Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easter Sunday Afternoon

After church on Resurrection Sunday we all went over to my parent's house for the afternoon. We cooked out and the kids hunted Easter eggs. Everyone had such a good time. We visited and relaxed and played in the sunshine. It was a such a pleasant way to spend the day.

Last year for their Easter Baskets I really knocked myself out making a couple of handmade toys for each of my children. They loved finding their surprises in their baskets when they woke up on Easter. But I had worked so late into the night for the week leading up to that Sunday that I was exhausted by the time the big morning came around. That afternoon, as soon as church was over, food eaten and the kids hunted eggs, I slept the rest of the day. I regretted sleeping though it later while everyone else was visiting, but I was just too tired. {Being in the first trimester of pregnancy didn't help!}  

So this year, I decided to give myself a break. And you know what? It was just fine! I bought each of the kids a chocolate bunny, and I picked up a couple of slinkies for the  Claire and Emmett and a pair of nice yo-yos for Matthew and Ethan. Violet was too little this year to care about toys or sweets and Logan only wanted the chocolate~ thank you very much! The kids were thrilled when they woke up to find their chocolate bunnies and their toys. 

When my big boys were very little I would buy them those cheap-o kind of toys like you see stuffed into the pre-made Easter baskets at the grocery stores. The toys would break within a day or so and then the garbage would litter their bedroom floors until I threw it all away. I didn't really know any better. Eventually it dawned on me that those kinds of "toys" weren't really good for anyone. They weren't entertaining, or educational, or even pretty, really. Basically they were a total waste of money, I was buying the exact same little toys every single year, only to have them break long before the next year rolled around.  So I started making them toys and little games. I had fun making them, and they really seemed to enjoy playing with them. Plus they usually lasted much longer than 24 hours!

But here is the thing with having a big family and making or buying well made toys, those toys actually last. And that becomes a problem because you really don't need 4 or 5 much less 20 copies of each toy (one for each kid each year!) For example last year I made Claire a little memory game with sweet Springtime motifs painted on wooden disks. Well, all of the children played (still play) with that game. I sewed a little cotton drawstring bag  to store the pieces in, and now we have a fun memory game and honestly we don't need another. Just yesterday the little ones were playing with the set of wooden sorting toys I made for Claire when she was about 18 months old. So while I haven't run out of ideas for fun new toys I want to make for my kids, I have decided to limit the number of things available for them to play with at a time. They all seem so much happier and more easily entertained when they have a few well sorted toys to choose from, rather than a million different things with missing or mixed up pieces.

So while the above reason was a big deciding factor in not over-stressing myself to make a bunch of new things this year for their baskets. Another was during the month of April we had family come in from Guatemala to stay with us. So there was the 'pre-visitors cleaning of the whole house' and then the 'we have visitors lets do stuff to entertain them' that took up most of our month once they arrived. But most importantly is that chocolate bunnies and toys have nothing to do with the reason we celebrate Resurrection Sunday! I want to be sure they understand the real reason we choose to celebrate this day. 

That reason is the most important of all. This is the day we chose to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from death. His crucifixion, death and resurrection was specifically so that each one of us could receive forgiveness from our sins and be able to have a real relationship with with Him as our Lord and Savior. That is a wonderful thing to celebrate and it should never take second place to Easter Eggs or Chocolate bunnies!

At the same time I really enjoy the sweet little traditions our family has of dyeing eggs, and having egg hunts, and finding an Easter basket with treats waiting on Easter morning when they wake up. Those are fun things, and memories I cherish from my own childhood, and things I want to pass on to my children. But as I said, I am very happy that I decided not to go "over the top" with candy, or toys this year! 

P.S. Violet's dress is the one that Grandma made for Claire for her first Easter. You can see pictures of Claire's first Easter here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Love under the cherry trees

Every year about this time I try to take the kids to the park where there is a beautiful grove of cherry trees in full bloom. The grass below the trees is vibrant green and studded with violets and other wildflowers. It's one of my favorite places in the spring. The little orchard sits just a few feet off of the path in a very busy park. There are joggers, moms talking on their phones while pushing little ones in their strollers, families on bikes zooming by, people walking dogs, people everywhere. Even so we almost never see people stop and take in the beauty that is there in that little area, they never leave that paved path. So really, it feels like we are completely alone in that little place.

I often wonder what my kids are going to remember of their childhood. Will they ever know how fiercely their dad and I love each of them? Will they remember the beautiful places and things we tried to show them?  Many years from now will they see a cherry tree blooming in April and remember the fun we had playing together below those trees in the park? I hope so. I hope they all remember it so fondly that they will want to take their own children to play under the cherry trees in April.

You can see pictures I took of the kids two years ago in this same spot here. They've grown so much!
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