Thursday, September 30, 2010


It was the feast yesterday (in the West) of St. Michael the Archangel.  And since my friend in need of prayers is named Jeffery Michael, I found this prayer very appropriate—especially with its emphasis on "battle."

Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to hell Satan and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Also, I happened to check on Marianna yesterday in time to read that they were having a paraklesis for her yesterday evening.  I read the prayers of the paraklesis to the Mother of God that evening with both this little girl and my friend in mind.  Here are a couple of prayers from that service:
Bedridden, I lie supine with sickness now, and there is no healing for my flesh; but to thee O good one who gavest birth to God the Savior of the world and the Healer of infirmities, I pray: From corruption of illness raise me up.
O protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, O mediation unto the Creator unfailing: Disdain not the suppliant voices of sinners; but be thou quick, O good one, to help us who in faith cry unto thee: hasten to intercession, and speed thou to make supplication, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.
Lord have mercy!  Lord have mercy!  Lord have mercy!

***A note on praying to the Theotokos (Mary) and the Saints:

If you are a reader who has difficulty with these things, we see praying to Mary and the Saints simply as requesting someone who is incredibly close to God to pray for us to Him, in nearly the same way that we would ask a living person to pray for us (as I have on this blog).  Some of his saints and angles have demonstrated to us already that they particularly seem to have God's ear in all or certain matters.

And as for Mary, the Mother of God, who was closer to Jesus than her?  Theotokos means "one who bore God."  The living God actually dwelt in her womb and she was able to "see God and live."  The heavens cannot contain God, yet her womb did!  She literally said "yes" to God, allowed Jesus to live within her, and then bore him to the world.  She is the prototype Christian and as we are Jesus's adopted brothers and sisters, that makes Mary our adopted Mother, and who do we run to when this world hurts, but our Mother?  While we may use terms like "Save us" or "Heal us" or "mediation," we do not mean these in the way that Jesus saves, heals, or mediates, but in the way that we might say our friend has saved us through his prayers.

Most Holy Theotokos, pray to God for us!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prayer Request

The father of a family in our parish (and good friends of ours) is in the hospital right now fighting to recover from life-threatening illness.  If you would be so kind, please add Jeffery Michael to your prayers.

Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Multitude Monday

My priest has asked me on a few occasions...
"What if God took away everything for which you had never given thanks?"

I would be left with precious little.

A little late, as is my nature...

holy experience

31. a baby who sometimes falls asleep on his own

32. children who want to learn (in spite of my failings)

33. children who play such creative games

34. children who scream bloody murder (yes, I must will myself to be thankful even then)

35. a dirty kitchen because we have had food to eat

36. a dirty house because we have a roof over our heads

37. dirty laundry because we have clothes to wear and have done interesting things that result in dirt 

[Can you tell what is getting under my skin this week?]

38. a relatively healthy family

39. the ability to change myself and the way I think about tasks

40. life

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alphabet Resource

Pondered in My Heart is developing a great resource—Alphabet Coloring Pages!

Check it out!

Saints by Letter: Week Oo

St Basil of Ostrog
Commemorated April 29

St. Basil (also known as Vasilije) was born and raised in the Popovo region of Herzegovina in the Sixteenth Century.  His devout parents taught their son Basil all about prayer, the Christian faith, and love for Jesus Christ.  When Basil was old enough, he chose to live as a monk.  He moved to the city of Trebinje, where he joined the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos.

Because of his love for the Church and his godly life, St. Basil was chosen to be ordained as a bishop.  He led the Church during an extremely difficult time of attacks from the Turkish Muslims and disagreements with Roman Catholic Christians.  Even during this hard time, St. Basil was a humble man who prayed, fasted, and did other things for God and the Church.  As a bishop, he lived at the Monastery of Tvrdog until it was destroyed by the Turks.  After that, St. Basil moved to Ostrog, where he continued to preach and teach the Orthodox faith unceasingly to his flock.  St. Basil died at Ostrog in 1671, where his tomb remains to this day.

St. Basil’s great love for Christ and His Church did not end at his death.  The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us, “You have come to … the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus” (Hebrews 12.22-24 RSV).  This means that departed saints like St. Basil are always with us as long as we love Christ and continue to gather with His people, the Church.  St. Basil is perhaps best known for the miracles he performed after his earthly life had ended!

St. Basil’s body in his tomb at Ostrog, called relics, continue to work wonders.  Each year on the Feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down to the Apostles in the upper room, pilgrims gather at Ostrog to pray at the tomb of a man who was filled with the grace of the same Holy Spirit in life and in death.

St. Nikolai Velimirovic tells us a story about a healing performed by St. Basil:
“One recalcitrant young man, who ridiculed God and his parents, suddenly went insane. The entire city in which this young man lived saw, in this, the punishment of God and was terrified with the fear of God. The young man was held bound and isolated for three years. His mother wept bitterly and prayed to God for her son. One year, during the Feast of Pentecost, the mother brought her insane son to the monastery of St. Basil in Ostrog. After prayers, the insane youth was cured and became himself again. After that, he became an exemplary person and a true Christian.” (from the Prolog of Ochrid)
St. Basil also healed a United States Senator from Illinois.  Senator William Bar was almost killed on June 2, 1970, when an unknown criminal strapped dynamite to the bottom of his car.  Senator Bar survived the explosion, but needed to have his right leg removed.  He lived in great pain and constant sickness because of this.  Doctors tried to heal him from this illness but nothing worked.

However, one night the Senator had a strange dream about a white church built into the side of a giant mountain.  He had this dream repeatedly, night after night.  He would visit this white church and in it, he would witness an old man with a long white beard walking around and healing many sick people simply by touching them.

Senator Bar did not understand this dream, until one day when he went to visit a doctor who could fit him with a prosthetic leg.  He happened to see a picture in a doctor’s office of this same church, next to an icon of the same elderly white haired man from the dream!  The doctor, a Serbian Orthodox Christian, explained to the senator that the white church in the mountain is the Ostrog Monastery, and the white-bearded man is St. Basil of Ostrog.  Senator Bar received the prosthetic leg and could now walk normally, but he was still in much pain.

In 1980, Senator Bar made a pilgrimage to the Ostrog Monastery, along with a group of people who had also lost arms and legs.  He fasted for 40 days and prayed the “Our Father” constantly.  He made a very difficult climb uphill to the monastery, where he was finally able to pray in front of the relics of St. Basil.  Each time he went to the monastery, a little of the pain went away. "I admit, I was a skeptic,” Senator Bar said later.
 “I thought it may be just a superstition. But this is a phenomenon that is impossible outside the Church. I saw blind, deaf, dumb, patients carried on stretchers, children and adults, all climb uphill to the monastery either on foot or in a car. I believe in God's miracles, for I am a witness."
Senator William Bar returned home with no pain, and a much greater faith and love for God in his heart.  He became an Orthodox Christian and devoted the rest of his life to helping other people with missing arms and legs, thanks to being healed by St. Basil of Ostrog.

Troparion to St Basil of Ostrog
Tone 4

From your youth you devoted yourself entirely to the Lord, indulging in prayers, labors and fasting; O father, loyal to God, you were an example of virtue to your flock.  God, therefore seeing your virtuous attitude, appointed you as a shepherd and worthy hierarch of His Church; and after your passing away He preserved your body undecayed, O Saint Basil, and as you have no fear, beseech Christ our God to save our souls!

Copyright © Sibling Revelries 2010
Icon found at 
Troparion found at
Article about Senator Bar at

Monday, September 20, 2010

Multitude Monday

How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is Joy Who saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does.

holy experience 

Thank you, Lord, for... 

21. my son now "has Jesus inside" (Maggie's explanation of yesterday)

22. 5 baptisms and 3 chrismations yesterday—truly, glory to God

23. my mother's hard work on "John's beautiful dress" (Susannah's explanation of his baptismal garment—pictures soon)

24. the presence of mind (once in awhile) to cook ahead

25. lively children who remind me that they need me

26. new friends and old

This is hard to do.  How do I give thanks when my first inclination is to complain?

27. reorganization, with lots of baskets and books

28. beautiful dishes I use every day making preparing for special meals easy if I let it be

29. my husband's nearly untiring help with house and kids

30. recovery from a cold

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Water of Life

Ann Voskamp's Guatemala experience with Compassion International is beautifully written.  Drink up.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Maggie's Take on Boys' Toys

A lunchtime conversation with Maggie, referring to her brother:

"Mom, we should buy a lot a lot a lot of Darth Vader toys for him."


"Because boys play with bad toys!  And we can share our dinosaurs with him!"

A Homeschooler's Daybook: September 13, 2010

Saint of the Week: Saint Innocent

Letter of the week: Ii (with reviews of Aa and Ee)

Number of the week: 3

Color this week: Yellow

From the Learning Basket: Have You Seen Trees? by Joanne Oppenheim

Circle Time rhyme:
London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.
Continue here...

Main Lessons: Elevation of the Cross; Beginning our Book of Days

Paint: Wet-on-wet with yellow and red

Music: 1812 Overture (containing troparion for the Cross)

Multitude Monday

holy experience

Continuing my gratitude list...

11. baby rolling over at 3 months (and me alerted to it with shouts from my five-year-old)

12. waking feeling rested after bedtime at 10:30PM instead of much later

13. new weeks, new days (ie., new beginnings)

14. time and motivation to clean up several nagging piles (and a husband willing to hold the baby for a while on a Sunday afternoon)

15. a husband eager to help with our homeschooling

16. offers of help with the kids during a long liturgy

17. morning coffee

18. cool fresh air in through the windows

19. a desk of my own and asymmetrically hung picture shelves above it

20. an organized spice cabinet

Saints by Letter: Week Ii

St. Innocent of Alaska, “Apostle of America”
Feast Day:  March 31

In the First Book of Samuel in the Old Testament (First Kingdoms in the Orthodox Study Bible), we hear about the calling of the Prophet Samuel when he was a young boy serving in the temple.  Three times in the night, Samuel heard a voice calling him, and three times he woke the Priest Eli to ask why he had called.  After the third time, Eli told him that it might be the Lord Himself calling.  Samuel went back to sleep.  He heard the voice the fourth time, “Samuel, Samuel.”  Samuel’s response to the Lord is very important: “Speak, for Your servant hears” (I Kingdoms 3.10).  Samuel responded with an open heart, willing to listen to God and do anything God wanted him to do.

We see this same willingness in the life of St. Innocent of Alaska.  St. Innocent was born in the village Anginsk in the Irkutsk region of Russia, on August 26, 1797.  Originally known as Fr. John Veniaminov, he was a married priest with a son named Innocent, serving and teaching at the Annunciation Church in Irkutsk.  But in the 1820’s, though the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church began to realize that it was time to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the land of Alaska.  Bishop Michael of Irkutsk asked for volunteers, and Fr. John, like the Prophet Samuel before him, heard the voice of God and decided to go and preach the Gospel as a missionary to Alaska.  “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” he said, as he accepted the call from God.

In 1823, Fr. John left with his wife, his son, his mother and his brother.  It was a long journey and it took them an entire year to get to Alaska.  And when they arrived, they built and moved into a hut made out of dried mud.  Fr. John was a smart and talented man, who used all of his gifts in the service of God and the Church.  In the 45 years he served in Alaska, Fr. John learned several different languages of the native Alaskan tribes, and even wrote an alphabet for the Aleut language.  He translated the Gospel of St. Matthew and other Orthodox texts, and preached at every opportunity he had.  “Whoever abounds in faith and love,” said Fr. John, “can have mouth and wisdom, and the heart cannot resist their serving it.”  Fr. John built schools and hospitals, and even instructed local doctors on how to administer vaccines and other medicines. 

Fr. John traveled all over Alaska, parts of Canada, and even as far south as San Francisco, California, preaching and teaching the Christian faith as a missionary.  It is estimated that he brought around ten thousand converts to the Orthodox faith through baptism.  In 1838, Fr. John traveled to St. Petersburg in Russia to tell the Russian Church about his missionary work.  Sadly, he received word that his wife had died while he was away.  This prompted him to take monastic vows and accept ordination as a bishop under the name “Bishop Innocent.”  As a bishop, he continued his untiring missionary work among the native peoples in Alaska. 

Then in 1868, Bishop Innocent was chosen to be Metropolitan of Moscow, the most prestigious position in the Russian Orthodox Church.  He no longer traveled as a missionary after this, but the bishop used the authority of his new position to start a Missionary Society in Russia, allowing others to continue his work in Alaska and elsewhere.

St. Innocent fell asleep in Lord on March 31, 1879.  He continues to be a great example for all Orthodox Christians as a lover of the Bible, a preacher and teacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a missionary who believed that all people on earth need to hear, understand, and accept that Gospel.  

Troparion - Tone 4

O Holy Father Innocent
In obedience to the will of God
You accepted dangers and tribulations
Bringing many peoples to the knowledge of truth.
You showed us the way,
Now by your prayers help lead us into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Copyright © Sibling Revelries 2010
Icon and Troparion found at

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Boy Named Well

We went to the chiropractor today, and the receptionist let my girls choose stickers.  They also picked one out for John: a drawing of a smiling little boy with the sentence "I'm a well-adjusted kid!"

Later, over lunch, Maggie asked, "The boy on John's sticker... what's his name?"

"Uh," I thought for a second, "I don't know."

Then she recited what she thought the sticker said.  "I'm Well just a kid."


"His name is Well?" and she proceeded to giggle.

"No," I said.  "It says 'well-adjusted.'  The chiropractor gives you an adjustment..."

"... and he takes away your name??" interrupted Maggie.

At that point, we were all laughing hysterically, and any attempt at explaining a spinal sublaxation or adjustment to a five-year-old was finally out of the question.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Nearly done with two weeks' worth of homeschooling.  Here is a sample of What's Working and What's Not.

What's working:
  • Morning Prayers:  I detest having to do things like dress or attend to the house when I am still waking up.  I know that admitting this is probably being a very bad "FlyBaby."  I know that the most efficient way to do things is to jump out of bed, throw on my clothes, take a load of laundry down to the machines, and milk the cows all before my coffee.   
That is not me.
In setting up my schedule for this Fall, something persuaded me to schedule our Morning Prayer time followed by some read-aloud time to fall right after breakfast, while still in my pajamas.  
The ideal morning runs thus: I stagger out of bed and fix breakfast and drink as much coffee as possible (if I am awake early enough, I unload the dishwasher first—that really makes the day go smoothly).  When I am awake enough to clear the dishes off the table, that is done quickly and the table is wiped off.  Then we do a quick set of prayers (many are sung, and to my delight, my eldest has been singing along and knows the words!) complete with lighting candles and changing the day's commemoration picture sheet.  Then we settle on the couch (me with more coffee) and read the life of the saint we are studying that week and then the girls get to pick some titles.  Please do not be misled: This does not happen every day, nor does it always happen closer to breakfast than it does to lunch, but I did say "the ideal morning."
I love it!  And by the time we finish all of that, I am awake enough to carry on with my day.
What's not:
  • Letters and Numbers:  While I like the idea of our curriculum's suggestion to let Maggie "experience" various letters and numbers, I really think she is past being interested in that approach.  She knows I never sit there and paint a giant A on a page.  She wants to use letters the way I do.  She wants to make lists and write notes.  She reads a lot of words—I think by sight and context, rather than sounding-out, but then, she does some of that too.  I've found a website with an amazing number of printables, most especially letter formation tracing pages, that I think I will try with her.  According to my curriculum's Alphabet Writing Chart, some of the arrows are going the wrong direction, but that is easily corrected.
Miscellaneous Notes:
One thing I think I have decided over the last two weeks (and I know that is not much experience) is that I don't want to do a bunch of unnecessary crafts, art projects, and invented "school projects."  If we are going to have a Kitchen Day, it is going to be something that we need to make anyway.  If we put a lot of time, money, and skill into a craft or art project, I want it to be something that is in some way worth having or using.  We collected leaves and made window decorations out of them, and I love them because they are very seasonal and remind us of our experience in "the forest" as my girls call the nature preserve we walked through.

I won't hold painting quite to that standard, though.  There are some great suggestions in our curriculum for learning some painting techniques that I can't wait to try once we get some real paints, paper, and brushes.  This would fall under learning a skill.  I'd like to have them able to create some art (if they are so inclined) to put in future learning notebooks of various subjects.

More reflections to come, I'm sure.

Cooling Off? Here Come the Germs!

Am I a pessimistic Mom if every time my kids cough, I assume I may need to grab a bucket?  Last Winter was an absolute illness-nightmare for our family.  I swear nearly every week, someone was coming down with a new illness.  I sincerely hope we don't do that this year, but I'm sort of expecting it.  If it doesn't happen, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Here's a handy article on what to do with a passel of sick kids over at Se7en's blog.

But I promise this doesn't mean we are sick at this moment.  Isn't Summer glorious that way?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Off Track—Any Suggestions?

Partially due to the slight, bandaide-requiring injuries my children have sustained today (and not in the least due to the inordinate amount of time I have spent blogging this particular morning), we are off track for the day.  The kids are grumpy (due to aforementioned injuries) and asking for a movie.  I am not planning to give in to that request right now (we do a movie at the end of the day most days), but I'm not sure I should try to do my main lesson right now either since it requires a little attention from the kids.

How do you get back on track when a homeschooling day gets off-kilter?  Do you plunge ahead with the lesson (I have found this to snap us all out of our funk some days).  Do you try to get to everything in as you'd planned?  What works for you?  What absolutely is the worst idea ever?

Orthodox Homeschooling Resources

I've begun compiling a list of my favorite Orthodox homeschooling resources over to the right in response to my Mom looking for many of these resources for a friend who doesn't use the internet.  Nearly all of the links listed take you to sites that have printable (and often free) resources.

Blankets and Gifts

I have a new button over to the right.  Click on "Hand Crocheted Blessings" to explore a store that my friend Matushka Anna is setting up where she will sell her beautiful cross blankets, forthcoming bonnets, and other gifts.  If you'd like to see one of her blankets in action, come to John's baptism on September 19 at All Saints.  Thanks again, Matushka!

A Place for Prayer

Ann Voskamp uses a prayer bench and often prays hours during her days.  She initially wondered if this could be "confining God" by designating one spot for prayer.  But certainly, doing that does not mean we do not pray in other places.  We have a bed for sleep, but we nap on the couch.  We have a table for eating, but we have coffee in a favorite chair.
Prayer happens at a multitude of locations throughout the day, but setting aside a place in one's home for prayer continually reminds one to return and pray.  It honors God with a place, not only in the heart, but in the home.

Additionally: Some explanations of the Hours as prayed in the Orthodox Church can be found here.

Multitude Monday

A day late.  I know.  I'm always late, so it fits, I suppose.

I need this—to be thankful.  It will keep me silent (no link there just yet, but I'm working on it) more often.  What a good way to begin the week, the season of school, the year.

I'm beginning this list on a Friday.  A Friday full of failures.  Failure Friday?

Just kidding.

I think.

I've had Ann Voskamp's blog up on my browser just to hear her playlist of piano music.  I really, really don't usually go for music so... "inspirational."

But it's calming, and I like it.

And her focus on gratitude is inspiring.  My spiritual father has prescribed gratitude for a number of spiritual ailments.  I never seem to take him seriously.  At least, I do not act on the impulse for long.

Maybe here?

holy experience

Counting up to One Thousand Gifts:

1. cool, wet-smelling wind through the windows on a gray day after days of humidity, heat, and air conditioning

2. my 3-month-old son's cry

3. my son putting himself to sleep after some relatively short-lived crying

4. my girls in their room playing together

5. getting something, anything, done today (it wasn't the planned lesson, but we did manage to read our a few books about Moses in preparation for his feast day)

6. potty-trained children

7. food to feed my family

8. my husband grocery shopping for said food

9. baby yawn

10. short, freshly cut three-year-old bangs

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saints by Letter: Week Ee

St. Elizabeth Fyodorovna, Grand Duchess of Moscow
Feast Day:  July 5


In the Gospel of St. Matthew, our Lord Jesus Christ says that whenever we help poor and sick people, and those in prison, we are really helping Jesus Himself: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25.40). 

Saint Elizabeth devoted her entire life to serving God and helping other people.  She was born into a German royal family, and became the Grand Duchess of Moscow in Russia when she married the Grand Duke Sergius.  She joined the Holy Orthodox Church after her marriage because she sensed the truth of the Orthodox faith.  It gave her great peace and joy to worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Tragically, her husband the Grand Duke was murdered by an assassin in the year 1905.  Grand Duchess Elizabeth was quite sad, but God gave her the strength of and love of Jesus during this difficult time.  It was our Lord Jesus who taught, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5.44).  Showing this love, she visited her husband’s killer in prison. 

“Who are you?” he asked upon meeting her.

“I am his widow,” she replied, “why did you kill him?”

“I did not want to kill you,” he said.  “I saw him several times before when I had the bomb with me, but you were with him and I could not bring myself to touch him.”

“You did not understand that by killing him you were killing me,” she said.  Elizabeth gave him a copy of the Gospel, and urged him to beg God for forgiveness of his horrible sin.  Elizabeth later would say, “My attempt was unsuccessful, but, who knows, perhaps at the last minute he will understand his sin and repent.”

After her husband’s death, Grand Duchess Elizabeth became a nun.  She sold her jewelry and expensive possessions, and devoted her life completely to prayer and serving the poor.  With the money she made from selling all of her things, she started a mission in Moscow called the Martha and Mary Home.  She and a group of nuns fed the poor and helped orphans for many years.  They also opened a hospital and did many other good works of charity. 

In 1917, a radical Communist government seized control of Russia.  The Soviets, as they were called, were extremely cruel and violent, and hated the Royal Family and the Orthodox Church.  Elizabeth, along with other nuns and members of the Royal Family were exiled, moved to a forest, and shoved into an abandoned mineshaft.  But even as St. Elizabeth and her companions sat in the mineshaft, hurt and dying, they could be heard singing hymns from the Church: “We who mystically represent the Cherubim, and sing to the life-giving Trinity the thrice holy hymn, let us now lay aside all earthly care.”  They died on July 5, 1918. 

After her death. St. Elizabeth’s body was found and moved to the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, a church which St. Elizabeth and her husband helped to build. 

St. Elizabeth teaches us how to follow the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in helping the poor and forgiving everyone who hurts us or does wrong to us.  May her prayers be with us always. 

Troparion - Tone 4
Emulating the Lord's self-abasement on the earth, 
You gave up royal mansions to serve the poor and disdained, 
Overflowing with compassion for the suffering. 
And taking up a martyr's cross, 
In your meekness
You perfected the Savior’s image within yourself, 
Therefore, with Barbara, entreat Him to save us all, O wise Elizabeth.

By Dn. Andrew and Sh. Patricia Kishler
Copyright © Sibling Revelries 2010

Saints by Letter: Week Aa

For our first week (this week), we have used this sweet little book for St. Andrew (as recommended by the LOG reading list).  Week Ee is next!

Our Curriculum: The Saints

I am amazed how blessed I am to live in a time where there are actually multiple early childhood homeschooling curricula that are Orthodox.  I had personally hoped to be able to begin Letters of Grace and use it exclusively this year, but since it is not yet finished and I am one of those compulsive planners (don't be misled: I rarely do half the things, if indeed any, that I plan) I went with another curriculum that I'd been looking at.

Our Khouria keeps a copy of the Children's Garden of the Theotokos curriculum in her personal library.  I've been borrowing her copy for the past year.  While we were doing Five in a Row for our lessons last year (preschool for my daughters and an opportunity to "get my feet wet" homeschooling) I probably couldn't have managed it without the scheduling ideas, songs, and Circle Time resources I used from this curriculum.  So, with what at the time looked like the loss of LOG (but thankfully, is not!), I went ahead and ordered the updated version of the Theotokos Garden curriculum.

I highly recommend this resource.  It's still slightly confusing to me in some aspects (or might be if I hadn't been using it off and on in some capacity over this past year), but it is worth figuring out and putting together.  Part of what makes it overwhelming at times is that since many of the Main Lessons are about Feast Days of the Church, one wants to plot them out on the calendar near the actual feast.  So Ms. Lewis cannot offer a complete schedule.  You have to customize it, which actually turns out to be fun—for me, at least!  I'll probably post more thoughts about this curriculum at some point, but this is really an introductory post to something else.  (I promise I'll get to the point eventually!)

The Theotokos Garden curriculum suggests that one aspect of the daily schedule be acting out or telling the life of the Saint of the Day to your kids.  Unfortunately, this is one area that requires the parent to get quite creative.  Ms. Lewis provides several examples for September saints' days, but to continue, I would have to get good at retelling on my own.  I could probably do it, but I kind of like stories that are written out for me.

Lightbulb!  I have the Letters of Grace reading list!  (And now—thank you, Mary—so does everyone else!)  Another component of the Theotokos Garden is a daily focus on a particular letter of the alphabet or number.  My epiphany: what if, I use some of the resources from Letters of Grace with the Theotokos Garden curriculum?  Instead of a daily changing saint's life, we'll use the same saint three times a week (we're planning school for three days a week).  As I learned from Five in a Row, kids love repitition of stories, especially over a short period like a week.

We will begin to add the titles from the Letters of Grace saints' reading list to our home library, in the hope that LOG will be finished some day.  And even if it isn't, we could still use saints' lives books in our home that correspond to the letters of the alphabet.

OK.  Here's the point of this post: while there are many beautiful retellings on the LOG list, some letters' saints are not to be found and some are as yet nonexistent.  Enter my husband.  In preparing for school, he asked what he can do to help.  He is at work during the day and, except for the rare day, will not be around during our school days.  One of the things I ended up asking him to do for me is to fill in some of the saints' lives gaps by writing up his own retellings that I can read to our kids (ages 3 and 5 years).

The Point: I will be offering these here for your use!  I'm very excited to be able to contribute something that may be of use to those who are already using the ideas and resources set forth by the creators of LOG.

We are beginning with the vowels and then moving on to the consonants so that we'll have introduced all of the vowels before Nativity so that we can use the Nativity Vowel Poems as part of our Main Lessons during Nativity Fast (can you believe I'm writing about that already?).  So, it won't be quite in the LOG order.

If you're interested in using what we come up with, please search for or click on the Saints by Letter label.  Enjoy!
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