Tag Archives: Holidays

Easter (a little late)

I found this Easter to be filled with disappointments.  I hate to say this because of course Easter is not about me.  It’s about the resurrection of Jesus, and I do rejoice in that.  But I found myself today, Easter Sunday, feeling really down about the whole thing.

To begin with, our plans to visit my husband’s family fell through when the kids and I were not feeling well on Good Friday, and we weren’t sure if it was the kind of thing that would get worse or better throughout the weekend.  The kids were super crabby all morning as we finished packing and prepping to leave. It was one of those days when both kids are fussing at the same times, and it’s like they’re competing to be heard, so they cry extra loudly.  The older one was whining and crying about the silliest, littlest things, so we knew something was up.

I decided I could handle the trip by early afternoon and the hubs figured we should at least give the trip a real shot before giving up.  After changing both kids’ diapers about seventeen times in the hour before leaving, a bath became necessary for the older child (don’t ask).  Thank the Lord we hadn’t left our house yet–dealing with that in a dingy gas-station bathroom would have been awful.

We finally got going three hours after we’d hoped to leave our house.  The longest car ride we had taken the newborn on was an hour long each way, and on that return trip, he’d cried a LOT.  So we weren’t too optimistic about a four-hour drive (which we knew could easily become six or more with two children).  Sure enough, less than half an hour in, the little one burst out wailing.  Since our first child was a remarkably good traveler, usually sleeping soundly until hungry, this second kid’s fussiness in the car is uncharted territory.  After the stress of the morning, dealing with crying kids at home and packing our tiny car to bursting at the seams, we already felt as though we’d been traveling all day.

We turned around right away.  Nope, not gonna attempt that long of a trip yet.  Imagining dealing with sickness and crying and crabbiness in a tiny Vibe and then being a guest in someone else’s house on top of that was too much. (Illness is always a bit easier in your own home and your own bed.)

Anyway, some more disappointments: I feel like a lame-o mom with holidays so far.  Case in point: Liam’s first birthday, we decided on a simple cookout with a few neighbor friends instead of a big themed party with all our relatives (no way all sides of the family could fit in our house for a party anyway, and no one lives locally).  We ended up having to cancel even that casual gathering when Liam turned up sick that day.  Score -1 in the mommy game.  Other holidays–well, we have managed to get Liam’s picture with Santa both Christmases, so that’s a win.  However, we didn’t even have a Christmas tree this year because he kept pulling the lights off.  I never decorate for Valentine’s Day or Easter or St. Patrick’s or 4th of July.  About all I do is maybe bake some cookies.

This Easter, I have not done a whole lot with creating traditions for our kids to cherish.  We missed out on all the fun we could have had with Nate’s sisters and their families (they always do tons of cute crafts and treats and activities).  We then found out about all the local Easter egg hunts about an hour too late.  I didn’t buy presents or make up cutesy Easter baskets for the boys, nor did I dress them in matching pastel outfits.  I didn’t hide plastic eggs with candy all over the house and yard for Liam to find first thing this morning.

The worst part was missing out on Easter worship services.  The past few years, we’ve been absent for this Sunday anyway, since we’re usually visiting with relatives we rarely see.  We don’t feel like missing out on the limited time we have to spend with loved ones just for the sake of visiting some random church.  This year, for once, we were home, but now we have a six-week-old who is extremely fussy at times, usually including church times.  So we couldn’t make services on Good Friday or Easter morning.  I don’t see the point of going through all the hassle of getting all of us dressed and out the door only to spend the whole service hiding out in the foyer because the baby is crying.  (Kudos to you parents who deal with the hassle anyway! I salute you.)

I was very grieved to not be present with the body of believers for worship today.  I longed to sing along with the congregation my old familiar hymns, like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.

However, I learned a lesson today.  The resurrection is not about me.  Easter is not about the perfect Pinterest-y holiday filled with dozens of cutely-posed photo ops.  I felt jealous as I scrolled my facebook news feed, seeing the parade of adorable children in coordinated ensembles, hunting for eggs, visiting the Easter bunny, and whatnot.  But you know what?  All the trappings of this holiday, as sweet and fun as they may be, do not make Easter what it is meant to be.  If I can rejoice today in the fact that I am a sinner, filled with sinful thoughts, guilty of sinful actions, yet Christ died to bring me back to God, then that’s ALL that matters.  I’m alive in Christ.  He has risen, and one day I will rise with him.

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Cheesy Ham-and-Potato Casserole

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I’m not a “food blogger”, but here is a great recipe I wanted to share anyway.  If what you’re craving is a simple, homey, soul-warming meal on a chilly fall evening, then look no further!  This cheesy ham casserole is the very definition of comfort food.  It can fill up the hungriest bellies, ease the worst of days, and maybe even provide some great leftovers for the rest of the week (that is, if you can manage to leave any for tomorrow!).  I usually can’t stop at any fewer than two big helpings of this stuff, and not just because I’m pregnant, although I’d love to use that as an excuse.

The great thing about this recipe (besides the awesome stick-to-your-ribs taste) is that it uses fairly common ingredients that many of us keep stocked up all the time.  Ham, potatoes, onion, milk, cheese…pretty much staples in our house, anyway!  I use the thick pre-cooked ham steaks for this recipe.  For potatoes, whatever type you have or like, although I’m partial to the red ones.  Most people probably prefer them to be peeled, but whatever your crowd likes is allllllright.

Probably the most time-consuming part of this recipe is the chopping of ingredients and making the cream sauce.  Hey, busy folks, no judgment here—if you want to sub in a couple of cans of cream-of-onion-or-whatever-soup you have in the pantry, I imagine it would taste just about as good!  I do adore the way this creamy from-scratch mixture blends in and soaks the potatoes in its yummy flavor, so if you have the time, I’d highly recommend trying it.  It really only adds about ten extra minutes onto the total prep time.

Once your creamy onion sauce has a nice thick texture, you’re ready to layer everything how you like it, then bake!

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 tbsp butter

1 c minced onion

3 tbsp all-purpose flour (or cornstarch for gluten-free prep)

1 tsp salt

Few twists freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ cups milk

4 medium potatoes, sliced thin

2-3 c cooked, diced ham

1-2 cups chopped fresh or frozen spinach, kale or broccoli (or vegetable of choice)

1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. (Many commenters on cooks.com suggested 425 degrees instead, so the potatoes will fully cook in the time suggested.) Melt butter in medium saucepan.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper until blended.  (Be careful not to scorch.)  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens.  (It should eventually resemble a creamy soup.)
  1. If using fresh greens, simply chop or tear them and sprinkle in among the layers. If using frozen veggies, let them thaw a bit at room temp (or microwave a minute or so) and pat dry. *This is an easy ingredient to omit if you are feeding pickier eaters; however, if you can sneak even a little bit in there, you’ll feel a lot better about the nutritional value of the dish!  Even my toddler, who shuns almost everything green, gobbled this up, broccoli included.   There’s so much creamy cheesiness that they’ll hardly mind the healthy stuff!
  1. In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer half the potatoes, vegetables, ham cubes, and sauce. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown.  Makes 4-6 servings.

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I forgot to include a picture of the pan right out of the oven, so try to picture it with a nice golden-brown cheesy crust!

*Feel free to use different varieties of cheese to change up the flavor.  We’re partial to Cabot extra-sharp cheddar at our house!

*Lower-fat options: use reduced-fat cheese (or less of it), lessen the amount of butter in the onion mix, use skim or lower-fat milk.  I can’t vouch for the taste results, but play with the ingredients and quantities and see what fits your needs.

This recipe has been adapted from cooks.com.

Tradition

This weekend, my son will sit in the tiny red rocking chair that his grandfather sat in as a baby.  He will eat while sitting in a green high chair that his grandfather also used.  His cousins have been in those chairs over the years, trying new foods and making messes and posing for photos.  If it isn’t too cold, we may take him out to Allerton Park to see the Fu Dogs and other statues, which we do as a family just about every year around Thanksgiving.  I hope to instill in him a respect and enjoyment of traditions, especially those passed down through family generations.

Turkey day

Thanksgiving!  It’s arriving a bit late this year, so I am super-excited and filled with anticipation.  For most of my life, Thanksgiving, to me, has always trumped Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong; I do love Christmas carols and movies and cookies (and presents), but I feel like Thanksgiving comes with less pressure.

Thanksgiving: a holiday all about food and family.  (Well, also about giving thanks, of course.) I am not that into turkey, but direct most of my appetite toward homemade bread, green bean casserole, and apple pie.

Getting together with family in such a relaxed atmosphere is simply wonderful.  I’m sure my mom is less relaxed than I am this time of year, seeing as my parents usually host and she has to make the turkey.  I just love hanging out with my cousins, aunts and uncles, brothers, nieces and nephews.  I love our traditional hike at Allerton Park.  I love meeting up with my high school friends while I’m back in my hometown.

I love the milestones my husband and I have shared on Thanksgiving in our five years together.

  •  2008: He came with me and met my entire family, including the first time meeting my parents. Brave guy! (A few weeks later, I got to go “home” with him and meet his family, too!)
  • 2009: We had a serious talk about where our relationship was heading– basically discovered we were both on the same page and wanted to get married fairly soon. Plus, we had extended-family photos taken, and he posed right beside me.
  • 2012: Our first gathering on my side of the family since announcing our baby on the way.
  • 2013: Our first Thanksgiving with our son! Sweet memories to be made!