You know how sometimes your favorite red condiment stubbornly refuses to come out of the bottle onto your burger or dog? You shake it, you use a knife to move it along, you shake it some more, you squeeze the heck out of it, only to get a very unsatisfactory "sphflllttt!" and a few little red splatters? So you repeat the process and then almost without warning, "PLOP!" an enormous blop, enough for two burgers and three dogs, lands on your plate and probably a bit down the front of your shirt. Yeah? Well, welcome to my blog today. And bear with me...this is Ketchup Post One (of Four).
(They're maybe not interesting to anyone but me, but I wanted to record them anyway...)
So, yes, I know Easter was weeks ago. I'm not completely loopy. Just a little.
I didn't get organized enough to celebrate Spring the way I wanted to on March 22nd, but I did get it together to have quite a nice Easter week this year. Actually, we celebrated a lot of Easter, because we did our Easter things based on Easter in the States, and Ukraine celebrates (in a big way) Russian / Ukrainian Orthodox Easter, which happens a week later. Overall, I think it was meaningful to the boys, and it's something I'd like to continue and build on each year.
We managed to have some fun and colorful parts of our celebration and some quiet, spiritual parts as well.
The Fun (and/or Cute)
I found egg coloring kits here and was really excited about that. David deciphered the directions and went at it with the boys. The colors turned out so much more vivd than any other eggs I've ever colored (Ukraine does it better than Paas?!) and I especially liked how the brown eggs we colored turned out so rich looking (the rust, deep red and purple colored ones). Calvin made one that looked like the Ukrainian flag (top row, third from either side).
We went to the Marine House for an embassy Easter egg hunt the day before Easter. It was a freezing day and Charlie didn't really understand the concept of finding eggs. He also didn't have a parent who ran and picked up handfulls of eggs for him to demonstrate the concept. Oh well.
He did learn to enjoy a good egg or two, though. One of his biggest tantrums to date (and he truly does not have many of those!) was over an egg. He was asking for one and because I was too slow, he got the carton of colored eggs out of the fridge himself.
I took one out of the carton for him and peeled it, put him in his high chair and gave it to him. He lost it. Crying, flailing, throwing of the boiled egg. I could not figure it out. So I took him out of his chair and let him writhe since he was not telling me what it was about and I had gotten him what he wanted. (He says, "Egg!" pretty clearly and had gotten the eggs out himself, after all.)
Finally he settled down and with crocodile tears and snot, snot, snot, came to my leg and said, "Egg! I do it!" Aha. A little bid for independence. He got another egg out and walked over to the trash can, where he stood and methodically peeled the shell off and took a very satisfied bite out of the end of it when he was finished. Just watching those fat little hands prop the egg on that fat little belly to allow for easier peeling...
(The last egg picture is one of the reasons I l-o-v-e love my camera. I just do. It's cool.)
Some time ago, I bought a book called "A Christ-centered Easter" by Janet and Joe Hales. It provides ideas for observing the week before Easter with your family, and has suggestions for adapting the plan for any age group, as well as songs, activities, and recipes. I didn't end up using the book this year for much more than a springboard for simple discussion with our kids, since they are young and some of the activity supplies were hard to come by in Ukraine on short notice, but the book has some nice things in it for building up to a wonderful celebration of Christ's resurrection.
Mostly what I did was organize pictures from the last week of Christ's life, starting with the Sunday before (Palm Sunday), based on the accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I made strips of paper that labeled each of the days of the week. Each night, we posted the day wordstrip and talked about what happened on that day in the earthly ministry of Jesus (with the help of the pictures), why it is important to us, and what we can do to follow the Savior's example or rejoice in his teachings.
That sounds really fancy and uber in-depth, but I promise that except for the Jerusalem dinner, nothing took more than twenty or thirty minutes, and most were just ten minutes or so before stories and bedtime. We're dealing with the attention spans of the six and under crowd, you know.
I was remiss in taking pictures of our Easter wall (where we posted everything), but I thought it might be mildly interesting to post what we talked about each day during the week. (Plus I need to remember for next year...searching the blog is so much easier than searching or recreating from stuff in my house!)
Most of the pictures I got from the LDS Gospel Art Kit. Anyone can use the Gospel Art Pictures, found online here - they are wonderful aids for talking about the stories in the scriptures. We used the brief summaries that are printed with each to keep our little discussions brief and interesting, then just asked questions about main ideas. There are also wonderful sources of Old and New Testament artwork in lots of other places.
Anyway - here is what we talked about and/or did each day of Easter Week:
Sunday - Jesus' Triumphal entry (Palm Sunday); We read the summary on the back of the picture and then talked about why the people were celebrating Jesus' arrival and how waving the palm fronds and laying their clothing on the road before him was a way to show how much they loved him. I had colored five big palm fronds on a piece of butcher paper and each of us chose one and wrote beside it something they could do to show that they love Jesus and want to follow him. We taped it to the wall in our hallway for a reminder. David - I will be more patient; Calvin - I will listen to my mom and dad; Henry - I won't yell; Traci - I will read my scriptures each day.
Monday - Jesus Cleanses the Temple; We read and talked about the picture and then talked about why Jesus wanted Heavenly Father's house to be clean. We also talked about how really special things happen (people are healed, Jesus can teach us) when the house is put in order and people are not doing irreverant or sinful things there. We talked about things that Jesus might want to cleanse from our house if he visited and about ways that we could make our house one where we could experience special things and feel His presence here.
Tuesday - Jesus Teaches; We used the picture of the Sermon on the Mount to illustrate him teaching, but mostly talked about the parables he taught during this last week. (The Bible accounts aren't entirely clear on the chronology of Tuesday and Wednesday, but he did share some of his most famous parables during these two days, and we know that he was in Bethany for part of the time, so we divided the parables and the visit to Bethany between Tuesday and Wednesday for our discussions.) We played "Memory" - I drew very simple pictures on index cards to represent five of the parables Jesus taught (two pictures of each, ten cards total), then placed them face down on the table. The boys took turns choosing cards until they made a match and then we told the story and talked very briefly about what Jesus wants us to learn from the parable or story. The boys already knew most of these stories, so they told them to us as much as possible.