Monday, January 25, 2016

Learning Something New

The pink blur is the pig, yes I still need to figure out my camera, I am finding that daunting as well!
For the past year or so, I thought it would be fun to learn needle felting, but it seemed daunting. For Christmas I received a needle felting starter kit from Maximus, but no book. He must have had great confidence in my creative genius but I needed a little bit more instruction than myself, so I bought the book Wool Pets. I like how the author presented this craft, she made me feel like I could make anything I wanted, so in two days I made 4 different projects. I've been surprised with how simple needle felting is and my oldest has been enjoying the fruit of my labor. He likes pulling up a chair while I make "little creatures" and then he whisks them away for imaginary games. He and papa even made a little duplo chicken coop for the hen. Soon, I am going to venture into felting some playscapes too. It's fun to be crafty again.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Simplify, Organize, Focus

I must admit, when I first heard about having a "word" for a year - I thought it was dumb. Obviously, I have thought a little bit harder about it, since I now have three words for the year - simplify, organize, and focus. I like that words for the year become a year long resolution, I can tell it will help me to keep things I do in perspective. Let's start with SIMPLIFY. While visiting my sister last year, I talked her into buying the book The Magical Art of Tidying Up to help her with packing for her move overseas. But I would say we both benefitted greatly from implementing Marie Kondo's ideas. Since having children, especially since having baby #2, I have been seeing the value of less. We live in a small house and things like baby clothes and toys (specifically Hot Wheels) seem to multiply when I'm not looking. Even my own stuff became overwhelming, I started asking myself "Would I buy this if I got rid of it today?" A lot of times, the answer was "no" so off it went to be donated, and I have no intention of buying a replacement for it. It feels nice to SIMPLIFY and then ORGANIZE what I have and FOCUS on what is important to me. For me, a cluttered house equals a cluttered mind. I have trouble focusing when my house is out of control, and with a small house it can happen quickly if left unchecked. 

Washing and drying the grimy Duplos, making sure they have a designated place to be stored instead of random cardboard boxes.

Beeswax polish for wooden toys and furniture. I used this recipe. It makes wood look so lovely.

A newly polished play kitchen, that will stay this nicely put together oh, until the preschooler comes home. We've had this kitchen for a few years and I so badly wanted him to love this. He likes it enough, as long as I am right next to him playing - I really think that is his personality though, it has nothing to do with the fact that this is a kitchen. I remember the lady that I bought this from told me "Yeah, I was hoping my son would like this way more than he did." The little boy was there when I came to buy this and he wasn't sad to see it go at all, the only thing he asked to keep was the play knife for cutting the wooden fruit, just like a boy. I let him keep it. I can't bear to part with this kitchen right now, so I think it will be kept until baby #2 is older. Am I doing the opposite of my word of the year??? In this case, it's okay.

My sweet babe, waiting until he's big enough to play with the kitchen.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Eve 2015

A very pleasant and low key New Year's Eve was had at the Nicholas household this year. Son #1 and I started off the evening by organizing my huge collection of spices, doesn't get more low key than that. All of the grocery stores have bulk spice bins and I wind up with little bags of spices stuffed in the cabinet where they are promptly forgotten about. This mason jar system has worked the best, but I still have to occasionally consolidate all the little spice bags lurking in the cabinet. 

Once the kiddos went to bed, I finished reading The Chimes, it is a Charles Dickens book that takes place on New Year's Eve. It just seemed appropriate to finish it on the 31st. It also seemed like an accomplishment to finish a book, even if said book only consisted of four chapters.

On to wassail. For the last 5 years, we have wanted to make wassail and this year WE FINALLY DID IT! We used this recipe, and it was tasty, kind of odd, but tasty. And of course, we had to listen to songs about drinking wassail, while actually drinking wassail. I barely made it to midnight, but Maximus made sure I did and at the stroke of midnight, he was sure to have all the doors and windows open to usher out the old year and to welcome in the new. A fun little tradition, but I was excited to then shut all open doors and windows and hunker down by the heater before retiring to bed. Babies don't know that mamas stay up late on New Year's Eve, and they don't mind waking them at all hours of the night. But my, how I love that baby. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bits of Christmas

One of the things I appreciate about Orthodoxy is the rhythm it gives to life. I remember growing up, that the day after Christmas always seemed like such a let down, there was all of this anticipation for Christmas, and just like that it was over. As the last wadded up piece of wrapping paper was tossed into the garbage, the season ended, rather than began. Now, as Orthodox Christians we completed the Nativity fast on the 25th, and we are still joyfully feasting and celebrating the Christmas season.

This is the first year that G. is starting to understand Christmas, what it means and the traditions involved. It was so fun to see him making Christmas cookies using his great grandma's recipe. I realized I did not have food coloring so the icing was just going to be white - that is until I added too much vanilla extract which resulted in a pale brown color. There always seems to be a hitch when it comes to coloring that icing, one year I tried coloring it with a little wine hoping it would turn red. It turned light purple. I think it is time to just buy some natural food coloring.

I received a new camera for Christmas and I am trying to figure out how to use it, since baby has been born, I haven't taken many pictures of him and I am hoping to capture the parts of our day that I would most like to remember as my children grow. So giant piles of laundry and tantrums will most likely not be included, sorry if anyone was looking forward to pictures of those things.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Struggle is Real

*I know posts without pictures are no fun, but this millennial can't figure out how to upload pictures from her iPad to this blog post*

Ever since deciding that I was going to be a present mother to my son I have found myself struggling with how to be a present mother. There are days when I feel like I was dropped off in the middle of the ocean and told "alright, now swim back to shore!" except I don't know where shore is. I remember once back in my not-impressive-at-all surfing days I was completely taken down by a wave and I was being tossed around under the water like a rag doll, I had no idea which way was up. I told myself, "don't freak out, don't freak out, just stay calm", thankfully, in a moment of clarity I thought "hey, just follow your leash, your surfboard is up above." I think I probably need to keep that on repeat in my head ever day - "don't freak out, don't freak out, just stay calm", thankfully Orthodoxy has just the prayer to pray for those days (let's be honest, everyday) I feel so overwhelmed by my role as a mother "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God have mercy upon me a sinner". What other prayer is there really besides the prayer for mercy? It's still a struggle, I am not sure how many times per day I can listen to my nearly three year old say "play with me!" before I want to go hide in the closet but this prayer gives me hope, Lord have mercy.

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Year

Today marks the one year anniversary that I went with my husband to the Orthodox Church. The church I said I was never going to go to. The church that has changed me (and continues to change me) from the inside out. The church that has given me a peace unexplained. The church that has since become my home.

Pascha 2014 embroidery project
My pride is what kept me from going for so long. My assurance that I was right and the church must be wrong. Well, pride goeth before the fall they say and I fell hard. And what a beautiful fall it was - right into the arms of the church.

"I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, I shall take the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." - Ezekiel 36:26

Monday, October 6, 2014

On Motherhood

Let me begin this post by first mentioning that I am not eloquent nor especially articulate, but here I go anyway.

Today I made a decision that I should have made three years ago, I decided to be a mom. Since I have in fact been a mama for nearly three years, what exactly does this pronouncement mean? I have slowly changed over this past year into something I never would have foreseen, but I am eternally grateful that this is what I am becoming. Orthodox Christianity is changing me from the inside out and I am beginning to feel human for the first time. My frantic heart and racing mind are being tempered as the weight of inexplicable peace is taking hold of me. 

In order to "make a difference" in this world, I was under the erroneous assumption that I had to do something "big", become something "great", and heavens that could never mean "just being a mom" because that simply wasn't enough in my book. I spent the last three years of my life fighting my most influential role of all - being a mother. I was not willing to be affected by motherhood, I would not acknowledge that I had been forever changed by this small little boy. I tried to do all the things I did before, but just with a tagalong (i.e. my child) and I would get increasingly frustrated when I saw that it wasn't working. Why couldn't I be the person I was before I had a child? Why did I feel like my life as I knew it was over? I was dissatisfied in so many areas of my life and I was overflowing with discontentment. Enter Orthodoxy, the other thing I spent too much time fighting (my apologies to my long suffering husband)- perhaps that is a story for another time.

Orthodox Christianity is exactly what my heart was looking for, in the place that I least expected it.  Slowly I am starting to see the beauty in the small things, the significance in the seemingly insignificant - in the things that our culture on the whole says doesn't matter. I, for the first time, want to be a mother.  Today I made the decision to withdraw from college to be with my son; to finally, intentionally be a mother. I know that staying at home will not suddenly be full of rainbows but most likely filled with moments of weakness where I will find myself uttering the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy upon me a sinner" - and continuously being showered with his mercy and only just beginning to see how merciful he has been to me all along. I feel as though I can see for the first time, but this time I am seeing the world with my heart. 

1st, 2nd and 4th photos by the bakers photography