Monthly Archives: November 2013

Our baptisms

Our family was received into the Orthodox Church on November 23 and my little sister was there to snap 1200 photos which she then narrowed down to around 750 and I narrowed down further to around a hundred. I won’t post a hundred photos here. I will share some of my favorite moments though.

Henry was so excited about the water. He kept jumping up and down:

These two were so happy! It was great to see a smiling face whenever I looked over.





Stephen and Sarah go waaay back. Their grandmas were sorority sisters at USC. When we started looking into mainline churches four years ago, Sarah was one of the first people that suggested Orthodoxy. We are super excited to have them as Godparents to our boys.

That’s my Godmother Heather with her hand on my back during a procession. I love her! She’s been such a great friend this whole last year of turmoil.

We “accidentally” met Fr. Moses and Matushka Ruth through mutual friends three years ago when his flight back to seminary was delayed. After all that we’ve been through with him it was just so amazing to watch him baptize our daughter.





She was so happy and ready to be baptized!


I just love this picture of her during the procession holding Matushka’s hand too:

The candles are one of my favorite things in Orthodox churches.



Once baptized, Stephen was able to go into the altar area. He came back out with the acolytes for a reading and the boys wanted to stand very officially with him to mimic them and the priests.







Of course communion was probably one of the most important parts of the service.


It really happened this time! Everything came together and we had a wonderful
community of loved ones surrounding us followed by a great party time afterwards.

This was Henry the next morning at Liturgy with his after party hangover:


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Our parish just put on a little Advent workshop about the history of Christmas and the Church. I had a short opportunity to share some of the things we do around here to keep the focus on the real meaning of the season. I loved some of the things other moms shared as well that we might incorporate this and in following years.

Three years ago we started looking into the Orthodox Church at about this time of year. We had been attending a really popular church that came out of the college ministry of a Calvary Chapel. We loved many things about this church, but we were wanting a connection to history and the church of the New Testament. As new parents we were also trying to figure out traditions for the holidays that we wanted to incorporate in our own family.

I discovered this blog post when my research into both the Orthodox Church and Christmas traditions collided. We have been doing this wreath the last two Christmases, however the number of Sundays doesn’t always work out quite right so we either do the first candle the first day of the Nativity Fast (Nov. 15) or the last candle on Christmas Day. I have also had a hard time finding the right colored candles that matched so this year I just did beeswax tapers instead.



I also like to have our LittlePeople Nativity scene out so the kids can feel like there is something hands on that they can interact with. We have some funny stories that have come along with this set.


I bought my wooden Advent calendar a few years ago and was doing the chocolate in each door. This year I decided to do something a little different. Since technically the Christmas season goes until the Twelve Days of Christmas which occur traditionally after Christmas Day, not before, I decided that it almost works out to fill up our Advent calendar twice during Nativity (50 days). Drawing on the idea of the Pascha Passports, I made some PDFs with mini icons of the saints of the day for each of my doors. We’ve been opening them each day, reading the life of the saints and pasting their icons on golden Nativity stars that we are hanging from the ceiling. There are also still jellybeans behind each door like we’re used to. 😉



Our Garden of the Theotokos curriculum also has some beautiful artwork planned for this season which we started on Friday.






What are some ways you make the holidays meaningful for your family and not just about the hustle, bustle and commercialism?

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Yesterday we had our weekly art class with my friend Heather and she let us know ahead of time that she wanted to do something for Martinmas (the Feast of St. Martin of Tours). She started the class with a brief story from his life, the most common one depicted of him cutting his cloak in half to give to a freezing beggar.

Then the kids got to color St. Martin and the beggar with markers. Next they did blow painting on a cloak which they cut in half and pasted on each man.



When we got home thanks to a little bit of Pinterest searching, I decided to continue more projects and activities.

We’ve been keeping what I’m calling a liturgical journal. When Feasts come up that we either have a project for the Children’s Garden of the Theotokos curriculum which does not go in one of the provided Waldorf books, or when I think of something on my own we put it in there. So our first project was to make a page for St. Martin.



From what I read, in Germany and France, Martinmas is celebrated much as we celebrate Halloween here. Children either make or buy paper lanterns and they process around neighborhoods singing songs about light and darkness, going door to door, sometimes in costume where they get candy along the way.

I was trying find the origins of this practice yesterday and did not have a huge amount of luck, but an explanation I read said that St. Martin’s symbol is a ball of fire or light. He was combatting a lot of darkness and paganism during his time. The light of Christ and Christianity that St. Martin was teaching and spreading fills the night, overcoming the darkness of ignorance. The little lanterns also represent our souls, lit up with the grace of Christ, overcoming evil darkness. Paraphrased from this blog (we share this RC saint).

There are a lot of ideas for Martinmas lanterns out there! I picked a couple favorites and we got to work. Jillian and I used the same image, but different techniques. I gave her a pushpin and told her to poke holes in all the dark spots. Her lantern, once lit up, didn’t really work as well as I expected, but she enjoyed doing it anyway. The image I chose was far too complicated for her to do with scissors like I did. Next time I will try something more simple for her to do it like mine. I backed my cut-out with colored tissue and then wrapped it around a mason jar.




I found a template (in German) for a paper lantern with scenes from St. Martin’s life to cut and paste together too.


We never wound up carving our pumpkin patch pumpkins (they last longer that way) so Jillian asked me to carve hers with three hearts in it.


Then I probably starting taking things a little overboard because I gathered up all the lanterns and LED candles in our house and went lantern crazy. I took our back yard mason lanterns which I had been meaning to take down before it rains anyway and hung them in our front tree.






We came back inside and made even more lanterns for a lantern bunting on my fireplace as we’ve reclaimed that room for our family room since the Church moved out (still tossing out ideas for our other great room space which is only housing a couple bookshelves at the moment.



Happy Matinmas!


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