After completing my daily prayer plan, I then proceed to the Church calendar. Until this year we have only tried to fully participate in the Major Feasts and Name Days. This year I am adding additional feast days to the calendar. For this step I first gather my supplies:
- A Church Calendar for the current year. I use the one that our parish offers for free. For the new year I look up an Orthodox calendar online. (This also helps for moveable feasts.)
- My family calendar that has already been filled with possible extra-curricular activities.
- Curriculum planner that also includes a monthly block calendar.
- A pencil with a good eraser.
- Some scratch paper to jot down ideas that come to me while I am planning.
- My laptop for quick references to my favorite websites for inspiration and direction.
- Two copies of my daily prayer plan.
Then I dive in. Here is the process:
- Place all the Major Feasts on my calendars and block off days that I know we will need for Church services, crafts, field trips, activities, etc. Here is where I use the websites for inspiration and ideas. What are other Orthodox mothers doing during these days? I search the web, and I use a book entitled Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home. I also have used The Children’s Garden of the Theotokos…what wonderful ideas for me, a beginner. During this process I jot down ideas on my scratch paper with the dates, and a few activities we might do. When the days get closer I finalize my plans and buy supplies if needed.
- I look at one of the daily prayer plans and label it Feast Days and decide what time of the day I can best fit in these activities. I usually go for the morning, in place of our academic schedule, usually 10 AM to 12AM. However, this year we are going to have a more fluid schedule due to the hours my two older children will be on the computer for academic classes.
- Then I go to my calendars and pencil in all the name days. Name day activities usually happen in the evening when daddy gets home, maybe with some daily preparation. That allows us to bake a cake or shop for a special meal. Often we go out to eat for a name day, and that is very special. My goal this year is to try and save any stories or special prayers on this day until dad gets home.
- This year my two older children are going to have a set academic schedule. Therefore, I will have to be very flexible and plan according to what day of the week it is. I have already adjusted wake times, 6th hour prayers, and lunch to accommodate their daily schedules. The school that they will be attending is St. Raphael Orthodox Online Homeschool. This is the first time I have ever had outside help with homeschooling, and I am super excited. With the new baby, a toddler, and a pre-independent reader I am relieved to have the help. This year feast activities will be at different times depending on which day of the week it is.
- Now that I have the Major Feasts and Name Days put into the calendar, then I go to the special saint days we would like to add. This year I am using Reading Through the Year of Grace from St. Theophan Academy as a guide. I will add web articles and books when I can find them for my older kids, but they seem to like picture books and crafts. We will see. I put down the saint day on my calendar, and then plan to touch on that saint sometime in that week. When I finalize my calendar, I hope to offer it here as a PDF file on the free resources page.
- As our parish and the hermitage where we go make service times available I also put those on my calendar so that I do not plan alot of school work, major projects, or outside activities on that day. I ALWAYS have conflicts in schedule, but that is where I discern. I do not always get to attend services, but we try to make an effort. This year has been really difficult due to a difficult pregnancy.