Last visit to Bluebonnet Festival

These are the days of lasts. And, once again, we have done something for the last time–the 35th annual Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet, Texas.

It’s basically a big open air market with vendor booths and food. The Bluebonnet is the Texas state flower, and they really do give quite a show when they bloom.

We haven’t made it every year, but we bought this sign for our house a few years back:

Which after some years of weather looks like this:

Here are the pics from the day.

We even got my mother in law to agree to be in a Ljubomir Farms pic:

And of course, my favorite. Resting before the beginning of another week.

Have a great week!



Paschal Weekend

For the weekend of Orthodox Easter, it was quite a roller coaster. The last 2 1/2 days were especially crazy, as we had an opportunity to see our good friends the Gleasons. Readers may recall, Fr. Joseph Gleason is an Orthodox priest who moved his entire family (eight kids and his wife) to Russia a little over a year ago.

Here’s the story

Thursday, Mychael and the kids painted Pashca eggs:

Then, Friday we drove all the way to Denton, Texas (a little north of Fort Worth) for a three hour road trip. Keep in mind, it was the tail end of Holy Week, so there is a service it seems about every couple of hours. We made it just time to venerate Christ in the tomb at Saint Maximus the Confessor Orthodox Mission Parish (OCA).

I don’t normally wear jeans and a t-shirt to liturgy, (or have my daughter dressed that way) but we were on the road all day, and not even sure if we would make it.

After church, we visited with the Gleasons. They were in town because his sister and her whole family were being baptized and chrismated the next morning.

There were only four families in the house and eighteen kids! All Orthodox. This was such a treat and a taste of Heaven for us, it was definitely worth the trip.

The next morning was the baptism, and I snapped this one of my two daughters:

We spent most of the day visiting, but in the afternoon it was back in the car for the trip back for Pashca Sunday morning. We did not make it to midnight vigil, unfortunately. The drive proved to be too much for the kids.

A quick selfie with Fr. Joseph and goodbye.

Bright and early Sunday morning, we went out to milk the goats and found a new baby!

We are naming this baby goat “Pashca”

This made us late for church, but we were there in time for communion and the blessing of the eggs. And of course, the feast!

This will be our last Easter at St. Lukes, so we took a lot of pictures with friends.

The blue bonnets are in bloom, so we snapped a photo with all of us. Its traditional in Texas to take photos in a field of them:

Chalk up the craziest Pashca weekend I have memory of.

Hristos Voskrese!

I am the goat milker

We sold two kids (baby goats, not actual children) and the mother of those two goats is still here. There are two babies in the pen, but they are not hers. She won’t let them milk from her, so she is very full.

This provided for a much more reliable milking process today. Mychael gave it a try but in the end it was I who turned out to have the magic touch. I am not sure what that says about me.

We will collect a few more days worth and then start making product from it. Since we are not collecting it into a sterile container, we aren’t going to consume it. Should be soaps and lotions and stuff like that.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart

Last year for Mychael’s birthday, I took her for a two-day wine tasting trip in Fredricksburg, Texas. If have never been, you should give it a try. I rented a car with a driver who knew all the local wineries and a little cottage out in the woods to stay in for the night.

Last years birthday

This year, things are a little lower key with the new baby and so it ended up being one of those “dates” where you sort of sneak away and leave the kids with mom. Although, Kathryn is still too little for that, so it was the three of it.

Her birthday was last week, but today was a “training holiday” for the army, so I threw the little woman and her 2 month old appendage in to the car and hit the road.

Soft chocolate chip cookie from Subway in hand.

What Mychael really wanted this year is a dress form. For those who don’t know, in a previous life, Mychael was studying for a career in the fashion industry and even did some modelling on the side. She wants to sew some dresses for herself, and a good dress form is a must. And man, a good quality one is expensive! Not that I mind, but I just had no idea. We found a place down in Leander that is basically a huge warehouse of industrial equipment. From CNC lathes to industrial baking mixers to those giant 50kilowatt generators. All of it used/refurbished.

I bought her this one:

She was happy. She said everything about it reminded her of design school and such. So, it was a good purchase. I’ll be interested to see what creations she comes up with.

My oldest daughter helped “gammy” bake a cake:

Sometimes its not easy to do “surprises” when we are all home. So, while the boys made birthday cards:

I tried to keep these two occupied in another room:

The cake had some structural issues but it tasted fine. Plus, if I am doing the math right, my wife is only ten, which I think is illegal. Even in Texas.

And I realized we have not taken a picture of all six of us together yet, so we tried to snap one. (Our oldest is twenty one, so it will be a while until we can get a picture with seven).

You can NEVER get all children in the picture to look directly at the camera with an appropriate smile.

A much simpler birthday than last year, but she seemed to like it.


What is beautiful to my husband is sublime to God

Being to married to a man with a eye for the aesthetic as distinct from “stylish” or “attractive” is beginning to have an effect on me.

Scott has been dreaming his whole life about a day when he is sitting in a great room, with a roaring fire in a huge rock fireplace, animal mounts on the wall, snow all around outside surrounded by everyone he loves for Christmas. He perceives this moment in the future as a done deal–one that is going to happen someday–and one that sort of floats above the earth in a sort of aesthetic perfection. It transcends time and space so its only a matter of time until we catch up in the temporal world and are present for it. 

He’s the more sophisticated and less goofy version of Clark Griswold. He fantasizes about these moments of perfection and then goes out and creates them.

Today, he and our son David assisted Fr Drago with serving the divine liturgy, and it is becoming easier and easier for me to see things the way he does.

Waiting for the start of liturgy.

The pre-consecrated host waiting to be brought out during the grand entrance.

The little entrance with man and his boy.

David hands Fr Drago the bread for blessing.

And here’s something else interesting about Scott. There is a movement in the “smells and bells” part of Orthodoxy–the folks who think that the liturgy is “cool” for re-establishing the time honored tradition (and truthfully, its a commandment) of women wearing head coverings that discusses all of the wonderful aesthetics of wearing them except the most important part–obedience.

Scott takes pictures like this:

And notices something I don’t. He says what he believes is beautiful about this photo is the obedience is shows. You see, he told me a couple of years ago he wanted me to start covering my head in church as the fathers command, and I resisted a little. They are actually kind of a pain. The baby grabs at it. It feels awkward. But I finally started making it a habit every Sunday, and to him, it is beautiful. Not because it is a pretty head covering, but because he wants me to wear it, and I do. Every tiny bit of less stress he has, and that I can provide makes our home more livable.

And today, we got home and as we all relaxed on the couch after another wonderful day with our church family, he snapped this one:

Me and my two daughters as seen through the eyes of my husband.

And I must say. If you have a man in your life, his sense of the sublime is probably closer to Gods than you realize. Just let him express it and you may be surprised what you uncover.

Seamus the Nigerian Dwarf

Yesterday we decided to pick up a new billy and we named him Seamus. We want to breed more blue-eyed kids and sell them when we get to Montana. This guy was coming in at a steal.

He was kind of resistant to being introduced to all our girls goats. Scott took some video:

We still had about 50 feet to go when things got violent:

Eventually we got him in and and calmed down. He seems to like his new home now.

Seamus in the goat pasture

I snapped this photo of my husband looking as tough as ever:

Can’t believe this Texas cowboy on his ranch is going to be 47 this year.

Once we were sure Seamus was going to be OK, we sat down and looked at it all. Its becoming kind of a tradition.  Slow down, enjoy the scene, love each other, repeat.

We hope everyone continues to enjoy the Lent season as we approach the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior. Keep an eye out for a new batch of bonnets as they are added. God Bless!

Ljubomir Farms Bonnets

Churching of the mother and child after 40 days

Today my new daughter and I were permitted to come into the sanctuary. In the Orthodox tradition, this is done 40 days after the birth. There is a prayer performed as part of this ritual, and it is a significant day in the life of the new baby.

Scott took most of the pictures and video which started with us just hanging around getting ready for church to start.

My daughter peeking at the baby as we wait to go in.

Another shot of us waiting.

Now there is considerable debate about the origins of the 40 day period. Here is how the Greek Orthodox Church describes it:

The “Churching” is a very ancient ritual . . . pre-Christian. In the ancient world, I should say in ancient Judaism, the practice was predominant among women/mothers. Since there were no hospitals in the past, midwives were common practice and children were born at the home. The mother actually stayed in the house with the child for 40-days because 1) it took that long for the woman to heal properly and to bond with the child, and 2) after 40-days, the menstrual cycle returns to normalcy for the woman and when this occurred the woman’s first order of business was to go the ritual baths for purification. Since the first “Christians” were Jews, the ritual purification was slowly replaced with the pilgrimage back to the Church, and of course, the bringing of the child to offer to God . . . So both the woman and the child received the blessing of the Church.

Now, all of this still pertains to the woman if she happened to lose the child . . . she would take the necessary 40-days to recover and then present herself to the Church to be blessed and to be received into the community again . . . the Service becomes a healing, a restoration prayer for the woman and not some sort of punishment for losing the child. The Church has always been concerned for total well-being of the person and that person’s restoration back into the community.

The ritual cleanliness is the part that of course gets under the skin of most peoples modern sensibilities. It’s so icky to think about and super oppressive or whatever. So, most people now tend to focus on the “time to recover and bond with the baby” part, because it’s more flowery and sweet.

For me, I am OK with it being both. We follow tradition out of obedience, and the multi-level reasoning for it is of interest, but not a deal breaker. It can’t be a deal breaker because the authority of the church is higher than our thoughts on the mater. 

Anyway, its a beautiful ritual. My husband grinned from ear to ear watching the two of us being brought into the sanctuary.

The baby and I enter church for the first time since she is born.

Our priest, Fr. Popovich meets us at the door and prays several prayers over us. He then walks us down the isle to venerate the icons. Then I take the baby back to light a candle and the liturgy begins. It has the potential to really stroke the woman’s ego–because church does not start until this part is done. But instead of focusing on that part, I choose to be humbled by it. It is a great honor to have a priest say such a kind blessing for me and my child as we are welcomed back.

Some friends of mine from homsechool co-op are Greek Orthodox, so they came to see the churching:

The lady in the middle is a fellow member of our homeschool co-op. It was only because she over heard me talking about head coverings that I ever learned she was Orthodox too! She brought her daughter and good friend from their Greek church to witness.

Today’s gospel reading was the story about the crippled man who would not give up. He was lowered through the roof into the home where Jesus was resting, and because of His great faith, Christ healed him.

In his homily, Fr Popovich tied this into this little miracle we have. Scott and I suffered through 2 miscarriages between the last baby and this one. We struggled very hard with church teaching against using birth control, but we obeyed it. When I found out I was pregnant, Scott and I came to “Proto” and asked him if there was a specific prayer he could pray for us and this pregnancy. Not only did he lay his hands on my belly that day, and prayed for her, he gave us a prayer card with a prayer for pregnant mommies. Scott prayed this prayer over me in our home multiple times during the pregnancy.

Fr Popovich described his interaction with this story as one of shared tears with me from the beginning to today. And that was all true. He said our faith was as strong as the crippled man.

It was wonderful day to honor the traditions of the fathers. To do things exactly they way they have been done for centuries. I have now had 4 babies with Scott, and all are being brought up in the Orthodox faith. We are blessed beyond that which we deserve.