Happy Easter! We had a pretty good Holy Week and celebration of Easter.
On the night before Passion Sunday, we watched the last hour or so of Jesus of Nazareth. It's not necessarily the grown-ups' favorite depiction of Jesus, but the kids like it, and it gives them very concrete images to draw on during the long reading of the Passion. Some of it flies right by them (they had an animated discussion about whether it was safe to have a campfire indoors, all the while Jesus is offering his friends the bread and wine on the screen) -- but some of it sticks. The next day, Mouse leaned over and whispered several times during the reading of the Passion about connections she made with the movie.
We kicked off Triduum on Holy Thursday by taking the kids to an outdoor stations of the cross on the grounds of our local seminary. We brought along a picnic supper (the weather was gorgeous) and a little stations of the cross booklet for kids that we picked up at church -- one of the best little books like that I've ever seen, actually. Each of the stations featured a bas-relief carving on an upright slab of stone, so that the kids could actually reach out and touch the figures as we read the reflection. All of us took turns reading, except for Jaybird, whose job was to find the next station, based on our description. After a little bit of a rough start, the stations went pretty well -- much better than we expected, actually. Unfortunately, Mouse lost a tiny little plastic ring at the sixth station, which ultimately led to her very own version of the Passion play. It was a sad situation that should have warned me against taking the older kids to the Holy Thursday service. Mouse really wanted to do the foot-washing thing with me, so we rushed up to the front and waited in line. The people in front of us were very meticulous about washing each other's feet -- if Jesus had taken so long, he never would've made it to the Garden of Gethsemane on time to meet Judas -- so that by the time we got to the basin, things were clearly wrapping up (i.e., the music was winding down, and the acolytes were putting away the other basins). So I hurry up and whip off my shoes and socks -- only to have Mouse tear up and whisper, "I don't know how to wash feet!" I'm thinking: Exactly how complicated could this be? After a rather long whispered conversation, I finally ended up washing my own feet (Mouse dried them). And then, right before Communion, Mouse started whimpering with increasing intensity about wanting to go home -- so we did.
The Good Friday service went much better; the church had big kettle drums accompanying the reading of the Passion, which held the kids' interest pretty well; they also liked kissing the cross.
Because we were going to visit my parents on Easter morning, we went to the Vigil the night before. We came prepared with a sling for Mudpuppy and a pillow and blanket for Jaybird. Amazingly, it all worked out pretty well: Jaybird fell asleep after the Exultet (but not before getting to see the Easter candle brought into the dark church), and Mudpuppy slept through most of the service (in the sling) as well. The kids loved the drama of the readings: there were multiple readers on some of the readings, and music sprinkled throughout (e.g., the whole assembly joined in the refrain on the Genesis reading, singing, "And God saw it was good. . . "). Mouse even leaned over and whispered, "This is great!" at one point. Plus, several people were initiated into the church, including a boy the kids know from school. They waved at him and gave him "thumbs up" during his baptism.
After the service, there was a cake and punch reception for the initiates. We woke Jaybird up for that, because she'd be furious to know she missed a chance for cake. It's fair to say that the reception was the highlight of the night for her. Everyone is always extremely upbeat and happy at that reception. Bear sidled up to our parish priest while he was taking another piece of cake and said, "Hey! How come you get to have two pieces!" Our priest laughed and said that it was Easter, after all. Bear allowed that it was and added, "It's okay. I had three pieces."
The Easter bunny stayed up until midnight getting the kids' baskets together, which included some very good kids' music for the girls (Seeds of Purpose and Seeds of Courage from Seeds Family Worship), and Bear got a CD featuring Scarecrow and the Tinman (a pretty good Catholic alternative rock band).
The kids woke up at 6:40 the next morning and tore into their baskets before the grownups were even up. Grumpy Easter bunny!
Later in the morning, we drove northward to visit my family. Starling "lost" her wallet at an Arby's, which delayed us for an hour as we 1) tore apart the car, 2) asked the manager to go through two garbage cans, and 3) frantically drove around trying to find a phone to cancel all our credit cards. Of course, we found the wallet when we got to my parents -- stuffed under a car seat. Here are some pictures (and a video) from later that day: