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Tuesday, February 28, 2012


So far this Lent, we've seen one of our children grow incredibly already. Dominic chose to give up leisure reading for Lent. We have talked about how the things we give up for Lent are not bad or unlawful things (or we couldn't freely pick them up again at the end of Lent), but good things to which we have too strong an attachment. Things that draw us away from God, from the people we are to love and serve and that keep us from doing as we ought. Dominic is a great reader, as am I. He loves books. That is something we have in common. However, he is often distracted by his reading from doing the things he knows he ought, or from even hearing instruction. I did not ask him to do this, or even suggest it as one of a number of options, Rich never had that talk with him. All we said was to be thinking of what to give up for Lent, and a brief overview of the purpose and similar summary to what I wrote above.

As we were getting ready to leave last week, I was gathering library books to take back and asked if the children were finished reading a few of them. Dominic told me he wasn't, but to take them back anyway. I was a little surprised at this and asked why, since he hadn't read them yet, and he said that was what he had given up for Lent. He was able to make a good examination of self and determine that this is something that draws him from greater good. We were rather proud that he thought this through so well and came up with it on his own.

On the other hand, we have a child who is our little legalist. She is so concerned with the rules and the minutiae of the rules. This is not entirely bad. She wants to follow the rules and do what is right, which is more than admirable. She is the girl who was concerned that we were breaking the Lenten laws when her two year old sister gave out imaginary cookies to us all last year during Lent. So, this year, she told me she wanted to go a step further than she had last year. Instead of giving up only board games, she wanted to give up all the games. I understood her to mean that she was going to forgo board games, puzzles, etc, that were in our game boxes. We had a sad surprise this weekend when we were able to visit with some friends whose youngest son is about her age. She came down close to tears to ask Rich what to do about playing a game with him, as she had given it up for Lent. Further questions led us to understand that she intended to give up all games of play, video, tag, board, puzzles, all of it. She is seven. Rich told me to have a little theological chat with our daughter, once our friends had left. So, I did. I explained that while it was admirable and touching that she was willing to sacrifice so much and that she wanted to stretch herself that since she was so young, she wasn't required to give up anything, it was just a practice we wanted her to get used to doing, that it was too much for someone so young to give up playing entirely, that playing was part of how children learn, that neither God, nor we, wanted her to be miserable for seven weeks to prove anything. She replied tearfully that she thought we were supposed to do hard things. I told her we were supposed to challenge ourselves as a discipline, but that this was too strict. Our fasting and sacrifices were to model ourselves on the Lord and to remind us how we need God. We suggested that she back off and think of something else to give up, or specifically designate games she would give up, Rich suggested giving up riding her bike if she wanted to do something hard, but not overly taxing and demanding. She agreed to change her plan, and is now abstaining from bike riding instead.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Menu Plan: February 26 - March 3

So, I learned a lesson last night. I woke up at about 1:00 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep, so I thought I'd get a start on my menu plan. I keep a draft with meal ideas and recipes to try, and had organized it for Lent with some ideas for Sundays as well. Well, I was in my warm bed, so I pulled out my handy iPod (AKA Handipod) to edit it, and accidentally erased more than I intended to and could find no way to undo it. So, now I'm trying to recreate the list and links. Does anyone know how to undo on an iPod? I spent the rest of the evening/morning reading up on the English monarchy.

In any case, this week has a couple repeats, as we were able to take a last minute trip to the west side and get a retreat (which is why I didn't really get to any menu planning until this morning). Rich had a couple meetings on that side of the mountains and we turned it into a weekend trip for all of us. This week, being our first full week of Lent, we are not eating any meat except for Sunday, though we're still eating fish, eggs and dairy. Since Wednesdays and Fridays are always meatless, we are eating no fish, eggs or dairy on those days during Lent. This is our first year of trying to observe a more traditional Lenten fast - we've been easing into it over the past several years.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday

We had a great Mardi Gras at our house last night. We invited another family we know from homeschooling over (funny story, this other couple and I grew up in the same town, graduated in the same year, were friends with some of the same people and went to rival high schools, but did not know each other and met here) and we ate and ate and ate until we could eat no more. I actually had Rich pack up my last doughnut to freeze, because I just could not eat even one more. I made yeast risen potato doughnuts (recipe to follow) with lemon glaze and some Tunisian doughnuts some of which we rolled in cinnamon sugar and the rest we filled with strawberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar.

Rich got a little creative in the shaping of some of the doughnuts and we joked that we could tell our friends that they were the traditional Mardi Gras shape of the doughnuts and that they had to be eaten in a special, ritual manner, and since they did not come from a liturgical tradition, they'd have no idea. We didn't, because of the whole dishonesty issue and we thought it would be a mean trick. But we told them of our plan when they came in the door, they thought it was hilarious. So all of us gorged ourselves and the children were thrilled because they could eat as many doughnuts as they wanted and play outside even after it was late and stay up playing games with their friends.

Which brings us to today.

This is a more difficult Ash Wednesday for me than it has been in a long time. Maybe the most difficult. Normally, I look forward to Lent with its sacrifice, penance, self-examination and even the fast. It is a time to prepare for the resurrection, for judgment, a time set aside to pray and fast and be tempted as our Lord was. Even when I can't participate in the fast, I take it as a time of spiritual discipline, growth and learning, usually substituting some other penance for the fast. This year, I found myself resenting the idea of the fast. It finally occurred to me that it was because I wouldn't have been fasting if we hadn't lost Rayan. Even though I normally miss the fast when I don't do it, this year my participation is tied to losing our baby. It is just another way the grief sneaks up on me. On top of all of this, three of our children are pretty much down for the count (two were a bit lethargic yesterday, one improved, the other worsened and two more were down today), so we are not likely to make it to the Imposition of Ashes tonight. I may go by myself anyway; I think I need it.

However, since we take Lent (and Advent) as a time in our school year to focus more on our religious instruction, we are still doing several things to impart the meaning of Lent to the children and prepare them for the Paschal feast and mystery. We are again making our crown of thorns:

We will be planting our own Golgotha, which should be green by the time Pascha arrives. We're also using paint chips to count down the days until Pascha, matching the colors on the strand to the liturgical colors. This will be our second year of doing 40 bags in 40 days as well, by which we sort through our home to find a bag each day of things that can be given to others to bless them, while also doing a little Lenten cleaning and decluttering, helping us to detach from the things in this world.

God always teaches me something new, and usually not what I prepare myself for, each Lent. Please pray that my eyes and heart would be open to Him. If I have sinned against you or offended you in any way this year, please forgive me and pray for me, a sinner.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Menu Plan: Ash Wednesday & the First Week of Lent

We are on the cusp of Lent. We're having our doughnut night for Mardi Gras and having some friends over to share with us. If it were just us adults, I'd only serve the doughnuts, but we're having a meal so the children don't have a sugar coma. I'm making our yeasted potato doughnuts and trying a Tunisian doughnut recipe as well. We'll fill up nicely on Tuesday, because Wednesday is a fast day. There are still meals planned that day, since not all of our children are old enough to fast.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Menu Plan: February 12 - February 18

Lent is almost upon us, so we are planning our meals accordingly. Our lessons will be reflecting the season as well. So, we are busy preparing for preparation right now.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Monday, February 06, 2012

Menu Plan: February 5 - February 11

We tried a new to us pot roast last night. It was quite good and I think we'll repeat it. I used red wine instead of beef stock, used the wine to deglaze the pan instead of the water, and let it reduce at that point, and added a little extra salt because of the sweetness of the red wine. It was delicious and the meat was tender and juicy. I only have one repeat this week, because we weren't able to get it done this weekend.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Weekly Recipe: February 4

Whole Wheat and Oat Breakfast Cake

One of the nice things about this recipe is that it can be put together the night before and baked in the morning. It is quick enough to put together, though, that it is no trouble in the morning. I mix it up and get it in the oven before we start morning prayer and it is ready by the time we are finished. Or you could put it in the oven and then head to the shower.

2/3 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup oat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup milk (or buttermilk)


1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Butter a 9 X 13 inch baking pan and preheat the oven to 375 F (if baking the next day, ignore the oven).

In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce, brown sugar and honey. Beat in the eggs until well blended. Stir the flour mixture into the liquid mixture alternately with milk. Spread evenly into the prepared baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the batter. (If you are preparing this ahead, this is when you would cover and refrigerate it overnight.)

Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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