Friday, June 28, 2019

News and such

Hello friends,
We are thankful for a slow onset of summer here in Arizona. We enjoyed a beautiful spring right up to the end of May. Stefan has been diagnosed with Fragile-X syndrome, which is kind of a relief, since it helps up frame our understanding of his behaviors. If you look it up, you will find a general description that fits Stefi pretty much to a tee. If you know Stefan personally, it will make a great deal of sense. Nothing in particular changes in our day-to-day, but it does give context to his extreme potty-training challenges.

Various scenes from life follow:

Ss. Barsanuphius and John, tr. Fr. Seraphim Rose

A treat before a blood draw.

Farm princess in a bus.

Goats!


Ducks!

Dahlias.

We are right around the two-year anniversary, so things are somewhat disturbed. We appreciate your prayers, and thank you for visiting.
In Christ,
Papa

Saturday, May 4, 2019

With thanks to the Holy Trinity


Meet the new member of the family, Bright Monday the lift van!

We are so thankful for the generosity of my mother, who greatly blessed us with a gift more than sufficient to buy a retired paratransit van. Ana can go up the lift, Stefan can flap excitedly over the enormous машина (machina, car), and the kids are thrilled to be able to ride a bus. We are very grateful, it had been a blessed Bright week after a glorious Pascha.

We hope you are all well, God keep you under His wings.
Papa

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Olive Shoots

Greetings in Christ, friends!

We are nearing the two-year report with Stefan, which is rather mind-boggling.

Our family is rejoicing at the arrival (in March) of our newest, biggest, baby! He is a dear, serious young man, somewhat fussy, and sleep has fled from our eyes, but we are thankful to God for him, and for the warm welcome extended to him by his siblings. We call him Freddy.

Freddy already thinks his big brother hung the moon.
Stefi is very gentle with little ones, for which I rejoice.
This little lady is a big sister, and pleased as punch.



 Playing in the desert and in the park

We are blessed with blooms in the spring. And Choupie has the same colors.
 Just let them try to get Stefan to do this at therapy... but when it's play, well then...


Baby chicks will be with us soon!

 Piano practice, snuggles, etc.


As you see, it is a busy bunch. Stefan is going through a toddler-like language explosion, and can talk about chickens, bunnies, potatoes, tomatoes, and much more.

Our friends, the C family, moved into a bigger space this January after their third child came, and we are glad they have the room they need, but we do feel their absence. Families from our parish have been so kind with meals and help, and one special lady was so kind as to sit with Ana and Stefi while Freddy was being born. That was a busy evening. Praise God, though, all went well.

We are now trying to figure out a school situation for Stefan next year, meeting with the local elementary next Friday. We'll see what they say. He's come a long way, but has miles before him...

Also, we are looking at lift vans. We grew out of our minivan, and are tremendously grateful for the gift of our dear friends' 2002 Accord, which has allowed us to get around very affordably and taken some load off the trusty '06 Sienna. But we can't take everybody in one car anymore, and Mama is not in a place where she should lift Ana (or load/unload her wheelchair from the minivan). So we are looking at lift vans, then looking at our bank account, and then looking to Christ who will give us what we need, and knows it better than we do.

However, I will ask you, faithful readers, if you think a GoFundMe would be appropriate? We were grateful for your help when Stefan came home, but we also know that the most generous people often have the least money, and we always want to be generous ourselves, and not a burden to those near us (however far away they are). Thus, I welcome your counsel and ask for your prayers.

I will close with words from St John Climacus, the abbot of St Catherine's of Sinai (~6th century), whom we particularly remember this Sunday:
"The Christian is one who imitates Christ in thought, word and deed, as far as is possible for human beings, believing rightly and blamelessly in the Holy Trinity. The lover of God is he who lives in communion with all that is natural and sinless, and as far as he is able neglects nothing good." (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, s1.4, tr. Archimandrite Lazarus Moore)
So let us strive to be Christians and lovers of God, not neglecting the good, and we will trust His good providence!

In Christ, who is our life,
Papa

Monday, January 28, 2019

An update! With photos!

This young man...


 Does extremely well in church, sitting by me during services. Our parish is very kind and understanding of him when he belts out "HI!" or sometimes "Bum!" during liturgy...

He still loves swinging.

And has a very nice smile - now minus two baby teeth (yesterday) which prompted a bloody mouth all evening, BUT which was all cleaned up and healed this morning!

 He also likes kitties, hoses, and being outside.

We are about 18months into life with Stefan, and now four years into life with Ana. God is faithful, Christ is glorious in His saints, and we are grateful for your prayers.

And...

Ana turns seventeen tomorrow!

I don't have a current picture of her on my phone, sorry. But she is much the same as ever, cheerful, loves her school, ...very....slowly....gaining....weight. She and I and the two behaving boys went down to the Florence monastery two weeks back (for the feast of St. Anthony), and she was thrilled. She loves her siblings, and is doing well, all things considered.

Thank you for your prayers, and God bless you for dropping by!
In Christ,
Papa

Saturday, July 7, 2018

One year ago

Hello out there,




This young man has come a long way in a year.

It's a marathon. And we get tired. But we are thankful for progress, growth, new words, and the incremental bits of attention and affection that happen.

Thank you for your prayers.

In Christ,
Papa

Monday, May 21, 2018

A worthy read...

http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_issue_articles/RTE_52/THE_OPPOSITE_OF_WAR_IS_NOT_PEACE.pdf

This is one of the best trauma articles I have read, perhaps you may find something of value in it, too.

In Christ,
Papa

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Post-placement Report #2

Time flies when you're busy!

We just apostilled our second post-placement report back to Bulgaria for Stefan. I'm afraid the pictures were on Virginia's phone, which got smashed last week, or I would share some. I'll see if I can get them once she gets her new one (but 5 years on an iPhone 5 subject to 5 kids was a really good run, and I applaud her).

But if anyone still checks on our very-quiet blog, please know that you are appreciated, and the volume of the blog is inversely correlated to the volume of our life. And it's been very full. I will give you a brief rundown:

We moved! Not far, but to a property that's just over an acre, with a great big grassy fenced yard and an even bigger back lot for the more able and responsible kids. There are citrus, mulberry, and China berry trees, and on the vacant lot just south of us, a peach and two plums, which we have permission to pick. The peaches are at their peak right now, and the lower branches are bare...up to about kid+stool height. Go figure. The move means that Ana will switch districts for next year, so we're navigating that. God has blessed us with very kind and understanding school contacts, and we just need to press on.

Stefan (and everybody but Ana, really) has grown a ton. Pants that were rather...gangsta...on him are now quite respectable. He is adding words, which is great, but it totally overloads his brain and wrecks him in the evening. If he's learned a new word, expect the rest of the day to be rather testy. His brain gets tired and he gets crabby (I understand, mine does too, just with different things - sometimes much less significant). The boyos are big and busy and love the space. Choupinette loves the bunnies and chickens - until they get too close, or try to eat her picnic food, or try to climb into the car to go to church with us. The chickens are funny.

We remain so thankful for our friends the C family who have come alongside us and walk with us, sharing the considerable burden of our busy family. And my work is very busy, yet I remain thankful for the great degree of flexibility that the university affords me. There's much to be thankful for.

We look forward to visits with friends & a wedding this weekend, and our housewarming/house-blessing party on Memorial Day- if you're in the Chandler area, let us know if you'd like to come!




I leave you with the prayer of the last elders of the Optina monastery - it is a morning prayer, and I am thankful it is in the regular morning prayers of my prayer book (though I confess a failure to memorize it yet, and thus ensure that I can actually say it anywhere I happen to be on a busy morning...)

O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will.
At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy holy Will.
Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee.
Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.
O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.

For perspective on the men who composed and employed this prayer, the Wikipedia article on the monastery is helpful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optina_Monastery

In Christ,
Mark