Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Blog Home

Check out our new blog home at

We look forward to seeing you there!

New Blog Home

Check out our new blog home at

We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Illumination Learning Makeover

Over the past couple of months, I've done a lot of thinking about how I wanted Illumination Learning to grow and how I was going to accomplish this task.  I did a complete overhaul on the Illumination Learning website.  I changed my focus from being an individual website to a community website where all of us who are looking for Orthodox Christian education resources could go to advertise our websites and also to talk with others who have the same interests as ourselves.  There is also a Community Marketplace on Illumination Learning where you can advertise and sell your Orthodox products.

Please feel free to visit the website, sign up, post about your products/website/blog, ask questions, and invite others to join also.

I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Forgiveness Sunday

We started our own family tradition 4 years ago.  We were not able to attend Forgiveness Vespers and were bummed out about it.  That night, my husband and I gathered all the kids before going to bed for evening prayers.  At the end of our prayers, we all stood in a circle and each one of us asked every person in the family to forgive us.  It wasn't just a blanket "forgive me" either.  We would ask forgiveness for specific things we had done to hurt the other person.   Most years, we've started from youngest to oldest.  (Ages 2 and under - we would kiss them and say "forgive me".  Ages 2 - 3, we prompted them to say "forgive me" and nothing more.  Ages 4 and up would ask specifics for forgiveness but we didn't do any prompting what so ever.)  This is year we started from oldest to youngest.  i.e. Dad started

Last night we gathered all the kids yet again for our family forgiveness prayers.  (In addition to Forgiveness Vespers at church)  The kids absolutely amaze us with the level of sincerity and accuracy in which they ask each member of the family for forgiveness.  They each take it very seriously and several of us cried.  It forms a closeness between each of us that I cannot even begin to describe.

I am so happy with the level of peace I have today to begin Great Lent.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!

Wishing all of you a joyous Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nativity of Christ

My husband and I took our kids and my sister to a live Nativity Scene at the Creation Museum tonight.  We took our kids there last year as well.

I was thinking about it on the drive home - we haven't ever taken our kids to see Santa at the mall.  I just can't see spending $20 - $30 for them to get a picture with the mall Santa.  It does nothing for me.  But...I kind of like this new tradition we've established.  It's only the second year we've taken them to see the live Nativity scene but I wouldn't mind doing this every year with them.  1) It's completely free.  2) We are emphasizing where we want the focus for Christmas to be - on Christ rather than Santa.  (Although my boys do believe in Santa - we could debate that one but it was never really a choice for us since we adopted them and this was a part of them from the's not the worst thing in the world - but I do want to make sure they understand where the importance lies for Christmas)

It's fun going to the museum.  Volunteers dress in costume and walk around and interact with everyone who visits.  Roman soldiers are walking around.  A man stands at the entrance of Bethlehem for the census (taking information for the museum to see how far people are traveling to see their live Nativity scene - but we'll play along).  Once you enter Bethlehem, you're greeted with the market area.  They have hot drinks and gifts to buy from people in costumes.  Then you journey to the outskirts of town where you see the archeologist talking about the Nativity of Christ while Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus are sitting contently in the cave below.  (I think I preferred last year better because they had the shepherds and animals surrounding baby Jesus.  This year, I didn't see any shepherds but we went on a walk and saw one of the magi and many animals in the petting zoo.)

After passing by baby Jesus, then we walked through the trails in the garden enjoying all the colorful Christmas lights and watching the snow slowly drifting down on us.  It was a wonderful night spent with my family!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Teaching My Kids About the Nativity of Christ

I'm spending this week on all things Christmas with my kids.  My main focus is, of course, on the Nativity of Christ but we are also spending time doing family traditions such as making cookies for our neighbors, singing Christmas Carols, and snuggling up on the couch with hot chocolate and reading Christmas stories.

I have warm memories of sitting on my grandma's piano bench while she played the piano and we sang Christmas carols together.  Singing Christmas carols with my kids brings back those special memories as a child with a dear grandma who has fallen asleep in the Lord many years ago.

I also have wonderful memories of making Christmas cookies with my mom when I was little.  She would let me scoop the sugar and pour it into the bowl.  Take turns stirring with me and then letting me scoop out dough and make balls to place on the cookie sheet.  I try to pass on these traditions to my kids as well - plus a few of our own.

Yesterday we were studying about Saint Joseph the Betrothed.  We were coloring icons of Saint Joseph. I even had my 15 y.o. coloring the icons.  Why?  Well, because she is a very visual-spatial child who learns best by hands-on activities and with pictures.  She is just like me - we think in pictures.  More on that another time.  :)  I expect age appropriate retention and learning from my kids.  I wanted my boys (7, 6, and 4 y.o.) to remember that Saint Joseph was betrothed to the Theotokos.  His job was to take care of her and baby Jesus.  

While I expected my 15 y.o. to know the difference between being betrothed and being married as well as greater detail about the Nativity of Christ.  Wikipedia defines betrothal as:

Betrothal (also called espousal) is a formal state of engagement to be married.

Historically betrothal was a formal contract, blessed or officiated by a religious authority. Betrothal was binding as marriage and a divorce was necessary to terminate a betrothal. Betrothed couples were regarded legally as husband and wife - even before their wedding and physical union. In Jewish weddings thebetrothal is part of the Jewish wedding ceremony.

We made a batch of sugar cookies for our neighbors yesterday as well.  They were so kind and mowed our lawn several times this summer while we were out of town.  I tried a new recipe and the cookies turned out phenomenally.  
Sugar Cookies:
3 cups of flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
powdered sugar for rolling out the dough

Mix all your wet ingredients together.  Then mix your dry ingredients into the wet mixture.  Roll out your cookie dough using powdered sugar.  Use your favorite cookie cutters and bake at 350 degrees for 7 - 8 minutes.  *Note: you need to use a non-stick spray, oil, or something on the cookie sheet otherwise the sugar on the outside of the cookies will caramelize and make it next to impossible to get the cookies off the cookie sheet in one piece.

Today we were talking about the Nativity of Christ and who was there.  My youngest (4 y.o.) was coloring the icon of the Nativity when he asked me, "What color do I color that dude?"  I responded, "We don't refer to Jesus as a dude."  I think it was mostly done to get a rise out of his older brothers and thrive off the giggles.  ~Sigh~