A Jew During Lent

Being Jewish during Lent means I automatically get to pick up a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free-Cardand Pass Go—straight on to the pink Peeps. But my daughters are Catholic, and it’s vital to our family to instill in them the importance of the Lenten season.
Growing up, watching my Catholic friends and relatives (yes, we’re a mixed bunch!), I always got the impression that Lent meant only giving something up (i.e., chocolate or fast food) just to witness them gobble down a half-pound chocolate bunny and drive through McDonald’s after Mass. Sometimes for fun, I would join in with my friends to see what I could give up for forty days, too. It was like a fun little game for me.
As I got older I began to learn that you’re not limited to only picking something to give up for Lent, but rather you can choose to add something significant to your life—such as waking up earlier to go to the gym every morning, or finding a new program to volunteer for, or reading the Bible before bed every night.
A couple of years ago, around this time, someone asked me what I was giving up for Lent to which I laughed and facetiously replied, “I’m Jewish—I get to do whatever I want!” 😉 I continued on to say that Lent wasn’t just about giving something up for the sake of “It’s Lent—quick! I’ve gotta give something up!” but can also be a time to switch gears and refocus on becoming a-better-version-of-yourself.
At the time, the thought of giving up fast food or chocolate seemed insignificant in comparison to adding something meaningful to your life; but really, don’t both ends of “giving up something” and “adding something” guide you in becoming your better self? I can take it a step further, too, and add that if we are becoming better people ourselves, we are also helping to serve others. If I’m working towards becoming a-better-version-of-myself, in turn, I’m also becoming a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and citizen.
And isn’t that the whole point of humanity anyway?
My youngest isn’t even nine months, so she really does get a Free Pass, and since my oldest is only four, I don’t think I want to take the route of “giving something up,” but rather enlighten her character by adding something meaningful to her life. At her age, I feel it needs to be somewhat tangible since feelings can sometimes be hard to grasp and measure when you’re in preschool.
Not to get all preachy, but the last thing I want is for my daughters to grow up thinking Easter is about The Bunny and baskets. (Even though those are fun, too!) I don’t want materialistic things to trump the true meaning of Easter. But I digress. This post isn’t about The Resurrection, per say, but about the practice of Lent.
Just because I’m not Catholic, doesn’t mean I can’t participate in Easter-y things. Sure, there are definitely rituals reserved for Catholics, and I’m always respectful of that (i.e., not taking Communion), but there’s a lot every individual can learn about the ritual of sacrificing for Lent. I have realized that giving up something often results in a person practicing self-denial and “suffering,” reminding him or her what God was willing to give up on his or her behalf. 
As an outlier throughout the Lenten season, and someone who can only partially participate, I personally take away the message that this is a time to turn down self-gratification, and reflect and ponder on sacrifices I can make as an individual, as well as healthy habits I can choose to do to help me become a-better-version-of-myself.  
loyally,
katie
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Halloween: #nailedit

My husband and I love to dress up for Halloween. Our favorite costumes were from two years ago, when we went as Mary Poppins, Bert, and a penguin. We didn’t think we could top that this year, but I think we nailed it.

Not only do we love dressing up for the holiday, but we are also enthusiastic about making our own costumes.

This year we went as:
Helicopter Mom
&
#winning Dad

Do you still like to dress up? What did you dress up as for Halloween this year?
loyally,
katie

All That Candy!

What will you do with the bazillion pounds of candy your child(ren) will accumulate over Halloween?
 
Will you let them eat endlessly from their plastic jack-o-lantern throughout the night? Or will you deprive limit them to a few pieces every day for several days, then hope they forget about all the rest?
 
When I was growing up I don’t ever remember any limitations put on my “gold,” so I asked my mom for verification. She said she was not as strict as I am with candy now that I’m a mom, and to quote: “Your dad ate most of it.” Ha!
 
Trick-or-treating with friends was always a blast! After running wild through the neighborhood, we would dump our bags on the living room floor to see what we ended up with. I always separated my candy by brand: Milky Way, Whoppers (my childhood favorite), 3 Muskateer, Now and Later… and the candy I didn’t like, which I left up-for-grabs. My friends and I would spend several minutes trading candy for our favorites, until we were satisfied with our takings.
 
Now that I’m a mother, I look at Halloween slightly differently. Now that I’m more health-conscious, I look at Halloween slightly differently.
 
The first year we took Emmalyn Trick-or-Treating she was eleven months old and didn’t know what candy was, therefore she didn’t have any. Bringing her door-to-door was really just for “show” and cute pictures. The second year, at almost two years-old, she still didn’t know what candy was because she had never had any before. The candy put in her bag may as well have just been rocks to her. She ended up having the time of her life passing out her collected candy to other trick-or-treaters the remainder of the night, and I went home happy because we didn’t have mounds of candy littering our house.
 
Last year, at nearly three years-old, I told Emmalyn she could pick out a toy at the store if she traded in her candy loot. She happily complied. I’m not sure what I would have done if she didn’t take the bargain…?
 
This year, because of the amount of birthday parties we have been to in the past year, she knows exactly what candy is, and exactly what it tastes like. I know allowing her to have a few pieces is unavoidable. But that’s just it–a few pieces. When we went Trick-or-Treating at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party last month, I told her she could have three pieces because she’s three years-old. I thought there might be some resistance (and possibly a tantrum), because after all, kids usually ask for “more” no matter what, but really, she forgot all about the rest of the candy and never asked for it again.
 
We are going to two Halloween parties this year, plus Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood with friends. It’s going to be a long night. And a lot of candy. I’m determined to stick to my guns about “three pieces” (I know, I know… some of you are rolling your eyes right now: Three?! That’s it?! Let kids be kids!) and then let her trade the rest in for a “prize”–something tangible she can use or play with, instead of a tummy ache.
 
So, tell me, what are your candy plans for Halloween this year?

loyally,
katie
 
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DIY: Lenten Prayer “Treasure” Box

As a Jewish mom raising a Catholic daughter, teaching her about the Lenten season can be tricky. There’s a lot of effort and research on my end—to make sure she (make that, WE both!) properly understands the season.

I want to teach her that it’s a time to bring us closer to God. 

It’s a time to let go of materialistic things, like toys and television—things that bring us happiness only temporarily. 
It’s a time to refocus our hearts on prayer and reflection, and our relationship with God.

I want to inspire her to be better, not require her to give up television. At three years old I don’t think she can comprehend that giving up television for forty days (Oh–but except for Sundays, because that’s a day of celebration) is a sacrifice for God. It just doesn’t seem very age-appropriate, in my opinion. I could just hear her now: God doesn’t want me watching Doc McStuffins… That’s not the point I’m trying to make. 

Instead, I want to inspire her to make good choices in life.

Without over-stimulating her, (and overwhelming myself with high expectations), I’ve decided to keep it simple. Emmalyn enjoys partaking in crafts–especially those that include scissors, paint, and glue. Together, we created a: Lenten Prayer “Treasure” Box. 

I’ve seen something similar done for older children, where they write down a prayer request and put it in a box (whether it’s an old shoe box or mini-mailbox). Seeing as Emmalyn cannot write yet, but is absolutely capable of praying for people (as she demonstrates on her own every evening either at dinner or bedtime), I’m going to have her cut out pictures of people, or help her draw them, then transcribe her very own personal prayer onto a piece of paper. Most of the time she’s rather specific in her prayers so it should be very interesting and entertaining to see what she comes up with. Then, she will put them in her very own Lenten Prayer Treasure Box. 
**   **   **
The steps to creating our Lenten Prayer “Treasure” Box were quite simple.
Step One: Grab a cute kid.

Step Two: Pick out a box big enough to hold approximately forty strips of paper/pictures.
We got our box at Michael’s Crafts.I believe it was $10.
Step Three: Let her have at it! 
As someone who loves crafting myself, I had to sit on my hands! This wasn’t my project–but Emmalyn’s. Oh, and that mini-treasure box you see? It was the original one she picked out, but obviously not big enough; therefore, we ended up with two treasure boxes.
Step Four: Add stickers!
The paint dries pretty quickly, but we still waited until the next day to add stickers to it. Again, I kept my mouth closed when Emmalyn picked out her own stickers at the craft store. She picked cupcakes and princess castles. They’re felt and super sticky on the backside. I thought I was going to have to reglue them after she went to bed, but seriously, those suckers aren’t coming off!
Step Five: Voila! Easy enough, right?!
My hope is to have her do one prayer every day, but I’m not going to fret if we miss a day every now and again. The point isn’t to have her do it for forty days, but rather to get her thinking about doing good for others, the way Jesus did for her. 
I want her to practice being grateful, while also strengthening her relationship with God.
loyally,
katie 
–>> What are you plans for Lent? Do you have a children’s activity up your sleeve? If so, I’d love to hear/see about it! Leave me a link in the comments if you have one. –>>
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Being Jewish During Lent

Being Jewish during Lent means I automatically get to pick up a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free-Card and Pass Go—straight on to the pink Peeps. But my daughter is Catholic, and it’s vital to our family to instill in her the importance of the Lenten season.

Growing up, watching my Catholic friends and relatives (yes, we’re a mixed bunch!), I always got the impression that Lent meant only giving something up (i.e., chocolate or fast food) just to witness them gobble down a half-pound chocolate bunny and drive through McDonald’s after Mass. Sometimes for fun, I would join in with my friends to see what I could give up for forty days, too. It was like a fun little game for me.

As I got older I began to learn that you’re not limited to only picking something to give up for Lent, but rather you can choose to add something significant to your life—such as waking up earlier to go to the gym every morning, or finding a new program to volunteer for, or reading the Bible before bed every night.

Last year around this time, someone asked me what I was giving up for Lent to which I laughed and facetiously replied, “I’m Jewish—I get to do whatever I want!” (Seriously people, I was joking, and please do not take that the wrong way.) I continued on to say that Lent wasn’t just about giving something up for the sake of “It’s Lent—quick! I’ve gotta give something up!” but can also be a time to switch gears and refocus on becoming a-better-version-of-yourself.

At the time, the thought of giving up fast food or chocolate seemed insignificant in comparison to adding something meaningful to your life; but really, don’t both ends of “giving up something” and “adding something” guide you in becoming your better self? I can take it a step further, too, and add that if we are becoming better people ourselves, we are also helping to serve others. If I’m working to become a-better-version-of-myself, in turn, I’m also becoming a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and citizen.

And isn’t that the whole point of humanity anyway?

Since my daughter is still only three, I don’t think I want to take the route of “giving something up,” but rather enlighten her character by adding something meaningful to her life. At her age, I feel it needs to be somewhat tangible since feelings are hard to grasp and measure when you’re in preschool. {However, the other day she did tell me it hurt her feelings when I was bothering her during a puzzle…}

Not to get all preachy, but the last thing I want is for my daughter to grow up thinking Easter is about The Bunny and baskets. {Although I did snag some pretty stellar pink golf clubs at a resale to put in her basket since we don’t do candy.} I don’t want materialistic things to trump the true meaning of Easter. But I digress. This post isn’t about The Resurrection, per say, but about the practice of Lent.

Just because I’m not Catholic, doesn’t mean I can’t participate in Easter-y things. Sure, there are definitely rituals reserved for Catholics, and I’m always respectful of that (i.e., not taking Communion), but there’s a lot every individual can learn about the ritual of sacrificing for Lent. I have realized that giving up something often results in a person practicing self-denial and “suffering,” reminding him or her what God was willing to give up on his or her behalf. 

As an outlier throughout the Lenten season, and someone who can only partially participate, I personally take away the message that this is a time to turn down self-gratification, and reflect and ponder on sacrifices I can make as an individual, as well as healthy habits I can choose to do to help me become a-better-version-of-myself. 

loyally,
katie

–>> Stay tuned to find out what I’ve decided to give up or add, and what we will be doing with Emmalyn to help her grasp the meaning of the Lenten season! Have you thought about what you will be doing either as an individual or family? –>>
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Have a Jolly Holiday

 From Our Family to You & Yours!

Source: mixbook.com via Katie on Pinterest

// // //
I may or may not be just a little obsessed with our Holiday Card this year 😉 
I signed our names on the cards, because I think it adds a little personal touch. What do you think?
What did you do for your holiday cards? If you have a link, I’d love to see!
loyally,
katie

Practically Perfect!

Better late than never for a Halloween pic, am I right?
We had a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious time!
Emmalyn was super excited to be a little Poppins’ penguin, and enjoyed every minute of her first “walking” Trick-or-Treating.
My *almost* two year-old had no problem waddling right up to the doors all by herself, proudly boasting:
“Trick-or-Treat… Happy Halloween… Thank You!”
 
           
The best part was when she gave out all her candy to the remaining trick-or-treaters at my in-laws.
Halloween is definitely way more fun as a parent!
Loyally,
Katie
Oh, and in case you were wondering… yes, I made her costume 😉

Flashback Friday

There are many… I repeat, MANY things I have anticipated sharing on my little piece of Interspace {i.e. Our Wedding Celebration… Emmy’s 1st Birthday… etc…} but for some reason or another I never got around to it.
Instead of feeling bad,  I’m just going to present this as: Flashback Friday. It’s a time where I will get caught up on important events from the past. Will I do it every Friday? Probably not. So it’ll be extra special when I do! 😉
So here’s my first…

What? Emmalyn’s 1st Birthday Party
                     {guess I better high-light this before she turns 2 in two months!!}


When? Saturday, November 19, 2011 (actual bday is 11/17)
Where? Our backyard {a.k.a. Emmalyn’s Enchanted Forest}
 
Who? So many of our family and closest friends came to celebrate our daughter’s first year of life. First birthdays are more for the parents, don’t you think? The invites should have said something like, “Come celebrate Katie and Blake’s first year of parenthood–they made it out alive!”
^ That’s my Dad! ^
yes, we like to dress up for celebrations.
& yes, that was my ballet recital costume from when I was 12.
Why? Go big or go home, right? I have never been one to comfortably enjoy celebrating my own birthday (I just don’t like being the center-of-attention), but I LOVE celebrating other people’s birthdays. & now that I have my daughter… well, that just makes me want to go crazy overboard! Planning, organizing, and creating events like these fulfill me. I love everything that’s involved in the process. It gets my creative juices flowing and is a sort of cheap therapy for me! 
In lei of gifts, we invited people to bring an item to contribute to Emmalyn’s “Time Capsule” to be opened on her 18th birthday. We received such creative things: from grocery store ads, to an iPhone case, to video diaries… some were wrapped up so even I couldn’t sneak a peak for another 18 years!
 
 
How? The whole party could not have been possible without the help of our super generous parents!
Before digging in to all the grub, we invited everyone to hold hands in a circle. It was by far my favorite part of the whole party. Blake opened up with a prayer of thanks, always knowing the perfect words to say. I, someone who barely speaks publicly, thanked everyone for all of their patience and support over the past year.
Everyone who was present knew of the postpartum nightmare I went through, and many of them went above and beyond to unselfishly take care of my new little family and me. It was such a surreal, emotional, humbling, and out-of-body experience, standing in that circle. In a second’s time, my mind flashed-back to all of the joy and pain I endured. But mostly, the circle of prayer brought me hope. Hope that I could make it through anything, after surviving the past year.
*
All I needed was a little faith, trust, and pixie dust 😉
*
loyally,
katie

I Heart America

I’m so thankful we are free to celebrate our country like this:
& this is what happens when you let your little cousin in on some picture-making fun:
we’re having a blast!!
loyally,
katie

A Mother’s Day Prayer… a few days early

“O Lord: On this Mother’s Day, when we pay homage to motherhood, I thank Thee, O God, for Thy gift of a blessed mother, for her sweetness, kindness and warmth, her deeply-felt love, and her tender, gentle care. All through the years, as long as I can remember, from infancy to this day, she has been at my side, caring for me, training and teaching me, and guiding and comforting me in every trial and tribulation. I know, O Lord, that this precious gift, mother, comes from Thy storehouse of blessings, and with all my heart and soul, I offer Thee my gratitude.”
“Reverently do I pray that I may be worthy of her noblest striving. Deepen my sense of understanding, so that I may be aware of her potent influence in my life. Give her Thy fatherly protection. Keep her from all bodily harm and from distress of mind and spirit. Grant me the privilege that I may cherish and revere her all the days of my life.”
“May He who blessed our matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, bless my dearly beloved mother. May God Almighty grant her life, and keep her strong and healthy. May He send many blessings of joy to her and cause her to be proud of her achievements. And may He bestow upon her and all other mothers in Israel and mankind, a full and happy life.”
Amen.
To me, my mother is not only a fighter, but an inspiration. Five years ago, she stomped the shit out of stage 3 colon cancer; and now, she’s staring breast cancer straight in the eye and taking no prisoners. My mother has showed me throughout the years that no matter what, we just have to keep pushing through. Sometimes life deals you some pretty crappy cards, but you can either feel sorry for yourself, or you can do what ya gotta do, and keep on moving…
Ever since I can remember, my mother has been the most selfless person. She has given so much to me. There will never be the right words to say to describe my adoration and appreciation. As much as I love having her as a mother, I love having her as a grandmother to Emmalyn so much more! There’s an infinite amount of love between the two of them. When my mom gets home from work, her eyes light up at the site of Emmy, who in return, gives her the biggest-most-gummiest-yummiest smile and flaps her arms in excitement. Their relationship is truly special.
So, I thank you, God, today and every day, for the most important woman in my life. I am blessed, honored, proud, and humbled to be her daughter.
{I love you, mommy!!}
Loyally,
Katie