Sunday, May 4, 2014

April in review

Most of April was focused on preparing for and then observing Holy Week and Easter, but since this blog is turning into my own little scrapbook of sorts, I did want to include a monthly update of a few other things.

First of all, our sweet Cecilia turned one!

Pulling up, but not quite cruising yet!

This month we have continued to struggle a bit with Miriam's behavior - which everyone informs us is typical for three year olds. She's always been just so easy and so delightful, though, that it's tough to have anything other than happiness every minute of every day!

Okay, it is still mostly smiles around here.


Most of the month was spent making the girls' Easter dresses. I really liked the vintage feel of the floral fabric!

I went all out and made classic girls party dresses with a nice lining and everything. I even put in a tag with the size, pattern number, date - pretty much anything I might ever want to know a few years from now.

I didn't get a picture of the shirt I made to match them. It was the same floral print, only on a knit fabric. And I had enough leftover after making the shirt to make Miss Miriam a pair of leggings, which I have to say I think I love almost more than the dresses! She's already getting a lot of wear out of them.

She loves the capris, too, believe it or not.
She is just not into getting her picture taken right now.
(Notice her awesome sweater!)

I also finally got around to making Miriam another skort for school. Not as fun to look at as the other things, but she should get a lot of wear out of it. (And more fun to make than, say, Cecilia's curtains, which are still languishing on the basement floor. I find sewing clothes to be so much more fun than sewing home decor!)


We didn't actually do much reading this month. The bits I did with Miriam were mostly from Easter books.

I finished reading the book of the prophet Isaiah. Other than that I only did some light coffee table-type books, basically just looking at pictures. Oh, and I did start The Religious Potential of the Child, which I've been wanting to read for a while.


As I've been mentioning, celebrating the liturgical year has been one of my goals for this year. I was tickled pink with how Holy Week went, but I have to say we had a total FAIL on the Feast of St. George. It all started with a delicious dinner I made. When my husband got home and I told him we were having shepherd's pie for the first time, he made the most repulsed face that I have ever seen. Turns out shepherd's pie disgusts him. I half expected him to throw up at the table. Neither he nor Miriam ate it. (I on the other hand thought it tasted really good!)

Next, I've never found a St. George book that I love. I know some people really like the one by Margaret Hodges, but I don't care for it at all. I got a different one from the library this time, but Miriam was so unengaged by it that I didn't even finish it. (And that is very rare.)

And it was at that moment that I remembered we don't in fact need to celebrate certain saints just because they're popular. The whole reason we celebrate saints is because they are meaningful to us - because they inspire us and ultimately because they can bring us closer to Jesus. I have two daughters who could care less about fighting dragons and a family that apparently hates shepherd's pie. St. George is a fantastic model for some families, but he is not for us. And that's a good thing to realize.

Because then when something does go right, we can appreciate it. And let me tell you, we certainly did appreciate these divine mercy brownies.

Also on the Catholic homefront: I've been wanting to make a home altar for quite a while now, but kept waiting to find the perfect table, the perfect crucifix to set on it, the perfect fabric to make liturgical-themed tablecloths, the perfect pictures... I finally stopped waiting for perfection and just did it. It is very imperfect - on the top of a bookshelf, too high for the girls to notice and appreciate, with only a cross and a thrifted picture frame. But I am thrilled that it's there. The other things will come.

Finally, we are venturing into edible landscaping. Actually, there's very little "landscaping" and it's mostly just me planting random vegetables in our front bed that my husband doesn't want to put in our vegetable garden out back. Kale, brussels sprouts, eggplant, and several herbs.

Welcome spring!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Holy Week and Easter in Review

Since I shared our ambitious plans for Holy Week, I thought I would also share how it actually went! Before you read this and think we are a Super Liturgical Celebrating Family, you should also know that I totally forgot to read scripture on at least three different nights. There were no elaborate symbolic meals or solemn evening masses. I didn't get all the sewing done. But what we did get to worked out really well, and overall I thought it was definitely worth the effort!

(And here's hoping there will be less and less "effort" in subsequent years, as we tweak traditions to make them our own and they become just what we do for Holy Week.)

Palm Sunday (The Triumphant Entry)

Though my husband had (very strong) reservations, our meal turned out well. We had a saute of hearts of palm and shrimp, based very loosely on this remoulade and your basic gumbo recipe. Tasty!

And this hearts of palm dip, which I loved. And since I am somehow the only dip lover in our little family, I got to eat it all week long.

Cheesy cheesy goodness.

Holy Monday (Cleansing of the Temple)

My ambitious cleaning plans for the day were, um, a bit too ambitious apparently. That and I'm lazy. But, even though it took pretty much all week, I did get most of the house cleaned! Not deep cleaned, but good enough.

Holy Tuesday (The Two Great Commandments)

We made cookies for the homeless and Miriam came with me to drop them off. That was a bit of a treat, as the drop-off time is always right in the middle of our own dinnertime, so usually one of us just runs them there alone.

(An aside: I used to worry about calling them "the homeless" because I don't want her to say that in front of them, so we've taken to calling them "our neighbors." I think it helps drive home the whole "love your neighbor" command.)

Holy Wednesday (The Betrayal)

We didn't really do anything with Judas' betrayal, because we moved our Thursday night plans to this night due to my husband's work schedule. We went out to a Greek restaurant that was much nicer (read: pricier) than I realized it would be... but it was so delicious that I'm totally planning to do it every year!

Afterwards we came home and did a very simple foot washing in our kitchen. Miriam had really been looking forward to it and really enjoyed it, so that's also something I'd like to do annually.

Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper)

We went to morning prayer on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings. I was only so-so on this, so I'm not sure if we'll continue to do it in the future. But since we weren't going to any of the evening masses, I wanted to at least get us to church each day for something.

Good Friday (The Crucifixion)

We had a very simple supper of vegetable broth and hot cross buns. I kind of modified some recipes for the buns, and they were not too pretty, but my husband said mine looked like they tasted better than the ones at the store, so I was pretty pleased about that.

See? Ugly. But I have plans to improve them next year.

Holy Saturday

This was the first year we dyed Easter eggs. Honestly I've never been a huge egg-dying fan, but I tried to enjoy it and not worry too much about the dye spilling everywhere. The fact that we hid these instead of plastic ones did redeem it, though, as did the fact that both girls have eaten hard-boiled egg for breakfast every morning since then.

We made Resurrection Rolls that evening before supper, and boy were they a flop. It turns out when you have a three year old help seal the tomb, it doesn't quite get pinched shut and when you pull them out of the oven you see Jesus escaping (the marshmellow oozing instead of disappeared). But they tasted fine, and Miriam got a huge kick out of cutting them open to see the empty tomb on the ones that did work, so we probably will make these a tradition. My mom said she did them in muffin cups and that helped contain the mess, so we may try that next year.

See? More ugly. Who knew Holy Week activities would be such a good source of mortification?


The girls put on their new dresses and hurried to their baskets.

The baskets were filled with books, socks, and a necklace for Miriam and a rosary for Cecilia. At the last minute I decided Miriam should get some sort of edible treats, so I also stuck in a little bag of cashews and some mini summer sausages.

I had planned to wake Miriam up by singing "Alleluia", since we've made a big deal out of not saying it all Lent... but then I was nursing Cecilia and we were in a hurry to get dressed and make it to the 7:00 a.m. mass, so it didn't happen. But we said it all day after that, so we more than made up for that.

We came home to hunt for eggs, then we had time to relax a bit before my family came over to celebrate Easter and Cecilia's first birthday. 

The Empty Tomb Cake was cute, but I'll probably stick with a carrot cake next year.

Did you notice the paintings behind the cake? Miriam has only ever brought home smeared paint that didn't represent anything... until a few weeks before Easter, when she started bringing these home and announcing she had painted crosses! We about burst with pride.

Maybe I worry too much about her being in a very secular school environment.
She's a budding little evangelist!

I had done so much talking about how Easter is the very best day of the whole year, so I really wanted to make it seem that way to the girls. I decided the best way I could do that was simply to say yes to everything I possibly could - a day of total indulgence, to give just a glimpse of the extravagant love of God.

That said, my three year old has never had a piece of candy and I didn't intend to start now. (I know it will happen in the probably-not-too-distant future, but it won't be on my watch.)

Believe it or not, I don't think those two sentiments are mutually exclusive. When we indulge our children, I want it to be totally worth it - the absolute best. Candy, while an easy and conventional choice, is not really the supreme indulgence. The cinnamon chocolate cake that my mom made from scratch, on the other hand, is a delicious indulgence. One that I had at least four pieces of.

One of the biggest reasons I like hosting things like this is because we can control the environment. (My dear mother called and asked permission before bringing any other treats, because she knows how anal particular we are. I am so blessed to have a mother who respects our wishes even when she thinks they're overboard!) Because of this, I truly felt able to say yes to everything the girls wanted - yes to a cheese stick before breakfast, yes to seconds on homemade ice cream, yes to still more bread and butter. They certainly felt that it was a special and indulgent day.

But ultimately, as corny as it sounds, what they really wanted more than food was love. So the answer was yes every time Miriam wanted to play outside, even when we didn't really feel like it. And yes to constantly staying by Cecilia's side. Yes, yes, yes, with the occasional alleluia thrown in for good measure!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Alleluia! He lives!

The Resurrection of Christ
Noel Coypel

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Forty Faces: Day 38

The Last Supper
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Forty Faces: Day 37

Jesus Led from Herod to Pilate
James Tissot