Easter Memories 2017

The Ronnes did Easter a little bit differently this year.  Ryan and I have sought for ways to simplify our lives and chip away at some of the excess (physical and traditional) that oftentimes seems necessary for an appropriate celebration but really isn’t all that necessary in the grand scheme of life.  Our desire was to focus on quality time together as a family by making memories to accompany the meaning behind the celebration – the resurrection of our Lord and Savior – the gift of our salvation.  

One way we’ve been able to accomplish this desire is by peeling back many of the layers of what’s expected for a particular holiday and ask ourselves: A. Do we have the energy levels required to enjoy this activity (whatever it may be – elaborate meal, presentation, etc) or will this addition stress us out and if so, the activity needs to be eliminated or reconfigured to meet our current energy levels so that it doesn’t potentially hinder the true meaning of the holiday, and B. What simple traditions can we incorporate to ensure that our children are honoring whatever this holiday is truly about? – the undeserved gift of our salvation through Christ’s resurrection.   

Traditionally for Easter I make a big lunch (ham, potatoes, veggies, rolls, dessert) as do many of you. This is a good tradition but not necessarily something Jesus needs from us: the perfect dinner, the dress up clothes, Mom stressed trying to put the perfect dinner on the table while the kids moan and groan about how hungry they are, the baby rubbing her eyes because she’s ready for a nap and wants mom to put her down for her nap….  This year we decided to have a family pool party instead of the big fancy lunch and along with that pool party was also a spin on the Easter egg hunt (which was well established within our energy and stress levels).    

The pool party was accompanied with homemade pizzas, “fake” wine (sparkling juice), and ice cream sundaes. Ryan and I have a deep desire to convey the true meaning of the season to our family, as do most parents, but we often feel like the meaning gets lost behind bunnies, candy, and pretty clothes.  We want our kids to grasp the concept of what Christ did at Calvary for us in some small way, and so we focused on the concept of the gift and filled plastic Easter eggs with not only candy but also with McDonald’s coupons for free food; the catch being –  the kids could keep the candy, but they had to give away the coupons to other children, neighbors, bus drivers, teachers – whomever they wanted to give them to.  Additionally, if they felt comfortable doing so, they were asked to explain why they were giving away these coupons – in honor of Christ’s gift to us at Easter which we did absolutely nothing to deserve or warrant – just like the person receiving the coupon.   

So far about half of these coupons have found new homes. Our girls have been much more interested in this endeavor and have gladly shared the Easter concept with many of their friends.  Our boys, not as much, but we’re still thrilled that they have been able to bless others with a small token and hopefully store away a little piece of the true meaning of Easter in their hearts as well.  

Do you have any meaningful, non-stressful traditions you’d like to share?  Please do!  I’d love to add a few throughout the years. 

Just keep livin!

Two Beautiful Books, My Kid’s Reactions, and a GIVEAWAY!

A few weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to review two recently released children’s books, I’m Going to Give you a Bear Hug by Caroline Cooney / Illustrated by Tim Warnes and Bible Basics, A Baby Believer Counting Primer by Danielle Hitchen / Illustrated by Jessica Blanchard. 



 I spend more time with my youngest child, Annabelle, than I do with the other kids as she’s not in school yet.  She’s at the fun age of 22 months and just beginning to show interest in reading stories with Mom so I thought I’d begin with her reaction to the newest additions to our family library. I began with the official baby book –  Bible Basics:A Baby Believer Counting Primer.  Briefly paging through the book I was struck by the beauty held within it’s pages through the simple but striking art work and continuing to the vivid words used to describe the Beatitudes and the concept of the Trinity. Her attention was briefly held at the bird page (the dove representing the Holy Spirit), but overall the material was over her level of understanding, and she quickly tried to take the book from me so she could repeatedly return to the “birdie” page. We then turned our attention to the second book  I’m going to Give you a Bear Hug. The pictures of the animals and the sing song language composed of rhyming words not only kept her entertained but also kept her engaged all the way to the end.  Well done Annabelle; however, I was also curious about how children of different ages might respond to the books, and how convenient, I have seven other children, various ages, right under my roof. 

I asked Mabel, Josh and Jada if they would be willing to help me review a few children’s books.  They agreed and felt like they had been recruited for a task of great importance. They each greatly enjoyed the books, and as I thought, their ages were much better suited for the advanced material covered in the Bible Basics book. They even admitted that they learned something about the Bible from this book.  In I’m Going to Give you a Bear Hug they were immediately engaged with the fun language and beautiful pictures. I decided it would be fun to record these sessions – not only to accomplish the book reviews but also to capture a moment in time that will be fun to revisit when they’re older. Sorry, we don’t do staged or perfection at the Ronne house. You get p.j.’s, an unmade bed, play clothes, nervous kids, a loonnngggg video for the Bible Basics book, the “bootitudes” according to Mabel and a shaky camera, but it’s all still pretty cute – at least the grandparents will appreciate it. 

Disclaimer – I may have slightly coerced them into this task only by saying that if they did a good job maybe publishers might be willing to send them more free books to review. They liked that incentive, but these three do enjoy a good story, and the oldest one (obviously) does enjoy playing teacher so the situation was a win win for all. 

Mabel’s our reader and Josh and Jada the listeners. When they finished I asked for honest opinions. All of them liked the books and said they would want to read them again in the future – which in my opinion is a pretty good indicator of a promising book.  Here are the two recordings.



 Now the giveaway! I have a copy of each one of these books for one special person. Just follow these few simple steps to enter:

 1.      Follow me on Facebook at Jessplusthemess and tag two friends.

2.      Follow me on Instagram at Jessplusthemess and tag two friends.

3.      Comment below with the name and author of your favorite childhood book.

4.      Done! I’ll draw a winner on Sunday evening around 7 p.m. CST. Good luck!

Just keep livin!!