Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Part 1

Easter is something that is VERY important to us at our house and this year, I wanted to be even more deliberate about preparing for it and celebrating it. Given that I was going back to work, it would be too easy for it to slip by without much fanfare and I didn't want that to happen. I tried to spend a lot of time with Pk especially preparing for it and celebrating. It's been a lot of fun.

One issue for us with Easter is that of secular vs. sacred. Dh and I felt strongly that we didn't want to have a situation where the Easter Bunny eclipsed the salvation message for the kids. On the flip side, unlike some Christians, we don't think that there is anything wrong with the more secular side, as long as that isn't what is given the most attention. In our case, what we decided to do was for mummy and daddy to contact the Easter Bunny and request that deliveries to our house be made Sunday night to be found Monday morning (since we are teachers and Monday schools are closed here) and the Easter Bunny kindly agreed. Easter Sunday is for Jesus and Monday lets us do the egg hunt activities. This arrangement has worked very well for us this year.

There were three major ways that we got ready for Easter this year. The first was through listening to music, the second was through reading and the third was decorating the house. On the music front, we had a lot of fun listening to "A Very Veggie Easter." To put it mildly, it's a very eclectic mix of music (from a Hip-Hop type track called "The Easter Bunny Hop" to several very traditional hymns to "I Know that My Redeemer Liveth" from Handel's Messiah as performed by various talking vegetables). Pk loved it and listened to it endlessly (and, I suspect, we will have a struggle keeping it off once we get to the point that we would like to move on from Easter). One thing that I really liked about it was that when we went to church and sang the more traditional hymns (at our church, music is a mix of modern worship songs and traditional hymns), Pk recognized the hymns which engaged her more in the worship.

On the book front, we did LOTS of reading. Of course, we started with her Bible and I made sure that we read through the New Testament with a focus on Jesus' teachings and Holy Week starting at Ash Wednesday. Pk got to the point where she liked to sit and flip through her Bible and talk about the stories with the pictures that she recognized. I was a bit hesitant with her about the crucification - I didn't want to terrify her and it's a horrible, torturous form of killing, but her Bible handled it well for that age and really put the emphasis on the resurrection.

We have a few of these Arch Books and we read this one and the Palm Sunday one several times.
We read this book over Holy Week.
I really liked this little board book. It really hit on the sadness of Good Friday and the salvation message without being too scary (as an aside, one day, about two weeks before Easter, we were in Costco and Pk asked, very loudly, "Why did they have to kill Jesus?" - it was amusing to see the number of parents whose heads turned quickly to see what I was going to say)
Homespun Memories for the Heart is a book that I really like. It's full of ideas for celebrating both Christian and secular holidays in ways that are meaningful for the family. From it, we got some ideas for a simple marking of Passover that worked well for us (we have tried to do a Messianic Seder a few times but given the busyness of my going back to work this week and the fact that we are at church a lot for Holy Week services, there just wasn't time to do the entire thing).
We baked our own unleavened bread (that tasted surprisingly good) and we had lamb burgers (that were definitely not kosher given that they were served in pitas with yogurt, cucumber, tomatoes and feta but oh, were they good).
This book is a treasure that I picked up a couple of years ago from a sale table of all things. It's a lovely little story that is a parable for our relationship with God. Pk doesn't get it at the deeper level yet but I am confident that as she gets older, this story will help her to understand the greater mystery.

We bought her a lily of her own and it became the tradition that when we read the book, we had to sit in the living room in the rocking chair together with the lily on the piano bench beside it. It was a lovely tradition and one that I will remember as one of our special moments.
I kept the books (and a few decorations) on top of the piano so that they were handy to grab whenever Pk wanted a story, along with a few decorations that I picked up at the dollar store and my knitted eggs. I also put up our Names of Jesus garland (the idea came from Monica at The Homespun Heart - thank you Monica, for the lovely idea!)
It's been a month of lots of activities for us. We began by going to a craft programme at the library and Pk got to make flowers, a bunny jar and a little flower vase. I am a sucker to having little things around that Pk has made and she loved seeing her friends.
As always, I wanted to have a treat to send with Pk to daycare and for her church friends and these little chicks on nests were what we came up with this year. The idea came from Taste of Home and they were really easy to make. We dipped pretzel sticks in white chocolate to make nests, added jelly bean eggs and set a Peep on top. I also made a batch from my class and they were a big hit! The only problem I had at school was that I didn't think to read the ingredient list and Peeps contain gelatin so my Muslim students couldn't eat them (I got something else for them).
One thing we did was go to an outlet mall for a "Bunny Hop." It was kind of cute. Pk has mixed feelings about people in costumes so we didn't actually get very close to the Easter Bunny but she liked the idea of being not too far from it. We got to wear bunny ears, had a photo taken of the kids sitting with live bunnies on their laps (it's a hilarious photo - Baby Bean didn't cry but the look on his face clearly illustrated that he was NOT amused), there were cookies to decorate and we finished up by going "hopping" from store to store for treats. Pk thought that part was marvelous and since I got some very inexpensive summer clothing for Baby Bean at the same time, it worked for everyone. There was a sale at the Coach outlet - needless to say, we didn't go near Coach and the line had to be an hour long just to get in the store!

Of course, it wouldn't be Easter without egg decorating. We hard-boiled them (I just don't have the patience for blowing the eggs out) and we did two kinds this year - marbled and pearlized (both kits from the dollar store). We always did this with my father when we were growing up and it's a treasured memory for me.

On Easter morning, I started the day by going for a run at 5 a.m. (I know, I'm insane but that's when I have to get up for my run during the weekend now and it's easy to start back on Tuesday when I have stayed in routine). I got to watch the sunrise during my run and it seemed more special knowing that it was Easter. This photo didn't capture it's power but this was the only part of my run where the horizon was visible enough to get a decent photo.
As always, we did our Hill of Calvary garden. Pk was that much older this year and she really enjoyed watching the grass grow over the last couple of weeks. It was a big deal to open the door of the empty tomb.

As is our tradition, we also had a new dress for church. I found this at the second hand shop for $6.50 and we got the shoes at Winners for a steal (which is great since she loves them and has just done a big foot growth spurt and none of her shoes fit!) As always, when I showed her the dress, she very sincerely asked if it was a princess dress and I assured her that it was (I haven't quite pinned down what qualifies a dress as being a "princess" dress but she hasn't argued with me yet when I assure her that her dresses are)

One really nice part of Easter this year for Pk revolves around chicks. We have a good friend with a gorgeous farm. She leases the land to her neighbour for crops and she doesn't have many animals, just normally a bunch of chickens for their eggs (and her eggs truly do put the grocery store ones to shame - pasture fed, true free-range and their colour and taste is totally different from the ones we buy). Sadly, she had a weasel problem earlier this spring and the little monster killed every last chicken. With some help, said weasel was send on to greener pastures and so the chickens were replaced. Our friend asked us and another friend with a little girl whether the kids would like their own chickens and of course, the girls agreed. Each child has three chicks of her own that will live at the farm and be cared for by "Gannie Gannie" as Pk has always called our friend but Pk can visit and help care for them whenever she wants. We have been up to visit them twice this weekend and Pk was THRILLED.

The two chicken mothers! I love watching these two together.

Pk has developed a small obsession with feeding chickens and she finally got the chance yesterday. She was thrilled!
I hope that you have had a wonderful Easter filled with the meaning of the celebration and the love of family and friends. I will share more tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I apologize now. I had planned on doing this wonderful project of a post a day until the end of my leave to capture these special days but really, I just ran out of steam. My mood is so up-and-down. Monday, the day before Baby Bean started daycare, I was in a terrible funk and then Tuesday, when he actually went and seemed to be o.k. (and I treated myself to getting my hair done and pedicure - gotta love that massage chair), I felt better. I felt so very strange to be in the house alone. It came to me that I hadn't done that since before Baby Bean was born. I got so much work done in prep for going back, that really helped. My primary anxiety is being away from Baby Bean and pumping (I will comment on that in a minute) but I am also scared about going back to work. On one hand, it's kind of nice since I am a teacher and will only be there 10 weeks before I am on holiday with my kids for two months but on the other, it's terrifying. I am a BIG planner and I like to be very organized and going into someone else's programme, it's pretty disconcerting. I think after a few weeks I will be o.k. but the initial transition will be hard. I am trying to view it as a chance to set up for next September, too. For various reasons, I have had to move classrooms every year for the last 7 years which meant that set-up in August was a long process. I am hoping that this year, if I can be organize, I can leave in June knowing that things are largely ready for September.

The pumping thing is really stressing me out and I know it's totally in my head. Baby Bean will be 10 months old this weekend. It's feeding him during the day that worries me. The easy answer would be to send formula for him at daycare. Please don't hear this as judgement of anyone else but for some reason, I REALLY don't want him to get formula. I can't explain it but it scares me. I don't know whether it's all the additives or strange ingredients or the possibility of contamination or the BPA in the cans but I just can't go there. There is some debate as to the best course of action. Technically, I could probably start him on cow's milk now and my family doctor was o.k. with that. On the other hand, someone close to me who is very knowledgeable (as in doctoral degree in medicine) told me that there is some evidence that early introduction to cow's milk can lead to a child who is already predisposed developing Type-1 diabetes. There's no reason to suspect that Baby Bean is predisposed but it scares me. This person agrees with me that goat's milk is probably fine but even so, it seems a bit early to me. The only other option is pumping, which is what I am hoping to do. So far so good, I have pumped enough for daycare this week that I don't even have to use the stuff in the freezer but I am worried that my supply won't last. I also haven't tried pumping at work yet and that may be another thing - I find that I pump much better when I am not stressed. Cross your fingers for me. I know that formula isn't going to kill him and I did buy a can to send to his daycare provider, just in case (which nearly killed me!)

So anyway, I have all these photos that I have saved from the last few days and I thought I would share a few. Yes, my children are probably the most photographed in the world but hey, at least they know they are special to me!

I have started a tradition in the last couple of years of buying Pk an Easter dress. She is a girlie-girl being raised by a girlie-girl in disguise so I can't resist. I won't spend a fortune so I spend early spring looking for something appropriate second-hand. I scored last week and got one for this year and one for next and it only cost me $18.00! Pk greatly approved of both (sigh of relief).

We have really been enjoying this session of Music for Young Children. Our instructor is amazing and Pk loves it. I am so impressed by the musical literacy she is developing in this programme. At three, she recognizes several note patterns, can identify the note durations using the language of the programme and frequently talks about sounds being forte or piano. Next year, she will begin some basic keyboarding as part of the course and I am thrilled.

Last week, a dear friend had her birthday and we dropped off a little treat. One component were these cookies which have become the most popular I make!!! Pk was allowed to lick the bowl which was a big deal!
I hesitate to post a bath photo but I think this one covers enough. They are so cute in the tub together and they have so much fun. I feel guilty, though - I told a friend the other day that my two go in together and she tried it and her youngest pooped in the tub so both kids needs to be cleaned again and the tub toys and tub sterilized. Baby Bean is very cooperative about not doing that (which should guarantee now that he will!)
Last week, we went to have a playdate with someone we really like and have been meaning to get together with for ages. The girls had a wonderful time having a "tea" party (it was Pk's first experience with chocolate milk and I would definitely say that she's a fan).
Uncle J brought Baby Bean into the family tradition of having his own couch (Uncle J says that it will guarantee that he will have a place to sleep when he moves in the with kids when they are adults and he is old!) Baby Bean loved it.
On Saturday morning, when Pk got up to watch CBC kids, she insisted that Baby Bean needed his couch and blanket, too. It's those little moments that make my heart melt.
Pk had her first highland dance exam last weekend. I felt a bit funny about it. She didn't seemed bothered about it one way or the other and her teacher encouraged us to have her do it to get used to the process. I had horrible performance anxiety in university and grew to dread a lot about music because of it. I am hoping that Pk will get so used to these kinds of things that it won't bother her. I felt funny, though, because she is so young and had she failed, I don't know how I would have explained it to her. I emailed her teacher the day before class to be certain that she had passed - if she hadn't, I was going to keep her home from class and she would just never know that she failed (I didn't want her to be upset if the other kids passed and she didn't). Then, I worried that I was turning into one of those 21st century parents who don't ever let their kids experience real life... the good news is that she passed so we could ignore those questions for now.

I am trying to capture the special moments since I am so aware of time passing quickly. I could look at Baby Bean sleeping all day - there is something so comfortable and cozy about it.
Easter crafts at the library was fun. I am such a little girl when it comes to things like this - I love holidays and I love crafts so this was the perfect combination.
Last Saturday night, we went to visit friends for dinner. It was a strangely warm day and we ended up outside for most of the visit (not normal for Ontario at this time of year). Baby Bean got to sit in a "big boy" chair in the driveway and it appeared that he was very proud to be sitting along with the big kids.
Scrambled eggs have become a bit hit although I don't love washing them out of his hair.
We had to go to the mall to buy some bottles for Baby Bean to take to daycare and Pk has never met a ride she didn't like so we had to make a stop.
The weather has been nice and we have been doing lots of walks with the dogs with Baby Bean in the Ergo carrier. It has definitely been one of my all-time favourite baby purchases.
On Tuesday morning, Daddy took the kids to daycare for the first time (first time for Baby Bean, that is). It ran smoothly and I didn't cry for all that long after they left.
This is such essential P.k. She was in her room yesterday morning while I was in the shower. I went to check on her and she was "having a sleep with my bunny." Of course, that had to be done wearing a tiara.
This was a lovely moment. She went into my desk and pulled out a notecard and informed me that she was writing a card for Momis (what she calls my dad). She was so very serious about it and proud when she was done.
Yesterday morning, we worked on our next "Slow and Steady" task - sorting cutlery. She did a great job but I had visions of my mother having a stroke that I included the knives in the sorting. She was careful and we were able to discuss safe use and storage of knives.
Finally, yesterday morning I did some gardening. I have a goal to do one thing each day to make our home for comfortable, whether it's our physical home or the emotional tone. Yesterday, I decided that I wanted to get rid of the old stuff from last summer so that we could actually see the lovely crocuses coming up hidden in the corner. I stuck Baby Bean on a blanket with toys near me and Pk rode her tricycle. We had a really nice time and I came away with a real sense of accomplishment.

So that's my boring last few days. I am planning on trying to start an Endo book as per Laura as "Nestled Under Rainbows." A few of these pics will definitely be included. I am going to try to keep the blog up but I suspect, with work demands, I won't be able to be around here as much :-(