Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy (Almost) Easter!!

The sun FINALLY came out here this week - Hooray for Spring!  The kids were so glad to see the sunshine again and it really put us in the mood for Spring and all things Easter.  We've been doing Easter themed worksheets in school.  Little Mark's new favorite thing is "Easter math," which is adding and subtracting things like Easter eggs, rabbits, and flowers.  Little Princess has been coloring pages of flowers and painting everything in sight, including her own lips and toes...  I have been thinking about spring cleaning, but not actually doing it and Mark is just ready to go outside without his coat on!  Anyway, Mark and I have decided to try some new things for Easter this year.  We scaled back on "gifts" or treats for their Easter baskets this year and went with one bag each of their favorite candy and a "big" gift for each of them (a solar system floor puzzle for LMark and two new board books, Madeline and a silly book about Lambs for LPrincess).  Anyway, Mark tells me I give way too much credit to the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, etc. for all the things they bring.  I can understand, especially when we go to the trouble of picking out multiple toys, snacks, books, candy, etc. to fill an Easter basket (or Christmas stocking) that is torn apart in less than 2.5 minutes and then there's that horrible whine... "Is that all??"  Oh yes, our kids are guilty.  Well, LPrincess isn't so much, but that's only because she can't say those words yet!  Suffice it to say, it kind of starts the holiday off on a bad foot if Mommy and Daddy are irritated and the kiddos disappointed before anyone has even brushed their teeth...  So this year, we were trying to think of ways to prolong the excitement of "getting" something while spending less money and paring down on the "junk" that seems to work its way into every gift-giving holiday (how many $1 slinkies does one child REALLY need!?).  I saw an article in a magazine about one family and how they did a hunt for their Easter gifts, not just for eggs.  This gave me the idea for a scavenger hunt.  Here's an example of one of the clues:

Great job!  You found your bag on the table!
Now for your next prize you must look high and low.

It could be anywhere, you just never know.     
It might be in a place where Rosie likes to go!

I had some little cloth sachet type bags laying around (don't ask me why) and decided to decorate them with craft paint and stamps and divide the big bags of candy into them.  After splitting up the candy, they ended up with three bags each. I created clues as to where the next treat would be and stuck a clue in each bag.  The last treat to find is their 'big' surprise (for LM, his puzzle, for LP, her books).  We're hoping it works.  Our thinking/hoping is that the kids will enjoy the game of it and still get treats from the Easter Bunny, minus the whiny disappointment and tears to come later because ANOTHER $1 slinky bit the dust...  Let's hope it works. 

I've also been searching for new ways to dye Easter eggs. (The picture above is one of our eggs from a couple of years ago.)  The kids LOVE LOVE LOVE dying eggs.  I do too, but my mom and I decided to branch out this year and try some new ways to do it.  We usually decorate them by coloring or drawing on the eggs with crayons, then dying them with vinegar and food coloring.  It works great, but we're the adventurous type and looking to try something new and exciting.  I shall date myself here, but I remember when it was the latest and coolest thing to shrink wrap your eggs, which we did several times when I was growing up (pretty daring right?)!  So here are some new things we're considering this year:  dying eggs with Cool Whip (seriously, it looks awesome), tie dying eggs (I've seen two different ways to do this and they both had different results), and I'd really like to try glitter eggs (if mom doesn't ban me from her kitchen for even suggesting such a thing!).  We will probably still do the old-fashioned vinegar eggs too.  C'mon, they're classic and where would be without TRADITION?? (That was said in my best Fiddler on the Roof voice.)  The kids have their Easter outfits ready to go and I will try to take and send out pictures of them wearing them before they go out to hunt eggs and become unrecognizably filthy!  Anyway, I am going to leave you with these throwback pictures of the kids from last Easter, wearing the ears the Easter Bunny brought...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Magic of Spring and Pixie Dust

Is anyone else wondering how today is the first day of Spring already?  I'm not sure how these things keep sneaking up on me lately...  Maybe it's because I'll be twenty six in just a couple of weeks, which officially puts me in my late twenties, I'm slightly sad to say.  Maybe it's because I haven't had a full night's sleep in a little over two years now.  Maybe it's because I'm so busy trying to get through each day that I forget days turn into weeks, which turn into months, which eerily turn into years without us being completely cognizant of the passing of all that TIME.  Dang, I remember being a kid and having to wait an hour or two for a friend to come over or for that birthday party to start and feeling as though time had stopped and the world was in limbo because it would NEVER get here!  Now I am feeling, not old, but maybe as though I'm stuck in "Alice and Wonderland" and time is doing funny things like slowing down when I'm busy doing mundane things like tying shoes, fixing snacks, washing clothes, and scrubbing the toilet and speeding up when Mark is off and we have a weekend without errands to run.  I find myself having to try harder to look for the "magic" things and fun spontaneity that I remember from childhood but have an increased difficulty feeling as an adult.  If this is getting old or growing up, then I wish to remain a child forever.  However, since we're given no choice but to continue to "mature" and before I got too depressed thinking about being "mature," I realized I should be grateful that Mark and I have our two little (quickly becoming not-so-little) messes.  They might be messes, but they keep us young and continually spur us to seek out that magic and spontaneity.  We try harder to relax, to look at things in new ways and from different perspectives, and Lord knows we try hard not to let the little things bug us, because if we did, we'd be constantly grouchy!  It's nice sometimes to be reminded of the importance of everyday happenings like when our little scientist asked the other day if I knew that, "the rain sometimes makes its own music," and when the resident princess/diva randomly belts out "Jingle Bells," just because the mood strikes her.  For example, we had some snow last month that brought the kids (and me) outside to make a snowman.  (Or, as I called him, the morphodite, even though they argued and said his name was Frosty...)  They were so proud of it. As they posed for me to take their picture, I was reminded of Jem and Scout Finch in "To Kill A Mockingbird."  Kids look at the world differently.  It's kind of a stripped down version of what we see as adults.  It's black and white and sometimes transparent, whereas 'grown-ups' see gray and opaque.  And yes, it's partly because they don't have all those 'adult' things to worry about like work or bills or errands or whether or not they have clean clothes to wear.  And yes, that's partly what parents are for.  We're in charge of those menial tasks like nutrition and shelter and rightly so.  I sure wouldn't want the kids choosing our housing or making our grocery list.  If that happened, I'm quite sure we would live in a tree house or maybe on a pirate ship and eat peanut butter and jelly and cookies for every meal.  However, since Mark and I get to worry about all those things for them, they can simply enjoy the fun and magic of life.  And kind of like the hokey pokey, that's what it's all about!  And even though some things seem like magic at five; at twenty five, I understand that it sometimes takes a little more than pixie dust.  So, with a little effort, a lot of flexibility, and just a pinch of pixie dust, Mark and I are trying.  Some days, we would rather stay in bed and pretend we don't hear the footsteps on the stairs at the crack of dawn or that little voice calling, "Daddy!" at midnight and two o'clock and approximately fourteen minutes before the alarm is set to go off and some days we sort of wish we were old and retired so we could have breakfast alone... But overall, I don't think we'd change much.  Except maybe the part where we haven't slept in two years.  We could definitely use a good night's sleep.  Or a nap.  Anything, so long as our eyes are closed and there's no two-year-old elbow in my mouth....
 In other news, the kids had their birthdays.  They are officially two and five.  We had a Cinderella party and a dinosaur party.  (I have no pictures of them on the computer or I would post a couple.  I'll have to send them out later, sorry!)  We had a good time and were able to enjoy a weekend away together this past weekend.  It was more exhausting than a weekend at home, but we had a lot of fun.  We went to some fun places, swam in the pool, and got to enjoy the excitement of 'getting away.'  That being said, we're glad we have absolutely no plans this weekend!  Well, we're actually finishing installing the floor in our living room, so not exactly nothing... Nothing would just be too boring.  HA!  Ok, I will stop rambling now and let you go back to your scheduled programming.  I leave you with this picture I took of the sunset a while back from the back yard.  It looked like someone set the sky on fire.  I watched it so long, I'm sure I probably burned dinner that night...  Until next time, notice the important things, let the little ones go (they don't matter anyway), and don't forget the pixie dust!