Holy Week (mostly in pictures)

You’ll see many pictures here, mostly because it’s easier to show you than to try to explain.  Each of the major events (Palm Sunday, the washing of the feet, the Last Supper, the Way of the Cross, etc) are acted out in some way.  There are a few options that we typically use: our Betty Lukens feltboard, our Worship Woodworks pieces, our Jesse Box, or our peg dolls (or some combination of those things!).

Aside from the activities mentioned here, we also use the following DVDs to enhance our Holy Week: The Miracle Maker: The Story of Jesus; The Easter Story; Greatest Heroes and Legends of the Bible: The Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

Our Easter Book Basket is full, too, of course!

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Palm Sunday: Jesus arrives in Jerusalem

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.  We usually re-enact the Palm Sunday procession, sometimes with ourselves as the characters; sometimes with peg dolls or other figures.  This year we also built Jerusalem and began our Holy Week in Handprints book.

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Holy Thursday:  Jesus washes His disciples’ feet and celebrates the Last Supper; the Garden of Gethsemane and the Betrayal of Judas

On Holy Thursday, we take turns washing each others’ feet just as Jesus did for His disciples.  In past years, we’ve prepared unleavened bread (this year, since we were gluten free, we substituted with corn tortillas!).  We continued with our handprints for our Holy Week book.  We finished Holy Thursday with our Lenten meal (which lends itself so nicely to chicken tacos).  This year Joseph wrote out all the labels for the meal and the Bible verses which accompanied each food.  It made it very easy to sit down for dinner and as we filled our plates, someone read each Bible verse and explained the significance of the food.  I did not capture all of the details here, but for the most part, for this meal we stick to Alice’s suggestions for her 1st Lenten meal.

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Good Friday:  Jesus is condemned; The Way of the Cross; The Crucifixion

We typically pray the Stations of the Cross using either our Stations of the Cross eggs or our three part cards.  This year we did a few notebooking pages (here you’ll see both Thursday and Friday’s completed pages) and worked on our Holy Week in Handprints book.  Our Stations of the Cross meal (designed by Joseph, inspired by Alice at Cottage Blessings…we even use some of her suggestions from her 2nd Lenten meal here) completes our day and with it, we’re able to focus on all the events that happened along the way of the cross.  (We’re missing a few dinner photos here…we serve grapes along with the king’s crown for the 1st station to represent the purple robe; we serve french fries as the 2nd station to represent the beams of wood for the cross; on the 5th station, we serve fish to represent Simon of Cyrene, who was on his way into town, most likely to see his goods (perhaps fish?) when he was called upon by the soldiers to help Jesus carry his cross).

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Holy Saturday:

We usually begin our Holy Saturday with a recap of the week’s events, beginning with Palm Sunday.  We use this day as a day of preparation for the excitement of tomorrow.  We dye and decorate eggs, prepare the lamb cake (but don’t decorate it yet!), and this year, we continued our handprints book.

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Easter Sunday:  The Resurrection

Alleluia!  Christ has risen!  Today is a day for celebration!  Church is followed by a big breakfast (this year breakfast was at Grandma Nury’s with an egg hunt there).  At home, we read the Gospel together, decorate the lamb cake, hunt for eggs (confetti eggs, birdseed eggs, and our resurrection eggs), pack away Lent and decorate for Easter, and crack open our Resurrection eggs (these same eggs are used year after year).  This year we also finished our handprint books and opened Easter baskets from Granny and Pappy.

Since Easter lasts for an entire season in the Church (Easter lasts 50 days until Pentecost Sunday!), if we don’t finish everything on this day, we happily spread it out over the next few days.  In a few days, we’ll borrow Alice’s idea to have an Easter Tea to celebrate, through food, the events of the Easter season.

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Outside my window…it’s cold and wet, again but the boys have donned their coats and are out there regardless.

I am reflecting on…Joseph’s sweet comment last weekend when Trammie (my parents’ neighbor) came over.  She was showing them how to do cartwheels and back flips.  As she was leaving, William said, “Check out my cartwheel!” and then he did a perfect cartwheel.  Trammie responded, “Great job!  Now you just have to work on your back flips.”  Joseph said, “And I just need to work on my courage…being that high off the ground scares me!”

From the learning rooms…our horse unit study has begun!  Lots of talk around here about breeds and horses in history.

From the kitchen…the Whole30 has begun!  Lots of veggies around here!

I am wearing…black pants, a gray long sleeve Gap t-shirt, and these awesome slipper boots that Mom gave me.  Nice and cozy.

I am creating…a list for curriculum ideas for next year.

I am laughing…about our visit to the petting area at the Snake Farm.  Those were some seriously aggressive (or maybe just really hungry?!) petting zoo animals.  Before we even made it through the gate, the llama grabbed Andrew’s entire bag (bag and all) and went off to devour it, a goat tried to snatch the bag out of my purse, and two goats made it through the entrance gate (Uncle Dustin had to herd them back into the petting area).  Even once we were in, a sheep grabbed Joseph’s bag (as you can see in the picture where he’s running from the sheep!)  It was pretty entertaining!

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I am going…to try my hand at making bone broth soon.  There’s a whole bag of bones in the freezer just waiting for me.

I am readingThe Little Oratory.

I am remembering…our trip to the Snake Farm for Alex’s birthday.  Everyone enjoyed it…especially the birthday boy!  He’s such an expert on all animals…it was like having our own personal tour guide!

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I am hearing…Joseph’s voice on the Sparkup as Andrew listens (seriously, for a pre-reader, this thing is awesome!  You can record ANY book on it…we’ve filled our Sparkup with lots of our favorites, all read by us!).

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Around the house…you know, laundry, cooking, cleaning, playing, reading.  All the usual.

One of my favorite things…filing taxes…not the whole process, just the completed product.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Joseph wants to start sewing again…Mario characters.  This should be interesting.

Here are some pictures I thought worth sharing…from our trip to Pioneer Farms (these donkeys were much nicer to feed!)

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Don’t forget to visit Peggy’s blog for more daybooks!


On Ash Wednesday, we set our prayer altar for Lent.  Joseph and William covered the altar with a purple cloth and added a Lenten wreath with a purple pillar candle to the center.  We had gone to the local plant nursery earlier in the week to choose small succulents, which the boys added to the altar as a reminder that Lent is a desert journey.   An empty bowl to symbolize fasting was placed on the altar.  And, of course, a Lenten prayer altar would not be complete without a crucifix. The cross you see hanging on the wall near the altar hangs there year round, but it is especially appropriate for this Church season because it depicts each of the Stations of the Cross.

On Ash Wednesday we talked about fasting and making sacrifices.  Joseph and William each chose something that they wanted to sacrifice during Lent (William chose candy; Joseph chose candy and chocolate).  They wrote their sacrifices on slips of paper and added them to our fasting bowl.  I’ve been quite impressed with how well they’ve stuck to their fasting.  Even when we went to Austin to visit and Dad offered Joseph a jelly bean, Joseph replied, “No, thank you, Grandpa.  I’m fasting from eating candy this Lent.”

Joseph, William, and I painted the wooden letters for the word ALLELUIA (white with gold glitter sealer) and REPENT (purple).  On Ash Wednesday, we buried the ALLELUIA letters (since we won’t be using that word again until Easter Sunday) and then added REPENT to our altar.

This year on each Friday during Lent, instead of The Way of the Cross, which we usually do, we are meditating and praying the Stations of the Cross, guided by the book The Story of the Cross.  We added a beautiful wooden dowel tree with these incredible Stations of the Cross ornaments. Once Holy Week arrives, we will switch our Stations of the Cross ornaments with the Holy Week ornaments.

Aside from focusing on the Stations of the Cross, we are also devoting our time during Lent to the parable of the Good Shepherd (my reference books for teaching the parable are Celebrating the Church Year with Young Children and The Good Shepherd and the Child).  I introduced the parable during the first week just by telling the story.  Then later in the week, I retold the parable as I introduced the materials.  After the lesson was over, I set the materials aside, but within the kids’ reach.  I’ve seen the materials used again and again as they tell each other all about Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  Those little sheep get a lot of exercise following the Good Shepherd around!  Today during Mass, Joseph was looking at a book of stories about Jesus and was thrilled to find the story of the Good Shepherd.  Neither of them have quite made the association between the sheep and ourselves, but I imagine, given time, they will.  Each week we will continue to listen to the parable, use the materials, and reflect upon what we’ve learned.

A few other Lenten plans (ideas from The Lent-Easter Book):  We will be painting the river rocks we found on our trip to Austin.  We’ve been calling them our prayer rocks so I imagine we’ll add the word “Pray” to each rock, along with whatever else the kids paint on them.  We’ll add them to our nightstands as a reminder to pray before falling asleep.  We also found a silver pail that I’ll paint the word “Prayers” on and as the kids pray throughout Lent, they can add a strip of paper to our pail, hopefully filling the pail before Easter.  I found a neat book by Stormie Omartian called What Happens When I Talk to God that both kids have been reading and re-reading.  Sometimes Joseph closes his eyes tight for a few moments and then opens them, looks at me, and says, “Can you guess what I was doing?  I was praying.  I know you couldn’t hear me, but God could.”  And William now spontaneously stops what he’s doing to declare his love for God.  I love that they’re learning to pray all the time, not just at our established prayer times.  Our last big Lent plan was to make t-shirts, which we did last week so we can wear them throughout the season.  Joseph and William each chose what they wanted their shirts to say.

What are your plans for Lent?  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts or a link to your Lenten journey.



Good Friday

I am at home today.  I am not at Church.  I am not participating in the Good Friday solemn liturgy or the Stations of the Cross.  I am home.  I am tending to two little energetic boys while trying to keep my feet up and the pressure off of my sciatic nerve.  I am sad that I cannot be there but I am grateful just that I am here.  Here.  Here.  Here.  I am here because Jesus died for me and for my sins.  Not only am I here, but hopefully someday I will be there.  There.  There.  There.  In the Kingdom of Heaven and all because of the sacrifice that God’s only Son made for me.  For my sins.  How can I possibly let this day pass without showing how incredibly grateful I am?  How can I possibly not spend this day sharing tradition and faith with my precious little ones so that they, too, become aware of the awesome sacrifice that Jesus made for us?  I can’t.  And so we are carrying on the best way we can in our little domestic church, listening to the Divine Mercy Chaplet (over and over again), praying the Stations in our own way, reenacting the events of Holy Week with felt, all while reflecting on the power of love and sacrifice, hoping that in these little acts, we are showing Jesus how incredibly grateful we truly are.

Good Friday

As part of our Easter preparation, we did a preschool version of the Stations of the Cross Friday morning.  We used a beautiful book The Story of the Cross by Mary Joslin to guide us through our experience.  I read the description of each station while Joseph matched the picture of the station with the title of the station (I downloaded these from here) and then Joseph read the prayer for each station from the book.  The best part?  I know Joseph was imagining how Jesus must have felt because when we got to the 9th station and Jesus fell the third time, Joseph very compassionately asked, “oh, Jesus, you fell again…are you okay?”



Outside my window…it’s beautiful and sunny!

I am reflecting on…Josef Pieper’s words, “the rational ‘useful’ world which preoccupies us is but a partial environment for our humanity; we need to be able to transcend the purely pragmatic, the visible and verifiable, and embrace the whole as marvel, as gift.” 

I am praying for…Jenny Johnson as she prepares to enter the Catholic Church. 

From the learning rooms…Holy Week.  We’re reading and re-reading books like The Easter Swallows by Vicki Howe and The Story of the Cross by Mary Joslin, The Best Thing About Easter by Christine Harder Tangvald and The Easter Cave by Carol Wedeven and we’re imagining what it was like to be there. 

From the kitchen…it’s pizza night.

I am wearing…jeans and a brown t-shirt. 

I am creating…some homemade band instruments for my nephew, Alex, hoping to get back into Leslie and Dustin’s good graces (I sent some pots and pans for Alex a few months ago and I can hardly hear Les on the phone these days…Alex has discovered pots and pans make the most joyful music!)

I am going…to plant the strawberry plants and hang our new hummingbird feeder.

I am readingMedjugorje: The Message by Wayne Weible and am in awe of Our Lady.

I am remembering…Grandma Nury’s wingspan…

I am hearing…the neighbor’s lawnmower and Joseph practicing a new song he learned on the keyboard.

Around the house…I’ve been doing spring cleaning in bits and pieces.  I just washed the blinds (or rather Basic H washed the blinds, I just rinsed them).  

One of my favorite things…beautiful spring weather and opening the windows.

A few plans for the rest of the weekThe Way of the Cross for children on Friday; dye eggs and bake lamb cake on Saturday. 

Here is picture I thought worth sharing

Don’t forget to visit Peggy’s blog for more daybooks!

Lenten Prayer

If you’re having a hard time deciding what to “give up” for Lent, visit Elizabeth and try praying her Lenten prayer during the next 40 days.  And really mean it.  I bet you’ll find yourself peeling away some of those layers that stand between yourself and godliness.  I’m certain you’ll look back after 40 days, happy you had the opportunity to leave behind some of what’s really not important…isn’t that what Lent’s about?

Ash Wednesday

William is at “that age.”  That age when he’s mobile and so very eager to get down and explore, yet too little to understand the necessity of being still during Mass (or at least being in one place, specifically the pew).  Taking that into consideration, we decided to celebrate Ash Wednesday a little differently this year.  I wanted both of my kids to experience the fullness and beauty of the day so we decided to have our own celebration at home (well, at my parent’s home since we were visiting them). 

The night before, we enlisted the help of Dad.  He and Joseph found and burned the palms from last year for our ashes. 

The morning of Ash Wednesday, Joseph and I baked pretzels.  According to tradition, the pretzel is an ancient Christian Lenten bread, going back as far as the 4th century.  Since Lent is a time of fasting (at that time fasting included no milk, butter, eggs, cheese, cream, or meat) the pretzel is a perfect Lenten bread.  It consists of basically flour, salt, and water.  The shape of the pretzel symbolizes the form of crossed arms because that is how people prayed in ancient times, with arms crossed over their chests.  I found a delicious pretzel recipe at www.cdkitchen.com for Aunt Annie’s Soft Pretzels. 

After our pretzels were ready, we invited Leslie and Alex down to join us (Alex is at “that age” too!) for our Ash Wednesday ceremony.  We mixed some oil with our ashes and Joseph helped me to set up a beautiful makeshift prayer altar (our Jesus Box was at home). 

Our ceremony began with Joseph blessing our pretzels.  We used a prayer from Catholic Culture.  Here is our shortened version:

We beg you, O Lord, to bless these breads which are to remind us that Lent is a sacred season of penance and prayer. Grant us, we pray, that we too, may be reminded by the sight of these pretzels to observe the holy season of Lent with true devotion and great spiritual fruit. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

After the blessing of the pretzels, Mom read to us Isaiah 58:5-10. 

Next we distributed our ashes.  As we did so, we recited from Ecclesiastes 3:20 “All come from dust and to dust all return.” 

To conclude our ceremony, we had a grand time burying “Alleluia” and “Gloria” since those are words that are not used in Church during Lent.  I gave Joseph the letters for the two words and he spelled them out and then he found hiding places for the words. 

Our Ash Wednesday ceremony was a success…it was nothing elaborate, but it was filled with ancient tradition and beautiful prayer.  The best part was there was no pressure to keep the little ones quiet…while this is not a feasible option for most Church celebrations, it was a nice break for Ash Wednesday.   

Just a note: If we choose to do it again at home in the future, I will add the gospel reading from Matthew 6 and discuss fasting, praying, and almsgiving, although by next year, William will be past “that age” and we’ll probably go back to celebrating Ash Wednesday with Mass…but I think this year set the stage for a few new traditions of our own, including the pretzel ceremony.