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.

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