Happy Easter ’15

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I’ve posted about my favorite Easter tradition – our Resurrection garden. You can read about it here. Here’s our garden this year:

 

10676206_10104344691734756_1589587076212510579_n11130187_10104347004874206_7713857094988189718_nDay one (left)- buying “Jesus” and giving him flowers.

Day two (right) – the flowers are wilting and sad, much like Jesus’ followers would have been.

IMG_4180-001Day three (right again) – the rock is rolled away, the tomb is empty, and there is new life!

Happy Easter! Our son got this great Easter Egg and I just had to pose him inside it! 🙂

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My Grandparents’ 60th Anniversary

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anniversary penniesLast night we skipped out on Growth Group (for shame!) to head about 30 mins south to have dinner with my family to celebrate my Grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary (actually June 12!) as well as an early Father’s Day. We went to Seasons 52, which is a fun restaurant (on the expensive side): everything is less than 500 calories, there are several dietary restricted menus if you need them, and the food is changed quarterly to match the seasons. It’s really neat!

Anyway, we had a private room at the back – there were 20 or so of us after all. In addition to the three of us, my grandparents and my parents, both my brothers came – one with his wife and 5 month old daughter (who both spent most of the time outside due to screaming), the other solo. Both my uncles and one aunt were there, as well as three of my five cousins. We had a lovely meal – including sushi and flat-bread appetizers and wonderful fish (and other things) as the main course. The fish was so good, in fact, that my daughter decided after eating her pizza that she’d like my salmon – all of it. Well, not all of it. Just the soft, tasty pink part. I could keep the charred part on the top. Our kid ate a whole personal pizza plus about 2/3 of my salmon! Good thing I had my own personal GF sushi appetizer.

Finally they had what they called “indulgences” for dessert – little 1″ x 1″ x 2″ cups of cakes, pies, or cream things. They had a special tiered tray to stack them and put a candle in the top little cup for my grandparents to blow out, so it looked like a fancy glass cake with treats inside. When Ashley the waitress set it down, my grandparents were so distracted by the desserts, they completely forgot about the candle. About ten minutes later I started to smell smoke and looked around and saw smoke curling up from the table. I briefly wondered who took up smoking (a e-cig?) and rejected that idea as soon as it crossed my mind. I found the candle in front of my grandparents and had to remind them to blow it out – they’d completely forgotten, as had everyone else remotely close to them.

Grandad selfie!My grandparents were adamantly against gifts, but I couldn’t help but give them stamped pennies from 1954. I apologized for screwing up the “no gift rule” and my grandad called me a terrible granddaughter (jokingly). They were so happy with the pennies – simple and meaningful. Then – my favorite part of the night! My brother showed my grandfather how to take a selfie with his phone. He was totally fascinated! He took a couple, then my brother showed him how to email them to people. Grandad was so thrilled he could take pictures with himself in them, but my grandmother was like “No. Nope. Nuh-uh.” She’s too proper (I had a former teacher call her “regal”) to be caught up in anything that’s not posed and clean and flattering. After that, we said goodnight and headed home.

What an absolute blessing to get to celebrate this wonderful occasion with my grandparents. I remember celebrating their 50th anniversary, but this has so much more meaning to me now that I have been married 8 years. I am so impressed with their example and their love for each other over so many years. I am impressed with their kindness, humor, charity, and love. And what impresses me perhaps the most is that these two people who are so dear to me are missing Christ from their lives. They live so fully, so wonderfully, and so sacrificially and are wonderful examples (and have been my entire life!), but they have managed to do so by themselves – with no guiding spirit or no church body for fellowship and edification. I pray daily for my family because these people are good, kind people, and they deserve to hear the gospel and benefit from the love, grace and mercy it can bestow on them – the same things they have been giving most of their lives, but not often receiving.

Easter – Part 2

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Resurrection Grader BEFOREMy absolute favorite part of Easter is the resurrection garden. This is a tradition we have now done for three years, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. First, we get a large sized pot and fill it with dirt. Next, we get an apple or potato and hollow out a cave. Then we grab something to represent Jesus. A while ago I found these gingerbread marshmallows, which I like to use since they look like men, and I keep them around just for this project. You’ll also need a rock.

With all our supplies, my daughter and I head outside and talk about Jesus and how he died – we do this part on Good Friday. We set the potato/apple in the middle of the pot on top of the dirt, then cover it with dirt, and discuss the tomb. We then place Jesus inside the tomb, and then place the rock over  the entrance. We talk about how he was left there and everyone was so sad he was dead. Then my daughter and I go for a walk and gather flowers (and anything else) for the tomb. We come back and decorate the pot.

Saturday we check the flowers and see them drooping and talk about how the disciples must have felt. She (being young) usually wants to check and see if Jesus is still there.

Easter Resurrection Garden - AFTEREaster Sunday morning, my daughter wakes up and immediately asks if Jesus is there. She doesn’t care about the candy or the eggs (I’ve learned to keep them aside until after church). All she wants to know is if Jesus is in his tomb. We race outside. The rock is moved. Jesus is missing. “HE IS RISEN!” we all shout (this year in our front yard; I’m sure our neighbors thought we were nuts). Then my daughter notices the new and beautiful plants (that mom has planted the night before) and we talk about how Jesus brings new life. This is my favorite part of Easter.

If you’re looking for something else that’s enjoyable, I highly recommend resurrection rolls. We’ve done them the past 2 years but forgot this year (low on my radar since I was fasting and am gluten free).

Easter DecorationsI also recommend updating your decor to include something to reference the resurrection (I mean, that *is* the point of Easter!). I bought a plank of wood at Michael’s and a paint pen and wrote this message on a board, though you could go even simpler, and use plastic eggs and write the same message, like these eggs, which sit on our dining table.

Also this is a great time to give gifts to family and friends who might need a bit of a nudge – I gave books to my non-believing family (and prayed and stressed about it), but really, they were grateful I thought about them at all. Besides, if you can’t do that on Easter, when will you be bold enough?

Easter – Part 1

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Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I always think Christmas is, but I’ve been working to try to bring Easter up to the importance of Christmas since I believe (theologically) Easter is far more important. One of the ways we’re incorporated that importance at our house is to create several Easter traditions that we enjoy repeating each year. 

The two that are the most important for us that are a bit different (besides the egg dying and hunting and whatnot) are coloring a basket and making a resurrection garden. This post is for the more “traditional” Easter stuff – next time I’ll post on the garden.

Easter EggsFirst, for the basket. Each year, my daughter gets several baskets from different family members – some are plastic, some are branch, some are wood. They all vary in quality. I wanted my daughter to have one basket that was hers to use each year that was special and meant something to her, so I found a good sized basket for her when she was nearly 1 (her first Easter) and then sewed a liner for the basket and let her smear paint all over the inside. That became her special basket that she painted.

The next year, she’d gotten bigger, and her baby basket was too small, so we used another basket. Only it didn’t have her name. So again, I thought it’d be nice for her to get to paint her basket liner. I sewed a liner out of some white fabric I had lying around, and let her paint. And thus after the 2nd year, a tradition was born. The next two years, she’s used permanent markers since she’s wanted to draw rather than paint (and we needed them to dry faster!), but the results are the same: fantastic, one-of-a-kind baskets that she made herself for that specific year that are growing with her in creativity and in personalization. And for me? The only difficulty is finding the time to sew the liner.

Another thing I did last year for decoration around the house was make Easter egg garlands – oh, how I loved pulling these out this year now that they were already done! I took a needle and thread and just sewed through the holes that are already in the eggs, and voila! Garland. Fantastic!

Obligatory egg coloring picture to the right. We hard boiled 18 eggs. I got to dye 3, my husband did 2, and my daughter hogged 13. But at least she was happy!

Egg Hunt at the Stub Hub Center

And finally, the egg hunts. We did 4(!) this year. First, a city-wide one at the Stub-Hub center (where the LA Galaxy plays), second, one at our church (eggs in the sanctuary, chaos!), third, family (cousins!) and finally our daughter alone at home. I missed my grandfather’s egg hunt this year. I think 2 years ago was his final year, which is tremendously sad. Easter was his favorite holiday (and he’s not a believer) – he’s still around, but too tired for the egg hunts he once did. He used to make false backs of drawers, safety pin shirt sleeves, unzip pillows on couch cushions, and pick up plants and put the egg under the plant in the pot. He’d also go to costco and buy packs of tissues and then open one, remove the tissues, put an egg in, put tissues back, tape it up and put the box with the other boxes. He’d put the egg in a bag ina  bucket of birdseed in the garage, in a box in a pile of boxes, in a half water bottle in a case of open water bottles, in a container in a toolbox, etc. He was dedicated to the hunt and had a map of where all the locations were, though we still usually couldn’t find one. Best of all, there was an egg trophy he’d made from an egg that stayed hidden for 3 years – each year, whoever found the golden egg got to keep the trophy. (I was the last winner of the trophy.) No one has experienced an egg hunt like my grandfather hosted. He’s one of a kind.

 

Christmas

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Happy Birthday JesusI love Christmas. I love the smells, the lights, the feeling of giving. But every year for me it’s a struggle to work with my daughter to reminder her that Christmas is’t about the gifts or Santa, it’s about Jesus. And my very favorite Christmas tradition has become baking a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas eve, singing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning, then eating cake for breakfast. This year, while making the cake, my daughter turned to me and asked, “Mom, how old is Jesus turning?”

For SantaIn years past, we always made cookies for Santa as well, but this year be tried something different. We cut Santa a piece of Jesus’s birthday cake because, “Santa would like to celebrate Jesus’ birthday too. After all, that’s why Santa brings us gifts.” My daughter thought that was a good idea. Our singing to Jesus the next morning involved a cake with a slice missing, but that was okay – Santa deserved it.

Another thing we tried this year was dialing down the Santa gifts. In the past, Santa brought a bunch of stuff, and so did Mom and Dad. Our daughter isn’t spoiled, but it was hard to figure out where to limit things. I read about doing wise men gifts – just 3 – so that’s what Santa did. Santa brought 3 gifts: one fun thing, one thing she needed, and one thing to help her grow closer to God. Santa also filled her stocking (and hides the pickle ornament, which is an awesome tradition, btw), and that was it. All other gifts came from Dad and Mom. It was a great way for us to tone down Santa, but still have a bit of the fun. (And since she’s four, she didn’t remember the prior years; it was an easy switch.)

Christmas TreeThe final thing we’d focused on through the month of December was our daughter’s giving stocking (another idea I found online – you can read about them here). Rather than have her regular stocking hanging up all month for her to think about being filled, we found a small stocking to hang in it’s place. When my daughter was helpful or kind, we put a bit of money in her stocking. Once the month was over, she added up her money and got to choose something to buy from www.samaritanspurse.org. She wanted to buy a cow, but she didn’t *quite* have enough money – so some chickens had to do this time. She looked forward to being a good helper and getting to earn money to help someone who was less fortunate than us through the month instead of thinking about the goodies Santa was going to put into her Stocking – a drastic improvement, and a change we will be keeping (this is the second year we did this, and is was better understood by her at age 4 than age 3. I’m assuming it’ll work even better as she gets older).

Treats n Suites at the StubHub Center

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Treats N Suites at the StubHub CenterOn Friday evening I took my daughter to the StubHub Center (home of the LA Galaxy) for an evening of Halloween about a week early. We found out about this through her best friend at school who went to the Easter event earlier this year. We were all planning to go together, but friend’s mom got sick, so it was just my daughter and I. The kids had to reserve a spot online about a month ago, fill out a waver and pay $5, but the adults were free (with a kid). About 500 kids attended (the event was sold out), and it was a ton of fun. All the kids dressed up and visited different rooms which were decorated and staffed by different companies or groups. They passed out candy, had games, crafts, activities, and photo ops.

LA Kings Ice CrewWe got to meet LA Kings players and the Ice Crew, some Galaxy players, and the mascots for the Galaxy and the Lakers. When we met the Ice Crew, they looked at my daughter and said, “Oh my gosh, she’s so cute! Can we take a picture with her!” (Note: not ME asking to take a picture with them. That was awesome.)

I was impressed at the people representing produce growers passing out fresh fruit – instead of candy. I saw tons of kids eating apples! One of the fruit guys was taking pictures of kids and asked to take one of my daughter and tried to get her to smile with her apple, but she was like, “Sorry too busy eating this awesome apple.” It was hilarious.

After playing one game, my daughter scored tickets to the Sparks game next season (it should be fun to take her to a women’s event!). She loved the Despicable Me room (there was a guy dressed as Gru who looked awesome!).We said hello to the Sheriffs and got some cool coloring pages from them. There was a craft table to make a bag, and her favorite place – wild animals! We got to see a two toed sloth, and pet a snake and hissing cockroach. (Well, she petted the cockroach. I would have but wasn’t sure if they flew or not. I have an issue with flying cockroaches after living in Japan.) Anyway, we had a great time walking around looking at all the costumes (and she sure loved being Jake!) I’m sure we’ll be going again next year, but hopefully with her friend! 🙂

touching a snake Coloring at StubHub center