Easter Blessings

These little bunnies and I have had a very busy week.  School vacation is a blessed mix of laziness and adventures, sleeping in and staying up late.  What with all the long drives, visitors, evenings with friends and daytime excursions, the blog and its obligations kind of slipped my mind.  But I wouldn’t want to forget to commemorate this Easter and all the fun we had, so here we are again!

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The day before Easter, we drove down to Massachusetts to spend the night with family.  Then we woke up Auntie Amanda and Uncle Chris bright and early to play, open Easter baskets, and have some fun before heading over to Grammy’s for dinner.

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My aunts and uncles, my kids’ aunts and uncles, lots of food, handmade name tags, and plastic eggs made for one very festive afternoon!  I love watching my kids connect with extended family, especially mine since we’re so far away.  I grew up with them in my own house, and having my kids love and appreciate them means everything to me.  It’s an extra blessing in my book.

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And in the spirit of Williams family Easters past, there was an epic egg hunt, for all the bunnies, even the big ones!

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After the egg hunt, there was room for one last cupcake and some more cousin fun before we hit the road to get our pup from the kennel.  We all (especially Little H!) made the most of it.

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One, two, three, four, five times blessed…more than that.  We had so many wonderful reasons to smile that day, and I’m glad I took a minute to reminisce and appreciate it all!

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An ABC Egg Hunt

I would say one of the hardest things about being a parent to more than one kid is the need to remember that your third kid needs just as much of your time, energy, attention, and patience as your first one (or second, or third…).  Because there are so many people around to entertain her–her days spent with me, afternoons with brother and sister or friends, bedtime with Em–she isn’t the best at playing independently, but she’ll get there.  Her constant need for attention sometimes has the undesired effect of me just throwing up my hands and saying, “Can’t you just go play!?” instead of encouraging me to dream up some fun activity for the two of us.  I have been working on renewing my teaching credential–a process which has kept the blog low on my totem pole of priorities–so I have been even busier than usual, fielding emails and requesting transcripts during time that I used to spend perusing Pinterest for fun literacy activities like I did for Jax or Em (cue the Mommy guilt).  I could have just as easily spent this morning encouraging Little H to keep herself occupied, but with the recognition that both she and my blog were being grossly neglected, I pulled out an old favorite to meet the ever-increasing needs of my very bright three-year-old.

Alphabet Egg Hunt Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I have come up with many upcycling uses for last week’s plastic Easter eggs that help my kids with various needs–spelling, counting, rhyming.  Little H already knows her letters, upper case and lower case, but I thought this would be a good exercise in letter sounds.  First I wrote all the upper case and lower case letters on egg halves, like so, and spread them all over our front deck.  Hooray for a warm spring day!

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Then she and I hung out, matching letters, matching colors, talking and smiling.  Since she does already know her letters, we focused on the sounds they make.  She would find a letter, I’d point out what color it is so she could find the match, then we should brought it to me she’d tell me what sound the letter makes.

Alphabet Egg Hunt @ Rub Some Dirt On It Alphabet Egg Hunt @ Rub Some Dirt On It

For a three-year-old, she’s one smart cookie, my Hannah Hummingbird.

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Last kids deserve all the love and enrichment and attention as the first ones.  I’m lucky enough to be home with her, and I need to make every day matter, in big ways or small.

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 It’s good for both of us.

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My Valentines

I am the kind of mom who savors every moment of my kids’ childhood, knowing as sure as I look at my seven-year-old son that these moments are fleeting.  That’s why I love Valentine’s Day and the opportunity to stop and tell my children (and yes, my husband, too!) all the marvelous things about them that I adore, and celebrate our love as loudly and as joyfully as I can.  Because these four people are my heart, and I’m not afraid to show it.

Like when JDubbs and Em go to the Father-Daughter Valentine’s Day dance.  The look on his face as he hugs her tells me that he’s not letting these moments go by unappreciated, either.  He knows this love is gift.
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And the next day, when I got to take these two goofballs to apres ski, just us three (which hardly ever happens anymore), I just had to stop to appreciate the moment…and take a silly selfie.

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And of course like that night, after the kids had gone to bed, when JDubbs and I pulled out our bag o’ hearts from Valentine’s past, love notes from us to the kids telling them individually and collectively how very loved they are, how proud they make us, and what makes them special.  I know it looks like a serious undertaking, but saving them every year just means we add a few more and by the time these kids are teenagers, our Curtains of Love are going to be more like a forest!

Curtain of Love @ Rub Some Dirt On It
Valentine’s morning is outdone only by Christmas as the day I cannot wait for them to wake up and see their happiness.  Little H, who doesn’t remember seeing them before, gasped at the sight of all that love.  The big kids squealed with delight and I could hear them exclaiming, “I forgot about this!” and “Look at this one!” as they read them to each other and pointed out especially favorite memories.  This will always be worth it, every time.

A curtain of love to show your kids how much you love them. Put love notes outside their bedrooms every Valentine's Day that tell them why they're special. Keep them and repeat every year! #valentinesday

Valentine’s Day may be a super-commercialized holiday with cards at $5 a pop, but the spirit behind it, to let the people you know hear how much you love them, is very much who I am and want to be as a parent, friend, wife, family.  My heart is happier with days like this in it.

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(thanks to Little H’s dear Miss Kelly for this lovely little Valentine for her as well)

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Christmas At Home

For the first time ever, since JDubbs and I were dating, married, or had kids, we stayed in our home for Christmas.  Yes, we have spent most Christmas mornings at home lately but this year we did not travel for the entire winter break, and to be honest, it was awesome.  While my older sister’s kids are still in middle/high school, and my younger sister and her new husband are still a duo, we felt it was fair to ask them and my parents to head north for the holiday.  That plus a very merry schedule full of gingerbread houses, visits with Santa, Christmas lights, decorating cookies with friends and sledding led to a wonderful extended Christmas indeed!

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On the night before Christmas, like every year, JDubbs read to the girls since Jax was down and out early with a strange stomach bug, and then we and Grammy got the house ready for Santa to come!  They had been such good kids, we knew he would.

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We were right!  Christmas morning was utterly delightful.  I’m so lucky to have kids who don’t expect everything under the sun for Christmas, who watch with gratitude and happiness while others open their gifts, and who are truly grateful for every present they receive, big and small.

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In the afternoon we went to Nana and Papa’s for more Christmas cheer, to eagerly await cousins, aunts and uncle, and for Mommy to get her one photo of Jax in his Christmas sweater with his sisters before he stripped down to his new Gronk jersey and went out to play with his new scooter and football Santa brought him.  Em got a scooter, too, as well as a new soccer ball from Daddy.  Considering it was warm enough to go outside with jackets (not an inch of snow yet this year!), we were happy to spend the afternoon stretching our legs and running off the extra energy from Christmas candy.

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Cousins arrived, the kids’ table was set, and it was time for presents and playtime all over again.

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The big kids had a matching pj sleepover at Nana and Papa’s, then we spent the weekend together, exploring wintry Vermont.  Sunday morning more aunts, uncles, cousins, and Grampy arrived!  The merriment just kept on coming.

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Who knows when we will be able to spend another Christmas entirely at home? I know that no matter where we are, as long as we are together, our holiday will be wonderful, but getting to spend it beginning to end in our home, with days upon days of family arriving was more special than I would have thought.  Loved our first Christmas at home! Hoping we can celebrate another soon.

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Christmas Cookies

Decorating cookies was never part of my Christmas traditions growing up, but JDubbs has very fond memories of it from his childhood.  After years of helping each of my kids, as well as my niece and nephew, scrape frosting across perfectly baked sugar cookies, and dump cupfuls of sugar confections on top, I can’t believe that there was ever a Christmas in my life without these memories! Plus, Polar Express pajamas make every December memory that much sweeter.  Childhood memories for the win! IMG_3238 PicMonkey Collage

From Nana and Papa to uncles and aunts to five delighted cousins, everyone gets in on the cookie-decorating fun (and tasting)!

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These are the cookies we would leave for Santa, saving the last few for weeks to make sure he gets one made with love.  These traditions are ones that I cherish, the ones that bring us together in the simple acts of spending time as an extended family.  My favorite kinds of memories, made that much sweeter.

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Life doesn’t get much sweeter than this.

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Merry Christmas To All!

Merry Christmas to you all!  I’m sure you are all having as wonderful a day as we undoubtedly are!

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My greatest gifts are these three little rascals, and spoiling them as much as we can today is one of my greatest joys.

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Off to spend the weekend with our wonderful family!  May your day be merry and bright!

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Traditions Made To Be Broken

Traditionally, I take my Christmas card photo kind of seriously (shocker), so no one in my family is surprised when I ask the kids to put on their Christmas pajamas, leave the house in their bathrobes and go stand and smile in front of a barn.  Photo shoots are pretty status quo around here.  With such a mild winter so far, I didn’t even have to worry about winter coats or mittens, and we got a great photo on our first attempt.  That was definitely a holiday miracle!

Another tradition we have is to take out all the Christmas decorations along with our ornaments when we are ready to decorate our newly-cut tree.  We always get our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, and we open up all of our holiday boxes after dinner, playing Christmas music for the first time and laying out all our Christmas goodies.  But with Jax home from school that Friday and everyone in the Christmas spirit, I decided this year traditions were made to be broken.  I brought out all the decor and toys other than the ornaments a couple of days early, and with three kids at home, tired from a whirlwind trip to Massachusetts, I was sure happy I did.  They were, too!

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When we combine tree-decorating with the unloading of all our Christmas gear, the kids go into a holiday overload and everything gets admired for two seconds before they move on to something else.  Spreading out the decorating, letting them fully appreciate all our little Christmas treasures–coloring books, nutcrackers, Little People nativity set and Christmas train, Playmobil and Lego knicknacks–while Little H napped encouraged the big kids to play quietly and independently longer than they had in a long time.

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What a wonderful, peaceful beginning to the Christmas season, and what good kids.

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Okay, maybe they’re not that good!  Or photo ready, for that matter!

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I think this new tradition is one we’ll be keeping for a long time!

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