the Easter Bunny has help this year

It was freezie weather today for this neighborhood!

It is Saturday night, and my house is nearly 80 degrees because of the incredibly beautiful day we had today. I’m all right with that when it is April. July, not so much. I’m enjoying the heat while sipping a CC7, my favorite drink of summer until the mint leaves are ready to Mojito.

I’ve been wanting to try this for a couple weeks, and what better than a 80 degree house to help the dough rise? I originally saw this over at Annie’s, but have seen it pop up a few other places since then. She says to put on ALL that sugar, but I just couldn’t. I stopped about 1/4 cup short.

Just got word that the UMD Bulldogs won the Frozen Four! I attended college there for one year and absolutely LOVED it. Ended up loving my alma mater more, but there are few places more beautiful than Duluth.  The hills. The view. The Lake. The campus. The hiking. The pizza.

God, I love that place.

This week, Jack, out of the blue, came out after waking up and said, “I don’t think I believe in the Easter Bunny anymore.”

Mom: Well, why is that?
J: Well, it is pretty impossible for a BUNNY to carry enough stuff for all the kids in the world in a basket ON his arm. I mean, really! I don’t think so.
M: (in my head) Yet somehow Santa CAN??? (out loud) Who do you think does it then?
J: Parents.
M: Are you sure you want to know the truth? (nod) Yes, it is the parents.
J: I thought so.
M: Well, this kind of works out well because I have an idea…

While it was fun to play Easter Bunny for the first few years, it starts to wear on you as the kids get older and more numerous and harder to buy for. Plus, these kids have generous grandparents who don’t miss a single holiday. Because of this, I’ve been thinking that more participation from all would be a lot more interesting and fun.

My idea, then, was that we put everyone’s name in a hat and draw. You purchase $10 worth of items to fill that person’s basket for Easter morning. Mom will still take care of the candy.

After I shared that parents would pay for the $10 per person, Jack was all for it. Since Troy was here this weekend, Jack couldn’t wait to draw names and go shopping.

So, tonight at dinner, we drew names. I got Troy; Mila (who was shopping with me) got Daddy.

Jack immediately started fretting about what he could get his person.

After dinner, we headed to the dollar store where we each grabbed a cart and started shopping. On the way, Aaron was not convinced by any of it. He only saw that we were going to blow $50 (5 people x $10 each) at a stupid dollar store.

For the first 10 minutes, Aaron was completely cart-less and sulked. Then, from behind me, I heard a familiar voice ask me if I were to choose an ice cream scoop, which would it be?

Hehe. I knew he’d come around!

In passing, I mentioned to that familiar voice something I would like.

We lined up cart behind cart at the check-out with each cart bagged separately. Each kept his or her eyes away from other carts.

On the way home, Jack said how he really thought hard about each purchase to make sure the person would like it.

I (heart) that! It was EXACTLY what I was aiming for!

Mila and I chose for Daddy several things that he could really use. Traditional flavored Tootsie Pops (he HATES the new flavors), bubbles (Mila cannot get enough), a back scratcher, flash cards to share with M, daddy loves some good radishes and he loves to plant flowers for his M, shower scrubbie, lint roller, car wash rag-thing and fake money (since Dad was saying how he was wasting his money).

For Troy we also choose many things he could really use! Gatorade, pocket tissues, a tripod for his Flip Video, pencils, chapstick, Chiclets!!! (it took a lot of control to not grab those for my own basket!), ear plugs, candy that Mila nabbed and stink bags.

Initially, I thought $10 was too little given that I spent more than $50 on Easter for two kids, but next year I will probably lower it to $8 per person, particularly if we stick with the dollar store.


Spring Break

The kids are out for Spring Break which means there really isn’t a break at all around here for me.

What it does mean is that I get to try out new dessert recipes like this though!

Normally, I’m not the eat and drink junk kinda gal, but during Spring Break, I pull out the stops with some Pop Tarts, Pizza RollsMr. Pibb and Fresca (for me).

This Minnesota gal also took her family up to MOA to RIDE the rides for the first time EVER! The kids had a great time with cousins. I survived babywearing for several hours and several miles of walking while the older kids took in the rides. We shoved all nine of us around two high tops in a pizza joint one busy night and enjoyed pizza, beer and conversation. Unfortunately, we have several pictures of cousins and no pictures of adults! It was so much fun though!

I’ve got 23 midterms to grade, a load of wishful sewing and a terrific book I’m enjoying. It’s only Tuesday, and my fingers are crossed.

I did, however, find time to DONATE to the Japan relief efforts. I am constantly reminded at how fortunate I am at this moment in time. I am also reminded of the resiliency of the human spirit.


What I’ve Learned in the Last Week

A beautiful 55 degree spring day is wonderful, but is less so when it is followed by a 25 degree day.

A good chunk of the day should be devoted to watching the squirrels and birds outside your window.

This $1.50 find from the restaurant supply store is handy for more than just sugar cookie flooding. It made the counter top a lot less messy when I made pancakes!

A Christmas cactus that begins to bloom in March is a hopeful sight.

When I take the time to “buckle down” and sew, I love it. It makes me think I can actually sew this for a fraction of the cost.

When I saw this tutorial, I knew I’d make a necklace and a wreath. Must buy a chain, and a foam wreath to complete these projects this weekend. I felt like I was channeling Katie the whole time!

Sometimes when you round the corner, you unexpectedly see your 14 month old baby sitting on the top of the table coloring with crayons. After you are done panicking, you think it is cute. But not cute enough to leave her to get your camera.

Applying for what you may consider your second most desired job can still make you feel sad because the timing is all wrong.

Lesson Learned

This is day 17 of the Reverb10 project.

Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

How fitting that this is the prompt for today…the day Mila was born.

Ten years ago when I had Jack, I was single mother who worked full-time. I didn’t have a choice to stay home, but had the universe presented different circumstances, I would have preferred to work part-time 25-30 hours per week. I probably would have spent five extra hours with my son a week because I was in grad school too and could have used an extra 5-10 hours a week for homework. This would have led to much more than the 5 or 6 hours of sleep I survived on during this time.

I honestly don’t know how I did it. But, I didn’t know any different, so it was normal to me.

Hard? Yes. But, normal too.

This time, a rather unfortunate set of circumstances created an opportunity for me to be home with Mila full-time except for the one or two classes I teach in the Spring at the community college.

I was worried about this prospect.

In fact, I have stated since well before Jack was born that I wasn’t built in the way that some people are. The way that leads some people to feel like they are doing exactly what they should be doing when they are home caring for their children.

That isn’t me.

Don’t get me wrong. I take great pleasure (and exhaustion) from cooking and baking for my family. I did that while I was working every single night though because I feel it is incredibly important to feed them food that isn’t highly processed.

But, I didn’t take great pleasure caring for my baby and my school-age son.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my children. I just don’t happen to believe that I need to (nor do I want to) spend nearly all my time with them to raise them right.

I took great pleasure in the fact that my son knew I was there in the morning before school and that I would be there after school.

I took great pleasure that Mila’s routine was the same everyday and that she knew exactly what to expect.

But the monotony.  Good grief, the monotony.

It could have been the baby…boob, sleep, poop, boob, sleep, poop.

But this book changed my whole perspective.

I read it in June because I was planning a Blessing Ceremony for Mila with a Unitarian Minister. Knowing Robert Fulghum was a Unitarian Minister, a dear friend recommended I see if he’d written anything relevant.

At my local library, sitting on the shelf, looking all dusty were these books. This one was written specifically for me at this moment in my life.

It was a moment that the monotony was overtaking the meaning.

And, it spoke to me.

It said specifically that the things we do the same EVERY SINGLE DAY, hundreds or thousands of times, in our lives are the rituals of our life. Yes, there are the blessings, the funerals, the milestones along the way.

But, to the baby

lying on its back

10 or 12 times a day

for a diaper change,

THESE are meaningful rituals of his or her life. Looking up and seeing a familiar face while the diaper is changed is what that baby knows and feels.

I kid you NOT. It said that.

And, suddenly, meaning began overtaking the monotony.


This is day nine in the #Reverb10 project.

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

To answer this, I need to back up one week into 2009.

About 12:30 pm on Christmas Eve to be more precise.

It was a small, intimate gathering of five.

But joyous, nonetheless.

It was filled with sighs of relief.

Extreme excitement in calm, controlled bodies.

Quiet, whispered voices.

Patience. More patience than we thought we had for a day filled with seven days worth of anticipation.

Colorful, inviting imagery peppered the walls, so that “sterile”, “cold” and “scary” would not be part of this world’s vocabulary.

Wishes and hopes were sent up to be answered from child-sized furniture.

This family’s wishes and hopes were answered because of the dedicated and gifted people behind the doors.

Seven days earlier, Mila was born with pneumonia.

On this day, she came home.

After seven days of her brothers wishing they could meet her, but not being allowed because of rules about age and H1N1.

After seven days of parents juggling kids at home, baby in the NICU and a mom recovering from a c-section.

After seven days of waiting for Christmas Eve, not because of Santa, but because of the best present of all…

the perfect bookend to our family.

We celebrated at home, alone.

With patience while the wee one slept with her doting brothers nearby.

With quiet voices.

With careful cradling by inexperienced arms.

With lasagna.

With ice cream cake.

With love.

One Word

This is day one in the #Reverb10 project.

2010:  Change

2011: Growth

Buttercream, Dinosaurs and Rice Krispies

The 2010 Cub Scout Cake Walk is over, and I am exhausted.

Because we were were both inspired by The Bake-Off Flunkie‘s wonderful cake for her daughter and this special effect,

over the last two nights, Jack and I have:

mixed three batches of buttercream frosting into 5 colors,

formed sticky, stucky Rice Krispie Treats into a volcano,

made frosting palm leaves that looked more like fern leaves,

and brought a geriatric dinosaur back from the grave.

And despite, “very sore legs” from “all the standing”, Jack is still smiling!

Tonight, all that hard work paid off with a three-way tie in the Looks Like It Tastes The Best category (which used to be Coolest Cake and seemed more suited to this year’s entries)!

Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of the other two co-winners. One was a fabulous rendition of the hamburger cake and the other was a basic bundt cake covered in fudge frosting, sour gummy worms, and gummy bugs. Bugs are always a winner with our Pack!

We have so many creative folks, and here are some of my other favorites I saw tonight.

From the Looks Like It Tastes The Best category:

Leftover Halloween candy maybe?

From the Holiday category (new category this year with lots of fun entries):

This friendly reindeer has antlers made from the newest flavor of Cub Scout popcorn.

From the Best Scout Theme category:

I love those fish in the stream!

Love the “Bug” feel of this derby car!

Did you buy some Cub Scout popcorn this year???

And our category winner with a FAB-U-LOUS derby car track complete with cars! This boy’s number in the cake walk got picked first, and he left with his own cake!

Now, I’ve got to start cutting butter for my some pie crusts!