What is Lent? And how to explain it to children.
Sunday, 02 March 2014 23:38

What is Lent?

Lent is the season of preparation for Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter, lasting for 40 days (not counting Sundays). We prepare for Easter by fasting and practicing spiritual discipline during this time - to reflect on His sacrifices. Basically, Lent is a time for "spring cleaning" our lives while giving thanks to God and strengthening our relationship with Him.

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Although not a Holy Day of Obligation, the faithful go to church to receive a sign of the cross on their foreheads from ashes (ashes from the blessed palms used on Palm Sunday). This mark is a reminder of our mortality and a call for repentance. The priest blesses the ashes and says,

"Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return".

Those words mean so much to me. The message of Ash Wednesday mass is, "Pray like no one is watching you. Fast like no one is watching you. Do good like no one is watching you. God knows." Something we strive for each and every day; but, it's highlighted on Ash Wednesday to set the tone for Lent.

lent2012

Lent with kids.

Young children have a hard time understanding Lent. One way of explaining Lent is that it's a time to bring us closer to God. In our busy lives we fill our selves with candy, buy new toys, play video games and watch television which makes us happy but that happiness is temporary. During Lent we stop filling our lives with temporary happiness and make more room for God. The church encourages prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent as ways we can turn our hearts and minds to God. During this time we attempt to incorporate activities in our daily lives which will strengthen us. Many people "give up" something important to them for the 40 days of Lent. To learn how to sacrifice or give up things is a way of learning unselfishness.

Activities during Lent

There are many things that children can do during lent (pray, fast, volunteer).

1. The "Jelly Bean Prayer" for children is a sweet way of teaching children all about what Lent really means. Using various colors of jelly beans to describe a virtue, children are given a jelly bean for each good deed collecting them up until Easter.

Red for the blood of Christ (a sacrifice)

Green for the shade of the palm (doing a good deed).

Yellow for God's light (kindness to others).

Orange for prayers at twilight (good behavior at bed time prayers).

Purple for days of sorrow (apologizing to someone).

Pink for each new tomorrow (forgiving others).

Starting on Ash Wednesday, begin rewarding your child(ren) with a jelly bean of the appropriate color each time they do something that corresponds with an act. On Easter, allow them to receive all the jelly beans they have collected. Credit.

2. Children should be encouraged to pray during Lent. One simple prayer that we are adding to our morning routine this year is called, "My Morning Offering".

God, our Father, I offer you today

all I think and do and say.

I offer it with what was done on

earth by Jesus Christ, your son.

3. Almsgiving is tied closely to fasting. Whatever we "give up", the money we save will go to the needy. It is also considered that almsgiving is to give one's time and goods to those who are in need. Now that my three children are a little older and more understanding we will introduce and focus more on almsgiving during the Lenten season.

What is Easter?

Easter is the most important religious feast of the Christian year as it celebrates the re-birth of Jesus.

Polish Easter.

In Poland every item placed inside an Easter basket symbolizes something greater. It should come to no surprise that sausage represents God's generosity and that horseradish symbolizes the bitter in life. Hundreds of Polish people line up every 15 minutes in a Chicago church to get their baskets blessed before having their Easter breakfast. After fasting for so long the Easter "brunch" is unlike any other breakfast. Any Pole would agree. And with that, I can not wait for Easter to come.

 


"Elf Wanted" at ComedySportz Chicago is a Tween's Dream
Sunday, 01 December 2013 23:05

With nearly twelve years of parenthood under my belt I've being trying to think outside of the box on how to celebrate the holiday season with super fun social venues. There's only so many times you can have breakfast with Santa before you swear off lukewarm pancakes from a buffet, forever. As much as I adore all of our past holiday memories, the kids are growing older and it's time to make some new memories. We made a list and are in the process of knocking things off; and, at the same time we are adding more!

 

This weekend we bought tickets for "Elf Wanted" by ComedySportz. 

comedy show 2013 050

 

 

There's only one show per week - Sunday's at 7pm - which actually worked perfectly with our hectic schedules. We zoomed into the city without any traffic and found street parking (free on Sundays) in abundance around the theatre. Our party of ten took four cars and all had no problems. The only downfall with our party of five was that my kiddos spent the entire day asking when it was time for them to see A REAL LIVE COMEDY SHOW like they saw on America's Got Talent over the summer on tv. They. Were. Excited. 

 

 

Chicago is home to so many comedy venues but few are appropriate for kids, so I called in advance to make sure it was "all ages" like I read online. I was rest assured being told that it was "all ages, to a point" because my six-year-old has a better sense of potty mouth humor than my eleven-year-old. Hashtag third child. My children were very amused throughout the entire one-hour show although I sensed that the cast was improvising their vocabulary a little because they had a kid audience in the front row. 

comedy show 2013 053

 

 

 

For example, Lola volunteered to come on stage as an extra. She was supposed to be "hypnotized" by an actor as he said FART FART FART YOU ARE GROWING SLEEPY FART FART FART. And my three kiddos busted out in laughter. It was the funniest thing ever to see them on the ground laughing and a new inside joke was born in our family. Yes. They did all fall asleep tonight to me saying FART FART FART YOU ARE GROWING SLEEPY. And they fell asleep laughing!

comedy show 2013 055

 

 

 

 Laughter is good for the soul. 

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Tickets were only $10 so I invited my parents, brother, aunt and uncle to accompany us to our very first family comedy show. I'm so glad I did. It wasn't a broadway show but we all (ages 6 to 60+) found ourselves laughing.  It was a very nice change of pace for our growing family and I'm happy I took a leap of faith to think outside of the box. New memories, made!

 


Holiday Activities in Chicago - 2013
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 00:00

Next week marks the beginning of the holiday season and Chicago is a magical place to be. Last year was our first in the city so we sampled only a handful of activities, leaving much to accomplish for this year. A problem I can happily attend to! I wanted to compile a list of our favorite activities and add new ones too, because there's simply not enough time to get everything done but we will try to knock things off our list one day at a time.

 

Saturday, November 23

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival - (To-do)

Kiddos are looking forward to the parade marshaled by Mickey and Mini Mouse and the fireworks over the Chicago River. I'm looking forward to seeing Mario Lopez and rocking to Debbie Gibson singing "Only in My Dreams" like I did when I was ten.

 

 

Tuesday, November 26

Christkindlmarket Tree Lighting - (Done)

It's the 100th anniversary of the Daley Plaza tree being lit in the heart of the Christkindlmarket  market (which is quite a holiday treat on it's own, as it's inspired by Nuremberg market started in 1545).  Friends might remember that my eleven-year-old son Jay has been working the market since 2010. I remember the chicken schnitzel and the smoked pork loin. Yum!

 

 

Thursday, November 28

McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade - (To-do)

A parade on State street being televised to 75 million households is surely not to be missed. I'm dragging my kiddos out of bed to be a part of it!

 

 

November 29th - January 5th

Wonderland Express at Chicago's Botanical Gardens - (Done) 

Truly a magical time - imagine all of Chicago's famous landmarks downsized into miniature sizes, around a toy train. Not only that but everything, besides the train, is made from elements of nature. My kiddos could have spent hours identifying all the items used to build a pint sized Wrigley Field. Ah-mazing.

 

 

November 29th - January 5th

Zoo Lights - (Done)

You guys.... a free zoo offering free family fun. The last time we went, we saw live ice sculptures in the making and my kiddos were amazed. The lights around the zoo were spectacular and new to the zoo this year is ice skating at the Farm-in-the-zoo.  

 

 

November 14th - January 5th

Christmas Around the World - (Done)

It's no secret that we adore the Museum of Science and Industry - probably because it's the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere, and we still can't get through it all. But the holiday season is extra special at the museum because it's their 72nd annual "Christmas Around the World" - imagine hundreds of Christmas trees, from around the world, dressed in tradition.

 

 

 

November 26th - December 15

Elf the Musical - (To-do)

Broadway in Chicago presents this musical and it's recommended for kiddos ages four and up, so we are giving it a chance. We bought really cheap tickets and it's our first family outing to a Broadway show. I think we are going to have fun!

 

 

Friday, December 6

Caroling at Cloud Gate in Millenium Park - (To-do)

A holiday sing-along gathered around the Bean featuring Chicago's Children's Choir. I've started playing Christmas music in my car in preparation to sing along.

 

 

December

Polar Express - (To-do)

Nearly every single town in the Chicagoland area is hosting their own Polar Express aboard Metra trains - there's no reason to travel far. 

 

 

December

Chicago Park District - (To-do)

This impressive line-up is full of family friendly activities ranging from movie nights to breakfasts with Santa, sprinkled all throughout the city. I'm especially interested in the winter solstice event at North Park Village Nature Center where they will be roasting chestnuts over an open fire.

 

 

December 6th - 28th

Joffrey Ballet, The Nutcracker - (Done) 

I've pinched pennies to afford this and I will continue doing so. Nothing more magical.

 

 

December 14-15

Build your own gingerbread house at the Art Institute - (To-do)

The Art Institute has a long list of holiday events but this one sounds extra sweet.

 

 

Through January 5th

Walnut Room - (To-do)

Apparently this is the go-to-brunch where kiddos get to meet the real Santa of Macy's, or as I like to call it The Marshall Field's Where I Purchased My Wedding Dress. There are characters to meet while dining and afterwards a stroll down the street to see the infamous window displays is a must.

 

 

Through March 9th, 2014

Millennium Park Ice Skating - (To-do)

Free and open to the public, need I say more. We are lacing up our skates tonight.

 

 

Holidays Plays

Theatre in Chicago

Here's a list of 40 and more holiday plays around the Chicagoland area. Sounds like the husband and I must plan a trip to Second City for a date night!

 

 

I know that we are missing out on hundreds of local Chicago holiday activities, if you want to share, please do! We love nothing more then exploring new places. What should we add to our radar?

 

 


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Author

Pauline Karwowski.

Is a self proclaimed globe trotting, minivan driving, SAHM stiletto ho.

Happily married mother to 3 Cleveland natives: Jay the son, Lola the daughter, and Fifi the banshee.

Now in Chicago, IL.

The content on this blog is the opinion of the blogger.

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