Monday, April 17, 2017

We are an Easter People

Happy Easter everyone!  This year's outfits were assembled by Little Miss Chief herself, who is having quite the Belle moment, hence the yellow.  We had to snap this photo after we got home from Mass because we had to rush out the door to get to the 9am on time.  (We got there with 5 minutes to spare, but had to sit in the cry room.)

Yesterday was also the 10th anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007.  I felt so blessed to be able to spend the afternoon with my dear friend I met that year, our freshman year in engineering school.  It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since that awful day, and there's something profound about spending the Triduum reflecting on how death touched all of us that day, and how we as a university community came together to heal in the aftermath.  We will certainly neVer forgeT, and I'm so proud to say that this day has become not one of sorrow or despair, but a day to celebrate the lives of the 32, and to enjoy, with our fellow Hokies, the beautiful spring day that was stolen from us all those years ago.  This year, that spring day involved my friend and I watching our daughters play in the sunshine, hunting for Easter eggs; we celebrate Christ's victory over death and the blessings in our own lives over the past 10 years.

So how was your Easter?  Who dictates the family color palette in your house?  And for my fellow Hokies- how did you observe April 16th?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lent for Pre-Schoolers: Fasting

I like the idea of a family Lenten sacrifice.  Growing up, the whole family gave up TV; we had a big entertainment center with doors you could close, so the television was literally locked up during Lent.  We sometimes took on our own individual sacrifices, too, but it was a nice way to keep each other honest if we're all giving up the same thing.

The past two years, The Geek Family's sacrifice has been not going out to eat during Lent.  Last year it wasn't terribly difficult, but it was a great way to save money which we turned around and gave to the Bishop's Lenten Appeal (the annual diocesan fundraising campaign to support the various ministries in the diocese).  This year it's been much harder to say no to fast food for lunch or to resist ordering pizza and whip up something on the stove instead...mostly because I'm pregnant, tired all the time, and turned off by the sight of raw meat or the smell of cooking food.  We have allowed ourselves to "cheat" on Sundays (which has mostly meant a big after-Mass lunch at Cracker Barrel, since their biscuits are my current craving) and have found it prudent to cheat when it would be impolite to decline (like when my team at work wanted to go out to lunch to welcome our newest members- it would've been rude to stick with my Lean Cuisine and sit out for that team building activity) or otherwise impractical (like when Mr. Geek was supposed to finish his shift at work at 4pm and instead was asked to head straight to the train station and transport some equipment to New York without any time to go home first- he let himself eat dinner that night and breakfast the  next morning at restaurants rather than a self-imposed fast with no warning).  So while this year we didn't quite make it 40 days without eating out, it still felt like a difficult sacrifice.  (We didn't allow ourselves to cheat just because we forgot to grocery shop or Mommy didn't feel like cooking- we got creative or powered through, which was admittedly difficult sometimes.)

It was even a sacrifice for Miss Chief this year.

This winter, we established a new Saturday morning breakfast habit (or even weekday mornings when Mr. Geek was working night shift)- we would go to The Coffee Store (Starbucks) or The Breakfast Store (Panera), get a pastry and chocolate coffee (chocolate milk), and talk about the errands we were going to run or our plans for the rest of the weekend.  To be told that we wouldn't be doing that anymore for quite some time was a bit of a shock for her, and for the first couple of weeks she asked if we could go (even throwing in an extra "Please?" or two).  We told her that it was good for us to make breakfast at home together, to eat around the family table, just us, but we have the same conversations- and the same "chocolate coffee".  So she doesn't quite get the connection to Lent yet- we're still working on grasping the concept of Lent in general- she does understand that she's not being punished, and that it's good for our family to cook and eat together at home.  (Okay fine, sometimes "making breakfast" around here means opening a package of Pop Tarts.  But we open it with love, okay?)

Little ones don't have to fast during Lent, so how do you introduce your pre-schoolers to sacrifice?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, April 7, 2017

Lent for Pre-Schoolers: Prayer

I don't know how many prayers a 3-year-old is supposed to know, but ours knows The Lord's Prayer and Grace Before Meals and if she's in the mood, she can follow along with some parts of the Mass.  (She likes when the sung bits are in Latin because they're more fun than regular English words.)  She's heard the rosary being prayed, and the last time was our bus ride to the March for Life, when she prayed along with The Lord's Prayer and counted the beads the rest of the time.  But those are pretty much the only types of prayer she's been exposed to thus far.

For the past few years, I've forgone attending Friday night Stations of the Cross because they start at what should be her bedtime and I've felt it was unfair to everyone to drag a baby or a toddler along who would rather be sleeping.  (Well maybe she wouldn't rather be sleeping, but her little body would.)  We've made Friday night into Movie Night in our house lately, though, meaning she's up past her bedtime anyway, so I figured if we're not going to honor bedtime on Fridays, we may as well squeeze in some holiness.  (And we can watch movies on Saturday night.)

Maybe I overestimated how good of an idea this was.

A different group hosts a meatless meal right before Stations every week, and so far, that's been her favorite part.  "Is it Friday today?  Are we going to have supper at church?"  But if we're going to have supper at church, we're going to stay for "special prayers" and that is apparently less exciting.

The first week, Mr Geek had to work night shift, so she and I went on our own.  She didn't want to sit still or look at the pictures in the booklet, but she didn't make any noise and she stayed in our pew so it was okay.

The second week, it was once again just us girls, and she had much more energy.  This time she wasn't content to stay in our pew and went further and further away, all the while grinning at me with a look that said "I know I'm breaking the rules, and I know you won't get loud about it because this is church."  She eventually came back and threw a stuffed animal at me, so I put it in my bag and whispered that we were going to go home.  As I started to gather our things she panicked and began yelling, "No!  I don't want to leave!  No!  I don't want to go home!"  And I mean yelling.  So I scooped her up and quite literally ran out of there- coats dragging on the floor, screaming child in my arms.  She definitely knew she was in trouble and leaving church was a punishment that had impact, but I felt so defeated.  There were plenty of other children there, many her own age or younger, who had been sitting quietly and even trying to follow along.  What was I doing wrong?

The third week, Mr Geek was on day shift and therefore available to attend with us.  Having both parents definitely helped- we could physically bound her movement, and the not-currently-pregnant parent could hold the 35 pound wiggle worm more securely, letting her turn the pages of his booklet and eventually encouraging her to participate in the kneeling and standing and kneeling again.  She still wasn't quite paying attention- until the end, when she started asking me about the figures in the pictures- but it was the best Friday yet.

The fourth week, everyone had a head cold.  We stayed home, ate scrambled eggs and Eggo waffles for dinner (because #pregnancy), and went to bed early.

This week, the Youth Group is putting on Living Stations.  I've spent all week preparing Miss Chief for what we're going to see- I explained that it's kind of like a show (a word she currently associates with a performance on stage at a theater) where people will be dressed up in costume, and one of them will pretend to be Jesus carrying his heavy cross.  She's been asking lots of questions about it and is looking forward to eating supper at church AND seeing a show there.  I'm hoping this will keep her engaged enough to want to pay attention.

Wish us luck.

When did you start taking your little one to Stations of the Cross?  How do you observe Lent with small children?

Much love,
The Geeks