About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am finishing up my midwifery apprenticeship and plan to be a real midwife early in 2014!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

40 and 19

That's how old Paul turned yesterday. And how many years we've been married today. Just amazing how time goes by and how things change and how things stay the same.....

Paul's birthday and our anniversary are inextricably entwined. We got married the day after his 21st birthday. We looked like babies and people couldn't believe we were getting married!

I've been telling Paul for a couple of months that we should have a party for his 40th, because that's a big one! And he's been putting me off. Then it was "I want to do something *meaningful* for my birthday..." but he didn't know what that was. And finally, a week before his birthday, he said that a party would be nice. And the meaningful part? He wanted, instead of gifts, for guests to bring a poem, a prayer, a reading, or a song to share.

The guest list was necessarily small--I had only a week to prepare! But Paul declared it "just what I wanted!" I made cheese fondue with veggies (I woke after midnight and remembered: I'd meant to also serve grapes and apples with it, which I think would have been scrumptious!) and bread, and for dessert we had Strawberry Lemon-Lavender Shortcake. Paul made mojitos and also shared some of his birthday scotch.

And we had poetry (one original poem, written just for Paul!), a reading, songs, and a reflection on turning 40 from someone not too far ahead of Paul on that.

One of the guests had a series of birthday questions that got us telling stories from the past. Our first Christmas together. Worst gifts received (I don't think anyone came up with a best gift--seems the worst are the most memorable, huh?) and family traditions of birthdays.

The day we got married looked a lot different than the day I'm looking out at right now--it was a hot, central California day. We had a few pictures taken outside, but in the shade and quickly before we melted! Memories from our wedding day:

Paul wore a white tux. And he'd just had warts removed--quite violently!--by the dermatologist. Which produced blisters. And blood and white tuxes don't go together well.....word was sent to me before the wedding that he had blood on his tux and I sent word back: cold water! (Doesn't anyone besides the bride know these things?)

Feeling like I was about to burst with happiness walking up that aisle at the end of the ceremony. And it shows on our faces in the picture!

Paul wanting to skip out on the reception--too many people he didn't know, too many hands to shake and names to forget. My mother said we had better not dare!

The friend who sang at our wedding--he forgot words to the song but just made up new ones and made it sound just as good.

And we pre-recorded us singing together to play at the wedding....and right now, I can't even remember what that song was! I think I need to find the tape of our wedding and listen to it.

Paul, a lot has changed since that day 19 years ago. But my love for you endures. I love you more deeply than I did, I love you not with a 20-year-old's love but with all the experience we've had together, the good and the not-so-good, the joy and the pain. Through it all you have loved me and I have loved you. Happy Anniversary!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

chicks--never were

Oh, poor Mama Bear--contrary to my friend Maria's assertion, I believe that chickens can and do feel emotion. And Mama Bear is distraught right now. None of her eggs turned out to be actually containing any babies. They are all gracing the compost bin right now. :-( After sitting for 4 weeks now, hoping for babies, I think Sally's assertion--"*I'd* sure be frustrated!" is correct. I would be too. And sad.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Children in Church

One part of being a priest's wife that I really love is being such an integral part of a church community. Coming into such a warm and loving parish was a true joy for me. We had come from kind of loose ends, dangling at the Metropolis (Paul worked as deacon to Met. Anthony, and then later as the chancellor, but didn't exactly have a parish assignment) and at St. Nicholas Ranch, neither of which provided real community, other than the small group of people who lived near the Ranch in order to be close to the monastery (or live in the monastery) that is adjacent to the Ranch. But our parish here in Portland is so large that it can be very overwhelming. After 2 1/2 years I *still* have people come to me and say, oh, you're Fr. Paul's wife! Not to mention all the people whose names I may or may not have known at one time but it simply not possible for me to learn them all. But slowly, gradually, I am getting to know more and more people at our church.

One wonderful way of getting to know the families in our church has been house blessings. In most Orthodox churches, the house blessings are done quite soon after Epiphany, which is in early January. The theme of water runs from Christ's baptism in the Jordan to sprinkling our homes with holy water to remind us to keep each part of our regular lives holy.

Anyway, it's been a pleasure to get to know many families in this way--we've spread out house blessings to about one a month, and we go for dinner and stay for a few hours and really get to know the family one-on-one.

Yesterday we had a house blessing and it was more than just getting to know the family, it was also a reminder of something that has been important to us since we first had children and have now....well, it's so easy to forget the issues of young children in church! Our children were 11 and 8 when we came here, and they are now 14 and 11, and we haven't had to deal with some of the challenges that young families face, here in Portland. Our children, for the most part, are still and quiet in church, and both of our kids participate in the service--Hibi as a choir member and Zac as an altar boy.

But in speaking with this family who has kids ages 8 months and 5 years, I was remembering the plight of the parent who dares to bring their children to a quiet church. This is especially prevalent in larger churches like ours, unfortunately--the larger the church, the more it's expected that if children are going to be there, they have to be absolutely silent. And that is just not a realistic expectation of young children. There are many, including certain hierarchs, who think that parents should not bring their young children to church. And that is just wrong. Children belong in the church because children ARE the church. In the Orthodox church, our children are full members as soon as they are baptized, which occurs as early as 40 days old, usually somewhere between 3 and 8 months old. They are part of the body of Christ and to try to keep them away from the body of Christ is to cut off part of the body. The church cannot survive if we have this attitude toward children.

Some say that they want a quiet space to worship God. That if there is a child making noise, their worship is interrupted. I would say that if quiet is necessary (as I think it is--even to mothers of small children!) then perhaps some quiet contemplation at home or in another private setting is in order. Church is for the purpose of corporate worship--the whole community coming together for one purpose. Not for one individual to have quiet contemplation.

And unfortunately, church is often not a place of support for young families.

I have so many stories from when our children were small! I'll share a couple of them.

When Hibi was a baby, we were visiting a church we hadn't been to before. We'd met the priest once before, though. So, when we walked into the nearly-empty humongous church and saw the priest walking down the aisle, we thought it was just to greet us and were surprised. But it wasn't just to greet us. He did greet us, and then said in the warmest voice, that his church has some very special seating reserved just for families of young children! We could sit in either the last row, or in the second to the last row. Oh, how special we felt! (Sorry, couldn't help putting a bit of sarcasm in there.) If a church is trying to be a welcoming place to young families, telling them they can only sit in the back is the wrong approach. Children are small people with small attention spans. It really helps if they can see and interact with what is happening in front. We always sat in the front or near the front with our small children....and still prefer to be in the front (though the choir stands in the balcony...). If you want to save some seating for young families, save the aisle seats (and whoever thought of having the center aisle as an aisle that's not okay to walk down? Parents often need it to take their children out for a diaper change or a change of scenery before re-joining the congregation).

I guess the only other story I'll share right now is just a short anecdote where I was made to feel absolutely awful. I don't even remember what this woman said to me, but someone caught me in the narthex of church once and let me know that she thought I was way too lax in letting my children be noisy in church. I suppose this story is not only to remind us that children should be in church, but also to remind people of the plight of the presvytera. (And others who have to parent alone in church.) The priest's wife does not have the help of her husband in church, she has to parent alone, in one of the most difficult situations to parent. Church is not an easy place to be a parent of small children, because of all the expectations put on parents, plus the expectations of the priest's family, and she has to do it on her own. In this situation I did not go back into church, where I'd been headed, but to the bathroom where I had a long cry. I was so upset. It is emotionally draining to deal with small children in church all by yourself, especially if the children are not naturally docile (where do those children come from, anyway?). Please be merciful and helpful to parents of small children, especially to parents who are alone in their church-time parenting.

Paul will be using this reminder to educate the parish in being a welcoming community for all members of the church. I'm glad for it, because I can remember just wishing that the priest would say these things!

no chicks

No chicks have hatched yet. I'm starting to think all are duds--I know one is, at least. Too bad for poor Mama Bear. Her mama longings have been thwarted once again.