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!


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.”


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!


Hygge and Health

Hygge and Health

Happy New Year!

It’s 2022, yet still no flying cars. Who would have thought?

This year we are hoping to focus much of our time, effort, and money on hygge and health. We are excited about this focus because we feel it’s something we need in our lives to help combat our chronic stress. You see, much chronic stress has developed for us over the years because we have feverishly and compulsively reacted to the demands of each thought. This had led to packed schedules and an overactive focus on ‘getting stuff done’ to return to a place of peace in our lives. The problem with this approach, however, is that the more we get done the more there is to do. Thoughts are never ending.

Reflecting back on our lives over the past decade and a half we have always felt the need to have space to process, to think, to be. We have lost this in recent time and since our thoughts are never ending, and we cannot create more time, the best thing we can do is create space. In creating space, we want to create space that is cozy, relaxing, intimate. There is a word for this type of experience, it’s called hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).

Naturally, we did what any crazy person who is trying to learn to relax does – we grabbed books from the library and researched hygge a bit. We then crafted a list (see below) of both indoor and outdoor activities we could look to when we have space created and want to break out of constant churn of to-do’s and settle into something like reading a book out loud to the children while drinking a hot beverage or lowering the lights, putting the fireplace on, and building a blanket fort. This list would serve to function not as a to-do list but as an ‘at-a-glance’ worksheet to help us think differently since our brains are so stuck in automatic thought patterns that focus on action.

In order to build space into our routine, we deflected some of the items on our schedule that normally take up that space, let go of the guilt that accompanied by not doing those things, and adopted a mindset of flexibility (i.e. it’s late, but let’s let the kids be up another 30 minutes and not feel so much pressure about bedtime since we’re doing this thing as a family right now).

With regards to health, I have decided to alter my diet this year and adopt the diet the family has, which is gluten free, dairy free, and egg free. I have also decided to eliminate beer, go off coffee, cut back significantly on eating out (think greasy, non-quality food) and late-night snacking, and to focus more strategically on eating a diet that could assist my autoimmune disorder. I went through the cabinets, got rid of the food that did not align and began aligning the shopping list with my new go-to’s which includes items like fermented foods and drinks, chicken breast, bone broths, paleo granolas, tuna, salad, and yogurt.

The transition to adopt the GF, DF, EF diet wasn’t as hard as I’d assumed. I mostly ate that way at dinner because it was a family meal, I just had to adapt my breakfast and lunch staples and what I snacked on. Cutting the beer was emotionally difficult because I enjoyed it, but I didn’t always feel the best after drinking it anyways – I typically felt lethargic and tired. Learning to ‘want’ fermented foods has been more difficult, but with time I know these things will help my gut health and help me feel my best.

We’re also focusing throughout the year on making our own fermented foods, crackers, breads, etc. because it’s cheaper and healthier. We even tried making our own yogurt, but that didn’t turn out so hot. In addition to changing diet and making more of our own foods, we also are added more supplements into our routine – taking cell salts, apple cider vinegar, probiotics, and upping the kids’ daily vitamins. I even decided to get a manual treadmill for the basement (which was cheaper than my gym membership and gave me greater flexibility). In a truly hygge-esque moment that treadmill box has now become a fort for the kids and takes up 1/8th of our bedroom!

We’re excited for 2022. We know we won’t accomplish all this overnight and it’ll be a year long pursuit of making small changes regularly but having the focus on hygge and health helps to keep us focused as we make decisions each day.

We hope your year is full of anticipation and promise!