Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Passover Stories & Rituals

This year we plan to read some of our favorite Passover picture books over the week of Passover. I want to develop some Passover traditions that keep us focused over the week of Passover, not just the night of the Seder. And since Easter coincides with Passover this year, we'll read some Easter stories, as well. Here's the current line-up:

We decorated with "Easter Eggs" this year, after much thought, because there is, indeed, an egg on the Seder plate, and eggs have so often been used to represent new life and springtime. As a celebration of spring, of new life for the Jewish people upon their delivery from Egypt, and of new life in the Messiah, we are choosing to decorate with beautiful eggs.

Tomorrow I plan to practice baking "boiled" eggs to see how/if it works. I've love to have some roasted eggs to bring to our Passover plates. For more info on baking eggs, see here: Mr. Breakfast on Roasted Eggs. And another set of instructions in case you need some reassurance: Roasted Eggs.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chanukah - Picture book line-up

We STILL love our Christmas/Chanukah picture books! I sometimes think picture books are written as much for adults as they are for kids. We find that we enjoy them just as much, and Mane still loves them after all these years. This is the line-up for seven of the eight nights of Chanukah reading:

The Story of Hanukkah by Bobbi Katz & Illustrated by Linda Dockey Graves
In the Month of Kislev by Nina Jaffe & Illustrated by Louise August
Nine Spoons by Marci Stillerman & Illustrated Pesach Gerber
The Hanukkah Mice by Ronne Randall & Illustrated by Maggie Kneen
Elijah's Angel by Michael Rosen & Illustrated by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson
Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco
The Tree of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco

Monday, December 15, 2014

Miriam, Ruth, Esther...

In this past week of Advent, we've read the stories of both Miriam and Ruth. ...and coming up this week, we have the story of Esther. I am surprised by the number of Jesse Tree outlines that do not include the stories of these women. Ruth and Esther have entire books of the Bible that bear their names, yet they tend to be neglected in the telling of the redemption story. (Though, since we celebrate the Biblical holidays, Esther gets an entire holiday, and we read the story of Miriam at Passover. Sooooo...)  Here are the books we like to read about these women for our Advent Jesse Tree.

Miriam's Cup by Fran Manushkin:

It's important to note that there's no sugar coating on this story. We read about the Pharoah having all the Hebrew boy babies killed. So, if your children are small or sensitive, it might be best to wait on this version of the story.

Ruth and Naomi by Jean Marzollo:
Quite to opposite of the Miriam book, this one is written for the very young. In fact, this year, we opted to also read the book of Ruth from the Bible (only 4 chapters) to fill out the story for us.

Queen Esther The Morning Star by Mordecai Gerstein:

Again, this one is not a sugar-coated story. Pre-reading may help you filter out whatever you want to skip for the very young children.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Noah's Ark

It's the 3rd day of Advent and time to remember the story of Noah. Our favorite picture book that tells this story is Noah's Ark by Jerry Pinkney. The illustrations in the book remain some of our very favorite. Mane was delighted to learn that the book was published the year she was born and that the author/illustrator lives in New York!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Advent/Jesse Tree 2014 - the short(er) version

A few years back, I wrote and wrote and wrote...and wrote...about our Advent/Jesse tree traditions and posted a week by week plan of possibilities for celebrating Advent. This year I want to gather it all up into something more concise. Sooooo...this post is going to contain the master lists and basic information.

 Advent always begins four Sundays before Christmas. If Christmas is on a Sunday, this would be the 5th Sunday. Advent means "coming," and during the season of Advent we remember the coming of Yeshua, the Messiah. Our family uses a Jesse Tree to remember and tell the story from Creation to the birth of Yeshua. For each day of Advent we remember one person or story from the Biblical genealogy, and we hang a symbol of that person or story on our Jesse Tree. We also use an Advent wreath with four candles in a circle and a 5th candle in the middle to mark time as we pass through the Advent season. Each Sunday we light a new candle. On Christmas we light the 5th candle. Here is the meaning for each candle:

First Week - Hope
Second Week - Peace
Third Week - Joy
Fourth Week - Love
Christmas Candle - Yeshua

It is traditional for the Hope, Peace, and Love candles to be purple, for the Joy candle to be pink, and for the Christmas Candle to be white. In our home, we don't always use the traditional colors, but we do distinguish the Joy candle from the rest. We have used the same white Christmas Candle for many, many years since it only burns for a short time on Christmas morning.

And here is our list of stories for our Jesse Tree and the symbol we use for each story. The longest possible length for Advent is 29 days. So, we have 29 possible stories/people/ideas to cover during Advent. Many years, Advent is shorter. On shorter years we combine stories. If you look through the list, you'll see that many of the final symbols are part of the relatively short story of the birth of Jesus (Mary, Joseph, Travel to Bethlehem, Angels, Shepherds, & Wise Men) and can easily be combined into one day or spread out over several.
  1. What is a Jesse Tree? (Isaiah 11:1) -  Tree
  2. Creation - World
  3. The Fall - Apple
  4. Noah - Ark
  5. Abraham - Camel
  6. Isaac - Ram
  7. Jacob - Ladder
  8. Joseph - Coat 
  9. Miriam/Exodus story - Music Notes
  10. Moses/Mount Sinai - Stone Tablets
  11. Joshua - Trumpet
  12. Ruth - Sheaves of Grain
  13. Samuel - Lamp
  14. David - Harp
  15. Solomon - Crown
  16. Elijah - Raven
  17. Elisha - Dove
  18. Isaiah - Scroll
  19. Jeremiah - Teardrop 
  20. Esther - Scepter
  21. Nehemiah - Cup
  22. Zachariah & Elizabeth - Pencil and/or Mother & Child
  23. Mary - Lily
  24. Joseph - Hammer
  25. John the Baptist - Seashell
  26. Travel to Bethlehem - Donkey
  27. Birth a Jesus - Baby in a Manger
  28. Angels & Shepherds - Angel & Staff
  29. Wise Men - Star
Stories/People we have included from time to time, but aren't on our official list for this year:
  • Gideon - Clay Water Pitcher
  • Deborah - Palm Tree
  • Jonah - Whale
  • Daniel - Lion
  • Micah - City of Bethlehem
  • Hezekiah - Empty Tent
  • Habakkuk - Stone Watch Tower
  • Nehemiah - City Wall
When Mane was little, we covered most of the Jesse Tree stories by simply reading them out of a Children's Bible. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that. Over the years, we've collected some lovely picture books that tell some of the individual stories, and we read these instead. (Many of these can be found by clicking the appropriate label in the sidebar.)

Happy Advent!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Counting Gifts again...for Thanksgiving

Last year we started the tradition of writing gifts/gratitudes on decorated squares of paper throughout the month of November and dropping them in a jar. At the end of the season, we hole-punched the papers and put them on a ring. We hung it from a hook on our mantle all year. We've got the jar back out this month again, and we're counting our gifts again.

Pastor Healy preached a sermon recently about keeping our oil lamps full...about paying attention to what fills the lamp so that, at a moment's notice, we are ready. We are never left dry and empty. We don't leave the house without it. We don't put it off until later. I was reminded of all the time I spent counting One Thousand Gifts over the past years. And this, I think, is how we receive oil for our lamps: through gratitude, which, in turn, brings joy. It fills our hearts. Our cups overflow with "the oil of joy."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Restoring the Vitamix 3600 - Plug the spigot, replace the seal...

I bought a VITA-MIX 3600 from someone on Craig's list yesterday, and I am so very excited! We LOVE the stainless steel container and the old-fashioned-looking base.

Before we could use it, though, it needed a little maintenance. Since Vitamix no longer carries replacement parts for the 3600, it also required a little innovation.

We took apart the blade assembly in order to clean and oil the parts and make the blade spin smoothly...

(We also accidentally took apart the motor and put it back together...but we're not going to talk about that here...or anywhere...probably ever.)

The stainless steel canisters have a spigot in the side, like this:

But I am not a fan of the spigot. It seems like a really great place to trap food and grow bacteria. Yuck. So, we took off the spigot, and I went to my local hardware store this morning and asked how I might close the hole.  They sold me this solution:

That's two washers (1.25") and two neoprene gaskets held together with a a washer and a lock nut.

Finally, the rubber seal around the dome was aged, cracking, and...well...gross. I saw that I could buy replacements on ebay (since, again, Vitamix no longer supports this product), but I was in a bit of a hurry to get to use my new blender. So, I went to the grocery store, found a lock & seal type container, took out the seal, and found that it fit in my blender dome! Yay!

Old seal to the left, Hefty Clip Fresh container seal on the right.

Ta-Da! Dome with new, clean seal!
And we made our first smoothie! This blender is so quiet compared to our previous blender, and it did a great job!!

Later we made squash & sausage soup from the squash Vespera brought us. LOVE autumn soups!