Monday, April 21, 2014

An Easter Present for All of You but Mostly Bonnie and a Triduum / Easter Recap

Happy Easter everyone! 

He is Risen. . . 

Are you guys getting tired of that yet? Sorry. I just found out about it this year. It's possible I'm getting carried away. Also, I've eaten a LOT of candy. They're always saying how easy it is to take candy from a baby. But they never mention how hard it is to NOT take candy from a baby. I mean, it's sitting right there. And he can't even count. He would never know . . .

. . . 

Ooops, sorry. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Easter. 

<sing-song> I made you guys a preh-zuuuuuuhnt!

Go thank Bonnie at A Knotted Life. She asked on Facebook if anyone knew where she could find fun prints of The Morning Offering and The Act of Contrition. And no one did. So I couldn't resist trying out my brand new full membership at PicMonkey, and here ya go:

The Morning Offering on yellow
click here to download

The Morning Offering on white
(it really is white, I don't know why it looks dingy here)
click here to download

The Act of Contrition on purple
click here to download

The Act of Contrition on white
click here to download
Shutterfly tells me they should print well up to 20x30, and right now that size is on sale for $18.39, and an 8x10 is only $3.99. I hope you like them Bonnie!

Please tell me if this doesn't work.

It's a good thing that Easter is fifty days long, because I haven't finished decorating yet. We really did it up for the Triduum, though.

Here's what it looked like . . . 

on Holy Thursday:

Seven Churches Visitation

Last Supper supper

family foot washing

 on Good Friday:

Southern Catfish Fry and
Stations of the Cross

on Holy Saturday:

our dyed/watercolor painted eggs

And Easter Sunday!: 

my first Easter

The kids really loved their Usborne books. If you're looking for high quality, creative, entertaining books and sticker books for kids, check 'em out at Molly's. Their stickers are the perfect amount of sticky. I am very particular about that. I hate stickers that won't stick, but it's nice if they'll move a bit. These are just right. (I bought these books with my own money. I just really like them. If you click on the link and buy some books, I might get to get some more.)
And we went to Mass and whatnot, obviously. There are photos of what we wore here.

Happy Easter everyone, hope yours was/is/will be great!

Please stay tuned this week for a really extraordinary giveaway. Seriously, it's amazing. I can't wait for it to find its perfect winner.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Answer Me This: He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed. (Updated!)

If you know me in real life, fair warning, I have every intention of doing this to you over the next fifty days or so.

The Paschal greeting, also known as the Easter acclamation, is an Easter custom among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Christians, as well as among some Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians. Instead of "hello" or its equivalent, one is to greet another person with "Christ is Risen!", and the response is "He is Risen Indeed" (compare Matthew 27:64, Matthew 28:6–7, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6, Luke 24:34).
from Wikipedia (so you know you're getting the best possible information)
And now, here's this week's installment of Answer Me This! I totally flaked on tagging people last week, so I'm just going to spring it on a couple of bloggers who I'm hoping were already planning to participate this week:

Iris at Country Girl's Daybook. Post to check out = any of her movie reviews, they're great. 

Kate at The Rhodes Log. Post to check out = 
How I Came to Love the Crunchy Simple Life (with a side of Mennonites)

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?

If this is of interest to you, please check back at around 2pm Pacific, as I plan to update this post with family Easter dress photos after we all get back from Mass.

Until then I will subject you to some grainy iPhone photos of last night's third-grade-and-up + one-year-and-down Vigil brigade.

Here's the gang:

And more importantly, here's my friend Tami holding baby Lulu's BFF baby Phoebe as Tami was received into full communion with the Catholic Church. This made me so, so, so happy.

Congratulations to Tami and to the rest of you awesome folks who were received into the Church at the Vigil this year. Welcome, welcome, welcome.

PLEASE say hi in the comments so we can all give you some love!

Update! Here we are in our Easter 

finery . . . 

the cousins

with my parents, my sister, and her family

2. Easter Bunny: thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up here.

Not way, way up like for Santa, and leprechauns.

Mostly because, jeesh, how creepy are Easter Bunnies?

via Huffington Post
But I stand firmly behind magical holidays and fairy tale childhoods, so the bunny it is.

Although I'm not all that good at it. The husband had to intercept a rabbit's foot key-chain I had picked up for Gus, since he's a big fan of all things soft, and suggest that to put a rabbit's foot in an Easter basket from the Easter Bunny would fall somewhere between inappropriate and insane on the old Easter-Basket-Continuum.

So don't listen to me. Listen to my friend E at Teaching Sam + Scout instead:

Jesus + Bunnies 

All those things? The pastel colors, the painted eggs, the “baby bunnies”? We will have them, and we will enjoy them; but, we will also talk about how they are only symbols of the NEWNESS and LIFE that Jesus’s death and resurrection bring to our everyday.  They will be packed up and sent to live in the basement on Monday, but the new start and full life that we get from Jesus at Easter is FOREVER. Before the cross, we were lifeless and doomed. After it, we start FRESH with the hope of life eternal.  THAT is worth celebrating. Heck, that is worth wearing our finest clothes and cooking a ham and eating a few too many jellybeans.  Am I right? So… Our Easter includes bunnies and eggs, but it is about Jesus.
read the rest here.

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else's house?

I like both, but I prefer to have them at our house. Especially since my mom almost always comes up and does all the cooking so . . . best-of-both-worlds much?

We spent the first five or six years of kid-dom taking turns going back and forth between the different grandparents' houses for holidays. Which was lovely.

Easter 2005 in Chicago.
That baby that looks exactly like Lulu is Betty.

My mother and mother-in-law are both generous hostesses and excellent holiday cooks, but there came a time when I really began to long for our own family holiday traditions.

Easter 2006 in San Diego.
New and improved, now with baby Bobby.

I wanted my kids to have memories of spending holidays at our house.

So, for the most part, we now have major holidays here, with an open invitation to any and all family members to join us.

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?

I have a huge sweet tooth. I really, really like candy. I may have a pack-a-day Reese's peanut butter cups habit when I'm pregnant.

But even better than regular Reese's peanut butter cups are holiday Reese's peanut butter stuff.

The peanut butter to chocolate ratio is improved in the eggs and trees that you can only get for the holidays. Improved, I say.

5. Do you like video games?

I do not. I don't really GET video games. I like to have something to show for my time spent, and video games don't really have anything to offer in that department.

My kids DO like them.

I also don't get that. 

But, so far, they can stay. I wrote more about it here:


6. Do you speak another language?

Here's where I would love to go super-geek and be able to tell you that I speak elvish, or Klingon, or even Latin.

But alas, all I speak is I-was-raised-in-Southern-California-so-I-kinda-picked-it-up EspaƱol.


For next week I'm tagging:

Elise at In Endless Song. Post to check out =
Will you join her in a novena to St. Gianna Molla? {p,h,f,r}, holy week & an invitation

Annery at Annery at Home. Post to check out = 
The Dirt {TT} Why I've Been Quiet

Here are next week's questions for them and for you:

1. Do you hate happy clappy church music?

2. What is your priority: eating or sleeping?

3. What type of milk do you drink in your house?

4. What is a book that changed your perspective on something?

5. Who is your favorite saint?

6. Introvert or extrovert?

I look forward to reading everyone's posts!

Next week's installment will go live at 10pm Pacific Saturday night, and will be open until 10pm Wednesday night.

So, please, answer this week's questions for yourself in the comments. If you have a blog, answer the questions there, link back to this post, and link your blog post up below. Thanks for playing along.

And Happy Easter!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jack Takes Over the Blog

As you may have already read, Holy Week is a busy week around here.

Today, when we handed out chores, somehow Jack ended up with blog duty, and *I* had to clean out his closet.

"Content," I told him, "The people want content." Let's see what he came up with for you fine folks, shall we? 

Hi everybody, Jack here. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Talk to Little Kids About the Crucifixion

How much of Jesus' suffering and death to share with little ones is a question many parents struggle with.

It can be overwhelming to feel like you have to introduce so many facts and concepts and characters all at once, especially if your kids are perhaps more concerned with how close they are to getting to eat treats again than with the details of Jesus' passion.

How to handle it in your own family is going to depend, of course, on your particular kids.

But here's how we do it in our family:

We give them the facts.

Over the course of Holy Week each year, I read to my kids the story of Jesus' passion and death from the Bible.

They've heard it in Mass, but especially the little ones are probably not paying much attention there. Reading it at home allows them to really hear it.

There are differences in what parts of the story are included in each gospel account, (for what they are see here). Any one you choose would be great, since they're all the Bible. But I like to read from our Children's Bible, which compiles all of the events from each of the gospels into one narrative. It's also illustrated, which I find really helps to keep the kids' attention and assists with their reading comprehension.

I read some each day, focusing on the part of the story that happened on that particular day of the week.

I don't leave out any parts or soften anything, even for very little kids. I just read it to them as is, and we look at the pictures.

Even though my two year old isn't ready to understand everything that happens in the story, and he's certainly not ready to grasp the horrors of Jesus' suffering, I do think he is ready to hear about it. 

I tell all the kids that we're going to read the story first, with no interruptions, then talk about it afterwards.

Once the story is read, I let the kids lead the conversation.

Some kids are going to listen, and then just want to move on. That's fine. Especially for toddlers, my focus is just that they listen. Hearing it in its entirety will plant the seeds for deeper reflection and understanding later. My toddlers have never been upset by hearing the story.

For my pre-schoolers and younger grade school kids, I want to make sure they understand the basics of what happened.

This is what I'd like them to know: 

  • The Last Supper is when Jesus celebrated the Passover with his friends the disciples. Passover is the day the Jewish people remember when God saved them from being slaves in Egypt. This happened on Holy Thursday night.
  • Jesus's friend Judas left the supper and betrayed Jesus by telling the Jewish priests where Jesus would be so they could arrest him. The high priest, Caiaphas, wanted to get rid of Jesus because he could see how much the people liked him and he worried the people wouldn't listen to him anymore and would listen to Jesus instead. 
  • Still that night, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gesthsemane. He was very worried about all the terrible things he knew were about to come, but he was willing to do what God wanted him to do.
  • Judas came with many people and found Jesus in the garden. Jesus was arrested.
  • Peter followed behind Jesus to see what happened to him. When people asked him if he knew Jesus, he got scared and lied and said he didn't know Jesus at all. 
  • The next morning, on Good Friday, the high priest turned Jesus over to the governor, Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate knew Jesus hadn't done anything wrong. But Pontius Pilate worked for Rome, and it was his job to make sure the people didn't make trouble. He wanted to let Jesus go, but all the people kept shouting "crucify him!" He had Jesus whipped to see if that would make the people happy, but they kept shouting "crucify him!" Pontius Pilate was a weak man, so even though he knew it was not right, he ordered his soldiers to crucify Jesus.
  • Jesus had to carry his heavy cross out of the town of Jerusalem, up the hill to Golgotha. It was very hard to do. He fell down many times. The soldiers thought Jesus might not make it up the hill at all, so they made a man named Simon of Cyrene help him.
  • Jesus' hands and feet were nailed to the cross, and he was left to die there, in between two criminals who were also being crucified that day, as a punishment for their crimes.
  • The people in the crowd made fun of Jesus, the soldiers mocked him and took his clothing. Only one disciple, John, and Mary, Jesus' mother, and two other women stayed with Jesus while he was dying. All of his other friends and followers ran away.
  • Jesus was on the cross for three hours, from noon to three o'clock. Then he died.
  • The soldiers took his body down from the cross and gave him to his mother, Mary. 
  • A rich man named Joseph of Arimathea came and took Jesus' body and laid it in his own tomb and covered the entrance with a stone.
If they have questions, I answer them. If they don't have questions, that's fine.

I want my older kids to learn more details of the story and have a deeper understanding of the people involved and their motivations, but that comes with time and multiple exposures to the story.

If my kids ask me, "Why? Why did Judas do that? Why did Pontius Pilate do that? Why did the people do that? Why did God want it? Why did Jesus let them?" I try to answer with truth and compassion but not too many details.

Judas and Peter and Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate and Herod and the good and bad thieves and the crowd are all weak in different ways. They are all sinners like us. They hurt Jesus. But so do we hurt Jesus when we sin. The thing that makes them different from one another is whether they trusted God and asked for forgiveness after they sinned, or if they didn't. The same is true of us.

It is because people don't love God enough that God had to send Jesus to suffer and die for us. Jesus came to make up in a big way for all of our sins, big and little. From the sin committed by Adam and Eve, all the way to the sins that people are committing today, even the sins we ourselves commit.

Jesus loved God so much and loved us so much, that he willingly went through all that suffering. Jesus loved YOU so much that he died for YOU, even though he was God and could've stopped all of it at any time.

Even though Jesus suffered so much, this is a story with a happy ending. We just have to make it through Holy Saturday, our day of waiting and preparing, to find the joy of Easter morning, when Jesus comes back to life and triumphs over death and saves us all.

That's what I tell them.

Even though this is my little kids' first (and mostly only) exposure to heavy concepts like betrayal and suicide and torture and death, I have found that they have always been able to see through all of that and understand that Jesus' passion is a story of love.

I think even the littlest kids deserve to hear it.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Last Minute Somewhat Free Easter Baskets

Hey, there's nothing like a late Easter to really catch you by surprise and actually arrive, right?

Before you rush out the door to the dollar store, here are a few ideas for lovely and edifying Easter gifts that you can make happen in a hurry. And sometimes for nearly free!


Shining Light Saint Printables! Just a word of caution, you could. just. die. of the cute. It could happen. 

Twenty-three of the adorablest saints you ever did see, available for free. Print out two of each on cardstock for a matching game. Print one on Iron-On Transfer Paper and make a patron saint t-shirt. Print one out and glue it onto a composition book for a doodle book. And maybe next year, plan ahead a little and buy the dolls.

Kelly Saints Stamps. These fun saint illustrations have endless possibilities. Print them out on sticker paper for a sticker set. Use them to convert your existing Connect 4, Checkers, or Guess Who games to cuter, more Catholic versions. I got a chance to pre-view this set and, wow, there are a lot of things you could do with it. There are 42 different saints, in 2 different styles, and 4 different sizes. There are dozens of suggestions for crafts like bottle cap saints and saint stones, and games like bingo and plinko that you can put together at home.

I'm working on making the saint stones with these Clear Glass Tiles , and craft glue . A one inch hole punch would make things go more quickly, but I've been managing without it.

Kelly Saint Stamps are available for purchase at Equipping Catholic Families, but if you head over there now and leave a comment, you could win one for free!

Betsy McCall Paperdolls. These darling vintage paperdolls, originally from McCall's Magazine, can be downloaded and printed on cardstock for free. There are dozens to choose from, but 1960 Betsy is my favorite. She has a wardrobe for each month.

Avengers Printables are available from Disney Family. They've got masks and printable playsets.

CubeCraft offers hundred of free printable papercrafts featuring characters from Lego to Superheros to Star Wars to Doctor Who (just look at the little T.A.R.D.I.S.!). I'm going to print some of them out as a craft for my older kids, but you could also make it yourself as a gift for younger kids.


If you happen to have Amazon Prime and order before Wednesday, you can have pretty much anything in the world. 'Cause it's Amazon. But to help you narrow it down a bit and Easter-ize it (I'm making that a word) here are some of our favorites:

The Children's Bible
Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories
Saint George and the Dragon

Do you have an iPad or other e-reader? There are dozens of great classic books available instantly and for free. My ten year old daughter is currently reading A Little Princess, and loving it. Ann of Green Gables, Peter Rabbit, Pinocchio, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, and dozens more are all available for free. Check out this page for more titles, and this page for places to go look for them. (Although I have had good luck finding them right in iBooks. OR as free audiobook Podcasts.) You can load up the iPad with free books, and print out certificates to hide inside plastic eggs. And they'll never have to know they were free!


I recommended some movies in my Holy Week post, that are available as an instant download from Amazon as well.

Plus there's this one:

VeggieTales: An Easter Carol
Sing it with me now, "The bunny, the bunny, oh, I love the bunny." No? Just me? Okay. moving on.


It's the gift that keeps on giving. 

We got a gift subscription to Kiwi Crate from the grandparents, and my kids, especially Bobby (8), really loved it. My kids who can read can do the projects on their own, or younger kids can do them with help from a grownup or older sibling.

The nice folks at Saint Mail sent me one of their kits to review, and we liked it so much that I subscribed for the rest of the year myself.

Not free, but I can personally vouch for the awesomeness of both services.