Yesterday we decided to take school and lunch outside. It was a quintessential spring day here. We sat under the canopy of a big and very old dogwood tree. White petals from the blossoms swirled in the breeze.
Mary Elizabeth, who is incapable of sitting long enough to ever finish an entire meal even a sparse Lenten one, spun around in midst of the whirling blossoms, enchanted. I felt like I was watching her dance in a snow globe – only the snow was velvety-soft petals.
Before venturing outside, we made our traditional Lenten pretzels. This year, however, I used a recipe from A Continual Feast: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Joys of Family and Faith Throughout the Christian Year, a book revisit throughout the year to make different seasons come alive in the kitchen and around the table. They were delicious. Rachel and Madeline helped twist them into the pretzel shape.
Making the pretzels was proving to be stressful because I had gotten much sleep the night before, and Mary Elizabeth was intent on slinging dough around and coating her face and hair in flour. The floor and counters were given a thorough dusting, too. Fortunately, as soon as I assigned her the job of “painting” the pretzels with an egg wash and then sprinkling them with Kosher salt before we popped them in the oven, she kept happily busy and was no longer a threat to me keeping my sanity.
We ate the pretzels, fresh out of the oven, outside along with cheese and a few carrots.
“This is a great Lent lunch,” Madeline observed.
We then prayed the Stations of the Cross.
I always use objects to represent each Station since children are so tactile. My kids remember our “Stations Box” and are eager for me to pull it out each Lent. Everyone fights over being the child to choose Veronica’s cloth out of the box for the sixth station. Madeline was the lucky girl this week. Rachel has dibs on it for Good Friday.
(This post includes ideas of some of the things I use to represent each Station; the rosary above represents when Jesus meets his Mother. My aunt, whose kids are all grown up now, was the one who shared this idea with me, but a mom commented after my original post that her husband came up with the Stations Box, and it just spread, thanks to the power of new media.)
In years’ past, we’ve used this book to pray the Stations. Yesterday we used Michelle’s simple yet beautiful “Way of the Cross” for children to walk with Jesus. While I read and while we prayed, Mary Elizabeth flipped through an old Stations of the Cross coloring book Madeline made several years ago. Once she finished looking at that, she wandered off to play. We also caught her talking to Mary and giving the garden statue we have of Our Blessed Mother her a big hug. I wish I could have captured the sweet, unprompted-by-Mom moment on film like I did with her big sister.
After Stations, the two older girls wrote letters to pen pals out in California. Then Madeline worked on some math. Mary Elizabeth mined our backyard for treasures like leaves and bright green blades of grass and filled a basket with such. When she wasn’t on a treasure hunt or dancing around, she was quite content to be really stinkin’ cute in her hot pink tutu.
Lest you think my entire day was the perfect idyll, it wasn’t. My almost 3-year-old and 4-year-old have been bickering constantly, and it’s been driving me mad. I also have a child prone to melancholy and tears and proclamations of the injustice of the world, which can be emotionally draining. Yet, outdoors in the sunshine with petals raining down upon us, the fighting mostly stopped. Crocodile tears were contained. Little voices prayed. Mama did, too, and it all made for a lovely lunch and a beautiful way to spend our last Lenten Friday before we enter the Triduum next week.
Mostly unrelated: Catholic Mom reprinted a column of mine called “Hold the Beef” that shares recipes as well as tips on how to go meatless during Lent and beyond. Read it here.