Sunday, March 25, 2012

Approaching Easter

Every year our Easter celebrations get a little bigger (and better). We started in 2009 by celebrating Holy Week. Is that the right term? When we started increasing our Easter activities, the only thing that came to mind was the phrase used in Venezuela: "semana santa" to refer to the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

This year I wanted to really make it big, so we started all the way back on Ash Wednesday, which I have to Google every year to make sure I remember what it is. Just like our nightly Christmas devotionals, every night we've gathered around a candle advent calendar, but instead of 24 days to mark off, we count to 40. Forty days from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. Forty days remind us of Christ's 40-day fast in preparation for his work; and 40 days to remind us of his life.

Here's the pattern for our nightly "emotional devotional": light the advent candles, sing, tell a story, hang an ornament on our Easter tree, fight over how many candles everyone gets to blow out (this is the "emotional" in our devotional), have family prayer.

The song is anything about Jesus from the Primary Songbook or the Hymnbook. This year the story part comes from a book I found on the bargain table at Seagull Book that summarizes Christ's ministry. We're just going along, hoping it works out to 40 stories for our 40 days. The ornaments are pictures of events from Christ's ministry from the Friend or the Ensign, glued on black or white cardstock, with a loop taped to the back--high class. We're still about five pictures short, so I'm hoping this next month's issues help me out! This year I'm just trying to amass 40 pictures. Hopefully I'll remember to keep my eyes open the rest of the year so I can upgrade my selections for future years. And the Easter tree is a bunch of forsythia branches from the backyard. When I first cut them, they were bare sticks. After about 10 days, they started to bud and we had great discussions about resurrection, and life coming out of death. Unfortunately, the branches won't last 40 days, so this is our second Easter tree. I got tired of dead flowers falling into the candles, so I cut a new batch.

The best part of course, has been the chance to review all of Christ's ministry in 40 days, even at the five-minute approach we're taking with our young kids. Seth has really gotten into the whole countdown thing. "Mom, it's 12 days until Palm Sunday!" It cracks me up. How many seven-year-old kids know what Palm Sunday is?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A lot of livin' to do

The days and weeks fly by, filled with chores, church, school, and long lists of "have-tos" but in between we've had some fun...

Seth joined the city theatre program and was a Munchkin in the junior Wizard of Oz production. They worked hard learning the songs, dances, and cues, and he had a super time, sticking it out through four performances in three days, including a double matinee and evening run. His favorite part was having family and friends in the audience. All his Utah cousins came and cheered for him, and you could see him just puff up with pride.

Meeting Carden's favorite author, Brandon Mull, at a book signing for his new title. Thanks, Costco, for encouraging literacy!

The night before the Wizard of Oz premier, Seth was in the First Grade's "Dr. Seuss' Celebration of Reading" performance. The kids got to wear their pajamas and sing catchy ditties about Blends, Vowels, and the Marriage of Q and U.

Carden joined the school Knowledge Bowl team. For 10 weeks they met after school to memorize at least 400 flash cards for this year's Science topic. Simple machines, electricity, weather, geology, botany, Utah ecosystems, the solar system, and types of matter were all fair game. The moderator asked a question, and the first person to buzz in had to answer. A correct answer earned a bonus question that the team could collaborate on. Definitely some high-stakes, high-stress moments! Carden was a natural with his fast recall, and he was voted team captain. I was proud of how he made sure to let everyone have a chance to give the answer for the bonus questions and get their moment in the spotlight.