They Grow Up So Fast!

Last week on the way out of church, we noticed a bird sitting on a nest in a tree, and we even saw a little wing peeking out from underneath her. Yesterday, we walked by the same nest, and were shocked at how much the two baby birds had grown in just a week…they hardly even fit in the nest anymore!

I’m also a little shocked at how fast my children have grown up…time certainly does fly!

The Church Dove

After church this morning, I happened to look into a tree across the street from the building, and spotted this mourning dove sitting in her nest…and if you look closely, you can see a small wing peeking out from underneath her!

Easter in the Time of COVID-19

Time for another look at a Markel Family holiday in the time of COVID-19!

Last year, I was all about keeping as many things as normal as possible for everyone. This year, I decided to embrace the new and different as much as I could. For starters, even though I’m now back to grocery shopping once a week instead of every two weeks, and could have bought hot cross buns from the bakery, I decided to make a batch again this year:

We went to our new church for the evening Maundy Thursday service to begin the Holy Triduum, and it was short, but very nice:

On Good Friday we were back at our new church for an equally moving (and equally short) Tenebrae service:

On Holy Saturday, we watched Rick Steves’ European Easter and made our Paschal candle for the year, as is our tradition. This one didn’t turn out so well, but it still gets the job done!

We attended the Great Vigil of Easter at our new church…I’m so glad they offer that service. More of it was spent outside than we are used to, and that was really nice!

After church, instead of getting sundaes from McDonald’s like we usually do, we got Frosty’s and fries at Wendy’s, and I introduced the Fab Five to the culinary experience that is dipping the fries in the Frosty:

We didn’t have a sunrise service this year, but I was still up early enough to see the sunrise:

And even though we didn’t need to leave the house super-early, I still bought our traditional Pop-Tarts:

It was a beautiful morning!

I took pictures of the Fab Five in the garden outside of church:

Since I couldn’t really take pictures of them inside the church (and especially by the baptismal font) like I usually do, I did that the day of Chickadee’s confirmation:

Our new church is beautiful!

After church, we came home and made Easter breakfast…eggs and sausage, English muffins, pomegranate juice, and every flavor of mini donut I could find…seven varieties. Maybe we’ll be able to go to Easter breakfast at church again in the future, but for now, it’s nice to have the meal at home!

I may have completed all of the Bunny Day goals in Animal Crossing: New Horizons last year, but I still checked in with Zipper T. Bunny:

We had fun watching some of our favorite Easter movies today, including My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, Easter Parade, and It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. While we did that, I made sure the table looked pretty for dinner:

And made our Easter feast for dinner. I tried a new leg of lamb recipe in the crock-pot, which was both amazingly delicious and easy. We also had Greek potatoes, carrot fritters, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, breaded artichokes, cherry Jell-O, and popovers:

For dessert, I made carrot cake Oreo truffles:

No matter what stays the same or what is different from year to year, our reason for celebrating remains constant. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!!

Confirmation Day in the Time of COVID-19

Of all the thing that have been different in this last year, I think perhaps today, Chickadee’s Confirmation Day, was the most bittersweet. Everything about this process has been just weird. She had a full year of catechesis, not in person like she began it, but through Zoom meetings. She did a great job, but like so many other things, it just wasn’t the same. And her confirmation wasn’t the same either, because it was at a different church, (the church we’ve been attending since July, and the church we’ll soon be joining as members), and on a different day…usually, Confirmation Day is on Palm Sunday. It was nice that the church was already decorated for it, though:

We were fortunate to have her godfather as well as pastors from both our old and new churches at the private service this morning (another weird thing, since this service is designed to be a public confirmation of faith), which meant a lot to us.

She (and only she, because COVID-19), was able to receive her first communion from a beautiful, historic chalice. (She was also introduced to some other cool church traditions while we were there!)

And we finally got to take a family picture for the first time in I can’t remember how long!

We didn’t get to have a party, but she did still receive some gifts, including a study Bible:

And even though we weren’t expecting a crowd, I made our traditional Confirmation Day punch (a half batch), and ordered a cake from Dierbergs (but just a quarter sheet), as is our custom:

Normally, we probably would have gone out to dinner at Reb Robin, so Chickadee asked me to make burgers as a stand-in. I even found Reb Robin brand fries, and dusted them with extra Red Robin seasoning!

In the end, because it was so unusual, I think this day will be extra memorable, even though it certainly wasn’t what we were planning or expecting!

Christmas in the Time of COVID-19

Time for a look at this year’s scaled-back Christmas celebration. Some things were the same, like starting Christmas Eve with a bowl of Christmas Crunch:

Some things were different…but not necessarily because of COVID-19. I had a fun time playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons and helping Jingle deliver his gifts yesterday morning:

The Fab Five finished this year’s Advent project, Lego Diagon Alley:

And I played Animal Crossing some more:

Our Christmas Eve dinner was different this year…I ordered tamales from Portillo’s, and we had them before church.

I always take pictures before church. This year, I took two sets. One with the year’s hottest accessory:

And one without:

This year, we attended an outdoor Christmas Eve service. It was cold, so we weren’t too sad it was short (although I missed all off the familiar Christmas hymns!). We did chuckle when a helicopter flew over during “Silent Night,” drowning out the singing!

We drove through the Way of Lights on the way home:

For Jesus’ birthday cake this year, I made a peppermint chocolate cake with two kinds of frosting (white chocolate peppermint buttercream inside, and an Italian buttercream outside). I think this is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made!

Of course there were new Christmas jammies:

We skipped playing Ticket to Ride on Christmas Eve, so I just had to fill the stockings and set up the nativity scene under the tree before bed:

We didn’t have to get up early, so we enjoyed our traditional Christmas morning coffee cake a little later than usual (but not much):

And since we didn’t have a Christmas Day service to go to (probably the biggest disappointment of the holiday for me), we opened presents in the morning, which was very strange!

We had our traditional Christmas Eve “pick out dinner” for Christmas Day lunch…and dinner (we’re saving our fancy Christmas feast for Sunday…stay tuned!). Here’s a look at some of the things we had:

We spent the afternoon watching Christmas movies, including my very favorite, White Christmas. We played our annual Christmas Eve game of Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries tonight. And since we were a day late, we also played the new Ticket to Ride game Ryan gave me, the 15th anniversary edition with clear trains, which I love! Everything is different this year…we might as well embrace it!

“Hail, O everlasting morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem:
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!'”

Merry Christmas!