Afternoon. Holy Saturday. Lent in its final hours. All the resolutions, all the goals - now is the hour of truth. Fear not, I have no intention of doing a report on how my personal journey went, except to lament the irony of opting to give up my most essential "pregnancy survival foods" on Ash Wednesday, only to find myself very much with child some little while later.....
No, what I want to review is my cheerful list of Lenten suggestions for families with young children. I do read some blogs that make it sound like it's so easy to be perfect. That's not fair. Real life is a little more complicated. So in this real life Catholic house, this is how those Lenten traditions played out - in spite of (and because of) our very best efforts.
We did the Lenten cactus. It didn't seem to make much of an impression on the girls. Halfway through Lent, one of them (neither's confessing) quietly planted two dried beans in the cactus' tiny pot. Despite the fact that I only watered that poor cactus maybe twice, those beans did sprout and they were the highlight of the cactus' presence - at least in the opinion of my daughters.
The accidental Lenten caterpillar never turned into a butterfly. He turned my pregnant stomach (repeatedly) - and then one day, when I came in from gathering laundry, I found that my sweet, delicate, compassionate, beautiful little daughters had taken out the kitchen scissors and cut that caterpillar in half. His green slime was oozing like mad and my gentle Bernadette was "stwisin (squishing) him up" while Maria watched, enthralled. In so many ways the caterpillar was an epic Lenten Fail.
The girls each freely gave up their favorite and fanciest dress for forty days (except for one Princess Themed Birthday Party we attended). This stage-one mortification was a sweet success and both girls are very excited to wear those dresses again tomorrow morning. Their tiny sacrifice will definitely enhance their sense of joy and celebration associated with tomorrow's liturgy. Yay!
St Patrick's Day was truly a smashing success. Green muffins, green juice, enthusiastic chatter about St. Patrick, excitement about the Irish music. They loved praying the Breastplate of St Patrick (with hand motions) - so much so that both girls kept requesting it as family prayer for the next five or six nights.
is it just me, or does babyseal have really gigantic feet?
St. Joseph's Day - Fail. Big time. My plan was to honor St. Joseph the Worker with a family volunteer/work project followed by homemade cream puffs. But I was so completely nauseated - and so very, very, exhausted - that I instead paid grudging homage to the anti-saint, Joseph the Shirker, and laid in a pathetic heap on the couch for much of that day. I completely forgot the cream puffs altogether, even though I had just learned how to make amazing homemade whipped cream.....
Holy Thursday. The girls helped me make unleavened bread from scratch. We were having a blast, following the easiest recipe on the face of the planet. We kneaded a cup of flour with 1/3 cup warm water. We were just about to "flatten into little pancakes and bake 2 minutes each side at the hottest temperature your oven will get. When cool, brush with olive oil and coarse salt" - when a huge-normous cockroach emerged from nowhere and began prodding his spine-chillingly long antennae into the dough. I would not have handled this well even if I didn't have morning sickness. I screamed. Maria screamed. Bernadette screamed (even though she thinks cockroaches are awesome). I pulled both girls off the counter and we all clung together making girly noises of horror. Luckily our very own personal Clark Kent was on hand. WHOOOSH! His red cape flashed through the kitchen and that evil cockroach was blasted off into another solar system. Then our hero flew off to apologize to the office staff, who had been enjoying their peaceful morning tea on the other side of our thin kitchen wall.
We started over. The matzos came out delicious. But maybe I went a little heavy on the salt. They tasted almost like a NYC hot pretzel. And it was easier than messing around with play-do. The lamb was a whole different story. I had hoped to serve lamb with bitter herbs for our supper, but they turned out to be all bone and fat, so next year I need someone to teach me how to pick out a proper cut of meat. We ate what few tiny scraps of meat there were - and then Rich made twenty of the Emergency Chicken Nuggets from the freezer. Superman saves the day twice in twenty-four hours.
After the meal, we showed the kids this video:
They liked it. A lot. Then Richard washed our feet. That was awesome. I knew the girls would love it, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a smile spread slowly on Joseph's little face as Papa splashed warm water on his toes. Definitely a highlight of the evening. It was really profound for Rich and me as well. It was a poignant reminder of our roles in marriage - this living image of Christ washing the feet of His Bride - and of the Bride's submission.
Good Friday. I always desperately want Good Friday to be this amazing vigil of solemn reflection and holy musings. Instead, the whole family was sort of grumpy. Joseph has three molars coming in, but the rest of us didn't really have as solid an excuse. I did overhear Maria explain sagely to Bernadette, "Poor Mama. She has our new baby in her tummy. When ladies have a baby in their tummies they are really angry." I thought, Oh wow, Kelly, you have SO GOT to pull it together. Later Bernadette had an epic meltdown at church and refused to go to the children's liturgy program for Good Friday. Sprawled all over my lap, she then fell into the most deeply unconscious sleep I have ever seen a child enter. Perhaps Joseph's pre-predawn teething-waking-screaming thing is taking a toll on all of us.
Holy Saturday. Today we dyed eggs. Thirty eggs. They're gorgeous. I feel happy and joyful just looking at them.
Cockroaches, don't ruin this for me.....
Wishing all a beautiful, joyful, hope-filled and holy Easter!
With love from the Sealy Family