Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter 2016

For Easter this year, we tried a few new things and kept a few old traditions.

The kids still went to the golf course next to our house on Saturday to hunt for eggs and whine about the line for face painting and games.  They ration the eggs during the hunt (I guess so they don't run out early?), so they walked away with a whopping two eggs a piece! They did also get a coupon for a flight of beer when you purchase an entree at the course restaurant. Score for the parents!

The riches of their Easter egg hunt

In the tradition of my Grandma K, we made our annual Rice Krispie lamb, and talked about Jesus being the Lamb of God. Bjorn wanted to line our lamb in a bed of Marshmallows. Looks pretty comfy to me.

Grandma's Easter lamb

We still woke up early on Sunday morning for our church's outdoor Easter sunrise service.

As usual, the mass was beautiful and would have been serene had it not been for the screams of a tempestuous four year old who wanted to play with my phone during church, not play with her kids bible or other tiny toys she brought along. It was early, she was tired and it was the furthest thing from calm. Good thing the priest talked about forgiveness and patience in his homily. I needed to hear it that morning! So did Peanut.

She looks so sweet and innocent.

Siblings, Friends.

After mass we headed home for our Easter spoils and egg hunt.

This year, instead of a basket, I bought the kids big plastic eggs. Just like the ones in the YouTube videos they are always watching. Inside the eggs were all their Easter basket goodies - individually wrapped.  I wish I had taken a before picture.

Egg baskets!

They each got one chocolate bunny and a bag of Starburst jellybeans.  That was it for candy. I tried to be practical this year - less candy, more items they would actually use.

Peanut opened her first goodie and squealed. "Jellies! Mommy! You know how much I love jellies!"  She had been asking for jelly shoes for a few weeks, and I had been putting her off since they were going into her basket. She immediately put them on. She also received a Hello Kitty bracelet, swimming goggles, and a pair of Olaf leggings.

Bjorn opened his first present and laughed. "Star Wars undies! You know I wanted these. Thanks, Mom!" Then he opened his second, third and fourth presents and couldn't stop laughing. "Mom! Why did you wrap all my undies? You're so silly!" It was pretty funny to see him get excited about his presents, and then to laugh and roll his eyes when it was more underwear. He also opened swimming goggles and a new pair of sunglasses.

Even our new pup got into the Easter fun with a huge squeaky Peep toy.

Even better than regular Peeps!

Next to their egg "baskets" was a note attached to a Lego instruction book.

Excuse my silly jingle. I had been up for 20+ hours at this point and this was the best I could do!

Bjorn read it first. "I need to find all the blue and green eggs! There are legos inside!"

He was right.

I had bought a box of Legos for each kid and divided them into the proper colored eggs: blue and green for Bjorn and pink and purple for Peanut. That left orange and yellow to be used for a few more small candies and some money. Again, it cut down on the candy factor, and it gave them something fun and useful to do.

They raced out to the backyard to start their egg hunt. I had expected them to go crazy finding all their eggs to start their Legos, but I hadn't expected what actually happened.

Our garden is growing eggs!

Instead of Bjorn trying to get as many as he could, so he could have all the candy, he knew that the pink and purple ones weren't for him. When he found one of those, he would call Peanut over so she could get her eggs. She did the same for him.  They were sharing. Helping. For the first time since they had started Easter egg hunting together, there was no fighting that "he found more" or "I saw it first".  They were actually getting along. It was an Easter miracle. And a happy, unexpected side effect of the Lego egg hunt.

They found all their eggs, headed inside and put together the Lego treasures.

That is his "The Storm Troopers are going to shoot you!" face 

Lego Friends
After all this excitement, we went for a walk and then brunch. A wonderful family day together.

Even Bjorn thinks so.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

To Do...

When I created my HUGE TO DO list (click here to check it out) a few years ago, I looked at it and thought,"I have almost three years to finish this. Plenty of time. Easy peasy."

Yes, I do actually say 'Easy Peasy' to myself. I'm kind of a big nerd.

Then, all of a sudden, it's two years later, I have 7 months left to finish the list and I have 68 left to go. Talk about procrastination.

But thanks to some awesome friends and family who have been pushing me and helping me with my list - even if they didn't know it! - I am able to cross a few more off just in the past few weeks.

#4 Take an overnight NON-KID vacation with The Hubs

Without either of our families living in the city, or even in the state, it seemed that we might not get to do this one. Then my parents retired and life was GOOD! They have flown cross-country to see us about once every 2-3 months, so we took advantage of that last time and drove up to Las Vegas for the weekend. The kids had a blast. Grandma and Grandpa took them to Chuck E Cheese, McDonald's and to play mini golf. They watched movies, had make your own pizza night and learned to color within the lines on the IPads coloring pages. Meanwhile, we met up with The Hubs' brothers and their girls in Vegas and spent three days losing money in penny slots, going back for fifths at the buffet and sleeping in until 9. (Okay, so I was still up at 745. But I let The Hubs sleep in until 9!) I had forgotten how relaxing it was to not think about if someone needs a snack, to go to the bathroom or has to nap. If their feet might hurt or if they are cranky and tired. It was so nice to think about just us and what we wanted to do and I WANT TO DO IT ALL THE TIME. Well, maybe not ALL the time. But definitely again.

#17 Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens

Visiting the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix has been on my to do list since I moved here nine years ago. I wanted to see the plants and flowers in their natural desert habitat. I don't know what I expected, but it looked much like the rest of Phoenix does. Rocks, cacti, dirt, green shrubbery and plants throughout. My friend and her daughter went with Peanut and I, and it was such a great walk, but I really hoped for more flowers, more butterflies, more......different. It was like walking through my neighborhood (minus all the houses). We went in January, and I heard later that coming later in the spring was better. I think if I had waited until March or April, it would've been beautiful with all the blossoming flowers and plants. I might have to make a trip back. 

#39 Make 12 blessings bags and pass them out to the homeless

The kids and I have been making blessings bags for a few years now, and I wanted to make sure that we continued this tradition. With the nice weather in Arizona in the spring, fall and winter (notice I didn't say summer!), there tends to be a large number of homeless at street corners and in downtown. I don't like to pass out cash, not first of all because I don't usually have any! I try and keep blessings bags in my car and my handbag. These are gallon Ziploc bags filled with small non-perishables. I like to put in a granola bar or two, some water, an apple juice, beef jerky, cheese and crackers, etc. I also like to add travel shampoos and conditions, soap and lotion and toothpaste. Toothbrushes, a comb, a pair of socks, some Kleenex, chap stick. I like to pick things up at the dollar store or on sale and stuff them in to the blessing bags. If I remember to grab some, I like also like to put $5 gift cards to McDonald's, as the likelihood of a McDonald's near to them is pretty good. It is such a small thing to have with me, and I hope that it makes someone feel that I want them to be cared for. Best of all, the kids love to help me make them, usually throwing in a fruit snack or a lollipop from their candy stash. And they fight over who gets to hand them out. I love that they see how happy it makes people. Most volunteer organizations around here allow kids to start volunteering between the ages of 6-8, so this is a way to involve them before then.

#62 Go Zip lining.

I LOVE extreme sports. But I promised The Hubs that I wouldn't go skydiving while the kids were under the age of 18, and I have already been bungee jumping a few times. So what was next? While ziplining may not be extreme, it still has a big rush and I wanted to feel it!  So while in Las Vegas, my brother in law, future sister in law and I hooked ourselves up to a large slot machine in downtown Fremont Street and ziplined over drunk and half naked people to the casino at the end of the way. It's called SlotZilla and it really is shaped like a huge slot machine in the middle of the street. You can zipline or zoomline (zip line is shorter, lower and you sit, zoomline is higher, longer and you fly like superman) and of course we chose to go big or go home! We zoomlined past the casinos, and it was awesome! I supermaned the whole way across, flying over people, laughing all the way.

#90 Hike Camelback Mountain.

A friend of mine has been asking me to go hiking with her every week. The first week we went to Piestewa Peak and while I didn't make it to the top (let's be honest - I didn't even make it near to the top), I was hooked. I loved it! Why haven't I been hiking the entire time I lived here in Arizona? I had no idea it was this much fun. When she asked me to go the following week to Camelback Mountain, of course I said yes! They don't make it easy to get there, though. It was a good 45 minute drive from my house, and then I had to park about a mile away from the mountain. That was before we even started hiking! It wasn't very crowded and at times we had to stop and take a look around to make sure we were still even on the trail! It was not very well marked, except for some rocks that were more worn than others. Part of the trail was on the side of the mountain and only wide enough to go single file. And I'm pretty sure that someone caught me on their GoPro going down one part rock crawling, missing a foothold and sliding down ten feet on my butt. Not very graceful, but at least I caught myself before the big drop off!

Now I only have 60-something left to go. In seven months. Time to go!