Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Virtue of the month- Love

Our virtue of the month for February is love. When we think of February, we think of chocolates and hearts, cards and flowers; the exchanging of gifts with those we love. Growing up, my dad always gave us boxes of chocolate covered cherries for Valentine’s Day and even though they weren’t my favorite candy, this gift was a small act of love from my father. At other times, he sat next to me almost every evening while I practiced piano. This was not a material gift but a gift of his time. While both gifts have value, which gift is of greater value?
"A child needs a lot of love and affection, and much guidance. A child needs you to sit by his side, listen to his problems, caress him and kiss him. If a mother takes an upset and mischievous child into her arms to caress and kiss, the child will calm down. If the young child is filled with affection and love, later that child will be strong and able to face the problems of life." – St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain
Our goal at ASA is to guide our students through love so that they, as St. Paisios said, “will be strong and able to face the problems of life.”

May all our interactions with our children be blessed,

Mrs. Christina Blankenstein

Saturday, February 9, 2019

I Live Again- Audiobook Review...

As I listened to this audiobook, my mind kept returning to one thought... Princess Ileana, during the time of the war, exemplified the Proverbs 31 woman:
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
This book is not about her monastic life or the establishment of the monastery. This book is a journal of the events of Princess Ileana's life during a very specific time period- her life during WWII and after- leading up to her family leaving Romania. How she "lives again" as she transitions from being a princess of Romania to the Archduchess of Austria to the time of WWII, and, finally, to when she is forced with her family to leave her country. 
Princess Ileana was not idle- her ability to learn nursing, build hospitals, give to the poor, and convince communist officials to support her endeavors were inspiring. 
As I finished this audiobook, I was inspired by her untiring example of giving to others and helping her fellow man. And, her adventures, which she writes about very matter of fact (almost as if she believes that anyone else would have done the same thing which shows her true humility). I am eager to learn more about how Princess Ileana became Mother Alexandra of blessed memory, how she "lives again" in monasticism. 
Technically, this audiobook is very well done. The quality of the recording is amazing. The narrator, Kristina Wenger, does an excellent job- I almost believed it was the voice of Princess Ileana herself! 
The one downside to the audiobook is that the published book does contain illustrations and photos of Princess Ileana and her family. But, that is the downside to audiobooks, especially autobiographical books, is that there is not a way to convey the photos or artwork. We happen to own a copy of the book and I was able to look through the photos/illustrations (but I waited until after I finished listening to the book in order to write a review of the audiobook). 
I was gifted a copy of this audiobook for an honest review. Purchase your own copy of the audiobook through Audible.com or purchase the printed book through Ancient Faith Publishing

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Virtue of the Month- Self Control

Our Virtue of the month for January is Self-Control.
What is self-control?
According to the dictionary it is
the ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires or the
expression of them in one's behavior, especially in difficult situations.”
Self-control is the control of how we express our feelings.
In order to do this, we need grace from God and a lot of practice
to gain self-control.
Throughout our school day, and even at home, we are presented
with challenges to our self-control and we must decide
how we will respond to those challenges.
Do I yell? Do I insist on doing things my way?
Montessori teaches uses the phrase “self-regulation” in place of “self-control”.
The greatest way to teach this is modeling.
We, as parents and teachers, show our children what
“self-regulation” or “self-control” looks like.
And, within our faith, we have the examples of the lives of the saints to guide us.
Following are links to three articles on self-control-
one Orthodox Christian and the other two are Montessori.
May we all grow in self-control and be the models to our children
that they need for us to be.
May it be blessed,

Mrs. Blankenstein

Friday, January 18, 2019

Quotation on education...

When I am reading a book- any book- I keep a log of quotations that inspire me or cause me to pause to think for a moment (or more). While reading a book for a book group I belong to, I came across the following quotation: 
"A boy is told that the object of his life is to "get somewhere," and that means to get money; that it is up to him to "make good," and that means to make money. From his tenderest years he is submitted to nerve-racking tests of his potential money-making capacity. The school examinations have come to mean that; he must pass well because otherwise he will not get a good job, in other words, a job with a good salary. Education is no longer primarily intended to teach him to serve God, or to enrich his life, but only to give him a passport into the commercial scramble. Many sensitive boys break down under the strain of examinations, not because they are wanting in the knowledge to pass, but because each one they do pass brings them a step nearer to the world of competition, in which, they know instinctively, so much that is fine in them will perish." The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander (originally published in 1944)
This book is a reflection on parts of The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God. The title of the chapter in this book is "Fiat"- Let it be done.The author, in the prior paragraphs, writes about how money has become the all important, all encompassing item in our lives. We are constantly pushed to have more, do more, make more money. And in that pursuit, something is lost inside all of us. And this begins when we are very young. What is the purpose of our education. Is it to serve God? To guide us along our path to salvation? Or is it to get ahead, make more money, achieve more things than those around us? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

I Live Again... next book review for Mrs. B.

For my next Ancient Faith Publishing book review I will be listening to the book I Live Again: A Memoir of Ileana, Princess of Romania and Archduchess of Austria. This will be my first audiobook book review and I am very excited to listen to it!
Check back soon for two book reviews written by ASA students for Shepherding Sam!

May it be blessed,
Mrs. Blankenstein

Monday, January 7, 2019

Kind Words...

Happy New Year! I am including a card that we receive from a monastery. In July one of the first things that I did was to write to all the Orthodox monasteries in the United States and ask them to pray for our school. We added their addresses to our mailing list to keep them updated on our school and to continue to ask for their prayers. Here is a lovely response from our Christmas card. Prayer is vital to the success of our school.
May it be blessed!
Mrs. Blankenstein

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Barn and The Book by Melinda Johnson- Book Review

The Barn and the Book by Melinda Johnson

Please go here to read my review of Shepherding Sam by the same author.

The Barn and the Book is the follow up book to Shepherding Sam, both by Melinda Johnson. I highly recommend reading Shepherding Sam prior to reading The Barn and the Book- only because you are introduced to the characters in the first book and I believe that it makes the ending of The Barn and the Book that much more powerful after having witnessed Sam's struggles in the first book.

We follow Sam and Saucer on another adventure at the monastery. Sam is a boy who struggles with spending time at the monastery, going to church services, and, now, staying focused in Sunday School. Saucer is a corgi who continues to look for opportunities to herd- whether it be animals or children (especially Sam). This book takes place during the Nativity season and there is an opportunity for the children to publish a story in the anniversary book about the monastery. The children in the book all have ideas for their stories except Sam who is completely focused on a story he heard. The story is that on Christmas Eve, all the animals are able to speak at midnight for one hour. Sam wants to know what Saucer is really thinking and makes it his mission to stay up until midnight at the monastery.

This is an excellent follow up to Shepherding Sam. Sam continues to make strides in his ability to focus at the monastery through Saucer's help. Plus we are introduced to some new children and nuns who are each going through their own struggles, too. Sister Anna is a wonderful character that both adults and children can relate to with her struggles of finding her gifts to use at the monastery for the Glory of God. I especially loved the story around Sister Anna and, of course, the very wise Gerontissa! And the book is written in a way that I believe children would be able to identify with her struggles as well as the struggles of all the characters.

To find out if Sam is able to hear Saucer speak, purchase this book! Great for all ages- especially 5 years old and up (including adults). This book would make a great read aloud but I highly recommend reading Shepherding Sam before The Barn and the Book.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase your own copy at Ancient Faith Publishing