Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

Too Much On…

February 10, 2013

Possum is 6 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 7 months

Little Princess is 2 years 1 month

What a hectic week this is!  I love to mark the passage of the year by celebrating the various significant events and feasts.  This week, however, is a doozey.

Today, as you may know, is Chinese New Year.  Good Fortune to You!

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We had planned to go into the city today to visit the CNY markets – to enjoy the food, the music, the crafts and activities for the kids.  We got as far as the train station where we discovered that there was trackwork across the CBD, meaning that we would need to catch a train partway then change to a bus (and, honestly, rail-buses are NOT something that blow my hair back).  We ditched that idea in favour of visiting a much more local Chinese restaurant for lunch and DH is in the process of cooking pot-stickers for dinner.

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I had planned to do some crafts with the kids – movable cardboard dragons (I have the templates), spiral paper snakes (it is the Year of the Snake), paper lanterns…  Instead we came home and cleaned out the guinea pig hutch and cubby house and collapsed from a busy day.

Aah well.  Maybe we will have a chance to go and watch the dragon boat racing next weekend.  (I am not sure how I will go with that.  I was a highly competitive dragon boat paddler, way back when – you know, before kids.  Hopefully I will be able to be a good sport as a spectator if we do go watch.)

At least I got a chance to explain the significance of eating noodles and dumplings at CNY to the boys.

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But that is not the only event this week.  St Valentine’s Day is looming.  I know it is not until Thursday, but the kids need to get their “Valentines” sorted for posting/delivery.  Bandicoot will need to have his ready for his fiancée girlfriend sweetheart BFF (and his other BFF) for Tuesday, for example.  We don’t celebrate St Valentine’s Day in a big way, like in the US, but it is nice to remember our nearest and dearest.

However, those two pale into insignificance when we consider that this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday.

Lent is a significant time for us.  Easter is the most important occasion on our calendar and Lent, as the preparatory time has a lot of meaning.  This all starts with Ash Wednesday (or Shrove Tuesday – don’t even talk to me about blini and pancake pressure!), and that means this is a heavy focus week.

It is a struggle to explain Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter to children, especially to young children.  It is hard enough for me as an adult to get my head around (I guess that is why Mother Church gets us to take this journey every year), let alone their sweet little heads.  I feel the pressure, too, because our kids do not have the benefit of the kind of Church or school that I did – one that took the gravity of the Lenten season quite seriously, and made sure even the youngest understood what we were doing and why.

And so I turn to the internet.

Have you tried Googling Lent for kids or similar?  The response is overwhelming.

There are so many entries, many of them not suited to our family (ages or stages), quite a few are.  It is a huge job sifting through this information to find what would work for our kids.

And then, once I have found the ideas that are suitable, to thin them out and choose the one or two that we can actually do consistently enough for the experience to be meaningful.

Oh, and then there is the actual implementation.

And somewhere amongst all this I am trying to fit in English and Maths and preschool activities and family life and….

Never rains but it pours!

Spy Wednesday

April 5, 2012

Possum is 5 years and 11 months

Bandicoot is 3 years and 9 months (Good grief!  He is growing up too fast!)

Little Princess is 1 year and 3 months (15 months)

Yesterday was Spy Wednesday.  If you would like to know more about how this day gets its name, here is a neat explanation.

To celebrate – er, maybe commemorate is a better word – the day, we read the story of Judas from one of our favourite Easter Children’s Bibles:

CCF06042012_00000(This book is Jillian Harker and illustrated by Jane Swift.  I haven’t been able to find it in print anywhere (Paragon), but Amazon do have a few second hand ones listed.)

We also baked Judases.  Well, I baked them.

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I think it would be fair to say that these are definitely NOT Passover friendly:  I thought that the amount of yeast in the recipe had to be a typo!  (No kneading, either.  Very unusual.)  Still, I went with it and I ended up with some lovely, lovely, light, sweet bread.

I did substitute orange zest for the lemon zest as my lemons seem to have disappeared.  They tasted *so*good* that I think I might modify my recipe to use orange in the future.

Apart from the whole Passover/yeast thing (and, if you are Orthodox, the egg, milk and butter thing), I really am left to wonder:  how can food that tastes this decadently good be fasting food?  Not all bad, is it!

Oh, and here is what you are hanging out for:

~~tantalising recipe link~~

Holy Week

April 3, 2012

Possum is 5 years and 11 months

Bandicoot is 3 years and 8 months

Little Princess is 1 year and 3 months (15 months)

So here we are at the pointy end of Lent.  I hope that your Lenten observances have been more “successful” than mine have been.  I don’t know about you, but I seem to get very bogged down and distracted by the day to day stuff of life.  The point of Lent is to try and cut down on that, to realise our reliance on God.  I guess it is always a journey.

I have, however, decided to help our family end with a bang (or “Stick the Landing”, as was our theme at Church last Sunday.)  Here is what we are doing:

Abstaining from meat (with the exception of the scheduled dinner at McDonald’s on Thursday night.)  I am aware that this is my thing, and not theirs, so I will see how we go.  If DH wants to buy meat at lunch time, then I am not putting up a fuss.  Likewise, I will not make Possum miss out on the end-of-term fundraising sausage sizzle at his school on Thursday.  However, I will not be serving meat.

And secondly, I have made up some Holy Week activity books for the kids:

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I was inspired for this brilliant idea by Sylvia over at Orthodox Mom (this is the blog entry where she inspired me.)  There is one for each of the kids, including Little Princess (who loves to draw ALL the time – and on anything.)

Here are a few sample pages:

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I spent way too much of my sleep time trawling the internet to find activity pages for them – colouring, puzzles, mazes, songs, cut and paste (do you like the palm leaves stuck down in front of Jesus and the donkey in Bandicoot’s book in the middle there?)  There isn’t any new content (that I can remember, anyway), but a lot of work getting them sorted.  Each book is a bit different as I tried to tailor them to their current abilities and interests.

They work progressively through Holy Week, with Good Shepherd pages (I wanted to introduce The Lamb), Palm Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (preparing hearts and homes), Spy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Saturday and finally Easter Sunday and Beyond.  I have allowed bunnies to appear in the final section – and I think it will keep them going a while – but not before.

The kids are really enjoying the books, but I think the best bit about them is the devotion time preparing them has given me.  I didn’t realise what a wonderful, focussing activity it would be.

Here is to a holy Holy Week for you.

Our Lenten Table – 2012

March 9, 2012

Possum is 5 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 8 months

Little Princess is 1 year 2 months (14 months)

I finally managed to set up our dining table for Lent!  I am very pleased with it, and I think that the kids were pretty impressed, too.  I know I am a little late, it already being into the 3rd week of Lent, but there are 40 days (well, technically 38 days) of Lent, so we are looking at it as a journey.

Here are some pics:

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These are our “Sacrifice Beans”.  Each time we do something Lenten (good/kind/Godly/relationship building with each other or with God etc) we can pop a bean in the jar.  We will see how all our small actions add up.  And we might even see how God uses all our small actions to transform us and the world we live in.

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And this is our Project Compassion Piggy Wig.  I was brought up as Roman Catholic, but as a family we practice as Lutherans (like DH’s family).  This means that we don’t get to collect our traditional Project Compassion Box from the Church at the beginning of Lent.  Almsgiving still can be done!

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And these are my Lenten Countdown eggs.  Hard, wooden and lifeless, like us without God.  Each week we place another egg in an eggcup.

And they are all on a purple runner (well, just a piece of cloth, not even hemmed.)  Not sure how well that will go on the dinner table!

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And these are our prayer beads/counters.  We made these together (instructions ~here~).  Bandicoot made a blue set (of course), but they were missing at the time I took the picture (also of course.)

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Here’s the table all set up.  Oh yes, as soon as I got out the camera, the kids came and sat around…

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Hi Possum.

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Yes and hello to you, too, Bandicoot.  (This photo reminds me so much of a random picture I took of my sister around our dining table at home about *cough* 30+ years ago…)

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And Little Princess was there, too.  Maybe they were just hungry?      

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And one of Bandicoot smiling.  He does still smile.  He just usually pulls silly faces for the camera these days.

Second Sunday of Lent 2012

March 4, 2012

Have you seen this site?

~~Lent Madness~~

Okay, so maybe you have to be Catholic to really enjoy it.  It is a totally crazy idea, and yet rather inspired, too.

The idea is that each weekday you are provided with a brief biography of two saints.  You need to choose and vote for your favourite.  At the end of Lent, one saint will have played off all the others and will be awarded the “Golden Halo”.

Nuts, huh?

I am definitely playing along!

First Week of Lent – Pretzels

February 28, 2012

Possum is 5 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 3 years and 7 months

Little Princess is 1 year and 1 month (13 months)

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Recently I stumbled across some interesting information.  Apparently pretzels are traditionally Lenten food.  The shape is meant to imitate arms crossed in prayer and traditionally there isn’t too much exciting in the recipe, so they made good fasting food (not sure about the stick of butter used to glaze them, ‘though!)

So I decided in lieu of some of the goodies my team of scavengers devour in the afternoons, I would bake pretzels.

I have two recipes that I would like to try, but I went for this one first:

~tantalizing link to pretzel recipe~

I did go for the half and half flour option and I used instant yeast.

They were actually very easy to make.  (But then, I am rarely intimidated by baking.)  As always, the hardest thing was finding the time – after the dough had proved and I started rolling and shaping Little Princess decided she needed a feed NOW.  *sigh*

I also sort of followed the instructions on the second recipe for the shaping.

~tantalizing link to second pretzel recipe~

And the result?

Well, I was slightly alarmed at the day-glow orangey-brown colour they turned in the oven.  I can only assume that is something to do with the soda.  However, post glazing and salting:

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And truly, YUMMO!  If this is fasting I wish Lent went all year round!  (Actually, the biggest problem is that it is still Lent and I want to eat them all.)

Oh, and just a tip that you may not need, but remember if you melt the butter in the microwave the container will probably get hot:

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Pancake Day

February 21, 2012

Possum is 5 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 7 months

Little Princess is 1 year 1 month (13 months)

 

Lent is fast approaching, but what do we need first?  Pancake Day!  And if you are around these parts, you will know why the French call it Fat Tuesday.

We started the day with blinis.  Yes, “blinis” not “blintzes”.  They are  similar but they are not the same.

A couple of years ago, DH and I backpacked through Russia (amongst some other wonderful places.)  Oh, alright, maybe not a couple of years ago, but we like to think that the years aren’t going that fast.  On that trip we stayed in homestay accommodation (quite a mixed bag of experiences, there!) and we got to taste quite a variety of blinis for breakfast.

The best blinis in the whole world were for the Homestay Wife in Krasnoyask (I have since forgotten her name, but I have not forgotten her blinis.  I also have not forgotten her husband telling us that she cooked them for him every single morning.  Wowsers!)

Well, this recipe tastes a lot like hers: ~tantalising link to blini recipe~

It is worth reading the comments and actually paying attention to the description of when to turn the blini (I forget to do that every time and about the first three end up in the bin until I remember those instructions are there…)

The wonderful Krasnoyask Blinis (needs capitalisation) were filled with smetna and rolled somewhat like a burrito.  She then fried them to re-warm and seal them.

I decided to make them like that this time, but to put them in a casserole dish and reheat them that way.

Now, these little fellows are fiddly to make, and knowing how crazy life can get around here, I decided to make the blinis the day before.  What a brilliant idea.  EXCEPT – well, as I explained to Sam-O, blinis purpose in life really seems to be the vehicle ferrying the melted butter to ones mouth.  Oops.

This is the second batch:

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I would have to say that they were quite a success.

I even managed to keep a couple aside to use for the boys’ lunch the next day.  These ones I spread with nutella (I warmed it up so that it spread thinly and easily).  Then I folded it in halves and in halves again so that it was a quarter of a circle shape.  Win!!  (This idea is not my own.  We had some super yummy ones done just this way at the Peter and Paul Monument in St Petersberg.  MmmHmm.)

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(Yes, alright, this isn’t one of our pics, but that’s where the blini man was.  This pic is from http://russianworldforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=713)

 

For lunch we had a German Pancake (more carbs…):

6 eggs / 1 cup flour / 1 cup milk / 1/2 cup sugar

Pop a hot dish in the oven with butter in it.  When the butter is all melted, pour in the batter and bake away until fluffy-ish.  Brush with a little butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  (Thank you to the Aldi Australian Cookbook for this one…)

 

Afternoon tea involved store bought pikelets.  Pikelets are not my forte and Possum had his first date over from big school, so I didn’t want to stuff up. (And let’s be honest, just how many hours can you stand over the stove flipping pancakes?)

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And for dinner – well a nice chicken curry packed with veges really seemed to the anecdote required.