Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baptismal Liturgy Out-takes

As with most major events, we did have a few things go awry during the Baptismal Liturgy for Faith and Andrea.  I thought I would share our out-takes as well as the solemnity of the Liturgy.  This picture I used in the puppies post was actually taken shortly after the baptisms.  David got a bit close to the camera trying to see what was going on on the other side of the lens and I snapped this shot.  This totally says David to me.

Faith's baptism actually took two tries.  Father Greg began to baptize her and then realized he had neglected to pull up the sleeves of his vestments so he stopped and handed the baby back in order to get himself better prepared.  I have a video of his first attempt cut short.

And these photos are priceless.  The ladies had gotten Faith all dressed in her sweet little gown after the baptism and neglected to remember that her feet would need to remain bare for the chrismation.  So we had to remove the little socks and shoes during the service and then when Alex and Lia sat down with her again they tried to redress her feet.  It seems Alex had forgotten how to use shoes and socks and when I glanced in their direction all I could see was Alex's big hands lost in the folds of gown, his brow furrowed in perplexity, and Lia in hysterics.  I think Pani Chris finally came to his rescue.

In this photo Peggy, Tali's godmother, came to our rescue while we were trying to take a gazillion pictures into which Tali was not invited.  She insisted on crashing the photo party until I finally dumped her into Peggy's lap and begged her to keep Tali occupied.  The last I heard they were looking at an icon of the Hospitality and Tali was gleefully shouting out her favorite phrase, "Eat! Eat!"

I adore our church family.  I love that we have these pictures and memories alongside the more traditional memories of the occasion.  I love that we're all human and in this together and that there are so many hands and hearts willing to love our children.  I love that.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taking the Puppies to Church

While I was pregnant with Faith, I occasionally missed going to Divine Liturgy.  On those occasions, I would stay home with my feet up and we would leave JM, David and Nathan home with me.  On one such Sunday Tad had the following exchange with one of our parishioners:

Where is Mary?

She's home with the boys.

Oh, I miss the boys.

Really?  They're, um, not exactly all that well-behaved.

No, but I like all their activity. 

Really?  Hmm...

Yes, it's sort of like going to church with puppies.

I like this.  I like it a lot.  It has totally changed my perspective of the business my 6 and under crowd performs throughout Divine Liturgy.  I know they can't sit still for 2 hours but the shenanigans they go through during those two hours would give a circus acrobat a run for his money.  More often than not, they are rolling on the floor, wrestling with one another, picking their noses, unpacking someone's purse, rifling through the choir director's music, banging on the metal chairs or just banging their bodies together in various forms of Smash the Brother.  I try.  I really do.  I try to keep them quiet and contained and paying attention but sometimes I just need to accept that puppies will be puppies no matter where they are.  

Dancing Girls

These are a few pictures of the girls at their last dance class of the semester.  The recital is coming up this Friday.  We loved, loved, loved this dance teacher.  In fact, after having this class of our three girls and their friend Dasia, she decided to go back to school to get a degree in Special Education.  How cool is that?!

Court of Honor

On Thursday evening Pack/Troop 2513 held their court of honor.  This is an awesome troop just for kids with special needs.  Philip is one of the higher functioning kids which helps him feel a real sense of accomplishment when he can take a bit more leadership than he does among a typical peer group.  We can't say enough good about this troop, Gary their scoutmaster, Maria the awesome scout mom and the whole program.  This is one of those blessings we would miss out on if we didn't have children with special needs.  Philip earned his tenderfoot this time around and also some other badges - fishing, Indian lore, reading, selling popcorn and a badge for attending Camp Ware.  Way to go Phlip! 

 Preparing to carry the colors.

   Reciting the scout oath.  The troop is both a cubscout pack and a scout troop so they say both oaths.

 Lighting the candles - one for each part of  the oath.

Receiving his badges from his way awesome scoutmaster, Gary

Carrying the colors out at the close of the ceremony.

A few of his troopmates:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas Traditions

It is always my hope that each Holy Day will be celebrated with our children as Holy indeed.  This year we're revamping some traditions to try to keep Christ in the center of our celebration.  Keeping the Orthodox fast throughout Advent is one way we are being drawn ever closer to our Lord as we truly sacrifice throughout the season of preparation.  Hungry tummies have a way of creating discipline, giving teeth to the feeling of emptiness and need which cultivates awareness that there is something wonderful coming which can fill that emptiness. 

We've also been involving as many of the kids as possible in learning the Orthodox Nativity hymns.  The hymns are beautifully arranged and spell out every aspect of Christ's Nativity.  I am especially moved by the litanies in which the choir chants God is With Us as the priest chants profound truths about Who God Is....stunningly beautiful to the soul. 

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be simpler this year - with the whole focus on our church family and the gathering together in the services and prayers.  The gifts will be simpler - each child receiving three gifts just as the infant Christ received three gifts from the wise men.  Their stockings will be filled with candy for each one to ration until Pascha and the many little gadgets and breakable, disposable toys will be absent this year.

So far the Advent season has been peppered with various other feast days.  We took Thanksgiving as our own, stayed at home, invited a friend who was without family for the holiday, the grandparents who came and went as they pleased and all of us worked together to plan and cook and play and rest.  It was glorious.  Today we celebrated St. Nicholas' feast day.  The children received small gifts in their shoes this morning and visited with St. Nicholas at church.  In another week we will celebrated the Feast day of St. Lucia as well (and Ruth's birthday).  

The pace will be slower - and set by the rhythm of our church services.  I'm excited.  I think this year the children will really begin to understand the Spirit of the celebration of the Nativity in a new way - I know I have already.

It is, however, a Feast - a joyous occasion, and as such I don't want the joy and the magic of the Nativity season to elude us.  So some of our sillier traditions will continue - I'm sure Muffy and Granddad will put a theme gift in each stocking for a family picture, we've already broken out the edition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and there will be a large gift for the family to enjoy together which will bring tremendous joy to the children.  In researching various traditions, I came across this one...not sure we'll go quite that far but it's worth the word picture to think about.

Anne M. of TX
Everyone gets new underwear for Christmas. Then we take a picture of all of us with the underwear on our heads. It started when my kids were 9,7 and 2. They are now 28, 26 and 21. And now we have spouses in the pics!!!!

Feast of St. Nicholas

In Myra you proved yourself to be a priest,
a servant of divine things, O Saint,
for you fulfilled the Gospel of Christ, O holy one.
You gave up your life for your people
and saved the innocent from death.
You have been sanctified
for you were a great guide towards the things of God.
—Antiochian Orthodox

Saturday, December 05, 2009

JM Getting Ready to Play in the Snow

Mom, there's something in this boot.  It might be a stick.  Oh, it's a battery...and a...pair of scissors.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Photos

Faith at 3 months!

When Puppies Take to Gymnastics

Tuesday was observation day at Gymnastics class.  Betsy, JM and David have been taking a 5-8 year old class together and watching the boys in particular was a real hoot.  They have learned some skills but they also just cannot keep their hands off of each other.  I had a great time watching them and, when all the pictures turned out blurry, decided to switch to video where I caught some great standing in line action.  I think this is hilarious enough to endure 5 minutes of video but maybe that's just me...

Betsy's contribution was much less comical but still fun to watch:

And just for Muffy's sake because Dad won't let her download video viewing software here are some regular ol' pics of the event: