Thursday, June 2, 2011

April update

April was a good month with lots of family time and the celebration of Easter. This year I was hosting Easter dinner and decided to go with a Greek theme since Easter is a very big holiday for their culture. I did some research about the Greek traditions and meanings and found it very interesting. What I found most fascinating was the description of their midnight service on Saturday night - beginning in darkness and silence and then as midnight arrives the bringing of light and passing it from candle to candle in celebration of Christ being risen. It made me want to experience it and so I found information about a local Greek Orthodox church in Riverside and their midnight service.

Josh, Kelly & I attended and found it to a very popular service and quite crowded. All the lights inside and outside the church were turned off and there was a man chanting in Greek from the Bible (we assumed). Beginning around 11:30pm, there was singing/chanting from both men and women from opposite sides of the sanctuary. It was pretty, but mostly in Greek so impossible to understand. At midnight, the priest came from behind a curtain with the "eternal flame" representing the risen Christ and he slowly lit the candles of those in the front of the church. One by one, the light was passed from candle to candle throughout the church and then the priest led everyone down the center aisle and out the front door of the church. We walked around the building slowly while people sang softly and then back to stand outside the front door. There was more talking in Greek and pounding on the front door before it was finally opened and the lights were all turned on and everyone went back inside. Although the service would continue, we chose to leave at this point since we were already outside and it would not be disruptive (others left at this time as well).

Ultimately, I am glad that we attended and the lighting of the candles and walk around the building were just as lovely as I imagined. It is amazing how much light comes simply from candles in a dark room and it was a poignant reminder of how we are to be a light to a dark world. We often think that our little light can't make much difference, but it truly can even when we never know how. How amazing God is. However, due to our inability to understand Greek and the very formal nature of the service we found it somewhat dry. It was a neat experience and I'm glad we attended part of it.

Easter dinner the next day was a feast of grilled lemon chicken, beef and vegetable kabobs, greek salad, roasted lemon potatoes, assorted hummus, tzadziki, pita, olives and lemonade to drink. Katelyn and I had made some Greek Easter cookies earlier in the week which were slightly sweet with a hint of orange flavor. They were a nice end to our delicious dinner which was shared by our family as well as a coworker of Josh's and her siblings. We also had a small Easter egg hunt for Katelyn & Jonathan and they had fun finding the eggs and then opening them for their treasures - bouncy balls, stickers, socks, and some candy as well. :)

Josh & I made plans to have a date with Katelyn & Jonathan this month. The Thursday before Easter, Katelyn & I had our date which included lunch at Weinerschnitzel, baking Easter cookies, dying Easter eggs (a first for both of us and lots of fun), and playing UNO. The following day, Josh had a date with Jonathan involving lunch at McDonalds and a visit to the lake where they played on the playground, tried to feed the ducks and walked around. We all had a lot of fun and hopefully in a few weeks we will do it again, this time Katelyn will go out with Josh and Jonathan will be with me.

I watched a lot of films this month: Age of Innocence (similar to the book and well cast), Hamlet - the Ethan Hawke modern version (dark, but things made a lot more sense in the modern setting), Scotland, PA - a modern version of MacBeth set in the 70's (a little dark but funny and also well cast), Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford was GORGEOUS and the story was really interesting. I wanted to see it because a new miniseries version with Kate Winslet just came out and I recorded it and hope to watch it soon), Temple Grandin (a wonderful true story about triumphing over challenges) and The Apostle (poignant picture of our sinful humanity but how God still loves us and can show such grace in spite of our weakness).

This month I had a cold and felt miserable for a week or so. Got over that and then had a weird dizzy/light-headed/weird day when I needed Josh to take off work to come pick me up from work. Thankfully it went away by the evening, but it was weird (and no I'm not pregnant). We had a super fun day with cousins playing at a playground near our house where we all had lots of fun and Kelly & I even joined the kids on the slides. We all attempted going down on our stomachs and I ended up with a huge plastic burn on my elbow - but it was fun! :) We went to the Farmer's Market three times this month and twice followed it with lunch at the Bella Trattoria at the Mission Inn - beautiful outdoor patio seating, delicious food and the second best vanilla bean creme brulee I've ever tasted! We had dinner with friends from church, our friend Robin (who we hadn't seen in way too long) and a lovely spontaneous dinner & conversation at IHOP with Josh's brother-in-law Jim who was in town from Louisiana (he's a truck driver).

The month ended with a trip to Las Vegas for the wedding of Josh's cousin Cassie. We had gotten a great deal on the room through Josh's work and ended up loving the MGM Signature which is a non-smoking, casino-free timeshare-like resort. The room was spacious and new with a huge bathtub and shower, kitchenette with stove-top, microwave, fridge and sink, comfy king-size bed and a great view of the pools part of the Strip. Friday night we went to see the new film Fast Five since it was opening day and we love these movies. It was a great film with an interesting plot and amazing surprise after the credits. We followed that with dinner at Outback (one of our all-time favorites) and a trip to the giant M&M store. We had fun making customized M&M's for our friends Danielle & Andy who are getting married in June and taking pictures. Saturday we relaxed in the room for most of the day before getting dressed up for the wedding. Transportation was provided to and from the event, so we ended up not driving our car all weekend which was nice. The wedding was lovely with lots of fun things we'd never seen at weddings before. Josh really enjoyed spending time with his cousins Scott, Kelly & Cassie and was inspired to keep in closer contact with them and make an effort to get together more often. Cassie was a beautiful bride and it was obvious that she & her husband Eric are very happy...we were glad to have the opportunity to be there to celebrate with them. Sunday we slept in before checking out and heading to the Ethel M chocolate factory for some delicious toffee and chocolates followed by lunch at Fatburger. On the way home, we stopped in Baker at the Alien Fresh Jerky store to look around, try some tasty jerky, and buy a variety of flavors as well as some cool root beers as a birthday gift for my brother-in-law David. It was a great weekend.

To end this long post, I read 7 books this month but my favorite was Love, Otto by Cara Wilson. It was a true story detailing the friendship through letters between a young girl (the author) and Anne Frank's father Otto. Their written friendship lasted decades and they were able to meet in person as well. It was a lovely book.

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