Repost: Easter “Resurrection Roll” Bible Story and Recipe

Easter is just a few weeks away, which means it’s time to bring back all of my favorite lent activities. Easter is such a special time to share with children, and I’m always looking for fun and creative ways to share the truth of this season with my boys. This week we will begin using our resurrection eggs and we’ll also be doing one of my all-time favorite cooking projects: resurrection rolls. Resurrection rolls are a simple (and, might I add, delicious) way to share the gospel with children, a truly memorable experience. I thought I’d repost the recipe and story here for you if you’d like to join in the fun–enjoy!

Original Post: Resurrection Roll Recipe and Bible Story

I love finding creative ways to teach important truths to kids. And I love it even more if I can find a way to tie food into the “lesson”. You can imagine my excitement, then, when I first discovered Resurrection Rolls.

Basically, Resurrection Rolls are a treat that you make where each step of the cooking process represents part of the Easter story. It’s a wonderful way to tell kids the Easter story AND the rolls themselves are sublime. I’ve had people make the rolls for me before, but this was my first time doing the whole project with David. He was able to help out a bit and was pretty engaged the whole time (even if he did keep trying to swipe marshmallows from my stash). I’ll definitely be doing this again next year–a new tradition has been born!

What you’ll need:

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  • 1 package of crescent rolls
  • 8 large marshmallows (plus extras to snack on while you’re waiting for the rolls to bake!)
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar plus 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Bible (or use the “script” below)

How It’s Done:

IMG_1513Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, get out your Bible and open up to John 19 or find the Easter story in a children’s Bible (my favorite is the Jesus Storybook Bible). Below you’ll find the pictures and the “script” for how I told the story to David (he’s only 2 years old, so I kept it simple for him).

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Say: “Even though Jesus was perfect and had never sinned–he had never ever done anything wrong– some people did not like him. They wanted to hurt Jesus because he said he was God. They made Jesus carry a cross and they killed him. This made God very sad, but it was all part of His great rescue plan. When Jesus died, his friends took his body off the cross.”

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Do: Give your child a marshmallow
Say: “This marshmallow represents Jesus’ body. Jesus died for you and for me, because we have sinned and we need to be rescued from our sin.”

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Say: “After Jesus died, his friends came and they put special oil and spices on Jesus’ body to get him ready for burial.”
Do: Roll the marshmallow in melted butter, then in cinnamon sugar

Say: “Next, Jesus’ friends wrapped his body in special cloths–almost like a mummy! Jesus had died, and they were getting his body ready to bury.”
Do: Roll the cinnamon-sugar marshmallow up in a crescent roll (it won’t look like a crescent roll). Press all of the seams firmly. Repeat for each of the crescent rolls. Place the rolls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

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Say: “Next, they laid Jesus’ body in a tomb. A tomb is like a big cave carved out of rock. Then big, strong soldiers rolled a heavy rock in front of the tomb so nobody could get in or out of the tomb. They even put a special seal over the entrance so they would know if anybody tried to move the rock that was in front of the entrance. Soldiers stood in front of the tomb to guard it day and night.”
Do: Put the rolls in the oven and set your timer for 10-12 minutes. Let the rolls bake until they are golden-brown. I even let David stand guard in front of our oven “tomb” with his toy sword.

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Say: “Jesus was dead in the tomb for three days. Let’s count to three: one, two, three. How many days was he in the tomb? That’s right, three days.”
(We had some time to wait for the rolls, so I let David play while they were baking. I kept going back to him, though, and we’d repeat this whole conversation about how long Jesus was in the tomb.)

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Do: When the rolls are done baking, take them out of the oven and let them cool (I let mine cool for about 20 minutes, and that was perfect). The marshmallow will probably have exploded out of your rolls, but that’s to be expected (that’s why we put down the parchment paper!). After the rolls have cooled…

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Say: “Three days after Jesus had died, an angel of God appeared to one of Jesus’ friends. He told her that Jesus was alive! Jesus’ friends decided to look in the tomb where they had put Jesus’ body, but when they did, it was empty! Jesus had risen! And still today, Jesus is alive. Today he lives in heaven with God.”
Do: Cut open one of the rolls. The marshmallow has melted, so the “tomb” is now empty.

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Do: Eat your yummy rolls!
Say: “These rolls are sweet, just like the love of God. God made you and he loves you very much. And some day, if you choose to love and follow God, you will be able to spend forever and ever in heaven with him and Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is our Great Rescuer. The Bible tells us that the only way to Heaven is through loving and believing in Jesus. We celebrate Easter, because Jesus died and rose again so that we could have a way to Heaven.”

Lost In Translation: My Attempt At Writing In “Irish”

Each and every day that I live in Ireland I am struck by this fact: “English” (the language) is a relative term.  There is English-English, American-English, Australian-English, Irish-English…and they are all utterly and completely different. Although I technically speak the same language as my Irish friends, most of our conversations have to pass through a vocabulary translator of sorts before we can understand each other’s jibberish. To illustrate my point, I will write this post entirely in “Irish-English” (and, just in case you get lost, I’ll post the American-English translation at the end). A note to my Irish friends who might be reading this–I apologise in advance as I know I will still butcher this humourous “translation”. So, here it is–a glimpse into my world: the world of a girl living behind the language barrier.

Thursday (Irish-English Version)

On Thursday, 27 March, I had a grand day with my smallies. We started our day as we always do, with breakfast: porridge and toast with blackcurrant jam. Then it was school time. After I dropped David at playschool Jacob and I drove down the motorway to our favorite Thursday ritual: the Mahon Point Farmer’s Market. On our way there we passed a breakdown van that was rescuing an estate car that had somehow run into the crash barrier under a hoarding.

The car park was nearly full by the time we IMG_1486arrived at the market, but I managed to find a spot available between the trolleys and a lorry that looked like it had just rolled in off the farm (the number plate was so muddy I could hardly make heads nor tails of it). We had to take the lift down to the market as I had Jacob in the buggy. The market was bustling and I had to queue at several stands. My favourite vendors were all there and we managed to find some great bargains. One stand even had a voucher promotion going on and I was able to buy courgettes and aubergines for half price. At one stall there was a woman with short fringe and a pink hairslide arguing over the price of maize and mangetouts–I’m not quite sure why she had her knickers in such a twist! In the end, though, we came away with some fresh ingredients for our supper. I could hardly wait to prepare all of our delicious veg on my hob when we got home.

After our morning at the farmer’s market I wanted to call on a friend for a cuppa tea, but it was already time to collect David. After David put his backpack in the boot I asked him how his day at school was. He said that he had a grand time playing in the sandpit with his friend, Seán Murphy, who he had met in the crèche before school. David said that at school they were practising maths and that his teacher was even teaching him how to tie his trainers. His trousers and jumper were a bit wet, and he said that it started raining while he was playing football with the lads in the play yard. No bother, I told him, he could just change into his dressing gown when we got home.

unnamedWhen we got home we had lunch and then decided to go for a walk. There is a nice footpath that goes along the sea not far from our house, so we decided to go down to the beach for a spell. We all wore our wellies so we could splash in the water (it was only 9 degrees out, so not nearly warm enough for swimming costumes!) and we brought along a spade and pail so we could build sandcastles! I also brought along minerals and biscuits in case we got peckish while we were out. We had a grand afternoon playing by the seaside. At about 15.00 we decided to go back home so Jacob could have his sleep.

After returning home I changed Jacob’s nappy, gave him his dummy and laid him down in his cot. While Jacob was sleeping, David and I heard the Mr. Whippy van passing through our green. We ran outside and caught him just before he passed our front garden. We each had a lovely ice cream cone topped with colourful hundreds and thousands–I was so tempted to buy some jelly babies and candy floss, too, but I decided the ice cream would be sufficient. The last thing I need is more sweeties!

Plus, I had to get back inside. I still needed to ring the surgery on my mobile to discuss our bill–it cost us nearly 100 Euro to visit the A&E, if you can fathom. And that was before our visit to the chemist! Just imagine what it would have cost if we actually had to utilise the theatre there.

It was a grand day with my smallies but, I have to say, I wouldn’t mind getting away on an aroplane soon. This mummy needs a holiday!

 

Thursday (American-English Translation)

On Thursday, March 27th I had a great day with my little ones. We started our day as we always do, with breakfast: oatmeal and toast with grape jelly. Then it was time to go to school. After I dropped David off at preschool Jacob and I drove down the highway to our favorite Thursday ritual: the Mahon Point Farmer’s Market. On our way there we passed a tow truck that was rescuing a station wagon that had somehow run into the guardrail under a billboard.

The parking lot was almost full by the time we arrived at the market, but I managed to find a spot between the shopping carts and a semi-truck that looked like it had just rolled in off the farm (the license plate was so muddy that I could hardly make it out). We had to take the elevator down to the market as I had Jacob in the stroller. The market was bustling and I had to wait in line at several stands. My favorite vendors were all there andwe managed to find some great deals. One stand even had a coupon deal going on and I was able to buy zucchini and eggplant for half price. At one stall there was a woman with short bangs and a pink barrette arguing over the price of corn and snowpeas–I’m not quite sure why she was throwing such a fit! In the end, though, we came away with some fresh ingredients for our dinner. I could hardly wait to prepare all of our delicious vegetables on my stove when we got home.

After our morning at the farmer’s market I wanted to meet up with a friend for coffee, but it was already time to pick up David. After David put his backpack in the trunk I asked him how his day at school was. He said that he had a great time playing in the sandbox with his friend, John Smith, who he had met in the daycare before school. David said that at school they are practicing math and that his teacher was even teaching him how to tie his tennis shoes. His pants and sweater were a bit wet, and he said that it started raining when he was playing soccer with some boys on the playground. Don’t worry, I told him, you can just change into your bathrobe when we get home.

When we got home we had lunch and then decided to go for a walk. There’s a nice sidewalk that goes along the water not far from our house, so we decided to go down to the beach for awhile. We all wore our boots so we could splash in the water (it was only 50 degrees out, so not nearly warm enough for swim suits!) and we brought along a bucket and shovel so we could build sandcastles. I also brought along beverages and cookies in case we got hungry while we were out. We had a great afternoon playing by the ocean. At about 3:00 we decided to head back home so Jacob could take his nap.

When we got home I changed Jacob’s diaper, gave him his pacifier, and laid him down in his crib. While Jacob was sleeping, David and I heard the ice cream truck passing through our neighborhood. We ran outside and caught him just before he passed our front yard. We each had a yummy ice cream cone topped with colorful sprinkles–I was so tempted to buy some jelly beans and cotton candy, too, but I decided the ice cream would be enough. The last thing I need is more candy!

Plus, we needed to get back inside. I still needed to call the doctor’s office on my cell phone–It cost us almost $150 to visit the ER, if you can believe it. And that was before our visit to the pharmacy! Just imagine what it would have cost if we actually had to go to the operating room there.

It was a great day with my little ones but, I have to say, I wouldn’t mind getting away on an airplane soon. This mommy needs a vacation!

The Edge of Ireland: Mizen Head and Dromberg Stone Circle

After a very emotional week, I was in desperate need of some quality family time over the weekend.  We spent all day Saturday lounging around home–I don’t think the boys even got out of their pajamas the whole day. It was wonderful. By Sunday we were all ready to go out and do something, so we decided to embark on one of our family fun-ventures. I’ve been wanting to see Mizen Head, the southern-most point in Ireland, for quite some time now. After two failed attempts to go to Mizen Head in the last few months, it was time to give it another go. And, luckily for us, the third time worked like a charm. It was a glorious sunny day and we were surprised by how much we enjoyed our little day trip.

Mizen Head is in southwest County Cork, about a 2 hour drive from our house in Cork City.  On our way out to Mizen Head we made a couple of stops to help break up the drive. Our first stop was Dromberg Stone Circle, an ancient site of ritual and ceremony:

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Nobody knows the exact purpose of these circles (there are several still standing in Ireland), but it is believed that the alignment of the stones has something to do with the alignment of the sun during the winter solstice. Excavations of the Dromberg Stone Circle in the 1950’s uncovered a pottery vessel containing the cremated remains of a youth which were carbon dated to about 1100 B.C. Today, the circle still stands where it has stood for thousands of years: in the middle of a field overlooking the ocean. It’s quite sturdy, as evidenced by the climbability of the stones:

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Just outside of the stone circle there are the remains of two stone huts that were probably part of an ancient village:

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Inside one of the “huts” you can still see what remains of a unique cooking system. There are two pits: a hearth tucked into the back wall and a trough in the middle of the floor. Apparently what would happen is the people would heat stones in the hearth then place them in the trough full of water. The water would become quite hot for several hours and they could cook meat (and even brew beer!) submerged in the hot water. It’s kind of like a Bronze Age sous-vide cooker, if you will:

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After exploring the stone circle we got back in the car and continued up the road. On our way to Mizen Head we pulled off to what we thought was a turnoff at a scenic viewpoint. While the spot was unbelievably “scenic”, there was another little treasure here as well: an altar wedge tomb.

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This ritual tomb was constructed at the end of the Stone Age, between 3,000-2,000 B.C. The entrance to the tomb is deliberately aligned with the Mizen Peninsula and–if I don’t say so myself–has quite a magnificent view. Here are Jon and Jacob standing outside the entrance to the tomb for a little perspective of what the area looks like:

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From here it was only about 25 minutes to the Mizen Head visitor center. When we arrived at the visitor center we took care of business right away: 1. potty  2. lunch. It was such a nice day that we decided to have a picnic outside. There is a great playground at the visitor center and the boys were having so much fun there that we decided to just eat our lunch in the playground instead of sitting at the boring old picnic tables:

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At the playground, David found two little boys who were kindred spirits (as in, they all had boundless energy and enjoyed knocking each other down for fun). He had a grand time playing with his friends until Mom and Dad tore him away from them.

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To get to the end of the Mizen Peninsula, to the “head”–the very end of Ireland, you hike down a beautiful seaside path. The path is paved (thank goodness, because the boys never would have made it if we hadn’t brought the stroller!) and the scenery is breathtaking. Cliffs and crashing waves all around you. Absolutely incredible.

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When you get down to the bottom of the first cliff you have to cross a suspension bridge to get out to the lighthouse that is at the end of the peninsula. Here is the view of the suspension bridge from the top of the cliff:

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And here is the view from the suspension bridge looking down, down, down…it was a long way down. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but we were hundreds of feet in the air here with nothing but cliffs and rocks and water below:

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After we crossed over the bridge we walked down to a viewpoint where you could look back up at the bridge:

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Walking a bit further up the path we came to the hundred-year old lighthouse and keeper’s quarters that are set up like a bit of a museum now. When we walked out of the lighthouse it was the moment we’d all been waiting for: our view of the end of Ireland!

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It was amazing to see that point of rocks jutting out into the water, that southernmost part of this island. For thousands of people leaving Ireland (or Europe, for that matter) this point was their last glimpse of land–explorers, immigrants, and even convicts would have sailed by this very spot and off into the great blue ocean. And, for many who would never return, it was the last piece of Ireland they would ever see. For us, though, it was just another (beautiful) stop on our grand tour of this amazing country:

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After a full afternoon exploring Mizen Head we loaded back into the car. Before heading home, though, we made one last stop at a place called Barleycove Beach. There were huge sand dunes, millions of rabbits and their rabbit holes, seashells and, of course, rocks to throw in the water. A recent storm had washed out the footbridge across the river to the wide oceanfront beaches, but we still had a great time skipping stones on the river and collecting seashells.

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When we felt that the boys were sufficiently worn out we loaded them in the car for the long drive back home. Our ploy worked beautifully and within minutes both boys were snoozing peacefully in the back seat:

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We arrived back in Cork at dinner time and, since neither of us felt like cooking after our long day out, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at our favorite “chipper” (a shop that sells fish and chips and other fried goodness). KC’s is ammmmazing, as evidenced by the mile-long line that winds out the front door and up the street during all business hours. The food is well worth the wait, though–especially if you’ve just had a long day exploring stone circles and wedge tombs and cliffs and beaches.

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I think we will all remember this day for many years to come: the day that we went to the edge of Ireland and back again.

From Tents to Castles: Remembering Popop

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On March 22, 2014 my grandfather, Popop, left this earth to join Jesus in heaven. He was 82 years old–a devoted husband of 60 years, a loving father to my mother, an incredible grandpa to me, and a caring great-grandfather to my children. I already miss you so much, Popop, and I can’t wait for the day we are reunited again in our forever home.

Up until this year I had all four of my grandparents. I am very lucky. Three months ago, a week before Christmas, my Grandpa Chuck passed away. Then, last week, we got word that Popop was quite ill and that the end was likely nearing. He passed away yesterday at his home in Phoenix, Arizona surrounded by family. He was dearly loved and will be greatly missed by all of us.

This whole week I’ve been thinking a lot about Popop–who he was as a man and what he meant to me. We shared lots of amazing moments together throughout my life, and I will always hold those memories dear. Memories of us walking through the deserts of Arizona and the beaches of California and the forests of Washington together. Memories of family gatherings. Memories of Christmases, Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Feasters (a holiday that we created–perhaps the most wonderful holiday that ever was created). Memories of summers spent with my grandparents at the lighthouse in Brown’s Point. Memories of afternoons spent searching for tadpoles in the creek. Memories of Popop rooting on the Nebraska Corn Huskers and ASU football like it was his mission in life. Memories of him dancing at my wedding. Memories of him drinking Mountain Dew (perhaps the best beverage that ever was created). Memories of how he always knew how to make me laugh. And memories of him gently holding my newborn sons. Memories. Lots of beautiful, wonderful memories.

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As I’ve been thinking about Popop, I’ve also been praying for him. It’s been a week of ceaseless prayer, really. My mom called me a few days ago and shared with me a passage from 2 Corinthians that came up in her devotional this week and it really stuck with me. It reads:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5

One of my favorite things to do in moments like this is to go for a “prayer run”–just go out in nature by myself, run, pray, and listen. I went on a prayer run on Saturday morning, just a few hours before I got the news that Popop had passed away. As I was running and praying and meditating on this passage from 2 Corinthians, I rounded the corner and saw this: Blackrock Castle.

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A thought came to me. This earth and everything in it is fleeting. The Bible tells us that our body is merely a tent–not a permanent structure, but something that is intended to be set up, disassembled, and moved. But if our tent is destroyed–as Popop’s was this weekend–we are not to lose heart. We are not to be sad over a lost tent, because God has a building for us. His intention when He created us was not that we would spend eternity wandering around like transient nomads in tents, but that at some point we would come home to the unshakable building he is creating for us in heaven. He doesn’t want us living under canvas forever–his plans for us are better than that. No, God is creating a castle for us. Not a tent, a castle. A beautiful home that will last the test of time. So, even though I am mourning the loss of my dear Popop, I can be joyful that his tent–weathered and worn–has been cast aside for a heavenly castle. That eternity will be an extraoridnary place, even more so because of the addition of Popop’s castle.

I miss you, Popop, and I will always love you. From now until eternity.

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St. Patrick’s Day In Ireland

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On March 17th each year the whole world dresses in green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Never in my life did I think I would actually be in Ireland on this most-Irish of all holidays. Yet, here we find ourselves, and I couldn’t have been more excited. This being our first St. Patrick’s Day in the Emerald Isle, we wanted to make it memorable. And, now that I’m starting to recover from the festivities, I can honestly say that St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland did not disappoint. We had a whole weekend of celebrations, and this will definitely be a St. Patrick’s Day that none of us will ever forget!

Our St. Patrick’s weekend festivities began on Friday. The boys received a care package in the mail from their Gammy and Grandpa Pete in Washington. It was full of goodies–including “leprechaun candy” that they feasted on all weekend:

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On Friday afternoon we had a St. Paddy’s playdate with some of David’s friends. We all went out to lunch at our “local” (the pub in our neighborhood) that was all bedecked in Irish decor. Two of the moms  have recently gone back to work so we don’t see as much of each other as we used to–we had a grand time catching up while the kids ran around the pub like wild banshees. Here’s David with his two buddies: Alannah and Jack Kelly (David calls him Jack Kelly–not just Jack–Jack KELLY. I kind of love it because it sounds so very Irish):

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Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day so we went out to Blarney Castle for a romp in the gardens. The castle grounds were beautiful with the Spring flowers blooming and the (rare) sun shining to warm us:

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On Sunday we had our day of rest to prepare for the busy day on Monday: St. Patrick’s Day! Since St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland,  Jon had the day off work (woot!). We started our day with a hearty St. Patrick’s-themed breakfast: “shamrock pancakes” (green pancakes) and “leprechaun juice” (green milk).

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After breakfast we noticed that there were little green “clues” hidden all over the place. Apparently, a sneaky little leprechaun had snuck into our house while we were sleeping and hidden his treasure for us to find. The boys ran around (and up and down and all about) following the clues until they found the leprechaun’s treasure:

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After our scavenger hunt we dressed up in our green get-ups and got ready to drive into the city for the Cork City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Even Bota dressed up for the occasion (even if she didn’t get to come with us to the parade):

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We arrived about 2 hours before the start of the parade which was kind of perfect–all of the Catholics (a.k.a all of the Irish people) were still in mass so we got a great parking spot and staked out a seat along the parade route. While we were waiting for the parade to begin we wandered around and got lunch at the food booths, visited the face painters in the park, and generally took it all in. We were here, in Ireland, for St. Patrick’s Day!

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The parade was a grand affair. Michael Flatley of “Riverdance” fame was the master of ceremonies, although I didn’t even recognize him when he drove by (you can hardly blame me–he wasn’t wearing tights). The parade had bands, acrobats, dancing groups, an eclectic collection of international groups, fire trucks, and floats. The boys loved watching the parade–David’s favorite group was “the army guys” and Jacob’s favorite was the Chinese dragon (I know because he cried when it went around the corner and he couldn’t see it anymore). It was all really, really wonderful.

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The parade must have wiped the boys out because shortly after we returned home I  found them resting on the floor with blankets they’d pulled off their beds. Ah, even leprechauns need their sleep.

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I probably should have joined them for their little afternoon snooze, because my day was far from over at this point. After the boys were tucked in for the night we had a babysitter come over so Jon and I could go out and enjoy the St. Paddy’s nightlife. We went back into the city and met up with our friend (and Jon’s co-worker), Cole, who had just arrived in town for a week of work in the Ireland office.

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We visited some pubs, and I learned three important truths on our little late-night escapade:

1. There is nothing like celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in an Irish pub. Especially if that Irish pub is actually in Ireland. The atmosphere was…how do I put this…electric. Everything was buzzing and alive and, well, crazy. It was tons of fun.

2. Even the rowdiest pub in Ireland will still serve you tea and scones at midnight. No joke.

3. I am getting old. One of the pubs had a great band playing cover songs and we spent most of the night signing and dancing along with (what seemed to be) half of Ireland. I left the pub feeling old. Very, very old. Nevermind the fact that I still can’t hear out of my left ear (the one that was facing the speaker while the band played) or the fact that I left the pub clutching my sore back (too much dancing). The thing that makes me feel REALLY old is the fact that me, Jon, and Cole were the only ones singing along to songs from our high school days. Which makes sense when you consider that most of the other revelers in the pub were probably in Kindergarten when those songs were popular. Dang.

In short, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was everything I’d hoped that it would be…and more. Every St. Patrick’s Day for the rest of my life I will remember this week: that time that I was actually in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day.

And it was–wait for it–legendary.

Repost: Redeeming St. Patrick’s Day

I posted this entry last year shortly after returning from our first visit to Ireland. Now that we are actually living in Ireland and about to celebrate our first St. Patrick’s Day here, I thought it would be fitting to repost it. Although the drinking and the leprechauns still seem to steal the show here in Ireland, I am reminded that St. Patrick was a real man who really stood for something. So, on Monday as we join thousands of spectators lining St. Patrick’s Street and Grand Parade for (what I’m hoping will be) the most memorable St. Patrick’s Day parade I’ve ever witnessed, I’ll keep good ‘ol Patrick in mind. And hopefully he won’t mind if I have a pint in his memory.

 

Original Post: Redeeming St. Patrick’s Day and a Shamrock Craft

I’ve never really liked St. Patrick’s Day. People seem to just use it as an excuse to drink too much beer and pinch unsuspecting bystanders who made the unfortunate choice to not wear green on March 17th. This year, however, I’m seeing things a bit differently. You see, I just got back from my first trip to Ireland where I learned a lot about Irish history and who St. Patrick really was (yes, he was a real person). So this year, instead of eating green eggs in a drunken stupor, I am going to try and redeem St. Patrick’s Day for my kids.

Who Was St. Patrick?
First of all, Patrick is not really a Saint (you know, the capital “s” type canonized by the Catholic church). And he’s not even Irish. Patrick was born in Scotland and, when he was about 16 years old, he was captured in a raid and brought to Ireland as a slave (this was in about the year 405–a really long time ago). At the time, Ireland was a radically pagan place– considered to be about as far away from God as any place on the planet. Patrick’s grandfather, however, had been a priest. While Patrick remained in bondage in Ireland he clung to his faith and relied on prayer. Then, after 6 years, he managed to escape and return home.

When Patrick was in his 40’s, God brought him back to Ireland–this time as a missionary (I love God’s sense of irony!). Patrick had become intimately connected with the Irish people during his years in slavery and history tells us that one of his first converts was the very man who had held Patrick in captivity. Patrick went on to spend the next several years of his life preaching and spreading the gospel throughout Ireland. He was so successful in his missionary work that he turned the once-pagan island into one of the early centers of the Christian faith.

Legend has it that on one of Patrick’s missionary journeys through Ireland he came to a castle at the top of a rocky crag called the Rock of Cashel. I had the great honor of visiting the Rock of Cashel a few weeks ago when I was in Ireland:

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It was here at the Rock of Cashel that Patrick (reputedly) used a shamrock to tell the story of the trinity and then baptized King Aengus. Basically, the illustration of the shamrock trinity is that each of the leaves represents one of God’s persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While they are each separate and unique, they are all part of one whole.

As you look out from the Rock of Cashel to the Irish countryside, it’s easy to imagine what that day must have been like:

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For The Kids: Shamrock Collages
This week I told my 2 year old about St. Patrick. I told him how he was a man who lived a long, long time ago and that God used him to help other people learn about Jesus. We looked at pictures of shamrocks and I explained the trinity to little David using Patrick’s illustration. It was awesome!

Then the former-kindergarten teacher in me had to get crafty. We decided to commemorate our little shamrock “lesson” with a simple project.

I started by gathering an assortment of green things: scrapbooking paper, pom-poms, foam shapes, tissue paper and a large piece of green cardstock. I also put a dime-sized squirt of glue into a bowl with a Q-tip to use as a paintbrush:

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I used a pencil to draw a shamrock shape onto the cardstock (heavy construction paper or cardboard painted green would also work), then I cut out the shamrock:

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I sat David down at the table and gave him all of the green things I’d collected. He helped me tear the tissue paper into small pieces (this is great fine-motor practice, by the way!). Then I showed David how to use the Q-tip to “paint” glue onto the shamrock where he wanted to stick his green things. Whenever we’re using glue we use the mantra “just a dot, not a lot!”. David had a lot of fun picking out the decorations for his shamrock and sticking them on.

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He required quite a bit of supervision and direction (put the glue here…ok, now pick out another piece of paper..ok, now put the paper on top of the glue…please don’t lick the glue…). In the end, though, his little shamrock turned out pretty darn cute! And the best part of all: we’ll have something meaningful to think about this St. Patricks day.

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Weekend in Kilkenny

For a few months now we’ve been planning a trip with some friends of ours, Audrey and Dave and their three children: Zoe, Jack and Benjamin. Audrey and Dave are from a place called Kilkenny, and they were generous enough to offer themselves as our hosts and guides for our weekend out in the country. We were all very excited for our little 2-family getaway. That is, until this happened:

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On the eve of our most-exciting trip, David came down with a nasty viral infection. His fever spiked to 105 degrees in the middle of the night, and we decided to take him to the hospital for a little check-up just to be safe. So, with a sick child and no previous Irish-hospital experience, Jon braved a night in the ER. I could devote an entire blog post just to this ridiculous hospital visit, but for now I’ll just say that it involved Jon kicking down a door in the hospital, sitting in a waiting room with people who had been waiting for TWELVE HOURS, and getting sent home with a “prescription” for Tylenol. Needless to say, Jon and David were pretty wiped out from the whole hospital experience and neither of them were up for a trip to the country–no matter how glorious it was going to be.  We decided that it would be best for Jon and David to stay home and rest up while Jacob and I went on to meet our friends in Kilkenny.

Jacob and I got up before the crack of dawn (his idea, not mine), packed up the car, and drove 2 hours north into the Irish countryside. The drive itself was gorgeous–pastures, farms, animals, and ancient ruins everywhere you looked:

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We arrived in Kilkenny just after 10:00 on Saturday morning so we had the whole day to explore. Audrey’s parents run a grain farm, and they were kind enough to put us all up in the bungalow on their property. The “bungalow” was actually a huge house with 5 bedrooms, a large kitchen, and 2 sitting rooms. The bungalow is on the farm, so we could look out the window and see tractors going by and even hear animals baa-ing and moo-ing in the distance.  We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect place to stay on our little Irish holiday.

The first thing we did after getting unpacked was to go for a little walk around the farm:

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All of the kids had a great time checking out the big tractors and massive farm machinery. Every little boy’s dream come true!

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We walked through the ginormous grain sheds (seriously, I think you could fit Safeco Field inside one of these guys!) and got to learn about all of the different grains that are on the farm:

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Audrey’s dad, Farmer Harper (alright, I don’t know if anyone calls him that, but his last name is Harper!), came down for a bit to show us around his farm and take the kids for rides on the tractor:

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And then it was insisted upon that I drive the tractor:

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I tried to warn them that I didn’t have an insurance policy to cover tractor collisions, but they still gave me the go-ahead (don’t worry, I drove at about 0.5 Miles Per Hour and couldn’t have hit a turtle if I’d been gunning for it):

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After a fun morning playing at Farmer Harper’s grain farm we headed out for our next farm-venture. Audrey’s cousin runs an open farm (a farm open for visitors with animals and kids’ activities) called Nore Valley Park, just up the road from her parents’ farm. There were lots of baby animals for us to see and pet and cuddle at Nore Valley: ducklings, chicks, and bunnies.

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My favorite babies, though, were definitely these twin lambs (you can only see one because her sister is lying behind Mama Sheep). They were born just a few hours before we arrived–they were so new that they still had their umbilical cords hanging on them!

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There were lots of fun activities for the kids including Jacob’s favorite, the sand pit:

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There were so many gorgeous animals for us to visit out on the farm. It doesn’t get much more Irish than this: a flock of fuzzy sheep and their new baby lambs grazing in a lush green field:

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We made one last stop after Nore Valley at a pottery studio called Nicholas Mosse. Kilkenny is well-known for the Irish arts and crafts that are produced in this region, so I had to see at least one design center while we were there.

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The Nicholas Mosse studio was very cool. The building itself is a 250-year old former grain mill on the banks of the River Nore. Inside, you can see demos of artists throwing the pottery and hand-painting each piece. Unfortunately, there were no demos for us to view while we were visiting, but there were several displays and videos showing us the whole pottery-making process.

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We spent a bit of time perusing the pottery that was for sale in the store. But, since I didn’t have $80 to spare for a tea cup, we decided to move along.

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There was a lovely cafe upstairs with a view of the river below. We all got tea and snacks to eat in the cafe. And, just to prove how Irish he’s becoming, Jacob drank nearly my whole pot of tea before I could get a sip in.

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We took the scenic road home from Nicholas Mosse and, my, was it gorgeous. Beautiful roads winding along rivers and past pristine country farms. A gorgeous end to our first day in Kilkenny.

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We spent our second day exploring the sights in Kilkenny. We started at Kilkenny Castle, a majestic building that is very unlike the rest of the typically rustic castles I’ve seen in Ireland. We posed for a quick group photo in front of the castle and then explored a bit of the grounds. There is a beautiful park surrounding the castle, complete with rose gardens and an awesome playground for the kids.

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At this point, the babies were already asleep in their strollers so we decided to leave Dave outside with all of the kids at the playground while Audrey and I went inside to tour the castle (you win Man of The Year for that one, Dave!).

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The castle itself was incredible. It was built in 1195 on the banks of the River Nore and was occupied by many different people throughout its history. The last family to inhabit these walls was the prosperous Butler family, and they went all out in the opulence department. There is hand-painted silk wallpaper in the drawing room and gold-plated ceilings in the library. Most of the furnishings, decorations, and details of the castle have been restored to their former glory. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take photos inside–but just take my word for it, it was amazing!

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After touring the castle we walked through town to do a bit of exploring:

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As we were walking through town we came upon all of these lovely anti-witch posters. You see, Kilkenny was the home of Alice Kyteler, the first woman accused and condemned as a witch in Ireland.

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After her fourth husband “mysteriously” died, Alice Kyteler was accused of being a witch and sentenced to death. She got wind of this unfortunate turn of events and hastily found her way right out of Ireland. She must have forgotten to tell her maidservant, Petronella de Meath, about all of this, though–she was burned at the stake in Kyteler’s place in 1324. Today you can still visit Kyteler’s former house in Kilkenny. It is a pub, as it has been since 1324 when the residents abandoned the house.

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Continuing our walk through Kilkenny we came to a spot on the sidewalk where you can see the remains of the 13th century city wall. This wall was (obviously) built as a fortress to protect the residents inside the city and (not so obviously) as a means to separate the wealthy English residents and the poor Irish residents. Consequently, the two sides of the wall were called English town and Irish town, respectively.

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Our final two stops on our walk through Kilkenny were two ancient churches. The first church we visited, Black Abbey, was built in 1225. It was deliberately built outside the town walls so that they could serve residents of both English town and Irish town and claim their independence from either side.

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The second church we visited was St. Canice’s Cathedral. The cathedral was closed to the public when we visited, but I hear that the inside is gorgeous. What we could see on the outside was also quite fascinating.  For instance, the round tower that stands to the side of the cathedral was a sort of hideout that the monks could go to if the cathedral was ever attacked (which, by merely imagining the effort that must have gone into building that tower, I would have to assume happened quite often). The door to the round tower is about 10 feet off the ground and would be accessed with a ladder–once the monks were safely inside, they’d pull up the ladder and climb to the top of the tower where they would be safe.

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I loved Kilkenny–the beautiful countryside, the quaint town, the rich history. I’m already planning our next trip here–hopefully minus the fevers and late-night hospital visits!