Tag Archives: Family Traditions

An Intentional, Quiet Easter

You may have gathered that life has been a bit hectic around the Hacienda lately. I am guessing that is really not surprising as life these days is hectic for most of us. We understand over-committed, over-taxed, way too busy, spread too thin, wearing way too many hats, just hangin’ on. And somehow, we just keep piling it on.

Doing, doing, doing, to the point of exhaustion.

Going, going, going to the point of gone.

The craziest part is, we do it to ourselves.

We do it with the best of intentions. We say yes before we even take a moment to think or breathe or be realistic. Before we sit quietly with the Lord and ask Him, “is this what you have for me?”

Yes.

Yes, I can do that. Yes, I’d love to help. Yes, I can write that, make that, bake that, decorate that, plant that, plan that, chair that. Give it to me, I’ll do it.

I have done it. And I have done it to myself. No one expects or demands it of me, it does not happen without my permission. It is all me and I just keep heaping commitment on top of commitment. All good, important, worthy things.

But at the expense of what?

Quiet, still time with my maker and savior and sustainer?

Peace of mind and rest and perspective.

Patience and focus and stillness.

He has given me a servants heart and that is a good thing. But I have weak boundaries and that is a bad thing.

And all of the “yeses” have left me undone or overdone – as in stick a fork in me ’cause I’m done.

So what does all of this have to do with Easter? Well, pretty much everything.

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Normally at Easter we have a house full of loved ones; those born to us and those gifted and chosen. We prepare for weeks and then we gather together, serve a huge meal, hide dozens of eggs for a dozen (or so) kids and I truly love it. Every bit of it.

But this year, I must be honest, this year I just wasn’t feelin’ it. And it kind of caught me off guard. All of the “yeses” finally caught up with me.

I’m weary and spent. So this year, I said to my husband “do you think it’s okay if it is just us”.

“Just us”, as if that were inconceivable, unthinkable, unimaginable. As if there were something wrong with “just us”. As if “just us” weren’t enough. He immediately said YES! But I had to give it some time to sink in. It is hard to let go of self-imposed expectations.

Easter is a celebration that matters deeply to me and while I am not feeling the big production, I am feeling something that means more. I am feeling the need to renew, reflect and be still. And I’m feeling okay with that.

So this year, it is going to be just us. Enjoying a very intentional, very quiet Easter.

The house is decorated, but it is just for us.

I have menus planned. But this year, they are just for us.

For Good Friday …

  • Rack of Lamb Persillade
  • Roasted Baby Red Potatoes
  • Greek Salad
  • Steamed Haricot Vert
  • Grandma Ibby’s French Strawberry Pie (I will share this recipe with you tomorrow)

And the “agenda” …

Well, this afternoon, Nathan and I will head to the market to pick up our groceries. And there will be no rush or stress, we will enjoy our time together. This evening, we will sit down to a wonderful meal together and bow our heads to thank our savior for the blessing of His sacrifice. This morning I asked Nathan what “Good Friday” means and his sweet simple answer was “God wants us.” And so He does. He wants us so much that He bore all of our sin on that cross that we would be washed clean, forgiven and redeemed.

And while Easter isn’t about baskets and bunnies and eggs, there is value in the joy of these family traditions.

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So, tomorrow, we will color eggs together and attend Easter Services (yes on Saturday – our church is big so we will save five seats Sunday for the many visitors we are sure to welcome). After the kids go to bed, Gary and I will sit together and stuff plastic eggs with scripture, hand written love notes, candy and coins for Sunday’s Easter Egg Hunt.

And Sunday, we will hide those eggs and breathe easy, relaxed and happy as our kids hunt excitedly for their tiny treasures. The day will come all too soon when their enthusiasm for such things wanes. We must put the bustle aside once in a while and take the time to enjoy it now. And so we will.

A bit later, we will sit down to brunch together at the picnic table under the Palo Verde tree. Just us. And we will linger, the rest of the day ahead to be still.

Easter Brunch …

  • Ham with and Orange/Fig Glaze
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Asparagus with Hollandaise
  • Coffee Cake

Yes, this Easter, I hear him calling me to slow down and to proceed with intention.

There will always be big gatherings at the Hacienda, big Easter. We are encouraged to gather and it is wonderful. But there must also be “just us”.

And so it is of our relationship with the Savior who draws our hearts to seek Him. To find time with Him. To make time for Him. Just us. He and I.

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On this Good Friday, may you find that time with Him. May you be reminded of what has been done for you. May you hear Him whisper “it is done and you are worth it. Let us be, just us.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-16

 

 

 

 

 

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The Pizza Night Tradition!

In our house, every Friday night is Pizza & Movie Night. It is “tradition” and it is our favorite night of the week because we have made it to the end of another busy week and get to relax and have fun together.

As a family, we have many “traditions”. It is important for all kids to have some sort of structure, routine and predictability in their daily lives but for kids that have experienced a whole lot of unpredictability, stress and trauma, it is absolutely crucial. So, we have traditions.

Heck, who am I kidding, routine and structure are crucial for me too. I like order and predictability. I am a girl who has a plan and a list for everything. Flexibility is not my super power and I freely admit it. Thankfully, I am not a control freak. I am a recovering control freak who is now able to appreciate the fact that God gave me three little people who are perfectly wired to test my resolve help me grow on a daily basis.

Yup, that God, he’s a funny guy. Have you heard the saying the way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans? Well, I am absolutely certain that I provide Him with constant amusement, in oh so many ways. Thankfully, I have learned through His endless grace and constant mercy to trust Him even when the need for plan B or C or even D arises. That being said, I will always have a list or two going. I can’t help myself.

So while control is not the goal (hmmm, alliteration, I’m not usually a fan but I think maybe that should be my new motto), we are still very intentional about how our daily lives are lived. We have to be and meal time is no exception. Every night, we eat together at the dinner table as a family. If daddy is going to be late then the kids eat together and I sit with them and then enjoy dinner with Gary when he gets home. We practice sitting still, eating with manners (and forks) and we talk over our day like ladies and gentlemen; or at least we try.

But not on Fridays.

Yes, built into our structure, routine and predictability is pizza night.

Every Friday night, we eat with our fingers, slurp on a root beer (or a glass of wine – I do try not to slurp my wine but it really just depends on how much “growing” I have done during the week) in front of the TV while we watch a movie. It is messy and a little unhealthy (everyone needs a root beer once in a while) but that is good because it is fun and it is tradition and no body ever said order and routine had to be boring.

Come to think of it, neither does pizza.

Sometimes we order our pizza but often times we make it ourselves. The most fun is to have a bunch of different toppings laid out and then everyone makes their own individual pizza.

Sometimes the crust is homemade, sometimes it is Trader Joe’s dough or my favorite Archer Farms brand Ultra Thin and Crispy, sometimes it is a ciabatta roll, whole wheat tortilla or a piece of pita bread; see, I can be flexible. More and more we make our own pizza. It is just tastes better and after spending $60 or more on delivery only to have each kid eat one piece compared to watching them devour every bit of the homemade stuff, homemade wins.

I’m going to share my favorite homemade pizza with you because I’m the mom and because my pizza is the best. In fact, let’s just call it “Mom’s White Pizza is the Best”, because a) it is a white pizza; b) that is what I dance around and chant after every perfect bite; and c) it is the best.

Then, I will share a list of some of our favorite pizza toppings. Because lists are awesome.

Mom’s White Pizza is the Best (that part can be optional – look at me being flexible)

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Here’s what I do …

Pizza-Crust

Pizza-Crust-2Decide on my crust. These Archer Farm’s crusts (found at Target) are wonderful. I am totally a thin and crispy devotee and these are convenient, low cal and really good. I have not been asked to endorse this product in any way (hello, small potatoes here) I am just sharing them because I have tried them and think they are great!

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Spread a generous layer of plain old Ricotta cheese on my thin and crispy crust.

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Drizzle on some olive oil.

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And add whatever toppings sound good.

Here I’ve got fresh mozzarella, freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil.

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Bake it according to the crust’s directions. This was baked at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.

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On this one I added a little bit of Sun Dried Tomato Pesto. Amazing.

And there you have it, Mom’s White Pizza; which is not entirely white but we’ll stick with that because of the Ricotta “sauce”. I also love to top it with arugula and fresh halved grape tomatoes, placed on the pizza just after it comes out of the oven.

For the record, while this is an individual pizza, I do not eat the entire thing in one sitting.

Well not unless I have “grown” considerably that day.

Moving on.

A big hit with my kids is a recent discovery.

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I had some left over ciabatta rolls and decided to make pizza with them. I topped them with traditional pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni, fresh mozzarella and freshly grated parmesan.

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I just popped them under the broiler and crisped them up (3-5 minutes) and my kids inhaled them. In fact, they have requested them for pizza night again tonight. David wants me to add bacon to his though. I will. Because I love him.

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Serve this ciabatta pizza with a few hot wings, yogurt blue cheese dressing and a side salad and it’s perfect for mom and dad too.

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As for dad, his basic pizza requirements are no white sauce (it has to be red or it isn’t pizza) and it must be covered in jalapeno peppers. Good. But not “the best”.

There are a lot of different toppings that we’ve tried and enjoyed and everyone certainly has their favorites. As promised, here are a list of some of ours (I will let you guess who likes what) …

  • Pesto as pizza sauce
  • Asiago Cheese
  • Romano Cheese
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Hamburger and Onion
  • BBQ Sauce, BBQ Chicken, Cheddar Cheese and Red Onion
  • Caramelized Onions or Shallots and Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Brown Butter Fried Sage Leaves and Sausage

Truly, the possibilities are endless. I would love to know what some of your favorite pizza toppings are and if you have pizza night too or any other fun family traditions.

Happy Pizza Night!

Enjoy!