Tuesday, March 31, 2009

yellow submarine

My son, Elijah, will most certainly be the type of dad to have over sized buttons made of his children in their soccer uniforms, baseball hats and gloves, etc. and then pin them on his lapel to show off at work (that is if movie directors or Zoologists even wear blazers). Yesterday morning, he was with me at Mary's ballet class where he pointed out repeatedly to the other moms present which of the little dancers was his sister (they already knew, by the way) and, Oh my gosh! Isn't she cute? Look at her now! Mom, put this up on the blog! Turn the camera that way to get her face!

The above two and half minute video will give you a small taste of my eldest son's (borderline braggy) enthusiasm for everything his little sister does and doesn't do, it will showcase Mary's mad dance skills and reveal what weighty issues are on the hearts and minds of those of us in small town America:

Will the three-year-olds get their routine down in time for the recital?

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's possible these things may be on backorder...

If I could go back in time, start completely from scratch, here is what I would have registered for for my baby shower:

1. A Room-Sized Bed:
I would want it to stretch from one wall to the next so that Elijah and his future siblings, with their bad dreams, growing pains, sniffly noses and frigid toes, could come and go as they pleased without Troy and I being forced to lie on our sides all smashed together, like sardines.

2. A Whirlpool Bathtub:
Because if you're going to spend that much time hiding...I, mean, relaxing in your bathroom, you might as well do it up with bubbles, jets, candles, the whole shebang.

3. A Fry Daddy:
Everything, my kids would be quick to assure you, tastes better battered and fried. My picky children would write thank you notes, tributes, odes to me daily if only every lunch and dinner crunched in a "good way," like McDonald's French-fries.

4. An Espresso Machine:
I hardly think this needs an explanation.

5. A fenced-in Acre of Land:
For my kids to run and run and run and run wild in without getting lost or struck by a motorized vehicle.

6. A Few More Hours In My Day:
Preferably...no, on second thought, most certainly while the children are sleeping, to catch up on correspondence - to keep in better touch with all of my old friends, new friends and family members.

7. A "Finder":
Some sort of robot or contraption (think "Rosie" from the Jetsons) that could locate in seconds missing keys, wallets, library books and Mary's teeny tiny ballet shoes.

8. A Self-Cleaning Mini-Van:
Because we could live off the pretzel crumbs that have spilled between the car seats and onto the floor of our Toyota Sienna for at least a week.

9. A Referree:
I mean I'd want the whole deal - the striped shirt, the whistle, everything. He could step quickly into an argument between the kids, make a call, and penalize the offending player, saving me from all sorts of migraines throughout the day. If he could also help with the laundry, that would be a huge plus.

10. A Do-Over Button:
For when I overreact and would like try again to speak calmly to my child, this time while keeping everything in perspective.

11. A Good Thai Food Restaurant:
Because our neighborhood doesn't have one.

12: Walkie Talkies That Actually Work For More Than 30 Minutes:
So I could keep in touch with Elijah as he ventures farther and farther away from me, and our house, in pursuit of some independence.

13: A Life Time Supply of Junior Mints

Did I forget anything?

Sunday, March 29, 2009


They are called Pyanski Eggs and every Lent, our parish keeps the supplies for making them out and available in the basement to both the kids and adults who like to work on them during coffee hour. It is a multi-step process requiring more concentration then one might think a child had in them, particularly a certain six-year-old boy child who is fidgeting always, always fidgeting, and yet, as you can see above, my son, Benjamin, daughter, Priscilla, and niece, Isabelle (with the patient help of "godfather Steve") worked diligently and with rapt attention on their own colorful creations for a long old time. I am looking forward to putting all of their eggs in a basket on my dining room table as a centerpiece for our Pascha Feast. Ahhh, Pascha.

April begins the overlap of soccer, drama and ballet with tee ball and soft ball. I'm feeling a little behind already and a bit melancholy. I am not too sure at all that these two things are even remotely related but they are the dominant emotions keeping me company at the moment while I drink my coffee and await the sound of footsteps stomping hungrily down the stairs. It is a brand new week, a brand new morning, and presently I am lingering expectantly, somewhere between intimidation and inspiration. What will I do with the clean, blank, whiteness?

I've been spending my evenings, recently, with a young Flannery O'Connor. A week ago, I found a biography about her in our library's New Non-fiction section and I've become, now, even more fascinated by her life and writings. Her father died when she was just fifteen-years-old and she wrote the following, two years later, in a tattered old journal:

The reality of death has come upon us and a consciousness of the power of God has broken our complacency like a bullet in the side. A sense of the dramatic, of the tragic, of the infinite, has descended upon us, filling us with grief, but even beyond grief, wonder. Our plans were so beautifully laid out, ready to be carried to action, but with magnificent certainty God laid them aside and said, "You have forgotten - mine? "

Wonder. Maybe that's what it is - wonder at the enormity of it all. Life and death, the power and consequence of our every day choices, my role as a mother to these children so young and hopeful, needing me to stay hopeful by keeping my eyes locked on Christ while the waves, the turbulent waves, lick at my knee caps.

Here comes little Mary.

And now it begins.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I know why the caged bird sings...

I took the thirteen pairs of boots that have been strewn about our front door for the last four months downstairs to the basement yesterday! It is by no means balmy outside but I can get out of bed, now, and head to the kitchen in my jammies for coffee without first donning a long sleeve shirt and sweater to be topped off with a pink fleece jacket. The ice cream truck has been circling around my neighborhood like a vulture eyeing its pint sized, beaten down by the cold weather, victims who congregate at the corner for upwards of 30 minutes just waiting for the tell-tale sing-songiness to become louder and louder, signaling bomb pops and Sponge Bob Square Pants bars are coming closer and closer, maybe just around the corner ... MOM! Can I PLEASE have a dollar!!

Big News: Elijah made the front page of our small town newspaper! Last week while at the library, I signed a whole bunch of wavers granting permission to the children's librarian to take a picture of my oldest son reading intently to "Buddy the Bird" who lives in a cage on the check-out counter and who Elijah has taken a real, NOT just kidding around, interest in. I forgot about it all until Elijah's godfather e-mailed me to say Elijah was a star and then my parents brought over their copy and I was tickled (that's the best word I can think of ) to read the caption under his photo, which stated, "Sabourin says Buddy prefers Choose Your Own Adventure books." Other News: So HERE is where you can find my interview with Kevin Allen of the Illumined Heart (see my last post)!

It is Friday. How do the weeks fly by so quickly?!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

catching up...

So, obviously, I've been a little tied up lately. This afternoon, I had my first offical interview about my newly released book with Kevin Allen, host of the wonderful, Illumined Heart, podcast - an interview I was busy thinking about and preparing for for days. It went pretty well. I enjoyed the experience. It will air this Friday on Ancient Faith Radio. Check back here later if you want the link.

Besides that, I have been working on two different posts regarding two excellent books that have just been published and which I desire to share with each and every one of you. The first is called, Naming the Child, and was written by the lovely, genuine and talented, Mat. Jenny Schroedel, and the other is called Pictures of God, by John Skinas. Stay tuned for additional details, and in the meantime follow the links to find out more!

Some bad news: my printer is not reading my camera's memory card for some reason and thus the "snapshot" portion of my Snapshot of the Day blog is in bad shape. Note the random picture choice (the last to be read successfully by my ornery printer) of me modeling, to your great delight and interest I am sure, my new million dollar glasses from Walmart.

I got new glasses from Walmart, you see, because as I age, my already weak and blurry eye sight continues to deteriorate. When your that bad off they have to jump through all of these hoops, apparently, to thin out your lenses so they weigh less than two pounds each making my finished pair of Sarah Palin (as I like to call them) spectacles outrageously expensive.

I went to the park around 4:00 pm with the kids, to unwind a bit and feel the sun on my face. It was very, very refreshing. Priscilla has started writing these really sweet and detailed prayers and has decided to become a professional prayer writer but Elijah confided in me that he didn't think that sounded quite right. Benjamin has twice this week been able to play with "the big boys" at Elijah's friend's house. Mary has been working diligently on her "Yellow Submarine" dance routine which she and her fellow three-year-old classmates will perform in an upcoming dance recital on a real stage. She has already warned me that she will NOT be wearing the sailor hat that comes with her costume.

I, who am absolutely not a tea drinker, have fallen in love with Good Earth Spice tea. I drink it in the evenings. It tastes exactly like a stick of Big Red gum.

A special thanks to Sylvia, author of the Adventures of an Orthodox Mom blog for posting THIS kind and thoughtul review of "Close to Home." It made my day.

Take care of yourselves, dear friends and family!

Now off to bed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

there's no business like show business

I am still trying to get used to the fact that I, a woman who puts forth great effort to "blend in" in social situations, have children who naturally stand out - loudly, boldy, unselfconsciously. Last night, I dropped off an under the weather Mary at my brother's house, picked up my niece, Isabelle, who joined Benjamin, Priscilla and me on an outing to Valparaiso to see Elijah perform in a play put on by the kids in the drama workshop he's been attending these last five weeks (Thanks again, Papa and Nana! The acting lessons have been a perfect fit for him). Elijah played the prince in a skewed and comedic version of Cinderella. It was cute - a little hard to hear as many of the actors spoke softly, but still delightful.

I truly believe, however, that no one in that theatre enjoyed it more than Benjamin who more than once laughed hard enough to nearly pause the entire performance as the audience and cast members alike turned to gape at us. With Isabelle on my lap and a camera in my hand, I wasn't swift or agile enough to grab Ben's shoulder and flash him my "tone it down" face, which I pull out in these kinds of situations where he is swept up in the moment, reacting twelve times more exuberant, more over the top, than appropriate. He was fiercely proud of his brother, as is obvious by the last several seconds in the above video, and cannot wait for his own chance to get up on a stage and perform. Oh good gracious.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

what goes around comes around

So if you wanted to see a bunch of Sabourin kids wail in anguish and beat at their breasts over the cruelness of a mother who would dare to compile such a vile combination of vegetables and curry sauce and then deem it edible for the whole family, you should have stopped by our house last night around 5:47 pm - at the exact time I was declaring the requirement of taking at least two "polite bites" non-negotiable. Priscilla rallied and then gloated over her talent at being able to down the whole bowl without vomiting. Benjamin wept silently while Elijah tried relentlessly to negotiate (What if I took out just the peas and potatoes and ate the rest?). Mary held the same spoonful in her cheeks for over twenty-five minutes before finally surrendering and swallowing whatever hadn't been drooled out the side of her tiny lips. Troy and I went on dining and conversing like all of this Oscar worthy drama was just par for the course, because...well, it is.

As our parents would gladly (even gleefully) tell you, this is payback time for my husband's and my picky eating tendencies as children. Twenty-five years ago, while my mom was shaking her head at the hissy fit I was throwing over her stuffed green peppers and spaghetti squash and while my future in-laws were pulling over again to the side of a McDonalds parking lot to wait for their son's special order of a plain something or other, I have a hunch they were dreaming of the moment when we would look on dumbfounded at our own teary sons and daughters staring wide-eyed at their dinner, covering their mouths with their hands in horror, and understand fully, apologetically, how trying it can be to come up with meals (besides pizza, of course) that please everyone.

That day, those days, have officially arrived and now here is your prize, Papa and Nana, Grammy and Grampy, for enduring so patiently our maniacal fear of things that were green, things that crunched, things that were mixed together:

From the bottom of our hearts,


Sunday, March 8, 2009


I am wiped. It's been an intensive week. The good news is that I am slowly overcoming my "joining things'" phobia. You are now reading the ponderings of a book club, church outreach committee, and homeschool co-op member, the co-manager of coffee hour, a coach's wife, etc., etc. This is great for me, personally - becoming a more integral member of our community and parish, but it makes for a longer lag time between snapshot of the day posts and for some random, rambling, hardly cohesive reflections - like this one.

The pictures are from a homeschool lesson I did with the kids on North American Saints (yes, Ben does wear that bowling league looking flame shirt fairly often). I have been really trying to include them in our Lenten experience. They are old enough now to participate in our Lenten readings, prayers and Church Services. Homeschooling has given me an opportunity to discuss at length, with the older three in particular, why we fast - why we prepare so intensely for Christ's Resurrection! Talk, talk, talk - I just keep trying talk about it conversationally and to answer honestly all of their (many) questions. It's an exciting time and a crucial time, I believe, for seeking constantly God's wisdom and patience!

Today we made birdfeeders out of peanut butter, bird seed and pine cones. We hung like a dozen of them up in the two trees on our front lawn and then we waited for the red birds, blue birds, finches, sparrows to fly back to Indiana en masse in order to feast on our irresistible "all you can peck" buffet but not one single bird showed up. We tried not to take it personally. Maybe tomorrow...

The sun has been out - hurray, hurray! It's lighter longer. I've been sleeping well. I've been enjoying immensely listening to all of the Ancient Faith Radio podcasts I've been wanting for months to catch up on. I found out that when people call you on your cell phone, you still get charged. ouch. I am 3/4 of the way through the three mountains of laundry that have been sitting in my living room since Saturday. I apologize in advance for any misspelled words as I am too tired to put this through spell check. It is thirty-three minutes exactly past my bedtime.

I owe many of you a phone call (outside of peak hours of course) , a letter, an e-mail, a telegram. It weighs on me, to think that my warm and loving and appreciative thoughts can't always find enough minutes in the day to express themselves by way of consistent correspondence. Please know (I hope you know who you are by now) that you are certainly on my mind and in my heart. I pray for you by name while vacuuming and while lying with Mary until she finally stops squirming and whispering, falls asleep for her afternoon nap. I pray for your health and that a peace which transcends all understanding will overwhelm you, will strengthen your faith and bring your courage.

Tuesday, with its ballet class, library run and eye appointments, is awaiting. Good night, my friends. Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

a little sunshine

Yesterday, we received a package - not just any old package, mind you, but like the coolest package ever. Is there anything for us? The kids asked me, like they usually do whenever the mailman stops by, and usually I say, No, not this time. But yesterday, on that special day, instead of answering in the negative, I said, Why, yes, there sure is! Look at this! Together we oohed and awed at the Australian return address.

Over the past year I've had the privilege of becoming acquainted, through Ancient Faith Radio and blogging, with a lovely woman - a fellow mother, a fellow writer, a kindred spirit half-way around the globe. We've exchanged e-mails, narrowed the gap as much as possible between her world and mine but never did she and her family seem closer to us than when we opened that lovingly packed "nappy" box filled with all kinds of treats from her native Australia. There were snacks and sticker books, art prints and little toy animals. Benjamin claimed the boomerang and has yet to put it down since. Elijah now knows an impressive amount of facts about Australia's dangerous wildlife. Priscilla has already starting gathering the items she wants to include in our "America" parcel (she likes that word, she's decided). Are there candy bars in Australia? What about music boxes? Mom, I want to give them something that they can't buy or find in their country!

What I really loved was the lengthy letter, all handwritten and full of tidbits about my friend's day-to-day life. I read it slowly, over coffee, imagining someone just like me with the same fears and longings working out her salvation so very far away, and yet those miles are being erased by a shared goal, a shared conviction, an intertwining of our lives through technology and now these tangible, edible, graspable offerings so generously and thoughtfully bestowed upon us. I was also moved by the photo - such a sweet looking family. I have placed it upon our prayer shelf, among the icons and candles, surrounded by saints, by Christ and the Theotokos. Every morning and every evening I will include them in my intercessions for patience, for peace, for perseverance. I will look at her and remember, when I feel isolated, discouraged, weary from pursuing the Truth, that we are saved as a community, that Christ is fully present in our relationships. Pleasing ourselves, obsessing over our own productivity and comfort, will never ever be as satisfying as sacrificing our time and resources for one another.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Selena, for sending a little hope, a little wonder, a little sunshine over my way.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's your turn to empty the chamber pot!

Winter is fighting with spring, announced the Park Ranger at the Maple Festival we attended yesterday as a homeschool group. Who do you think is winning?

U-m-m, what did you say? We can't hear you because there are icicles growing out of our ears.

Yes, it was a beautiful morning - bright, clear, crisp. The information regarding how syrup is made (Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of Maple Syrup?) was indeed fascinating. The tour of the Bailley family home, believed to be the first non-native Northwest Indiana residents, lead by silver-haired guides in Little House on the Prairie dresses, was equally awe inspiring (and I only felt a tad bit sheepish about my inability to stay on top of my own homemaking duties despite having access to electricity and running water). It's just that it was so darn COLD. We pretended to be trees shaking our arm branches in order to get our sap... I mean, our blood flowing and everything, but our teeth went right on chattering and the complaints about numbing appendages grew louder and more desperate until finally the field trip was over and we ran to back to our mini-vans for refuge from the bitterness of a battle for warmth and an end to those exhausting mitten hunts (Did you leave them in the car? In your coat sleeve?), we're clearly losing - by a landslide.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Are you ready for some soccer?

Benji on the move!

Ready for action.

The Team

The Coach (and his biggest fan)

Ben and Elia

Coming home.

Elijah's been in drama since early February, Priscilla in ballet, Mary in gymnastics - Ben's been waiting forever for his special activity to begin. This past Saturday, finally, was his very first soccer game. Apparently, there were more players than anticipated because last week we got a phone call from our YMCA begging for help. Was there any possible way that my husband could volunteer as a coach? There was. He did. I had a wonderful time watching the two of them from the folding chairs on the sidelines. Benji, the only boy on his team, had a hard time at first not grabbing the jerseys of the kids running beside him, but by the end of the game was using primarily just his feet to maneuver the ball, had soaked his hair in water to look a little more sporty, and had taken to lying down flat on his back in disbelief whenever his opponents scored a goal.

Troy, very gently, suggested the ball be passed in an orderly fashion instead of impulsively kicked in any old direction. He planned a defense where, instead of the entire team crowding together around the action, two of the players stay planted in front of the goal. But alas, twenty minute old habits die hard and these first timers held fast to their original notion that it is every man for himself out there. The important thing is that Ben had a great time - and that, no matter what the outcome, there are always treats at the end. I was proud of him for staying focused and proud of Troy for being so sweet and so involved in our community and in the life of his son. I believe this will be a positive experience for both of them.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

quiet now, quiet

Thy grace hath risen, O Lord, the illumination of our souls hath shone forth. Lo, now is the acceptable time; the season of repentance hath come. Let us cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light, that we may pass the great tempest of fasting and reach the summit of the third-day Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls. - The Aposticha for Forgiveness Vespers

I told Elijah, if I never stopped Mary from gorging on sweets - if, when every time I caught her with her hands in the brown sugar bag, with mouthfuls of sugar dissolving on her tongue and dripping from her lips like syrup, I did nothing but stand by and watch her attempt to feed an insatiable desire for that which, in the long run, will make her sick. Part of loving her is enduring her protests, her disappointment at being separated from passions empty and addictive. I know that it is very difficult to understand, at your age, how a parent saying 'no' and 'not now' is, believe it or not, an act of mercy.

This afternoon, after Liturgy, we gathered again as a congregation to bow before one another, to ask forgiveness of one another, to begin, as a community, to take part in Great Lent. We will fast from meat and dairy, we will remove from our daily routines distractions loud and numbing, we will attend services breath-takingly, hauntingly, beautiful in preparation for the Feast of Feasts, for the Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you knew me, how impulsive I am, you'd understand how very trying, how very necessary is this period, this gift from God, this deliberate separation from my greedy, forgetful, self-centered spirit passions empty and addictive. You'd know why pausing, why emptying my mind of frivolous stimuli, my stomach of foods heavy and rich, will inevitably bring me to my knees in frustration in despair over my own lack of discipline. I will be forced to come to terms with my dependence on Christ's compassion, to face head on truths I usually push away: my lust for earthly treasures, my obsession with comfort, my mortality.

Yet even in the midst of intensive repentance, we, the Church, anticipate with renewed zeal, the moment when Life will conquer sin and hell - our victory over death through the sacrificial love of the Holy Trinity. We wait and watch for the Bridegroom so as not to be off flitting and fretting about when at last He arrives in all His splendor and glory. By stretching ourselves spiritually, emotionally, physically, we'll find the joy at having arrived at the empty tomb (finally!) that much more satisfying and triumphant.

Quiet now, quiet. Throughout Lent, I will dispense with the music on this blog. I ask for your prayers and forgiveness. For my haughtiness, my vanity, my apathy, my laziness, I am truly, truly sorry. May God bless you and keep you in His perfect, His redemptive, His incomparable peace.