7 Quick Takes: Happy Easter Edition

Happy Easter!  How’s your Easter going?  Mine has been really lovely — and as it’s 8 days of Easter and then still more weeks of the Easter Season — still plenty of time to celebrate Easter in the next few days and weeks.

I just love that the Church gives us days and weeks to celebrate.  If your whole family ends up with the stomach bug on Easter Sunday or you’re inexplicably crabby after a late night Vigil celebration, it’s consoling to know  you still have plenty of time to do it up.  Woot! Woot!

Anyway, I had to take a breather after a very intense Triduum and Easter celebration.  I’m still a bit brain-dead, so I’m going to try to keep this one light.  On to the 7 Quick Takes: Happy Easter Edition…

~1~

The Triduum Was Intense

Did I mention I’m still brain dead? I have to say, the Triduum was intense!  Add a few restless kids and fasting to the mix — and the Triduum becomes exponentially intense!  According to my calculations, we spent over 8 hours in Church during the Triduum.  I’m usually just aiming for survival — but I have to say, it was a really beautiful three days.

For three days, the church became our second home.

Sometimes bringing my kids into the quiet, prayerful silence of the Triduum can be intimidating — nobody wants to be that parent with the screaming kid during these somber moments of prayer.  But for some reason, I was better prepared to accept even restless kids as an important part of my Triduum experience — so it didn’t seem to frustrate me like it sometimes has in the past.

We have a secret little garden attached to our Church, and whenever my littles just couldn’t handle it any longer, I walked into this peaceful little garden and imagined myself keeping Christ comfort in that Garden so many years ago.  It was a really moving experience for me. And my babies always love being outdoors — so it is a win-win.  Just goes to show you that God sees our efforts and He often meets us right where we’re at.

That being said, I was pretty exhausted after all that prayer and the physical demands of holding littles for hours on end — not to mention the fact that Catholics know how to party!  Our Church throws a big reception for all the new Catholics and their families and it goes into the wee hours of the night. For some reason, our family is always closing out the place.  We didn’t get home until after 2am.

I’m just about caught up on sleep now.  Easter has been beautiful and spiritually fruitful and exhausting — all at the same time.  I took this week to recreate and recoup before the last few weeks of classes and our kids’ tech weeks begin for 2 back-to-back plays.  Deep Breath.

~2~

Easter Baskets

Though we were still pretty tired from the Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday was a beautiful day.  We had a relaxed Easter breakfast, and I savored every bit of my cappuccino.  Boy did I miss dairy!    Anyway, the weather was absolutely beautiful, which allowed for the Easter basket hunt to take place outside. I just loved every minute of it.

Clever Easter Bunny hiding the basket in the forsythia.

I especially enjoyed the fact that the baby got a Peanut Butter Chocolate Bunny — let’s be honest, the baby’s take usually gets divided amongst the parents, right?

Hey, baby Easter baskets are really for the parents.

At one point, our baby figured out that he could pull himself up to standing by using a pole — which was great, until he realized he didn’t know how to get back down.

Um, how do I get down?

Big sisters are the best.  There’s always one close by to help in any difficult situation.

Big sisters to the rescue… 

~3~

The Easter Bunny is Evil

That’s right, I said it.  That Easter bunny is evil — well, at the very least, he makes my life much more difficult for a few days.  And the thing is, we do Easter Baskets, so it’s not like I’m opposed to celebrating Easter with a little candy.

Looks so cute and innocent, right? Wrong. The Easter Bunny is evil. 🙁

As already mentioned, I just love watching them run around outside in search of their individual Easter baskets — but then they start to eat the candy — and it takes a bad turn from there. 🙁

What are these magical things I never tasted before?

The older ones show a little more restraint, but the 4 year old and baby just can’t stop themselves.  If you’re not careful, it goes from all smiles and laughter to tears, screaming, and children that make you wonder if the exorcist should be called in for a closer look 🙁

And every year, I have “words with the Easter Bunny”.  I explain that I already bought a few choice treats and that we didn’t need any more candy to make an appearance in the basket.  And every year, the “Easter Bunny” seems to be whole-heartedly agreeing with me.  And every year, I discover another bag of sugar thrown into the mix — usually in the form of gummy bears.  🙁

Let’s just say, the “Easter Bunny” got a text from me this Easter Monday.  It wasn’t me at my best moment — at all.  But in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll share my words with the Easter Bunny:  “(4Year Old) has been crying all morning long — she consumed a half bag of gummy bears — thanks so much for that!  I think you’d be less ‘generous’ if you had to deal with the after-effects.”  Sadly this was an actual text I sent. 🙁

The Easter bunny knew not to respond back to such a text.  Smart Easter Bunny.  Alas, it will probably be the age old struggle I will have with the Easter Bunny for the rest of our lives.  But I did decide after this to remove the Easter Basket from the 4 year old’s hands and keep it over the fridge.  Lesson Learned:  4 Year Olds don’t know when to say when — and apparently the same goes for the Easter Bunny. 🙁

~5~

Don’t be Afraid to Invite People to Join You in All Your Craziness

You know, sometimes I think to invite somebody to my house to celebrate with us — but then life gets busy and I forget or sometimes I worry that we just might be too much for others to handle.  But what I’ve learned over the years is that it’s better to just invite people and let them say “no” if they feel overwhelmed by the prospect.

Besides, sometimes it’s the introvert in me that gets overwhelmed when I think too much about the effort it sometimes takes for me to reach outside of my own family.  This Easter was no different.  We had a few family members coming over and a dear friend, Naomi, whom we have known for years — I’ve written about her amazing work in Africa.

During Good Friday, somebody came to mind and I thought I should invite him to join us — but life and Triduum demands meant I never actually reached out to him.  Anyway, our dear friend showed up and mentioned she had invited this same person that came to my mind to join her — but he didn’t want to show up uninvited, so he declined her invitation.

The second she told me that, John called and I sent a message through Facebook, and I’m so glad that I did.  And this guy has a real gift for music.  He’s amazing.  He brought his guitar and entertained us all with lovely flamenco-style music — and he even pulled out his bagpipes at one point!

It was really lovely and I’m so glad God worked it out despite my lack of initiative.  It’s a good lesson.  Just because your house may be crazy, doesn’t mean people wouldn’t enjoy being a part of it.  Truly, this has reminded me that I need to stretch myself and move beyond my own little comfort zone and invite people to be a part of our family life.  Hope this encourages you to do the same.

 ~6~

Turning Over a New Leaf?

This year, our son served for the whole Triduum, which meant we arrived super early for everything.  It was a refreshing change from our often mad dash to Mass on Sundays.

You know, one of the positives of writing a blog is that it makes me more accountable for what I have written.  Last week, I wrote about my spontaneous prayer, “Lord, I am an ass” that often occurs on a Sunday because we can’t manage to get out the door without total chaos ensuing and me inevitably not becoming “the best version of myself”, as Matthew Kelly likes to say 🙁  … Read here to catch yourself up on the evolution of that prayer.

Don’t worry, the ending to that prayer has changed for the better over the years, and with the changes, I think it’s brought me to much better place spiritually — it really has.  But one unexpected result of writing that post, was that it helped to solidify for John and I our need to change our “off to Mass” routine.

So last week, John and I really put an effort in to arriving on time, without acting like insane people to make it happen.  I have to say, it really helped to not try to do everything at the last minute — I really hope we can keep this momentum moving forward.  But — old habits die hard — so I’m waiting to see if we can keep moving forward in this positive direction.  Wish me luck.

No more crazy on the way to Church anymore — let’s see if it sticks. 🙁

~7~

Camino de Santiago and Fatima

The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.  I have friends who have trekked this route and it’s always been on my bucket list of “have to do before I die”.

Who wouldn’t want to walk roads like these for a few weeks?

There’s any number of routes you can take.  Personally, I prefer the coastal route that stretches along the breath-taking coastline of Northern Spain.  John and I keep wondering when we are going to do this, as we want to do it as a family, if at all possible.  The thing is, it’s pretty intense for two and four years olds — so we never felt it was the right time to go on the Camino.

As college is only a few years off for our oldest — and babies are still a possibility in the future — we decided we just have to go for it this summer.  Our plan is to grab some backpacks, fly over to Spain, and begin the Camino as a family.  We’ll only go a short distance, but I love the thought that we will begin it together.

One day John and I plan to come back — with all or some of the kids in tow.  We want to begin the Camino together and encourage the kids to continue it on their own, with us, or preferably at least with some of their siblings in the future.  So this summer, we’ll be taking the first steps of the Camino together.  I’m really getting excited about it.

Looking forward to taking the first steps together on the northern Camino route this summer.

Of course, it will have it’s challenges — but I know the blessings of family travel far outweigh all the craziness.  At the end of the day, we have decided that traveling as a family works best for us.  It reinforces the fact that we’re in this crazy life together — and we are willing to slow our pace down to make sure we can all go on these adventures together.

Besides, it’s the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions at Fatima.  One of the deciding factors in taking our trip to walk the Camino this Year was the possibility of making it to Fatima during the 100th Anniversary celebrations.

On Good Friday, I posted about my own journey through the doubts and struggles I had about Mary.  You can check that out here.  It wasn’t always smooth sailing for me, mainly because I worried that a relationship with Mary would take me away from Jesus.  I was wrong.  Very wrong.

Once I faced those fears and prayed a simple prayer to God, I finally got it.  I don’t know why I was so afraid, but in the end, I know that there’s nothing to fear.   We can try to navigate this life alone, but why would we? Why do it alone when we have a mother who loves us and knows the quickest and surest way to her Son?

Going to Fatima is a way to say “thanks for looking out for our family” and “please help us all to make it straight to the Heart of your Son”.  I know from the outside it may look like goddess worship or at the very least, distracting, but it’s really more about being a part of a big Catholic family that continues after we die.  Mary and the Saints are looking out for us and praying for us in Heaven.

A statue dedicated to JPII in Fatima.

Besides, I am really excited to try to get a closer look at the crown on the statue of Mary in Fatima.  I’m not sure if we’ll be able to get that close, but one of the “jewels” above her crown is the actual bullet that hit Pope John Paul II on the Feast of Fatima and miraculously  missed every major artery and vital organ in his body.

John Paul II attributed that life-saving miracle to Our Lady Of Fatima.  Love that man, and I love those deeper little meanings that are sometimes hidden in things like crowns on a statue.  Anyway, gotta run.

That’s all I got.

Linking Up with Kelly.

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