April 6, 2012

Celebrating the Resurrection

A friend of mine sent in this question yesterday.  It seemed like a good post for the holiday weekend.

Hi my friend, how are you? How's everyone doing? Are you all ready for Easter? What's your Easter tradition? Do you make Easter baskets, do you give anything to the kids? Happy Easter! May our Lord Jesus Christ resurrect in your hearts. Amen. Nara O.

Hello, sweet Nara.  It is good to hear from you! We are all finally getting better.  This cold was a big drain but we pushed forward and with the exception of Winnie's drippy nose, I think we are almost back to normal.  We are ready for Easter.  The kids have been looking forward to it for some time and we are all excited for our company on Sunday.  

With the warm spell in Maryland our cherry tree bloomed nearly a month early.  This morning was a beautiful sunny day, albeit very chilly.  We opted to dress the kids in their Easter outfits and snap some photos while the cherry tree still had blooms on it.  This might also cut down on the rush Easter morning when we are trying to get to church on time.  I thought I'd share some of those pictures with your answer.

Amazingly enough they all have their eyes open for this one.
As you know, traditions are very important to our family and celebrating the holidays together is something we always look forward to.  From New Year's Day to New Year's Eve and each holiday in between we usually have something special going on.

I know many Christians who do not celebrate Easter, or what we think of as Resurrection Day, because of the pagan ties associated with it.  However, since the holiday has long since been associated with Christianity and not with pagan worship we choose to use this time of year to focus on the sacrifice our God made for us and to use it as an opportunity to share that message with the world.

That being said, our church does not really do much special for the holiday.  Growing up Easter was a super big deal in our family and I really missed that when we were young Christians and new to VBC.  Allen and I looked for ways to make it a special time of year focused on Christ for our family.  We tried to incorporate some traditions from our years growing up with Biblical teaching to make new traditions for our family.

I can not believe how grown up my handsome boys are getting.
One of our favorite things to do is make resurrection cookies on the Saturday night before Easter.  This is such a neat way to share the Gospel message with our family and the cookies (really meringues) make a delicious treat to go with breakfast on Easter morning or dessert for our company after worship.  

Sometime during the Easter weekend we make Resurrection rolls.  This is a tradition passed on to us from some very special friends.  It is just another fun, and tasty way, to share the story of the empty tomb.

To make this easy, kid friendly treat you simply need crescent rolls, large marshmallows, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar.

 1.  Give each child one triangle shaped section of crescent roll. This represents the tomb.
 2.  Each child takes one marshmallow which represents the body of Christ.
 3.  Dip the marshmallow in the butter and roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture. This represents the oils and
     spices the body was anointed with upon burial.
 4.  Lay the marshmallow on the dough and carefully wrap it around the marshmallow.
 5.  Make sure all seams are pinched together well. (Otherwise the marshmallow will "ooze" out of the seams)
 6.  Bake according to package directions.
 7.  Cool.
 8.  Break open the tomb and the body of Christ is no longer there!!
 9.  Celebrate God's love!

They both look so gorgeous in this one.  When I was KK's age I was holding her  and she was this size!

We also color eggs sometime during the weekend to eat with our breakfast on Easter morning.  There is no real rhyme nor reason or Biblical message with eggs, it is just something fun we have done since Allen and I were kids.

We typically make a special breakfast to have before we go to church on Sunday.  This year we plan on serving Monkey bread, Kielbasa, mimosas, peach salad, and hard boiled eggs.

Someone has to squint in every picture.  I bet if it was a dark room, someone would still squint.
Ever since the girls were little, I have made them new dresses for Easter.  As each one learns to sew she has taken over making her own dress.  Weeks ago we chose fabric and they have been diligently sewing their new frocks to match the ones I chose for Carmella and Elisabeth.  This has become a special time for all of us to spend together.  Just a little mom boasting... Each fall they enter their dresses in the sewing competition and each year they have taken top prizes.  I think this years dresses came out beautiful.  
It could be worse.
Another tradition we use as a special way to keep this time of year Christ centered are Resurrection Eggs.  In theory we start these twelve days before Easter finishing the last on Easter morning.  Mine look just like this.  I bought them quite some time ago and did not pay more than $10 for them.  I found this neat site that gives instructions for making your own.
Truly for using the timer, I think this was rather good.  It could definitely be better but its much better than typical Wachter timer pictures.
We do give the kids little treats... sometimes a basket... sometimes a little pail... whatever strikes my fancy.  My girls collect vintage hats.  One year I found a hat to match each of their Easter dresses.  I turned the hat upset down, filled them with Easter grass and added a few candies.  Another year I got the boys a pair of galoshes for gardening and put a hand tool, flower seeds and a few pieces of candy in them.  This year Allen and I planned something a little different still, but fun and tasty, too.  We don't do the Easter bunny business just as we don't do the Santa Claus business.  The whole thing is a little creepy and I don't quite get it, anyway.  The treats really have nothing to do with the holiday but is just a leftover from when we were growing up.  
Emma's dress is gray and Nana's is the green in Carmella's dress.  The sun actually makes them look like the same color here.
Allen usually plans an Easter egg hunt for our kids and any other children who will be joining us for dinner.  They always have a blast with this.  Now that the girls are older, they usually help with hiding eggs around the yard.  I like to have lots of other kids around for this as it cuts down on the amount of candy floating around our house following the holiday.  ☺ Again, the egg hunt has nothing to do with the holiday, but is something Allen fondly remembers from his years growing up.
Well, there had to be a few princess shots.
Growing up Catholic we always fasted prior to Easter.  On the Italian side, the fast ended with Easter pizza.  Which in no way resembles American pizza.  But is sure is fabulous.  Instead of serving this on Easter Sunday we have it on the Friday before, Friday being our weekly pizza night.

To make this incredible dish start with a batch of my pizza dough.

1.  Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with non stick cooking spray and then sprinkle with cornmeal, as you would prepare a pan with crisco and flour for baking a cake.
2.  Roll or stretch half the dough over the pan.
3.  Mix 3 pounds ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, 3 eggs and some mint.  Stir in 1 1/2 pounds cooked and crumbled Italian sausage (casings removed) and 1 1/2 pounds diced ham.  Spread over dough.
4.  Roll or stretch remaining dough to fit top of pan.  Roll edges to seal, as with a pie crust.  Use a fork to poke top crust.  Mix 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon water.  Brush over top crust.
5.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then at 350 until golden brown, 30-60 minutes more.  Allow to cool on rack before cutting.

This can be cut and served after setting up for 15 minutes or so but it is also delicious served cold or at room temperature.  Marinara on the side for dipping is a nice addition.

Because she is the most photogenic among us, after all.
One of the most important traditions for our family, but not really specific to Easter, is that of sharing our meal with others.  Every holiday, with the exception of Christmas Eve (which is strictly just us) starts with discussing who we will invite to join us.  The list begins with those we enjoy spending our time with... family, friends, neighbors.  But it doesn't end there.  We spend some time brainstorming who will not have special plans or someone to spend the holiday with.  Sometimes, we ask around a bit to find out who might need an invitation.

This tradition began long ago, when Allen and I were a young couple.  Without any family in the picture we felt there was plenty of room to share our holiday table with others.  Holidays were always big affairs in my family and not being included in their celebrations was, and is, very sad for me.  I learned that taking the focus off of my own sadness and finding a way to reach out to others, is the best way to deal with a broken heart.

Back then, we knew many people in the military who could not go home for holidays and so our home became their home.  Sometimes, we might just have one or two others.  Sometimes, like this Easter, we will have 30 additional people joining us.  Sometimes, I never know until we sit down to dinner who or how many people will be dining.  We always plan and cook for a crowd, just in case.  Now that the girls are older, they plan special decorations or entertainment for the event.  We usually spend a week or more before the holiday preparing.

The other day someone asked me if I ever wonder why I do it all.  And the truth is, sometimes I feel like just kicking back and doing nothing.  Like right now.  Coming out of two weekends away and two weeks of sickness.  It would be a lot less work and definitely save a lot of money.  However, when all is said and done, we receive an incredible blessing and I love having an opportunity for my kids to be reminded of the fact nothing in this life should ever be about them or me or us.  This life is for glorifying our Savior, spreading the good news and sharing His love with those around us.

Wishing you a glorious day of remembering who it is all about!



  1. Oh my gosh...I've been away so long that you've had another baby. I'm embarassed to admit it. I haven't been blogging for a long time.

    Your family is beautiful as always. Your precious babies are growing into young men & women.

    I love your blooming Cherry Blossom tree. Wish ours would wake up and show their fluffy blosssoms out here in the PNW. They're rather whimpy looking so far.

    Enjoyed your Resurrection Day traditions. We have done some of those too. The egg cloring and egg hunt were favorites as my kids grew up. Now I give the kids baskets filled with candy and we help with our church egg hunt for the community.

    It's fun to help with the egg hunt and have my kids and hub helping too.

    Happy Resurrection Day to you all. I hope it's a beautiful, sunny day.

  2. I LOVE the girls Easter dresses! So beautiful!!

    We do the same thing with guests for Easter (and Thanksgiving) though we don't normally have quite as many people as you do :) It's one of my favorite traditions though!



  3. I love their dresses! Oh my goodness, so pretty. :)


  4. So fun! The dresses turned out beautifully, and you all looked wonderful!

  5. I was going to comment on something in particular, but now I've forgotten what it was...oh well, anyway - love the pics!

    1. Glad I am not the only one with that forgetful problem. :-) let me know if it comes back to you.

  6. You guys always make holidays fun. Ironic that we always do our Easter pictures in front of the cherry tree :)

  7. What a beautiful family you are blessed with! I haven't "talked" with you in so long that I didn't even know you had another little one. What a joy to have such a big family! God only blessed us with two (although I wanted more) but I am so thankful for the two that I have. They are both in college now....so hard to believe.

    God Bless! Love,


    1. Hi, Nan.

      It was a treat to "see" you. Yes, we have been blessed and it is an unthinkable joy. And, yes, they grow so very fast. Our oldest will be 21 this year. Seems like only yesterday she was our little preemie that we couldn't even get diapers to fit!



  8. Looks like you had a wonderful Easter Celebration. Beautiful pictures! Coloring eggs and egg hunts are standing traditions in our family as well.

    I don't know how you find the time to blog - and include recipes! - with 8 children. But I sure do enjoy reading it. :)