Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book # 32: Wuthering Heights

by Emily Bronte

As a classic and one that I had more frequently been hearing about, I eagerly picked up this book expecting another Jane Austen style romance. Not the case at all. Much darker and almost gloomy, this book is a disappointment if approached in that light. However, after I got over the fact that this was not going to be another witty-banter romance, the book proved good. It was intriguing, and one that would be great to discuss with a group. Not one I would reread on a regular basis--too depressing and a little disconnected from the characters (as it is a story told within the story). But a decent read, and I am glad to finally be able to understand the references made in other books and movies.

Book # 33: Should be done within a week
Arguing with Idiots
by Glenn Beck

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Book # 31: The Wind in the Willows

by Kenneth Grahame

The classic children's tale that for some reason I neglected to read. As a kid, I tended to not be a fan of animal's talking and stuck to stories involving people. So it took some work convincing myself to give this book a chance. It was a slow start for me, but by the end I felt connected to Toad, Mole, Rat, and Badger though not as much as in other stories I have read. Would I encourage my kids to read it? Maybe. I think it would work better as a read aloud, especially as some of the language is older both in vocabulary and strength. It also tended to have that overly descriptive quality such as Jane Austen or Charles Dickens employ, so the action and plot do not move along quickly.

Next book:
How to Argue with Idiots
Glenn Beck

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book # 30: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Loved it! I like mysteries, but I am horribly wimpy. Even suspenseful movies can leave me with sleepless nights, so Sherlock Holmes's mysteries are right up my alley. Complex and confusing, they require thinking to solve, yet they skip all the gory details. Watson also narrates them in such a style as to minimize emotion, thus helping to keep my already overly active imagination in check. As the "chapters" appeared in a magazine initially, they are short enough to read during a nap or before bed, thus perfect for the busy mom I have become. I am sad that I am done with them, and that there are no more out there to read. I am hoping the movie coming out this fall with be good, as I'd like another dose of Sherlock Holmes.

Next up:
The Wind in the Willows

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm Back...

well...sort of.

I figured as I still seem to be able to make time to read, (We've been blessed with a baby willing to sleep most nights more than a five hour stretch.), I should continue to track those books on here.

I finished Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. One of those classics I heard about, but never bothered to pick up. It was interesting. I think this New York Times review on the back cover sums it up:

"Wildly original, brutally gruesome, vulgar, bitterly, savagely funny... it will not be forgotten by those who can take it!"

For me: It was vulgar; it was gruesome; it was bitter; not so funny; and probably forgettable. It reminded me of the of the novels my 10th grade Honors English teacher made us read. Ones that were questionable for our age and maturity. Ones that would make you blush and were incredibly wordy. One that most 10th graders, or adults for that matter, wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. It's a book that you read for the title, to tack on your "I've read it" list, and that some group of "deep thinking" college students might discuss in a book club.

Next up: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Change, well, Sort of

So I haven't been very diligent in my blogging lately. And as I am 39 weeks pregnant, I don't see it getting any better any time soon. So I am officially taking a break. I will try to keep adding my books as I read them (though I expect with child number two's arrival that the book reading will cease to exist for some time). But the home renovations are at a stand still (at least on my part) for at least 6 months. i know I still owe you pictures on the most recently completed rooms, and I am sorry for my negligence. Part of the delay is that there are still one or two things missing in them, so I've been waiting for them to be completely finished. If you are absolutely desperate to see them, then you will just have to come visit.

So thank you to all my loyal readers. I will check in occasionally, but I don't want to make any promises that I know I won't keep.

Book # 27 & 28: Eclipse & Breaking Dawn

by Stephenie Meyer

All I can say is that I am hopelessly hooked on the Twilight series! Read them! They are addictive, easy to read, and very entertaining. I am sad that there are no more for me to read. Each one got better than the last. And I will give Stephenie Meyer credit for sticking to more positive moral values for her main characters. It was refreshing, especially knowing that teenagers are reading them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book # 26: New Moon

by Stephenie Meyer

So the series must not be too bad because I am flying through them. The second book was better than the first, as there was less time with Edward and Bella (the two main characters) together and obsessing over each other. A little disjointed at the end, as a major plot twist has Bella traveling somewhere (don't want to spoil it). The second one leaves some loose ends, so I headed right into the third one. I'm sure I'll be up late and finishing it in a couple days. Then I need to get my hands on the fourth one, and the series will be completed. I'll keep you posted.

And I know--you need to see pictures of the baby's room and the family room. I've got to get myself and my camera geared up for that!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Book # 25: Twilight

by Stephenie Meyer

I hate to admit it, but yes, I succumbed to the pressure and read Twilight. Yes, the one made into the movie. Yes, the one that teenage girls are crazy about. I know, I know. I had a few people recommend it, and then had a friend offer to lend me the books (the first three). So there you have it.

It was good. In a low-key, teenage romance way. I was intrigued by how the whole vampire thing worked, and the dialogue was good at times (filled with sarcasm and quips at each other), at least until they really became boyfriend and girlfriend, and then it became a little sappy and obsessive. After a long beginning, something exciting did happen, and that had me up reading when I should have been sleeping, but then the end returned to the sappy and obsessive dialogue. So not an all time favorite, and probably not one I'd reread. But I enjoyed it enough, and it peaked my interest enough to have me start in on the second one, New Moon. So I'll keep you posted on it, and most likely the third, and the fourth...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Book # 24: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam

(And the Crusades)
by Robert Spencer

Overall, not a bad read. I knew most of it from other books I have read, but it was nice as Robert Spencer quoted the Qur'an to support points. The other books I had read about Islam and politics did not do this. The Crusade information was new to me as well. My knowledge of the history of that part of the world is not as good as it should be. Something I should probably work on. I would recommend it as I believe political correctness is stifling our ability to speak our minds, and as we hear the political correct side of things most times on the news, it is nice to hear the other side occasionally!

Not sure if I am finishing Catch-22 next or if I'll go for something more history aligned. We'll see.

Yard Sale Success

Our yard sale was a success with roughly $60 profit. We then did a curb alert on Craig's List and got rid of some of the bigger items that would have headed to the dumpster instead. Hooray for other people being able to use them!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 1

Day one of our yard sale went well. Roughly $40 made! One more to go, and I think the last few hours tomorrow will be half price! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yard Sale at our Abode

Yes, we are succumbing to the neighborhood pressure (about 5 other houses ), and have decided to have a yard sale. I think we both need to plead momentary insanity. As we cleared out the garage and set up tables last night, all I could think was "what is wrong with us?". Not only am I pregnant (which means no lifting), but how am I going to entertain a not yet two year old in our driveway for 7 hours on Friday AND Saturday! Much less deal with the ninety degree weather!


And looking at our track record, we are not the greatest yard sale sellers! I've held two in my lifetime--

once in high school, where I made about $20, mostly from my Grandma, and

once with friends near our old home. Josh and I made negative $11 that time, as we bought more of their items than we sold. So what is my strategy this time? How am I staying upbeat and motivated?


Here's my rules for yard sale attempt number 3:
(I'll let you know how they turn out)

1. Keep the prices low! If we sell it for more than ten cents, that is ten cents we didn't have before! Price low, negotiate low! Just please take our junk!

2. Afterwards, set all the leftovers on the curb and post to Craig's List a curb alert. At least it is out of our house, and we didn't need to bother carting it away.

3. Use cute little Madi to our advantage. Teach her the ways of selling, and send her out to greet people. Maybe make a sign for her to carry--all proceeds benefit my college fund! Hey, every time we GO TO a yard sale, she ends up with a free toy or stuffed animal because she's "oh too cute". For example, (it doesn't even have to be a yard sale) Josh took her to a local diner for ice cream two evenings ago, and they returned home with a stuffed dolphin that the restaurant owners had given her because she was sooo cute. I've had happy meal toys given to us too--by employees and other customers. So I'm hoping to use this to our advantage!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book # 23: The Mother Tongue

English and How it Got that Way
by Bill Bryson

I am an avid Bill Bryson reader. I have read at least 5 of his books. This would be my least favorite so far. This was mainly due to the subject matter, and well, reading about the English language is hard to make exciting. However, if you are interested in reading about English, then Mr. Bryson makes a good attempt at keeping your attention. I did learn some interesting things, but it is definitely not one that I would buy or reread. However, I will recommend Bill Bryson's book "A Walk in the Woods", where he hikes the Appalachian Trail or any of his travel books. They are worth reading.

Next book: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Officially Arranged

The family room is officially arranged. The furniture all fit and looks cozy in its new locations. There are a few pictures to be hung and a few clutter spots awaiting removal, but the major work is done.

The baby room is officially arranged. Crib is set up, complete with bedding. Dresser has clothing organized, and the changing table is ready to go. Nothing is hung on the walls, but that just requires a hammer and some nails. Well, and a phone call, and an internet order, and me making 3 antique toy airplanes into a mobile (don't ask--I'll share pictures if it works out). But I'm still counting it as complete; it's less stressful that way.

Madi's room is half done. She is moved into a big bed (no problem at all), and loving it. The stuffed animal population that sleeps with her has doubled, but she has successfully stayed in bed after every night and nap until I go in to tell her she can get down. Her desk and dresser is painted and filled. I still have to seal her shelves and night stand, and then arrange the furniture. But it is getting there.

We are a little behind because we had a small flood. The plastic tubing running to an auxiliary kitchen faucet sprung a leak in our basement. This was discovered by our cat, as her litter box is located directly under that plastic tubing. The water was spraying all over, and like most cats, Izzy does not want to get wet. Consequently, she really needed to pee (excuse my bluntness), and began doing laps around our house, meowing as loud as she could. This caused Josh to investigate (well, try to dispose of her in the basement). Luckily, our basement is slanted, so the water ran away from the colossal stack of memorabilia, precious treasures, and junk that we had "stored" on the floor in the center of our basement. Only a few items of little importance (except my 9th grade yearbook) got wet. But the clean up process (which is still underway) took some time from the arranging that was to be done upstairs.

And now Izzy is avoiding the basement. It felt like I was potty training a child, as I had to keep taking her into the basement to use her litter box. And as I am sort of potty training Madi, two learners were too much to handle, especially when one has claws and can hide under beds. So Izzy's litter box has taken its place back in our downstairs shower. They say that a little bit of regression is supposed to take place with the arrival of a new baby. I just expected the regression to be done by Madi, and for it to take place AFTER the baby was born.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book # 22: Cymbeline

By William Shakespeare

This is one of Shakespeare's later plays. I switched to reading it as we thought we were going to get to go see it. Every year they have a local Shakespeare Festival, and they have a Shakespeare in the Park performance, which is outside and free. That's right--outside and FREE! This year's performance just happened to take place during our 5th anniversary weekend away. So we did not need to even find a babysitter as we already had Nana standing by. Well, guess what? It rained. So when it rains, there is no performance. Oh, well. It motivated me to read a Shakespeare play I had not previously heard of.

It wouldn't be one of my favorite Shakespeare plays (I tend to like the comedies best--Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, and Twelfth Night), but it is also not my least favorite. If you like Shakespeare, it is not bad. It is in between a comedy and a tragedy. Less death, more romance.

I am currently reading a Bill Bryson book and am halfway through Catch-22.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Furniture Frenzy

Currently, our house is overrun with furniture out of place and awaiting a new home. We are in the process of setting up or resetting up three rooms in our home.

First, of course, is the baby's room which was our guest room. But to fully set this room up, we need the following to happen:

-paint the accent wall
-get Madi into a big bed
-remove a shelf and relocate it to the office corner in the family room
-figure out what to do with our queen guest room mattress & box spring
Our basement is too musty, and there is no other spot in our house to store it. It was newly purchased as a gift, so it's not something we can just discard or sell. Any ideas on how to store it in the basement without messing it up?


Second, is Madi's bedroom. Because she is being moved to a big bed, all of her furniture is being moved with the crib into the baby's room as it is a matching set. Therefore, Madi gets all new furniture. But first, I need to sand and repaint the craig's list dresser, mirror, desk, and shelves that I found.

Third, is our family room. My grandmother is downsizing, and therefore, getting rid of some nice furniture pieces. Our family room was currently empty and awaiting the money for the furniture. So good timing. Half of the furniture arrived today, but we weren't able to fit the love seat and chair into the trailer. And those are pretty key pieces to finish off the room.

Consequently, the garage, guest room, and family room all look like a jumble of mix matched furniture awaiting some major organizing.

And well, I'm a little bit anal retentive, and the disorder is really starting to get to me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Pretentious Book Memo

So this book list was circulating throughout facebook, and as I seem to be struggling to find new books to read, my goal is to go through this list and try to choose some of these. I am currently reading "Catch-22", which I've heard mentioned many times in my life, but really had no clue what it was about.

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. Currently, I have read 35 of them. We'll see how many I can add to it.

How many have you read?

Any recommendations on what to read next?

Instructions:
1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read ENTIRELY
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen x +
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien x +
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte x +
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling x +
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee x
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell x
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman--NEVER
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens x
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott x +
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy--saw the BBC movie, no desire to read it
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien x +
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger x
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell x +
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald x
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky x
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck x
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll x
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy x
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens x
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis x +
34 Emma - Jane Austen x +
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen x +
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis x +
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden--not interested
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown--not interested
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery x +
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan--not interested
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen x +
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley x +
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck x
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas x +
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding x +
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett x +
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson x +
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White x +
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad x
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery x
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas x
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare x +
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl x +
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book # 21: Saint Mary of Egypt

Three Medieval Lives in Verse
Translated by Hugh Feiss and Ronald Pepin

This book compiles three versions of the life of Saint Mary of Egypt, each written in verse form. Obviously, it was a little repetitive, but her story is worth knowing and remembering. As I can't do her story justice, here is the version found on the Orthodox Church of America (www.oca.org) website:

St Zosimas (April 4) was a monk at a certain Palestinian monastery on the outskirts of Caesarea. Having dwelt at the monastery since his childhood, he lived there in asceticism until he reached the age of fifty-three. Then he was disturbed by the thought that he had attained perfection, and needed no one to instruct him. "Is there a monk anywhere who can show me some form of asceticism that I have not attained? Is there anyone who has surpassed me in spiritual sobriety and deeds?"

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, "Zosimas, you have struggled valiantly, as far as this is in the power of man. However, there is no one who is righteous (Rom 3:10). So that you may know how many other ways lead to salvation, leave your native land, like Abraham from the house of his father (Gen 12:1), and go to the monastery by the Jordan."

Abba Zosimas immediately left the monastery, and following the angel, he went to the Jordan monastery and settled in it.

Here he met Elders who were adept in contemplation, and also in their struggles. Never did anyone utter an idle word. Instead, they sang constantly, and prayed all night long. Abba Zosimas began to imitate the spiritual activity of the holy monks.

Thus much time passed, and the holy Forty Day Fast approached. There was a certain custom at the monastery, which was why God had led St Zosimas there. On the First Sunday of Great Lent the igumen served the Divine Liturgy, everyone received the All-Pure Body and Blood of Christ. Afterwards, they went to the trapeza for a small repast, and then assembled once more in church.

The monks prayed and made prostrations, asking forgiveness one of another. Then they made a prostration before the igumen and asked his blessing for the struggle that lay before them. During the Psalm "The Lord is my Light and my Savior, whom shall I fear? The Lord is defender of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps 26/27:1), they opened the monastery gate and went off into the wilderness.

Each took with him as much food as he needed, and went into the desert. When their food ran out, they ate roots and desert plants. The monks crossed the Jordan and scattered in various directions, so that no one might see how another fasted or how they spent their time.

The monks returned to the monastery on Palm Sunday, each having his own conscience as a witness of his ascetic struggles. It was a rule of the monastery that no one asked how anyone else had toiled in the desert.

Abba Zosimas, according to the custom of the monastery, went deep into the desert hoping to find someone living there who could benefit him.

He walked into the wilderness for twenty days and then, when he sang the Psalms of the Sixth Hour and made the usual prayers. Suddenly, to the right of the hill where he stood, he saw a human form. He was afraid, thinking that it might be a demonic apparition. Then he guarded himself with the Sign of the Cross, which removed his fear. He turned to the right and saw a form walking southward. The body was black from the blazing sunlight, and the faded short hair was white like a sheep's fleece. Abba Zosimas rejoiced, since he had not seen any living thing for many days.

The desert-dweller saw Zosimas approaching, and attempted to flee from him. Abba Zosimas, forgetting his age and fatigue, quickened his pace. When he was close enough to be heard, he called out, "Why do you flee from me, a sinful old man? Wait for me, for the love of God."

The stranger said to him, "Forgive me, Abba Zosimas, but I cannot turn and show my face to you. I am a woman, and as you see, I am naked. If you would grant the request of a sinful woman, throw me your cloak so I might cover my body, and then I can ask for your blessing."

Then Abba Zosimas was terrified, realizing that she could not have called him by name unless she possessed spiritual insight.

Covered by the cloak, the ascetic turned to Zosimas: "Why do you want to speak with me, a sinful woman? What did you wish to learn from me, you who have not shrunk from such great labors?"

Abba Zosimas fell to the ground and asked for her blessing. She also bowed down before him, and for a long time they remained on the ground each asking the other to bless. Finally, the woman ascetic said: "Abba Zosimas, you must bless and pray, since you are honored with the grace of the priesthood. For many years you have stood before the holy altar, offering the Holy Gifts to the Lord."

These words frightened St Zosimas even more. With tears he said to her, "O Mother! It is clear that you live with God and are dead to this world. You have called me by name and recognized me as a priest, though you have never seen me before. The grace granted you is apparent, therefore bless me, for the Lord's sake."

Yielding finally to his entreaties, she said, "Blessed is God, Who cares for the salvation of men." Abba Zosimas replied, "Amen." Then they rose to their feet. The woman ascetic again said to the Elder, "Why have you come, Father, to me who am a sinner, bereft of every virtue? Apparently, the grace of the Holy Spirit has brought you to do me a service. But tell me first, Abba, how do the Christians live, how is the Church guided?"

Abba Zosimas answered her, "By your holy prayers God has granted the Church and us all a lasting peace. But fulfill my unworthy request, Mother, and pray for the whole world and for me a sinner, that my wanderings in the desert may not be useless."

The holy ascetic replied, "You, Abba Zosimas, as a priest, ought to pray for me and for all, for you are called to do this. However, since we must be obedient, I will do as you ask.

The saint turned toward the East, and raising her eyes to heaven and stretching out her hands, she began to pray in a whisper. She prayed so softly that Abba Zosimas could not hear her words. After a long time, the Elder looked up and saw her standing in the air more than a foot above the ground. Seeing this, Zosimas threw himself down on the ground, weeping and repeating, "Lord, have mercy!"

Then he was tempted by a thought. He wondered if she might not be a spirit, and if her prayer could be insincere. At that moment she turned around, lifted him from the ground and said, "Why do your thoughts confuse you, Abba Zosimas? I am not an apparition. I am a sinful and unworthy woman, though I am guarded by holy Baptism."

Then she made the Sign of the Cross and said, "May God protect us from the Evil One and his schemes, for fierce is his struggle against us." Seeing and hearing this, the Elder fell at her feet with tears saying, "I beseech you by Christ our God, do not conceal from me who you are and how you came into this desert. Tell me everything, so that the wondrous works of God may be revealed."

She replied, "It distresses me, Father, to speak to you about my shameless life. When you hear my story, you might flee from me, as if from a poisonous snake. But I shall tell you everything, Father, concealing nothing. However, I exhort you, cease not to pray for me a sinner, that I may find mercy on the Day of Judgment.

"I was born in Egypt and when I was twelve years old, I left my parents and went to Alexandria. There I lost my chastity and gave myself to unrestrained and insatiable sensuality. For more than seventeen years I lived like that and I did it all for free. Do not think that I refused the money because I was rich. I lived in poverty and worked at spinning flax. To me, life consisted in the satisfaction of my fleshly lust.

"One summer I saw a crowd of people from Libya and Egypt heading toward the sea. They were on their way to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I also wanted to sail with them. Since I had no food or money, I offered my body in payment for my passage. And so I embarked on the ship.

"Now, Father, believe me, I am very amazed, that the sea tolerated my wantonness and fornication, that the earth did not open up its mouth and take me down alive into hell, because I had ensnared so many souls. I think that God was seeking my repentance. He did not desire the death of a sinner, but awaited my conversion.

"So I arrived in Jerusalem and spent all the days before the Feast living the same sort of life, and maybe even worse.

"When the holy Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross of the Lord arrived, I went about as before, looking for young men. At daybreak I saw that everyone was heading to the church, so I went along with the rest. When the hour of the Holy Elevation drew nigh, I was trying to enter into the church with all the people. With great effort I came almost to the doors, and attempted to squeeze inside. Although I stepped up to the threshold, it was as though some force held me back, preventing me from entering. I was brushed aside by the crowd, and found myself standing alone on the porch. I thought that perhaps this happened because of my womanly weakness. I worked my way into the crowd, and again I attempted to elbow people aside. However hard I tried, I could not enter. Just as my feet touched the church threshold, I was stopped. Others entered the church without difficulty, while I alone was not allowed in. This happened three or four times. Finally my strength was exhausted. I went off and stood in a corner of the church portico.

"Then I realized that it was my sins that prevented me from seeing the Life-Creating Wood. The grace of the Lord then touched my heart. I wept and lamented, and I began to beat my breast. Sighing from the depths of my heart, I saw above me an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Turning to Her, I prayed: "O Lady Virgin, who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word! I know that I am unworthy to look upon your icon. I rightly inspire hatred and disgust before your purity, but I know also that God became Man in order to call sinners to repentance. Help me, O All-Pure One. Let me enter the church. Allow me to behold the Wood upon which the Lord was crucified in the flesh, shedding His Blood for the redemption of sinners, and also for me. Be my witness before Your Son that I will never defile my body again with the impurity of fornication. As soon as I have seen the Cross of your Son, I will renounce the world, and go wherever you lead me."

"After I had spoken, I felt confidence in the compassion of the Mother of God, and left the spot where I had been praying. I joined those entering the church, and no one pushed me back or prevented me from entering. I went on in fear and trembling, and entered the holy place.

"Thus I also saw the Mysteries of God, and how God accepts the penitant. I fell to the holy ground and kissed it. Then I hastened again to stand before the icon of the Mother of God, where I had given my vow. Bending my knees before the Virgin Theotokos, I prayed:

"'O Lady, you have not rejected my prayer as unworthy. Glory be to God, Who accepts the repentance of sinners. It is time for me to fulfill my vow, which you witnessed. Therefore, O Lady, guide me on the path of repentance.'"

"Then I heard a voice from on high: 'If you cross the Jordan, you will find glorious rest.'

"I immediately believed that this voice was meant for me, and I cried out to the Mother of God: 'O Lady, do not forsake me!'

"Then I left the church portico and started on my journey. A certain man gave me three coins as I was leaving the church. With them I bought three loaves of bread, and asked the bread merchant the way to the Jordan.

"It was nine o'clock when I saw the Cross. At sunset I reached the church of St John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan. After praying in the church, I went down to the Jordan and washed my face and hands in its water. Then in this same temple of St John the Forerunner I received the Life-Creating Mysteries of Christ. Then I ate half of one of my loaves of bread, drank water from the holy Jordan, and slept there that night on the ground. In the morning I found a small boat and crossed the river to the opposite shore. Again I prayed that the Mother of God would lead me where She wished. Then I found myself in this desert."

Abba Zosimas asked her, "How many years have passed since you began to live in the desert?"

"'I think," she replied, "it is forty-seven years since I came from the Holy City."

Abba Zosimas again asked, "What food do you find here, Mother?"

And she said, "I had with me two and a half loaves of bread when I crossed the Jordan. Soon they dried out and hardened Eating a little at a time, I finished them after a few years."

Again Abba Zosimas asked, "Is it possible you have survived for so many years without sickness, and without suffering in any way from such a complete change?"

"Believe me, Abba Zosimas," the woman said, "I spent seventeen years in this wilderness (after she had spent seventeen years in immorality), fighting wild beasts: mad desires and passions. When I began to eat bread, I thought of the meat and fish which I had in abundance in Egypt. I also missed the wine that I loved so much when I was in the world, while here I did not even have water. I suffered from thirst and hunger. I also had a mad desire for lewd songs. I seemed to hear them, disturbing my heart and my hearing. Weeping and striking myself on the breast, I remembered the vow I had made. At last I beheld a radiant Light shining on me from everywhere. After a violent tempest, a lasting calm ensued.

"Abba, how shall I tell you of the thoughts that urged me on to fornication? A fire seemed to burn within me, awakening in me the desire for embraces. Then I would throw myself to the ground and water it with my tears. I seemed to see the Most Holy Virgin before me, and She seemed to threaten me for not keeping my vow. I lay face downward day and night upon the ground, and would not get up until that blessed Light encircled me, dispelling the evil thoughts that troubled me.

"Thus I lived in this wilderness for the first seventeen years. Darkness after darkness, misery after misery stood about me, a sinner. But from that time until now the Mother of God helps me in everything."

Abba Zosimas again inquired, "How is it that you require neither food, nor clothing?"

She answered, "After finishing my bread, I lived on herbs and the things one finds in the desert. The clothes I had when I crossed over the Jordan became torn and fell apart. I suffered both from the summer heat, when the blazing heat fell upon me, and from the winter cold, when I shivered from the frost. Many times I fell down upon the earth, as though dead. I struggled with various afflictions and temptations. But from that time until the present day, the power of God has guarded my sinful soul and humble body. I was fed and clothed by the all-powerful word of God, since man does not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding from the mouth of God (Dt 8:3, Mt.4:4, Luke 4:4), and those who have put off the old man (Col 3:9) have no refuge, hiding themselves in the clefts of the rocks (Job 24:8, Heb 11:38). When I remember from what evil and from what sins the Lord delivered me, I have imperishible food for salvation."

When Abba Zosimas heard that the holy ascetic quoted the Holy Scripture from memory, from the Books of Moses and Job and from the Psalms of David, he then asked the woman, "Mother, have you read the Psalms and other books?"

She smiled at hearing this question, and answered, "Believe me, I have seen no human face but yours from the time that I crossed over the Jordan. I never learned from books. I have never heard anyone read or sing from them. Perhaps the Word of God, which is alive and acting, teaches man knowledge by itself (Col 3:16, 1 Thess 2:13). This is the end of my story. As I asked when I began, I beg you for the sake of the Incarnate Word of God, holy Abba, pray for me, a sinner.

"Furthermore, I beg you, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, tell no one what you have heard from me, until God takes me from this earth. Next year, during Great Lent, do not cross the Jordan, as is the custom of your monastery."

Again Abba Zosimas was amazed, that the practice of his monastery was known to the holy woman ascetic, although he had not said anything to her about this.

"Remain at the monastery," the woman continued. "Even if you try to leave the monastery, you will not be able to do so. On Great and Holy Thursday, the day of the Lord's Last Supper, place the Life-Creating Body and Blood of Christ our God in a holy vessel, and bring it to me. Await me on this side of the Jordan, at the edge of the desert, so that I may receive the Holy Mysteries. And say to Abba John, the igumen of your community, 'Look to yourself and your brothers (1 Tim 4:16), for there is much that needs correction. Do not say this to him now, but when the Lord shall indicate."

Asking for his prayers, the woman turned and vanished into the depths of the desert.

For a whole year Elder Zosimas remained silent, not daring to reveal to anyone what he had seen, and he prayed that the Lord would grant him to see the holy ascetic once more.

When the first week of Great Lent came again, St Zosimas was obliged to remain at the monastery because of sickness. Then he remembered the woman's prophetic words that he would not be able to leave the monastery. After several days went by, St Zosimas was healed of his infirmity, but he remained at the monastery until Holy Week.

On Holy Thursday, Abba Zosimas did what he had been ordered to do. He placed some of the Body and Blood of Christ into a chalice, and some food in a small basket. Then he left the monastery and went to the Jordan and waited for the ascetic. The saint seemed tardy, and Abba Zosimas prayed that God would permit him to see the holy woman.

Finally, he saw her standing on the far side of the river. Rejoicing, St Zosimas got up and glorified God. Then he wondered how she could cross the Jordan without a boat. She made the Sign of the Cross over the water, then she walked on the water and crossed the Jordan. Abba Zosimas saw her in the moonlight, walking toward him. When the Elder wanted to make prostration before her, she forbade him, crying out, "What are you doing, Abba? You are a priest and you carry the Holy Mysteries of God."

Reaching the shore, she said to Abba Zosimas, "Bless me, Father." He answered her with trembling, astonished at what he had seen. "Truly God did not lie when he promised that those who purify themselves will be like Him. Glory to You, O Christ our God, for showing me through your holy servant, how far I am from perfection."

The woman asked him to recite both the Creed and the "Our Father." When the prayers were finished, she partook of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Then she raised her hands to the heavens and said, "Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen Your salvation."

The saint turned to the Elder and said, "Please, Abba, fulfill another request. Go now to your monastery, and in a year's time come to the place where we first time spoke."

He said, "If only it were possible for me to follow you and always see your holy face!"

She replied, "For the Lord's sake, pray for me and remember my wrechedness."

Again she made the Sign of the Cross over the Jordan, and walked over the water as before, and disappeared into the desert. Zosimas returned to the monastery with joy and terror, reproaching himself because he had not asked the saint's name. He hoped to do so the following year.

A year passed, and Abba Zosimas went into the desert. He reached the place where he first saw the holy woman ascetic. She lay dead, with arms folded on her bosom, and her face was turned to the east. Abba Zosimas washed her feet with his tears and kissed them, not daring to touch anything else. For a long while he wept over her and sang the customary Psalms, and said the funeral prayers. He began to wonder whether the saint would want him to bury her or not. Hardly had he thought this, when he saw something written on the ground near her head: "Abba Zosimas, bury on this spot the body of humble Mary. Return to dust what is dust. Pray to the Lord for me. I reposed on the first day of April, on the very night of the saving Passion of Christ, after partaking of the Mystical Supper."

Reading this note, Abba Zosimas was glad to learn her name. He then realized that St Mary, after receiving the Holy Mysteries from his hand, was transported instantaneously to the place where she died, though it had taken him twenty days to travel that distance.

Glorifying God, Abba Zosimas said to himself, "It is time to do what she asks. But how can I dig a grave, with nothing in my hands?" Then he saw a small piece of wood left by some traveler. He picked it up and began to dig. The ground was hard and dry, and he could not dig it. Looking up, Abba Zosimas saw an enormous lion standing by the saint's body and licking her feet. Fear gripped the Elder, but he guarded himself with the Sign of the Cross, believing that he would remain unharmed through the prayers of the holy woman ascetic. Then the lion came close to the Elder, showing its friendliness with every movement. Abba Zosimas commanded the lion to dig the grave, in order to bury St Mary's body. At his words, the lion dug a hole deep enough to bury the body. Then each went his own way. The lion went into the desert, and Abba Zosimas returned to the monastery, blessing and praising Christ our God.

Arriving at the monastery, Abba Zosimas related to the monks and the igumen, what he had seen and heard from St Mary. All were astonished, hearing about the miracles of God. They always remembered St Mary with faith and love on the day of her repose.

Abba John, the igumen of the monastery, heeded the words of St Mary, and with the help of God corrected the things that were wrong at the monastery. Abba Zosimas lived a God-pleasing life at the monastery, reaching nearly a hundred years of age. There he finished his temporal life, and passed into life eternal.

The monks passed on the life of St Mary of Egypt by word of mouth without writing it down.

"I however," says St Sophronius of Jerusalem (March 11), "wrote down the Life of St Mary of Egypt as I heard it from the holy Fathers. I have recorded everything, putting the truth above all else."

"May God, Who works great miracles and bestows gifts on all who turn to Him in faith, reward those who hear or read this account, and those who copy it. May he grant them a blessed portion together with St Mary of Egypt and with all the saints who have pleased God by their pious thoughts and works. Let us give glory to God, the Eternal King, that we may find mercy on the Day of Judgment through our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is due all glory, honor, majesty and worship together with the Unoriginate Father, and the Most Holy and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Animal Kingdom

The ants have been quieter the past few days, so sleeping has been easier. There is less of that "things are crawling on me" feeling. The first pest treatment will take place this Saturday. Supposedly they drill small pin size holes in the wall, and then spray insecticide or something into the holes. It should be an interesting process, so I'm a tad (just a tad) bit sorry I'll be missing it. Madi and I are heading to my sister's house this weekend to visit and eat in their newly opened Coffee House. Josh is being left behind with the ants and a mass amount of yard work--can you say "bye, bye overgrown trees"?

So I thought I would leave you with some of the other animals that we have been graced with seeing since our marriage and two home purchases. These are all pictures from our Pittsburgh home, as we had a small patch of woods behind our home, and being more urban, the animals just flocked to that little area. Here we have the more tame wildlife, such as deer, bunnies, birds, bugs, and one garter snake sighting. In Pittsburgh, anything was possible when you peered out the back windows.












As a recap, while living in our first home we:

1. Caught and transported 4 groundhogs and 1 rat. The rat would sit under our bird feeder in the winter and eat.
2. Saved 4 baby bunnies from drowning in our decorative pond.
3. Saw at least 3 adult garter snakes and a lot of babies (as they had a nest in our pond rocks).
4. Had an Eastern Milk Snake hanging out at our pond.
5. Saw 1 turkey.
6. Saw deer on a regular basis, including fawns.
6. Had an unknown animal dump our garbage two times.

I will say that I am not a snake person. After the first sighting each spring (which was inevitable), it would become Josh's job to weed around the pond. All other wildlife, I was surprisingly okay with.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Invasion

Carpenter ants have invaded our master bedroom wall. We can hear them chomp, chomp, chomping... It's a little intimidating when trying to sleep.

This is something that we'll need some professional help with,

the ant infestation,

not the sleep intimidation.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Book # 20: The Portrait of a Lady

by Henry James

As I was once again stuck on what to read next, I spend some time looking at the books I've owned for quite some time, but never attempted to read. This is one of those classics that I knew I should read, but then never could motivate myself to start. It was good. Wordy, long winded, mostly conversational or descriptive, just as most Englishy-class books of this type and time period tend to be. Jane Austen, who I love, has a tendency toward this as well. I'm glad I read it. I don't think I'll be jumping at the chance to read it a second time or scouting the library shelves for more Henry James novels to dive into. It is just one of those books that make you feel smarter having it on your shelf and knowing you've read it.

Oh, and I did like the ending! Not happy, but no dream awakening sequences, and Henry James didn't care if we liked it or not. He did what he had to do to be realistic, not romantic.

And once again, I'm stuck on what to read next. Guess I should visit that book shelf again.

Baby's Room Preview









Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book 19: The Christmas Sweater

by Glenn Beck

Let me start by saying that I love Glenn Beck! I have listened to his radio show off and on, not more because children do not make it conducive to radio listening. I have been to two of his tours, and really enjoyed both of them. I have laughed over a number of his CD's, enjoyed both of his other books (both of which I highly recommend), and faithfully read Fusion magazine.

But, Glenn, well, he committed my number one pet peeve where books are concerned. And let me say right now that this will be a spoiler for the end of the book, if you are planning on reading it and like to be surprised, stop reading this post now.

Remember in Elementary school when you were told to write a story, and all of these amazing things would happen, such as your pet dog would hold a long conversation with you, you would lead a heroic mission to mars, or you would suddenly be thrust into the role of president of the United States. And at the conclusion of all these amazing events, the story would end with one small sentence: "And then I woke up", or the ever popular "It was all a dream". After going through middle school and graduating from high school, I must say that I HATED, no LOATHED, any story that ended this way! It was like a free pass to do anything and have it justified. The only place I can kind of accept it is in the movie, "The Princess Bride" where Buttercup wakes up after dreaming that she had married Prince Humperdink. Afterall, it was a reasonable dream and come on, the movie is a comedy.

Likewise, let me say that "Hi, my name is Kelly, and my husband is a Star Trek fan." Yes, I can freely admit it. I can also admit to watching all of Star Trek Next Generation and Voyager with him. I know that might qualify me as a nerd, but these are the things we do for love. Anyway, Star Trek commits this crime insanely often! But instead of dreams, they use time travel or time lines. Something will alter the time line, and then one person must single-handedly fix it. So at the end of the show, this one person is the ONLY one who remembers anything that happened, and they are not able to share their experiences with anyone else. It is like the entire show NEVER happened! I always feel like I wasted my time because now all of the events that took place, relationships that were forged, and characters that were developed never even happened. We are back to square one.

So all of this totally off topic blabber is to help you to see how much I dislike the "it was a dream" escape ending. Well, all I have to say about The Christmas Sweater is that Glenn ended it with the main character waking up from a dream. That's ALL I have to say.

Next book: A Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James

Oh, and sorry for my blogging negligence. I hit one of those pregnancy-exhaustion zones, where every moment of every day you feel exhausted. It's over now, and I have some exciting things in store for you, including a baby room preview, a rocking chair make over, a patio furniture redo, and yard sale goodies! And I promise that it won't all be a dream.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book # 18: Brisingr

by Christopher Paolini

I told you this one wouldn't take long. I've been plowing through it every free minute, straining my eyes in the dim light of our evening car ride to Pittsburgh this past weekend. What can I say? I liked the first two; I liked this one too! I thought this was the last in the series, but Paolini needed more room to finish his story, so the trilogy has become a cycle. Book four is not out yet (to the best of my knowledge), so all of you have time to catch up on the first three before the last is released. If you like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, this is kind of a combination of the two. Dragons, elves, sword fighting, battles, it has everything, and the story is extremely complex. Very impressive, and now I have to try to be patient until the next book comes out. *Sigh*, I'm not good at being patient.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Found It!

I found my next book. By accident. At the library (who would have thought--finding a book at the library). I went for CD's for our road trip this weekend. To entertain Madi. I grabbed The Wiggles and Veggie Tales. Then I glanced up into the teen reading room. And low and behold on the "new" shelf, I saw this:


You may remember that I read the second book in The Inheritance Series just in February. I never expected to see the third out yet, much less in the library. I thought there would be a waiting list a mile long. I guess I'm behind times.

So with my CD's and my next book tucked under my arm, I headed home. Now my dilemma is how am I going to stop reading it once I start? The last one left me severely negligent, and right now, with our trip this weekend, the packing I should be doing, and the list of pre-baby tasks, this is not a good book to find. But to look on the positive side, it will all be over in a few days, as I can't put these books down. And then life can return to normal.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book # 17: At Gettysburg

or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle
By Mrs. Tillie Pierce Alleman

On our Valentine's Day trip to Gettysburg, Josh and I toured the Shriver House, which housed the Shriver family during the time of the Civil War. While on this tour, we were introduced to the Pierce family who were the Shriver's neighbors. Their daughter Tillie kept a diary and had an account of what she witnessed during the battle. In the gift shop, they had copies of the diary which was first published in 1888, so I purchased one.

It was interesting to get a first hand account, and Tillie was definitely part of the action. She left town with the Shriver family to go to a farmhouse away from Gettysburg that actually put them more into the center of the battle. The barn next to the house she was staying in served as a spot to care for the wounded. Not only does she tell what she experienced, but she can also tell what her parents experienced staying in the town of Gettysburg during the days of battle. She also knew Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian to be killed during the battle, as they had housed and hired Jennie's brother, Sam. It was an intriguing account, and fascinating after having visited the battlefields and many of the places she mentioned. It is definitely an account of what she witnessed and not a history or analysis of the battles, but it was interesting to get a first hand account.

Not sure what I am reading next. I think I am coming to the end of my must read list. Any suggestions?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Christ is Risen!

So I've been on a hiatus from blogging for the past week or so. We were in the midst of Orthodox Holy week, and then we celebrated Pascha (Orthodox Easter) this past Sunday. There are a lot of preparations and church services during that time, thus I decided to wait until afterwards to begin blogging again. But now, I am officially back.

My next book is started:
At Gettysburg or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle
By Mrs. Tillie Pierce Alleman

My camera battery is being charged right now, so pictures should be taken and posted this week. Though in all honesty, the bathroom and family room are still a work in progress. We are awaiting furniture for the family room, and the bathroom is still door-less. So I can show you some midpoint pictures, but I guarantee it will not look like a magazine cover.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book # 16: More Spirited Than Lions

An Orthodox response to feminism and a practical guide to the spiritual life of women
by Sarah Elizabeth Cowie

Absolutely a must read! I never realized the impact feminism has had on all of our lives and outlooks on life. Not only did I learn a lot about the history of feminism, where it started and the phases it went through, but I have a better understanding of how my life and world view fits into this context. I have a number of pages marked as there were statements and facts that left an impact. My favorite is the following passage:

"In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan poses the question, "Is this all?" In other words, is being a wife and mother, and having a home in the suburbs all there is to life? What Friedan is expressing in this question is actually a spiritual dilemma. There come times in a person's life when spiritual awakening is possible. God's grace visits the soul and gently prods it, hoping it will see its impoverishment and turn to Him. The soul stirs, looks around, and begins to see that these things of the world are not fulfilling, that there must be something more to life.'

"St. Theophan the Recluse describes this awakening in detail, as the first step towards a spiritual life. Unfortunately, for herself and for thousands of women, Betty Friedan did not understand that her discontent reflected a spiritual dilemma. She did not see (apparently), that there is nothing in this world that can satisfy the spiritual longing embodied in her question. The only way to fill the emptiness of our lives is by turning to God. Our very emptiness is actually a witness of our need for God and a spiritual life." (page 105-106)

Go read it!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Book # 15: The Way of the Pilgrim & The Pilgrim Continues His Way

Translated by R.M. French

This is written by an anonymous Russian Christian who is striving to achieve continuous prayer. His tale was discovered by a Mount Athos monk, and the story was first published in 1884. It is a remarkable story of a pilgrim's travels around Russian and the people and knowledge he encounters on the way. The book contains instruction on both what praying without ceasing entails and how this can be obtained. It is an amazing introduction to the Jesus prayer and the power of prayer. I would highly recommend it as it gives you a different look at spirituality and how prayer can enter and be part of your life.

Next book:
More Spirited Than Lions: an Orthodox response to feminism and a practical guide to the spiritual life of women
by Sarah Elizabeth Cowie

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Differences in Pregnancies

So as in everything, I am discovering that things are not the same the second time around. As this will be a different child with a different personality, I guess it shouldn't surprise me that the pregnancy is different as well.

A main difference happened this weekend on Saturday evening amongst all of the company craze. I am roughly 22 1/2 weeks pregnant, and I began to have Braxton-Hicks contractions that were noticeable. This is definitely a little earlier than with the first one, and frankly surprised me. I ended up calling my OB-GYN on Sunday to talk about what had happened, and if I needed to be concerned. As they went away, all is fine. But it was a wake up call to the fact that some things need to change due to my pregnancy. So I took it as a reason to slow down a little bit, put my feet up, and begin having Madi become a little more independent.

So the home repairs need to slow down a little, and some of the "heavier" work needs to be done by Josh. By heavier, I mean vacuuming the stairs and carrying my scrapbook stuff down to our newly finished family room. It is hard for me to slow down, especially as I have lots of things I'd like to finish before our baby boy makes his appearance in July. But all in good time. I'm taking it one step and one feet propping at a time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Next Book

The next book I will be reading is "The Way of the Pilgrim" Translated by R.M. French. I wasn't sure what I'd be reading, so that was why I delayed in telling you.

Also, this weekend went well! The bathroom was not finished. The toilet (with a slight leak) and shower worked, but we had some problems with the sink. The old plumbing started leaking once we installed the sink and the toilet, so that will need to be replaced before they are finished. We also did not get the door on, but we had a curtain up to act as a door. I'll post pictures soon. We had thirteen people here (10 adults, 3 kids) for lunch and dinner Saturday, and five people spending the night on Friday and Saturday. And I must admit that everything went smoothly. I never felt the stress of preparation that sometimes happens with company. And it was great to visit with everyone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book # 14: Close to Home

One Orthodox mother's quest for patience, peace, and perseverance
By Molly Sabourin

Since discovering Ancient Faith Radio, I have been a listener to the Close to Home podcasts that Molly Sabourin authors and records. I was thrilled to find that not only did she podcast and blog, but also was in the process of writing a book. This is that book that I have anticipated reading since discovering of its future release. I preordered it, and it arrived last week. As soon as I could get Baby Catcher finished, I dove into this book barely putting it down for the past few days.

Molly has a way of expressing what I have a billion times thought and struggled with. She is the mom of four compared to my one, but still she knows what challenges I face. Not only does she successfully make me feel understood and not alone, but she also provides the hope and reassurance that through Christ and His Church we can weather this storm called motherhood and rejoice in our experiences. It is one of those books that as I was reading I would mark pages that I would like to go back and revisit, reread, and internalize to help me in my daily struggle for, as the subtitle states, "patience, peace, and perseverance".

I recommend this book to any and all mothers! With Pascha and Mother's Day approaching, I am glad to have ordered not just one, but three copies. My dilemna now becomes how to divide those three books into the 20 copies I need to hand out to all the women and mothers I think would enjoy it.

A Tiled Bathroom Floor



This is the task that has caused less sleep at night, more so for Josh than for myself. Sunday night we cut and laid out the pattern. Monday night it was fixed in place. Tuesday night Josh grouted and cleaned the tiles. Thursday night Josh will seal the floor and install the toilet and pedestal sink. Friday night our guests arrive. It has truly become the last minute project due to the drying times of the mortar, the grout, and the sealer. But it will be done, perhaps the sink will just be getting put into place when our guests begin to arrive, but still it will be done.

I will post the finished project pictures sometime next week.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Late Night

Wait until you see pictures of why I was up until just a horribly late hour! I'll take them tomorrow and post them. Sorry, but my bed is calling my name, and not even you diligent readers can coax me to take them now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Book # 13: Baby Catcher

Chronicles of a Modern Midwife
By Peggy Vincent

This was a reread, as I read this while pregnant with Madilyn. I loved it so much that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read it again this time around. It is a collection of stories from a California midwife. It is amazing, and brings a whole new dimension to birth. It should be mandatory for any pregnant woman to read, as it leaves you with a sense of excitement and anticipation for your own labor. Seeing all the different versions of the same miracle leaves you excited to see what your own will hold. I would also highly recommend it to anyone, not just those expecting, as it is well written and extremely entertaining. Seriously, you should read this book!

Next book:
Close to Home
by Molly Sabourin

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Joy of a Bargain

So I know that I have rattled on before about yard sales, craigslist, large garbage pick up days, and bargains in general. I just can't get enough of them, and the good deals that you can find! With the onset of spring, I have been anxiously awaiting the start of yard sales, and the prospect of climbing out of bed insanely early on a Saturday morning to rummage through other people's discards. Well, yard sale season is not here, yet, but craigslist is the yard saler's dream.

Yesterday Josh picked up a plastic tea set for $5 which will be Madi's birthday gift come August. It is adorable with a tea pot 4 saucers, 4 cups, 4 knives, 4 cookies, a creamer, and a sugar bowl. That's bargain number one!

Also yesterday, Josh and I had our ultrasound, so we are officially having a baby boy! One of the big joys of this for me is that I can satisfy my yard sale and craigslist cravings with stocking up on little boy clothing, bedding, etc. I had been scouring craigslist for some time looking at baby bedding, just, well, because. Yes, it's sort of an addiction. But I had found the cutest firetruck and car bedding about 2 to 3 weeks ago. Well, yesterday I called. It is still available! Twenty-five dollars for a crib skirt, bumper, quilt, fleece blanket, and toy truck! Woohoo! I should be picking it up today! I'll share some pictures once I get it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Relief!

Josh returned home late last night, and I cannot even begin to describe how nice it is to have him back. Not that he has been here a lot the past 24 hours, as he leaves for work around 6:30am and doesn't get home until after 5pm. But just the idea that he IS coming home has done wonders for my attitude. Josh came home to eat lunch with Madi and me (his work is under 5 minutes away), and it was so nice to have someone to talk with while Madi ate her leisurely 40 minute meal. And even though Josh was only home this evening for about 2 hours (he had a meeting at church to attend), having someone here to dance with Madi and talk and listen to me was amazing. Not that the phone calls, emails, and visits from others were not appreciated this past week, but there is something about having Josh home that makes the world seem better.

Am I being sappy? I'm sorry! I'll blame the pregnancy hormones.

Oh, we have our ultrasound on Thursday, so soon we'll know which pronouns to use when talking about my large protruding belly.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Some Things I learned this week:

1. Primer and I do NOT get along! It is splotchy, and I lack patience.

2. Ceilings are difficult to paint, especially when your arm strength is minimal to non-existent. Thank goodness our bathroom is small.

3. Floor sealant smells like a pina colada rum punch. Yummy!

4. I am a messy painter. Alright, I already knew this one, but I had forgotten how much paint it was possible to get on your hands.

5. I have an issue with heights; and yes, I consider the two-step step stool a height. One and a half feet off the ground is WAY UP THERE!

Friday, March 13, 2009

2 Days and Counting. . .

Two days left until Josh's return, and I have a good start on my to do list:

Finished:
1. Prime the entire bathroom including the ceiling and walls.
2. Paint the rest of the family room floor and the bathroom floor to seal in pet odors and smells.
3. Vacuum both floors so they are spotless and ready for the flooring to be laid when Josh gets back.
4. Pick up the decorative accent tiles from Home Depot for the bathroom floor.

Half Finished:
Paint two coats of white paint on the ceiling.

Unfinished:
Prime & paint the bathroom door.

Book # 12: Surprised by Christ

My Journey from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity
by Rev. A. James Bernstein

Our church did this as a book club book, and I became especially intrigued after reading the book by A.J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically, where he tries to live the bible as literally as possible. A.J. was raised Jewish, and so while living the New Testament literally, he visits some Christian churches. However, he never discovered or visited an Orthodox Church. So I was curious to see how James Bernstein responded to it, and how his conversion took place.

Well, I was in for more than that! James has had an astonishing life living through the Six Day War, the Civil Right's Movement, and the Jesus Movement. Not only did he dive into those events and really experience them up close and personal, but he also goes into detail on many theological matters. I would highly recommend it, as he explains everything in a way that is easy to understand, and the stories from his life make for a nice bridge between the explanations.

Next book:
Baby Catcher
by Peggy Vincent
This is a repeat read, and I can already say that I highly recommend it, as I am obviously reading it again!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oh, Josh also gave me permission to tear out the kitchen carpet, but thinking how comical this would look as I wield my crow bar with my large pregnant belly looming above, I think I will wait for his return!

While the boy's are away. . .

I got my girl's weekend this past weekend. Josh has a boy's work a.k.a. golfing trip starting late this evening. His Myrtle Beach trip lasts a little longer than mine, as he'll be gone through Sunday evening. Just like Josh did, Madi and I have a to-do list.

Here's what it looks like:

1. Prime the entire bathroom including the ceiling and walls.
2. Paint two coats of white paint on the ceiling.
3. Paint the rest of the family room floor and the bathroom floor to seal in pet odors and smells.
4. Prime & paint the bathroom door.
5. Vacuum both floors so they are spotless and ready for the flooring to be laid when Josh gets back.
6. Pick up the decorative accent tiles from Home Depot for the bathroom floor.

I would also like to finish the first half of Madi's first year scrapbook, so that I can start organizing the second half.

I'll let you know how things are going. I think I might enlist a grandparent at some point to watch Madilyn, so I can get all the priming and floor sealing done in one shot.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Call to Prayer




The morning stretched on forever it seemed. My highly motivated self slowly diminished through the chores of showering, dressing both myself and Madi, preparing and eating breakfast, and cleaning up the dishes piled in the sink from the past weekend. By ten o'clock all that remained was a shell of the go-getter who had risen a few hours before. Tasks seemed to be taking twice as long as usual, and Madi continually neglected her toys and swarmed to my own leaving a trail of ribbon, socks, and makeup in her wake.

My patience empty, my temper welling, I knew that prayer would have to be a part of our day. But I stalled. We watched The Wiggles, went for a walk, filled the bird feeders, and asked Josh to come home for lunch. As I sat the lunch dishes in the sink, I knew it was now or never. Madi's nap was fast approaching, and we both needed some support, some reassurance, some rest.

As I pulled the censer, the charcoal, the incense, and the prayer book out of the cabinet, Madilyn scurried from the living room to the dining room preparing. A herd of animals formed before our icon stand. Every last sheep, rooster, cow, and horse was brought before our cross and icons to participate in the Akathist to the Mother of God.

As I chanted with the occasional "uuu-a" (Alleluia)from Madi thrown in, my restlessness, temper, and impatience evaporated. At the end, Madi practiced her "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us." And our plastic gathering of farm animals, my little ponies, and little people looked on.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

When the girls are away. . .

This weekend was girls weekend away. So my Mom, sister, and I headed to Lititz, PA for a stay at an inn, some shopping, and leisure time. It was so nice to get away and take a break from the stresses of motherhood and the household.

Josh in a large part made this possible by understanding my need for a little "me" time before I am totally devoted to a newborn. Madi as a newborn was very demanding until about the 11 month mark, so we are both trying to prepare in case the second has a similar demanding schedule.

Well, you might be thinking that Josh slacked off on the house work since he was busy with a 19-month old, but this is not the case. Nana stepped in to watch Madi on Saturday, so that Josh could continue house renovations.

So here's the impressive update:

1. family room is fully painted!!!
2. bathroom is sanded and the second coat of spackle is applied.
3. living room (I know--how did this make it on the radar) has a few exposed nail holes filled, primed, and painted with their first coat.

Oh, and we picked out tile Friday night for the bathroom floor. So things are progressing nicely for our March 28th deadline. More updates later this week.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I WON!

I never win. And I am not exaggerating. I CAN win if it is a contest involving determination and stamina, but anything that is left to chance, there is no point in hoping, as I never win. Bingo, door prizes, raffles all end with empty hands.

But this week, my luck changed. As you know, I've been reading this year, and reading without spending money, requires trips to the library. On top of that, Madi loves the library. Miss Barb is there to run Rhyme Time, and Madi loves to sing. Plus the Wiggles live there in the form of DVD's and CD's, so we are frequent visitors.

When I saw an adult reading program advertised, I entered. This is not a program based on the amount you read, but the amount of times you check out items from the library. So, I figured I had no real luck there, as I couldn't even increase my chances by buckling down and pouring over books. But every week, when we would go to the library, I was sure to check out something, and this week I got an email that I had won the first prize drawing for that week. What did I win you might ask?

A 1 GB Ipod Shuffle. I am soo excited! Now I just have to figure out how it works.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hemp Rope

is the name of the paint color that finally adorns the walls of the family room. One coat down; one to go.

The bathroom door still needs to be painted, as Madi got a mysterious rash on Tuesday morning. Today's doctor visit revealed that she is allergic to Amoxicillin and Penicillin. That is one to remember in the future. The rash should be gone in a couple days, and hopefully, I can motivate myself to paint the door in that same time frame. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday Update

The work morning on Saturday proved effective. Madi had a great time at Nana's house, and didn't mind me leaving at all. I told her I was going, she gave me a hug, and said "bye bye".

Here's what we were able to accomplish:

The family room:
1. The family room walls are all ready to paint. The first coat is going on tonight.
2. The floor was broom cleaned, so that after the final sanding it only needs to be vacuumed.
3. The last of the carpet strip was removed. This was installed under the built-in shelves, so the removal was not an easy task.
4. Josh & I both have a horrible habit of finishing a task, but then leaving our supplies out. So I spent part of the morning putting all of the accumulated tools, trash, paint cans, rollers, etc. away. Currently, only the items we are still using are in the family room. Well, all except the pile of rags by the door.

The bathroom:
1. The walls all received their fist coat of spackle. They will be sanded this week, and hopefully, the second coat will be applied.
2. The hole in the floor for the toilet was cleaned of the sticky-type glue. Sorry, once again, I am not good with the technical terms.
3. The bathroom door had its hardware removed, and the door was sanded. This will be primed tonight.
4. We found a pedestal sink and an over-the-toilet shelving unit that we like.

So tonight the paint can will be opened! This is a good sign that things are progressing. I'm not going to share with you when we started this room. If you are really desperate for a good laugh, I'll let you look through my past posts. The before pictures are on there somewhere.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Book # 11: Diaper-Free Before 3

by Jill M. Lekovic, M.D.

As I was diving into the book, Surprised by Christ, I received a surprise of my own. Our 18-month old, Madilyn, has been very interested in the toilet and all that it entails. She has also begun to tell us when she is making a number 2 in her diaper. All this led me to believe that I might need to move my potty training expectations up a bit.

With this in mind, I was searching Craig's List and found a person selling a Little Tykes barn set and a child's potty. I jumped on the chance to get both at a good price. I brought them home, cleaned them both, and presented the barn set for her to play with.

That evening, when Josh was home as well, we asked her if she wanted to see her new potty. She knew exactly what it was for, and immediately tried to climb on it. So we stripped off her pants and diaper, and sat her on it, both chuckling to ourselves at how little she was and how funny it was to see her on the potty. Low and behold, she got the better of us, as she began to pee in it! Amazed and overwhelmed by what this might mean, we praised her success and redressed her.

The potty was moved to the bathroom, and before bath, I once again sat her on it. Once again, she peed. "Now I'm really in for it," I thought, and I knew that Surprised by Christ, would have to wait.

Friday we made a trip to the library, and I hastily threw every one of their potty training books into my bag before heading to Madi's Rhyme Time program. Then began the one day reading marathon of trying to figure out if she was ready to be potty trained, if I was ready to help her, and what the heck the next step would be.

I am happy to say that my stress of the unknown has subsided. After devouring the above mentioned book, as well as parts of two others, I feel prepared. We will take this slow, but by all means continue to encourage her to use the potty. She has since used it two more times--once Friday night and once Saturday before her nap. And why shouldn't I sit her on it any time she has a bare bottom or I am planning to use the toilet myself?

So here I am, once again spurred on to actions I was not even ready to conceptualize by a child all-too-eager to conquer the world and her surroundings. Refusing to eat baby food at 9 months, walking at 10 months, and now potty training at 18. I can only say that it requires a lot of prayer and trust in God to be ready to tackle tasks I don't feel prepared to confront at this time in her development. But I guess that is why Madi and I need each other--me to guide her in her new found independence, and her to guide me to my salvation through learning to leap before I feel ready.

So please forgive the unaccounted for book insertion, but surprised I was.

Next book: Continuing to read Surprised by Christ

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Walls

The bathroom walls are being sanded as you read this. And this Saturday is going to be a major work day for Josh and me, so by Monday there should be lots of progress to report on the bathroom and family room. I hope, I hope. . .

Alright, off I go!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book # 10: The Curate's Awakening

by George MacDonald

As I finished reading this book, I was still (and am still) not decided on an opinion of it. C.S. Lewis considered George MacDonald his master, and I went into reading this book with high expectations. It was good, especially theologically. George MacDonald uses the genre of fiction to express his beliefs and understanding of Christianity, and it was intriguing to see how he did it and understand what he believes. However, the plot was frankly a little slow. It took 253 pages of small print to end the way I expected it would after reading the first ten chapters or so. It's not a page turner, but I guess it is more exciting than reading straight-forward theology.

Now that all being said, there are two more in this series, and I find myself curious to see what happens to the two main characters. As I stated, I'm not sure of my final decision.

Next book:
Surprised by Christ: My Journey from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity
by Rev. A. James Bernstein

Monday, February 23, 2009

Even More than Priceless. . .

The giggle of a child as she hugs you before bed, and knowing that the laughter means she is feeling better. It's beyond words.

Priceless

Number of Tissue boxes used in one week's time: 4
Number of Times up on Saturday night soothing a sick child: 9
Number of hours watching The Wiggles in one sick weekend: 7
Number of Times pediatrician's office phone number was dialed and busy: 48

Two doctor's visits in one Monday morning, one for a sick Mommy, one for a sick child: priceless

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Victory!

I did it. I finally succumbed to the pressure, got myself in line, planned ahead, and have dinner cooking in the crockpot. That's right! It's 10:23AM, and my dinner is cooking away. I have been reprimanding myself for months, yes, even years, for not taking advantage of this dinner time-saving devise.

What has prevented me using it? Well, for a while I taught and who wanted to get up earlier in order to put dinner in the crockpot. Then it was summer and being home why couldn't I spend an hour or two before dinner getting things ready. And what's my excuse for after Madilyn was born? I procrastinate. Four o'clock would roll around, and I would think, I really need to think about dinner. Then four thirty would be here, and well, maybe I should go take care of dinner. Five o'clock would arrive, and I would be sprinting around the kitchen, frantically, cooking, heating, and chopping.

I can't promise I won't backslide and fall back into old habits, but I can promise that tonight I KNOW WHAT'S FOR DINNER.

Anyone have crockpot recipes you'd like to share?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bathroom Update & Next Book

I once again forgot to tell you the next book I will be reading. Here it is:

The Curate's Awakening
By George MacDonald

And as for the bathroom, I thought you'd like to know that the wallpaper, toilet, vanity, floor heater, and all wall hangings have been removed. I took care of the wallpaper, while Josh took care of the rest. Now Josh gets to spackle the walls, while I move back to the family room and work on the last wall needing primed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Bathroom Downstairs

As I said before, I once again failed to take pictures before starting the project. But I think you'll get an idea of what it looked like from these.


I have a pretty good grasp on how to remove wallpaper at this point seeing as I removed it in two rooms of our previous home, and this will be my third room in our current home. It can be time consuming, but that's mainly because your spray bottle hand gets tired. Here's what I do:

1. If the top layer, the one with the pattern, will easily tear off, grab it and pull.
2. Arm yourself with a spray bottle filled with hot water. For this bathroom, I emptied a bottle of the wallpaper removal gel down the kitchen sink. Trust me, the gel does nothing, hot water does it all. Spray the remaining wallpaper liberally.
3. Let sit for about 5 minutes. In other words, keep spraying other areas for about 5 minutes, then return to where you started to begin removal.
4. Use a scraper and just slide it across the wall. The paper should just peel right off. If you find yourself having to use arm strength, then grab the spray bottle and apply more water.
5. When all the wallpaper is removed, sand the walls to remove any leftover glue.

That's it. Not so bad. But I will say that after removing so much wallpaper in my life, I will NEVER, EVER put any in a house. I know that at some point that wallpaper would need changed, and I do not want to have to remove anymore. We actually replastered the walls in the kitchen instead of succumbing to using wallpaper.

Here are some up close pictures of what the wallpaper looked like. This one was on the top half of the room, complete with a border.


This one was on the bottom, and is proving a little harder to remove. It requires two separate sprayings--one on the top layer and one on the bottom.

Oh, and can you see the country blue trim? That takes me back. Remember THIS?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book # 9: An Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer

by Frederica Mathewes-Green

This is the third book I have read by Frederica, and I will say that I enjoyed the other two more. This one takes a beginners look at icons and their use in the Orthodox church. Frederica looks at the four most prominent on the iconstasis, and then travels around her church to explain eight more icons that are displayed there. It is a great introduction, and she has masterfully intermixed descriptions of the icons, explanations of their design, and hymns from the services. It was a great review for me, and it was a pleasant book to read. A favorite quote of mine from a story she tells is "A saint is somebody whom the light shines through." (page 81) Definitely something I would recommend to someone new to Orthodoxy and the use of icons in churches.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Deadline

We have an official deadline for the family room and attached bathroom. March 27th. We potentially have some friends, a large group of friends--we're talking 8 adults, 2 kids--coming to stay with us. So we NEED that space. We have kicked it up a notch. Yesterday, I started the wallpaper removal in the bathroom, and Josh finished fixing the walls in the family room. And as I usually do, I forgot to take pictures of the bathroom BEFORE removing any wallpaper. But I am going to take some today, and take a shot of the removed wallpaper. This will at least give you an idea of the difference. Those will be posted tomorrow.

Now, what am I doing wasting all this time posting on a blog, when I should be in that bathroom with my spray bottle and scraper. Off I go. . .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Valentine's Video

As Josh & I are heading on an overnight trip for a little time to ourselves, I thought I would share this a little early.

It is for all the wives out there-- a video to share with your husband to get you into that romantic, married mood. Or just have a good laugh over.

Book # 8: Eldest

by Christopher Paolini
Book # 2 in the Inheritance Series

A word of warning about this book and series. Make sure you have a couple days of uninterrupted reading time. It is a very engaging book and is hard to tear yourself away from. A mixture of Harry Potterish writing style with The Lord of the Ring's subject matter make for a thrilling fantasy. I must say that it has been hard to be motivated to do much else, but read, these past few days. It was to the extent that Madi and I went for a walk outside with her stroller, and I propped the book onto the back of the stroller to read as we walked. Not sure if that's a healthy addiction or not?

It took me about 100 pages to get back into the series, as I had read the first book a few years ago, but I am now anticipating reading the third book and excited for when it is available. I would recommend this series, especially if you enjoyed Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings series.

I am now taking a break from reading for about a week or so, hoping that I can become more productive and get some wallpaper removed in the downstair's bathroom and some paint on the family room walls. But after that time, here is my next book:

The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayers
By Frederica Mathewes-Green