fun · gardening · · kids · learning · projects · rabbits

Rabbit Project

Just a few pics from the 4-H Project Show.  It is good family fun, and a great learning experience.  We are considering a new breed for our Bunny Barn….Holland Lops.  We have never raised a small breed rabbit, but we are excited to try.  We are hoping that a smaller breed will be easier for Elinor and Sophia to manage.  Our Satins are a large breed meat rabbit…weighing about 10 pounds.  

We have also been discussing breeding our rabbits for meat.  So far we have only showed our stock, but hopefully this fall we can begin to breed for food!  A friend told me that there are excellent YouTube instructional videos for butchering rabbits.  My dad also knows how to do this.  We tried once, but I backed out.  It’s hard to butcher a rabbit that has a name…different strategy next time. 
When choosing a breed it is good to know what you desire from the rabbit project.  Do you want a pet, a meat rabbit, a show rabbit, or you may want to become a breeder and sell your stock.  Gourmet restaurants buy rabbit from reputable breeders. And small breed rabbits sell well during the Easter and Christmas season.  Also it is good to research how to house your animal.  We have hanging cages.  Rabbits are not heat tolerant animals, and that makes keeping them alive in the summer months a difficult job.  We have fans installed in the barn, and a sprinkler on the barn roof that comes on during the hottest part of the day.   
Rabbit droppings are an excellent fertilizer for your garden as well.  It is not hot, therefore you can just spread it on the garden without drying it or letting it sit.  It is impossible to burn up your garden with rabbit droppings.  
These are just a few things to consider when deciding if rabbits are right for you. 

fun · · kids · projects

Piano, Piano, Piano

 Adalay Cait 
 Caroline Beth
Sophia Teress
 Mini Sonatina No.2, Movement I by Jane Smisor Bastien
“All the Better For Her” from Sense and Sensibility by Patrick Doyle
Winking Star by James Bastien
Brother John by James Bastien

Sarabande by George Frederick Handel
Siciliana from Sonata No.2 for flute and harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach

family · fun · kids · parenting

Sophie the Feminist & Cage Fighters

We were riding along in the car the other afternoon, and Sophia (8 years old) made a comment in response to a discussion we were having about boys.  She said, “Yeah, but, girls are smarter than boys.”

Addy turned to me and said, “I think Sophie is the biggest feminist out of all of us.”

Sophie chimed in from the back of the Suburban, “What is a feminist?”

“It’s a person who thinks girls are better than boys, or who thinks girls can do anything boys can do.”  Addy tried to explain in a way that Sophie could understand.  I think she underestimates her sister.

“Well, girls are smarter than boys because when boys grow up they want to be cage fighters,” Sophie protested.

“There are girl cage fighters too, Sophie.” Caroline joined the conversation with a fact.

Sophie was still adamant, “If a girl wants to be a cage fighter then she’s just weird.”

Cage fighter…that’s how I would describe a feminist.  Yep, that’s it…cage fighter.
Disclaimer: This post is meant in a good spirit of fun…although a bit sarcastic. 

family · fun · Orthodoxy · parenting · seasons · Spring

Spring Made Me Do It!

Hello…it’s been two months since I posted here.  I’ve missed you.  I thought I would just drop by and post an update on  the happenings around here.  Truth is, I really enjoy writing and sharing on a regular basis.  My mom suggested that I just pop by whenever I get a hankering to write, even if it is just a few sentences. Maybe she is on to something. 🙂

  • I am loving the warmer weather.  This winter has been one for the record books.  I have been struggling with a case of postpartum depression, and winter weather seems to make my struggle all the more difficult.  So, I say, bring on SUN, and the thunder, and lightning, and the southerly breezes, and the mid seventies! (OK, I can dream…in reality it’s mid eighties.)
  • Our a/c is out, in fact it has been out for a week.  This is a really big deal around here because on most days our house is a bit on the chilly side, we like to keep it cool.  Everyone says we live in an icebox.  It’s interesting how living with modern conveniences dulls the natural sensations of the changing seasons.  Today, Caroline commented that yesterday the house was cold and today it was really hot.  I said, “That’s Texas in the spring.”  It has been good to go without…to realize that we can.
  • I have been sleep training Sam for the last few nights.  I know this is controversial, but this Mama was just plain tired.  The first night was difficult, but the second night Sam slept for 12 hours straight!  I slept so hard that I woke up with a headache.  We saw some friends of ours this evening when we were out and about, and my girlfriend commented that I looked tan… like I had been on a vacation.  I laughed so hard, I even gave Slade a high five.  I told her that I was so gorgeous thanks to the first six hour stretch of sleep I have had in over a year.
  • The girls and I made a spring bucket list yesterday.  Some things include:

A Greek picnic in the park.
A trip to the Botanical Gardens.
A Texas Rangers baseball game.
A trip to the local Farmer’s Market.
Star Gazing in the backyard.
Strawberry picking.
Pascha weekend with Amma and Pa Glen.
Easter egg hunt.
Rock painting.
Perfect our vanilla cupcake recipe.
Fly kites.
Have a family picture made.
Have a backyard barbecue with a few friends.
Plant our garden.

What a fun list!  What are your plans for the Spring?

  • I am slowly coming around as far as my health goes.  Pregnancies are so hard on me, for what ever reason, God knows.  After this pregnancy I have noticed this place in my heart that feels like a wound, I feel an intense vulnerability.  I am not as strong as I used to be…or should I say strong willed? I hope in some small way I am made perfect in my weakness.
  • I just finished a book entitled People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil.  What a fascinating read for Lent.  Every time I put the book down I vowed to just tell the truth about myself.  It is fascinating to understand the psychology of confession and self examination.  True repentance is the medicine for the sick sick soul.  And true humility has everything to do with telling the truth.  And it’s ok to be transparent because God is so loving and compassionate.
  • Addy turns 14 tomorrow!  Wow, what a wonderful year we have had.  She is finishing up her online Classical courses and is training for a summer job teaching a teen Zumba class at the gym where we workout!  She is a great dancer, and her instructor is so excited to have her on her team.  She is gearing up for the local rabbit shows, and writing a speech for 4-H roundup.  She debuted her vocal talents at a local eatery last Saturday night with a mean rendition of Make You Feel My Love by Adele…it was karaoke night!  We laughed so hard and had a blast!  I love teenagers…who knew they would be so much fun! May God grant her many years.
  • We spent an entire day last week at St. Arsenius Hermitage cleaning and organizing. It was so nice to be able to spruce things up for Pascha.  Father Gregory placed a new icon in the church courtyard of Jesus with the children.  Another family who came to help planted flowers all around it, and it turned out beautiful.  Father Gregory said that because so many children come to his monastery he would like to have a special icon for them.  My mom and sister-in-law came to help as well, and we cleaned like nuns!  🙂  It was a great day.
  • Piano lessons are in full swing!  I am so happy for Caroline.  She loves to play the piano, and I believe the new teacher is just what she needs.  I like hard nosed piano teachers!
  • Sam is sitting up, and rolling over, and saying dada, and being as wonderful as ever.  He has my heart.  He is ALL boy!
  • Elinor told me the other day, “Mama, I don’t like to pray.”  I said, “You don’t?”  She replied, “No, I will just say Saint Helen pray for me in my bed.”  With that she exited the laundry room as if she had just signed a treaty.  She makes me smile!
  • Sophia is spending the week with Amma and Pa Glen.  She is away from home without her older sisters for the first time.  I know she is having a blast, but she misses us, too.  She is at that stage where the older girls are just a bit too old, and Elinor is just a bit too young.  It’s hard, this business of growing up.

Well, I could go on and on, but it’s late and I need to take advantage of the sleep Sam is giving me.  I hope your Spring is filled with life!  

I pray for Good Strength for the rest of our Lenten journey. Below is a quote that I am chewing on…enjoy.

Nothing is more opposed to God than pride, for self-deification is concealed in it, its own nothingness or sin. Thus more than anything humility is acceptable to God, which considers itself nothing, and attributes all goodness, honor, and glory to God alone. Pride does not accept grace, because it is full of itself, while humility easily accepts grace, because it is free from itself, and from all that is created. God creates out of nothing. As long as we think that we can offer something of ourselves, He does not begin His work in us. Humility is the salt of virtue. As salt gives flavor to food, so humility gives perfection to virtue. Without salt, food goes bad easily, and without humility, virtue is easily spoiled by pride, vainglory, impatience – and it perishes. There is a humility which a man gains by his own struggles: knowing his own insufficiency, accusing himself for his failings, not allowing himself to judge others. And there is a humility into which God leads a man through the things that happen to him: allowing him to experience afflictions, humiliations, and deprivations.  St. Philaret of Moscow

faith · family · fun · learning · marriage · motherhood · parenting

The Good Life

This weekend my husband and I had a come to Jesus talk.  Here in Texas come to Jesus is synonymous with getting down to the real stuff…confessing and purposing.  It all started with my daughter Elinor.  I was on the computer writing a post for this blog.  Slade was cleaning the kitchen, and in walks Whirlwind (that is what we like to call our little buzz saw).  She asked me to come outside and swing her, all of her sisters had refused.  It was a gorgeous day, plenty of sunshine and just the right temperature.  Well, I told her no.  Slade kept right on cleaning.  And she left dejected, tears in her eyes.

Now, I am not the mother that always says “yes.”  I do not always play with my kids when they ask.  So, it was not the “no” in particular that bothered me.  It is a pile of nos, a big lazy pile of not nows, and in a minutes and not tonights and maybe laters that got the conversation started, the one where my husband and I vowed together to do better, to give it a little more gas.  We both feel the overwhelming demands of five children, and their needs are always before us, always stretching us.

No matter your circumstance, you have a great opportunity for holiness.  That’s what I heard a priest say once.  That little sentence is stuck in my head like a bad song.  I play it over and over.

My circumstance is always about my salvation.  If I saw that I am in need, just as much as those I am called to serve, well maybe I could get this whole upside-down mothering thing.

So this morning instead of feeling like I had to get out of bed super early and pray, I just said my prayers in the dark while Sam nursed.  Instead of scheduling and going about in a tizzy, maybe I can manage today with just doing the next thing, what my husband calls living organically.  (He intervened last night as I attempted a written schedule.  His words, “Honey, it won’t work.  Just get up and hit it, live organically. Don’t waste your time.”) He’s right. I have tried micromanagement a thousand times…it always ends the same.  Isn’t that the definition of insanity…trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

And so today I am just reflecting, and just hitting it.

The bulk of my emotional energy as a mother is spent on prioritizing and then making decisions.  It is a hard task to juggle the needs of a family.  And that does not even include outside relationships with extended family and friends.  I can feel my heart as I choose one thing over the other, or say no to something important so I can say yes to something that I deem is more important. Sometimes the decisions I make are extremely difficult, decisions that from the outside may look small or insignificant, like who gets to go to the store with me, or if we go to see grandparents for the weekend or stay home and rest, or if I serve beans or fish for supper.  You see, behind these decisions is a driving force, something that speaks of what I think makes a good life.  It is the good life that I am in pursuit of, that I hope I am living.  And so I push hard to get some things done.

And sometimes my choices cause disappointment, and I have to let those around me adjust.  This is the hard part.  And when I fail at the good life, I have to live with the regret.  I find that a large part of the mother experience is learning to work through regret, and growing through guilt.

Evidently I believe that swinging my Whirlwind in her swing under a big Oak tree on a warm sunny day is the good life.  Otherwise why would I feel regret at missing that moment? This weekend’s conversation was all about the good life, what my husband and I think makes a good life, and examining if are living the good life.

We chose it…this good life.  It was all a choice.  It is still a choice…one determined and purposeful choice at a time.                  

Just for Fun!
I found a few quotes on BrainyQuote that I thought were fun.  Read through them and pick which one you most identify with.  Just for fun I will give my guess at what your choice says about you.

A.  Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued. Socrates.

B.  The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Bertrand Russell

C. Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.Garrison Keillor              

D. I have a very good life, so I have nothing to complain about. Sometimes, I just have existential angst.  Meg Ryan

If you Chose…
A.  You are a very principled person.  You make decisions based primarily on what your principles dictate.  Some may call you a “black and white” person.  This makes you  very dutiful and responsible.  You are very comfortable with leadership, and you are highly respected.  You are a go to kind of person.
B.  You are a very sensitive soul, feeling you way around this earth.  You are kind and introspective.  You enjoy quiet contemplation and making decisions based on what feels right to you.  Some may describe you as an “old soul.”  You make a very good friend, but tend to crave solitude.
C.  You are a burden bearer.  Your decisions are made based on what you think will make those around you happy.  This is not a weakness, just the way you interact with your world.  You are a very hard worker, and people rely on your expertise.  Your perception of yourself never matches the compliments you receive.  People often call you a good person.
D.  You are quirky.  You see the world differently than most of your peers and this causes you to be misunderstood in many cases.  You make decisions based on your own beliefs, and are not easily swayed.  Some may call you an eccentric, and you poses a kind of earthy wisdom. You are free-spirited and love to try new things. 

Did I get it right?  If not, it was fun anyway. 

 I like to study people.  Which one do you think I chose?  

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