Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day

Our family is big on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. We celebrate not only St. Patrick but also our Irish family heritages. The day is full of prayer, fun activities, yummy food, good whiskey, and traditional Celtic music. It all starts with a big breakfast.

Meals

While we do not have a standard breakfast we eat on St. Patrick’s Day, one thing is for sure – it must include green. This year it included green almond milk server with waffles covered in yogurt, whipped cream, berries, banana slices and, yup, green sprinkles. Growing up, my mother always made me green eggs and ham on St. Patrick’s Day.

At lunch, we may prefer to have tea and tea sandwiches. This year we had traditional Irish tea (our favorite is Barry’s) along with tea sandwiches which included our favorite gluten free vegan bread, vegan cream cheese, chives and cucumber slices arranged like shamrocks. This was a recipe provided by Catholic All Year in our March subscription box.

For dinner, we always make a traditional Irish Boiled Dinner with sour pickles. I’m actually not too sure just how “traditional” it is, but it’s what my family made every St. Patrick’s Day and it’s become something we look forward to each year.

Activities

Throughout the day we may pick and choose from many different activities including:

Listening to a podcast on St. Patrick from Saint Stories for Kids. We love this podcast series that gives a brief overview of a Saint and then shares a live action story from traditions surrounding them, sound effects and all. They are short enough to keep our kid’s attention span and exciting enough to talk about the rest of the day!

Crafting, which includes binding three corks together to dip in paint and make shamrock designs, using dot markers or pens to create a rainbow and a pot of gold (including gold glitter), coloring St. Patrick coloring pages, etc. The possibilities are endless!

We also have an annual St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt. This year we used a scavenger hunt we found online that had clues Pickles, our 4-year-old, had to figure out. At the end of the hunt the prize was a plastic bin with anything green and St. Patrick’s Day related we could find. Later in the day this served as an activity/sensory bin Pickles and Bacon could both enjoy playing with by dyeing water or foam green and putting all the items (plastic green and gold coins, shamrocks, etc) in the water or foam and then letting the kids at it.

This year we did two scavenger hunts, simply because Bacon, our 1-year-old, is not able to engage in clues. Instead, we had cut out snacks from green paper in different shapes and sizes and had him run around finding them. Once he had them all we ‘banished’ the snakes from ‘Ireland’ by casting them into the ottoman (it seemed appropriate).

Activity and sensory play are also a consideration. As noted above you can use things like green water or green foam in a bin with green items, or if you prefer a less ‘wet’ option – try shredded green paper or green slime.

Lastly, we wrap up the day watching a documentary on Ballintubber Abbey in Ireland. We visited there when we were in Ireland years ago and fell in love with the Abbey, it’s history, and its connection to St. Patrick.

Treats and Libations

Like the activities listed above, there are a variety of treats and libations to pick from when considering celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Over the years we have narrowed down to making Irish Coffee and Irish Whiskey Cookies. Of course, in order to do this you will need some good Irish Whiskey. Plan ahead.

Prayers

As alluded to in the introduction to this blog post, prayers are important on St. Patrick’s Day. We specifically like to pray the prayer of St. Patrick’s Breastplate and bless the children with holy water we acquired in Ireland from St. Patrick’s well.

We hope you have/had a blessed St. Patrick’s Day. Now back to our regularly scheduled Lenten fast!


Boxes of Fun

Boxes of Fun

Animals and kids alike love a good cardboard box. A big sturdy box is hard to come by, so when one arrives at your doorstep save it for a fun family activity.

We have only had a few big boxes delivered over the past several years – two for our outdoor Adirondack style chairs I had to put together, one for a manual treadmill, and one for a big cargo area floor mat for the back of our vehicle. All of these boxes have become playhouses, forts, jungle shacks, etc.

Cut doorways, windows, peepholes. Use other bits and bobs from your recycling to add to the fun like a duct tape center roll is perfect for a circle window on a door, paper can be a fun curtain, toilet paper rolls can be binoculars, and other smaller boxes can become seating. The possibilities are limitless once it’s been decided what your box will be. We have yet to make a bus, car, big rig or boat, but our next box (safely stored in our basement) has a lot of potential). Especially if we use a little paint or markers and a lot of imagination.

The monstrosity of a box will live in infamously in your child’s memory, but more realistically it’ll live smack dab in the middle of your dining room, kitchen or bedroom. Set an expiration date of the box and start preparing your child as the expiration date gets closer that it’s going to be taken down and recycled. Even better, let them help demolish it with pretend tools and sheer strength.

For the not-so-big boxes in your life – they can also be just as fun! Just not in such a monumental way. For instance, Pickles and Bacon love using their diaper boxes as race cars. They sit in them (sometimes together!) and then we propel them across the carpet or hard floor to see how far and how fast they can go. They giggle, tip the box over, and run it back to us across the room looking for another ride.

Another thing we’ve done is make garages out of the boxes. Pickles loves Blaze and the Monster Machines so we made a garage for Blaze and all his friends, as well as an opening for Gabby’s Garage (with working door) and a finish line for their race.

The possibilities are endless! Enjoy the creative time with your kiddos and put them to work to help construct their next adventure!


Rocky Road Recipe

Rocky Road Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Nuts (whatever you like- we use walnuts and cashews or whatever we have on hand)
  • Chocolate 
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt

Instructions:

1. Chop up nuts so they are smaller than the marshmallows (unless you want them bigger)

2. Mix nuts in with marshmallows

3. Put chocolate, coconut oil and salt together in dish

4. Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave (I use a microwave and set it for 40 seconds, then stir, do another 30 seconds and stir until melted – it’s best to do it in small intervals so to not burn the chocolate)

5. Mix chocolate into marshmallow and nut mix

6. Dump out onto a pan lined with parchment paper 

7. Form into a long mound shape (so to look like a rocky road) or roll parchment paper around it and make a log (I have tried it both way, and actually prefer the rocky road shape better)

8. Put in fridge to all chocolate to set and firm (usually about and hour is best)

9. Take out of fridge and cut into thick slices. Enjoy! (Save leftovers in fridge)


Faux Sherpa Care

Faux Sherpa Care

If you’re anything like us as a parents, when you see a really cute outfit or jacket (and by cute, we mean something that has ears or the like on it), you can’t resist buying it for your littles.

So we bought Pickles a faux sherpa fox jacket last year. It has ears and was super soft…. noticed I said WAS soft – lol. Over the course of the winter it started becoming a little matted from wear, which can be expected. Big mistake was letting him wear it in the fall while raking leaves because when he decided to throw leaves over himself, said jacket was no longer soft nor clean… ugh. So into the washer it went and even though we didn’t run it into the dryer, it still came out looking like a cat with mange. We still let him wear it (because it’s his favorite jacket) despite our better judgement, but it came to a point where we decided something needed to be done (without spending money on dry cleaning it or something like that).

I figured there HAS to be some way to revive this poorly looking faux sherpa jacket! I grabbed an old toothbrush and figured that may do the trick… nope. Hmmm… next I grabbed a hairbrush (you know, one of those with the little nubs on the end of the bristles)… um, definitely no – it only tangled into the coat with no movement. Oh, a fuzz buster! That surely would do the trick… uh no, not really. And then I remembered, I had this old hairbrush that was like boar bristles style. Sure enough that helped loosen the faux sherpa enough that I could then get the other hairbrush with the nubs to work too. So it was the combo of them both that really did the trick. In the picture, the sleeve on the left is the “After,” and the sleeve on the right is the “Before.”

So tada! Eureka! You can revive a faux sherpa jacket! Fair warning though, it does take some time and patience to endure brushing an entire jacket. Happy brushing!!


Simple Nutritious Smoothies

Simple Nutritious Smoothies

Have you wanted to start making smoothies for yourself or your family but don’t know where to start? Weeding through the array of machines and recipes can be confusing and overwhelming, so we wanted to share a simple approach to nutritious smoothies. If you are looking for specific smoothie recipes, check out the Smoothie Recipe tag.

First things first, decide on your smoothie making machine. We love the Nutribullet. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, relatively inexpensive and can be used for wet and dry blending (i.e. making your own oat flour by blending oats, etc). It’s also very effective and lasts a long time.

Once you have a machine you can start building out different smoothies. In this post we are going to focus on the smoothie foundation we use and the add-ins you can use. This is not a recipe but a guide for creating your own smoothies.

Base Layer

For almost every smoothie we make we start off with unsweetened almond or oat milk and/or canned coconut milk and then we add either a banana or an avocado. The banana or avocado can be room temperature or frozen pieces – up to your preference! Add some unsweetened vanilla yogurt as well if you want it to be extra smooth! These ingredients serve to add creaminess to your smoothie. Think the ‘smooth’ part of the smoothie. If you want a more watery smoothie you can omit these ingredients and use water, but expect a drastic change in taste.

Add-Ins

Now that you have your base layer you can add in any of the following. Be mindful of flavor combinations. For example, avocado and cocoa go good together, or perhaps the vitamin supplement you’re adding to the smoothie has an orange flavor which would be best mixed with other fruits or veggies or just with yogurt and milk to create a creamsicle flavor.

Proteins

For protein, we will generally add in either a vegan protein powder from the store or just use our favorite nut/seed butter (almond, cashew or sunflower). For example, one of our favorite recipes uses almond butter on top of the base layer with mini chocolate chips, dried and pitted dates and ice cubes. You can also use tahini (ground sesame seeds), which has a unique but delicious flavor.

Dry Ingredients

We already mentioned protein powder, however, there are other dry ingredients to experiment with as well. For us we love having a flax seed/chia seed blend on hand to act as a thickener. We also use cacao or cocoa in our smoothies to help boost flavor and nutrients. You can also add in your favorite powdered vitamins and/or probiotics.

Vitamins & Probiotics

As noted in Morning Vitamins we have a vitamin and probiotic routine for the kids (and ourselves for that matter). Sometimes we will add the liquid or powder vitamins or probiotics directly into a smoothie. Or, if you’re adding yogurt into your smoothie, you can get your probiotics that way as well.

For someone who is averse to fruits and veggies, consider something like Balance of Nature Fruit and Vegetable Supplements and add them directly into the smoothie.

Vegetables

We don’t typically add veggies into our smoothies – I know, I know. We used to make a lot more veggie smoothies and when we did we liked spinach as a add-in because it was sweet and broke down well in the machine. Baby kale was also good.

Fruits

Everything we have been using thus far has been unsweetened but once you add in the fruit you will start building back some of that sweetness. Our go-to fruits are blueberries, raspberries (high in fiber), pineapple, cherries, strawberries and mango. We buy these frozen to help make the smoothie cold, though you can also just add ice to the smoothie, but it will water it down a bit.

Sweeteners

If adding the fruit was not sweet enough, then feel free to add in some honey, agave, maple syrup or dried pitted dates. Taste test to make sure it’s sweet enough but not too sweet. Our kids love adding Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips as well.

Summary

All in all, keep it simple as you experiment. Start out with milk, banana, and add a fruit and then experiment from there with changing out the fruit, adding in dry ingredients, vitamins, probiotics, and or sweeteners. In time you will have a few recipes that are your go-to recipes you love. For us it’s the almond butter smoothie and the avocado cocoa smoothie, but many times we just like a simple creamy fruity smoothie. Keep experimenting outside of what we have instructed – try adding a splash of vanilla or cinnamon, add whatever you think would taste good!

Smoothies are a great snack but can also be a meal replacement depending on the nutrients you’re adding in. Smoothies are a gem when it comes to adding nutrients back into your diet and they are highly customizable to your taste and nutrient needs. Cheers!


Preparing for Dental Work

Preparing for Dental Work

In the world of ‘scary things’ for your kids, nothing elicits quite a response like going to the dentist. It can be quite a nerve wracking experience for your child despite your best intentions to lower the anxiety levels. The good news, though, is that you can do some things ahead of time to help prepare them and set expectations as well as educate yourself so you make the best decisions possible for your child.

Prepare Financially and Mentally

As that parent trying to make the best decisions possible for your child, you are going to have to pull from both financial and mental reserves at some capacity.

Financially you may be buying books, changing your diet to help stop tooth decay, buying holistic products to try to help prevent further cavities or reverse the cavities in your child’s mouth. You may also be scheduling consults with multiple dentists, getting x-rays, getting consults from holistic dentists or joining classes online to learn more about caring for your child’s teeth.

It can be expensive, so prepare to explore options and decide what fits your budget and time constraints, but recognize you may have to stretch your wallet a bit to get everything you need to feel confident about the decisions your making and the pediatric dentist you have selected. The year we had Pickles dental work done we maxxed out our Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and got the dental work and some of the dental products covered that way.

Mentally you will need to prepare yourself for your inner guilt trip. As you read and learn you will inevitably find out that there are things you are doing that have unintentionally contributed to your child’s teeth decay. Maybe it was the gummy snacks they ate regularly or that a lip tie caused breast milk to pool in their mouth during naps which caused decay. You will have to learn to fight that inner chatter, recognize you are doing what you can now and that you can do better going forward. First things first, however, you need to deal with the situation you are currently in.

You will also need to mentally prepare yourself for information overload. Recognize your limitations. Allow yourself to browse books and information, look at specific information related to your specific circumstance, and to not know everything there is to know. Separate information out into ‘information I need to know now’ and ‘information I am interested in looking at in the future.’ Allow yourself to focus.

Educate Yourself

There is a lot of information waiting to be consumed. Focus on expanding your understanding of dentistry to holistic dental care. Learn about PH levels, Xylitol, Tongue and Lip ties, myofunctional mouth guards, filling options, ozone treatments, silver diamine fluoride, diet changes etc. There is much more to dental work than tradition silver or white fillings or getting teeth pulled and root canaled. See the end of this blog for resources.

Find a ‘Good’ Pediatric Dental Practice

We have gone to three different practices and have driven various distances to ensure we find the right fit. A ‘good’ pediatric dental practice will:

  • Answer their phone
  • Spend time with you on the phone to answer any and all your questions
  • Be compassionate and will not shame you of belittle you
  • Have a variety of ways to make your child comfortable (some have themed rooms, give the kids sunglasses to wear, have TV’s on the ceilings with cartoons, allow your child’s favorite stuffed animal, have therapy dogs visiting the rooms, and/or have balloons or a toy chest at the end for the kid to pick out a toy)
  • Have a variety of options for your child’s dental work (for example, there are SMART fillings, temporary filling, traditional silver fillings, white fillings and ceramic fillings – each having their own pros/cons)
  • Focus on minimally invasive dental work

Schedule Consults

Once you have found ‘good’ pediatric dental practices, schedule consults in tandem and meet the practices. Do they give you a sense of confidence? Do you trust them? Or are you questioning what they say? Unsure they are suggesting the right course of action? Get as much information as you can from the practices, ask all your questions, and trust your gut intuition as a parent. Get second and third opinions to validate information that you are trusting. Check in with other parents who have had similar work done for the children and get validation that way as well.

Prepare Your Child

Once you have a pediatric dentist identified and have confirmed and validated the work that needs to be done, you can start preparing your child at home for the dental work. This can be done through:

Playing Dentist

Use the opportunity to engage in imaginative play. Sit on the floor and let your child lay into your legs while they open their mouths and you use different types of toothbrushes to poke around, brush their teeth, floss, count their teeth, etc. Do this multiple times daily. At the end pretend to pick out a toy and make sure they know they did a good job!

At one point we had Bliss Energetics Super Remineralizing Ozonated Tooth Putty that we were using on a couple of Pickle’s teeth and it has a taste to it, so that gave him the opportunity to be uncomfortable with the taste and feeling but having to sit with it and endure it.

Breathing Exercises

Pickles can get anxious quickly if he does not like something and he tends to want to resolve it immediately. For example, with the Bliss Energetics Super Remineralizing Ozonated Tooth Putty I mentioned above he would beg for us to get it out of his teeth and he would use his tongue to try to get it out – or he would ask for water or something to eat to get rid of the taste. One things we found that was helpful was practicing breathing exercises.

Breathing exercises were already familiar to Pickles. We had introduced him to the idea during his temper tantrum stage when we would read Little Monkey Calms Down. Basically, whenever he is getting anxious we repeat the word “breathe” a few times softly and try to count in between breathes so he takes those nice deep breathes and can focus his attention there.

Doing these breathing exercises in preparation for dental work can be helpful because it gives you a tool you can use at home and at the dentist office; something familiar.

Temporary Discomfort

As noted above Pickles get anxious about anything he does not like. We knew going into our dental appointment with him that would have nitrous over his nose and numbness and pressure in his mouth (since they were putting a cap on one tooth and doing an extraction). Ahead of the dental appointment we would gently push on his teeth and the roof of his mouth to get him familiar with some of what was to come. We also bought Orajel NonMedicated Cooling Teething Gel to put on his teeth, gums, tongue and lips so that he could taste something weird and have a weird sensation of cooling in his mouth. He hated it initially, but we used the opportunity to practice playing dentist and his breathing exercises.

Within 10 minutes the cooling sensation would be gone and he would exclaim, “It’s gone! How it do that?! It just go away!” We would use the opportunity to remind him whatever he is feeling at the dental office will be like that – temporary.

Setting Expectations

As a parent you have a lot of knowledge now about what is going on and what to expect. You do not need to share all this information with your child. In fact, you should avoid oversharing. You want to be sure neither of you are obsessing about the dental work that is going to be done. Instead, focus on expectations. Constantly remind your child that:

  • The dental work is necessary
  • The dentist is going to help them
  • You will be there with them
  • They can bring their favorite stuffed animal, wear sunglasses at the appointment, watch their favorite show during the work, and/or get to pick a toy out at the end – whatever it is that your pediatric dental office does
  • The weird taste and feelings will be temporary
  • The process will be quick
  • You can do breathing exercises during the appointment if they are anxious
  • They will feel better when it’s all done
  • They can eat their favorite foods again (cashews and chips for Pickles!)
  • Any other positive things you can share – like for us we got Pickles a stuffed toy for after his procedure, so he knows there is a gift waiting for him when he’s finished. And we the dentist let us keep the tooth because Pickles likes gross things and wanted money from the tooth fairy

We also made sure to set expectations with Pickles that he cannot kick or move his head around during the procedure because he’s anxious – otherwise, he will need to come back to do it all over again.

Remember to just keep it positive, despite how anxious or guilty you may feel – your child needs you to exhibit confidence. It is OK to be sympathetic, but make sure that does not become pity for them. Keep it upbeat – “I’m so excited for you! You are going to feel so much better!,” “You are going to do such a great job!”, “Your tooth is getting a crown, like a king!”, “Your tooth is going to be silver like a robot! Are you going to call your nana with that tooth?!”

Preparations for Day-Of and Post-Treatment

Prior to the day of treatment, reach out for support. Ask your friends and family for prayers. We took Pickles to the monastery for a special blessing and had all the monastic communities and our friends and family praying for him.

We also went ahead and bought a special toy for when he got through treatment. He loves Curious George so we found him a Curious George stuffy and that became an incentive to do well (though we had to give it to him during the procedure as what we dubbed an “extraction distraction”).

We also knew we had to find a babysitter for Bacon, because he would turn that dental office upside down in 10 minutes tops if he were on the loose. And we both felt we needed to be there for Pickles so that he had mutual support and some muscle in case we needed to gently restrain him if he was going to kick or squirm and risk danger to himself or others.

When the dental work is done, your child will be on a liquid and soft food diet for a couple of days minimum. Make this exciting by taking your child to the grocery store and letting them pick out their favorite soft foods. Pickles picked out his favorite flavored almond milk yogurts, Jello, chocolate pudding, Go-Go squeezes (which we will use a spoon with because he cannot use suction while recovering), Enjoy Life soft cookies, oatmeal (or as he calls it “oaty-meal”), juice, etc.

Since he will need meals as well we prepared by making a big batch of lentil sweet potato soup the day before. Though it is a bit chunky, we knew we can blend it in the Nutribullet and we did.

For pain relief we picked up a couple homeopathic pain relief treatments from Hylands (Hyland’s 4 Kids Oral Pain Relief – Daytime and Hyland’s 4 Kids Oral Pain Relief – Nighttime) but ultimately decided to also pickup Children’s Tylenol, though we did not want to use it. We decided to give him the Tylenol on the way home so once the numbness wore off Pickles would not be in pain immediately. We wanted him to be comfortable for the first day or two before we switched over fully to the homeopathic treatment (which we gave concurrently with the Tylenol treatment).

Post-Treatment

Post-Treatment you and your child are going to be flooded with feelings. You are going to be feeling a mix of relief, sadness, guilt, joy, and pride (in your child). Your child is going to be crying and upset most likely. They will need lots of love and positive support along with reminders that what they feel is weird and may feel different, but it is only temporary. By the time we were checking out from the dentist practice we were already getting some laughs making fun of the gauze hanging out his mouth, telling him it reminded us of Bacon trying to eat baby wipes at home.

At home, be lax about rules – let them sit in front of the television and binge watch their favorite shows, spoon feed them as needed, let them nap and sleep with you on the couch or in your bed. Give them lots of love and snuggles! Before long, they will be feeling great and you will be wondering why you were so anxious to begin with!

Resources

Books to Consider
Products we Used and Like
Questions we Asked:.
  • What insurance do you accept? What is the cost?
  • What sorts of options are available for treatment? Sealants? SDF? Ozone Therapy?
  • What types of fillings are available? Do they have resin, composite, glass and/or porcelain? Do they do SMART fillings or temporary fillings? Laser fillings? Sealants?
  • Are they good with sensitive anxious children?
  • Can they do extractions in the office if it is required?
  • What options do they have for relaxation? Can they use nitrous along with Novocain? Are they able to do anesthesia if it was absolutely neccesary?
  • What fun things are there about the office? Do they have TVs on ceiling? Therapy dogs? Toy chest at the end? Can the child bring their favorite stuffed animal?
  • How long is the first appointment?
  • Do they have low radiation xrays?
Other Resources we Used and Liked

Lent and Easter

Lent

Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving within the Catholic Church. The 40 day period starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. It is a time of intentional reflection, remorse, and spiritual growth.

Prior to Lent

Prior to Lent we like to spend time as a family discussing our Lenten observances, especially the sacrifices we plan to adhere to as individuals and as a family, and what we intend to do instead of whatever it is we are sacrificing.

The intent during Lent is to remove those things from our lives which are hindering us – anything we are attached to; that has control over us. It is about reordering and setting right order where we are not controlled by things.

For instance, this year we recognized that we have let too much screen time into our lives and it has become an outlet of escape for us. We tend to eat more dinners in front of the television, put the kids in front of their favorite shows more often, have less play time and prayer time because of screen time, and get to bed later and wake up more tired because of screen time. It was creating much chaos for us and was not ‘serving’ us in any useful way; in fact, it was a detriment to us and our family. So we have decided to only allow two 30 minute blocks for screen time during the day for the kids, eat our meals at the table or kitchen island, and to have no screen time at night before bed but to instead replace that time with family time.

Mardi Gras / “Fat Tuesday”

After having decided on the focus on our family and individual sacrifices we wait for Mardi Gras, the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras literally means “Fat Tuesday” and is the day prior to Lent when you get it all out of your system. This is a day to eat rich foods, get as much screen time as you can, do whatever it is that you know you will be abstaining from for the next 40 days.

On Fat Tuesday we make a big pancake dinner with green, gold, and purple pancakes. These colors of Mardi Gras are said to represent faith, power, and justice. Somehow, part of the tradition has been realizing we have no maple syrup and having to run out to the nearest store to pay an amazingly high price for a massive jug of syrup!

Ash Wednesday

On Ash Wednesday we go to Mass as early as possible and obtain the imposition of ashes on our foreheads in the shape of the cross. As the priest imposes the ashes on us he reminds us, “remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” With those sobering words we go back home and begin our Lenten fasts.

During Lent

During the 40 days of Lent we have many observances that we, as a family, have taken on. These observances include:

  • Utilizing either the Jesus Tree, Candles, or some other item to symbolically mark each day during Lent. This year we have a Catholic All Year subscription so we have both a thick card stock with days remaining in Lent that the kids can put a sticker on each day and we also have a crown of thorns with 40 toothpicks (thorns) in it that the kids can pull a thorn from each day.
  • Setting out the bean jar for every good deed done that then turns into jelly beans on Easter Sunday
  • Changing the altar linens on our home altar (purple, red, and white linens are on hand as applicable throughout the season)
  • Scheduling a Lenten retreat for us to individually get away on a Friday or Saturday to the local monastery near us for Confession, Mass, Prayer, Adoration and Reflection
  • Observing the Stations of the Cross on Fridays throughout Lent
  • Watching Les Miserables (we usually have at least one musical per season in our household)
  • Watching Rick Steves’ European Easter
  • Coloring Easter Eggs or carving Pysanky Eggs

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the Sunday prior to Easter Sunday. On this day we go to Mass, obtain blessed palm fronds that we craft into crosses, and participate in the reenactment of Christ’s triumphant arrival in Jerusalem (days before he was crucified). In the past we have made a wreath or other greenery for our door and we always, always, celebrate Palm Sunday with ice cream sundaes.

Holy Week through Easter Sunday

Holy Week is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter and is observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. We spend a lot of time at the monastery or local parish during the week and more time in our home chapel.

The observances during this week include:

  • Listening to a podcast or DVD of the Tre Ores (The Three Hours’ Agony)
  • Tenebrae Service on Holy Wednesday (at home or at a parish)
  • Maundy Thursday Mass and the washing of the feet (at home or at a parish)
  • Good Friday Service and the adoration of the cross (at home or at a parish)
  • Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil at the local monastery
  • Easter Sunday Mass with an Easter egg hunt for the kids, unwrapping of their Easter baskets, and having a special dinner with some of our favorite Irish fare!
  • Changing the altar linens on our home altar to white and putting out imagery of Christ victorious over death

Have a Holy Lent and a Blessed Easter!


Marking The Year

Marking The Year: The Traditions That Sustain Us

As you read through the blog posts here on Pickles and Bacon you will find a that there are many traditions we adhere to in our household. These traditions act as an anchor throughout the year, designating the seasons and pulling us through the year more intentionally. These traditions mark the year for us as a family.

Marking the year is simply recognizing the daily, weekly and monthly observances related to feast days and celebrations within the Catholic Church, birthdays and anniversaries within the family, and seasonal cultural celebrations. As we do this we are drawn to look forward in anticipation to the traditions that have sustained us throughout our lives and develop fond memories of times spent together, whether it be in a dimly lit chapel with incense swirling and monastic chant or in our living room unwrapping presents from under the tree to Christmas melodies.

As a family we have even created a Shutterfly photo book outlining the traditions our particular family adheres to, with pictures from past observances to capture the memories of those times. The photo book is used as a compendium to our family calendar to help us remember and sustain the traditions that have been engraved in our hearts.

To learn more about the traditions that sustain us, search the site for the tag “traditions.”


Morning Vitamins

Morning Vitamins

Like all parents, we want our kids to be happy and healthy. We want to do whatever we can to help boost their immune systems and give them the nutrition they need. While diet is a major factor for immune health and nutrition we also choose to boost them with a morning vitamin routine that is mixed into a dairy free yogurt.


Our standard mix of vitamins for our toddler “Pickles” has been a mix of raw probiotic (1/2 TSP – 3/4 TSP), a multivitamin (2 TSP) and vitamin C (1 TSP). We supplement that with vitamin D3 and vitamin A when we want to give an extra boost (i.e. they were at a play group that week, or visiting someone who had a cold). We mix this all up with the dairy free yogurt into a reusable squeeze pouch (think “Go-Go Squeezes” you can get from the store).

For infants, like “Bacon”, we usually just do D3 drops initially, but gradually incorporate the other vitamins as his age reaches the recommended ages on the bottles.

When it comes to purchasing vitamins we have had good luck with using Vitacost. They are about the same price if not cheaper than Amazon and they have good quality brands like Childlife and Garden of Life. They also run a lot of sales and send coupons for free shipping and 15% off regularly. When you create an account with them they remember what you previously ordered and give you the option to quickly reorder. I love that.

With supplementing the kids’ diet with these vitamins we have not had a great deal of illness in the house. “Pickles” has been a sick with fever maybe three times? “Bacon” has been sick once. They get your typical allergies with seasonal changes but overall have had great health!


Simple Chore Chart

Simple Chore Chart

We recently acquired two large jars full of pennies, nickels and dimes from the kids’ grandparents. They knew how much “Pickles” loves coins and knew both boys had piggy banks at home that were waiting to be fed.

We decided to use this opportunity to incorporate chores back into “Pickles” schedules. He’s four and he likes to help but we often get caught up in the flurry of getting stuff done and forget to incorporate him. We also wanted him to start understanding, at some level, that a penny is less than a nickel and a dime is more than a penny, etc. So, we built out a simple chore chart and shared the plan with him. He’d earn either a penny, a nickel or a dime for different tasks:

Typically, for most of the chores he is simply helping us in the process. He isn’t old enough to go get the mail himself yet, nor is he strong enough to push a full trash barrel to the curb or lift a trash bag from the kitchen trash bin – but he can come with me to get the mail, or gather all the trash from the other trash bins in the house and dump them into the kitchen trash bin and get me a new trash bag. Depending on the level of his involvement in the chore we assigned a value.

This experience has been good thus far. He is wanting to help more to earn coins that he can put into his piggy bank and we are remembering to slow down a bit and include him in chores. Sometimes for fun we will pay him in all pennies just to see how big his eyes are about how many coins he has and we’ll regularly give “Bacon” some coins too for his piggy bank just because he’s too cute when he comes over looking for coins.

We look forward to the day when he has enough where we can roll the coins with him and bring him to the bank to cash them in, then he can decide what he wants to spend his money on!