiding meat. This post is to simply compile the recipes that have been hits.

Sunday Scallop Spaghetti  – I made a marinara sauce with about two pounds of sautéed scallops and served them over edamame noodles. It was high in protein and very delicious. We had bread, salad, and pie on the side.

Saturday Night Shrimp Po’Boys – I sautéed shrimp with garlic and creole seasoning and served in buns with lettuce and French dip. We had sweet potato fries on the side.

Sunday No-Bakes – 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1/4 cup of nut butter, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 honey, and 1/4 cup of coconut milk are boiled over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Then 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a bag of shredded, unsweetened coconut are stirred in. The mixture is spooned onto a greased cookie sheet and popped in the freezer for about 10 minutes to harden.

Sunday Vegan Coconut Cream Pie – I made a custard of corn starch, coconut milk, vanilla, and sweetened shredded coconut. (http://www.tastebook.com/blog/happens-to-be-vegan-coconut-pudding-recipe/) I didn’t follow any of the fancy directions. I just warmed the coconut milk, sugar, and cornstarch until it became thick and stirred in the coconut. Why do they ever suggest straining? I don’t get it. I also made a gluten free crust with Krusteaz all purpose mix and followed this recipe: https://simplygluten-free.com/blog/2013/11/perfect-gluten-free-pie-crust-recipe.html. It was so good! I served it with fruit and non-dairy whipped cream.

Chia Coconut Oatmeal – oatmeal and chia seeds are boiled in coconut milk and sweetened with maple syrup.

Veggie Red Beans and Rice – Sautée mirepoix and fresh garlic along with chopped sweet peppers. When these are soft, add drained and rinsed canned red beans. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of corn starch over the top and begin to mix in shrimp or vegetable stock. Add several cups of cooked brown rice and continue to mix in stock until the entire mixture is heated and covered in a light gravy. We served it with a side salad.

Vegan Corn Muffins – Mix 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds with 4 tablespoons of water. Place in the refrigerator to congeal. In a bowl, mix 1 cup of corn meal, 1 cup of flour (we use Krusteaz gluten free mix), 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of baking powder. Add the gelatinous flax seed mixture, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and enough coconut milk to make a smooth batter. Spoon into muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes. We serve them with margarine.

Greek Sweet Potatoes and Chick Peas – http://minimalistbaker.com/mediterranean-baked-sweet-potatoes/ Basically, roast the sweet potatoes in the oven. Rinse and drain chick peas and coat with olive oil, cinnamon, salt, and cummin (what I had on hand at the time) and roast on a lined sheet. Mix dill weed and lemon juice into hummus (I had spicy roasted red pepper at the time). Serve the sweet potato with chick peas on top and drizzle with the sauce. We served with roasted brussels’ sprouts and corn muffins.

Black Bean and Soyrizo Soup – Soak black beans overnight. Sautée chopped onions, garlic, and soyriso (http://www.friedas.com/soyrizo/) until the onions are soft. Rinse black beans and add water, soyrizo, canned diced tomatoes, and black beans to crock pot. Salt and add cumin to taste. Cook all day on low. We served this with bread in the bread machine or corn muffins and a salad.

Spicy Ginger Shrimp – I sauteed a whole head of napa cabbage along with shredded carrots until they were cooked down. Then I added soy sauce, chile paste, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch until I had a thick gravy. We served it over brown jasmine rice with a side of dragonfruit. We had coconut tapioca pudding and blueberries for desert. Delish!

To be continued…

How they are now…

The Scholar is 9. He is writing a story that includes elements of Harry Potter, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time, Old Yeller, and a handful of other books. It reads like a primitive Ender’s Game. He is getting more sensitive and feels very responsible. He hates to be lectured and I am beginning to think that it is because he is actually rather hard on himself. Yet, he quickly descends into hilarity, careening through the house while laughing in a high-pitched squeal that makes me grit my teeth. It’s fun to watch him be happy. His teen years loom before me and I realize that his childhood abandon will give way soon enough to…whatever comes next. He’s a sweet boy.

The Hippy is almost 8. He had struggled so much with schoolwork, but he is coming along well. He is writing his own tchroo storees about various adventures with animals. I love his vocabulary. He also runs with abandon, but he is more even-keeled than his brother. He has a very keen sense of thesosis, by which I mean he consciously tries to grow spiritually. It is really amazing to watch him pursue virtue. However, he has a mischievous sense of humor and an almost compulsive need to pick on easy targets. He loves to torment his sister even though he would die defending her against anyone else.

The Princess is 5. She is a very quick little girl. She reads and writes well. She tends to be more ruled by her emotions than the Hippy. She compulsively tinkers with relationships in the family. For instance, she took a phonogram test at school this week and wrote question marks for a handful of sounds that I know she knows. I asked her dad to re-adminster the test at home on Thursday. Again, she wrote question marks. I came home and gave her the test, first explaining that she would “wet, dry, try” (write the letters with a wet sponge and then again with chalk) each one she missed for extra practice. She not only got every letter correct, her penmanship was perfect. She just wanted me to administer the test. That’s my girl. Still, she is very loving to all of us and often spontaneously declares her love for us with words, gifts, and hugs. She is a sweetie.

The Husband had shingles this week. Poor man. He stayed home from work all week because his officemate is pregnant. He has been very patient through it all. He got some good drugs and seems to be healing up pretty well already. He has been very sweet to me lately and supremely patient. My work has been very demanding, we’ve had a ton of family through our house due to my cousin’s death, and I’ve had a very hard time working through my own grief about my cousin. It wasn’t a great time for shingles (when is?) and he’s been really great.

Evie

On Loss and Love

Recently I lost a cousin to depression. I’m comfortable with the word suicide, but my family has correctly pointed out that the stigma attached to that word demands that we more accurately name his death. He was sad, depressed by a soul-searing, life-sucking darkness that I don’t understand. He took an action that defies all logic and everything that anyone ever knew about him. We needed him and now he’s gone. I can’t believe that he knew what he was doing and then selfishly took his own life because death is unknown and scary. Who goes to death willingly? I can believe that a person goes to death because there is nothing else, no other answer. But, I can’t believe that anyone goes to death by choice.

As  a Catholic, I’ve read about saints being happy to die and I can understand that attitude, even whilst knowing I’m too much of a coward, or too lacking in faith to meet death with open arms. However, none of them ever “chose” to die the way my cousin “did.” No, they comforted their executioners, prayed for their tormentors, happily awaited the natural end of tuberculosis, cancer, or leprosy. But, those deaths were marked by hope. My poor cousin’s was not. It was marked only by pain and that is what makes his death so grievous. That is why I understand my family’s wish not to call it suicide, for that word implies that there was some choice in the matter and it does not seem like any choice was attached to his death. His death was the ultimate process of his disease. His disease was depression.

I have barely felt the right to be as grieved as I am. I haven’t been close to him as an adult. How can I pour out any of my own anguish when his family is in such pain? It seems wrong. Selfish. Yet, I cannot stop crying about it. Dear Lord, why did he have to be in such pain? Why can’t I man up and comfort his family? Why was he alone at the end? Why?

His sister whispered at the funeral, “It just doesn’t make any sense.” No, it doesn’t. Is this what causes my grief? How can I feel as if some part of me was violently ripped away when he died? I do not have that right. He has a daughter, a wife, a mother and father, sisters and a brother. These are the thoughts that have swirled through my mind as I’ve fought back tears for more than a week. Dear Lord, why?

And yet, he is so worth grieving in this way. Not only I, but the whole, wide world should be injured by his death. Why shouldn’t we all fall in anguish, mourning the loss of a golden-haired boy in his prime? He blessed the earth with his smile. His blue eyes were essential. His voice was an important note in the whole, harmonious song of humanity. And it is gone because of depression. I should be broken-hearted forever because this one was precious, irreplaceable and he did not seem to know it.

Cousin, you are so important. You are needed. The loss of you rends a gaping hole in the gossamer weave that holds us all together. How could you not see this? How could you ever have become convinced that you were not crucial? How could we ever have allowed darkness to so overwhelm you? Dear Lord, why?

There are no answers. The world and my family will continue. We will feel the ache. I know this so well. My own dear, daughter who died as an infant grows each year in my mind. I see her shadowy presence in our photographs. “She would be taller than my son.” “Her hair was going to be dark.” He will be the same. When our family gathers for holidays, there will be one boy less. One goofy smile gone. Yet, we will move down our own trajectories, loving, laughing, failing, sinning, fighting, falling, hoping, and living until the day we die. It will all seem very ordinary, even mundane. But, dear world, know that while you are doing all of this living, banal though it may seem, you are essential. When you go, you leave a void, so don’t leave too soon.

Evie

#WorthRevisit

For better revisits, visit Allison Gingras.

Hello muddy world!

Hi, I’m me and you are you and here we are in my mud world.

So, who am I? I am Evie. I am married to a pretty nerdy guy who I met in high school. I’m pretty nerdy myself so we get along just fine and have for the last long time. We have four kids – three here on earth and one little girl who died of SIDS early in her infancy. I am a professional, or at least that’s what my business card says. I used to play the piano a lot. I’ve always been opinionated and I love me some interwebs. I am of the Oregon Trail generation, which makes me perfect for being late to the blogging game.

What is this blog about? Oh, I don’t know. I just think things and then I want to say them and then I run out of people who will listen and then I abuse my Facebook feed. I finally decided to start a blog so y’all can choose when to listen to me…ya know, if you decide to listen at all. I have worked in the pro-life movement over the years and I’m starting this blog in the heat of thoughts regarding these videos. I also really love theology and law. I’m also terrible about documenting my kids’ childhoods, so this might be a space for some of that as well. I am sure you are thrilled. Woot, another blog without a purpose.

What is with the name? The naming of this blog will be addressed in a different post. Hahahaha, cliff hanger.

-Me