Catching Up

Guys, I don’t know what it is but I’ve been running catch up alllll year. I mean, I’m not even pregnant!  I actually think I might be more productive when I’m pregnant as, in the in-between pregnancy stage, I always have a needy 1-year-old running around like an escaped chimpanzee from the zoo.

z1

No pants, no problem.  (Yes, that is a hideous stain on my carpet, thanks for asking.)

zoe2

Not seen: Anna climbing on the back of the couch to escape an attack by pictured drumstick in said needy baby’s hands.

Side note:  You might not know this if your husband’s not a drummer like mine is, and thus do not have dozens of drumsticks laying around your home, but they (drumsticks) are basically the most painful things on earth.

Ok, case in point of how behind I am this year:  We celebrated St Nick day on December 7th.  In case you don’t know, St Nick day is December 6th, but I was too whatever to get my crap together (AND Trader Joe’s sold out of golden coins AGAIN this year before I could get my hands on any.  I blame all this on you, TJ’s.) So, I lied, gulp, and told my kids that this year it was being celebrated on the 7th.  Going to Hell, fo sho.  It gets worse.  As I said, we were sans chocolate coins and I obviously had done ZERO planning so I had no holy cards or icons or religious whatever on hand, so we filled their boots with TROLL BOOKS.  Troll freaking books.  If you were wondering who gets the prize for worst Orthodox convert this year, wonder no longer.

(I would insert a sweet picture of their boots lined up here but SURPRISE I took zero pictures.)  (Help)

I probably don’t have to tell you I’m not doing a Jesse Tree this year, but I’m not.  I’m going to be honest with you for a moment here.  I know the Jesse Tree is like The THING to Christian homeschooling families everywhere, but…I don’t really get it.  No judgment.  If you’re into it, power to you.  But, I don’t know.  The cute little story, the Bible verse everyone is too distracted to listen to, the little camel/donkey/candle ornament to color?  Eyeroll forever.

Is this post too negative?  Probably.  Sorry, peeps!

Ok, I’m going to end this with some positivity.  Here we go.  My three fav things right now.  Why?  Because.

  1. Praise Babies.

Oh, Praise Babies, how I do love thee.  In case you don’t know, Praise Babies is kinda like a Christian version of those Baby Einstein videos where pretty pictures float dreamily by only worship music is played in the background instead of Mozart or Bach or whatever.  Said needy baby is determined to cling to my leg (or preferably, breast) every minute of every day besides the thirteen minutes or so she is napping UNLESS Praise Babies is on, and then I am free for a whole mind-blowing 35 minutes.  Guess what is playing as I am typing at this very moment?  Praise Babies, friends.  Praise Babies.

2. Having an 8-year-old.

(Side note: Do you guys have these little cartoon cars at your mall, too?  Bc my kids almost crash into innocent shoppers about 10 times every time they ride them. How is this legal?)

jo1

What?  You can hang up your own clothes?  What? You can empty the dishwasher?  What?  You can take your little sister to the bathroom at the restaurant?  What? You can basically be my own personal slave?  (kidding kidding)  But, seriously, my girl, I love every inch of your moderately independent self.  I always thought that I would love the baby stage the most and be kinda sad when my kids grew out of that and were official Kids, but I gotta say, official kid age has major major perks.  I still love the niblets out of the baby stage, but there is soooooo much to love about the older stages too, I’m finding out.

3. Instagram Stories

How lame am I?  Very very lame, apparently.  But, I’m addicted.  I love watching ppl’s little home movies.  Movies of their kids, their cats, their burritos, whatever.  Bring it on.  Oversharers of the world, I love you.

Welllll, that’s about it for now.  Another random aimless post brought to you by Yours Truly.  As it is fairly unlikely I’ll get it together to put up another post before Christmas, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas!!! right now.

Oh!  On the Christmas note, I’m going to add one more thing.  I would just copy the video and paste it here so you could watch it but, as I’m cheap and have the most basic of basic plans, WordPress won’t let me (cheers, WP):

4. Carrie Underwood singing How Great Thou Art.  Have you guys seen this?  It is A-MA-ZING.  I love it.  I weep over it.  It’s just…the best.  Do yourself a favor and goggle it now, k?

 

Why am I even writing this?

OK, so I’ve been MIA for a while now…like, the little internet window at the top of the screen (what is that called?) didn’t even predictive type this site when I started typing it in kind-of-while.

And, realistically, I’m never going to consistently write on this thing.  It’s just a fact.  Consistency is not part of my DNA.  I could blame it on the four young barnacles that are stuck to me every moment of EVERY DAY, but I probably wouldn’t be consistent even if I lived on a deserted island with no children and great wi-fi.  It just ain’t gonna happen, folks.

So, why?  Why write this right now? I don’t know.  Maybe because I get crushed with guilt every time I get notified when someone has just checked out this site for the first time, or, worse, someone new has actually subscribed.  Gulp.  I mean, they thought they were signing up for some dependable, humorous, maybe (mostly) semi-lame posts about parenting and homeschooling and such.  Little did they know they’d stumbled across the biggest flake on the internet (ok, ok, I can’t really claim that title because, hello, INTERNET, but still) and they didn’t know they were NEVER going to get that email signaling them to new bloggy goodness.

Or maybe I just want to overshare in a safe place i.e. where no high school friends will see i.e. judge.  IDK.  But here is a new post.  Enjoy (or not.  I don’t want new ppl to think I’m pushy).

First things first: if anyone has subscribed to this blog bc they think I’m an expert on unschooling or homeschooling or parenting, I need to tell you right here and now: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.

Homeschooling: NO IDEA.

Parenting: NO IDEA.

Marriage: NO IDEA.

Life in general: NO IDEA.

Ok? Ok.

Second things second: what’s up?

Third things third: I have a confession. I have kinda sorta deviated from the unschooling path.  BUT I’M ON MY WAY BACK.  I think the hardest thing about homeschooling is the way all my grand ideals are crushed to fine powder by reality.  I mean, I think to myself, we’re going to read the Hobbit!  It’s going to be great!  They’re going to love it!  They’ll tell their children one day how much they loved it and then their children will love it too!  LA LA LA!!!

And then, we start to read it.  And they’re like “meh.”

And then I cry.  In my closet.  Alone.

This is how I began to deviate.  Bc I thought hell no, they have to read the Hobbit.  THEY HAVE TO LOVE THE HOBBIT.  And the friendly unschooling mom was quickly replaced by the Sit Your Rear Down and Shut Up While I Read This Beautiful Piece of Literature mom.  Good times.  By the way, if you were wondering how best to warp an enjoyable activity into a terrible experience, pm me later.

So, we walked down that path for a while, and by walk I mean I dragged us all.  And now, thanks to the wisdom of my wonderful husband, we are trying to find our way back to unschooling.

There, that is all for now.  Aren’t you glad you subscribed??

And now the portion of the blog where I force you to stare at and admire my children…

allhpthronerbpiratesjo-horsejoorthhorse-annahalannaducks

The Simple Post

*I wrote the following to myself because I can’t seem to remember it.  Maybe if I publish it, I’ll feel too much a hypocrite to forget it again.

wild

The only thing children need is love.  If we want to prepare our children for what really matters, then we will love them unconditionally.  We will forgive them.  We will see the best in them.  What truly matters will always matter and the only thing that will always matter is love.  “The greatest of these is love.”  “Only love will remain.”

If it is possible to love too much, then we do not know God.  God loves when it is stupid to love.  God forgives when no one would forgive.  The reason we are alive, that we even exist, is because God loves when it is stupid to love.  Of course, I’m talking as a man.  Men think there is a line where love should not cross.  God doesn’t know about this line.

romans

The thing that homeschoolers talk about, think about, obsess, blog and read about is how to prepare our children for the future.  But we forget that the future is God.  We can’t push love aside and take care of it after the scholarships are earned and the mortgage is paid. Those things don’t even exist.  Not really.  We will not be grateful if we forget love and pursue these things.  We will not say, “I’m so glad I took care of that.  Now I can bother with the religious stuff.”

If handwriting or math or saying, “yes, ma’am” is the focus of every day of my children’s lives then they will grow up and they will not know that God is love.  If the focus of every day of my children’s lives is coerced prayers and forced readings of Scripture and “keep quiet during church”, then they will grow up and they will not know that God is love.  And they will not believe me if I tell them, though they might believe it if God tells them.

If the only thing I did all day, every single day of my children’s lives was love and forgive them, that would be enough.  That would be everything.

por

 

Hmm, not so much…

I’ll be lecturing a class on Creative Blog Posts titles at Harvard later this month if you’re interested.

We’re all given a lot of advice throughout our lives, right?  Some good, some not so much (see what I did there?).  Anyway, I was just obsessing over insignificant things in the shower, as you do, and I realized that a lot of things I have been told in my life, that I have taken for granted as hard, cold truths, are not actually true at all.  And so, since I possess that rare gift of oversharing, I’ve made a little (long, rambling, endless) list of them for your viewing pleasure.

  1. It is good to be a perfectionist.

I am NOT a perfectionist.  At all.  No one has ever accused me of being one (my nickname for years was Spacey Casey) and I am fairly certain no one ever will.  Example: I was late every single day of my junior year of high school. Every. Day.  Example 2: While changing my baby’s diaper yesterday, I wiped her with a damp bib  because I had run out of 1. wet wipes as well as 2. paper towels as well 3. toilet paper.  Now, most of my life I considered this a weakness.  It was certainly a weakness while in school.  But now that I am an adult, honestly, I’m starting to see it as a strength.  There are a number of studies out that say perfectionism can lead to depression because, while it may be possible to fill out a scantron perfectly, it’s not possible to argue with your husband perfectly. Or teach your kids perfectly.  Or pray perfectly.  It’s just not.  Not being a perfectionist has allowed me to be an optimist.  Yes, I might screw up here and there, my kids might be crazy, feral beasts off and on throughout the day, and my husband might be gone working and doing homework more often than I would like him to be, but, at the end of the day, we all love and forgive each other and that is enough.  That is more than enough!

sleep

(excuse me while I earn my nickname)

2. I would get used to waking up early.

Nope. Never.  Never.  Ever.  Mornings = death.  (I think the above picture was taken before 9 am)

3. I would miss working once I became a stay at home mom.

I remember being told this when I was pregnant with my first daughter, by virtually every woman I knew, and thinking inwardly, “For real?!” Now, just to clarify as my former boss aka Dad will be reading this: I had a great job.  My heart just wasn’t there.  I think this is true for many girls though it’s unpopular to say so.  I have met so many young girls who aren’t sure what they want to do with their lives.  They say maybe they’d like to go into creative arts or open a bakery or just travel a bit.  I wonder if maybe, like me, their true heart’s desire is to be a wife and mother.  I used to feel ashamed about how little ambition I had in school and work.  I thought maybe I was inherently lazy or stupid.  I can tell you now, after having/chasing/cooking for/cleaning up after four small children (and still hoping and praying for more!), I am neither lazy nor stupid (proof: I used nor in a sentence).  I’m actually pleased (and  a bit surprised) to say I can be quite the hard worker.  I just needed a vocation.  I needed a purpose.  Working couldn’t give me that, but motherhood and wifehood (is that a word??) has.

baby jo

(sweet dreams, you beautiful excuse not to work)

4.  Even if I did get used to the SAHM gig, I’d be dying for playdates so I could have “grown up” conversations.

Ahh, playdates.  Save me.  Please.  Playdates = death.  Contrary to what I had been told, children are fascinating as well as hilarious company and are, gasp, also capable of conversation.

5. If I didn’t succeed in high school, I’d never make it in college.

Blatant lie.  I barely graduated high school.  In fact, there was some controversy over whether or not I should be allowed to walk on stage during the graduation ceremony.  I did great in college.  I actually earned straight A’s one semester, and close to straight A’s all the other ones.  Yes, I did end up leaving college before I graduated but that was not because I couldn’t handle the workload.  I went full-time every semester while also working and even joined the debate team.

6.  I would regret dropping out of college.

While I am not against college in the slightest, I am against the idea of “finding yourself” in college. College is a horrible place to find yourself.  If you are lost, you will be more lost on a college campus.  I was very very lost in college and, upon reflection, probably depressed.  I had no clue as to what I wanted to do for a career.   Though I did enjoy my classes and received grades my high school self never dreamed of, I was floundering in my personal life.  I decided to take some time off to travel with my sister and get my head straight.  Within two years, I had a passionate faith, a beautiful husband, and a pregnant belly.  I have never, ever, for a moment, regretted dropping out of college.  Actually, it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.

p and c

(Hong Kong)

7. Getting married young is a mistake.

I was 21 when I got married.  My husband was 19 (yes.i.am.a.cradle.robber.  Seriously, what would happen if this joke was not made every single time it’s mentioned I’m older than my husband?  Would the Universe implode?)  We’ve been married nine years now.  In a lot of ways, we ‘ve grown up together.  We’ve made foolish, youthful mistakes together.  We’ve been poor together.  We’ve quit careers and started careers together.  And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Going through all the ups and downs of life has truly made us partners. It’s made us One.   There’s a scene in “Letters to Juliet” where the grandmother, who is searching for her long lost love, pulls up to the giant mansion  where she thinks he’s living and her grandson turns to her and says, “Well, looks like you got to skip the messy bits.” To which she quietly replies, “Life is the messy bits.”  Word.

c and s

(babies)

8. My kids wouldn’t connect to the Faith in an Orthodox church.

Okay, no one actually said this to me, it was more something I said to myself.  In our seeker friendly culture, I was afraid my kids wouldn’t be able to find meaning in a 2-hour service full of chanting, incense, and standing.  Didn’t they need Veggie Tales and a rocking worship band to engage?  Wouldn’t they dread the services, as there are so many of them?  Wouldn’t they find the priests and the icons and the hymns strange?  No, no, and no.  It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to see my children grow in Orthodoxy.  They get it. They just Get. It.

st anna

Btw, kids LOVE icons.  And prostrations.  Who knew?

Okay, there you have it.  I could have written more but I assume you have better things to do with your time to read my endless rants, right?  I’ll just end with this: there is a certain mold people are expected to fit into; in school, work, adulthood.  When you don’t fit that mold, it can be scary. I don’t fit that mold.  I never did.  And, for many years, that truth really did scare me. I remember crying myself to sleep one night, calling out to God, begging Him to give me a future, pleading with Him to set me on a path, because I couldn’t imagine how I would walk the one the world had laid out for me.

And He did.  He gave me an awesome life.  He gave me purpose.  He gave me a future.  It’s okay that I didn’t fit the mold.  I think one of the reasons I am so grateful for my present life is because I always assumed my life would suck.  How could it not?  If you’re a terrible student and unmotivated worker, your life will inevitably be a giant failure,right?  As it turns out, No.  That’s not right.  There is more than one version of a Great Life.

9. This is only one version of a Great Life.

Until next time.

 

Food and Stuff

 

I know, I know. I’m supposed to be writing Why, Part 3 (you didn’t know my conversion story had more sequels than The Land Before Time, did you?) but I’m going to take a break from that for a bit and discuss something a bit more unschooly.  (I love that that term is still so new my computer autocorrects it every time.  Get with it, Grammarly!)

There are a few articles circulating around Facebook about how totally awesome it is to be a “mean mom”(their choice of words, not mine).  We’re all somewhat familiar with these and, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing we have a similar reaction: something along the lines of “WHAT? whyyyyyy????” One article I read actually said, “If your child tells you you’re mean, take it as a compliment.”  I really really REALLY don’t get this line of thinking.  I mean, I guess it makes sense in an extreme circumstance, “No, Billy, you can’t go to the Black Mass tonight.”  “Awwww, Mom, why are you so mean!?”  But, honestly, if you’re at that point I think it’s safe to say you’ve already lost the battle.

*I personally think that if you wouldn’t dream of saying or doing something to anybody in the whole wide world other than your child, you probably shouldn’t say or do it to them either.  That’s just my IMO.*

Anyway, I could rant and rant and rant discuss a million points on which I disagree with these so-called “mean moms”, but I’m just going to elaborate on one today, as I feel I have a unique perspective on it.  In case you weren’t able to decipher the obscure title of this post, it’s the Food Issue.

bday

You know what I mean, right?

The “no dessert until veggies are gone,” issue.  The “desserts are only for the weekends,” issue.  The “I don’t care how full you are, finish your hamburger,” issue.

I’m going to tell you something shocking.  I did not grow up in a house with the above rules.  This is going to make my mom wince a bit (Hi, Mom!) but I could have eaten bowls of pebbles all day and that would have been perfectly fine.  I remember days where I ate nothing but an entire box of Count Chocula, and other days of nothing but giant quantities of goldfish crackers.  I never NEVER had Halloween candy taken away before I was through with it, was allowed as many pieces of birthday cake that I desired, at any time of the day that I desired, and drank Diet Coke happily out of a baby bottle until I was waaaaaayyyy past the appropriate bottle-drinking-age (I don’t really get why there is a cut off age for bottles, btw…).

4482314-1347708-good_vampires_count_chocula

(My BFF)

No, I was not neglected.  No, my parents were not conducting a mini Super Size Me experiment on their unsuspecting children.  No, we were not unschooled.  So how in the world was all this culinary craziness allowed, you ask??  Well, I’ve thought about that and I think the answer is some mash up of a mom who didn’t like to cook, an autistic brother’s obsession with McDonald’s (we literally ate there every.single.day.), and (and this, I think is the real reason, the important reason) parents who were just not that interested in micro-managing their kids.

I have wonderful parents.  My mom and dad are two of my very best friends in the world.  Though they were strict in some ways (rolling eyes at mom equaled instant death), they mainly treated my sister and I like little adults.  I can’t ever remember my parents telling me to go to bed, or looking over my homework (unless I asked), or even to clean my room (my mom, who may be the cleanest person that has ever lived, would just tell me to shut the door so she wouldn’t have to look at the mess).  I do remember, however, long discussions about politics, talking late into the night about nothing and everything, and my dad (an incredibly smart man) asking my opinion over money matters at his business.  I don’t think it ever even occurred to my parents that they were supposed to be pestering us about all those other little things.  They saw as us intelligent, interesting people and treated us as such. (At least, it seemed that way to me.)

Ok, I’m going to conclude this post (which, I promise, was supposed to be brief!) with the inevitable outcome of children who are allowed to eat whatever they want, whenever they want: Morbid Obesity.

Just kidding.  No, really, when I went off to college and was blessed with the unspeakable joy of an in-house cafeteria (“You mean, there’s food here?  Like, real, cooked food?  All the time????”), I noticed most of my peers had NO idea how to eat.  My roommates and I would go off to dinner together, eat a nice meal, and then, a few hours later, they’d go back.  And eat another meal.  And sometimes again after that.  They’d also skip breakfast a lot.  I became the opposite of my parents, pestering them about their eating habits, (“You know it’s not a good idea to eat chicken strips and ranch at 2 am, right???”)  These were girls who’d had home cooked meals all their lives, who felt crushing guilt over each sesame seed that tumbled off their hamburger bun, who’d never been allowed double scoops on their ice cream cones, and who had no idea how to organize their meals on their own.  I, on the other hand, had been in charge of my own meals my whole life.  I knew what I was doing.  As an adult, I lead a very healthy lifestyle, eat healthy foods almost nearly close to all of the time, and the same could be said of my sister and my husband (a fellow childhood fridge forager).

So there you have it.  The experiment has been conducted and the guinea pig came out loving organics and spurning Flaming Hot Cheetos (most of the time).  Fear the unwanted crust of your child’s sandwich no longer!  I guess the moral of this post, as could be the moral of all of unschooling, is: relationship is more important.  Maybe its just me, but I can’t imagine how a relationship wouldn’t be damaged by a lifetime of forced feedings.  I’m not suggesting you go out and buy your kid a lifetime’s supply of Count Chocula (in true hypocrite’s fashion, I would never buy that for my kids), I’m just saying…the “mean moms” are wrong.  Forcing your kids to eat stuff they hate or reserving awesome foods for just some days is a bad move.  Honestly, its stupid.  Don’t do it.  There, my moral:

Don’t do it.

Also, enjoy food.  Food is good.

Also, nobody but lunatics only eat dessert on weekends.  You don’t want your kid to be a lunatic, do you?

Until next time.

Why, Part 2

So, as mentioned in the previous post, God completely rocked my world for no reason at all and I, in return:

a) became a saint;

b) didn’t become a saint necessarily, but altered my life drastically;

c)  was a total jerk and changed absolutely nothing about my life.

If you answered c, you are the winner! And clearly don’t think very highly of me, thanks A LOT.

It wasn’t until about 4 years later that my life truly turned around.  My sister, recently graduated from college, and I, recently dropped out of college (go ME!), decided to go on a backpacking trip through Mexico.  Which meant one thing to this deeply sensitive soul: FIESTA.

Bailar, burritos, and borracho todos las dias (how many of you just sang “Bailamos” in your heads?).  Imagine my dismay when my sister, my supposed partner in crime, suddenly became alarmingly (in my mind) devout about one week before our trip.

images

I remember on the plane ride down she was gently trying to talk to me about God and how much He loved me, and, at one point I looked at her and said, “So what? I’m lovable.”

steve

Please PLEASE someone invent a time machine so I can go back to this moment and slap myself in the face. PLEASE.

It’s a credit to the saintliness of my sister that she didn’t abandon me at the customs gate after that, but, thank God, she didn’t. She actually went out with me, never having more than one drink or so herself, just to keep an eye out.  Waking up, hungover and miserable, and seeing her drinking her coffee, journaling her prayers, filled with a happiness and peace that had become totally alien to my life, was an incredible witness. The contrast between her and I was overwhelming.  Embarrassingly so.  I was not happy at this point in my life, how could I be? But I had come to accept it as part of my growing up.  Joy, innocence, zeal for life, those were things for children.  So how was it my sister suddenly seemed so joyful?  So innocent even? She was older than I was, after all! It wasn’t long after that I followed in her footsteps, trading in my drunken nights for her holy mornings.  It was a shockingly easy thing to do.

Looking back now at how quickly my conversion was completed while traveling alone with my freshly illuminated sister, the Parable of the Sower comes to mind:

“The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed…(some) seed fell among the thorns;  and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.”

For most of my life, I was the seed among the thorns.  Friends, fun times, parties; these were my thorns.  Once they were removed, those precious seeds planted by my parents and by God Himself grew quickly and nearly effortlessly.  I’ve tried to think back, to pinpoint exactly what it was that changed me, but it wasn’t a what. It was a Who.  The Holy Spirit finally had more than a crumb of my attention, He had two or three crumbs. Luckily for me, He doesn’t need any more than that.  He changed me from the inside out.  A total 180.

To be honest, it was a fairly traumatic experience.  Day was suddenly night. Down was up. Church was good.  Beer was bad (ok, ok, beer’s not bad but maybe it shouldn’t be our main hobby?) I’d always been a person with a weak moral compass. Rather than due North and South, my compass fluctuated between Fun! and meh.  This didn’t necessarily change just because I was suddenly a card-carrying Christian (where is that card?), I was simply made aware of it.  Scripture tells us that repentance is a gift, and it is, certainly, but it can be a pokey gift.  How can I describe this?  I suddenly saw the world through the eyes of Love, and the difference between how He who is Love saw things, particularly people, and the way I saw things, was stark.  I did not love people.  Let me say that again.  I did NOT love people.  It’s funny how non-Christians often view Christians as unloving and judgemental.  We certainly can be that, and probably have earned that view, sadly, but God, God is NOT unloving and judgemental.  God loves to the breaking point.  God loves so much more, and on such a deeper level than any man, though some come closer than others.  God loves on a level that men find insane.

I remember walking through the streets of some Mexican city, looking at the street vendors, and seeing clearly for the first time what I thought of all these people.  I won’t go too deep into the actual words that went through my mind, but they were not loving words.  Btw, this wasn’t some racist, I don’t like Mexican people thing.  Mine was a very inclusive kind of dislike.  All people groups were included.  Even the people I thought I surely did like, even love, I was often cruel and petty toward.  While I was having this self-realization, or, I should say, the reason I was even having this realization, I was becoming aware of God’s feeling toward these people.  Unlike me, He liked them.  He more than liked them. He LOVED them.  He had flooded the Universe with His love for them.  All of them.  The two knowings, side by side, His nature next to my own, was more than I could bear.  This God I had decided to follow, this Jesus I now proudly confessed, I was NOTHING like Him.  And the knowledge of this absolutely and totally crushed me.

George MacDonald, in one of his Unspoken Sermons, talks about how God told the Hebrews not to even touch Mt Sinai while He spoke to Moses or they would be destroyed, and, according to MacDonald what He meant was, everything they thought they were would be destroyed.  Everything that Egypt had taught them to value would be destroyed.  Everything that they had learned to identify with as their very selves would be destroyed.  And this is what happened to me.  I valued bawdiness.  Christ is pure.  I valued cruel humor.  Christ is kind.  I valued conceit.  Christ is humble.  I had come to see myself as all of these things, had come to believe that these traits were what gave me value. Gave me personhood.  Because who would like me if I didn’t possess all these things?  Not my friends. Not the boys at my college.  And, if they didn’t like me, why would I like myself?

He did just as I feared, you know.  He made it impossible for me to live that life anymore.  He made me uncool.  He fully WRECKED MY LIFE.  He loved me enough to do that.

Jesus-Wrecked-My-Life

Things I Never Want to Forget

Anna, aged about 3, speaking to some friends of ours who speak Greek:

A: Will you get me a box?

Don: A box?

A: (nodding) A wittle box. Filled wit toys.

D: Mmm, ok.

A: Oh, and “wittle box” is Greek for big box.

anna

Ruby, crawling into my bed, wrapping her arms around my neck and saying, “Mama, I need some youuuuuu.”

ruby

Jolie announcing, after daydreaming in the car, “Mommy, if somebody stole Zoe and were about to throw her into a volcano, I would rescue her, even if I had to fall in the volcano!”

j

Zoe, bursting into excited giggles each time she realizes she’s about to breastfeed.

z

Jolie and Anna letting Ruby win every race.

The endless conversations of exactly how big Jesus really is: “The sun!” “The sun times google plex!” “Bigger than you could imagine!” Also, every compliment given to me being diminshed slightly by Mary: “You look pretty, Mama, but not as pretty as Mary.” “You’re a good mommy, Mommy!” “But she’s not as good as Mary!” “That’s true.”

Telling Jolie, “I’m your mommy, not your friend,” and her looking at me in shock and exclaiming, “You are too my friend!” (at which, of course, I apologized immediatly and assured her she was right.)

And this:

love

 

Why, Part One

Since I am nothing if not original, I’ve decided to follow in the footsteps of my BFF’s Jenna and Blythe (why, no, the fact that we’ve never met and they don’t know I exist hasn’t hindered our friendship at all, why do you ask?) and write out my Conversion Story.  Excited? Maybe? A little?  Stick with me.

I planned to have this be about why I converted to Orthodoxy from Evangelical Protestantism, but changed my mind and decided to go waaaaay back and explain why I am a Christian in the first place.  Because the two really go together.  It’s been one path, not two, after all.

I was raised in a Christian home (my parents actually met in Bible college) but, at age 9, my parents split up and my siblings and I moved with my mom to SoCal while my dad remained up north.  My mom still loved the Lord and believed in Jesus as the Son of God, but she was going through a searching period and certain things fell by the wayside. (I hope you’re cool with me writing this, Mom!  Love you!)

~Side Note: My mom is very much a Christian these days and actually converted to Orthodoxy about 1 year after our family did.~

 

Fast forward to 15 years old.  My dad, who was still very much a devout Christian, took me and my sister to Italy on a summer vacation.  As I mentioned, my faith at this time was not at all what one would call foundational.  I still prayed, and had even had a few experiences with the Lord, but my worldview was far from Christian.  I was very much a southern California teen, who valued bleached blond hair, my best friend’s rad new car, and losing just 5 more pounds over such laughable things as sanctity and chastity.

One of the stops on this trip was St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  I’m pretty sure I knew who St. Peter was but this stop was nothing more than a tourist attraction in my mind, like a museum or a cannoli cart.  I have some pictures that I took right before we went into the Basilica.  They’re a bunch of selfies (I was taking selfies before selfies were cool) where I’m pursing my lip-gloss soaked lips and trying to look coy, or seductive, or I don’t know what.  It’s hard to look anything more than sad when you’re a short, underdeveloped, semi-anorexic kid posing for the camera, but I was trying with all my might.

rome

(I taught Kylie everything she knows.)

So, eventually, my dad pried the camera out of my red-nailed fingers and we went into the church. My dad mentioned that St. Peter’s bones are supposed to be buried under the church and that tradition holds he asked to be crucified upside down so as not to steal any glory from Christ by emulating His death.  I’m listening, maybe half listening, and I say something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t think he’d like all this then,” referring to the utter magnificence of the Basilica named in his honor.

And then it happened.

Or, maybe it’s more accurate to say, He happened.

God showed up.  I really don’t know how else to describe it and I certainly don’t want to be one of those people who describes a holy event by just repeating, “It was indescribable!  Indescribable!” But it really was. They say that for a reason.  The best way I can present it is by saying that the One who knew all, who knew me, and loved me, on a deeper level than any person had ever come close to knowing or loving me, wrapped me in an invisible embrace and said, “I know you. I forgive you. I love you.

Real quick, before I go on, I want to be clear that I HAVE NO IDEA why God gave me this gift.  I don’t think it was some confirmation that, yes, St. Peter is, in fact, stewing in Heaven over how much he hates his Basilica and someone give that girl a cookie for finally saying so.  I’m Orthodox, for goodness’ sake.  No one loves fancy churches more than Orthodox people. I think it was just…grace.  The whole thing still just stuns me.  I probably think about it every week, if not every day.  The thing that blows me away most of all is I that did absolutely nothing to deserve it.  I wasn’t praying.  I wasn’t reaching out to God in any way and probably hadn’t in quite a while.  I wasn’t living a holy life or even a halfway decent life. Frankly, I wasn’t a decent person.  I was a mean, popular, superficial teenage girl who alternated between drowning in self-hatred and self-adoration.  I was the worst.

Yet, God loved me.  He saw me.  He knew me.

I’d love (so so much) to be able to say that my life changed after this blessed event.  That I went home, threw away all my hidden packs of cigarettes, put away my oil-slick-thick eyeliner and started living my life for Jesus.  Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.  My life changed very little, on the outside.  But a seed, a very powerful seed, had been planted and, when it finally was given a little air to breathe, it would begin to grow.

Personality Types

So, we’ve already established that I’m obsessed with Myers Briggs, though at present I’m a little confused over what my type is.  I was so so sure I was an INTP but then I thought, no, I’m probably more of an E than an I, so I must be an ENTP, but then Shaine was like, you are not a T, you’re an F.  So now I’m all confused…Is it possible I’m an ENFP? All these years I’ve thought of myself of an introverted thinker, but is possible I’m actually an extroverted feeler?  Could the sun set in the middle of the night and the sky be pink? Maybe friends, maybe.

Thrillingly, for this huge nerd right here, there are many more personality type thingys (that is their Latin name) out there in the university of Google. Such as!!! Enneagrams!  And Temperments!  Woo Hoo!

Not that I would ever obsess over anything, least of all myself (lies lies lies), I may be a personality type junky.  I can’t help it!  They are far from an exact science and I seem to change my mind about which type I am every week or so, but for some reason I’m hooked.  I’m a Cabo San Lucas Grouper and the Personality Tests are a boatful of drunk tourists. Get me?

Ok, I know you’re all dying of suspense, so I’ll just tell you: I think I may be a 7 on the Enneagram, which would mesh perfectly with being an ENTP.  I thought for sure I was a 5 which would mesh with an INTP but all the tests I’ve taken say, no, you’re not a 5.  I think the thing that trips me up about all this is I must view myself as a shy, reserved, deep thinker (i.e., 5, INTP) but I’m actually an obnoxious, pleasure seeking lush (i.e., 7, ENTP).  This is reflected perfectly in a conversation I had with someone who knows a lot about Enneagrams:

“So, what’d you score?”

“Well, I thought I’d be a 5 but I scored 7.”

“Hmm, what degree did you get in college? That should tell you something about your personality.”

“Oh, I dropped out of community college after about a year.”

Awkward silence.

So, I guess I’m that terrible kind of person that thinks they’re much smarter than they really are?  But, on the plus side, maybe I’m also more likable than I ever thought I was?  I don’t know.  Does it matter? No, probably not.  Ok, I just heard the whole blogging world sigh in unison so I’m moving on.

To the Temperments!  (You didn’t think I was done talking about the tests, did you? Neva)  The Temperments are much easier, in my opinion, to figure out as there are only four so their descriptions are much broader and I don’t feel the need to flip-flop every time I have indigestion or don’t get enough sleep.

Part of this obsession with typing comes from wanting to understand my children (it’s not all about me, I promise!) so I think I’ll describe the four types through them:

jo

Jo – Sanguine/Choleric.  The most active of all the types (hold me, Jesus).  Sanguine types are fun loving, pleasure seeking extroverts.  Cholerics are quick tempered, strong willed types.  This is the type of child that will tie FOUR ropes of varying materials from your bannister (see above) so she can continue moving even while watching TV.  Jo’s main goal in life is to make people laugh, though, if she can’t pull that off, she’s also content with making people cry.  Whatevs.

anna(I did not make the above picture Godzilla gigantic and this pic small as a mouse on purpose.  I just have no idea what I am doing)

Anna – Melancholic/Phlegmatic.  Melancholics are sensitive, quiet, introverted thinking types.  Phlegmatics are calm peacemakers.  This combo is interesting as the two instincts are at a bit of a variance with each other.  Anna is the type of child who cries over something her sister has said to her, yet begs you not to be upset with the offending sister, and cries even harder if said sister is punished in any way.

If you can’t tell, Anna and Jo are complete opposites, which has the potential to create conflict, but actually has been a huge blessing in many ways.  Jo, left to herself, is a savage barbarian that belongs in a Roman colosseum while Anna is so prim she shrieks if an ant crawls over her toe.  In short, they NEED each other.  Jo brings loads of fun into Anna’s otherwise neat and tidy world while Anna makes Jo a bit more aware of ridiculous things such as manners and closing the door while you go the bathroom.  God knows what He’s doing, it seems.

ruby

Ruby – Phlegmatic/Sanguine.  Phlegmatics, as we’ve discussed, just want everybody to get along, and Sanguines want to have lots of fun.  I have no favorite among my children (no nope never), but Ruby is seriously so so easy.  As any parent of multiple children will understand, a child who’s main goal in life is getting along with everybody is a GODSEND (hallelujah hands emoji).  She also happens to think I’m pretty and awesome so, cheers to you, Rubes.

zoe

If your main hobby is not staring googley eyed at sleeping babies, then we can’t be friends.

Zoe- Choleric/Sanguine.  Oh, Zoe.  Zoe, Zoe, Zoe.   Should I say it again? Okay: Zoe.  I have never had an angry baby.  I’ve seen angry babies, sure, being pushed around in strollers by other, less competent parents.  But my children never acted in such a way.  Last said by me, about twelve months and three weeks ago.  This kid has such a temper!  I used to blame it on teething, and the kid does have an obscene amount of teeth (what baby has her back molars before age 1?), but I’m starting to come out of denial and realize that, yes, she actually is trying to bite me.  She seems to get over things quickly (thank you, friend Sanguine) but it can be a bit of a wild ride until she does.

How have  I rambled on so far down the page about personality types??  I should probably be embarrassed by this, right?  In case any of you are thinking, seriously, this is your Easter weekend blog post!?  Let me remind you that I am Orthodox so Easter is still weeks and weeks away for me, so ha! I promise you, whilst I am shopping for deeply discounted Easter merch in the following weeks, I will be constructing something of a bit more depth to lay on ya’ll.  Or, I’ll write about how much I love the show Parenthood.  You’ll just have to wait and see!

P.S. In case you were wondering (you weren’t? what?) I am a Sanguine/Phlegmatic (No, Parris, I am not a Choleric. No!) and Shaine, sweet, blessed Shaine, is a Phlegmatic/Melancholic.  I highly recommend marrying a Phlegmatic. They are thee best.

P.P.S. Yes, I am aware that I use an unwholesome amount of commas.

And, (not P.P.P.S., this is too big to be a P.S.) to all my non-Orthodox friends out there: Happy Easter!  Christ is Risen!

Liebster Award

So, the lovely Amie Elna (love love love that name, btw) over at Becoming A wild Family nominated me for the Liebster Award!  Excuse me while I have a Viola moment:

giphy
In case you don’t know about it, the Liebster Award is basically a shout out to 5 of your favorite bloggers.  You ask them a set of questions, they answer, share, then ask 5 of their favorite bloggers a set of questions, who answer, share, and round and round it goes.

The fact that someone nominated me for anything, and it wasn’t my mom, makes me ridiculously excited.
Ok, since we’ve already established I’m a narcissist, I’m going to answer the questions Amie Elna has posed to me then list my 5 favs.  Ready? And Go!
1. Do you have pets?

Yes, I have an incredibly pathetic chi-weenie named Pippa.  Pippa always shakes, always, and seems to believe she has a great mission to complete and is just waiting for me to give me some code word decided on long ago.  Her life is basically following me everywhere, shaking, and waiting for my signal to save Gotham City.

dog and cat

We also have a cat named Johnny who is as laid back as Pippa is neurotic.  In fact, he’s so laid back he’s decided the litter box is simply too much work, he’d rather just use my bed/laundry basket/potted plants for his bizness.  Needless to say, he is now an outdoor only cat.

2. What’s the last thing you crafted/made?

Oh, you had to ask to me that, didn’t you?  Let’s see…I guess it would be what was supposed to be one of those blanket nest things for babies, you know with a closed end like a pea pod?  But turned out looking more like a beanie for the Rastafarian with the world’s longest dreads.  Annnd, just to prove how truly competent I am, I forgot about it until my baby was way too big to fit inside.

3. What’s your favorite season, why?

Up until a few years ago, I would have undoubtedly answered Fall, but I think it may now be Spring.  I think having children has really awoken the love of all things warm and flowery in me, but a big part of it is also the fact that I converted to Orthodox Christianity a few years ago and Easter (Pascha) is the focal point of the Orthodox year.  All year long it is referred to and anticipated and, when it finally arrives after a long loooonnnnggg Lent, the Feast is truly joyous.

4. What would your escape plan be for a zombie apocalypse?

I would defer to my husband as he has been anticipating such an event for many years.

daddy

(There’s an RPG under that baby.)

5. Would you rather hike on a concrete path or dirt path? Why?

Dirt path, all the way!  Because my true self is a fairy who lives in Scotland and has never seen or even imagined such a heretical thing as a concrete path.

6. What’s your favorite tree? Why?

Oh man, I love trees so much!  I could never be an astronaut or live in Mongolia (which strangely has no trees) because I simply cannot live without them.  I think my favorite would be Redwood Sequoias (the CA state tree, what WHAT) because they are everywhere up here in Northern CA and smell so so good.

7. Favorite ice cream flavor?

Hmm, this may lose me some blog followers but I don’t really like ice cream.  Unbelievable but true.  I don’t really like food that doesn’t require chewing, as I am a huge huge freak.  That is not to say I don’t like sweets.  I actually once went on a dessert-only diet, in hopes that if I ate only  dessert, I wouldn’t gain any weight.  Yeah, it didn’t work.

download(Any day now, the weight’s gonna drop…)

8. When in a beautiful garden, are you ever tempted to look for fairies… Just in case?

Of course!  It would hurt their feelings if I didn’t.

9. Any gardening tips?

Don’t water too much.  And don’t give up on them.  Many of my plants that have looked on the brink of death have been revived by new soil, position in the sun, or less water.

10. Favorite book read aloud?

Probably Harry Potter, which we are reading out loud right now, and which, contrary to some opinions, won’t transform your children into practitioners of Wiccan.  Actually, I think the story of Harry is incredibly allegorical and I see so much of Christ in Harry, as I do in all heroes.

 

NOW, for my five favorite bloggers.  That is so so hard!  I love so many!  I guess they would be:

Stories of Unschooling Family: I’ve mentioned Sue Elvis’ blog before.  She has probably been the greatest inspiration to me in unschooling and parenting in general.  If you’ve never read anything by her, check her out.  Her blog is a goldmine.

Adventures with my Kids: An Orthodox homeschooling blog written by Jenny, a mom to three adopted sons in addition to three other children.

Penelope Trunk: Ok, PT is way famous and I’m sure she will never condescend herself to even acknowledge this little nod, but I seriously do love her blog so I am including her anyway.  I don’t always agree with everything she says but most of her posts are just fascinating.  In fact, I like her so much that I accidently subscribed to her Career Blog as well as her Homeschool Blog, and I never unsubscribed, even though most of it is completely irrelevant to me.  I get a thrill every time a post arrives in my inbox.  If you want to give her a try, I’d recommend these posts:

~Schools Holds Kids to Standards Even Adults Wouldn’t Meet

~ Search is the Most Important Academic Subject Today

~ My Kids are 4 Years Below Grade Level and I Don’t Care

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Written by Father Aidan Kimmel who seems to love George MacDonald as much as I do (and maybe more).

And I’m kinda cheating here but I’m going to nominate a Podcast – Autastic:  A podcast about autism by two comedians with autistic loved ones. It’s so good, so funny, so gets you in the feels.  I have an autistic brother so there’s a big connection there for me, but I really think anyone could revel in the greatness of this podcast.

My questions for the nominees:

  1. If you could choose to have one person as a dinner guest (living/dead/fictional/real) who would it be?
  2. At what point in your life were you happiest?
  3. What is your favorite virtue?
  4. If you could time travel, when and where would you go?
  5. What is your greatest fear?
  6. If you could choose to live forever, would you?
  7. What do you consider the lowest depth of misery?
  8. Did you enjoy childhood more than you are enjoying adulthood, or vice versa?
  9. Do you believe God loves you? Why or why not?
  10. What is your greatest strength? Weakness?

So there you have it!  Thank you so much, Amie Elna, for nominating me for this award!  And, please, check out these blogs/podcast listed here, and Amie Elna’s as well; Becoming a Wild Family.  You won’t be sorry!