Daily Notes: Holy Week

Daily Notes: Holy Week

Lucy standing at her current favorite place, the dining room table
Lucy standing at her current favorite place, the dining room table


Lately when we have a cozy chat about a Bible reading or some question of catechesis, Sophie often sighs and says, “I just love talking about love. When we talk about love I wish we could talk about it forever.”

This morning we listened to Morning Prayer and then I read them the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm and briefly discussed something or other that came up in the readings, I don’t even remember what. But I love Sophie’s response, how her heart just basks in the joy of contemplating scripture and talking about things of God.

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We made it through Palm Sunday mass, which if you judge by my Facebook feed is something of a feat. After our thrilling adventure at the Easter Vigil last year, we didn’t give today’s slightly longer liturgy a second thought. I did give the children a short lecture about hitting, poking, and swordfighting with palms. But the only problem we had was Ben twice dropping his palm over the front of the pew (we were in the front row) and a few times Sophie tickeld my nose with hers, but I gently took it from her hand and put it down next to her. I think the length of the Gospel is balanced by the interest and excitement of it being done in different voices.

I was a bit annoyed that the children’s choir didn’t sing All Glory, Laud and Honor. It doesn’t really seem Palm Sunday without it. I wish they would try to teach the kids a wider variety of songs. Really kids can be taught to sing anything, even really hard pieces. But they seem to keep them to the same handful of pieces. I’m kind of not a fan of the children’s choir but the 11:00 mass is just too late in the day. If we did that the day would be half over by the time we came home. And it’s not like we’d use the morning widely if we went to church later. Anyway, at least we were able to listen to it at home. And our pastor did sing the Hosanna Filio David, which I adore.

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Lucia has had a run of beautiful sleeping all night or waking once and going right back down after I pick her up and rock her for a few minutes. She’s been sleeping in most mornings. Then this morning she started crying at 5:30 and wouldn’t go back to sleep. I nursed her until about 7 and then got up, but she was angry at me for getting up. She wanted to keep lying there nursing. And she was obviously tired, rubbing her eyes and dragging. Indeed I nursed her a bit before Mass and she fell soundly asleep. She didn’t wake up when I put her into the car seat and didn’t wake when I pulled her out again at church. Nor when I put her into the Ergo. In fact she slept almost all the way through the Gospel and didn’t fully wake until the homily. Since she’s recently dropped down to one nap a day I figured she was done, but she took a pretty long afternoon nap as well. And then not surprisingly would not fall asleep at bedtime. (The coffee I had today probably didn’t help either.) It was about 10 when I finally dumped her into her crib and walked out, amazed when she didn’t wake up again after a couple of minutes as she’d been doing for the previous two hours. I wonder if she’s teething. Her fingers have been in her mouth a lot lately. Of if something else is going on.

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Bella and Dom finally finished The Hobbit. Bella said she thought “the mountains were relieved” to have the goblins gone. Dom says it was so fun to read to her. I feel like I missed out, just a bit. Even though I get to read almost everything else to her. It’s been ages since I read The Hobbit. But I’m sure in a year or so Ben and Sophie will be ready for a re-read and Bella may be too. Then I can have my chance.

I was thinking today about the articles that tell us how skimming and clicking away from articles is changing the way we approach print books, making us more likely to skim, diminishing our attention span. I like to think that our habit of reading aloud most every day helps me to combat that. It’s true that in the last year I’ve read fewer novels for myself, but I’ve read quite a few with Bella and I think that is satisfying much of my need for fiction. Not all, but it’s scratching at the itch. And I read so much more deeply when I read aloud. My tendency to skim and skip, which was always there long before the internet, has become more pronounced of late, but reading aloud slows me down. I can’t skim.

burnt naan
burnt naan

I made naan for the first time today. My first two burned. Badly. They were just black and gross. (This was trying to cook them in my dutch oven with oil.) The kids all stared at them and asked questions. At first when Sophie was peppering me with questions I was just cranky because I was trying to figure out how to cook them so they wouldn’t burn. I tried again in the cast iron skillet with butter brushed on the naan instead of in the skillet. They were much better. Having a success under my belt made me much calmer so when Bella and Ben and Anthony took their turns grilling me I was able to make it into a lesson on perseverance: This is what a first try looks like, it’s the cooking equivalent of a letter that’s frustratingly wobbly or backwards. But look, they got better with practice and when I tried to do something a little differently. I’m not sure the lesson took, but I tried. The naan was pretty good. Next time I’m going to tweak it a bit. Mostly make it earlier so it will have longer to rise. I’m hoping they’re more fluffy.

Perfect naan
Perfect naan


The children were out the door and playing in the yard before breakfast was even over. Lucia wandered out in her pajamas.

Glorious spring is finally here! The maple trees are blooming, red and orange and yellow. The daffodils are a cheerful yellow. The grape hyacinths a shy blue. The pieris drip their white bells in dainty cascades.

Anthony has finally reached the age where he’s playing actively with Sophie and Ben instead of engaging in parallel play nearby. It’s crept up on us gradually, but today I’m really noticing it.

Anthony found a car that had been lost in the grass. Immediately this precipitated a crisis as everyone wanted sole custody and no one wanted to share. Actually, Ben was very gracious and offered to take last place. But Sophie and Anthony were unyielding. It got so bad that when they each came into the room screaming while I was trying to put Lucy down for her nap I tossed the car in the kitchen trash and banished the miscreants to the office with a firm swat on the rear ends for good measure. Poor Lucy never was about to fall asleep an ended up taking her nap at 5:30 instead of 1:30. I was miffed. But when Ben told me he’d fished the car out of the trash and brokered peace, I relented.

I baked a loaf of honey whole wheat bread today. It had been about a week since I’d baked any bread. I guess I got a bit overzealous on the sourdough and then burned out. That and having a physical and having to stare my weight in the face made me realize I need to be more prudent with my bread eating habits.

I gave Bella one of this morning’s antiphons for her copy work and Sophie copied out the first page of Fiona French’s Easter, the one about Palm Sunday. It seemed appropriate. The girls both finished math lessons. Bella’s Life of Fred chapter led us on a nice detour about Magellan.

I know many people take Holy Week off and replace school work with seasonal stuff. But I tend to take things one day at a time. We probably won’t do school work on Holy Thursday or Good Friday. But we do work for such a short time and take so many days off every week, that I thought one or two days of light work wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s not like I have to clean up the house for company since we’re going to my brother-in-law’s for Easter.

Afternoon story time: Rumplestiltskin from the Blue Fairy Book. (Bella was very curious about how it would match up to the Zelinsky version we have. Very close, actually.) The chapter of St Bridget in Our Island Saints. A Mike Venezia book on Giotto. (I wish art books for kids weren’t quite so prejudicial against medieval art. Why not explain why the art is flat and lacking in perspective instead of implying that it’s somehow defective?) We were going to read a chapter of Matthew, but Lucia needed to take a nap. Yeah, the one that was interrupted.

I was thrilled when I took out the garbage to find that some miniature daffodil bulbs I’d forgotten I’d planted last year had sprouted and bloomed.

Kissing a toddler’s sweet head only to find you’ve got a mouthful of dirt– very disconcerting.

Dinner was quiche, I like to make two different flavors. The kids’ clear favorite is spinach and mushroom. Today’s variation included leftover ham too. Sophie is the only kid who likes my broccoli quiche. This one also had ham. And mushrooms and pan roasted potatoes too. Served with baked beans and Texas ranchero-style beans. And sweet potato. Anthony who has been super picky ate about half a piece of spinach quiche. It was much easier once I forked it into his mouth. He was paranoid about the mushrooms but I even got him to eat some of those when he was distracted. Sophie ate three largish pieces of quiche. Where does she put it all?

We’d let the kids watch the first ten minutes of Brave Sunday night and tonight promised that if they cleaned up and got their pajamas on by 7 they could watch a little more. I have never seen a more helpful crew of children! They cleared the table, put leftovers away, wiped off the table, picked up toys, and generally had everything look marvelous. And had plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately this trick backfired as Ben was too freaked out at bedtime to fall asleep by himself, “I don’t want to be alone with just Nini!” So Dom had to sit with him till he fell asleep. Poor boy.

Another tough bedtime for Lucia. I’m thinking she must be teething. Last night she didn’t fall asleep until 10. Tonight it was a bit earlier, but still after 9. She has been letting me put her down in her bed sleepy but awake, which is a nice change from nursing her till she’s out cold.

Shy Lucy
Shy Lucy


Lucia is definitely teething. She’s almost chewed her way through the pirate sword. Poor baby. She was up at five, Dom thinks she was hungry because all she ate last night when she woke up from her very late nap was some pan fried potatoes. Plus the teething pain.

Bella and Dom left early this morning. First she accompanied him to his checkup and then he took her to the hospital for an EKG. Nothing to worry about really, just that she’s had some chest pains, which the doctor and I agree are probably pain in the cartilage of her chest, costochondritis, also known as chest wall pain. It’s probably that since she gets it on both sides. Still, you’d hate to miss something and since both my dad and sister have had heart ablation procedures this year… better safe than sorry.

After the test the tech offered Bella her choice of stickers, a bracelet, or plastic bugs. She chose plastic bug. Of course. Then Dom let her get a treat at the hospital cafe and she picked an eclair “because it’s St Therese’s favorite dessert.”

While Bella and Dom were off facing doctors, I had a slow start to the morning. Sophie and I did a math lesson and then she read me a Bob book and then copied another page of Fiona French’s Easter. Her attention span is awesome when there’s no one to tempt her. Actually, even where there is, she can still focus quite well on a task like copy work. She almost never wanders off before she’s done, even when I tell her she doesn’t have to finish the page.

Watching Sophie work, I definitely see a strong contrast with Bella. Once I saw a commenter on someone else’s blog take me to task for “diagnosing my kids” when she read a blog post I’d written about how I thought Bella had ADHD tendencies. Well, at the risk of having people snark about me behind my back again (Really? Couldn’t you just say it here? I can handle it.) I still see them. My mom, sister, and brother have all been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and knowing about their experiences I’m not at all inclined to seek medication for her or even really to get a diagnosis. But I am trying very hard to be extra patient with her and to modify my expectations, which does not mean that I don’t have any expectations or that I don’t gently push her to try to improve.

That said, Bella told me she played with the Montessori handwriting app while waiting for Dom. She can be wonderfully conscientious about doing her work so long as there aren’t any distractions.

When Dom and Bella came home he and the kids watched most of the chrism mass on Catholic TV. I watched bits of it between making a batch of granola and getting some ham stock started on the stove.

We had a pretty late lunch. Mine was leftover curry and homemade naan. Yum.

Storytime was cheerful today at the Bettinelli homeschool. First, we read The Way of the Cross: Holy Week, the Stations of the Cross, and the Resurrection by Inos Biffi (Which is really excellent. I highly recommend it for Holy Week as it tells the story from Palm Sunday through the Resurrection and appearances to the women and the disciples on the road to Emmaus.) Then, we read about violent animals: The Billy Goats Gruff and St Francis and the Wolf. Finally, a book about the Black Death.

Then evidently Dom and Bella had a conversation about the Civil War. Dom says: “Isabella asked me what the Civil War is, so I put on “Ashokan Farewell” and gave her my best Ken Burns explanation.”

Dinner was ham soup with tomatoes and barley and collard greens. Lucy and Sophie ate two bowls. Ben mostly drank the broth. Bella took a few sips and then made herself a tortilla with peanut butter. Anthony picked the tomatoes and ham out of his and drank some broth and left the rest. He fastidiously picked off all bits of collard green and wiped them on the table over my repeated protests.

Bedtime stories were the Mike Venezia Tchaikovsky book and Owl Babies.

Lucia went to bed easier tonight because I liberally applied Orajel to her gums. I know some people say it doesn’t work well, but for my kids it is a wonder drug. The poor thing was pulling at her mouth and saying, “hurts” and though she hates the taste, I could tell the difference in how quickly she relaxed when she started nursing compared with the last couple of nights. It clearly gave her some relief.

Lucy eating frozen peas
Lucy eating frozen peas


Lucy woke at 5:30. Oh too early! When I wake that early I tend to oversleep in compensation. I didn’t get up till a quarter to 8.

Today is Anthony’s baptism day and so by family custom he gets to pick dessert and dinner– within reason. His choice was chocolate chip cookies and so that was the first order of business for today. Well, that plus the ciabatta loaves I’m making to bring to Easter dinner. I started them last night and after rising all night, they’re ready for stage two. The ciabatta and cookies take all morning. Lunch time finds me still putting the second sheet of cookies into the oven and then preheating it for the bread. We didn’t do morning school work, as I thought we wouldn’t.

But after lunch when the bread had come out and Lucy was napping I gathered the children for story time. My pick was The Donkey and the Golden Light, another rendition of the Easter story. I need to remember to follow up later with the kids to look at the Brughels paintings that inspired the book. Then the kids’ picks: The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Book of Jonah, and The Kitchen Knight. The Kitchen Knight sparked some good conversation about chivalry with Sophie and Bella primarily and Ben listening on too: whether its truly chivalrous to only extend courtesy to those who are nobly born or whether you should be kind and gentle with the lowly also. We talked about how Gareth working in the kitchen follows the example of Christ washing his disciples feet, acting as a servant. And how lovely the Lady Linette’s apology to Gareth is once she realizes her behviour has been discourteous. We also discussed the meaning of shame.

Then Bella asked who was the first person to write about King Arthur and I explained it was an oral tale long before it was written and explained Mallory wrote the first English version and that led to Bella and I reading several chapters of English Literature for Boys and Girls about the Welsh storytellers, Geoffrey of Monmouth, William Map, Wace, and finally Mallory. And so that tied it neatly to our history readings. We lost the others at this point, but Bella was transfixed. By the end she was pretending a block was a musical instrument and she was singing tales of King Arthur in “French.”

Lucia woke up in the middle of that and made the last bit of reading rather disrupted as she nursed and fussed and nursed and fussed.

When I asked Anthony what he wanted for dinner with no hesitation at all he declared “enchiladas.” So that’s what I made.

While the kids were cleaning up before dinner I heard Sophie coaching Anthony about the baptism day renewal of vows, when mama asks questions, you say “I do.” He chimed in perfectly when it was time. It’s such a little thing and takes maybe five minutes– lighting a candle, reciting our vows, eating a cookie– and yet it’s a beloved family tradition that looms large in the imagination and I hope will reverbrate all their lives. As I lit the candle I reminded Anthony and the other that it was first lit from the Paschal candle and that the flame of the candle represents the life and light of Christ in their hearts. I prayed that light will never fail them and that when they find themselves in dark places they will remember that light and let it be their guide. There are no guarantees in life. I can’t make my kids

Ben's bed is a library
Ben’s bed is a library


Grocery day. I hated having to do it today, totally pulled my attention away from the Triduum, but it’s how it worked out.

Afternoon stories: Cinderella from The Blue Fairy Book, chapter on Ferdinand and Isabella from Story of the World. Then we looked at a few Brugel paintings. I was making bread for sandwiches for dinner, so it wasn’t a reading-heavy day. I got Bella to do a little reading practice because she wanted to know what the cartoons in the Giotto book said. I made her read me the letters while I cooked. Then I’d tell her what the word was. Sometimes she even figured it out on her own. She listened to another disk of The Horse and His Boy I think– she was talking about Prince Rabadash and the Splendor Hyaline. (Incidentally, I usually like Lewis’ names, but that ship’s name has always seemed silly to me. I love The Dawn Treader, but Splendor Hyaline just seems like the name of a feminine product or something.)

Dinner was mac-n-cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. Dom took the big girls to Holy Thursday Mass and I stayed home with the boys, who went to bed early, and Lucia, who didn’t fall asleep until right after they came home again. Thus I did not get a nice quiet evening at home that I was looking forward to. Bah.

I’m really having a hard time feeling the Triduum this year. It sort of feels like any other day. But I’m glad my girls at least got to have the Mass.

Cranky Lucy in her Easter dress
Cranky Lucy in her Easter dress


I spent the entire day making hot cross buns and ciabatta to bring with us to Easter dinner. My sourdough recipe wasn’t really hard, but the rises were long. They weren’t done until dinner time. Oh well.

Dom and I took all five kids to the Good Friday Passion Liturgy at 3 and it was almost a disaster. Dom spent almost all of it outside with screaming, teething Lucy and I was hard pressed to rope in the others. The boys are usually so good at Mass, but they were literally jumping off the pews and climbing on each other.

My hot cross buns weren’t sweet enough for everyone’s tastes, too sour with the sourdough starter and the lemon zest. Though they were deemed acceptable with butter and jam. I let the currants soak too long– stupid British recipe that said to soak overnight–and they fell apart instead of having a gentle chew to them the way I like. I did like the softness of them. I think next year if I decide to go with the sourdough again I’ll make them on Thursday instead of Friday. And I’ll just double the orange zest, and refer back to the recipe I’ve used before for the spice mixture. And add more sugar.

I was successful at fasting until dinner. No breakfast and only half a grilled cheese for lunch. This Lent I haven’t been terribly successful at moderation, so it was nice to end on a higher note. Though I sort of ruined it by eating four slices of pizza at dinner and two and a half hot cross buns for dessert.

Sly Lucy
Sly Lucy


I made a couple loaves of oatmeal sourdough bread just for us. I did some laundry.

Dom took over the egg dying with the kids while Lucy and I ran to buy more eggs to replace the six that racked and more milk and more Tylenol for the poor teething baby. We managed to dye most of four dozen eggs. We will eat them all too. Deviled eggs on Easter morning is a tradition.

We skipped the Vigil this year, we’re planning on it even before Good Friday’s poor showing. There was just no way that was happening. And we didn’t get to Sunday morning early enough because of lost shoes (Bella) and a total meltdown (Anthony). So we had to sit halfway back and crushed in a pew with not enough room for us. Lucy had to be taken out at the end of that Mass too. Poor teething baby.

We jumped the gun a bit and Dom cooked our leg of lamb on the grill Saturday night since we were doing Easter ham dinner with his family on Sunday. It was yummy. I managed to bathe all five kids without killing anyone, and that always seems like a major accomplishment.

Lucia has learned to make a "camera face. " Scrunch up for the camera now!
Lucia has learned to make a “camera face. ” Scrunch up for the camera now!


hot cross buns
hot cross buns
Lucia with holy cards
Lucia with holy cards
Sophie sews her St Therese
Sophie sews her St Therese from her Easter basket (Thanks to Waltzing Matilda)
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  • I can’t imagine not having All Glory Laud and Honor!! The kids and i are in the handbell choir and we always ring to accompany it …. Our children’s choir is quite good — naught to do with me teaching them for three years 😉 — no, seriously, we are blessed with a stellar music director, and that makes all the difference!

    Poor lucy, poor you! I hope the sleeping improves soon. Oh i do not miss the toddler sleepless years, much as I would love to still actually have a toddler 🙂