Thursday, March 28, 2013

Passover Seder Meal Celebration 2013

This is the third year we've celebrated Passover and every year it gets better as I'm starting to figure out more about what I'm doing and the significance behind all the symbolism. This is fast becoming one of my favorite holidays. Let me first say, that we are not Jewish, but very much appreciate Judaism as Christianity is a sect branching off from Judaism and Jesus was a Jew. Most of the first Christians were Jews. The day after Passover I ran into a couple verses in a Beth Moore bible study about John's life called "Beloved Disciple" that really spoke to me afresh.

"Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the leavened bread of sincerity and truth" - 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ESV

"And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." Galatians 4:5

The Passover is the celebrating and commemoration of God's deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, but it also points to the Messiah, whom Christians believe is Jesus and was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (the Passover Lamb) through his death on the cross and his resurrection three days later, leading to the salvation of all who believe He is the son of God. 

This year the women decided to dress up with head coverings and all the boys wore skull caps and some of the men even had prayer shawls. Dressing up, always makes everything more fun! The beautiful dress I'm wearing in the above picture was given to me by a new friend and I love it. It was made in Jordan. I found Hailey's dress at a yard sale.

Last year we had wiggling kids who were getting high on grape juice, so I got smart this year and started off our celebration with a Mediterranean-style finger food feast. This was a big hit and really helped the kids settle at the table for the Seder.
You can see the food better in this pic. From front to back: Matzah and honey-sesame crackers, cheese bites, date quarters stuffed with a whole almond, dried Mediterranean apricots, whole dried figs, whole almonds, grape leaves stuffed with rice, green and black olives, cucumbers, humus to spread on the matzah, kosher dill pickles, tangerine quarters and black and green grapes. This was a big hit and I will do this from now on. It was easy and fun to gather all the items.

Our dear friends, Kay and Billy. Billy was our patriarch for the afternoon. He bought this beautiful Messianic Jewish prayer shawl for the occasion. His Messianic Jewish skull cap blends in with his hair in this pic.

We can always count on Tony and Cora and their lovely children to be good sports and go along with whatever crazy thing our family is planning. We love these guys and appreciate their desire to learn by immersion, just like us. We always have a lot of fun together.

After the finger food feast, before we started the meal, our family modeled what Jesus did at the last supper and washed the feet of our guests. Michael washed the men's feet, I washed the women's and my kids washed the children's feet. This turned out to be one of the most memorable moments of the day. We will make this a permanent part of the celebration from now on.

Michael washing Billy's feet.

We use the 30 Minute Seder - The Haggadah that Blends Brevity with Tradition. As the Seder began, Kay lit the candles for us. A friend gave me this brass menorah. I love it so much.

 Ceremonial hand washing.
A lot of wine, or in our case, organic grape juice, is consumed in our alcohol-free Seder. Each glass has significance. We learned from last year, not to fill the glasses to full or you had kids really needing to use the bathroom a lot. The only bathroom incident we had this year was when Josiah accidentally dropped his skull cap in the toilet. Oops! One reason why it is probably against the rules to wear a skull cap while you go to the bathroom. ;o)

 Dipping of the vegetable (we used parsley) in salt water, representing the arrival of spring. 
 After the breaking of the matzah (matzah is a symbol of the affliction and poverty of the Israelites), the youngest child who can read asked the four questions about why we celebrate Passover. Billy then tells the story of how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt. 
Each person has a Seder plate.

 We dipped our fingers into our juice and added 10 drops of it onto our plates for every one of the 10 plagues God brought on the Egyptians.
The Pesach (roasted bone) represents the mighty arm of God that convinced the Egyptians to free the slaves. It also represents the Paschal lamb whom we believe to be Jesus, the Son of God.

 Blessing over the Bread or Matzah, which is an unleavened bread used during Passover. It symbolizes the unleavened bread the Israelites ate when they fled Egypt in haste.

The Korech: make a sandwich out of the matzah, maror, and charoset. Maror represents the bitter life of slavery and the charoset represents the mortar used in the bricks the Israelites made for Pharaoh.

Passover Feast begins! We started out with some delicious homemade matzoh ball soup. 

Roasted lamb with herbed potatoes. Click here for my braised garlic and thyme sauce with roasted lamb recipe. People who don't like lamb, love it prepared this way.

Kay made this delicious walnut and chocolate cake from eggs, sugar, chocolate and walnuts. It reminded me of a chocolate angel food cake.

It was so such a relaxing meal. It isn't often that we take two hours to eat a meal. It is so nice to really slow down and enjoy the food as well as the company.

The kids got this Old Testament Days - An Activity Guide as a Passover gift. They are going to have fun with this!
I forgot to mention that we started our day with these wonderful and super easy "Passover Popovers" taken out of a Passover Cookbook I bought last year. I'm planning on posting the recipe for them at some point. The chocolate cake, matzoh balls and horaseth were all taken out of that cookbook. These popovers were so easy and will also be added to the list of "keeper" traditions involving Passover.

If you've never experienced a Seder meal, I would highly recommend that you do so. Many churches put them on, but you can also do it at home. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it. Each of the families I asked to come brought two dishes a piece, which really helped out. The kids enjoy learning how to set a table properly and use all the fine china, crystal and fancy serving dishes. Celebrating Passover has helped make the bible become more alive us as we are able to put into context the lives and traditions of the Jewish people in relation to the precious Word of God.

"Next Year in Jerusalem!"

Monday, March 25, 2013

March Prairie Primer - "These Happy Golden Years"

This is a picture of Hailey with her one of her besties, Hannah, holding up their autograph albums they made.

The "Little House" fun continued into March as we worked through These Happy Golden Years, my personal favorite. Oh how much richer it is to go through these books as I'm now aware of the concept of courtship! Laura and Almanzo serve as a wonderful example of proper courtship..

We did some taffy pulling. This was really fun. The taffy was made with molasses.

Hailey with her piece of taffy.

The kids split the pieces into bite-sized and then we wrapped them in parchment.

Josiah is showing off his autograph album.

Each family did a presentation on missionaries or evangelists during "The Great Awakening". My children chose Dr. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman since we live fairly near where the Whitmans were massacred by Indians along with 12 others, including several of the seven Sager orphans whom they were taking care of as their own. This occurred as a result of the white settlers invading tribal lands and bringing diseases with them. Most white men recovered from these diseases, but the Indians had no natural resistance to them and died at an alarming rate. While Dr. Whitman treated both the whites and Indians during the measles epidemic, it looked to the Indians like he was killing their children and saving the white children. It was customary for a medicine man's life to be forfeit if he could not heal his patient. These were the reasons behind the massacre. It is a very sad story for both the Indians and the people living on the mission. 

The second week started out with a quick basic music lesson from a local voice coach who was sweet enough to come and teach us.  We had a great time learning to sing and do hand motions at the same time. We sang, "Sailing, Sailing Over the Ocean Blue".

Hailey was trying to remember Psalm 27.

Josiah attempting Psalm 27.

Our veteran homeschooling mom, Christine, talked to us about courtship verses dating. She used Almanzo and Laura, as well as some of her own children as examples.

I learned "Polly Wolly Doodle" out of the songbook and played while everyone sang along. Fiddles do nothing for double chins, LOL ;)

Josiah is looking at a picture of a reproduction of Laura's engagement ring which had a garnet in the middle with two pearls set on each side.

Looking at different precious stones and gems set in jewelry.
Hailey and another one of her besties listening to a presentation about the ears and hearing.

The food was so awesome this month. Dear Christine stayed up late the night before to make us Laura's wedding cake. It was delicious!

First time I've ever made fried chicken in my life. I followed the recipe in the Little House Cookbook, but added a little more salt. I got rave reviews on that one! I think everyone was excited to be eating something somewhat normal rather than an oxtail.

The yummy spread.

Clockwise: whole wheat bread, fried potatoes and onions, fried chicken, creamed carrots, Laura's wedding cake and apple sauce. Not much went in the garbage this time. The kids really liked the food.

We finished our time together by making molasses popcorn balls.

Josiah couldn't wait to eat his.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Saint Patrick's Day Celebration

We were delighted to be invited to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with friends. They run an adult foster home and invited me to play the fiddle for their residents. The kids danced a jig to "Boil Them Cabbages Down", and I loved hearing the elderly sing "Danny Boy" and "Amazing Grace".  It blessed my heart so much. Even though their outward bodies aren't cooperating, they are still moved by music and songs in a powerful way. I can't wait to go back and play some old hymns for them so I can hear them sing more. Yes, I'm dressed in my Scottish attire, although I have a lot of Irish in me as well thanks to my Grandma Ellen.   

My friends made an excellent spread of corned beef and cabbage with a green theme. They made several side dishes with cabbage and spinach. A yummy spinach dip and twice baked potatoes.

  This was a delicious pistachio pudding dessert.
Here we all are eating our wonderful meal. Love the real shamrock plant in the middle of the table. You can't see it, but there is an Irish sword in the middle of the table as well provided by Billy. We are proof that you can have a great St. Patrick's Day celebration without a drop of alcohol. 

I know I've mentioned this book before, but we love it! It is the true story of St. Patrick. We got it from the organization called Voice of the Martyrs. You can click here to purchase this wonderful book.

The kids got to see the Gothard Sisters this weekend with my mom. Here is a video of these beautiful and talented homeschoolers who play Celtic music all over the Northwest and beyond. We love their music and look forward to seeing them again at our local Celtic Festival.

Speaking of homeschoolers, I was so blessed to be able to go to a homeschool mom's night out. Our theme was green since it was the day after St. Patrick's Day. We brought green finger foods and talked about jealousy between our children as well as jealousy issues we might have. Oh what a great night of spurring each other on in the Lord! I came away feeling so encouraged. 

So the finger food I brought was actually an accidental recipe. I had bought avocados and realized I didn't have anything except onion to go in it. I was completely out of salsa, too. I found some sweet chili sauce and dumped some in along with the chopped onion, lemon juice and some salt. Blended all in the food processor and hoped for the best. Everyone really liked it. Sometimes our mistakes can turn into good things.

Well, hope you all had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day! Looking forward to celebrating Passover soon. If you've never participated in a Seder meal, I would highly recommend. It is a great way to learn about Jewish culture as well as strengthen your faith, seeing who the whole celebration points to the Passover Lamb - Jesus. I love seeing how God's Messianic prophecies have been fullfilled by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! 

God Bless,

Friday, March 15, 2013

Birds of Prey Center

This is "Sky" the live bald eagle on display at the Birds of Prey Center near Boise, ID. We really enjoyed our time there when we were in Boise for about 24 hours a couple of weekends ago. We made the most of our short trip. There is so much fun stuff to do for homeschoolers there! 

This bird of prey is found in the rain forests of South America.  Beautiful animal!

It was hard to get pictures between the mesh of the cages, but I tried. This an bird of prey found in the Arctic. 

The condors were absolutely fascinating. They had a huge wing span. One of the main purposes of the center is to breed birds of prey and release them into the wild and to raise awareness. They have had wonderful success with the condors. At one point in the 1980s there were less than 20 of them left, now there are over 400.

We were blessed to have a private tour. Our guide showed us how they fed the baby condors with this puppet made to look just like a mother's head.

There was a great hands-on room for the kids to play in. Lots of furs, bones and feathers. The kids loved these glasses that helped you see how a bird of prey sees.

There was a display with a great explanation of the differences in eggs.  A cliff dwelling bird of prey has a pear shaped egg that rolls around in a tight circle, so that it doesn't fall off the cliff. God thought of everything, didn't He? This center provided us many opportunities to talk about God's wonderful creation.

The kids got to dress up as different birds of prey. Josiah is the condor and Hailey is a bald eagle. 

Josiah is a red-tailed hawk.

We were so blessed to get there in time to see two different presentations. Both were on falcons. Absolutely fascinating. 

Isn't she beautiful?

Josiah drew a picture of each bird and gave it to the presenter. She said she put them on her fridge in the back. My son is not the artistic type, so I was glad to see him "spreading his wings" and actually attempting to draw something for fun. It is nice that the kids are old enough to sit through lectures and tours. We can get so much more out of these kids of places now.

If you ever have a chance to see this center, it isn't very expensive and it is so worth the stop!
God Bless,


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