Enjoying as we are this good spring break while working full time, things have been, well, slow around here. And lately, slow and snow flurry-y! In April. And it's not like we live in New England, where I used to expect this sort of thing. Not quite the spring ambiance for seders.
But we've had fun at the seders this year. Curious Girl was quite excited about hunting for the afikomen (to be accurate, really, she was excited about the possible prizes for finding the afikomen, which in our house are really prizes for looking for the afikomen. With only two children in attendance, and given our preference for cooperative games anyway, it's prizes all around. this year, bubbles and books). She was also quite enthusiastic about making afikomen for everyone. As she and Young Guest did some coloring while we got the last few things ready for the meal, she colored afikomen for each of the grownups. "Don't look while I hide it," she'd say. "Then you can find it later." The making and the hiding were really all she needed to do--somehow, later one, none of us hunted for the colored afikomen, and I noticed one is still hiding in the bathroom. Note to self: finish cleaning up.
We used A Night of Questions for the seder, chosing seder 2, "Less is More," from their alternative TOC in the back. Last year, with these same friends, we'd read through the play, but this year, we skipped the play. Our friends were (rightly) concerned that the play was pretty much over the heads of our children (almost 5 and almost 3, respectively), and our friends were also wondering how their toddler was going to react to the story and the death of the first born (especially given that they had lost a baby in the second trimester just last month). So we opted for My Very Own Hagaddah's telling of the story for the Maggid part of the seder--something that made CG quite excited because there would be a time in the seder to switch to her very own book! such thrills. I hadn't actually read through MVOH in advance, just checked to see that it did, indeed, have the story in it. Turns out it doesn't even mention the death of the first born, and it credits Moses with the singing and dancing on the other side of the Red Sea. So let's just say it leaves a bit to be desired. We added in a bit, extemporaneously, and went back to Night of Questions. It's a good hagaddah, but flipping around in a big book doesn't always make for smooth transitions. Note to self: next year, copy the TOC for everyone to make finding places easier.
We used two CDs--the one that goes with Night of Questions and Andi Joseph's It's Seder Time!. CG really wanted to do the Miriam freeze dance on the latter CD, and I like the Mah Nishtanah version on her CD, sung by kids. We all sang it together, CG's medley notwithstanding, because CG is shy of performing and didn't really want to sing alone. "I'll sing in my head, Mama," she proposed, but she liked it when we all sang together. We played the CD for the opening song about the order of the seder, and for the groovy egalitarian blessing after the meal. Miriam's freeze dance is a cute little song, but way too long, as it turns out. CG liked the concept of dancing with timbrels more than the reality of percussion in the living room. But at the end of the seder, when I put on the next-year-in-Jerusalem song, she grabbed my hand. "Mama, come dance!" and so we danced, she and I, in the living room, and laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Note to self: next year, with the iPod and a seder playlist, to make switching songs easier.
CG was very interested in Elijah, which surprised me, since the amount of time we spend talking about Elijah is nil (although she does like to sing Elianu Hanavi a lot--they sang it for havdalah at her school all last year). We have an Elijah's cup that she made on the table, and she kept leaning over to ask me, "When is it going to be time to look for That Boy?" True, she can't spell very much yet and has lots to learn about print conventions, but I could tell she was speaking with capital letters about That Boy. "When is That Boy going to come? Is he going to come drink from his glass?" "I want to go look for him. I'm going to yell, ELIJAH! COME HERE!" When it was finally time to actually open the door for Elijah, she was quiet. But she stood at the door for a long time, sticking her head out, looking from side to side. I heard her whispher to Young Guest, "We're looking for Elijah." Young Guest nodded sagely.
We had asparagus guacamole on the table for munching, so no one got super hungry during the seder (which did go pretty quickly). We dipped lots of things in chocolate for dessert, which was fun. And I made, in advance, the dessert I thought was too complicated. Art-Sweet was right: those matzoh heath bars are yummy. I didn't even follow the recipe properly, and they still turned out yummy. I used a recipe mostly like this one, but I stirred the toffee mixutre for more than 3 minutes to get the butter and sugar to mix together, inadvertently put the chocolate chips on the toffee right away before baking (for 7 minutes, not 15), and broke the matzah up after it cooled. And sprinkled nuts on the warm chips. So I'd say it's a flexible recipe, hard to mess up, and really hard to resist.
We started the seder with a chametz hunt, mostly because Curious Girl had made a little chametz hunting kit at a chavurah a few weeks ago, and she wanted to use the little flashlight they gave her. So we didn't use the feather or spoons she had decorated, and no blessings were said, and it wasn't even a very comprehensive hunt (as mostly I don't cook the pasta this week, but I don't bother moving it anywhere). But it was fun, and the kids used the flashlights again to look for the afikomen. That was fun.
More later on seder 2. Here's wishing all my readers a weekend of good food and good company!