Saturday, April 30, 2011

May Day (Part 1)

I'm not sure how much I'll be able to chronicle of our first ever May Day party. I'll try to write down as much as I can, but I'm still of the mindset that I should be out there living my life, not just writing about what I would like to do.

Yesterday I spent time with my girls making things for May Day. I have been planning since before Easter. I hinted at it in my last post. This is my attempt at enjoying springtime activities without letting these activities take the place of a true Easter celebration of Jesus.

I used a certificate to buy $50 worth of flowers from Field of Flowers. I bought mini carnations, mini rose sprays, dark purple stock, yellow mums, babies breath, white aster, and pink Gerbera daisies.

Yesterday I showed my girls how to make nosegays out of the many different flowers. They weren't all traditional nosegays, just smaller bunches of flowers. When we were finished, we had them all sitting in this white milk glass bowl I got from my best friend. I love the way they look, all jumbled up and overflowing.

Then, we made paper cones. I found another blog where someone had posted directions on how to make them. I bought a book of scrap booking paper from TJ Maxx for just over $5, and we used the brightly colored sheets to make the cones. I had ribbon leftover from Valentines Day (and many other projects) to use as the hangers for the cones. I also bought a bag of mini chocolate eggs and kisses from Costco, so we can put a few candies in each cone also.

I used the Gerbera Daisies and several other flowers we had leftover to make the centerpiece for our party table tomorrow.

Deborah has been battling a cough, and while she is otherwise healthy and energetic, she couldn't go to church. I ended up staying home with her, and we used the time to dye eggs. She's such an artist, and she's so careful compared to the other kids. I knew she would enjoy it without making a huge mess.

Today I printed out some cards, which we will attach to the cones. I wanted to keep it pretty simple. They simply say:

"Happy May Day
Your neighbors,
The Hagans Family"

Later tonight, after the kids are asleep, I will put "May Baskets" by their beds. I kept them very simple. I didn't want this to turn into a springtime "Christmas." I included just a few candies, a small toy, and a chocolate bunny.

I'll try to write more tomorrow about the party, and what we did.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Easter Plans

My family didn't do a whole lot for easter when I was a child. Of course, we didn't have a lot of money either. We didn't get Easter Baskets or hunt eggs. The only thing I remember doing is (when the budget allowed) getting a new dress. Often it would be handmade by my mom because back then it was cheaper to make it than to buy it new.

I remember wondering why we couldn't go to egg hunts instead of church, or eat chocolate bunnies like many of my friends. The answer was the same each year. It went something like this:

Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. We do that every time we go to church. Bunnies and eggs have nothing to do with it, so we aren't going to celebrate Easter that way.

Of course, as a child I wasn't happy with their decision. I wanted parties and candy. I was thankful that I got my dress (most years), and I thought when I had kids I would do things differently.

It's hard as a parent to make decisions that your immature child will not understand. As with many things I haven't done what I said I would do. "When I was a child, I spoke as a child..."

This year is the first year that I've had an issue. My son isn't really interested in parties as much as he is interested in eating the candy usually involved. My first daughter has always been compliant and hasn't shown any desire to change the status quo. Enter Hannah.

Hannah lives life with gusto. As a baby she was either laughing or screaming. There was never an in-between, "okay" kind of emotion with her. This year, as Easter got closer I kept hearing her comment about how excited she was. Of course, along with the comments she usually included information about what, exactly, she was looking forward to. Mind you, none of these things are traditions in our house, nor have we ever discussed doing them this year.

As she's talked about egg hunts and eating candy, I've thought more and more about why I've made the decisions I've made as a parent. This train of thought prompted a discussion with my hubby (because honestly... it wasn't just me who decided not to do all the "usual" easter stuff with the kids).

We've been on the same page about Easter from day one. The way he put it is, "I hate the crass commercialization of the holiday." When I asked his opinion about starting some new traditions this year, he said he wanted to stay away from the whole easter bunny, candy, egg hunt theme,

Still, I felt something was missing. In trying to keep distance from the heathen elements, we never replaced the celebration with more appropriate elements like we have with Christmas. So finally we came up with a plan.

First, I had to find something to replace the bunny candy. I asked God what I could do in place of bunnies that poop jelly beans, or Cadbury Eggs. While I was at Publix Hannah was entranced by a huge seasonal display of treats and I humored her by looking at the different ones she pointed out. Then suddenly my eyes lit upon something different. I found these little boxes of Whitman Chocolates. Each box said something like "He Lives" or "He Is Risen." I slipped them quietly into my shopping basket and plan to give them to the kids tomorrow morning. I also purchased a package of traditional Passover treats from Costco. We'll break open these boxes as dessert tomorrow after dinner.

Second, we had to find something to replace the egg hunt. My hubby went to a Messianic Passover Seder a few years ago, and he suggested taking an element from their traditions. We'll play "Find the Matzo." Of course it's been several years, so we're a little hazy on the details. We will have a pouch with three compartments. There will be a matzo in each one. The one in the middle will be taken out and broken. Then the broken matzo will be hidden somewhere and the kids will go and find it. Of course there is so much symbolism in this act. He is going to talk to the kids about all of that.

The third thing is the traditional Easter meal. The irony is not lost on me that the usual meat served on Easter is ham... the quintessential "unclean" meat. I thought about this one for a while, and I was going to try to do something more kosher. As the day approached, however I thought about how the veil in the temple was torn as Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. So I have decided, rather than just follow the crowd blindly, I am purposely going to prepare a pork roast for our dinner. I want to enjoy our freedom from having to fulfill the law in order to have a relationship with God.

Having said that, however, I've missed dyeing eggs with my children and doing the generally accepted "easter" traditions. Egg hunts are a lot of fun, and I would like my children to experience them. So, in addition to starting these new traditions, I will be celebrating springtime on May Day. In future years I might celebrate it on the first day of spring... But that's a whole different blog post.

1000 Gifts and a Free Box to Boot

(This is a long one, but hopefully worth the read)

This is what I read today in my devotions... it's from the Message Bible.

Matthew 6:22-23"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!"

I read a book recently and it goes so well with this passage. This book has really changed my life. The title of the book is, "1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are." I didn't know it existed until my friend Jenny posted on her Facebook page that she had ordered it and couldn't wait till it arrived. I have been friends with Jenny since we were in youth group together. I love her style and I really enjoy reading her blog and soaking in the beauty of all the pictures she posts.

On a whim I ordered the digital version of the book for my Kindle. I figured I already liked most of the stuff she talked about and I would probably like this book as well. I was right. As I read the book I cried happy tears and sad tears. I couldn't believe I had finally found in Ann Voskamp a woman whom I could really connect with.

For instance, it's fine for an author who drops her kids off at school for 6 to 8 hours a day to exhort others like her to be more involved in volunteering. I have my children with me 24/7 and can't volunteer unless they are allowed to come with me. Many Christian books heap loads of guilt on homeschool moms for not acting like stay-at-home moms of traditionally schooled kids.

So anyway (sorry about all the rabbit trails, but that's just how my mind works)... I read the book and it was AMAZING!!! Unfortunately as soon as I tried to implement what she suggested my flesh got in the way.

I am a perfectionist, and instead of just writing down the things I'm thankful for, I wanted everything to be in a centralized location, numbered, formatted, etc. I had to have a special book to write things in, and when I didn't feel like going and finding that journal I didn't write things down.

I loved the book so much that I gave away copies to a few of my best friends, my mom, and one of my sister-in-laws. As I discussed the book with each of these ladies, I brought up ways to implement the recording of our 1000 gifts.

My mom suggested that I keep a box handy to put papers in so they will at least all end up in one place, but not necessarily all in one journal. I thought this was a great idea, but as soon as I read her suggestion my impulse was to find the perfect home-decor-worthy box. I also wanted every paper that went in the box to be the same size, weight, and color. Seriously... it's awful... I know.

Well, here is my solution, and I'm so glad my friends gave their suggestions, because I love the result.

Of course, the flowers aren't part of the box... they're just one of the things I'm thankful for. My hubby bought them for me last week when I wasn't feeling well.

Here's a close up of the lid, and a little place on the side that I made for holding pencils. This way they're always handy when I need them.

The other great thing
about the box is that I'm getting my family involved. This was at my friend Jill's suggestion. Of course, she didn't intend it as a suggestion. Rather she was commenting on how she's making her list and mentioned a big silver trophy that they've used in the past to put notes on. They're planning to start writing down their "thanks" and put them in the trophy.

Then, my friend Jodie surprised me with a gift. This little box of papers. She knows me so well that she didn't even tell me what the papers were for. She just handed them to me and I knew.

The box is just a shoe box, covered in some Victorian wrapping paper I already had on hand. even the rectangle on the lid is made from an old file folder and some card stock I had on hand. I didn't pay one penny extra for anything I used.

I told my family about the box last night and they're already putting papers in. One more thing to be thankful for: Cheerful Participation. I had everyone write their name on whatever they put in, so we know who wrote each one.

I hope the box is filled up soon. when it is, we will read through some of the things we've written down to remind us of the goodness of God.