Archive for August, 2010

New Church

August 30, 2010

There are some old subjects to catch up on, and I intend to hit at least a couple of them.

In Chicago we had been going to All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church.  That is where Elizabeth and I were chrismated and where Basil was baptized (not long ago).

We asked for some advice when we moved to Minnesota, but we didn’t get very much.  Lizzy knew of a Greek church in Minneapolis where her elders were still attending, but we thought it would probably be too big and likely too Greek (I still haven’t been yet).

When I thought I would be working at a Montessori school in southwest Minneapolis, we started looking up information about St. Herman’s OCA.  We visited here before I found out where I would be working.  It was a nice, small church of mostly converts to the Orthodox faith.  We enjoyed it and found some similarities with All Saints.  There were other differences – some we liked and others we didn’t.  But it was definitely a place we thought we could stay.

The following week we decided to visit an Orthodox church in St. Paul I’d heard about called Holy Trinity (also OCA).  This church is also small but with more of a mixture of “converts” and “cradles.”  One of the first things noticeable about the church was that it was in a poorer part of the city – lots of boarded up windows and official postings on front doors seen.  The service itself was a beautiful liturgy that was reminiscent of things we appreciated at All Saints.  The choir was at the side in the midst of the congregation, even though there was a balcony that was clearly adequate to house them above the congregants.  Most of the people were singing along with the choir and we felt at home immediately.

Outside the church there are a couple of empty lots next to the building, in which a community organization has developed a wonderful community garden with the church’s permission.

We later read that the land was formerly the site of a crack house which was deeded to the church in exchange for promised bull-dozing and paying of back taxes.

We met Fr. Jonathan at our first visit for vespers, and he gave us the advice to keep visiting all of the Orthodox churches in the city before landing at one.  Someone at coffee hour the next day told us he gave them the same advice which was not followed.

We felt like perhaps we should follow the advice (at least a bit) and visited St. Mary’s, the OCA cathedral in Minneapolis.  I think by this point we knew I had a job in St. Paul and decided to visit this church anyway.  This church had a rich history with connections to multiple saints, but it was also full of pews with a distant choir and a very distant feeling inside.  We are in no place to judge, but our feeling there was as spectators versus the feeling at Holy Trinity – it was simply a place where we wanted to return and worship.

The following Sunday we visited John and Lila in Chicago and have since been attending Holy Trinity in St. Paul.

Fr. Jonathan came over for a pleasant evening so that he could get to know our family better, and we’ve slowly begun meeting people there, though we haven’t established any real friendships yet.  In the future we anticipate moving to St. Paul so that I have a shorter commute and so that it’s easier for us to go to church on a frequent basis.  Holy Trinity has services five days each week, and, of course, we would love to have easier access during busy times like Lent and Holy Week.  Unfortunately, a closer move may not help much in getting to know people as it seems nearly all Orthodox churches these days serve as commuter churches – especially if they’ve remained in a neighborhood after the demographics have changed.

Holy Trinity is likely where we’ll remain.  Come and join us there when you visit.  They recently had some wonderful iconography work done on the inside that’s worth a look even if you don’t like church.



One Step at a Time

August 11, 2010

Stella, Basil’s cousin closest in age, was in town recently for a very pleasant visit with her parents.  We spent lots of time together.

Stella and Basil aren’t quite at the age where they can really play “together,” but they’re pretty decent at playing very near one another!

<— (Thanks Melissa!)

Others were taking more numerous and higher quality photos.

Stella, though two months the younger, excels in two things Basil has not yet mastered: walking and animal sounds.  I believe I personally heard her moo, pant, roar, and hiss, as well as make a fish/lobster face.  On the walking front, however, it seems Basil is taking a cue from his Aunt Katina.  Word on the street has it that she learned some new skills quite quickly after seeing her younger cousin, Melissa, doing it before her.  Feast your eyes:

And to think, he once looked like this:

He has come so far…


Yiayia Brooke wants Pictures!

August 9, 2010

So we’ll give her some video.

At one point in the past, we tried to get Basil to drink out of a glass independently.  Just as he has had little experience with bottles, he doesn’t know much of the “sippy cup.”  Unfortunately, his shot glass had an accident in the sink, and his drink training was put on a hiatus.

Now it’s a hot summer in Minneapolis, and he needs hydration.  He seems to be a quick study and quite proud!

And the drinking in action:


August 1, 2010

So there’s a lot to catch up on.
What should we blog about?

Moving to MN?
Getting a new job?
Montessori training?
Finding a new church?
Minneapolis parks?
Grocery store hunting?
My parents visiting?
Basil’s first birthday?
Visiting the Stiffs and the Roosien wedding?
Our second anniversary?
Scooter/bicycle shopping?
Re-Ferberizing Basil?

I guess we’ll have to go one subject at a time or just post up some photos with minimal commentary.  Can’t be living in the past!

Moving to Minnesota was a quick, somewhat stressful process.  Chris and Margie came and took most of our stuff away in a big moving van.  I packed it as high and full as possible.  Then we were left with a few more living items for our last days in Chicago.  I finished up school and we packed the Nissan Versa as fulls as possible without covering up the front seats or smothering Basil in the back.  That left a few items in the apartment.

Our wonderful friends, the Stiffs, would be living temporarily in our apartment during our last days on the lease, and some of those items ended up staying with the Stiffs for various lengths of time.  (Thank you so much)

We wound our way to the Twin Cities – driving through the night.  Why, do you ask, did we do that?  Because I wanted to leave Chicago on the last possible day.  Chicago Public Schools ended on June 18.  My classes started on June 12, and I just got a job interview for June 11.  So, we decided to leave on June 10 after school and drive through the night.  This turned out wonderful, as Basil slept almost the entire way.  I was dead tired, however.

We arrived in Minnesota early in the morning, and I took a bit of a cat-nap before getting myself ready for the interview.  Well, it just so happens that I got the job a couple of weeks later!  This being my second in-person interview ever, I must conclude that either I am a decent interviewee, a lack of sleep is a benefit, or the job is a good fit.

I’ll be working at a montessori magnet school in the St Paul Public School district.  I am doing my Montessori training at St. Catherine University, which I have stated before.  The downside is that my training this summer has been for lower elementary (grades 1-3) and my job will be for upper elementary (grades 4-6).  I’m not technically trained for the job I got – I will be after next summer.  This year I will be struggling, piecing together the work of my job, trying to survive until I can really understand what I’m supposed to be doing.  The advantage, I’m told (if there is any), is that when I do get trained next summer for upper elementary I am really going to be attentive and excited to learn it.  “Oh, this is what I was supposed to be doing for the last 9 months!”

I got to meet some of my kids, though, and they were pleasant and excited to see me.  Everyone at the school is encouraging and excited for me to be there.  The school is beautiful – it is quite a switch from Barton.  It is also very diverse.

White, not Hispanic 37%
Black, not Hispanic 28%
Hispanic 17%
Asian/Pacific Islander 16%
American Indian/Alaskan Native 2%

Students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch program  44%

This is much different from Barton’s 99% Black, 99% free or reduced.  I think the diversity will be really refreshing, and I look forward to seeing how this kind of classroom community is different.  The school is also year-round, which I prefer in principle.  After experiencing little breaks throughout the year rather than one big break in the summer, I may change my mind.

One of the best parts about this school is that their mascot is a little child whose clothes are on fire.

I’ve enjoyed much of my training at St. Catherine’s, but I’ve also been a little surprised.  Much of what I read about Montessori at first dealt with the Children’s House level (ages 3-6), and I thought more of the principles would follow through the elementary years.  Many principles do, but some do not, so it looks a little different than I expected.  There are a few other issues that I’m getting through, but I like my instructors and classmates.  We even met a friend who needed a ride to Chicago and who later gave me some of her sourdough starter!  (I left mine with the Stiffs in Chicago TWICE!)